I had a lightbulb moment today.  It followed a conversation with my husband’s cousin at a family wedding. It turns out this cousin makes cheese as a hobby. How fascinating! I love cheese, well actually I love all dairy products, but still I was hooked on the idea.

My husbands cousin is from England so he couldn’t advise me of any local courses or places to buy equipment or anything but that’s ok because I know how to Google.  So when we got home (there was no WiFi where we were and we struggled to get a signal on our phones) I duly Googled and lo and behold there are courses and people who sell kits and equipment all you need to add is unhomogenized milk. Hurrah!

It was this that sparked the lightbulb moment, yes I could buy cheese, good cheese at many cheese shops but making cheese myself would be thrilling.  That’s my thing, I get so much joy from the process of making things and knowing that “I made that!”

Anyway I just thought I’d share.

Today I’m making an oatmeal, spelt and maple syrup loaf and bottling some golden ale that we brewed 3 weeks ago and as it’s Monday popping over to Richmond for knit night.

ttfn Melanie x

Proof of the pudding…

…is in the eating!


How autumnal are those colours?

Wholemeal spelt and plum upside-down pudding cake

The recipe is adapted from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe in the Everyday River Cottage book.

200g golden caster sugar

200g softened butter

225g wholemeal spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground mixed spice but I think ground ginger would be a lovely alternative

a pinch of salt

4 eggs beaten

plums washed and halved stones removed, enough to cover the bottom of the baking tin.

As you would expect, arrange the plum halves cut side down in tin.  Cream the sugar and butter together till pale and fluffy.  Give the flour, spice, baking powder and salt a whisk together to get some air in and ensure even mixing.  Add the beaten egg a little at a time with a spoon of flour to prevent curdling until all the egg is incorporate. Fold the remainder of the flour in, well enough but don’t work it too much as you will overwork the gluten. Pour over the plums and bake in a 140 C  if fan forced otherwise 160C oven for about an hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely in tin.

I am a new convert to silicone bakeware, I cannot rate it high enough for even-ness and non-stickiness.  Just though I’d drop that in.  In case you haven’t heard of it, spelt is delicious, its an ancient form of wheat and available in supermarkets now, not just fancy healthfood shops.  It still has gluten though, I thought I’d better mention that, just in case, y’know.

And in knitting and spinning news…

…the one row Malabrigo scarf is finished and gorgeous, a fun pattern, I will be using it again.

At the time of writing this I have almost finished spinning the maple BFL, woohoo! Looking forward to seeing it plied and finished, though I don’t think I got enough twist in it to make socks sadly.  Should be all done this weekend.

I am actually contemplating knitting the Aurora Borealis scarf in two pieces and grafting. No, I don’t remember the blow to my head or being visited by aliens and having my brain probed  recently.  I’m (reluctantly) going to do a test of the cast off edge with some scrap yarn before I make the decision, but only because I love it so much and don’t want to ruin it.

Socktober KAL update and cake

I’ve had a bit of a Goldilocks thing going on with my BFF socks, the medium were too small, the large too big.  Arrgggggh, how to get it so they fit just right and retain the pattern that is so necessary for my chosen yarn, the solution seemed impossible.

I went to bed Monday night after frogging back again with this conundrum going round in my head.  Then Tuesday morning I awoke with the obvious solution staring me in the face.  I could bore you with the details but I’m scared that the yarn gods will smite me down for “counting my chickens before the eggs are hatched” as my Mum used to say.

Let it just be enough to say I’m making progress now.  In fact I’m about to start my short row heel, then all being well I can knit the heel flap and leg bit, but I’m still not tempting fate or anything, honest.

Because today was a lovely wet rainy day, mwahhahahahahah, I baked a big ol’ fruitcake from my favourite Nigel Slater recipe out of his Appetite book.  It’s a great recipe and because it uses one and a half kilos of dried fruit therefore it’s practically a health food.  The other thing I like is that, like most Nigel Slater recipes it is easily customizable to use what you have in your pantry, so that’s what I did.  I used 1kg mixed dried fruit, 200g cherries and 300g dates, then I swapped the hazelnuts for walnuts and the brandy for the last bit of port.  I couldn’t resist cutting into it  and tasting while still warm, well I have to test it before I offer it to my nearest and dearest or I wouldn’t be a good mum would I?

Yep, tastes good.  Schlutty says hi and now I have to crack on in the desperate hope I might finish the pair by the 31st October.  Wish me luck!

Abbotsford Convent Baking Day

I had a fabulous day today at Abbotsford Convent Bakery with some of my colleagues and friends from work.  It started bright and early where we were greeted with coffee and tea and introduced to our lovely teacher Dan who was to take us through the art of baking scones and bread.

Dan stands in front of the original brick built, wood fired bread oven (1901), that we will bake our bread and scones in.

We start by making scones and Dan emphasises how a light touch is required, unfortunately my mixture is a tad wet and I fail to shape my scones very neatly.

They still taste great with the homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream and a lovely cuppa for our morning tea.

We make pizza dough and white and light rye sour doughs too.  As they prove we go for a walk around the convent part of which has been converted into an arts and well-being centres with some lovely cafes.

We saw exquisite hand blown glassware being made

We returned to top our pizzas, and tend to our bread dough again. Dan gave us some top tips on how to test the dough to see if it was kneaded enough, proved enough and how to make a sour dough starter etc.  We made 2 pizzas and had some for lunch with lovely organic coffee that had been freshly roasted and ground that morning in the next room to us.

We came home with our aprons, a certificate, a recipe sheet, 2 light rye sourdough loaves, 1 white sourdough loaf, our scones and pizza plus some leftover pizza dough (top tip, leave pizza dough in fridge overnight for a tastier pizza) and some organic bakers flour.  I also scored some sourdough starter (8 years old!).  I will definitely return for more classes, such a brilliant day !