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!

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

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

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

Bake-Along Business: Mellow Bakers & #ShortandTweet

I wrote this a short while ago, and somehow failed to publish it. Ahead of my upcoming post about my first mellow bakers loaf, I thought I’d let it out of its hiding place, for the linky goodness if nothing else! Needless to say, I am still somehow running out of time, despite ample supply.

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My brief foray into group baking was something I enjoyed very much, but haven’t quite managed to recreate. I had fully intended to make a batch of pita bread along with the folks over at #ShortandTweet, but ran out of time. Since then, I have been incredibly busy (especially for a jobless wonder) and very low on energy. But April marks the beginning of a new bake along, one to which I fully intend to apply myself as fully as possible.

The Mellow Bakers are working their way through “The Handmade Loaf”, the very book that got me started on serious bread baking. I intend to bake and blog each loaf so long as I’m able, and also try and cook up a sandwich recipe for those that inspire me. I’m really looking forward to learning from my fellow bakers, and have already been in touch with some very friendly sorts.

They are also baking through another book, “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman. So if you fancy joining in, pick your poison, and jump in! I’m a relative newby and everyone’s been dead friendly, and there’s a real range of abilities, including some people who have baked it all before and/or are schooled in such things.

Sourdough Starter Days 4, 5 and 6…

…or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Leaven.

Day 4 in the Natural Leaven house, and the raisins have been evicted.

Urgh. I feel slightly soiled by that. Don’t you? Apologies for that.

Couple of days to catch y’all up on. One of them quite eventful. Are you sitting comfortably?

Starter Day 4 - as I found it

On Day 4 Señor Starter was looking much the same: the early signs of fermentation (pin hole bubbles), and a sheen on the surface where liquids and solids had begun to separate. There was more pronounced discolouration where the raisins had began to break down. They’ve served their purpose, i.e. to boost yeast and “friendly” bacteria at the beginning of the process, and so the time has come to remove them. Sniff. Continue reading

Sourdough Starter – Day 3, plus a Quick Primer on Natural Leaven

A confession: I recognise that a day by day update on a mixture of flour and water probably doesn’t qualify as a ripping yarn to most people. I am finding it a fascinating process, and I realise that there are people out there who agree. I also hope that some of those for whom this is proving a free treatment for insomnia may, in the fullness of time, see why a niche corner of the interwebs, and the populace thus represented, seems to enjoy peering at small jars of a smelly substance.

It is for the baffled, confused, and those peculiar few interested enough in what I’m writing who don’t share my fascination, that I will include in today’s post a wee primer on what it is that I’m doing. For those of you who are already on board, and just hang out here to get your fix of fermentation, skip to the end. Continue reading