Cold Oven Bread Baking.

During my reading about all things sourdough bread and otherwise I came across the concept of cooking the bread starting from a cold oven.  This made alot of sense to me, my oven doesn’t keep the steam, it is made to vent any steam and it seems to do this very effectively, as all modern ovens are designed to do, that’s how we get our nice roast potatoes after all.  And as such when my bread goes into a super hot oven it seals the dough and it then becomes a battle as to who is going to win the ‘oven spring’ war, will the crust have already hardened too much or will it still be soft enough that when the interior of the bread has heated up nicely and the gas bubbles expanded allow for those exciting few moments where the bread springs up an inch or so, I love to watch out for this.   But if one was to put it into a cold oven, the yeast would love the warmth and the gas bubbles would expand gently and the crust would still be soft.

I decided to give it a go.

cold oven 1Fresh out of the oven, cold oven 2

you can see the spring. cold oven 3

The bread was amazing – this is a walnut and sunflower seed loaf.  It had a lovely texture, the density felt correct and everything about it seemed right and it tasted good too!

Quick recipe –

375g white bread flour

125g wholemeal bread flour

10g salt

10g yeast

350g warm water

50g sunflower seeds

50g walnuts chopped

extra sunflower seeds for topping.

cold oven 4I later tried the technique on a sourdough bread.  I’ve yet to cut into this as it was popped into the freezer.

Over all I think its an exciting development in my bread making skills.  If you wish to try it in a modern oven, start timing from the moment the oven hits temperature, I baked these loaves at 190c but I think I pulled them out a few minutes early, as with all things you know your bread and oven better than I.

And next time I’m going to try a cold start in a dutch oven – that will be interesting as it will retain any moisture from the loaf and I won’t have the absolutely terrifying ordeal of handling a red hot cast iron dish that has been heating up the oven for half an hour whilst at the same time trying to slip a lump of dough into it as quickly as possible.

The Garden in May 2015

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago before heading off to leafy Warwickshire, I’d best post them before I need to update them.

The lawn is looking patchy as creeping buttercup threatened to overtake the lawn and the border – cleverly identified from a smudgy photo sent to Noelle, so I’ve added a couple of plants in the big gaps in the border and am dabbing the weeds in the lawn with roundup, once a week.  The new plants came from a shop I spotted and went back in search of some weeks later, I found it and came back on the tube overladen with plants. I love London, the competition keeps the prices down, 6 perennials and 6 annuals all of a good size for £23.00.

I am very pleased that the white lilac is just starting to flower, this means it will survive in the dark corner I poked it in as it will only flower when the branches hit sunlight and I wondered whether it would die before it managed to do that.

We put up an archway and will have a purple and a white passion flower on one side with an outdoor jasmine on the other.  Various types of clematis and climbing roses will adorn the shed and climb through the lilac.

There is still the end corner to do, but when you consider there wasn’t even a blade of grass in this garden two summers ago, we haven’t done too bad.

On the Map!

On the Map!

Hubby and I have been waiting for this day since we bought our pad in London, we are at long last on the map of the underground.  See that imaginary dot between Silver Street and White Hart Lane, yep, that’s us, just a short walk away from either station. What was Greater Anglia is now London Overground with an improved service and most importantly our very own station(s) on the Underground Map.

Baking at home – Krentenbollen, The book of Buns, Jane Mason.

I recently took a quick trip back home to catch up with my beautiful boys which then results in me spending more hours than I really want to cleaning up their mess, more on that another day.  So because of that I never get a chance to catch up with everybody, but I did make time to see an old friend whose domestic goddess tendencies I happen to admire, especially her baking.  During a lovely afternoon spent admiring her gorgeous garden, whilst at the same time being given a very generous gift of two plants I was able to sample her latest bake Ninos Envueltos from Jane Mason’s book, ‘The Book of Buns’.  and decided then and their that I must join in.

I’ve been watching Stasher’s bakes on her blog for quite some time and had purchased Jane’s book a couple of weeks previously during one of my nocturnal raids on Amazon’s book store, but it had been put to one side whilst I concentrated on my bread making.  Now was the time and with my friends careful guidance as to where to find the facebook group that had bubbled up and formed from sheer enthusiasm for Jane’s bakes I was all set to go. I chose Krentenbollen,  from Holland where apparently they are almost the national dish, I do like a fruity bun. Krentenbollen 1

Firstly one infuses milk with orange and lemon zest, such pretty colours and the smell was a comforting milky citrus, the perfect way to start a morning. Krentenbollen 2

The dough ready to be formed into buns. Krentenbollen 3

The buns having been glazed just resting for a few more minutes. Krentenbollen 4

And fresh from the oven. Krentenbollen 5One ready for sampling. Krentenbollen 6

It reminded me of my very favourite bun from a high end supermarket I know and love.

And according to my calculations each bun is approximately 253 calories, worth it, oh so worth it.

A 70th Birthday adventure.

Hubby and I collected the boys at Euston just after 10.00 a.m. and after breakfast of pancakes, bacon and other American styled treats and the wonderful ritual of the present unwrapping we  caught a black cab to take us to London Zoo, which illustrated just how small London really is, the cost was just over eight quid.  We trotted in and immediately headed over to the penguins.  Son no.1 and I have a passion for penguins so we were transfixed with their jumping for joy in the bright morning sunshine.   Then we settled into bumbling around to see what we could see, we had a marvelous day in which we had a spot of lunch, afternoon tea with cake and then at the end of the day we trotted off to Soho to our favourite Chinese where we had reserved a table for the birthday boy where he was spoilt rotten.

Just a few snaps of our most precious of days together.

London Cats.

For some reason the local cats seem to congregate around our garden, is it because of Toile, the gently sloped south facing shed roof ideally situated for sunbathing or that they can find fresh drinking water and the occasional treat?, I have no idea.  Although I feel that the rather lovely looking fully intact ginger tom has other reasons for his interest in Toile.

I’ve been letting Toile out of late, she goes out for a trot around before breakfast and I call her in after fifteen minutes and then when I am pottering around in the garden she’s always beside me playing ball in the garden and comes in when I do.

Recently the cats are coming to play with her. London cats 2

And when they do I let her out to say hello. London cats 1

And I think she is doing very well. London cats 3

Sometimes there are distractions and she’s off. London cats 4

Much to the disappointment of this bemused pussy cat. London cats 5

There she is the white cat having a break from her kittens, come to call. London cats 6

She disappeared seconds after this photograph was taken.

I must say though that since she’s been chatting with the local cats I’ve had to up her flea protection regime, I’m highly allergic to flea bites so I am very well aware of her flea status or as we like to say, ‘pets have pets’.

A touch of wholemeal.

Having run out of bread yesterday I needed to get some going rather more quickly than is possible with sourdough.  I’ve really been enjoying the sourdough and it has had the effect that I simply can’t eat commercial bread at the moment – its a bit like socks, I can’t wear commercial socks now my toes have felt the woolly delights of the hand knitted versions.

So my recipe today was,

500 grams of bread flour, of which 375g was white and 125g was wholemeal.

10g salt

10g dried yeast

350 ml (weighed rather than measured) of blood heat water.

I mixed it all together with my dough hook on the Kenwood until the gluten was nice and stretchy,  let it rest for an hour until it had doubled in size, gently knocked back and shaped, let it rest for another half an hour, dusted with flour and slashed it with a serrated bread knife and then popped it into the preheated for half an hour oven at 250 c, for ten minutes, turning the temperature down to 190 c for another 15 minutes, during the last five minutes you need to check on your bread.  All ovens are different and you might need to ventilate your oven, or let it cook for longer – I know my oven runs a bit hot.

Tate Britain.

This was the start of the birthday boy’s weekend, a trip to Tate Britain to see the world’s largest collection of Turner’s work.  Of course we were side tracked as soon as we walked in with some beautiful and some not so beautiful artwork, we loved it all.  We only saw a tiny fraction, enjoyed wine in Members and then, with promise of further adventures, were gone into the night.  (or rather we trundled down to Soho and had a meal)

Tartine Bread

I made this bread a couple of weeks ago when it was all going so well and my learning was indeed hitting the upward slope of the Bell learning curve.  Since then it toppled out and I had a spectacular failure mainly because I let the dough rise for too long and the structure of the bread just flopped – whether that was from overstretching the gluten or the yeasts doing something odd would take a suite of laboratories to decide.  I am thoroughly enjoying Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, its a true sourdough bread lovers book, it is written in blog format with wonderful photography and If you buy just one bread book this year….  honestly make it this, its such a gorgeous book, just reading it will make you feel as though your living the sourdough dream.

Just as a quick pointer, there are many video’s on Sourdough bread, I found this one interesting and useful to explain various tips in the book,  there are many more. Tartine Bread Video

Tartine Bread 1 Tartine Bread 2 Tartine Bread 3 Tartine Bread 4