Ms Marmite Lover, otherwise known as Kerstin Rodgers, greeted me at the door with a warm smile, welcome on a cold and rainy October day. We were going to make bread in her kitchen! I had with me a rye sourdough starter and some yeast (just in case) but otherwise was relying on Kerstin’s larder, reckoning that it would have something in it out of which we could make some groovy bread.
How right I was!
Kerstin, a highly successful photographer and food writer also runs the Supper Club London’s first underground restaurant which combines (lots of) delicious food with a delightful setting and the frisson of unknown diners participating in your utterly illegal experience. Better than drugs. Safer too. The dinners served at Kerstin’s are amazing value at £50.00 a head for five BIG courses plus coffee plus an apertif and, yes, the girl can cook. Hence the larder – and what a larder it is!
Kerstin’s larder is more like an aladdin’s cave of delight. Bottles and jars of bits and bobs adorn the wall space above the counter, in the breakfast room, above the Aga, and around the kitchen as far as the eye can see. Then, if that’s not good enough, Kerstin often leaves things on the Aga to stew, or caramelise, or just turn into delicious gloop. A recent experiment was the leftover cooking juices of poached pears: left on top the Aga this turned into a black syrupy velvety spoonful of heaven. Generous to a fault, Kerstin served it to me whilst we waited for the bread to rise sitting around on stools in front of the Aga, drinking coffee, tea and some fantastic and unknown brandy like substance. Needless to say, I went back for more on the end of my greedy spoon.
But back to the bread…
Loaf One: Ms Marmite Lover’s Larder Loaf
Sadly I have no idea what we put into this loaf. No we were not drunk at the time but we just got a bit carried away and kept putting stuff into the mix. There was definately rye sourdough, water, salt, some white flour and some rye flour from Dove’s, and a bit of yeast to speed things up a bit. After that it’s a bit of a blur: From the top shelf in the summer kitchen, a few cardomom seeds, taken out of their pods and crushed using the pestle and mortar; from the shelf above the Kitchenaid mixer, a jar of random somewhat caramlised fruits and nuts redolent with port; and from a bowl on the countrer, some mixed nuts. Knead, (drink coffee) pour into a plastic tupperware box from yet another treasure trove, fold in a random manner (drink coffee), proof in a tea towel lined enamel bowl from the delightful collection of enamelware on a high shelf in the kitchen (drink tea) and bake – WOOSH – in about 20 minutes in the bottom of the top oven. YUM. No we did not wait until it cooled down. Hardly any time to down aforementioned brandy like substance.
Loaf Two: Ms Marmite Lover’s Accidental Overnight Loaf
This one was made in a more orthodox way given Ms Marmite Lover had never made a pure sourdough before and wanted to learn. Following a pretty standard rye sourdough recipe we only added some grated carrot and some seeds that we had soaked for a couple of hours. Knead. Rest. Put in bread tin to rise. Leave in cold back kitchen and forget about (until the next day…oops!) I was not there to witness the results but I hear it was good (great!).
There was plenty of rye sourdough left for the fridge when we were done and that, coupled with the amazing never ending larder and a talented and enthusiastic chef who cooks with passion and flair is a guarantee of future virtuous bread success.
You can meet Ms Marmite Lover and gasp at her delightful larder! She is holding plenty of dinners soon and a Christmas Market on 5 December. Click here for details.