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Malt Vinegar RyeToday's bake!
Today’s bake!

Well I committed the cardinal sin of all newbie bloggers, I basically gave up.

So why am I back? firstly we now have an iPad in the house. Then by chance a good friend of mine and fellow tweeter @RIDESURFCOFFEE happen to tweet that my blog as a place to read about bread! So you could say I was shamed into action.

So whilst I  haven’t kept my blog up to date I have kept  baking mainly bread but with the occasional pastry and cake thrown in. my family and friends have enjoyed my disasters and triumphs , I haven’t baked anywhere near the amount of Sourdough I would have liked and my  2 sourdough starters (white & rye) have survived another year in the fridge.

I thought for my return blog I try something new and I turned to my trusted Short and Sweet by that well know Antipodean Real Bread maestro Dan Lepard.

After a quick thumb through my well worn copy and the fact that my cupboard is full of Wholemeal/Spelt/Rye flours I plumbed for Dan’s Malt Vinegar Rye Bread. Everything went pretty smoothly and you can hardly notice the thumb indentation for my 8-Y-O who accidentally leant on it!

Now I’ve just got to wait another day for it to mature whereupon I will probably end up eating most of it. I have baked all sorts but unless it’s white or a Challah my little angels just turn their pretty little noses up at it!

The Bubbles look promising

The Bubbles look promising

Still a way to go

Still a way to go

Is that really 5cm tall?

Is that really 5cm tall?

2 hours later - can you spot the thumbprint?

2 hours later – can you spot the thumbprint?

Can I really wait another day to get stuck in?

Can I really wait another day to get stuck in?

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Short & Tweet soft white bap

So after all sorts of cake, biscuit and other forms of baking over the holiday period I thought I’d better start posting about bread.

Week 11 of Short and Tweet saw the baking of these rather impressive rolls/baps/buns which I have baked before using one of Dan’s Guardian recipes and as before they seem to turn out with a firmer , bun like structure rather than the softness you’d associate with baps.

But apart from this they looked very impressive and I went for 12 x 120gm baps as we’re a family of 4 and they were still pretty substantial!

In addition to these I also had a crack at the excellent Weekend Bakers Fluitje with Spelt loaves which had caught my eye on Twitter a couple of weeks ago.

The recipe was straightforward, It allowed me to use my Rye sourdough  starter and included the use of  Spelt.

Everything seemed t go well up until the shaping stage when some rather over enthusiastic shaping meant that I ended up with something more akin to baguettes rather than  batards! This lead to rather a challenge in getting them into the oven, the end result being rather serpentine in nature.

Fluitje Serpents - a clean blade make all the difference

Not only did they look amazing they tasted good as well and one promptly disappeared in double quick time with bowls of freshly made Minestrone.

Thank you Ed and Marieke for this excellent recipe which will become a regular on the baking rota in our house.

A perfect accompaniment to Minestrone!

The last bread in this post which admittedly I baked some time ago was the intriguingly name Black Bread.

This is another recipe from Short & Sweet and when it caught my eye I couldn’t wait to give it a go. The ingredients covered every shade of the darkest brown and black (coffee granules, cacao powder and black treacle). I omitted the fennel & caraway seed which would clearly put it in the savoury category which was confirmed by the taste of the loaf which wasn’t to everyone’s liking but bizarrely it seemed to go really well with a spread of nutella!

Dark wholesomeness

Quite a cross section of breads to learn and master and that is without even mentioning my signature Challah  Loaf but I’ll save that for another day!

Icing Madness!

As soon as  January’s schedule for Short and Tweet baking challenge went on the fridge there was only going to be one thing that that was going to be baked this week.

The coconut milk layer cake and saffron peach cake never stood a chance once my 7 year old saw those magic words, “The Alchemist’s chocolate cake“.

With a twinkle in her eye and a smile that lit up the room Annie announced “let’s make the Aclamist’s chocolate cake”

So on a quiet Saturday day afternoon that’s just what we did.

As our endeavours took shape  and chocolate started to cover everything, my apprentice marvelled at the various stages of the process as the ingredients were brought together in a variety of steps including. whisking, blending and mixing.

The dark, unctuous mixture brought initial oohs and aahs of approval, although on tasting my young helper informed me that she wasn’t that keen on dark chocolate. I assured her that the final result would be delicious (don’t let me down Dan!) and on observing the cake  decoration in the book  I perhaps rashly said that she could decorate it.

As the cake baked the kitchen filled with the heady aroma of the fruit of  Theobroma cacao and although there was a variation in colour across the cake and a certain amount of surface cracking, we were both pretty please with the final result.

When it came to the icing  Mum stepped in as the veteran of countless birthday cakes etc. and provided technical guidance and support where needed.  A mixture of icing sugar water and good old Cadbury’s drinking chocolate produced the icing and although Mum demonstrated a swirl pattern this was quickly dismissed by the apprentice and her older sister who decided to get in on the act!

Creative Icing!

Yes a  rather rather higgledy piggledy end result but all good practise in terms of hand/eye co-ordination!

The end result was slightly underdone ( I must learn to be more patient) and the apprentice realised after tasting the end result that she still really wasn’t a cake person!

Maybe I’ll have better luck with the 10 year old!

So simple and so delicious

Let me qualify, this is the bread I bake for my family 1-2 a week so daily is probably stretching it a bit!

Although the ShortandTweet bakers are taking a well earned Xmas break I and I am sure others continue to bake from our book of the moment. In fact I am typing this with flour encrusted fingers waiting for 2 of these white loaves to finish thier final prove.

This was the very first thing I baked from Short and Sweet and I continue to make it again and again. My kids love it, I love it. What more is there to say?

Flour, salt, water and yeast ( fresh or dried, whatever I have to hand) come together in a few simple steps to produce our daily bread.

Yes it doesn’t have the depth and complexity of flavour of a sourdough loaf or the inherent goodness of a pumpernickel loaf,  but there are few pleasures in life,  as I re-discovered recently, that are better than a simple buttered piece of toast from such a loaf.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year to everyone and but especially the Short and Tweet crew.

A thing of great beauty

I have always enjoyed a good sausage roll but finding a good one is like locating the proverbial needle in the haystack. Either the meat or the pastry are simply not up to scratch.

However I have never had the courage to have a go and make my own. Until now that is. This weeks S&T challenge saw a choice of either Chorizo & tomato tarts or Hot crust sausage rolls.  Much to my surprise the people that count opted for the latter so with a sense of trepidation I plunged into the world of puff pastry.

I knew that I would probably end up eating most of them if the chilli flakes and sweet paprika were included so when my eye caught sight of a bowl of windfall cooking apples in the kitchen I knew I had found my alternative.

The pastry went all according to plan although the amount of butter seemed alarming to begin with.

2 1/2 hours later 9 sticky,  glistening sausage rolls were gently cooling  on the work top. Having started late in the day the planned roast pheasant dinner was put on hold and a simple repast of warm, delicious, sausage rolls was enjoyed by one and all especially my 7 year old who despite  her size, greedily polished off 2 1/2 of these!

Are they cool enough to eat yet?

Staright out of the oven!

Yes I know I have played fast and loose with the title of this recipe but otherwise the alliteration wouldn’t have worked.

As I have mentioned before caking  baking isn’t really my thing  but if  the other recipes in Short and Sweet  are as easy and delicious as this one then I’m a convert.

The recipe was extremely straightforward, a classic combo of  unctuous wet ingredients (Muscovado sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and golden syrup) and unusual dry ingredients ( rye flour, apples and cinnamon). When it came to the apple I went for a particular favourite of mine, Egremont Russet,  a crisp, tangy  tasting dessert apple which is particularly nice.

My tin selection wasn’t quite on the money with the result that there was a bit of an overflow during baking:

A bit of a tight squeeze!

However I can only describe the end result as delicious and the whole cake was demolished by the four of  us in a matter of minutes.

The crunchiness of the almonds and  demerara combined really well with the rye, apple and cinnamon to produce a cake of the highest order.

Yes, on the face of it it may appear simple but the baking alchemy that takes place produces a lovely cake.

Crunchy loveliness

Flushed with my success with the Short and Tweet challenge 6 – Wholemeal bread, I was irresistibly drawn to the bread on the next page, a Spelt and Ale loaf.

The leading players

The combination of a traditional British  beverage (Porter) coupled with an ancient grain (Spelt) proved too much and I rashly blogged that I was going to launch into my own challenge with the baking of this loaf.

Everything appeared to be going to plan until the final prove. Dan had helpfully pointed out that it was important not to let the loaf over-proof due to the presence of malt, but did I listen? No Seree Bob! I left it for the usual 1/2 hour and on my return a rather nasty looking fissure had opened up in the side of the loaf.

Needless to say I ploughed on and following about a 10 minute extension to the recommended 40 -45 minute baking time I end up with this.

Rather rustic don't you think?

Not quite the beautifully formed loaf as pictured in the book (p33), but as they say the proof is in the eating.

Well I have had a first tasting and whilst the crust has a certain biscuity quality and is separating from the crumb (overcooked?) it is not dissimilar to wholemeal in its taste.

Not sure if that is what it should taste like but I am sure someone out there will put me straight.

Crumbs!

So what have I learnt? Not all loaves behave the same and keep a close eye on what’s going on. Now where did I put the Cheddar and Branston Pickle?