I moved house earlier this year. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the past 15 years, but this move felt like a particularly big deal for a few reasons;
- I had lived in roughly the same part of London for four or five years and loved it dearly. We’ve moved to Muswell Hill (WHERE? IT ISN’T EVEN ON THE TUBE MAP) which is a little further out, and a bit far from most people we know.
- I was moving in with my lovely boyfriend. Not necessarily the biggest deal ‘these days’, but, well, yknow. However the easiness and loveliness of this situation balances out any of the slightly negative sounding bits in my previous point.
- Packing, reducing the amount of stuff I have to facilitate the sharing of a wardrobe/bookshelves, and moving in general is HARD WORK and I don’t really want to do it again in a hurry. So this was a long-ish term decision. Which is quite a decision to make when you only get a few minutes to look around a place. Even more-so when this turns out to be the only flat you actually view, because you really love the giant windows, huge high ceilings and are totally sucked in by having 3 geometric stained-glass windows.
Moving was fine, actually. We had help from lovely friends who shifted & lifted AND drove a van all for the price of some new local fish & chips (Toff’s in Muswell Hill is probably the best non-seafront chippy I have ever encountered), and unpacking was actually FUN. Having a boyfriend who will happily combine and categorise vast libraries of typography and London history books is pretty great.
And then the entire ground floor flooded. On our first weekend.
I spend my working life promoting the maintenance of historic London buildings, so I’m well aware of the endless battle to keep water out of early 1900s houses. Landlords or managing agents aren’t entirely used to dealing with tenants who actually know what they’re talking about, so we entered in to a month-long battle of repairs, endless Dynorod visits and rent reductions (VICTORY).
All of this somehow resulted in me being faced with something I’d been dreading.
I WAS FAILING TO BOND WITH THE KITCHEN.
I love cooking. Adore it. I love feeding people, I love experimenting, and coming home to get dinner going is genuinely what gets me through the last few hours of work most days. It’s one of my favourite ways to relax.
The first time I cooked rice – something I usually get perfectly right every time – it turned to the sort of glue you’re given in primary school to stick shapes in to your maths book. The first time I put sweet potatoes in the oven they charred to a flaky sinister-looking crisp.
Returning bathroom floods and other water-related issues with the house were making me grouchy and I just. could. not. cook.
Then suddenly this week, I snapped out of it. I started running (a little bit) again, my mum had successful major back surgery, and the house has been relatively dry for DAYS. Things were looking up.
BUT I bought too many sweet potatoes. I KNOW.
I’d already made wedges and a curry. I wanted a new challenge to celebrate feeling happy with the kitchen.
This is the first recipe I’ve posted here. Apologies for the lack of step-by-step photos but it was only after posting this finished snap on Instagram that people started asking me to write it down. And so…
This takes about 2-4 hours in total, so start early.
WHAT YOU NEED:
(Ha! KNEAD! Actually this isn’t a very good joke as this is a NO-KNEAD bread but whatever)
2 mashed sweet potatoes (I oven-baked mine until the skin peeled off and they were fluffy but I DIDN’T MASH THEM ENOUGH. You need to pretty much puree them, I think).
1 sachet active dry yeast (I used one which doesn’t need dissolving in water – just add it straight to flour)
8 fl oun. milk
60g butter, melted
2 tsp salt
2tbsp brown sugar
4-500g plain flour (I started with 400 but added as I went)
WHAT YOU DO:
Add milk, melted butter, sugar and salt to the mashed potatoes and combine.
Add the flour and yeast, stir until a non-smooth very sticky dough comes together.
Cover with clingfilm or a tea towel for at least 2 hours, until the dough grows to about twice its size.
When ready, flour a work surface and turn out the dough. Flour up your hands and add some extra flour to the dough too, and roll it in to a round. Or a loaf shape. I made a big round ball, dolloped it in to a lined cake pan, and made a couple of extra little lumps to make small rolls to use as burger buns.
Cover again as before, for a further 20mins or so until everything swells some more. About half way through, heat up the oven to about 180.
Mine took about 20mins to bake. Everything was still a little doughy inside, as you can see – see also my clearly visible lumps of potato from not mashing enough. Woops. Once sliced, this toasts really nicely which gets rid of the doughy-ness anyway.
GREAT for dip-dip eggy and soldiers. REALLY great as a burger bun.