Sunday, 3 April 2016

Fresh Bread, Fragrance and Fruit Square.

There's nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread baking, wafting through the house.
Combined with the glorious aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and a freshly cleaned house and suddenly your house has become a home. I recall my old Mum saying when I was a kid that if she hadn't had time to get the dinner started before Dad got home from work she would put a chopped onion on to fry and he would know that dinner wasn't far away.  These days its just as likely to be the man of the house cooking for the family. How times have changed since the days my Mum had Dad's slippers waiting and a cup of tea in the pot to greet him at the door! Some things don't change though, and the enticing smells of home cooking still serve as a warm and inviting welcome to the home.
We bake bread daily, a small loaf served whole at breakfast to be toasted, or eaten fresh if our guests prefer it untoasted, perhaps with a generous dollop of our homemade preserves.
Guests at Harbourlights B & B choose between having a cooked or continental breakfast upstairs in our dining room or a continental breakfast delivered to the hall table outside their room at whatever time they choose. A toaster, plates and cutlery is supplied in their room along with a selection of cereals and preserves. We take them a tray containing fresh fruit, home-made yoghurt, freshly baked bread, butter, orange juice and coffee, just as they would have had upstairs in the dining room.This enables them to eat in the privacy of their own room if they prefer and works particularly well if they are leaving to catch the early ferry to the South Island or an early flight.
We also bake fresh cookies or cake for them to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee when they arrive, and replenish them daily if they are staying for more than one night. Today I made a sultana slice, it takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. It is cooked in a Swiss roll tin and sliced when cold. I like recipes that involve melting the butter and adding the rest of the ingredients, no mixer bowl or food processor to wash and it cooks while I am preparing dinner. The recipe for my slice is at the end of this blog.

I love the house, and particularly the B & B to smell fresh and appealing. Fresh flowers and cleaning products go a long way and I have been using diffuser oil to add a background freshness, especially in the bathroom, but  I balk at the outrageous price of a little bottle of fragrance with a few sticks poking out the top. There had to be a cheaper way of achieving the same result, so I consulted Mr Google and searched on Pinterest and found a recipe to make our own. The resulting diffuser is a subtle vanilla smell that adds a layer of freshness at a fraction of the cost. You can choose any essential oil to create whatever fragrance you like. All you need is:

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (or vodka)
1/4 cup water
about 20 drops of essential oil (I used vanilla, but lavender, lemon etc would be nice)
5 small bamboo skewers (like you would use for kebabs)
an attractive bottle with a neck wide enough to hold the skewers.

Mix the rubbing alcohol (or vodka), water and oil together and pour into the bottle. Insert the bamboo skewers and wait for a few days till the bamboo absorbs the smell. Top up as required. It should last for weeks.

I am not sure where this sultana slice recipe came from as I have been making it for years. Possibly it came from my mother. I have seen many adaptations of it over the years, but this is my recipe:

Sultana Slice:
125grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon caramel essence (or use vanilla)
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sultanas  (or substitute chopped dried apricots)

Melt the butter gently with the sugar and golden syrup. Add the beaten egg and essence, then the rest of the ingredients. Put into a greased Swiss roll tin that has been lined with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius  for 20 minutes until nicely browned. Slice when cool. This can be iced if you like but is nice plain. It will keep for a few days in an airtight container.


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