St Ives Medieval Faire…so good

St Ives Medieval Fair

Battles, jousting, traditional living, swords, birds of prey, there was quite a lot to love at the St Ives Medieval Faire. For someone who has no made no secret of a love of all things Viking and Nordic influenced, well, there was quite an excited lead up to this one.

Located on the edge of the Ku-ring-gai National Park, the festival was running for the second year, and despite a rainy start, it didn’t keep people away. Mud splattered boots and sodden velvet gowns just adding to the medieval atmosphere.

The festival had a fascinating traditional village that was made of different re-enactment or living history groups from all around Australia. Living, eating, dressing, and crafting as they once did.

Ahh, all so interesting…and so good! With the smell of soft wood smoke in our hair, leather cuffs on our wrists and happy tired smiles on faces. There were vows of returning next year for another Medieval Faire, well how could we not?

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A Viking at Dawn

dawn || cityhippyfarmgirldawn || cityhippyfarmgirlviking at dawn || cityhippyfarmgirl

 A Viking at Dawn

(If you squint your eyes you could pretend it was a cold morning in Scandinavia somewhere.)

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More Nordic obsessions to be found here…

Experimenting with making Viking Mead

Baking Viking Cinnamon Buns

 

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.)

Mead, not just for Vikings

plum mead || cityhippyfarmgirl

I’d never really paid much attention to mead. I had heard of it certainly, but had never tried it. Not because I didn’t want to, I just well…didn’t pay it much attention.

But then fermentation stepped into my life. Sourdough certainly. Sauerkraut became a staple. Pickles started appearing and then I got a box of plums.

See it was the box of plums that pushed me to the mead. I needed to process the whole box, but space (as always) was an issue. I couldn’t store that amount of jars of jam or chilli sauce, nor could I freeze a huge amount either. I went looking, flicked through the trusty bible, figuring there must be some other way of fermenting with plums I hadn’t thought of.

So that’s how mead stepped in.

I read, planned and hesitantly started. Within 24 hours there was fermentation action happening and that was just a little bit exciting. There are just three ingredients in there- honey, water and plums. That’s it, and then the bottle started bubbling like an excitable volcano. The excitement was contagious. I continually checked and stirred it. I thought it would take about a week for bubbles to ease off but it only took 5 days (Sydney, Australia summer time). Strained and bottled, the taste test.

It was good. I thought.

I say I thought, because at this stage, I still had no idea what mead tasted like, so had nothing to gauge it by. It’s hard to tell whether there is much alcohol content. The test would be to down the bottle on an empty stomach and see what happens, but that didn’t seem likely to happen.

Ten days into the fermentation, (second fermentation period) the mead developed a thin mould layer. It had a closed lid, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I did what any hack city hippy would do, and shook it in, ignored it and popped it in the fridge.

But not before I had a good smell of it. I have finally gotten to trust my nose. With all my fermenting experiments I always smell them along the way. Observing differences, subtle changes and really trying to identify when and where things start to change. I trust my nose and if I’m not sure, well I don’t use it- The Plum Mead smelt fine, and while several weeks later into the fermentation process the taste was fairly underwhelming, I am keen to try it again.

golden coloured mead || cityhippyfarmgirl

Next, I started on a Honey Mead, (or honey wine). Raw honey and unchlorinated water, that’s it.

Now according to Sandor Katz, (who I was lucky enough to hear speak recently) raw honey already contains abundant yeasts- with pasteurisation or cooking killing them off.

“The yeasts are inactive so long as the honey’s water content remains at or below 17 percent (as it is in fully mature honey). But increase the water content just a little bit beyond  that and the yeasts wake right up.”

And so I did. I woke those little things up with a ratio of 1:4, following the instructions, and intermittently smelling it. At the end of three weeks I have a lovely light (green) sweet tasting mead. I can’t liken it to anything else I’ve ever had, but it’s good and I think this could be the beginning of many more meads to come.

So what do my two experiments with mead making have to do with Vikings?

Well according to Norse mythology, mead seems to be heavily linked with the Norse god Odin and along with it, anyone that drinks mead may become a poet or scholar. I’m still waiting for poetic inspiration, but perhaps I simply haven’t made or drunk enough of the honey gold beverage?

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All of my mead making inspired by 

The Art of Fermentation- Sandor Katz