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.

sprouted buckwheat…not really hippy food at all

sprouted and dehydrated buckwheat

DSC_0057 copy

Sprouted buckwheat. It’s my new best friend at the moment, and I’m having a quiet love affair with it in, well pretty much everything.

Since last December I’ve been playing with it in various incarnations and there is yet be a combination that I haven’t liked. I’ve put it in bread, alive granola, a base for tarts, raw energy ball snacks, porridge, pancakes and smoothies. Plus a few experiments with pizza bases, cakes and biscuits. Really, I think the possibilities for these little stars would be endless.

So what’s so good about it and why would you bother sprouting it?

– It’s gluten free.

– It’s super easy to sprout, (given reasonably warm conditions, it can sprout within 24 hours.)

– It’s considered a super food and has a low glycemic index.

– Sprouted it is full of live enzymes and nutrients.

– High in iron and protein, and acts like a grain but isn’t a grain.

– Great for balancing blood sugar levels and has been linked with stabilising cholesterol.

–  It’s also incredibly versatile when it comes to making and baking.

sprouted

How to sprout buckwheat

You’ll need a glass jar, some muslin and a rubber band or alternatively one of these fancy pancy sprouting jars, and raw buckwheat (not roasted).

Rinse your buckwheat.

Leave it to soak in tepid water for about 2 hours, (twice the amount of water to buckwheat.) Buckwheat will swell.

Rinse again, getting rid of any of the slimyness that might have built up (starch). Drain, turning it upside down. Keep rinsing and draining every 6 hours until little tails appear. (In warmer weather this can take as little as 24 hours.) Make sure it’s well drained as you don’t want it to go mouldy. Wait until their tails are the same length as the groat.

essene bread with avocado

And that’s it. Depending on what you are you using it for. You can halt the sprouting process by popping it in to the freezer, or dehydrating if you aren’t quite ready to use it there and then. I don’t have a dehydrater but have used the second shelf of my oven while cooking something at a slow temperature with the same effect (see top picture.)

An incredibly versatile food that is rich in nutrients and other health benefits. Easily accessible, (check in your local health food store) giving a little nutty texture to any food you decide to pop it into. So not hippy food at all, just a simple food item that really, I can’t get enough of at the moment.

Now get sprouting people.

Alive Granola

200g sprouted dehydrated buckwheat

150g dates

100g coconut

100g linseed

100g sunflower seeds

50g sesame seeds

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Pulse everything in a mixer and eat instead of a boxed cereal.

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.

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

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.)

bunss copy

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

Honey Spiced Spelt Scones and other spelt goodness

 

I’m having a love affair with spelt at the moment. I’d been meaning to for quite some time, and then finally I bought some, the love affair could begin.

I had dibble dabbled a little before but not like this. Not 10kg bag fulls of the wholesome goodness that it is. Sourdough loaves were switched to spelt, a variety of scones were made with spelt, caramelised onion sourdough rings were ripped apart, toasted spelt muesli was munched on, spelt and walnut bread rolls were teamed up with swiss cheese and inhaled. Spelt knekkebrod was revisited and spelt pancakes were jostled over. Slowly my bag full of spelt, got smaller and smaller.

It’s an ancient grain that has seen a relatively recent revival. Giving a slightly nutty flavour, I’ve just been substituting it with my regular flours and decreasing the liquid in the recipes. The Monkey’s haven’t noticed anything different funnily enough and still eating everything with boyhood enthusiasm. All baked goods have got a thumbs up from Mr Chocolate, and me?

Well I just think it’s a whole bundle of spelt goodness.

Honey Spiced Spelt Scones

1 1/2 cups s/r flour

1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour

a pinch of salt

a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger

1 cup cream

1 cup water

2 heaped tablespoons honey

Lightly mix wet ingredients to dry, and turn out to a really well floured surface. Lightly knead using your finger tips mostly, bringing it all together (you don’t want to handle it a lot.) Cut into circles (an upturned glass works well.) and place on a greased or lined baking tray. Bake at 220C for approximately 20 mins or until a light golden.

Spelt Pancakes

50g melted butter

1 beaten egg

1 1/2 cups spelt flour

1 1/2 cups milk

experimenting- sometimes it pays off and sometimes…

Sometimes my experimenting in the kitchen pays off, sometimes…not quite so much.

Take it from me, mashed wasabi potatoes with purple carrots doesn’t work. It should have, but it didn’t. It really, really didn’t work.

I should have taken a picture of the gluey mess that this dish was. Just for the comedic value of how badly  it lay on our plates. I’m not sure what was the clincher, but it was like eating funny tasting soupy playdough. (With out the fun of having played with it before hand.)

The Monkeys refused to go near it, purple wasn’t for them. Mr Chocolate bravely tried to plod through it until I told it was ok, he really didn’t have to be so brave.  I also gave up after the multiple sips of water in between, just trying to get the sucker down.

So no, I won’t be trying that one again, (and perhaps I shouldn’t have been experimenting on Mr Chocolate’s birthday.)

Lucky for me (and lucky for everyone else involved) these scrolls I have also been experimenting with lately didn’t have the same effect as the purple wasabi playdough.

Pesto Parmesan Scrolls

150g starter

1 tsp yeast

60mls tepid water

100g melted butter

125mls milk

1 1/4 salt

3 cups flour (450g)

pesto

parmesan

Add starter, yeast and water-  together. Whisk and leave for an hour or so. Mix remaining ingredients together and then knead for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface or until well incorporated and dough is smooth. Leave to prove for a couple of hours. Roll out to a rectangle. Spoon pesto on, grate some parmesan. Roll up dough, slice into portions. Place on a lined tray, allow to prove for another hour or so. Bake at 190 for 20-25 minutes.

miracle Pumpernickel

I was in the middle of making this pumpernickel bread and all I could think of over and over again was…. it would take a miracle. (Said in the voice of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride.) For it really was going to take a miracle for this little loaf to work.

I had scanned and then re-scanned recipes for it, and either the recipe wasn’t what I was after or I didn’t have access to some of the listed ingredients. I re-read some more, until all I felt was, like a dog chasing it’s tail. Funny for someone else watching but rather annoying for the poor dog.

What?… How?… Maybe?… Oh crikey.

Nothing else for it. Jumping in and back to hack basics 101. I had a general idea of how it was supposed to be cooked, and I had a pretty solid idea of how I wanted it to look and taste, so off to the kitchen it was.

First I got some rye grain, as I couldn’t get the kind of rye flour or rye meal I was after. Then popped it in my Kitchenaid blender and pulverised it to make a course flour… pickle me in ginger if that didn’t work. I didn’t even know my Kitchenaid could do that. Whoosh!

With flour now in hand, I started on the rest of the loaf. I really felt out of my depths with this one, just because I was solely going on instinct and guessing and not following someone else’s tried and true pumpernickel recipe. Hence, the many mutterings of …it would take a miracle.

But it did work, and I was really happy with it. Dense, flavourful and definitely one I will be making regularly. It had both sweet and sour flavours, very little crust, and quite sustaining for a small slice. It’s not a quick loaf and does take a bit of preparation but I would much rather be eating a pumpernickel coming out of my kitchen as opposed to an imported one coming from Europe, (as that is a LOT of food miles for a small amount of bread.)

Pumpernickel

250g rye flour

200g starter (100%)

50g linseed meal

50g sunflower seeds

25g unprocessed wheat bran

1 tsp dark malt flour

handful pumpkin kernels

200mls boiling water

120mls natural yogurt

1 tsp salt

In a bowl add linseed, sunflower seeds, dark malt flour, wheat bran, pumpkin kernels and boiling water. Whisk together and leave to soak for several hours. Then add starter, rye flour and yogurt. Mix slowly a couple of times, with 10 minute rest intervals in between. Then add the salt and mix well again. In an oiled and lined with baking paper tin spoon mixture in. Making sure there is no gaps. Cover and prove until risen by about a quarter. This took for me about 7 hours, will depend on the room temperature though.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 220C for 15 minutes, then lowering the temperature to 190C bake for approximately 35 minutes.

Cool in tin for 15 minutes, keeping the aluminium on. Then remove from tin, and cool on rack. When it’s cold, wrap it in baking paper for 24-48 hours before eating.

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and just because I can….

this post submitted to the wonderful yeastspotting

decluttering and a ploughman’s lunch

I’ve been decluttering.

Really decluttering this time.

I am constantly talking of decluttering and even get rid of a small bag or two of ‘stuff’ fairly regularly. However this time around, it’s the big guns. Everything must go. Well not quite, but everything must be re-evaluated and re-assessed to see whether it really is needed or wanted.

Living in a small living space, requires constant reassessing of said ‘stuff’. I try to be very careful of what comes in the door, but still the ‘stuff’ mounts up. And mostly it’s just stored away, under the ‘maybe we will need it one day’ label. With another baby on the way, space is kind of important. Not that babies take up much room, but I know I’m going to enjoy an empty draw or a cleared shelf space a whole lot more once the decluttering as ended.

One thing I have been going through is all my resource folders. I had actually forgotten I had them, as there was a pile of other ‘stuff’ in front of the cupboard door for so long, so much so, that I couldn’t open the door. Front pile gets smaller and shifted. What’s behind there oh…more ‘stuff’. Goody.

Resource folders like,

House ideas- still haven’t bought that house.

Gardening how to’s- I’m still just making do with pot plants, that large secret garden is still a while off.

Massage Therapy notes- too many years ago, am I really going to look at it again?

Old work stuff- come on, it’s been awhile…quite a while.

A years worth of French notes- Parlez vous anglais?

And a whole lot more.

One good thing to come out of all of this, is just moving it somewhere else. Not another folder or another shelf, but online. Having stopped myself from using Pinterest since I heard about it, (as I did not need another digital distraction) I’ve decided that quite frankly it’s a bloody good idea, and now all my scrappy pieces of paper instead of cluttering up my flat, can now clutter up cyberspace. Ahhh, quite liberating really.

So while I don’t need to add any more screen time to my life, I’m loving having a place to store all those ideas that don’t take up my living space and doesn’t gather dust… and I’m quite happy with that trade off.

So what’s all that got to do with a ploughman’s lunch? Not a lot really, but a girls got to eat, and I had had a ploughman’s lunch roll on my mind for quite some time.

Time to get that thought on to my plate.

Ploughmans Lunch Roll

seeded bread roll

lettuce

your favourite strong cheese

apple slices

chutney


Ploughmans Lunch Bread Ingredients

300g starter (100%)

50g (1 cup) unprocessed bran

50g (1/2 cup) linseed meal

3 tbls LSA

2 tbls chia seeds

100g spelt flour

300g strong bakers flour

300mls water

1 1/2 tsp salt

Make it up in your favourite bready fashion.

(I gave an overnight prove, shaped, and proved again. Sprayed rolls with water and then baked at 240C with lots of oven steam.)

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This post submitted to yeastspotting

red food dye? I don’t think so

He was scampering that was for sure. Up and down the hall with an obvious focus to those little feet. He caught me watching him and seemed to push away the raised eyebrow look and what are you up to question on my lips. I couldn’t hear anything that I shouldn’t be and he really was quite busy. So I left him to it. Back and forth, back and forth. Scurrying like a little bug, taking huge bundles 4 times his body size and wrangling it to his chosen destination.

Little Monkey was building a castle. He called out, declaring he was ready now, and in I went to inspect the wall building. Foundations looked a little shonky, brick work was a little sloppy, but there he was sitting on top of his castle, pleased as a 3 year old would be…sitting on top of his castle. Every cushion, pillow, blanket, soft anything had been dragged in and utilised. Just perfect for a mama to make a flying leap on to….

Now if you are the kind of person that likes looking into what you are eating or what your kids maybe eating, you may have looked up red food dye before. You may have also heard, that just like my little cushion carrying bug of a son, red food dye can be made from a certain bug… Or it could also be made from a coal tar derivative. Either way, these days I don’t particularly want to ingest anything that is fire engine red unless there is a really good reason to.

So with that in mind I was mighty annoyed to get a jar of tandoori paste home a while back. Only to find out, that one of the main ingredients was red food dye!

Not a tomato ingredient in there. All that lovely red was thanks to some good old red food dye. I was annoyed, as I would never normally buy a jar like this but was feeling generous as I had been at some great farmers markets and was seduced by all the lovely food stuffs around me… the seduction however, had not carried over to the tandoori paste I had just bought home.

Surely I could make something that wouldn’t give me the heebie-jeebies just looking at the colour?

Let’s give it a crack…

Tandoori Paste

In a pan add

a couple of slurps of vegetable oil

diced onion, knob of ginger, and a couple of cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

2 tbls tomato paste

salt to taste

chilli to taste

fry it all off for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Then whizz to a smooth paste with a hand held mixer.

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Now authentic? Perhaps not, but I think a whole more so than a jar full of red food dye, and salt.

 I cooked this up with the obligatory chicken and yogurt dish, but I also had some left over and sourdough on the go. So Tandoori Flat Bread it was.

Just the thing to go and snack on while sitting on top of a castle.