Friday, July 29, 2011

Blueberry and Apple Charlotte made with solar baked bread!

The finished Charlotte with apples and blueberries bursting forth.
First I decided to try baking bread in our little solar oven...would it work here in Maine?
As you see below...YES it did...and what a wonderful loaf...I didn't get a brown on it but it was baked through and just delicious.
This bread was baked by the sun in Maine!
I used a faboo recipe from King Arthur Flour (click on the link for the recipe and I recommend doing the by weight version if you have a scale) which is no-knead and so reliably great...even, good crumb and moist without being soggy...just perfect!! Thanks King Arthur!!
If you don't have a homemade loaf then do avail yourself of a loaf with some spine....not one of those marshmallow loaves but one with some body and even perhaps a wholewheat of some they are stout and hearty and will add more of a certain kind of flavour that
I think would be good.

To begin the Charlotte we need to cook our blueberries and apples...I have to tell you the smell of the fruit and nutmeg simmering was a treat and a very evocative smell...something reminiscent of a Grandma's kitchen smell - which is exactly what James said when he smelled it...LOVELY!!

The Recipe: Blueberry and Apple Charlotte in honour of Fraughan Sunday The Irish celebration this coming Sunday July 31st of the humble blueberry called a Fraughan in Eire!

A Charlotte is another of those very simple, nursery pudding dishes from England which makes something delicious out of very little in the way of ingredients. How many ways can you use bread, butter, sugar and fruit... 
Pre heat your oven to 425F

2 Granny Smith apples roughly chopped
10 oz blueberries (I have to be honest and tell you I couldn't use Maine wild blueberries as they had all sold out from the Coop the day I was doing this so I had to 'cheat' and use frozen organic high bush blueberries which  didn't have the intensity of flavour one gets with wild blueberries...sorry, naughty me!)
1/4 - 1/2 cup/ 2-4ozs sugar depending on your sweet tooth...1/4 is just enough to sweeten...I used 1/4 but wish I has used a little more.
Goodly grating of nutmeg if you are so inclined!

Mix above ingredients in a saucepan and cook til bubbling and most of the liquid
is simmered away...allow to cool somewhat.
Whilst the fruit is cooking you can get on with making the lining for the fruit...from slices of bread.
Depending on the size and shape of your receptacle you will need a good half of a normal sized loaf...sliced medium. I used my trusty 7" diameter nice and deep cake tin (I love that thing...perfect size for nearly all desserts for two people!!)

Coat the inside of the tin you are using with a good veneer of butter and ten dust with granulated sugar quite heavily....then start working on how to line your tin with the melted
butter coated sliced bread.

FIRST: melt 4oz butter in a frying pan...I used a frying pan as it made the next step of dipping and coating the bread shapes with melted butter that much easier. SO dip and coat your slices on both sides before lining the tin with them. I cut 2 semi circles for the top and bottom each and even wide lines for the sides...theoretically your slices should overlap and if there are any gaps you should plug them with leftover bits...but I didn't overlap and as you can see my pudding held together surprisingly well. If you have extra butter left over just slather it around willy nilly on the inside of the bread lining

Lined with buttery bread and ready for the fruit

Pop your fruit into the cavity and as below top off with your extra semi circles (or circles if your slices are big enough...obviously mine weren't!)
Now pop your little Charlotte into the oven and bake until toasty and here's the tricky part...keep the oven on...remove the Charlotte from the oven...allow to cool a little, run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the little darling....put another baking tray on the top and invert to pop the Charlotte onto the new baking tray - return to the the oven uncovered for a final crisping
for about 10 voila!!
You can serve hot, warm or cold with vanilla ice cream, traditional English pouring custard (recipe from England's Martha Stewart - Delia Smith!) or whipped cream. This is a quiet, subtle dish but is sure to delight because of it's unusual manufacture...if you like you can leave out the blueberries and have the much more traditional Apple Charlotte...but it is Fraughan Sunday we are doing this for so stay with the blueberries if you can!!

Check out lots more Frugally Sustainable info at this great blog post by clicking on the name above.

If you are interested in energy producing sculpture
that looks like this:
Energy producing sculpture by James Strickland
....then please consider joining the Facebook page of James Strickland's HELIOCENTRIC SCULPTURE 
and here is his website too:


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Images from a burgeoning Blueberry Hill, Maine

The blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind
a line from the poem "Blueberries" by Robert Frost

I went for a walk up blueberry hill next to our house today and this is what I saw...ahhhhhhh!!! The whole hill is exploding with life and the blueberries are so beautiful...they are green with red edges, light blue, bright blue, very dark blue almost black (and I wonder if these are actually blueberries at all), pink, and light violet. Then there are white daisies, purple vetch, black eyed Syusan's and many other plants I don't know the name of.
The blueberries will be harvested soon - on or about August 1st -
this only happens every second year!

You can see why they used to be called starberries...

This looks like a tapestry to me...maybe from a design by William Morris, but my photo does not do it justice....
This picture is a little out of focus but I so love the way the blueberries look alongside the red berries (I don't know what they are...)

There is a huge patch of Black Eyed Susan's on the hill - how could I resist a photo?
... some junior berries getting ready to blue up!

In North America they are called wild blueberries or the old fashioned name is starberries - which I think is very sweet, in England and Ireland they can be called by any of the following names....whinberries, whimberries, whortleberries, blaeberries, fraughns, hurts, hurtleberries or the most popular, bilberry. Traditionally in Ireland the Sunday nearest to the first of August is 'Fraughan Sunday' when the wild blueberry is celebrated, this year that will be Sunday July 31st...what will you be making with your blueberries that day?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Creation of the "Let Them Eat Cake" Logo

This is a poster of the logo now available in my Esty store
Lindsey Schortz of Let Them Eat Cake Bakers in lovely Belfast, Maine really liked the looks of my "Just Call Me Cupcake" design below and wondered if we could use the cupcake and the retro style of the design to create a nice logo for her which would then be translated into a business card, Facebook masthead, Cafe Press store design and general all around design element to market her beautiful baked goods. Lindsey is famous for brownies, shortbread and wonderful coffee cakes plus so much more, she uses all natural ingredients - organic or sourced locally wherever possible and practical. 
This design is available in my Cafe Press store
 So off I went to my drawing board and came up with an idea Lindsey liked immediately.....thank you Lindsey!
...and the tracing and painting began. I just love creating type by soothes my fevered brow...somewhat akin to quiet meditation.
The Facebook page masthead

Some fun products from the Let Them Eat Cake Bakers Cafe Press store...and below
a close up of that design....
Here's a link to Lindsey's website  (designed by our own beloved Thierry Bonneville ) where you can order her divine products which are also available at the Belfast Coop and Glendarragh Lavender Shop, Camden Maine...there they have the most delicious lavender shortbread made by Lindsey with their own lavender.
Now let's be off and eat some really!!