Friday, 18 March 2016

Iced Buns

The recipe for mid March from the Face Book Group is on page 92 of The book of Buns:  Iced Buns.

This is just the right recipe for today Friday Bun Day.  Mr S will be delighted when he comes home this evening, and I wonder whether he will fish out 'The Railway Children' to watch.  He loves both the earlier and later versions of this film...and will surely remember the saving of the iced buns to celebrate Perk's birthday.  Very often this is the bun of choice when a bun is needed from a Baker's Shop.

Here are what 12 cooling buns look like

I opted to make this a little smaller at 60g dough weight giving 16 buns, of which two I decided to try out in a different shape.

When Mr S will go for an iced bun, I go for a Belgian Bun, so another time I shall work out what put the 'Belgian' in the bun!

I've opted to ice just six buns, with the rest going into the freezer.  With a little lemon added to the icing sugar, I think I made the icing too thin...but I have the others to practice on with slightly thicker icing.  I think there is more icing on the counter than on the buns...I could have added more icing sugar to thicken up the mixture, but it was too late by the time the icing was on and dribbling down the sides.

Monday, 14 March 2016

In a Vase on Monday - Myrtles and Hellebores

When I cleared away the vase of spent flowers yesterday, the mantle shelf looked a little bare but the little wooden lidded bowl I received from Mr S for Christmas stood out.  It is a 'vintage' bowl from Coos Bay Oregon, made from Myrtle Wood.  It is quite small but with lovely colouration from very dark almost black to pale golden cream.  When I received it and saw the classic label, I was delighted..Mr S had not realised that during the previous couple of years I had collected various 'myrtle type' shrubs for the garden.  Of course my myrtles come from various parts of the World.

I've been looking from the kitchen window towards the end of the garden for nearly a couple of months at the large clump of Hellebore flowers.  The individual flowers are beautiful.

It is very early of course this year, and in previous years this plant had won prizes at the gardening club for twelve stems of spring flowers in April.  I'm not sure what will be left in good enough condition, so decided to cut a few for this week's vase.

To go with them I cut stems from these myrtles: Myrtle Luma Apiculata Glauleam Gold, Lophomyrtus ralphii Little Star which has lovely little pink, cream and green leaves, Lophomyrtus ralphii Black Pearl, and Ugni Molinae Flambeau.  All of these are growing in pots, which I bring close to the house as I am not sure that they are very tolerant of hard frosts.

The sticky buds are unfurling in the sunny conservatory,

and having a lovely pot, but with drainage holes could not be called a vase.  I love ranunculas, and could help but come back from the market with three pots, and rather than cut the flowers, hope to have a succession of blooms over the next few weeks from the plants.

Simply by coincidence Cathy who hosts this meme has also posted about Hellebores.  Hers are quite marvelous and I love her description of the do go there and she what she and others have posted this week.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

In the Bread Bin - Woman cannot live by bread alone

'He inside' so loved the last sourdough loaf I made, that another 'Virtuous White Sourdough Loaf' was called for again.  Instead of one shaped in my basket, I tried more or less the same mixture in a long loaf tin.

By mid day Saturday I was considering what we were to have for dinner, and felt that after more or less being puddingless since Christmas, not counting fruit, or the lovely desserts we had when away, one was due.

Perhaps receiving my regular email which contained Vanessa Kimbell's  Sourdough Date & Walnut Bread and Butter Pudding recipe enticed me.  I decided to make a smaller one based on two eggs, and having no vanilla powder, used the Ndali Vanilla Extract, which I had just recently got along with the rest of my Bakery Bits order.  One of my favourite flavourings has to be vanilla, ever since a child it has been so.  I have pods, buy pods when away on holiday, 'beg' friends who travel to vanilla growing areas to bring me back some pods...well you get the idea!  I think that from now on, if I am going to buy Vanilla Extract, then this one has to be the one, to add to my 'stash' of pods!

Think tasty bread and butter pudding, think sticky toffee pudding and you are somewhere near imagining how delicious this one is.  Sliced into a moderate portion, topped with a little clotted cream  and for me a nice portion of blueberries on the side...we did not live on bread alone...but on Date and Walnut Bread and Butter Pudding.  The larger size with three eggs would have given eight very generous sized portions, but this size is sufficient for eight moderate portions...of elegant sufficiency, as my Aunty Prue would have said.  I can imagine all sorts of variations..if you can suggest some, I look forward to hearing from you.  Even if you had just a couple of slices of bread, it wouldn't have to be sourdough, and just one egg, and a little milk...then you could make a nice little pudding for two or three people.  However, would it be as good as this one?

I seem to be on the roll with sourdough at the moment.  I was inspired by this weekend's Bakery Bits News Letter which contained a link to a sourdough Focaccia.  I had none of the specialist flour mentioned or mushrooms..Instead I blended up some flour from Khorasan, Italian 00, white and rye bread flours, but followed all the proportions and techniques mapped out by Vanessa Kimble. It seemed strange not to have to knead the bread, leaving it do its own work overnight.  This morning I simple assembled a few things to add to the top of the dough:

I had red onion, roasted pumpkin which came out of the freezer, rosemary from the garden, pumpkin seeds soaked in water to stop them for scorching, and some fennel seeds, and of course lovely olive oil.

For lunch we had the baked focaccia, with a large bowl of home made soup, some fresh goat's cheese, and olives, then set out for our long circular walk in the lovely Spring Sunshine.  With several sizeable chunks frozen ready to come out for future suppers or lunches.

 If you would like to join in this meme "In the Bread Bin" whether regularly or occasionally, we can share our joy of baking, lessons we have learnt etc.   Do share your yeasted bakes by leaving comments, or by adding links to your blog, and from your blog to mine.  Please be considerate, polite, and  respect people and author's work.  I hope that we can all pick up little tips and share our enjoyment of baking.  

Thursday, 10 March 2016

In the Bread Bin - Something for myself and something to share

In the Bread Bin is the start of a meme about bakes with yeast.  It would be lovely to be joined by like minded home bakers at any stage of their journey into baking.

When I say something for myself, I always hope it will be for ourselves, and also sometimes for others.  I love baking bread, and exploring new ways, different ways of achieving something tasty for our meals.

All white sourdough loaf posing above my new bread bag from Bakery Bits.

This week I have made a white sourdough loaf, using the Virtuous Bread recipe from Jane Mason's Book All you Knead is Bread, and it has been particularly successful.  How do I calculate the success rate?  Firstly I love the bread: its looks and flavour; secondly and just as important my dearly beloved has loved it too.  How do I know this...he has wanted to have extra slices just to enjoy the flavour and texture, and the loaf was hardly cool.  At first I said no, but he said I was the most dreadful tease!

My early try with sourdoughs did lead to some quite 'sour' loaves...well not quite to Mr S's taste, but with more understanding and reading on sourdough, I have achieved a much 'sweeter' tasting sourdough loaf.  I have found that by refreshing the starter in the morning, then making the predough on the evening of day one, adding all the ingredients on the morning of day two, kneading well, then the hourly folds there is sufficient time for the final rise and bake that we have a nice fully cooled loaf to have on the morning of day three.  I have purposely aimed to have smaller 'holes' but many of them, and am very happy with this.

Mind you we just had to have a slice on the evening of day two just for a taste...and then a second slice.  This will 'not be permitted' next time though!  I wanted to have a sandwich for my lunch yesterday and thought tuna, salad and mayonnaise.  I had run out of the H stuff, and as it was raining so heavily yesterday, I decided to make some home made mayonnaise using olive oil and lemon juice....and used this instead of butter.  The egg white is in the freezer and will be defrosted and used for glazing buns at a later date.

For my sharing baking..I had been 'encouraged' through chatting on face book on The Baking our Way through the Book of Buns site by baking friend Maria to bake to share, I revisited the Anpan Buns from Japan.  I had the 'doubled up filling' red bean paste in the freezer and proceeded with the bake.  I also spent a little more time researching this wonderful technique of using Tangzhong - which Jane Mason calls the Scalded dough, which she also uses in the Milk Buns.  There are quite a few entries on the web and I found Anita's explanation about Tangzhong on her Blog:  'Dessert First A Passion for Pastry' , very interesting.

To get fresh buns for Wednesday lunch time, I made the buns to the last rise stage on Tuesday and decided to put them for a slow rise in the conservatory, copying Maria's technique.  I ought to have checked was warmer in the fridge!  In the morning the buns were very nearly frozen so it took three hours or so for them to be ready to bake.  I think it was because of their chilly overnight rise that glazing with the egg white and then baking, lead to the little blisters all over, quite a pretty effect really.  I think I got a much better rise than last time and the buns were ever lighter and fluffier.  I have used the warmth of the conservatory to aid I have another use when I want to retard baking when it is cool.

I thought my friends would have wanted to take them home...but they all wanted to eat them there and then!

I am going to start regular  entries about my yeasty efforts.  If you would like to join in this meme "In the Bread Bin" whether regularly or occasionally, we can share our joy of baking, lessons we have learnt etc.   Do share your yeasted bakes by leaving comments, and adding links to and from this blog.  Please be considerate, polite, and  respect people and author's work.  I hope that we can all pick up little tips and share our enjoyment of baking.  

Monday, 7 March 2016

In a Vase on Monday - The joy of Spring

One of the joys of Spring in my eyes are daffodils.  Today's small arrangement is made up of small daffodils from the garden.

I think these are Tete a Tete, probably bought years ago in flower at this time of year, and then put in the garden in the hope that they would come up again.

When I went close up to the two or three little clumps, I found one stem with three flowers, one stem with two, and the rest with just single blooms.  A few leaves and my latest little blue vase...

I love daffodils and my bookmark has been floating about since I finished my current book yesterday..and it begged to be put next to the real thing.  This is a J and J Cash woven silk bookmark with lovely daffodils all along.  I love the woven pictures by J & J Cash, and often buy pretty Bookmarks to give as presents.  I have just this one, although I do now have a few woven silk pictures, and from time to time write about them on this blog.  This daffodil book mark is one of my little 'precious' things which bring a smile whenever I look at it.  Its one of those little precious things that if misplaced just has to be found....

When I was thinking of what to write along with the daffodils today, I thought to quote from one of Wordsworth's Poems, from the famous one...they my eye fell on a book of poetry: Selected Poems by William Blake,  that I must have acquired and then put on the shelf and forgotten about...just like the pots of tete a tete that I planted in the garden...and the book fell open with this from Earth's Answer to Songs of Experience:

Does Spring hide its joy
When buds and blossoms grow?

If you would like to enjoy more buds and blossoms, why not go to Cathy's page, where you can read about her vase this week, and link into many other pretty arrangements.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Bun Muska from Iran

Caroline our moderator from the Facebook page of Baking our Way through the Book of Buns greeted us all with the following:

Happy 1st day of March. I hope everyone is keeping warm while we wait for Spring to arrive. Shall we warm up the kitchen and our tummies with bun baking? Bun muska, page 55

Today being my Friday Bun Day it was just the right time to make these...but it was quite cool, and we have had some snow flurries, and I had to wait longer for the last rise before going into the oven. I decided to make 10 smaller buns rather than the 8 given in the recipe.  The dough is quite a stiff one but after the butter is added and a further ten minutes kneading thoroughly works the dough, you are left with a silkily smooth but not over soft lump to put to rise for 2 hours or so..

When I looked on line to find out more about this bun, I came across a great entry by Finla, who belongs to a group of baking friends, and had this Bun Muska from the Book of Buns as one of their group bakes, and for a full description, recipe and lovely photographs, it is well worth going over to her blog: My Kitchen Treasures.

 I'd not been feeling on top form, and despite this had been off to town on my bicycle to do all the food shopping for the weekend.  When Mr S arrived from work, he could see that I was just glazing the buns, and looking tired, so he rolled up his sleeves, cleared the kitchen and did all the washing up!

My knight in shining armour or should I say amour (french for love) came to my rescue, and even made the tea to accompany the warm each only, of course!  The rest are in the a timelocked safe.

Mr S had his just like that but I had mine sliced with butter and a spot of wild plum jam.

They are delicious and I just wish there were seeds underneath as well!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Towards better Sourdough

Anyone who is dabbling in sourdough will know the are dealing with a 'living thing' and if you are not baking sourdough regularly, there is a trepidation somewhere in the process...
There is the refreshment of the mother which may have been languishing at the back of the fridge.  What size tin should one use or what would be the best proofing basket?  There is the unknown as to how long it will take in its final rise, and consequently at what time the loaf will finally go into the oven.  Then there is the question of how long ought the loaf to be baked for.

As with most things worth achieving, making good sourdough bread requires patience, practice, research, and if there are good recipes, and helpful guidance this ought to be an interesting journey.  Jane Mason's new book Perfecting Sourdough will be out shortly.  Already we have around thirty people join our group on Facebook called  Baking our Way through Perfecting Sourdough.

I wanted to refresh my starter and bake a sourdough loaf so had a read of All you Knead is Bread, and made a variation of 'Virtuous Bread'.  I used mainly stoneground wholemeal and some wholemeal rye,  and used some Chicken Fat in place of the butter or load, and some carob syrup in place of the honey.   Jane Mason had mentioned that chicken fat would have worked very well with my last walnut and fennel sourdough.  I love carob syrup.  I had it went I first went to Cyprus where I first tasted it on the delicious porridge served up at our hotel, and always being one to try new things, wanted to try the pure carob syrup.  It is thick and has the consistency of molasses.  It tastes nothing like chocolate in my opinion, it is not as sweet as honey by a long way, but has interesting complex flavours ranging from bitters, to caramel, or even malty.

I had a total weight of close to 750g and wondered what tin to bake the bread in.  I opted this time for the long thin loaf tin, which it filled to just above half way.

It took about four and a half hours to rise to the top of the tin, during which I was out 'crafting'.  I set the oven to gas mark 9 and in it went, then reduced it to gas mark 6 for half an hour, then finished it off without the tin for 5 minutes.

It went onto the cooling rack,

and I had been expecting to cut it in half, and freeze one half, and have a slice for breakfast...but we just could not resist a slice with a glass of milk for supper.

The loaf was light...evenly risen with no big holes, and absolutely delicious.  What would I do differently next time?  I would increase the amount to give me 1000g dough, by increasing all the ingredients by a third and bake in two seperate tins, just so that I have a whole loaf to freeze.  If I just wanted this long tin and not freeze, I would maybe add some walnuts too.  

In a Vase on Monday - Crocuses

When you do something regularly it becomes habit thing I have done for almost all my life is cut things from the garden and bring them inside.  It had not been on any particular day but for a few months I have been joining in with Cathy's group posting on a Monday, so I have definetely been picking flowers from the garden on Mondays.

These past few days I have been busy, and have had to schedule in so many things.  The one thing I dropped was posting my vase on Monday.  I did pick the blooms which I just had to stop and admire in the garden, after hanging out the washing.  Later in the day, my little visitor and Gran came to visit..and we looked at the crocuses together.  Just a few weeks before his third birthday, he gave me the thumbs up and a wink at the same time...for the lovely bun he had!

Here is my little vase of crocuses posing by the sticky buds and stones from last week.  The foliage is Carex morrowii variegata, some leaves full length, and some cut blunt.  The blooms are like silk, delicate but today Wednesday they are still on my kitchen windowsill, except for a I think they deserve to be shared even two days late!

The crocuses in the garden are looking really lovely..and we have had been visiting yesterday during the middle of the day when it got quite warm.  My favourite ones are the species and the last purple and white one.  I have a few large white ones, which I think are a little out of scale...but the bees and bumblebees like them.