Tag Archives: bread

Bruschetta

the original garlic bread

Charred slices of toasted Tuscan bread rubbed with garlic & drizzled in oil

When I was fifteen I had a Saturday job in the local chemist. Situated on a sleepy suburban high street it was pretty easy work, and allowed me to spend the whole day with one of my best friends from school who worked the same shift as me. It also happened to be opposite a well-known recording studio, meaning that our otherwise fairly mundane days were often punctuated by the excitement of seeing a celebrity come in to buy cotton buds, shampoo or other more intriguing (read embarrassing) items. Continue reading

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Caramelized Brown Bread & Pecan Ice Cream

brown bread ice cream

Smooth, creamy custard swirled with crunchy nuggets of brown bread

Fact: Britains throw away over four million tons of edible food every year.

Do you know what’s number one on the list of wasted products? Bread. Approximately one third of this beautiful crunchy-crusted, tender-crumbed, breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner staple purchased is binned by households on an annual basis, at a cost to the country of over a billion pounds.

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Ciabatta Bread

ciabatta

Crusty ciabatta loaves fresh from the oven

When was the last time you licked the plate clean?

In a previous post on sticky toffee cupcakes, I talked about dishes that look ‘too good to eat’. Today it’s the turn of another favourite food expression. While ‘finger licking good’ is a phrase that is sadly slightly tainted (for me anyway) by its association with greasy fast food and a certain white bearded colonel, the idea that something can be so delicious that it makes you want to lick the plate (as well as your fingers) clean is not. It’s appealing and enduring. And something that we all do. Continue reading

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Kale, Chilli & Buckwheat Breakfast Muffins

kale_muffins

Buckwheat breakfast muffins packed with earthy kale & a kick of chilli

On average, how many of your government recommended 5-a-day do you manage to eat?

Despite, or perhaps (in part) because of, my love of baking and this blog, I’m very conscious of getting my daily quota of fruit and vegetables. In the UK it’s fairly easy to stick to, with the government recommending a modest five 80g portions. However in Australia it’s seven, Spain eat eight and in Japan they suggest a staggering seventeen, although I’m guessing each serving size is slightly smaller than ours given that consuming over a kilo of even the most ambrosial fruit would be a struggle for most sensible human beings in any given day.
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Fresh From the Oven Challenge April: Hot Cross Buns

hot_cross_buns

Little spiced buns with a sticky syrup glaze

Hot cross buns. The name for these Easter treats always anthropomorphizes them in my eyes: rather than being crossed for religious reasons, I always imagine them as hot and bothered: a flustered little addition to any baking repertoire. Luckily making these lovely seasonal buns is anything but bothersome. A simple enriched dough of flour, sugar, butter and egg is stirred through with mixed spice and additions of your choice – typically raisins, sultanas and candied peel, although chopped dried dates, apricots, cherries or even chocolate are all delicious alternatives – before being quickly kneaded, left to rise then divided into perfect little pillows and marked with a cross.

This month I’m hosting the Fresh From the Oven challenge and I’ve decided to task anyone who wants to get involved with making spiced buns. With Easter just a few days away and the shelf-life of a homemade hot cross buns a little less than 48 hours, now couldn’t be a more perfect time to get baking. But don’t worry if you’ve been hugely organized and already baked a batch for your freezer  – there are some suggestions below for alternatives to your standard hot cross bun, and the more diverse and imaginative the entries the better!

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Sourdough: My very first loaf

homemade_sourdough

My first ever sourdough loaf!

At the end of February the little loaf blog turned one. As the anniversary approached I started to think about ways in which I could celebrate, pulling together pictures of cakes, recipes for frosting and decorating techniques from my various recipe folders, bookmarks and pinboards. However, even as ideas began to take form for lines of little loaf cakes, sparkling candles and layers of chocolate, I realized I wanted to do something a little more special. Not necessarily anything fancy, but a new challenge to kick off the year to come.

The answer, in all its simple, slow brewing, tangy tasting glory was to start a sourdough culture. Mulchy, brown and bubbling away in a little kilner jar, it was hardly going to provide the glamour shots I’d originally intended for this first birthday post with my multi-tiered celebration cake. But it was exciting in its own way – an acknowledgement of how far I’ve come since that very first wholemeal loaf emerged from my oven and the start of something new. Continue reading

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Potato, Prosciutto & Rosemary Schiacciata

potato_prosciutto_schiacciata

Golden crust, melting onions, slices of soft potato & crispy prosciutto

What’s your favourite type of Italian bread?

Ask this question of almost anyone and you’re on pretty safe ground. Italian breads are an established part of our everyday vocabulary (even if not always part of our diet in an increasingly carb-phobic society), pizza being one of the most popular foods in the world and cafes, shops and delis all over the place serving up ciabatta, focaccia, grissini and panini (the singular of which, panino, means none other than ‘little loaf’).

Slightly less familiar, perhaps, is schiacciata, a flattened bread which takes its name from the Italian ‘schiacciare’, to flatten or to crush. In Sicily they stuff their schiacciata with potatoes, spinach, meat or cheese while in Tuscany it’s an altogether more basic affair, not unlike a focaccia. The topping can be as simple as a sprinkling of salt or scattering of tomatoes, although they also make an unusual, and utterly delicious, version with seeded black wine grapes, rosemary and a little scattering of sugar to celebrate the Tuscan grape harvest. Continue reading

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Sourdough Starter: One year of blogging & the start of something new

sourdough_bread

Day one for my sourdough starter & the start of a new year

Exactly one year ago today, I sat down in front of my computer to pen my very first post. A few weeks prior to that I had decided to start baking my own bread, and the day before I had produced what I proudly felt to be my first loaf worthy of a write up i.e. something that didn’t sit in your stomach for days or have the consistency of a slightly spongy brick. Thelittleloaf blog was to be a catalogue of my adventures with bread – a way to express myself, to tell some stories and to put my money where my mouth was by baking my own bread on a regular basis.

Little did I know what a big part of my life my blog would become. Or how much I had to say about so much more than just bread. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, always been the one wanting to help out in the kitchen at parties, prepare and hand round nibbles and make cakes look beautiful on birthdays, but since starting this blog I’ve found an even greater joy in food – cooking and sharing it with those I love, researching recipes, writing stories and trying to make it look just as beautiful as it tastes. Continue reading

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Pumpkin, Poppy & Sesame Seed Bagels

pumpkin_sesame_seed_bagels

Dense, chewy & scattered with seeds

Growing up there was always good bread available in the little loaf household. My mum didn’t regularly make her own – although when she did we’d fall on it fresh from the oven, devouring slabs of buttered bread so hot they still felt slightly doughy – but she’d always buy loaves from the local bakery rather than anything more mass produced. Nothing particularly fancy, just good a wholemeal tin, nutty malted grain or a batch of poppy seed rolls to fill for our packed lunches at school.

With the arrival of a farmers market in more recent years, her loyalty has strayed. The bakery is still there, but while their honest loaves are perfectly good, they pale in comparison to the six-seeded spelt, rustic rye and ancient sourdough on offer around the corner every Saturday morning. While I’d have to agree that the market-bought breads are delicious, exciting and most likely more expertly made than those from this bakery, I still have to sneak a peak in the window every time I pass to see what’s on offer, for old times’ sake. Continue reading

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Squid Ink & Sesame Baguettes with Homemade Harissa Butter

squid_ink_bread

Charcoal coloured bread is offset by a pat of bright harissa-spiked butter

Black. Not a colour we necessarily associate with wonderful food. Especially those of us who are keen bakers where, unless you’re talking black treacle, black bottomed cupcakes or black cherries (of which I’d argue the latter are really brown and purple respectively), black tends to signify something that has been in the oven too long; in other words burnt.

Try to think of a black food and you’re likely to conjure one of two ends of the culinary spectrum. In the losing category come the burnt items; over baked bread, lasagne left in the oven too long, black bits of onion in a pan that should be caramelized or the singed tips of an otherwise snow-white meringue. At the other end of the scale, black seems to signify something altogether more luxurious; tiny pearls of caviar, dusky black truffle, exotic black garlic or the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of a stick of licorice.   Continue reading

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