when stollen steps in

stollen- cityhippyfarmgirlstollen recipe- cityhippyfarmgirl

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those that like marzipan and those that would well, rather not. Not me though, I love the stuff. I mourn the shift in wedding cultures that don’t seem to have the traditional densely fruited cake covered in marzipan any longer. For me, it was the highlight of a wedding. How can they serve a carrot cake or chocolate mud instead I ask you? Oh how?

I still can’t quite put my finger on why I like marzipan. It’s a textural thing, kind of gritty and ever so slightly medicinal tasting. There’s just something about it that just quietly whispers to me.

I was first drawn to the lovely Joanna’s blog over our mutual love of marzipan across the seas of the world. I am also lucky enough to have a dear friend that would quietly slip in a little marzipan log into my bag, whenever I was having a tough day. (You see, marzipan has special healing properties, that very few people are aware of- it really is the good stuff.)

christmas stollen recipe- cityhippyfarmgirl

 As I don’t seem to be going to many marzipan laden fruit cake filled weddings at the moment, I have to find my fix somewhere else. That’s where stollen steps in.

It had been awhile since I had made it last, three years to be exact, and quite frankly it was time to give it another crack.

german christmas cake- cityhippyfarmgirl

Stollen

(makes two big ones)

500g mixed dried fruit

80mls amaretto

300g sourdough starter (or 2 tsps of dried yeast)

600g flour (4 cups)

200g softened butter

50g brown sugar/raw sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamon

1/2 tsp ginger

2 beaten eggs

zest of a lemon

200-250mls water

Extras

500g marzipan

100g melted butter (extra)

To begin with, soak the dried fruit in the amaretto overnight. The following day, mix the dough- add starter, soaked fruit, flour, sugar, spices, butter, eggs, lemon zest and water. (Go slowly on the water, the amount you’ll need will vary depending on your dried fruit, flour and starter.

Mix the dough for about 8 minutes on a low speed. Allow to prove for about an hour and then give the dough a quick fold. Prove again for several hours. Meanwhile divide marzipan in two and roll into a log of about 20cm long.

For the dough, divide it in half, slightly flattening with finger tips to make a rough rectangle. Place marzipan in the middle and roll it up within the dough. Place on a tray, cover with a plastic bag to create a humid environment and allow to prove for another couple of hours. Preheat oven and bake at 180C for approximately 45 minutes, or until golden. When out of the oven and still hot, brush with 100g of extra melted butter between the two stollen.

Allow to cool and wrap in baking paper oven night, the following day drench the stollen in large amount of sift icing sugar.

Serve small slices with excellent coffee and bundles of enthusiasm.

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this post submitted to the always delicious yeastspotting

any day can be Cinnamon Bun Day

skillingsboller

It seems I’d missed the boat again.

Last year after seeing multiple blogs and Instagram pictures from Scandinavian bakers, I was determined to give those twisted cinnamon buns a crack. A whole year zipped by and  before I knew it, my Instagram feed was filled with the twisty kind of buns that I had so longed to make.

My Nordic ship had sailed again.

Damn it.

skillingsboller

Despite being Australian and without any strong Scandinavian heritage to speak of, I still like to imagine that I perhaps could be, (if I screw my eyes up nice and tight.) I’m happy to  mutter words like reindeer, knekkebrod, Marimekko, snow, Moomin’s, northern lights and Figgjo. If I added making cinnamon buns on Cinnamon Bun Day (October 4th) than that pretty much made me half Scandinavian didn’t it?

Well it would have if I had remembered to bake that particular day, (I blame the Aussie heritage for this forgetfulness.) With a pouty lip and crossed arms I mentioned similar words to my favourite pregnant Norweigen goddess. She helpfully reminded me that any day could be Cinnamon Bun Day…and that was good enough for me.

skillingsboller

Cinnamon Buns

(adapted from Morten Schakenda)

250g  sourdough starter

1 tsp commercial yeast

600g strong bread flour

250mls milk

200mls water

100g sugar

100g softened butter

1 tsp cardamon

1 tsp salt

Cinnamon mixture

100g softened butter

100g sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

Add starter, yeast and water together in a bowl. Whisk and leave for an hour or so. Mix remaining ingredients together and then knead until dough is elastic (I use my mixer)  on a lightly floured surface or until well incorporated and dough is smooth. Leave to prove for a couple of hours, with a couple of knock backs in between, or pop dough in a bowl, cover and leave overnight in the fridge. Roll the dough out to a rough rectangle, add cinnamon mixture and then divide rectangle in half. Gently give it a quick roll and then divide the dough into long strips. Have a look at this video on how to roll them.

Bake at 180-190 for 15-20 minutes.

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For my regular cardamon buns see here

For my knekkebrod recipe see here

 

bringing the bread back

sunflower and linseed

sunflower and linseed

I’ve made a few dud loaves lately.

Distracted, not enough effort, too much effort, unhappy starter, busy…I could tick all of the above boxes. The funny thing was I felt my sourdough hat was sitting slightly skewiff, I knew it and the month that it was sitting a little wonky, well I certainly didn’t produce any of my finest loaves that’s for sure.

Come on girl get it together, where had the magic gone?

I played with a buckwheat starter…ick.

I ate a whole loaf of under proved sourdough, (toasting it three times helped a little, felt it was a tad heavy to subject the kids to)

My teeth battled through over cooked rolls, and I did have a rather long thought process of, hell maybe I’ll just start buying it again.

Then thankfully something flicked, I didn’t have to walk that supermarket bread aisle. The time was right, the starter was eager and the hands willing. My sourdough hat felt straight once more, and with it a greedy need to bake bread.

sunflower and linseed

Sunflower and Linseed Bread

600g active starter

750g strong bakers flour

150g wholemeal spelt flour

75g linseed

75g sunflower kernels

700-750mls water

1 tsp dark malt flour

3 tsps salt

Mix together in your usual sourdough bready kind of fashion. I baked these at 230C with steam for free form loaves or 220C and a little longer baking time in a tin.

A story of currant buns, mice and permaculture

currant buns- cityhippyfarmgirl

currant bunsWhen I was a little girl I used to have a poster from Autumn Story- Brambly Hedge (by Jill Barklem). I don’t know where I got it from and I don’t know where it went, but it had embedded in my mind, and was still remembered fondly as an adult. I loved that picture. Every part of it spoke to me, on a level I couldn’t explain as a kid.

Decades later as a mother now, my own children have several of these books by Jill Barklem. I knew I still loved, and was more than happy to read them whenever I was asked to. But it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when it all finally clicked.

I loved these stories, loved these pictures and was drawn in a sentimental way to the seasonal themes. Not because I wanted to be a mouse, with long held dreams of having a tail. But because they were living a life that I aspired too, (and strangely enough, seems I’ve always aspired to.) It was a kind of ‘duh’ moment, where I frowned a little, and the light inside my head clicked well and truly on.

brambly hedge

Autumn Story- Brambly Hedge

Let me try and explain…

First up a description of what the Brambly Hedge books are about, “…a community of self-sufficient mice who live together in the tranquil surroundings of the English countryside.” Self sufficiency on a community level…damnit, these mice were surely permaculturalists!

With adult eyes, I look at the beautiful pictures in these books. I see kitchens full of preserved goodies, dried seasonal foods hanging from ceilings and berries being collected to make sweet pastry lined pies. With busy tables full of bustling family members,   seasonal festivities, crafting, natural earth building, hell…they even had laden cake stand with hand made tea cosy.

brambly hedge

So many things I held dear, had interest in or aspired to, was right there…in a mouse book. It was hard not to smile and get a little bit excited when I explained it all to Mr Chocolate. By this time, I know he’s well used to odd thoughts and conversations flying from me, but even he agreed that yes, on closer look they did indeed seem to be living a life that I often speak of. With a happy heart, I suggested to my boys, that we read them, one more time before bed, and possibly again the next night. (I never know, it might in turn create a long held dream of their own to have an interest in permaculture, seasonal living…or at the very least, to grow a long tail and a pair of small pink ears.)

currant buns

So what do currant buns have to do with mice, permaculture and childhood books? Well if  I’m going to let myself get completely absorbed in the books, I should have the appropriate food on the table, don’t you think? Currant Buns seemed liked a good choice, and one that a small community of rural living little mice might also enjoy, don’t you think?

Currant Buns

300g starter

2 tsp dried yeast

150g currants

100mls hot water

300mls cream

750g (5 cups) flour

50g brown sugar

250mls water

2 tsp salt

Soak your currants in 100mls of hot water for an hour or so beforehand. Add all your ingredients together except your salt. Mix well, and leave for 40 minutes. Add salt and mix again, (I use my mixer) or knead on a lightly floured surface until well incorporated and dough is smooth. Leave to prove for a couple of hours, with a couple of knock backs in between.  Shape into rolls and place on a lined tray, allow to prove for another hour or so.

Bake at 220 for approximately 15-20 minutes.

Beer, cheese and onion bread

beer cheese and onion breadcityhippyfarmgirl

Bread is one of those amazing things, that quite often take anything you really throw at it. I’d read Joanna’s post on Cheese and Onion bread last week and it had wedged in my mind. I wanted in on that, and had grand visions of sumptuous burgers with lashings of sauce dripping down my chin and (probably quietly dripping down into my sleeve. ) Yep, I wanted in on that alright.

I didn’t have some of the ingredients that Joanna had used so I decided to throw what I did have in there and see what the results would be. Cheese, caramelised onions…hell, lets shove some beer in there too.

beer cheese and onion bread

Beer, Cheese and Onion Bread

(for Joanna’s original version please see here)

the sponge

200g sourdough starter

1 tsp dried yeast

330mls beer

150g flour

(mix together and leave over night)

Next day mix sponge and

600g flour

200mls water

wait for about 40 minutes and then add

150g grated cheese

4 tbls caramelised onions*

2 tsp salt

Mix again. For a wonderfully detailed example of what to do with your bread after it’s mixed see Joanna’s post here. Other wise do what you normally do in a bready fashion.

I baked mine at 230 for 10 minutes and then down to 210 for another 8 or so minutes, swapping shelves.

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The beer, cheese and caramelised onions give a lovely chewy, soft texture. Perfect for burgers or as pictured above, an easy sautéed mushroom and melted cheese lunch.

Voted 5 stars from Mr Chocolate.

* easy recipe for these to come.

simple, everyday sourdough

 cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl cityhippyfarmgirl

I’m often asked for a basic sourdough recipe and for some reason I have never done a post that is just simply that. A simple, every day sourdough bread recipe.

Bit of an over sight really as so much of this blog is designated to bread. After three years, I still find making sourdough an incredibly enjoyable experience.

I like to make it, I like to eat it and I like seeing other people start on their own sourdough journey. The contagious excitement of when a first bubble appears of a newly made starter. The shared joy of an exceptionally tasty freshly baked loaf. The jump up and down happy feeling of a new mixer arriving. The relief and happiness of hearing that one of your recipes have been used and loved and now in turn as been passed on to someone else.

I tell you, it’s true bread nerd stuff, but I love it, I really do.

For anyone that has vaguely considered making their own bread and they would like to give sourdough a crack, this recipe might be helpful to start off with.

cityhippyfarmgirl

If you don’t have a starter here is post on how to make one.

Or if sourdough seems far too daunting at the moment and you would really just rather try making some regular bread, this post here.

Basic Sourdough Bread

400g starter (100% hydration, refreshed and bubbling)

750g flour

500mls water (approx- depends on your starter and flour)

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Mix your starter, flour and water together either in a mixer or in a bowl with a spoon. Mixing for about 6 minutes. The dough will be kind of rough and shaggy.

Now leave it. Go find something else to do for about 40 minutes. (Bread magic is beginning…or autolysing but bread magic sounds better. You are developing the gluten here.)

Add your salt and mix again for about another 6 minutes or if by hand until you get a smooth dough.

Put it back in the bowl and leave it for about an hour.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Now you need to do a three way fold. It will take about twenty seconds, (and you are not kneading.) Dough out on to the bench. Flatten a little with your finger tips and fold a third into the middle, then the other third. Swing it round 90 degrees and three way fold the other way.

Back in the bowl for another hour or so, another three way fold, and then back into the bowl again for another hour or so.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Divide your dough up and shape it. Laying it on lined trays, banetton baskets or tins, cover it with a plastic bag and into the fridge for an over night nap (around 12 hours.) Bring it back to room temperature. (Depends on the household temperature 1-4 hours generally.)

Bake at 230C with steam, (I use a cheap spray bottle of water inserted in to a crack of the oven door when first putting the loaves in.)

Bread is baked when tapped and sounds hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Now there 100 types of different ways to make sourdough and each baker will always have there own little tricks and ways to do things. Sourdough is an amazingly versatile beast, that can work in far more ways than regular commercial yeast made bread. There is never a right way or wrong way in my mind. If the end result is an edible loaf of bread that people are enjoying eating, well your way works. Taste buds and preferences can always be catered for as it’s your bread and you can do what you want. As long as you start off with three keys things- flour, water and salt- combine that with time, a little love and you’re in business…the sourdough world awaits.

Happy baking.