I ran out of time to bake bread this weekend and my sourdough starter had been sitting in a warm kitchen and really needed some urgent attention so I made some speedy chocolate and banana muffins. The recipe is from Vanessa Kimbell on the bakery bits website and can be found here. Even in our pathetically small cupboard of a kitchen, they were relatively easy to make and if the proof of the pudding is in the eating, they were all demolished at family tea so can be declared a success.
Blog posts seem to be a bit like buses; you don't see one for weeks and then there are half a dozen. Well, it's not quite that bad, but I've had a bit of a lull in imagination and inclination due I suspect from a rather hectic time on the barn conversion front than from any other palpable reason. Anyway, I have my baking and making mojo back, in part thanks to a new book 'The Homemade Flour Cookbook' by Erin Alderson of 'Naturally Ella' blog fame. I found a recipe for sweet potato and red lentil gnocchi on the internet which led me to this book and this evening we entertained family for tea and they were unwitting guinea pigs to a new culinary experiment of gnocchi in pesto sauce. The gnocchi are made with baked and mashed sweet potato, egg yolks, seasoning and red lentil flour. I used a mixture of red and green lentils due to a failure on the shopping front, and it made no difference except to the colour of gnocchi which should have been a bright orange colour and instead were speckled with green. The gnocchi were really quick to assemble even though I quadrupled the recipe in order to have plenty of spares to freeze for another day. I cheated with the pesto sauce and used a bought jar of pesto, although making pesto is really easy if you a) have the ingredients and b) have a food processor/blender. I really miss my herb garden (along with a proper kitchen, most of my kitchen gadgets, a decent oven....the list goes on). Anyway, to cut a warbling story shorter, the gnocchi were very tasty and enjoyed by all. For dessert I announced that we were having 'Floating Islands' which I made up to sound a lot more impressive than it actually was; it comprised some unsweetened lightly cooked (frozen) mixed berries with a coconut macaroon 'floating' on the top in each dish and liberally swirled with cream. The sweetness of the macaroons nicely counteracted the tartness of the berries, topped with the decadent loveliness of the thick cream. The coconut macaroons were an impromptu bake because when friend leave you home grown eggs you really don't want to waste any of it and I used 4 egg yolks for the gnocchi so a meringue type dessert was essential.
The weekly family Sunday tea usually provides an impetus to do some baking. I don't always feel like baking and it would be really easy to buy something for tea, especially since we have a Co-op next door. However, the thought of eating (and feeding the family) on bought baked goods full of processed sugar and flour and lots of additives usually galvanises me into action. This weekend I'm trying a sourdough fruit loaf recipe from Vanessa Kimbell at Bakerybits. This really is a long slow fermentation as it begins with a starter levain (a small amount of sourdough, flour and water) at lunchtime on the day before you bake it and then continues with the addition of the rest of the ingredients in the evening to make the dough, and is then not baked until the following morning. I can attest to the deliciousness of the fruit loaf, toasted and buttered......mmmmm.
Well that's the 'baking' taken care of, now for some 'making'. A couple of weeks ago I was suffering from extreme poncho fatigue. The poncho was getting bigger and the rows were getting longer. Basically I was bored with it, but it needed to be finished so that I could move on to something else so I had a weeks worth of 'push' to get it done. The final flourish was a fringe for the bottom, for which I had some help. It worked so much better as a two man team, one separating the strands into bunches of 5 and the other crocheting them onto the bottom of the poncho. In no time it was done, and since it was a very late birthday present I despatched it the following day so no photo as yet. The fringe was such a success that I've now had a request to put a fringe onto the first poncho. Will they ever go away? (poncho's, not children). Of course I now have something else under way. I decided to revisit a pattern for a crocheted beret which I'd used one year for the family home made Christmas presents - girls only of course. I need a couple of quick gifts and these beret's usually turn out quite nice. The wool is a lovely Drops yarn called 'Big Delight'. It is 100% wool yet feels really soft.
As soon as we were settled in our new abode I gave some attention to my poor neglected sourdough starter. It was getting a bit ripe and crusty after being unused in the fridge for so many weeks with only the occasional quick stir with some flour and water. I was really ready to start cooking and eating good home made food, although we have the smallest kitchen in the universe so it's a bit of a juggle! I've managed 3 sourdough loaves over the last couple of weekends in our tiny kitchen, one to eat, one to give away and one sliced and in the freezer. I wanted to try something different and was inspired by Vanessa Kimbell's Cumin and Sultana rolls on the Bakery Bits blog. They were really delicious with a a lovely fragrance and slight sweetness and they baked perfectly according to the recipe. The rolls were proofed in the base of 'La Cloche' baking dome, whilst the dome lid preheated in the oven. When ready to bake, the hot lid was placed on top and then straight into the preheated oven to bake. The bottom picture shows the full 'family tea' ensemble including a rather hastily made (but tasty) victoria sponge.