Hot Dawg Buns

I like experimenting with bread recipes and I’ve got to a pretty perfect burger bun that is also great for breakfast bacon baps.

Recently we spotted some REAL hot dogs sausages from Unearthed and decided to give them a go. And so began a quest to find a good hot dog bun recipe.

Asking about on twitter led me to some recipes from Dan Lepard, Hawksmoor and also some tips from twitter friend Josordoni. I was aiming for soft but quite densely chewy and no sweetness.

After reading around and peering in the fridge to see wht was to hand this is what I came up with:



For the avoidance of doubt here’s what its says (with added extra comments):

200g of creme fraiche and full fat milk combined (roughly a 50:50 mix)
plus more milk as needed to make a soft slightly sticky dough
70g of potato flour
200g strong white flour
3/4 tsp of Doves dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt

Mix the flours, salt and yeast together in a large bowl
Mix the milk and creme fraiche and  beat lightly to get it thoroughly mixed
Add the liquid to the flour and mix to a soft slightly sticky dough, use more milk if you need to
Cover and leave for 10-20 minutes then knead gently (i.e. ten turns or folds, see here for method) on lightly oiled surface
Cover and leave for 30 minutes and knead again gently
Cover and leave for an hour until doubled in size
Knead lightly then shape into four long, bridge, submarine type rolls
Put ona baking try close together but not quite touching
Leave to rise until double in size (this took about 30 minutes)
Pre heat oven to highest setting
Bake at this temperature for 15 minutes then drop temperature to R4/180C and bake for a further 5 to 10 mins
Leave to cool

Slice in half but leaving a slight hinge down the long side, fill with frankfurters and condiments of your choice.

Meet Herman, the cake

A few weeks ago there was a knock at the door on Saturday afternoon….who could it be? Too late for the postman, no guests expected….I sent lovely husband to find out, just in case it was a salesperson ;o

It was the next door neighbour with a plastic tub and a piece of paper and muttering something about Herman…..husband, I believe, looked bemused so she said ‘give it to Linda she will know what Herman is’ and thrust the box and paper into his hands.

And so it came to pass that we were the recipients of a Herman the German Friendship Cake sourdough starter. The chain letter of baking.

Herman’s care program

I had seen mention of Herman by a few other bloggers over the last year and not being a cake baker or eater was rather hoping he wouldn’t land in my kitchen. But land he had.

In common with most chain letters the friendship element is somewhat undermined by the way in which you feel compelled to do as the letter asks or feel guilty for breaking the chain. A sort of low grade emotional blackmail that I hope doesn’t exist in real friendships! In the case of Herman the the emotional pull comes from the fact that you might apparently kill him if you don’t look after him:

‘You cannot put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I’m dead’

Oh good, not so much as a gift more a kind of burden. Apparently you also have to do everything on the exact right day or it won’t work.

That said it does feel quite nice to be given something by the neighbours in a world were we mostly only say hello in passing.

Probably if you have read much of my blog or if you happen to know me then you’ll know I’m not one to follow a recipe without making tweaks. And so it was with Herman.

I decided it would be sort of fun to see if he worked and also fun to see if he would still work if I broke some of the rules. After all I know from my bread baking that you don’t kill sourdough by putting it in the fridge you just slow it down and you don’t kill it if you don’t quite feed it to program and if it looks like its breathing its last you can usually revive it.

So I sort of followed the instructions but as day 10 (the day to bake the cake) was going to fall on a work day when I was with a client I mashed it up a bit and just extending the process so that I could make the cake at the weekend. I also knew that on day 9 I was unlikely to see anyone to share the starter with (plus I wasn’t sure I wanted to oblige a further 3 people to make a cake) so the surfeit of Herman starter is in the fridge and he looks a little listless but he sure isn’t dead.

Finished cake

The cake mix seemed a little dry so I added some extra milk when mixing it, possibly a mistake as the resulting cake although cooked through was so moist and soft it fell apart when you tried to slice it. I baked for the longer time as most people seemed to think this gave a better result. Taste wise it was really good a little on the sweet side for me (look at all that sugar in the instructions). As ever we only got about half way through before we forgot about it only to find it a week later alive and kicking with mould.


– if you like cake and you want to experiment with sourdough this is an easy way to start

– if you like the idea of sharing cake mix with neighbours then you’ll love this

– don’t believe the emotional blackmail of Herman dying –  he won’t and you don’t have to pass him on, breaking the chain is never a diaster

You can find more about Herman here should you want to start your own, or receive one and need to find out more.

Fennel harvest (and fennel crackers)

We’ve a huge fennel plant growing in our garden….we didn’t plant it I think it self seeded from next door. Anyway we kind of ignored it but now its time to tidy the garden so I decided to harvest the seeds before we up rooted it and find a few uses for them.

A bit of googling told me that they aren’t really seeds they are teeny fruits, and that instead of taking nice photos of ladybirds clambering over the yellow flowers earlier in the year I should have been harvesting the pollen as this is the most sought after part. I didn’t but I’ll know for next year.

I’m only part way through collected all the ‘seeds’ and I have tons so I’ve been searching for ideas of how to use them so far I’ve got the following to try:

– spelt and fennel bread from Scandilicious cookbook

– meatballs

– beany sausage casserole with some fennel added to the cooking sauce

– fennel shortbread

– fennel (and possibly pear) ice cream or sorbet

– toasted fennel seeds to snack on

– sprinkled on salads especially ones involving cheese

– torta aciete

– crackers for with cheese (I tried these yesterday see recipe at the end)

– scandi style vodka (of course)

– simple fresh cheese with fennel

And I’ve yet to properly explore the section on anise in The Flavour Thesaurus. Still I think it’s going to take rather a long time to use them all so I’ve promised some to Scandilicious (as she loves them an they are big in Scandi cooking) and some to Northcore Brewery so thye can play with how they work in beer.

All further suggestions for how to use them welcome. Many thanks to the following tweeters for the list so far:

@scandilicious @urbanfoodie_net @leafhsetherapy @rentaquill @jamsmithsclub

Fennel biscuits/crackers

I found this recipe for seedy crackers by Hugh FW on the Guardian. I thought it looked good so naturally I read it and erm then fiddled with it. This is what I did:

125g strong white flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

20ml EV rapeseed oil


I mixed all the dry ingredients together, I added the oil and stirred it in. I added water a tablespoon at a time until I got a softish dough. I reckon it took 60ml water. I kneaded it gently. I rolled it out in one big piece direct onto some non-stick foil and cut about half way through in strips to make rectangular biscuits. Into a pre heated oven at R3.5 (oven runs low) and baked for the supposed 5 minutes, and another and another…and in total it took 25 mins and I still don’t think it was quite cooked. But it tasted good especially with some salty pecorino or robust cheddar. I probably didn’t roll it thin enough and I guess 1 large piece takes longer to cook than lots of neat biscuits.

Verdict: good, no way the cooking time is 5 mins (perhaps in a giant bakery deck oven?!) definitely one to try again and play with flours maybe spelt or some oatmeal next time.


Making paneer

I LOVE cooking curry, its so much better when you make it yourself. And it also means you can use an ingredient I don’t think you see enough of in menus and that’s paneer.

Better still paneer is really easy to make yourself so you can feel super smug home-made curry AND home-made paneer.

Panner and whey

So last time I fancied curry I decided I’d do some paneer. I got a bargain carton of proper whole milk in the supermarket reductions and I was away.

Paneer (makes enough for 1 main dish curry for 2-4 depending on what else you serve)

2 pints whole milk
2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Heat the milk in a pan until it comes to a boil. stir it to prevent it burning.
2. Turn the heat right down and add the lemon juice stirring as you add it. Turn off the heat.
3. Continue to stir off the heat whilst the curds form.
4. When the curds have separated leave to stand for 10 minutes.
5. Carefully spoon the curds into a muslin lined colander or sieve. Fold the muslin over the top and weigh down with a plate a tin.
6. Leave to drain and firm overnight.
7. Unwrap and store in the fridge covered until needed. It will keep for two weeks.
If the curds don’t separate properly initially then add a little more lemon juice and reheat.

I used the whey in bread making, it gives a lovely loaf for toasting.

2011 bread experiments #1

So what was loaf one then and how did I select it? I used a random number generator which lead me to Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf p161, which has a picture on…so i flipped forward to the first recipe after that to find on p163


Sounded yum. It uses the usual Dan Lepard low knead technique that I’m a big fan of and have written about here.

It was pretty easy to make and came out with a lovely soft crumb. It made fantastic cheese sandwiches and wonderful toast.

Definitely one to repeat.

I haven’t found the recipe online anywhere so just some pictures this time.

2011 bread experiments ‘the rules’

In my last post I talked about some of the bread I made in 2010 and said I was going to challenge myself to make a different loaf each week in 2011. To make its a bit more fun I decided to select two of my bread baking books and I’m going to bake my way through them both but in a RANDOM manner.

Here’s the rules I’ve set myself:

  1. I must select the bread to be baked randomly, using either a random number generator or by asking for numbers from people on Twitter.
  2. If the selected page doesn’t have a recipe on it then I moved forward in the book to the next nearest recipe.
  3. If the recipe is a sweet bread or bun I can skip in and do another random generated page number. WHY? because we eat so little sweet stuff I know it will get wasted.
  4. If the selection is something I’ve already made I do the next nearest recipe in the book moving forward page number wise.
  5. I blog each loaf at least with a picture and whether I think its a great recipe.

The two books are River Cottage Bread Handbook and The Handmade Loaf. I’ve used both a bit last year so I know they are good.

So what loaf is going to be first….

Many loaves

I’ve been making my own bread since I went on a Dan Lepard course in 2009 and I’m a real convert to his low knead method of making bread. This year I found out about his quick loaf recipe and blogged about it here. I started making it and varying it: 100% white, 50:50 white/wholemeal, 100% wholemeal, 30:70 rye/white.

And so on, and on, and on.

Here’s just some of the ‘quick’ loaves I’ve made this year.

And for 2011 I’ve decided I’m going to carry on experimenting and make a different loaf each week. Proper bread is so much better.