BBQ Brioche Buns

It’s the much anticipated Taylor BBQ today and my contribution is going to be a batch of 32 brioche burger buns.  Brioche burger buns have become something of a standard in the UK over the last couple of years; a much sturdier bun, fortified with eggs, milk and butter. Somebody I chatted to who had recently returned from living in France for a decade complained that UK offerings were no comparison to the authentic french delicacy. Whilst I agree, I don’t think they need to compare and I feel this take on brioche is a fitting vehicle for a quality burger and accompaniments and they can be quickly made without years of patisserie experience.


Makes 16IMG_4091

  • Strong Bread Flour – 900g
  • Water (blood temperature) – 500g
  • Milk – 6 tbsp
  • Eggs – 4 (+1 for egg wash)
  • Yeast (fast action) – 4 tsp
  • Castor Sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Butter (softened) – 80g
  • Salt – 2tsp


Whisk the yeast, water, milk and sugar together in a measuring jug and leave to activate for 5 min.

Measure the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and blitz until the mixture forms ‘bread crumbs’ (you might need to do this in a couple of batches depending on processor size)IMG_4089

Combine the flour mixture with the yeast mixture, crack in the 4 eggs and knead (using dough hook) in a mixer on medium-low speed for 10 minutes or until the dough starts to firm up.  This is a very wet dough so whilst it’s perfectly possible to knead it by hand, I wouldn’t fancy trying.

Cover the bowl with a tea-towel and leave for 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

Line 3 baking trays with baking parchment.

Once risen, tip the dough onto a floured surface.  The dough will still beIMG_4088 pretty fluid, so you may need to used a bit extra flour to help shape.

Cut off 110g of dough and shape into a ball.  Easiest way to do this is to gently flatten the dough then fold in the edges all the way round, trapping air in as you go.  Neaten up by cupping your hands around the dough, gently press you up-turned palms beneath the ball and rotate a few times.

Flip over and pop on a tray.  You should be able to fit 6 per tray, with about 5cm gap between. Repeat another 15 times.  This can become fun and make you feel like a true artisan!

Cover again and leave to rise for 30min.IMG_4087

Whisk the remaining egg with a pinch of salt and a splash of milk.  Using a pastry brush, paint each bun with the mixture.  You can choose to dust the buns now with some sesame seeds or similar.  I used polenta which gives a crunchy third dimension and an attractive look.

Preheat the oven to 200c or 180c (fan)

Add a tray to the bottom of the over with some water.  This will steam the oven and help the buns bloom and give them a soft crust.

Bake for 20min or until golden then remove and place on a rack until cool.





What’s on this week – London

There are a couple of interesting things cropping up over the next week or so across London that have made our ears prick up. Here’s the heads up on a couple of things happening this week in Craft Beer in London

We Are Beavertown – 26th May-26th June

Tottenham Hale’s Beavertown have a total pub takeover at The Beer Kat on Holloway Road starting from Thursday 26th.  Anyone familiar with Beavertown’s excellent taproom and sensational food at their bar & que Dukes mus be excited for this. There will also be live music, DJs and other events.  I’m hoping to get down there to get my lips on Peacherman (collaboration with Heretic) which I haven’t managed to sup yet and see what they have done with the place some of the visuals and posters look incredible (as you’d expect from Nick Dwyer)


(copyright Beavertown Brewery)


London Beer Factory – Taproom summer opening

Going south now and the London Beer Factory’s Tap Room opens for the summer on Saturday – located on 160 Hamilton Road, SE27 9SF they’ll be open from 1pm and will fittingly be broadcasting Crystal Palace vs Man Utd’s FA Cup final as well as serving up beers. I’m sure this will be a great spot to watch the eagles on home turf #DareToPardew

Also note that because of the FA Cup final clash the Crystal Palace Beer Festival is now taking place on the 28th May (despite what Timeout might tell you) so anyone who was planning on heading to Selhurst Park should skip down the road to LBF.


That’s what piqued my interest this week of course there are the usual fun and games to be had across London on the beer mile, in Hackney Wick’s beer riviera and Beavertown’s taproom in Tottenham Hale (this week with meatballs from Capish)


Until next time



#RealBreadWeek – Sourdough Pizza


It’s #RealBreadWeek!! A shove in the right direction when it comes to decent unadulterated bread – bake it yourself or find your local Real Bread outlet.

I’ve subscribed to the Sustain Real Bread Campaign for 3 years now and eagerly look forward to their quarterly issue of their True Loaf magazine, stuffed full of inspirational stories of artisan bakers and their campaign to provide our daily bread, minus the additives and over-production which has unfortunately become commonplace with what should be the most simplest of staples.

Sustain’s definition of real bread: “Real Bread is that made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives”

I’m marking the beginning of Real Bread week with a sourdough pizza, using my sourdough starter culture.

I’ve written before how, although sourdough can be time consuming to maintain, the slow proving can be used to your advantage as the dough will be very forgiving if you leave it to prove all day or over-night.  If you tried to make a yeast risen dough after work, you would’t be eating until 10pm.  Make this dough the night before and leave to prove and ripen in the fridge until you’re ready.

Do we need a beer pairing? Well based on name and concept alone, why not a bottle of Toast Ale. Toast is 5%er brewed with the addition of surplus bread (about 25g/half a slice per bottle) that would otherwise go to waste, with proceeds going to the Feedback charity, aiming to reduce food waste. @Hackneybrewery even released their recipe so we might give this a go at some point.

For the Pizza Base (makes 1 big):image

  • Sourdough culture – 150g
  • Strong white flour – 150g
  • Plain white flour – 100g
  • Salt – 1/5 tsp
  • Water – 200g (warm)
  • Olive Oil – 1 tblsp
  • Polenta (for shaping)
  • Combine the culture, flours, olive oil, salt and water in a bowl then knead for 15 minutes by hand or 10 minutes in a mixer with the dough hook attachment.
  • Cover with a tea-towel and leave for 3 hours, or overnight/all day in the fridge, to best suit your timings (bring up to room temperature before using)


For the base sauce:

  • Tinned tomatoes (preferably decent quality like Tuscan Cirio) – 1 tin
  • Shallots – 3 (finely sliced)
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Olive oil (as much as you dare)
  • Woucestershire Sauce – 5 glugs
  • Gently heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped shallots. Cook really slowly, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes. The shallots should become traslucent without burning.
  • Peel and squash the garlic clove and stir in to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, about 5 glugs (2 tablespoons) of worcesterhsire sauce, salt and pepper and simmer on a medium heat until it becomes a thick sticky sauce.  Stir occasionally and turn down the heat if it starts to stick.
  • Blend the sauce in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth and it’s good to go.


Shaping and Baking:

  • imagePreheat your oven as hot as it will go. Preheat a pizza stone if you have one, or a large baking sheet
  • Sprinkle some polenta onto your work surface and then shape the dough into a ball, removing any excess depending on the size or number of pizzas you’re going for. The polenta gives a fantastic texture to the base and prevents sticking
  • Shape the pizza base – roll out with a rolling pin or have a go at tossing it if you dare (I’ve never managed this!)  My preferred method is to roll into a small circle, then grab one edge between your index fingers and thumbs and let the dough stretch under its own weight, quickly moving around the circle so that it stretches out evenly
  • Prepare your chosen pizza toppings (I used mozzarella, spinach, anchovies, finely chopped peppers and aubergine)
  • Remove your pizza stone/baking sheet, sprinkle with some polenta and quickly transfer the pizza base to the stone/tray and paint on a good layer of the tomato sauce avoiding a boarder around the rim, encouraging it to rise a bit during baking
  • Bake until done!


Left over dough and sauce?

Flatten the dough out, paint it with a goodly dollop of the tomato sauce and roll it back up (sauce to the inside). Leave to prove whilst your pizza bakes then pop it in the oven after for 30 to 40 minutes and you’ve got a tasty luncheon loaf for tomorrow.

Good luck! Simon.

All Time(ish) Top 5 – Coffee Porters and Stouts

What better way to start a week than with a strong coffee.   This led me to thinking it was a good place to start with coffee infused beers for my monthly All Time(ish) Top 5.

Whilst there are some decent examples of non-Stouts and Porters with additional coffee added (Weird Beard’s Out of Office being a very serviceable IPA) my personal opinion is that the coffee lends itself best to the darker malts and roasted barley, oat or malts of a Stout or Porter.  Futhermore, this list only includes beers which have coffee added in some form either from a  bean infusion or the addition of brewed coffee.  If this was a list of stouts and porters with powerful coffee notes achieved through the brewing process it would be much longer and would certainly include Lervig Aktiebryggeri’s mighty 3 Bean Stout (the beans in this case are vanilla, coco and tonka and not a coffee bean in sight).  I’ve also tried to stick to beers that have been relatively easy to get your hands on in the UK in recent times (hence the “ish”).

Word of caution before diving into these particular recommendations, if you’re anything like me then drinking these in the evening may lead to a sleepless night.  Some of these beers ABV strength is matched by their caffeine strength.  Here are my favourite 5 Coffee stouts and porters.

5. Common Grounds – Magic Rock (UK) – rich dark and full bodied porter, they really got it right on this beer.  A great afternoon beer and at 5.4% works as a pint as well. A collaboration with Darkwoods Coffee.

4. Gautemalan Coffee Extra Porter – Buxton (UK) – Loads and loads of coffee in this and a very nice sweet dark fruit taste coming through.  Very enjoyable

3. Breakfast Stout – Founders (US) – 2 different coffee beans, flaked oats, 8.3%.  It must be breakfast time.  This just goes and goes, dangerously drinkable.

2. Beer Geek Breakfast – Mikkeller (Denmark) – Powerful, complex and rich. A real classic and one of my all-time favourite beers full stop. Just so happens that another of my favourite ever beers is on the list too…

1. Spresso – Beavertown (UK) – a collaboration between the good folks at Beavertown and Caravan Coffee.  It’s as good as you would expect when you mention those two craft champions.  Like a smack round the face from Tyler Durden (if he was made of coffee). This was a limited release, though I have a can tucked away for a special occasion but if you see this anywhere I implore you to stockpile this.


Nathan’s wish list – Imperial Java Stout – Santa Fe , Big Bad Baptist – Epic Brewing, Victory at Sea – Ballast Point, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – Mikkeller


This list has also inspired us to cook up something special in the Silverdale brew-shed should have something very exciting to share with you this time next month.


What do you think though? Have you tried these and love them or does my list leave a bitter taste? What would you add to this list?



Dry Cured Coffee and Maple Bacon

IMG_3912Pork is often paired with sweet flavours and maple syrup is a common curing flavouring for bacon with origins in America.  The high sugar content helps create a very sticky external layer which helps the cold smoke to stick.  The maple and smoke flavours are really set off by the coffee aroma when cooking.


  • Pork Belly – 2kg
  • Himalayan Pink Salt – 250g
  • Salt – 250g
  • Maple Syrup – 100g
  • Dark Muscovado Sugar – 300g
  • Espresso Powder – 10g
  • Prague Powder #1 – 5g (2.5 g per kg of meat)
  • A dry curing box

Continue reading

Spring Beers – 2016 (Part 3)

Dubbels and Tripels

Despite the illusion to darts, this has nothing to do with a conference room full of lashed up punters watching slightly podgy athletes throwing arrows.  These Belgian beers aren’t for the faint-hearted but once you’ve got the taste they can lead to some very interesting flavours and slightly hazy memories. Strong and fruity with complex spicy notes.


The beer to try – Konigshoeven – La Trappe

Cheese match – Morbier

Food – Cajun and Creole – The American deep south meets the Belgian lowlands? This works surprisingly well the spicy notes pick out the cayenne and aromatic flavours of this food it will also work great with fish – a chicken and shrimp gumbo would loves this beer. Alternatively Steak and Chocolate (yes together!) go well with the bolder Quadruppel.

Other recommended – Westmalle TrappistWestvleteren 8


Part 1 available here and Part 2 here


Spring Beers – 2016 (Part 2)

Part 2 of our springtime recommends –  today’s edition is aimed at some spring beers that work around the BBQ especially as the night draws in.

Smoked Beers – Rauchbier or a Smoked Porter

Smoky, malty and delicious.  You can see why we love this style. I’ve given you the choice here as Rauchbiers are criminally under represented in even the most well stocked craft beer pub.  Try a Smoked Porter if you can’t lay your hands on a Rauchbier.

The beer to try – Mikkeller – Beer Geek Bacon – I never hide my love for all things Mikkeller, this is a great smoked beer that works well with BBQ food.  This is the smoked version of the classic Beer Geek Breakfast stout

Cheese match – Blue cheese especially when paired with…

Food – Dream combination that you can make at home. Make up some burger patties and stuff them with blue cheese grill on the barbecue and serve with some smoked bacon – heaven

Other recommended – Beavertown – Smog Rocket, Evil Twin – Ashtray Heart, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier – Marzen



(Part 1 available here)