busy in the kitchen


Kitchens. Oh how I love them.

I really do. It’s where wonderful things are created and made. Once again, I’ve been having frequent day dreams of what my dream kitchen would look like. No detail is too small to think on. Bench space, natural light, decent storage, bench space, a cookbook shelf, tall stools so people can still talk to you and interact while I’m cooking, (I don’t want to be shut away)…bench space, did I mention that one?

So with all that kitchen thinking, what has actually been happening in my kitchen lately?

Well, I’ve tried Tania’s hot water pastry and loved it to bits. I hadn’t done pastry like that before, loving that it was incredibly easy to make and versatile to roll and shape. (Just how I like my pastry to be.) I had my sights on a Timpano. After watching the movie Big Night seventeen years ago, I still had that one dish on my mind. So finally it was Timpano time. I looked at a few google images and decided there weren’t any particularly flattering shots of the mother of all pasta dishes, I wondered why that was?


Because it’s a complete and utter mess to photograph! Well mine was anyway. It tasted good though, so have vowed to make it again, and see if I can possibly find a flattering side to Signor Timpano.


Renewed love for my rosette bread stamp. I hadn’t used it for a while, so have been happily rediscovering it.

fair trade chocolate

Discoveries of new fair trade chocolate. Made in Madagascar, now that’s a little bit exciting.

DSC_0027 copy

And after my last post on a simple every day sourdough recipe, I played with this fella. Max and Becs were asking about no knead bread baked in a cast iron pot and would it work for sourdough. I hadn’t done this method before so I wanted to give it a go. Now I don’t have a cast iron pot but I did it with as little handling as possible, and baked it in a souffle bowl. Did it work? Yes, I think it did. I didn’t get those bubbles and air pockets in there, so it’s a much tighter crumb. But maybe a wetter dough would be more forgiving with the lack of folding/ handling that would normally trap a few more holes.

This is how I did mine.

Mix ingredients together, (I use a mixer) wait for about 40 minutes then add the salt. Mix again and put dough in a really well oiled souffle bowl. Stick a plastic bag over the top and put in the fridge for about 12 hours (over night). Back out on the bench, and bring it back to room temperature. (It’s cold here at the moment so this took about 4 ish hours.)

Baked in the oven with steam at 230C on the top shelf for 20 minutes and ten minutes on the bottom shelf. It stuck a tiny bit round the sides when I went to get it out as it had been nestled in the souffle bowl for 16 plus hours, a little loosening with a knife and it popped out though. If you didn’t want to do that you could line it with bakers paper as well, (or cast iron pot if you have one.)

I would definitely play around with a slightly wetter dough next time, just to see what the crumb structure would be like. It also shows that once again, sourdough, you are a forgiving beast and I love you to bits.


How about you? Have you been busy in the kitchen?

Linking in with Celia this month.

simple, everyday sourdough


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Time, sourdough and a little Pecan and Prune Bread

Sourdough seems to put a lot of people off by the time factor of it all. Before I started making it last year, I liked the idea of sourdough, but even making the  starter seemed too lengthy, too time consuming, and a whole lot of hassle really. When I finally jumped in and just made the thing, it was a ohh, is that all? So with the starter bubbling away, I jumped in and away I swam with my sourdoughy… err… dough.

So is it time consuming?

Does it take a lot of work?

Does the convenience of sliced shop bread lure me over some times?

Time consuming, I don’t think of it as. (Saying that, I’m not trying to fit in with a paid job that requires my attention away from home for the majority of the day.)

You do have to plan a little. I don’t wake up in the morning and think ohh, today I shall make sourdough and have it on the table by lunch time. It’s usually a 3 day process, but it certainly doesn’t take 3 whole days to make it.

Sourdough is using natural yeast, so it works on its own time. Some times that sourdough is a sprightly young energetic woman with places to go and people to see. Bubbly and so full of spirit.

Some times that dough is a lethargic old man, shuffling along in worn out old slippers and a battered zimmer frame. You get stuck behind him, and you just know you can’t over take, as it would be rude. You just have to slow yourself down some and let the old fella set the pace.

Either way sourdough is boss. You can fiddle and tweak a little by finding a cooler spot to get it to slow down some or finding a sunny warm spot  to fasten things up a little. It all depends on the activity level of the starter, the flour and the room temperature though.

So does it take a lot of work?

No, not really. A starter feed= 1 minute. Wait 8-12 hours, feed again. Wait 8-12 hours, feed again. Wait 8-12 hours, mix up dough with a mixer and dough hooks. A plain dough=5 minutes of getting ingredients together and mixing. Go do something else more exciting for about 40 minutes, then mix again adding the salt. A quick 30 second knead. Leave it on the bench to think about things for a while. Read The Monkeys a story, have a shower, eye off some dark chocolate and then whack it in the fridge over night. In the morning, shape it (5 minutes), pop it on some trays and let it come back to room temperature- 4ish hours, slash. Bake.

1+1+1+5+30 sec+5  

That’s 13 minutes and 30 seconds of hands on time with the dough (a basic, nothing crazy loaf) over several days+ waiting and baking.

Some times I have to wait for the rising dough and sometimes it has to wait for me, we both have to be a bit flexible, which is the wonderful thing about sourdough, it is flexible. You can adapt the whole bread making process to suit you. I’ve mentioned this as one of my methods on making it work, but there are many other ways that other people do it, some that work for me and some that don’t. If it doesn’t fit in with your life style it’s going to become a pain. You don’t want it to become a pain.

So do away with the watch. Judge your bread on how it looks and just fiddle with it until you find out what works for you. Sometimes my loaves aren’t the greatest. Sometimes that extra 3 minutes baking turns into 15 and dark and crusty have a totally new meaning. Sometimes I don’t feel like washing yet another doughy mixing bowl, but… I always enjoy eating it and so do my family.

And that’s the trade off.

So jump in, give it a go, and if it doesn’t work out for you, it might later down the track.


…and does the lure of sliced shop bread ever tempt me?… No chance. 

Pecan and Prune Bread

200g starter

50g oats

8 pitted and chopped large prunes

80mls hot water

large handful of chopped pecans

300g strong bakers flour

200-250mls water

1 tsp salt

Starter at 100% hydration. The 80mls of hot water to soak the oats and prunes beforehand. Mixed together and using a method that suits you.

(Baked at 240C with steam.)

* This post submitted to yeastspotting