Monthly Archives: November, 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

This soup has proven to be popular with children and adults alike.  Its so easy and quick to make and a great way to use up all those leeks.

  • 4 large leeks
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped small
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 50g butter
  • 850ml hot veg stock (I use Marigold Swiss veg bouillon powder)
  • 275ml milk
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • to serve, chives or parsley (optional)
  • to serve, 2 tbs cream or creme fraiche (optional)

Begin by trimming the leeks, discarding the tough outer layer.  Split them in half lengthways and slice them quite finely.  Wash thoroughly and drain well.

In a large, thick based saucepan, gently melt the butter, then add the leeks, onion and potatoes, stirring them all around with a wooden spoon so that they are coated in the butter.  Season with salt and pepper, then cover and leave the vegatables to sweat over a very low heat for about 15 minutes.

Add the stock and milk, bring to simmering point, cover and let the soup simmer very gently for a further 20 minutes or until the vegtables are soft.  Then simply blitz the whole lot in a blender until smooth.  Return the soup to the saucepan and re-heat gently, checking seasoning to taste.  Stir in any optional extra’s before serving. I like mine with just lots of pepper.



Dylan, Hattie and Marcus…satisfied customers


Leek and potato soup with Soya and Linseed loaf


Tonight’s, after school supper…recipe for soup to follow

Simple Lemon Sponge


Today my youngest daughter Hattie is four and she requested this family favourite, a lemon sponge, as her cake for the day. It is only her first cake (she is a princess after all!!) there will be another, fancier cake produced at the weekend. Kate (the cake master) is going to show me how to ice it properly and we should have some good pictures for you! But for today this will do nicely and we’re all looking forward to eating it. The method used is a traditional one (first seen by me on River Cottage, thanks Hugh!) where you first weigh four eggs and then use exactly the same weight of well softened butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour to make up the cake. It’s fun, let the eggs lead you! First cream the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour and the juice and rind of a lemon. Spoon into greased, lined cake tins and bake at 180c/Gas 4 for 20-25 mins. You want a skewer poked in the middle to come out clean. Cool on a wire rack and when cool slather about a third if a jar of lemon curd between the two sponges. Yum! Happy Birthday Hattie xxxx

Banana Choc Muffins


My beloved friend May and her son Wilf have come to stay with us this weekend and I took great pleasure in making them these Banana Choc Muffins for brunch this morning. All in all we have had a super calorific day what with the muffins, all-butter scrambled eggs and an incredible Spinach Macaroni Cheese I got from the Riverford website. Deeelicious!

Banana Choc Recipe (slightly adapted from Nigella’s ‘Kitchen’) –

3 Ripe Bananas
125ml Vegetable Oil
100g Light Soft Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
225g Plain Flour
1 tsp Bicarb
3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
50g Plain Chocolate, chopped

Mash the bananas thoroughly, then beat in the oil, followed by the eggs and sugar.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then beat gently into the wet ingredients. Finally, add the chopped chocolate.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake at 200C/Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes. I did this batch for 20 but they could have been a touch moister – I wish I’d taken them out a little earlier!

Soya and Linseed Loaf

I would highly recommend this loaf to those who are new to making their own bread but also those of you who just fancy trying a new technique.  I came across this recipe in a great cook book called ‘Short & Sweet’ by Dan Lepard.  It is, as Dan Lepard describes, a really sticky dough.  Don’t let this put you off.  There is very little kneading involved and so the stickiness of the dough does not cause any difficulties.  In fact, once you see and taste the end result it helps to banish any fears you may have of handling a sticky or wet dough.  With thanks to the soya milk this loaf will stay soft and moist for days and it has the added boost of omega-3 oil together with lots of extra protein and oat fibre.  But apart from anything else, it really does taste great.  I can honestly say, it is one of my favourite breads to date.  Give it a go and tell us what YOU think…

  • 50g rolled oats
  • 50g golden linseed
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 275ml lukewarm soya milk
  • 1 sachet of fast action yeast
  • 325g strong white flour, plus extra for shaping
  • 50g wholemeal or rye flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons fine salt
  • oil for kneading

Please put the rolled oats and linseed in a large mixing bowl, stir in the water and leave for 10 minutes to soften.  Add the warm soya milk and yeast and mix well.  Add the two flours and salt, then stir everything together into a big soft and sticky dough.  Cover and leave for 10 minutes.  Now rub a little oil over a 30cm area of work surface, and a little more over your hands, just to stop the dough from sticking.  Any light and fairly neutral oil such as sunflower oil will do.  Gently lift the dough out of the bowl and place on the work surface.  At this point you can scrape down the inside of the bowl and lightly oil it to avoid the dough sticking to it later.

Everything combined to form sticky dough

Now for the kneading.  Take the edge of the dough furthest away from you with one hand and fold it towards you, to meet the edge of the dough nearest to you.  Then with the heel of the other hand, push down lightly onto and into the dough and very slightly push and stretch the dough away from you by about 5-10cm.  Make your movements gentle, don’t pound or tear the dough.  Give the dough a clockwise quarter-turn, and once again fold the dough towards you, then push it away gently; and repeat this ‘turn, fold and stretch’ no more than eight or ten times.  (For those of you who come to our bread making meetings, you will recognise this as the technic i use).  Then return the dough to the bowl and repeat this simple kneading after 10 and 20 minutes.  Then leave covered for 45 minutes.

Dough patted into a rectangle

Line a tray with non stick baking paper.  Using a little flour pat the dough into a rectangle.  Roll it up tightly, then roll a little more, pressing just on the ends so the dough forms a fat ‘lemon shape’.  Place this seam-side down on the tray, cover with a cloth and leave until risen in size by half.  This seems a little vague, however I think it is good practice to not be so reliant on times when following instructions like this.  The time it takes to rise by half depends on the temperature of the room.  I left my dough for an hour.  Heat the oven to 220/200 fan/gas 7, slash the top and bake for about 45 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Dough rolled tightly

Dough rolled tightly

Finished loaf - note the lovely soft, springy texture

Bread Club Meeting 18/11/11 – Malted Seed and Walnut Loaf

Well, yesterday’s Bread Club meeting was very special for two reasons.  Firstly, it was the first meeting held at the lovely Jennie’s house, and secondly we were joined by two novice breadmakers – Jo W and Hannah.

Some full on baking action! Jo L, Heather, Jo W, Kate and Hannah

Kate giving Hannah and Jo some kneading tips!

This is the recipe we used:

Malted Seed and Walnut Loaf

  • 500g strong wholemeal flour
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  •  350ml warm water
  • 100g mixed seeds (we used a mix of sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds)
  • 50g walnut pieces
  • a little sunflower oil , for greasing

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl.  Add most of the seeds.  You can add the walnuts now too (as I did) or incorporate them as you knead the dough (as Kate did).

Pour in the warm water.  Bring the dough together in the bowl and when you are ready tip it out onto your work surface and begin to knead.  You may need to add a touch more water, I found the mix a little dry.  Knead the dough for 10 mins or so, until it starts to spring back when pushed.  It is quite a tight dough and when it’s ready to prove it will feel like you just can’t knead it any more!  Don’t forget to incorporate your walnuts while you are doing this if you haven’t done so already.

Clean your bowl and lightly grease it with sunflower oil.  Place your dough in the bowl and cover it tightly with clingfilm.  Put the bowl in a warm place and leave to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.  If it doesn’t look like it’s doubled in size after an hour, leave it a bit longer!

When it’s ready knock the dough back by giving it a very quick knead, literally for 10 seconds.  You are trying to get the air bubbles out of the dough, that is all.  Shape it into a round and then roll it in the remaining seeds.  Lightly grease a baking tray with sunflower oil, place the seed covered dough on the tray, and leave to prove again.  It will be about the same time as before, and again, you are looking for the dough to double in size.  Don’t rush it.  While it’s proving preheat your oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

When it’s ready place the tray in the hot oven, closing the door gently.  After 15 mins reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and bake for another 30 mins.  Don’t be tempted to open the oven at all during this time, just let the bread bake!  When the cooking time is up, check your bread.  It should come off the tray without too much encouragement and when you tap the bottom of the loaf you should hear a ‘hollow’ sound.  If you don’t think it’s done enough, pop it back in the oven for 10 mins.  When it’s done, transfer the loaf to a wire rack and allow to cool.  And then enjoy your bread!  It’s very nice with goat’s cheese.

A Note on the Seeds – Everyone at the meeting used a different mix of seeds.  I used hemp for the first time, personally I found them a little crunchy.  Kate didn’t put any poppy in the loaf, but covered the outside with them, it worked well.  Jo W left out the walnuts altogether (thinking of the palate of her baby son!).  Jennie accidentally put double the amount of seeds in, but happily the loaf still tasted good!  The upshot is, do whatever works for you.

Kate's Loaf

This was a really good meeting and I’m very pleased to say that our two newbies came away from it with excellent loaves of bread and totally stoked.  A ‘bread epiphany’ was a phrase that was used!  We would love to hear comments on the recipe or if anyone else wants to try it and post some pictures/experiences that would be great – Happy Baking people!!

So, the Bread Making Club has evolved!

Yes that’s right, we’ve taken the plunge and turned Facebook’s Bread Making Club into thebreadclub, a proper cooking blog – with lots of bready bits! You can still read it through Facebook. Look out for our first posts very soon.