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!

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

Mellow Bakers – Quick White Loaf

Here we are, at the tail end of April. Where, may I ask, has the first third of 2012 gone? Up in a cloud of flour in my case. Though not as much flour, of late, as I would have liked.

On reading my blog a good friend of mine said, amongst kind words, that I apologise too much for not writing; that people wouldn’t really notice the dates of posts, and that I ought not to mention it. So I’m keeping absolutely schtum. Zip. Nada. Not a word about being behind in the mellow bakers Handmade Loaf bake-along despite only being in month one. Just as well they’re/we’re mellow…

So – quick white loaf. I must admit that, going in to this bake, I was a little bored of white breads. Despite a preference towards the more whole of meals, I have baked mostly white loaves since taking up all this yeasty business. On top of that, another of Dan’s recipes – his sour cream loaf from Short and Sweet, has lodged itself firmly at the top of my favourite white recipes list.

On the other hand, this bake offered the chance to try a couple of new things: baking with fresh yeast, finally sourced from Sainsbury’s, and adding millet flakes. Add to all this a couple of bodged transfers from improvised peel to baking stone in the recent past, and the stakes for this bake were particularly high.

Can you feel the excitement? Try and remember to breath. 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.

Lentil-Stuffed Flatbreads; My Inaugural #ShortandTweet Adventure

You poor, neglected, breadheads. Anyone would think I cared not-a-jot for your burning desire for half-baked bread-based puns and amateur phone-based sarnie-snaps. But fear not, I have not forgotten you, I’ve just been building up to a content-fest. Oh yes. Oh, and celebrating my birthday. That too.

About that: it will come as no surprise to you, dear readers, that I’ve become a little obsessed by baking bread. So what else could a man ask for on the anniversary of his birth than a 40x30cm slab of granite, with bevelled edge and a polished top? Well, a copy of Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet”, that’s what. I am now the proud owner of both a beautiful baking stone, and what must surely be the modern bakers bible. Lovely jubbly. Thanks all!

And it is the latter that, as well as providing a cornucopia of new recipes to try (as well as ways to ruin my weight-loss regime before it’s begun), allows me to join in with the wonderful sorts who organise the #ShortandTweet bake-along. Each week, two or three recipes from the book are selected, announced on twitter (hence the hashtag), and then various members of the baking tweetisphere make the recipe, tweet about it, and very often, blog about it. Then the results are summarised on the short and tweet tumblr blog.

This week, I chose to make the lentil-stuffed flatbreads. Partly because I really enjoy flatbreads, and partly because I already had everything in. What? I’m a busy man. Sort of. Continue reading