Monthly Archives: May 2013

Baking Plans And A Couple Of Loaves

I’ve been trying to work out how I can make more bread. I love making it and trying new recipes, but there are only two of us in this house & we can only eat so much! Of course I can give bread to family/friends, but I still want something more regular to work on. So I’ve been debating getting some part time work in a bakery or selling some loaves, which would be amazing because I could try more loaves, learn more and hopefully make some money at the same time. Wins all round I think.

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I was on the Real Bread Campaign website (which I frequent) and spotted an advert from a local cafe looking for home bakers to help them supply bread to their market stalls. I had heard of the Hornbeam Cafe in Walthamstow, but I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot about it. It turns out that all of their bread is provided by the Hornbeam Bakers Collective, which is made up of a group of keen local bakers. They also provide bread to three market stalls on a Saturday, one outside the Walthamstow cafe, one in Leyton and one in Stoke Newington.

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Last week I went and met with Pilar from the collective and took her a couple of my loaves to try, a mixed white & wholemeal loaf made with tea (top) and a 50% spelt loaf (above). It was the first time I’d made the 50% spelt, so it wasn’t perfect but I was really please with the mixed grain loaf. Thankfully they both went down a storm, so from this Saturday I will start to provide bread to the stalls. Just 8 loaves at first as I only have a little oven, but if it goes well then who knows where it will lead…

The Great Wedding Bake Off

May the 4th was my cousin Jo’s wedding. The whole family descended on Henley, even the sun graced us with it’s presence. You can see from her blog that Jo is very crafty so we had predicted that she would have made some of the decorations for the day, but we were totally overwhelmed by how much trouble she went to! Handmade confetti, hand printed table runners, personalised table settings and bright, colourful flower arrangements & bouquets made the day so unique.

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After the simple ceremony, and the fantastic hog roast was another quirky addition to the day, instead of dessert Jo organised The Great Wedding Bake Off. Everyone was invited to bake something and that meant that there were lots of different puddings for everyone to try, which wasn’t exactly a hardship.

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you the ideas I had for what to bake, and everyone seemed to be on the same track as me… the dobos torte. Now I could have done a gorgeous rectangular dobos torte like Deb on Smitten Kitchen, but I like to make life complicated for myself. The notes with the recipe mentioned that you can ‘paint’ the batter into a shape drawn on a baking sheet so I decided that for the wedding I would make the cake in the shape of the bride & groom’s initials. See, always complicating things.

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I baked a practice version for the Band of Bakers party in the shape of ‘BoB’. I was really pleased with it until I saw it next to all the other bakes and realised that I really am hopeless at icing & decorating. It looked awful! Oh well, that’s what a practice run is for and all the feedback said it was delicious which is the main thing.

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So on the Thursday I drew out my ‘NJ’ cake shape on 7 sheets of baking paper mixed up the cake batter and baked them all. I had extra batter left over as the area the ‘NJ’ covers wasn’t very large, so I baked an extra couple of layers. I then froze them until the Friday to make sure they stayed fresh. Then on the Friday I made up the icing, sandwiching the layers together and encasing it in chocolate. To make sure it looked rather better than my Band of Bakers version I bust out a piping bag to stud the outline of the initials and I think it looked beautiful.

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Transporting the cake back to my mother’s house and then on to the wedding was a challenge. We didn’t have anything big enough in the kitchen to cover it, so ended up improvising with a storage box, some cling film and a lot of electrical tape. It was precarious but at least the cake made it there in one piece.

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There were so many great cakes, but as the only obscenely chocolatey one mine proved very popular and at the end of the evening I won a ‘highly commended’ rosette for my trouble. The winner of the bake off was the mother of the groom for making Jo & Neil’s beautiful wedding cake, and you can’t compete with that.

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My thoughts on the dobos torte: well it was rich, creamy and super chocolatey. Yes, the way I made it was labour intensive but if you follow Deb’s instructions for a rectangular cake then it’s no where near as much hassle. Without a doubt I will make this cake again, it might even become my signature birthday cake.  If you want it to become yours, you can get the Smitten Kitchen Dobos Torte recipe here.

And that just leaves me to say a huge congratulations to Jo & Neil and thank you for inviting us to join you to celebrate your wedding. May the fourth be with you!

Band of Bakers’ 1st Birthday Party

Last Thursday I finally got round to attending my first Band of Bakers meet up. Band of Bakers is a baking group based in South East London, run by Gemma and Naomi who meet roughly every month to share their baking skills and eat a lot of cake. I’ve known Gemma for a few years now and ever since she launched Band of Bakers I’ve been meaning to go, but South East London seems so far away! When I got the email a few weeks ago to announce their 1st birthday party I knew I had to pull my finger out and get involved.

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Every event has a different theme that all of the attendees have to bake something to and as this was a birthday party the theme was ‘celebration’. What’s great about a loose theme like this is that everyone interpreted it so differently! There was an incredible range of bakes, from magnificent layer cakes, tarts & macaroons to mini sausage rolls & celebration breads and of course it wouldn’t be a birthday party without some good old-fashioned chocolate cake.

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Luckily, I had been warned of the inevitable over-indulgence of the evening so had a light lunch, but I was still totally overwhelmed by the amount on offer. I probably didn’t even manage to try a quarter of it, which is a little sad, though I did take some extras home for brunch the next day, which made me rather happy.

The event had a special guest for the evening in the form of baker, Dan Lepard. Now you don’t have to read many posts on this blog to notice that Dan’s recipes crop up rather a lot and I am a bit of a fan. I know that Gemma is also a fan, you only have to check out her Short & Sweet In South East London blog to see that, but had no idea she had invited him along. Now you’d think I would take this rare opportunity to introduce myself to my favourite baker, who’s books I refer to first when looking up anything, who’s sourdough book is almost permanently in my hand, but no. I turned into a total fan-girl and avoided him all evening. A couple of times I turned round to find him stood right by me talking to someone else and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I am such a loser sometimes.

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my bake for the evening. But I used the party to test run a recipe for another event last week, so I’ll tell you all about it in my next post.

Instagram Eats : April 2013

I have so much blogging to catch up on it’s ridiculous. There are cakes, breads, Band of Bakers, wedding bake offs and some glorious dinners to tell you about, but I’ll start with a belated round up of all the food & drink I documented on my Instagram in April. Follow me here if you so wish.

Last night's late night pizza at Soho Joe's. #pizza #london #pepperoni

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More homemade sourdough pizza. #pizza #baking #sourdough

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Puddle of golden syrup in a bowl of porridge. #breakfast #sugar #porridge #oatmeal

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The Boy brought this back from Texas. Bring on the meat. #bbq #meat #dinner

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#lunch #sourdough #bread #eggs

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White, spelt & wholemeal sourdough pre-bake. #baking #bread #sourdough #readbread

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White, spelt & wholemeal sourdough post-bake. #bread #readbread #sourdough #baking

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Loaf no.2 ready for the oven. #baking #bread #readbread #sourdough

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I have no problem with The Boy travelling more with work. #chocolate

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Bring it on. #meat #dinner

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White chocolate, orange & cream cheese layer cake in the oven... #baking #cake #chocolate

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Celebrating summer.

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Late lunch/early dinner. #lunch #dinner #burger #meat

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We're going to have some good sandwiches this week. #bread #baking #realbread #sourdough

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Loaf #2 ready to go. #baking #bread #realbread #sourdough

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