Open Source Bread 2: Muesli Bread

The way I usually make bread is that I make a bunch of loaves every other week and freeze them so we always have nearly fresh bread – a loaf that has been frozen freshly after cooling down and then is thawed in the microwave is definitely nicer than a days old loaf, and much more achievable than baking every day.
I’ll start with a fairly new creation I have come up with when I had a lot of sourdough starter to go through, but our freezer had died so I had no way of keeping a large amount of bread.

So I made a very dark and heavy, pure sourdough bread. It is based on my rye only sourdough starter, and made with wholemeal rye and wheat flour, sunflower seeds, linseed and mixed rolled grains – I use Holland and Barretts’ muesli base, hence the name of the bread.
After a couple of iterations, I came up with the following recipe that yields a moist and rich bread with a noticeable but mild acidity – perfect if you love German or Eastern European wholemeal breads, but aren’t a fan of the really sour tasting varieties.

400g rye sourdough starter
100g wholemeal rye flour
200g strong wholemeal wheat flour
100g mixed rolled grains
100g sunflower seeds
50g linseed
10g salt
255g water
Work all the ingredients to a smooth dough, preferably in a bowl as the dough is a bit on the wet and sticky side. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for 6-8h – I do this overnight.
Work again quickly, shape into a longish loaf, roll in rolled grains and put it in a greased baking tin (I use a fairly big, long one). Cover with a cloth and leave to prove for 1.5h. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C. After proving, mist the oven with some water and bake the bread in the tin for 35 minutes, reducing the heat to 220°C after 5 minutes.

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Everyday Art 2


Cold Flakes

Cold Flakes

Assorted breakfast cereals, ceramic bowls, retail grade display fridge

I found this in the canteen of a large institution in London. This installation is recreated every morning to supply the employees with ice cold breakfast flakes. I did not investigate how cooling affected the crunchiness of the flakes.

Root veg spaghetti with tahin

Serves 4

For the vegetables:
2 parsnips
5 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/8 of a celeriac
1/4 suede
1 leek
All diced to about 1 cm

4 cloves of garlic
1 small red chilli, de-seeded
Finely chopped

Pinch of ground cumin

400g spaghetti

To finish:
A large handful of each dill, parsley, fresh coriander and basil, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tahin
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh discarded and peel finely chopped

Add a good glug of olive oil, the vegetables, garlic, chilli and cumin to a deep frying pan and put on a medium heat. Fry for about 5 min, then salt lightly and cover. Keep cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti al dente. If the vegetables threaten to run dry, add some water from the pasta.

You can wash and chop the herbs while the pasta is cooking.
Put the tahin in a small bowl, and add some pasta water spoon by spoon, stirring all the time until it has the consistency of a runny batter.

When the pasta is done, drain it adding a good bit of the water to the veg – you want to see a bit of liquid, but the vegetables should not be floating. Mix the pasta, the tahin, the herbs and the lemon carefully into the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste – you might not need any salt as the pasta water should be quite salty. Rest covered for a couple of minutes for the tastes to blend, then serve hot.

Less Than Operators

The project I am working on at the moment contains a fair number of custom less than operators. They are usually required to use non-trivial types (e.g. pointers to structs) as keys in maps – fair enough so far. But what amazes me time and again are the subtle possibilities for failure when crafting one. Some people either seem to be oblivious to the fact that less than needs to induce a strict weak ordering (i.e. if a < b, then under no circumstances can b < a be true), or they don't think their implementation through. Neither do they write a test for it nor get it reviewed. To be fair, the environment favours speed of development somewhat over quality, but I don't think that this provides an entitlement to ignore debug assertions from the STL.
So if you ever find yourself in the situation where you need such an operator, remember – they aren't hard to write, but quite easy to get subtly wrong. And a debug assertion means something is seriously wrong.

Taste gone off

Let’s start this blog with something strange that just happened to me:
While being down with flu and severe fever, I noticed that this did not just affect my ability to stand upright and think straight, but altered my very sense of taste. It wasn’t, like some friends in a similar situation reported, a loss of all but the basic tastes, as is often the case with a blocked or inflamed nose, but a shift of tastes.
I first noticed that a dish of red cabbage, usually an explosion of sweet and sour tastes, was dominated by a dark and earthy flavour – a quick check with my wife confirmed that hers tasted as expected, so that must have been me. Later that night, I discovered the toothpaste had taken on a taste of near-unbearable bitterness, whereas fresh water took on some murky taste. Isostar, on the other hand, tasted really great – much better than it ever should taste in real life, even after a hard work-out. Oh, and bananas suddenly had a horrible taste of artificial banana flavour, like the really horrible banana sweets from the 1980s.

Luckily, most of this seems to revert to normal as of this afternoon, which hopefully also means the rest of my body will recover soon.