Prune and Pink Peppercorn Rye Loaf

This recipe is for the serious bakers among Squidbeak readers. It is based on a rye sourdough recipe by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, the author of the award winning How to Make Bread, published in 2011 by Ryland Peters and Small. Emmanuel gives simple instructions on how to make a rye sour dough which takes 5 days. There after you have some forever if you look after it like a pet.

This loaf is an example of exquisitely flavoured rye sour dough. I was delighted with the result which was a softer, lighter loaf than I had been expecting. The dough requires very little kneading but it does need a long period of fermentation. This bread making project needs to be started a couple of days before the loaf is required and uses a rye sourdough starter.

Makes one small loaf



150g dark rye flour

100g rye sourdough starter

200g water

200g dark rye flour

1tsp salt

150g hot water

200g pitted prunes, chopped

1 tbsp pink pepper corns


Grease a loaf tin measuring 21cm x 12cm loaf tin.

In one bowl mix the 150g dark rye flour with the rye sourdough starter and 200g water. Cover the bowl with either another inverted bowl or use a clear plastic shower cap and leave to ferment overnight.

The following day mix 200g of dark rye flour with the salt and tip over the fermented rye sourdough mixture prepared the day before. Pour the hot water over the dry mixture and mix well.

Add the prunes and pink pepper corns and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf tin. Wet a plastic scraper or pallet knife and smooth the surface of the loaf. Dredge the surface of the loaf with rye flour, cover and allow the loaf to rise for two hours.

Keep an eye on the dough to ensure it does not rise over the tin. If it does just wipe any extra dough away from the loaf tin.

Preheat the oven to 220°/425°F/ gas mark 7.

The dough should rise about 2cm during proving after which it should be placed in the oven for about 30 minutes. Check whether the loaf is cooked by turning it out of the tin and knocking the base. If it sounds hollow the loaf is cooked and should be placed on a wire cooling rack to cool.

See more of Joan’s recipes and photographs on

Real Bread

Forge_bakehouseSo I parked up a couple of hundred yards from the fabulous Bragazzis café and as I got near, the most marvelous smell wafted through the CO2. Fresh bread. Man o man.  I pressed my nose against the window of the Forge Bakehouse and clocked rack on rack of fine looking loaves; soda, rye, spelt, olive & thyme ciabatta and rosemary flecked foccacia – but they don’t just sell bread here, they bake it on the premises. It’s open plan too, so you can watch the process – and quiz owners Martha and Ben. You can’t catch their eye if they’re too busy – but they love to chat. They met at the School of Artisan Food in Nottingham while they were learning their trade, opening the Forge doors in November 2013. They’ve been doing a roaring trade ever since. And given the quality and variety of the bread, no surprise there. Just as I was reluctantly leaving, rye bread and French stick under my arm I spotted something extraordinary on the glass counter. Patel de nata, or custard tarts to you. You never see these outside Portugal. I bought the lot. The first one was necked before I hit the pavement; eyes-rolling-back-in-sockets divine. If you’ve never had one, find a way to get to Abbeydale Road before you’re much older.

Forge Bakehouse, 232 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield S7 1FL
T: 0114 258 8987

Orange & Tomato Soup

What we need this time of year is colour. There’s precious little of it outside so let’s look for it elsewhere. This dead easy soup has value added comfort, plus the smell in the kitchen is borderline orgasmic. I might have gone a bit far with the Mexican tray and rainbow tulips but it hasn’t half cheered me up. Hope it has the same effect on you.


25g butter

750g tomatoes, chopped

100g red lentils

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 orange

1 bay leaf

900ml good stock (Marigold is best)




Prep time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour


Heat the butter in a large pan. Add the onions, carrot and lentils and cook gently for five minutes. Peel the rind off the orange with a spud peeler and add it to the pan with the tomatoes and bay leaf. Pour in the stock, season, bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for an hour. Remove the bay leaf and blitz. Add the orange juice; serve hot or cold (with or without cream but with chunky bread).


The Perfect White Loaf

This week I baked my first loaf. I know. I tell everyone I bake my own bread, but the truth is that my Panasonic does it. It’s hard to imagine how I got to this great age, call myself a foodie and have never kneaded. Jill asked me to make bread  so I chose ‘How to Make a Perfect White Loaf’ from The Great British Bake Off. I have to admit to some trepidation. The first attempt failed miserably, on account of using old yeast. No amount of peeping under the damp cloth and cursing was going to rise the dough. First lesson learned. I chucked the lot in the bin and started again. This time it worked, and I baked my first loaf. Good news: if I can do it, so can you. Bad news: my cred as a foodie is probably shot to hell. Oh well.

Makes 2 medium loaves


700g strong white bread flour
2 tsp sea salt flakes, crushed
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast or 15g fresh yeast
About 450g warm water


Put the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the dried yeast. Mix well then make a well in the centre.

Pour the warm water into the well. If using fresh yeast, mix it with the water then add to the flour.

Mix the flour into the water to make a soft but not sticky dough. If there are dry crumbs or the dough feels stiff and dry, work in a little more water; if it feels sticky and starts to stick to your fingers, work in a little more flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead thoroughly for TEN MINUTES. To knead, first stretch the ball of dough away from you by holding one end down with your hand and using the other hand to pull and stretch out the dough.

Gather the dough together back into a ball. Give it a quarter turn and repeat the stretching and gathering-back movements. As the dough is kneaded it will gradually change its texture and appearance and will start to feel pliable yet firm and look silky and smooth.


Return the ball of dough to the bowl and cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel. Leave to rise til doubled in size – an hour in a warm kitchen, two hours at normal room temperature, three hours in my cold, draughty, damp hovel or overnight in the fridge.

Punch down the risen dough with your knuckles to deflate it. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently for a minute or so. Divide into equal halves and shape into a ball. Roll each ball around til very smooth and set it on a sheet on non-stick baking paper. Dust with flour. Cover with the damp cloth again. Leave to rise til doubled in size – around an hour.

Preheat the oven to 230°/450°/gas 8. Put one or two baking sheets in the oven (you might fit them both on one, but they will spread a bit) and put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven.

Uncover the loaves and sprinkle with a little more flour then slash the top of each with a sharp knife. Transfer them, on the paper, to the hot sheet(s) and put in the oven. Pour a cup of cold water into the roasting tin to produce a burst of steam, and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the sheets if needed to bake evenly, then reduce the temperature to 200°/400°/gas 6 and bake for a further 15 or 20 minutes or until a good golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when you tap them underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Stand back, admire and wonder why the hell you’ve never done it before. And know that you’ll never buy supermarket bread ever again.


The Golden Ball update

Launch party for York's first community pub, the Golden Ball


We reported recently about the planned community buy-out of the Golden Ball, one of York’s traditional,  unspoilt, neighbourhood pubs. Well they did it!

A co-operative of 183 members raised enough money to buy the lease with all profits being ploughed back into the pub or the community. Karen Cranfield is the new manager and knows her real ales and it was good to see it last night, comfortably buzzing. There were games going on in the front room, a cosy fire in the snug and live music in the bar by talented brother and sister duo The Sibs. (OK interest declared, they’re friends of ours, but they’re very good regardless). In summer too there’s  a lovely beer garden.

But that’s not all. Karen and the committee want to make the Golden Ball a genuine community pub and are open to new ideas. They’ve already held storytelling sessions for kids and starting 5th January the local Bluebird Bakery will be delivering fresh bread to the Golden Ball from noon every Saturday: bloomers, olive and herb, wholemeal, rye and caraway and sourdough loaves will be on sale. And I can confirm the sourdough is fab. I’ve had it from Alligator Wholefoods. Click here for their other outlets.

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