done

sunny and hunflower bread

So many years ago, when Julian and I first set up home in a tiny flat in Paddington, we used to frequent a small strip of old shops in Auchenflower.  There was a magnificent European style delicatessen that was literally packed to the roof with preserved meats, unheard of cheeses and exotic chocolates, an excellent wine cellar, a newsagent that always had my favourite English Country Living, and a bakery that on Saturday baked Honey and Sunflower Bread.

My idea of the perfect Saturday was for me to stay in bed with a cup of tea and some cross stitch whilst Julian rode over to the shops for the newspapers, magazines, special treats for lunch and of course the Honey and Sunflower Bread.  He’d return with an overflowing backpack, hop back into bed with me and we’d spend the next few hours reading the papers and eating thick slabs of bread with almost as thick slabs of cold butter.  It was perfect.

I’ve never visited a bakery since that bakes this bread.  But it has always stayed so fresh and good in my memories.  Especially since that Saturday morning when I went to the bakery and asked for Sunny and Hunflower bread and everybody laughed and laughed :-)

So, since I’ve been so enjoying making bread again – and having it turn out just lovely with very little effort – thanks to the ever so helpful and encouraging Rhonda of Down to Earth Living – I decided to try baking my own Honey and Sunflower bread.  And it turned out beautifully.  And we ate it with thick slabs of cold butter.  And reminisced about the little shops in Auchenflower.  And laughed again about Sunny and Hunflower.

And because several people on Instagram asked, I thought I’d share a wee photo tutorial on how to make your own Hunny and Sunflower bread. Here we go …

Step 1

The night before you want your bread, mix the dough before going to bed.  In a large bowl, add 3 cups of bakers flour, 1 cup of sunflower kernels and 2 teaspoons of dried yeast granules.  Whisk about until they are well blended.  Then add 1 teaspoon of salt.  Whisk about again.  Next, add 2 cups of water (just tap water is fine), 60g of runny honey,  and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  With a wooden spoon, stir this into the flour mix until well combined – you might need to add a little more water – but do so just a couple of tablespoons at a time otherwise it will be too sticky in the morning.  When you have a shaggy and sticky but well mixed dough, cover the bowl.  I use a beeswax wrap – you could easily use a tea towel with the edges tucked under, or a clean shower cap.  Leave sitting on the kitchen bench – you don’t need any heat – my kitchen is currently around 8 degrees overnight and it works fine – and go to bed knowing that in the morning, you are going to have the loveliest fresh, homebaked bread!
all the airbubbles

Step 2

Look at that risen dough!  Full of air and smelling of yeasty goodness!  Sprinkle some extra bakers flour on your kneading surface (I use a wooden bread board), some on your hands, and some on the surface of the dough.  Remember its pretty sticky.

overnight rise

Step 3

Pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl.  This is my favourite step.  I love seeing how the yeast worked its magic overnight.  So stretchy!  So bubbly!

pull it out

Step 4

Place dough on well floured surface and knead lightly for no more than 5 minutes.

just a quick knead

I use a poor imitation of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s method (poor but effective!) – leaving the dough on the board, I pull the end closest to me towards me – stretching the dough out …

stretch

… then, I lift the pulled out end up and fold it back over the top end …

fold

… turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.  Every second pull, fold and turn, I flip the dough over.  I do this no more than 10 times.

turn

Step 5

Now, leaving your dough on the bread board, spin the dough round and round whilst keeping one hand on top and firmly tucking the bottom edge under with the other hand.  I do this about 1o times.  The top becomes your presentable surface and the bottom gets a bit of a fold in it.
IMG_0473

Step 6

Place your beautiful, barely kneaded dough into a generously floured proving basket.  Proving baskets are little rattan baskets lined with calico.  We recently bought some because that’s what they use in Julian’s sourdough book.  You could easily use a bowl lined with a well floured teatowel.

ready for the basket

in the basket

Step 7

Cover your dough in its proving basket – again, I use a beeswax wrap, but you could use a floured teatowel – and place in a warm spot to rise.  If it’s a sunny day I stick mine on the north facing (where all the sun comes from in the morning) porch railing.  I’ve also put it on the wood burning stove – on the turned on coffee machine – and even on top of the turned on Xbox.  Any warm spot will do.  Leave for 45 minutes.  At the 30 minute mark, turn your oven on to 260 celsius (that’s as hot as mine goes) and put the well floured container you will be baking your bread into the oven to heat up.
cover and put in a warm spot

Look at that!  So blossoming!  So sunflowery!  So ready for the oven.

risen

Step 8

I bake my bread in an old Romertopf I bought in those early days of feathering our nest.  It seemed exotic, old fashioned and useful at the same time – all my favourite things – and has given us over 20 years of excellent service.  Julian uses an inexpensive cast iron Dutch Oven that was bought at the camping store for his bread baking.  Both provide a lovely heaviness, excellent heat distribution, and having a lid that seals creates the highly desirable steamy atmosphere needed to create a delicious crisp crust on your loaf.  Now your baking container has been heating up for 15 minutes.  Take it out of the oven (don’t leave the door open) and carefully lift your glorious dough out of the proving basket and into the hot container.  Put on the lid.  Pop it back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

into the heated romerotpf

Step 9

When that timer dings, take your container out of the oven.  Take off the lid and inhale that delicious steamy breadiness!  So good.

Give it five minutes rest, then carefully lift the bread out and set to cool on a wire cooling rack.  I cover the bread with a tea towel at this point.  Cooling it on a wire rack allows the bottom of the bread to dry out.  If you leave it in the container, the bottom will become damp and soggy.
done

Step 10

Huzzah!  You have now baked a beautiful loaf of Sunny and Hunflower Bread!  And the whole thing only took up to 10 minutes effort last night.  Then only 10 minutes effort this morning.  Then a bit of proving and baking, during which time you had a coffee, did some other chores, or sat and knitted. Or you might have done the school run – extra brownie points for you!  And what a treat you receive in return!

When it’s cooled a little, slice with a sharp serrated knife, smother with butter and savour every mouthful.

Hopefully I’ve written this out in a coherent manner.  If you find something that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work for you, let me know and I’ll see what I can fix.

Now it’s Friday night.  We’ve planted fruit trees all day.  I’m stiff and tired but Julian’s cooked a lovely supper.  And later, before I stagger off to bed, I shall mix up some Sunny and Hunflower dough.

Because tomorrow is Saturday morning …

 

tiny cave

lemon drizzle cake for mothers’ day :: a recipe

 

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path

tall grass

washed up

gannet

weed

big and littl

cliff

green

draped

little headlands

salted

sharp

orange

loose teeth

tiny cave

red

cows

cake

 

A Lemon Drizzle Loaf

Ingredients for the loaf

  • 225g butter (room temperature)
  • 225g white sugar
  • 4 large eggs (I use duck eggs for extra lift and wonderful colour)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 125g unbleached plain flour
  • 100g almond meal
  • 1 tspn baking powder

Ingredients for the drizzle

  • 85g white sugar
  • juice of 1 large lemon

Method for the loaf

  1. Preheat oven to 180 celsius and generously butter a standard loaf tin (My loaf tin is (l)27cm x (w)15cm x (d)7cm).
  2. Place butter and sugar in mixing bowl and beat until pale and creamy (I use a kitchenaid standing mixer)
  3. Crack eggs one at a time into a glass – check for freshness before adding to a small bowl – nothing worse than 1 yucky egg spoiling the rest.
  4. Place all 4 eggs into butter and sugar mix and beat well.
  5. Add vanilla and lemon zest to above wet ingredients and continue to beat.
  6. Measure flour, almond meal and baking powder into a medium bowl – combine well with a hand whisk.
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and keep mixing until well combined.
  8. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.
  9. Rest in tin on bench.

Method for drizzle

  1. While the loaf is baking, mix sugar with lemon juice (and any lemon pith you are able to extract) in a small jug.
  2. Once the loaf is resting on the bench and still warm, pierce all over with the skewer creating lots of small holes.
  3. Gently pour the lemon drizzle over the loaf being sure to cover all surface area.
  4. Leave in tin until the loaf has cooled.

Serve by itself or with a plain greek yoghurt.

Enjoy!

And remember that mothers always need to secure their own oxygen mask before helping others ;-)

pumpkin and blueberry loaf

half a butternut

Julian loves baking with with pumpkin.  Well actually, he likes me to churn out the baked pumpkin goods, with pumpkin pie being our favourite.  Over the years, we’ve fine tuned our recipe to exclude sugar, beef up the spices and often we do away with the pastry all together.  Our pumpkin pie has become a bit of a pumpkin mousse – and is usually gobbled up within 24 hours.

Lately, I’ve been fiddling around with cakes that have no sugar – no brown sugar, raw sugar, organic sugar, unprocessed sugar, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave and all those other things that I often find in recipes that claim to be sugar free – and if a little bit of sweetness is preferred, I add a ripe banana.  Maybe that’s no better than all those other substitutes listed above – but it feels noble to us :-0

I’ve also been knocking out the bulk of the wheat flour and replacing it with almond or hazel meal.  I made one of Nigella’s chocolate cakes last weekend – with half the sugar – and half flour/half hazelnut meal and 2 extra eggs for lift and it was fabulous!  And eaten within 12 hours.  Then this weekend, I tried Nigella’s banana loaf – with no sugar, an extra banana, half flour/half almond meal and 2 extra eggs.  It was yummy.  Especially with a smear of cold butter.

Yesterday, with another work trip looming (the poor old thing had a 3.30am departure – ugh!) I baked Julian his chosen farewell treat – a pumpkin and blueberry loaf – using the skeleton of Nigella’s banana loaf.  Now, it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste.  But if you’d like to try something that is low in wheat flour and only has pumpkin and blueberries for sweetness … well here it is ;-)

Frankly, I think it is all a matter of habit.  We are so accustomed to eating incredibly sweet things that when the sweetness is eliminated we instantly recoil.  We have found that when you cut that sugar and retrain your tastebuds, well there’s another whole world of delicate flavours and much healthier loveliness out there.  And when we do eat a regular biscuit or chocolate – oy!  It’s overwhelming!

So … here it is … the Utterly Sugarless Pumpkin and Blueberry Loaf!

Heat your oven to 160 degrees celsius

1.  Chop half a butternut pumpkin into 2 inch chunks, cover with water, bring to boil and simmer until tender.  (Our butternut half weighed 950g which will result in less once you cut off the rind and remove the seeds and membraney stuff – it doesn’t need to be an exact science) Drain well.

2.  Place the drained pumpkin and 125g of butter into the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium setting until it is pale and frothy.  Honestly – you know how it says that in recipes when you’re using butter and sugar and it goes all pale and frothy – well so does butter and pumpkin!  Who’d have thought.

whip the butter and pumpkin into a lather

3.  Add 4 eggs – one at a time – beating constantly on a lowish setting until the mixture is light and smooth.

4 eggs

4. In a separate bowl, combine 90g of self raising flour, 90g of almond meal, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves. Spoon this mix into your eggy pumpkin, with the beaters running on that lowish setting, one spoonful at a time, until it is all combined.

flour and almond meal

5. Add 125g of fresh blueberries …

blueberries

… gently, with no beaters – just a wooden spoon.  Fold them in so that the blueberries stay whole.

gently fold them

6. Pour the batter into a loaf tin, lined with baking paper.  Dust the top with a little extra cinnamon.

into a lined cake tin

7. Bake in your heated oven for 90 minutes – or until your skewer comes out clean.  It is a moist cake – so your skewer will never be completely dry but you don’t want it lumpy moist.  You know what I mean.

bake for 90 minutes at 160

8. Rest in the baking tin until cool – if you try to tip it out warm, it will fall apart.  When it is cool, lift it out using the paper as handles.  Let it completely cool on the bench top, then place in a covered container in the fridge.

slice when cold

9.  Slice and serve cold with a side of yoghurt or double cream.  Now you could drizzle this with maple syrup and that would be delicious but it’s also very good – and strangely refreshing – to eat it in all its sugarless glory, and when you hit one of those blueberries – boy oh boy!  It’s like a wonderful exploding treasure.

serve with yoghurt

If you give it a whirl – I do hope you enjoy it!  We’re totally sold and I’ll be baking that chocolate cake with NO sugar next time.  Well except for that one ripe banana :-)