I think it's safe to say that I'm one of those people that gets a bee in her bonnet about things. Maybe that's the wrong word - maybe I mean that I get a pash on things (here I'll use my oft repeated excuse of English not being my first language so I don't always have the right word to hand). A few years ago it was wet felting, then I just had to learn to knit socks and did that with a passion. This year it seems to be Bread - yes bread. I've been making bread for a couple of years now but it was only after reading Elizabeth David's Bread book that I saw that there were so many possibilities and variations. My usual loaf tended to be half white, half wholemeal and some rye chucked in. I made it in a 2lb loaf tin and was always disappointed with the overcooked crust. That is until I read about the undercover method of baking bread that I mentioned a while ago. If you remember, you prove the dough for a second time on baking sheet under an upturned bowl and then you put the whole lot in the oven. The dough rises BEFORE the crumb sets and then after about 20 minutes you remove the bowl to let the bread brown. The crust is lovely and soft like so:
This is a a plain white loaf made with 20oz flour and 1/2 oz yeast. The only thing about this method is that the dough tends to spread out quite a lot so you get a sqat loaf.
I've also tried proving the dough in a Le Creuset type casserole and baking in that with the lid on. The crust was also lovely and soft. This bread is made with 9oz of wholemeal, 9oz white and 4oz of oatmeal and again 1/2 oz yeast:
Oh, it had some single cream in it too. Then at the weekend I tried my hand at crumpets. We are a family that likes crumpets and so far my prize only goes to the fat ones from M&S and from Waitrose too. The rest are an insult to the word crumpet - yuk, horrid rubbery things that they are. Anyway, a friend lent me some crumpet rings and I followed the recipe from the Bread book which was from a 1937 recipe. It was actually very easy - just like making a batter which infact it is. You don't knead anything. Everything went well until I had to turn the crumpets over and get them out of their rings. Hmmm hot rings, thick oven glove to hold them down and sharp knife to run along the edges to loosen. Meanwhile I have everyone sitting around the table in hopeful contemplation. Next time, I'll make the crumpets first and then seat everyone - I guess I thought it would be like making drop scones or something. Here they are in the tins - the bubbling is good, it's what makes the holes.
This is how they looked after the top and bottomn were cooked. Good but not enough holes.
Can you see the freyed edges? They didn't come out of the tins too easily. More to the point though is that they were delicious and well and truly worth the effort. If you'd like the recipe let me know I'll send it to you but please note that you need a griddle to make them on. I made mine on top of the simmering plate of the Aga.
So what next? I have loaves under my belt, doughnuts, crumpets - what about brioche I wonder and how about sourdough, that I must try. The Underground Baker has a great recipe for a starter that takes 5 days. I also want to try a potato and flour bread recipe that Elizabeth David says makes wonderful toast. I'll keep you all posted........
You may have the impression that I spend my life eating and baking these days but don't worry it'll pass as the next pash comes along. Apparently I have a sanguine personality so a Steinery type told me recently, which I was relieved to hear as I was getting a bit worried about my desire to flit from one thing to another so regularly. I don't know how many times I've heard 'don't you ever stick to one thing?' Well now I can say 'No I don't and it's it's just fine that way'. (I was going to put in a link to sanguine but there are too many so you'll have to google it yourself - sorry).
So apart from the bread I'm flitting in and out of knitting and I finished that jersey I was making for Rohan. Except that Raj is wearing it. You see I was using a Debbie Bliss pattern and I hate the way her children's stuff comes up so big and as Rohan is very slim I measured his chest. Then I decided to knit her age 4-5 pattern except I forgot to measure the length on my 10 year old and just gaily kept following her pattern. This is how it turned out - perfect for a (just) 7 year old.
No wonder he's laughing he's just gotten a new jersey. The wool is aran weight and one that I dyed in goldenrod and then overdyed in indigo. It's a bit on the limey side but it suits Raj's colour so I won't re-dip it to make it darker. Meanwhile Rohan is probably quite releived that he doesn't have to wear a handknit as he lives in his fleece. Oh well, never mind. I guess I could knit him a cricket sweater - I know he'll love that but can I face all those cables?
Just going to leave you with a pic of our current nature table. It's based on the Story of the Root Children and is the most beautiful story.
I'm desperate for Spring to come and in anticipation I'm making some blossom fairies. Here's a sneak peak:
I'll be posting up a how to and pattern in my next post if you want to make some. Just get yourself some pastel coloured felt and some roving for the hair. I've used some of my plant dyed curls on this one.