Tag Archives: dan lepard

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.


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.


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.


Simple Blood Orange Curd

The Boy and I get our fresh fruit and vegetables delivered every week from Abel & Cole. Using up the vegetables is easy & in summer we eat a lot of fruit, but in winter we just aren’t very good at getting through all the fruit. Over the last couple of months we have got oranges, blood oranges or satsumas every single week and we’ve clearly got very tired of them because they’ve been building up in the fruitbowl. I hate wasting food, so this week I decided to experiment with a few different recipes to use up as many of them as possible.


The usual method for preserving a glut of oranges is marmalade, but if I’m honest I’m not a big fan. However I am a huge fan of lemon curd, so my first idea was to adapt a simple lemon curd recipe to create an orange curd. When I looked at my fruit bowl I had about 4 blood oranges lurking in the pile that looked a little past their best so I thought I’d use these up first.


While researching methods I could see that most recipes mixed the curd in a bowl over a pan of water, most strained the mixture through a sieve, and then some called for the mixture to be poured into sterilised jars while hot and others just instruct for the mixture to be left to cool in the bowl. I decided to use Dan Lepard’s easy lemon curd recipe from Short & Sweet. The recipe takes a bit of a shortcut and mixes the curd directly in a saucepan, the mixture is then strained and left to cool. I put most of the mixture into a sterilised jar while hot and what was left over I let cool and put into tupperware in the fridge, I just have to make sure I use this batch first.


Obviously as soon as it had cooled enough, I spread it on toast to try it. The initially the taste is sweet, rich and buttery and then the sharpness from the blood orange cuts through it. My blood oranges weren’t even that fresh and flavour is still fantastic. If you made this when the oranges were fresher it would be even more zingy.


I’ve got a few other orange preserving recipes to try this week, so if you like citrus, keep checking back!

Easy Blood Orange Curd
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s East Lemon Curd from Short & Sweet.
Makes about 400-450g.

5 large egg yolks
1 large egg
finely grated zest of 3 blood oranges
125ml blood orange juice
150g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

If you are planning to keep the curd in jars, wash the jars in very hot water or in a dishwasher on high. Place in the oven on a very low temperature to dry out. Wash the lids in very hot water and leave them in the very hot water until needed. If you’re reusing jars, cut some greaseproof paper circles to go between the curd & the lid. If you don’t want to faff with jars, you can store the curd in a tub in the fridge instead, but it won’t keep as long.

Place the egg yolks, egg, zest, juice and caster sugar in a saucepan over a low-moderate heat and whisk until combined. Then add the butter & stir with a wooden or plastic spoon (metal can spoilt the flavour), until melted. Keep heating until it starts to boil, gently stirring the whole time to prevent it catching on the bottom.

As it starts to boil, remove from the heat and retrieve the jars from the oven if you’re using them. Pour through a sieve into a clean mixing bowl, pressing down the mixture to make sure all the juice is through. Then, if you are just going to keep the curd in tupperware, you can just let it cool in the mixing bowl before transferring it to your container & then into the fridge. Or, if you’re using jars, pour it into the jar while hot, place a greaseproof circle on top of the curd and twist on the lid. Leave to cool before storing in the fridge.

Jarred, the curd should last a month or two, but once opened or if storing in a tub then it should last about a week.

Sourdough Pizza

I’ve been talking for ages about making sourdough pizza and I finally got round to making it! I made up the dough in the afternoon & let it proof and then my friend joined me in the evening for some homemade pizza & beers, or tea in my case as my commitment to my marathon training is such that I’m not drinking this month*.



I followed the recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet which still my first stop for all baking tasks. So at about 2.30pm I combined 200g sourdough leaven with 300ml water, 500g strong white flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to create a shaggy mess of a dough. The dough only needed stretching once after 10 minutes resting, at which point I realised that it was the most gloriously smooth and stretchy dough I have ever had the joy of working with. I then left it for 4 1/2 hours to proof. This may well have been the easiest dinner I have ever made.


Once my friend arrived that evening, I heated the oven to 220C fan; it’s hottest temperature, with 2 baking trays inside to heat up. I divided up the dough into 6 x 150-200g balls leaving 2 on the side to rest for 20 minutes and popping the extra 4 in the freezer.



Then the fun bit. We stretched the dough out on some makeshift peels, which in this case were chopping boards lined with baking paper. There was much hilarity as we realised that the dough’s elasticity meant that every time we stretched it out it sprang back, it was much trickier than we thought it would be! We topped the dough with sundried-tomato pesto, tomatoes, chorizo, mozzarella and a few chilli flakes before sliding them on to the baking trays in the oven and baking for 15 mins.


The result was two light, crispy crusted pizzas, with some rich, spicy toppings. We were probably a little heavy on the toppings which meant the centre wasn’t as crisp as it could have been, but it was a minor complaint. I think just scrapping the fresh tomatoes or swapping them for a few small cherry tomatoes would be enough to fix this. I’m looking forward to getting the spare dough out of the freezer and seeing how the second batch go!

*Paris being the exception, because going to Paris and not drinking wine is wrong.

Sourdough Loaf 01 02

Sourdough Loaf : Attempt 1

I decided on a bit of a whim this Monday to make my first sourdough loaf, I was too excited to wait for the weekend. It wasn’t a great decision as I run with Goodgym on a Monday night so I’m not actually home for most of the evening. I roughly followed Dan Lepard‘s recipe for a White Leaven Loaf in The Handmade Loaf, but as I was out of the house I missed one of the kneading sessions, but it still seemed to be doing alright.

Sourdough Loaf 01 01

Then I put it in the fridge over night, got it out in the morning to shape it & left it on the side in my (cold) kitchen for the day. I was quite disappointed with the rise when I got home, the dough was still very sticky & I wrecked the two tea-towels I’d risen them on, note to self if using tea towels you need a lot of flour, but I decided to bake them any way.

Sourdough Loaf 01 02

Sourdough Loaf 01 03

The end results weren’t awful, which surprised me! It was slightly under-baked, so the lovely crisp crust softened quite quickly and it was quite dense because of it not rising properly, but it tasted quite good. There were some good bubbles in the dough and when the loaf first came out the crust was beautiful. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but they weren’t the disaster I thought they were initially. I’ve been doing a lot of reading so I’m looking forward to attempt two…

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Sourdough Starter Day 6 01

Sourdough Starter Day 6

We have bubbles! I think I can actually say that my starter is alive! I am ridiculously excited about this fact. As you can see from the pictures there are a decent amount of bubbles on the surface. The texture is light & frothy and there is a definite acidic smell when you open the jar.

Sourdough Starter Day 6 01

Sourdough Starter Day 6 02

As specified by Dan I discarded 3/4 of the mixture and replaced with water, stirring until fully combined before adding the flour. The quantities in Dan’s recipe create quite a thick, doughy mixture as it ‘slows the fermentation and stops the leaven rising & falling too quickly’. I don’t know enough about sourdough yet to understand the benefit of that, so I’ll just take Dan’s word for it for now…

Sourdough Starter Day 6 03

This stage, where you need to weigh and discard a portion of the mixture every day, can be a bit of a faff. One good tip I read was in Leon Book 3: Baking & Puddings where Tom Herbert describes how to start a sourdough. He recommends weighing your jar while empty and making a note of the weight on a label, then when you need to discard a portion of the mixture you don’t need to decant it into a bowl to weigh it, you can just weigh it in the jar and do a little simple maths to work out what you need to remove. My jar weighs 680g. I forgot to write a label, but luckily I have a good memory for numbers.

Sourdough Starter Day 5 03

Sourdough Starter Day 5

Yesterday I got home quite late, but luckily I still remembered to check my starter. Dan’s instructions say that there should be some signs of fermentation by now (day 4), but I just couldn’t see any. The water had separated and was a golden brown colour suggesting the raisins were still breaking down, but there weren’t any signs of bubbles. I was worried that my kitchen might be too cold, but as cooler temperatures slow down the yeast rather than killing it I decided to just stir it up and put it back in the cupboard for another  24 hours.

Sourdough Starter Day 4 01

This evening it looked more promising.  The water had separated again and the colour was quite an even stronger brown, but it did look like there were a few bubbles coming up from the dough at the bottom. So I followed Dan’s instructions for day 4, starting by discarding roughly 3/4 of the mixture. I probably didn’t discard enough, I felt a bit sad just pouring it down the sink! I then mixed in some water, poured the thinned mix through a strainer and returned it to the jar before stirring in strong white flour. It’s now much thicker than previous days & is certainly starting to look how I think a starter should look. I guess only time will tell if it had fermented enough before I poured most of it away!

Sourdough Starter Day 5 01

Sourdough Starter Day 5 02

Sourdough Starter Day 5 03

Sourdough Starter Day 3 01

Sourdough Starter Day 3

I started my sourdough starter on Saturday & it didn’t look any different yesterday, so I didn’t bother photographing it. I just fed it with water, rye flour & plain flour, mixed it up and put it back in the cupboard.

Today however, progress had been made. I don’t think it’s progressing as quickly as it could do, but my kitchen is pretty cold at this time of year! Since yesterday the water has separated and the raisins have started to break down so the colour has got a little darker. Following Dan’s orders I fed it double the quantity of water, rye flour and plain flour compared to yesterday and put it back home in the cupboard.

Sourdough Starter Day 3 01

Sourdough Starter Day 3 03

Sourdough Starter Day 3 02

Hopefully I’ll start to spot some bubbles tomorrow…