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Friday, 27 April 2012

Wholemeal rolls

I have recently started making my own bread - it does take time but is so rewarding and actually much better for you than most shop bought bread. I have been experimenting with different flours and this is my favourite combination yet. These rolls aren't too heavy because of the addition of white bread flour but do have a lovely texture and a crispy crust. The preparation only takes about 20 minutes in total but you do need to leave the bread to rise so the whole process takes over 3 hours (although obviously you can do other things while you wait). 

Makes 6 rolls

300ml lukewarm water
2 ½ tsp dried yeast
1 tsp brown sugar
225 g strong white bread flour
225 g strong wholemeal bread flour
1 tsp salt

  • Mix the yeast and sugar in to half of the water and leave for about 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  • When the yeast is ready make a well in the flour and pour the yeast mix in.
  • Stir the yeast mix into the flour
  • Add the rest of the water and combine into dough – this is easiest with your hands!
  • You are aiming for slightly sticky dough that pulls all of the mixture away from the edge of the bowl. You may need to add some more water, do this one tablespoon at a time until the dough leaves the bowl clean.
  • Flour a flat surface and knead until it is completely smooth and elastic, this may take 10 minutes but it so worth the effort.
  • Get a clean bowl (or clean the one you were using before) and use a piece of kitchen towel to spread some olive oil in a thin layer around the inside. Put your dough ball in to this bowl and cover with some cling film and a tea towel. Leave in a warm place (e.g. airing cupboard or windowsill) for 2 hours.

  •  Prepare a baking tray by sprinkling it with a fine layer of polenta grain (this will help to stop the rolls from sticking).
  •  Take the dough out of the bowl and on a floured surface knock it back (literally push your fist in to it to knock the air out) and then knead for about two minutes (this might seem counter-productive since you have just left it to rise but is vital if your bread is going to behave properly!)
  • Shape your dough into 6 equal balls and place on the baking tray.
  • Loosely cover the rolls with cling film and a tea towel and put back into a warm place for about 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 190 °C and boil a kettle of water. Find a deep baking tray or oven proof dish.
  • Once the oven is warm put the deep baking tray on the bottom shelf filled with boiling water, the rolls need to go on the top shelf for about 30 minutes. They are ready when crispy brown on the outside and the bottom, when knocked, sounds hollow.
  • Leave to cool on a wire cooling rack – enjoy!

Delicious with soup or as a sandwich! They will keep for a few days but also freeze well for a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A New Skirt

Sorry it has been a while, how time flies when you are having fun! We have had a busy couple of weeks what with the Easter break and the garden demanding more and more of our time. I have however managed to get to my sewing machine and the result is this new skirt. Now this is the first time I have ever made a piece of clothing without a pattern (and to be fair I have never been all that successful with a pattern). It isn't of the highest standard but I am learning fast (for example don't put a pleat right next to the zip because it just looks odd!) and to be fair I would wear it out in public (which is probably a good sign). 

The design is very simple. An interfaced belt section provides some structure to the top of the skirt and then the bottom is too rectangles (one front and one back) that have pleats in the top to make them the same length as the belt. This allows some volume and gives you the "bell" shape. The inside is lined in satin and the outside is a heavy cotton.

Since making this skirt I have also started to make a waistcoat (which is much more complex and may be a step too far). I will hopefully be able to post photos of the finished article (good or bad) in the coming weeks along with an update on the garden and hopefully some new recipes!