Tuesday, October 17, 2006

World Bread Day

I hope I can participate in World Bread Day, an event hosted by Kochtopf where all of us bread nerds blog about ..... bread of course. I'm sure this event was created for me as my first step into the blogging of events worldwide. As it falls on a Monday, and I work full time, I baked on Sunday, and I'm awfully late posting, but I hope I can still be included.

This is my first successful sourdough, and after nurturing my starter for about 10 weeks, it's starting to talk back at me now, which means it's feisty. Of course the slow rise overnight helped, but I was sure it was going to peter out before the lengthy second rise. All up it took a night and most of a day for it to complete , but the oven spring was fantastic.

I cooked it in a wood fired oven in my backyard, very hot to start with, and then left the door open after steaming with ice cubes thrown in, until the temperature dropped to about 425 F. The sourness was just right, not overbearing, the crust was chewy, which some in my family like (i.e. me) and some don't. Sunday night dinner with butter slathered sourdough or dipped into flavoured olive oil and some dukkah to have with drinks pre-dinner....what could be more sublime?

Up until my new found passion for bread baking emerged, my family mainly preferred supermarket bread, simply for the convenience of not having to get the bread board out and slice it, and we've simply been brought up on bland flavoured "convenience" bread which needs to be disguised with various toppings slathered on it. It's really hard to break their habits from this, other than teasing them with the aromas that come from a freshly baked loaf, crust crackling and just begging to be sliced. I might be able to win them around eventually so they never open a plastic wrapped loaf of bread again.

In total 5 loaves were baked on Sunday, mainly white loaves using the direct dough method for quickness, but one was given to the little girl next door who came in licking her lips at the loaves displayed on the table, asking if she could have a loaf to take home with her. I hope you enjoyed it Maygen!

Also attempted was a camembert and grape loaf...which went to my parents. Pure indulgence.

A rye sourdough premix (so I cheated for the last loaf...sue me!).

And finally the plain old white loaf after such extravagence with the camembert and grape loaf.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bienenstich ... delish

As a special request, my nephew's fiance asked me to make a Bee Sting for her colleagues at work. This was Monday night after a long day at work, but in the meantime I realised that it was my bosses birthday the Saturday before, so a belated cake was called for. As it turns out, the recipe makes two Bee Stings, and my boss is from Germany, so I killed two birds with one stone, or as he would say "killed 7 flies with one swat".

Pita pockets, tabouleh, walnut fougasse

With a very rare and welcomed Friday afternoon off work, I attempted a walnut fougasse from the Bread Bible. Even though I had a supply of walnuts in the pantry, it nearly turned out to be a macadamia fougasse (if there is such a thing), because sourcing out walnut oil was my first challenge. I eventually found a tin of it at the local health store, but for $14.50 for 1/2 a litre, I was a bit hesitant in making the purchase. Ah, what the heck, it was imported from France...c'est la vie.
It was fun to make, but rather messy, having to kneed copious amounts of oil into the dough at various rising stages. My bench top was a mess but my hands felt great for the rest of the day.
I think I could have been more careful with it though, as it turned out a bit dense, but the flavour was magnificent. I'll have to have another go at it when I have more time, because we can't have that liquid gold going rancid on me.

Sunday night's dinner was simple (slow day after a big Saturday night). Pita pockets filled with sliced bbq'd rump steak and tabouleh. It amazes me the way the pockets form in the pita breads. They were so much nicer than the store bought ones that we have all been brought up on. Simple to make too. Both of these items will be on the menu again real soon.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blimps & Blinis

You sometimes see the most unexpected things when you walk out into your backyard. The Holden blimp was hovering over my head last Monday, on it's way to Bathurst in NSW for the super car racing event of the year. It's a pretty rare sight in this neck of the woods, so I had to have a Kodak moment.
Yesterday, for some crazy reason, I decided to make blinis. I've never cooked or tasted them before, but I had a craving for smoked salmon and creme fraiche. I don't think they turned out like they were supposed to. The batter was way too thick, and instead of picking up a tub of sour cream that the recipe called for, I grabbed ricotta by mistake. Even though the supermarket is only a 5 minute drive away, I just couldn't be bothered going back for one item, so improvised with lemon juice squeezed into regular cream.
They tasted great though...light and puffy, perfect with Friday night drinks.