Sunday, 12 August 2012


Anyone who has had a go at making bread will know how it is difficult to get it right. I have been making bread for 10 or so years now and am still surprised at the way every time it turns out different.

Early on in my bread making life my loaves turned out pretty solid muchof the time, OK for toasting but a bit too 'wholesome' for sandwiches. As time as gone on my loaves have progressed from solid bricks to light and airy, though not so light an airy that they are like eating fluff or soggy pulp like much of the mass produced bread. As an added bonus I don't add any salt to my loaves so they are great for people watching their sodium intake.

Anyway, here a few of the things I have found which make the bread turn out good,

1) 12g of dried yeast to about 500g of flour seems a good proportion.
2) 15g of sugar in about 400 ml of water. The water should be hand hot, that is; so hot it stings but doesn't scald.

The resulting dough should be quite wet but not so wet that it leaves milky pools of water on the table top when you take it out to knead.

Kneading is important. Without it the gluten strands in the bread will not be sufficiently bound together to hold the CO2 produced by the yeast and your bread will turn out flat or solid. When I first started it took 10 minutes of kneading to get the dough to the right state, now my technique has improved I can get away with 8 minutes.

You will know when the dough is done because it will be starting to turn sticky, rather like bubble gum, rather than claggy. It will also be smooth and be able to be drawn out without 'snapping'.

The rising time for the first rising I make about 1 hour - when the dough will have bloomed to 2 or three times its original size.

Knocking back and a second kneading are also important. The second kneading should be slighly more gentle, but it is required to ensure the strength of the dough. The first hour of the rising is when the yeast goes at it hammer and tongue and the resulting inflated dough ends up weak and unable to support itself very well. Without a good second kneading the dough will be weak and readily collapse when you put the loaf in the oven. Don't be afraid of knocking all the CO2 out, the yeast will produce plenty more in the next 45 minutes.

The second rising will re-inflate the dough and the structure will be much more robust since it willl have been inflated more slowly. This is when you can put the risen dough into the oven - for my 500g loaf that is about half hour at 200C.

Although much of bread making is kind of a look and feel thing, I think that following the tips above should result a successful  loaf (almost) every time.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Bored with the run-of-the mill desktop photos I thought I'd have a go at taking my own. What I wanted was something detailed enough to be interesting but not overly colourful or complicated in order not to interfere with the desktop graphics.  This picture of bubbles I like because it has all of these elements. I like the way the bubbles look like little Mandelbrot sets - who knows this image could even have been computer generated.

Blooming Onions

Those onions I wrote about in my last blog.Well. They've gone to seed. This means they have produced flower heads early on in the season whiich is not supposed to happen. From my reading on the internet this occurs when the conditions aren't quite right with the little darlings. My brother in law, who has successfully grown onions before has had the same problem, which indicates that it's not my soil conditions that are a problem but something more widespread. I have been left thinking that maybe this exceptionally wet weather has not been conducive to happy onions.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Know My Onions

Planted out 50 or so Red Onion sets today. Last year I put them in too late and they didn't really amount to much so getting them in earlier this time might give us a better supply later on in the year.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Panic At Newark

Spotted this information display at Newark Northgate. Good to see they don't use Windows on their display boards.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Linux And Flash Poor Frame Rate

Finally discovered the reason for the slow framerate and stuttering on my Kubuntu Linux. It seems that the problem is to do with using the windows composite manager compiz-fusion. Whilst looking for a solution I stumbled across this on the Ubuntu forum. This led me to this very useful article about Flash Optimization.
Although there are a number of suggested fixes at this site I tried the simplest - I installed fusion-icon and then used it to change the window manager to kwin.
I replayed a couple of online flash videos that had been playing really badly and, hey presto, the frame-rate was much improved.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Occupy Everywhere

Just a quick blog entry because I think thos cool people taking part in occupy protests around the world deserve a huge pat on the back and as much support as we can give them.

Pop over to the London Occupyt site and find out what is happening straight from the horses mouth rather than second hand from the mainstream/corporate controlled media.