Fun Lockdown Crafts to do with Viking

AD – We were sent a box of crafts by Viking and invited to join a special Zoom lockdown crafts workshop hosted by them.

At the start of lockdown things seemed easier, we were more disciplined at home and we could happily sit down and do school work or an activity for a few hours at a time. But as spring turned into summer, our focus drifted and we are down to doing the bare minimum each day. Even our own lockdown crafts have run out of steam and at best we just sit and draw or paint. We needed an intervention. Thankfully this came from stationers Viking who invited us to join them for a zoom crafting session with Jane a pro crafter at Tea & Crafting.

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

A few days before the session we received a big box full of everything we would need and excitement started to build. We were going to make chocolate bubble wrap bars, a toilet roll fire breathing dragon and moving feet packing tape. It was a serious job to stop my boy scoffing the chocolate ahead of time, but I managed to hide most of it before he spotted it!

We joined a large number of other craft-eager families for the Saturday morning lockdown crafts session. It was scheduled to be an hour long, which is a good length of time to keep kids’ attention. Alongside all the craft kit we needed, Viking had kindly sent some cleaning products and hand sanitiser to help us keep our crafting area clean, especially as we were going to be using food.

We began by making the chocolate bubble wrap, which was probably our favourite thing we made, I think we will be looking at doing this with other textures, because it really is so effective!

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

Chocolate Bubble Wrap

  1. As we’ll be touching food products you should wash your hands with soap – or use some hand sanitiser.
  2. Clean your working area thoroughly.
  3. Cut a small piece of bubble wrap about A4 size and just give it a quick wash and dry it.
  4. Crumble about 3-4 chocolate bars into a small bowl using your fingers.
  5. Wash your hands so they’re not sticky and covered in chocolate.
  6. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second increments. Ensure you stir after each 30 second blast, so you can evenly distribute the heat and help it melt quicker. This took me about 90 seconds, but yours may take more or less time.
  7. Pour the melted chocolate onto the bubble wrap and then spread it over evenly with a spatula or knife, making sure it’s not too thinly spread.
  8. Pop it into the fridge for about 30 minutes to set.
  9. Whilst the chocolate is setting clean your working area again wiping away any spilt chocolate etc.
  10. After it’s set, peel back the bubble wrap from the chocolate and be amazed at your homemade chocolate bubble wrap.

The chocolate bubble wrap really looked like honeycomb or something, we sprinkled it with some decorations, then broke it into chunks and ate it.

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

Fire Breathing Dragon

  1. Clean your working area and wash your hands or use some hand sanitiser before starting.
  2. Take a sheet of A4 paper. Measure how high your toilet roll tube is and then cut a strip of paper along the long side of the A4 using that measurement.
  3. Spread glue over your toilet roll holder and then glue your paper to the toilet roll tube and cut where the paper overlaps. Trim off any edges that overlap the opening if needed.
  4. Add eyes and a nose to your dragon’s body, do this by using a Sharpie to draw the eyes and then draw a little square under your eye. This square will fold back and be glued down so that the dragon eyes stay upright. Do the same for the nose and glue the eyes and nose down.
  5. Cut tissue paper into strips no longer than about 10cm in length and about a finger’s width. Glue the strips to the top (this would be where the dragon eyes and nose are placed) and bottom of the inside of the toilet roll tube. There’s no need to add tissue paper to the sides of the toilet roll, at this point it’s fine if the tissue paper overlaps.
  6. Hold your dragon at an angle in front of you and breathe into the toilet roll tube – you’ll see the tissue paper fire breath come to life!

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

As you can see, we used white tissue paper, so the boy said it was an ice dragon. Use red, orange or yellow tissue paper to make it look more like fire!

Parcel Tape Feet

  1. Cut a straw in half and tape it (using the parcel tape) to the inside of the parcel tape roll; making sure the straws stick out of the edge of the tape on opposite sides (i.e. left and right) and that they are placed on opposite ends (i.e. top and bottom) inside the parcel tape roll.  You only need a finger’s width of straw coming out of the tube so trim off any excess.
  2. Remove the cotton wool from the cotton buds on both ends. If you’re using a kebab stick, there’s no need to trim at all.
  3. Take a sheet of A4 paper and fold it half. Then trace around your child’s foot or get siblings to help each other to do this. Cut two little feet out of the paper.
  4. Place your feet (ensuring it’s a left and right foot side by side); and tape the cotton bud to the inside of each foot (using image as a guide).
  5. Slot the cotton buds into the straw, roll the parcel tape and watch your feet walk!

Lockdown Crafts with Viking

The activities were great fun to do. The session overran by half an hour; but my son was really engaged, and I really enjoyed having someone else lead our craft activities. The chance to do something different together was one we’ve not really had during lockdown. I think Zoom lockdown crafts are a fantastic idea. We would love to do something like this again, perhaps with friends over the summer holidays.

If you’re interested in more craft activities, you can find all of my crafts here.

Retro Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard

I think I sometimes look back on school dinners with misty eyes. I’m not sure my memory of them being the highlight of my school day is always accurate. In reality I think we remember the highlights more than the low points. I don’t think many people look back with much fondness at bowls of rice pudding and prunes; it’s more the thought of cornflake tart and chocolate cake with chocolate custard which bring back the good memories.

I’m not sure modern day school dinners are based on quite so much stodge, but sometimes stodge is good and you need a comforting hot pudding and custard. I’m usually a packet custard kind of girl, but this chocolate custard recipe is really simple and it works so well with the chocolate cake.

Retro Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard

When I shared my photo of this chocolate cake with chocolate custard on Facebook, there were many people saying it needed to be green, mint flavoured custard, or even pink strawberry custard. I think all schools were different, mine did chocolate crunch and mint custard, something I might make at some point soon.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard

Ingredients
250g baking margarine or unsalted butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
50g dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
100mls milk, warmed slightly

For the chocolate custard
300ml whole milk
300ml double cream
4 large egg yolks
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cornflour

Retro Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard

How to make your Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a square 20cm cake or brownie tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together until soft, light and fluffy; I use an electric hand mixer for this, but a wooden spoon or a stand mixer work just as well.

Add the eggs one by one, beat well after adding each egg. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into the mixing bowl and mix well, once combined, add the chocolate chips or grated chocolate and stir through.

Add the vanilla extract and enough of the warm milk to create a smooth mixture with a dropping consistency. Pour into the tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Once baked, pull it out of the oven and leave to cool a little on a baking tray. This cake is good served warm or cold.

To make the custard, heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan until it is almost boiling, stir often. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar, cocoa and cornflour, then carefully and gradually pour the hot milk and cream over the top. This bit is really important as you don’t want the hot milk to scramble the eggs, so make sure you whisk it really well and add the hot milk gradually. Whisk well, then return to the pan.

Cook the mixture over a low-ish heat, stirring constantly until it forms a custard that thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.

To serve, cut into 8 equal squares and serve warm with the chocolate custard poured over the top. School uniform optional!

Retro Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard

Remembering the good times with My-Picture.co.uk

During these long lockdown days we’ve been trying to slow down a bit and spend more time together as a family. Naturally my camera has been working overtime. Whilst some families have been making scrapbooks or time capsules, I have been taking lots of photos and squirrelling away some of his drawings to make into a photo book of our time in lockdown together.

Remembering the good times with My-Picture.co.uk

This really feels like a once in a lifetime situation, and I hope it is. Despite all the fun we’ve had together, there’s a lot of stress too. My boy has had three months off school and that’s the longest he’s been at home since he was a tiny baby. We have tried to make the most of that extra time together. We’ve camped in the garden and done all kinds of crafts and fun things together. We have the makings of a brilliant photo book and some new canvas prints for around the place too.

I have an idea to take photos of some of his drawings and make them into a big photo collage for the kitchen; which I think will look fab. I’ve discovered My-Picture.co.uk which is a website which prints all kinds of photo gifts, from canvas prints, to mugs and cushions, and you can even get a custom face mask which is just the thing if you’re venturing out again and need to do so safely and importantly, fashionably.

Remembering the good times with My-Picture.co.uk

Over the years I’ve become the family photographer, documenting all of our fun times and first times; our holidays and adventures. Never did I think I would be documenting three months or more of working and studying from home. There have been a lot of things I’d like to forget; but the gift of being at home full time with my son is one I want to remember forever; not to mention all the good times and fun times we’ve had together.

It’s been really helpful to be able to order prints and photo gifts to send to family who we haven’t been able to see for a while too.

Remembering the good times with My-Picture.co.uk

Whether you’re making a scrapbook, a time capsule or like me, putting together a photo book; these are times we need to make the most of and times we need to remember forever. It’s been a real gift to be able to slow down and spend time with my boy. I’m so glad I’ve been able to capture and remember those times on camera. Memories, good memories which will stay with us forever.

HODGEPODGE10– Using this code you will be able to get an additional 10% off all purchases from the www.my-picture.co.uk website.

You can find My-Picture.co.uk on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Toys: Collectible Funko Pop! fun for all ages

We were sent a selection of Funko Pop! products for review. All images and opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links.

Over the years the boy has been given a small selection of Funko Pop collectible figures. Being collectibles, we’ve put them somewhere safe and kept them in their box. My son isn’t much of one for just looking at things, he’s very hands on and wants all his toys to join him in epic battles with wizards and dragons, or whatever his imagination is enjoying this week. Funko figures really tick a lot of those boxes and their distinctive style is appealing to young and old alike.

Toys: Collectible Funko Pop! fun for all ages

This week we received a big box of Funko goodies, and honestly, it’s been so nice to step away from the schoolwork and just mess about and play with them for an afternoon or two. There were a good selection of Funko products, from a cuddly toy, some blind bag style collectibles, a game and of course the famous Funko Pop! vinyl collectables.

Funko Pop! Vinyl Collectibles

Funko Pop! vinyl collectibles are famous and sought after all over the world. The figures are licenced and there are so many different ranges of them to choose from. My son started out collecting some of the Power Rangers ones, but he’s moved on a bit now and likes the Marvel figures.

Toys: Collectible Funko Pop! fun for all ages

From Star Wars, to Disney, Jurassic Park to Basketball, there are Funko Pop! vinyl collectible figures for the things you’re into. They’re as excitingly collectible for adults as they are for children. The figures are a simple design, with a big head and each one is instantly recognisable as the character they’re supposed to be. Personally I’ve got my eye on the Magnum PI figure.

We were sent a Hello Kitty, Harley Quinn and a Batman figure. They cost around £9.99 each and make great gifts and collectibles.

Aside from the vinyl figures, we were sent a Funkoverse Jurassic Park board game. I had no idea they did games too and this excited us all. It’s an exciting strategy game based on the Jurassic Park films. It is ideal for ages 10+ and each game lasts around 20 minutes, so it is ideal for people like me who prefer quick fire games which don’t last for hours.

The boy is a huge Harry Potter fan, so we were extra pleased that we were sent a Harry Potter plush, he’s wearing the Sorting Hat and looking a bit worried about which House he might be sorted into. There are a number of plushes in the range and they also cost around £9.99.

Toys: Collectible Funko Pop! fun for all ages

Funko Bling Bag Collectibles

Alongside the plush, there’s a Mystery Mini: Harry Potter blind box to open. There are 14 mini vinyl figures to collect and they’re great fun. They are cartoony and really detailed and would be a lovely thing for a Harry Potter fan to collect. My son really enjoyed the blind bag aspect of it. They cost around £7.75 per box but the figures are a good size and I think are well worth the money.Toys: Collectible Funko Pop! fun for all ages

Continuing the blind bag theme, the boy was keen to crack open this Soda Can Batman figure. The can contains a “POG“-shaped collector’s card and a 10 5 cm limited edition Batman vinyl figure. The cans are available for around £13.99 but this one is a little more expensive and is currently available on Amazon for £24.95.Toys: Collectible Funko Pop! fun for all ages

There’s a lot of fun to be had with Funko Pop! collectibles. If, like my son you love to collect things, then Funko will tick a lot of boxes for you. They have a distinctive and appealing style and if you choose well, your collection might be worth a lot of money in years to come.

For more information or to browse their shop, visit the Funko Pop! website.

Win a Disney Mickey and the Roadster Racers – Awesome Colouring Book

On Sunday, this blog will be blowing the candles out on its birthday cake. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for 7 years now. In that time my toddler has grown into a strapping lad and my life has had quite a few ups and downs, but I’m getting there. HodgePodgeDays has taken us on so many adventures and we’ve done so many brilliant things. We’ve had great days out, been on short breaks and holidays and done all manner of cool things.

With lockdown keeping us, erm, locked down, celebrations will be fairly minimal; but there will be cake, because there’s always cake! To celebrate this milestone, I’m giving away a copy of the Disney Mickey and the Roadster Racers – Awesome Colouring Book. 

Disney Mickey and the Roadster Racers - Awesome Colouring Book

Pencils at the ready for a racing adventure in this awesome colouring book.

With over 80 stickers and 40 cool pages to decorate, it’s time for a colouring championship with Mickey and all your Roadster Racer pals.

Win a Disney Mickey and the Roadster Racers – Awesome Colouring Book

To be in with a chance to win a Disney Mickey and the Roadster Racers – Awesome Colouring Book, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a copy of the Disney Mickey and the Roadster Racers – Awesome Colouring Book.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 5th July.
7. The winner will be contacted within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners address, contact details and email address will not be shared with anyone else.
10. The winners name will be available on request.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Board Game Review: I love Britain from Tactic Games

AD/Sent for review. It can be hard to fill these long lockdown days. We’ve been trying to keep up with schoolwork and fill his days with a balance of educational stuff and fun things. This week we’ve been ticking both of those boxes with the new I love Britain game from Tactic Games.

Board Game Review: I love Britain from Tactic Games

It’s a geography based trivia board game which is suitable for ages 8+ and for 2-4 players. To play you have to race around the United Kingdom, visit different regions and answer questions about British culture, traditions and nature. Roll the dice to see whether you’re moving around by bicycle, by car or through the air on a plane. Each correct answer earns you a card, and the first player to collect five different category symbols wins.

The I love Britain game box contains a board of a map of the UK, four playing pieces, a dice and a stack of 100 trivia question cards, plus a set of rules. You begin by shuffling the cards and then you lay 3 cards next to the board. Roll the dice and move towards the location you want to reach.

Board Game Review: I love Britain from Tactic Games

The aim of the game is to collect five different category cards from across the UK; you do this by rolling the dice, moving the right number of steps and correctly answering the trivia questions. The first player to do this wins.

It’s a fun game and one which we all enjoyed. My 9 year old loves maps, so he spent a good amount of time studying the board before we even began playing the game. I think the questions might be a bit beyond the average 8 year old, but you could take a look at some questions and if they’re a bit hard, maybe they could team up with an older player?

The I love Britain game comes in a box about the size of an iPad. It’s a good size for taking on holiday, should you be lucky enough to get away. I like that it’s nice and compact. I also really like that the rules are pretty simple and straightforward to follow.

Board Game Review: I love Britain from Tactic Games

The trivia question cards are really good with varied questions; all of them multiple choice. They each come with an interesting fact about the question and it’s a fun way to learn more about the UK and the sometimes funny and unusual traditions we have.

It’s a fun game. I felt we all learned a little something about the country where we live and we had a good laugh too. It ticks both of the fun and educational boxes we are aiming for these days. 

The I love Britain game is available from a range of online stores and costs around £13.99. 

We were sent the I love Britain game in exchange for this honest review. All images and opinions are our own.

FREE Printables: Learning about Bees

As spring turns into summer my garden is buzzing with insects. Like many people we are particularly keen to give our local bees a helping hand and a bit of love. Gone are the days where we pull up dandelions with abandon. Now we’ve got a scruffy, weedy, wild flower patch at the bottom of the garden; complete with a bug hotel, bird box and hedgehog home. It might take a year or two for them to be populated, but we are doing our bit.

How to create a wildlife garden with your kids

We are always on the look out for bees buzzing about the place and we have been learning a little bit about them too. Did you know that there are over 20,000 species of bee in the world and around 270 species of bee in the UK; but only one of these is a honeybee. People can be frightened of bees because they sting, but usually only if they’re being attacked or feel threatened. The are 600 species of stingless bees in the world. They’re all worth looking after and encouraging, so what can you do to encourage bees into your garden?

  • Grow plants with nectar and pollen
  • Create bee hotels and bee friendly habitats
  • Don’t been too keen to weed
  • Grow some wildflowers
  • Leave a patch of your garden unattended and let it run wild
  • Stop using pesticides and weed killers

You don’t have to have a big garden to make the world a bit more bee friendly, a window box or a couple of pots of flowering plants by your front door can all help. If we all learn a bit more about our bee friends, together we can help to support them and create an environment where they can thrive.

learning about bees

The free to download sheets include pictures to colour in and a few facts about –
  • Bees
  • Beehives
  • Honey

It’s enough to keep the kids occupied for a while and a good place to start if you’re going to start learning about bees with them.

Download your FREE learning about bees worksheets here

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these other blog posts:

FREE Printables: Learning about Bees

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

When all the coffee shops are shut and you’re missing your favourite mocha, what’s a girl to do but bake a mocha cake? This week there were two birthdays in our family; for the first, I produced a rocky road and for the second I whipped up this delicious mocha cake.

I looked all over the Internet for a mocha cake recipe I liked, but I couldn’t find one. The ones I’d looked at seemed a bit faffy for what is essentially a coffee and chocolate sponge cake. I do make good sponge cake, so I made up my own mocha cake recipe and thankfully it turned out well, much to the delight of my family.

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

Simple Mocha Cake

Ingredients

225g soft butter or baking margarine like Stork
225g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 large eggs
4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

For the coffee icing
150g soft butter
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
20g cocoa powder
4 level tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line the base of two deep 20cm sandwich cake tins.

Beat the butter (or margarine) and sugar together until pale and fluffy. I used an electric hand whisk, but you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer. Add the eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and coffee mixture and mix together. Gently tip in the flour and baking powder and combine until it’s all smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two greased and lined baking tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until cooked through. I tend to open the oven door and leave my cakes in for five minutes so the shock of coming out of the oven is less. Maybe I just bake sensitive cakes.

Turn your cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool fully. If you’re in a rush, you can pop them in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

To make the buttercream icing, sift the icing sugar and mix with your softened butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Beat in the dissolved coffee and cocoa powder with the vanilla essence.

When they are cool, put a blob of the buttercream icing on your cake plate or stand; place the first layer of your sponge cake on top. The blob of buttercream will anchor the cake in place and stop it from sliding about. Smother the top of your first layer with about half of the buttercream, then sandwich the second layer on top of that. Swirl the rest of the buttercream on the top layer. I topped that with some grated chocolate, but you can leave it plain if you prefer.

I was very generous with the buttercream. If you think it’s far too much, then use what you want and put the rest in the fridge for topping cupcakes or whatever at a later date.

This mocha cake is really light, but rich. Full of lovely coffee chocolate flavour and a great family bake. To make mine even more family friendly, I made mine with decaf instant coffee, so there should be no sleepless nights in my house!

Recipe: Really Simple Mocha Cake

Party Recipe: Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

This week sees the 75th anniversary of VE Day and many people across the UK and beyond will be marking the date. We will be taking part in a community zoom celebration, so I’ve been busy baking a lovely Jam and Cream Sponge Cake to have with a nice pot of tea.

I baked this deliciously light sponge cake filled with lovely purple (the royal colour) mulled wine jam. I’d like to think the Queen would approve of my simple but very yummy jam and cream sponge cake.

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

To find out how to make my Jam and Cream Sponge Cake, read my recipe below…

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

Serves 16
A classic Victoria Sponge layered with Mulled Wine Jam and Chantilly Cream.

Ingredients
300g caster sugar
300g softened butter
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
300g self-raising flour
1.5 tsp baking powder

For the filling
1/2 Jar Mackays Christmas Preserve (mulled wine jam)
200ml double cream
1 level tablespoon of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions
Heat your fan oven to 190c. Butter three 20cm sandwich tins. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture equally between the three tins, you can weigh them to make sure they’re fairly equal if you’d like. Bake in your pre-heated oven for around 20 mins until golden and they’re cooked through. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

To make the Chantilly cream, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. I used my hand mixer for this and it took just a few minutes.

To assemble the cake, choose the most attractive of the three sponge cakes and save that one to go on the top. You may need to cut the top of some of your layers to make them flatter so they sit more comfortably on each other. Put the bottom layer on your serving plate or cake board. Put a teaspoon of jam on the plate and put your bottom layer on that. It will help it stick to the board. Cover that first layer with your jam and put the second layer on top. Gently press the layers together. Top your second layer with the cream and put your top layer on top, sprinkle with icing sugar or decorate as you wish.

Notes

The cream is fresh so the cake will need to be eaten fairly quickly or refrigerated. If you want to keep it for a few days it might be best to not have the cream in between layers, maybe kept in the fridge to indulgently dollop on the side.

My Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake would make the prefect addition to a celebratory street party or a refined afternoon tea round at Buckingham Palace. It’s so quick and easy to make, it’ll leave you plenty of time to make a few plates of cucumber sandwiches and mix up a jug or two of Pimms for the party!

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

What’s your favourite celebratory bake?

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

I have to say, this sponge recipe is absolutely magic, I use it as the base for all my sponge cake bakes now; from butterfly cakes, cupcakes, sponge puddings and good old Victoria sponges, it’s light every single time. I can’t fault it.

Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Being in lockdown isn’t easy. Some days I find myself going a little stir crazy, some days I’m listless in bed, other days I’m bursting with energy. I’m trying, where I can to just go with my mood rather than force myself to do things. Over the weekend the sun shone a little and I managed to leave the house and take the dog for a short walk on the field by my house. Along one shady side of the field is a path which in the spring in fringed with wild garlic. I can never resist pulling a few leaves and taking them home to make wild garlic scones or something equally lovely with them. Whilst it was quiet, I grabbed a handful of wild garlic, then headed home to bake some wild garlic and Parmesan focaccia, because everyone else is baking bread during lockdown, so why shouldn’t I?

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Focaccia is a pretty simple bread to make, it just takes quite a lot of time. From picking my wild garlic, to pulling my bread out of the oven took the best part of five hours, but it was five hours very well spent. Before I began I checked in with my lovely Italian friend, Sherwin. He is a keen baker and gave me some top tips for tip top focaccia. His advice was as follows…

Focaccia is a high hydration dough so it is sticky and wet. Use oil instead of flour when hand kneading the dough on a work surface and preferably a slow first rise of 12 hours in the fridge, but an hour at room temperature will do. Use well oiled hands  when transferring and shaping the dough into a baking tray making sure not to knock out too much of the air. You can put rosemary, olives, cherry tomatoes, courgette or cheese. Enjoy!

I followed his excellent advice. I chose to prove my dough for an hour in the warmth of my bedroom and then topped it with wild garlic and Parmesan. The result was like the best garlic bread you’ve ever had.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour
1 and a half teaspoons of salt
2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
Olive oil, lots
400ml cold water
More olive oil for drizzling
20g wild garlic leaves, washed and finely chopped
30g finely grated Parmesan
A sprinkle of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Method
Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and the water into a large bowl. Gently mix together with your hand to form a dough, then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes.

Next you need to stretch and knead the dough by hand in the bowl for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto a very well oiled work surface and then knead some more for about five more minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, this takes about an hour. I put mine on my bed as my bedroom is the warmest room in the house, but whatever works for you.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten the dough onto the tray, push the dough into the corners, cover with a large plastic bag or cling film, making sure it does not touch the top of the dough, then leave to prove for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 220C or Gas mark 7.

Using the tips of your fingers, dimple the focaccia all over, so it is covered in little dents. Sprinkle over the wild garlic and Parmesan, adding a generous twist of freshly ground black pepper and some sea salt. Drizzle over some more olive oil and then put in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Once it’s baked and out of the oven; drizzle with a little more olive oil and it’s ready to eat, hot or cold.

It is the most delicious bread I’ve made and if you can get your hands on some wild garlic, it’s well worth making yourself.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia