Bread of Heaven

On December 13, 2018 by battenburgbelle

It wasn’t me baking the bread this time – I was honoured when Jenny asked me to cater for a group of her fellow Bread Angels, as they spent a couple of days at hers perfecting their food photography skills under the expert and watchful eye of the fantastic Joan Ransley. I was a little daunted when I arrived on day one with my offerings and saw the heavenly loaves the Angels had rustled up for their photographs. They bake for others and teach bakery courses – I was so impressed that I’ve signed up to Ma Baker’s How to Set Up Your Own Microbakery course in March. Can’t wait!

Here are just a few examples of the great photos the Angels crafted with Joan’s expert guidance.

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I had a busy week, so I made life easier for myself by offering the same menu for both days (different Angels each day, so that was fine). I had planned to sneak in under the radar and learn to take better pics myself, but time was not on my side and I had to make do with being the hired help on this occasion. I have done one of Joan’s workshops before and my photography definitely got better, but there is still plenty of scope for improvement….

Due to the aforementioned hectic schedule, I mostly went with recipes I’ve done before, with Ottolenghi featuring heavily. I went full veggie, rather than open myself up to multiple dietary requests. I made his quinoa and red rice salad, which is always popular. I don’t usually agree with putting sweet stuff in with the savouries, but the apricots in this salad are a perfect way to offset the citrussy flavours. It’s a great accompaniment for lots of different dishes, which is just as well as the recipe serves way more than the two people he says it will. It does keep well in the fridge for a few days – I just add a little more lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning to freshen it up. I also decided to present the Angels with Ottolenghi’s sweetcorn slaw, which I LOVE. There’s a lot of slicing to be done, but when you’ve got that out of the way, it’s soon a distant memory and well worth the effort. It’s light and fresh tasting, with a pleasing kick from the fresh chillies. Shop-bought coleslaw is a guilty pleasure of mine and it will always have a place in heart and often in my fridge, but this is undoubtedly a million times better. I’ve baked his” very full tart” before too – it’s packed full of roasted vegetables, with lots of feta  and ricotta – not a quick one to rustle up, but so tasty.

Ottolenghi's Very Full Tart

Ottolenghi’s Very Full Tart

I thought I should experiment with one new recipe. Missy B is starting out her gap year working at our local Gail’s bakery and café. I can’t help but have a quick flick through their cookbook whenever I pop in to say hello and enjoy a cuppa with one of their delicious cakes. I spotted their recipe for fresh herb tart and was waiting for an excuse to give it a try. It looked interesting and reasonably straightforward. It was both – and utterly delicious. I realise this is a risky thing to say, but I used the pretty much failsafe pastry recipe I learned from my happy trips to the Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School in Bath (no soggy bottoms at Battenburg Towers), then got on with the filling (I couldn’t get chervil, but that aside I followed Gail’s recipe):

25g butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
3 eggs
100ml crème fraiche
120ml double cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground to a powder
120g mature Cheddar, grated
2 sprigs parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
4 sprigs each of tarragon, thyme, oregano, marjoram and chervil, leaves only, roughly chopped
2 tbsp snipped chives

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion, spring onions and garlic over a medium heat until very soft – about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool a little.

Whisk the eggs, crème fraiche, double cream, salt, pepper and ground coriander together. Add the onion mixture and stir well. Stir in all the herbs gently, then add the grated cheese. Mix well and pour the custard into the tart case. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 170ºC/gas mark 3 and bake till the custard is just set.

I’m sure you can mix it up herb-wise, but this combination works beautifully. I will be making this one again. It’s light, delicate and extremely moreish. There was none left over.

Gail's Fresh Herb Tart

Gail’s Fresh Herb Tart

The Bread Angels seemed to enjoy their lunch, with lots of lovely comments on the day, and I had this delightful feedback from Jenny:

When I asked Battenburgbelle if she could help out with a two-day food photography workshop I was hosting at my flat in North London, I knew she’d come up with the goods. I predicted that I’d be super busy assisting with styling shots and making a gazillion cups of tea so she offered to make lunch for us all, brilliant!

It was hard to get the Bread Angels to stop titivating their breads, brioches, stollen, and couronnes to break for food. But when they eventually downed tools they all really loved the fabulous spread BB had made for us.  Two delicious quiches were wolfed down and the two amazing salads were decimated too, although there was a little left for Alex (who had traveled all the way from Wakefield) to take in a Tupperware for her train journey home.

Thank you Battenburgbelle, you kept my stress levels down and fed me, the truly brilliant food photographer Joan Ransley and her nine Bread Angel students with utter aplomb!

It’s always a pleasure to feed people and it’s great to see people enjoying the food I have produced. I just hope Joan doesn’t scrutinise my own photographic attempts too closely.

One Response to “Bread of Heaven”

  • Everything you made for us was utterly delicious and I’m still thinking about that herb tart! Yum yum! The leftovers kept me going for a few days, that Ottolenghi quinoa salad seems indestructible, lasts for ever! Thanks so much for all your hard work. I am excited that you are doing Ma Baker’s micro-bakery course – you will have a brilliant time and learn so much.

    Plus, you will become a BREAD ANGEL. Although, of course, in my eyes you are already a bread angel xx

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