what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

St Lucia saffron buns

It has been a busy year with lots going on and not much time for new baking, but finally here’s a recipe from Sainsbury’s magazine by Rachel Khoo from her Little Swedish Kitchen book. It’s not available online so far as I can see. But they look great! I didn’t have any saffron, so maybe next time.


Don’t waste bananas

News today suggests people throw away slightly bruised bananas and that’s bad for lots of reasons. Guardian article here.

If you want to stop wasting bananas but only have one occasionally, then pop it in the freezer until you’ve got a enough to make something. It doesn’t matter if the outside goes all black and the inside is squishy, just defrost them when you want to use them.

Here are some of my blogs about banana recipes, but there’s plenty more things out there to try.

Banana 1 – Butterscotch Banana Cake

Banana 2 – Banana Bread with Spelt Flour

Banana 3 – Dark Banana Ginger Cake


Easter baking – Stone fruit simnel cake

I have often made simnel cakes at Easter, and just as often they turn out quite dry and slightly disappointing, despite all the marzipan. This year Dan came up with a new recipe that includes pretty much everything you would put in a simnel cake, with some extras that give it a lift. There’s apricots on top below little balls of marzipan, there’s ground almonds in the mix, which is moistened with a decent amount of sherry. The fruit is a mix of currants and ginger. In my effort I reduced the amount of ginger and used some mixed peel and raisins. You can pick up the recipe here at Australian Good Food. And this is what it looks like when I make it.

Cinnamon cake with blackberries

A Dan Lepard recipe from Short and Sweet, but also available on the Guardian website. It’s a whisked fat-free sponge made of eggs, sugar and golden syrup, with a little milk in it, only half a teaspoon of baking powder, wholemeal flour and cinnamon. The cinnamon mixes with the wholemeal flour to give an agreeable pinky-brown colour. For the flour I used some standard supermarket wholemeal plus some from our local windmill. The mill doesn’t sieve the flour before sending it out, so it has some ‘nuggets’ of barely ground wheat in it for extra texture. I also drizzled some Chambord raspberry over the fruit to make it a bit more adult. My mother-in-law has a glut of blackberries so in they went, and some double cream was easily whipped to fill the cake. Over the top goes the icing sugar to hide the cracks that appear as the cake cools. Result!

Cinnamon cake with balackberries

Cinnamon cake with balackberries


A new star in the baking firmament – #TanyaBakes

Earlier this year I was asked to make an index for a baking book written by a YouTuber (yes that is a word, it’s in the dictionary). So I did the job and ended up a bit puzzled. There were plenty of recipes for cakes, cookies and cheesecakes, but they were a bit ‘easy’, no complicated techniques, no hard-to-find ingredients, not many flavours, and I wondered faintly why anyone had bothered to make the book. So I put the work behind me and got on with other things and wasn’t even tempted to try making any of them.

Last Friday, 1st July, while Britain and Europe were still reeling from Brexit, I was labouring over an index for a book about medieval trade across the North Sea, and on the day the destruction of the Somme was remembered (wasn’t #wearehere fabulous? I wish I’d been able to see some of the young men myself), Tanya Bakes was launched. And I finally got why the book was written, it’s not a book for my demographic at all, it’s a cookery book for people who want straightforward, simple, feelgood recipes, with nice pictures. It’s for girls (and boys) who want to thank their mum or dad or sister, or nan or uncle or teacher and make them a few cookies. It’s for friends who want to spend an hour together to make something before settling down to watch a movie. It’s for anyone who wants to make cheesecake or party pudding or a cake you can stick sparklers in. There’s not much in the way of fancy icing to be done and it shows it is OK to put sweets on cakes if that’s what you want to do. If you want recipes for Nutella or put peanut butter in something, you’ll find something to help you.

Twitter went mad. #TanyaBakes was used by people expressing their excitement at having received their copy, saying they were going to one of the book signings she has arranged, and more importantly perhaps, showing off their bakes. So it’s not my demographic, but I’ve got to congratulate Tanya if she encourages people to try a few things for themselves. It’s not a book to grab and use every day, I had to laugh a little at the person who put a review on Amazon complaining about the amount of sugar, but in moderation it has got good points.

And I made some brownies. Tanya’s most ‘exotic’ recipe uses coconut sugar and coconut oil, I swapped that out for brown and white sugar and some butter, but I did put in the half an avocado. Here’s a piece with some raspberries out of my garden and a bit of cream.



Poppy-seed walnut strudel

Last week I asked Dan if he had a recipe for mohnplunder, something I ate more than half a life time ago when I took a trip round some museums in Europe looking for Celtic objects. The ones I ate in Germany were pastries stuffed with poppy seeds. Dan didn’t have a recipe for pastries, but pointed out this recipe which is in Short and Sweet and also published here.

You need about 5 hours to make this sweet yeasted dough epic. So it’s not something to rush into, but can be done in stages with a bit of preparation in between. There’s no picture in Short and Sweet, but there is one on the Guardian website, so at least we know what it should look like.

The dough is made in two stages. First a sponge stage with yeast and flour mixed into milk that has been boiled and cooled, and left to rest for about an hour. Then butter is rubbed into more flour and mixed with the sponge and rested. Meanwhile you make the filling. I’m a bit scared of the filling because it is quite runny, but it tastes quite nice. I don’t think my food mixer can grind the walnuts small enough. The only change I made was to use brandy instead of rum.

Here’s some pictures so you can see what happened. A fair amount of filling spilled from the top down the side. The result wasn’t particularly elegant-looking, but it tastes OK!

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Butterscotch banana cake

My baking mojo seems to have put in appearance recently and I’m trying out a few things I’ve not done before. So from Short and Sweet and appearing here in a slightly different version, this morning I’ve made butterscotch banana cake. The new thing for me was the caramel, which I feel is a bit daunting. But it’s not, really, it’s not, just keep an eye on it. I wasn’t too sure how large to leave the banana pieces so didn’t let it cook too long. It looked a bit bare when I took it out of the oven so I’ve topped it with some lemon icing, just lemon juice and icing sugar. Very moist, not soggy or stodgy.

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Sticky lemon and poppy seed cake

I have made this before, but haven’t blogged it, so I am typing away while it is in the oven.

I’m following the recipe in Short and Sweet, but you can also find it here. The differences are minor – Short and Sweet uses slightly less sugar, more flour and an extra egg in the cake mix. Which suggests it’s all good and you can tweak if you haven’t got quite what the recipe suggests. The main differences compared to a standard lemon drizzle cake, for example by Mary Berry, is the use of some sunflower oil in the mixture, the substitution of some of the flour with fine oatmeal plus some extra liquid, and the addition of poppy seeds. So the results are slightly chewier – a good thing, cake you don’t have to chew is not a good thing in my book. And I like the poppy seeds. Cranks also has a great recipe for lemon, lime and poppy seed drizzle cake which I must do sometime.

I do wish Dan was back with the Guardian, I have to say I haven’t cooked anything by Ruby, sorry.

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Top Tea Cakes – Dan Lepard recipe

Hello again! I’ve been away as I had an accident in June that kept me off my feet for two months and I’ve only just got my baking mojo back. You’ve missed the tomato, parmesan and basil bread, some fruit cake and a huge home-made Jaffa cake I’m afraid, but today I’ve made Dan Lepard’s Top Tea Cakes from Short and Sweet. There’s a recipe from the Guardian over here, the main differences are in the kneading and resting times and the number of tea cakes you make.

This is an enriched recipe with lots of fruit, sugar, syrup, eggs and, instead of butter, white chocolate. So what’s not to like? I’ve not used white chocolate for the fat before, but the recipe says it will stay softer than using butter.

I used fresh yeast instead of packet dried yeast. The recipe calls for ingredients to be added to hot milk one after the other which cools the mix down to a usable temperature within the 15 minutes that you leave the yeast to bubble in some water with some flour. Pictures below show the various stages of working the dough. And I went for a tray of 12 tea cakes, not the 9 or 14 suggested by the two recipes. Going for 9 would make them humungous!

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Chocolate and almond fudge cake

Recipe from Dan’ Lepard’s Short and Sweet, also available here, but use 3 eggs not 4. A flour free recipe,

A cake that is mostly made in a saucepan goes slightly against the grain, but makes it all pretty easy. You don’t need an electric mixer for the egg white whipping bit, a firm arm with a hand whisk will do the job quite nicely.

I found it took a lot longer to bake than the 40 minutes suggested, and I gave it 55 in the end, but it might have needed a bit more. My eggs were from a mixed box, not the medium ones stated, so maybe that affected the cooking time.

It does shrink down quite a bit after baking and I didn’t use the cream topping suggested. Here’s some pics, and it was rather tasty.

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