17 May 2010

Sulfolk Parade Street Fair - Bank Hol Monday 31st

The Suffolk Parade will be closed to traffic and the local traders, antique & curiosity shops, cafes & restaurants, wine bar, will have stands and stalls in the street
Lella Dey and I will have our own stand of Affordable Art, so why not come along to Cheltenham on Bank Holiday Monday 31st May ..

10 May 2010

leaven baguettes

Don't let anyone tell you that making French baguettes at home is impossible.
& don't let anyone tell you that it cannot be done with leaven alone.

I've been thinking about this bread long and hard for quite some time, and thanks to:
this recipe and terrific folding instructions at: french baguettes 
Ajonjoli's excellent post at: Madrid Tiene Miga 
& La Cocina de Babette with a video by Paul Merry on forming your baguettes

and my lovely friend Joanna at Mostly Bread, with her enthusiastic ideas

I've been able to produce some delicious French baguette sticks

I managed to get some T65 flour from Maurice Chaplais, an artisan baker half way down my road
& since I don't have a dough hook, I tried to recreate the bakers' machine using my food processor & plastic blade

refreshed white 100% leaven @ 30g/ 60g water/ 60g T65 flour
500g T65 flour
350g cold water
1 teasp salt

process your leaven, water and salt for a couple of seconds, then add your flour

process as low as you go, for 5 minutes

using bread paddles lift and stretch your slack dough, and fold over the mass.  turn your bowl and continue to lift and stretch the entire dough.  
perform this 3 times at 20 minute intervals - as per French baguette link

then perform the bakers' turn, folding your dough 3 times at 20 minute intervals  - as per French baguette link

I refridgerated my dough overnight

shape your dough into 4 balls

rest them for 20 mins, then shape into your baguette shape in accordance with Babette's video

cover and rest for 30 mins

then slash and bake, I used 2 oven trays from cold dusted with a little flour, and a tray of water in the bottom of the oven
at 240 deg for 25 minutes

The crumb inside is light, tangy,
and the crust is crisp and cracking.


8 May 2010

yesterday was a lovely day - have a biscotti

I know we are upside down at the moment and our world is unpredictable, but things just came together for me yesterday so I thought I'd share.

In the morning,  I made biscotti for the first time, which worked out perfectly.
Not a milestone event, but cooking for Tony who doesn't like it sweet can be tricky, so I reduced that distinctive sugar by 1/6th, juggled with the additions and hit it first time.
Flavoured with a hint of lemon zest & ginger with some complementary vanilla.

Afterwards, I wander chirp-ily over to the studio where we have a Korean painter who is sitting for us for 2 hours. 
& that simply works too.
Indeed I make 2 rapid oil paintings of her, the first one I prefer, but the second has her likeness.
I just need to plump her right upper lip which will correct that perceived imbalance of her face - I was blind to it whilst I worked but could see it afterwards.

There we go, upper lip fixed

And as these come in threesomes, I went to a house party last night, our first party of any sorts for about 10 years.
Claire and Simon were recently married in New York - congratulations to you both.
And imagine my surprise as I walk through their entrance landing to work my way out into their garden party,  when I am met with 3 of my oil paintings on their wall, which they've just acquired.

Some painters don't like to release their works, it's a wrench for them, but I'm not one of those types.  Selling and hanging my pictures is completion to me, if I'm lucky enough for it to happen that is.

So, back to those tasty biscuits .............................


500g  plain flour
100g muscovado sugar - or 500g if you like them sweet
2 tablesp honey
400g roughly chopped almonds - I've used hazelnuts here - & 100g ground almonds
4 eggs
vanilla - I've made vanilla extract after Celia's recipe,  but you could use vanilla sugar
grated ginger and lemon zest
pinch salt and a pinch of baking powder

pulse the ingredients together using a soft dough blade or bring the ingredients together in a bowl
form into a dough and divide & shape into 2 sticks

bake at 190 for fifteen minutes
then slice into angled biscotti shapes 

& bake for a further 10 minutes one side, then 10 minutes the other

leave to cool and harden on a rack