Into 2017

But first what did we learn in 2016?

Your sourdough bread is only as good as your starter, I thought mine had died (although I have read that’s not possible) but it was a miserable, vinegary smelly liquid when I neglected to feed it. However equal quantities of rye and white flour plus their combined weight in water every day for three days had her back on her feet again, and the bread (imho) is looking good.

Choose a recipe/method and stick to it and make it over and over until you have a consistent result, don’t flit from one to another always looking for the one that “works best”

Get books! because whilst scrolling through infinite websites/blogs is good, sitting down and looking through books is sometimes a better idea (and better for your eyes too) I got some great books in 2016.

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And I did finally get to join SERV as a blood biker.

Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers is the full title and basically we collect and deliver essential supplies by motorcycle to hospitals and the National Blood Bank out of hours 7pm – 6am (365 days a year) the purpose to support the NHS and keep ambulances and paramedics on the front line.

It can be blood and blood products plasma, platelets but also samples, medical records, X-rays, spinal fluids even surgical equipment, we never know who it’s for but often the calls are very urgent and bikes are more effective in traffic.

Here is a link with more information and one of a number of videos outlining our duties and service to the community.

http://www.serv.org.uk/site/

..and it’s been going a while

More to come

 

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That was a wow moment (in bakery terms)

  

I have made quite few sourdough loaves with Audrey my starter who was born in August last year (you can read about her here) and some have been more successful than others but today was definitely a wow moment. This bread from start to finish was a triumph, I started it at 7pm on Saturday and baked it straight from the fridge on Sunday in time for breakfast. Here is the recipe although I cannot claim it as mine as it’s from the excellent blog Wildyeast a mine of information for all things bread and sourdough.

Recipe for great sourdough

450g strong white flour

60g rye flour

10g salt

180g starter 100% hydration

300g tap water

I suppose I should make it a couple of times before I can say it was not just luck but hey!

In other news …

Another handmade hound was finished today to keep Mr Brindle company you can learn more by visiting the Hawkeshounds Facebook page here

  
And a lemon drizzle cake that’s much better than Starbucks.

  
Thanks for visiting, more soon.

Leaves a sour taste

Not really, but the longer the fermentation with Sourdough, the more developed the flavour it seems. When I look at the most recent run of loaves I have made (and photographed) it appears I may have over-done it on the lavendar linen, my wife Cath used dye on some French linen we acquired at a brocante in France on a recent visit and I think it sets off the golden brown crust a treat! There was no escape even for the Lemon cake. what do you say?

This was a loaf from last week which made possibly the most sensational toast we’ve ever toasted or tasted.

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And here is my latest read which just arrived yesterday, I have been looking forward to this book it’s written by Vanessa Kimbell who runs www.sourdough.co.uk

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Thanks for clicking more soon.

A bit of a slow starter

I have noticed whenever I use a new recipe for Sourdough bread from the many great blogs and sites out there, the actual timings for mine are vastly different in reality. Sometimes I think yeah great to have a nice fresh baked loaf for lunch this Saturday and it comes out after baking at 1am on Sunday morning!

Well I think it’s my starter and whilst it produces a good tasty bread whenever called on it’s er, well, slow and particularly on the second rise when it’s in it’s basket.

I used a recipe yesterday from the Wild Yeast Blog called Norwich Sourdough here’s a link to it a fantastic looking loaf but took forever to rise before baking certainly far from the 2.5 hours quoted (and I do appreciate that these times can vary due to many circumstances but…) I tried the float test which means dropping a teaspoon of your starter into a glass of water and apparently if it floats then it’s ready to use and if it sinks then it needs more feeding. It kind of didn’t sink but didn’t float either just sort of hung there suspended.

So this week I will feed her more than usual and see if the results are different (and report back)

Below are the two loaves from yesterday, the one at the back of the shot is the Norwich

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From here                                           to here took ages…

Faces in places

Recently I have had a few requests for portraits in let’s say; less than ordinary locations, this type of photography is exciting for a number of reasons, it makes you think carefully about your lighting and how you can use it to emphasise or enhance the subject, sometimes there is no light there at all to start with so you have to add it yourself, another big factor with this type of shot is the direction required for the subject and the relationship you build and then there’s the time pressure it often forces you to think quickly. Finding a good and suitable location and spending some time there before your sitter arrives is key to being comfortable and ready for the time the actual main part of the photograph arrives!

In these locations below I have used small speedlight flashes with various means to either soften or direct the lighting depending on the desired result.

This first shot was fun, I had someone to hold a lightstand with umbrella and flash and position it over the water just above the subjects head  (I taped the flash to the stand as an extra insurance to prevent an accident!) I had to get really low, almost level with the water surface to get the prospective I was looking for.

_NCH6518-Edit-3 This next shot was a little more complex with a few lights and also someone throwing flour and small stones into the shot from the right to add to the drama of breaking a wall!

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This last couple of shots were taken in the plant room where there were plenty of interesting backgrounds that are suited perfectly to an engineering portrait. As there was very little existing light I had to add some hard light for the background and softlight for the subject.

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Thanks for stopping by, more soon.

A flash of inspiration

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the legendary photographer Joe McNally those of you not familiar with him (really?) you can read more about him here. Having read most of his books, watched most of his videos on youtube and subscribed to most of his tutorials and read most of his blog posts (you can see where this is going right?) I jumped at the chance of seeing him when he came to London, so I spent 6 hours with about 25 others at the Nikon Centre of Excellence learning about TTL speedlight flash photography and listening to Joe giving away tips and advice gained over many years of in the field assignments. It was very inspiring to say the least and having the chance to shoot live in setups both in the studio and out in the street whilst having Joe looking over your shoulder and coaching accordingly was well worth it.

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Other highlights this week were the news that Gunilla from our very own hawkeshound store here pictured above was sold and is now winging her way to Newcastle. That brings the total of creatures sold to 40!

And then there was the finishing of this wonderful lampshade that adorns this floor standing solid wooden base from friends of ours in Denmark some years back.

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and the usual sourdough adventure this time with flour from the Coop which yielded a slightly softer dough (10% wholewheat) than usual but tasty none-the-less. Here it is.

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And as for old Moley I guess we’re stuck with him for now (Mrs Crazyhound says she’s going to make him a new outfit, can’t say he looks too impressed…)

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Why I took flour to the movies

Another full week has flown past, last night we went to see Spectre at the cinema, I went straight from work and was running a little late due to the inevitable: engineering works/an earlier signal failure/leaves on the line etc etc. On the way from the station walking past Waitrose, I remembered we were nearly out of bread flour so popped in to get some, seems straight forward enough but that’s why I was the only one at the cinema with a bag of flour. After we got home I set about making some dough and then realised I had bought Canadian wholewheat flour instead of white so I made the same recipe but with 150gms of white flour (all I had left) and 350gms of wholewheat. Left to prove from 11pm last night until about 3pm today, then 2 hours in it’s basket and here it is after an hour in the oven. Happy. (and a good movie too)

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Hang on a minute… what’s he doing