Vintage, Sourdough and May

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Vintage at The Classic Car Boot Sale

Twice a year at King’s Cross there is Hemingway Design’s Classic Car Boot Sale https://www.classiccarbootsale.co.uk

Forget what you think you know about car boot sales.  All traders are hand-picked by the Hemingway team and you will find some of the tastiest food around all served out of vintage vehicles.  I was tempted to annihilate your inbox with atmospheric photos from The Classic Car Boot’s Facebook account (photo credit to Mykola Romanovsky http://www.romanovsky.photography) from last month but encourage you to visit and peruse at your leisure. It is a real feast for the eyes and will have you translating each face for meaning and looking for hidden treasures amongst the classic cars and London brick.
Of course we were there serving up the hot coffees for all the cold punters as it was a chilly weekend in London Town but that didn’t stop the cars, dancing, cycling and amazing vintage outfits from coming out of the woodwork.
Always a pleasure and looking forward to next year.

The Craft of Sourdough

I’ve developed a liking for sourdough bread and was keen to find out the science and learn some tips about how to bake the best loaf.  So, I booked myself on the half day course at the wonderful School of Artisan Food https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org  in Nottinghamshire’s Welbeck estate.  It’s a beautiful place, located in Sherwood forest, you feel inspired to join the impressive ranks of artisan food alumni just driving up the long drive to the school.
You may recognise it’s founder, Alison Swan Parente, from the BBC two series, Top of the Shop (https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org/page/top-of-the-shop) who began the school from very noble and admirable intentions – baking and making can change lives.  The School is a registered charity and, as a not-for-profit institution, is committed to providing the widest possible access to its facilities.  This was my third time and each time I come back inspired and determined to be braver in the my business and my kitchen.

I was lucky enough to be taught my David who had been made redundant and got through tough times by baking bread which then developed to him being a teacher at the school.  He’s enthusiasm for the benefits of bread making are contagious and his knowledge enlightening – and like a true educator you can ask him anything.

My own adventures in starting a culture have been mixed.  First few days I meticulously added more flour and hand warm water, tucking it safely away in my airing cupboard to then forget about it when we had friends up for the bank holiday weekend and discover it had exploded.  Not to be deterred by the failure of my first attempt I plan to start another in the high hopes that the next levain will become something of legend I can pass down to my children (so far they seem unimpressed by the idea).

Wish me luck!

The Story of May and my Rhubarb Load

he Story of our May (our coffee camper).

Let me introduce you to May, our beautiful 1965 Volkswagen Coffee Panel Bus. A LHD, ’65 European import sliding door panel van with 1600 twin carb engine, slightly lowered, IRS rear set up & with EMPI wide 5 wheels (in the VW world this kind of detail is important).
She began life in Wolfsburg, Germany as a bread delivery vehicle for the local byckerei (German bakery). She then became a family camper in Poland, before being shipped over to England in 2005 to reside in Malvern. There she was restored by a VW enthusiast and spent several years as a show car. Her  transformation to the charming, helpful van she is today started in 2013 and included a 70 inch roof cut, full roll cage skeleton with top side hinges & gas struts to open & close the roof. Still fire engine red at this point, she was then wrapped in chocolate brown & cream vinyl and branded The Split Screen Bakery by Kate and Ash, who now run The Steamhouse Cafe (http://steamhousebagels.co.uk) in Leamington Spa.  May then came to us in Nottingham via Kate and Dan from Sleaford.   I rebranded her and started the business The Split Screen Coffee Company.  When I jump into the driver’s seat I always have a little smile; the padded bench seat, the steering wheel you can slouch over, the pinch and slide windows… all so appealing, all so tactile.  It is the most personified object I own –  May and I are a team.

However,  May’s comfortable is where the list of creature comforts ends.  No heating on cold days, no air con on hot.  She leaks on raining days, and on snowy days I discovered this winter, the seat belt has only one setting which is tight and then very tight when I’m layered up and even that lovely leather bench seat I keep banging on about has an evil side – think hot days, long drive and bare skin.

But despite all this we are so looking forward to the start of another season and can’t wait to make the trip to London this weekend for the wonderful Classic Car Boot (http://classiccarbootsale.co.uk) in King’s Cross.  One of the coolest things happening in London this weekend and one not to be missed if you are into your vintage and classic cars.
Hope to see you there.

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My rhubarb loaf recipe – adapted from https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-soured-cream-cake/

‘Tis the rhubarb season.  So abundant in our allotment at the moment, there are so many ways to use rhubarb but here is the recipe I use for my hugely popular rhubarb, soured cream and pistachio loaf.

Ingredients:
150g butter (softened)
125g soured cream
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
75g of chopped pistachios
100g of thinly sliced rhubarb

Method:
1. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180C/160C fan
2. Use a hand mixer to beat together softened butter, sourced cream, eggs, flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
3. Stir in most of the pistachios with all of the rhubarb and then pour into the lined tin.
4. Scatter over remaining pistachios and bake for 50-55mins until a skewer comes out clean.  I cover with tin foil so it doesn’t browns too quickly.
5. Cool on in tin and then wire rack.