​Rosemary and bay Beer

FB_IMG_1493750865085This one is based on Andy Hamilton’s recipe, found in the book ‘Booze for free’. It goes down really well and is one of my most popular home brewed beers.

Before hops were common in beer brewing, herbs such as rosemary and nettles would have been used, so this is a nice throwback to our ancestors brewing techniques.

This beer usually comes out at 4.5 %

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 rosemary sprigs
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 500g amber malt extract
  • 375g sugar
  • 12 pints of water
  • Beer yeast (or Young’s super wine yeast extract)

Method:

 

Put the rosemary and bay leaves into a large pan and cove_20170502_193250r with 6 pints of water, boil for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put your sugar and malt extract into a fermentation bin. Strain the rosemary and bay water through a muslin cloth into the fermentation bin.

Stir well to dissolve all the sugar and malt extract.

Pour in 6 pints of cold water and stir. Make a note of the gravity, it should be around 1040.

Add your yeast and leave to ferment for 3 weeks. Whilst a lot of recipes state much shorter times I find the beer benefits from this extended time.

Don’t forget to check your final gravity, if you FB_IMG_1493750173247haven’t already and want to know the percentage of alcohol in your brew.

Add a level teaspoon of sugar to each beer bottle and siphon the beer into the bottles. Cap the bottles (or use swing tops) and place somewhere warm for 2 days before moving to somewhere cool.

The beer should be ready to drink in 2 weeks, 3 is better.

 

Chocolate rye bread

FB_IMG_1493493951173Rye flour grows in colder climates. It makes quite dense bread, due to a lack of gluten. This makes kneading it a waste of time, as you can’t stretch out the proteins.

In Denmark, Rye bread is really popular and bakeries make different kinds including a version of this chocolate rye.

It requires the starter recipe, found here, which takes about a week to establish, but once going is ready to use any time.

Making this bread is more like making a cake than a bread, so it’s a great beginners loaf and will give you the confidence you need to move on to making other breads.

You can also use this recipe to make a normal rye bread by leaving out the chocolate and dates.

Ingredients:

  • 300g rye flour
  • 100g white bread flour (sifted)
  • 100g sourdough starter
  • 10g salt
  • Tsp of olive oil + a little extra
  • 300ml warm water (give or take)
  • 120g dates
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 50g linseed’s
  • 100g dark chocolate (chopped)
  • Makes a 2lb loaf

 

Method:

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix together.

Add the starter and the olive oil and slowly add the water and mix together to form quite a sticky dough that is more like a cake mix than a bread dough. You can add more or less water depending on how your dough feels. I find it varies slightly every time.

Add the seeds, dates and chocolate and mix well. There is no point kneading this bread.

Place the dough in a lightly greased loaf tin. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave for a few hours, ideally overnight. It won’t rise very much due to the low gluten of the rye flour.

Heat your oven to its highest temperature and boil the kettle. Place some water in a baking tray at the bottom of the oven, this will help to create a good crust on your loaf.

Put your loaf in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes before dropping the temperature to 200 degrees Celsius if the crust is looking pale, 180 degrees Celsius if the crust is noticeably browning, and 170 degrees Celsius if it seems to be browning quickly. Cook for a further 40 mins. I like to take it out of the tin for the last 10 minutes, but this is optional and you may find it is stuck in the tin.

Remove from the tin. The loaf should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Leave to cool fully before cutting.

Rhubarb & vanilla jam

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The vanilla in this jam compliments the sharpness of the rhubarb. Whilst you can’t eat the leaves, they do have other uses; They can be used to make natural pesticides or to add colour to fabrics.

Interestingly the plant also contains the same chemical used to make bleach.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg rhubarb (cut into 2 cm pieces, leaves removed)
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 vanilla pods (halved)

Method:

Gently heat the rhubarb in a large pan with the lemon juice and vanilla pod for a few minutes.

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Slowly bring to a rolling boil and boil rapidly, without stirring, for about 10 – 15 minutes until setting point is reached.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, remove the vanilla pods and pour into warm, sterilised jars.

Everyday loaf


FB_IMG_1493494741350This recipe is really simple. The bread is the perfect size for sandwiches and toast. I make it in batches at the weekend and freeze it as half loaves for use during the week.

This fills a 4lb loaf tin

Ingredients

  • 500g wholemeal flour
  • 500g white bread flour (sifted)
  • 20g salt
  • 10g bread yeast
  • 2 handfuls of sunflower seeds (optional)
  • Tablespoon of olive oil + a little extra
  • 700ml warm water

Method:

Put all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make sure you keep the salt separate from the yeast, otherwise you will kill your yeast. Carefully mix the dry ingredients together.

Add the olive oil and slowly add the water and mix together to form a dough. The dough should be quite sticky, but still workable without getting it stuck to your hands. Add more or less water depending on how your dough feels. I find it varies slightly every time.

Tip out onto your worktop and knead for 10 minutes. I don’t bother to flour or oil the worktop, as its not really necessary.

Here is a short video of how I like to kneed my dough. Stretch it out, then roll it back in and give it a 90 degree turn, before stretching it out again. This works quite well for a slightly sticky dough.

Put your dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with a plastic bag to stop it drying out. Place somewhere warm, I usually put it near our wood-burner. Leave to prove for an hour or two until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Tip your dough back out onto your work surface and carefully deflate it by poking it with your fingers. Reshape and place it in a lightly greased loaf tin. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave for another hour to prove again. The loaf should expand and fill the tin.

Heat your oven to its highest temperature and boil the kettle. Place some water in a baking tray at the bottom of the oven, this will help to create a good crust on your loaf.

Put your loaf in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes before dropping the temperature to 200 degrees if the crust is looking pale, 180 degrees if the crust is noticeably browning, and 170 if it seems to be browning quickly. Cook for a further 50 mins.

Remove from the tin and leave to cool fully before cutting

Sourdough

IMG_20170304_172707_726Sourdough is great tasting, but rather expensive to buy. Its relatively easy to make and doesn’t take up much time, but does need extra time to prove.

It requires the starter recipe, which you can find here and takes about a week to establish, but once going is ready to use any time.

You could try adding extras to the recipe, like garlic or rosemary works really well.

This fills a 2 lb loaf tin, or 500g proving basket.

Ingredients:
500g white bread flour (sifted)
10g salt
160g sourdough starter
25g honey
Tsp of olive oil + a little extra
300ml warm water (give or take)
A small amount of rye flour for coating

Method:
Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix together.

Add the starter, honey and olive oil and slowly add the water and mix together to form a slightly sticky dough.

It needs to be workable, but slightly wetter will make a better loaf. You can add more or less water depending on how your dough feels. I find it varies slightly every time.

Tip out onto your worktop and knead for 10 minutes. I don’t bother to flour or oil the worktop, I never really found it necessary.

There are various ways to knead your dough I like to stretch it out, then roll it back in and give it a 90 degree turn, before stretching it out again.

Put your dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with a plastic bag to stop it drying out. Place somewhere warm, I usually put it near our wood-burner or in the conservatory on a warm day.

Leave to prove for several hours until the dough has roughly doubled in size. Sourdough takes longer to develop than bread made with shop bought yeast, but benefits from the extra time, as it develops a better flavour.

Tip your dough back out onto your work surface and carefully deflate it by poking it with your fingers. Reshape and coat with rye flour.

IMG_20170318_101553_681Place it in a lightly greased loaf tin for a square sandwich loaf, or into a heavily floured proving basket, if you have one, for a more traditional loaf. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave for another hour or more to prove again. If using a tin, it should rise to the top.

Heat your oven to its highest temperature and boil the kettle. If using the proving basket option also place an oven tray in too heat.

Place some water in a baking tray at the bottom of the oven, this will help to create a good crust on your loaf.

If using the proving basket, tip your bread out onto the hot oven tray and get it in the oven and shut the door, as quick as possible, to avoid heat loss. If using a loaf tin, put your loaf tin in the centre of the oven.IMG_20170501_190458_720

Cook for 10 minutes before dropping the temperature to 200 degrees if the crust is looking pale, 180 degrees if the crust is noticeably browning, and 170 if it seems to be browning quickly. Cook for a further 40 mins.

Remove from the oven, the loaf should sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Leave to cool fully before cutting.

 

Fiery ginger marmalade

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This is unusual, but a great way to use up the summer glut of courgettes and marrows that every grower tends to end up struggling with at some point.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lemons (zest and juice)
  • 1kg courgette or marrow, peeled and grated on the large holes of a grater
  • 1kg jam sugar
  • 100g peeled and grated root ginger
  • 200g crystallised stem ginger

Method:

Put the lemon juice, zest and courgette into a large pan and warm gently to release some of the juices.

Add the sugar and the ginger and bring to the boil.

Simmer for around 10 – 15 minutes until setting point is reached.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, before pouring into warm, sterilised jars.

Sourdough starter

FB_IMG_1493494357475A sourdough starter is a simple way of making bread without using shop bought yeast, instead you rely on naturally occurring yeasts.

This is great for making Rye bread and Sourdough. It gives an amazing flavour to the bread.

You can use any flour to make your starter, I have found Rye flour to be the most reliable. I made several failed starters that have gone bad, and even one that went moldy after I left it alone for several days, forgotten, whilst I took my wife to hospital to give birth to our daughter.

One way to get a starter is to acquire a bit from somebody you know that already has some and just maintain the feeding cycle.

Its easy to make your own starter, using naturally occurring yeast from the air in your Kitchen.

You will need a large container, I use a container designed for holding a bag of flour, but have also used large kilner jars.

You will also need flour and warm water. I don’t tend to measure what I add but you are looking for a batter type of mixture, so around 50/50 works well. Give it a good whisk, cover loosely and set it aside – Don’t forget it is going to be fermenting so don’t clip your lid on!

After a couple of days you should see signs of fermentation, tiny bubbles, like the image at the top of the page. If you smell it, it should be taking on a sharp, almost vinegary smell. Add some more flour and water, whisk and set it aside again.

Remember that your starter is now a living thing, so, like you, it needs feeding and watering regularly, I do it every couple of days. You can remove some of your starter, as you wish, which makes a great opportunity to bake some bread with it!

Wait a week to 10 days for the starter to establish properly before trying to bake with it.

If you are unable to feed your starter for a period of time, stick it in the fridge. It should keep without being fed for about a week.