During the Spring and early Summer, there are so many wild herbs to be foraged from the hedgerows or our own gardens. I've made this pasta time and time again, varying the mix of greens I've used each time. I often add sorrel from the garden for its citrusy bite, but I will literally use anything green and leafy, including foraged nettle tips, wild garlic or fat hen. Later in the year, you can raid your vegetable patch for the tenderest tips of spinach, kale or rocket, and throw in some favourite leafy herbs.
Click here to watch the video tutorial, or read below!
(Makes 25-30 medium ravioli)
1 batch sourdough pasta dough
(see our sourdough pasta recipe here)
For the filling:
Fresh ricotta 500g
Fresh greens/herbs 100g (approx.)
Pecorino, grated 20g
½ nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sage butter:
About 24 sage leaves
Butter (1/2 pack) 125g
Prepare your filling whilst your dough is resting:
Take 500g of ricotta and place in a heavy bottomed, wide pan over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. About ¼ of the overall weight will evaporate during this process, leaving it resembling a soft cottage cheese. Remove from heat, stir in the grated pecorino (or other hard Italian cheese) and season with a good pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and about half a freshly grated nutmeg. Taste a little to check seasoning before adding your chopped greens and herbs. Any soft leaved greens/herbs may be used: spinach, wild garlic, sorrel, young nettle tips etc. Whatever you can forage safely from the hedgerows or your own gardens (or fridges!).
Roll out your sourdough pasta, either by hand or machine until it is nice and thin. If using a machine, roll a quarter piece at a time and keep passing through until you are on the thinnest or near thinnest setting. If rolling by hand, roll it as thin as you can reasonably can, trying to keep the thickness even and then divide into 4 long equal-sized strips.
Now place a small spoonful (the size of a small walnut) of your filling in a row along your 2 of your pasta sheets, allowing room for each raviolo to be cut out. Using your finger, or a small brush, dampen the area in a square around each mound of filling. This will make the ‘lid’ stick as you carefully place the other 2 sheets over the top of the 2 filled sheets.
Now, carefully cup your hands around each ravioli mound, sealing each individual one, trying to avoid trapping any air inside. When you have finished, it is time to cut the ravioli out. You can use a square ravioli cutter, a pastry/pasta roller, or simply a knife. If using the latter, make sure you crimp and seal the edges of each one with a fork.
If you are not cooking your ravioli straight away, coat in a little semolina or rice flour (not ordinary flour) to prevent sticking together. Place on a tray and cover until needed (in the fridge, if necessary).
Just before you are ready to eat, prepare the sage butter: Put half a pack of butter in a heavy bottomed pan and place over a medium heat. Let the butter melt, then throw in a dozen or so whole sage leaves. Allow them to crisp but not burn in the butter. Remove and place on a paper towel as they crisp, then turn up the heat a little and watch as your butter first bubbles, then finally foams and becomes glorious-smelling browned butter. Throw in the rest of chopped sage at the last and take off the heat and allow the chopped sage to steep in the hot butter as you bring your largest pot of water to the boil.
Now it’s time to cook the pasta. Add salt to the pan, bring to a rolling boil, then place the ravioli in the pan and cook for approx. 3 mins until tender and ‘al dente’. Depending upon the size of your pan, you may need to cook in 2 or 3 batches, but this shouldn’t matter as they are so quick to cook.
Drain the cooked pasta well, pour over the sage brown butter and garnish with some of the whole, crispy sage leaves. Serve with a simple dressed green salad of garden leaves and enjoy!
Pasta is a simple flour and liquid (either egg or water) mixture that is kneaded into a stiff dough – an ideal way to use up starter that is a few days old, rather than discarding before you next refresh. This recipe uses liquid starter. If you are keeping a stiff starter, simply adjust the quantities to accommodate (about 15g less flour and add 15g water). If you are making vegan pasta, replace the egg with 100-110g of water.
You can make pasta with fine semolina (from the Southern Italian hard or ‘durum’ wheat) or with fine pasta grade ‘00’ flour. I often make mine with a mix of the two.
Watch our video tutorial on Youtube here or read below.
Basic sourdough pasta dough
(Makes about 450g)
‘00’ flour 100g
Liquid starter 100g
Medium eggs 2
Dash of olive oil
Mix the semolina and ‘00’ flour in a large bowl. Traditionally, a ‘well’ is made in the middle of the flour into which you can add your liquid starter and eggs. Using a regular knife, dough scraper or simply two fingers, start to mix the dough from the centre, incorporating more of the flour as you stir until you have a stiff dough and all the flour has been absorbed. Add a dash of olive oil and knead in before turning your dough out onto a clean surface. Knead for five or so minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Wrap in cling film and rest for 30 minutes or so.
Once rested, dust your counter with semolina before rolling your dough. You can pass through your pasta machine or roll out using a rolling pin. If using a pasta machine, divide into 4 pieces, keeping those you are not yet using wrapped. Pass the first piece through the machine on its thickest setting. Fold the resulting long strip of dough into thirds over itself, turn through 90 degrees and pass through the machine again. You should have a smooth homogeneous strip that you can pass through the machine at successive thicknesses until the desired thickness is reached (usually the thinnest or one above the thinnest setting). Repeat for the 3 other pieces of dough.
You will end up with 4 long strips of dough that can be passed through the shaper on your machine to make fettucine, tagliatelle etc. Or you can hand cut as desired. Place the cut and shaped pasta in a bed of semolina or rice flour and give it a fine coating to prevent sticking – if you use regular flour, it will be absorbed and your pasta will stick to itself. If rolling by hand, try and keep an even thickness throughout – you may find it easier to divide your dough into smaller pieces before rolling, until you are more practiced at this.
Depending upon the final pasta shape you have chosen, you can hang your pasta or leave on semolina-coated trays, covered with a cloth, ready for when you want to cook. When ready to cook, bring water to boil in your largest pan (which allow the pasta plenty of space to remain separate and the temperature of such a big pot won’t drop so significantly when you add the pasta), throw in some salt and cook for 3-4 minutes only. A simple sauce with oil or butter, will allow you to appreciate the delicious, fresh pasta to the full. Why not try infusing 1 ½ tablespoons of oil per serving with some sliced garlic and some chilli flakes and toss through the drained pasta. Finish with some coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a scattering of fresh pecorino. Simple and delicious
So you've made your starter, and you're rightly proud of this bubbling, fermenting pot of life that you've grown and nurtured. Here is our basic country sourdough recipe. This uses a kneading method. Some days, it just helps to bash out your frustrations on an inanimate lump of dough! Remember, this is sloooooowwww dough. All good things are worth the wait!
Country White Sourdough
(makes 1 medium loaf)
Plan ahead. Sourdough will always be at least 2 days in the making. Feed your starter about 8 hours (overnight is perfect) before you are ready to make your sourdough, so that it is lively and active before you begin.
300g strong white flour
80g wholemeal flour
120g active starter (liquid, 100% hydration)
8g fine sea salt
Measure your dry ingredients into a large bowl. Place your starter and water in a separate bowl and mix roughly together. Now pour these into the dry ingredients. Mix with your scraper until all the ingredients are combined and a rough dough has formed. Turn out onto your clean work surface and knead for 15-20 minutes until you have an elastic dough which doesn’t stick to your fingers or to the work surface. Alternatively, place in your mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix on medium for about 7 minutes until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place back into your lightly floured bowl. Cover with a large plastic bag or a baking cloth and leave to prove.
After 30 minutes, fold and stretch your dough: using your scraper, turn the dough carefully out onto a lightly floured surface – with the ‘top’ of the dough now underneath. Taking the 4 points of the compass in turn, pull the dough gently to one side then bring over to the middle point of your dough (as if you were making a paper windmill). When all 4 ‘corners’ have been brought into the middle, turn your dough back over and place back in the bowl, so that the top of the dough remains uppermost. Repeat folding action every half an hour. This is the ‘bulk proof’ stage and should take 3 or more hours. Stretch and fold your dough about 6 times during this stage. Each time you will be building the strength of your dough and improving the final loaf.
After 3-4 hours (depending upon ambient temperature) you are ready to shape your dough. Don’t expect it to have doubled in size like a yeasted dough. It will not need de-gassing. Using the round side of your scraper, carefully tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, so that the ‘top’ of the dough is now lying underneath on your floured countertop. Shape your loaf by stretching the edge of the dough and bringing onto the middle, like when stretching and folding your dough during the first prove. Go around the entire circle of dough, then flip and place it seem side down on your counter, ensuring there is no flour underneath the seam.
Now you can ‘tighten’ your ball by dragging it towards you and allowing the friction of the counter to resist the movement. This should cause the ‘skin’ of your ball of dough to tighten a little. Adjust and do the same in a few different directions around your ball. Do not over-tighten. A few little stretches are all it takes. You don’t want to tear the skin that is containing your dough under tension. When you have a tight ball, place seam side up into a pre-floured proving basket – wholemeal flour works best here, as the bran prevents sticking (do not use rye flour). However, a well-shaped loaf will not stick in your banneton. It is essential that you pay attention to the tightening of the dough at this stage. If your loaf collapses when you tip it out, ready to bake, it could well be you have not tightened sufficiently before placing in the basket. If you have no proving basket, flour a good quality linen cloth well, placed inside a round 1litre bowl (eg Pyrex bowl). This prevents your dough relaxing into a puddle whilst it proves for a second time.
Cover with a loose-fitting plastic bag or baking cloth for about 3-5 hours (depending upon ambient temperature) until the dough appears ready. At this stage, the dough will bounce slowly back when pressed gently with a floured finger. If it bounces rapidly back, it needs a little longer. If the indentation remains, you have over-proved your dough. Alternatively, you can place the dough in the fridge when it appears to be nearly ready, say after 3-4 hours, and leave overnight.
When the loaves are ready to bake, turn them out onto a lightly dusted peel. Be gentle with your loaves at this stage. Slash the loaves at an oblique angle of about 30 degrees, to allow extra expansion in the oven. Place in a very hot oven, pre-heated to 240°C. As you place the loaves in the oven, spray the walls, ceiling and floor of your oven with water, avoiding the loaves themselves. Now turn down your oven down to 220 °C and bake for 35-45 minutes for the larger, until golden or dark brown, according to preference. Alternatively, bake inside a pre-heated Dutch oven or cast iron casserole dish – the lid will keep in all the steam that is released by the dough during the first 15 mins, after which you can remove the lid and continue to bake and crust over. To check reliably whether your bread is baked, place a probe thermometer into the centre. A loaf will be reliably baked when the thermometer reads 95°C or more.
Notes on refreshing your starters:
Wheat starter: Wheat starters can be kept in a liquid state (usually 100% hydration) or a stiff state (usually 50% hydration). This recipe uses a liquid starter. To refresh your liquid starter, take 100g of starter (discarding or using the rest) and add 100g water and 100g of flour, ie equal parts flour and water. If using a new recipe, always check whether a stiff or liquid starter is required and adjust your overall water/flour quantities in the recipe, if necessary. Leave the refreshed starter at a warm room temperature for 8-12 hours before using. If it is not required straight away, simply place in the fridge after a few hours. Your starter will keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks (and can even be dehydrated or frozen!), but it is best to refresh it every 7 days even if not being used.
(makes 1 large loaf)
Although many of my recipes are inspired by the Tuscany region, this recipe is a Southern Italian treasure from the Puglia region. Pane Pugliese is made with either all or the greater part hard durum wheat – fine semolina or ‘semola rimacinata di grano duro’. The finest example of this is Pane di Altamura, now granted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status. The loaf is a beautiful pale gold in colour and has the characteristic crumb and crunchy crust of a semolina bread. It is utterly delicious and well worth a try.
If you wish, you can use all semolina for this recipe. Simply replace the bread flour in the biga and dough with more semolina.
Strong bread flour 100g
Tepid water 100g
Fresh yeast 2g
For the dough:
Strong bread flour 100g
Fine durum semolina 400g
Tepid water 300g
Biga, from above 200g
Fresh Yeast 10g (or 5g instant dried yeast)*
Sea salt 10g
*if you intend to prove overnight in the fridge, reduce the amount of yeast to about half.
The night before, mix together the ingredients for the biga and leave, covered, overnight at ambient room temperature.
Make the dough by combining the above ingredients and knead for 10-15 minutes until you have a smooth elastic dough. Leave, covered, in an oiled bowl for 30 mins, after which you can stretch and fold your dough. Cover once more and leave for a further 30 minutes.
When your dough has significantly increased in size, after this first prove of about 1 hour, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and shape tightly into a ball. Place into a floured banneton, cover and leave to prove again for 1 – 1½ hours, depending on ambient temperature. Alternatively, place in the fridge and allow to prove slowly overnight*.
Pre-heat the oven to 240°C.
When your loaf is ready, slash the top with a sharp knife or baker’s lame and either slide from a peel onto a hot baking stone, or bake inside a preheated cast iron pot. Turn oven down to 220°C and bake for 45-50 minutes. If baking in a cast iron pot, remove the lid after 15 minutes to allow the loaf to develop a golden crust. The loaf will be baked when the crumb reaches 95°C.
Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
Rhubarb is seasonal and abundant. Here we've coupled it with the last of the Spanish blood oranges, but any orange will do!
For the sweetcrust
75g icing sugar
1 medium egg
250g plain flour
For the filling
4-5 sticks of rhubarb
1 orange (or blood orange)
For the frangipane
150g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
150g ground almonds
30g plain flour
This recipe involves making 3 elements - the sweetcrust, the filling and the frangipane - separately, and assembling together at the end.
For the sweetcrust:
For the filling:
For the frangipane:
Now you're ready to assemble!
Quick and easy pitta breads (makes 12)
For the dough:
600g Strong white bread flour*
15g fresh yeast (or 7g instant dried)
2 tbsp olive oil
300g tepid water
10g fine sea salt
*or substitute plain flour, if you don’t have bread flour.
Place the dry ingredients in your bowl, ensuring the salt is on one side, the yeast on the other. If you don’t have ready yeast, follow the instructions on the packet for activation. Now add the water and oil and, using a dough scraper or your hands, bring the mixture together into a rough dough. Take out of the bowl and need for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Place back in a lightly dusted bowl, cover and rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 240-250°C, with a good quality baking sheet or baking stone in place to get super-hot.
After about an hour or so, remove the dough and divide into quarters. Take each quarter, squash it a little, then divide into 3 pieces and form each into a small ball with a tight seam underneath. Each piece should finish up as a smooth ball, with no edges or rough bits showing. Cover once more and leave to rest for a further 15 minutes.
Take the first 4 balls and roll out into ovals about 20cm long and even thickness. Place them on a lightly dusted peel, or onto a silicone sheet that can be slid straight into the oven. Slide into your oven and bake for about 5 minutes. They should puff up in the oven. Remove after 5 minutes and cover with a linen cloth whilst you cook the remaining two batches. Keep covered whilst they cool, so the pittas remain soft and pliable. If you don’t, they will dry and crisp up.
When cool, they can be kept in an airtight container for several days or frozen immediately.
This cake was created to use the delicious curd cheese I brought back with me from Wildes Cheese after a delightful day spent learning about cheese-making. Philip and Keith run this small urban artisan dairy in Tottenham, North London. On reading about their passion for their craft I knew that this is where I wanted to learn. They say they were drawn to cheesemaking “because it’s pure magic, a form of alchemy”. Now, where have I heard that before?!!
The curd cheese’s soft and velvety texture is perfect for making a rich bundt cake, especially paired with the sweet sharpness of lemon. The resulting cake is light and moist, in spite of its characteristically dense crumb. And it’s wickedly moreish!
Pre-heat your oven to 170°C.
First prepare your bundt tin, by greasing and covering with granulated sugar. Set to one side.
Zest two lemons and rub into your caster sugar. Now cream together your softened butter and caster sugar, until light and fluffy. Mix in the curd cheese and crème fraiche. Now split and scrape the seeds from your vanilla pod and stir in together with the lemon juice and ground almonds.
Whilst the cake is baking you can prepare the drizzle. Mix together the juice of one lemon and 50g caster sugar.
When your cake is cooked, leave it for about 10 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack. Using a spoon, drizzle your lemon mix evenly over your cake and leave to cool completely.
Our communal village orchard is heavy with wonderful produce right now. The plums, mulberries and greengages are over, but now the apples, pears, quince and medlars now have their chance to shine. Even the hedgerows enclosing the old orchard are bearing blackberries and nuts to gather.
With my basket laden, I set about baking something to use the village bounty. The nuts are, as yet, too young and fresh to grind down to a useful flour, so I used ground almonds – but if you have your own hazelnuts, do use once they’re dried. Just grind them down to a fine meal. The young cob nuts will be fine for the crumble topping.
Eat with pleasure. You have spent time making a thing of beauty from things you have foraged. Take your time to savour. Enjoy.
These spelt cookies are usually available at breaktime on our workshops and we're often asked for the recipe. We're so lucky to have the most wonderful organic spelt flour grown and milled near the Baking School. I love to use it as much as possible. These cookies are so packed with goodness, they don't feel like an indulgence - just a healthy treat to keep you going when you're flagging between meals. You can use whatever dried fruit you like: raisins, cranberries, sultanas - even chopped dates or prunes. And you can choose to use all nuts, all seeds or, as I have done here, a combination of the two. Remember that seeds and nuts will be more flavourful if you toast them in a dry pan beforehand.
Spelt, oat, fruit & nut cookies
(makes 18-20 cookies)
We make these cookies with the wonderful wholemeal spelt we buy from our local miller, at Foster’s Mill, but you can use any flavoursome stoneground spelt or other favourite wholemeal flour. They are filled with oats, dried fruit and seeds or nuts, so make a great morning snack or ‘breakfast on the go’!
125g wholemeal spelt (or other wholemeal flour)
100g jumbo oats
100g regular oats
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
100g butter, melted
180g soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
100g raisins or sultanas
50g toasted pecans (or choice of nut), chopped
50g toasted pumpkin seeds
Taking a small dessertspoon of dough, roll into a tight ball the size of a walnut. You may find wetting your hands with water or oil may help at this stage. Place on a couple of baking sheets with room for spreading between each ball. Press each gently down with the base of a glass or biscuit press until they are 5-6cm in diameter.
Bake at 180 degrees C for about 15-18 minutes. Leave to cool a little on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. When cool, store in an airtight container. The biscuits, if stored well, will remain crisp and fresh for 2 weeks or more.
Shrove Tuesday or 'Fat Tuesday' as the Scandinavians would have it!! Whether you're planning to fast or not, a day to indulge. Countries across Scandinavia celebrate with variations of this Semla bun. Semlor are delicious sweet cardamom buns, enriched with butter and milk, then filled with a delicious honey almond paste and fresh cream. If you're a pancake traditionalist, why not try this alternative. Or if you're really planning on fasting, have both!
(Makes 14-16 buns)
Semla buns are a traditional Scandinavian treat, varying slightly across the region, but always served as part of a feast on ‘Fat Tuesday’, at the start of Lent. Much like our hot cross buns, although associated with a particular festival, they are so popular they can be found in bakeries for weeks beforehand.
For the dough:
Strong white flour 500g (or substitute for all or part white spelt flour)
Fresh yeast 25g
Sea salt 10g
Butter, cubed 60g
Caster sugar 60g
Eggs 100g (2 medium, beaten)
For the almond filling
Ground almonds 120g
Caster sugar 20g
Plus, 350g double cream, whipped with 20g icing sugar
Measure out your flour, sugar and cardamom into a large mixing bowl, then rub in crumbled yeast on one side of your bowl (for dried yeast use half the amount). Now place the salt on the other side of the bowl. Keeping your butter to one side for now, add your milk and eggs and mix with your scraper until all ingredients are combined and a rough dough has formed. Turn out onto your work surface and knead for 10 minutes or so, until you have a nicely elastic dough. Now add your butter and knead for another 5 minutes until your dough is fully developed. Form the dough into a ball and place back into your lightly floured bowl. Cover with a large plastic bag or a baking cloth and leave to rest for about an hour.
After one hour, your dough should have roughly doubled in size. De-gas your dough and divide into two, take each half and divide into 8 pieces of approximately 60g-65g each. Being careful to slap any excess gas out of each piece and, using the friction of a flour-free workbench, form each piece into a tight little ball, being careful to place the seam on the underside, before placing on a lined baking tray to prove. Ensure you leave enough space between each roll to allow it to double in size. You may need to use two baking sheets.
Cover and leave at a warm room temperature for about an hour (ideally, 22°C - 25°C), but do not place anywhere too warm. If your kitchen is a little cooler, just leave a little longer. After one hour, your rolls should be roughly double in size and will return slowly back to shape when depressed gently with a floury finger.
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Just before baking, sprinkle a little flour over the top of each roll. Place them into your hot oven and then turn the temperature down immediately to 180°C. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The sugar content in the rolls will cause them to brown quicker than ordinary bread rolls, so do check they are not browning too quickly. If they are, you may need to turn your oven down by 10 degrees or so.
Leave your buns to cool on a wire rack and meanwhile you can prepare the almond and honey filling and whip your cream in preparation for assembly.
For the filling:
Place your ground almonds, honey, sugar and milk in a bowl and combine until you have a kneadable paste. Divide your mixture into 16 (approximately 13g each) lumps, roll into tight balls and put to one side.
Now take your cream and whisk together with a little icing sugar until you reach soft peaks, taking care not to over-whip your cream.
Once your buns have cooled, cut most of the way through your bun about one third of the way down, creating a ‘hinged lid’. Inside insert a disc of honey and almond paste made by flattening the balls you made earlier, and then spoon or pipe fresh cream on top, before gently closing the lid a little. Finish with a little sprinkled icing sugar.
And there we have it! A delicious alternative to pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Or any day!
Our workshops are run by award-winning sourdough baker Helen Underwood.