- March 18, 2012 -
Our Kitchenaid has been very busy this weekend. We’re particularly proud of our hot cross buns – without the cross. We like to call them our hot happy buns. The first batch was a little flat, but with some extra kneading, the addition of some flour and a further prove, we’ve nailed them. The brandy-soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries added an additional depth to flavour, while the spicing using cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg added a Christmassy aroma to our kitchen. Delicious. Here’s the recipe we used:
For the buns:
57g rum or brandy (we used brandy)
78g mixed dried fruit
78g raisins or dried currants (we used a mix of giant sultanas & cranberries)
283g milk, room temperature
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
85g butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast
53g light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (add a bit more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
539g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg & milk beaten together for brushing
Mix flour and water together to make a paste thick enough to pipe.
1) Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.
2) Mix the rum or brandy with the dried fruit and raisins put in a saucepan and heat very gently until warmed through. Allow the fruit to cool.
3) Mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit (so the flour, eggs, butter, sugar, spices, salt, baking powder and yeast) and knead using your Kitchenaid, till the dough is soft and elastic. Then mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.
4) Let the dough rise for one hour, covered. It should become lovely and puffy, but it may not double in bulk (mine did).
5) If at this point your dough is quite sloppy & sticky, add more flour. At this point I did a hand knead on a well-floured surface to create a bit more stiffness to the mixture. Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, which made about 12 to 14 buns. Arrange the balls into the prepared pan. Make sure that they’re quite close together because once proved, you want them to be touching.
6) Cover the pan with a teatowl and let the buns rise for one hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 220C.
7) Take your flour paste mixture and put it into a piping bag or food bag (and snip off the end) and pipe crosses onto your buns.
8) Whisk together the egg and milk, and brush it liberally over the buns.
9) Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. I had the oven really hot and checked mine after 15 minutes. You want them golden on top. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.
- March 17, 2012 -
We picked up some supplies from Shipton Mill this week – the most beautiful spot for a serious food producing outfit that we’ve ever seen. Just a couple of miles from Tetbury, we got horribly lost trying to find it. Mental note to selves: never trust a sat-nav with just a postcode when in the wilds of the countryside. So as we winded down and around country lanes, we didn’t mind nearly as much when we stumbled across a wonderful little wine merchants.
Vinotopia is set in a beautiful old farm building that’s been dressed up with some contemporary touches. A triple-height barn, it’s packed to the original rafters with bottles of exquisitely chosen wines. Whilst asking directions to Shipton Mill (they didn’t know the precise location, but looked it up on their lovely iMac for us), we perused the shelves and ended up spending a few quid on a delicious bottle of Priorat – one of our favourite Spanish regions.
Back to flour: down a dusty lane, in a sleepy hollow is the original mill. A kitchen garden and wood-fired oven sit in their gardens, a couple of tame pheasants trotted around and their office buildings sit above the river that once powered the millstones. Things are a little more hi-tech these days, but there’s still an artisanal approach to flour making. They’ve blended four different flours for us to test out for the optimum dough, and we can’t wait to get them into our Kitchenaid mixer.
- March 12, 2012 -
We’re not sure which new item we’re most excited about: our shiny new Kitchenaid Artisan mixer in a lovely metallic enamel grey finish, or our shiny new iPhone 4S in white. We like shiny things. They’re both divine, we’re sure you’ll agree. We’d been relying on an old Blackberry in recent weeks, which had been unceremoniously dumping calls at random, locking itself out of range in the middle of busy cities and refusing to go online. So, time to say goodbye to the Blackberry and hello to the Apple.
We love it already. It’s guided us to the kitchen shop in Banbury, recommended a great pub nearby for a cheeky lunch and has an App installed where we can point it at the sky and see what each constellation is called. All very pressing things, we think you’ll agree! We’re currently speaking to a merchant banking provider about a cool little gadget we saw on food trucks in the States, that slips on the bottom of your iPhone and can be used as a credit card reader, wherever you are. Clever stuff.
- March 12, 2012 -
After a disastrous stint on ebay (which resulted in a heavy-duty Kitchenaid arriving with so much damage that we had to send it back – we’re still waiting for our refund…), we decided to shop local for our new Kitchenaid mixer, and found an excellent kitchen shop in Banbury called Abraxas. The ladies in the store were incredibly helpful – this little shop, full to the rafters with beautiful cooking and kitchen objéts, had more Kitchenaid mixers for sale than two branches of John Lewis and a Debenhams combined. They were also cheaper than John Lewis. We opted for the metallic grey enamel finish (why pay an extra £100 for a stainless steel version which will require constantly polishing) which looks very handsome indeed. Almost too beautiful to use. Now to decide one what we’re going to make with its first use… Some homemade bread, we think.
- February 28, 2012 -
Now available for children’s parties (our homemade dough and topping have no added sugar and are made from the very best ingredients, so the pizzas are a great, healthy alternative that the kids go mad for), festivals (find us at a VW event this summer), farmers’ and food markets, village fetes and large events all over the country. Genuine wood-fired pizza arriving in a VW campervan to a town and village near you this summer.
- February 21, 2012 -
Catch it while you can: venison meatballs, roasted red onion and Parmesan.
Every month we’ll be raiding our Cotswolds larder and creating pizzas that celebrate the very best of the season. If you’re a local producer (based in our neighbouring counties of Worcestershire, Warwickshire or Oxfordshire, or, of course, Gloucestershire itself), then drop us a line. We think that supporting local food producers and farmers is really important.
- February 21, 2012 -
Delicious, freshly-made pizzas cooked to perfection on our wood-burning oven. Seasonal flavours, local ingredients and organic where possible. We source our flour from Shipton, our mozzarella from Shepton Mallet and our wild boar salami from Gloucestershire.
Blistered crusts, crispy bases, oozing with melted cheese and simply delicious.
Find us at farmers’ markets, events in and around Gloucestershire or hire us for a pizza party in your own back garden.
Our pizzas are handmade and created by our chef, an award-winning cook with bags of experience.
To find out where we are, call us on: 07765976803, email us or follow us on Twitter.