Sara Ward on Living the Good Life March 2024

Spring Flowers and Flours

Guest blog by Sara Ward

Whilst the temperature may be jumping up and down, as though bouncing on a Spring (do you see what I did there?), with the sunshine bringing us 16c one day then back down to 2c a couple of weeks later, at least the bulbs are flowering!

We’ve got daffodils nodding in the back garden and grape hyacinths in the front window boxes; the tulips are peeping through the grass in rings around the apple trees and the peach tree is in splendid form, opening its bright pink blossoms to captivate the local pollinators.

When the sun shines – all is well, and when it doesn’t, I turn my attention to the flours inside. I keep a good stock, delivered directly from the mill, and am particularly enjoying malted flour at the moment; I love its caramel colours and nutty texture.

Malted flour is made in a magical way. The process begins by soaking grains of wheat in water, tricking it into thinking that it’s time to grow, then as germination starts – think cress seeds on damp kitchen paper, the grains start to sprout and some of the starches convert to sugars to feed the anticipated new plant.

This is where the process is halted, the grains are dried and milled and this new sweet powder is added to batches of flour which can be used to bake our favourite loaves.

Image above: Cotswold Crunch

Our Friday Micro Bakery  offers two different malted loaves, both using flour from the Mathews Mill, and I still can’t decide which one is my favourite. First there’s the classic Cotswold Crunch, but then I’m enticed by its younger sister Cotswold Eight Grain which blends additional flours and seeds into the mix.

When people hear that I run a bakery from home, I’m regularly asked ‘Do you make Gluten Free Bread?’ and whilst I appreciate the faith in my baking skills, I’m not sure whether the wheat-avoiding customers really comprehend how many sacks of the stuff I have open at any one time.

However, with passion to provide great food and ensure that no-one misses out, especially due to dietary requirements, I created a pretty special Quinoa and Buckwheat Loaf and have a stash of other recipes that just don’t happen to have gluten grains in the ingredients list.

Image above: Quinoa and Buckwheat Loaf 

Of course, I do all I can to avoid cross contamination, I keep the flours in completely separate cupboards and clean my workspace before I start on the specialist bakes, and now, due to popular requests, I’ve created a new whole day course Introduction to Gluten Free Baking, the first date is Tuesday 23rd April and we still have a few places left.

We’ve talked about the flowers and flours of Spring and the best of both are brought together perfectly as we celebrate Easter. Whether you want to brush up on your baking skills and learn how to make our award winning Easter Apricot Couronne or bring the family round to hug a hen in the garden and hunt for eggs, we’d love you to join us, check out our events below.

Image above: Easter Apricot Couronne

But before we finish this month’s post, if you are planning to grow some of your own food this year, now is the time to start chitting potatoes and sowing your first seeds indoors.

It won’t be long before the apple trees are in flower and the bees are starting to make honey again!

Coming up at Hen Corner:

March:

Wednesday 6 March Introduction To Scandinavian Baking

Wednesday 13 March Introduction to Making Cheese

Tuesday 19 March Introduction to Making Bread

Tuesday 26 Introduction To Easter Baking

Easter Holiday Family Events:

Saturday 30 Easter at Hen Corner

Thursday 4 April Baking Together

Wednesday 10 April Cheese Together

All courses, virtual & face to face, can be found at HenCorner.com

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