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Last weekend we celebrated the fine weather with our first barbeque of the season (hopefully not the last!).  We had tiny buffalo koftas from Laverstoke Park Farm, asparagus, new potatoes baked in the embers, and homemade flatbreads.

This was a new adventure for us – attempting to make our own flatbreads – and I was desperately worried they would go all crispy, and not soft and doughy like I was hoping.  If there was anyone I was going to put my trust in, it was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

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I am on a big push to return to home baking.  It feels like I’ve let too many other things get in the way, and although I love most of the other things that ‘get in the way’ during my week, I feel deeply unhappy when eating and cooking goes awry.

So over the weekend, despite the many other things I had to do, I made some blueberry muffins for our lunches at work this week.  I returned to a website I used to use a lot for baking recipes – called Joy of Baking – for a blueberry muffin recipe. 

It was a batter that I was unfamiliar with, although I don’t make muffins very often (if at all).  But they were simple and quick to make.  I used frozen blueberries that I’d bought and popped in the freezer when they were on offer.

They look and taste pretty good and are super moist inside.  I’d like to try them with a sharper berry, perhaps a blackberry or raspberry, or wild winberries – the blueberries I had were from the supermarket, quite large and probably a bit too mild a flavour for a muffin. 

Mine are also a little more ‘golden’ than the beautifully taken photograph on their website, but oh well! 

Here’s the full Blueberry Muffin recipe.

I have had a thumping headache all day, so feeling sorry for myself.  Thought I’d try and cheer myself up and share with you another of my favourite foodie website. 


Image: Design Sponge

Design Sponge may not immediately seem like a haven for fantastic recipes, but they do a great feature called ‘in the kitchen with…’ and as a result have a fab and varied selection of recipes. 

This recipe for Homemade crumpets with fruit curd from Rachel Khoo just sound divine – I have always wanted to try making homemade crumpets and seeing this recipe at Design Sponge has reminded me that I must make time to have a go.

Blossom

Wishing everyone a happy start to the Easter weekend!  I am about to head off to get some eggs so that I can start baking a beautiful lemon pound cake for my granny’s 80th birthday tomorrow. 

It needs to feed 20 family members – wish me luck!  If it works out I’ll post the recipe…

 Foccacia bread

Last weekend N and I did some baking.  We baked two loaves of white bread and a focaccia, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt crystals and chopped rosemary from the garden.

The dog tried to take a bite from each at different moments throughout the afternoon and evening.  We only lost of tiny bit of crust – thankfully!

We used a white bread recipe from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking and a focaccia recipe from River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

White Bread and Foccacia

On Sunday, we enjoyed the sunshine, walked the dog, and pottered in the garden.  I did a bit of weeding, and helped N make a run for Lovage and Daisy’s hutch – it’s so smart and they now have much more room.  Happy bunnies.

Late afternoon we sat and watched the rugby and ate hunks of homebaked bread spread thickly with goat’s butter and raspberry jam.

Homemade Bread and Raspberry Jam

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It has been months since N baked homemade bread, but last night, prompted by a cube of fresh yeast, he got baking again.  There was a near disaster at first, when the bread didn’t rise.  We think it’s because the recipe we were following (find it here) called for dry yeast and we used fresh.  On searching the internet I found out you need to use a lot more fresh yeast than dried…so while N started a fresh batch, I searched to find out if we could rescue the original batch.  Turns out you can, thanks to those helpful people on the Jamie Oliver forums.

We ended up with two delicious loaves rather than one, neither of which were disastrous, and in fact were probably the best loaves we’ve made.  We followed the recipe, misting the oven with water and the loaves before popping them in to bake.  It produced the most fantastic crust, so we’ll definitely be using that technique again.

P1130123

So, there you have it – my favourite meal…ever: still warm homemade bread smeared (generously, of course) with lightly salted farmhouse butter.  Mmmmm mm.

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*Note: we used white bread flour and didn’t follow the rye flour coating.

My friend Maria is a great cook and a fabulous host.  She has two lovely guinea pigs called Rufus and Ruby – Rufus came from the same rescue shelter that Borage did.  This is her recipe for Marmalade Gingerbread that even those (like myself) who refuse to put marmalade on their toast will enjoy.

Usually I’m not one for taking photos of the different stages of cooking.  This is for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I don’t have a beautiful wooden worktop against which to frame my pictures – it’s some manky plastic fake-marble stuff that I really dislike and swore that I wouldn’t buy a house with it in…  Secondly I can’t be faffed with arranging stuff nicely in all the beautiful bowls and dishes that I have – I just want to get on with cooking.  And finally, I make quite a lot of mess when I’m cooking, so the effort involved to tidy it up for glamorous shots of beautiful ingredients is a bit beyond me, especially if it’s the end of a long day at work.

We made Maria’s Marmalade Gingerbread on the weekend, so there was a little bit more time, but the photos are still highly unglamorous and set off nicely by the fake-marble laminate worktop.  So…

The ingredients you need to make Maria’s Marmalade Gingerbread are: self-raising flour, butter, golden syrup, a jar of marmalade, an egg, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and a dash of milk.

the ingredients for maria's marmalade gingerbread

the ingredients for maria's marmalade gingerbread

In a pan you melt the butter, golden syrup and the marmalade.  It looks like this…

butter, golden syrup and marmalade melting

butter, golden syrup and marmalade melting

In a separate bowl sieve together the flour, ground ginger and ground cinnamon.  Something like this…

sieve flour, ground ginger and cinnamon

sieve flour, ground ginger and cinnamon

When the syrupy-buttery-marmalade mixture has cooled slightly, add a beaten egg and a glug of milk and mix it well.  Then you pour this into the flour mixture…

pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients

pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients

…and fold it in…

fold it in

fold it in

Finally you tip the mixture into a greased baking tin and bung it in the oven for half an hour or so.  It is transformed from this…

before baking

before baking

to this…

baked

baked

Ideas we had on how to eat it included a dollop of creme fraiche or a simple drizzled icing.  Maria’s recipe recommends that it is best eaten after 3 days – N was very unhappy at this prospect so we made biscuits to get him through.  The first taste will be tomorrow!  Having tasted Maria’s a month ago we are eagerly anticipating it.  Below you can find the full recipe which hopefully you will try and enjoy making.

Maria’s Marmalade Gingerbread

Serves 8-10

75g butter
150g golden syrup
225g marmalade
225g self-raising flour
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 170°C.

Select your cake tin (Maria used a smaller tin than we did which produced a thicker gingerbread – we would do this next time). Grease it with a knob of butter and cut out a square of greaseproof paper to line the bottom.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, golden syrup and marmalade over a medium heat. Allow the mixture to cool a little.

In the meantime, sieve the flour, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl.

When the butter and syrup mixture has cooled a little, add the beaten egg and milk. Mix well and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Use a spoon to fold it in.

Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and put in the oven for 30-50 minutes (this all depends on how thick the gingerbread will be). You can test the gingerbread to see if it’s ready by seeing if a skewer comes out clean.

Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

This cake stores really well and is best eaten after three days – if you can wait that long!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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