Wednesday, 23 November 2016

New Home

I feel frazzled.....We had several months when we did not know what was happening, found one house, which was withdrawn from the market two weeks before our expected move date, But found another home in another place altogether, and several months later we are finally snuggling down for the winter in our new home.

We are delighted with our new "City"...the smallest City in England.  It feels so friendly, and with the open countryside on our doorstep,



We can still walk into the Centre.  We have two markets each week: one on Wednesday and the other on Friday, with the most wonderful selection of locally grown and produced food.  So far we have bought sheep and goat cheeses, somerset apples and pears, and other superb vegetables....locally made salami, etc and oh some spelt sourdough bread for when the oven was not fit to use....a friend suggested that we got in a professional oven cleaner.  What a superb job...like new!  Chris from TLC in Street was spotted pdq in the local flier!

We have met most of the neighbours, and with some lovely apples a gift from one, I made some apple buns for Bun Friday.  I was a little overgenerous with the filling with some, and decided to make a Wells Apple Bun...little wells of sweet dough stuffed with apples and spices, and sprinkled with sugar!  Invited one of our new neighbours to share our Friday Bun Day treats.


Friday, 28 October 2016

Pumpkin Cake with pumpkin seeds recipe

This morning, I found a lovely bag of large cranberries in the freezer, and looking through my books for inspiration, settled on making some cranberry chutney, with red onion, apple, and cider apple vinegar, with a mixture of festive spices. It will not need refrigeration, and will be nicely matured for Christmas.

I've also finally baked theTurk's turban pumpkin which has been adorning the conservatory for the last few weeks.  It had got jolly hard, and I had to have a second pair of hands to break it open.  I simply placed the quarters skin and all in the oven to bake, and when soft scooped out the flesh.

There are no pictures...a small piece of the cake was cut off to eat, and the rest went into the freezer! Its going to come in very handy in the next week or so!   I am very busy using everything up.  I know what needs to be used from the freezer, fridge, and store cupboard, and ideas just appear from somewhere.

As well as making the cake, today I made up buns with pumpkin flesh, strong flour, home candied peel, the remaining of the preserved ginger, aniseed, butter, milk, yeast, eggs etc.

I've been sorting out recipe books, magazines, my card index box and hand written recipe books which date back many years, when I came across a typewritten recipe for a pumpkin cake...and it was from this that I have developed the Pumpkin cake below.  The original recipe which had margarine and walnuts, used the creaming method, and had a different blend of spices, and far too much sugar for my taste buds now.  Joyce Hatwood had brought some of her pumpkin cake to a crafting session about six years ago and it was so delicious, I asked for the recipe. I've been on a mission to eat more pumpkin seeds as they are high in zinc, and yes that's another item which needs using up!

Mr S has also been on the use up path, and when I emptied the teapot in which he had been brewing his spicy chi...I knew that would make a lovely soaking liquor for the raisins...I've kept back some of the last teabags to use for soaking raisins in during the next few days.

Pumpkin Cake with Pumpkin Seeds

225g plain flour...I used white spelt flour
1tbsp baking powder
175g soft brown sugar
225g cooked pumpkin flesh
75g butter, I used goat's butter
150g Raisins soaked in strong hot chai tea...enough to hardly cover the raisins
50g chopped candied peel
A good handful pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp ground mace
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs

You could sprinkle the top with some demerara sugar and more pumpkin seeds, but may need to cover part way through baking to prevent these scorching.

Sift all the dry goods, add the sugar, and rub in the butter.
Add the drained raisins and the orange, mix eggs into the pumpkin puree, then add this to the mixture, with the pumpkin seeds.  Stir well, and add sufficient of the soaking liquid to give a softish texture.

Bake in a lined 2 lb loaf tin for 60 to 70 minutes in a preheated oven gas Mark 4.  Test with a skewer.  Cool in the tin for about 20 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack.  The cake is very tender, and it is best left till completely cool if you want neat slices.

One of the tips on the guides to making the removal process as smooth as possible is ensuring there is plenty of tea and biscuits...well there will be buns and cake!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Avoncroft Museum

We have a little note book...and in there we list places we would like to visit, places we may have glimpsed or heard mention, and we have been meaning to visit Avoncroft for some time.  With just a few days remaining in this area, we choose a lovely sunny day...and we were completely entertained.

The staff were really friendly, and we were invited to pick fruit from the orchard, and I found some lovely chestnuts..of course a little contribution was accepted.



One of the many exhibits which was really well done was the prefab house.  My mother lived in one in Hull, for a while when her home had been bombed, so I was very interested in all the details.  It was well furnished, and I recognised the style.   With very little money and fewer items to buy after the war, people continued to have the same things through the fifties and well into the sixties, and my mother had transported many of the items including a washing machine, half way across the globe!  I remember an old bathroom foot towels just like this one, but maybe it was in red.


The house felt quite spacious..modern homes must be getting smaller and smaller!


There was a lovely little tin chapel

and beyond a barn whose sides were made up of beautiful woven wooden lattice


was a working post windmill..we had a guided tour.


I haven't listed all the buildings or mentioned that two young burly men were enjoying themselves blacksmithing and turning out manly pokers, with lovely elegant twists, or the lovely apple orchard...but you get the idea....

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!