Showing posts with label leaven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leaven. Show all posts

Friday, 27 April 2012

Sourdough starter: day five and a half

Apologies for the lack of update on baby starter yesterday, but it was a stressful day. Looking at the pictures on Baker and Loaf I clearly had a problem. Baby starter was, how can I put it tactfully? Sleeping? Well, an extra feed and it's definitely perked up a lot. She's just taking things at her own pace, and so the Pantry starter is officially a day behind everyone else's. Epic. But it's much better to take time and have a lovely starter rather than bake... well a frisbee. Not that I've ever done that. Nope not me. Nor wholemeal rolls as hard as bullets. Never. I don't know what you mean *avoids eye contact*

So, today me and baby starter are taking a chance. We're going to progress on. Yes we are. Yes we can! And we're also moving into the bathroom where the tumble dryer makes it a little warmer.

My only question - which I will be tweeting presently: What do I do with the rest of the starter? 25g is going into a new bowl, but what about the rest?

And there we have it. Day five and a half of the #sourdoughtweetalong courtesy of Baker and Loaf.  Tomorrow I do believe we're baking. Hopefully you're as excited as I am.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sourdough starter: day four

Well it's all go today in the Pantry; a full day at work, and an evening catching up with a good friend meant that I completely forgot to feed baby starter, also leaving it uncovered for a few hours. To say I was concerned is an understatement and feeding was the first thing I did when I came in.

Sadly I think this may have ballsed things up (it's a technical term) as it looks nothing like either of the photos at Baker and Loaf it's much thicker, and slightly lumpy. That said, when I stirred the flour and water in today it definitely smelled yeasty and there are big bubbles all the way through - much like a small quantity of bread dough - so there's still hope. Fingers and toes are all crossed in the Pantry for a successful starter.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Sourdough starter: Day three

Day three and there are loads of bubbles. When you peel off the cling film I can definitely smell the yeasty sweetness that I associate with a starter or leaven. I'm starting to get slightly excited at the prospect of sourdough next week.

I haven't caved and bought the bannetones yet, but it's payday Friday so maybe then. I do think, if you're doing this and at all nervous then digital scales would be sooooo much easier. I'm finding with the water specifically that I'm getting more than a bit frustrated with the small quantities. But I'm nothing if not tenacious, determined (and maybe just a bit stubborn) so I shall continue on.

Still tweeting at #sourdoughtweetalong, still following instructions from Baker and Loaf. Mine's a bit more like the first picture of their's today.

And with that, I'm off to Guides. Did I mention we're looking for leaders? Did I? Have you had a look here yet? You really should.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sourdough starter: day two

As the title says, this is day two - can you see the little bubbles forming? Well, they're there I promise.

When I stirred it last night it was already smelling slightly yeasty and when I topped it up this morning, a little more again. I do wish I had digital scales as that would make life easier with the small quantities of flour and water I'm using - that said I will persist as I can't possibly justify buying new scales just for a starter. Especially not when I'm lusting after these bannetones. Quite a lot. I'm doing the basket dance with them.

This is part of the #sourdoughtweetalong using step-by-step guidance from Baker and Loaf I'll continue tweeting pictures using the hashtag , and doing a short blogpost each day.

Meal Planning Monday: a thrifty week

It's a bit of an odd week in the pantry - I just don't really know what's going on. As usual I'm busy: Brownies, Guides and a catch up with a friend take out all but Monday and Friday. By the time I've added a swim imto that mix, it'll just leave Friday. At least I'm starting the week with a tidy house I guess.

I am however in need of a big shop - I've been on half pay because of the forty two day migraine of doom for a bit now, and am holding out for this payday as I'm back on full pay. Simple basics are what I'm out of: pasta, olive oil, and those other basics. That said, I've still got most of this week to get through so I'm hoping as it's veg box week, that plus freezer gubbins will do us.

More excitingly however, I have just started up a new sourdough starter - having lost Mabel, and Herman bread not quite working have meant that I've been thinking about doing this for ages. Fortuitously I popped on to twitter, and saw the hashtag #sourdoughtweetalong Run by Baker and Loaf it's a day by day guide to starting a starter. I've done Day one, and am looking forward to nurturing my new baby over the next week. Fingers crossed for some success and longevity this time!

So, onto actual meal planning.

Breakfasts for me will be fruit, or poached eggs. I'm trying to stay off the dairy products, although I have had a tiny spot of cheese today. M will have cereal and toast.

Lunches, houmous and carrot sticks for me, if the weather gets any colder I'll be raiding the freezer for soup.

So, dinners:

Monday - leftover roast pork (from the freezer) purple sprouting broccoli and some roast potatoes

Tuesday - last week's pantry pasta as I froze the leftovers

Wednesday - sausages in what I suspect is a tomato based sauce. There's some green lentils in the cupboard, so I may cook those in with both the sausages and tomato sauce.

Thursday - M is at Welsh and I'm at Brownies, so something quick and easy for me - there's a tupperware of leftover curry so I think I'll tuck into that

Friday - I have what is labelled (it's the only thing that is) as bolognaise, so that with pasta for M and just a big bowl of it for me.

We actually have no plans next weekend so I'm going to roast a chicken as I don't feel like I've had a 'proper' roast in an age, and am hoping to have some time to potter.

Baking wise: I promised M some homemade flapjacky/ granola bars for his packed lunches about a month ago, so I'm going to try and make those - possibly tomorrow after swimming.

Be sure to pop over to At Home with Mrs M to see what everyone else is up to this week

Also - this is your last call for entries to the Asda Extra Special Hamper giveaway as it closes next week.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

My sourdough starter: day one

I mention on this week's Meal Planning Monday post, that I'm starting a new sourdough starter - with step-by-step guidance from Baker and Loaf I'll be tweeting pictures using the hashtag #sourdoughtweetalong, and adding them to the blog with a quick update each day.  

As it's not my recipe, I'd ask you to head on over to the Baker and Loaf blog if you want to have a go.

Now, my only dilemmas - do I finally invest in a proving basket? Where is my Baker's friend? and how am I going to approach slicing?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Where did I go right: Herman, but Light at Heart

Following on from my Herman ze German post, this weekend I bakend up the leaven, substituting the cooking apples and sultanas for pears and crystallised ginger. However, I'd also been sent some Light at Heart a new sugar and stevia blend from Tate and Lyle. The information said to use half as much as you would usually, so with a little trepidation I did just that (I had run out of caster sugar) using the white sugar in the cake and the brown to sprinkle on top before cooking.

The result was simply a lovely pear and ginger cake, Herman always bakes up beautifully, and the Light at Heart sugar really has made no difference to the taste at all, which was a lovely surprise.

You'll note it's slightly overcooked *ahem* I was mildly distracted doing Follow Fridays on Twitter, and forgot about it somewhat. But we'll just ignore that. Slightly. *ahem*

For those of you who follow me on twitter, this was the photo I was trying to take when my landlord caught me leaning precariously out of a window with a camera in one hand and a plate of cake in the other!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Herman ze German

I've posted before about Amish Friendship Bread, also known as Herman the German, a travelling sweet leaven that in feeding and baking produces more of himself to share with friends and loved ones.

My upstairs neighbour Rachel gave me some a couple of months ago and he's been baked and baked, with some given to Mark's mum, one batch given to one of the Guides, and another spilled in the car. Sorry Mark.

Anyway, I've noticed on facebook - speaking of which, have you seen the Penelope's Pantry page yet? Please feel free to like, I tend to do updates and general whittering on there.

Where was I? Oh yes, well, I've noticed on Facebook that Herman is doing the rounds, and I know that many Guide units are becoming beset with Hermans too so I thought I'd give some ideas for ways with Herman, as well as type out the original recipe in case you're a recipient without instructions.

OK, first to dispell some myths:

  • if you miss a feed Herman won't die
  • You don't need to stir out all the lumps when you feed Herman
  • If you get a bit bored, Herman is quite happy to nap for a bit on your worktop
  • You don't need to follow the recipe exactly, Herman is fairly forgiving

Now... here's the recipe. And much like the recent post on hot chocolate, I'll add some ways you can adapt Herman to suit your own tastes.

Day one: Put Herman in a big mixing bowl on your worktop (not in the fridge)
                Cover loosely with a tea towel
Day two: Stir Herman and peer in to see what's happening
Day three: Stir Herman and grumble a bit about about the worktop space he's taking up
Day four: Feed Herman
                 115g plain flour
                 240g caster sugar
                 250ml milk
                 Now just give him a little stir, ignore the lumps
Day five: Stir Herman, be amazed at the bubbles
Day six: Stir Herman whilst wondering if you'll ever get to eat him
Day seven: Stir Herman
Day eight: Stir again, despair of this ever becoming cake
Day nine: Feed Herman as above
Day ten... BAKING DAY!

First you split your mix into four containers and give three away to friends/ suckers/ baking nerds (delete as appropriate) then keep one and supplement that mixture as follows:

240g caster sugar
230g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
160ml oil (it needs to be tasteless, so no extra virgin olive oil here)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
160g sultanas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaped tsps cinammon
2 heaped tsps baking powder
60g brown sugar

Grease and line a roasting tin, or a couple of brownie tins - yes you read that right, there's a lot of mix here.
Pour your batter in, and sprinkle with brown sugar
Bake for 45 mins at 180 degrees C
This makes a lot of cake - it both travels and freezes well.

OK, so now you have Herman coming out of your ears (not literally I hope, I'd see a doctor about that). Do you want to do keep another Herman to keep going? If so, try these additions:

  • Instead of apple, sultana and cinammon, try plum, prune and ground cloves
  • Or pear, ground ginger and stem ginger
  • Dried fruit, apricots, prunes, dates or mixed fruit would all work well
  • Berries, blueberries, or a bag of frozen (drained) berries
  • Raspberries and ground almonds (instead of some of the flour)
  • Changing the sugar to brown will make the cake more treacley
  • Switching the sugar and blitzing down some dates and prunes, with cinammon and ginger would make a lighter version of parkin
  • Warm slices through and have with ice cream as a quick and easy pudding
  • Top with a mix of butter, sugar and cinammon and grill for a take on cinammon toast (an old uni favourite of mine)
The nice thing about Herman is that you always have cake, it works out cheaper than buying cake for lunches, and you know what's in it. I love the idea of sharing it with friends and family, that said I'm lucky to be able to foist it off on Guides as otherwise I'd be losing popularity with people swamped by Herman left, right and centre. That said if you want some and aren't close enough to get some from me, then try my post on Amish Friendship bread, when I made the starter myself. Sometimes, when ill I just have had too much free time it would seem!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday: baking central

It's Monday evening and I've just sat down to write my meal planning Monday post. Which isn't a good start really. That said, I knew at 7am this morning what I would be having for dinners this week so it's not too much of a crisis.

It's another truncated week in the pantry, but to make up for that I seem to have squeezed as much baking as possible into this evening - not only a brilliant stress reliever (sleepless night last night and very busy at work) but also productive too.

I do have a veg box coming tomorrow, but whilst most of the fruit will be comandeered to come with me to Poole, the veg will be left in the fridge, awaiting a more domestic week next week.

Also this weekend I received a fantastic box of freefrom goodies from Sainsburys, Mark is taste testing the coffee and walnut slices in his packed lunches, and as yet his only comment is that they're 'too small' which is clear praise. Next week I'm going to try the bagels (and will be treating myself to some smoked salmon and cream cheese to really enjoy them as they're meant to be).

So, after four hours of sleep, seven hours at work, 50mg sumatriptan, too many tastes of golden syrup, one evening, two parkins made and baked, one cottage pie, an exploding potato and Herman being fed - what does my meal plan look like?

Monday: leftover roast beef, baked potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn and broccoli

Tuesday: Cottage pie (made with the rest of the roast beef) and topped with some of our homegrown potatoes, cooked and mashed with their skins on, with brocolli and sweetcorn

We'll also be making Herman the leaven into cake tomorrow. Herman is a German friendship cake (much like the Amish friendship bread I made some time ago) leaven that was given to me as a thank you by my upstairs neighbour for her iced buns last week. We're going down the traditional apple route tomorrow, then will give away one and I'm going to experiment on the last batch and try and turn it into a sourdough leaven like Mabel.

Wednesday - Thursday I'll be working away.

Friday & Saturday we'll be visiting Mark's parents and I'll be lining up another first for the blog - Christmas pudding! I'm already excited!

So that's my week in the pantry, be sure to pop over to At Home with Mrs M to see what everyone else is up to

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Cinnamon Girl

One of my favourite things about cooking is spices - I love the way that a relatively simple addition can lift or ground a dish, and as I cook more and more I simultaneously despair over the amount of space they take up in my relatively small pantry, and love the fact that I can generally have a rummage in there and come up with something that will take what I'm cooking from the realms of ordinary and into something a bit more special.

As far as specific herbs and spices go, there are some I am just obsessed with. Some pop in and out of favour depending on the seasons (basil, I'm looking at you), others have a fixed place in my repertoire becuase of what they pair with - roast chicken and thyme, rhubarb and ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon in my baking exploits. Then of course there are those that pop in and out of favour, coriander is a prime example of this - a few years ago I was buying huge bunches from the world veg section of the supermarket and adding it to everything, whereas now I couldn't tell you the last time I added it to something. Similarly I went through a phase of adding smoked paprika to everything and anything in sight but haven't touched it recently (actually I've just checked, it's no longer resident in the pantry and I have a vague recollection of donating it to my little sister when I moved house).

Anyway, cinnamon seems to rise above those spices which fall in and out of my favour and find itself added to most things; parkin, stewed fruit, a stick added to chilli, and if Starbucks would care to reinstate their cinnamon latte I would be a happy (albeit eternally broke, and hyper caffeinated) woman, until then i just add it to the milk for my instant coffee.

One of the things I have wanted to do with my leaven for a long time, is make cinnamon buns. I loved the ones that I saw in New York, and they do seeem to be a very American breakfast dish. For the sake of my teeth and waistline I had to leave them uniced as I don't think I could face glace icing at 6am. I looked through all my recipe books and found them wanting and although I had an idea of what I needed to do, I wanted some guidance.

I worked my leaven as usual up until where you divide the dough in two. At this point, I continued with one half as usual and then worked the other half into the cinnamon buns. Having spent a long time googling, I based what I did from this point on Paula Deen's recipe as that also used a starter as the base. Find the recipe here on the Food Network's website (how I wish I got that channel on my freeview - actually, maybe not, as I would run the risk of becoming a hermit!)

After the initial prove, I tipped the dough onto my oiled worktop (which I'm starting to get the hang of now) and using the heel of my hand flattened out until it was a fairly even rectangle - about a foot wide and probably double that long. The filling from the recipe was supposed to be as follows:

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, plus more if needed
1/2 cup ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins

Now as I made that 250g of butter, and 325g of sugar I sort of proportioned it down to about 100g of butter and 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar. I softened the butter and spread it over the dough, and then covered that with the brown sugar (next time I might beat the butter, sugar and cinnamon together and spread that over the dough)and cinnamon. I then sprinkled on sultanas that I had soaked in tea.

The next part was tricky as I rolled the dough up into a long sausage, and then cut this into rounds which I then placed in a cake tin that I had previously buttered. This all then was left on the side to prove for another half an hour or so, and then baked in the oven with the other loaf of bread.

What came out was amazing! When hot, the rolls were so tasty, and would make an amazing pudding (I'm working on it, fear not). But next morning, they were great with a strong cup of tea as an interesting sugar hit that certainly kept me going till lunchtime. The cinnamon, whilst a very strong flavour was amazing, and they smelled as wonderful as they tasted. All these people who rave about porrige made with water being oh so filling, have clearly never known the wonder that is a breakfast of a cinnamon bun. As always with leaven based breads they don't last long, but you can warm these through in the microwave or oven to refresh them.

Whilst admittedly not something to eat every day of every week - for a treat these are amazing and the smell while they bake is enough to make me happy by itself.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Who ordered pizza?

Oddly, pizza isn't something I usually make or buy, it just doesn't really feature on my 'things to eat and cook' radar. However, having read headlines in the last week or so, saying that people have a main repertoire of 9 dishes that they cook and eat on a regular basis, and looking at myself as someone who although they have more than 9, who does tend to rotate the same meals (at the moment lentil ragu, butternut squash and chorizo, chilli, and chicken and mushroom risotto are featuring heavily) depending on the time of year. I thought I'd try and branch out over the coming weeks and months, trying things in either different ways or entirely new recipes. And tonight's pizza is the first of those for a couple of reasons.

I'm taking the Guides away for my licence holiday in a fortnight, and having had a very successful and yummy introduction to individual pizzas on my Guiders weekend away recently (thanks Brown Owl) I thought I'd use it as the basis for my Guides' Friday night tea. It's a meal they can customise, and that way no one has to face anything on their first night away that they don't like. Also I have buckets of leaven that I sort of hoped we could use for the bases.

So earlier this week I got Mabel out of the fridge at precisely the same point I got hit by a rotten virus that has left me feeling epically nauseous and not at all up for kneading a squishy leaven. As today dawned I suspected that I had killed her, but thought I'd go through the motions of making some bread to see if the routine activity helped me feel a bit better.

Surprisingly Mabel is more resilient than I would have expected, and survived my neglectfulness, and we have two loaves of bread in the kitchen.

I kept about a quarter of the dough Mabel yielded today to one side while I did the rest of the baking as I wanted to trial making a leaven pizza. A bit of googling hadn't turned much up so I decided to just make it up as I went along, using my imagination and some prompts from Dinner Diary's Quest for Perfect Pizza.

So I had taken the bread recipe up to the point on Doughblog's recipe where the dough would normally go in the tins. I kept a quarter back in the mixing bowl and covered it with cling film. And left it for 4 hours while I baked the rest of my bread.

During this time I cooked down a tin of tomatoes with 2 cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar, some dried oregano and some halved cherry tomatoes I had left over from some muffin pizzas at Guides the other week. I reduced this for about 15 minutes on a slow bubble and then took it off the heat.

I then chopped up some mushrooms, opened a tin of anchovies, hauled some olives and salami out of the fridge and chopped up some mozzarella (top tip - if you're cooking with mozzarella then it isn't worth buying the top range products as in taste test when cooked people can't tell the difference between that and the mid range brands).

Jules of Domestic Goddess in Training had mentioned something about using semolina to make her bread not stick to the baking tray, so I thought I'd try that. But not having any semolina I made do with couscous. Epically fantastic results you'll be pleased to hear. Anyway, I stretched the pizza dough over the base of the tray trying not to tear it, and then topped that with the tomato sauce, and then my slightly eclectic selection of toppings. Cooked in the oven as hot as it would go for 20 minutes, the pizza absolutely rocked. It was fabulous, and I think will work nice and easily with the Guides. Although I think I'll take the dough up to the stretching stage beforehand as it's quite mucky and Guides don't need any help in making a mess.

Tuesday at Guides we're making Christmas cakes in baked bean tins (Lordhelpme) watch this space for a blogpost if the girls will stay out of the pictures!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sunday's marathon bake off

Which is being done with John Barrowman covering Elaine Paige's Radio 2 Show as my soundtrack, when that finishes I'll move over to itunes and shuffle some more showtunes, because as well you know, I'm just that cool.

A dead oven and the workload from hell have conspired against much blogging of late, but with one of those sorted (not the workload sadly) I thought today would be a good day to throw myself up to my elbows in flour and the likes.

I decided this month's freezer meals would be the Lentil Ragu, of Dinner Diary infamy; seriously, it's spreading across the blogosphere faster than swine flu - but in a good way, obviously. However, a consensus was reached after my first batch; whilst tasty, filling and healthy myself and a few friends really felt it needed something added to it (apparently the piles of grated cheese just weren't enough). Jules of Domestic Goddess in Training suggested bacon, and another friend suggested chorizo. Elin, that friend has also recently converted me to the ways of Waitrose's Butternut squash and chorizo chilli and so I went with that recommendation. Brava Elin! As well as the oomph (it's a technical term) that I felt it was missing, the chorizo really complemented the flavours. Alongside the Dinner diary recipe I added a whole chorizo from Asda - about 300g (which handily was on 2 for £4.00 which means that next week I can use up the frozen half of the butternut squash and make the chilli too for no more money! Thrifty and tasty.)

I also added - just because they were in the freezer really - some grated red cabbage and carrots that I felt needed using up. I think that accounts for the darkness of the ragu this time, and clearly the extra vegetables cancel out the chorizo. Honest.

Lentil ragu not being enough, I kept to the pattern of the last three months and roasted a free range chicken, some potatoes and piles of carrots and broccoli. Since the weather started to turn I've really got back into the swing of doing a roast on a Sunday, having leftovers on Monday night, and sarnies on Monday and Tuesday for lunches, then stripping the chicken - using the carcass for stock, and the meat for a risotto with mushrooms and chicken using the stock, then freezing the last pint or so of the stock for some soup. As it's only Monday night I've obviously not done that yet, but it's a really effective way of stretching the £6 chicken over *counts* about 10 meals, which works out at about 60p per portion chicken wise.

My first batch of parkin was also knocked up as I was out gallivanting with the Brownies on Bonfire night (we had a fireworks promise party) I didn't make it then, and I was out gallivanting again on the Saturday so didn't make it up to Alexandra Palace either. Anyway, using my amended recipe from last year I made a lovely sticky batch. Although I should say, I opened a new jar of ground ginger yesterday and heaven only knows what Waitrose do to their ginger but I swear it's rocket powered! This batch certainly has a kick to it. I'm taking it into work tomorrow and then if there's any left on to Guides for the Parent's meeting before my holiday licence in December. If I'm not too stressed, I'm planning to try and blog our menu.
Did I make anything else? Yes, apple crumble, now in the freezer. And Mabel's still doing well, hopefully coming out of the freezer on Wednesday to be trialled as focaccia on Thursday and if that goes well then pizza base on Guide holiday.
Oh and short of rhyming it with Yentl, I really couldn't link lentils to a musical... as always when my brain fails me, answers on a postcard please!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bread of leaven

Well good news folks, the laptop is back and *touches wood* almost as a good as new, I have lost nearly all my photos though, so for the first time in my life I'm thankful for Facebook et al... Anyway, as promised, I'd tell you what I've been up to while internet-less.

I stocked up the freezer, with portions of Lentil Ragu and Lifechanging soup. I tackled bread from the leaven my friend Matt had given me. Mabel, the leaven, lives happily in my fridge and is fed on Thursdays - and on the weekends she turns into 2 loaves of lovely malted bread, but more on this later. I should also mention some disastrous fairy cakes (seriously, I've been making them since I was about 7!) which went utterly wrong - the Guides still ate them though, although perhaps that's more reflective on my wonderful, gannety Guides.

I also made a chocolate and banana loaf cake last week - Nigella's banana bread recipe, but with 25g of cocoa and 100g of chocolate chips added. As I found the banana bread to be a little dry last time, I upped to 4 bananas and much preferred the consistency. Can you believe I'm improving on Nigella? Me either!

Right, anyway enough waffling - onto the Bread of Leaven (I thought of it on the way back from our Harvest Festival and I'm secretly very proud!) thanks for this must go to Matt, and as it's Matt's leaven and their recipe. The only things you need apart from the leaven are a big kilner jar, and a fridge.

So, if like me, you want to make bread on a Sunday...

On Thursday feed your leaven with 100g of room temperature water and 100g of strong white bread flour. Give it a stir (it looks like wallpaper paste and doesn't smell all that great, but that's all good) and pop it back in the fridge.

On Saturday morning when you get up scrape all of the leaven from the kilner jar into a big mixing bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Leave it alone in the kitchen until Sunday. Clean your kilner jar out at this point (I dishwash it so it's sterile but I'm fussy)

On Sunday hop around excitedly in pink sheep pyjamas and tell the cats that you're going to make bread today. Just me? Oh well...

Now I should say this is where I diverge from instructions, I've done 2 rounds of bread now, and haven't had enough leaven at any point for his weights to work so I'm halving everything.

Weigh out 250g of leaven from your bowl into another mixing bowl (if you have the scales that you can put a bowl on and zero the weight, this really helps.) Put the rest of your leaven back in your (now clean) kilner jar and pop back in the fridge.

Add 275g of room temperature water, 300g of strong white flour, and 200g of malted flour - I like Dove's farm Organic flour as I live in London and the likelihood of finding any local flour is miniscule - but if you can then try it! and 1 1/4 tsp salt (the flaky type like Maldon).

Add your dry ingredients to your wet leaven and mix - eventually getting in there with your (clean) hands. Once it's all mixed in, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

Now this is the bit that's a bit labour intensive and annoying, because you only have 10 minutes between each lot of kneading, I tried watching Twilight in 10 minute chunks but that's just annoying, as was trying to read The Time Traveller's Wife (in case you're interested - amazing book - I cried like a baby). Apparently this situation is what Heat magazine was designed for, basically don't try and multi-task or you'll just be halfway through ironing a blouse and end up stuck between two tasks, twirling as you try and work out what to do next. Just me again? Oh.

So after the ten minutes dust your worktop with flour (another change here, you're supposed to oil your worktop, but that doesn't help me at all) and tip the dough out onto it. Using the heel of your hand knead the dough around in a circle by pushing it away from you and then bringing your hand back. Do this for 10 seconds (I know, I was surprised too). Put it back in the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Do this whole process another 2 times - so 3 in total - resigning yourself that listening to Elaine Page on Sunday is a productive use of your time.

After you've done the kneading section 3 times, leave your dough for half an hour, knead in the same way again and then leave for an hour.

Now, tip your dough onto your scales and weigh it, and either using a sharp knife or a baker's friend split it into two pieces - don't tear it though. Then you pat each into a fairly tight round, pulling the sides out and tucking them over so the dough is stretched out and folded in on itself. Then you fold your dough, over and over on it's self. I do both of these for about 2 tracks of a cd (it was Next to Normal this Sunday just gone which provided nice opportunities for belting, whilst folding).

Then, and this is the odd bit, you pop your dough into either a loaf tin, or leave it free as a round, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag and leave it for another three hours. Yes, 3 hours.

After about 2 and a half hours I turn the oven on as hot as it will go, and then at 3 hours turn it down to 225. As I don't have a water sprayer I flick water over the loaves (apparently it helps the crust form, and flicking is almost a technical term) and then put them in the oven. After 15 minutes I turn the oven down to 180 and leave them be for another 45 minutes.

Then you're done. Turn your bread out onto a wire rack to cool - and apparently you must leave it till it's cool as it'll cause horrid indigestion otherwise. I haven't tested this as indigestion and I do not mix.

The bread is lovely for breakfast, or lunch with soup - the flour I'm using gives a chewy, nutty taste which goes gorgeously with emmenthal cheese and the sweetness of lifechanging soup. After a couple of days it also makes amazing toast with butter and honey. Oddly, you need less of it to feel full than of shop bought bread, but eating less doesn't feel like I'm denying myself. However I'm not making any weightloss claims or anything, just that it makes you fuller quicker.

Anyway, if you want some leaven and live close by I'm more than happy to share, I don't know how it would fare in the post though. Oh and pictures... hang on, I'll just see how much is left!


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