It’s Real Bread Week

Bread-rolls-ovenThere is a movement to celebrate ‘Real Bread’. It is encouraging people to buy bread from a local, traditional master baker that bakes real bread or even for people to make their own bread. For those interested, you can find out more from the Real Bread Campaign.

Cinnamon-loaf
Cinnamon brioche loaf

Making your own bread is easy. People often think it’s very time consuming, but that’s mostly the time needed for proving the dough. Basically that’s when you leave the dough to do its own thing, rising in a warm, humid place.

Currant-buns
Currants buns

I’ve been making bread since I was 19 years old. I spent the year before I went to university employed in the labs attached to a flour mill and part of my work schedule was to bake bread three times a week.

Walnut-loaf
Walnut loaf

Over the years I have experimented more and more, and, I as I like nuts there have been more and more nutty loaves of various shapes and flavours.

Nut-loaf
Almond loaf

And, of course, I can’t finish without mentioning the influence of the Great British Bake Off, along with judge Paul Hollywood, which has done so much to promote yeast cookery for the home baker. I would never have ventured into Italian breads without seeing it on the GBBO and it has been well worth it. Olive breadsticks are a bit tricky (and sticky) but absolutely delicious and well worth the effort every time.

Olive-Bread-sticks

Winter – let’s think of summer instead

LemonsLast weekend I went on a trip down memory lane and made a dish I remember tasting as a child when visiting one of my mother’s cousins sometime in the 1970s. Not entirely sure what prompted this wave of nostalgia, but the cousin lived in Bury St Edmunds for a short while and I guess my recent trips down to Bury must have sparked the old grey matter. It is food that’s normally found on a summer menu, but why not have a taste of summer in the midst of a leaden, dismal February.

Cucumber

Can you guess as you scroll down the pictures what I made? Last picture is the finished dish – with a label as let’s face it, it could be anything under all the green!!

Cream-cheese-lemons-cucumber

And along with the lemons, cucumber and cream cheese . . .

Parsley-and-cream

That’s some parsley and thick cream . . .

And-smoked-salmon

And finally the chopped smoked salmon and prawns. All blitzed together in the food processor and then into the lined mould.

Lining-the-mould

Finished.

The 1970s smoked salmon and prawn mousse - only small servings recommended!
The 1970s smoked salmon and prawn mousse – only small servings recommended!

Winter, Seville Oranges and Marmalade

seville oranges marmalade
Homemade marmalade made with Seville oranges.
Every year during January and February Seville oranges (Bitter oranges) arrive in our local fruit shops and supermarkets. I’m not sure if it’s because I recently saw the film ‘Paddington’ (and he does love his marmalade sandwiches), but this year I decided to make some marmalade.

Paddinton loves his marmalade. From the film 'Paddington'.
Paddinton loves his marmalade.
From the film ‘Paddington’.

Of course, alternatively it could be having all the glamour of the Tudors every where you look, that I unconsciously made a few connections – Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots – marmalade! It’s one of those English things we were told at school that the word marmalade comes from Mary Queen of Scots when a French cook concocted a preserve from Seville oranges for a sickly Mary – ‘Marie est malade’. Not true, (doesn’t surprise me) a far more accurate history of marmalade suggests Henry VIII would have known the preserve which was imported from Portugal and made from quinces. Then it appears that gradually this recipe was adapted to use other fruit including bitter oranges.

buttered marmalade teacake
Split marmalade teacake toasted, buttered and topped with marmalade.

I used a BBC Good Food marmalade recipe which I’ve made before. And, in for a penny in for a pound I found an interesting recipe for ‘marmalade’ teacakes (light yeasted buns with dried fruit). It was really a basic teacake recipe with 150 grams of HOMEMADE marmalade dissolved in the milk that is added to the flour to make the dough. The finished teacakes looked nice and were pleasant when toasted and buttered, but I couldn’t specifically taste the marmalade flavour unless a bite included a chunk of shredded peel. Well, you know, why not spread with extra marmalade!

Marmalade-atop-buttered-marmalade-teacakes