a heaving black mass and sour cream chive scones



I watched the heaving black mass for a minute. Shuddered a little and averted my eyes, hoping I’d imagined it as I slowly turned back.

Alas, no. There they still were, running the chive gauntlet, acting all busy like. Busy with what you say? Sucking the life out of my chives it seems.

My tiny potted permaculture garden had been doing reasonably well, condsidering all the growing conditions. At a distance everything looked pretty healthy and well tended. Up close, it was a little different though. The mint was munched, the lemon balm looked a touch fried and the chives well…were a black heaving mass. A black heaving mass of which I wanted no part of.

I noticed them, I observed them, I squished them between my fingers, I thinned the chive cluster out a little, I squirted high powered water on them. They seemed to love every second of their well tended honeymoon and bred like bloody aphids. I watched a little more, the ants below ‘farmed’ them, making sure they were ok, feeling loved and nurtured. No more, I muttered, it’s you or me… and quite frankly, well it really has to be you.

I pulled them all out, bar a few sad loners that the aphids weren’t partying on yet. My perfectly balanced permaculture pot was now looking a little unbalanced. But at least the black heaving mass was disrupted and I could once again think about eating chives without wrinkling my nose and furrowing my brow.

sour cream and chive scones

Sour cream and Chive Scones

250g sour cream

250mls water

one large handful of finely chopped chives, (optional black aphids)

1 tsp salt

whisk these ingredients together in a large bowl and then add

2.5-3 cups self raising flour (375-450g)*

mix through with a butter knife

tip out on to a lightly floured bench top and knead quickly with finger tips, pulling it together to a light dough.

Cut shapes, onto a tray and bake at 220 for approximately 20 minutes (depends on their thickness.)

bringing the bread back

sunflower and linseed

sunflower and linseed

I’ve made a few dud loaves lately.

Distracted, not enough effort, too much effort, unhappy starter, busy…I could tick all of the above boxes. The funny thing was I felt my sourdough hat was sitting slightly skewiff, I knew it and the month that it was sitting a little wonky, well I certainly didn’t produce any of my finest loaves that’s for sure.

Come on girl get it together, where had the magic gone?

I played with a buckwheat starter…ick.

I ate a whole loaf of under proved sourdough, (toasting it three times helped a little, felt it was a tad heavy to subject the kids to)

My teeth battled through over cooked rolls, and I did have a rather long thought process of, hell maybe I’ll just start buying it again.

Then thankfully something flicked, I didn’t have to walk that supermarket bread aisle. The time was right, the starter was eager and the hands willing. My sourdough hat felt straight once more, and with it a greedy need to bake bread.

sunflower and linseed

Sunflower and Linseed Bread

600g active starter

750g strong bakers flour

150g wholemeal spelt flour

75g linseed

75g sunflower kernels

700-750mls water

1 tsp dark malt flour

3 tsps salt

Mix together in your usual sourdough bready kind of fashion. I baked these at 230C with steam for free form loaves or 220C and a little longer baking time in a tin.

Passionfruit Cake

passionfruit cake

Chocolate cake with coffee icing.

It’s the cake I would make for mum each and every birthday when I was a teenager. The chocolate cake recipe was an ever reliable one from a Women’s Weekly Cookbook and the instant coffee icing would more often than not be dotted with a few stale old walnut halves to decorate. For years I never strayed from that recipe, (dry old thing it was.)

One year it was extra special, I forgot the eggs (or I think that’s what happened.) I gently tipped the cake out and splat. The whole thing landed on the cake rack in a thousand chocolatey bread crumbs. No one else was home, it was supposed to be a surprise. What on earth was I going to do?

In tears I tried to salvage the crumbs and somehow press them into a cake shape, (you see cake pops hadn’t been invented yet.) I pressed and pressed and then covered the whole thing with a thick coffee icing, trying to ignore the big wet salty tears that still occasionally landed on top. Mum got home and I offered up the lumpy shaped dome with the tear smudged icing…Happy Birthday Mum, I whispered with a slightly quivered bottom lip.

A crumbly chocolate cake with coffee icing this isn’t. If my mum wasn’t currently kicking up her heals at the moment in Europe I think I would have made this Passionfruit Cake for her instead. There is nothing fancy about it, just a simple cake that’s moist, not crazy sweet, really easy to make and not remotely like that dry old chocolate cake I used to make.

passionfruit cake

Passionfruit Cake

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

3 beaten eggs

pulp of five passionfruit

225g self raising flour

Cream butter and sugar together until pale, then add eggs. Next add passionfruit pulp and flour. Bake in a greased and lined spring form tin at 180C for approximately 40 minutes.

Passionfruit Icing

25g softened butter

icing sugar

pulp from 1 passionfruit

juice from 1/2 a lemon

surprisingly good chocolate hazelnut brownie


I think hazelnut chocolate is my second favourite chocolate, I boldly declared to Mr Chocolate.

It’s not quite as good as marzipan, but it’s definitely up there… trailing off just a little as I mused on the merits of both of them.

Yep… hazelnut and chocolate, they go really well together.

After voicing my new-found decision of having a second favourite chocolate, I decided I needed to revisit the taste as quickly as possible. Just in case my bold statement had been made in haste. Chocolate…check. Hazelnuts…check. Fifteen minute window period to put it all together?…check. Melt, stir, pour, bake.

It seemed too easy.

Usually my baking needs a few tweaks, a change here and there, and trialled a few times to get it right. So I was surprised after tasting a corner of this one to find it worked just the way it was. I tried another corner just to make sure. No, seemed fine there too. A third corner? Yep, pretty similar to the other two corners.

It really was a surprisingly good hazelnut brownie.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie

200g chocolate (50%)

250g butter

200g brown sugar

4 beaten eggs

2 tsp vanilla

150g hazelnuts (I blitzed whole ones)

50g self raising flour

In a pot add the chocolate, butter, sugar and vanilla. Gently melt it down and add remaining ingredients. Pop into a greased and lined tray.

Bake at 180C for approximately 35minutes, and then let it cool in the tin.

Blueberry Rye Sourdough

using fresh blueberries

Jamie Oliver has a recipe called Sexy Swedish Buns. They look tasty, and I would probably quite enjoy them, but they also looked rather messy to make. I must have been missing the sexy part. There were two key ingredients though in the buns that caught my attention. Blueberries and Cardamom.

Still on the hunt for new sourdoughs to concoct, I mused awhile on those two ingredients. Blueberries are subtle and as long as I didn’t go overboard with the cardamom it should work for a sourdough… But, then I was thinking rye. Rye and cardamom…

using dried blueberries

Both ingredients, to me taste of the earth. Not in the way that fresh beetroot does, but in a way that seems to feed the soul. It feels good going in. It feels right after you eat them. My belly seems to sigh a little sigh of contentment after eating either one of them. In the bread, the cardamom doesn’t overpower the rye, the two of them seem to hold hands. Lying entwined together, uncompromising of their own unique tastes.

At risk of sounding like a fluffy hippy who has had one too many snuffs of the patchouli, I have put some thought in to this. Mouthfuls have been mused on, the recipe tweaked, and then tweaked again. The blueberries, while not a strong flavour from the beginning, are just an extra subtle addition to the entwined lovers that be cardamom and rye. The three of them together, seem to make a loaf that’s subtle on the palate and easy on the belly.

Peace brothers and sisters.

Blueberry Rye Sourdough

200gms starter

1 1/2 cup strong bakers flour (150gms approx)

1 cup rye flour (150gms approx)

200mls water (approx)

1 tps cardamom

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (I’ve also used dried blueberries, which were just as good. Soak first.)

1 tps salt

Mix starter, flours, water together. Wait for 20 minutes. Add blueberries, cardamom and salt. Mix again. (Blueberries fall out a little but just keep sticking them in) Prove for an hour or two. Quick fold and shape, and then into the fridge overnight. Back out and bring it back to room temperature. Slash, and bake at 250C with steam.

This post submitted to Yeastspotting.