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.

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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.