Archive for March, 2010

An even better bread recipe!

In my quest for perfect bread, I’m starting to understand a little more about the science of bread making, spurred on by some disastrous loaves from my previously reliable bread recipe. The first main earning point is that all yeast is not equal. Originally we were using Sainsbury’s own brand yeast, but a move onto Allinson yeast proved a bit of a disaster I haven’t quite worked out what went wrong yet, but even after a lot of tweaking, the Allinson yeast is not giving us such reliable results. In playing with the recipe a little I realised that the extra yeast I was adding needed more sugar to reach its true potential!

So my new reliable bread recipe is this:

  • 310 ml of lukewarm semi-skimmed milk
  • 450 ml of strong flour (I use half white, half wholemeal)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar (I use golden caster sugar)
  • 25 g butter
  • Two 7g sachets of dried yeast

And here are the results:

It’s about another inch taller than my previous efforts, and is perfectly light and delicious – so maybe I can tick something else off my Aims and Achievements list.

Growing plants to attract bees

With the continuing problems faced by Britain’s bee populations, now is a great time to think about what you’re planting in your garden. You can have a really beautiful, productive garden that also looks after the bees – just by well-planned planting choices and avoiding using pesticides.

There’s a really great list of bee-friendly plants on the RHS website – Plants for Bees. And a less comprehensive seasonal list of  plants for bees on the Gardener’s World website.

I’m still looking for a list which tells you the flowering times of all the plants too, so that we can have a nearly-year-round bee friendly garden – I’ll post one if I find it!

Planting our orchard

This post has been a long time coming – I think I’ve been looking at trees for a couple of years, and planning this particular orchard for about 9 months! Finally, the trees have arrived and are in! We’ve beaten the weather (finding a two-day slot in between heavy coverings of snow) and here are the pictures to prove it.

First, the “before” pictures, including large piles of ex-shrubs that had to come out to make space. Here’s where the apples, a plum and gage are going, on the north side of the Aquaponic Polytunnel:

And here’s where the pears, and a plum are going:

Not a witch’s broomstick – here’s how the trees arrived from Agroforestry:

And here they are unwrapped:

Quite cool, minimal packaging really – especially the flax used as a tie and the green bamboo used as a reinforcing pole:

It took us a couple of days to get them all in, including digging the new holes in the ex-lawn, and then the snow was back. Here’s what it all looked like just after the thaw. First the Apples, Plum and Gage:

And then the two pears and remaining plum:

I haven’t got any pics of the raspberries or the peach yet – I’ll post them when I can.

Guides to Making Cider and Apple Juice

delicious apple juiceI’ve had a few questions from people following the Cider-Making workshop that I went to a week ago, and while doing a bit more research I came across Vigo Presses “Suppliers of juicing equipment to HM the Queen” no less. They have a good range of the things we’ll need – bottles, presses, and other preserving supplies. And also, they have two really clear guides to apple juice and cider making. These are nice simple flowcharts showing what to do, and in what order. More details are required in some areas – how do you know when your cider has stopped fermenting? – but they are a good introduction and make it all look very easy. I particularly like the guidance on preserving juice – that’s something I really want to do, particularly after tasting the delicious juice we got from the workshop!

You can get the guides from the link here but just in case the link dies I have kept a copy of them below.

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