Sourdough bread.

I had heard about this mythical bread many years ago, but it wasn’t until I was safely ensconced in London, where wonderful bakeries abound,  that I finally tried some from an artisan baker in Hackney, E5 Bakehouse if you happen to be passing, their Hackney Wild is a thing of beauty, a truly wondrous bread and one day, I shall pay out and have classes on how to make it, its just that good.

I’ve made lots of bread in the past, but when your on your own, its just easier to eat oat cakes or buy a commercially produced wholemeal when the call for a bacon sandwich becomes too strong to ignore and then leave the rest of the loaf on the side to eventually, when the green spots begin to illuminate, throw it in the bin.  The memory of the flavour of the sourdough won’t go away and it calls to me in the night and I’m too lazy to catch the train to Hackney, just for a loaf, although it was a close run thing, I nearly did.  One night last week, at about midnight, I got out of bed, flung a dressing gown on, made my way downstairs towards the kitchen whilst Toile stared at me with a quizzical look on her face and then proceeded to throw water and flour together in a jar, gave it a quick stir, left lots of lumps, didn’t close the lid for fear of explosion – yes I know, but it may have worked that quickly and I was half asleep and went back to bed.

Low and behold, eight hours later I had this, Sourdough 1

Bubbles, lots of lovely bubbles, which was more than I could possibly have hoped for.  So then I started looking on the internet along with giving instructions to hubby to bring some of my bread books down whilst at the same time feeding this little baby every twelve hours, equal parts water and flour.  I had no idea if this was correct but it felt right.

And when Crust by Richard Bertinet arrived with hubby I was able to go to stage 2.  To recap, I’d made the ferment and now I was making the sponge, I think, different bakers call them different things. Anyway, stage 2 looked like this. Sourdough 3

And then you leave that for 24 hours and use 200g of it and start to make the bread. Sourdough 4

Rather than adding this to the flour and trying to work it in with the water, I added it to the warm water and broke it up by rubbing my hands together, Sourdough 5

to form a gloopy mess the type you imagine life would have formed from in the murky prehistoric bacteria ridden swamps.  There was a smell, it wasn’t overly powerful but you could smell the yeast’s and you can see the bubbles, I shivered with delight.  This might just work.  Then I added spelt flour, strong white flour and salt.Sourdough 6

Then you knead it and it really is a very wet dough, I’ve never worked with such a wet dough and it was very messy, but I think I will get better with practise, but basically you knock it about a bit and stretch it around rather than kneading with the heel of your palm. There are lots of videos on utube.

Then you leave it to rise and knock back, twice and then you form it into your bread and your meant to leave it for hours and hours, I can’t remember how long I left it for but I wanted to go to bed. Sourdough 7

I think it could have been left longer, but it would have been overflowed by the morning, sometimes you just have to go for it.  I made my proving baskets with cereal bowls and some cotton fabric, and dusted with lots of flour.  Then in a preheated oven ten minutes at 230 c and 45 at 200 c, I had these little babies. sour dough loaf 1sour dough loaf 2

I must say, they are absolutely delicious.  They were crunchy and chewy and melted in the mouth, the flavour changed with every mouthful from slightly acidic to toffee flavoured caramel, it was amazing fresh and days later made the best toast. From start to finish was six days.  When we are told about bread being the staff of life, this was the loaf that they were talking about.  I am absolutely hooked.

Tower of London

Whilst admiring the views at Sky Garden I realised just how close the Tower of London was and being a member of HIstoric Royal Palaces and trying to tick them off  decided to pop along as I hadn’t seen it for a fair few years.  There were as many steps as I remember but being a tad taller I was able to see over the ramparts, which made it much more enjoyable as I really hadn’t enjoyed that particular school trip.  A quick trip around, a gawp at the crown jewels and then it was time to head off to do some shopping.  I’ll come back another day and explore further, but until then, enjoy the photos.


Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street.

I came across this little gem and booked immediately, you have to book three days in advance, making sure you take ID with a photograph of yourself on it, but on the plus side and this is a big plus considering The Shard is £25.00 to be placed in a unfurnished viewing platform that according to other photographers I know has dirty windows, its free.  Yes, that’s right, free, an hour and a half of lovely viewing time (although I didn’t see anyone being asked to leave)  to admire the 360 degree view, the three tiers and of course the planting, lets not forget the planting – but we know its all about the views.  There is lots of lovely seating with blankets and throws scattered around them, lest you feel a chill and an open air balcony to wander along.  I loved it.  Its lovely to go and see the old buildings, but its absolutely amazing to see the brand new ones.  The lift takes you straight up to floor 35, my ears actually popped it was that fast.  As you walk out, the atmosphere of the place, the view, the space, it just explodes your senses. I actually gasped at seeing London laid out like this.

I am definitely going back to see sunsets from here, but as the free viewing finishes at 6.00 p.m.  I’ll need to become a paying guest in one of the three restaurants, I can think of worse places to enjoy cocktails!

Hope you enjoy the photos.


Laundry Bag.

One thing that has been missing of late in this place of mine was a laundry bag.  I was using a straw basket bought from a French market when it came to town but that was cast aside and put into the bin when it got the blame for housing moths eggs and allowing a draw full of socks to become contaminated, resulting in breathtakingly large holes.   I’m sorry I haven’t been able to talk about it, it was just too painful, but safe to say I got the outbreak under control and fingers crossed non of the little critters survived my onslaught with the moth killer and judicious use of the freezer, sometimes in tandem.

And this idea has been trundling along, so today I glanced at my stash and having found a very pretty fabric, set too and made this.

Laundry Bag 1























A very simple laundry bag.Laundry Bag 2

Which looks very pretty next to my lovely dressing gown.




















When it gets too heavy to hang because its full of washing, it can be perched in the corner and still look pretty. Laundry Bag 3

A couple of weeks ago I was messing around one evening and made these, a couple of make up/knitting socks bags. Toiletry Bag 1Toiletry Bag 2

I was just exploring how to insert a zip that included a lining by machine.  I think they came out reasonably well and donated them to the community library were I meet for knitting to help raise funds, hopefully they sold.

Another day at London Zoo.

Son no.1 came down to London to see me yesterday and we had an amazing time at London Zoo.  We walked around from 10.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. and then walked the twenty or so minute walk through Regent Park to get to the tube to go to Soho for a meal.  It was at this point he begged for mercy he wanted to eat at Euston and go home, I’d worn the poor boy out.  Mind you I felt pretty tired, but this was the sixth out of seven days that I have been trotting around, so I’ve had a day off wandering around London today.

We really did have the loveliest of days and so much laughter, I hope we do it again soon.

The zoo is the most wonderful place to practise photography, one is  moving from dark to light, fast moving to stock still almost continuously.  I think I am learning,  probably not but it’s fun trying.  I only take one lens, the bag becomes heavier by the hour, I find the 85mm is a nice lens and lets in a lovely amount of light, I’ll have lots of time to practise with other lenses as we’ve become members so we will be able to trot along quite regularly, now I have the time.

Hope you enjoy the latest batch of photos.

Portobello Road

Hubby and I visited Portobello Road on Saturday which is its busiest day and has the full street market.  Everyday is different and its best to look at its website, Portobello Road to be certain what is happening on any particular day.

It was the best of London, really buzzy with one never quite knowing what was around the corner, we loved it and can’t wait to try the flavour of Portobello Road on a different day.  A few photo’s to wet your appetite.

Linen Blouse.

The linen blouse toile is finished taken from Burda 7670, view B.

blouse 4 blouse 3 blouse 2 blouse 1

Not too bad, and on the fit model… blouse 6 blouse 5

The front edge needs stabalising, the hip area needs tweaking, although the pattern does suggest that gap in the front.  There are a few tweaks to make, but generally the length is good on me as are the shoulders and arm length, so it has the start of a very good pattern for me and I really like the construction of the collar, which I think goes well with my addition of cufflink cuffs.

Now to keep on the theme of my New Years Resolution of finishing items I have already started, just a couple of jumpers to finish knitting and a waistcoat and summer top to finish sewing and I should be there, oh and socks, lots of socks started.  I am thinking I’ll finish in June.  That’s if I don’t get side tracked with dressing gowns and pyjama bottoms – again!