Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

With the blizzards, snow storms, sleet and rain that has plagued our lives in the UK this week, it only seems fitting that lunch should come in the form of a warming soup. This soup is speedy to make and keeps well (and freezes even better). Best served with some crusty bread, or some sourdough!



Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup


1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1-2 tsp Harrisa paste or curry paste (it’s also good with thai curry paste)

1 litre vegetable stock

1/2 can of coconut milk

handful of coriander, shredded roughly

750g sweet potatoes, peeled and grated.


1) Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, fry the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add in the harrisa paste and reduce the heat so the onions do not brown too quickly.

2) Add the grated sweet potatoes and mix thoroughly, fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, increase the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.

3) Take off the heat, season and add the coconut milk, leave to cool slightly and blend until smooth.

4) Serve with a sprinkle of coriander.




Havent’ put a track up for a while, so here’s one (free of charge), crazy upbeat and video filmed in the desert, couldn’t be further away from the snow and slush of our icy streets.


Starter News: Day 5 and Garth the Starter’s first loaf.

Day five arrived and it was the last day of action, according to Mr Lepard’s instructions from day 6 I could get baking (although I left it until the weekend, having not got the time to devote to bread making). So here’s how day five went down and the trials and tribulations of my first sourdough loaf.

Day Five:


Dan Lepard says that by day five the fermentation should be obvious, and the aroma should be starting to turn acidic.


100g water at 20 degrees c

125g strong white flour


1) Remove and discard 3/4 of the starter from the kilner jar.

2) Pour in the water and mix well.

3) Add the flour and stir to a thick paste. Cover and leave for another 24 hours.

Dan Lepard favours keeping the refreshment heavier on the flour than the liquid (when many prefer a 1:1 ratio) as he says this slows down the rate of fermentation and prevents the leaven from rising and falling too quickly.

My first loaf.


Seemingly everyone out there has varying and often conflicting rules when it comes to sourdough loaves, being highly inexperienced in this field I decided to play it safe with a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from the channel4 food website. I decided upon this recipe as it uses a sponge method, which you make 24 hours before you make the dough, it’s a technique I used to make my stollen at christmas and I was pretty pleased with that. I did have a few disasters along the way; my proving basket is yet to arrive, so I used a suggestion off another food blog to heavily flour a tea towel and use it to line a colander. A brilliant idea in practice, but when you fail to properly flour the tea towel and your dough sticks to it once it’s proven it doesn’t seem like a great idea. In the future, if I’m devoid of the proper equipment, I will use this method but HEAVILY flour my tea towel. I also failed to heat my baking sheet properly, and I then didn’t cook my loaf for long enough, so it was quite undercooked on the bottom. But there were a few positive aspects of my first bake. The crust was great (having used the pan full of boiling water to create steam method) and the top of the loaf had a pretty good crumb. I played it too safe with the presentation of my first loaf, and decided to not slash the dough, so it did just look like a boulder. But all in all I am pretty damn proud of my first loaf, knowing I cultivated Garth from the very beginning. Hopefully this is the start of something, and after a few more dodgy loaves I’ll be cracking out artisan bread left, right and centre. But for now, my slightly stodgy sourdough was a sufficient accompaniment to some homemade soup.


Starter news (day three and four)

My two successful days in the world of starters must have gone to my head because I royally cocked up my third. In a state of tiredness following a 6am five hour train journey to Edinburgh (clutching my starter, affectionately known as Garth, the whole time) I misread Dan Lepard’s instructions and made the (hopefully) common mistake of misreading ‘tsp’ for ‘tbsp’. So Garth the starter was massively overfed. However, rather than start all over again I have decided to persevere with Garth, and today (day four) he is looking exactly the way he is meant to. So maybe my mistake was more of a cheeky blunder than the mammoth cock up I had previously described it as.

Day Three. 

Dan Lepard says that by day three the raisins will have stated to break down and you will have started to notice a light, coffee coloured ring around the area in which they sit. He also says that there will be the odd pinhole of fermentation on the surface. All of which Garth had pre-train jostling, but the photograph does show some of these signs.



So to proceed with Dan’s method on day three you must…


100g water and 20 degrees

4 rounded tsp strong white flour

4 rounded tsp rye flour


1) Add the water, stir well to combine.

2) Then add the flour and stir well again. Dan says the mixture will look frothy but that is just from the stirring. Cover and leave for another 24 hours.

Day Four.

By now the froth of fermentation should be beginning, but the aroma of acidity should be only slight. Apologies for my photograph it was very dark in my kitchen, but hopefully you can see the fermentation well enough.



100g water at 20 degrees

125g strong white flour


1) Remove and discard three-quarters of the mixture.

2) Add the water and stir well.

3) Strain the mixture in order to get rid of the raisins, pour the strained mixture back into your kilner jar and add the flour and stir well.

4) Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Marmalade Making


Following the success of my summer of preserves as soon as Seville Oranges (sometimes known as Marmalade Oranges) came into season I knew I had to crack out the jam thermometer. I dived back into Beryl Wood’s ‘Let’s Preserve It’ for a traditional seville orange marmalade and also decided to make a batch of lemon and lime marmalade which I had made in the summer in an attempt to fill the cupboard with preserves before I head back for my final semester of University. The Seville Orange is much bitter than its compadres, perfect for marmalade, and as they are just in season the supermarkets are swimming with them. All marmalades and jams contain an obscene amount of sugar, which never fails to shock me. But at least you aren’t consuming it by the jar full in each sitting.

4 pounds of sugary goodness.

4 pounds of sugary goodness.

Many people are divided over the type of marmalade they prefer, some like their peel small and minced or thinly sliced, others like thick and chunky preserves. It’s totally personal choice but I shredded my peel reasonably thin.

This recipe does require the mixture to sit over night before adding the sugar, so ensure you have enough time to complete it.

Seville Orange Marmalade. (adapted from Beryl Wood’s ‘Let’s Preserve It!’)

Fills 6x 450g (1lb) jars


910g (2lb) Seville Oranges

1 lemon

1.8kg (4lb) Caster Sugar

2.3l (4 pints) of liquid, made up on whatever juice you remove from the fruits and the rest water

Equipment needed:

Jars (with suitable lids)

Jam thermometer

Jam funnel

Large Saucepan or Jam pan

Muslin Cloth

Wax discs


1) Juice all the oranges and lemons, remove as much of the pith as you can. Keep the Juice in a measuring jug, ensuring no pith or seeds has escaped into it. Place the pith and the pips in the muslin cloth and tie tightly. This will sit in the mixture over night and release pectin left within the pulp and pips, pectin helps the marmalade set. IMG_0778

2) Place the squeezed citrus fruit in a large bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle, let this sit until the water has cooled. This will help break down the remaining pith so it can be scraped off and the peel can be shredded more easily. Once cool, shred, slice or mince the peel as appropriate, ensuring to first scrape as much pith off as possible. Place the shredded fruit into your saucepan or jam pan.

3) Measure the juice from citrus fruit, add enough water to make up to the four pints that are required. Pour into the jam pan/sauce pan. Place the Muslin cloth containing the pips and pith into this saucepan. Leave overnight.

4) The next day remove the Muslin cloth, squeezing it to ensure you get as much pectin out as possible. Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer until the peel is soft and the contents about halved.

5) Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved then boil fast to set. This takes a while, I cooked mine for about 45 mins. The best way to tell if the marmalade is cooked sufficiently is to store a plate in the freezer, and when you think the marmalade is close to being done put a small amount on the plate and leave to cool to see if it thickens. Once cooked leave your marmalade to cool slightly.


6) Meanwhile, sterilise your jars. This can be done many ways. I wash mine thoroughly in hot water and washing up liquid, dry them thoroughly then fill with boiling water and leave for a minimum of 10 minutes.


7) Fill your jars using a jam funnel, place a wax disc on the top and seal tightly. Leave to cool at room temperature and store in a cool, dry cupboard. The marmalade should last out the year if stored properly and once opened will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks.


I also made a batch of lemon and lime marmalade, the recipe of which is on my ‘Jam-boree’ blog post, which you can get to if you click the photograph below.


IMG_0147Preserve making is pretty laborious, so to keep you amused here’s a link to a soundtrack of a film I watched recently, it’s called happythankyoumoreplease and is a incredibly endearing tale with a great soundtrack. So have a listen, or better yet watch the film.

The Starter of Something New (Day one and two)

IMG_0788Most people’s New Years Resolution’s are to quit something, learn something new or exercise more. Mine is slightly different, mine is to cultivate a live microbiological culture which actually performs fermentation in bread… simple! Having read many horror stories of how volatile sourdough starter’s are I am pretty dubious to how successful this resolution will be. However, after thorough research (and not being swayed by the fact I received a copy of his book for christmas) many people recommend Dan Lepard’s approach as the easiest for sourdough novices.

So here goes, day number one and day number two have been completed and so far so good (I think)


Dan Lepard suggests to use a Kilner Jar (which I did) of a minimum of 500ml.IMG_0784


50g water at 20 degrees

2 rounded tsp rye flour

2 rounded tsp strong white flour

2 rounded tsp currants or raisins

2 rounded tsp live low-fat yoghurt


Mix all the ingredients together in your jar. Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.


Day one!


So Mr Lepard says that at this stage there shouldn’t be a perceptible  change, he says the surface should look shiny as the solids serpent from the water and sink down into the jar. Which I think mine did, although my photograph isn’t of the best quality.

Day Two!

Day Two!

Day Two’s Ingredients:

50g water at 20 degrees

2 rounded tsp rye flour

2 rounded tsp strong white flour


Stir the ingredients in, starting with the water and the the flours. Cover and leave for a further 24 hours at room temperature.

I have four more days of actively feeding my starter and on day six it is apparently usable. However, I think I’ll leave baking my first sourdough loaf (if this is successful) till the following weekend as many of Dan Lepard’s loaves are very time consuming. Will post again in a few days to document my process.

Yes Michael, I ‘wanna be starting something’ *tenuous song link, but surprisingly no ballad has been written about a girl and her sourdough starter.

Rye & Honey Soda Bread


In the past few months I have developed a real obsession with soda bread. Whilst Paul Hollywood’s Red Onion and Cheddar Soda Bread will always be a firm favourite, this honey rye bread is a definite close second.


250g rye flour, plus a little extra for dusting
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
100ml plain yoghurt
100ml whole milk
50g runny honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice


(1) Preheat the the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Place the rye flour, bicarb of soda and salt in a large bowl.
(2) In a measuring jug mix the yoghurt, milk, honey, oil and lemon juice. Place a baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven.
(3) Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a sticky dough. Shape into a round ball shape and flatten. Sprinkle with a little flour and cut a cross into the top.
(4) Remove the baking sheet from the oven, sprinkle with flour and place the dough on the sheet. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.



P.s Here’s a song to play whilst making it, it’s been well documented in this blog that I am a huge fan of Alabama Shakes, and having watched Silver Lining’s Playbook last night (Wonderful film) I have developed another unhealthy obsession with one of their songs.

Bread Christmas Style aka Stollen and a Christmas Round Up.

Christmas starts for me with a mug of Glühwein and a slice of stollen so this year, after a year of bread making,  I decided I should make my own. After much research and deliberation I decided upon a Dan Lepard recipe, I’m obsessed with his guardian website page and his recipes are always easy to follow and informative. Bread is his speciality and his knowledge seemingly knows no bounds, so I felt like I was in safe hands having never attempted to make stollen before. His recipe uses a ten second kneading method which is repeated several times. I was dubious about this at first as the dough was very moist and sticky, but I persevered and the end result was great so I will no longer doubt it in future. The recipe I used yielded two large loaves, which can be frozen and do store well, but you may want to half the recipe if you’re already too full of christmas fare.

Stollen. (adapted from Dan Lepard)



Dan Lepard’s recipe uses the ‘sponge’ method, where the yeast is left to ferment in a separate mixture before being added to the main bulk of the ingredients.

For the Sponge:

50g strong white bread flour IMG_0690
1 tsp caster sugar
2 level tsp easy-blend yeast
100 ml warm milk

For the Dough:

450g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3/4 tsp salt
50g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tbsp spiced rum
175g warm milk
250g raisins
125g mixed peel
250g golden marzipan
melted butter and icing sugar to finish

For variation you could add other dried fruit in place of raisins, such as dried cranberries or apricots


1) For the sponge; mix together all the ingredients in a bowl, leave to stand in a warm place for 30 minutes, the mixture should be bubbling.


2) Meanwhile, place the flour for the dough in a  wide mixing bowl with the cinnamon, lemon zest, icing sugar and salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until all the lumps disappear.

3) After the sponge has been left for 30 minutes, beat the egg, rum and warm milk into it and  then pour this into the flour mixture. Add the dried fruit and stir everything together. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 10 mins.


4) After 10 minutes lightly oil the work surface and your hands and gently knead the dough for 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for another 10 mins. Repeat this light-kneading twice more at 10-min intervals. Once done, leave the dough covered in a warm place for a further 30 mins.

5) Then divide the dough into two pieces and form each in to a ball. On a lightly dusted work surface, roll each ball of dough out into an oval using a rolling pin, roughly 2 cm thick. Take the marzipan, divide it in half, and roll each piece into a sausage the same length as each oval of dough. Place the marzipan along the length of the dough, and then fold the dough in half so that the marzipan is covered. Press gently around where the marzipan is  to seal the marzipan in. Place each stollen on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, leaving space between each of them so they don’t merge when proving. Place the tray in a carrier bag to create a pocket of warmth and moisture and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until the stollen have almost doubled in volume. Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

IMG_06956) Bake the loaves on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 mins, reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and cook for a further 20 mins. Like bread, turn over a tap to see if the loaves are hollow and thus cooked. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. While still warm, brush each stollen with melted butter and dredge heavily with icing sugar, then wrap in greaseproof paper and tie with string. Store in a air-tight container. The loaves keep for up to two weeks. If making again I would definitely half the recipe, although I did make a stollen based bread and butter pudding with the second loaf.


So I’ve been pretty bad with blogging this festive season, bad internet coupled with busy christmas plans has lead to a neglecting my duties. So here’s a cheeky photo montage of christmas baking and general foodie-ness. Highlights include the two Christmas Puddings  made earlier in december, puff pastry mince pies, my new gorgeous anthropologie measuring spoons, chocolate orange star biscuits, turkey pie, my new le creuset pestle and mortar, Moran family pickles, red onion and cheddar soda bread and stollen bread and butter pudding.