Sunday, 29 April 2012

Real Bread @Breadshare Community Bakery Part 2

Along with the little bready treats I picked up at Whitmuir on Saturday I also bought a gigantic loaf of Border Country Loaf.  

This loaf is made with a french wheat leaven and has a lovely soured aroma and taste with a really soft chewy texture.  The loaf I bought was a day old and still super soft.  I purposely bought it day old because I had planned on making a panzanella for my supper...something to make the bread the centre piece of my meal.  

Traditionally panzanella uses stale bread but I never seem to have any of that in my house so I just use fresh bread.  This loaf was perfect.  I had planned on making enough for one dinner with some leftover as a snack...but, well...I ended up eating it all.  

In a large salad bowl I put half a thinly sliced red onion with 1Tbsp of red wine vinegar and 1 small clove of minced garlic.  I let the vinegar soften the onions for a few mins while I seeded and chopped 2 largish tomatoes and then added those into the onions with some salt, sugar and then about 1/4 of the loaf of bread cut into cubes and a good glug of walnut oil.  I mixed it all up and let it sit while I fried 4 rashers of streaky bacon and then added the bacon and the oil into the bread mixture.  

And then sat down to enjoy!

Real Bread @Breadshare Community Bakery Part 1

On Saturday, fellow cake lady and real bread enthusiast Fiona and I embarked on a short road trip down to the Scottish Borders to a town called Lamancha.  Just past the hub of this tiny town is an organic farm called Whitmuir and nestled into one of the outbuildings on the farm is the Breadshare Community Bakery.  

The bread made by the team at Breadshare is sold through the farm shop at Whitmuir but we were lucky to have been offered the chance to have a look around the bakery itself.  Geoff and Debra, who have recently been appointed to manage the bakery, took Fiona and me through their real bread methods and ethos.  

The bread is made with the minimum of ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast or leaven and is left to prove for a minimum of 4 hours. Debra and Geoff are clearly enthusiastic about their project, and it is infectious.  Debra showed us some small containers of leaven she was testing for a workshop with the local scout group.  By sharing methods and knowledge with local children, and adults alike, they hope to encourage more people to enjoy making bread.   

I could go on and on about our visit but I think that the big message I took away from it was that baking bread...on this really amazing.  Debra did mention that when they first started everything was very exact, but now they feel more free in their baking, it's more of a fluid process. I can barely imagine baking with 1kg of flour, let alone 20kg.  It is seriously technical and scientific, it is a challenge, and it is something that the Breadshare Community Bakery has embraced.  

To bring home with me I bought a Cardamom Almond Roll...totally delicious enriched dough with cardamom slathered with frangipane, rolled up covered in flaked almonds and an egg wash and baked. Normally I am a sucker for an almond croissant but there was something much more satisfying about this roll, perhaps it was the cardamom.  

I also picked up this Cheese Scroll.  It is mixture of rye and wheat dough mixed with cheese and then rolled.  I've only nibbled at the edges so far...

Geoff and Debra were kind enough to offer us some samples not only of something new they are developing (croutons and crisp breads using left over breads) but they also sent us on our merry way with a little pot each of the Breadshare rye leaven to get experimenting with.  

Breadshare is not for profit, which means that they can really focus on slow fermentation, the process and the ingredients that go into making their breads. You can buy Breadshare Community Bakery breads through Whitmuir Farm in Lamancha or in Edinburgh at St. Mary's Market on Saturdays and also at Margiotta on Dundas Street.  The bakery also featured in an episode of Landward earlier in April.   

Thank you again to Geoff and Debra for letting us have a nosey around the bakery.  It was a really lovely introduction to community baking I only wish I was able to get down more to volunteer.  I should note that the bakery isn't normally open to the public.  

Piggies on the farm! I couldn't resist...

Friday, 27 April 2012

A Posh Impromptu Cake Meet

Thursday nights I take a math(s) class at a local college.  It is dreary and takes every ounce of motivation to get on the bus after work and schlep myself to the other end of the city.  On my journey last week I twigged that my bus goes right by a well known patisserie and a plan was hatched...stop off...get pastry...get back on bus...enjoy math(s).  

It didn't happen.  When I got there yesterday was closed. So that put a damper to my evening and math(s) wasn't much better...trigonometric functions...huh???

The cake gods must have felt horrible about letting me down yesterday because today I received a text to join two cake ladies for an impromptu cake meet at a very posh location.  They were going for lunch but hoped that I would be able to make it across town after work to devour some totally divine puddings. 

Would I? Silly question.  I think I banked in all of my cakey good-deed karma today, because I left work without a hitch, got the bus and zoomed through town to Restaurant Mark Greenaway.  I've been waiting to dine here for a while (plans in the pipeline for my birthday in June) after hearing rave reviews from fellow cake ladies and the Edinburgh foodie scene. 

Well...I almost died.

3 words...peanut caramel cheesecake...need I say more?

An Experiment with Fruit & Sugar

I've been busy experimenting with fruit & sugar.  You can read about it on the total food geeks edinburgh site.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cupcake Bakeoff for the MS Society

Sunday afternoon my fellow cake ladies KateyFiona and I  hosted an afternoon of tasting cupcakes at the totally sweet Sofi's Bar in Leith in aid of the MS Society.  It was wild! With 14 bakers, 160 cupcakes and over 50 people rsvp'd we were expecting a busy day...but the turn out ended up being to the point where some hardcore cupcake judges were actually sitting on the floor! 

Sofi's is a very sweet pub in Leith.  It hosts all sorts of community events and theme nights so we were so pleased when the wonderful Stephi agreed to house our bake off.  (I am not sure she anticipated the crowd either).  Bless her heart, she was so accommodating as we took over her bar space with cake stand and after cake stand of cupcakes and served what seemed like a never ending stream of punters.  

Once the event kicked off there was no stopping us.  Plate after plate of cupcake "samples" were taken around for everyone to taste, and consider...and then after what seemed like hours of cutting, and passing and sampling everyone voted on their faves.  

At one point, not long after everything got started the sound of drums could be heard off in the distance.   As they got louder and louder people ventured outside to see what was going on...I popped out quickly and was met with the fantastic site of a Sikh parade.

We were really fortunate to receive an amazing haul of prizes for bakers as well as some pretty stellar raffle prizes for bakers and tasters alike. I'll just take this opportunity to thank LakelandDough Re Mi CupcakesBon Papillon Cafe, and Cafe Musa for our raffle prizes and CocoCupboard Vintage and Creative Cookware for our baking prizes.  

It must have been hard to judge all these cakes...I actually didn't try any of them (except for the few I bought at the end to bring home) but I can tell you that the vote was very close and required 3 recounts!

3rd place and winner of a totally fab vintage style cake tin was 
Steph's Peaches and Cream Cupcakes 

2nd place and winner of a super sweet vintage tea cup trio set was 
Helen's Crackin' Cupcakes 

And 1st place...and winner of a connoisseur evening at Coco Chocolate...

 Alison's Spring Flower Cupcakes. 

We raised £460.  When Fiona text me Sunday night to tell me I almost fell off my chair.  The event was so busy, and packed, I never stopped to think about how many people were actually there...not to mention how generous everyone was.  

Scotland has one of the highest prevalences of MS in the world, with over 10,500 people living with the condition.  The MS Society is the UKs leading charity dedicated to enabling everyone affected by MS to live their life to their full potential and secure the care and support the need, until we ultimately find a cure.  

A big thank you to Alison from the cake ladies for taking photos...I never managed to get my camera out let alone snap any of the gorgeous cakes!

Right...I'm off for a run (kill me now...)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Edinburgh Cake Ladies are 2!!

Yesterday I was invited to a intimate gathering of the Edinburgh Cake Ladies in honour of the group reaching it's second birthday.  We spent the afternoon celebrating all things cake (and tea) in the cosiest of afternoon tea of the member's home!  

As I nestled into my comfy swively chair I this is luxury...8 gorgeous cakes, lashings of hot tea and the sweetest waitress in town (one of the member's 12yr old niece).  

We started with some savoury nibbles of breads and cheeses and crisps and grapes before moving onto the main event.  Please don't assume that because this was an intimate gathering the cakes would reflect that in size.  We cake ladies aim to please and satisfy cravings.  

Polena Raspberry fresh it was still warm when it arrived

Lemon Curd and Cream Sponge...perfectly tangy 

Orange and Blackberry "Pillow" large there wasn't a cake plate big enough!

Fraisier...french strawberry gateaux C'est Magnifique! 

Meringue Birthday Cake...perfectly light with an excellent birthday message 

Hot Pepper Jelly Chocolate Cake...spicy and rich

Raspberry Mousse Cake...drop dead gorgeous


My Swedish Almond Cake

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Avocado Salad

On Tuesday I made Nigella's Mexican Lasagne (layers of flour tortillas, beans and corn, cheese and a spicy tomato sauce).  It was didn't look as lovely as the picture in the book...but it went down a treat.  
Nigella's recipe suggests serving the lasagne with an avocado salad, and I couldn't have been happier to oblige.  Avocado is something I just can't get enough of...but am often put off buying a) because of the cost and b) because they are rarely ready when I want to use them or go from hard as a rock to overripe in a matter of minutes (well overnight but you know...) 

Before I set out to start the lasagne I gently prodded the three avocados sitting in my fruit bowl.  One was very soft, one was softish and one was hard...if they had all been hard I would have had to scrap the lasagne and juggle around the meal planner.  Thankfully two were good enough so on I ploughed.  

Lasagne done and resting I sliced up the two avocados (after a messy wrestling event trying to peel them) tossed them in some oil and lime juice, salt and pepper and then covered with loads of chopped coriander and some red chilli.  

In all honestly, I could have happily eaten the whole salad with a hunk of bread and thrown aside the lasagne...that's how much I love this salad.  

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Random Recipes: Belleau Kitchen is 2!

Happy 2nd Birthday to Belleau Kitchen!! It was only a couple of months ago that we were celebrating the 1st anniversary of the Random Recipe Challenge and now...Belleau Kitchen is 2! For this month's random recipe challenge Dom asked us to bake him celebrate the big birthday. I've only got one book entirely dedicated to baking (S&S) and, while I'm loving making my way through Dan's tome I felt that it was time to kick it old skool. 

I hauled out my own recipe book...full of handwritten notes and copies of things my mum used to make me.  I took out all the baking/dessert pages messed them up a bit, closed my eyes and hoped for the best.  

The result? Peppermint Buttercream...

Luckily the other side of the page had a recipe for my Nonna's Banana Bread...a family favourite.  Maybe not as OTT as some birthday cakes...but special in its own way (plus rammed full of chocolate chunks and 

So...Happy Birthday Belleau Kitchen...and welcome to the terrible twos xx

Monday, 16 April 2012

English Muffins @home

This past weekend I made English home...from scratch.  I am starting to amaze myself, actually.  I can't believe that a year or so ago I was terrified of yeast breads and now...I'm dreaming about being chased down dark alleys by baguettes and buns...hmmm...just re-reading that makes me think that perhaps I still am terrified.  Anyway...while I might be subconsciously terrified I am very much consciously loving making my own bread and discovering just how good home baked breads are.  

Enough of that...and onto the muffins.  English Muffins (so as not to be confused with those pesky cakey-muffins) are one of my favourite breakfast breads.  I don't know if it is the slightly fermented taste, or the way they toast up...or how lovely they are topped with poached eggs and hollandaise...I've just always really loved english muffins. 

The recipe I used comes from Dan Lepard's Short & Sweet. Of course I went into baking these with the utmost faith in the recipe...but...if you are going to attempt these...make sure you set aside a good deal of time to make them.  The dough is mixed up the night before and left in the fridge to slowly prove.  The next morning the dough is brought back to room temperature and then cut into discs and then left to rise...again.  It is all a very slow process....totally worth it...but slow.  My advice? If you want these for brunch (or even breakfast) you are best making the dough two days before you want them and baking them the day before. 

Once the muffins have risen they are browned on both sides in a large pan with a lid and then transferred into the oven to finish baking through.  I was honestly surprised at this stage.  I mean the muffins had risen to about 2cm tall but the combination of heat and steam in the pan made them really puff up.  

Out of the oven and cooled...although I ate the wonky-end-bits one right out of the oven slathered in butter.  My only adaption? the recipe calls for cider vinegar, which I replaced with malt...making the muffins taste especially tangy.  Totally perfect in my opinion since I love a good sour tasting loaf.

Waitrose apricot and apple sausages, spicy plum sauce, tomato and lettuce Muffin...devoured.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Meal for One

When David is out for the night I like to treat myself.  Nothing too fancy, mind you, but something that feels like a know? 

Pasta with loads of chilli and garlic, and loads of prawns

Saturday, 14 April 2012

One last impromptu cake up

Yesterday afternoon I got a text from a fellow Cake Lady... "one last impromptu cake up before you can't?" To be honest, I am surprised she asked me the question, her text should have read: "One more impromptu cake up! Be there or be square."  A couple quick texts back and forth, and I was off to Earthy.  

The cafe wasn't too busy when we arrived...but the cakes were going going going fast (to the point where one of us didn't get a slice of her first choice).  I chose a Rose Water Meringue gluten free cake made by Love Pure Cakes and a pot of Breakfast Tea.  We sat at a large wooden table ate our cakes and gabbed away.  

A lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon.  

Friday, 13 April 2012

A Quiche

There is something satisfying about a quiche.  It looks delicate but can actually be a very substantial meal...oh and of course it is encased in pastry.  I love pastry.  

At the Edinburgh Cake Ladies event last month I tasted one of the best savoury tarts...ever.  Bacon, brie, tomatoes and rocket.  It was incredible, I could have easily devoured the entire thing.  I was polite, and minded my manners, and shared, and vowed to use the flavours in my own quiche...sometime.  

"Sometime" finally came yesterday.  My quiche does not do its inspiration justice.  Don't get me wrong, mine was so yummy (to the point where I gobbled a tester piece before taking a picture) but the original was to.die.for.  

I decided to try Dan Lepard's Mustard Pastry from S&S for the crust.  It was ok.  It was flakey and baked nicely, but it wasn't mustardy.  I halved the recipe perhaps it was an oversight on my part.  The filling was sauteed red onion and bacon with halved cherry tomatoes and huge chunks of brie topped with a 3 egg and cream mixture. 

Very tasty and very substantial.  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Cake Cravings...satisfied

I don't know what it is...or why I do it to myself...but I get myself all snuggled in for the evening with my cup of tea, turn on the TV and subject myself to hour after hour of baking shows.  I watch, and I drool and I just end up craving cake.  

Tuesday night was no exception...I got all snuggled into watch The Hairy Bikers Bakeation and BAM I felt a rumbling in my tummy...I needed Cake.  I sent a pleading pathetic tweet out into the twittersphere and before I knew it people were actually tweeting me pictures of cake! It was so so so good...but I needed more.  

Cue Cake Ladies...a few tweets back and forth and we had a date set up for 10am the next morning!

We met at Bon Papillon...a uber cute gallery/cafe in New Town...and settled in for a good chat over cake and scones.  

There is something so satisfying about an impromptu cake meet, especially at 10am! The luxuries I've been enjoying over the past couple of weeks will seem a lifetime away when I am back at work on Monday...wiping noses and cleaning scraped knees.  

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Scandi brekkie

After making my totally gorgeous Study Break Jam yesterday I whipped up a batch of Bircher Muesli in the thought that it would be a great way to use my know...other than on toast.  When I was in high school, and university for that matter, I worked at a supermarket that had a prepared foods section run by the Movenpick food group.  One of my favourite things to buy for my break was a container of bircher muesli mixed with fruits and yoghurt...and until yesterday I had never made my own.  

I just threw the ingredients together after reading the recipe in a copy of Scandilicious loaned to me by Katey over at Edinburgh Eats.  I didn't have the exact ingredients...well except for oats and I just sort of winged it.  The mixture needs to sit over night for the oats to absorb all the milk and get soft...and this morning when I opened up the ice cream container I had stored it in everything looked swell(ed). 

Topped with my Study Break Jam and some creamed honey this was a delicious way to start the day! 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Study break Jam

I am meant to be studying for a maths know taking advantage of having time off to really get a head start on revising for the big make or break exam...and I swear I have been doing just that...but after 3 days in hoodies and sweatpants doing nothing but drinking coffee and studying I just need a break.  

I bought some rhubarb when I was at Earthy on Saturday but haven't had a chance to even think about using it.  This morning I thought I would stew it with some apples for tonight's dinner...and then I spied half a package of frozen mixed berries in my freezer...perfect...jam.

After a suitable amount of time studying, and swearing and yanking my hair out...I dumped the frozen berries into a largish saucepan, added 4 stalks of rhubarb cut into 2cm pieces and enough water to juuuuust skim the top of the fruit.  The heat went on and I got back to the books.  After a few minutes of bubbling away I added about 1/2 cup of sugar stirred it all and then let it simmer away until thick.  

I don't bother with the frozen saucer and back of the spoon trick...if it parts like the red sea in the pot that's good enough for me..besides I like my jam on the softer side.  I ended up with a decent sized jar and a smaller jar and a little ramekin filled with jam...procrastination doesn't get much better than this. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Earthy Three and a poshed up rice pudding

I love food stores. I love wandering around reading labels and drooling over the posh products. One of my fave places in Edinburgh to spend a good hour or so exploring is Earthy   in the south side of the city.  It is a little far for me to go on a regular basis...which is good for my wallet but not so good for my foodie cravings.  Earthy sells all sorts of fab locally produced stuff, as well as ethically and fair traded goods, organics and totally lush breads, salads and cakes.  

Well imagine my excitement when the rumours started late last year that a new Earthy store was going to be opening...somewhere much easier to wander along to! Over the last couple of weeks the twittersphere has been abuzz with teasing photos of the shop installations (totally rustic) and finally, this past Friday, the doors officially opened.  

I didn't manage a trip over on opening day...what with a cake engagement to attend...but wandered over around lunch time on Saturday and spent a good hour picking up everything, looking at all the labels, adjusting askew boxes on shelves (a horrible habit of mine) and generally being in awe. 

Of course I was immediately drawn to the mammoth display of breads, where I chatted with the dude who created the interior installations...very cool, very laid back, very Earthy.   I didn't buy a loaf...only because I had some freshly baked bread at home...but will defo be pottering over when a special loaf is needed.  

The fruit & veg are displayed in huge wooden bowls...making it feel more like a home than a market...if I weren't better trained/behaved I would have dived right into that bowl of baby plum tomatoes! 

Attached to the store is a large cafe, serving up all manners of things including all these fab looking salads.  I am a sucker for a deli counter.  It is a good thing we didn't plan on eating on this visit...the cafe was absolutely heaving with people (an excellent sign). 

I didn't buy a whole heap of things, although I easily could have.  I managed to limit myself to a few small items (and a huge handful of rhubarb).  This Gustosecco rice pudding mix immediately caught my eye.  There were a few flavour varieties (including chocolate) but I just had to have this elderflower, ginger and apricot one.  

At £2.95 a sachet I think that this product is excellent value.  Sure...sure...pudding rice isn't all that expensive but if I had to source elderflower and crystallised ginger and dried apricots it could get ridiculous.  And besides, it was easy. Just dump the contents into a ovenproof dish, mix with 2pints of whole milk and bake for 2 hours...into the oven it went and back onto the couch I went.  Served with some lovely Tweedside creamed honey from Chain Bridge Honey Farm this was a perfectly comforting and extra special easter pudding! 

Sunday, 8 April 2012

a loaf for a gal with the sweetest tooth

Raisin and Cinnamon Sugar Bread

Just a little birthday giftie for a gal I know who has the sweetest tooth I've ever encountered. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

taking afternoon tea at anTEAques

At the beginning of my two week holiday I thought to myself...this is going to be so boring...I've got nothing to do except study for my maths exam...boring...boring...boring...

That was until...I met two fellow Edinburgh Cake Ladies for an impromptu afternoon tea at the cutest tea shop/antique shop in Edinburgh: Anteaques. I've heard about this totally unique tea shop so many times since I met the Cake Ladies and have been meaning to make a trip to the south side of town, but the very limited opening hours...and my lazy weekend routine...has made it difficult, until today! 

Nestled amongst vintage fur coats and antique silver and tea sets (and an odd looking military belt) we spent a couple of hours chatting about this and that and thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere, tea and scones. 

This is the place to come if you are wild about tea.  Canister after canister of looseleaf tea adorn the shelves at the front of the shop.  We were spoilt for choice, and quite frankly unsure of what to start with.  Luckily one amongst us was a seasoned Anteaquer.  She suggested we each choose a tea and we have one pot at a time.  Choices made, with some assistance, we were set. 

A gorgeous glass tea pot was placed on the table, filled with Pink Lady Apple tea (a mixture of apples with some hibiscus to make it pink) along side our scones.  

Scones devoured we chatted on and on over our second pot of tea: Lemongrass Marigold. 

Of course we couldn't fly the Cake Ladies flag if we didn't indulge in a second scone.  More scones with a pot of vibrant pink hibiscus tea rounded off an excellent afternoon.