‘Mama Lucas’ settling in with Wimbi Passion Fruit Jammy Dodgers

Madeleine: ‘Mama Lucas’ as the children call me when they ask ‘How are you?’ as we arrive back at the flat, it is both sweet and comforting and helps to make us feel at home.  I wake and climb out our mosquito net, Lucas is pulling on my finger saying ‘Tractor, tractor’ and he can’t wait to find his blue tractor. I have daily ups and downs of feeling, “yes, this is different but it is home for us three”, at other times I just want to go home (England), be wrapped up in a warm jumper and have a lovely cuppa. Thankfully we are settling in and I feel more able, bit by bit, to embrace our new home.  We sit down for breakfast with a fresh Kenyan AA bean coffee, my sour dough toast and home-made passion fruit jam, with some chopped up juicy paw paw (payaya) and feel very blessed.

As most of you know I am not a city person and thrive outdoors, particularly in big green areas! Kenya is  very green and beautiful.  As we explore, we find little havens of quiet and lush green areas for Lucas to freely run around, the birds are just incredible and so colourful. I’ve no idea what they are called and so am planning to learn their names so I can help expand Lucas’ vocabulary beyond, “birdie”.

I love my exercise!  Lucas keeps us active but I still crave getting my heart rate up and endorphins pumping!  There is a nice hotel in town where I can use their pool…it’s not heated which has never bothered me, I just love swimming outside and its not a UK winter!! I probably got over enthusiastic and swam 80 lengths after which I felt very dizzy. I thought it was hunger or the altitude but when Andrew noticed my colour go and me shivering, it turns out I was actually hypothermic on the equator! I still can’t wait to go again….just need to persuade Andrew to come down too and look after Lucas!  We also met some other “Mzungos” (foreigners) in our block. They have some high intensity exercise videos that they have invited me to join them in on the roof…who knows what I will be doing!..I got them running too and I’ve found another running buddy!

We visited the entrance to the Nakuru National Park just 5 miles from our flat (and I drove and navigated our way back!!) It costs 80,000 Kenyan Shillings, £65 per person (if you are a Mzungo) plus transport. It is so expensive but it is only £7.50 for a resident so we will enter when we have sorted all our resident status out – just needs a trip to Nairobi and loitering around various offices. We opted just  to have lunch at the cafe by the main gate and Lucas’ face when he saw a herd of zebras 5 metres in front of him was brilliant, I don’t think he could believe it!! Next he saw the gazelles running and jumping and he started copying them! There was also a school bus that came through, Lucas was toddling around and started waving, then little heads popped out of every window in the bus waving back at him…he just walked along the side of the bus with a massive grin on his face giving a royal wave! So cute and funny!!

These “Millet Passion Fruit Jammy Dodgers” were inspired by the fact we could buy 24 fragrant passion fruit for less than 80p. I made some passion fruit jam which we have been enjoying on our home made bread every morning! I appreciate passion fruit are not this this cheap at home so maybe just try making a jam you haven’t made before and making Jammy Dodgers with that.

Andrew: It’s been 2 weeks now since we arrived and I’ve already stopped noticing some of my immediate surroundings. I take this as a sign of this new place becoming “normal”. Equally it may be a symptom of my inability to pay attention when navigating in any vehicle or on foot. The lack of Sat Nav as expected is proving to be a problem for me. It has often been said that I have a terrible sense of direction, Madeleine would disagree with this and say that I do not have a sense of direction all together. As Madeleine made the 5 mile drive back home from Lake Nakuru, clearly in a heightened state of stress as she was driving sat almost on top of the steering wheel, Lucas making a racket in the back of the car, she was not impressed when I had no idea which turn to take (so I made it up – thankfully this time I got lucky). 

“I need to get the Grrr out”. If Madeleine has not exercised for a prolonged period of time (>48 hours) my life is particularly challenging and allowing an outlet for the Grrr benefits us all. We have found a hotel in town with a 15 meter pool which is surprisingly cold but mostly empty on week days. Lucas ran around the hotel (with me following) pointing at all the pictures of animals and sharing his Duplo horse with a 2 year old boy whilst Madeleine raced up and down the pool. When she’d finished her swim and cold shower she’d gone green and looked like she was going to pass out but at least the endorphins meant some high quality baking ensued. I’ve always loved Jammy Dodgers but these are something special. 



Biscuit dough:

90g plain white flour

85g millet flour

40g icing sugar

35g brown sugar

125g unsalted butter

1 egg yolk blended with a tsp of milk

Passion fruit jam: (makes two 250g jams ish!)

12 passion fruits

550g Brown Sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Half a cup of water


For the jam:

1. Wash the passion fruits, cut in half and scoop out the pulp inside in to a bowl

2. Put half the passion fruit shells in a pan. just covered with water

3. Boil for 30 minutes till the insides are tender

4. Allow to cool then scrape out the remaining pulp (stringy bits) which should come out now – chop up.

5. Put all the pulp (plus the remainder you just harvested), 125mls of the boiled water in to a pan and bring to the boil.

6. Add the lemon juice and sugar once boiling, stir until dissolved and boil rapidly until jam setting point (105°C)

If you don’t have a cooking thermometer take a bit of jam on the back of a small spoon and if it wrinkles when you push the jam it is ready.

1. Put flours, salt and sugars into a bowl and gently mix, next add the cold chopped up butter and using the tips of your fingers rub into the dry ingredients until it is all worked in until it is like bread crumbs.

2. Make a well in the ingredients in the bowl and add the egg mixture and mix in using a blunted knife.  Bring together to make a dough and wrap in cling film then chill for 30mins.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.  Roll out the chilled dough in-between two sheets of baking parchment until about 4mm thick. (You can half the dough and roll out two smaller bits if easier, if too sticky just sprinkle a light bit of plain flour over the dough). Using which every shaped cutters you prefer gently press out pairs of what ever you can fit. (I initiall made these with elephant cutter but I kept on burning of breaking trunks off!).  In one of each pair press out a hole in the middle (like in jammy dodgers..I used the top of a toothpaste tube).

4. Place all cut outs onto baking parchment on flat trays and bake in the oven for about 15mins until just firm and barely coloured.  Take out and place a small teaspoon of jam in the centre of each whole biscuit, spread to 1.5cm from the edge and place the matching pair with the hole in the middle on the top.  Place back in the oven for 5 mins so the jam is just hot enough to stick the now cooked biscuits together.

5. Leave the biscuits to cool for 5mins then transfer to a wire rack.

Banana-Mango-Ugali-Wimbi Bread. Step at a time…

Madeleine: I am sitting in the passenger seat of a very rugged Peugeot 406 powdered in red African dust. I have been reassured it has a good engine and is a strong car.  Lucas is on my lap with my arms and the seat belt clutched around him, I focus on every bicycle, matato, tuktuk, juggernaught, car or passer-by weaving in and out of the traffic, I feel nervous and alert.  I am also singing ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ not concentrating on the words but the world around me. This farm has lots of cats and sheep on the farm as I repeat myself over and over.  Lucas wriggles and wriggles but is settled by my singing as we approach the roundabout, Old MacDonald stops and we take a right turn, we are relieved to be on the road home.  We are also thankful, very thankful we have been given a car, I am thankful Andrew is driving on our first drive, however I have never before seen him nervous behind the wheel!


I am sitting in a booth in a mobile phone store with Lucas cradled in my arms, waiting. The rain is pouring down outside, I look around and see teenage girls discussing the latest phone, men and women in suits, a woman with threads dangling from her skirt and wearing a fleece jacket, the staff in green shirts with black tank tops, a young girl with an old dress holding the hand of her mother looks up and I smile, she shyly smiles back, I feel comforted by the rain outside. We are all waiting, waiting for credit to be activated on our mobile phones.


I gently unzip the netted canopy over our bed so as not to wake Lucas and climb in, I zip it back again and lie down, refreshed by my shower I listen, the little chorus of our 6 legged friends lets me know home is a very different place.

I am sitting on the toilet…again….I’m not telling you the rest!


Settling in to our new environment we remind ourselves to take things one step at a time…just driving our first 5 miles was hard! I’m sure it will all gets easier.  It is the short rainy season and on a few occasions now  I have felt very comforted by the familiarity of rain.

I am also comforted by the process of baking, I do not however have the ingredients I am used to and so have started to experiment! Inspired by a home favourite, banana bread, and wanting to try the ugali (corn meal) and wimbi (millet) I picked up this week, this is what I came up with. I was quite surprised how tasty is was for a first attempt!  We were joined by three Kenyans for a cup of tea this evening and they seemed to really like it, they all had seconds which made me happy! I hope you guys like it too.  I think you can get corn meal and millet flour from most health food shops. This is actually a very health cake given as there is no added fat. It is also gluten free.

Andrew: We have wheels! A 2002 Peugeot 406 with a lot of character. It has in its 10 year life covered 170,000 miles. The gear stick is broken and comes loose in my hand if I change gear too quickly, the drivers side window only goes up if the engine isn’t running, the front window mists up to near zero visibility,  the front lights are bright enough to see only a few inches in front of the car, all the windows are heavily tinted, no one can see in, and we can just about see out.  The petrol tank reads empty even when it is not, you just “have to know” when it needs refilling. I do not mean to sound ungrateful, in fact we are extremely grateful to have a car. It was very kindly loaned to us completely free of charge by the office manager for the project and has given us independence we would not otherwise have. For now, until we get to know one another (us and the car) a little better we will stick to short journeys close to home.

Home is starting to feel more real now. The constant pumping of adrenaline preparing us to leave leave England has subsided and has been replaced with a deep exhaustion. Lucas however never seems to get tired and so we have little opportunity for rest and little time to contemplate the idea of rest. The project starts next week…

Madeleine has yet again been a willing guinea pig as I start testing all the equipment survived the journey. This time I haven’t left her temporarily visually impaired for which she is grateful as she whips out a new recipe for our guests to try (who have all had photos taken of the back of their eyes on the dining room table before getting their cup of tea). Unfortunately for me, they all love the new recipe. I was banking on the left overs for a late night snack but they all went back for more…



2 medium/large eggs

140g sugar

I used 70g of granulated brown sugar and 70g caster sugar (The most common sugar here is a brown coarse granulated sugar, as it is quite coarse and the final bake may not be as soft so I combined it with the local caster sugar which is somewhere in-between the UK version of icing sugar and caster sugar)

140g of ripe bananas mashed

150g of mashed mango (I couldn’t decide whether to use sweet ripe mango or a tangy unripe one. As I was using it for cooking I opted for an unripe tangy one and it actually added a lovely zingy hit to the final bake (if you make this back at home its probably easier to find an unripe one!) To mash it I cut it into cubes then used a fork on a chopping board, I’m sure a blender would be fine too I just didn’t want more washing up!

75g of corn meal (Ugali) this is from the maize plant like a bigger, less sweet sweet corn and is the staple food here…so I had to get it in.  The corn meal I used is a texture between flour and polenta .  The corn flour we know is a much finer powder starch from the maize plant.

75g of millet (Wimbi) another staple grain and I believe is also gluten free!

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

half tsp ground cinnamon (You may want to use a whole tsp, I only used half as it smelt amazing and I didn’t want to over power the other ingredients so just do what feels best).

50g of raw peanuts (ground nuts) another staple here and so cheap! I used ones that were straight from the shell not altered in any way.  Crush them in a bag with a rolling pin before adding.


  1. Turn the oven on to 180°C and brush the inside of a loaf tin with a little vegetable oil.  (I used a 1kg loaf tin about 20 x 12 x 8cm
  2. Whisk preferably using a Kenwood or similar mixer at high speed for 4 minutes until all the sugar and eggs are very light and fluffly. (This is a really important step as this is where the rise comes from and keeps the bread/cake airy).
  3. Whisk in the mashed  bananas until followed by the mashed mango.  Add the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and whisk until completely blended.
  4. Using a wooden spoon fold in the crushed raw peanuts until well incorporated and pour the mixture into the greased loaf tin. Place in the oven on the middle shelf for approx 45mins until it is almost quiet (it stops hissing or “singing” if you listen closely – this means it is cooked) and the edges have started to come away from the sides of the tin.
  5. The cake will probably not rise much more and mine actually sank a little but I think that may have been because I turned the oven down as my oven thermometer said it was actually 210 not 180! Leave in the tin to cool for 10mins before turning upside down onto a wire tray.  If it doesn’t look like it will come out of the tin gently run the blunt side of a knife around the tin to help remove.

Here are some pictures from our exploring… 

We’ve found a home …and here’s one I made earlier!

Madeleine: We started house hunting yesterday, the creaking suspension on the car struggling up the dirt road as we approached the apartment blocks.  First up was a lovely flat with a huge problem…there was NO oven! We had to decline…no discussion.  Second up was an identical flat in the same compound with a brand new oven! Perfect, we signed it! It is on the top floor with access to the roof. There are stunning views over lake Nakuru in one direction and it over looks the local primary school in another. We found home.  We woke up yesterday morning at the Rift Valley Sports Club where we stayed the past two nights, miraculously after a  breakfast of fresh fruit and coffee we were able to open a bank account and received the ATM card within hours! We met with the Estate agent and finalised the contract, picked up the keys, moved the 24 pieces of luggage, the internet was being fitted as we arrived, as was a new washing machine.  Gob-smacked at the speed of it all our new landlord came to meet us (from Eldoret – where the great Kenyan runners are from) with cleaning products, fresh fruit (including apples!), frying pans and a whole load of useful other household bits and she was apologising the flat wasn’t ready! What a contrast to our last landlords. We’ve been made to feel so welcome.

Lucas spent the morning running around the bank keeping the guards on their toes, pushing his trunkie (if you are not familiar with these, they are a genius kids suitcase that you can pull or be pulled on, Lucas has the bee!) around as I did a bit of packing before moving all the suitcases. Lucas became infatuated with the landlords niece who is five and was so patient as Lucas kept running over to her and taking her by the hand and bringing her over to the sofa to play with his trains..so cute! He did however get a bit excited and throw a train in her face!

Just in case anyone is missing a spot of baking and because of the Blue Peter in me, here is one I prepared earlier… (I prepared a few extra bakes at home in case there was a baking lag in moving).  This is a Scandinavian recipe traditionally eaten in Norway, Sweden and Denmark on Shrove Tuesday : Cardamom spelt buns with almond custard, I think they are really yummy. I adapted this recipe from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen.

Last minute addition from Andrew at the bottom of this post

Recipe: Mini Cardamom Buns with Almond Custard

Ingredients for cardamom dough:

325ml whole milk

50g butter

500g refined spelt of plain flour (I actually used 50% wholegrain spelt ant 50% strong white flour)

75g castor sugar

1 ½ tsp ground cardamon

2tsp fine sea salt (I used 1 tsp)

7g dried yeast (I use doves in a tin without any additives)

Ingredients for almond custard:

250ml milk

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp castor sugar

½ tsp vanilla essence

2 egg yolks

handful flaked or roughly chopped whole almonds


1. Scald the milk for the dough by heating it in a small pan with the butter until it is almost boiling then allow it to cool whilst preparing the next ingredients.  Scalding the milk makes the finished buns softer.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt together into a large bowl and add the dry yeast.

3. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the scalded milk which should be just warm enough to touch, bring together until mixture becomes a dough.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl covered with cling-film and place in the fridge to cold ferment (prove)

5. To make the almond custard, mix 4 tbsp milk with the flour, sugar and vanilla essence.

6. In a pan bring the remaining custard milk to the boil, stir in the mixture whisking constantly and bring to the boil again, it should become more like a custard.  Let it cool, add the egg yolks and whisk it well.

7. Transfer it to a bowl, let it cool and mix in the almonds then place in the fridge ready to fill the buns the next day.  Make sure you cover with cling-film so a skin does not form on the custard.

8. The following day remove the dough from the fridge and allow to reach room temperature.  Lightly oil two baking sheets and divide the dough into 24.  I found it easier to cut in half then divide into 12 twice over.  (Admittedly I weighed them).  To make them into little balls roll them between your palms then pinch 4 corners of dough, fold the pinched corners to the  middle like wrapping a parcel so that the dough is rounded and slightly stretched on the top of the bun.

9.  Prove in a warm place for 15-20mins until when you poke a finger into the dough, the dough does not spring back but holds an indent of your finger.

10. Lightly glaze each bun with a little beaten egg.

11. place in a pre-heated oven at 180°C with a splash of water in the bottom of the oven and bake for 10-15mins.  You can turn the heat down if the buns start to colour too much.

12. The cooked buns should look golden brown and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.

13. When cool, make a slice through each one and fill with a teaspoon of almond custard.  To finish sprinkle a dusting of icing sugar over the top.

14. Eat very soon whilst fresh with a cuppa…so yummy!

Andrew: This has been our first full day in our new home. We ventured out in to town to buy some food. We bought a bag of fragrant bright red tomatoes and some other essentials (olives, flour, apples). I whipped up some tomato, red pepper and garlic sauce to go with pasta whilst Madeleine and Lucas were making the flat a home.

We are both very excited that we can fit in the kitchen simultaneously, a luxury we didn’t have in our last home. We have just had the ceremonial unveiling of the Kenwood Mixer which appears to have survived the journey (along with some added cook books Madeleine sneaked in to the crate!) Lucas is asleep in his pop up tent (probably not for long – sleep is still something that eludes us) and I’ve surveyed the flat for mosquitoes, gunning any down in sight with kitchen spray. 

Madeleine is in the kitchen preparing a loaf for tomorrow, we have however had a power cut, not that this even puts her out of her stride. On goes the head torch and it is business as usual.

Thank you all for your kind messages on the blog – we really appreciate them. Ciao for now

Karibu (Welcome), We have arrived!

Madeleine: Running as fast as I can clutching Lucas like a rugby ball in my left arm and clenching onto our passports, a heavy laptop filled rucksac weighing on my back and a small (but maximising our weight limit) hand luggage suitcase with Lucas’ trunkie delicately balanced on top, I race through Terminal 5 like  a crazy lady to make our flight.

Andrew is still at security explaining the geeky contents of his hand luggage and why he needs such an array of gadgets.

We made a decision that given our flight’s departure time was in 15 minutes and the gate was 20 minutes away, Lucas and I would try and hold the plane.

I arrived at gate C62 to be told they were taking our names off the flight. I pleaded with them to wait and that I would not take them up on their suggestion of leaving Andrew behind and boarding the plane.

Andrew: Having had some tearful farewells at the gate and minimal help from airport staff getting our 23 pieces of luggage checked in (mostly medical and baking equipment, plus some vital home essentials) we were suddenly acutely aware of how short the time was to get through security.  Our bags went through (slowly) and Mr Security decided he was going to empty my bag and look at each item in great and laborious detail.  Madeleine made the decision that if we were going to get on this plane she would run ahead with Lucas. Mr Security paid no attention to my pleading to be as quick as possible. He even found the time to chat with Mrs Security as he took my bag to be scanned again having spilled the contents all over a desk. When he eventually returned to say all was fine, I rammed evevrything back in and ran faster than Usain Bolt through the airport, politely asking people to “MOVE please!” I felt the energy sapping from my body until I glimpsed the gate and Madeleine and Lucas alone at the final boarding gate…

Madeleine: Whilst begging the British Airways staff to wait and hoping my acertive claim that Andrew was on the next transit train over was true, out of the corner of my eye I saw this spectacled, sweaty mess charging towards us with his laptop rucksac on his back and two more pieces of luggage… “Is this your husband?” In a mixture of relief, delight and embarasment, I shouted, “Yes!”. We were offered oxygen whilst being hurredly escorted on to the plane.

Once on our plane, which had been delayed (ooops) we settled in and Lucas marched up and down the aisle for the best part of 9 hours entertaining passangers and crew. I managed to watch a downloaded episode 9 (semi-finals) of The Great British Bake Off while Lucas had a sleep and Andrew eventually stopped sweating.

Andrew: The plane managed to catch up 20 mins lost due to a delayed departure…. We arrived smoothly in Nairobi, Kenya. Our experience in Kenya was a stark contrast to leaving the UK. Everyone could not have been more helpful. Three guys wrote our immigration cards for us and helped us skip to the front of the queue. Four guys then helped us push our six trolleys through customs, amazingly all our luggage had arrived. A good friend from the Ministry of Health had organised two vehicles to collect us and our mountains of luggage.

Madeleine: We treated ourselves to a night in a lovely hotel near the airport. We woke to see the delight on Lucas’ face when he could see zebras, gazelles and weaver birds in the adjacent game park.

The next day we made our journey to what will be our new home, Nakuru.

Doughnuts and Farewells…

Madeleine: After a busy week and seeing the first case depart for Kenya (Maria – how did you manage to carry it on your bike?) , Andrew and I both had a full on day in London. Lucas went to the grandparents to keep them entertained and active for the day… and night!

Early that evening, a day of work with the Real Bread Campaign complete, a quick change and a brush of my showered hair with my fingers in the lift mirror  before meeting Andrew and heading to the Royal College of Surgeons. We entered a reception  room full of preserved bits and a giant Irish skeleton.  Andrew was one of ten short-listed candidates for the Max Perutz science writing prize. It was introduced by the MRC Chief Executive as the highlight of the summer (including Euro 2012 and the Olympics), then they announced the runners up and eventually the winner… It was Andrew,  he got gold…I feel so proud of him! This meant the article was printed in the Metro!  …they had yummy canapés too which I think Andrew was equally excited about!

Following Andrew’s MRC award (http://www.mrc.ac.uk/Sciencesociety/Awards/2012/index.htm), I thought we needed to celebrate, it being the Great British Bake-off time of year (addicted!) I attempted a technical challenge and baked something I’ve never done before…. jam doughnuts!


Now, two weeks later we are sat in a pile of boxes. One side of the room has all the eye equipment an eye geek could dream of and the other side of the room all the guff for storage!  Even though we have moved all the furniture out  it is hard to believe we are leaving and wont be able to sit and contemplate life surrounded by these walls for much longer. We will miss the reassuring sound of cars driving by on the main road (plus the occasional boy racer) and the tempting smell of curry from across the road.

It has come to the time of farewells, I think I will  make a caramelised onion tart, then I can blame the watery eyes on that! I don’t like this part but “a farewell is necessary before you can meet again and meeting again after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends” by Richard Bach. This is what I keep telling myself, I think I should take a leaf from Lucas’ book, today I took him swimming and he was being taught doggy paddle, he lay tummy down on the water with the odd kick when he could be bothered and one hand doing the doggy paddle… the other too busy propping his toothy smiled chin up. The swimming teacher amused at his antics said ‘Lucas is too cool for school today!

Recipe (Technical Challenge from Great British Bake-off 2012)


500g strong white organic flour

50g caster sugar

40g unsalted butter, softened

14g Doves farm fast action yeast

2 large eggs (from our beautiful chucks), beaten

150ml lukewarm milk, I used semi-skimmed

130ml lukewarm water

vegetable oil for frying

castor sugar to cover

strawberry jam, or raspberry or whatever you fancy!


1. Put the flour, sugar, butter, yeast, salt, eggs, milk and 3/4 of the water into a mixing bowl and mix to a firm dough then gradually bring in the remaining water and massage the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes until soft but not sticky.

2. Turn dough out onto lightly floured worktop and knead for 10 mins.

3. Roll into a “round” and place back into the mixing bowl, leave covered with cling film to prove until doubled in size.

4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and ‘knock back’ to knock excess air out of the dough.  Divide into 10 portions and roll into balls (to try and improve the smoothness of the dough balls, I rolled them between my palms then put my thumb into the middle of the ball to encourage a smooth ball dome shape on the other side. I then rolled it again and placed each one on the tray with the best side up).

5. Put the balls onto a floured tray with room to double in size.

6.Towards the end of the proving time, heat the vegetable oil to 180°C (Use a jam thermometer or equivalent), I found it was hard to keep at an exact temperature so if it got too hot either turn the heat down or remove from the heat and monitor.   Drop as many dough balls as you can comfortably fit into the pan so they are not touching one another and cook for 5 minutes on each side, if they look like they are colouring too much turn over and or remove and re-check your oil temperature, if they cook too quickly at a very high temp the middle will not cook properly.  Remove from the oil and immediately roll in castor sugar then put on a wire rack to cool.

7.When completely cool, make a deep cut into each doughnut with a thin, sharp knife.  This enables a piping bag filled with jam to be squeezed into the centre.  I used strawberry jam with nice whole bits of strawberry in, which although very tasty causes the jam to get stuck in the piping bag.

8. Sit back with a hot coffee and enjoy a yummy sweet treat…not especially healthy but this was a celebration and that’s when naughty food is best enjoyed!  A healthier alternative would be to use spelt flour and fill the doughnut with apple purée. Also soak off any excess oil from the doughnut using kitchen roll! Enjoy…

The White Cottage Loaf

Madeleine: For me the farmhouse loaf is the “house special”, the easy one to whip up that everyone in the home loves.

Our new addition of a proving bowl has added character to what we are calling the “White Cottage Loaf” after our current Oxfordshire home. The loaf is one third white, one third malted and one third wholemeal flour with lots of pumpkin and linseeds…the pumpkin seeds add great flavour!…Lucas loves the idea of pumpkin seeds but just hasn’t quite worked out how to chew them with his five teeth!  He loves this bread toasted with ricotta or with butter and honey (treat!) The most cute bit is when he waits for the toaster to pop and then nods his head in approval at the toaster doing it’s job!  As a family we have spent many a morning in our garden with toast and of course real coffee (fond memories… we will miss our lovely garden!), Lucas toddling down the garden at great pace, beaming with excitement at the horses in the field beyond and squawking with excitement when he finds the chicken eggs in the coop…(He has however recently worked out how to let the chickens out…leaving me running round the garden chasing the escapees) The cutest thing is his version of cock a doodle do! You have got to hear it.  I feel it would be rude not to introduce our three chickens if you haven’t met them. Daisy-Rose, Bradshaw-Brooks and David Peckam (he’s the fastest! and must get very confused as we keep calling her a him!) I will miss Lucas foraging his way round the tomatoes, runner beans and black berries, so special.  One of the things we will miss most about living here is our LOVELY neighbours, I baked the loaves in the photo above for them.

Inspired by my passion (obsession?) for child health and as a temporary alternative to the hospital paediatric medicine, for the past 3 months (whilst on a career break until we return from Kenya) I have been volunteering a day a week with the Real Bread Campaign run by Sustain (The alliance for better food and farming http://www.sustainweb.org/about/).  The Real Bread Campaign is all about bread without any of the unnecessary additives that make it rise faster and keep longer,  community baking and baking in schools. http://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/, One of their sister campaigns is the Childrens’ Food Campaign http://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/which of course I see to be incredibly important.  So bring on the real bread and have fun making you own ‘White Cottage Loaf” I am definitely excited about experimenting with different ingredients in Kenya…A new house special will be developed once we settle in.

Andrew: You never know who you are going to live next to when you move to a new area. When we looked at this house last year; we saw the corridor kitchen, cold bathroom and toilet that is pretty much outside and thought this was probably not the house for us… Then we saw the garden, this open, allotment style plot with open fields beyond it. The guys next door had this phenomenally organised garden and what can only be described as a 5 star hotel for chickens sat at the bottom end of it. Across the gardens is a shared path which makes it incredibly sociable, especially in summer when all the neighbours’ kids get together to play and all the adults chat over barbecues and bonfires. Now that we prepare to move out we have got used to travelling down in the dark through the kitchen, which is best viewed in the dark when Madeleine has been feeding her baking obsession, to the cold bathroom and out house toilet and I think it is fair to say we’ve loved every minute.

Our neighbours have been a real highlight and we have felt a sense of community here which has been very special. Our immediate neighbours, Rich and Sarah have been regular recipients of Madeleine’s baking and have been so unbelievably helpful from the day we moved in, it will be hard to imagine ever finding such good neighbours anywhere else.



White Cottage Loaf (So named as we live in a row of white cottages…as do our lovely neighbours!)

Ingredients (For two loaves – just half if you would like just 1):

333g Strong white organic flour

333g Malted bread flour. (I use Doves Farm Organic MIxed Grain Malthouse bread flour)

333g Wholemeal organic flour

10g dry yeast (Allinson and Doves farm do a tin of dry yeast that has no additives).

10g salt (this is a lower salt loaf so toddler and heart friendly)

630g warm water

Handful of pumpkin seeds

small handful linseeds


1. Weigh out flours, yeast, salt, pumpkin seeds and linseeds into a big mixing bowl.  Lucas loves adding the flour and especially gradually putting the seeds in.

2. Make a well and gradually add in the warm water and get mixing with your hands, bring together into a rough dough and then tip out onto worktop.

3. Bring together and start kneading ….at this point I break a bit off for Lucas to let him play with. He enjoys sticking his fingers in it and throwing pieces at the kettle!

4. If you have some pre-prepared old dough add this in now (this adds flavour and texture)

5. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and stretchy. Make the dough in to a ball by cupping your hands around it and place it back in to the mixing bowl with a sheet of cling-film over the top.

6. Leave the ingredients to get to know each other over night (the yeast will feed from the flour and water producing plenty of carbon dioxide air bubbles giving the bread a lovely bounce). If you can’t leave it over night, placing it somewhere warm for 40 mins to 1 hour until doubled in size will do the job. If you can prove it over night this adds flavour.

7. Once proved, scrape it out of the bowl, bring it roughly in to a ball and cut it in half with a knife.

8. Make half the dough in to a “round” by cupping with your hands and place the smoothest side down in to a floured proving bowl (or a loaf tin if you don’t have one). If using a loaf tin, flatten it in to thirds as though folding an A4 letter and put in to a pre-floured loaf tin ensuring a 1cm gap at the narrow ends of the tin (this gives it the best chance of being the typical loaf bread shape we all love).

9. For the other half, wrap in cling-film and leave in the fridge for up to 48 hours. You can then take it out and continue from here at any point when you have time. Make sure you allow to reach room temperature before doing so.

10. Your active dough should now be proved again (second and final time I promise, for 40 mins to  1 hour). Cover in cling-film and leave in a warm place until the dough behaves like a memory foam mattress, i.e. you stick your finger in and the indent remains. If it springs back the dough is under or over proved, there is an ideal window of about 15 minutes in which to get it in the oven to get the maximum rise.

11. When proving pre-heat the oven to 250°C.

12. When the dough is proved, if using a proving bowl, gently tip it on to a floured oven tray. You’ll see lovely concentric circular indentations. Cut a cross in the top to allow maximum rise (see the pictures). A loaf tin can go straight in once the cling-film has been removed.

13. Once in the oven, spill a small glass of water in to the base of the oven and close the oven door. This will create steam which produces a nice crusty crust and helps with rising.

14. Bake for 20 minutes at 250°C, then at 200°C for a further 20 minutes. You can leave longer if you would like more crustiness.Remove   from the oven and cool on a wired rack so air can get to the base. Breath in the stunning aroma of warm, freshly baked bread.

16. Make yourself a drink and wait impatiently for the bread to have cooled enough to be eaten.

17. Enjoy!….yummmmy!