Queen’s Picnic |Peek being funded by the Queen! | 5 to go…

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We were sat in our neighbours garden two years ago celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen, surrounded by red, white and blue bunting hanging from the trees, barbecues cooking up feasts up and down the country.   We were sharing our plans, excitement and anxieties for our upcoming move to Kenya. The last thing we expected was two years on, a Trust established to give the Queen a lasting legacy would be supporting our work with Peek for the next five years.

Celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee in June 2012

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The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is funding us to deliver five major research projects which will help us ensure that Peek reaches some of the goals we have dreamed of. Two of these studies will be here in Kenya and will answer two fundamental questions: (1) Can Peek increase the access to eye care, and in those who access care,  (2) can Peek increase the quality of care? These two studies will take around four years to complete in full but will answer a very important question about how effective Peek is to contributing to reducing blindness at a population level.

Other studies will be based in Tanzania, India and Botswana. To read more click here

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Recipe – Queen’s Picnic

Traditional cream tea’s have beautiful platters of sandwiches, scones and other delights such as macaroons.

As we’ve made scones and macaroons  already this bake focussed on freshly prepared bread and tasty fillings.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 1kg strong white bread flour
  • 10g dry yeast
  • 15g fine salt
  • 600ml warm water

For the fillings:

Method:

1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl, then add the water. Stir to create a rough, sticky dough. The dough really should be quite sticky at this stage – if it isn’t, add a splash more water.

2. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, rhythmically stretching the dough away from you, then folding it back on itself. The idea is to stretch and develop the gluten within the dough, not to beat the living daylights out of it. Avoid adding more flour if you can: the dough will become less sticky and easier to handle as you knead, and a wetter dough is generally a better dough.

3. When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, coat it very lightly with oil and place in a clean bowl. Cover with cling film or put inside a clean bin-liner and leave in a warm place until doubled in size – in the region of 1½ hours.

4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingertips. Reshape the dough into neat rounds and put on a lightly floured board to prove for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C, or its highest setting. Put a baking tray in to heat up.

5. When the loaves have almost doubled in size again, take the hot baking tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Carefully transfer the risen loaves to the tray. Slash the tops with a sharp, serrated knife and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until the crust is well-coloured, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it sharply with your fingers. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

The sandwich bread

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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!

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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)

Ingredients

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!

Method

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.

Recipe

Ingredients

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

Method

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!

Chocolate Brown Eyes

Madeleine: Beautiful eyes or ‘beautiful frying pans’ as Andrew once said trying to impress me with his amateur Spanish skills when we first met! He was holding a bunch of broccoli with a ribbon tied around it behind his back instead of flowers. Apparently the florist was closed but the grocers weren’t.  I couldn’t stop laughing, I knew I’d found the right man for me!

As I’m sure anyone reading this knows; Andrew is obsessed with eyes. He spends all day looking at them, cutting in to them or researching things related to them.

With the baking challenge set, and with a clear “focus” on eyes, I needed to develop a “signature eye bake”. I really wanted this bake to celebrate the beauty of eyes on presentation and taste, not that I’ve ever eaten any eyes, although Andrew once asked me to collect a bag of pre-ordered eye balls from our local butchers for him to practice a new surgical technique on, you should have seen the other customers faces! My first attempts at piping didn’t work too well but I was very happy with the taste.  Lucas got involved stirring and sieving the flour…aside from getting the mixer down from above the cupboard, it is possible to make most of this recipe with one hand…i.e. Lucas on my hip!  However twirling the eye-cake in the chocolate definitely should have been done with two hands! It was a little quicker when I made the batch for Andrews fellow eye lovers once he was snoozing.

Andrew: Madeleine crept in to bed at gone 1am last night. The kettle bubbling away and the Kenwood Mixer whirring at an ungodly hour. I knew there was going to be something interesting awaiting me in the morning. I came down to find our corridor kitchen (not designed to fit more than one person) was not the bombsite that usually follows one of Madeleine’s late night frenzied baking sessions, in fact, all was calm and sat on the counter were these beautiful chocolate brown eyes. Madeleine gently lowered them into neatly packed boxes having been close to a break down when two dropped and broke, ready for transporting to be shared with my workmates at the International Centre for Eye Health.

I think it was fair to say they were a big hit amongst my fellow eye lovers.

RECIPE

Ingredients:

Cake:

110g soft butter (I use Lurpak Unsalted)

275g soft dark brown sugar

2 large eggs – beaten (3 if the eggs are small)

175g self raising flour (Technically I don’t think you are meant to use 3 raising agents, I’ve always made this cake this way for no particular reason!)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1tsb bicarbonate of soda

50g cocoa powder (preferably good quality)

200ml cider, Guinness or milk, your choice. Guinness gives a lovely malty taste and help keeps it moist.

Icing…

…to mix with cake crumbs to make cake eye ball – apologies for non-metric weights…this is how I’ve always made this icing.

1/2 oz butter

1tbsp water

1/2 tbsp castor sugar

2.5 oz icing sugar

1/2 oz cocoa powder

200g of good quality milk chocolate like green and blacks

50g of dark chocolate over 70% cocoa

50g of white chocolate

20 plastic lolly sticks/cake pop sticks (you can buy these from Amazon)

1. Start by making the cake.  Turn the oven on to 180̊C̊.  Grease two 15cm cake tins.  Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy, the dark sugar will look at least a shade lighter.

2. Gradually beat in room temperature eggs – room temperature helps the eggs not to split.

3. In a separate bowl sieve the flour and raising agents.

4. Weigh the cocoa and sieve into a separate bowl, measure out the cider/Guinness or milk and gradually mix into the cocoa until you have a chocolaty paste.

5. Carefully fold in a bit of chocolate mix and flour alternately until it is all well folded in.

6 Divide into the cake tins, shake gently to flatten mixture evenly throughout the tin and place in the oven for 20mins until the sponge is slightly coming away from the sides of the tin and a knife remains clean when poked into the sponge.

7. Let the sponge cool.

8. Whilst the sponge is in the oven.  Break up the dark chocolate and melt over steaming water in a robust glass or small dish.  Draw out an eye to use as a stencil.  Cut an approx A4 sheet size of baking parchment. Fill a piping bag with the melted dark chocolate with a small nozzle. Place the stencil under the baking parchment and pipe the outline and eyelashes of an eye.  Repeat this 20 times, you may need more baking parchment.  Place in the fridge to firm up.

9. Crumble up the cooled cake from one tin (The other can be used as spare or a separate mini cake, or practice).

10. Make the icing, gently heat the butter, sugar and water and stir until melted and combined, at this point add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat in off the heat, but go back to the heat if you need, until smooth.  Next mix in the crumbled up cake, until one combined gooey mixture.

11. Roll 20 cake balls to the size you require, about an inch (2.5cm) in diameter, don’t make them too big, they may be unstable on the lolly stick and they don’t look as dainty!

12. Once rolled, place the cake balls either in a cake pop mould or on baking parchment and place into the fridge.

13. Melt the white chocolate. Using a piping bag pipe the whites of the eyes and place the eyes back into the fridge.

14. Once the eye cakes have been in the fridge until cool, melt the milk chocolate, dip the lolly stick into the melted chocolate then into an upside down cake ball, press into the cake ball about 2/3, careful not to pierce through the cake ball, put back into the fridge until chocolate is set.

15. Whilst the cake balls are back in the fridge, pipe the milk chocolate for the iris and pop back in the fridge.  They set quickly; afterwards, pipe the dark chocolate pupil, put back in the fridge then pipe on the white reflection.

16. Once the lolly sticks are set into the cake balls remove from the fridge and dip into the milk chocolate (I found by using a glass the chocolate was deeper so it was easier to coat the cake ball) turn around until chocolate firms and there are no drips, leave to harden.  I found it hard to balance the cake eyes at this point, but by putting some kitchen roll in the bottom of a mug it just raised and steadied the cake balls so the chocolate coating could firm.

17. Very gently lift up an eye from the baking parchment and stick to the chocolate coated cake ball.

18. Voila …beautiful brown eyes!  Just don’t knock a finished glass over…they are a bit fragile and so was my patience by this point!….enjoy…!

Times of Change

Madeleine: Starting school, friends’ babies arriving, Autumn coming and moving to Kenya around the corner – it is a time of change.  We have been sorting and packing our cupboard of doom (the one under the stairs – I’m sure you all have one!), weighing and calculating our luggage allowance. It has been a full-on week of staying up late, packing and being woken up regularly throughout the night (by Lucas who seems to have a mouth full of teeth working their way through all at the same time). After a good coffee this morning, I surveyed our garden with Lucas in tow. We picked a handful of fresh mint and a ripe, home-grown courgette and made for the kitchen. My inspiration for this recipe comes from one of my new favourite recipe books ‘Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache’ by Harry Eastwood.  Andrew loves these delicious cupcakes, so with Lucas “helping” we made some for him and for our friend whose son had just started school… We thought ‘healthy’ chocolate would sort out those new term blues…and they’re yummy!!

Mint Choc Chip Courgette Cakes

This has made the list of 100 for Kenya…once I’ve found a courgette substitute!!..exciting!

Ingredients (for 12 muffin-sized cakes cooked in a muffin tray).

Cupcakes:

3 eggs (Lucas runs down to the bottom of the garden in the morning and picks them from the coop. More make it back to the house then they used to. We will miss the girls! At least Granddad will look after them!)
160g castor sugar
200g finely grated courgette
90g rice flour
100g ground almonds
2 heaped tsp good cocoa powder
A handful of finely cut fresh garden mint 2 tsp baking powder Pinch of salt 100g 74% (or similar) dark chocolate

Icing:

50g softened, unsalted butter
200g icing sugar
50g quark (fat free soft cheese)
3 tsp good cocoa powder
Small handful finely chopped fresh mint

Method:

1. Pre heat oven to 180°C.
2. Line the muffin tray with paper cases.
3. Whisk up the eggs (yolk and white – I use my beloved Kenwood Mixer) with the sugar for approximately 5 minutes until quadrupled in volume.
4. Add the grated courgette and whisk again.
5. Whisk in the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, mint, baking powder and salt ’til all are well mixed in.
6. Use scissors to chop the chocolate into small chips and add to the mix with a wooden spoon.
7. Evenly distribute the mixture to the cases.
8. Place in the oven for 20minutes; don’t worry if they come out a bit flat.

9. Whilst they are cooking make the icing.

10. Whisk up the butter until pale and fluffy.  Add the icing sugar, quark and cocoa powder and beat together.  Mix in the fresh mint and then put the icing mix in the fridge.

11. Once the cupcakes are cooked and cooled, spread the icing evenly (no more then 5mm thickness needed).

12. Finish with a sprig of fresh mint.  Enjoy… These are as close to fat free chocolate cakes as you can get.

Andrew: Times of change indeed. Things seem to be happening so quickly that I rarely get chance to reflect on it. I’ve always found myself in that tension between wanting life’s comforts yet feeling quite stagnant and bored with all that brings, and wanting to be challenged and out of my comfort zone. Well, I am certainly out of my comfort zone at the moment and feel this constant buzz (might just be all the coffee we’ve been consuming) as things are piece-by-piece coming together. It’s going to be a close call having all the equipment ready in time (never mind the airline being okay with it all!) and the house emptied and cleaned.

This moment is one of those rare occasions where I have had 5 minutes to reflect, the unbelievable mint choc chip cake in my hand is making me very comfortable and very happy. This is definitely one of my favourites.

Preparation has begun – Safari flatbreads

Madeleine: The flight is booked, it has been on the cards for months/years, but now we actually have a ticket. We leave on the15th October! It’s real!

The preparations to move have begun.  Although packing the house up is not easy it does gently focus the mind in preparation for upcoming events. We have decided to start the blog in our preparatory phase for Kenya and will include some practice bakes – these won’t count towards the 100 in Kenya.

Coriander Flatbreads with Roasted Carrot Hummus

It has been a time of mixed emotions. Sometimes I have a great sense of adventure and excitement of what is to come, at others it is apprehension that is the dominant emotion with so many unknowns. We will be leaving our lovely home, close family, friends, familiarity and the English countryside that I love. We will no doubt have times where we feel uncomfortable and hesitant in a completely new environment in Kenya.  But at this moment it is excitement I’m feeling which makes this a good time to write our first entry. Lucas, our son, now 16 months old, loves wildlife and the outdoors and can rarely keep still. When he eats, it is just to take on board enough fuel to move again. He’s a fan of bread, especially my freshly home baked stuff so it didn’t take me long to think of making the first recipe for this blog. “Safari Flatbreads with roasted carrot hummus.”

Andrew: Years of dreaming about one day working in Africa, now so close its hard to believe. It has always been this idea for “the future” but now we are packing up the house and I’m ordering the final bits of equipment for the project in Kenya. 
Madeleine has put her career on hold and has embraced the challenge ahead including taking her baking hobby to the next level.  

Here I am tapping away at my computer when Lucas calls “Dada” to get my attention from downstairs. Awaiting me are my beautiful son and wife tucking in to animal shaped flatbreads and carrot hummus. I know the next year is going to be tough but I am also certain that as a family we will do it to the best of our ability and hopefully have lots of fun and eat lots of baked delights on the way.

Recipe 

Ingredients:

Flatbreads:

250g malted bread flour, 100g strong white bread flour and 150g wholemeal bread flour.

5g dried yeast (I avoid the fast action dried yeast as it has additives in, my preferred is Doves farm or Allinson in a tin), if you use fresh yeast double the weight.

5g salt with no additives (this can be increased to 10g but I prefer to bake with low salt to be toddler and heart friendly).

300mls warm water

Roasted Carrot Hummus:

1Kg of peeled and roughly chopped carrots

Glug of olive oil

Small handful of a mix of fresh chopped thyme and basil…to taste

Tablespoon of dry roasted coriander seeds..again to taste

2 shallots or one small onion and two garlic cloves roughly chopped and sautéed in a knob of butter (unsalted)

Black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Squeeze of lemon

Tablespoon dry toasted sesame seeds

Method

This makes loads so the left-over is ideal to store in the fridge for another day or be used as ‘old dough’ when making bread in the next few days.

1. Dry fry a handful of coriander seeds. You can always do more then keep them for another day in the cupboard.

2. Mix flours, half of the coriander seeds, yeast, water and salt, the knead until smooth for about 10mins. Lucas likes to help knead so I break a little ball off for him…whilst standing on a chair he likes to either poke lots of holes in it or just keep throwing it on the surface…I love his enthusiasm!

3. Leave to prove for 30mins to 1 hour depending on temperature etc. then knock back and roll out a small handful to desired thickness, use a little flour sprinkled on surface if needed.

4. Use cutter to cut out animals or generally whichever shapes you fancy or the little one loves! We had giraffes, bears, and hedgehogs.

5. Pre heat frying pan then dry fry animals/shapes until puffed slightly and crisp, turn over to dry fry other side.

6. Whilst bread is proving, peel 1kg of carrots (if anyone has mastered peeling and holding a toddler please let me know! If you have chickens remember they are always fans of the peelings.  Chickens have to be in the top ten of baking equipment and they produce such yummy eggs…such a shame we cant take them!).

7. Roast with a glug of olive oil, finely chopped fresh thyme and basil along with coriander seeds and back pepper if needed. (No salt as it’s toddler and heart friendly).

8. On the stove gently brown two shallots and 2 garlic cloves finely chopped.

9. Add the roasted carrots, shallots and 2 tablespoons of yogurt to the blender, along with a fresh handful of coriander.  Squeeze the lemon and a tablespoon of dry toasted sesame seeds, then chop to desired consistency.

10. I arranged the flatbreads on a plate with a hill of carrot hummus, a sprig of thyme for a tree and stood the giraffe so he was eating the leaves from the thyme tree!

We had great fun with Lucas in the high chair making giraffe, bear and hedgehog noises. Until he bit the giraffe’s head off with a giggle using his new two front teeth.   It was a yummy pre-dinner snack for me and Daddy was able to join us.  I think it was a welcome break for him after a day of amendments for a paper on macular degeneration.