…And Now For Something Completely Different!

Confession time: this post contains no sandwiches. Nor does it contain any bread. Fillings neither. Not even any gardening.

What it does have, is my cousin, who is the best guitar player I know. It bears mentioning that I am a semi-professional musician, and have met, seen, heard, some world class musicians in my time.

Why am I going on about this? He’s just released a video, to go along with his new record contract, of him covering a song you may have heard. If you like it, maybe you could share it via whichever of your networks you choose. Heck, even if you don’t like it.

Anyway, enough familial bias and musical gushery. I give you: Mike Dawes!

You can buy the single, as well as the guitar tab, here.

Cooked Biscuits

Honey for My Honey: Honey and Ginger Wafers

OK, so gingerbread is pushing the blog’s original sandwich remit a touch far, I know. My continuous unemployment has prevented me from indulging my more pricey foody agenda, and my continually-increasing obsession with baking bread has shifted things more in that direction. But this recipe comes from The Handmade Loaf. So it counts. Quiet at the back.

I’ve had these earmarked as a bake for when I’m with my lovely lady who, sadly, lives an hour or so away whilst we each pursue our fledgeling careers. She’s a big fan of ginger, honey, gingerbread, spices… Basically these was always going to find favour with my sweetheart.

I ground the spices (coriander seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, fennel seed, all carefully balanced as per the recipe) in a pestle and mortar, weighed out the plain white and light rye flours and sugar, added in the bicarbonate of soda, whilst the honey and butter were combined, melted, and set to cooling by aforementioned ladyfriend. I mixed the dry ingredients together by hand, breaking up the lumps of sugar until it was an even mix.

Once the butter and honey had cooled I added the double cream, and stired. They didn’t combine very attractively, but I managed to get the cream reasonably evenly distributed, if not emulsified. I added this to the dry ingredients, and stirred into the smooth(ish) dough you see below.

At this stage it was fairly pliable, if a touch unruly, but I managed to roll it into a sausage and wrap in in cling film (which was surprisingly unclingy; budget cling film is most definitely a false economy).

After slightly longer chill than the prescribed two hours (pie delays play), I rolled it out (a challenge at first), and cut out circles of the dough, before spreading them over a baking traylined with baking parchment. I then glazed them with 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, and used a fork to create the pattern as per the purty picture in the book.

Egg-washed, scored, and ready for the oven!

I baked them for the lower end of the siggested time – 10 minutes – because I prefer a bready texture, but the glaze ensured the tops coloured nicely and had a crisp to the surface.

The texture was divine, and the spicing rich and complex. Following some advice from the Mellow Bakers forum I was generous with the ginger, a decision I didn’t regret as, despite having so much going on spice-wise, the ginger was still able to make its voice heard.

As is perhaps becoming a moot point, I would make these again. I struggle to recall a recipe of Dan Lepard’s that hasn’t been both a triumph of well written instructions and a delectable treat to be made again. Yes, I’m a bit of a fan.

I think these would be great at christmas, and might even work baked a tree decorations… Ooh now there’s an idea!

Doughy Daydreams: Could I Go Dough-Pro?

For a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with, I haven’t worked since August of last year (besides a couple of agency shifts). I have found baking, and blogging about baking, to be a tremendously beneficial activity in giving the long, empty days a sense of purpose and achievement. At the risk of turning this into an open-journal therapy session, there have been times when I needed a boost to my mood, and baking has provided it in spades.

I have been looking for work, unsuccessfully, since the beginning of the year, and have begun to lose hope of finding anything suitable, especially considering that, long-term, I know what I want to do (Music Therapy) and am 2/3 of the way through the three year MA that will allow me to do it (though on a hiatus). But in the mean time, I need to earn some money, and even when I’m qualified, I am unlikely to begin working as a therapist full-time over night. I’ll be piecing together freelance work from therapy, music teaching, etc.

Like many, I’m sure, the thought of earning money from my bread-headed obsession has crossed my mind more than a few times. Continue reading

Hamelman Video Tutorials: Learn From a Master

I was idly hypothesising about how one might slash the dough of a baguette to achieve the characteristic tear, when it struck me that this here internets would probably hold the answer. Well done internets; you did me proud. These videos are comprehensive, and come from a name I’ve come to trust: Jeffrey Hamelman. Serious skills. Videos after the break. Continue reading

This was the point I got excited. The smell!

Belated Buttery Buns

These were scheduled as part of April’s Mellow Bakers Handmade Loaf bake-along, but it’s taken until now for me to get round to making them. I’m glad I made the effort though, they were a real treat.

They are essentially savoury croissants: a stiff, white, milk dough with layers of  butter (oh-so-much-butter!) incorporated once the dough has proved (proven?) over night. Continue reading

The finished loaf. Nice holes and reasonably loose crumb, with a relatively dramatic tear.

Back to Basics: Dan’s White Sourdough

You would think that the first loaf in the first baking book I owned would have been a sensible place to start. But I skipped over the white sourdough recipe (from A Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard) in order to get to the mill loaf, which got me so excited a while ago. It’s taken me a while to go back and try the white.

I’m glad I did. Continue reading

Shipton Mill Spending Spree

My intention to bake along with the Mellow Bakers bake-along have been somewhat hampered by a lack of funds to acquire the necessary ingredients to bake (along).

Fortunately, due to a morale-boosting donation from my grandparents I have been able to order the more hard to find ingredients (white poppy seeds, and whole rye grains, I’m looking at you), and popped in to Shipton Mill whilst on a quick visit to a good friend of mine in Tetbury. It is an advantage being in the same county as such a well-regarded Mill, although this is the first time I’ve made the trip.

I bought some stoneground wholemeal, malthouse, light rye, wholegrain spelt, semolina, and Italian “00”, as well as a round cane banneton. Phew!

Can’t wait to get to baking!

Keep it floury, folks!