Schiacciata con l’uva…can you remember it?

rosemary

schiacciata

Some time a go when I was still a girlfriend, I was introduced to a man. We exchanged names and shook hands. It was a pleasant meeting, he seemed to be a likeable fellow, and being a friend of a friend, maybe we would meet again, maybe not.

A little further down the track and we did meet again. Mr Chocolate remembered him well, and gently pushed his newly wed wife towards the man in an enthusiastic gesture.

“You remember my now wife? he beamed.

“Sure!” said the man just as enthusiastically

I looked confused. Turning towards the man, I held no recognition of his face at all. I looked back towards Mr Chocolate, hoping for another clue. Nope nothing there. Clearly they were both mistaken and we had had never previously met before. (hmmmph!... thinking I must have been mistaken for a previous girlfriend.)

Introductions were made once more, and after a time we left again. Mr Chocolate assured me we had met previously but as I had no memory of him and usually “never forget a face!” I sincerely doubted him.

So when a third time meeting occurred another year or so down the track, Mr Chocolate (probably a little cautiously) said “Brydie you remember *Ben don’t you!” With his eyebrows up a little higher than normal and perhaps a slight edge to his voice.

“Of course I do babe. Ben…how are YOU?!” Smiling and giving the guy a big hug. I sucked up my complete and utter confused-stranger-alert face I wanted to put on, and instead put on my so-happy-to-see you my old friend face on.

Pleasantries passed between us, a lunch was had and again we left. No awkward moments for Mr Chocolate this time as I had remembered the man I met several times before.

Although I hadn’t. I still had no recollection of this man what so ever. Not one little scrap of face recognition did I have. All I knew was this was the man whom I was expected to remember due to having met him several times before.

Mr Chocolate and I laugh about it now, and refer to him as the man who I can’t remember. Certainly not for a lack of personality, as he is lovely (so Mr Chocolate tells me.) Just for some reason he had refused to jump into the recesses of my memory bank.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Now what does this have to do with bread? Well schiacciata is another word that refuses to stay in my memory bank.

Grape and Rosemary Flatbread? Don’t worry, I’m all over it. Starts with an S I’ll say. Italian regional flat bread…delicious…dead easy to make. Sounds a little like sciatica, also ends with an ‘a’. But remembering the name Schiacciata?

Probably as much chance of remembering that as I do dear *Ben.

* And no, I still can’t remember what his real name is.

Schiacciata con l’uva

(Grape and Rosemary Flatbread)

the bread…

400g starter

750g flour

500mls water (approx)

2 tsp salt

MIx in your usual sourdough fashion and roll out on to a large tray. Last proof and add your remaining ingredients just before you pop it in to the oven.

or

if you have no starter use this how to make bread recipe

600g flour (4 cups- I use strong bakers flour)

2 tsp dried yeast

400mls tepid water

 3 tbls olive oil

2 tsp salt

for the top…

add all of this after the last proof and just before you pop it into the oven

couple of sprigs of my potted rosemary

extra salt (I use Murray River Salt)

some great local olive oil

dark grapes

Baked at 230C for about 20 minutes with a little steam.

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This post submitted to the always drool worthy yeastspotting

the assistent- part two (bread nerd stuff)

cityhippyfarmgirl

A few people lately have been asking me about my Assistent Original mixer and how it has fared since I got it 6 months ago. Well, what to say?

I love it.

I love, love, love it.

Effortless. For any bread maker it really is effortless. The fact that I can put the ingredients in, dial up the timer and walk away from it, is truly a miraculous thing.

Not only that, it also does well with mixing non bread ingredients. Whipping two egg whites is a breeze, just as well as the bigger amounts of bread dough.

To date, I still haven’t put the mixer to the 5kg test that it apparently can go up to with bread dough. The most I’ve put in there would be about the 3kg mark in any one time (about 6.6 pounds.) With the larger amounts of my sourdough it does ride up the hook a little initially, but it should, that’s a whole lot of dough in there. The lowest setting is more than adequate for mixing the bread dough, and (quietly) mixes it really well. Even with a lower hydration dough and mixing the salt in after a fairly lengthy autolyse period- this dough still gets a good even work over.

cityhippyfarmgirl So have there been any problems with the machine, and any peculiarities or tips worth noting?-  The only tip vaguely worth mentioning is that when making bread, the machine likes the majority of the liquid in at the beginning, and sitting at the bottom, rather than the flour first. I always hold back my liquid a little, as flour, starter and other ingredients all have a factor in how much water is needed. (eg. If 625mls are needed, I’ll put 500mls in the initial dough mix, and then slowly add the remaining, in the first minute or two of mixing.

cityhippyfarmgirl Other Attachments- I still haven’t purchased any of the extra attachments that you can buy for the mixer. (Basic model comes with- dough hook, double whisk, cake beater, bowl scraper, dough roll, and lid.) I’d be very curious to know how some of the extra attachments work also seeing them in action, but at this stage I haven’t needed any. As the basic model suits all my baking needs.

So would I recommend one?- Yes. In a heart beat. I will wax lyrical to anyone that vaguely mentions the word ‘mixer’ to me. Kenwood, Sunbeam, Kitchenaid, Thermomix are all fine and dandy, but if you are serious about baking, bread making in particular and want more oomph in your kitchen, this mixer really is the bees knees.

How much love?- If my machine died today, I would order another one tomorrow, I love it that much. (However it won’t die, as I suspect this Swedish love is going to be around in my kitchen for the next twenty plus years.)

cityhippyfarmgirl

For more details on how I came to this mixer, what kitchen requirements I had, other reviews, and various other links, please see my original post on this machine.

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* I don’t get anything by writing this review, this is purely to help out anyone that might be in a similar position, looking for a new mixer and unsure of what to get for their baking needs. Would I recommend it?… Yes, it’s still awesome.

* If anyone has any specific questions that I might be able to help with, please do ask in the comments.

lunch time dutch crunch

dutchcrunch2

dutchcrunch

Tuna, asparagus, tomato and cheese toasted sandwich. That was my favourite sandwich of choice when I lived on a tropical island covered in goannas, snakes and partying backpackers. Perhaps an odd choice for that point in my life, but it worked and I was hooked on them for quite a while. I had timed the toasting to just the right crunch, to get the cheese just so, and the taste just right. With a light tropical sweat on my brow, and evening party plans being made, that was my tropical island lunch.

Day old slightly stale cheap bakery bread topped with peanut butter. That was my lunch of choice when I first moved to Sydney. With barely any furniture in my newly leased flat, my fluffy white cat pushing against my feet for attention, my lunch time choice was the cheapest of the cheap. Certainly no crunch in this lunch. I was lucky to get the sandwich actually swallowed without at least two glasses of water.

These days, my lunch of choice is usually an open sandwich on something dark and grainy. Not for the rest of my family though. I made these dutch crunch rolls recently and they were declared a new lunch time favourite.

You can easily make them with any basic bread recipe, (commercial yeast or sourdough) and all you need to do is add a thick paste to the top before baking. Giving your lunch a little extra crunch.

dutchcrunch1

Dutch Crunch or Tiger Bread

Sourdough Bread

400g starter

750g flour (5 cups)

750mls water

2 tsp salt

Commercial Yeast Bread

see this post if you have never made bread before and think you might like to give it a crack. 

600g strong bakers flour

2 tsp dried yeast

400mls tepid water

 3 tbls olive oil

2 tsp salt

The Crunchy Paste

1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup rice flour

Mix together to form a thick paste and add to half way though the last prove of your dough.  Bake as you normally do, (I do 230C with steam.)

This post submitted to the inspiring yeastspotting

Inspiration with The Sourdough Baker, Newcastle



cityhippyfarmgirl

thesourdoughbaker

There is a heady smell of freshly baked bread in the air as I close the little gate to the garden. The nights dew still sticks to the grass, making a soft squeaking noise underfoot. Following the sourdough signs, the incredible smell in the air confirms that I’m in the right spot.

garden

kids club

I’ve come in search of The Sourdough Baker in Newcastle. Currently baking at the Croation Sports Club in Wickham. Nestled in next to a community garden- sourdough and a community garden? It’s already making me smile and I haven’t even tasted the bread yet.

the baker

The Sourdough Baker is Warwick Quinton, who has been baking in all sorts of formats for the last few decades. I first heard of him through the wonders of Instagram, but several friends and family members had been telling me of delicious sourdough tales well beforehand. With his gorgeous partner Ginnie by his side and a handful of trusty helpers, the bread is woodfired and baked in “Bertha” the hefty black oven.

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Watching the beautiful loaves come out of the oven, lined up the table, and sit in the early morning sunlight. I can’t help but feel a huge amount of bread happiness. It’s these sort of people that I find incredibly inspiring, making a business work out of something that is so obviously dear to their heart.

Any artisan work is a labour of love, and sourdough bread really is a wonderful example of that. That love is certainly here, as I bite down on my thickly sliced bread a little while later. I scrutinise the crumb and take in the taste. So different to my own loaves.

It’s good, really good.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Talking with Warwick on all things sourdough, I find out his methods are also completely different to my own. Reading The Sourdough Baker’s site days later and there were audible pops as my brain explodes just a little.

I knew sourdough was a flexible beast, with many variations on how to do things, but some of his methods I hadn’t even considered. Seventy two hours from beginning dough mixing to end, desem dough sourdough starter and slashing hours before going in to the oven, were just some of them. All bready tweaks that I think I would definitely like to play with down the track.

For a wannabe bread nerd I still have a lot to work on, so visits like this just fuel that wanting to learn. So many variations, methods and ingredients to play with. All things which after about three years of baking sourdough I still find incredibly exciting. As I sat later, chewing on sourdough and musing on all kinds of bready possibilities, ideas began to form. Mental lists of what to play with next and how to go about it were made.

And next time I’m in Newcastle? Well, I know where I’m getting my bread from.

cityhippyfarmgirl

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For recipes, sourdough tales, bread making classes and general information, have a peek at the…

The Sourdough Baker

make it a wonderful one

 cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s that time of year when there is a whole lot of fruity looking buns with crosses lingering around and a suspiciously large amount of chocolate on offer.

Whether you celebrate this time of year for religious purposes or like to rejoice with the Goddess Eostre. The changes of Autumn and Spring being celebrated, quiet time in a church, happiness over a long weekend with loved ones, or simply enjoying some time out with a good book.

What ever you get up to… make it a wonderful one.

cityhippyfarmgirl(And if by chance you feel like making some hot cross buns, here’s a few to get you started.)

Hot Cross Buns

200g currants/raisins

200mls hot water

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp dark malt flour

1 tsp dried yeast

250g sourdough starter

100g sugar (2/3 cup, more if you like them sweeter)

250mls milk

100g softened butter

11/2-2 tsp salt

4 1/2 cups flour (675g)

Soak the fruit in the hot water, leave for a couple of hours/ over night.  Mix all ingredients together, except for the salt. Autolyse period 20-45 minutes. Add the salt and mix again, then turn out on to a lightly floured bench to knead until you get a lovely smooth ball of dough. Pop the dough back into the bowl, plastic bag over the top and leave to prove.  A couple of proves and folds over the next few hours. Then out onto lightly floured surface again and divide into 16 or so portions. Roll into balls, or simply divide to get a more square shape. Pop them on a lined baking tray, cover and leave for another prove.

Crosses

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Mix together and spoon into a piping bag just before they hit the oven.

Then bake at 210C for approximately 15-25 minutes, (depends on the size, bake until golden.)

Glaze

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and then brush onto hot buns.

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Hot Cross Buns- commercial yeast recipe

Hot Cross Buns- whole sourdough recipe

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns- semi sourdough recipe

everyday rolls

rolls

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might have noticed I bake a little bread… ok, rather a lot of bread.

Bread making doesn’t have to be a chore. Once you get the hang of it, it can just become a part of your weekly routine. I make bread about twice a week these days, the kind of dough always varying depending on my time, tastes and what I might have on hand to chuck into the dough.

These everyday kind of rolls frequently pop up though. They are quick to make, always reliable, and easy to throw into the freezer to be retrieved later for school or work lunches.

Making your own bread keeps costs down and you get to decide what goes into it. No paragraph of “stuff” in my bread please.

For an easy ‘how to’ post, see here (how to make bread for the person who thinks they can’t, but really they can.)

Now this ratio is entirely adaptable. If you don’t want bran in it, simple replace it with flour or something like linseed/ sunflower kernels.

No olive oil? Replace with a little extra water.

If you don’t have a starter, just replace the 150g with another tsp of commercial dried yeast. (If you would like to make your own starter- like the lovely Laura did recently- step by step instructions are here. )

cityhippyfarmgirl

Everyday Bread Rolls

150g starter

1 tsp dried yeast

300mls water

1/2 cup unprocessed bran

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 tbls olive oil

Add starter, yeast and water together. Whisk and leave for 10 minutes or so. Mix remaining ingredients together and leave for about 30 minutes. Add the salt and then mix or knead again, (I use my mixer.) The dough needs to be smooth and elastic. 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.

Cook for about 15-20 minutes at 220C-230C with steam.

chocolate hot cross buns


hot cross buns

Goddess buns. I definitely liked the sounds of that.

I was doing some reading on the history of hot cross buns. Along with the obvious Christian links, the Anglo Saxon goddess Eostre is also connected. (She also seems to be a goddess that not a lot was known about.) A cross being placed on a bun to represent the four phases of the moon. Eaten during the time of the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Well how about that… fascinating isn’t it this wonderful world we live in.

I also found out that Chocolate Hot Cross Buns seem to be an Australian/ New Zealand thing. It seems we have far more non fruit loving people down under than the rest of the world- which suits Mr Chocolate just fine, as dried fruit and he aren’t firm friends. The nose wrinkles a little and head pulls back in a sharp subtle manner… sultanas?!
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Chocolate however, no problem what so ever.
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Would the Saxon’s have approved of these Chocolate Hot Cross Buns in honour of the Goddess Eostre? I like to think so, after all, chocolate is, food of the gods.
.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

250g sourdough starter

1 tsp dried yeast

100g sugar

250mls water/milk*

100g softened butter*

600g flour

200g dark chocolate drops**

100mls water

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp dark malt flour

2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together, except for the salt. Autolyse period 20-45 minutes. Add the salt and mix again, then turn out on to a lightly floured bench to knead until you get a lovely smooth ball of dough. Pop the dough back into the bowl, plastic bag over the top and leave to prove.  A couple of proves and folds over the next few hours. Then out onto lightly floured surface again and divide into 16 or so portions. Roll into balls, or simply divide to get a more square shape. Pop them on a lined baking tray, cover and leave for another prove. The dough is ready to be baked, when you press it in and it lightly springs back.

Crosses

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Mix together and spoon into a piping bag just before they hit the oven.

Then bake at 210C for approximately 15-25 minutes, (until golden.)

Glaze

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and then brush on to the hot buns with a pastry brush.

Vegan variations

* to make these vegan, omit the butter and milk. Substituting the milk for water.

** use a dark chocolate without any milk solids, and add two tablespoons of great quality cocoa

This post submitted to the always wonderful yeastspotting.

sprouted quinoa sourdough

crumb

sprouting

The beauty of sourdough is it really is incredibly forgiving. There is no set way that you have to do things. It’s this part that appeals to me, as me and a regular routine don’t usually skip hand in hand.

Fasten it up, slow it down, make it with more water, make it with less water, cook it in a super hot oven, cook it in a slow oven. Leave it for 24 hours in the fridge? Yep, still good to go. Sure with all those changes, it might not have the same delectable taste of the the local sourdough bakery down the road, but your working conditions probably aren’t the same either. Phones get rung, children need feeding, appointments need to be kept and sometimes well, to be blunt you just couldn’t be arsed.

For these many reasons, this is why I love sourdough. It’s adaptable. Pretty much what ever I throw at it, it comes back with a tasty totally exceptable loaf of bread. It might not be winning awards, but it feeds hungry bellies, and it is good and true in a wholesome kind of way.

Putting sprouted quinoa in my sourdough sounded ridiculously wholesome. Thanks to my little friend Instagram, I have a steady supply of inspiring bakers around the world giving me advice, encouragement and all round inspiration that is pretty hard to top at the moment.

Sprouting had been at the back of my mind since I had had some delicious sprouted granola in Byron Bay, and with a steady supply of encouraging pictures via Instagram it was time to jump on board.

I tried sprouted organic brown rice first, delicious. Next up, quinoa it was. Dead easy in our summer, and whoosh… before I knew it they had little tails. Into the bread they went, which  resulted in a lovely moist, chewy crumb.

With a sprouted quinoa sourdough under my belt, now I just have to decide what to sprout next?

sproutedquinoa

Sprouted Quinoa Sourdough

400g starter

750g flour (5 cups)

500mls water

(5 minutes in the mixer)

(30 minutes snooze)

200g sprouted quinoa

2 tsp salt

(5 minutes in the mixer)

(60 minute snooze)

three way fold

60 minute snooze

three way fold and shape

overnight nap of 12 hours in the fridge

bring it back to room temperature

slash

230C preheated oven with steam.

 sprouted

this post submitted to the bready inspiration yeast spotting

three years on

apple shortcake

apple shortcake1

Funny to think this little blog is now three years old. It’s also funny to look back on some of the things I’ve posted about in that three years. Somethings I feel exactly the same about them as I did then, and others, well not so much. I’ve moved on a little, and things have changed round a bit.

I was looking back on my first month of blogging in 2010 and was considering what I had to say back then. I had to chuckle. It was a funny way to start, and while I cringe at some of those first photos I put up, I do like them being there, if even just for my own comedy value.

I also still stand by that very first paragraph I wrote.

“New to the blogging world. I thought I might start one, just to watch my own progression on living as sustainably as possible in an urban environment.  Finding out what works for me and my family and maybe achievable by others also living in a city environment.”

The blog has dipped and weaved a little over that time with topics and content, but living as sustainably as possible for my family and I, is still top priority for me. It’s just as important now as it was then, maybe even more so.

Knowing where my food comes from and what goes into my family’s mouth is just as important.

Being mindful of the choices we make as consumers is also just as important.

Trying to make as many things as possible rather than relying on someone else to do it for me (and is usually a whole lot of fun) is also still really important to me.

Looking back over the last three years, I thought I might revisit one of the first few dishes that I blogged about in my first month. Matthew Evans’ Apple and Blackberry Shortcake. The recipe is here if you are interested in trying it, and I’m hoping my second time picture gives it a bit more credit than the first time I did it. 

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Still thinking on the last three years of blogging- if I hadn’t continued with my blog, I probably wouldn’t…

1/ Have made my sourdough starter

2/ Have continued on the always amazing bread journey that is sourdough

3/ Taken as many photos as I do these days

4/ Have one particular spot to put all my ramblings and musings. Instead there would still be lots of scrappy bits of paper filled with recipes, thoughts, quotes and ideas about the place.

5/ (and best of all…and I know there are still oodles more) I probably wouldn’t have been a part of the wonderful community that blogland can be.

heart

Three years on it was also time for a little shake up on the look of my blog. My theme I had stuck by had long since been retired from the theme options and it seemed there weren’t too may of his clinging on to the blix theme these days. We’ll see how this one works for a bit….

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Now, I was trying to think of something little I could do celebrate that fact that it’s been three years flitting about in the land of blog. So what to do?

Send you all a piece of the Apple and Blackberry Shortcake?…but it probably wouldn’t arrive in the same condition that I sent it.

Put together an awesome sponsor given hamper full of all things groovy and gifty….damn, it’s not that kind of blog.

Something beautiful and whimsically handmade?…hmmm, most of my stuff is still kind of on the learning end.

Still thinking, I thought about a card. Most people still like getting a letter, a card or a post card, and I thought, well I can do that!

So if you would like a card or postcard sent from me to you (or to your little people-if you have them- as they loooove getting mail too!…well mine do anyway.) I would love to send you one. Where ever you may be….Alaska, Argentina, Italy or Dubbo. Doesn’t matter where. Just drop me a line at cityhippyfarmgirl at gmail dot com, leave me an address and a card will be on it’s way. (say first five-ish?)

So a big thank you from me to you- the readers and commentators, as without you…well this blog just wouldn’t be the same.

Cardamom buns

cardamom buns

almond and sultana buns

almond and sultana cardamom buns

 schakenda

One of my baking friends lent me this book recently.

I didn’t want to give it back.

It was the sort of book that I would quite like to sit on my book shelf and flick through for inspiration now and again. The sort of book I like to bring the pages up nice and close, scrutinise, trying to work out how the devil they made it.

It’s that sort of book, because one- it’s got gorgeous baked goodies in there and two…well I don’t speak a word of Norwegian so scrutinising the pictures is the best way to try and understand what on earth I have to do next.

I reluctantly gave the book back.

With scribbled down notes and mutterings of, more…I must try more, I then did a search for his famous bakery in Lom. The Hairy Bikers visited, and going on the surrounding scenery, the local peoples obvious enthusiasm for the baked goodies and the fact that I’m still having a quiet love affair with all things Scandinavian. Well clearly, I need to go there and eat cardamom buns, probably quite a few. I also possibly need to ask for a short apprenticeship and at the very least, need to keep watching this same segment over and over, so I can get them down pat.

Until then I’ll also keep playing with my own semi sourdough version of them. It’s a versatile dough, that doesn’t mind having things added to it (or eaten just as it is.)

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Cardamom Buns

(adapted from Morten Schakenda)

250g sourdough starter

1 tsp dried yeast

600g flour

250mls milk

200mls water

100g sugar

100g softened butter

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp salt

Add starter, yeast and water together. 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.  Shape into rolls and place on a lined tray, allow to prove for another hour or so.

Bake at 180-190 for 15-20 minutes.

blueberry and creme fraiche

blueberry and creme fraiche cardamom buns

This post submitted to yeast spotting