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Among the many things I’ve discovered in the 18 months or so that I’ve been writing this blog, one that stands out is just how hard it is to write a gardening/seasonal food blog in England without constantly harping on about the weather.  Don’t know about you, but I’m bored with the weekly weather reports (mostly cold, wet and grey).  So here’s the deal, in this post I won’t mention the real life weather, if you play along and imagine that the English summer has arrived and the days are long, warm and sunny – perfect for picnics in fact.  Well, let’s give it a try anyway…

Sky

The reason I’m wanting picnic weather is an all new seasonal blog challenge, hosted by Anneli at Delicieux and Louisa at Chez FotiThe Four Seasons Food Challenge.  This month’s theme is picnic food and outdoor nibbles.  There isn’t much of June left, but I hope there is just time to get my post written and added to the list of inspiring outdoor eating already entered…

fsf-summer

Until this weekend, I was pretty happy with my breadmaking efforts.  The bread tasted ok and no one else was complaining.  But then we went to the Homegrown Food Festival in Northallerton, and I bought a crusty white loaf from the Haxby Baker.  Now I’ve realised that I still have so much to learn and, while my bread may be better than the average supermarket loaf, it’s not a patch on bread made by someone who really knows what they’re doing.

Haxby Baker

In an attempt to up my game when it comes to home baking, I’ve been working on a recipe for bread rolls.  Rolls that would be perfect for making sandwiches to take on a picnic, and are also pretty good for school lunches too.  They were inspired by a bag of rye flour bought home from a market in Helsinki.  I use a mixture of the rye flour with white flour, and some seeds to add extra interest.  More often than not if I’m adding seeds to bread dough, I go for poppy seeds.  But the jar of seed harvested from last year’s flowers is now empty and this year’s seeds are some way off yet –

Poppy

So in their place I’ve been using pumpkin seeds, but feel free to substitute your own favourite seeds (although I think the flavour of pumpkin seeds works well with the rye flour).

Rye and pumpkin seed roll

Rye & pumpkin seed rolls

500g strong white bread flour

150g rye flour

75g pumpkin seeds

2 tsp fast action dried yeast

2 tsp fine sea salt

about 350 ml tepid water

Mix the flours and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl.  Add the yeast and salt and stir until combined.  Stir in enough water to bring everything together into a ball of dough.  You want a dough that holds together well, but isn’t too wet.

Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes.  Ideally you shouldn’t need to add flour to the work surface while kneading, but if the dough is really sticky then use some extra flour to make life easier.

When the dough is smooth and elastic, return it to the bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour.  The dough should rise until it’s about one and a half times its original size.  Divided the risen dough into eight evenly sized pieces, and shape each one into a roll.  Leave to rise for another half hour or so, then bake in an oven preheated to 190oC, 375F, gas 5 for 30-25 minutes.  Tap the bottom of the rolls to check they’re cooked – they should sound hollow.  Cool on a wire rack.

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