Gluten Free Chocolate Pecan Banana Loaf

27 Jun


I don’t claim to be a food blogger but since becoming gluten free a few years ago I am getting to grips with gluten free cooking.  As I’ve been doing all the hard work, creating gluten free recipes of old favourites it seems a shame not to share my recipes with you.

My experience of shop bought gluten free products is not good.   I love food, I love cooking and I love baking.  Just because I am gluten free doesn’t mean I want to compromise on taste, texture of general scrumptiousness.

I’m starting with a basic banana cake with chocolate and pecans added in for good measure. This is one of the cakes we bake the most in our household as my girls love to make it and there are always browning bananas at the bottom of my fruit bowl.

My baking style is very relaxed.  I may never win an award from presentation but I do strive for the best taste.  Quality ingredients is key.


  • 150g softened butter (my preference is unsalted)
  • 260g sugar (any sugar that you’ve got in your cupboard will do.  I tend to use caster of light brown sugar)
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 4 ripe mashed up bananas
  • 300g Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
  • 40g pure cacao powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Generous splash of Ndali Vanilla Extract
  • Handful of hand crushed pecan nuts
  • A few whole pecan nuts for the top



  • Warm fan oven to 180°C
  • This couldn’t be simpler – put all ingredients in a Kitchen Aid mixer (or similar food mixer) and mix together on a mid speed setting.  Keep a few pecans reserved for the top of the loaf
  • Once all ingredients are combined place in a large non stick or floured loaf tin.  I like to take a few spoonfuls of mixture out to make little loaves in my vintage Hovis tins for my daughters pack lunches
  • Place the remaining pecans on top of the mixture
  • Cook individual loaves for 15-20 minutes at 180°C  or up to 60 minutes in a large loaf tin.  Remove from oven once cooked and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from tin

Serve warm or cold.  Delicious on its own, served warm with custard or my children’s favourite is spread with lashings of palm oil free chocolate spread.


Balls in the air

22 Mar

It’s been two months now since we moved to Norfolk.  The honeymoon period at Starre Corner is over, the harsh winter weather has abated and now’s the time to get stuck in.

Comments from our very friendly neighbours and villagers have unnerved us at times.  Most have introduced themselves with a pitying look on their faces, with the opening statement, ‘You’re the lady that’s moved into the old house on the corner.  You’ve got your work cut out there.  It’s quite a project.  The last owner hardly did anything to it.  I don’t envy you.’  It’s as though everyone’s stood about speculating and gossiping before we arrived.  The general consensus of opinion is that we’re mad or at least slightly insane, especially with two children in tow.

Progress in the first two months feels slow.  After the initial excitement of wallpaper stripping and wall knocking down we’ve come to an abrupt halt, partly due to fire-fighting. We’ve tackled a massive puddle in the kitchen that a duck would be happy to splash around in, the bathroom has been flooded due to severe copper pipe corrosion and today we had the delightful job of unblocking the drains.  Thankfully our neighbours are kind and generous and a drain rod kit was swiftly forthcoming.  Can we expect anything less from our home, moving into such an old property?

So what’s next?  Frustratingly the next jobs are those we need assistance with; roofing, chimney rebuilding, electrics etc.  Although tempting to work on these ourselves if we want to be comfortable next winter we need to get the cavalry in.  We haven’t quite adjusted to Norfolk time yet, even though we have been warned that we must.  Some workmen just don’t bother to return with a quote and others will quote, eventually.  I can feel my project plan going out of the window.  This was never going to be a project that we moved forward at speed.  In other parts of country there is a new trend for slow living, a skill which you have to learn and read books and blogs about.  In Norfolk the art of slow living is second nature and no outsider is going change that.  Nor would I want to I hasten to add.  In the mean time I can focus on interior design.  That’s the fun part with so many choices, options and decisions to make. It’s a real opportunity to make a mark and showcase Sugden and Daughters style.

Great progress has been made with the business move.  Sugden and Daughters is fully functioning in it’s new, large workshop & studio.  The transition was seamless and Mark disappears off most days to his workshop.  It’s the ultimate man cave.  He’s been busy sectioning off his workshop into zones; table production, product development and picture framing.  After a 3 year break from picture framing he’s dusted down his tools, had them serviced and re-established his framing business.  With 20+ years as a professional picture framer under his belt it’s a talent that he shouldn’t let go to waste.  As true entrepreneurs we like to keep lots of balls in the air.  I also have a couple of new balls in the air too but I’m not quite ready to do the big reveal.

As I write this I can hear my girls playing in the garden with a couple of their new friends.  The sun is shining, Mark is in his workshop and I am writing this surrounded by elegantly knackered chaos.  Life is good in the slow lane.

Farrow and Ball







Happy? Oh yes!

26 Feb

I may find it difficult to write this without appearing smug.  If I do appear smug, I sincerely apologize.  The truth is I am excited beyond words and just can’t contain it.

It’s been quite a while since I posted on my blog.  Last year we were under a house moving cloud which became all consuming.  The stress and tension that went with moving were unbearable but thankfully I’m out the other side now and it’s something that we don’t want to dwell on any longer.

Finally, we feel energized again and eager to share our new life with you.  Call it brave or insane we have relocated my family, home and business, all in search of a calmer, more satisfying, slower paced life.  We scoured the country and even considered France in the search of a forever home.  A home which we can put our stamp on, put down roots and live life to the full.  A home where friends and family are always welcome, the kettle is always on and home cooking fills the air.  A home which oozes welcoming vibes and period charm.  This is how we’ve come to find ourselves in North Norfolk.  Never in my wildest dreams did we think we could afford such a location and period property.  After many autumn family holidays in Norfolk and a previous house purchase falling through the net this felt like fate.

Our home, Starre Corner is just what we were looking for.  Having been in the same family for 74 years it hasn’t been tarnished by years of refurbishments and trendy makeovers.  Now in need of some TLC we want to bring life back into it’s tired structure and sympathetically give it a Sugden and Daughters makeover.  This is the project we have been waiting for for 10 years.

Starre corner is a complete renovation project, exciting and daunting all wrapped into one.  The challenge is to renovate on a budget in our spare time, remembering that I’ve got daughters to keep entertained.  Sounds simple enough.  It’s amazing what you can learn on You Tube and more importantly talking to people.  What we don’t know yet we will know soon.

Having already been living here for a month we’ve started adjusting to Norfolk living.   Peaches and Myrtle, the chickens have settled into their new surroundings, Wilf the adopted Lurcher should be curling up in front of the fire within the next couple of weeks and come March I will be making regular trips to my allotment.  We’ve thrown ourselves into this lock, stock and barrel.  Having longed for this move for years everything has just slotted into place so quickly.  Mark has a workshop less than 10 minute as in my new studio.  This is where the hard work starts.

With all our belonging still in boxes and living in hovel like conditions we have never been happier.  The stresses and stains of moving are a distant memory and we’re very much looking to fulfilling our future.

Facebook – Starre Corner

Facebook – Sugden and Daughters

Sugden and Daughters onlineIMG_0638[1]






Herbs, Flower Pots and Great Food in Oxfordshire.

14 Apr

After a fabulous fun packed Easter holiday with Sugden and Daughters daughters when I got the chance for a day trip out with adult company I jumped at the chance.  A visit to the National Herb Centre for some culinary garden inspiration was just what I needed.

My current garden is only small and I need to utilise every space possible for the best visual effect.  Being so busy with my business the garden gets very little attention. Any planting has to be easy to manage and where possible must have a function.  I decided a few years ago to only grow plants and flowers that I can eat or use for internal interior decorative purposes.  I’m very much a stick it in and see what happens kind of gardener and uniformity and formality is never going to happen.

FarnboroughSo off we set meandering through many stunning Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire villages, admiring all the beautiful sandstone houses on the way.  We were on a mission so we didn’t get the chance to stop off at several National Trust properties en route.  I can feel a visit to Canon’s Ashby, Farnborough Hall and Upton House & Garden’s coming up.

The National Herb Centre is situated in a perfect location on a hill with far reaching views over the Oxfordshire countryside.  Even with the sun shining we were buffeted by the wind.  Essentially the herb centre is just a garden centre but what sets it apart  is the wide and varied choice of herbs; culinary, medicinal, dye plants, marjorams & oreganos, lavenders, thymes, rosemaries, mints, sages, basils, and edible flowers.  The selection was vast and there was expert help at hand too.

My mission was to select herbs with unusual fragrances that will look pretty in jugs and vases in my kitchen and throughout the house.  The culinary and medicinal benefits on the occasion were a bonus.  I couldn’t have been happier with my selection; chocolate mint, orange type, creeping rosemary and pineapple sage.  They were immediately planted in a wooden rustic trunk and I wait with anticipation for the results.

Being away from the home and on a girlie expedition we felt obliged to make the most of our adventure.  We next headed on bumpy winding roads to Whichford Pottery, with their impressive display of handmade British frostproof terracotta flowerpots and rhubarb forcers.  The destination was a great recommendation; thank you The Sunday Telegraph.  With a friend buying two huge pots I admired the wares without purchasing.  We only just managed to squeeze into the car on the way home with terracotta pots as company on the back seat.  I spotted an advert for a pottery throwing workshop.  I thinks that’s a must!

You know how I love my food and dining experiences.  I must tell you about a fabulous little find; The Straw Kitchen, also at Whichford Pottery.  It’s a quirky cafe with reclaimed and upcycled character.  The food was delicious!  All homemade and full of flavour.  I opted for a zesty lunch of lime, ginger and yogurt turkey skewers on a bed of rocket and beetroot salad, with lime and coconut cake to follow.  It was the tastiest gluten free lunch I have had in a while.  My friends chocolate and Guinness cake was to die for.  The Straw Kitchen is a real eatery gem.

It was the perfect Sunday trip out.  Productive, fun and tasty.  Oxfordshire is now definitely on the map for a re-visit.

House Selling Hell

25 Mar

My life has spiraled into house selling hell.  It’s like having permanent PMT.  I’m uptight and stressed out and would quite happily put estate agents, house buyers and my husband and my children in Room 101.  My world is all consumed by selling my house.  I can’t think of anything else.

‘They’ do say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life but it’s never felt like this before.  In fact the last time we moved I was planning a wedding, pregnant, relocating and changing jobs and it didn’t feel like this.  What’s causing my turmoil this time?

BTLets start off with estate agents.  Where to start?  As estate agents go I actually can’t complain about the ones we’ve engaged.  We’ve used Henderson Connellan a number of times previously and they get the job done. They have a degree of professionalism that I have failed to find elsewhere and they tend not to wear shiny cheap suits.  But as for the rest!  If I receive one more letter or business card through the door telling me my agent is cr*p and they could do better I think I may explode.  How can they do better?  I’ve had 15 viewings in the last three weeks.  What’s there to complain about?

I am being hounded by one particular national agent – William H Brown who only have my details because I enquired about a property they had on their books; they’ve send me letters, knocked on my door, called me on my personal mobile.  They won’t leave me alone.  The house that I enquired about is purely a fishing exercise, it sold weeks ago through another agent but they’re still advertising it on Rightmove.  Very underhand.  I could go on and on in a negative fashion about estate agents but it would be prudent of me to leave it there.

So next, house buyers.  Apparently my house is too big, too small, the wrong layout blah blah blah…….  Absolutely no negative feedback that I can actually act upon and rectify.  A few offers have been put on the table but nothing yet that cuts the mark.  I hadn’t appreciated that we are in an age where offering £20K below the asking price because that’s all you can afford is acceptable.  That’s a nefrancew one on me, I might try it myself.

My grievance with house buyers is they can be inadvertently rude and inconsiderate.  Every viewing takes hours to prepare for.  Some buyers haven’t done their due diligence before visiting and within a minute or so know it’s not the right area for them, they hadn’t realized it was over three floors….Others don’t have the common courtesy to offer feedback after the viewing.  With the age of technology its easy to ignore a follow up call.

Yesterday was a first; my agent called with an offer from a gentleman who hadn’t even seen the property.  He’d done some armchair research and made a significantly low offer.  Once rejected and after consultation with the agent he came back with a further offer.  He didn’t want to go to the effort of travelling up to view the property until he knew what we’d accept.  How bizarre.  The offer was rejected and no more has been heard from this armchair property tycoon.

It’s not really fair to moan about my husband and children.  This is their home and they should be able to treat it as such. They’re not the ones that have turned into a housework obsessed monster and burst into tears every time there’s a spec of dust on the carpet.

ChapelProbably the most stressful thing of all is knowing that we don’t have our sights set on anything.  Until we have a firm (sensible) offer on the table there’s little point setting our hopes on a specific property.  Recently however everything we’d earmarked has slipped through the net; BT exchanges, Methodist Churches, French Maison de Maitres.  One by one they are selling leaving us with an empty hit list.  The available house stock on the market is depressing.  It’s drab, dire, depressing and uninspiring.  My heart sinks when I read ‘recently renovated to a high standard’.  My accurate interpretation of this ‘high standard’ is wallpapered and accessorized with the help of Dunelm Mill, B&Q and Ikea.  My heart sinks when I flick through pictures of mundane houses.  I must hold out hope that somewhere out there is a house in need of proper full on renovation with a garden and countryside views.

Interiors – What sort of decorator are you?

3 Mar

I have a friend who decorates and redecorates and them decorates again.  So much so I can’t keep up with her.  I also have other friends who never decorate and I am somewhere in between; I touch up paintwork and freshen up. Due to the nature of what we do my furniture changes all the time but my style and colour palette remain pretty constant.

Often after visiting and seeing my friends complete transformations I return home questioning whether I should do something drastic to my home but I always draw the same conclusion.  My home has evolved over time with great care and consideration.  It has a personality, it reflects my who I am.  There are subtle nods to passing trends in the form of soft furnishings etc but on the whole it is individual and full of my character.  It subtly changes with the seasons and trends but only if it is in keeping.

When helping clients with their interiors I always explain that it can’t be rushed.  If they want the job done and dusted in 2 weeks in time for a house party I may not be the man for the job.

Decorating at speed involves calling into your local high street store and buying everything in their latest collection where everything has been carefully collated.  With a whole creative team the looks are amazing but they are also mass produced.  It works for some but it’s not for me.  The high street mass produced look leaves me cold.

My friend has far more vision and creativity than just visiting one store but she does work at speed.  The end result is a show home style that looks amazing.  Every scheme would make an amazing magazine spread. Possibly the most alarming thing for me is the rate at which she discards furniture, ornaments, soft furnishings; it must cost a fortune!  I am far to tight for that approach.

Clients working with me know that my way is slow and steady wins the race.  Creating a colour palette and working up mood boards is the easy part.  Sourcing key pieces from around the world may take a little longer.  Investing in your home interior should be well considered. After all how many of us dispose of mistake buys? We tend to live with our mistakes for years and years.

I recall moving into my first home.  I was offered lots of second hand furniture which I declined.  The only thing that made it through the doors was a rather elegantly knackered Ercol table.  The look was minimalist to say the least but I saved up for and sourced key pieces over the time.  The end result was fabulous.  A pad that any 20 something would have been proud of.  It’s an ethos that’s stuck with me.

So what sort of decorator are you?  Quick and speedy, slow and steady or somewhere in between?

Useful contacts:

Food and Drink: Sending my taste buds on a World Cruise

23 Feb

Recently I have become bored with wine.  Opening a bottle of my favourite and then questioning whether I actually like it.  At home I’ve almost stopped drinking.  Last week however my taste buds were treated to a delectable array of fruity flavours.  I was in love again!

Waterloo Farm It all started with a chance encounter with Bruce, a wine merchant promoting his wares in Waterloo Cottage Farm Shop, Great Oxendon.  We were leaving for our holidays straight after the school pickup. On the way to school I flew into Waterloo to pick up some brisket for a wonderful slow cook curry recipe recommended by a customer.  Half term holidays at the wonderful Boscrowan in Cornwall after all are all about cooking, baking, eating and drinking.  I had minute to spare and I didn’t really have time to talk to Bruce when he eagerly introduced himself.  His enthusiasm and generally bounciness however pulled me in.

Ordering my kilo of brisket Bruce enquired what I was planning to drink with that.  Playing it safe I mentioned my favourite Argentinian Malbec.  Good choice he said, have you tried these ones here?  I looked at the packaging of the three bottles presented to me.  The labels all looked fab and Bruce talked me through each one.  A sudden impulse buy came over me, after all I did want hubby’s birthday meal with friends on holiday to be a perfect and memorable occasion.

WineThere is no doubt about it that Bruce was a fantastic sales man.  I’d employ him to work in my barn shop anytime.  If you like Malbec you may like this wine too he said.  Looking at the time I was late for school already (again).  Thinking of the holiday ahead I impulsively asked him to box up 6 red wines of his choice, the ones he thought I’d like. Putting my foot down regarding anything French* despite my love of French decorative antiques and interiors.  Driving to school I panicked about my purchasing method; I don’t like Chilean or Portuguese wine I thought.  Do I?

This is where my wine journey began.  I may be having a staycation in Cornwall but my taste buds went on a World cruise.  Bottle after bottle I enjoyed every last morsel.

I’m thrilled to find a new found enthusiasm for red wine.  This evening I had to stop myself popping a cork as opposed to declining it due to lack desire.  It’s a good lesson and reminder; getting stuck in a rut is so easy.  Whether it’s wine, food, clothes or interiors I should make decisions with an open mind and seek input and guidance from experts and those around me. I should follow the advice I give to my children – challenge yourself everyday & push yourself out of your comfort zone.

My challenge this week is to ask for expert advice everywhere I go.  I shall ask the butcher what should I cook for tea and how should I cook it?  The next time I’m in a restaurant I shall ask what would they recommend?  I will certainly be asking Bruce which wine shall I buy?  I might even venture into the unknown world of white wine.

*during the holiday our friends introduced me to a splendid French red made by UK growers –

Interiors: Seasonal Restyling

29 Jan

A change is as good as a rest.  We’ll that’s how I feel about interior styling at least.  I am often asked how an interior can beIndustrial Mirror updated and refreshed without a full on makeover and that’s always my advice.   Move things around with the seasons!

As the owner of Sugden and Daughters you’ll know that we have a practical utilitarian style.  It’s not a throw away style of ever changing fashion.  Everything has a purpose and bought with longevity and practicality in mind.  So how do we keep our interiors fresh and alive?

Here are my top 5 tips for giving a room an up to date refresh:

  1.  Move it out; look around the room for objects that have been left lying around or unwanted gifts that were politely put in situ but have now outstayed their welcome. These items are cluttering your space and shouldn’t be there.  Don’t feel guilty about removing these items.
  2. Replace soft furnishings;  When I was younger I used to marvel at my Aunties seasonal cushion changes.  How extravagant I used to think.  Now I think it’s a tremendous idea.  Change soft furnishings with the seasons to alter the character of your room; rich velvets and tweeds in winter and soft cottons and linens in summer.  Pack away unused ones and bring them our again when the time is right.
  3. floeFresh flowers; Add seasonal flowers to your scheme.  My home is never without fresh flowers.  Quite indulgent you may say but it doesn’t have to be.  Planting seasonal bulbs such as amaryllis in winter and crocus, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips in spring can offer you weeks of colour along with fresh garden flowers in the summer and dried stems from Autumn walks.  Fresh flowers change the look and colours in your room.  Keep a supply of interesting pots, vases and jugs to alternate the look.
  4. Move things around.  I adopt the same practice in my home as I do in my shop.  A slight shuffle round of things and everything looks different.  Swap mirrors and pictures around, reposition furniture and ornaments. You’ll be amazed at the difference.  The room will instantly feel fresher.
  5. Treat your room to something new.  I’m not a follower of fashion as such but we all get seduced by current trends.  To keep your room feeling current add a splash of the current trend, be it in the guise of a cushion, throw, vase etc.  Personally I don’t spend a lot on this item and may even be as simple as coloured candles.  This is the item that you may not want to hang onto the next time you’re having a interior refresh.

It’s as simple as that.  A low cost interiors makeover.  Keep things moving!

Useful Links:

Sunlight Soap flowers by Stylist & Interior Designer Lisa Pocklington

Phil Spencer and the Bane of My Life

20 Jan

Watching Channel 4’s Secret Agent with Phil Spencer has sent me into a spin. Every week he says ‘the housing market has picked up and if you can’t sell your house you’ve only yourself to blame’.  Every week I scan around my house and think how can this be, my house looks lovely?


The estate agent selling our house said a very strange this the other day.  After declining a viewing because we had only a matter of hours to prepare she replied ‘I thought you’d say no as I know you like to prepare and present your house for viewings’.  Doesn’t everyone?


Before marketing our house we spent months preparing for the day we let strangers into our home.  Cupboards emptied, cleansed and restocked.  Wardrobes de-cluttered.  Garden tidied.  As non hoarders I was appalled by the sheer quantity of ‘stuff’ we’d accumulated since our last house move.


Marketing our house has brought to my attention how much unwanted stuff we gather in our lives.  Not even over a lifetime but sometimes after just one day; junk mail, parcel packaging, school paperwork …….At the end of each day this stuff has to be redistributed around the house, packed away, binned or recycled.  It’s a never ending operation.


William MorrisWhen preparing to put our house on the market bagfuls of stuff was taken to charity shops along with car loads of tip trips.  After all that effort I can’t believe my house still fills up with more clutter junk on a daily basis.  For the past few months the mystery of where is all the clutter junk coming from has been driving me insane; I rarely accept a plastic bag when out shopping, I hate wasting food and try to avoid over packaged food products.  I’m organised with my admin so don’t have lots of paperwork hanging around, I have a William Morris style approach to my life – ‘Have nothing in your houses which that you do not believe to be useful of beautiful’.  I’m also a firm believer in ‘Everything has a place and everything in its place’ so where’s all this clutter junk coming from?


junk mailWhat on earth is piling up on my kitchen table and filling my recycling bin at the end of each day? After closer inspection one of the culprits is clear – unsolicited mail, the biggest bane of my day.  It probably wouldn’t be politically correct for me to say along with daily school book bag emptying.  This morning I have taken decisive action and registered with The Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Out and DMA Your Choice.  In 12 weeks time clutter junk should be a thing of the past.  As an interior stylist I draw the line at sticking a notice on my front door, it’s just not aesthetically pleasing.


Even with decisive action to alleviate kitchen table pile up I’m not sure I’ll be any nearer to opening my door to prospective buyers at the drop of a hat.  Getting rid of clutter junk is one thing but tackling the daughters’ bedrooms is something quite different.  Let’s just say they don’t learn by example.  Next weeks top secret mission will be the most dreaded job of all; entering the daughters’ rooms of clutter and destruction.  Hopefully after that even Secret Agent Phil Spencer will be welcome to pop in at a moments notice.

Useful info:

Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Outs 

DMA Your Choice

Sugden and Daughters Interior Design and Styling

Kneading to Make Bread

12 Jan

This year is going to be a year when I make things happen; new home, chickens, dogs, holidays, workshops etc.  No messing about this year, it’s all in the planning and execution.

IMG_6200[1]For the last two years I have vowed to learn the art of artisan bread making.  For the last two years I haven’t quite got round to it.  Too busy with work, family, friends etc.

This year however is different, with renewed energy things will happen which is why when I spotted there was a spare space on Vanessa Kimbell’s The Sourdough School Workshop I jumped at the chance.

Upon arrival the reception couldn’t have been warmer; hosted in Vanessa’s beautiful home, styled in a way Sugden and Daughters wholeheartedly approves of (I am sure Vanessa won’t mind me mentioning Sugden and Daughters are proud to have furnished and accessorised her home with modern rustic adornments on a number of  occasions).


IMG_6201[1]The workshop started with a breakfast of sourdough bread, butter and jam and an enthusiastic introduction to the day.  It’s difficult not to be in awe of Vanessa with her wealth of baking experience and a resume which includes an impressive list of achievements; BBC Radio 4 food journalist, book author, food photographer, sourdough expert.  The list goes on.

As a child I recall my Mum making bread but I remember her being quite stressed whilst doing so.  This tension and emotion has passed onto me and whenever I contemplate baking bread I break out into a cold sweat with heart palpitations.  Thankfully after a day with Vanessa all my fears and anxieties have been alleviated.

Lunch was a treat, not only did we have a feast of homemade sourdough pizzas topped with ingredients such as capers, pepperoni and feta we were treated to a visit from Vanessa’s dad, a local vineyard owner .  His award winning wine was soon snapped up for our cellars.

As with all baking, making sourdough bread is an exact science.  If measurements and timings are correct little can go wrong.  That is of course apart from understanding the varying ingredients.  Vanessa explained at length varying flour hydration levels and left us equipped to tackle hydration issues should they arise. Amazingly for a person without a scientific brain I came away confident that I know what I am doing and despite the title of this post there was no kneading in sight.

la clocheVanessa and I share a love of old things and a passion for working with beautiful aesthetically pleasing objects which is one of the reasons that made her workshop so appealing in the first instance.  During demonstrations she surrounds herself with practical vintage kitchenalia.  I completely empathise with Vanessa when she enthuses and explains the joy of baking not only comes from producing something edible for her family but also by surrounding herself with things she loves; a le parfait jar belonging to her aunt, a trusty stoneware jug from her past, a rustic bread board a thoughtful gift from a friend.  The item I came away longing for was a stoneware La Cloche Baking Dome from Bakery Bits.  A must have for any sourdough bread producer. Thankfully with a birthday not too far away I am in luck.


Vanessa KimbellI came away from Vanessa’s inspired and have immediately purchased all the necessary ingredients to get me on my way.  Determined not to let my enthusiasm wane I’ve even challenged a customer, Twitter friend and fellow blogger ( to a 2015 challenge; The 12 Bread Challenge.  Each month we must make a different loaf and share our experiences, recipes and photos for all to see.  Please join us in our quest #the12breadchallenge2015

It’s feels like a brilliant start to the year and without further ado I must head off to the kitchen to refresh my sourdough starter.  I didn’t think I’d be saying that a week ago!

Useful Info:

Recreate Vanessa’s relaxed modern rustic style at Sugden and Daughters –

Vanessa Kinbell Sourdough School and Sourdough Courses-

Fleur Field.  Northamptonshire Award Winning Vineyard –

Bakery Bits Bakery Supplies –