Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Sun-dried Tomato and Fennel Seed Bread

I have been wanting to make my own bread for a long time, but the whole kneading thing is simply not my style. I just can't be bothered. I don't mind waiting for the dough to rise (= time for a cup of tea) but I just don't want to poke and prod dough. Therefore, another reason to love my KitchenAid. It does all the hard work for me.

After trying some amazing fennel seed bread at Carluccio's in Nottingham (my favourite place for lunch at the moment) I've been longing to use some in my baking. So with some seeds purchased, half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes discovered in the fridge and a new recipe adapted  I made this:

What You Need:
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 320 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp  tomato pureĆ©
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes drained & chopped
What You Need To Do:
  1. Mix the dry ingredients in the KitchenAid bowl using the dough hook.
  2. Add the olive oil to the flour mixture and combine using the dough hook then add the water, fennel seeds, tomato pureƩ and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Mix to a dough consistency on the lowest setting (add a little extra flour if necessary) and then increase the speed to 2 and let the KitchenAid do all the hard work for 10 minutes while you put the kettle on.
  4. Cover the dough in the bowl with clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Using the KitchenAid again knead your dough for a few minutes. Remove it from the bowl, shape into a round loaf and place on a floured baking sheet. Dust the dough with flour, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise again for about 60 minutes again until it has doubled in size.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and then bake your bread for 20-30 minutes until it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

If you can wait long enough, slice when cool(ish) and enjoy with butter and some homemade soup.

At A Loss....

After a 3 1/2 week term (seriously) the amazing sons are back on holiday for half-term. Most children get 1 week for a half-term, mine get 2. I'm not complaining as I work at their school but for the first time ever I have found myself at a bit of a loss as to what to do. Not that I had got as far as suggesting a game of football. I wasn't that desperate.

A cunning plan has been hatched to keep them entertained and me sane. I have written 'treats' for us to do each day on bits of paper, folded them and coded them with a symbol - sunny day, wet day, big treat day. They choose a treat and we enjoy. Today it was going to the library (they've been wanting to go for weeks) and getting a cone of chips on the way for lunch. Now they are reading books and watching a film they borrowed. Long may the peace last!

I'll keep you updated as to what else we get up to shortly - and may even remember to take a photograph too.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


I finally plucked up the courage to give macarons a go. I have to say I was pleased with my first attempt. I chose my favourite flavour (lemon) and used the Italian meringue technique where you pour boiling sugar syrup onto whipped egg whites to make the meringue base. I even managed to pipe pretty decent circles of the batter.

Look at the 'feet' on these after they have been cooked. Slightly undercooked admittedly, but look at the 'feet'!

Here they are filled - lemon curd whipped together with cream cheese. Not quite Laduree or Pierre Hermes, but entirely satisfactory. At this point we won't mention my second attempts which were more meringue than macaron. Practice makes perfect though, and even the mistakes taste delicious.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Ginger King

The gorgeous husband and I like love adore our cocktails. Not the overly fruity or umbrella topped variety please, we are very selective and discerning in our choice of drink. Normally we have them when we go 'out out' which doesn't happen that often due to the need for a babysitter for the amazing sons. In all honesty I think amazing son number two would happily join us if given the opportunity - he was even excited about the fact I had put wine in the risotto for lunch today. We fully intend to never let him try an alcopop. Over the weekend I picked up a bottle of King's Ginger after sampling it in Harvey Nichols in Birmingham. This stuff is good, believe me. We have just had a glass of it with ice, tonic water and a dash of angostura bitters. Delicious. Can't wait to have some topped up with cava. You can't buy King's Ginger in many places but it is definitely worth tracking down a bottle. Or two. Three?