Monthly Archives: October 2014

Fantastic Bread Workshop at E5 Bakehouse

This was a fabulous Bread Workshop at the E5 Bakehouse in Hackney!

I have tried my luck with baking my own bread during my teens but I had to realise very quickly that it is not that straight forward. My first attempt back in the day was neither looking great nor was it edible to be honest. It was so dry, I could throw it against the wall and it would not even change shape…

Despite my failed attempts to make bread myself, I still love eating it! After all, I grew up in a country that celebrates rye and sourdough. There is a bread bakery on every corner in Berlin offering bread rolls of all sorts – dark rye, country style sourdough, pumpernickel, potato bread, multi seeds, brezel, Laugenstangen and so on…

Anyway, having moved to Holland in 2005 and England in 2009 really put my love for bread on hold. Please don’t take it personally dear Dutch and Brits, of course, you also have lovely breads, but Zie Germanz just make better ones! 😉 To be fair, there has been a surge of Artisan Bakeries in London in recent years, reflecting the growing demand for quality and particularly British products. Consumers in London are becoming a lot more food savvy and keen to explore, which is great!

So! I had not given up and I was keen to move on from my epic ‘stone bread’ failure. Therefore, I decided to learn from the pros! I made myself a present and signed up for the bread workshop at the E5 Bakehouse, which was recommended to me by a dear friend. The E5 Bakehouse is an East London artisan bakery and coffee shop and I had heard great things about them.

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When I arrived at E5 I was introduced to the rest of the group – a lovely bunch of all ages – I think I was the youngest…

 

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Eyal, E5’s head baker, who swapped his career in neuroscience for bread baking, was our teacher for the day. We started with a short introduction to the world of bread and we received our own little ‘Bread Bible’.

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We learnt a lot that day. Although they said making sourdough is not as complicated as one might think, I am not convinced. I was quite overwhelmed but this is what I remember:

1) There are only three essential ingredients to make sourdough: wheat flour, water and salt

2) Wheat contains the protein gluten, which gives the dough its elasticity and the bread its texture. Different types of flour contain different levels of gluten

3) When water and flour meet, gluten is formed and starch gets broken down into sugars. The more gluten, the stronger the bread. The less water, the denser the bread

4) Salt is used for flavour

5) Yeast is only required for certain type of breads, hence it is not mentioned as a key ingredient. Yeast is a fungus, which grows anaerobically (without air) and converts fermentable sugar in the dough into carbon dioxide, which helps the gluten to expand and rise (leavening the bread)

6) The more we ‘stretch & fold’ the dough, the more strands of gluten are built giving the dough more structure

Trying to remember all that, it was time to get our hands dirty and we made 66% Rye Bread, Ciabatta, Bagels and Hackney Wild! I was so impressed by the outcome. What a great day! The workshop was worth every penny of the £120 I paid including a delicious fresh lunch.

Bread making is really a craft and it takes practice and more practice to master it. The beauty is that no bread is the same. Ingredients, temperature, length of fermentation and the amount of ‘stretch & fold’ make every loaf taste different.

I am very excited to try my new skills at home now. In case you are wondering…no, I do not have a bread stone oven in my backyard but I bought a cast iron from TK Maxx and that is almost the same!! 🙂

Here a few pictures of the day! I can highly recommend this workshop and if you want to share your own experiences, leave a reply! x

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Naming Competition

Happy to announce that BreadBox will be undergoing a re-brand in the next few weeks!

Part of the re-brand will be a NEW NAME! This is your chance! Let me know your creative ideas which convey quality, innovation, cleverness and personality.

Should your suggestion be chosen, you will be named on our ‘wall of fame’ and we will make sure that your coffee with us is on the house!

Deadline Sunday, 19th of October, midnight.

I look forward to all your ideas! x

Here a few pics to get your creativity going (the pictures apart from the bread are taken from the internet and are for illustrative purposes only)

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E5 Bakehouse home baking

E5 Bakehouse home baking

Giving my idea a name – nightmare

Naming my Business Idea and giving it a Logo it deserves – Not that easy after all! 

Naming

Over the past few months I was trying to come up with a suitable name for my business idea. I can tell you, it is quite tough!! It is like naming your newborn. I mean you want others to remember your child’s name and not create a platform for it to be teased, don’t you? Now I know what parents-to-be have to go through!

So I decided for Bread Box – It is short, contains the word ‘Bread’ and has a rustic and artisan feel to it, don’t you think? But does it imply a new wave of brunch? Or German Bread recipes?  I practise in my own time…Shall we go to Bread Box for Brunch? Coffee at Bread Box?

Other ideas for a name include:

German Bird (kinda funny and I liked the associations with a free bird)
Eggcellent (self-explanatory)
Brotzeit (english: Bread Time)
Kater (German for hangover but also refers to the male cat (hmpf!))
Morning Glory (cheeky!)
Brünch (love the German Umlaut)

I put it to a vote! Which name is your favourite?

Please feel free to get creative and come up with any suggestion of your own. I already had some great brainstorming sessions with a few friends of mine and perhaps they would like to come forward and share some of their ideas with everyone here? The winner will be awarded generously in one way or another 😉

Concept & Logo Design

Despite me having completed an interior design course not too long ago (took me TWO years!!), I was not convinced I could come up with something amazing on my own. And I was still working full time, which didn’t help! I needed some professional assistance!

I remember from my final days at University that we had to write a Final Project/Thesis based on a ‘real’ project with ‘real’ clients. Why not do the same! I approached KLC  and a few other interior design colleges in London to inquire about the possibility of having one of their final-year students help me with my project. A win-win situation. I created an advert and received great responses. I met with three candidates and chose Adam who had just graduated. He had prepared this amazing sketch book for me all about Brunch. Winner!

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Following a few meetings and brainstorming sessions we came up with a mood board and logo.

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I wanted to have a slightly chunky letter font, again resembling the rustic and artisan feel to my concept. I love the light green because it creates a sense of freshness. The ‘B’ on the right is based on the idea of having an emblem, which can also be used alone and customers still associated it with my Bread Box cafe.

Bread Box without B

Brunch Box with B

But now I am curious to know what YOU think about it! I look forward to reading your comments!

Bread Intro

BREAD!

You might have noticed that the name of my blog is ‘Bread Box’. Yes, …I love BREAD.

If I could have, I would have been born with a slice of crusty sourdough bread in my mouth and I wish my last meal to be the same but with French salted butter and some mature hard cheese…and if I am really greedy perhaps some fresh onions on top (German master recipe :p )

Anyway, I have named my blog ‘Bread Box’ because this is what my all-day brunch cafe will be called once open. The aim is that you will hopefully remember having read about its humble beginnings in my blog.

Under this category I will share my own bread baking attempts with you (the good and the bad) and hopefully you will see my baking skills improve towards the end of it. I will also post about where to get the best artisan bread in London (until I open my own business of course) and I will be sharing any piece of information I gathered with regards to ‘What makes a good Loaf’.

Do not be scared by those who say Bread is bad for you. There are always two sides to a story and I will try my best to highlight a few hidden myths AND truths about it.

I am still learning myself, but if you love Bread too, then perhaps you should join me here.

Best Cinnamon Buns Ever

It is a lovely crisp and sunny autumn morning in October. And I decide to go on my next discovery tour around London.

This time I am heading to the Nordic Bakery on Golden Square in Soho. I have come across the Nordic Bakery for the first time in 2011 when I was still working on Baker Street. I discovered this little Scandinavian Cafe in one of the side streets, not far from the tube station. The smell of cinnamon was so luring and I could not resist to walk in. I have never forgotten these warm cinnamon buns, which enlightened my taste buds, ever since.

I haven’t gone back for quite some time because I moved jobs in the meantime but Twitter told me recently that it is Cinnamon Bun Week at the Nordic Bakery. What a great reason to go back. So I looked them up on their website and I realised they had three cafes by now! Good food travels quickly.

The Nordic Bakery on Golden Square is in the heart of the city, not far from Piccadilly Circus and off Brewer Street. But despite being in the centre of Soho, it was lovely and peaceful around there. A nice little escape from Soho’s hustle and bustle.

It is 11.30am and I am sitting together with about 20 others in one spacious room. This seems to be the place to meet and enjoy some Nordic hospitality. I see men talking business, a group of ladies talking about how to change the world, and me having a coffee accompanied by one of their famous cinnamon buns. Unfortunately the bun was not warm and a bit dry as a result but they were the naughty delight just as I remembered them.

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I had secured a seat facing the large floor-to-ceiling windows, which allowed a good amount of sunlight into the space. Overall, the design is minimalist – plain furniture, a mix of blue-painted walls and wooden panels with tongue and groove effect and generally darker colours. On their website is says ‘ The tableware and furniture are designed by iconic Nordic designers, such as Kaj Franck, Alvar Aalto and Ilmari Tapiovaara’. Well, whatever that means, I am here for the buns!

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Their coffee supplier is Dibar from Barcelona by the way. They also have a few bags for sale in the store and my cappuccino was pretty good.

I am noticing that their menu and food display has become much more diverse. I am getting excited and I also buy an almond twist and a custard cinnamon bun to go. A little surprise for my fabulous housemates who are probably already drooling from the pictures I have just sent them.

I am almost half way through my cinnamon bun, when I discover on the side of the counter the Nordic Bakery Cookbook. I grab one and my eyes are screening the book for the cinnamon bun recipe. Oh my lord…in the recipe, which makes about 6-8 buns, there are almost 500 g of sugar (including dough, filling and glazing), not to mention the additional butter.

Oh well,..good that I cycled! And it definitely made my day a whole lot sweeter 🙂 I am already looking forward to my next visit. And then it is time for some of their cured salmon with cucumber on dark rye bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.nordicbakery.com/

Key Considerations when choosing to take a Risk

Some people think it is brave what I am doing, some people think it is silly. I think it is neither but being honest to myself and I would like to pass on some initial advice if I may to those of you who are also thinking of taking a risk. I mean any risk that involves major changes in your life:

  • Speak to family and friends about it, because you will need their support when things are getting tough.   I know I will have to face challenges and that I will turn to the ones I care most about for support and advice.
  • Be aware that your circle of friends might change slightly. You might want to surround yourself with those who share the same passion and interests as you. But those that are close to you will want to enjoy the journey with you.
  • Do your home work. Do not just blindly follow your a passion. Be honest to yourself and think about whether it is just a hobby or interest or whether it is your vocation. Make a plan, build a network and prepare yourself in advance.
  • Have the financial ability to survive a good few months without a proper income. Being self employed means there is always uncertainty about when you next get paid. Have a backup.
  • Have SMART goals. Be clear about what you want to achieve, when and how. Think short, medium and long term and be realistic. Nothing worse than getting a sense of failure the whole time because you set yourself too high targets. You might deviate from your route in between because of money, time or other external factors which you cannot control, but never forget why you decided to take a risk.

Ok, so much wisdom on one page! ;p Please note that I have written the above at the beginning of my journey. I will add to it as I go along or perhaps you have some wisdom to share? Let me know and I will make a note!

xx

Product Testing – Coconut Quinoa Porridge with Caramelised Pineapple

As part of the CREATE programme, I will get the opportunity to test my food and introduce my business concept in front of a panel of experts.  

I just got the brief and it says… ‘At the ‘Tasting & Testing’ session, you’ll have the opportunity to present your business (elevator pitch) along with samples of your food and any branding / packaging / marketing you’ve developed to a panel of experienced food entrepreneurs and industry experts for their feedback and advice’

I thought I write a post about this as it is the first time I am actually testing my own ideas with people who I do not know and who are experts in the field! And testing your product is probably THE most important thing before starting your own business.

I am very excited but also slightly nervous. I decided I will present three dishes to the panel, including my own creation – Coconut Quinoa Porridge with Caramelised Pineapple (recipe below). I will have to prepare parts at home and parts on site. I hope I have thought about everything:

1) Create my recipes – I tested my recipe again and again and my housemates have had quinoa porridge for the last three days! It is delicious, lactose free and MUCH healthier than your traditional oat porridge. Give it a go!

2) Timetable of when to prepare what – Generally YES, but I might have to improvise a bit as we will be in a group of people, I am not sure how much preparation time I actually have and I will be working with commercial kitchen equipment, which tends to be slightly more powerful than what I have at home.

4) Food Presentation/Packaging – CHECK! I have a plan! 🙂

5) Elevator Pitch – Still practising but I am getting there…

6) Ideas of Branding and Design – CHECK!  

Coconut Quinoa Porridge with Grilled and Caramelised Pineapple served in a WECK Jar

IMG_20141003_125927  My Housemate is loving it  WECK Glasses imported in Germany

Porridge

1/2 cup of Quinoa
2/3 cup of Coconut Milk out of a can (the higher the coconut extract content in %, the creamier it gets)
1 cup of Coconut Water
1/2 cup of water
2 Cloves and/or pinch of cinnamon
1 TS of Algarve Honey (as sweet as you like it but bear in mind the coconut has got some natural sweetness to it)

Note: This is a diary free recipe. If you refer the porridge to become a bit richer in texture and taste, you can replace the coconut water with milk.

Topping

Here you can really go wild but below some ideas:

2 slices of pineapple
Brown sugar to coat pineapple
Extra: Seed Mix, Nuts, Dried Fruits

Also delicious with: dried coconut flakes, blueberries, pomegranate, poached peaches

Preparation:

  • Preheat Grill at 220 Degrees Celsius
  • Cut the slices of peeled pineapple into five pieces each and generously coat with brown sugar
  • Place coated pineapple on aluminium foil and grill until golden brown, then leave to cool
  • Rinse the Quinoa with water
  • Mix all liquids, spices and the honey with the Quinoa in a pot and bring to boil. Turn down to medium heat and allow to cook until the Quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid
  • Add more coconut milk/water/milk according to your liking (some like it more liquid than others)
  • Allow Quinoa to rest for few minutes
  • Assemble the dish
  • Serve hot or cold

Here is the difference between Quinoa Porridge made with Milk (left) and with Coconut Water (right)

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ENJOY! 🙂

About Coconut Milk (via BBC Good Food)

Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance. It is a popular choice with vegans and makes a great base for smoothies, milkshakes or as a dairy alternative in baking.

Coconuts contain significant amounts of fat, but unlike other nuts, they provide fat that is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are rapidly metabolised into energy in the liver. It is thought that unlike other saturated fats, MCFAs are used up more quickly by the body and are less likely to be stored as fat.

Coconut Milk is made from a brew of coconut meat and water. But don’t confuse it with lower- calorie coconut water. Rich and thick and more like cream than milk. (via EatingWell)

Unlike wheat or rice, Quinoa is a complete protein – containing all eight of the essential amino acids. The UN named 2013 ‘International Quinoa Year’ in recognition of the crop’s high nutrient content. With twice the protein content of rice or barley, quinoa is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also possesses good levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fibre. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest. The facts suggest it is close to a perfect ingredient as you can get.

The Beginning of a New Chapter – Business Planning

So there I was…free as a bird. Stronger than ever.

I always had a passion for food, especially breakfast and brunches and German breads. Growing up in Germany, it was not difficult to fall in love with the breakfast culture. Over the years I had travelled a lot. I visited Uruguay for 6 weeks, then to Argentina, Spain, various cities across Europe, then to Australia for 3 weeks… So many new cultures, beautiful people, foods and traditions, all of which influenced my passion for Food and my upcoming food ventures.

I have had the idea of opening my own food business for about two years. But I was unsure when I should really go for it? When is the right time? I realised that I could always look for excuses not to do it right now! But I thought surely there will come a time, when it is too late! I did not want to wake up one day and regret I have not tried.

So I started my Business Plan about 1.5 years (on and off) before I actually left my permanent employment. Having returned from Australia in the beginning of 2014, I knew I had to do it. I have developed my concept on paper, I have done my research, I have assessed every possible competitor in town and I have saved up some money. I was ready.

I got out there and connected with people who shared similar ideas and passions and I came across some very exciting projects, which I got involved in.

Grow:Brixton – A mixed-used urban development made from shipping containers in the heart of Brixton. I am part of this project because I love the area I live in and I wanted to see Brixton grow and flourish. Thank you Mak and Will for welcoming me in the way you did. You definitely have the passion and dedication that will make any project a success.

Black Sheep Coffee  (Leave the herd behind) – A new coffee brand using Robusta beans as opposed to the more traditional Arabica bean. The brand was lunched by three entrepreneurs my age who also come from backgrounds in business. Thank you Max for having encouraged me to do what I want to do and having given me the chance to meet your team and get hand-on coffee-making experience.

Lambeth Food Partnership The Lambeth Food Partnership – I got a freelance job as Project Coordinator for the LFP and I will be involved in creating a more sustainable food culture in Lambeth. This is going to be super exciting for our borough.

I am partaking in CREATE – a programme to support food start-ups in the borough. What an amazing course, I can only recommend it to anyone who is looking to open their own food business in Lambeth.

Brixton Cornercopia  Start-Up Seminar – a neighbourhood restaurant, which has been running a successful business in the heart of the Brixton Village Market for five years now, has launched a seminar and one-on-one consultation for women who want to open their own food business. What a fantastic way to share your expertise. Thank you Cornercopia!

All of this illustrates that if you really want something, there are people who want to help you. And this is only the beginning of my journey…

 

Saying goodbye is the hardest bit…

My last day at work was quite emotional.

The past few months in the run up to this day were quite intense I must admit. Often I struggled to explain what I was going to do because I felt I spoke another language all of the sudden, a language that not everyone understood in my team. After all I was pursuing a passion without moving on to some other full-time job. What was I? An entrepreneur? not really. A freelancer? Yes, perhaps, for now anyway. A Foodie? Well no wonder they challenged me. But after all they meant well in challenging me. They care a lot and I am grateful for that. I am going to miss that crazy bunch.

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So my last day had arrived and it was officially time to say goodbye. The morning was fine, I had a big smile on my face, which was quite irritating to some of my team members. The afternoon was ok too, still smiling…but then around 4pm I got a bit wobbly. It started to dawn on me. I was going to leave a place that encouraged me to think big, that gave me security and payed my bills, nice dinners and holidays. I was about to leave behind my corporate career – because I had other plans for myself.

I could not wait to finally work on all my ideas full time. I had a lot of ideas, I have some start up money and the energy to make this all happen.
Once I sent my farewell email to everyone, I was overwhelmed by the responses. Tears started running down my face and I started to snivel when people stopped by to say goodbye. I left work with a mixed feeling of sadness and pure excitement. I thought to myself this is going to be good. This is going to be the start of a new chapter and I am taking my life into my own hand.
At home I cried. And I cried even more. So many emotions have built up over the past few weeks. Again I am leaving behind what I was so attached to for so long. Another break up. Saying good bye and letting go is the hardest bit..
I am so thankful that my three housemates were home when I got in. A few drinks and chats later my world looked much brighter again…Thank you girls ! x
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