a little sunshine in your Sunflower Bread

You know when you see someone, and all you want to do is pass them on a little sunshine. A little tiny something that might brighten their day?

In two occasions recently I would have happily passed on some sunshine to a little old lady. Rather, two little old ladies.

The first one, just last week. The Monkeys and I were headed to the Post Office. A parcel to be picked up, for an excited Monkey Boy. Outside the Post Office sat two massage chairs. The kind that you see in shopping malls or airports. You place $2 in and get about 10 minutes massage from the vibrating chair. Sitting in the black massage chair sat a little old lady. A fragile looking thing, dressed in many layers despite the warmth of the day. She looked like she had dressed up for her shopping outing. With her necklace wound around her neck, and earrings clasped to her ear lobes. She clutched an oversized shopping bag. Awkwardly holding it close to her chest, head tilted down.

She was asleep. Fast asleep. Obviously that massage was very relaxing as she had dozed off quite comfortably. The boys and I kept going, collected our package, lingered a little in a few shops and then passed her again a little while later. Slumped even lower in her black massage chair, mouth opened slightly. I paused a second. Firstly just to watch her chest rise and fall, and then secondly to appreciate that, no she seemed fine. It was just a different place for a nod off. I wanted to place a blanket on her lap, put my hand on her shoulder, see if she was ok. But I also didn’t want to disturb her.

She really did seem so peacefully asleep.

The second was a few months ago. The Monkeys and I were at the playground. Nobody else was there and they were having a lovely play. Time to finish off and we gathered up our things. As we were collecting everything I noticed in the distance, an elderly lady making her way towards the playground. She had a limp, but it seemed that she was hurrying. The boys and I collected our things, loaded up the pram and headed to the gate. At the same time, the lady reached the gate. As she had got closer, I had really noticed she was hurrying. I opened the gate for her and then shuffled the boys out. The old lady was now alone in the enclosed quiet playground. She looked at me, her face visibly fell, and she slowly limped her way to a seat. It suddenly dawned on me that she had been hurrying to get to us. Presumably for some interaction with the kids. I watched her awkwardly place herself on the park bench looking dejected, all I wanted to do was go back in and send the kids back to clamber around her. We had to go though, we had to get home. So I left that little old lady with the limp to sit there and wait for another child to come to the playground…and it’s tugged at me ever since.

Sunshine Sunflower Bread

(adapted from The Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook)

600gms strong bakers flour

2 tps dried yeast

400mls water

3 tbls olive oil

2 tps salt

extra- cherry tomatoes, chopped fresh rosemary, salt

Pop all ingredients in to mixer, and mix until throughly combined (approximately 5 minutes, until dough is smooth.) Quick knead and pop the dough back in the  mixing bowl, leaving it to prove. Prove for 1.5 hours with two folds in between at the 30 minute marks.

To get the sunflower shape. Divide dough, cutting approximately 1/3 off. Shape it into a circle, flatten slightly and rest in the middle of the tray. Divide the remaining dough into equal parts. Rolling to fat sausage lengths, joining them  to the circle and lightly twisting around. Don’t make it super tight as it will expand when it proves. Let it prove for a further 20 minutes and then place your tomatoes and rosemary in the dough. Pushing down into the dough, so the tomatoes won’t pop out when cooked.  Prove for another 10 minutes. Grind sea salt over the top and place in a hot oven (250C) with steam.

Notes… This olive oil bread recipe is really versatile. I’ve used it quite a few times now, like the Rosemary and Sea salt Grissini. It’s fairly forgiving so you can shape it into anything you want. The Sunshine Sunflower Bread was inspired by the lovely Joanna’s bread. Which made me stop, smile, and brought sunshine to my day.


This post submitted to Yeastspotting.


34 thoughts on “a little sunshine in your Sunflower Bread

  1. I know exactly what you mean. Be thankful that you notice those things and aren’t so removed from what’s happening around you. I spent a long time last Saturday morning sitting on a park bench out the front of our General Store talking to our elderly neighbour who has about 60 acres and is in her 80’s (I don’t know how she and her husband do it – I’m knackered with 2 acres!). She talked and I listened while my frozen shopping melted in the car, but it felt wrong to rush off and miss the opportunity just to stop for a while.


  2. I hope somebody worries about us when we are old. I once stood behind and old lady at the check out. Her things had been added up and the girl told her the amount, but she had forgotten her purse and had to leave the things behind. How I wish I had paid for them.


    • Now that’s sad…The poor old lady. The trouble with those sorts of situations it usually takes me a couple of hours to process what I should have actually done. I’m usually so distracted by The Monkeys making sure ones not trying to escape, and the other one trying to dismantle something. The old brain cogs of mine aren’t often in synch.


  3. Thank you Brydie for being someone who notices older people with love & care, I really appreciate you for being that kinda gal 🙂 Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives we forget to notice others. And, of course your gorgeous loaf is stunning as always, very clever & love the little pull aparts, very inviting, makes me want to whip up a yummy soup to go with it 🙂


    • Thanks Anna… (I have two grandmothers in their 80’s and I hope that someone notices them now and again.)
      The bread would be good with soup. I took that one to a party, where you are right it was great to be pulled apart.


  4. That is just lovely, Brydie!
    The bread, the stories, the loving concern.
    You are a loving and kind woman and very talented as well!
    And how perfect that you are teaching your sons to be loving men as they see your heart for others.
    Your post has brightened my day-thank you!
    ( We have no sunshine in NE Ohio- only temperatures below zero and snow and ice- like the Giant’s garden in Oscar Wilde’s story.)


  5. Oh, I can just see that lady in the park, so sad. Maybe you and the monkeys reminded her of someone she doesn’t see anymore? A beautiful bread, if only your ladies could see their little bit of sunshine….


  6. Glorious bread! That loaf is quite something – a party on bread 🙂

    I was reading something the other day which described our age as ‘The Age of Distraction’. Your story taps into that and the anxiety one feels as a caring human being, that one missed something, a moment when if one had really focussed on what was happening then things would have been different somehow. Cherish other people – it is the basis of all good qualities, you are so on the right track, dear Brydie 🙂


  7. Great story! I see many old and lonely people walking our streets…and wonder where are their families? It’s very sad to see sometimes a smile is so comforting…your little bit of sunshine would cheer up all of them..xx


  8. I have a couple of questions about this very cool looking (and hopefully good tasting) bread. Did you use Instant Dry Yeast? And can you tell me what Strong Bakers Flour is. I actually bake a lot of bread and that;’s something I’ve never heard of. Thanks.


      • Thanks for your reply. I am in California. I looked at the Bakery Guide and apparently we have different names for Flour. I think they probably call it “strong” because it has a higher protein content and may be the same or similar to what we call Bread Flour which is 12.7% protein content. I didn’t see that info in the Guide, but maybe it’s listed on your package (if you have one). They don’t list that on the package here, it’s always something that is on the Manufacturers web site or can be obtained with a phone call to them. It’s not the same as the nutrtional info. that’s on packages here because it has to do with the gluten (I believe). Anyway, sorry for rambling on, but hoping you can find that info. easily Thanks!


      • Definitely not rambling. I wish I could be of more help. Strong Bakers flour is higher in protein and gluten, how much, I’m not sure though. There’s nothing on the packet and having a look through their website, even though they talk quite a bit on protein there is no mention of percentages. (It’s a public holiday here today as well, so I don’t think they’ll be taking any phone calls.)
        Saying all that though, I’m sure the Bread Flour you have been using is absolutely fine. I also just found this googling…

        ” The higher the protein content, the stronger the flour. Ideally, percentage of protein should be 15% but 12% is also fine. If the protein is below 10%, it means that the flour is “soft” and should be used to prepare cakes. Apart from bread, strong flour is also used to prepare Italian dishes like pizza, focaccia, and fresh pasta.”

        Now go make that sun 🙂


  9. Thanks, yes that text you copied is correct…well almost. In Italy they use a flour called 00 for pizza (and King Arthur Flour here in the States makes something very close) and it’s about 10.7% protein (it’s quite soft, like a pastry flour). The strongest Flour available here is 13.7% (as far as I know) and that’s darn strong. I don’t know what you’d do with a 15% Flour….maybe build a Gingerbread house strong enough for Bears!


      • Let me know what you find out. I am curious too. Over here, all the experts recommend flour around 11.5-11.7% for most breads. I think the flour in Europe that is used most is in this range too (or even a bit less for some things). Most of them say that the Bread Flour at 12.7% is too strong. I use it a lot though, but I’ve been experimenting with the 11.7% and getting good results.


  10. Pingback: how to make bread, for the person who thinks they can’t…but really they can « Cityhippyfarmgirl

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