Sunday, 30 October 2011

Chorleywood Farmers Market

My princess nieces stuffing their cheeky chops
I was both excited and daunted at the prospect of performing another bake-a-thon and turning my boyfriends tiny kitchen, hallway and lounge into a fermenting, proving, bubbling scene from George's Marvelous medicine. I did it before so surely I could do it again!

As a write this I am sipping on the most refreshing homemade apple juice from the and this morning I had a full english breakfast with fresh hens eggs from a local chorleywoodian and some really tasty sausages & bacon from Keith's farm at Stockings Farm in Coleshill In fact it was Keith that rescued my mum and I as we performed a 'carry-on' style comedy act whilst erecting our gazebo. We were making such a scene that one of the other stall holders came over, Keith commented to them "Hey do you remember when we used to use these", I smiled back grateful for the help - clearly I was a complete novice! As the Autumn wind whipped up we managed to hail over another friendly stall holder and then there were four of us clinging onto each set of three poles and the canvas for dear life.

The focaccia with olive and feta literally sold within minutes. I sold these by the slice so you could see the stunning shiny and aerated texture of the crumb. I made an overnight BIGA that fermented for around 12-14 hours adding much more flavour to the final bake. I decided to tray up some alternative flavours, getting three trays in the oven at a time made these quite economical. Caramalised red onion & goats cheese, the old faithful rosemary & rock salt and a tantalising roasted garlic with oven-dried tomatoes & basil.

Recipe for BIGA
3000g (100%) Strong White Flour (I used Shipton Mill as its ace to bake with)
1680g (56%) Water
54g (1.8%) Fresh yeast
Recipe for Final Dough
3000g (100%) Strong White Flour
2580g (86%) Water
54g (1.8%) Fresh yeast
4400g (147%) BIGA
117g (3.9%) Crushed Sea Salt
The other extremely popular real bread was Wayne Caddy's World Cup loaf, the olive & feta loaf wrapped in sesame seeds and crushed pine nuts. I will be honest it's not a cheap loaf to produce, it takes at least 18 hours for the wet poolish to become nice & bubbly and well fermented, the kalamata olives and pine nuts are not cheap either (especially if you are buying them from Waitrose!!!). However, I could fit five tins on the two oven shelfs so baking ten in one batch was helpful as I had a backlog of proving loaves all over the house. At one stage, about 4am I had to put a few loaves on a table outside to slow down the proving. 

This loaf is a real eye catcher and a must have for every real bread market stall. It never fails to impress and I have had two comments posted already at how tasty it was..
You can twist the recipe using whatever ingredients you have, I had already roasted some garlic and oven dried the cherry tomatoes so I decided to pop these in instead of the olives & feta - both went down a treat.

By eleven o'clock the sun was shining and it turned out to be a beautiful autumn day with a light wind whipping up the leaves in the Stag Lane primary school that I used to attend many moons ago. I sent the girls off around the market with baskets singing 'Who will buy' with the last few loaves and we made some money for Well Child the childrens charity by selling some Happy Halloween biscuits. I caught up with old friends and met some fabulous local producers who all appreciated the effort I had gone through to produce a table full of bread.

Elated at selling all the bread and completely exhausted at being up all night to mix it, knead it, prove it, bake it, we all headed around mums for some celebratory prosecco and a hunk of olive & feta. As the girls counted through the money tin I calculated including ingredients costs (not the fact the heating was on all night and the oven was non-stop at average 220 for 12 hours) that I made just enough to take my boyfriend out for a curry having endured a disturbed and consequently sleepless night! :-)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Welcome to the World of Artisan Food

Team Bakers with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou
& Wayne Caddy

What a truly fabulous day. The sun shone and I was reunited with my fellow foodie graduates as well as a chance to meet the new generation of artisan school students that have just embarked on the journey I took just 12 months ago. Each one holding a dear story as to how they arrived at enrolling on this life changing course and starting a diploma in their chosen food discipline, with all of them extremely enthusiastic and raring to bake, make cheese & butcher within the next weeks. My best wishes to you all. I cannot deny it, I did indeed experience a pang of jealousy as I thought of the amazing year that lay ahead for these new peeps, having now left the school behind me to make way for pastures new and a challenging path ahead into artisan food. (somewhere along the way I seem to have lost a stone in weight too!:-)

A welcome address from Alison Swan Parente thanking us for being part of the very first challenging and exciting year of the school was recieved by a front row of beaming students preparing to accept their certificates from a fine example of this country's pioneering artisan cheese maker, Randolph Hodgson of Neal's Yard Dairy. He personally welcomed us into the world of artisan food and stressed the importance of continuing and sharing our new found skills.

Earlier that morning on our travels up to the Welbeck Estate, news of the death of Steve Jobs came over the radio and some poignant quotes that made me think about the decisions I had made only a year ago to leave my job and immerse myself into the world of Artisan food rang true. "Stay hungry....stay foolish"

You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” (Steve Jobs, 2005)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (Steve Jobs, 2005)