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Gradz - puts the Artizan in Artizan Bread



One of the things I really love as a food writer is the opportunity I have to try new things.  Its a perk that I never get tired of.  I was recently contacted and asked if I would like to try out some bread from GRADZ Bakery, finely crafted artisanal breads, crafted in London by Master Bakers. 

Master bakers Agnes Gabriel and Romuald Damaz have always been passionate about making healthy, delicious bread. When they discovered a treasure of family recipes hand-written by Agnes’s Great Grandfather, they were inspired to establish the GRADZ (Gabriel Romuald Agnes DamaZ) bakery and share their tradition of continental-style baking with Britain.

By adding their knowledge, skill and expertise, the GRADZ master bakers have developed traditional bread with today’s tastes and health benefits.

Their wish is for you to enjoy their family heritage of continental-style baking when you take time to savour their authentic bakery products. 

I love bread so they didn't have to ask me twice.  I love bread and I was really keen to try these breads.


A week or so later a large box filled with all sorts of fabulous breads came to our door.  I wish there was such a thing as Smellivision because you can't imagine how very good it all smelled when I opened the box!  They had sent me one of each of their loaves.  I was in bread heaven!

This bakery specialises in Artisanal Sour Dough breads, Wheat and Rye breads as well as a Gluten Free range of breads. 

I had tried Gluten Free breads in the past.  There was a time early last year when I thought I might have to go gluten free and I have to say at the outset, gluten free bread does not excite me. The ones I bought at the shop were lacklustre and left a really odd texture/feeling in my mouth that I did not enjoy in the least.   





These were the first breads I tried.  On the left, Gluten Free Sour Dough White, and on the right, Gluten Free Sour Dough Dark Bread with Seeds



They each had a very nice texture and appearance, both with a nice chewy crust. Here is what I thought.

GF Sour Dough White - crusty, nice flavour somewhat of a gummy texture in the mouth, but not unpleasant.

GF Sour Dough Dark with Seeds- crusty, nice flavour, seeded, not as much of a gummy texture. I I could  happily eat this and enjoy!



GF Dark with Sunflower Seeds - This was my favourite of the GF breads. It had a beautiful  texture and flavour, with lots of lovely sunflower seeds. I loved the taste.  

Overall I was quite impressed with their Gluten Free Range of Breads.  I could quite happily enjoy these if I had a problem with wheat.  I highly recommend. 

Next up their Wheat and Rye Range.


Recipe # 12 Sour Dough Chia Seed Bread.  

A flavoursome white sourdough bread with a dark crust and a generous peppering of chia seeds throughout the loaf. The natural sourdough bread is easier on your digestive system and gut than other loaves, and the chia seeds add extra benefits because they are rich in fibre, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals and so can be a powerhouse for your body. This loaf has very quickly established itself in our range as a firm favourite.

Recipe #21 Sour Dough Chia Seed - chewy with nice flavour and texture. Liked the seeds on the crust.  I can easily see why this is a favourite from their range of breads.  I enjoyed this very much.  It was great on its own, but really came alive toasted.  I had two slices of this every night in the evening, simply toasted and spread with some butter.  YUMMY!


Recipe #12, Spirulina & Pumpkin Seed Bread 

Our Spirulina and Pumpkin Seed Loaf has a delicious nutty flavour from the generous coating of pumpkin seeds on the outside of the loaf  which toast as the loaf bakes. Pumpkin seeds are known to be a source of minerals including magnesium, zinc and  manganese and a good source of antioxidants. Spirulina, often referred to as a superfood because of the high levels of nutrients it contains, is of huge benefit to the body as both a protein source, it contains all the essential amino acids as well as B Vitamins, iron and copper. Most of all though people love the wonderful texture and flavour of this loaf and that's what makes it so easy to eat

Recipe #12, Spirulina & Pumpkin Seed Bread - This had a slight green tinge, with a nice texture and a lovely coating of pumpkin seeds on the surface and then scattered throughout the dough.  I found it to be somewhat earthy in flavour, chewy, nutty. Not at all unpleasant, although the "green" earthy flavour was a bit of a surprise.


Recipe #19 Rye 100% with Honey 

 If you like rye breads this will be the loaf for you. Our 100% rye sourdough is a far cry from the solid texture that we often associate with rye breads.  Using our sourdough starter which has matured over several years helps give us a lighter less dense texture whilst not compromising on the delicious rye flavour and high fibre content. This bread has no wheat added to it so is suitable for those avoiding wheat in their diets.    The addition of honey gives it a natural sweetness. This bread also
has excellent keeping qualities
.

Rye 100% and Honey - I LOVE LOVED THIS, slightly tangy, chewy, robust. Lovely rye flavour.  This was an excellent rye bread.



Recipe #14 Oat and Flax 

We love our Oat and Flax bread served with soup or sliced more thinly it makes a a great sandwich too and is the perfect partner to smoked meat and fish, cheeses or even honey and banana. The oats lend a great texture to the crust and through the bread as do the flax seeds. Flax seeds are rich in omega 3 fats, the healthy fats we need to keep skin and hair healthy and are also a source of plantestrogen which are believed to naturally help balance and stabilise female hormones.

Recipe #14 Oats and Flax - I loved the nubbly bits of oats on the crust.  It had a wonderfully chew texture and a lovely nutty flavour.



Yeast Free White Sour Dough.

This is their basic white sour dough. Using natural ingredients is not enough; GRADZ master bakers are also patient. Agnes’s treasured family recipes require a slow fermentation process in which the dough rises gradually for up to 24 hours. During this time, flour and other ingredients are broken down, eventually making the bread gentler to the digestive system. 

Yeast Free Sour Dough -  This was chewy, and had a lovely light texture, with a beautiful flavour and slight tang that was not at all unpleasant.  I thoroughly enjoyed this. 


Overall, I was really pleased and impressed with the Gradz range of  breads.  Their attention to detail was evident and the quality was excellent.  It was lovely just as it and delicious toasted. I made some very tasty sandwiches with the white loaf.  I have to say in all honesty if I was a Coeliac I would definitely buy their Gluten Free Range as it was clearly the best I have ever eaten.

You can read more about their process and range on their website, here.   They are available to purchase online via Ocado

e-mail: hi@gradzbakery.co.uk

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Thanks very much to Gradz for sending me these tasty breads to try.   

Note - Although I was sent a selection of breads to try for free, I was not required to do a positive review in exchange.

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Marie Rayner
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Alice's Plain Cake



This is a cake I mentioned not too long after my mother passed away in January.  It was a cake my mother used to make for me when I was a wee, wee girl.  A lot of people expressed interest in it, so I thought I would bake it and share the recipe with you.



Its a very basic sponge cake with a lovely moist crumb. Not a large cake at all.  Mom used shortening when making it and I did today. I have never made it with butter, but I am sure it would work.  In any case there are only 2 TBS of fat in the cake.


My family always called me Alice, which is my second name.  Too many Mary's and Marie's in the house so I got called Alice and my sister Cindy although our first names were Marie and Mary respectively.  I confess a lot of tears were shed while I was baking this cake today  . . .  I thought of my mother and how very much she cared for each of us . . .



She was of the opinion that the digestion of a small child could not tolerate certain things in large quantities . . .  fats, pastries, etc.  That is why this is a very low fat sponge  . . . I can remember when my brother was small, and she would make us our favourite lemon pie, she would prepare a separate bowl of lemon pudding just for him . . .  so he could enjoy dessert without having to eat pastry. 



That is just one of the many examples I could share of how very important we, her family, her children were to her.  She went above and beyond for each of us . . .  and not just in feeding us.  We were well fed, kept clean and had decent clean clothing to wear.  


When I was really  young, before my sister and brother came along, she sewed all of my clothing, and often what I had matched her own clothes in fabric.  I can remember her making me doll furniture out of cardboard and toothpicks for me to play with.  She would always say she wasn't very creative, but I could share many examples of her being just that through the years. 



Clothing, mittens, embroidery, Halloween Costumes, decorating our bicycles for the annual Bicycle parade are just a few of the examples I could share.  She was always willing to help us with our homework, and to quiz us when we were having spelling tests, etc.   



In her later years whenever we would talk she would tell me about how when I was a baby, she was such a nervous mother that she took me to the Doctor one time because I kept lifting my legs up when I was in my cot. The Doctor had to tell her that babies do just that, and that nothing was wrong.  We would laugh about that.


I remember going to see her in the hospital after she had given birth to my sister, and waving to her through the hospital window.  Children were not allowed to visit in hospital back then.  We lived in Germany at the time.  When she brought my sister home, I wasn't too happy about it. (There is 3 years difference in our ages.)  I remember telling her that I wanted her to take the baby back.  I didn't want it to stay. 



She carefully explained that she could do that if I wanted her to, but she would have to go and stay with the baby because the baby could not take care of itself.  It was then I decided that the baby could stay after all . . .  and with that I gained a lifelong best friend in my dear sister.


And so this morning, as I was baking this cake I was crying big soppy tears as I remembered all these things and much, much more.  I miss my mom.  I think about her all the time, and sometimes I cry big soppy tears and my throat aches with the grief of it all.  Its Mothering Sunday next week (March 30) here in the UK. I think its going to be a hard, hard day, but I will get through it. 

Yield: one 8-inch square cake

Alice's Plain Cake

prep time: 10 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 35 mins
This is the cake my mother used to make for me when I was a wee girl. Its a plain sponge you can dress up any way you like.

ingredients:

  • 2 TBS white vegetable fat (Trex , Crisco or white flora)
  • 95g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large free range egg
  • 140g plain flour (1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 120ml milk (1/2 cup)

instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Line an 8 inch square baking dish with wax or grease proof paper.  Set aside.
  2. Cream together the shortening and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the  vanilla and the egg.  Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder.  Add alternately to the creamed mixture with the milk, making 3 dry and two wet additions. You should have a nice smooth batter when done.  Pour into the prepared baking tin.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes until well risen and the top springs back when lightly touched.  A toothpick should also come out clean. 
  4. Tip onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  5. I cut mine in half through the middle and put the two layers together with lemon curd, sifting some icing sugar over top.  Mom often split it and filled with jam.  You can ice this or not as you wish.  Its lovely and moist, and very simple.
Created using The Recipes Generator



So there you have it.  Alice's Plain Cake.  Created for her daughter from a mother's heart.  I hope you will try it.  Its a smallish cake, just enough for an enjoyable taste. I split the cake and filled it with lemon curd, but  mom often filled it with jam.  Its delicious no matter what you do to it, even just eaten plain. 



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Marie Rayner
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Apple Pancake




My husband Todd is really fond of all things apple.  I had found a recipe for an Apple Pancake in The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham that I wanted to make for him as a surprise one day this week.  I just knew it was something he would enjoy! 



I decided to use my iron skillet as it was the right size and had an oven-proof handle.  It came out of the oven all puffed up, but did deflate soon after.


It looked beautiful other than deflating, and I could hardly wait to tip it out onto the platter I had ready to serve it on.  I had a lovely image in my head about how it was going to look . . .  the apple slices all golden and caramelised . . .  a froth of icing sugar dressing it up to perfection.  I even ran a flexible spatula around the bottom of it just to make sure.


TA DA!  Not quite what I had pictured in my mind. 



It came out in pieces, albeit lovely golden brown pieces, with lots of sweet soft apple bits  . . . 


I don't think using a cast iron skillet was a very wise choice on my part.  You live and you learn . . . 



I wasn't going to throw it away because it wasn't perfect.  It looked sort of like this Amish pancake scramble dish I have made on occasion, so I did what any great cook would do . . .



I dusted it with some icing sugar and I served it anyways.  I think it looked rather nice with its frosty white coat! 



It tasted amazing!  Crisp edged pancake bits . . .


Soft and sweet slices of apple, flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom  . . .



We ate it just as is and enjoyed.  I didn't add any syrup or anything. I don't think it needed it. 



I can imagine that breakfast sausage would go wonderfully with this  . . . 



It was really, really delicious!


Even if it wasn't the prettiest gown at the ball . . . it still made a mighty tasty show! 


Yield: 4 (generously)

Apple Pancake

prep time: cook time: total time:
A delicious combination of apples cooked in butter and a great big fluffy pancake!

ingredients:

  • 6 TBS butter, divided
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 TBS lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • about 5 TBS Icing Sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 70g plain flour (1/2 cup)
  • 120ml milk (1/2 cup
  • Icing sugar to dust

instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 230*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Have ready a 10 inch oven proof skillet. If you need to, wrap the handle of the skillet in several layers of aluminium foil to protect it.
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet.  Remove 2 TBS of the butter and set aside.
  3. Put the apple slices into a bowl with the cinnamon, cardamom, icing sugar and lemon juice.  Toss together to coat. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.
  4. Turn the heat back on under the skillet.  Add the apple slices and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until tender, but still holding their shape. 
  5. Whisk the flour, eggs, milk, salt and  melted butter together until smooth. 
  6. Spread the apples out in a single layer in the skillet.  Pour the egg batter over top.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until puffy and golden brown.  Turn immediately onto a warm platter so that the apples are on the top. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.
Created using The Recipes Generator



I learnt an important lesson from this exercise in taste  . . .  a light dusting of icing sugar can hide a multitude of sins, and just because something doesn't turn out looking the way you wanted it to, that doesn't mean its no good.  This was quite simply delicious!




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  • Perfect for soups or  any liquids. 
  • Easily attaches and reattaches for continuous use and re-use 
  • Ideal for serving clients, friends or customers without using more utensils 
  • Helps avoid messes and reduces cleaning time 
  I love this handy clip on kitchen tool.  I find myself using it all the time! Free shipping on all orders to the USA, small shipping charge worldwide.   To find out more, click here. 
 

Apple Pancake 

If you're looking for something tasty to cook for your family this weekend you can't go wrong with this pancake.  Broken up or whole, its simply delicious! 


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Marie Rayner
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Chicken Cordon Bleu Sliders



These delicious sandwiches encompass all the flavours of one of our favourite dishes Chicken Cordon Bleu.  Traditionally Chicken Cordon Bleu is chicken which has been stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese, coated with crunchy bread crumbs, and then deep fried until golden brown.



I make a baked version which you can find here.  Its not quite as fattening as the original and requires a lot less faffing about, because as you know  . . .  if I can find an easier way to do something which tastes just as good as the original, I will incorporate it into my cooking.



These tasty sandwiches go that little bit further in that they are even easier to make than Chicken Cordon Bleu, but just as tasty and are lot less fattening as well!



Oh I do love a tasty sandwich, burger, or slider and these are very nice. 



Layers of Black Forest Ham, tender roasted chicken breast (all deli meats) and Jarlsberg cheese in a toasted bun along with a fabulously tasty Honey Mustard Sauce.



There is nothing complicated here.  Simple. Simple. Simple. 



You don't need to use Jarlsberg cheese, that is just what I had in the house.  Any Swiss style cheese will work well. 



Don't be tempted to have your deli meats cut too thinly or shaved.  Shaved meats tend to fall apart.  Thinly sliced does the trick beautiful.  I like to layer them onto the rolls, lightly draped and folded into a little pile which covers the bread but gives a bit of height to the sandwich.



Just look at those lovely layers  . . . 



One of the stars of the sandwich is the homemade Honey Mustard Sauce that I spread on the cut rolls prior to baking.  



I always double the recipe so that we have plenty to go around after they are baked to drizzle inside the finished rolls, but only if you want  . . .  I always want.



This is one very tasty mouthful  . . .  and perfectly sized for the smaller family. You can of course double it to feed and make more.  I always brush the tops of the rolls with some softened butter and sprinkle on some seasoning before popping them into the oven.  I think it adds a nice finishing touch.


Yield: 3

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sliders

prep time: 10 minscook time: 6 minstotal time: 16 mins
Classic flavours in a small batch hot sandwich that  is not only delicious, but very quick and easy to make.  The quantities can easily be doubled to feed more.

ingredients:

  • 6 thin slices of deli black forest ham
  • 6 thin slices of deli roasted chicken breast
  • 6 slices of Swiss style cheese (I use Jarlsberg)
  • 6 smallish dinner rolls
  • softened butter
  • a pinch of herb seasoning salt
For the Honey Mustard
  • 60g good quality mayonnaise (1/4 cup
  • 1 1/2 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 TBS liquid honey
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • pinch of fine sea salt

instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/40)*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a small baking tray with some aluminium foil and spray lightly with some cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Slice the buns carefully in half through the middle.  Spread about a tsp of sauce on the bottom of each bun and place them on the baking tray.  Place one slice of ham on each, draped and folded to fit.  Top with 1/2 slice of cheese.  Top with one slice of chicken, draped and folded.  Top with the remaining 1/2 slice of cheese and then divide any remaining cheese amongst the buns.  Spread the top halves of the buns on the cut sides with some more honey mustard sauce, and place on top of each filled roll.
  4. Brush the top of each with some softened butter and sprinkle with some of the herb seasoning mix.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sandwiches are heated through. Serve immediately along with any remaining sauce for those who wish to use it.

NOTES:

Make sure you use thinly sliced meat as opposed to shaved meat.  I also like to double the sauce so that there is plenty to go around.
Created using The Recipes Generator



Quick, easy and yes, dare I say it  . . .  DELICIOUS!  What I love about these, aside from that is their ease of preparation and lack of clean-up mess.  They make a great mid-week supper. You can serve a nice salad on the side for those with a lighter appetite, or with some oven chips for those who are looking for something a bit on the heartier side.  Any way, you can spell this tasty sandwich as WINNER! Enjoy! 





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Marie Rayner
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