Monday, 30 March 2015

Apple Buns

What do you do or plan to do when you know its going to be raining all day Sunday, and you have a poorly person at home?  I can think of various options: knitting, watching Smiley's people  back to back, and baking bread, and ironing.....

I managed all of these...well the last three episodes of Smiley's people on Sunday, as we had watched three on Saturday!

With only five more buns in my list of catch ups, I selected the Apple Buns from The Book of Buns.  I read and reread the recipe after I started the predough with 25g of flour and 125g water.  It felt like I was about to make some very thin flour glue, so I knew there was something wrong.  Also later on in the recipe the predough was being used twice!  I went with my instinct and trawled the internet for a solution.  There were comments on the facebook page I was following regarding some errors, but with little Huddle it was not easy to find the original comments and corrections.  However thanks to 'A Shaggy Dough Story' Blog, I found the solution.  It should be 125g flour and 125g water.

For a bit of 'aromatherapy' I cooked up the apple stuffing Saturday evening.  In the end I decided to leave on the lovely apple skin.  When cooled the sugar, butter and spices made a lovely  coating.  It was fun shaping, stuffing, and encapsulating the apple in the soft dough, in a sort a masochistic sort of way that is.  After leaving my 16 portions to rest, I realised that the dough was not smooth enough, so made them all into loose balls as detailed with good pictures at the beginning of the book.  Then I started again with the stretching into rounds and stuffing the balls.

When I thought they were sufficiently risen, they went into the oven, with a gentle lick of the pastry brush laden with glaze, and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.  Mr S is now 'converted' into liking this level of cinnamon, it is so well balanced with the other flavours.

As we looked forward to tea, we were debating when this would be, as this was the day the clocks changed.  Would three o'clock be too early, well its really four in 'old time', so we compromised:  three thirty or thereabout.   With a mug of tea, and a slow enjoyment, the flavour is gentle, subtle, but builds well.  The dough is soft and smooth.  We really did have only one each:  elegant sufficiency as Aunty Prue would say.  I can just see repeat batches with different fillings.....


Thursday, 26 March 2015


These buns I read, are the snack of choice of the Uruguayan Police Force.  I'm still catching up with back bakes from The Book of Buns.

Again I mismanaged my day and got in a 'pickle'.  Well I was doing the washing, painting a wooden bench, administering to the sick, shopping on my bike etc etc.

With Mr S at home the timetable was a bit Topsy Turvey.  Imagine this, the dough was shaped too late, so I put the stuffed buns in the fridge as I had to go out to a committee meeting, which I had forgotten about, and when I got back, they seemed to be set very firm.  So I left them in the conservatory overnight!  I almost thought that they would have to be thrown out this morning uncooked!

This morning I coerced them back to life, using the grill space above the oven as a warming drawer, but alternating the two trays to avoid overheating. I could see that they had come back to life, and whilst I was washing up etc., baked them ready to have a couple for our breakfast.

I stuffed 10 buns with my homemade blackcurrant jam, and the other 10 with my fresh fig and sherry conserve.....

How should I describe them:  delicious buns ready filled with jam, a sort of 'Danish Pastry' without all the butter, light and tasty, a nice little morsel to have with coffee.  Have frozen a few again, so as not to have too many to eat, to keep and to savour them at a later date.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Weekend Away with visits to Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Only a week before I saw that a blogging friend had been invited to paticipate in a Print Maker's Event at the Hepworth Wakefiled Gallery, and despite Mr S being rather poorly, we headed up North.

After parking up we made our way to the Gallery, to meet up with Heather and Gary of Little Ram Studio Fame.  I know how Heather loves her garden, and as if visiting a friend, I did not want to go with 'les bras ballant', so took some of my  wild pink primrose plants which are in full bloom.

It was great to meet them...and after lunch we went back again.

It was great to see their work.  The colours are rich, and the linocuts are strong, and the right size to have framed up on walls...I was really chuffed when Mr S suggested the living room for my new print.  I thought it would have been hung up in the Study.  As I have another blogging friend on my mind, it was not surprising that I chose the one called 'Daisy'.  I've had a look at Etsy and I think I shall have to keep some in mind for birthday presents.

After a little walk round the Hepworth, I knew I wanted an indepth view of some of the items, and found a great seat with a view of the river to plant Mr S down, to rest.  He was fairly poorly at this stage...but he loves old buildings more than 'modern art'.

later a close up look showed that although this is a thing of great beauty, little care is given to it, and from the dust and debris by the door, I wonder when last it was opened.  I've overexposed this on purpose as the building is so very dirty, and this shows up the detail of the carvings.

I loved the Lynda Benglis sculptures, large fanned metal pieces with the look of folded silk....

The exhibition:  British Scultors as Printmakers was really well set out,  I loved this one called Danse du Soleil by Stanley Hayter.  I'm sorry that I did not have the right light setting for this one...

I loved the large well lit space, which gave room to walk around the exhibits

The following day we set off for home, but Mr S being sweetness and kindness, agreed to stop off at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  It was from there I had sourced my Angie Lewin Mugs for my birrthday present.

In the grounds there was a Camellia House, and some large specimens were in full flower.

We enjoyed walking in the sunshine, but again I found a sunny sheltered spot for the man to rest just above the underground gallery, where there was a fabulous exhibition of some of Henry Moore's sculptures and other works called Back to the Land, but no photography there was permitted.

 I had started to wonder whether Moore did not do hands and feet as he found them difficult, but just seeing some of his detailed sketches of these, made me throw that thought right out.  There were some impressive works dotted around the wonderful landscape...Hepworth of course

Henry Moore...I had not realised that he also designed textiles, and I have just looked some up, and lots of oos and aaws escaped my lips!

Marialuisa Tadei, I took this one for my art teacher who also has mosaics as one of her mediums

Anthony Caro

and Sophie Ryder which Izzi would have loved

All in all a great and inspiring weekend away.  I was so pleased to also meet up with blogging friends.  Mr S is now tucked up trying to recover from this dreadful virus.

Growing Amaryllis

We met up yesterday for our 'advanced knitters' group, this time at Katherine's place.  Her garden was beautiful, and she had taken on the subliminal suggestion for Coffee and Walnut cake.  With a great DVD giving us a master class on Fair Isle Knitting, it was a perfect morning.

Someone mentioned the topic of growing amaryllis so we have various discussions.  The main one being how tall they can grow.  They do need as much bright light as possible.  Even with that sometimes, well very much so in my case, you have to make a support of canes.

I bought this white one called Matterhorn from the local market a few weeks ago, and have kept it well watered.  It has three flower spikes, so it will have flowers for several weeks.  The flowers are also too large for the stem to support.

At Christmas I bought Izzi one to grow for herself, and she was really proud of it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Pink Grapefruit Marmalade

This is the second marmalade made this year, with Lime being the first.  The lime marmalade didn't have a very good set so I had to be a little more careful this time.  I realised that I had probably used too much water.

If you cook the fruit in a pressure cooker first, you really need to use half the water given in the recipe for standard boiling.  It saves a lot of time, and there is much less steam in the kitchen, so I really favour the pressure cooker method, even though I do transfer the prepared fruit to my jamming pan where it is boiled up with the sugar.  If you are making a small amount with less than 1Kg of sugar, and do not have a jamming pan, it is fine to carry out the last stage in the large pressure cooker.

I had bought these lovely fresh firm grapefruits a couple of days before.  I had meant to have them for breakfast.  However I had one thing on my mind, and that is the forthcoming Kenilworth Horticultural Club April Show.  We had moved the Marmalade Competition from the September Slot.  My argument is that all the lovely fresh citrus fruit are available early in the year, and later in the year we are all busy making jams and chutneys, and also getting our plants, fruit, flowers and vegetables ready for exhibiting.  We'll see how it goes, there were some disgruntled voices.

As a committee member I really want to contribute and know that my lime is not really good enough, though I shall put a pot in 'to swell the numbers', but I wanted a better pot of marmalade to match up against other excellent preserve makers in the club.This is how the idea of the Pink Grapefruit Marmalade popped up in my mind.  The ingredients were staring me in the eye.  Having consulted my books and records, I found that it is about three years since I last made some.

Once cut up, I could see that the grapefruit were fresh, very juice without too much pith

often I cook the peel then slice, but this time I sliced first

the flesh was juiced up in the processor along with the lemons, but all the pips were first removed then tied in some muslin to extract the maximum amount of pectin during the cooking.  If you let the skins steep in the water and juice for at least a couple of hours before you start to boil, you get a softer result.  Sometimes I even leave it overnight.  This time I just got on with it, as I wanted to finish the process completely before getting on with some baking.

In record time I had the marmalade potted, the kitchen cleared, the labels printed and everything tidied up...

I am yet to taste it, and it is yet to be judged!