Monday, 5 September 2011

Anniversary and the Big Bread Bakeathon #4: Spelt

It's our wedding anniversary today. I'm not one for big, soppy displays of affection (I'm the one who forgets our anniversary, not Brian!) but we did buy this bottle of Glengoyne malt whisky on our honeymoon and we've saved it up to drink a tot of it every year.

The level is dropping a bit, so we must have been married a long time (she says, taking off shoes and socks to help with the sums). Thirteen years this year.

There isn't a traditional UK gift for the 13th wedding anniversary, but the US suggests lace (traditional) or textiles or furs (modern). Hmm. I think I'll stick to the single malt, thanks.

Glengoyne is an unpeated malt. We enjoyed a heady day visiting the distillery sticking our heads into vats of fermenting gorgeousness followed by a tasting. Brian was driving so I (apparently) had everything he was given in addition to my own. I suspect I wore a fixed silly grin for the rest of that day. Strangely my memories are slightly hazy.

Anyway we bought this bottle in the shop at the distillery. I don't remember how much it was but it was a bit of a stretch for two journalists' wages. When we've finished it we'll have to go back and get another one.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I'm on loaf #4 in my bakeathon, cooking my way through the River Cottage Bread handbook. Spelt is a new one for me, but apparently it's an ancient relative of modern wheat and the Romans used it for their bread.

It worried me slightly as a breakmaker. I don't think I have ever baked a loaf using an entirely different kind of flour own its own.

Daniel Stevens reassures in the recipe's intro that you just have to knead it a bit longer - an extra five minutes - and prove it in baskets or make smaller loaves.

I don't have proving baskets, but worked out that a similar container could be a colander lined with a linen tea cloth, sprinkled liberally with rye flour, so that's what I used.

The result was two round flattish loaves. I assumed they'd be heavy, leaden bricks but the crumb itself is surprisingly light. They have a nice flavour too, like a good wholesome wholemeal. My sternest critics tested it and gave it the verdict of (a somewhat surprised) "yum!" so my fears were unfounded.

I have also been playing with my new DSLR and continuing my annual obsession with taking pictures of the fennel seedheads. This is a single floret. I love the way the individual drops of rain each contain a reflection, upside down, of the rest of the fennel plant, the blue sky and the dark hedge behind. This was cropped and a little bit enhanced using Photoshop Elements which I have for a 30 day trial and am loving. Geek? Moi?


  1. Happy Anniversary!
    Bread sounds good; picture looks good.
    Things are pretty good all round, I'd say.

  2. Happy Anniversary! And that is a truly stunning photo, advise you continue with obsession!

  3. Happy Anniversary! Yuk to the Scotch though (shudders!!!)

    I love Spelt bread but usually do a half and half loaf and find that with the Spelt, it rises really well. Which reminds me, I need to start a loaf myself this morning . . .

  4. Happy anniversary. I love the idea of the malt and it sounds a fine idea to me. I love spelt loaves, but have never made any, you may be inspiring me.

    Oh and now the boys are back at school you should get some more comments from me!

  5. Happy anniversary to you both. I'm determined, when the kitchen is finished.... , to crack on with some baking. I like spelt loaves so those look just the thing I should try.

  6. Happy anniversary, love the wee dram idea, great way to celebrate. The bread looks yummy, must have ago at baking some this winter....and the photos...stunning. Best wishes x

  7. Happy anniversary Mags. I am enjoying your Bakeathon as I have the book but have strayed a little (a lot) from Daniel's ways lately with not so good results. Back to basics I think. Loved your rolls as mine always are a bit chewy and yours looked so light. Great photo of seedhead too x

  8. Happy Anniversary... I loved the idea of the honeymoon whisky! I wish we'd done that. We bought some mead on our Welsh honeymoon but I think I drank it to help me get over a bad cold...


I am sorry to have to add word verification thing again but I keep getting spammed.