A baking day and a gift

This morning was a baking day.  The warm sun has gone back to the South of France for a while leaving us with normal temperatures for March, a cool wind and an overcast sky.  Ian had weighed the flour out for the batch of bread last night and it was all lined up on the worktop.


I put my apron on, turned on the radio and began the deliciously slow process of making bread, interspersed with the not so slow process of making lemon cake for the holiday cottage visitors arriving this afternoon.  We have a leaven going for sourdough but this bread was the batch baking which produces six loaves, one for today and five for the freezer, which will keep us in home made bread for the week.


The mixer chuntered away to itself, the dough hook taking the hard work out of kneading, while I lined tins with greaseproof paper for the lemon cake and grated lemon zest.  On the radio, Sandi Toksvig was visiting Iceland which seems to have the most astonishingly full and creative arts scene for such a tiny population.


The dough went into its bowls to rise and I creamed butter and sugar and lemon zest and tried hard not to stick my finger in the mixture.  Soon the cakes were in the oven and the kitchen filled with a warm lemony smell.  My father in law came in from his daily walk up the drive to our post box.  This is one of his particular jobs now, bringing the post down, and he was pleased that he had a parcel for me.

As soon as I saw the French postmark I knew it was from Stephanie at Millefeuilles.  If you haven't visited her blog, do go and read.  The word "delight" is an overused one I think and so it is a word that I use rarely but Stephanie's blog is a delight: sensitive, erudite, amusing and intensely feminine.  And I had won her giveaway and this was it!


I loved the beautiful card and the wrapping paper even before I had opened the parcel.


Inside an English translation of Charles Perrault's Complete Fairy Tales and


the tale of Peau d'ane (in French, let's hope my French comes back to me!) exquisitely illustrated by Miss Clara.  It is delicately beautiful, each illustration a work of art in itself.




Thank you so much Stephanie.  I have promised myself that I will try to read it in French first before any sneaky cheating with the translation.  The last of these pictures with the girl in the fabulous dress sitting in the turkey shed makes me smile every time I look at it.  We are having some French visitors to stay in May as part of the twinning arrangements between our local town and a small French town in Brittany.  Bravely or foolishly, we have yet to find out,  we have agreed to host a couple who have very little English so how timely to have some French to read.  I wonder what kind of conversations we will have if all of my recent French has come from reading fairy tales?


Carefully setting my new treasures aside I went back to baking.  The bread was on its second rising in its tins and the lemon cake went in and came out of the oven.


What a good morning.


Comments

  1. The new kitchen is looking very chic - so uncottagey (unlike mine) - I love the blend of contempary and ancient when it is done well, and this looks fab. I recall just how good that bread tastes too.

    The Fairy Tale book looks wonderful, I might have to indulge myself. Lucky you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad you think the kitchen works! We decided that as we keep very close to the original in the old house we would not try to in the 1980s extension, the only place in the house where corners are square!

      Delete
    2. Your kitchen is made more inviting, because we agonised with you, just a little, thru the renovation.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Diana! It might have become a bit of a saga but worth every minute of waiting.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Linda. It's mainly thanks to Stephanie and the book!

      Delete
  3. Dear Elizabeth,

    I am so relieved the parcel finally made it to your address! I am a little jealous of those two books; how I wish I could visit you too.

    One day, I hope.

    I was in your kitchen with you for a moment there Elizabeth listening to the radio and the hum of the mixer as you set about making those loaves and cake. I smiled for I too made a lemon cake today.

    Your words have touched me and provided a beautiful finale to a fine day during which my parents (elderly and quite remarkable)arrived to spend the weekend with us. We haven't seen them since October.

    Warmest wishes,

    Stephanie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well thank you Stephanie for making my day! I would love to see you and your family up here and it is a great place to come for a break. Maybe one day! I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful weekend with your parents.

      Delete
  4. You are putting that new kitchen to good use, indeed. Baking up a veritable storm. It al sounds so delicious. (Bear's tongue hangs out and drools as he writes, fortunately not in your kitchen.)

    I hope you have a grand time with all your visitors, particulièrement les français.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the idea of baking up a storm! I shall aspire to it.

      Delete
  5. A really nice post. Lovely way to start my day. I'm trying some gluten free bread making today, so very timely indeed.
    Your cottage guests will love the cake I'm sure.
    The kitchen looks wonderful.
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never tried making gluten free but perhaps I should. Do you know if I can use spelt?

      Delete
  6. Loving the kitchen - I always listen to the radio while I cook, too. Am wildly jealous of all of your counter space - definitely at a premium here in the tiny Seoul apartment! I'm not sure what I like more - the bread, or the books - lucky, lucky you!
    PS - I'm very partial to the illustration of the donkey. Somehow he just appeals to me. ; )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The donkey is perfect isn't it? I don't know if you know the story. Like many fairy stories some of it is quite strange and dark and yet the whole has a lightness.

      Delete
  7. Oh so yummy! I love these photos of bread. Bread has so many possibilities and is yet still so reassuring. I would love a slice; as I am sure so many of your viewers would also attest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love bread and find it hard to understand how something which can be so wonderful can be reduced to soggy factory made pap. Proper bread is a revelation!

      Delete
  8. Isn't it satisfying when was has done a large bake like that. Like chrisartist I have gone gluten free recently - the bread is just not the same. Still I feel so much better for it. I could smell your lovely loaves though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would be interested to have any good gluten free recipes. I like to be able to cater for everyone if I can.

      Delete
  9. Oh, how fragrant your kitchen much have been! The two books from Stephanie look to be just as wonderful. The illustrations in the tale of Peau d'ane nearly take my breath away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The smell of bread baking is one of the best things.

      Delete
  10. It's not often I read about a blogger's day and I actually long for it to have been mine ... but oh, Elizabeth, how I did reading this ... what a perfect morning. And when I am making lemon cake this afternoon I shall know who to blame!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a lovely morning. One of the good things about blogging is that it makes you pause and take stock and notice when you are having a good time!

      Delete
  11. Gosh, this is a home from home blog! I have just consumed two great wedges of lemon drizzle cake (though made by Rosie not me) and next month we shall have town twinning visitors. A wonderfully productive day you have had. And such joy infuses your house. Your French visitors are in for a treat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad to hear that your default portion of lemon cake is two great wedges! That is the right way to go!

      Delete
  12. Ohhhhhhh......... *clunk*

    (yumminess overload)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quick, quick, let me revive you with some damson gin! Did that do the trick?

      Delete
  13. My kitchen never looks so clean and tidy when I bake. I usually manage to get half the ingredients on either the worktop or the floor!
    There is a charity bake at work on Thursday, so I will be up to my elbows in muffin mix on Wednesday evening and cleaning the floor on Thursday!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the answer might be to get a dog - we don't have one but my children's dogs do a great job of cleaning any baking detritus off the floor!

      Delete
  14. Ah! This is all very deliriously tempting. I can smell that zesty lemon cake sitting here on a now-bleak-now-sunny day. Good luck with the reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reading went well. I understood most things I think! A strange tale.

      Delete
  15. What a perfect day (and I am so glad there's someone else who uses a mixer for the dough, hooray)! Cake, mmmmm.

    The giveaway you won is absolutely delicious, and I am sure your French will be up to the job of both that delightful book and your visitors (if you need any further encouragement I can always lend you my entire collection of Asterix / Le Petit Nicholas / any number of dodgy policiers next time you're down this way). Bonne chance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Asterix seems like a great answer to improving my French! I think a diet of Asterix and fairy tales is likely to make me an interesting conversationalist.

      Delete
  16. Bread, cake and fairy tales. I'd say that is about all one needs for a very good start to the week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right! What more could you want?

      Delete
  17. Hi Elizabeth,

    It must be nice baking your own bread! Your bread looks really good. I had a machine two years ago, but I wasn't happy with the result. The bread fell on our stomach like a stone.

    The book you won from Stephanie looks beautiful. Enjoy reading!

    Happy new week,

    Madelief x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Madelief, we don't use a machine. I know lots of people who swear by them but we find a mixer with a dough hook gives the best results. I do love making bread - love the smell and the taste too!

      Delete
  18. What a great giveaway and beautiful wrapping and card.
    Lovely post, I could almost smell the bread...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a stunning give away wasn't it? The first one I have ever won!

      Delete
  19. Our sourdough is serving us well too, and tomorrow I'm baking for our next visitors!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are getting into the sourdough now and beginning to know how it should look and feel. Love it!

      Delete
  20. I see we have the same mixer! My mother used to have 'baking days' when she'd make a huge number of pies and cakes and quiches - I recall them as a highlight of our holidays. Sometimes we do the same (not often enough) and I especially like making bread.

    The garden in post above brings on the usual envy.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!

Popular Posts