Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Durum Rye the Sourdough Way

Another sourdough loaf from our Facebook challenge group,with the recipe on page 60 of Jane Mason's Book.  Mr S reckons it tastes really good.  The crust is very tasty, and the crumb smooth and silky on the tongue.  We should be using durum flour...I used a bag I bought earlier this year from and Italian Stall which is Semola di Grano Duro Rimancinata by Arco.  This is so typical of me..looking around and buying ingredients that look interesting!  I do believe it is Durum flour: it is very finely ground and has semolina's yellow tint, and is very absorbant and elastic.

I have a much better picture from the other side, but I want to show the tear along the base.

The first time I baked this, I put in in a 800g banneton, and it split only on one side along the base...so as it was eaten up so quickly, I tried again, this time splitting the dough into two 500g bannetons...and I had the same splitting along the bottom, on the sides of the loaves facing each other.  Still...this is a journey to improve and perfect sourdough...so I shall have another go soon!

I've been reading around, and I shall try the tray of steaming water in the bottom of the oven for the third try!

Fougasse looking like Swiss Cheese Plant Leaves

When I last baked Fougasse I had an idea:  make them like the leaves of the Swiss Cheese Plant with a little cheese scattered over the top...the ideal bread for the farewell party held at Liz and Bob's with friends from the Kenilworth in Bloom and Kenilworth Horticultural Club Committees and judges.

We were really touched by Liz and Bob's offer to hold this party at their home.  Many of the guests were co-opted to make different dishes, and Liz asked me to make the canapes and bring some bread and chutney, and all the dishes, with desert and cake too, made for a lovely spread.  Bob cracked open some magnificent wines from their cellar.  We even had a tour of their home, and what a wonderful house, full of their personality and also hard work reviving and decorating family treasures.  It was a wonderful send off!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Day out to Hampton Court Castle and gardens

Jenny organised the last of this year's Kenilworth Horticultural Society outings to Hampton Court Castle.  We had a local coach company pick us on Sunday morning, and the trip through the countryside on one of the finest of Autumn mornings was a joy in itself.

The Castle of which little of the original remains is still picturesque, having been remodeled over the centuries, and is beautifully positioned in lush countryside.

There are some wonderful tree specimens surrounding the house, and the gardens, although now almost at the end of their display of plants, have been well laid out, with interesting walk ways, reflective pools, a wonderful maze, with tower in the middle, secret gardens, topiary etc.  As with many gardens, from the planting, it is definitely summer when the garden would be at its best.

scattered around are some interesting sculptures by the artist George Webb

This pergolas was displaying the hips of the rose Francis Lester which were bright and beautiful against the deep blue sky...and how about this for a novel plant label, which had been well hammered into the ground?  There is no fear here of the label disappearing or getting moved to another plant.

A few other plants were performing well late into the autumn:

and even where the vegetables had been grown, the green maure Phacelia of which I am found was a late source of nectar and pollen for the bees:

Mr S and I had lunch in the orangery, and then joined our group for a tour of the castle.  It is rented out for parties and weddings, and it has some lovely large rooms.

Inside none of the furnishing are original but a previous American Owner did his best to bring the dramatic element to the property:

Towards the end of the day, I went in search of the zip wire, and since there was no one else around, had a lovely exhilarating ride!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Bagels the sourdough way

This is the recipe set for the first half of October on our facebook group working our way through Jane Mason's Perfecting Sourdough.  The usual recommendation is to read and reread the recipe.  I noted that Bagels are made with a very stiff dough...so except for all the other ingredients I held back some of the water and added sufficient to get the stiff dough...not too stiff, but not slack.

I activated the sourdough overnight, and it has taken most of today, with the buns coming out of the oven just after six...it was the dough doing its thing...in the meantime I cleaned the brass and silver, and attended to other urgent matters.  I had a lovely call from my friend Penny this afternoon.  We chatted about the time she spent in the US which is when she tasted the real thing!

We have never really been 'bagel' people...I think I once had a little chew on a piece and did not think it was worthwhile finishing the bun!  We'll see what these are like tomorrow.  I had intended baking the sweeter version: Montreal Bagel from the Book of Buns, which coincidentally is being baked on the 'sister' group!  However I had no malt syrup...and our local honey is also coming to an end.  Maybe next week!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Exciting threads

I am so fortunate to be in a little group of knitters, and we love a challenge...this is a project that I am still working on.  It was reading a blogging friend's post: Not yet mitten weather,  that got me looking further into colour work.  I have fought shy, much preferring lace when I want a challenge.  So firstly its thanks to knitting friends for 'stretching' me into this area.

The thread then lead me onto Be*mused where I was thoroughly interested in the stashes of Latvian Mittens.

Also I have discovered that one can knit a braid..and have them as interesting elements in knitting on circular needles.  This is where I shall be spending quite a few hours learning more, so many thanks to Klionik