Quick and easy white bread

Quick isn’t something you think of when talking about baking bread but if you’re up early or need something for lunch you can have fresh bread in under 2 hours with this quick and simple recipe. Only rising the dough does make for a slightly denser bread but its still incredibly yummy. P.S. Having a dough hook attachment on a mixer is brilliant, does all the hard work for you.

White bread dough

White bread sliced

White bread recipe

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Tuesday Tea: Morocco (Mint and Spices)

Morocco mint and spices tea

Todays tea is actually an infusion so in this case I’m using tea bags (you don’t want your cinnamon floating around on the top). Ive found in the past that its difficult to get a nice dried mint tea. The instructions always say brew for 4 mins but i find anything more than about 8 seconds and it tastes nasty. The best of course is fresh mint (Kaffeine in London do an amazing one) which you leave in the water and it never goes bitter. Although you can grow it yourself on a windowsill that isn’t always possible (i recommend apple mint plant and use about 4 leaves for a cup and leave them in). Spiced teas is something i also love, although synonymous with winter and christmas they can be lovely all year round.

I think i may have once had this drink in a cafe somewhere but i found it recently and thought it sounded nice. The balance between the freshness of the mint and the warmness of the spice is delicious. I haven’t worked out how long to leave the bag in for (i did about 10s while the pack said 4 mins) but i guess i have lots to practice with.

My personal preference is for my spiced teas not to be sweet and many infusions contain a lot of liquorice or vanilla. This does have a bit of sweetness but with a short brew time its not too noticeable.

For a fancy touch use a moroccan mint tea glass (but make sure its heat resistant glass)

Currently Reading

Books - Glass book of the dream eaters and Gimme a Kiss

Today we have a classic example of what I’m supposed to be reading versus what I’m actually reading. The clue is in the size differences a whopping 753 pages versus 122. My reading list is becoming very skewed of late, virtually everything that i have that isn’t by Christopher Pike is over 500 pages long so you can guess which I’m reading

Books from side Glass book of the Dream eaters and Gimme a Kiss

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G.W. Dahlquist (2006): This was recommended to me when it first came out by a friend. To be honest it just looks like a me kind of book, it has a weird title, its all pretty and steampunk ish looking with pseudo victorian adverts in the back (which i presume will relate to the plot). It seems to be a Victorian mystery novel (although you sort of assume thats the time period from the descriptions in chapter 1) but i can imagine theres something out of the ordinary lurking within the pages. The problem is that I’m not really getting in to it. I read the whole of chapter 1 (64 pages) then felt like i needed a break. It may just be that these days authors tend to switch between scenes quicker but i don’t know. It seems that you can get the book in its 10 separate chapters, a bit like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins originally wrote their novels in magazines. I imagine it works quite well like this and so this is probably how i will proceed, chapter at a time. The plot is certainly very intriguing (i.e. theres a lot we need to find out) so I’m really hoping that i get into it soon

Gimme a Kiss by Christopher Pike (1988): Another one what a surprise! If you are wondering, I’m buying and reading through the books of my favourite author as a teenager (as i had to get rid of some of my copies, along with me Nancy Drew’s when i went to Uni – very upsetting). This is one of his earlier works and doesn’t have any time traveling alien ghosts in it – yes he does actually write straight thrillers (I just didn’t get round to reviewing those here – ill do a big post later). Jean Retton keeps all her private thoughts in her diary, but when a mishap (or was it deliberate) gets it photocopied all over school all she can think about is revenge. Who should she trust? Who is out to help her and who is out to harm her? It was a very enjoyable read and only took over a couple of days.

Tuesday Tea: Lapsang Souchong

(oops this was supposed to post yesterday)

I really love tea, but I’m not talking about those little dusty tea bags you buy from the supermarket (which is ironically the only tea i don’t like), Im talking about the amazingly huge variety of teas which exist but most people don’t know about. Even I didn’t know a lot about tea until a few years ago when i started going to The Tea House Emporium in Bath. Joining their extensive knowledge (which they are more than happy to share) and some extra reading (wikipedia i love you) my knowledge grew and i tried so many different varieties (and even attended a tea tasting). I really love that there is so much out there to taste and explore and I would really like to share this knowledge with you all, hence Tuesday Tea. Considering my tea cupboard (yes i have a cupboard entirely dedicated to tea) contains over 15 varieties currently so theres lots to come.

Lapsang Souchong

For some random reason it is possible that Lapsang Souchong is the first tea i ever tried. It is a black tea with a distinct smoky flavour and smell, traditionally smoke dried over pinewood fires. The smell actually reminds me of the Jorvic Viking Museum in York, but don’t let that put you off its amazing. The tea originates from the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian province of China, but obviously cultivation has spread elsewhere.

Many Chinese teas you will find stories about how they originated. According to wikipedia “The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi hills. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the drying process by having their workers dry the tea leaves over fires made from local pines”

Tea shown in photo bought from The Tea House Emporium

Ilkley: Bettys

Around The World in Tea and Cake

Bettys Cyelon blue sapphire tea

For years i have wanted to go to Betty’s Tea Rooms and finally last week i was taken there for lunch (because it was ‘so me’). So exciting! I couldn’t take a photo of the front since it was pouring down but its a beautiful old fashioned frontage through which you can see the patisserie and bakery counter and the tea counter (take a peek at all the beautiful photos on the website). Ive been in the shop part and bought macarons before but never been in the cafe. Its been around for donkeys years so the old fashioned feel inside (and the artwork of 1920’s adverts) isn’t put on, its genuine. The downside was the 15 or so minute wait to be seated, but hey it was Easter Holidays, and the old ladies in the queue had seats to sit on while they waited. Also they’re child friendly too, as soon as we sat down my sister was provided with crayons and an activity sheet

The cafe is quite lovely and nicely old fashioned with stained glass windows. I had Eggs Benedict, Cyelon Blue Saphire Tea then Gateau L’Opera to finish. The food was incredibly delicious and the tea came properly. The leaves were left in the pot but you have a second pot of hot water to add to it later. I think the pot made 4 or 5 cups of tea altogether! The cake i can only describe as ‘intense’. Ive been promised a trip to the Harrogate cafe sometime which I’m really looking forward to.

Bettys Gateau LOpera

Bettys also have an online shop which sells their own blends of tea as well as Taylors of Harrogate coffee and chocolates biscuits and preserves

Currently Reading

books See you later and the Visitor by Christopher pike

See you Later by Christopher Pike (1990): Mark fancies Becky but she has a boyfriend. When Mark makes some new friends who seem rather too keen that he goes out with Becky things start getting a little strange. Also theres a spaceship but i don’t want to give too much of the plot away. I just love the American cover of this book (UK version is just scary eyes) and the tagline “A story of love and hate beyond time” very epic.

I think my favourite part was when Vincent shows Mark his computer game that requires 1mb RAM which “only one in ten computers have”

The Visitor by Christopher Pike (1995): I don’t think i actually ever read this back in the 90’s. Ive just started reading it. So far its the usual stuff; teens, with parents out of town, who’s friend was killed last summer have a seance to try and contact him. The blurb on the back says “Who is Tom? Where does he come from? But is Tom even Human?” and since i haven’t met a Tom yet I’m really quite intrigued to know. Oh and did i mention a flying saucer also makes an appearance

A Floral Flashback from Mint

Mint shop

Last week the gentleman of the house and I went to Mint , a designer boutique selling pre-owned clothing in Bath. I’ve walked past it loads but never actually been in before. While the label on a piece of clothing doesn’t really interest me, what i do like is something well made that fits perfectly and looks good. The first thing i spied was a large square scarf with a picture of a fox (alas not in my price range) on but then i saw something floral peeking through on the steamer stand. The lady behind the counter was really friendly and helpful and looked up the price for me, and low and behold it was in my size and my price range! (and quite reasonable too).

The dress itself is a floral sun dress probably from the 1980’s with one of those sash collars which cover your shoulders (I’m not so much a fan of sleeveless).

1980's floral sundress from Mint

When people think of fashion and the 80’s generally the feeling is “oh dear”, it was all baggy baggy, dropped waists (sometimes dropped to the knee), enormous shoulders and puff sleeves. But like any era it had its bad but also its good. One of my favourite aspects is probably the longer skirt length. Back in the mid 90’s midi length dresses and skirts went out of favour (it was something your mum and grandma wore) and anything i was wearing either very short or reached the floor. These days i much prefer a skirt which covers the knee, mainly because its just so much more flattering and you don’t have to worry that any slight breeze will show the world your undies.

I was having a search on google images for these kind of dresses but alas couldn’t think of the right terms to search. I did however find these sewing patterns at Moms Patterns, all of which i would be perfectly happy to wear this summer made up in floral patterns (even the ones suggested on the images)

momspatterns.com Butterick 5265

momspatterns.com Butterick 3895

momspatterns.com Butterick 6325

momspatterns.com Butterick 5944

You can buy these patterns at Moms Patterns Butterick 5265  Butterick 3895  Butterick 6325   Butterick 5944

Not Cross Buns

I suddenly decided on Good Friday that i wanted to make hot cross buns. Last months Jamie magazine was pretty much all about baking for easter and included a recipe (along with Cornish Saffron buns which i plan to make in a few days). Ive never made sweet breads before and thought it would be fun to try, and make some easter treats for my friends. The difference here however is that i omitted the customary cross on top (a little too high tech for me i thought) so these are Not Cross Buns.

Not Cross Buns Dough

The recipe started the same as the Chelsea Bun dough then went on to add the candid peel and currents. the first thing i discovered is that it is impossible for the dough hook on the Kitchenaid to turn 20g of butter and 500g of flour into breadcrumbs, the quantity is just too small and the small chunks of butter just kept getting lost (luckily the gentleman of the house was on hand do some hand mixing for me – my manicure and flour/butter just do not mix). Next time i try a recipe like this I’m going to melt the butter.

Not Cross Buns Dough balls

The dough rose and the house started to smell rather nice. It was really easy to divide the dough but i think my rolling of the dough balls needs a little practice, as you can see there are some very interesting shapes. And tada! we have sweet buns. They smell like hot cross buns and taste like hot cross buns and i do hope that my friends enjoy them. I have to say that making sweet breads is really fun and i already have a queue of recipes in mind.

Not Cross Buns

Sao Benedito

Sao Benedito Coffe Colonna and Smalls

More coffee tasting from Colonna and Smalls (from last Saturday). This coffee actually belonged to the gentleman of the house but i kept sneaking sips and wished id had a full cup myself.

Coffee: Sao Benedito (Brazil) – Pulped

Roaster: Peter James

Brew Method: Syphon

Tasting Notes: Cranberry, Mixed Nuts, Nutella, Soft Spice

My Thoughts: A matt texture, makes me think of a nut roast. Once it cooled down it tasted of rice crispies!