Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Still baking

I'm still baking. I haven't mentioned it for a while but my bakeathon through the River Cottage bread book is ongoing.

Okay, I'll admit I cheated a bit. My self-imposed rule at the beginning was to make EVERYTHING, one by one. That was fine in the chapters on normal bread, but then there were vetkoek (yuk) and a whole chapter on Bread Made with Wild Yeast.

I lovingly made and tended my sourdough starter. I made a loaf with it. My family tried it. Hated it. I think sourdough is the Marmite of the bread world; it's either love or loathe. They, my eaters, loathed. Me, I loved it, especially toasted with Marmite on, but even I'm not woman enough to eat my way through an entire chapter on sour dough breads single-handed. I may go back one day and make pumpernickel, but not yet.

So I skipped on to the Bread Made Without Yeast chapter. I baked, we ate and I forgot to take pictures. Here, in a nutshell, is what we had and the verdict (in brackets): Soda bread (a regular anyway, we love it and make it often); Walnut and honey bread (how much honey???!!!! Sweet, chewy, delish with strong cheese, probably won't make it again though); roti (another regularly-made already recipe, we adore it); tortillas (number one favourite from this book until I made the flatbreads which are even better. Still love these though, great for lunch); then Bannocks:

The Bannocks were more delicious than they looked.

Bannocks are thick, hot oatcakes, lovely eaten while still warm from the pan with thick vegetable soup. They looked uninspiring but were quick, easy and delicious. Just the sort of thing to knock up while you make the soup (actually they're so quick the soup wouldn't even have to be home made you could make these while opening a tin).

Yummy baked doughnuts

Next it was straight on into the fun stuff: Buns, Biscuits and Batter Breads (the chapter my children have been looking forward to most). First off was doughnuts but NOT, definitely NOT deep fried (the vetkoek put me off that for life). So I baked them, 10 minutes at the oven's hottest temperature then about seven minutes at gas mark 4, dabbed them with a bit of melted butter and tossed them in a bowl of cinnamon-spiked sugar. They were a big hit, little doughnutty-flavoured fluffy buns without the stink and palaver of deep frying. Perfect.

Meanwhile Brian finished a bit of DIY. We have a dresser but it's too tall for our low ceilings and too wide for our narrow railway carriage-shaped kitchen. In disgust I chucked it out into a barn a while ago (having tried and failed to live with it in various rooms). Instead I longed for a plate rack but funds didn't allow and the big white empty wall in my kitchen sulked plate rackless. Then, brainwave. Hang the TOP part on the wall, plate rack-stylee. Bingo! I rescued it from the barn, scrubbed it and bleached it, waxed it and Brian used coach bolts and mirror brackets (belt and braces) to hang it on the wall.

Dresser with dog in catalogue pose.

The box underneath is an ex-toy box Brian picked up for a song (he got three - one for each of his girls). I'm going to wax mine to match the dresser and then keep my toys cake tins and baking trays in it. I might even make it a comfy cushion for the top (no, not for the dog though!)


  1. We've been making sourdough loaves too - and we love them! But I agree they're not to everyone's taste. The dresser top looks brilliant in your kitchen. Clever you.

  2. Actually, I really enjoy sourdough. Mais chacun a son goût.

    Love to hear about all the breads. The First Nations' people here make Bannock with water, flour, and whatever fat that comes out of the pan. Then roasted in the pan over the fire, or wrapped on a stick and set over the fire.

    Brilliant move on the shelves and toy box. (Yes, you got it right the first time.)

    Hope R8 is almost recovered.

  3. I love you plate rack. We love sourdough but I can definitely see where it could be a love it or hate it thing.

  4. You are a great cook Mags.
    I have a plate rack like that.

  5. Wow, are you having a weighing in session at the end of the this Bake-a-thon? Because if I were you, I wouldn't!

  6. Yep, we're all as fat as pigs Maddie Grigg. ;-)

    Er, except we're not because that list represents the baking I've done over the past eight or nine weeks so it's more spread out than it appears.

    There's nothing wrong with a bit of bread with a nice home made vegetable soup. It's very good for post-run refuelling too.

    As for the treat stuff - I halve the quantities.

    A little bit of what you fancy does you good!

  7. Making Bannocks Hey! You will be learning the bagpipes next! Like the dresser and toy box underneath.

  8. Looks like I need the RC Bread book! (excuse the pun)

    Great idea re the top of your dresser - my dad made something similar for mum.

  9. I liked sourdough but found the whole thing quite a faff. It wasn't helped by the fact that I used all the starter having nursed it and fed it and read it stories for a week instead of keeping some back. When I realised what I had done I just couldn't fact getting the damn thing going again.


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