I have been following Sally’s blog, Bewitching Kitchen, since I first discovered blogland.
I think I met her when we took part in Dan Lepard’s Dundee Cake bake off. I so wish he would do one of those again!
There are loads of food blogs out there, some look incredibly professional, some are full of advertising and tied to promoting something or other and those are the ones I have less interest in. The blogs I love the most are the ones which are invested with the personality of the person who is writing them, the ones who write because they just feel like doing it. Sally is one of those people, incredibly busy, moving from place to place and still finding time each week to post recipes full of joy and enthusiasm, reflecting her lifestyle and her passion for good food. She’s not a professional cook, nor promoting a book, nor a course nor trying to sell you a particular diet, she’s just who she is and I love her for it.
I have made various recipes I have read from her blog, I am very fond of her grilled lettuce salad for example, which helped me solve the problem of excess garden lettuce in a five star way last summer and on Friday night when I was tired I made this buttermilk cluster (Sally’s original post) dough and had lovely soft white bun bread to offer for breakfast over the weekend. It reheated beautifully on Sunday morning and the top crisped up and now it’s all gone.
A quick and easy bread for which I thank Sally once more! This is one of the most popular recipes on the Fresh Loaf, a huge and busy bread forum which attracts bakers from all over the world to share, argue and discuss their baking activities. I recommend dropping in there whatever stage of your baking journey you are on. For a quieter and more relaxed pace of discussion you can always try the Mellow Bakers who I bake with. Mind you I have been a bit too mellow this month and haven’t yet baked any of the May breads. Ouch!
I took one tablespoon of the buttermilk I had bought and made a whole batch of fresh buttermilk to use in my next lot of baking. You can see it in the photo above. I can’t believe how easy it is to make cultured buttermilk or yoghurt for home use. There is a post here about it if you want to read more. Confused about buttermilk? I suggest reading the Wiki article here and then you will know as much as me!
For the batch above:-
- 1 tablespoon of fresh buttermilk
- 500 ml of milk (longlife)
Stir together, put into yoghurt making container, basically a pot stood in a heated unit for 12 hours. You could use a thermos flask if you don’t have one. Then hey presto, you have a lemony buttermilk flavoured yoghurt/cultured product. I use a yoghurt maker from Lakeland, but it’s not necessary to buy this to do this. Having said that, I have been using this for all my yoghurt for the past year so I reckon I’m in payback time now.
For the bread:
- 500 g buttermilk (2 cups) – sold in the UK in 250 g pots
- 2 teaspoons fresh yeast
- 750 g bread flour (6 – 6½ cups)
- 15 g salt (2% of flour weight) I always weigh salt as it varies so much
- a big tablespoon of English honey from Bakery Bits – light and flowery tasting
- an egg
- sesame seeds (three tablespoons)
Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and warm the buttermilk by standing the bowl in a sink of hot water. Mix it all up to a rough dough. Do some light intermittent kneads for the next hour and a half.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces, make rolls. Then find a big stainless steel casserole pan (28 cm diameter) which is oven proof, grease, dust with flour and arrange the balls inside. You can use a springform cake tin also. The closer the balls are together to start with, the denser the final loaf will be, so if you want to make the bread more airy, it might be best to make more balls, say eighteen and split them into two lots and two pans. Leave to rise for another 45 minutes.
Finally beat up an egg with a little water, brush the egg glaze over the tops of the balls and sprinkle them heavily with sesame seeds.
Pre-heat the oven to 220 º C (425 F). Fan oven would be lower than this, I guess 200 º
Bake (no steam) for 30 minutes and then leave it in the oven for five minutes more with the door open.
This is a big substantial piece of bread, and the crumb is quite close as the balls don’t really have anywhere to expand to apart from upwards. I am going to try this again, with a little more liquid in the mix and spacing fewer balls further apart in the dish next time to see if I can get a slightly lighter crumb feel. Having said that, it was delicious and tangy from the buttermilk and it was all eaten super fast, so it’s definitely one to have up your sleeve for a day when you don’t want to think too hard about the bread baking, and a nice one to have for a party or a celebration meal.
I don’t know if this bee was responsible for Patrick’s delicious honey…