Assistent Original- the Grain Mill

assistent original || cityhippyfarmgirl

A couple of years ago I invested in an invaluable piece of kitchen gear. I bought this machinery of wonderfulness- an Assistent Original.

I researched and researched my options on a kitchen mixer that would hold up to my regular and large amounts of bread making. (If you are interested that research post can be found here.) I decided on the Assistent as it was the one machine that kept coming up while ticking all my requirement boxes. I then did a post on how the machine was faring six months after buying it, (which can be found here.)

I’m recapping a few details here, as it’s been nearly 2.5 years since I bought it and some people have asked do I still stand by it?

In a nutshell…YES! A big beautiful yes. I use the Assistent several times a week, I make several kilos of dough at a time (it can take up to 5 kilos) and it has never given me the slightest hiccup when it comes to bread mixing. For a baker enthusiast that isn’t at commercial levels but bakes more than the average home cook I would highly recommend it. Actually I do, for everyone!

assistent original || cityhippyfarmgirl

After sticking with the basic package, last year I decided I wanted to give a few of the other attachments a go. With the meat mincer, cookie attachment and grain mill now adorning my bench top what do I think about them?

linseed || cityhippyfarmgirl

sunflower seed || cityhippyfarmgirl

Grain Mill

Well hands down the grain mill is a winner in my book. I go through a fair chunk of grains in this household. Linseed, and sunflower seeds being used the most. I buy in bulk as it’s cheaper, that way I can make sure it’s grown locally and/or organic. By using the grain mill I can also make sure it’s kept at its freshest.

So how does it work?

The machine goes on its side, attachments on and grain or seeds in at the top. I adjust the consistency I want of the grain or seeds to be ground at, put the timer on and walk away. It looks a little odd, with the machine lying on its side, but it works beautifully, attaches easily, isn’t noisy and doesn’t make a mess.

assistent original || cityhippyfarmgirl

The cookie attachment and meat mincer I haven’t used as much to give a conclusive assessment at this stage. I would say the cookie attachment is best for larger amounts of cookie dough, (which really isn’t much of a problem in this household!) At this stage I spend more time cleaning this attachment up then benefiting from it properly- so this one will be continued. As for the meat mincer, (as she hangs head in shame, not used at all yet.)

The grain mill though? Yes! A big triumphant yes. And the Assistent Original as a machine for the home cook? 100 times yes. I love it just as much as I did when I first got it two and a half years ago, and would recommend it in a heart beat.

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5 little lessons I’ve learnt from blogging

apples || cityhippyfarmgirl

This little blog is now five years old. I’ve been writing, musing, dropping kitchen crumbs, taking pictures and sitting under the name cityhippyfarmgirl for five years now. Now how did half a decade zip by while I sat next to my computer? Well to be honest, I’m not really sure. What I do know though, is that five years is a wonderful amount of time to have learnt lots of bloggy lessons…Lots of them!

If you would like to pull up a chair, grab an apple or perhaps a slice of shortcake and linger awhile, I’ll share with you five lessons I’ve learnt in that time.

1/ Always write down your thoughts or recipes as you go along.

For recipes, I will never, ever remember the quantities and cooking times of what ever I am making. For thoughts, that seem so clear and unforgettable, they seem to disappear without even an audible “poofff” (despite all the very best intentions.) Five years on, you think I would have had this one firmly embedded in my brain. Nope, it isn’t though, I still occasionally forget and think that my memory can’t honestly be that bad, and of course I will remember. (It is that bad, and I do forget.)

Note to self, don’t forget, that I…well, forget.

sourdough || cityhippyfarmgirl

2/ There is always more to learn with bread baking.

What an amazing thing bread baking can be. To be always learning from and tweaking something as simple as flour, water, salt. I still get bubbles of excitement bringing a loaf out of the oven. What will it look like, how much of a spring will it have? No loaf is ever the same. Never. Not a one.

Life gives different loaves. In ways of weather, timing, distractions, commitments, forgetfulness, ingredients, new flour- they all play a part in my sourdough being different every single time. And really, how awesome is that!

3/ Photography, another big lesson.

I look back on photos I thought were pretty much ok, and can’t help but chuckle. Cameras have been and gone, techniques have changed along with them and knowledge is still to be gained in abundance with my photography. What I do know is that I get a kick out of taking photos and I can’t imagine that changing for a long time. I don’t think this photo from my first month of blogging back in 2010 would have been pinned too often. I do know it was a delicious pie though (recipe here) and remember all of us eating it with much gusto.

cityhippyfarmgirl

1st edition Jan 2010

cityhippyfarmgirl

2nd edition Jan 2013

apple shortcake pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

3rd edition Feb 2015

4/ Which leads me to my next lesson. Remembering.

Now I’ve already established at times, I’m not so good at remembering things. This is where having a blog is truly wonderful. It does the remembering for you. It’s my online diary of a sort. It stores many more day to day things, words, pictures, memories than I would have ever thought to remember.

Not to mention my recipes. I cook and bake a lot. Before having a blog I would have countless scrappy bits of paper dotted about the place, usually being lost between other bits of paper. Now I have them all here. Sure It’s a little weird having to go to the internet for your own recipes but hey it seems to work. I usually put a lot of time and effort into my recipes, bringing a concept to life, tweaking, changing, experimenting until I’ve got it just right. Sometimes they can be months and months in the making. I still feel slightly uneasy about other people using those recipes and putting them up on their own site without any reference, words or thanks given, a recipe now it’s their very own- it seems a murky copyright world, with well pretty much everything these days. So all I can do is know that what I’m doing sits right with me, and that’s what matters right?

Another wonderful thing about having a blog to help you remember is the feelings and emotions that might have slipped between the metaphorical pages. Tiny moments captured, which in another time would have been swept away to live only in my own memory bank…or to simply slip between the cracks altogether.

community || cityhippyfarmgirl

5/ Community.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the online community many, many times before. It will never get old speaking enthusiastically of all the people who make up this always evolving digital community. It’s pretty wonderful to be a part of that. When digital names spill over to lovely long emails, or names on the backs of envelopes, plump packages from people half a world away. Or coffee and picnics with people who were once just a gravatar. That’s pretty darn wonderful.

Through the online community I’ve also discovered more and more small businesses and people who I want to support with my careful dollar. Conscious shopping the way it should be- Instead of those coins going to a blank face that means nothing to me. I will repeat these words a thousand times, as it really is incredibly important to me.

apple pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

6/ Evolve and make your own rules up.

Now wait a second, didn’t I say this was to be five? Yes, I did but this is the beauty of lesson number six. If I want to put six up I can, I can do that, I can make my own rules up here. Yes I can.

I’ve also learnt to roll with it all. If something is bugging me I’ll change it. If I don’t want to do something, I don’t. I’ve learnt over these five years that for a blog to evolve you really have to ride with it, social media is an ever evolving thing and with that, well you have to be as well.

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How about you, if you have a blog what lessons have you learnt as a blogger. Or, if you are a reader what lessons have you learnt from reading blogs?

Cinnamon Bun Day

cinnamon buns recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl This year I was organised. This year I had planned to bake, and bake oh yes I would. I would bake these delicious cinnamon bready bundles of goodness and I would know I did it on the right day. Cinnamon Bun Day, which was yesterday, the 4th of October. Not quite with me? Let me explain for those that are new to my scandi obsession. the summer book || cityhippyfarmgirl I’m a lover of anything Scandinavian. Viking history, Vikings to watch (this awesome bloody show), this beautiful book, given to me from my favourite Norwegian friend and blogger. I eat knekkebrod with gusto, mix bread with an Assistent, wear Danish boots with pride, think Figgjo retro kitchenware is the bees knees and come the 4th of October, well I’m baking buns… Cinnamon Buns. For these little bundles of Scandinavian dough goodness I used my recipe from last year. Untweaked and left alone surprisingly. Common sense told me I shouldn’t be bothering  messing about with a recipe that worked. For once I listened to myself. For more posts on all things Nordic, see here and here, where you’ll find all things knekkebrod, last years buns (which were twisted), and other Scandinavian obsessions that I may have had in recent times.

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Do you have any particular country obsessions? 

cinnamon buns || cityhippyfarmgirl

Cinnamon Buns

250g  sourdough starter

1 tsp commercial yeast

675g strong bread flour

250mls milk

200mls water

100g sugar

100g softened butter

1 tsp cardamon

1 tsp salt

Cinnamon mixture

100g softened butter

100g raw sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

Add all dough ingredients together, mix well and then knead until dough is elastic on a lightly floured surface (I use my mixer.) Dough should be well incorporated and feeling smooth. Pop the dough back into the mixing bowl and leave to prove for a couple of hours, with a fold or two in between, (or covered and over night.) On a lightly floured bench, roll the dough out to a rough rectangle, add cinnamon mixture and cut into portions. Line on a tray and bake at 200C for approximately 15-20 minutes (depending on the sizes.)

Date and Pecan Sourdough

date and pecan sourdough recipe|| cityhippyfarmgirl

I like knowing what the date is. Life with three small people seems to be a whirl wind of calendars, times and places to be. All those things would be a bit of a mess without knowing what the date was.

I also like my dates to be surrounded by a square, a calendar with big squares for me to scribble things on. There is not much point in me putting things in my phone as I invariably check it only after the activity or appointment is that I’ve just missed, (and I still don’t like to be that enslaved to technology anyway.) If there is enslavement to be had, I much prefer it to be with my kitchen calendar, with the big quares.

Put it on the calendar; I have been known to shriek out.

Why wasn’t it on the calendar? I demand.

Checking those little squares for where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing is part of my obligatory morning routine. Never in a studious, calm fashion where I neatly check off things as they go by. No, it’s done as I close the fridge with my foot. Toss the second school lunch box to the bench, reach for the cup of tepid tea on my left and yell out; have you cleaned your teeth yet!? That’s when I do my laser scanning eye over the appropriate square and silently hope I haven’t forgotten to add something on this particular date.

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How about you? How do you keep track of the date and all the things going on your life? 

date and pecan sourdough recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

Date and Pecan Sourdough

400g refreshed starter (100%)

300g wholemeal spelt flour

450g flour

550mls water

200g chopped medjool dates

100g pecan halves

1/2 tsp dark malt flour

2 tsp salt

Mix all your ingredients together except your salt. Mixing for about 6 minutes. Now leave it. Go find something else to do for about 40 minutes.

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.

Dough out on to the bench, and do a three way fold. Back in the bowl for another hour or so. Divide the dough in two and then do a three way fold with the two portions. Leave them on the bench for twenty minutes or so.

Shape it. Laying it on lined trays, banetton baskets or tins, cover it and prove for 1-3 hours. Bake at 220C with steam.

How to make fancy pants Flower Bread

how to make fancy flower bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

Bread is one of those things that at times look far more fancy than what it really is. Well, it can do anyway. This Flower Bread is one of them. An easy one to do if you want to team it up with a simple soup or alternatively, tear chunks off and slap some butter on those sides.

First up flatten your dough, this is done at the stage when you would normally shape your bread. (For a basic bread dough recipe see here for a regular yeasted one, or here for a simple sourdough.) Any old shape, as long as it’s the same thickness generally all around. Next you need to divide it into equal portions. I would normally do this as I go along. Again any shape is fine, and a rough triangle is excellent for the next step.

Next you are creating little balls. If you pull those corners into the middle (as if you were making a dumpling) it traps air in and creates a smooth outer surface. Pinch the ends together to seal it. Lightly plop it into some flour (this stops it from sticking to the board or bench top) and leave to the side. Carry on with the rest.

Once you have all your balls. Get two small bowls, one filled with water and the other with poppy seeds (or any other seeds, you might like to use.) Holding your ball of dough at the top where you sealed it, gently dip about a quarter of the dough into the water and then the seed bowl.

Next place them, seed side up into a lined cake tin. Depending on how big you did them, you should fit about seven. Six on the outer and one in the middle. Cover, and let them prove. Then bake at 230C with steam for about 25-ish minutes.

And there you have it… easy fancy pants Flower Bread!

how to make fancy flower bread || cityhippyfarmgirlhow to make fancy flower bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

the bread that I had to try

apple sourdough bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

Baking.

There is quite a lot to love about it isn’t there. The textures, the creations, the science of it, the…eating. Rather a lot to love about the eating part of it. Sourdough for me, sits pretty firmly up top of the figurative ‘baking love list.’ Love the taste, the flexibility of it and the fact that not one of my loaves ever seem to be the same. Ever.

I saw this little loaf of doughy goodness recently on another blog and fell in love. I wanted in on that, yes indeed. It looked fancy and fiddly and it wasn’t, and I LOVE that. Let’s give it a crack.

apple bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

And so I did. And I loved it, we loved it.

I loved the effect, they loved the eating part.

Yep, very pretty Mama, now lets eat!

cheese and salami bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

sourdough bread || cityhippyfarmgirl

Notes from the kitchen-

-This recipe isn’t really a recipe, it was simply playing, and a lovely excuse to try this new method from Living a Little Greener.

– I also used water kefir as my liquid when making up my dough as it needed using, but please use an everyday bread recipe if that’s more accessible to you. The visual results will still be the same.

– Sweet or savoury (one apple and one salami/cheese) this method gets 10/10 for me. Easy to cut up and pop into lunch boxes.

– As Bruise Mouse states, roll it out on the tray or paper you are baking on, I forgot the first time and it was a little nerve wracking moving it.

* Basic Sourdough Recipe here

* Basic Yeasted Bread recipe here.

Water Kefir Filled Loaf

400g starter

1 tsp yeast

150g softened butter

750g flour

600mls water kefir

3 tsp salt

Make it and bake it.

Baked at 220C until golden.

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

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.

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.