Hawthorn – also known as whitethorn. For those with ageing hearts

A member of the rose family, hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a thorny, flowering tree or shrub native to temperate regions of Europe, North America, and northern Asia. Though the tiny sweet red berries (“haws”) are used in jams, jellies, candies, and wines, all parts of the plant—the leaves, flowers, berries, stems, and even the bark—have long been used in herbal medicine as digestive, kidney, and anti-anxiety aids. It’s also prominent as a tonic for treating cardiac diseases and for strengthening the aging heart, a use that dates back to the first century.P

So we decided to make some haw jelly and thought you might like the recipe

Pick haws – just take them in bunches with stalks and leaves, quite a few. Then bring them home and de-stalk them. Just about cover with water and boil. Simmer for 40 mins or so. Let drip through muslin and discard the remnants – the hens dont even touch them…. Then weigh the liquid you have and add an equal amount of sugar. 500g of haws makes about 600 g of jam. Boil until it sets. Voila!

Haw Jelly; Haw gin & dried haws

We also made haw gin (add sugar and gin to berries & cut the haws off the stones (which have cyanide in but so do apple pips) to get haw flesh that is left to dry for about a week and then used in salads/muesli or curries. with the haw gin, the red berries turn white and the gin turns red within 24 hours but it then needs to be left a couple of months………….

Nothing to do with bread but I thought the bread circle might be interested,


Lockdown loaves 31/5/2020

This is how your bread is made:
Firstly I need to crank up the sourdough quantity. That happens on Thursday evenings – hence I need your orders by then. This is when the ways part – the rye and the wheat loaf are slightly different production processes. Ideally they would also have different starters at different temperatures but I leave this to the big commercial sourdough bakeries.
My first task is to get a ‘soaker’ ready. That is, there is a need to soak the malted rye and the sunflower seeds with boiling water for a couple of hours – this makes them nice and soft and integrated with the structure of the bread.
The rye this week required me to grind some rye kernels and make the flour (picture of mill attached). This took about 3/4 of an hour for 1.5 kg.
Now it comes to mixing the dough: take a portion of starter, the required amount of water with some extra in reserve if needed, a smigeon of yeast to aid vigorous fermentation, the required amount of the soaked malted rye and sunflower seeds, rye flour and strong wheat flour,and a little bit of salt, and put all this in the mixer with the dough hook. My little kitchen mixer never makes a perfect mix so I then take it out and knead it a bit – messy with the rye. Then it gets ‘scaled’ to the loaf weight, and put in tins sprayed with non-stick baking oil (see attached picture of tins). Then each tin gets provided with a ‘night cap’ consisting of a plastic bag. (see picture). Ideally I would have biggish shower caps with rubber strings but the bags work fine. The tins get put in the oven as is at high temperatures, then temperature gets lowered. Overall time approx 45 mins to 1 hour.
For the wheat loaf, it is a simpler process:
Take a portion of sourdough, add water, then yeast, then flour (a mix of some homeground wheat which I had, some wholemeal and some strong white), then salt (always keep yeast and salt separate). Then mix this – long enough to make into a nice manageable dough. Let rest for a moment then divide in the right portions for loaves, shape the loaves (requires a little bit of technique) and put them in floured bread baskets/bannetons. Again give each one a cap for the night (Plastic bag).
Next morning I put the oven on (top temperature) and put in it the under-pot of a flower pot (ceramic) while the top part (the pot) gets soaked in cold water (picture of the gadget attached). The underpot is seasoned and I put a baking sheet on it when hot, and then on that the loaf from the bread basket, then put the cold, wet top on and put in the hot oven. Leave well alone for 1/2 hour, then remove the top, and bake for another 10-20 minutes before turning down the temperature to around 230 or lower. Overall one hour is reasonable but can be longer.
Then it needs to all cool down on a rack and get made ready for you to pick up.

Welsh bake 4 10th May 2020

Dear All,
here in my hide-out in Wales it is all pretty peaceful. 2 neighbours have had the virus infection, one of whom is a GP and I wondered whether it was because of lack of PPE. But it is unusually warm (mostly) for the time of the year. I have been making bread for some neighbours, and am just about managing with the kitchen facilities here with about 8 loaves. The rye is most popular but there are a couple of people who struggle with crusty bread so I make a loaf in a tin (the other comes out of bannetons) and this week I had a bit too much dough, which is exactly the same for the two versions. One gets proved in the oiled tin, the other in a floured banneton, overnight. One gets baked at the highest possible temperature, and then at a reduced temperature of about 210 C. The loaves in the tins get started at the same temperature, and the reduced to 190. At the beginning they get sprayed twice over the first 10 minutes and loosely covered with alu foil. And then sprayed again at the end.
The two loaves we found have a completely different flavour! Extraordinary. Just goes to show how important the crust is for flavour.
One of the neighbours gave us two carrot buns, made to a recipe from a VE-day cookery book – delicious. She is a very good cook but also famous for her making it into the Guiness book of records for fell-running (A long time ago). Yes VE day – this day has not yet come for the corona war, but there were some interesting and some moving tributes for the other one:
Here is one from a French paper:
And here is a link to the German president’s speech, available in a variety of languages:
Meanwhile the new (and fairly extreme) right in Germany is claiming it as the day to remember all the German losses and injustices to Germans. This creates a difficult dynamic because yes there were lots of losses for the Germans, but the liberation from the Nazis is also the liberation from the reason for all those losses, and that tends to get lost in their narrative.
I hope you are able to keep the bread supply going. This week we had a defrosted loaf from the final bake in Kingsmead Road North, a Granary type loaf and it was very, very nice! Miss it.
top photo is bread awaiting pick up; scond one is 3 of this week’s loaves and the bottom one is of three sheep who lost their way and have been sleeping rough for about a week

Time for a Pause (Lockdown 2)

Michael made another few loaves for neighbours here today, very much appreciated and I made wild garlic and cheddar cheese scones to mark Olwen’s birthday – we had a zoom birthday party, all with our own scones!

Here is a loaf and scones given to Vicky who lives nearby.94030329_10222846872706144_390843767692722176_o.jpg

and this is Michael’s bread note:

Dinorwig or Upper Fachwen?

I am not sure whether this bread is baked in Dinorwig (in keeping with the name of our local gin) or in Upper Fachwen? If anyone has a strong opinion or some good advice please let the baker know. Today’s rye loaves were put together early this morning as we were late last night watching a zombie movie. So maybe the taste is a little less sour. There is some benefit to having rye properly fermented with sourdough as it increases its nutritional value. It has had three hours fermentation so that should be adequate but normally I would give it longer.

The wheat loaves have had the same time to ferment, but were made after the rye. The kitchen looked like a flour war had taken place afterwards because everything was done in a rush. When Julia came down for her breakfast she was unusually shocked. Let’s hope the bread is good enough. Feedback please, the only fee you have to pay today! There is no request to contribute anything for the time being. Might need some more good will some day in these strange times. Greetings, Michael.

Given that it’s Covid19 times, and our friends have been making masks, I’ll post here too Leo’s short video about them being made:


Lockdown baking

Dear All,
Here is a breadmaking link that Julia passed on which might be of interest to some who are not avid Guardian readers:
This might be a bit pedestrian for the more experienced bakers but I thought it interesting nevertheless. And some of you might feel encouraged.
Anyway, Arezoo whom some of you might remember from some bread notes, has been busy making face masks from nice African material. They are a good design because one can pout some tissue inside which can be changed frequently. The Junior doctors here at Bangor received an allocation of 10 of these which they will wear when they go out into town, shopping or the like, because it protects the public. Due to the lack of testing they don’t know if the are infectious or not, however they are heavily exposed and have to assume that they might be loaded with the virus any day. Despite Arezoo’s efforts  and a director of the WHO systematically making the point on YOUTUBE that face masks while not being the end-all of it, are probably useful and everyone should wear them, our health minister still seems to say that there is no point. I despair.
But this is really about the bread: in lieu of not having an Easter egg here Julia suggested that we maybe should have passover Matzahs instead. Since we have the luxury of being able to choose which ultimately pagan rite we want to follow I decided to make some of these unleavened flatbreads of the Jewish mythology (I hope my religious friends can forgive me for the slightly lighthearted take of the unbeliever). Of course they were not kosher, if only because I could not stick to the required time frame. In order to make sure that the bread is totally unleavened the dough has to be made within 18 minutes in total from mixing water and flour to putting it all in the oven. I did not manage that. And it turned out a bit like crisp bread but had the right flavour, only better than what can bought in the shops where the flavour of the card board box can be almost indistinguishable from the content. It was excellent with a little bit of wild garlic pesto. Very much recommended. And I think it is really good bread to make if you want to take something with you on a camping trip or the like.
For Easter I have been offering the neighbours here a loaf if they wanted one and there is a small production going to happen, just about possible within the capacity of our kitchen oven. It will be two loaves of pure wheat bread and two loaves af pure rye bread. I will let you know next week whether it worked.
Meanwhile I hope you are all keeping well! Share what you are up to if you feel like it. As I am writing I should have been in Munich helping my brother celebrate his 80th birthday.
All the best,
Michael Good Friday 2020IMG_0741.jpg

Closing the Bakery

We had planned to bake this week and have a bakery lunch to become as safe as possible with the coronavirus – but veents overtook us and we realised we had to close the bakery straight away. Michael had got a lot of flour in so he decided to do a lone bake, as the safest way to do it, and work his way through all the flour. In the end he did get a bit of help from me, Arezoo and Mehdi but mostly did it on his own and baked 200 loaves. The oven broke down so we had to do them in our smaller oven in our kitchen but we made it. We bagged everyone’s bread up to avoid unnecessary contact and had loads extra that people could take too. We collected money for the foodbank only this time and raised more htan ever – £115 – which may help a little…though it’s dire times for people in need – homeless, refugees etc.

Lets hope we can open again soon. Love to everyone


Here’s our bread note for today

Bread text 18-03-2020


Hi all, well, we thought we’d have to close the bakery at some point but never imagined it would be due to a virus and needing to minimise social contact! What crazy and sad times we are in and it is perhaps a wake up call to the world to travel less, do more locally and wash our hands more! Michael has valiantly – and nearly single handedly – made many many loaves of four different varieties – rye/spelt/plain and granary and we hope you will enjoy them, freeze some for the future and bake your own too. Arezoo and Mehdi and I helped this morning to ensure it could all be done by this evening. In the middle of the process, of course, the oven stopped working so the bread has had to be completed back in our kitchen where it all started, all those years ago!

We are relocating to Wales for a bit and hope to be back to baking and socialising in a few weeks or whenever the country settles down again.

All left over flour will be bagged and given to people along with sourdough starter for those that requested it.


Enjoy your bread and your time at home doing all those things you never had time to do! love Julia (& Michael)

Xmas Biscuits 2019 recipes & spreadsheet


i) Rum Ringlets (160)   2019

600g flour

600g ground almonds

600g sugar

600g butter, chopped into small pieces

3 pinches of salt

3 tbs rum


600g icing sugar

6-12 tbsp rum (or Bacardi & lime juice)

Mix icing sugar and rum to make a paste to cover the cold biscuits

Decorate with chopped almonds

The Day Before:

Sieve the flour and mix with the sugar and ground almonds

Add the rum and butter

Work into a smooth dough

Cover in cling film and let rest in cold for an hour

On the Day

Roll the dough out onto a little flour to about 5mm

Cut out rings with a 4cm (approx) cutter

Place the cookies on a lined baking tray

Bake for 8 minutes at 200*c

Allow to cool

ii) Zimt Sterne (220)   2019

9 egg whites

750g icing sugar

3 tsp vanilla sugar

9 drops almond oil

3 level tsp cinnamon

1500g ground hazelnuts

Preparation (day before) :

Whisk egg whites until stiff, gradually add icing sugar

Take away at least 10 tbsp of the mixture to use later for the icing

Add the spices and ground hazelnuts to the remaining mix 

Knead to produce a smooth dough – it should not be sticky

Roll out quite thick (5 –10mm) on icing sugar – it may be easier with a sheet of baking paper covering the dough

Next Day First Thing

Cut out cookies with a wet star-shaped cutter. Place cookies on a lined baking tray. Leave to dry for about 1 hour

Carefully coat the cookies with the egg white/icing sugar mix set aside earlier, taking care not to go over the edges

Leave to dry for 20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes at 120-150*c  (The icing on top of the cookie should not change colour and the cookies should remain soft.) Cool on a cooling rack.

Notes: not too thin; don’t overcook; take out while still soft; takes a long time to cut out – 2-3 people.

iii) Schoko Makronen (90)   2019

 18 egg whites

360g sugar

340g grated chocolate

750 ground almonds

2 tsp cinnamon

4 peel lemons

4 peel oranges

Preheat oven to 150

Whisk egg whites until stiff, set aside

In separate bowl mix sugar, chocolate, ground almonds, cinnamon, add lemon/orange peel to taste

Gradually lift egg whites under and mix dough

Fill into piping bag & squirt small heaps on to baking paper on tray

Bake for 25 mins at 150

Leave to cool on baking rack

Notes: It didn’t work too well in 2019 – maybe try again. Ensure whites fully beaten and that they are baked for long enough…..

iv) Vanille Kipferl (140)     2019

 Ground vanilla sugar for this

100g ground almonds

100g ground hazelnuts

140g sugar

2 pinches of salt

400g unsalted butter

4 egg yolks

560g flour

10 tsp vanilla sugar

1 cup icing sugar

Preparation – day before

Mix the ground almonds and hazelnuts, sugar, salt, butter and egg yolk together, kneading the butter into the mix

Gradually add the sieved flour, and knead to a smooth dough

Cover in cling film and allow to rest in a cool place for 1 hour

Grind vanilla sugar

On the Day

Cut the dough into half and form two long rolls

Cut rolls into small even sections and shape them into ‘smiles’

Place on a lined baking tray

Bake for 10–12 minutes at 180* until they are a light golden colour

Repeatedly dust with the vanilla and icing sugar mix while still warm – the biscuits will continue to absorb the sugar

Notes: not too small or they just crumble; good crescent moons…Maybe do in the afternoon…

v) Stuffed Medjool Dates (190) 2019

4kg organic Medjool dates

whole almonds and walnuts



dried apricot – chopped small

rose petals

desiccated coconut

125g chocolate

Carefully slice the dates open lengthwise and remove the pip

Stuff to your heart’s content and set aside

Make artworks or pretty patterns….

Dip the stuffed dates into the melted chocolate

Place on a cooling rack to dry

vi) Sterntaler (170)    2019

600g plain flour
200g sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar

550g unsalted butter

200g ground almonds

50g cocoa powder

Preparation Day Before :Mix all ingredients into a smooth dough using a mixer and hands

Add cocoa to half the dough and keep separate

Cover in cling film and leave to rest in a cool place for 1 hour

Next Day

Roll out the dough on a little flour to approx 2mm

Cut out with a medium size round cookie cutter

Place on a lined baking tray

Bake for 5 minutes at 175/180*c, until a pale golden colour

Leave to cool on a cooling rack; Dust with icing sugar

vii) Croquants (120)   2019 SEE PHOTO ABOVE

250g butter

250 g sugar

2 pinches of salt

1 tsp cinnamon

zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs

Preparation Day Before or leave to rest for 30 mins:

Cream all the above ingredients together

200 g roughly chopped hazelnuts

200 g toasted, flaked almonds – roughly chopped

500 g flour

2 whisked egg whites

Add all the above to the creamed mixture

Mix to a dough

Cover & rest in the fridge or cool place for 30 mins

Next Day

Form into finger-thick rolls 4-5 cm long

Leave some straight, curl the end/s of others; make holes in to hang on the tree

Place on a lined baking tray

Brush with egg yolk – enough to cover

Bake at 200*c in the centre of the oven for about 15 mins

Notes: didn’t work v well in 2019

viii) Nürnberger Elisen Lebkuchen (100)     2019

 to fit on small oblaten

1500g ground almonds


420g mixed candied peel

30g ground cinnamon

15g ground cardamon

50g ground cloves

210g flour

peel of 3 lemons

30 egg whites

On the Day

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites to form peaks.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the egg white mix to make a dense batter

Place the rice paper bases on a baking sheet. Cover each one in batter. Bake immediately at 150* for 25–30 minutes – don’t let them dry out.
Chocolate glaze Melt 300g (or more) dark & milk chocolate over hot water. When the cookies are cold, glaze them with either a plastic brush or dip them in the chocolate.

Notes: 2-3 people; takes a long time; do before lunch

ix) Lime Pistachio Meringue Biscuits (150)   2019 Do EARLY

600g ground unsalted pistachios (pre-prepared)

6 limes (zest and 6 tbsps juice)

6 egg whites

6 pinches of salt

750g icing sugar

450g ground almonds

(Day Before: Grind the pistachios into a medium fine meal)

On the Day:

Wash the limes with hot water, dry them and peel the zest into a small bowl. Juice the limes.

In a large bowl, mix the egg whites with salt and whisk until stiff. Gradually add the icing sugar

Continue whisking for another 1 minute

Add the lime juice.

Set aside 600g of the whisked mixture and 12 tablespoons of the ground pistachios to make the icing later.

To the rest of the whisked mixture, add the ground almonds, remaining ground pistachios and the lime peel. Mix gently to make a dough

Leave to stand in the fridge for 1 hour
Roll the dough into small balls of approximately 1cm width, using sugar on your hands to prevent it sticking!! Space the balls out on a lined baking tray

Use a fork to squeeze them flat. Use the leftover egg white to coat the cookies. Sprinkle with the leftover pistachios

Leave to dry at room temperature for 1 hour

Bake at the bottom of the oven for 10 minutes at 180*c

Leave to cool before taking them off the baking paper

Notes: do a test bake first. Don’t overdo!

x) Florentiner (210)   2019

450g unsalted butter

1125ml whipping cream

900g sliced/splintered almonds

900g mixed peel

1125g sugar

9 tsp vanilla sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

600g plain flour

280g milk chocolate

280g plain chocolate

On the Day

Slowly bring the cream and butter to a boil in a pan

Reduce the heat and keep them warm

In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients  (not the chocolate)

Add the dry mix to the hot cream and butter

Simmer for a couple of minutes

Place the pan in a ‘bain marie’ to keep the mixture from setting

Put small heaps of the mixture on a lined baking tray.

Bake for 12–15 minutes at 175*c

Place on a rack until cold

Melt the milk and dark & white chocolate (separately) over hot water or in microwave

Dip some cookies halfway into the chocolate, coat the base of the rest – or artistic pattern on top

Cool on a rack

Notes: Very big pyrex dish needed; better not to divide the mix; don’t use oblaten and try and keep to small shape. Ensure not too liquid

xi) Gelee Ringe   2019 (160)

 1kg butter

700g sugar

6 eggs

peel of 2 lemons

1500g flour

4 tsp baking powder

2 Redcurrant and 1 Apricot Jam


The day beforeSieve flour and baking powder together

Add butter, eggs, sugar and lemon peel

Work into smooth dough

Cover in cling film and rest in the cold for 1 hour

On the Day

Roll out the dough on a little flour to about 2 – 3 mm

Cut out cookies with a medium size cookie cutter

Count how many cookies you have

Cut a shape out of the centre of half of them.  (Use a small cutter)

Place the cookies on a lined baking sheet

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes at 180*c

 Notes: Go thicker rather than thinner. More cutters. Spread out well on tray













Christmas biscuits – some general considerations for the cooks who want to make them:

Christmas biscuits – some general considerations for the cooks who want to make them:

I class Christmas biscuits into two categories:

One sort needs to be made well in advance, is fairly hard and softens over time. I remember that they were challenging to the teeth and as a child I never liked them that much. So I haven’t made them ever. This includes the variety of ‘Lebkuchen’ which are made with whole eggs. I like those but never quite knew how to get them right. The exception are the varieties of the almost fat-free Italian cantucci. Overall I prefer the second sort:


The 2nd sort includes shortbread varieties. Both the shortbread and egg white only varieties tend to be lightly baked, fairly or totally blonde. Now shortbread if baked too much tends to get crumblier.. And does not tend to taste so good. They should kind of melt in the mouth which they do well when lightly baked and if the mix contains enough butter/fat.


Now for the varieties with egg whites: It is important to remember what happens if you fry an egg: The egg white at first it is fairly soft but if fried long and hot enough it can get leathery and much more tough. The same applies to our biscuits and ‘lebkuchen’. For that attractive melt-in-the mouth sensation the egg whites in the dough mix need to be cooked enough to hold it all together, but not so much that the cookie has become a tough cookie.


Also biscuits need to be stored in an airtight container and will last several weeks, even months


Hope these comments help with the Christmas preparations and at other times too.

Michael Göpfert