Canterbury Baking School

Category Archive: Blog

August 31, 2017

Start Autumn with Sourdough

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Summer is almost over, and the healthy lifestyle bug can start to give way to autumn and winter comfort eating. But here at Canterbury Baking School, we don’t think there’s a reason to abandon healthy eating through the colder months! For us, the autumn-winter diet starts with sourdough.

Let’s give ourselves a quick reminder of the benefits of sourdough bread. Not only is sourdough more digestible and nutritious than many other breads, it also has a low GI content, making it perfect for slow-release energy. The lactic acids present in sourdough make minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium more available to the body. Some sourdough can even be easier to eat for those who have gluten problems!

A great way to keep your bread choices healthy, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, is to use wholegrain wherever possible. We mill our own heritage wholegrains to make our sourdough bread.

Making sourdough bread is the perfect way to keep healthy living going into autumn!

Making sourdough bread is the perfect way to keep healthy living going into autumn!

With all that in mind, we thought we’d share our sourdough bread recipe to pair with your warm autumn dishes! (For tips on making your sourdough starters, read our introductory sourdough post here!)

Our Simple Sourdough recipe

Ingredients

300g sourdough starter

250ml water

500g flour

10g salt

Method

1 – Add some flour and water to your starter until it has the consistency of pancake batter.

2 – Leave the starter out overnight, covered.

3 – In the morning, add more flour and water to the starter.

4 – Mix together and form into a loose ball (without salt), or alternatively put the dough in a mixer for ten minutes or so.

5 – Cover with a wet tea towel and leave to rest for 2 1/2 hours.

6 – Uncover the dough, mix your salt with a little water then stretch and fold the mix into the dough.

7 – Lift, fold and rotate in the bowl about three times. Repeat every 30 minutes, recovering with a damp tea towel in between.

8 – Place your dough on an oiled surface, and oil or dust your hands. Pull out, fold in, roll, and tuck.

9 – Flour both your baton and dough and place in the prover, covering with a damp tea towel and leaving overnight.

10 – In the morning, heat your oven to 220 degrees (approx. Gas mark 7). When hot, place your dough on a floured stone to stop it spreading. Score, spray with water and place in the oven.

11 – Bake for 10-15 minutes on 220, then turn down to 190 (approx Gas mark 5) for half an hour, or when the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow.

Follow our recipe for the perfect sourdough loaf!

Follow our recipe for the perfect sourdough loaf!

A perfect sourdough like this is a fantastic complement to an autumn soup, used as toast for a comforting breakfast with some scrambled egg, or as the basis for a hearty sandwich! It tastes superb! So why not take your sourdough knowledge to the next level and sign up for one of our sourdough courses? Book your place here!

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback!

August 16, 2017

Don’t let GM crops take root!

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In this week’s blog, we’re letting off a bit of steam! The impact that Brexit could have on our farming industry is a huge concern for us, and could push British farming in a risky direction; relying on GM crops.

The all-important harvest is underway, and will get into full swing as we head into autumn. However, over half of the UK’s food comes from overseas, and British-produced crops are slowly dwindling. In America, GM crops are widely used, and with Brexit potentially doing even more damage to our farming industry, could we end up doing the same?

Traditionally the UK has taken a strong position against GM foods, but that stance has softened in recent years. Almost half of the EU’s member states, including Germany, France and Italy have officially banned GM crops. But what are GM crops exactly?

GM crops could do more harm than good!

GM crops could do more harm than good!

GM foods have been genetically modified with extra proteins and other compounds to create supposedly superior harvests. GM crops are more resilient to pests, disease, and provide an increased yield. However, they can have adverse effects for consumers. The added proteins can often cause problems for people with gluten intolerances and similar issues, and can also affect antibiotic medication, reducing their ability to fight illnesses and infections.

The added compounds in GM crops can also sometimes be transferred to other plants, potentially creating ‘super weeds’. These weeds are more resistant to chemical treatments, which could damage any native natural crops nearby. This can also harm the ecosystem, destroying native insects that naturally eat the weeds.

Although GM crops cannot be grown in the UK, they are still imported, usually as animal feed. However, any dairy or meat products from animals fed on GM crops do not have to be labelled as such by any government authority, meaning they could make their way onto the consumer market without our knowledge.

Some animal feeds could be GM, and can often slip under the radar

Some animal feeds could be GM, and can often slip under the radar

Up until recently, the EU oversaw all laws and legislation regarding GM crops. But after Brexit, we will have to make our own decision. If European exporters hike prices for crops too much, we may be forced to rely on GM crops from America and other suppliers.

Here at Canterbury Baking School we don’t use any genetically modified grains. We prefer to work with our wheat and other heritage grains in their natural state. We strongly oppose GM crops, and believe that natural organic grains will always be a healthier and tastier option!

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What are your thoughts on GM crops? As always, we love to hear your feedback!

July 27, 2017

Incredible Indian Ingredients

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One of the healthiest diets in the world, Indian food is also abundant with taste, colour, and vibrance. Rich in aromatic herbs and spices, full of nutrients, and creative dishes, Indian food can also be a perfect direction in which to start your vegetarian journey! So what are the health benefits of Indian food? Let’s start with the spices.

Indian food famously makes use of a huge array of spices to flavour dishes, and a lot of these ingredients have some incredible benefits! It’s not widely known, but black pepper actually originates from India, and is prevalent in Indian cooking. Black pepper stimulates digestion, helps with weight loss, and its piperine component can help deal with depression! Black pepper also helps prevent cancer, especially when combined with our next spice; turmeric.

Turmeric and black pepper have a symbiotic relationship, meaning that they help make each other more effective. Black pepper’s cancer-fighting properties are twice as potent when it is mixed with turmeric! Turmeric is also anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, lowers the risk of heart disease and can also help treat the symptoms of arthritis.

Turmeric and black pepper are a potent combination! (Credit: The Life Extension Blog)

Turmeric and black pepper are a potent combination! (Credit: The Life Extension Blog)

Another well-know Indian spice is mustard seeds. These tiny black seeds are packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids and are beneficial for asthmatics thanks to large amounts of copper and iron. Mustard seeds are also anti-inflammatory, and can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

While used in many cuisines, cumin is a key ingredient in Indian dishes. It is a good source of energy and is a strong stimulant, whilst also being rich in protein and amino acids. Rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and thiamine, just one teaspoon of cumin seeds a day helps meet your daily nutritional requirements!

Our final spice is saffron, the rich golden spice famous for its high price and strong flavour. But saffron is worth it, thanks to health benefits like promoting memory retention. This is due to its crocin component (which gives saffron its distinctive colour), meaning it can help with diseases like Parkinson’s. Crocin also helps fight against cancer cells.

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Tamarind, a tropical fruit mainly used as a paste in Indian cooking. (Credit: Organic Facts)

Aside from spices, Indian food also makes use of some incredible ingredients. Tamarind, a tropical fruit usually used as a paste in Indian cooking, has some amazing benefits. It helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and is a good source of iron; which helps improve circulation. It is also high in vitamin C and is a good antioxidant, as well as containing thiamine; which helps improve nerve function.

Paneer, a type of cheese used heavily in Indian cooking, is also a nutritional powerhouse. Its high levels of calcium and vitamin B are good for bone health, and it is also rich in protein. The presence of zinc helps improve biological functions, and paneer is also rich in magnesium and potassium. For vegetarians and vegans, a good alternative to paneer is tofu. Containing all eight amino acids, tofu is a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Soya protein, which tofu is made from, also helps lower bad LDL cholesterol thanks to lecithin and is an excellent source of iron and calcium.

Join me and Tanya for our special Indian Workshop!

Join me and Tanya for our special Indian Workshop!

We’ll be using all of the ingredients we have mentioned here in our special Indian Cuisine workshop on Thursday 17th August! Joining us will be Tanya Narsinghani, one of my friends. We’ll be making both traditional and vegan paneer, chapattis, an onion marsala bhaji, and much more!

So sign up for our special Indian workshop here! As always, feedback and comments are appreciated!

July 20, 2017

Shop bought or home baked?

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Clean eating isn’t just about what you put on your table, it’s a lifestyle choice. And it’s one we embrace here at Canterbury Baking School.

Look at the loaf of bread on your kitchen counter or in your freezer. Sure it has flour, water and salt in it, like all bread. But we reckon it’s also got several extra ingredients in it that dilute it’s purity, and some things that you might not want to put into your body!

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Some supermarket breads contain extra ingredients that are unnecessary

Take a standard supermarket white loaf. One that we found contained extra ingredients like soya flour and vegetable oil, along with several E numbers like E471, E481 and E920, which is an amino acid that is commercially produced from (sometimes human!) hair and feathers. So even though this bread is marked as suitable for vegetarians, that may not actually be the case!

It isn’t just white bread that has added ingredients either. Even wholemeal can have some extra components like part oil and caramelised sugar. Palm oil is high in saturated fats, whilst also being low in healthy polyunsaturated fats; which means it could increase the risk of heart disease.

When comparing home-baked to shop bought, there's really no contest!

When comparing home-baked to shop bought, there’s really no contest!

White, brown, or neither?

So which is better for you; white or brown bread? Unfortunately, in their most common form, both can be harmful.

In order to digest white bread, our bodies must produce large amounts of insulin, which can often lead to weight gain. White flour has also been bleached with harmful chemicals, and loses most of its nutrients through the refining process. Essentially, all white bread does is help you gain weight.

Brown bread doesn’t fare much better. According to some studies, most brown flour used in mass produced bread is simply bleached white flour with some colouring added back in (which would explain the caramelised sugar in our brown supermarket loaf!).

Even wholemeal bread, a supposedly healthier option, has its pitfalls. When bread is freshly made, the wheatgerm begins to deteriorate rapidly. To preserve their loaves, many companies add chemically treated wheatgerm back in to stop the deterioration.

The heritage grains we use for our bread is a much healthier option

The heritage grains we use for our bread is a much healthier option

Here at Canterbury Baking School, we use heritage grains, which we mill ourselves, in order to preserve our bread’s natural benefits and nutrients. We don’t add any preservatives or chemicals. Wheat has become one of the most tampered-with grains in common use, but we keep ours natural and pure!

Keeping your bread pure and cutting out added preservatives and chemicals can have several health benefits. It won’t require large amounts of insulin to process, which means that you can regulate your weight more.

Home-baked bread also contains much less sodium than supermarket loaves, meaning less risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Baking your own bread from your own grains also keeps the natural wheatgerm intact, which means that you will benefit from all of its vitamins and minerals.

Baking your own bread means more creativity, like this beautiful commissioned harvest wreath!

Baking your own bread means more creativity, like this beautiful commissioned harvest wreath!

We’re proud members of the Real Bread Campaign (which you can check out here) and we’re eager to spread their message. So why not get your clean eating journey off right and come to one of our workshops and learn how to make the healthiest bread possible!

As always, comments and feedback is appreciated!

July 6, 2017

What about organic remedies?

Browsing our organic shelf!

Browsing our organic shelf!

Here at Canterbury Baking School, we believe not just in healthy bread, but a healthy lifestyle. Sure, we champion organic food and ingredients, but there’s so much more to the organic lifestyle than food!

Many natural remedies that have been used for thousands of years can still be of help today, and you can alleviate certain health problems using natural organic remedies or ingredients. For example, I suffered from neuralgia, which is a nerve condition which causes random bursts of intense pain due to damaged nerves somewhere in the body. I was offered epilepsy tablets and there was also the prospect of a brain operation on the horizon!

But a friend of mine, a doctor in Germany, suggested that I should try drinking a concentrated form of elderberry juice. I tried it, and haven’t had any attacks since! I recommended elderberry juice to several friends who also had neuralgia, and they have also benefitted from this simple remedy!

It’s important to remember that elderberries can also be toxic when fresh, so must be cooked first. Do not eat the seeds or the stems. You can get dried elderberries, elderberry syrup, and elderberry juice, all of which are anticonvulsants and help relieve the symptoms of nerve conditions. Elderberry is also good for relieving colds and flu, lowering blood sugar, and helping to boost the immune system.

Wild Elderberries (Credit: Gardening Know How)

Wild Elderberries (Credit: Gardening Know How)

Here’s a quick way to make elderberry syrup:

Ingredients;

1 part fresh, ripe black elderberries (If using dried berries, use 1/2 part)

2 parts water

1 part raw organic honey

 

Method;

  1. Make sure the stems of the berries have been removed, as these are toxic!
  2. Put the berries into a saucepan and cover with the water.
  3. Cook the berries over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. This should take around 30 minutes. (You may need to adjust the temperature to keep them at a low heat!) Mashing the berries with a fork or spoon helps speed up the process.
  4. Strain the mixture into a jar, then bin the seeds and pulp (also toxic)
  5. Leave to cool before stirring in the honey. Honey is also an antiviral ingredient, helping to boost the power of the syrup, as well as helping to preserve the mixture.
  6. The mixture can be stored in the fridge for a few weeks. I store mine in small containers in the freezer, and just defrost them in the fridge when needed.

Take one or two tablespoons of the mixture four times a day. You can also spread the syrup on pancakes etc!

Elderberries will be ready for harvesting from September, and are pretty widespread across the UK. Using elderberries is just one of the organic natural remedies out there! Things like aloe vera, garlic, and ginger can all be used for various ailments, keeping your family healthy and happy!

An organic lifestyle is the key to keeping your family healthy and happy!

An organic lifestyle is the key to keeping your family healthy and happy!

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback!