For my birthday, Zoe got me a class in Italian Baking at Bread Ahead in London. It was fun! We made foccacia, ciabatta, and grissini. They came out great:
I don’t generally do cooking classes and we were constrained by available slots, but even thought I’ve made focaccia before, loads of times, it was interesting to do it with an instructor. We worked with extremely wet doughs. I’d never let my kneaded dough stay that wet before this class. We also got the 60 degree rule (ie the temperature of the room plus the temp of your flour plus the temp of your water should equal 60 degrees C for the dough to end up at optimism rising temp). And the results were super yummy though the focaccia was more closed crumb than I like. I repeated the focaccia at home. It came out a bit different but ok:
I also made myself a birthday cake. A brown sugar angel food cake. The taste difference is subtle though the color different is rather clear:
Re the class, I had fun. It wasn’t really a revelation per se but, for example, it was super fun to handed the group ciabatta dough. I think the classes where I’d do something I’m unlikely to ever do at home (like donuts) are more likely to be super awesome, but I can’t complain. It was enjoyable as an experience.
My browsers, across at least 5 devices, have hundreds of tabs open. Many of them are recipients I’m ogling. I finally knocked off a stuffed peanut butter cookie:
They were very yummy, though the chocolate was a bit of a mistake (super sticky and messy and didn’t add much). These have a peanut butter core which required making balls of peanut butter and then freezing them. That would have been a lot easier if my peanut butter wasn’t properly goopy. They don’t seem worth the effort, frankly. Regular peanut butter cookies are super yummy and super easy.
I expected the filling to be more dramatic. It was pretty well hidden by the cookie part.
I also made another round of chocolate cake for Aly’s party. I didn’t make it to the party alas as I just wasn’t up for a couple of 4 hour drives. The cake was my proxy:
I get a lot of stuff from Dan Lepard’s (sadly defunct) Guardian column (which led me to buy one of his books which didn’t work out so well for me). I made his cornmeal baps. He said they needed nearly no kneading, which was true. They took a while to rise (60 min then 90). They were fun to shape:
They rose beautifully:
There even was decent oven spring:
They are huge! And as I love bread hot from the oven, I ate three.
Zoe got back on Tuesday and I made her a “bruise berry” (black- and blueberry) pie:
It was a bit slumpy the day of:
But it firmed up the next day:
We had the Brighton Grove allotment show in the Birch Community Centre and it was better than many we’ve seen at big flower shows:
I did some baking for it, including two chocolate cakes (one with orange glaze) that made it there and were eaten up:
There was an experimental lemon cake which didn’t make it because, aside from the glaze, it was gross:
And a foraged blackberry jam pound cake with last years blackberries which didn’t make it because it got too late and they had enough:
It’s probably the pick as it is deeelish.
And it’s smiling!
I also did some seedy rolls with some dough reserved for pizza tonight:
As is usual practice, I saved some of the dough for pizza:
I’m so tired.
The hand was definitely improving but then I’ve started having a weird pain. We’ll see.
However, I did manage to make something out of my tab set: a goofy cheesy bread. It just popped out of the oven and looks good:
It’s gluten-free, paleo, etc etc. It’s mostly almond flour and chia seed. With cheese. And eggs. And a need for a lot more seasoning. It’s pretty bland given all the cheese. It’s sorta like weak textured polenta. Maybe if one sliced and fried it? One could have used the batter for some sort of frittery thing.
Oh well, they can’t all be winners!
However, I could get my right hand into the big oven mitt!
This is new! And an improvement!
I’d like to blame the hand. It’s healing nicely:
It’s still weak, lacking in range of motion, and I’m worried about regression.
I’m just mopey. Which is a deprecating way of describing a certain sort of ineffectuality I experience. It’s often associated with depression (it makes things hard to do) and with anxiety (anxiety about doing things makes no doing anything more pleasant to do).
I did get a bit of a walk yesterday and saw a cool outdoor budgie aviary:
Due to the ridiculous weather, the blackberries have ripened way early and in spite of the drought have produced bucketfuls. So I made a cake!
It was ok. If there’d been room in the paper I would have added a ton more blackberries. The recipe was fun in that you creamed the sugar and eggs and added melted butter. So oil would have been an easy substitute. I used a free standing baking paper because clean up is hard with my bum hand.
It was fine if a bit boring. The granulated sugar on top melted into a shiny crust which was nice.
I still have blackberries frozen from last year. Need to make pie.
I also made some nougat with Kilburn honey:
This recipe was disappointingly soft and sticky. I coated it in powdered sugar just to keep it reasonable. So you mostly taste powdered sugar. Oh well!
I delayed too long and have to get over to Liverpool in the morning to get my passport replaced.
But here’s a shot from the wormery. The population rebounded on a diet of watermelon rind!