Monday, 31 December 2012

Pentland Hills and Reservoirs

Following the Sun
 Just now the Sun never gets too high.  So shadows are long and days are short. Still there's time enough for a ramble in the Pentland Hills just outside Edinburgh

Sunset at 2:30pm???
It doesn't help when the horizon is elevated

We enjoyed our circular walk today around the 4 reservoirs: Threipmuir, Harlaw, Glencorse and Loganlea

Threipmuir (taken on 25/12/12)

Glencorse today,  Hogmonay


The way home, gateway from the hills
It's an eight mile round trip and we arrived home happy and a little tired.

Happy New Year to you, wherever you are.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cinnamon Swirls - Take Two

I promised to make these again over Christmas:

I learnt from my first attempt a couple of weeks ago,  and this time went the whole hog with the fondant icing:

A real festive treat..

I think we have another annual tradition!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Kulich - and other festive breads

What do you want to cheer up a UK Christmas?

A Russian Easter bread of course!

Also a Jewish Sabbath bread

...and some Italian summer biscotti: 

You just might get the idea that I love borrowing from other cultures. Our festive traditions are snowballing! The Kulich nearly got eaten before I remembered to photograph it. It did not have a dramatic rise but was went down a bomb.  It's a lot like panetonne with the fruit and nut mixture soaked in the alcoholic beverage of your choice.  All three recipes are rather higher fat than our daily loaf  having more fat/eggs/sugar than our daily fare. They each taste delicious.

Have a peaceful 2013, wherever you are!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Shopping

Went down the allotment today

It's a tradition, ever since getting an allotment to have our own brussels and parsnips at the Christmas table.

This year has been a success.

...despite everything.

Merry Christmas to you!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

RIP Toby

A much missed hill climber and family pet. d 19/12/12

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day Seven - Wholemeal Pan Loaf

As the week winds down I'm not feeling very imaginative, so have reverted to my "standard" loaf

It may be standard but it deserves some credit for all that.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day Six - Apple and Oat Bread

There are some that have enough of this bread obsession:

But a friend gave us a bag of apples from their garden and I was sure that Dan Lepard had an apple and oat loaf.  The start was not looking that promising.  A cup of grated apple mixed with a a cup of porridge (real oat porridge)

But mixed in with a standard white dough it's not that extraordinary...

...until you try to turn it out...

...when it all got a bit messy...

...but it turned out...

...pretty well

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day Five - Multigrain

Ever heard of campagrain? It's a mixture of  Flours: rye, barley, wheat, with some malt,  and Seeds: sunflower, linseed and sesame. I add poppy seeds and oatmeal too. 

The main thing is too add LOTS of seeds. A good tablespoon of each.

Mixed up the dough looks like this:

After shaping into baguettes I've taken to snipping the loaf diagonally with scissors

then pushing each section out the way in opposite directions alternately.  This increases the surface area.

and adds to the crustiness.

If you like a "nutty*" quality to your bread, you will love this.  (*Contains no nuts - only seeds)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day Four - Pain de Comapagne sur Poolish

Another Joe Ortiz "Village Baker" classic recipe. 

The "poolish" is just a "porridge" starter made 24 hours before with flour water and yeast  (or in this case a sourdough starter) after which it is frothing away like this.

The dough is part white flour part wholemeal. The only other ingredient is salt.   After an initial 90 minute first  rise shaped the loaf and proved it in a banneton cane basket covered with a floured muslin and a cling wrap on top to keep the moisture in.

It's a handsome piece of kit

Another piece of kit that I used (not photographed) is a ceramic tile - sold as a pizza stone - which is pre heated in the oven.

 Neither of these bits of kit is essential. A large bowl and a baking sheet will do the job.  (But it is nice to have the real thing)

After the second rise the dough is turned out of the bowl onto the hot stone and slashed.with a sharp knife (or a razor) and baked in a really hot oven

The result is a real antidote to sliced white. The crust has a wonderfull texture and taste.  The sourdough element really makes all the difference to the loaf! And it keeps well too!

The crumb shot
This is a fantastic traditional French Country Bread.  It works a treat

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day Three - Cinnamon Buns

A sweet dough is a novelty for me, but the sticky dough made photography rather difficult.  So there are only  pictures of the finished product:

This is a previously untried recipe from Joe Ortiz's "The Village Baker",  a book I've had for many years, and learnt to rely on. There are still some recipes I've never tried, like this one.

My execution was not really very good but the camera is forgiving, and so were the family who scoffed the lot.

The principle is that you roll out a sweet dough, wash with an egg wash, spread with a currant, sugar and cinnamon mixture and then roll  up like a Swiss roll.  Slice into discs with a (very) sharp knife and flatten each disc with the palm of your hand before rising and then glazing with a vanilla flavoured sugar syrup. You are supposed to drizzle with a fondant icing, but this was a a step too far given my rudimentary buns.

The family verdict: "Can you make these again for Christmas, Dad?" A winner. I will... and presentationaly  I will make a better job of them too.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day Two - 100% Rye Sourdough

There's no added yeast in this bread

Just fermented rye flour water and salt.

given 24 hours to ferment and then baked for an hour

It is a bit brick like and is best toasted. Some people love the flavour of  rye, others don't.

Following Andrew Whitley's recipe in "Bread Matters", his advice is that this forms the basis for a multitude of breads. I've tried this with rye wholegrains without much success, but a hybrid with wheat flour and a coating of nuts and seeds has been a hit.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Bread a Day Week, Day One - Baguette

I bake bread most days. I've got so used to it that it it has become a bit run of the mill.  So for this week I'm going track my progress day by day. Today it's basic "French Bread"  Ingredients: flour, water, white flour and salt.  Any other ingredients and it's not French bread, as enshrined in French law.  BUT you can add a bit of dough from the previous day's dough.  Doing this lifts this bread to a new height.  Try it!

Tools of the trade:  Baguette tray, loaf tin and bread machine bread pan.  Here's the contents turned out:

.... and shaped

... then baked.

The crust is "Frenched" by spraying with water at intervals during baking at a high temperature.

Wonderful cotton wool texture with a crunchy crust.  Due to the lack of any fat this bread stales in one day. Hence the requirement to make this bread fresh each day.

For sticklers the ingredients are

400 ml Water
600g White Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Yeast
Don't forget that old dough addition.


Knead ingredients for 10 to 15 mins (or use a bread machine)
Leave to rest in a warm place for 90mins
Punch down  (knead again for 5 mins)
Leave to rise for a half hour
Then preheat the oven to it's highest temperature
Spray/slather the loaf with water (and place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven too).
Slash with a sharp knife,  if you feel so inclined.
Bake - turning the oven down to gas mark 5 after 15 mins.
15 mins later remove and cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy - you will!

Monday, 3 December 2012


No, it's a fruit cage!

Mind you achieving this particular goal has left me on a high.  The weather has been ... unfavourable, but I had to do something with my Christmas shopping days off work.

One remnant of the old rotation still clinging on in the middle of the new soft fruit area is parsnip:

They've certainly had their required frosting!

A substantial part of the soft fruit is already in the right place, but I will have to relocate or replace the raspberries.  The blueberries already have their own pool of acidic soil and their own cage so i won't be moving them.

Height, Tanya - 6ft 6 inches but the ground slopes so it's 7ft on the other side.