Love Bread? Me too!

I have become a little obsessed of late with making bread. But apparently I’m not the only one. I know this because when I asked a few friends and family if they would fancy joining me on a bread making course, they nearly bit my hand off!

LoveBread is a not-for-profit community supported bakery who make and sell artisan bread, as well as offering breadmaking workshops for schools and community groups. What’s more, they will organise a private session if you have a small group interested in learning together. So, last weekend, seven of us made our way to the Lovebread bakehouse in Brighouse to whip up some lovely loaves!

On the menu was Rye & Caraway loaf, Olive Fougasse and Oat Soda Bread. Carole was our mentor for the morning and showed us how to make each loaf step by step, before letting us loose to create our own. She was on hand throughout, fielding the many questions we kept firing at her!

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Carole showing us how to prepare our fougasse; adding the fillings; giving the fougasse its signature holes; the finished breads!

Carole taught us some great techniques during our session such as the ‘slap and fold’ method of kneading, as used by Richard Bertinet, and how to fold and tension our loaves to get the best rise. These were the key things I took away from the session.

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Using a proving banneton; the rye breads ready to go into the oven; the trusty LoveBread oven; our gorgeous loaves fresh from the oven.

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We came home with this little lot – my husband and I both went on the course so this is the fruits of both our labours! The fougasse went down incredibly well with the kids! I also came home with two proving bannetons to make my breads into those lovely artisan shapes, plus a scraper which is a god-send for getting your dough off the worktop and means you don’t need to constantly flour the surface.

Goodbye sliced white bread!

If you want to learn to make real bread on a LoveBread workshop, or want to book your own private session, get in touch with Carole via the LoveBread website or through twitter @Lovebread_. I really recommend it!

LoveBread will also be selling their bread at Brighouse’s 1940’s weekend on 1st and 2nd June.

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Crumpets!

I’ll start with a confession. I normally reach for a packet of Warburton’s if I’m in the mood for a crumpet. The others I’ve tried just seem to be rubbery, insipid, tasteless, joyless blobs.

I’m told that you’ll never go back to shop-bought once you try a homemade crumpet, so last weekend I had my first bash at making them.

I had been thinking about doing it for a while, but I was always put off because it turns out you need a crumpet ring to make a crumpet. This led to some delay as I trawled through crumpet ring reviews online. Oh yes, I’m nothing if not thorough in my research. I may be a saddo, but if I’m going to buy a crumpet ring it’d better be the finest darn crumpet ring known to man!

Anyway, I researched, I purchased and I waited for them to wing their way through the post. As luck would have it, on the very day they arrived, Paul Hollywood covered crumpets on his Bread programme so I followed his recipe as a starting point.

Crumpets

I won’t lie. I don’t think I’m going to be whipping up a batch of these every weekend. They are quite time-consuming. Well, they are if you have two small children who are screaming for breakfast at 7.30am every day. You have to make your yeast batter first, then rest it for upwards of 20 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, then rest it again for 20 minutes. I’ll confess that the kids had long since grown bored and hungry (and had to be placated with toast) long before these crumpets were finished. So, my tip would be to get up at least an hour earlier than the rest of your family to get the mix prepared. Yeah, right. My real tip would be to either serve these as a brunch dish, or make them the night before and then toast them in the morning.

The other thing to say is that I might try another recipe next time. I wasn’t blown away by these. So, maybe with another recipe I might be more convinced they are worth making more often. Perhaps Delia can convince me?!

Some other things to note:

– Before you flip them, make sure there isn’t too much uncooked mixture on the top, otherwise they batter will spill out as you turn them and make weird shapes on the top of your crumpets. Here’s some evidence if this in action!!

Crumpets - Batch 1 & Batch 2

– I’d recommend toasting the crumpets, even if you’re eating them fresh from the pan. They taste more like proper crumpets this way.

P.S. If you’re interested, I bought the Mermaid crumpets rings and, with a liberal application of melted butter, they perform very well and there was no sticking.

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Scissors and sellotape at the ready….

I think the reason I haven’t sewed anything recently is just because I find it so hard to get going when I know that there is so much stuff to do before you can even sew!

I have over 30 pages to cut and tape together before I can start making the Victory Patterns Hazel dress. Ugh…

 

hazelpattern

Perhaps I’ll do it tonight whilst watching the final of the Great British Sewing Bee for inspiration. My money is on Lauren to win!

 

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Eat the Seasons

Whilst hunting around the internet for recipes a while back, I came across the Eat the Seasons site. It’s a godsend if you are interested in quickly finding out what foods are in season throughout the year.

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I just love this site. It’s like the foodie’s equivalent of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. First, it give you a history of and facts about the food, the kind of info that you can use to show off when you play along with university challenge (we’ve all done it) or use at pub quizzes. Then, it gives you tips on buying, storing and preparing the food and it’s nutritional information. As if that wasn’t enough, it then provides both online and offline recipes for that particular ingredient.

I am also signed up to the email update, which sends a little reminder to my inbox about which foods are coming in to season. It will simply say in the title ‘EAT RHUBARB’ or ‘EAT MACKEREL’ so sometimes I don’t even have to click my lazy finger on the email and open it!

I swear they didn’t pay me to write this post, by the way. I just love that this site is so useful and free (you can support the creator with a donation towards running costs, which seems fair enough). Someone has put a whole lot of effort into it and it shows.

As we are now in April, Watercress is good to eat. So I thought I would share a quick recipe featuring this wonderful greenery. Unusually for me, it is ridiculously healthy and features hardly any butter and no sugar whatsoever. It’s so simple and quick to make – perfect for a week day meal and I find it a great way of sneaking watercress into my kids’ diet.

linguine
Image: delicious. magazine

Salmon & Watercress Linguine
Adapted just a smidge from delicious. magazine

2 salmon fillets
400g linguine or spaghetti
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Knob of butter
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 bunches watercress, a plus a handful for scattering!
100ml creme fraiche
1 – 2 tsps wholegrain mustard (optional)
Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of juice

Method

  1. Place the salmon fillets in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, then remove from the heat and set aside for 5-6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the cooked fillets from the pan. Skin them and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and toss with 2 tbsp of the cooking water and a drizzle of oil.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and cook the shallots over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until soft. Place in a food processor with the watercress and creme fraiche, and blitz until you have a smooth sauce. Stir in the wholegrain mustard.
  4. Return the sauce to the pan with the lemon zest and juice. Season. Gently warm through, then pour the sauce over the hot pasta and flake in the salmon. Garnish with the remaining watercress and serve.

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Kirkstall Deli Market

In terms of markets, I think Kirkstall Deli Market definitely trumps the others on location. Right in the middle of the cloisters, the market stalls line the walls on all four sides. And in the middle, you can sit, eat the delightful food you have just bought and listen to the entertainment (oh, and watch cute sausage dog puppies going by).

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Yesterday was prefect for our first ever visit to this event. After the seemingly endless blizzards of last week, the sun finally made an appearance and it really felt like Spring.

The first stall that caught my eye was That Old Chestnut, selling vegan cakes and sweet treats. They had these gorgeous little tiffin bars wrapped in baking paper and tied with twine. I could have bought so many things from here, but I opted for the cardamom and pistachio cake. More on that later!

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Next up (although I didn’t get a photo) was Stickey’s Honey stall. All the honey is made by bees in hives around Yorkshire. Now, I have a strange relationship with honey. I want to like it, really I do. I would prefer to have honey rather than refined sugar, but I just have never liked the taste. However, I’m determined to wean myself on to it! Especially when it is made so close to home, so we bagged a pot of honey with added pollen and we shall see if it converts me!

I was really looking forward to visiting the stall of the Sunshine Bakery. I desperately want to try their cupcakes. We drove past the bakery in Chapel Allerton once, but couldn’t stop. That’s as close as we have come and it’s a bit depressing. So imagine my delight when we realised they would be at the market! No cupcakes on sale, unfortunately, but the most humongous sausage rolls I’ve ever seen. One look at them, and their accompanying sign saying “Pork Belly and Apple” and I was sold. Probably the most delicious sausage roll I’ve ever tasted due to the generous hunk of moist sausage meat and the wonderful flaky pastry. The kids wolfed it down!

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A few more purchases later (raspberry sauce from The Seasonal Larder for drizzling on my breakfast yoghurt! A pack of black pudding from The Blue Pig Company) and we left the cloister to visit El Kantina’s sizzling hot plates for a taste of their Pulled Pork Slider. Spicy succulent pork, countered by creamy coleslaw and with a squirt of BBQ sauce.

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My husband washed his down with a pint of Farmers Brown Cow ale from the Hop Box – a horse box converted into a bar serving local craft ales. At this point, my phone died so I couldn’t grab a photo. Here’s one from their website so you can have a peep at their quirky horse box!  How great would this be parked up in my back garden for a summer party!!

thehopbox
Source: The Hop Box

We took our pulled pork sliders and ale out into the Abbey grounds and took in a bit of sunshine as the kids clambered around the ruined walls. Such a lovely location for this event – and definitely one we’ll be returning to at the end of April when it is next on.

Finally, we headed back to the car and ate the cardamom and pistachio cake there. Not as glamorous as enjoying it in the historic Abbey setting, but that’s the pay-off when you have sleepy children on your hands!

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Take a look at the Kirkstall Deli Market website or follow them on twitter via @kirkstalldeli.

 

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You had me at salted caramel

I think I would eat pretty much anything that has the words ‘salted caramel’ in front of it. It’s like an addiction. This phenomenon of food has ambushed me and I am now unable to conduct my everyday life without hunting down foodstuffs with a salty/sugary combo.

I made these salted caramel brownies for Valentine’s Day, under the guise of a lovey-dovey gift for my husband. But really I just wanted to try them and it was a good excuse! He seemed to like them, and I had to physically remove them from my children as they loved them even more.

Salted Caramel Brownies

The brownies are made using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe here. It’s very helpfully got the metric and imperial measurements, which is great because I get very confused by ounces and flummoxed by how much a US stick of butter weighs.

You start the recipe by making the salted caramels, which sounds a lot harder than it actually is. Then you make your brownie batter and stud it with the caramels. The result is that they melt in the oven and you have puddles of gorgeousness that ooze from the brownie when you cut it.

Three reasons to try them:

1) they’re easy to make (one bowl brownie recipe! Yay!)

2) they’re simply delicious

3) they make you a little bit famous. Your loved ones will take photos of them and big you up all over Facebook. People you don’t know will be looking at your cake stand and commenting on your lovely baked goods! OK, I can’t guarantee this last one, but it happened to me so it might happen to you too.

 

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DIY – Storage Pots

This can barely be classed as a tutorial, but I thought I’d share a good tip to make some very thrifty storage pots!

I have a lot of wallpaper samples and vintage wallpaper kicking about and was wondering about how to use it up. So, I wrapped a few empty food cans and hey presto – cute little pots for anything from tweezers to pens!

DIY storage pots

Firstly, you need to use those tin cans that have ring-pulls, as they don’t have sharp tops. However, you may want to sand down the inside edge as they are sometimes a little bit sharp. Give ’em a wash, measure and cut your paper, and then stick it down (I used a combo of sticky tape and craft glue).

And that’s it! See I told you it wasn’t a DIY. Just me messing about with bean tins.

Now you have a pretty little home for all those knick knacks.

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Got any good tutorials you’ve come across? I’m a sucker for a DIY.

Have a great weekend!

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Book haul

Father Christmas is such a cool guy. I got a haul of sewing books for Christmas that exactly matched my Amazon wishlist! How does he do it? He’s obviously up to date on all the latest technology.

I can’t wait to delve into them and start some projects. Here’s a sneaky peek…

Sewing book haul

DIY Couture by Rosie Martin / Sew Stories by Katie Allen / Sew Over It by Lisa Comfort

I’ll post more on each book soon starting with DIY Couture which has a big sticker on the front exclaiming ‘No Patterns Needed’. That’s what we like to hear!

This week I have also signed up to Miss Beatrix’s Creatives Unite. You basically sit down between 9-10pm on a Thursday and create something, then report back via twitter. I just need to pick a project for this week…

…perhaps one of the many refashions/revamps I have in mind for things I have bought at charity shops and vintage fairs?

…maybe I should go through the hundreds of things I have saved on my pinterest boards?!

…there’s those pyjama pants my husband keeps nagging me about. They could be his Valentine’s present I suppose.

…I keep meaning to make a detachable peter pan collar for myself! 

An hour is just not very long so I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver! I wonder if replacing all the buttons on my coat would be deemed creative enough? Probably not… but it is a dire situation. You see, they have nearly all fallen off due to shoddy sewing (Yes, Gap, I’m looking at you!) and I find them in the front garden and littering the car floor. My epaulette sticks up at a ridiculous angle because there is no button there to anchor it down! That just shows you how poor the sewing on shop-bought items can be.

What are you working on this week?

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Meet my new best friend

My family all clubbed together and bought me this wonderful thing for my birthday last year.  My husband researched overlockers (what a guy) and picked this one!

overlocker

I am ashamed to say that it then sat in the corner for six months as I was frankly terrified of it.

There are four threads running in all kinds of different directions. There’s a cutting blade that chops up and down very quickly indeed. It looks scary. I had to no idea how to use it, but I think was was putting me off was the work involved in threading it. The lady on the instructional DVD uses some kind of medical grade tweezers.

Fast forward six months and this machine and I are best friends. I finally watched the instructional DVD and did what it said. It is awesome. I have already made a pair of pyjama pants, a cushion cover as a wedding gift and my Sorbetto top.

I love this thing!

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Colette Sorbetto – complete!

I must have printed off the Colette Sorbetto pattern about a year ago. We don’t have a printer, so I nipped to my local Staples to do it. I would advise you NOT to do the same – I think it cost me about £8!! Yikes!

“Duh, doesn’t that totally defeat the object of a FREE downloadable pattern?” Erm…. yes.

sorbetto1

I had seen some marvellous versions of the Sorbetto on Pinterest that involved sleeves and a longer hem. I think I have spoken before about my pathological fear of displaying my upper arms. I also cannot abide a top that stops at the waistline of my trousers. Nobody needs to see my midriff, believe me. I should probably just invest in some togas rather than sewing Sorbettos, but I digress. I couldn’t resist adding a cute little peter pan collar, because I have some kind of obsession with them.

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Semi-interesting fact – the lace I used down the front was something my sister used to wrap my Christmas present in 2011. True story.

I have had this fabric for a very long time. I bought it at least five years ago I reckon. I seem to remember it was from the Fent Shop in Skipton. It has these funny little faces all over it. I don’t like to look at them for too long or they freak me out!

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I used my new wonderous, marvellous, magnificent overlocking friend, and even managed to replace the needle and re-thread it without any major incident. It felt like I had mastered open heart surgery.

I drafted my own peter pan collar too! Whoop! And….it fit! It was neat! The top-stitching actually looks straight and professional! I sewed at a ridiculously slow speed to encourage neatness! It was all going spiffingly….

And then I got to the sleeves.

Curse you, sleeves!!!!!! They are totally bodged. They are the one element that let’s the side down. Does anyone have any top tips for sleeves? They are my evil nemesis.

Oh well, never mind. Let’s just look at that peter pan collar instead as I am quite proud of that.

Next up I am planning to tackle a Banksia or the Darling Ranges dress that I bought last year. I am trying not to buy any new patterns before I have made my way through some of the ones I already have, but forces are conspiring against me. I’m desperate to partake in Kelly Skirt Friday run by Notches & Notions!

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