Pumpkin Loaf

This is the recipe for the Pumpkin Loaf we made at Bread Club on 19th October.  It makes a lovely, smooth dough which is easily doubled up to do two loaves, or, if you prefer, you could make 12 small rolls out of this quantity.  Perfect for Halloween parties!

The quantities are a bit odd as I have adapted it from an American recipe that is on the King Arthur Flour website.  If you can’t find ground cardamom (I buy it online) you can toast and grind the seeds from some cardamom pods.  It’s a small amount so should not be too taxing a task!  Just lightly toast them in a dry frying pan for 30-40 seconds, then grind them down using a pestle and mortar.

  • 390g plain flour
  • 53g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp fast acting yeast
  • 170g pumpkin puree (we used canned pumpkin but you could cook a fresh one and puree the flesh)
  • 1 large egg
  • 60ml lukewarm milk

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth.  It will seem like it doesn’t want to come together, but it will!

Return the dough to the bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave for one and a quarter hours.

Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin.  Knock the dough back and shape it into a little loaf, and put it in the tin for a second prove.  Or, if you are making rolls, shape into 12 balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Flatten each one slightly with your palm.  Leave for 45-50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160 Fan/Gas 5 while the bread is proving.  Get a small cup of water ready and throw it into the bottom of the oven when you put the bread in.  Bake the loaf for 40 minutes.  Test it by turning it out and tapping the bottom, you should hear a ‘hollow’ sound.  If you don’t pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes.  Place the loaf onto a wire rack to cool.

If you are making rolls, bake for less time, say 20-25 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.  You could top the rolls with seeds before baking, if you like.

Check out the beautiful orange colour – there is no filter on this photo!



Walnut Bread

This is the Walnut Bread that Kate made on Nadiya’s Family Favourites.  The addition of walnut oil and butter makes it so soft and lovely.  Based on a Paul Hollywood recipe.

  • 350g wholemeal bread flour
  • 150g strong white flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 7g fast acting yeast
  • 40g softened butter
  • 60ml walnut oil
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 150g walnut pieces

Put all the ingredients except the walnut pieces into a large bowl and stir to combine.  Tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave prove for an hour.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.  Turn your dough out and incorporate the walnut pieces into it by lightly kneading till they are well distributed.  Now shape the dough into a ball and place on the baking tray.  Use a sharp knife to cut a cross in the top and then dust with flour.  Leave to prove for another hour.

Preheat oven to 220C/Gas 7.   Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes until golden and the bottom makes a hollow sound when tapped.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Halloumi & Mint Bread

Here’s the recipe for the Halloumi & Mint Bread we made at our Bread Club meeting on 29th April, that was then made again by Jo on the programme Nadiya’s Family Favourites.  This bread was a big hit with the group!  Luckily I made one extra on the day and we all shared it warm for a delicious lunch.  This is my version of a Paul Hollywood recipe…

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 25g fresh yeast (of if you’ve only got dried fast acting I would use 10g)
  • 1 heaped tsp dried mint
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 1 block halloumi cheese

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, yeast, mint and olive oil.  Add the water, bring together into a dough and knead on a floured surface till smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for 1 hour.

Drain the halloumi and crumble the cheese into pieces.  When your dough is ready take it from the bowl and incorporate the cheese into it.  Shape into a long sausage (oiled hands will help you here!) and place on a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Leave to prove again for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 8.  Just before you put the bread in to bake, slash it diagonally across the top several times and dust with flour.  Bake for 30 minutes till golden and the bottom is browning and sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack.


Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia

This is the bread that Tatti made on Nadiya’s Family Favourites.  It’s a great recipe!  I would say that any time is a good time to make this focaccia…

  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 14g fast acting yeast
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt flakes (I like Maldon salt)

Finely chop two sprigs of the rosemary and all of the garlic cloves.  In a large bowl, mix together the flour, fine salt and yeast, then add the chopped rosemary and garlic.  Now stir in the water and 2 tbsp of the oil and bring together to form a rough dough.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.  Return to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Liberally oil a large baking tray.  Divide your dough into two and shape into rough ovals on the tray.  Now brush some more oil onto a large piece of cling film and use it to cover the tray.  Leave for another 40 minutes or so.  Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

When your loaves are looking nice and puffy, remove the cling film and gently press little indents all over them the tip of your finger.  Now drizzle 3 tbsp of olive oil over each one and sprinkle with salt flakes and the remaining rosemary.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until golden.

Remove the loaves from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool.  Drizzle with a final tablespoon of oil each and you are done.  Enjoy!


Fig & Olive Pizza

I had a ‘pizza day’ yesterday.  Usually on pizza day I make nine pizzas, as they are great kept in the fridge, wrapped in foil, for snacks and lunches in the coming days.  I did make nine yesterday, two of them being this combo – Fig & Olive.  I had made one Fig & Goat’s cheese (very nice), and my daughter, not keen on goat’s cheese, complained that she would like to try the figs.  What can I substitute for the cheese here…? I was thinking. A jar of black olives called to me, and the pizza was born.  We all agreed the Fig & Olive was even better than the Fig & Goat’s cheese and I immediately whipped up another, which is now resting in the fridge, on leftovers duty.

The quantities given here are for one pizza but they are easy enough to multiply if you fancy making more.  Two or three, or nine maybe?  Enjoy!

  • 1 quantity pizza dough (use your favourite dough recipe here, I like the River Cottage ‘Magic Dough’ for pizzas at the moment, but have used many over the years.  My dough ball weighed 280g)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for various purposes
  • 2 small or 1 large red onion
  • Salt, pepper and pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 fresh figs
  • approx 12 kalamata olives in brine, pitted (I think it is essential to use a good quality olive here)
  • 1 125g ball mozzarella cheese

Obviously the first thing to do is to prepare your dough and leave it to prove.  Once you have done that and it is proving nicely, turn your attention to the red onions – heat up a frying pan over a gentle heat.  While it is heating, peel and slice the onions very thinly.  Put a splash of oil into the pan and add the onions and some salt and pepper, and the pinch of sugar.  Stir the onions around and then leave them to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelised and rich in flavour.  This will take about 40 minutes or so so be patient, you don’t have to watch them like a hawk you just need to keep an eye on them.  When they are done to your liking turn off the heat and leave them in the pan till you are ready to use them.

Preheat your oven to it’s highest setting, with the fan on if you have that option, and put your baking tray in there to heat up too.

Get all your toppings ready before you roll out your dough – strip the rosemary leaves from the stalk and finely chop it. Quarter the figs.  Take the mozzarella out of it’s packaging and drain it.

Now roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface, to match the shape of your tray.  Take hot tray out of the oven and brush it lightly with oil, then transfer the pizza base to the tray.  I find this a relatively easy way to get a crisper base.   Try to work quite quickly while you are topping the pizza so you can get the hot tray back in the oven as soon as possible…

Start with the fried onions, then scatter over the rosemary.  Now arrange the fig quarters, and place the olive strategically around amongst the other toppings.  Take your ball of mozzarella and tear it over the pizza.  Finally, drizzle with extra virgin oil and a sprinkle of salt and get that baby in the oven!!!

I cook my pizzas for 11 minutes in a very very hot oven.  You might want to start checking yours at 10 minutes, or leave it in there for longer, it depends on your taste and your oven…but 11 minutes should do it.

Neeps & Tatties Soup

This may seem a little unseasonal, Neeps & Tatties here at the beginning of April, but I have been meaning to share this recipe with you ever since I made a huge 50 litre batch of it for the last Sutton Soup.  It was held on Burns Night and the soup was very topical indeed then! Anyway, I got a swede in my veg box a couple of weeks ago, they keep well in the fridge, and here we are…

The 50 litre batch was slightly more challenging!  I peeled 14 swede that day and got myself a blister.

This is based on a recipe I found on BBC Good Food, but have tweaked to give it more flavour.  The BBC version is a base for fried haggis pieces, which is so not my bag baby!

  • 50g butter
  • 500g-700g swede (it depends on the size of your swede!)
  • 300g potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 3 sticks celery
  • heaped teaspoon (5g) ground coriander
  • 800ml whole organic milk
  • nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

Peel and dice the swede, potatoes, carrots and onions.  Chop the celery.

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the chopped veg and ground coriander, stir to coat.  Put a lid on a sweat the veg for 5 minutes.

Pour in 800ml of water, add some salt and pepper and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the veg are tender.  Remove from the heat and add the milk, freshly grated nutmeg to taste, and some more salt and pepper.  Blend with a stick blender until smooth.  Test the seasoning and add more if you are not happy (don’t skimp on the seasoning here).  Then gently reheat the soup till just below simmering point and you are ready to serve.

Two Hour Tomato Sauce

I have been promising people this sauce recipe for what feels like forever…so here it is, just in time for the Easter holidays!  It is my go-to tomato sauce recipe, the backbone of ‘mum’s spaghetti’ in our house and also great on pizzas, in lasagnes, and anything else that requires a kick of tangy tomato goodness.

This quantity makes a big batch of sauce, enough to dress 1kg of spaghetti.  That’s good for my family of five as we like to have leftovers in the fridge (my teenagers will fry up batches of leftover spaghetti at all hours!) but you could store some and use it later in the week for another dish, or freeze it, if that’s too much for you and yours.

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • large pinch chilli flakes
  • 6 tins good quality plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 supermarket packs fresh basil, leaves removed from stalks and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  When hot, add the chopped garlic and sizzle for 30 seconds or so (don’t burn it) then add the dried oregano and chilli flakes and stir to combine.  When they are sizzling too, put in the tinned tomatoes and mix gently.

Bring the tomatoes to the boil, stirring occasionally.  Try not to break up the tomatoes during cooking, you will do that at the end.  Once they are boiling turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for – you guessed it – two hours.  Gently stir the sauce every now and then to stop it from sticking.

When your sauce is looking nice and reduced, take it off the heat and add the red wine vinegar.  Mix in the vinegar, vigorously breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.  Then add the basil, salt and pepper and mix again.

If I am using the sauce to dress pasta, I like to add a swirl of peppery virgin olive oil at the end as it does add to the flavour, but I prefer a less oily sauce if I am going to use it for pizzas or other dishes, so I’ll leave that up to you.  Enjoy!  This is a very simple sauce to make and kids love it.

‘Sutton Soup’ Spelt Bread

I have been making the bread for Sutton Soup (www.suttonsoup.org.uk) for two years now.  Although I had been making this loaf for some time before the Soup came along, it has definitely become ‘Sutton Soup’ bread in my mind.  It’s an easy loaf to make, which is what makes it perfect for me to produce in mass quantities and also means it is a perfect loaf for the novice bread baker to attempt…have a go!

  • 275g strong white bread flour
  • 225g spelt flour (white or wholemeal will both work here, so it’s up to you)
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 5g caster sugar
  • 7g sachet easy blend yeast
  • 350ml tepid water
  • oil, any kind, a small amount to grease

You will need a mixing bowl and a large baking tray.

Combine the flours, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  When you add the yeast, put it on the other side of the bowl to the salt as the salt can apparently deactivate the yeast.  Add the water and stir with a spoon until it has a sludgy consistency as shown here. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.



Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approx 10 minutes, until you have a ball of smooth, elastic dough.  If you poke your finger into the dough and it starts to spring back, it is ready.

Very lightly brush your bowl with oil (or just use kitchen towel if you don’t have a brush), and then place the ball of dough in it and cover the bowl with clingfilm.  Leave to rest in a warm place for one hour.  It should double in size.

Lightly oil the baking tray.  Take your risen dough out of the bowl, knead it again for a few seconds and then coat it in some more flour.  Shape the floured dough into a long sausage and place on the baking tray.  Rub a little more flour over the top, and then use a knife to make a shallow cut along the middle.  Leave again for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 230C/Fan 210 Gas 9.  Do this before the hour of proving is up on your loaf as you don’t want it to overprove! Get a half cup of cold water ready.  When it is time, put the tray with the loaf on it into the oven and quickly throw the water under it onto the bottom of the oven and shut the door.  Don’t slam it.

Bake at 230C for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven down to 200C/Fan 180C Gas 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Bread

This bread was very popular when I served it at a cheese and wine party last month – I had to promise that we would make it at the next Bread Club meeting!

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 10g fast acting yeast
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 100g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • supermarket pack fresh basil

Put the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl and mix.  Add the oil and water and knead for 5 minutes or so until you have a smooth dough.  Return to the bowl and leave to prove for an hour. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.

Roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes.  Remove the leaves from the basil and chop.  When the dough has proved, lay it out on a smooth surface and incorporate the tomatoes and basil leaves as best you can.  It will probably be quite oily and messy! Squash the dough into a long sausage and then tie it into a knot.  Place on the prepared tray and leave to prove for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 230C/Gas 8.  Bake the loaf for 30 minutes (don’t worry if there are some burned bits of tomato on the outside, they will taste really good) and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Naan Bread

This recipe for naan bread is so easy to do that my nine year old daughter made the last batch we had in our house!  I’ve topped it with chilli and coriander here but you could easily leave out the chilli for more sensitive palates, or experiment with your own toppings…

  • 450g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • oil (for brushing the grill pan, any kind will do)
  • 2 fresh red chillies, chopped
  • 1 packet fresh coriander, chopped
  • melted butter

Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Whisk the egg and milk together and stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approx 4 minutes until smooth.

Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest for 1 hour, then divide into 8 pieces.  Roll the pieces into balls, place on a tray and flatten slightly, then cover with cling film and leave for another 15 minutes.

Preheat the grill as high as it will go.  Line the grill pan with foil and brush it with oil.

Roll out your dough balls into the shape you want.  The traditional shape is a teardrop but anything you like is fine.  Sprinkle one side with the chillies and coriander and press in lightly with your hand or rolling pin.

I grill these in batches of two at a time.  Place the naan, herbed side up, on the foiled grill pan and put them under the hot grill until brown spots start to form.  Turn them over and grill for another minute (a minute maximum should be all you need here), then whip them out and brush the herbed side with melted butter.  Wrap the finished naan in clean tea towel to keep them warm while you prepare the rest.

Serve warm.  Yum!


The Best Tzatziki

Here’s my Tzatziki recipe.  Whenever I make this there are lots of happy faces in my house!  It’s great for dipping veggies or breads, slathering into wraps, topping potatoes of any kind and anything else you can think of really…

  • half a cucumber
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes (or 1 tsp fine sea salt – use half a tsp instead of a whole one where directed below)
  • 500g tub greek style yoghurt
  • large garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • handful fresh dill (or mint if you prefer), finely chopped

Peel the cucumber and run a teaspoon down the middle of it to remove the seeds.  Finely chop the light green flesh and place it in a small sieve over a bowl, mixed with 1 tsp of the salt, and leave for an hour.  You should see some liquid in the bowl by the time it’s finished.

Decant the yoghurt into a serving bowl.  Peel the garlic and place it in a pestle and mortar along with the other teaspoon of salt, then crush to a paste.  Add the oil, vinegar and black pepper to the garlic paste and whisk it together to emulsify.  Now add this dressing mixture to the yoghurt and stir until thoroughly combined.

Tip the cucumber out onto some good quality kitchen paper and blot it dry, then carefully remove it from the paper and add it to the yoghurt along with the chopped dill.  Stir to combine.

If you can, leave this in the fridge, covered with clingfilm, for a couple of hours before serving to let the flavours come together…it’s worth it!



Carrot Soup with Honey

This is the recipe for the soup we served at the last Sutton Soup event.  It is a wonderfully simple soup, made all the better if you use good quality ingredients.  Please do try to use organic carrots and an interesting honey here – you will be rewarded!

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1.5 litres veg stock (I like Kallo)
  • 1.2kg carrots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic in it for five minutes.  Add the stock and carrots and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the carrots are really tender.

Turn off the heat and let the soup sit with the lid on for five minutes or so, then add the honey and stir in to dissolve.  Season with salt and pepper and then blend till smooth with a hand blender.  Serve with a hearty bread like the focaccia pictured here, or wedges of cheese on toast. Delicious!