Reading List (5/9)

Oh hello September, “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Glorious crisp mornings. Frost. Changing leaf colours. This is my favourite time of year.

 

And appropriately, here is the first (of what will be many) lists of cookbooks that are coming out this autumn. Mostly I felt meh about this list, with a few notable exceptions (hello Modernist Bread, Mossimo Bottura, and Sweet by Ottolenghi and Goh).

A list of food studies journals.

Olia Hercules has a new cookbook out – Kaukasis. It looks beautiful.

On composting.

Feminist thrillers, with a contemplation on the roles of men/women in crime novels.

It is academic conference season. So this morning naturally I have read two different articles on the point of conferences, and the expense!

American diners.

Zero-waste supermarkets.

Finding your dream by reading Gourmet.

Ancestors.

Last week I attended a new community event: Walk Talk Notts. It is a group of people who gather on the last Wednesday of each month to walk and talk about things. It is generally sustainability related so last week we visited Hockley Homegrown. This husband/wife team grow a wide variety of unusual veggies right in the heart of the city. They work with local restaurants and cafes, as well as selling directly to people. The one garden site we visited was just lovely! (And super inspiring for ideas as I bring my allotment back from the wild!)

 

As I mentioned yesterday, in my 52 Weeks of Sourdough post, we visited Small Food Bakery on the weekend. While there, we ate their samples of pain au chocolat, all filled with different chocolates. (For the record SFB, my favourite was number 2!) They were delicious. And Green Haus had a pop-up shop in the bakery too so I may have purchased new house plants that are a delight.

 

Kitchen garden goals.

Really rather beautiful hotels, if money is no object. A girl can dream…

For Louisa, chicken-fried steak!!!

Nicole Krauss on her new book, Forest Dark. On my list of things to read.

Have a good week! x

52 Weeks of Sourdough: Week 4

Sourdough babka! My goodness team. Who knew you could make something this delicious with sourdough? Okay, obviously you all knew. But I was ignorant. Totally unaware. Now I am converted. This might be dangerous.

Cross section sourdough babka

This weekend I decided to venture into the world of ‘other’ sourdough baking. Not because I feel I have mastered the sourdough loaf you understand, no no no. That is most definitely a work in progress. No, it was a desire to make a baked good. A sweet baked good. And what a bonus that you can make sweet baked goods with sourdough!

As it turns out, making sourdough babka, much like making sourdough bread, is a slow affair. Sloooowwwww. This is not something you can make in a few hours, when the craving hits. This takes time. Days, as it happens. There is a lot of down time while you wait for things to happen. You can go out and do things without risk of over-proofing, it takes that long.

I mixed the starter for the babka late on Saturday morning, at the same time as I was feeding my bread starter for the second time. The bread starter was then ready in 4 hours but the babka starter took a while longer. A long while longer. We went out, visited Small Food Bakery, bought wool at Knit Nottingham, made the bread dough and got to the bulk proofing stage before the babka starter was ready for use. But it did have fantastic webby bubbly goodness going on, so I forgave it…

Babka starter

I found the recipe on a blog online but it seemed very similar to that from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, apart from the sourdough beginnings. Anyway, mixing the dough and letting that rise happened around many episodes of Season One of Doctor Foster. Have you watched that? My god. So traumatic. So good. So unable-to-stop-watching!

As per the instructions, and guidelines for babka everywhere, the dough went into the fridge overnight to make it work-able in the morning. (I do wonder how anyone figured all this technique out, don’t you? The dough is impossible at room temperature but quite fine once cold. Who first discovered this magic?)

On Sunday, we went to yin yoga. This was my first yoga class since knee surgery. There is nothing quite like a yoga class on a weekend day to make you feel virtuous (and therefore entirely deserving of babka). Once back home, I rolled out the cold dough, smeared it with the chocolate filling (and some milk chocolate chips for good measure), braided it, and left it for another slow rise. I put all my yeasty-baked goods to rise in the boiler cupboard where it is warm and cosy.

Sunday afternoon featured more Doctor Foster, some Bordertown, and (to make us feel like the world wasn’t ending/wasn’t an entirely terrible place) some Green Wing. We slow roasted a pork shoulder and made all the trimmings. Only once we were sitting down to eat, approximately 6 hours later, was the babka ready for the oven. From start to finish, this came close to an 18 hour affair.

But it was worth the wait. Once out of the oven, I soaked the babkas in a sugar syrup and left them covered to cool overnight. Breakfast this morning? Slices of babka with coffee. An excellent start to the week I’d say.

Sourdough babka

It is sourdough September chaps! So get on with all your sourdough baking now.

Reading List (29/8)

Dog days of summer people! I hope you all had a lovely bank holiday. I am back from Copenhagen. What a lovely city. Swoon. Now I am trying to do book edits and article edits and noting down all the ideas I had while at ECER. We are going to Spain next Friday for a last minute, before I start traveling for work again, time spent together week of holiday. I am trying to get another book draft polished before we go…

CPH harbour

On performance and public speaking.

Why you should blog as a PhD. Reasons why you might blog as part of a research project.

Issues of postdoctoral mental health.

Community and allotment gardens, and the question of selling produce.

A new zine.

Eating as an agricultural act?

Urban meadows in Oslo.

George Monbiot on the importance of language when describing our planet.

Brave Tart on chocolate chip cookies.

The various editions of Joy of Cooking. What I find most fascinating about the book is the way it has been updated and revised for each edition – the way new recipes are included, out-of-fashion food trends are cut. It is like a living commentary on our food habits. I did not grow up with this book – we had others – but I think I would like to track down a copy to read and digest.

Food photographs that look like still-life paintings.

Do food magazines perpetuate whiteness? An important read. And an extract from Michael W. Twitty’s book The Cooking Gene. On class and food in America.

Celery used to be a luxury. Who knew?

A portrait of Alice Waters, who has a new book coming out. This made me smile and roll my eyes with equal measure.

This past weekend I read The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit. The book is a collection of essays on everything from silence to books women should avoid to rape culture. As Jen (who lent me the book) and I noted in a conversation we had while at the Ladies Pond at Hampstead Heath, once you read essays like these, your world is never the same. Everything looks different.

Is this satire? Is it real? Somebody read it and tell me please.

If you are in the southern hemisphere, please make this blood orange wreath!

The internal micro biome.

Have a good week!

52 Weeks of Sourdough: Week 3

I didn’t get to as many bakeries as I would’ve liked to while I was in Copenhagen last week. Conferencing is often full-on and bakeries don’t stay open very late. Fortunately, Jen was more than happy to find delicious things for me to try. She even trekked to Mirabelle to buy one of their epically large loaves (half of which I brought back home in my backpack and which is now sliced for toast and in the freezer). The best bread we ate  was at 108, where we went for dinner one night. The whole meal was excellent (and the corn sorbet was just genius) but I cannot stop thinking about their bread… And the whipped butter. Sigh.

52 weeks of sourdough wk3

As you can possibly tell, my sourdough this week is not as beautiful as last week’s loaf! Upsetting but true. When my loaf baked so beautifully last week I thought Yes! I have this nailed. Obviously the universe decided to teach me a lesson and my bread this week is aesthetically disappointing (although still delicious). There are probably many reasons for this, but below are two things I learnt in the process of being disappointed:

1) Deciding to undertake a project requiring input every week means making bread even when you are ill and would rather spend the day watching Orphan Black on Netflix on a loop. But you can’t, because of the aforementioned deal/challenge with/to your self. So I got up and turned dough and lay down on my bed feeling very sorry for myself in-between. Pastry chefs will tell you that pastry can tell what mood you’re in. Can bread? I suspect it can, and does.

2) Different flours really do affect the kind of loaf you can make. I know Kim told me this last week but I’d never really experienced it as vividly as I did this week. I forgot to buy more Gilchester’s flour when I was last in Small Food, and so I had to make do with regular strong white flour. The effect on the bread was remarkable! This dough was much more vigorous than last week, but as such, also prone to collapsing when I turned it out of it’s baton to bake. It didn’t expand as much as the Gilchester’s loaf while baking either, although it proofed up significantly (more than double than last week), it didn’t seem to have the internal structure to support itself when it came out of the baton. I will be reverting to the Gilchester flour from this week again so we can see more results next week.

So the project continues. Despite my sickness, I still love the rhythm bread-making brings to my week. And the discipline I have to exercise to meet my goals. And if I ever get near to making bread like that from 108, I will be a happy bunny indeed.

Reading List (22/8)

Greetings from Copenhagen!

CPH

If movie directors made food films. Brilliant.

The comfort of tea rituals. I particularly love the description of office tea habits. Totally true!

Ice cream sodas. Personally, a cream soda float from Wimpy (particularly in the middle of a road trip) will always have my heart.

Remembering a friend with a coordinated dance in a pool.

Glorious old collections of wallpaper. (Thanks Jo for finding this!)

Aubergines, tomatoes, ricotta. Really the best things for a summer dinner. Or, this zucchini pasta.

Trends in grocery shopping and meal-making.

I do so love a rice krispie square.

A handmade Oreo.

Artisan food products, ‘craft culture‘, and race. You need to read this.

New book on Andalucia, from Elisabeth Luard.

With the new biography, there is a lot of writing about Patience Gray at the moment. (I picked up the TLS in the airport on Sunday and so read this too. You can read it online only if you’ve got a subscription.)

Slablova!

On eclipses.

It is no longer just about apple cider. And why you should add water to your whisky.

Last week I finished The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos. My sister and I read it almost simultaneously, and so shared thoughts about it on Saturday. We both enjoyed the story and the characters, but did think there would be more mystery and searching involved. I did wolf it down though, and particularly loved the character of Marty de Groot as an old man.

Have a good week! x

 

 

 

52 Weeks of Sourdough: Week 2

52 weeks of sourdough wk2.2

So it turns out, fitting sourdough into a working week is hard! I left for London at midday on Saturday in order to stay with my sister before catching an early flight to Copenhagen on Sunday morning. So I thought I’d make bread on Friday, while I worked from home. The only problem was, I needed to leave the house at various points. I worked backwards from when I thought I would be able to bake the loaf in order to work out the timings. Even with my careful planning – getting up at 6am to feed the starter so I could mix the bread at 10am – I still ran into trouble. Well, not trouble exactly, but just unplanned refrigeration. I had intended to time my errands with the end of the turning process and the beginning of the bulk prove – this would give me 2.5 hours before I needed to bench rest and shape the dough. Once I’d actually thought about everything that needed to be done, I realised that this was totally unrealistic a timeframe. So I decided to slow down the proofing process by refrigerating the dough after turning.

Flour and grain

One of the reasons I went out was to attend a bread tasting at Small Food Bakery. This is something I would probably normally have skipped, but with this new sourdough project I decided to tag along. (I am really chuffed that this kind of thing is already happening in Week 2.)

The tasting was an opportunity for Small Food Bakery to show us their new breads, explain their processes, and to talk about different wheats and wheat farming in the UK. We tasted four different breads: the Radford Wild, the Heritage Wild, the YQ, and the Ey Up. Kim explained that this year, the bakery has focused on converting to using flours from farmers that they know – that is, they know where the flour they are using is grown, who it is milled by, and the farmers and millers who support their process. The different breads use flours from different places – so the Radford Wild uses Shipton Mill flour, whereas the Heritage Wild uses Gilchesters flour. (This is also what I used in my loaf this week!) Gilchester’s flour is milled on the farm and is from a wheat that is allowed to crossbreed in the field. Kim explained that it is a 75% extraction flour (that is, 75% of the wheat grain going into the milling process is extracted at the end) and is stoneground. This results in an oiler, darker flour that develops into a nuttier, browner-bread flavour than the Radford Wild.

 

The YQ is a fascinating wheat, and bread. The bread is 100% wholegrain with an unpredictable flavour. It starts off sweet and malty, but ends with a sharp sour note. The wheat was developed by Prof Martin Wolfe and you can hear Kim talking about the wheat, as well as more info on the wheat breeding process on this podcast.

The Ey Up is a bread so called because the grains in it – spelt and rye – are grown locally to Nottingham,  on a farm in Sutton Bonnington. The flours are milled at Green’s Windmill in Sneinton. The loaf is lighter than the YQ and the flour has a purple colour!

Kim explained that all her breads use sourdough starters. Using the wild yeasts present in sourdough starters allows bakers to ‘go slow’, and to approach baking differently than if you were using regular yeast. The slower ferment also makes for a more digestible loaf.

Kim also explained that you can feed your starter with the same flour that you intend to use in your baking. You can have a rye-based starter and a white flour-based starter in your fridge. This gives your initial dough a ‘boost’ as the yeasts feed off flour they’ve already adjusted to eating. This week was week two of using the Gilchesters flour, and I’d also fed the starter with it last week. Perhaps that plus the longer, slower ferment allowed for a better loaf? We shall see!

52 weeks of sourdough wk2.1

 

 

 

 

 

Reading List (15/8)

Summer Notts

I just loved this description of French markets in the summertime.

Cormoran Strike is coming to the BBC! Whoop!

This pie. On huckleberries. The pictures of all these different pies. Drool.

The atmosphere is listening. Read this!

I finally got around to listening to Samin Nosrat on Radio Cherry Bombe this weekend. I totally have a chef crush on Samin. She just sounds like the kind of person I want to be friends with. She is now also a new columnist for the NYT magazine and has a list of the cookbooks that shaped her as a cook and a writer.

Chefs on the foods, mentors, and meals that influenced their cooking.

I love these photographs, contrasting college first-years with their final year selves. I wonder how I would’ve said I had changed at that point?

Rare cooking books.

The truth about glamourising chef work.

Two vice chancellors talk about the challenges facing early career academics.

Trying to decide what to eat in an incredibly noisy media environment. A doctor is criticising the medical advice on Goop.

A review of a new book on food conquests of the British empire. Some interesting criticism is drawn on the use of language, and how this perpetuates ideas of the empire.

New website find. This is both hilarious and true, all at once.

I listened to an episode of the Guilty Feminist (I just love them, and they make me laugh out loud, often when I’m walking in the street so other people look at me awkwardly and I just think yeah!) called Intrepid Women and now I want to read the book they were talking about – women resisting the Nazis in occupied France.

Have a good week! x