It's Bread Week on the Great British Bake Off - Walnut & Gruyère Bread

This week was Bread week on the Great British Bake Off, linking up again this week with The Crazy Kitchen and Mummy Mishaps for the Great Bloggers Bake Off.  I've made a few loaves in my time but my favourite so far is Soda Bread, because it is so easy to knock up a loaf if we run out of bread!  I am going on a bread making workshop next month at The Artisan Bakehouse which I am greatly looking forward to, hope my hands can take a day of kneading.

I do love cheese in breads so thought I'd give a Walnut and Gruyère bread a go, I used a recipe by Paul Hollywood from his How to Bake book for a basic white tin bread and added walnuts and Gruyère to the dough.  Don't tell Paul Hollywood but I used my KitchenAid to mix the dough up, very quick and a very good job it did! 




Prep Time:  about 3 hours with all the proving!
Cook Time:  30 minutes
Makes:  1 standard loaf size

Lightly brush Olive oil on the inside of your preferred tin.
Fill a roasting tin with water and pop in the bottom of your oven (to create steam in the oven when baking the bread)

Ingredients
400g strong white bread flour
7g salt
7g yeast (I used Allinson Easy Yeast sachet)
25g unsalted butter, softened
250ml cold water (Paul Hollywood style, I would have used warm)
Olive oil for greasing tin and kneading
80g Walnuts, roughly chopped
100g Gruyère cheese, grated

- Put the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl, keep the yeast and the salt on separate sides as apparently the salt likes to kill the yeast or at least slow it down if mixed directly together!

- Add the butter and three quarters of the water and start to mix.  Continue adding the water until the ingredients are all combined and the dough is soft.  You may need a little more water, 250ml seemed fine to me.

- Add the grated Gruyère cheese and the chopped almonds and mix for another minute or two.

- Tip the dough onto an oiled surface and give it a knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough has a nice soft, smooth skin.




I let the dough prove for an hour in an oiled bowl covered with a tea-towel, where it very kindly doubled in size, then I gave it another knead knocking the air out, then popped the dough into a lightly oiled tin (I wanted a round loaf) and covered with a plastic bag then proved for another hour.  The dough had obliged and doubled in size again, I dusted the top of the loaf with flour and put two cuts in the dough.

It was then baked in a very hot oven, 200ºC (the recipe said 220ºC but I have a fan oven so turned it down a notch) for 30 minutes.  

I know Paul Hollywood would find fault here and there but it got the thumbs up from the family and with a lick of butter and the Apple & Blackberry jam I made the other day it was even more mmmm.





GreatBloggersBakeOff

Review: Amie Skincare

I recently received some Amie Skincare products to sample, when I opened the delicate pink tissue paper I found a face wash, daily moisturiser and an eye-make up remover.




My usual skincare products are of the higher end variety, my skin needs all the help it can get and I do try to look after my skin.  I am always happy to sample new brands and sometimes veer away from my usual brands as I cannot resist a new product!

The Amie brand is an award-winning skincare line created in the UK with an average of 95% natural and plant extracts.  They are free from parabens, sulphates, mineral oils or animal extracts and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The packaging is simple but effective and all products have flip-top lids which alleviates the problem of fingers in pots which can contaminate your facial products.

Ideal for all skin types, especially sensitive, they have the most appetising ingredient list!  

Bright Eyes eye make-up remover contains meadow cornflower, chamomile and cucumber, soothing and calming ingredients that are kind and gentle to the very thin eye area.  Any eye make-up remover I use has to be oil-free as I find any oil finds its way into my eyes causing an unwelcome, irritating film!  Bright Eyes is a pleasure to use and removes eye make-up easily without having to rub and is oil-free.

Morning Clear, purifying facial wash contains orange blossom, may blossom, elderflower and raspberry, harmonising natural extracts that leave skin clean, soft and smooth.  It is pH balanced and soap-free, so suitable for even the most sensitive skins.  It is used on damp skin and massaged into the skin, then rinsed off.  Increasingly I prefer to use a facial wash over a cleanser, I like the fresh feeling it gives.  Morning Clear removes make-up with ease without stripping the skin of its natural oils and did not leave my skin feeling taut as some can.

Skin Shield, daily moisturiser contains sunflower, kakadu plum and blueberry.  I use plum kernel and blueberry oils in my custom face oil blends so know they are superb ingredients.  A lighter weight moisturiser with an SPF of 15 affording UVA and UVB protection, it leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated.

Amie skincare products are not highly perfumed which is a huge positive for me, just a subtle, natural, fresh aroma.  It was a pleasure to review these products they really a skin care line I would use again.




Disclosure:  I was sent Amie Skincare products for the purpose of review, no payment was received, all thoughts are my own and 100% honest.

The Great Bloggers Bake Off - Walnut Buttermilk Blueberry Cake

So The Great British Bake Off is back for its fourth series, I did a bit of jumping around about it on my food blog last week, so pleased to see it back, a huge favourite of mine.  I'm particularly fond of Mary Berry, such a sweet lady and of course a master at baking.

The ladies from The Crazy Kitchen and  Mummy Mishaps have set up a new weekly linky called The Great Bloggers Bake Off and I am going to try to join in most weeks although I know some of the challenges will be just that for my baking skills... a challenge!

I'm a solid home baker and not really fond of cake decorating, although I have decorated a few in my time, so will maybe leave out the more elaborate tasks.

For week 1 the theme was Victoria Sponge type cake, I have decided to tackle a Walnut Buttermilk Blueberry Cake.  I love walnuts in cakes and biscuits and the buttermilk gives the cake a moister finish and with blueberries in abundance at the moment, it is a good combination.




Prep Time:  around 30 minutes
Cook Time:  20-25 minutes
Serves: 8 generously
Equipment:  2 x 20cm (8") sandwich tins - lightly buttered and based lined with parchment paper.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C, 160° fan, gas 4

My Ingredients

225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
225g unsalted butter, softened
200g light brown sugar
4 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
50g walnuts, finely crushed
100ml buttermilk

200g blueberries
1 tblspn maple syrup

300ml double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
8 large walnut halves to decorate

Method

- Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.  In another bowl beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Gradually beat in the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture until well combined.

- Gently fold in the flour/baking powder/bicarb, then fold in the crushed walnuts and buttermilk gently until just incorporated.

- Divide the batter between the prepared sandwich tins and spread evenly.

- Bake for around 20 - 25 minutes.

- Whilst the cake is baking, heat half of the blueberries over a low heat with the maple syrup until the blueberries soften.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then drain the liquid.

- Whip the double cream and vanilla extract till firm, then take half into a separate bowl and swirl the blueberries gently through.

 - Spread the blueberry mixture on top of one sponge layer then add the next sponge layer on top.  Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the sponge and decorate with walnut halves and remaining blueberries.

Cake was delicious, the crushed walnuts in the cake batter gave it a lovely subtle nutty taste.  Next time I make it I will just run the raw blueberries through the whipped cream or make my usual buttercream and add the blueberries to that.  In the time it took to change the batteries in my camera, the kitchen was so hot that the whipped cream tried to make a run for it and was oozing out of the middle of the cake like crazy!  Still delicious though!




GreatBloggersBakeOff



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Silent Sunday





Dear Bloggers

It's that time of year when I feel that summer is really here, although super-busy I do feel a sense of contentment every morning when I feel the warmth of the sun and catch the glisten of the sea from our bedroom window.




I'm taking a little time out again this August, TC is a year older and so much more on the go, changing so fast, so much more to see and do with her. I really want to spend as much time with her as possible, this being the last year we will have such flexibility to our days before she starts school.  She starts her new pre-school in September along with her nursery placement so my little girl will be busy without me some days, but learning and having fun with her new friends too.

I have lots of little trips out planned for us which involve plenty of picnics on the beach and the beautiful countryside we have around here.  Picnics are her (current), favourite way of eating, I'm not sure she realises that summer ends every year and that we won't be able to eat al fresco, oh to be 3 again with that unspoken innocence.




We have our list of mummy and me outings that we are determined to get all ticked off whilst the weather is so great but if it rains we have our contingency plan list or tin-gee list as she refers to it.  I have laminated both lists as she is insisting they are hers and must go in and out of her bag, thus becoming dog-eared!

I also want to give my food blog a lot more love and attention and an opportunity that has come my way through it.  So you may see the odd, "Over on the Food Blog" type missives and the odd scheduled post, as I'm sure I won't be able to stay away from writing completely and I shall still be reading all my favourite blogs and popping in to comment.

I wish you all a wonderfully fun-packed August, I hope the sun shines wherever you are and that we all get the chance to relax, kick back and enjoy this glorious weather (but what a great thunderstorm the other night and it's currently raining as I type!) way into September.  

I bid you adieu for now.



How Does Your Garden Grow - Pond Life

How Does Your Garden Grow - Pond Life

Whilst Mammasaurus is still enjoying the delights of Sicily, Charly over at PODcastdove is hosting How Does Your Garden Grow this week.

We have a wonderful village pond here, it used to be more wonderful, more full of ducks and other birdy creatures but they (the council, not the ducks!) sucked the water out a few years ago and replanted it out and somehow the ducks went and I've not seen them in a while. I hope it has nothing to do with duck being on the menu in the pub on the pond!



Anyhoo, it is still beautiful despite the loss of some of the wildlife, hopefully they will make a return soon but for now the island is home to some Moorhens who are super cute and make TC giggle when pop their heads out and slide down their mini ramp!



The pond is well stocked with water lilies looking like a scene from the Monet painting.  A lovely, calming sight.


  

I did catch sight of a dragonfly, only my second this summer, his pale blue body flitting around, I tried to capture his beauty on "film" but he was too fast for me and darted around like a stone skimming on the surface of the water.  

Around the pond there are Willow Trees and the largest Umbrella Tree I have ever seen, along with the Reeds and a few flowering plants growing along the edge.




It truly is a wondrous place, space to sit around and enjoy the sights and sounds all summer long....