Ghostly Blueberry and Buttermilk Cake

This turned out a bit strangely… I think it was probably because I didn’t have enough plain flour so used 1.5 cups plain flour and half a cup of self raising.  The cake looked perfect after 50 minutes (recipe stated about 55), so I took it out and turned it out of the loaf tin.  Some runny mixture dribbled out of the crack in the top. Disaster!  I bunged it back in the oven for 10 minutes with foil over the top and hoped for the best…

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I used this recipe from the Beeroness and blame my oven, and the flour, for it not turning out as nice as it looks in her picture…  I just adore her blog, so many delicious looking things to try.  Sooooo inspirational.  Here’s her lovely photo of her version…

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Pauline, the birthday girl at work, loved her cake and there were lots of compliments for it.  Vero said: “you can taste the beer, in a good way!”, Obi loved it and said that it would be great with some custard, I agreed.

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The cake was lovely, and my blueberries didn’t all sink to the bottom which pleased me…  The main alteration I made to the Beeroness’s recipe was to rinse the blueberries and then mix them in with the flour.  I’m sure I’ve done this before with fruit in a recipe – I think that doing this somehow makes them more “sticky” so that they don’t all sink straight to the bottom with their dry shiny skins offering them easy slippage down, down, down…

I have a feeling that Geist Weiss is about to become a collector’s item so I’m glad I swiped a few bottles from the brewery tap room on Friday night.  It’s my favourite beer for CAKES.

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Beer Bread Round Up

I’ve been experimenting!  Getting through my stocks of Hammerton beer at an alarming rate, and filling my flat with bread.  I’ve found a new use for my chicken brick too – I now use it as a bread bin.

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So even if I only ever cook one thing in it (Anthony Andrews’ Spiced Yoghurt Chicken Cooked in a Brick) its “cost per wear” is going down…

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So here’s a round up of the bread made, and the lessons learned…

Beer Sourdough

I tried this beer sourdough recipe by 12 Tomatoes.  At first I was worried by the dough.  It was very, well, CRAGGY is the only word I can think of to describe it…

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But I persevered and followed the recipe to the letter.  It produced two nice looking loaves, one of which I gave to Mr Rathbone Senior for his birthday.

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The bread was much more SOLID than the N1 Sourdough and I think I am going to try and perfect that recipe for selling at the brewery.

Lessons learned from this one:

1 – people REALLY like being given a loaf of homemade bread for their birthday

2 – even if a dough does’t look promising, it MIGHT make a decent loaf.  Have faith!

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Islington Beer Bread

Decided to do a second test run on Carole Fahy’s recipe and it was a complete fail.  This is because I heated the beer up too much and killed the yeast, I think.  The dough didn’t rise as it should, so bearing in mind the “have faith” comment above, I decided to just leave it in my airing cupboard while I was away at Mr Rathbone’s place overnight to see what happened.  When I came back the dough had risen almost to the top of the bowl.  I kneaded it and gave it a second rise but on baking, it came out like two thin bricks.  I was so ashamed of it, I didn’t even take photos.  Must get a thermometer!  Ikea here I come…

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French Bread with Geisst Weiss

I had some French bread flour knocking around and decided to have a go at beering it up.  I cooked one of the loaves in my chicken brick – cost per wear is now going down even faster…  The recipe was from this great book:

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The resulting bread was good, had a really nice flavour, but wasn’t like the French bread we all know and love.

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The one on the left was baked in the chicken brick, the one on the right just freeform on a baking tray.

I plan to give the first bread recipe I ever tried – Vincent Price’s French style House Bread – another go with some Geisst Weiss.  Somehow this beer seems the right pairing for a French bread, even though it’s got a German name…

Richard Bertinet’s Ale and Yeast Poolish Bread

Despite the general house rule of “no more cookbooks” there seems to be a little corner of my kitchen that is now full of smuggled in, bread related tomes.  I treated myself to Crust:

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as Battenberg Belle went on a break making course with Richard Bertinet and she LOVES HIM.  I remembered her showing me his very odd kneading technique when I went round one day and she showed me how to make brioche buns.  I had a go at his recipe for bread made with an ale & yeast polish using his slap and fold method.

Result was a really, really nice bread.  Great texture, lovely refined taste and good crumb.  But, I’m not sure it actually looked PHOR enough to sell at the brewery…

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This was SO GOOD toasted with cheese on top and some N1 Hot mustard.  Arrrrrrggggg!

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I am making bread a couple of times a week at the moment, and went on an incredible TWO DAY BAKING COURSE with the wonderful Bread Angel Juli Farkas.  Will write it all up when there is a moment between mixing, kneading, proofing, baking and eating…

If you would like any of the above recipes, just email me via the Silver Screen Suppers Contact page and I’ll send them over.

Marlene Dietrich’s Banana Nut Bread

Over on my main blog – Silver Screen Suppers – I write about what the stars of the golden era of Hollywood liked to eat and drink.  It’s a lot of fun. Marlene LOVED to cook.  It is well documented that she was always taking pies and cakes to the film set for cast and crew – what a woman!

Marlene Dietrich's Banana Nut Bread with Hammertons Geist Weiss

I made her Banana Nut Bread the other day, and I only had 2 bananas (the recipe calls for 2 and a half), so I made up the difference with some Hammerton beer just to see what would happen.  Mmmm, it was LOVELY.  If you’d like the recipe without beer added, skip over to this blog post.

Marlene Dietrich's Banana Nut Bread with Hammertons Geist Weiss

Here I am on the telebox discussing whether Marlene would have sat and played the musical saw while she waited for her Banana Nut Bread to cook…

Here is the boozy version.  It was lovely.

Marlene Dietrich’s Banana Nut Bread

1 and 3/4 cups / 265 grams sifted all-purpose [plain] flour

3/4 teaspoon soda [bicarbonate of soda]

1 and 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup / 85g shortening [I used butter]

2/3 cup / 160g sugar [I used caster sugar]

2 eggs

2 mashed bananas

100ml of Hammertons Geist Weiss

1/2 cup [60g] finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to  moderate (180–190°C / 350–375°F / gas mark 4)

Sift flour; measure and sift again with soda, cream of tartar and salt [note, you only need to measure and sift again if you are using the American measurements, if using gram measurements, sift away with the other ingredients].  Cream shortening; add sugar gradually; and cream until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add dry ingredients alternately with banana pulp; beat until thoroughly combined; and add walnut meats.  Pour into well greased loaf pan (4x9x3); bake 1 hour or until done.

 

Spicy Beer Pickles – Geist Weiss

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These are the best pickles I have ever made…  …and I have made a lot of pickles.  So, this is a rocking good recipe to kick off the Beerblog. I gave some to Ma Hammerton for Christmas and she LOVED them, saying: “If you make some more of these, save me some.”  This is the best recommendation a pickle could ever have.

Geist Weiss was the perfect choice for these pickles as it’s a pale colour and has a delicate flavour.  My brother-in-law Andy liked them too, saying they weren’t as vinegar-y as many pickles.  The beer somehow sweetens the vinegar I guess, makes it a more complex flavour.  Sister-in-Law Julia sent a text: “BTW, your pickled cucumber is on the nose.  Love the hot undertones.”  RESULT.

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This recipe is adapted from one in The Modern Preserver by Kylee Newton.  This is a gorgeous book and was a present from my friend, the weaver and colour consultant extraordinaire, Ptolemy Mann. Thanks dwarling!

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I found that I had to double the amount of brine for the amount of cucumbers recommended by Kylee, but there is no doubt that the ratio of beer to vinegar really works.  Yum, yum, yum.

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Spicy Beer Pickles with Hammerton Geist Weiss

1.2kg small pickling cucumbers*

2 garlic cloves

200ml beer

140ml water

400ml cider vinegar

240g golden granulated sugar

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons sea salt

1 teaspoon chilli flakes, or to taste (I used Waitrose hot chilli flakes)

Makes 4 x 250ml jars

Top and tail the cucumbers and cut into quarters, lengthwise.  Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Prepare the brine by combining all of the ingredients except the cucumbers in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pack the cucumbers lengthwise into warm, dry, sterilised jars.

Pour in the brine to fill the jars to about 5mm below the rim.

Seal and store in the fridge for at least 2-4 days before eating to allow flavours to permeate.  Keep for up to 4 months in the fridge unopened.  Once opened, keep refrigerated and eat within 4 weeks.

*these small cucumbers can be found at some corner shops in the UK, the lovely Polish shop just down the road from me sometimes has them.  I got mine from Ocado for this batch of pickles, and it pleased me greatly that they were the perfect size for my Opies jam jars.  Empty Opies jam jars are always my choice for pickles and chutneys.  The labels soak off really easily, and they are the perfect size for gifts. Plus I love their pickled cocktail gherkins.  Bravo Opies!

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What I would like to know is, where can I get TINY gherkin sized cucumbers so that I can have another go at this recipe with some Hammerton’s N1?