Monday Makers – Two Hands Bakery…

Last week we started our brand new blog series – Monday Makers, where we start each week with a bit of a Q+A feature with someone whose work we love. We are going to be use the term ‘maker’ in the widest possible sense, and this week we are venturing into the delicious realm with Elle Johnston, of Two Hands Bakery…


Hello there! please tell us a little bit about yourselves…

Two Hands is a bakery based in East London, it was founded by me in the early months of 2016 (early days yet!) I’ve always been a voracious home baker and have spent majority of my career working in the hospitality industry – shaking cocktails, being a (pretty terrible) waitress and most recently transitioning into professional baking. I was lucky enough to work at E5 Bakehouse and Violet Bakery, amongst others, they taught me a lot about baking on a large scale. Eventually my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I decided to build something of my own.

Two hands bakery - Vanilla sliceNice, and what do you make?

We make a wide range of sweet baked goods, from spiced morning buns to rich chocolate tartlets to towering wedding cakes. The whole spectrum of sweets! All made with seasonal and local ingredients, predominantly organic too – the negative effect of the food industry on the environment is hugely important to the business and we do whatever we can to reduce our impact.

What is your favourite thing you create, and why?

My favourite thing that we make changes on an almost daily basis! I’m particularly partial to a slice of buttery almond cake at the moment and I’m also excited about perfecting my vanilla slice recipe. Outside of my greedy personal preferences, my favourite projects to work on are always the ones where I get to collaborate with people, whether it’s working with Celeste from The Girl in the Cafe pairing cakes with different coffees or co-ordinating with a couple to make a wedding cake that makes their day super special.

Two Hands Bakery - wedding cakes

What inspires you?

It’s a fairly standard foodie answer but – flavours and ingredients. Adapting to the ebb and flow of different produce available throughout the year is exciting and challenging. Figuring out how to bring out the best from an ingredient or using non-traditional techniques (vegan baking for example) is very inspiring.

What is your favourite place?

Anywhere that I can see the ocean! I’m Australian and grew up a complete water baby so find me somewhere to stare at the waves, breathe in the salty air and I’m happy.

Ok – you are rulers of the world for the day. What one law do you bring in?

Ohhh…something well thought out regarding food education. I might delegate my legislative powers to Alice Waters! (an awesome chef, writer and pioneering advocate of the local/seasonal/fresh cookery movement)

Two Hands Bakery - Choc tart

What is your personal motto?

“I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe” – it’s a line from my favourite Bikini Kill song…

Where can we see you next?

We’re searching for a market stall at the moment so hopefully Two Hands Bakery will be appearing on the streets of London sometime soon. Until then, however, we’re open for private orders and commissions – get in touch, we’d love to work with you.

Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat – @twohandsbakery


Amazing – thank you Elle! (and do seek Elle out – we can vouch for the awesomeness of her beautiful cakes and biscuits. Truly delicious treats!)

(all images courtesy of Two Hands Bakery)

2015 recap – September – Zero Waste Week and Silo Brighton…

We are in the last week of our 2015 recap now, and for today we are casting our minds back to September, where we were mostly talking about zero waste…

(first published 10 Sept 2015)

Continuing our look at zero waste for zero waste week, today we are featuring one of our favourite places in Brighton. Silo, which opened in the North Laine area of the city earlier this year is heralded as a ‘pre-industrial food system’ which, as well as producing beautiful and delicious food, also produces zero waste.

root_veg

Now, for a restaurant to declare that its is ‘zero waste’ is a huge achievement, but as founder of Silo, Doug McMaster points out – if you design and create ‘backwards’ – ie with the bin in mind, you can begin to eliminate waste before it has been produced, rather than dealing with it at the end. This is effective and clever.

Silo demonstrate that by working with producers directly, you can choose items that have been produced locally, in reusable / returnable vessels that continue to be in the loop once the contents have been used at the restaurant.

silo brighton 2

But reducing the packaging that you use is one thing. The largest, and most pressing waste produced from a restaurant is the food waste itself. Scraps, peelings, left overs – where does all this go? At Silo, they have Big Bertha – a composting machine that sits just inside the entrance to the side of the restaurant and converts everything into compost and liquid feed in an astonishingly short amount of time.

The 50-60kg of compost it produces overnight is distributed back to the growers that they get their raw goods from – literally closing the loop. As you enter the restaurant, one shelf is filled with boxes from the Espresso Mushroom Company, happily sprouting their brown and pink oyster mushrooms from the mix of recycled compost and locally sourced coffee grounds in the cool shade.

silo brighton 3

But it is not just the food that is zero waste at Silo – the pastries that greet you are served on multicoloured discs of plastic – melted plastic bags that have found a new use and the interior itself is a delight of the industrial aesthetic with reclaimed wood seating and reclaimed flooring used as tables.

There is a distinct honesty to everything at Silo. The kitchen is open at one end, the flour is milled in another corner of the open plan space (although not when service is on as it is pretty noisy) and the jugs of water are filled with the visible offcuts of herbs from the kitchen. You drink the water from jam jars and lovely ceramic mugs, obviously.

silo brighton 1

Many people have baulked at the idea of a zero waste restaurant, confining it to the very ‘green orientated creatives’ that live in Brighton, but whilst Silo wears a lot of it’s ethics on it’s sleeve (and rightly so), it also does it rather quietly. There is no massive signage declaring how it is holier than thou. Ask one of the staff and they will enthusiastically explain the systems – even Big Bertha – but there is no ramming of information down your throats, even though this is the system that many more restaurants could be (and should be) employing.

silo_raspberries

Go to Silo for the delicious food – and realise how zero waste in the food industry is possible.

(images by claire potter design and via silo)

Zero Waste Week – Silo Brighton…

Continuing our look at zero waste for zero waste week, today we are featuring one of our favourite places in Brighton. Silo, which opened in the North Laine area of the city earlier this year is heralded as a ‘pre-industrial food system’ which, as well as producing beautiful and delicious food, also produces zero waste.

Now, for a restaurant to declare that its is ‘zero waste’ is a huge achievement, but as founder of Silo, Doug McMaster points out – if you design and create ‘backwards’ – ie with the bin in mind, you can begin to eliminate waste before it has been produced, rather than dealing with it at the end. This is effective and clever.

Silo demonstrate that by working with producers directly, you can choose items that have been produced locally, in reusable / returnable vessels that continue to be in the loop once the contents have been used at the restaurant.

silo brighton 2

But reducing the packaging that you use is one thing. The largest, and most pressing waste produced from a restaurant is the food waste itself. Scraps, peelings, left overs – where does all this go? At Silo, they have Big Bertha – a composting machine that sits just inside the entrance to the side of the restaurant and converts everything into compost and liquid feed in an astonishingly short amount of time.

The 50-60kg of compost it produces overnight is distributed back to the growers that they get their raw goods from – literally closing the loop. As you enter the restaurant, one shelf is filled with boxes from the Espresso Mushroom Company, happily sprouting their brown and pink oyster mushrooms from the mix of recycled compost and locally sourced coffee grounds in the cool shade.

silo brighton 3

But it is not just the food that is zero waste at Silo – the pastries that greet you are served on multicoloured discs of plastic – melted plastic bags that have found a new use and the interior itself is a delight of the industrial aesthetic with reclaimed wood seating and reclaimed flooring used as tables.

There is a distinct honesty to everything at Silo. The kitchen is open at one end, the flour is milled in another corner of the open plan space (although not when service is on as it is pretty noisy) and the jugs of water are filled with the visible offcuts of herbs from the kitchen. You drink the water from jam jars and lovely ceramic mugs, obviously.

silo brighton 1

Many people have baulked at the idea of a zero waste restaurant, confining it to the very ‘green orientated creatives’ that live in Brighton, but whilst Silo wears a lot of it’s ethics on it’s sleeve (and rightly so), it also does it rather quietly. There is no massive signage declaring how it is holier than thou. Ask one of the staff and they will enthusiastically explain the systems – even Big Bertha – but there is no ramming of information down your throats, even though this is the system that many more restaurants could be (and should be) employing.

Go to Silo for the delicious food – and realise how zero waste in the food industry is possible.

(images by claire potter design and silo)

Mr Popple’s raw chocolate – good for you and with packaging to die for…

We all know that eating too much chocolate is rather bad for us. It is the essential 4pm sugar hit that we all crave, yet know that really we should eat an apple instead. But, like lots of things in this big old world, not all chocolate is made equal. Some chocolate is, (dare we say it) actually rather good for you. Raw cacao chocolate has stacks of health benefits, including natural stimulants (without the sugar crash) and loads of trace minerals and other loveliness. Mr Popple’s chocolate is not only made from beautiful raw cacao, it has the most wonderful packaging.

popples chocolate 1

This is where the term eating with your eyes really comes into its own – we spotted this beautiful chocolate first by its packaging in hiSbe Food in Brighton (our latest retail design project) and just fell in love with it.

Simple, hairy manilla style brown recycled card, the packaging of Mr Popple’s differentiates each of the delicious flavours with a single, one colour print in the centre of each bar, complete with honest mis-prints and strong logo styles.

popples chocolate 2

We do have a bit of a ‘thing’ for this type of honest and simple packaging and branding as it helps to communicate the honest nature of the brand itself with incredible clarity. A brand using raw ingredients would not really fit a packaging design that is high gloss and multicoloured. It would not work. But get it right, and it really is a powerful tool indeed.

So much so in fact, that we are going to have a bar a week as our treat, not only for the deliciousness of the chocolate itself, but to collect the packaging and drool over that as well. We are, indeed, design geeks.

(photos by claire potter)

SPOTTED – the first sweet violets of the year. Get foraging…

So. It appears that spring has sprung. For a bit anyway. With the sudden sun, the ground has started to warm up and both the plants and weeds alike are showing a burst of life. There is a reason that we get rather excited about this – the sun starts the main bulk of the foraging season and one of the first plants that you can find are out and about now. Sweet violets, or viola odorata.

sweet violets

We are very lucky as near our studio we have a huge bank of violets within a tiny walking distance – and the thing is, we are based not in the country, but slap bang on the edges of Brighton.

There is a bit of a misconception that foraging can only occur if you are in the wilds of the countryside, or at least near to the edges of the urban sprawl. In fact, it is often harder to find stuff within a close vicinity of the next, with the city and town environment providing far richer pickings. This is why we are starting to lead Edible City foraging walks in and around Brighton (email us for details).

violas

But, back to the sweet violet. These are now in full bloom and should be available near you now. As well as the arresting violet colour, they are accompanied by a strong and arresting perfume. Smaller than the violas that you get in the garden centre, these beautiful plants reside on sunny banks, often in huge numbers.

As with all foraging – be respectful, don’t ever pick any more than you need, ask permission and never dig anything up. But a few flowers to scatter on a chocolate cake or to perfume a canister of sugar will add a wealth of the incredible sweet violet flavour to your baking… think a wholly natural parma violet sweet and you are there..

(photos by claire potter)

Monday musings – Brighton foraging and the edible city

A couple of Saturdays ago, we led a walk around a little patch of our city that we know pretty well – guiding a few people in the ways of edible urban Brighton foraging as part of our edible city month and as part of the Chelsea Fringe.

edible city walk brighton flyer

The day was perfect – wonderfully sunny but with a bit of a breeze, and with everyone turning up we soon had a crowd of 20 or so people, raring to learn a bit of urban foraging. A few people had foraged before, a few had never thought of foraging and it was great to see a couple of families interested in exploring their repertoire of wild foods.

After a run down of the (very complicated) laws of foraging we started our walk, pointing out around 15 different edible flowers, fruits and foliages, from the highly fragrant and blousy Japanese Rose to the very unassuming Hairy Bittercress.

Some of the plants and shrubs were very familiar, others not so, and we told a bit of the ancient folklore that accompanies the uses of the plants as well as uses in modern medicine – especially with our favourite shrub, the hawthorn.

But the most important factor of the day was to show how a relatively short walk can supplement the weekly food shop – urban foraging is not going to replace the supermarket, but why spend a few quid on salad leaves when you can pick them, fresh and tasty on your doorstep for free?

After an hour of walking and talking, loads of photos and chat later (including a couple of stinging nettle casualties) we ended up back at our start point, on a bit of urban greenery right next to a large supermarket, where we had a little foraged picnic feast that we had made, comprising of:

– Elderberry and ginger cordial, wild plum and rum cordial and nettle cordial for the drinks.

– Japanese rose syrup drizzle cupcakes, lilac and lavender shortbreads, ground elder and garlic mustard quiches, mini cheese scones with wild garlic pesto and mini cheese scones with wild apple cheese.

It was a wonderful afternoon – thank you to everyone who attended the event and made it such a success. We will be running a series of these Brighton foraging walks over the coming months, so if you would like to attend one of the next walks, drop us an email – hello@clairepotterdesign.com

And you can read a review from one of the attendees here, at the Epicurious Adventurer.

the perfect pancake

Well, happy pancake day one and all.

We think it is a real shame that pancakes are only really celebrated once a year as they are incredibly quick to make, are nice and interactive to make and can be customised in all manner of ways to suit the seasonal flavours around and about.

So, what makes the perfect pancake? For us, it has to be lovely and thin, with little crispy bits on the side and nice brown blotches. And it must be tossed. Very important.

Our favourite recipe in the studio is the one from River Cottage, which uses either plain flour (which we use for sweet concoctions) or very fine wholemeal flour (which we use for savoury fillings)

Basically:

Sift 250g of flour (plain white or fine wholemeal) into a large bowl with a pinch of sea salt. Make a well in the centre and add in 2 lightly beaten organic eggs and 50ml whole milk. Begin to bring the dry ingredients into the centre of the well, mixing to combine them. Using a jug with 550ml milk in, gradually add more milk bit by bit into the well, combining the wet and dry ingredients until all are together at a consistency of single cream. If it is still thicker, add a little more milk.

Let the bowl of batter rest for at least 30mins while you collect all your fillings together. Top of our list are:

  • golden caster sugar and lemon juice
  • warmed blackberry jam from the larder
  • butter and cinnamon
  • stewed apple and ginger
  • mature cheddar and smoked paprika
  • fried egg and hawthorn ketchup
  • a sprinkle of rose petal syrup
  • a sprinkle of wine mulling syrup

Now comes the all important making. Make sure your chosen pancake pan is heated over a medium heat for a little bit, then add a desert spoon of oil – swirl it around then transfer the excess into a heat proof dish.

Using a small ladle, tip a small amount of batter into the centre of the pan and swirl it around so it is nice and thin. Cook for a minute or two, then, turning up the edges, loosen the pancake from the pan, then after a bit of shaking, flip the pancake over. Cook briefly on the second side.

The first pancake will be absolutely rubbish. This always happens and is duly fed to the chef whilst the second one is cooking.

Get a few together (keep them warm) then all sit down and get creative with your fillings!

Enjoy! Have a flipping good time.

(image via C4)