The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Greetings from England!

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Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Greetings from England!

Hi


Like so many people right now, I'm stressing out about the economic situation - can we afford to keep our house, where can we cut down on our expenses etc. I decided that there's no point in worrying about the things I can't control, to take control of the things I can and to distract myself by learning a new skill; by learning how to bake bread. I found this site, and now I'm in baker heaven!  Yes, it's actually colder inside our house than it is outside (500 years old, and not efficient to heat), yes I still tend to stres about those things which are out of my control, but I'm working my way through the lessons (great success with the sandwich loaf no. 2 - it's lovely with tuna and mayo), and I hope to gain a skill which will last me lifetime, regardless of where I'm living or what I am - or am not - earning.


This old English farmhouse will have seen thousands - if not tens of thousands - of loaves of bread made in its kitchen over the centuries, and I'm very happy to be adding mine to the list. And it's become a family affair, with my six and nine year old sons having a cook-off last weekend to determine which gadget kneaded the best, the Magimix or the Kitchen Aid (the Kitchen Aid won hands down, but, in its defence, the Magimix has major strengths in other areas). We have a bread machine which, over the years, has produced some perfectly acceptable loaves, but they've all been lacking soul. And soon I'm going to take the dough out of the Kitchen Aid and start hand kneading - I have a feeling it will be a great way of relieving tension!


So here we are, an English family, reading our way through the blogs and the postings on this site, picking up hints and tips from across the world on something which we all have in common, regardless of nationality, race, creed or wealth - good bread! And I have one question - though not, I admit, bread-related: does anybody have a completely foolproof recipe for chocolate chip cookies? We like them big, gooey and soft - but we seem to produce them big, tough and crunchy. 


Now I'm off to try the Pizza Primer recipe!


Karen


 


 


 


 

Marni's picture
Marni

It's very nice to meet you and your family.  I also have children that enjoy joining me in the kitchen.  My 10 y.o. son loves kneading and mixing shortening into flour.   (I think it's getting to be messy that he enjoys)


Living in Los Angeles in an almost 70 year old house, your home sounds wonderful.  Real history!


I don't have a foolproof recipe other than the usual Tollhouse cookie recipe on the bag of Nestle chips.  I'm always trying different ones.  We like one with bourbon in it, but they are crispy - sorry.  I'm sure you'll get some great responses here from other members.


Marni

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

... for the welcome.


Yes, we're very lucky with our house - it's all beams and huge fireplaces and old walls with lumps and bumps, and floorboards which are totally uneven. Took me a while to adjust after a modern house, but I can't imagine living anywhere else now. My mother says it's made me into an earth mother, growing vegetables, making jams and now bread!


My boys are safer in the kitchen than in the dining room - I made the mistake of leaving them alone in there when my daughter had a chocolate fountain at her birthday party.  They somehow knocked it off its axis and when I went in, the thing was spinning madly, off centre, liberally spraying melted chocolate on walls, curtains, carpet - oh and across all the party food.


I wonder if I can get the Tollhouse cookie recipe from a Nesle website - I'll get Googling.


Karen


 

ClimbHi's picture
ClimbHi

"we seem to produce them big, tough and crunchy"


Big & crunchy? Send 'em to me -- that's the way I like em'!


(Though I'll admit to being in a minority on that.)


Welcome.


ClimbHi
Pittsburgh, PA

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Well, if the next batch I turn out is as bad as last week's, I might just have to send them over to Pittsburgh!  My last effort was tough enough to survive being rolled all the way there!

Jw's picture
Jw

what a kind welcome note! when you mentioned your sons, I reminded me of the birthday party of our -then- ten year old daughter. All the young guests had to shape their own bread when they came into our home, and left with their work at the end of the party. We took great pictures as well (which I cannot post). We never had so many (positive) comments about a birthday party. . .


Greetings back from accros the channel (near Amsterdam), just a recent suburbian home, I am afraid.


Cheers,
Jw.

This Day's picture
This Day

A gentleman where I used to work would occasionally bring in a huge bag of chocolate chip cookies, and we'd all follow him in pied-piper formation from the elevator to the break room to get our share while the getting was good.  He followed the standard Toll House recipe, but doubled the butter.  Yum!

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

I once went on a cruise and at 11am they served freshly-baked, warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies. They were heavenly.  I'm definitely going to track down the Toll House recipe - and try doubling the butter!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

This has always produced soft cookies for me. They were served on a cruise ship, and a requested recipe in the Oct '93 Bon Appetit R.S.V.P. section. They are bakery-style huge, but I think that's what makes them soft. Alcohol (a tenderizer in baking) from the Frangelico, Kahlua and vanilla may have something to do with it too, and the high proportion of add-ins lend some tenderizing fat as well. You can vary the types of liqueurs, chips and nuts, but the cookies aren't as soft if you reduce the total quantity by much.

Clipper Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 11-1/2 ounce packages milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Preheat oven to 325F. Using electric mixer, beat first 6 ingredients in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Stir into butter mixture. Mix in chocolate chips and all chopped nuts. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing apart. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Makes about 3 dozen
Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

These sound amazing as well.  I shall invest in some liquer and give them a go.  Thank you so much.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

You're very welcome. And welcome to TFL as well :-)

gavinc's picture
gavinc

These look like the 5 star version...I'm in.


 

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

What a great idea for a party - I'll suggest it to my boys (their birthdays are 17 days apart, so they usually share a party).  When my daughter was 10 she wanted a model party (my husband's a photographer) so invited her friends to all dress up in their favourite clothes and be photographed in the studio. Seemed like a good idea, and their parents loved the pictures, but we hadn't thought about how unpleasant girls can be to each other - I spent the entire time mopping teary faces and soothing hurt feelings.  A bread party sounds so much better.


KC


 

rainwater's picture
rainwater

I just made this recipe for the first time...they weren't overly crunchy, but on the softer side.  it really made a difference how long I baked them... I think as bread bakers we want to see the cookies turning brown and especially look cooked on the bottom, but I found that it's best to bake the cookies the specified time for a softer cookie.


1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.


2) Stir 2 1/4 cups (@10 ounces) flour with 1 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt and set aside in bowl.


3) Cream 8 oz. butter with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup brown sugar until creamy.


4) Stir in 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla to the butter and sugar one egg at a time. 


5) Stir/Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.


6) Stir in 2 cups of chocolate chips, and (optional) one cup of nuts.


7) Drop by tablespoon full on cookie sheet, and bake for @ 11 minutes.


To retain a soft cookie, you will want to bake as little as possible....the cookies get crisper the longer you bake them.


I only used 3/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 cup brown sugar in my recipe, and found them plenty sweet.  I'll probably go with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar next time.....


I hope this works for you...These cookies were good....

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Thank you so  much - I will get baking!

brakeforbread's picture
brakeforbread

I blogged our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe a while ago. This is one of my favorite things to make, because my 3 year old loves to help. The recipe is originally from David Lebovitz. Very easy, very good, very chocolaty.

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Thank you! I'll try this one as well - my kids are home for half term so we can bake together.

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Well, we started our great cookie recipe tryout today, and began with yours.  I have just been sitting in front of a roaring fire, a hot cup of tea to hand, and ate four in a row!  We didn't have 200g of plain chocolate chips, and didn't have any walnuts, so mixed white chocolate chips and plain ones, which would probably be too sweet for some, but not for us.


They were exactly what I've been searching for - thank you so much.  And now i can't wait to try the other recipes people have been kind enough to post.  I can see this site will not be good for my waistline....

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

Hello Karen and welcome to the world of bread making!


I would love to see a picture of your house. It sounds very interesting.


Did you find the chocolate chip cookie recipe that you wanted? I too usually use the Nestle's one as we like softer cookies also.


See you on the boards.

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Hi flourgirl51, and thank you for your welcome.  I've been give some fantastic cookie recipes, tried the first one today and it was perfect. Now I have some others to try as well - can't wait!


Here's a picture of the house...


 


KC


 


Christmas house

isobel gildon's picture
isobel gildon

It looks very Suffolk. Are you the KC who asked about my wood fired oven? Do come and play with it!

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

I am!  And I'd love to!

flourgirl51's picture
flourgirl51

HI


 Your house looks lovely- nice and cozy. It sure doesn't look like it is 500 years old!  May I ask what kind of stove do you use? Gas or electric.. just being nosey.

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

It certainly feels 500 years old at times - mostly in good ways!  I have a dual fuel stove, bottled gas hob and electric ovens.  I yearn for an Aga but, unless I'm prepared to put in the work required to keep a woodfired one going, I'll have to wait until we have a wind turbine, which could then power one without the huge fuel costs.  That, of course, leaves out the small question of being able to pay for the Aga in the first place, which I suspect I'll never be able to do.  Still, dreams are nice, aren't they?


Here are another couple of shots of the house - does it look older now? I think the original owners would have cooked in the fireplace you can see in the sitting room - now it's used to heat the room and, occasionally, for toast.  Unfortunately a previous owner covered up the beams in the kitchen ceiling, I think to allow for inset lights, so one day we'll take the leap of faith and strip down the plasterboard and see what we have to play with!


KC




 


 

newgirlbaker's picture
newgirlbaker

I know it by heart as my 14 year old daughter requests them weekly.


 


Cream together:


2 sticks of butter (1cup) at room temp


3/4 c brown sugar


3/4 c white sugar


Add to creamed mixture:


1 teaspoon of vanilla


2 eggs- mix well


add:


1 teaspoon of Salt 


 1 teaspoon of baking soda


2 1/4 cups of flour


Mix in choc chips- bake at 350 degrees Farenheit- 10-14 minutes!


 


YUM


 

Karen Coe's picture
Karen Coe

Yum indeed.  Thank you!

Marni's picture
Marni

Karen,


I'm so glad you got recipes to try.  Your house really is lovely.  I think the kitchen looks nice the way it is, but I can see your desire to check out the possibility of beams.


Thanks for bringing up the cookies idea here.  I make all our baked goods and haven't made good 'ol choc. chip ones in a few weeks.  I'm off to go bake a double batch now.


Marni


PS -  about the choc. fountain - aarrgghh... but it sure makes a great story to remember.

isobel gildon's picture
isobel gildon

Hi Karen. E-mail me on imgildon@aol.com and we'll arrange something. I am lucky enough to have an Aga but I've had to go back to work to pay for the Calor Gas!


If there's anyone else out there with an Aga, do you cook your bread on the oven floor or half way up?


I will be visiting my son in Chicago in April, West Wellington and Broadway. Any tips on good bakers or farmers markets I should visit. I absolutely adore the city but could do with some insider knowledge. I'm already addicted to the Intelligentsia coffee shop.


Greetings from grisly, grey England. Thank God it will soon be Saturday and I can get baking!


 


And by the way, all you clever computer guys - how do you send photographs?