Early 2015, I got my heart set on constructing a pizza oven in my backyard – specifically for baking beautiful loaves of artisan bread.
This desire dwindled away and disappeared completely a few weeks ago, when in thinking of things I wanted for Christmas, I decided a pizza oven would be too expensive, and impractical considering that i hadn’t had the time to bake in months. I thought my passion had gone.
But last week in Bermagui, NSW, I discovered the most amazing artisan sourdough bakery, Honorbread. They let me stand at the counter and watch for 10 minutes, as well as ask questions. I was awed.
And when I inquired into the age of the starter they used in their bakery, they not only told me it is 4 years old (amazing to me, who killed both of my two starters within a few months) – they offered o give me some! Which is how I ended up with a takeout container of sourdough starter in my hot little hands.
After I returned home, I built the starter up for a few days, and last night, made up my dough.
This morning I baked it…
With more success than ever before!
A few photos to demonstrate…
So, a massive thank you to Honorbread bakery for your generous gift, and here’s to many more beautiful loaves!
I feel as an Aussie, I have an obligation to you all to strip poor, beloved Vegemite of its stigma and shame. Here are 3 myths and 3 facts about this tasty spread.
Myth #1: All Australians live on Vegemite. It’s true, most of us like Vegemite. Most of us. There are still people who hate the stuff. Also, we aren’t really that addicted. It’s not weird.
Myth #2: It’s just salty Nutella. You’re eating it wrong. Spread it like Nutella and you will legit die.
Myth #3: Vegemite chocolate is Australian’s new favourite thing. Let’s be real here; tried it a few days ago, concluded it tastes like salted caramel but more Australian, ate more, very happy. There were also people around me who detested it. Unique tastebuds, people.
Now for some real talk.
Fact #1: ALL YOU SILLY PEOPLE EATING IT ON TV AS A JOKE, STOP. This includes YouTube, Vine and Instagram. Unless you are an Aussie, it is likely that you aren’t trained in the art of eating Vegemite, and it saddens me when people do it wrong and then criticize Oz.
Step 1, make toast. Step 2, butter the toast. Step 3, spread a LITTLE Vegemite on it. You should still be able to see your toast. Stop putting it on spoons, you lot. No one does that.
Fact #2: Tastes great with avocado, tomato and/or cheese. On a sandwich or toast. Or bread roll. Or sourdough. Or a wrap.
Fact #3: It cures a number of ailments. The high salt content makes it good for mouth ulcers (stings a LOT but what can you do) as well as being the perfect food for when you have a stomach bug, flu or cold.
Vegemite really is great, you just gotta know your facts. Mate.
So if you read my last post, you know that I recently acquired a large bag of baker’s flour which I found delightful. (If you haven’t read that post, feel free to proceed anyway, or pop along and give it a squiz. I’ll wait.) I promised to share my baking endeavors with you all, so here they are..
I wanted to make a big rustic loaf, but I had a few issues with that.
1: My oven isn’t really hot enough to stop my freeform loaves collapsing
2: My sister wanted me to make focaccia for lunch and it was very time consuming, so I didn’t get around to making my loaf. Soon!
So, I made focaccia instead. I used a recipe from a great book I got a couple of weeks ago, and it was really fun. I generally love making bread anyway, but I had a great time playing with the camera to get decent shots of the process.
The recipe I made used quite a bit of oil, so it turned out yellow and not white..? And I’m still wondering whether I did it right because it was weird to knead and didn’t make as much as I had hoped. Nevertheless, kneading is still my favourite (and the most strenuous, this is what I call ‘exercise’) part of the whole process.
After kneading, I left it to prove for about an hour until it had gotten fat (no offence Focaccia.)
The next bit was dividing, which is where it got weird. It said to divide in four, which I did, and I put half of it in the freezer.. but my other two bits were really little. They’re supposed to be like fat, doughy pizzas, kind of, but honestly, once I flattened them, mine were smaller than any pizza. I don’t know :P
And then, topping time! I didn’t deliberate much on what to put on my two focaccias – I did one with garlic and thyme, and the other with tomato, olives and feta cheese (all with guidance from my olive-loving little sister.) They got a good covering of salt and pepper and sat to prove again.
After that, I baked my focaccias, and they smelled so good! Not as good as they tasted, though.
My little sis and I made quick work of them :)
In review, those focaccias were pretty tasty and so much fun to make, and also, Focaccia is a beautiful name for a child.
A special thanks to my older sister, who has asked to be referred to as Beanz, for taking many photos, including the one of me kneading. :)
Today, my parents came home from shopping with a surprise for me, and I feel like I got more excited that other people would. It’s not something that would encourage people to run around screaming, ‘OMG NOW PEOPLE WILL MARRY ME FOR MY WEALTH AS WELL AS MY BEAUTY!!” *tragic attempt at a hair flick* But I was super happy. Wanna know what I got?
Flour. My parents went shopping, and came back with a 5kg bag of unbleached baker’s flour.
I’m not crazy. Really. (Not about this, anyway. :P) People who bake bread will know what I’m talking about already, but here is a brief explanation: the type of flour you get varies depending on what you want to make, and the variation occurs in the protein content of the flour. Flour with a higher protein percentage is better for bread, because it is stronger and allows the bread to rise and hold gas without collapsing. This is essential in baking bread like those big rustic Italian loaves that people love.
This type of bread is what I love to bake and eat, so baker’s flour is really important. The problem is, I can rarely find large quantities that are both cheap and high quality. Thus, my 5kg bag was a pretty big deal.
So does this make me weird? I mean, I started hugging the bag. Okay, maybe I’m crazy.. but I bake bread. So there.
So, I’m in history.. it’s a Monday afternoon.. usually I would be super bored by now. But I’m not.. because we are having a thunderstorm!! A LOT of people hate this sort of weather, but not me. I love it. Love it. Why? Glad you asked.
1. It gives me an excuse to not do things. I mean, I could be doing four assignments this afternoon. I could be walking home. I could be going to choir. But because it’s raining, I have every right to stay home and drink several mugs of hot chocolate.
2. I get to wear snuggly clothes. Because usually I would stay in my uniform after school (because I’m lazy.) But because it’s raining, I have every intention to go home and get into my onesie.. or my happy pants.. or maybe just my pyjamas. :)
3. Rainy day food. Goodbye carrots or whatever else I was going to have for afternoon tea. I think there is some leftover cake in the cupboard, and Milo.. *gasp* Nutella!!