The Bear Chef

Cooking and other Food Stuff

Archive for the category “Baking”

Some Cooking

Quite a lot has happened since i last posted but then since that was around 2 weeks ago you would hope so…

Lime Pickle

The lime pickle is now ready. I added the rest of the ingredients last weekend and now have 2 enormous jars of lime pickle. I’m going to give one away to my brother and his girlfriend who love curry.


Homemade Queso Blanco, again from my favourite book: Artisan Cheesemaking at Home. I think the texture is softer than it should be but it was delicious. A very fresh, ‘uncheesy’ taste and perfect for salads. I used it in a quinoa beetroot salad, and also grilled with some onion marmalade on toast.





I’m managing to make bread every few days now. I’ve made some River Cottage Soft Rolls a no-knead sourdough wholemeal loaf with seeds, and another batch of crumpets.

Fresh Prince Cake

I mean, this is just amazing…Joe’s birthday at work, Helen’s newfound passion for baking and WIll Smith. What a combination!

Rye Wholemeal Spelt Loaf

Another loaf from Terence. I am still searching for my ‘go to’ sourdough recipe which i can learn off by heart and doesn’t take days to make – one that i can begin with and experiment from as a base.

I thought i’d turn to The Fabulous Baker Brothers’ recipe, which seemed simple and only had a couple of stages to it. See the original recipe here. I varied it slightly – primarily because i only had rye, spelt and wholemeal bread flour in. I used 50% spelt, 25% wholemeal and 25% rye and it turned out lovely. I used a standard loaf tin as a baneton (half the recipe in each), and a large le creuset roasting dish as a baking stone. and the loaf came out looking rather similar to a ciabbata. All-in-all i’m pleased with the results.

More crumpets

Another batch of crumpets. Made last night and eaten this morning.


Followed the recipe here but actually you don’t need a recipe. Just get some sourdough starter, add bicarb, salt and a bit of sugar then cook in rings.

I find that for the best bake, cook on a very low heat and use a lot of oil. Give them time, and if you’re cooking in a large pan, reposition the pan so that the burner is directly under each crumpet one at a time.

It’s up to you whether you do the quick flip at the end to seal them. Since I toast them before eating anyway I don’t bother.


Hazelnut & Linseed Spelt Sourdough

Another creation from Terence. He seems to be really enjoying himself of late. I was looking through my store cupboard and found a jar of linseed. I don’t use linseed very often – i used to sprinkle some on my cereal when i was running more for the omega-3 but this jar has just sat there for quite some time.

In my new breadmaking adventure, it seems like a prime opportunity to use them up. I also found some hazelnuts and thought they might work well together.

Since i’m still experimenting, i haven’t really settled into a set recipe or method yet and this website (Sourdough Baker) seems to have a whole lot to say on the matter. I’ve been reading it for a while and so i thought i would give it a go. It seemed to have the most thorough discussion of spelt flour than any i’ve seen and i wanted to try spelt and soe gave it a go. I pretty much followed the recipe line-by-line except for slightly shorter timeframe on the final stage and i formed it into a round rather than a tin.

I must say i don’t understand why there are 3 rounds of proving when most recipes i have seen want only 2, especially since the general principles of spelt seem to be to aim to not work the dough too much.

Having said that the loaf turned out good. If i use hazelnuts in the future i’l probably use less and chop them finer. The larger chunks that i thought would be lovely are in fact slightly bitter. The bread is a bit dense and spelt maybe takes a bit of getting used to but i’ll give it another go – I’m going to try an alternative spelt recipe next to see if it turns out differently.

Porter and Sprout sourdough

After the success with Terence the fourth I decided to adventure a bit. I have some sprouts leftover from Xmas and have been having an ongoing debate about how sprouts are actually tasty if cooked right. An argument we’ve a heard before and one which very few people seem to be convinced by!

I searched for recipes and found a recipe for sprout bread. Unusual but in my head it seemed to make sense and I wanted to explore a bit more.

I also saw this on of the baking blogs I read:

Beer, Fennel and Rosemary Bread

I had some porter I made last year and thought I’d use this recipe with porter, the addition of sprouts and a switch from fennel to caraway.

I’m getting my sponge / dough cycle down now – using the fridge to split the morning stage into two to bake in the evening. Tuesday night = sponge / Wednesday morning = mix and knead / Wednesday night = shape and bake.

The bread is wonderful although I had to reduce the baking time significantly as my loaf was a bit flat.

Even the sprout-doubters were semi-won over…what to do next with sprouts to convince them?

Bear bakes

Last week I turned 36 – with my birthday on 2nd January christmas, new year and birthday all roll into one big drink-and-food-athon and I usually feel a bit worse for wear by the end of it.

…which is why I was glad I was presented with a birthday cake today! I managed to enjoy it fully rather than just worrying about the endless onslaught of Christmas alcohol and sugar…

I look pretty much the same under the cake by the way.



Big thanks to  Helen for the cake.

Squash and Blue Cheese Pizza

Lucy took the helm for tonights dinner and decided to cook a squash and blue cheese pizza with sage and rosemary.

The recipe initiated in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsalls latest book River Cottage Veg Every Day! – a partner book to his last tv series where he attempted to become vegetarian over a summer to see what he could learn. Being peseta rain myself, I was very pleased that someone was there on national tv showing people how easy and enjoyable vegetarian food can be.

Anyway, i digress. The pizza was amazing and relatively simple as well. Th base was made from a mix of plain flour and extra strong canadian wholemeal flour leftover from sourdough recipes. We had enough dough and ingredients to allow for 2 pizzas, one for dinner and then one for lunch the next day. Winner! Im hoping we can make pizza one of our lunch staples for this year..

Terence the 4th

This time i decided to take my time…even though i already knew that was the theory, for some reason i must have thought i could take shortcuts. i also don’t know whether its possible to leave any particular stage for too long so was worried about that. as i go on i’m sure i’ll learn more about the boundaries.

Terence the 4th was made with extra strong wholemeal flour. the main things i did that i think had an impact on the final bread were:

I left lots of time at each stage

I waited until the dough had risen A LOT at each stage, i didn’t make any other assumptions ort take any shortcuts – i.e. I started to use my senses about whether it was ready to move on or not (in all honesty, all the websites and blogs i read did tell me to do tat in the first place…) .

I kept the dough sticky

I didn’t add too much flour, or use lots of flour to make it easier to work. in the past i have ended the kneading with quite clean hands, but now they end up covered in sticky dough!

The Recipe

The recipe i’m using is River Cottage Sourdough. For me (and for Terence) i am using a bit less flour to keep the dough stickier.


Thursday morning – make the sponge
Thursday night – mix additional flour and knead, putting in the fridge
Friday morning – knock back the dough and knead (i know i’m not supposed to knead at this stage but i had forgotten the salt at the previous stage! it didn’t seem to affect the final loaf but i won’t be doing it again in the future), then back in the fridge.
Friday evening – out of the fridge to actually allow it to rise.
Friday night – cook
Saturday – eat with homemade parsnip and celeriac soup! lovely.


The bread is great, the sourdough taste is definitely there, it is lighter than the previous loaves and the crust is nice and chewy (and its edible to boot). I’m going to try this one again again exactly the same to check the timings, then try some other breads.


Sourdough Crumpets

Terence needed feeding and i didn’t want to waste the ‘other bit’ so i thought i’d give these a go last night:

Sourdough Crumpets Recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini

Sourdough crumpets. Easy to make and amazingly tasty. My sourdough is pretty much wholemeal at the moment so i went for wholemeal crumpets. They were delicious. Terence seems to have a really nice fruity taste. i’m not finding it all that sour as a starter but it is definitely more tasty than your average yeast-based breads.

Third Time (un)lucky

Still struggling with the timings. This third loaf was split into two and put into a tin.

I ran into quite a few issues this time. Namely:

  • forgot to put the salt in
  • didn’t prove it very long in the third stage
  • didn’t adjust the baking time for the smaller loaves.

unfortunately, it was baked for some xmas day canapes and was pretty much impossible to cut by that time so we used some part-baked rolls instead…

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