Rosemary Moon – Bread making evening with the Belles

Last night we had another wonderful cookery demonstration from the fabulous Rosemary Moon – the subject was bread making! 
Rosemary is the author of several cookery books, and runs a fantastic foodie blog  as well as having local links with West Dean College and Transition Chichester
Rosemary soon had us all giggling, her self deprecating humour combined wisdom and experience made a very inspiring evening – it has given me the enthusiasm to try my hand at sourdough bread. (it is Scott’s favourite!)
Rosemary introduced us to the mysteries of bread making, taking us through each stage – she brought some ready prepared bread in true blue Peter style, although we had to battle to use the stove from the lady who was trying to run a slimming club in the other room! (Freshly baked bread might have led her slimmers into temptation!) 
Rosemary covered the following- 
The importance of the Ingredients – what type of flour to use, and how to combine flours – using a mixture of wholemeal and white flour. In addition the importance of good quality food – quality ingredients give a better result – if you are putting in all the effort – you want something that is superior to shop bought bread. By making your own you can have a choice to support local farmers by using British flour. You can also decide what flavourings to add, herbs, nuts or fruit which have to be added before the final proving. 
weighing (critical for sourdough but not so much for other types). We were able to see how the dough should look – giving us the confidence to add more flour or more liquid because we saw how the dough should be. 
Yeast – the varieties an differences between fast acting, dried yeast, fresh yeast and sour dough starters. 
The process, the importance of patience and time – really the hardest element of bread making is having the patience to allow it to develop and rise. As well as giving the dough a proper knead for 6 to 8 minutes. 
One of the many valuable tips she gave was to put the bread into a cold oven, which was a new idea to me, it prevents the loaf splitting during the cooking process. She also suggested that some loaves need to return to the oven to brown the bottoms when they have come out of the tin. I also picked up a tip about gas oven temperatures – it seems the middle is the right temperature, the top a little higher and the bottom lower. Common sense but sometimes these things pass me by! 
By the end of the evening, when everyone had tasted both loaves warm from the oven, we all went away likely to try out the recipes clasped in our hands. Thank you Rosemary!  

We are all a little fragile

I used to read lots of blogs, in fact I had subscribed to so many there was hardly enough time for me to write my own! I would create a new project, photograph it and be all enthusiastic about writing it up and showing the world what I had done, however, the first thing I usually did was look at what everyone else was up to. By the time I had seen everyone else’s projects mine suddenly did not seem so great. Suddenly I would lose interest in what I had done, often not blogging it at all.

We are all human as children we are grouped together and put in order, tests tell us where we are in the scale of who is better at tests, that comparisons become human nature, we do it without thinking. We walk into a room and we notice who is thinner or prettier or who has the nicest dress, we might cover it up, we might smile and engage in small talk, but at the back of our minds is this small 7year old girl who knows exactly where she stands in the group.

What makes matters worse is that we censor what we write, we project a truth about ourselves that is not entirely the whole truth. Mostly because no-one really wants to read that you found a spot on your chin, but also because we feel that we have to have it together, because it seems everyone else is! So today’s post is about not getting it together!

My friends are always giving me so much encouragement, they marvel at my new creations which really boosts me, but they also believe that I a some sort of super woman. A lovely friend of mine comes here to learn how to sew and making mistakes is part of the learning process but she told me she expects I never made a mistake! I told her I had to throw away most of what I made for years before another wonderful friend did exactly what I am doing, took me aside and very patiently helped me to sew.

So here is my little confession! Since I moved my cooker has not been getting up to the correct temperature, however this only became clear when another fault developed and I had an engineer come out. Well every time I have tried to bake cakes they have ended up flat as pancakes! They were often so bad that I did not even tell anyone I had made them! I would hide them in the bin. I could not understand why I was doing exactly what I had done for years but it just did not work.

I joined a marvellous ladies group here in the village called Blakes Belles, I had signed up for a cake decorating day and had to bring along some home made cakes! EEK! So I decided that I would buy a cake! big mistake! I did not hide the fact that I had bought my cake but what I did not realise is that shop bought cakes are very soft! Each time I touched my cake with the icing, a huge chunk would come away!

here it is!

What a disaster! It was so terrible but the teacher reassured me that it would all be ok! I watched everyone else smooth over their buttercream with envy! I found it quite funny and it made me realise that cheaters don’t win! 
The teacher was correct though! Once the royal icing was over the top of the cake the disasters had been covered up! It was a miracle! 
I have always been wanting to try cake decorating, and the day was wonderful, once it got down to making things with the icing I was fully absorbed as was everyone else. The day was wonderful, everyone went home with beaming smiles because they had made cakes they were proud of! 
and so I did finally create a cake to be proud of, even if it was a bit of a journey. Like everything in life, it was a lesson learnt – nothing really is lost, it is just a case of perseverance!