Day trip to Paris, 2nd March 2024

Bread basket at Bouillon Julien - seven thick crust slices tightly packed onto a basket

Long story short: we had a chance to spend last Saturday in Paris, and so we did!

We were there for less than 12 hours. Yes, it sounds preposterous, but we embraced the absurdness of it with efficiency and organisation: we identified a few things we could do, but left ample margin to do so, booked a restaurant for lunch, and then executed with precision.

It really helps to live close to St. Pancras, so we could walk to the station and be there less than an hour after waking up. So, we were on time, and so was our train.

St Pancras concourse in the morning, and Tracey Emin's neon in the background. Our Eurostar train is to the left, waiting for us. A person wearing a high visibility vest waits by the travelator in the distance.
St Pancras concourse in the morning, Tracey Emin’s neon “I want my time with you” and our Eurostar train waiting for us
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50/50 cardamom buns

Cardamom buns cooling down on a rack

I loosely followed this recipe from Felicity Cloake, but either I didn’t have enough of some of the ingredients or didn’t want to sacrifice an egg for painting. So I did a few replacements and alterations, detailed below.

The results are surprisingly good, given it’s the first time I made these. The flavour is spot on, exactly what I want from a cardamom bun. They are moist and buttery enough, and the slightly coarser texture from the wholemeal flour wasn’t really in the way, with all that is going on, as there are already the big cardamom seeds interrupting any pretence of smoothness in the dough.

Also, since they have whole grains rather than being 100% refined flour, they are totally healthy 😆 (just ignore the sugar, and maybe the butter, eh??) đŸ„ŠđŸ„ŹđŸ„’

Cardamom buns cooling down on a rack
Cardamom buns cooling down on a rack
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First attempt at making Altamura bread: I made a rock

Altamura bread, baked

As I mentioned, I have a stash of Italian flours at home and I’m attempting to make breads in different Italian styles. There’s more than pizza, ciabatta and focaccia!

My first attempt was to make a bread in the style of the pane di Altamura. But I was too impatient and didn’t wait until my semi-dormant starter was sufficiently lively again, so I made a nice looking rustic rock. It smells amazing, but it didn’t rise a lot, so it’s quite compact inside (it can be eaten in thin slices, haha!)

A look inside the Altamura bread: it is too dense
A look inside the Altamura bread: it is too dense

That said I got to practice handling the dough and folding it, so there will be less new concepts to learn at once the next time I attempt making this.

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Scone spam

Scones with clotted cream and jam

Anyone who runs a website which allows comments to be posted will be familiar with the neverending stream of spam comments.

They are easy for a human to spot, mostly because they normally talk about things that have nothing to do with your post or site at all. Often they’re nothing more than a collection of random words and then some links to pornographic, drugs, scams or other similarly illicit websites (or try to install malware in your computer). And typically the comment’s author name and email address are a collection of random letters too (or they have numbers on it).

So, it does look like something a bot created. The automated crap can be sensed from a long distance.

The problem is that there are SO MANY comments. It is just so time consuming to remove them. Fortunately there exist solutions such as Akismet that help you automatically filter the trash out.

But sometimes legitimate comments end up marked as spam. So I have a look at the spam comments from time to time to make sure the good comments aren’t lost forever, as the spam gets automatically deleted after a number of days—otherwise the database would eventually explode with rubbish.

Today I just did that, but this time I spotted something unusual: spam which talked about scones, in my Skulls & bones (or scones & scones) post.

Now that is interesting! Spam about baking! How thoughtful!

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Falling into the Italian bread hole

Happy new year everybody!

After the break, we’re back with a lot of curiosity and interest in perfecting our cooking.

May this be the year in which you master anything that has been bugging you, or maybe the year in which you learn something new that you did not even know existed and it brings you lots of pleasure!

Which in my case seems to be Italian flour and breads. Brace yourselves…

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