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.

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.

DSC_0118 copy

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