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.
This weekend was the first weekend of spring. After months of grey skies and freakishly low temperatures the sun finally broke through and warmed our cockles, a few degrees at least.
The temperature change was minimal, but there was enough of a change on Saturday for East London to emerge from it’s winter hideout en masse. The parks were littered with groups of friends, sat in their coats and hats, beer in hand, enjoying what sunshine they could. The pavements outside of the pubs were crammed with punters savouring the early evening rays with their beer and I had to dodge more than a couple of people on my evening run who had over-indulged during the afternoon.
Sunday was slightly colder, but the sun was still bright so The Boy and I ventured out for brunch and a little walk. As it wasn’t market day I didn’t get distracted by the delights of Spinach and Agushi so we made it all the way down Broadway Market to try Market Cafe. I’d heard good things about the new set up and the brunch had got a special mention.
The second I saw the words ‘eggs benedict’ my mind was made up as for some reason it had been on my mind all week. The Boy tried the ham hock hash with a fried egg and a flat white to contrast my breakfast tea. The atmosphere was just what I look for in a brunch venue, busy enough to feel lively, but not packed to the rafters or so loud that you can’t hear each other speak.
Both dishes looked great. The ham hock hash was a big pile of crispy, meaty goodness topped with a beautifully fried egg. My eggs benedict was almost perfect. The sauce was creamy and slightly sharp and the ham was lovely. The muffin was a little over toasted, but I love slightly burnt toast so I’m not really complaining, and while one of my poached eggs was spot on, the other was a bit watery and just not quite right. If I’m honest though, I could have licked the plate clean afterwards, so it can’t have been too bad.
2 Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ
Recipes from this month’s Instagram recap: spiced stout sourdough hot cross buns / chocolate & Guinness sourdough hot cross buns / chocolate & Guinness sourdough cake with whiskey caramel glaze.
There aren’t many breads in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf that don’t need leaven, so until my sourdough starter is up and running I’m restricted in how many recipes I can try. This simple milk loaf is one of the few that doesn’t use leaven, so yesterday morning I thought I’d give it a try.
The recipe calls for fresh yeast which they sell in a couple of the shops on Broadway Market, which is lucky for me as it’s a rarity supermarkets. I’ve never used fresh yeast before so didn’t really know what to expect, turns out it’s like putty; cool, soft and pliable and it smells strongly acidic. I mixed it with whole milk & golden syrup and then combined this with a mixture of plain flour, strong white flour & salt before adding some melted butter. The result is a smooth, slightly sticky dough that was a joy to work with.
As always with Dan’s recipes the dough is left to rest and kneeded in 10 second bursts three or four times before being left to rise before baking. For this loaf I divided the dough into two balls and let them rise together in a loaf tin for about 2 1/2 hours. It was then finished with a milk wash and baked, and this was the result…
It’s quite a dense bread, Dan does say that it’s ‘strong, slightly tough crumb will make a jam sandwich that can withstand the rigours of a child’s schoolbag, or a cheese sandwich that can survive in a joggers backback’ and he’s not wrong. But it’s not just a tough loaf, it has a soft flavour that is perfect for sandwiches or a breakfast slice of bread and butter with raspberry jam.
Improvements for next time? I think needed to rise more pre-baking. My house was quite cold, so despite leaving it to proof for longer than specified it still could have done with a bit longer. But the flavour was lovely, so no changed planned there.