Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sunflower Sourdough twice

Having completed in principle one tour through all the sourdough recipes in Jane Mason's book: Perfecting Sourdough, we are now baking different recipes suggested up by members of the Facebook group.

I last baked and posted about the Sourdough Sunflower breads last July when it was particularly hot.  Today its been snowing, and since we were not venturing from home, this weekend has been one of baking, reading, research etc.

I set the sunflower seeds to soak, and the mother sourdough to prove overnight with a feed as per the recipe.  We have been discussing how to get a much tighter loaf, and various ways of getting a better shape on our loaves.  I also discussed bread making with my friend Marie-Claire whom I initially taught how to make bread.  Now with her many self taught bread making skills, we like to chat over the phone about bread matters.  We discussed the very helpful shaping techniques on u tube and I found Bake with Jack which she recommended as being fun to watch and follow.

I was not quite on the ball on Friday...weighed twice the amount of sunflower seeds, was busy moving plants around to more protected zones in anticipation of the snow...and forgot to reduce the temperature after the initial hot blast at 230 C.  I only moved the loaves round, but I managed to whip the loaves out after 25 minutes.  The crust is lovely dark and very tasty and because there is such a high hydration, the bread is not at all dry.

 As usual I like to bake two smaller loaves.

The same recipe was followed today...but I tried the loaf baked in my stainless steel roasting dish.  This technique works really well for me....It gives a really good and even rise and colour...I heat the roasting tin in the oven, and follow all the same temperatures, but remove the lid or rather the base, since I use the tin upside down, for the final 15 minutes baking.  I have even seen an old pyrex dish used to bake bread in.  Next time I am going to try using my stainless steel mixing bowl as the covering dome.  My shelves can only accommodate one covered dish on one level with another shelf with just the oven tray.  I think the oval loaf is my best sourdough so far.

The freezer is now well stocked up with bread...sofor the next week or so when the weather improves I shall have bread, and with weather improving time to go out and tackle the garden and continue with gloss painting!

Masala Buns

Yesterday's bun baking jamboree in the snow included Masala Buns from the Book of Buns.  This recipe was amongst the last ones set in February 2017...and just over a year later I'm finally baking it.  Mr S really thought the smell of the filling was wonderful.  With spices and chilli, lunch with a bun each and other tasty morsels will help warm us up...well the house is rather cosy, but a nice hot spicy bun is just the ticket!

Isn't it a coincidence that both the recipes have a mixture of black and white sesame seeds. I chose half wholemeal and half white wheat flour.  Now that I have followed the recipe exactly, next time, I shall allow my inspiration to make little tweeks: maybe nigella seeds on the top, and fresh coriander in the filling, perhaps pumkin instead of potato in the filling.  There are other recipes in the Book such as Khara Buns and Kahvalti with nigella and feta...all rather delicious savoury buns which on rebaking I have fused the ingredients and come up with many permutations.

Bun Muska and Snow

Having one or two new bakers join the Facebook page baking through Jane Mason's Book of Buns, and displaying their bakes is a good way of inspiring me, so out came  one of my favourite baking books.

It was rather cold yesterday and starting to snow.  I had planned to walk up to Wells Market and buy my usual dozen eggs, but put off the outing.  With just four eggs left after breakfast, I went through the book and chose Bun Muska to bake again, and took out some left over frozen egg wash from the freezer to thaw.  

It was March 2016 when I last baked these.  I wish I had read that post first...then I would have been reminded to coat the bottoms with seeds too!

Looking out on a snowy scene this morning, what nicer than fresh coffee  Bun Muska warmed in the oven, and recently made rhubarb jam, for breakfast.

As usual six went into the freezer yesterday evening, with two reserved for breakfast this morning.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Knot by Jane Borodale

Having visited Lytes Cary Manor a lovely National Trust Property not far away, and loving historical novels, I put this book on my long list of reserves at the Library.  It finally came in this week.   I've only read up to page 74, and already I am completely enthralled by Jane Borodale's style and the amount of research is evident right from the start.

Being a keen gardener and enjoying the many aspects of the process of setting out a new garden, choosing and collecting plants, Henry Lyte's research for his book, and his relationship with his gardener, the buying of seed, and visit to Wells to pick up rooted cuttings of gillyflowers from Mistress Shaw, is so touchingly described.

The novel has a great sense of place, and feeling for the area, with a variety of interesting characters such the blind basket maker Widow Hodges weaving the local withies into baskets.  I want to read and reread passages.....there is suspense too.

I shall want to revisit Lytes Cary Manor very soon, and read Jane Borodale's first book too....

Monday, 12 March 2018

New Back Garden

It a frustrating time for me...I would like to be planting, but we have a lot more earth moving, planning and laying out to do.   Plants which I brought are in pots or were temporarily positioned in the first quarter of the garden prepared early last year.

These was very little in the garden but at the end a clump of Mahonia, which when in flower buzzes with bees.  It will be just a few weeks till then.

Meanwhile the bulbs which I plant under shrubs in tubs are coming out with the sun.

And its hard to resist spending pocket money on pretty primulas.

I have had this little primrose for many years and it has moved with me to its sixth garden.  I found the first plant in the bottom of a hedgerow growing alongside standard wild primroses in South Marston where I had an allotment and made friends with a farmer close by.  It performs right at the start of spring and makes a delightful addition beneath shrubs.

A couple of years ago I noticed growing in another part of the garden a similar one but with a bit of a variation.  The leaves were more rolled and behind the primrose flower petals, a larger calyx somewhat separate from the petals is more prominent and ruffled.  We had lots of ants and gravel areas in the garden, where they may have dropped seeds, which then germinated and new plants flourished.  I was pleased to see that this variation was amongst the ones I brought down to Somerset.

If any readers would like to contribute more explanations, please do leave your comments on this change.