Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

The day-to-day plums that most of us get from the super markets these days tend to be a bit hard and uninspiring eaten straight from the bowl.


My plums on toast

My plums on toast


I’ve devised a great way to sweeten them up without cooking out all the goodness and making it into a delicious light(ish) breakfast.

Simply halve you plums, de-stone, pan fry in a little butter and add fruit based booze and sugar to taste towards the end to make a reduced syrup sauce.

Toast both sides of a good bit of bread (sourdough or something thereof) and then spread with a mixture of equal parts butter and sugar with a good pinch of cinnamon and ginger. Place the plums nicely on the toast, dust with icing sugar and serve.


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Having mastered the art of the New York Times no kneed bread the next logical step was to try a sourdough.

This would of course involve some kneeding and a more measured approach to proofing and the likes but the thing that got me really excited was the idea of growing a sourdough starter without using any instant processed yeast.

The idea of a sourdough starter is to encourage the growth and development of natural yeast spores found in the flour you use and in the environment surrounding you. This really is getting back in touch with a purely natural way of cooking.  Making bread is one of the most exciting and rewarding acts of cooking – bread is ace – homemade bread made with natural yeast from the air we breathe is freekin’ awesome!

So I set to work following one of the many guides found online (thanks S John Ross!).  Take your flour (I used unbleached wholemeal), add water and make a thick battery gloop.  Let sit at room temp with tea towel over the top to deter critters…

The first couple of days nothing much happened. By about the 4th day I had magic bubbles – a sign that something is happening with the yeast and bacteria. But woow – it totally stank of baby sick – never smealt anything quite like it.  So I kept feeding it each day and eventually it settled down and took on that lovely faintly sour beery hue.

So that was my starter sorted all, I needed to do was add more flour and water to develop a sponge, about 3 hours later you add more flour to get a bread consistency and then kneed for about 10 minutes (strangely cathartic actually).

Sourdough - the first rise

Sourdough - the first rise

You then let it rise once more, knock it back and create a loaf.

Second rise as a loaf - nice slits...

Second rise as a loaf - nice slits...

Get it while it's hot!

Get it while it's hot

Oddly, the recipe I was following told you to cook the bread at 200 from cold (ie don’t preheat the oven).  This had the effect of rising the dough even further before the real heat kicked in and creating a lovely soft bread with an excellent crumb with little crust – perfect for sandwiches!

Charlotte made me get up early the next morning to construct a PBJ – a bit sacrilegious with such fine bread (aidsims) but she did say it was the best bread I’d made so far.

Next up – same recipe but using the dutch oven method so you get a more french style crust and some wholemeal individual rolls – yumosa!

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Wiping the plate clean

Wiping the plate clean


Five-a-day?  Me neither…

Not at the moment anyway.  Bread for breakfast, bread for lunch (sandwich styleé), then something bordering on vegetables for tea if I’m lucky.

However, given my obsession with soda farls I’ve become equally addicted to the berry compote.

They are so easy to make and have a fraction of the sugar of a jam but taste just as great.  Plus, they aren’t boiled to buggery so they don’t loose loads of their nutrient content.

Strangely, given our leaning towards all things English, my fav. is the blueberry compote – kinda American in it’s outlook.  No matter, the blueberry creates a wonderful light syrup and combined with real vanilla is a real treat.


Blueberry Compote with Soda Farls

Make sure you add a little sugar to the farl recipe here


For the compote:

1 punet of blueberries (serves 2 generously)

2 tea spoons of sugar

1 vanilla pod


Wash the blueberries and add to a small pan.  Add enough water so that the berries are barely coated (think steaming spinach – about that amount) – DON’T ADD TOO MUCH – you can always add but its a lot of faff to take out the berries and reduce the syrup later.

Sprinkle over the sugar, split the vanilla pod to scrape out the seeds – add those and chuck in the pod itself for good measure – stir lightly to combine.  

Get the mixture up to boiling and simmer gently for about 5 mins.  The blueberries should be starting to break up but not completely turned to mush.

CAREFULLY taste the syrup – don’t forget it has sugar in there and will be volcanic – if its too loose take out the berries and boil hard to the right consistency  – it should be like loose jam but not too runny. 

Take out the vanilla pod and allow to cool.

Best served slightly warm with the farl and lashings of salted butter.


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Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored…..

Get yourself a big fat Welsh duck egg (thanks mum), a Canon 350D and snap away…



Cracking - click the image if it doesn't animate


But seriously though, I hope we can get a regular supply of these.  They taste great, really rich, and I love that orange gloss the yolk covers the plate with.  Yum





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Menu run through No1 today – up at 6.30 and 2 sittings at 11 and 1pm (although we only did 15 covers).

Today was all about breakfasts – there will be a much more varied menu when we open  -don’t think I explained that very well.  

Think it basically went well although I’m yet to have feedback.  Some food was late and the Bloody Marys were rubbish but I think everything was hot, looked nice and tasted good.

Thanks to all for attending and Ash (http://www.a-mphotography.com) for the excellent pics of the food and proceedings.

the cafe


We turned the our bedroom into Full English for one day.  Michaela had the eggy bread with bacon  – sorry it was sooo late – she’s eating for two bless her.  Charlotte ruled it as front of house.


guest bacon


We had a smoked and a green bacon on today – smoked was most popular by about 3:1


bloody mary with celery


Deb’s Bloody Mary looks nice but apparently it lacked flavour and kick – I don’t like BMs so I’ve got no reference point.  Thankfully little Ben is on hand with his refined buds…


smoked salmon and muffin 


Mmm – really nice, firm smoked salmon with scrambled and muffins.  Won’t be cheap but the quality of the salmon is excellent.


full english breakfast 


The Full English – forgot the vine toms which would have added to the overall effect.  Forgot to butter the toast too…


ulster fry


The Ulster Fry – quickly becoming a favourite – I L.O.V.E farls. But poached eggs are def the hardest of the breakfast staple. You have to watch them like hawks and different eggs from the same batch react completely differently  – some go into lovely tight shapes, the others spread through the poaching water and look awful. 

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flour protein levels Of course, I’m writing that from an Englishman’s POV. No mater, the Ulster fry is everything you love about the Full English fry up with the addition of a great invention – the instant breakfast bread – AKA the farl [wiki→] .

My recipe uses organic plain flour with a lower protein level than bread flour (just look out for the nutrition info on the back – you want something at about 9g per 100 as opposed to bread flour at up to 14g).

The Farl encompasses simplicity perfectly – flour, baking powder, yoghurt, whole milk – mix, form and bake!  No waiting for rising or proving as the baking powder does all the work.

You need a good heavy griddle pan to get the lovely toasty lines but a flat cast iron pan will be just as good.

I went with poached eggs as I’m maxed out on cholesterol   this week already – fried would be more extravagant.  The sausage is Frank Godfrey, so too is the bacon – both really, really good.  The beans are of course Heinz – never will an inferior bean grace the plates of my restaurant whilst my name is over the door!


ulster fry


Ulster Fry

You should really know how to do your sausage and bacon by now – slow and steady wins the race – make sure the heat is low/medium and take your time.  Please respect our porcine friends and find the best sausage and bacon you can – they really do taste better the better time they’ve had in the field.

Poached eggs – with the shell on drop the eggs gently into a shallow, wide pan of simmering water and count to 40.  Remove and set aside.  When you’re ready to go (about 3 mins before the end) crack the eggs very slowly into the water.  The pre-cook should have formed the eggs slightly holding them together better (Copyright Elizabeth David).  Bubble away until the eggs are to your liking – I pick them out of the water with a slotted spoon and check the white with my finger – I don’t like runny white be insist on runny yellow!

Farl – for 1 person 

100 grms plain organic flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

50mls whole milk

30mls yoghurt – good quality, live organic is best

Sift flour and baking soda, combine yog and milk and stir in.  The mixture should be loose but with flour on your hands you should be able to transfer to board and shape roughly with your hands into triangle shape (if making for more than 1 you would form a circle and cut out triangles).

Get your griddle pan up to temperature (low/medium heat), rub with butter and sprinkle with flour. Leave for a few minutes to toast and then drop in your dough.  You only want to turn once so leave it 5 mins (don’t let it burn!) and then flip.

Plate up and don’t let the beans touch the egg! 

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Simple English Food.  That’s our aim. But its nice to pretend that its actually a bit harder than that sometimes – we all like to be martyrs to the cause.  

Take brown bread ice cream – a recipe that I wanted on the menu from day one – hours slaving over hot custards and kneading wholemeal doughs until perfectly formed, sweet baby Jesus!

Problem is, its easier than stealing catch phrases from northern comics.

The power of the internet really comes into its own with old English recipes like this.  My final version is an amalgamation of various recipes I found on t’internet with the addition of homemade honey comb.


Brown Bread Ice Cream

Adding the condensed milk to the cream – easy as pie…


The basic ice cream

1 pint good quality double cream

1 400ml can of condensed milk

Half vanilla pod 

Splash of dark booze (single malt works as does good brandy)

Whisk the cream to peaks, stir in the other ingredients and churn.  You can probably just whack it in the freezer too – just stir vigorously after a few hours.


To get the brown bread in the mix I take stale wholemeal bread I’ve baked, blitz for a second or 2 (you want good sized crumbs – maybe 1/4 the size of a Malteser) spread in oven proof dish, add a few good knobs of butter and sprinkle liberally  with sugar and Maldon salt (much more sugar than salt of course). Bake this for about 15 mins at 180° until caramelized and crunchy, cool and stir into the ice cream before churning/freezing.

Add the honey comb to take it one step further – melt sugar and golden syrup until bubbling (don’t take it too far).  Take off the heat and add bicarb soda (about 1/2 teaspoon).  Pour into WELL greased or lined dish and allow to cool.  You should then be able to smash it up into little splinters and slithers and add at the same time as the bread crunch.  

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