Limping along

I had great baking plans for today but I think that they will come to naught. Yesterday’s trip to town was not particularly fruitful. The Pineapple Mission failed, so I didn’t buy the rum either. Nor did I find non-homogenised milk for cheese-making.

I did bring home Spelt flour – I want to make a Spelt Sourdough starter and go on to make a Spelt Sourdough loaf. It dawned on me after I left Shearer’s that really, one 1.5KG bag of Spelt was undercutting it somewhat. I shall use this to feed the starter until next week and hope to go back in to town next Wednesday for further supplies.

Local shopping
Local shopping

Shearer’s also provided me with some coarse oatmeal and a bag of Bere Meal. The oatmeal is to use for coating rolls, the Bere is for Bannocks.For those unfamiliar with Bere, it is an ancient grain of the Barley family. Wikipedia says:

Bere, pronounced “bear,” is a six-row barley currently cultivated mainly on 5-15 hectares of land in Orkney, Scotland. It is also grown on Shetland, Caithness and on a very small scale by a few crofters on some of the Western Isles, i.e. North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra. It is probably Britain’s oldest cereal in continuous commercial cultivation.

Bere is a landrace adapted to growing on soils of a low pH and to a short growing season with long hours of daylight, as found in the high latitudes of northern Scotland. It is sown in the spring and harvested in the summer. Because of its very rapid growth rate it is sown late but is often the first crop to be harvested. It is known locally as “the 90-day barley.”

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Our local supplies are milled at Birsay and the Barony Mills web site has this to say:

Bere has been grown in Orkney for thousands of years, both for human and animal food. In the old days, it was called Bygg, and this is still the name given to barley in Norway. Although we call the meal beremeal, the crop is usually called corn in Orkney. It has been the staff of life in Orkney – in the form of bere bannocks and home brewed ale – since time immemorial. It is a variety of barley, although it differs in both appearance and taste. The gourmet will easily tell the difference between ale made from barley and that made from bere. The same applies to bannocks. Generation after generation of Orcadians have been raised on bere bannocks and, when they were older (and perhaps not so much older), on ale as well.

They give recipes for making Bannocks, Biscuits (cookies), Scones (biscuits), and chappattis! I am going to be practising my Bannocks – a type of griddle-cooked scone. Bere Bannocks are a class in our Annual Industrial Show that I plan to tackle in 2013 – going head to head with the Orcadians on their home gound. EEP! Until yesterday I had never had a Bere Bannock and thus no clue as to how they should turn out. As it happens, Gill and I had lunch at The Strynd tea rooms yesterday and we had soup with bannocks. I am now slightly less clueless, though still confused – my previous Bannock experience being confined to Selkirk, and that is a whole different culinary experience, being fruited, yeasted and oven-baked.

Sadly Shearer’s could not come up with whole mixed peel or Muscatel raisins, nor any clay pots.

Wisebuys provided me with a lidded tub for my sourdough starter to live in and a second, much larger, lidded tub for rising bread dough safe from dogs, cats and even less desirable beasties. I am planning some seriously slow rising breads and the lidded tub will go in the utility room, which is prone to rodent incursion in cold snaps.

I was  chatting to Fenella (fellow spinner and baker) on the boat  to town, she is popping round later today with some of her sourdough starter (wheat) for me, so there may be some kind of sourdough loaf made before the end of the weekend.

Currently rising in the kitchen: Pita Breads. I am griddling some Halloumi and Sweet Peppers today – to serve with hot pita and a chick pea salad. Judging by the way that the corners of my mouth are burning right now, I may well have put too much chilli in the dressing. Come to think on it… there’s a fair old tang of garlic, too.

Malty goodness
Malty goodness

In the post: a Bakery Bits order of various malt products today. If I were not fighting a migraine, I would be baking Malt Loaf this afternoon. I shall most likely defer this treat  until Sunday now.

My 16 kilo sack of bread flour is all but gone. I have just ordered a 25 kilo sack plus 16 kilos of wholemeal. I hope that they come soon. I am loving the flour from Bacheldre Watermill. It is top notch stuff. The free Amazon delivery is a real bonus but I expect it is only a matter of time before they discover it’s a loss-making operation and start charging us.

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