Results for category "Baking"

Welcome WWOOFers

Saturday morning greeted us with chilly air and cloudy skies, as we made our way over to the kitchen barn. As we prepared our breakfast, the sun appeared from behind the clouds and inspired hope for a beautiful day. With Christian and Anja arriving yesterday evening, today was going to be a day of introductions.

The momentary glimpse of sun, unfortunately, soon faded as the the rain began shortly after and delayed our planned tour of the property that we intended to provide for Christian and Anja. We waited the rain out a little while, pointed at some things visible from the barn and then finally were able to start the tour in slowed sprinkles.

It was a cold rain as we toured the couple through the different buildings and land features whilst introducing them to the animals and running through the tasks Mark would like completed. It wasn’t long before the natural elements won out and we were forced back into the barn for a hot cup of tea and conversation.

Christian and Anja have actually not long graduated from high school. The law in Germany just changed so that students graduate a year earlier, so they experienced the overlap year – both they and the class behind them graduated together. This meant that there were twice as many young adults entering the workforce from high school and applying to university. So, they decided that WWOOFing would be a good way to wait out some time for the push of people to place themselves, to experience a bit of organic farm work and to improve their English. They both will be attending university next year using an English-speaking course line. The last three months of WWOOFing seems to have given them a lot of experience with the language and communications, as they appear to us to do very, very well!

They also shared with us some of their adventures WWOOFing – places they had stayed, the type of work they’d done, accommodations, etc. They echoed the challenges on receiving responses to contact emails and finding placements, specifically when their plans for a 7-week stay fell through after they’d spoken about their intended destination to a couple of different WWOOFers along their travels. It seems that the host owns a hotel and was mainly looking for free/cheap laborers and that the conditions were very poor, so they decided not to head to that place, after all. ¬†This left them with a 7-week loose end they had to find new placements to fill, which ended up including Old Orchard View. We hope that they will enjoy their time here as much as we have done.

After our tea, a little warmed and more comfortable, Christian and Anja went to the large barn for a “rainy day job” of shoveling old corn left there by previous ownership into bags ready to be hauled away, while we headed down to the apple tree spied the day before yesterday that we had plans for. The rain had let up now just enough to make the apple picking slightly more manageable for K, although the mud, cows and reach still added enough of a twist for him and a little entertainment for R.

Once we had washed the apples, we set about the business of peeling and chopping them for our apple crumble. This took quite some time to do, as we had decided to make three batches in reasonably large pans – the decision based mainly on what pans we had located and also because we wanted to ensure our host was afforded returns worth the time we were putting in.

When enough apples were chopped and ready, we prepared the crumble for the batch and into the oven it went. Repeat. Pause for peeling exhaustion. Finally, the third and final batch was in the oven. So, we headed outside to finish stapling the fruit cage we had worked on several days ago. Every time we’d went to finish over the past several days, the rain would appear. Finally, we were able to complete the task and stand the wall upright so that the obstacle course in front our little caravan was at last removed.

The final crumble bubbled with warm and sweet goodness as it came out of the oven. K set about feeding the animals, while R prepared our standard main meal, followed today by warm and yummy apple crumble. We had to have seconds and one of us even thirds ūüėČ . Then we ventured out for our walk in the now dark surrounding lanes with our trusty flashlight for safety as the wind and the rain brought a chill to our fingers and a quickness to our step.

Upon returning, we stopped in to say good night to Christian and Anja, who were in the kitchen barn preparing a late evening meal. As the rain continued through the evening, we lay snug and warm in our cozy caravan, preparing ourselves for our last day on this hill.

Fresh Bread and Farewell

Our final day WWOOFing at Lynch Mill has arrived and we are saddened to be leaving this place full of lessons and lovely walks.  In the morning after our regular chicken duty, we needed to put the beds to sleep that had been laid with manure in days past.  This entailed cutting out sheets of black plastic tarpaulin to be laid over the top of them and placing bricks along the edges to avoid any slippage.  Once this task was completed on the four beds of various sizes from previous days, we moved back into the kitchen for a lesson in bread making!

First Mo outlined the basic needs for bread:¬†yeast,¬†flour, a¬†bit of oil and¬†sugar for the yeast to eat – today, honey. ¬†She also explained why we were using strong flour, or bread flour, instead of “regular” all-purpose flour. ¬†When kneaded, strong flour creates gluten strands to enable leavening of the bread, whereas standard flour doesn’t react in the same way. ¬†Here are the steps we went through:

1. Place 500 grams of flour, measured out to exact weight, in a mixing bowl.

2. Place one big tablespoon of honey, or 2 normal sized ones, into a small glass.  Add hot water to halfway full and melt honey until completely dissolved.

3. Next, add 2 1/2 teaspoons of quick yeast and stir.  Foam indicates the yeast has been activated.

4. Now, make a well in center of the flour and add a pinch of salt and about 2 Tablespoons of oil.

5. Begin mixing starting from the inside of the well and working your way outwards, adding a little flour at a time and also adding warm water, as needed, to mix in all of the flour.  The dough should be only slightly sticky and the flour all well incorporated.

6. When ready, turn out the dough onto a floured board.  We moved to using wheat flour here.  Wheat flour is from a much tougher grain, which means it takes more work to form the dough and longer to knead the dough to form the gluten strands.

7. Knead the dough by pushing outwards with your palm and then folding the dough back onto itself, turning the dough a quarter turn and repeating.  Regularly flour the board, as needed.  Continue until the dough stops sticking to the board and your hands.  It should be a bit glossy and recover itself when poked or pulled, rather than breaking or separating.

8. Place dough back into the bowl and coat with a little oil.  Cover and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

9. Turn dough out onto a floured board and punch out the excess air.  Here, our host made her dough into a loaf of bread to eat with lunch Рyum!  We moved on to create apple cinnamon pinwheel rolls with it.  So, we sprinkled flour onto the top, as well, and then rolled flat.

10. We then each spread 3 jars of the apple cinnamon jam made in the post Making Jam While the Sun Shines over the surface of the dough, leaving an edge free of jam to seal the bread to itself, and rolled it up so that the jam swirled inside.

11. Finally, we cut the roll into pieces about an 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide and laid flat into a baking tray.  Once they rose again to almost double their size, they went into the oven to cook.  When golden brown and only very slightly cooled, they went right into our mouths for a taste test.  Jam approved!  Bread approved!  Apple cinnamon jam pinwheels, fantastic!

After our lunch of garden soup, fresh hot bread and more apple cinnamon jam pinwheels, we headed back to the polytunnel.  We spread manure and laid black plastic tarpaulin with brick placeholders onto the two side beds that were now empty of plants and weeds.

At the close of our final day at Lynch Mill, we went for the evening walk that we’ve become accustomed to over the last couple of weeks. As we headed along the cliff tops overlooking the small village of Porlock, we appreciated for one last time the rugged beauty of the English Coastline and reminisced about our experiences learning from Mo and Guy, our kind hosts. We returned to a dinner of vegetable lasange that Mo had cooked especially for our final evening’s meal and after enjoying a delicious third helping, trundled upstairs to begin preparing for the next stage of our adventure.

Loving Simplicity