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

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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

Bread in Bristol: Bread Store, Gloucester Road

I miss Bristol. For reasons innumerable. Circumstances (with which I’ll not bore you) have forced me to move away from my adopted home city, but fortunately not so far as I don’t get back there semi-regularly. For most of my time in Bristol I lived near the Gloucester Road, which (reportedly) has the highest density of independent retailers in Europe (or some such statistic), and is almost always buzzing with a glorious range of humans, most of whom are wearing a contented smile as they go about their business.

One of the firm fixtures (for the last 15 years, at least) is the ever-popular Bread Store, which serves a range of loaves freshly baked (onsite?), from white bloomers to 100% rye sourdough loaves (in two sizes), via speciality breads such as their red pepper and olive breads (enriched with olive oil, but not as holey as focaccia). Continue reading

Sarnie-Shop Review: Peppers

There are a few things in my home town of Gloucester, outside my family home, that I miss when I live elsewhere, and most of them are on or around Westgate Street. As such, Westgate tends to be where I head to show visitors Gloucester’s highlights. Gloucester has a beautiful cathedral, one of the first built in the gothic style, which is well worth a visit, and a pub, The Fountain, which is on a site that’s has had an Inn on it for hundreds of years, and still features folk music and morris dancing regularly. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to sing in both of them at different times. Very different experiences.

But as I was showing my ladyfriend around my home town for the first time, I was dismayed to see the shopfront of one of my other Westgate favourites sitting empty and unlit. Peppers, the delightful organic sarnie and salad shop had closed! Disaster! Continue reading

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