Category Archives: Bread and buns


It seems like a very long time since I said I would bake a kougelhopf to try out my new bundt tin.  It is.  I’ve been well and truly side-tracked by things like half-term and a chronic attack of I-really-can’t-be-bothereditis.  I think the rain brought this on, and the fact that I bought a new face cream that’s advertised by Helen Mirren (I don’t have anything against her at all, it’s just that she’s quite a bit older than me and I hadn’t quite prepared myself for moving up the skin cream age bracket just yet).  I also had a moment where I seriously considered buying some of that caffeine shampoo that’s advertised to the forty-something woman in a whisper.  No wonder the sofa and back-to-back episodes of Home and Away seemed more appealing than a day in the kitchen.

Anyway, I did eventually make a kougelhopf.  Well, I tried to.  I didn’t end up with a proper one, just a heavy, ring-shaped cake/bread kind of thing.   It did get eaten though, and I haven’t been put off having a second go (although not just yet).

I know where I went wrong.  I’ve attempted several enriched dough breads/cakes for Let’s Bake the Books and I’ve had more failures than successes.  I made three batches of hot cross buns, for example, and none of them turned out tasting like hot cross buns should.  I had better luck with a brioche Christmas garland and, to be honest, by the time I’d tackled a savarin (for the second time), I thought enriched dough would no longer pose any problems.

A kougelhopf you say?  I could make one with my eyes closed.

I could have made a successful kougelhopf (I hope), but I was lacking in two key ingredients. Time and patience (actually, I don’t think I can honestly blame lack of time – I’m sure, if I was more organised, I’d have plenty.  It was lack of patience that did it).

I used a recipe from Edd Kimber’s Patisserie Made Simple.  The bundt tin I was using was a small one.  I agonised for a few minutes about whether I should make half the recipe, two-thirds, three-quarters… I decided that the best thing to do would be to go with half.  It was the easiest mathematically and my maths has never been great.  Maths combined with complicated dough making and I’d be done for.

Edd Kimber’s Kougelhopf recipe is a two-dayer.  On day one, I made the dough.

First, I activated my yeast – the recipe uses fast-action dried yeast – I do have some but, to be honest, I’ve had my best enriched dough results when I’ve used the stuff you have to activate first.  I dissolved my yeast in some milk with a bit of sugar and left if to bloom.  Bloom it did. Here it is.

In the meantime, I heated some raisins in a pan with a mixture of rum and water until the liquid had been absorbed.  These would go into the dough once it had been mixed.

I added my yeast to a combination of plain and strong white bread flour, caster sugar and salt and mixed in the KitchenAid with the dough hook.  I added eggs and mixed – the recipe doesn’t give you the option of hand mixing (which I never do, but always feel that I should – good on you Edd Kimber for going straight to the food mixer).

This stage of the kneading process, says the recipe, should take at least ten minutes from when the dough first forms, and that it’s ready when it is smooth and elastic.  I’m never quite sure when I get to that smooth and elastic stage. I think my mixture could have done with a bit more kneading but I was a bit pushed for time, so I stopped at the prescribed ten minutes.   I kept the KitchenAid running as I added room temperature butter a little bit at a time and then kneaded as per the recipe for another fifteen minutes.

This time, the test for whether the dough had been kneaded enough was that it shouldn’t stick to the side of the bowl.  I had a bit of a problem here.  The dough would leave the side of the bowl and stick around the dough hook, but then it would migrate back into the bowl, sit there on the side for a while, then cling to the dough hook again.  This kept happening.  I had no idea whether the dough was ready or not.

I added raisins and orange zest to the dough, gave it another short mix, put it into a greased bowl, covered the bowl with clingfilm, and put it into the fridge to rise slowly overnight.  Day one complete.

The first step on Day Two was to grease my bundt tin and sprinkle almonds into the bottom. Easy.   Then I was supposed to take the dough from the fridge, give it a quick press, form it into a round, make a hole in the middle and put it into the tin.

I took my dough out of the fridge and found that a thick skin had formed on the top.  Should I have pressed the clingfilm onto the surface of the dough to stop this?  This is what you have to do with custard.  I checked the recipe.  It wasn’t particularly clear, but it hadn’t said anything about the dough developing an elephant hide overnight.  I took it out of the fridge.  It was too cold to do anything with.  I couldn’t press it, I couldn’t make it into a round, or make a hole in the middle of it.  I think I should have let the dough come up to room temperature, or at least warm up a little bit.  As I’ve said though, I didn’t display much patience with my kougelhopf dough and I fought it into the tin, skin and all, and flung it into a warm place to prove.

Now, the recipe says that the dough should double in size, and that this should take about two hours.  You can tell when it’s ready when you press it with a lightly floured finger and the dough springs back slowly.  I forgot to put flour on my finger so, when I did the test, I came away with a very sticky dough-covered finger and I wasn’t sure whether the spring back had been slow enough.  It was slow enough for me, I decided.  It had to be because, if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to put it into the oven before I had to leave for school pick-up and that would mean that it would be another few hours before I’d have the chance to bake it.

I put the kougelhopf into the oven at 160° fan for thirty minutes (the recipe says thirty-five, but I was concerned that, since I was only baking half of the recipe, my cooking time would, perhaps, be shorter.  The top of the kougelhopf was also turning from the golden brown it should be to dark brown).

I left the cake in the tin for five minutes and then turned it onto a wire rack.  Some of it stayed in the bundt tin, but I did manage to get it out stick it onto the top of the cake (sort of).  I was supposed to brush melted butter over the kougelhopf, but I hadn’t read this bit of the recipe, so I dotted some unmelted butter around the top and had a quick look around the kitchen drawers for my pastry brush.  I didn’t find it (although I did find a pair of scissors that I’d been looking for for weeks),  so I used a knife to spread the butter around a bit and, once the kougelhopf had cooled down, I dusted it with icing sugar (which covered up my multitude of mistakes).

As I said, what I ended up with wasn’t a kougelhopf.  It hadn’t risen half as much as the one in the picture in Patisserie Made Simple, and the dough was dense and chewy (although not inedible).  The poor thing suffered from lack of love and attention on my part.  I think the moral of the kougelhopf is that it should only be attempted where time isn’t an issue and, if you think it’s passed the “is the dough kneaded enough?” and the “has the dough proved enough?” tests give it a few more minutes, just to make sure.




I’m still baking the basics and, this week, I decided to try to make some scones.  I say try, because I have attempted them before and ended up with biscuit-type things that tasted a slightly sconey at most.  Everyone (except my husband, who always tells it like it is when it comes to cake) was very polite about them, but when nobody could cut them in half to pile on the jam and cream that is the very essence of a scone, I knew I’d failed.

As usual, when I try to make something I’ve failed at before, I turned to Delia Smith.  I used the recipe for Rich Fruit Scones from Delia’s Cakes which is also available from the Deliaonline website.  I also had help this week from my little girl.  She’s three and was in charge of eggs…

…and mixing.

I sifted self-raising flour into a bowl, added caster sugar (the recipe uses golden caster sugar, but I didn’t have any) and, together with N, used my brilliant pastry blender to mix in softened butter until the mixture looked crumbly.  We did a pretty good job.

“We did it together like best friends didn’t we mummy?”  My heart melted.

I fished out a little bit of shell from a very well beaten egg and added it to the mixture along with some milk.  I wasn’t sure whether to add the whole recipe amount of 3 tablespoons at one go because, although I know that scone dough has to be quite soft, I didn’t want to have to work with something really wet.  My mom says that the best scones she ever made were from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management.  She was making half of the recipe, forgot, put the whole amount of liquid in and ended up with a dough that she could hardly work with.  She couldn’t quite believe it when what came out of the oven was the perfect scone.   I might end up with really good scones, but I think I’d rather put up with something less-than-perfect than a pile of slop. Especially with a three-year old on the loose in the kitchen.

I was putting my trust on Delia though, and the recipe didn’t say anything about adding the milk in stages.  I decided to add it slowly.  This way, I could stop if the mixture started to look more milky than doughy.  In the end, I added a couple more tablespoons than the recipe amount – I think my egg may have been a bit on the small side – and brought the mixture together into a soft, but not sticky, dough as instructed.

I put some flour onto a board and turned it out.  I flattened, rather than rolled, the dough to a thickness of 3cm and cut out 5cm rounds.  I had nine scones.  I gave N the off-cuts and she made two rabbits.  We sprinkled flour over the top of them and baked them on lined baking sheets at 200ºC fan for 15 minutes.  I checked them by tapping the bottom.  You get a hollow sound once they’re cooked.

They came out looking like this.

I was pleased.  At least this time they looked like scones.  My mom said that there were really light and, although I put so much jam on mine, the scone taste was somewhat overwhelmed, it was still there.  I’ll definitely make them again for a treat on a rainy afternoon.  Oh, and N really enjoyed the whole baking and eating thing.  Something to try again. Strictly on bath days only though I think.

Traditional Boule Loaf

This week I baked a traditional boule loaf from The Larousse Book of Bread. It’s the first recipe I’d made from this book, and the first time I’d made bread using a sourdough starter.  I ended up with a loaf, but I don’t think it was a particularly good one.  It was flat and pretty dense.  I definitely need more practice.

firstloafresize  The starter took four days.  I mixed rye flour with an equal weight of water (Éric Kayser, author of the Larousse Book of Bread weighs water, rather than measuring it by volume.  He says that this is for accuracy).  The water was supposed to have been 30°, I do have a digital thermometer but it doesn’t work particularly well and always seems to register 40° when I turn it on.  I gave it a couple of minutes.  It was still at 40°.  I put it into the freezer.  It went down to 22.  I think I may have to get a new one.  With no thermometer, I just had to guess.   Warmer than body temperature, but not too hot.   I doubt very much whether Éric Kayser would approve.

I added some honey to the flour/water mix, covered the bowl with a cloth and left it by the radiator.  The starter was supposed to be left somewhere warm for 24 hours.  The radiator in the kitchen is warm, but it’s not on for 24 hours and we don’t have a particularly “warm place”, like an airing cupboard. Our house just isn’t built for the cultivation of sourdough starters.

There were a few bubbles on the surface when I returned to it the next day, but not as many as on the pictures I found when I Googled “sourdough starter”.  Oh well.  I mixed more  rye flour with more water (again at a very roughly estimated 30°) added more honey, then added the mixture from the previous day.  I repeated on day three but without the honey. On day four, I added plain flour and water.  At this point, according to the recipe, it should have the consistency of thick pancake batter, and should be ready to use.


There’s a small amount of yeast in the recipe as well as the sourdough starter (the book says yeast is used to complement the action of the starter, rather than replace it).  The recipe uses fresh yeast, but I’ve never been able to find any.  I sent a quick query to a local bakery about whether fresh yeast was worth it and they said they only use dried.  Well, Bread & Co make lovely bread, so if dried is good enough for them…

I mixed my dried active yeast with some warm water and a little bit of sugar and left it on the radiator.

While it was there, I put the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of the KitchenAid: plain flour, water (which was supposed to be at 20° – I had no idea of the temperature) the starter and salt.  Now, had I done more than flick through the preliminary pages of the Larousse Book of Bread I would have known that I’d made a mistake.  In the Kneading in a Stand Mixer section, it says that the ingredients must be put into the bowl in a specified order.  The yeast should have been in there before the salt.  Too late.  I added the yeast (which had bubbled up a bit, but not as much as I’d have liked).

I kneaded the mixture exactly as the recipe told me to.  Four minutes at low-speed, six at high-speed.  I ended up with a soggy mass.

I was supposed to be able to shape it into a ball at this stage.  No chance.  The only thing I could think of to do was to add more flour and knead some more.  I did this several times over until I eventually had a dough that I could just about shape.

doughThings were not looking very good at all.

I managed to shape the dough into a ball.  I covered it with a damp cloth and left it for a couple of hours.  When I came back to it, it had flattened out considerably, and had stuck to the cloth it was covered with.  I scraped what I could off the cloth (the cloth itself had to go into the bin) reshaped it, covered it (this time I used foil, and made a kind of roof over the top of it) and left it for another two hours.

To bake bread, the Éric Kayser recommends using a convection oven.  I usually use fan, but ours does have a top and bottom heat setting that the manual says is good for baking bread.  I set the oven.  It filled with smoke. I let the smoke out.  It filled with smoke.  This cycle repeated itself a few times until, at last, I had an oven that was relatively smokeless.  I put a roasting tray into the bottom of the oven to heat up, and scored the top of my, rather flat looking, boule loaf.  I transferred it very carefully – it was still quite sloppy – onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  I poured a cup of water into the roasting tray and put the loaf into the oven.

I took it out after about 35 minutes and put it onto a wire rack to cool.

firstloafresizeMy boule was flat, and really dense.  Not at all like the picture in the book, which shows slices of very well risen, very light and airy bread.  It did taste good though (although we were eating if after a couple of espresso martinis and it was fried and covered in very tasty stuff: broad beans, goats cheese, roasted peppers).

I had another go a couple of days later.  This time, my starter was a bit more lively, and I left my yeast to bloom for a bit a longer.  I also added the water in stages rather than all at once.  This time, the dough was a lot easier to work with, although still on the sloppy side, and it rose a lot better.  The crumb of the loaf was a bit more aerated but, to be honest, not that much.  Here’s the two to compare (the one on the left is the second attempt).

finishedloaves2I think I need at lot more practice to make a decent loaf (a thermometer that works would also be useful).  That said though, we did eat all of it and the children really liked it.  Practice makes perfect I suppose.


Savarin – a second attempt

I’m very behind in my attempts to bake the technical challenges from the Great British Bake Off. It finished last week and I’m still stuck in Tudor week.  I’ve decided not to attempt the jumbles. I know it would take me hours of shouting and swearing to get my biscuit dough into knots, and knots that tasted of throat sweets at that.  No thanks.

On to the savarin then.  I have tried to make a savarin before, a chocolate and almond liqueur one.  It was a disaster.  Worse even than my Battenberg.  I had to throw it into the bin.  Even the birds wouldn’t touch it.   I wasn’t feeling very confident about making another, but I thought I should at least give it a try.

I used the recipe from the Great British Bake Off website , although it’s also available at BBC Food.  Both recipes are accompanied by pictures of beautiful savarins.  They’re filled with cream and elegantly decorated with fresh fruit and caramel shards. The Bake Off version even has a little chocolate disc with the word “savarin” on it, just in case there’s any confusion.  I was a bit pressed for time, and I wasn’t really in the mood for fancy piping and caramel, so I made mine plain and served it with cream.   Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make a chocolate disc that said “savarin” either.Savarin

It’s a poor cousin to the beautiful Bake Off creations, I know, but it all came out of the tin in one piece, it was cooked and it tasted beautiful.  Who needs caramel shards and a chocolate label?

The first step in the recipe was to put plain flour, sugar, instant yeast and salt into a bowl, and then mix in eggs and milk.  I’d decided to use dried active yeast rather than instant so I had to activate it first which I did by mixing my yeast with warm milk and sugar (taken from the recipe amounts).  There were two reasons for my yeast choice.  First, I’ve had better results in making enriched dough when I’ve used dried yeast and, second, the recipe called for 10g.  I only had 7g sachets of instant yeast and I didn’t want to have to use two.  I left my yeast, milk and sugar mixture by the radiator for twenty minutes to bubble up and, once I had bubbles, I mixed it in with the flour, sugar and salt and added the rest of the milk and eggs.

The recipe tells you to beat the mixture for five minutes until you get a thick, sticky batter.  So here’s a question. Was I supposed to beat with a beater, or a dough hook?  Was I making a cake mixture or a dough?  A bread, or a cake? I know my previous savarin experience wasn’t great, but I checked that recipe (which came from the Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking) and used the dough hook.  My thick, sticky batter looked like this.

savarin batter

The next step was to add butter.  As per the recipe, my butter was at room temperature and in cubes.  I added them slowly.  It took ages.  When, at last, I had a mixture that could pass as smooth, elastic and shiny as required by the recipe, I folded in orange and lemon zest, covered the bowl with clingfilm and left it by the radiator to rise.

While my savarin mixture sat by the radiator, I made a syrup from water, caster sugar, lemon juice and lemoncello – (the recipe uses Grand Marnier, but we hadn’t got any).  I also did my usual chores,  the ironing, catching up on a bit of Home and Away… My savarin was rising for a more than an hour.

When I went back to it, I poured the mixture into a greased ring cake tin, re-covered it and put it back by the radiator.  The recipe says that it should stay there for 45 minutes.  I had a school pick-up and junior tennis before I could get back to baking.  It took a lot longer than 45 minutes.

Back in baking mode, I put the savarin into the oven at 160° fan for 25 minutes (checking after 20).  The dough had split at the bottom (Google says that this could be a sign that the mixture was under-proved) , but it was golden brown and sounded cooked when I tapped it.

baked savarin

I left it to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then, with my heart in my mouth (this is where my earlier attempt started to go pear-shaped) I very carefully loosened the sides with a palette knife and turned it out of the tin.  It came out in one piece.  I did a very small victory dance around the kitchen, poured half of the lemoncello syrup into the cake tin, and put the savarin back in to soak it up.  I put the rest of the syrup into a roasting tray and turned the savarin over so that it could soak up the rest of the syrup from the bottom.

As I said, I didn’t fill it with cream, but I did whip up some double cream with icing sugar and vanilla paste, and served the savarin with a generous dollop.



It tasted lovely.  I was so pleased.  The dough was rich and sweet and had soaked up the syrup really well (although a couple of my tasters thought that there was a bit more syrup at the bottom than the top).  I don’t think I’ll ever be an expert in all things enriched-dough, but I am getting better.  I’ll definitely try this sort of thing again.  I may even make a bit more of an effort in the presentation.  Chocolate labels though?  I doubt it.

Fougasse Fiasco

I knew that making fougasse, the technical bake from Botanicals Week in the Great British Bake Off, wasn’t  going to be easy.  I’ve never been great at making bread of any sort and, after the disastrous baguette I made during the last Bake Off, I was tempted to give up completely.  I think perhaps I should have.

I used the recipe for my fougasse from BBC Food .  The first step was to put strong white flour, fine salt and instant yeast into a bowl.  Here was my first question:  What’s fine salt?  I could see that it would be different to, say, the sea salt that comes snowflake size out of the packet, but was it different to table salt?  I didn’t have time for a trip to the supermarket anyway, so table salt had to do.

I added olive oil and, as per the recipe, three-quarters of the recipe amount of water.  I mixed it with the KitchenAid on slow (you don’t very often see the Bake Off contestants making bread in a mixer I know, but the recipe said use a mixer and I was more than happy to comply).

Now, here’s where I think I went wrong.  According to the recipe, when the ingredients start to come together you add the rest of the water very slowly, crank up the mixer to medium speed and mix for eight minutes.  My mixture came together so I started to add the water.  I realised that I wasn’t completely sure how I should do this.  I don’t think of myself as a particularly stupid person, and I know what slowly means, but in a dough-making situation I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do. Should I add the water in one slow stream, or add it gradually and make sure that it was all absorbed into the dough?  I decided to go with the first option.  It fitted the recipe best. Here’s what I ended up with.  Not particularly promising.

fougasse dough I turned up the speed on the KitchenAid and mixed for the required eight minutes.  At that stage, the dough should have been very elastic and it should have stretched away from the side of the bowl.  It didn’t. It took a lot longer than eight minutes to get anywhere near elastic, and it was still really, really wet.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  Should I mix longer? Should I add some flour?  Should I trust the recipe and use the wet, sloppy mess that I had, and hope that it would improve with proving?

I gave the dough a few more minutes in the KitchenAid (it must have had at least fifteen in the end), then mixed in some rosemary and thyme – the recipe also called for fresh sage, but I hadn’t been able to find any.  I put the mixture into two plastic containers to prove.  I wasn’t supposed to use two containers, but the Bake Off contestants had been given one large square one and I didn’t have one big enough.  OK I do have plastic bowls that are big enough, but I thought that the shape might be important.  I left the dough to prove until it had doubled in size.  This was much longer than the hour stipulated in the recipe.  It always is.

When I came back to it, I dusted the work surface with flour (I was supposed to use semolina as well, but the stuff in the cupboard that I thought was semolina turned out to be polenta, and I wasn’t sure that it would work).  The dough ran out of the containers onto the surface.  The recipe said that it would be “quite loose and flowing” at this point, so I didn’t despair as the lava-like mass spread out onto my work surface.  At least I tried not to.  I just about managed to divide it into two and, using a lot of flour, managed to make two oval-ish shapes which I put onto baking trays that I’d lined with baking paper.fougasse dough unshaped The next step was to make cuts in the dough so that it resembled a leaf.  My dough wasn’t having any of it.  It was too wet.  I made a cut and my free-flowing dough mixture filled up the hole again.  I gave up.  I put the baking trays into plastic bags and left them for twenty minutes.

I came back to this.

shaped fougasse I didn’t have holes, it’s true, but there were a couple of small indentations.  It was better than I expected.

According to the recipe, the final step before baking was to spray the fougasse with olive oil and sprinkle them with oregano.  I do have a spray bottle, but it’s dedicated to vinegar for cleaning the BBQ, so I drizzled and sprinkled, rather than sprayed.  I put the fougasse into the oven at 200° fan and baked them for twenty minutes.  When they came out, I brushed them with more olive oil and sprinkled them with salt.  Here’s what they looked like.

FougasseThey tasted dreadful.  Hard on the outside, rubbery in the middle.  Straight into the bin.  I think I know where things went wrong, but any advice from any of the bakers out there would be really gratefully received.  In the meantime, I shall take comfort in the botanicals I know and love best.

gin and tonic


I’d never heard of dampfnudel before they appeared as the technical challenge on the Great British Bake Off bread week. Even the ones Paul Hollywood produced looked insipid.  I only decided to try them because he promised the taste of an iced bun.

I didn’t have very high hopes that my dampfnudel would work.  I’ve tried iced buns and no end of sweet doughy stuff and none of it ever seems to turn out very well.   On top of this, the Great British Bake Off website says that they are, “incredibly difficult to bake.”  What had I let myself in for?

I have to admit that I did cheat a bit.  First, I didn’t knead by hand.   Everything went into the KitchenAid, and the dough hook did all the work.  Second, I used a lot more time than would have been available to the brave Bake Off contestants.  I have absolutely no idea how they make anything in the time they’re given.  Third and fourth, I didn’t make the fruit sauce or the custard.  I still had some jam left over from the Viennese whirls.  That would have to do.

I put strong white flour into a bowl and added caster sugar to one side and instant yeast to the other. I added milk, eggs and butter and stirred until the mixture came together.  The recipe says you should do this with your fingers.  I used a spoon.  I kneaded it in the KitchenAid for about eight minutes.  The dough is supposed to have a soft, smooth skin when its had enough kneading.  I’m not exactly sure what a soft, smooth skin looks like on dough, but my mixture did seem pretty smooth, so I left it at eight minutes. I added lemon zest and gave the dough a few more turns in the KitchenAid.  I put the mixture into a bowl, covered it with cling film and left it to prove.  The recipe says for about an hour, or until doubled in size.  My dough was nowhere near doubled in size in an hour.  In fact, by the time it had (at least two hours later), I had to go and pick Matthew up from school, so my dough doubled in size, then had another couple of hours before I could go back to it.  Would it be overproved?  Would anybody notice?

When I returned to the dough, I knocked the air out, carefully divided it into twelve equal pieces and rolled them into balls.  They were a bit on the “informal” side, as Mary Berry would say, but they’d have to do.

I made the poaching liquid (butter, milk and sugar, heated until the sugar has dissolved) in a pan, put the buns in and left them for fifteen minutes.  The recipe doesn’t say whether the lid of the pan should be on at this stage.  I put it on on the basis that, when you’re leaving something to prove, you do usually cover it up.  My buns expanded nicely in the fifteen minutes proving time, and, I’m pleased to say, retained a lot of their informal charm.

I put the pan over a medium heat on the hob (we have an induction hob and I put it at level four – that seems like medium to me, although I’m never sure).  I gave them the full thirty minutes as per the recipe, and then a further eight without the lid.  They turned out looking like this.


They weren’t particularly photogenic, but they did have the required caramelised bottom that you can’t really see on the picture, and they tasted really good.  I was very pleasantly surprised. They were like teacakes (the afternoon tea type, not Tunnock’s) and were lovely with the Viennese whirl raspberry jam.  They may look like a very poor, anaemic  cousin of the iced bun, but, compared to all the other disasters I’ve had with sweetened dough, taste and texture-wise they stand out a mile.  I may even try them again one day.

Chilli Cumin Cornbread from the Hummingbird Bakery

P1010903 (640x480)So, my favourite sporting event of the year, the Tour de France is in full swing.  Chris Froome was last seen running up Mont Ventoux before being handed something not much better than a Raleigh Chopper to take him to the line.

Last year, I baked the jerseys: something yellow, something green, something white , and something spotty.  This year, I was going to celebrate the regions of this year’s Tour.  I was going to make fancy French patisserie, something from the Alps and so on.   Didn’t happen.  My son was ill and I couldn’t be pastry chef and nose-wiper-in-chief at the same time.  I wouldn’t be able to handle any nose emergencies with my hands stuck in a piping bag.

I also had half a tin of sweetcorn in the fridge which I had to either use, or throw away.  In the end, I did both.

I decided to make chilli cumin cornbread from the Hummingbird Bakery’s Home Sweet Home. It wasn’t an adventurous bake, but not something I’d usually try.  Could the Hummingbird really do savoury?  I wasn’t sure.

I started by toasting some cumin seeds.  The recipe calls for a lot.  I only had half a lot so I used all of them.  I was supposed to toast them until they just started to turn golden brown and smelled aromatic.  Mine were dark brown when I started, as they usually are I think, so they were never going to be golden brown.  I just went by the smell.  When they started to smell like toasted cumin seeds I took them off the heat.

Next, I mixed plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, light soft brown sugar, polenta, a few chilli flakes, sea salt and black pepper in the KitchenAid.  Then, in a jug, I mixed eggs, milk and sour cream and added them into the dry ingredients.  Finally, I added the sweetcorn and cumin seeds.  My mixture was really, really wet.

P1010898 (640x480)  I poured it into a loaf tin and put it into the oven at 160° fan for half and hour.  The recipe says that, when it’s done, the bread should be risen, golden and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.  Well, my loaf was golden and my skewer was clean.  It was just the rise that was a bit on the strange side.

P1010901 (640x480)Home Sweet Home says that you can eat the cornbread warm, or cold and that it’s great with mature cheddar and apple chutney.  I tried some warm and some cold and some with cheese.P1010903 (640x480)I didn’t really like it.  It tasted like a really weird scone. More like a cake than bread.  Had I done something wrong when I made it?  Was it the recipe?  Do all American savoury breads taste this sweet?

Whatever the answer, chilli cumin cornbread isn’t for me.  It’s not for the children or my husband either.  The kids wouldn’t touch it, and Jon confessed that he’d thrown his slice away after one bite.  I did think/hope it may be a way to get an extra portion of veg into the children’s diet.  I thought wrong.