Valentine Love Bites in Ash Wednesday Size: Mini Doughnuts

“Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?” Matt Groening

I always find it interesting when completely different celebrations happen to occur on the same day…especially when the message of those festivals mean something completely different….but do they?

 

Ash Wednesday, a day of fasting, is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity (observed by Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics and some Baptists). It occurs 46 days before Easter. According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Lent originated as a mirroring of this, fasting 40 days as preparation for Easter.

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine’s Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world. Martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14 are presented in martyrologies including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome’s imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

“With a doughnut in each hand, anything is possible.” Jameela Jamil

So on this special day, combining the two celebrations, people are prohibited from indulging in excesses for themselves in terms of eating and drinking, but nothing forbids the faithful from showing tremendous amount of love to the people around them. Therefore one’s heartthrob can still be bathed in love and attentions, and even if its in the form of food and dessert, just chose those of mini…

Ingredients
80 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
50 g caster sugar
50 ml milk
1 egg
Knob of butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 g dark chocolate, melted
2 tbsp icing sugar
Sprinkles and shredded coconut, to decorate

Method
Heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Lightly spray the mini doughnut pan with oil. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar. In a jug, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract. Make a well in the flour, pour in the egg mixture and stir.
Fill each of the doughnut moulds ¾ full with the batter. Bake for 8-10 mins, or until firm and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes.
Mix the icing sugar with a couple of tbsp of water, until a runny consistency is achieved. Dip one side of a doughnut into melted chocolate or runny icing and decorate, before leaving to set on a wire rack.

Winter Sugar to Share: Day&Night Traybake

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” Sinclair Lewis

During the cold, grey winter months, people get less sunlight, less air, and many experience a mild form of seasonal depression. People suffering from any type of sadness or illness tend to crave sugary foods, to help deal with these winter darkness periods. People want and, therefore eat more sugar, because  quick effect of the carbohydrate-rich foods: they cause blood sugar levels to spike, which raises blood insulin levels. When this happens, amino acids (tryptophan) travel up to our brains, where it is converted to serotonin — a happiness hormone that makes us feel happy. This is the simple explanation why consuming cakes, sweet bakes or ice cream makes us feel so happy. Desserts contain plenty of added sugar, and on the top of that milk (that is a basic ingredient of almost all sweet bakes) is a natural source of tryptophan. Together, these properties lead to a good release of serotonin to relieve stress and spread a deep feeling of joy. Having winter meals that are rich in carbohydrate and sugar was a result of the traditional observations of the wise people in old times, a form of self-medication that regulated people’s mental condition, made them feel genuinely good. Too much sugar intake, of course, can lead to health problems, but there’s also no reason to believe people must eliminate all sweetness from their diet. Common sense informs people to consume sweet foods in moderation. However, whatever type of sugar we choose to use in the winter and holiday season, by all means we need to use it with love and savor each glorious baked bite with friends and family. Research shows that when we eat our meals mindfully and with others, we eat better than when we eat alone…So here is a cake to share…

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” Edith Sitwell

Ingredients
Sponge base
6 eggs
6 tbsp sugar
50 g butter
40 g cocoa powder
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp instant coffee
110 g flour
2 tbsp apricot jam
For the meringue layer
4 egg white
220 g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
A pinch of salt
For the chocolate glaze
30 g coca powder
3 tbsp water, boiling hot
50 g icing sugar
A splash of oil

Method
Cream the eggs with the sugar and the honey, until light and foamy. Add the butter, the flour, cocoa powder, instant coffee and baking powder and beat it only until a smooth mixture is achieved. Bake in pre-heated 180 degrees C oven, using a lined, 20×30 square tin. It will need about 20 minutes. Then, whilst the cake is still hot, layer the apricot jam on top and let it cool completely.
Whip the eggwhites with the salt, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl above boiling water and spread on the top of the cake.
Finally mix the cocoa powder with boiling hot water and oil and cover the meringue layer on the top of the cake.

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.” George R.R. Martin

Not Free From Goodness: Gluten- and Dairyfree Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

“Live life to the fullest, and focus on the positive.” Matt Cameron

Sourdough is the thing now. And for all the right reasons. It is healthy, it is good for body and soul. It is good to bake and good to eat. Glutenfree, dairyfree, free from all allergens – unfortunately – is also the thing now.

Not necessarily for the right reasons. Whilst I do not believe eating or dairyfree or glutenfree is the healthiest choice, unfortunately I do know eating gluten and dairy is certainly unhealthy for some. I do, however, strongly believe, free from allergens does not equal free from goodness.


The ones who are following a free from diet under the pressure of necessity think that to enjoy wonderful bread and yeasted product one has to be able to consume dairy or gluten. Wrong. The key is simple. Glutenfree sourdough is the thing! For all the right reasons!

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” Dalai Lama

Ingredients
Preferment
80 g fruit yeast water
80 g glutenfree white flour
2 tbsp glutenfree sourdough starter


Dough
450 g glutenfree white flour
150 g rice milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
30 g brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
A pinch of salt
1 tsp psyllium husk
120 g coconut oil
Filling
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp cinnamonn

Method
To make the preferment mix flour, fruit yeast water and the sourdough mother starter. Leave it to ferment until puffed, bubbly and well risen, meaning it is active. This may take from 4-12 hours, depending on the temperature and strength of the mother starter.

To make the dough dissolve the entire starter in rice milk, add all other ingredients, except for the coconut oil. Knead the dough for 5 minutes and then leave it to rest for 30 minutes. After this autolyzation knead in the coconut oil for 8-10 minutes until smooth. Shape the dough into ball and place it into clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to ferment overnight in a cool place or until almost doubled in volume. When the dough is ready, put it in the fridge for a couple of hours so to enable easier shaping. To shape roll the dough to be 5 mm thick and spread coconut oil, then sugar thinly,sprinkle generously with cinnamon, leaving a small space from all sides. Roll the dough from the longest side in the direction away to get a log. Cut the log into pieces using a sharp knife. Place the rolls into lined and greased pan. Leave the dough for a final rise at the room temperature until puffed (2-3 hours).

Thirty minutes before the baking, preheat the oven to 200°C. When the dough is ready, put the pan oven into oven and bake the rolls until well baked, about 40 minutes. Leave to cool slightly, then brush with a little rice milk.

Not Just a Dough But a State of Mind: Flavoured Glutenfree Sourdough Bread

“When I hear somebody say ‘Life is hard’, I am always tempted to ask ‘Compared to what?'” Sydney J. Harris

Sourdough is a special thing. It requires hard work and experience, but – indeed – every bite worth the effort that its making. Even in itself sourdough has a tangy, special, deep and unique taste, however, flavouring the basic bread recipes (made of flour, water, yeast and salt) and enhancing with other ingredients that change the characteristics of the final product – including the texture, flavor, and colour – creates remarkable bakes.

Ingredients, such as eggs, duck fat, oil or nutmilk change the texture of the crumb and crust and provide a richness of flavour that is often lacking in basic breads. Some flavoured breads may include ingredients that simply add flavour to the bread, such as herbs, spices, sugar, honey, nuts, whole grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and even meats. Some breads contain both enriching and flavouring ingredients and may be almost a meal in themselves.

The flavour of a bread, I believe reflects the baker’s passion for the baking process. By putting creativity to its best effect, the baker becomes a creator, an artist of the taste, with an own distinctive signature on every cake, bake or bread. This creation is a sensory, emotional and technical journey into a personal fulfillment. Sourdough is not just a dough but a state of mind, a life style. Sourdough is not just a dough, it requires time, love, precision, attention and devotion.

“Luck is great, but most of life is hard work.” Iain Duncan Smith

Ingredients
240 g gluten free sourdough starter poolish (100 g flour, 100 g water, 40 g mother starter, mixed and left fermented for about 4 hours)


100 g white glutenfree flour
150 g tapioca flour
150 g sorghum flour
110 g millet flour
1 Tbsp salt
200 ml water
40 ml olive oil
1 tbsp psyllium husk
4 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp harissa
1 tsp ginger
1tsp chilli flakes

Method
In a large bowl, stir together the starter, water, and eggs. In a separate bowl mix together all dry ingredients. Add the oil to the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Slowly, gradually pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour just slow enough that it can be gradually mixed, approximately a cup at a time and mix before each addition. Let the dough sit out in a warm place for at least a few hours, preferably 3-4. Divide the dough as chosen and place into baguette trays and small bundt pans. When shaping, gently place the dough on parchment paper on a flat surface, not to disturb the dough to much so that it keeps the air bubbles intact from the sourdough action. Raise for another 4-8 hours, depending on conditions. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Once preheated, very gently score the top of the breads a few times with a sharp serrated knife and place into the preheated pan. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Little Pleasures: Glutenfree Sourdough Focaccia with Tomatoes and Herbs

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” John Wooden

“Thinking big” is the fashionable and the one-to-follow lifestyle of today’s world. Whilst it is nothing inherently wrong with it, when one believes that “big” is better than “small”, that “stretching to the limit” is what everyone must do, that “be the best one can be” beats “appreciating the self”, one is simply not being fair to himself. Not every human being is meant to make it “big”, not everybody wants to be multitasking all day long, every day. Some people are just happy to be usual, normal, and – even – boring. Not everybody wants to devote their energy to going for the gold at every part of their lives.

Indeed, some people are appreciative of cold, some like warm, some people adore red, whilst others want white in the world, and so on… The world likes colour. The world likes contrast. We like to do a lot of things that have nothing to do with making it big or being on top. And that’s a good thing, a very real thing. Obviously, not all can be at the top. Nor do we all want to be. For at the top, it’s lonely; the air is thin, oxygen is rare. And, on the bad days, there’s no place else to go, but down…

“True greatness consists in being great in little things.” Charles Simmons

Therefore, appreciating the little pleasures of life is really important. Like successfully growing a plant in the middle of the city (the pleasure of ny beloved husband, that is)…like feeding a child…like receiving a thank you… Little things are what people tend to remember and appreciate when they reflect on days gone by. A little thing may be a fun evening with friends. It may be the joy of learning something new. It may be listening to the giggles of children. It may be the warm feeling caused by a simple act of kindness. It may be noticing nature change. If one neglects, ignores to enjoy the little things of life, then what are they left with but the daily struggles, the disappointments and the disasters that masks the simple pleasures when we least expect it.

Sourdough is sure one of life’s big little pleasures. After ten years of solid baking, the excitement of waiting for the dough to rise still doesn’t fail to entertain me and fill me with pride and joy. My latest adventure into baking with gluten-, soy- and dairyfree sourdough is probably even deeper of a pride…I believe via cultivating natural fruit yeasts I achieved such a strong glutenfree sourdough that – in the final baked products – manages to get rid of all the usual free from characteristics, such as sweetness, slightly disturbing odour and crumbling texture. The glutenfree sourdough starter is one of my daily pleasures now…ant it is indeed one to be noticed and appreciated.

Starter dough
Combine 100 g spring water, 100 g fruit yeast water, 100 g gluten free flour mix, 100 g active glutenfree sourdough starter. Mix all to a soft dough, then cover – leave for 6-8 hours to ferment.

Main Dough
Add 360 g Gluten free flour, about 40-50 g fine corn grits, 8-10 g of salt, 100 g fruit yeast water and about 100 g sprig water into the starter dough gradually, until a soft dough is achieved. Place in oiled bowl and leave it to ferment for about one hour. After the first fermentation process place into oiled or lined baking tray and flatten into the desired size (a large rectangle). Cover loosely and let it rise for 5-8 hours. Once proofed gently create indents with fingertips, oil and place fresh herbs (I used sage, rosemary and thyme) and cherry tomatoes on the top. Bake in preheated 220 degrees C for about 45 minutes or remove tins from oven when nicely golden. Loosen the sides and tip out to cool on a wire rack (tap the underneath if it sounds
hollow it’s done).

“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.” Frank A. Clark

Seasonal Taste-Sensation of the Summer: Spicy-Herby Apricot and Walnut Macarons

“Five tender apricots in a blue bowl, a brief and exact promise of things to come.” Frances Mayes

Apricots are true treats of the summer season. The origin of the apricot is disputed and unsettled. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it is often thought to have originated there. The apricots’ outstanding appearance, their distinctive taste, their silky texture and seductive fragrance nowadays is wide spread in the world, loved by chefs and consumers alike.  Apricots have a complex sweet-tart flavor that marries well to a wide variety of other tastes, spices, herbs and flavourings. Fresh apricots are a treasure to eat, however, they reach their full potential when cooked — roasted, poached, sauteed or incorporated into baked goods. Warming them brings both their sweetness and tartness to the forefront. Apricots can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, but their crowning glory is really any dish that is sweet.

Apricots are closely related to almonds, their pits can be used to create an almond-like flavoring, therefore it should come as no surprise that almonds are a strong flavor complement to apricots. Macarons, obviously host apricots perfectly. The shells house all the warm spices – as cardamoms, cinnamon and ginger enhance the decadent flavour of apricots – whilst the apricot filling can include the refreshing herbs that counterbalance the spices and sweetness of the shells. Many herbs work well with apricots, providing a woodsy, herbaceous note to balance the fruit’s sweet-tart nature. The herbs’aromatic pungency works well with the apricot flavour. The floral note of lavender is a natural match for apricot’s sweetness, whilst rosemary’s resinous notes play off both the sweet and tart aspects of apricots. Citrus flavors – lemon, orange and lime in particular – also bring out apricots’ sweetness while complementing its tart notes at the same time. The pairing aids the taste buds in appreciating characters of each ingredient that might not appear when used on their own.

“One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.” Thomas Fuller

Ingredients
4 egg whites (around 160 g), at room temperature
200 g granulated sugar
65 g almond meal
65 g ground walnut
280 g confectioners sugar
Apricot or tangerine gel food colouring
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
10-15 apricots (depending on size)
A handful of fresh basil
Zest of one orange
4 tbsp honey

Method
Sieve the almond meal, ground walnut, spices and icing sugar together, set aside. Beat the egg whites over medium-high speed until they begin to froth, then add granulated sugar, gradually. Continue beating the mixture until eggs whites are glossy and stiff peaks form, adding the gel food colouring in the last minute. Add half of the dry mixture to the egg whites, fold slowly until all ingredients are well combined, then repeat with the other half of the dry mixture. It should slowly dripping off the spatula back into the bowl and easily absorbing back into the batter at the bottom. Mix in Transfer batter into a piping bags, than pipe onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When all the batter is piped out, firmly tap the baking sheet onto a hard surface to remove air bubbles. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C and bake the macarons for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, lift parchment paper with macarons onto a wire rack and let cool completely. To make the filling puree the apricot and basil, mix with orange zest and honey and cook on medium heat, stirring until the apricot mixture thickens, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.Let it cool and stick together macaron shell pairs with a small portion of filling.

Fruit, Yeast and Love: Free From Sourdough Sandwich Loaf made with Fruit Yeast

“The future belongs to nations who have grains not guns.” Dr. MS Swaminathan

Many of the people who live with an allergy or intolerance – let it be gluten, dairy or egg – believe that a good loaf is out of their reach…Whilst traditionally the idea of beautiful bread has been based on the trustworthy, reliable work of gluten, modern-old practice shows: free from perfect sourdough bread is really possible. Though sourdough wheat bread can be tolerated by some gluten-sensitive individuals as the fermenting process makes wheat and gluten easier to digest, others who can’t tolerate any wheat, are still able to enjoy sourdough fermented bread’s tangy flavor, thanks to the wide variety of gluten-free flours now available made with everything from corn to quinoa, through buckwheat, rice and all.

Investigating the nature of long-fermented, old-fashioned bread in its gluten- and dairy free form is an exciting journey. Bread, especially that of sourdough is a living being. A simple dough, made in the right ratio of flours to starter to water to salt, achieves the most amazing transformation when left undisturbed for a pleasant night. Witnessing that creation magic is an honour, a heartwarming activity that somehow connect one to her roots.

Sourdough can easily be created with glutenfree flour and it indeed produces beautiful bread. During the quest for my own real sourdough story, I had found that feeding the glutenfree starter with fruit yeast achieves the gratest result, in terms of both rise and taste. To capture and cultivate fruit yeast sterilize the glass jar by boiling both jar and lid for 5 minutes, then leave them to cool. Fill the jar with fresh fruit and spring water, and leave it until it starts fizzing and small bubbles could be seen. Closed the lid on the jars loosely, giving the jar a shake once a day and opening the lids so to let the yeast breathe. Check after the three days, so to avoid over-fermentation (optionally move the jar into the fridge).

Bringing a glutenfree sourdough starter to life with fruit yeast is relatively simple, only needing some careful attention, patience and love.

Using the starter as a basis and baking good free from bread also depends on simple rules: adopting a reliable mixture of locally accessible flour, respecting the live yeast and allowing ample time for the dough (to rest, to rise, to bake, to cool).

Ingredients
150 g free from sourdough starter
200 ml water
120 ml fruit yeast
1 tsp honey
1 tsp psyllium husk
1 tsp dried potato flakes
350 g glutenfree flour mix, plus some for
1 tsp Himalaya salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Method
Mix the starter, the water, honey and fruit yeast stirring vigorously until well incorporated. Fold in the psyllium husk, potato flakes and flour gently, then let it autolyse for 2 hours. After the autolysation, knead in the salt and oil and let it rise in the mixing bowl covered for 4-5 hours. After the first rise pour it on floured surface, gently fold 3-4 times (by turning the sides into the middle), then form and place it into floured proving basket. Allow 6 to 8 hours for the final proof on the kitchen worktop (fridge proving seems to give less elevated results). Bake it in preheated 230 degrees C oven on hot baking stone for about 50-60 minutes. Before starting the baking throw a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir

The most Healthy Ingredient of Baked Vegetable Soup: Love!

“What infants need is the opportunity and time to take in and figure out the world around them.” Magda Gerber

There are some special foody people in the big wide world who have ingredients on their fingertips, recipes coming out of their lips and the smell of cooked or baked gold floating around them wherever they go…there are chefs, writers, food critics, bloggers who occupy the internet, social media and publishing…YET…I believe the true flavour of food, and therefore, life, is only really known to the most natural of the population, to the most knowledgeable of the food-experts and to the most honest of judges, children.

 

Kids nowadays seem to have an interesting relationship with food. It is due to many characteristics of modern day living: quick and instant lifestyle, poor quality offer, hormonal effects of the 21st century to name but a few…it would be pointless to go on a quest in order to find one reason…it is a multi-factor mess!

It -children and healthy food- is, however, not at all a hopeless! The key is adding a not-so-secret ingredient: love…A love-filled approach toward the children and towards the ingredients in the same time, creates a life-long taste sensation and real healthy food-experts. Children need to meet ingredients…children need to be able to express likes as well as dislikes…children need to be able to make decisions…children need time when meeting ingredients…Children and food need love.

From the foods offered, kids choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all. Kids need to have some say in the matter. Schedule regular food-play, cooking and snack times. Quit the “always clean-plate rule”. Let children stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of people grow up under the clean-plate rule, which completely ruins their ability to listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When children notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat. Start them young. Forming the healthy relationship with healthy food has to be started at a young age. Preferences are developed early in life, so offering a variety and allowing involvement in food related activities without a force will encourage a child to eat, to love healthy food and to love it healthily.

Lovely Becca and Mark of the Shayler-Adams family has tried one of my suggested activities, vegetable body training: the sit the children around some washed, but not peeled vegetables (such as cucumber, marrow, onion, butternut squash, pepper, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and celery). They encouraged the children to touch and smell the vegetables, then involved them in cutting the goods and making a creamy soup. This activity stimulates exploration mainly through touch, weight, texture and smell and together with their four beautiful children, Becca and Mark seem to have had a tremendous fun. They are a family raising two bubbas with special needs, and indeed, they do it exceptionally. So when in a family, where time really matters, food and the togetherness of the food-events can still matter too, one can only admire the power of ingredients, above that of the main ingredient, love!

Read Becca’s article  here… on the ‘amumdoingherbest’ blog, where the readers can take a peek into the family’s fun-filled life with four kids, and learn from their love-filled approach towards daily tasks and issues.

Ingredients
1 kg mixed vegetables
3 tbsp pumpkin seed oil
A handful of marjoram and a handful of parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Juice 1 lime and 1 lemon

“I believe that parents need to make nutrition education a priority in their home environment. It’s crucial for good health and longevity to instill in your children sound eating habits from an early age.” Cat Cora

Method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Chop the vegetables into small pieces. Place in a roasting tin. Mix the oil with the herbs and seasoning, and the lime and lemon juice. Pour over the vegetables and toss thoroughly. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and well browned. Place in a saucepan with 750 ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Cool. Blend half of the mixture, then return to the pan to reheat.

Images courtesy of Becca of amomdoingherbest and photographed by Mark of markshaylerphotoraphy.

Free From Bread and Better: Glutenfree Sourdough

Where there’s a mill there’s a way… Old proverb

When most people think “gluten-free”, they think that quality bread is no longer an option. The Free From Fruit Yeast Sourdough is a recipe method I developed when I learned that I had multiple food allergies: gluten, dairy and soy. I was also a little sensitive to commercial yeast.

I had been successfully making sourdough bread for many years for my family, but when I had a new baby who started to be interested in bread, but had to be kept glutenfree, I decided I had to do something…To continue eating bread and being able to give bread for my baby, I tried to find a bread that used minimally processed organic ingredients, ingredients that had no chemicals, and ingredients that were not created in a laboratory.

The Free From Fruit Yeast Sourdough starter is based on and fed with natural fruit yeast. To cultivate fruit yeast, I fill a Mason jar full of organic fruit pieces with spring water, keep it loosely covered away from direct sunlight for five days. After five days I sieve it and there it is, fruit yeast…I feed it with my glutenfree grain and starch flour mix (sorghum, corn, buckwheat, potato, arrowroot and rice), equal weight of flour to the weight of liquid. I continue feeding it three times a day with 50 g of flour and 50 g of fruit yeast.

If the volume can not be handled, I discard some of the mixture. Then I continue to feed it twice a day for another five days. After this the starter can be fed with spring water, but if fed with fruit yeast once a week, it will retain its unique character.

The method of free from sourdough baking is not really different from the fundamental ways of classic sourdough baking. It needs starter/yeast, flour water, salt and love!

The mill of the gods grinds slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine. Old proverb

Basic Free From Sourdough Bread
Ingredients
For the levain the evening before baking mix:
500 ml water
1 tbsp brown sugar
100 ml sourdough
50 g corn flour
50 g buckwheat flour
100 g rice flour
50 g millet flour
Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let it rest for the night (about 7-8 hours)


In the morning add:
400 ml l water
75 g millet flour
175 g rice flour
25 g potato starch
25 g arrowroot flour
50 g sorghum flour
35 g psyllium husk
1 1/2 tbsp dry potato flakes
1 tsp soaked chia seeds
1 1/2 tbsp Salt

Method
Add everything to the mixing bowl with the starter from the day before. Mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes for a nice thick but still sticky batter. Let the dough rise for about 1.5 hours.

Dust the working surface with rice flour and turn the dough out on the table, divide it into two portions and gently shape them into oval breads, then dust them with rice flour on top. Let it rise for another two hours, or overnight in the fridge. Place them in a preheated 220 degrees C oven and bake them for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. After 45 minutes turn the temperature a bit down.

Remember the miller when you eat your daily bread. Old proverb

Red Summer Romance: Berry Field Cocoa Gateau with Mint and Cream Cheese

“Red”, I write “is the color of life. It’s blood, passion, rage. …Beginnings and violent end. Red is the color of love. Beating hearts and hungry lips. Roses, Valentines, cherries. Red is the color of shame. Crimson cheeks and spilled blood. Broken hearts, opened veins. A burning desire…” Mary Hogan

I do accept that may not all bakers have a personal berry story, but they sure all do have a story about baking with berries. What exactly makes a berry story? The personal touch – history, memory, like or dislike – that makes one want to eat or bake berries for their versatile and vibrant flavour, colour or content. My berry (and cherry and currant) story is as red as the berries themselves, full of love, family and strong emotions. In the village where my grandparents had lived their whole life and my auntie still lives, many of the locals own huge raspberry and fruit fields, making their living from picking and selling ripe, organic products. As a child, I had spent most of my summer berry seasons with my paternal grandfather, picking these luscious red jewels, including raspberries and red currants. I often talked about imagining love to be as red as the juice of fresh red currant – surprisingly sophisticated from my child self! – so then my grandfather told me a story.

It starred a young berry-picker woman. She was desperately in love with a man who she married, gave birth to three of his sons, only to find out she had a lover. She worked a lot picking berries to provide for her sons and when she fell ill, her husband cruelly said to her that should she die, her successor was already chosen. She was heartbroken, then her husband died suddenly. In the period of tuberculosis epidemic, sudden illness was not uncommon, often leaving poor babies orphaned. The young, loving woman than followed her beloved, unkind husband, died of her illness. The three boys were nurtured, truly loved and well treated by their late father’s ;over and her husband. Missing their caring, young mother, they often found comfort in picking berries. This year I picked berries from my auntie’s field. During the berry jam making, I asked my mother how did my family start growing berries, and my mother told me the story of my grandfather who was brought up by his late father’s lover….my berry story is, indeed, as red as love…

“Red is such an interesting colour to correlate with emotion, because it’s on both ends of the spectrum. On one end you have happiness, falling in love, infatuation with someone, passion, all that. On the other end, you’ve got obsession, jealousy, danger, fear, anger and frustration.” Taylor Swift

Berries, cherries and other fresh fruits, no matter the culture or the place of Earth, are sure the stars of many summer treats, some used more often and others. I love berries and currant to the point of insanity, but even in my kitchen red currents, I believe, are unfairly less fashionable. Even though the little jewels might be a little tart without a fair dash of sugar or syrup, they do look truly beautiful and are truly precious, packed with Vitamin C. These shiny little berries grow low on bushes, hanging from the branches like rows of miniature gems. Their flavour is distinctive and sweet enough to be eaten raw. They pair well with other berries and fruits, such as raspberries, strawberries and melon, and also host a sprinkle of lavender or mint perfectly. They can also be frosted with egg white and caster sugar and used as a decoration.

Ingredients
For the Gateau
6 large free-range eggs
150 g caster sugar
100 g self-raising flour, sifted
50 g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp oil
The Berry Field Jam Filling
240 g mixed berries and red fruit(the mixture of strawberries, raspberries, red currant and sour cherries works beautifully)
A handful of fresh mint leaves
45 ml water
150 g sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
Cream Cheese Topping
720 ml heavy whipping cream, cold
150 g powdered sugar
1/2 tsp tsp mint extract
450 g cream cheese, chilled

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease a 22 cm cake tins and line the base with greased non-stick baking parchment. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, oil and whisk until the mixture is pale and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted out of the bowl. Carefully fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder. Turn the mixture into the prepared tins. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the sponge well risen, springy to touch and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Turn out onto a floured surface upside down to cool completely and peel off the parchment.


To make the berry field jam topping topping, add the berries, mint leaves and water to a food processor and puree until smooth. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in the berry puree. Cook over medium heat, stirring consistently until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Refrigerate and allow to cool completely.

To make the cream cheese topping add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and lavender extract to a large bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.


To assemble the cake, use a large serrated knife to cut in three layers. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outside of the cake. Spread half of the berry filling evenly on top of the cake layer, inside the dam. Add some additional mascarpone frosting to the top of the berry filling and spread into an even layer to fill in the remaining dam space. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the filling layer with the remaining berry filling and additional mascarpone frosting. Add the final layer of cake on top, then smooth out the frosting around the sides of the cake. Cover the outside of the cake, then add the chosen design. Finish off the cake with some swirls of c and cream and some fresh fruit.

“Red is for fire red is for love too it lies in our hand  what we wanna choose…” Shivangi Lavaniya