Monday, 7 September 2015

Lets bake some bread!

Ok, so you should have mastered your sourdough starter or 'Levain'. It should be nice & bubbly, and with a sour, malty smell. Don't sniff it in too hard, you might be repulsed by it, and then not get to make your wonderful sourdough.

So, I started with the basic sourdough recipe in the book. Follow the instructions and you are less likely to have a fail!

Most of the recipes in 'The Larousse Book of Bread' have a very small amount of yeast in them. However sourdough does not have yeast. Therefore I ended up adjusting my recipe after much research, to 100% yeast free (as a real sourdough should be). Now I am not doubting Eric Kayser at all, but I wanted to make a true, traditional sourdough. Maybe Eric added yeast to help out those amateur bakers. Who knows. Anyway, it is best to start off basic so that you don't have an epic fail...which will make you not want to bake bread ever again. And thats just too sad.

Now before you start, make sure you have a few essentials:
• Scales (you should have these from making the sourdough starter)
• Pizza stone/Baking Tray
• Sharp, clean bakers blade or knife. I went & got a brand new Stanley knife & kept it for my bread only

Classic Organic Sourdough Recipe


• Mixing & Kneading: 8-15 min
• First rising: 2hrs
• Resting: 30 min
• Proofing: 1h 30 mins
• Baking: 45 mins


• 500g Organic all purpose flour
• 310g water at 20degC
• 100g Sourdough Starter
• 1/3 tsp fresh bakers yeast or 1/4 tsp instant yeast
• 10g salt (2 tsp)

Kneading in a stand mixer

Place all the ingredients in the bowl and kneed with the dough hook on low speed for 4 mins, then on high speed for 4 mins.
* Tip: Be careful when using a stand mixer, it can easily over work the dough. You will know this as it will go from a smooth ball, back into a sticky dough.

Kneading by hand

Place all the flour on a work surface or in a large bowl and make a large well in the centre. Pour half the water, then add the starter, yeast & salt. Mix well, then add the rest of the water gradually and blend until all the water & flour has been incorporated. Knead the dough until it becomes soft & elastic.
* Tip: You will know the dough is perfect, when you can stretch it out enough to hold up to the light & see through it.

Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise for 2 hours, by which time it will have increased in volume.

• If you want 2 small loaves, cut dough into to
• If you want 1 medium loaf, skip this step
Dust the work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape the dough between your hands, while pressing down on the work surface. Cover with the cloth & leave for 30 mins
* Tip: To smooth out into a nice ball shape. Smooth the dough by folding the sides down & under, while rotating the ball around. Try not to overwork as you will loose all the air you have just waited 2 hours for. Be gentle :)

Gently place the loaves/loaf on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cover with a damp cloth & leave to proof for a further 1 hour & 30 mins. The dough will have increased in volume by the end of the proofing time.

Place a baking tray in the bottom of the oven (not on the floor of the oven) & place your pizza stone in the oven on a rack if you have one. Preheat the oven to 230degC.
Lightly dust the loaf/loaves with flour & score them as you please (swirl pattern, cross hatch, square, cross).

Just before putting the loaves in the oven, pour 1/4 cup water onto the baking tray in the oven (This creates a nice moist oven for the loaves).
Slip the loaves onto the pizza stone, or leave on the baking tray if you are not using a pizza stone.
Bake for 15 mins, then lower the oven temperature to 200degC and bake for a further 25 mins for 2 loaves, or 30 mins for 1 loaf.

Remove from oven & leave to cool on a wire rack
* Tip: Resist the urge to slice into the loaf straight away. It is still cooking. You have to wait at least 1 hour before digging in.

1 hour later....enjoy!!

Try this recipe a few times to get the hang of baking your own bread.
Make sure to keep an eye out for my next blog where I will give you my recipe for 100% Sourdough. Or better yet, subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.

Happy Baking ;)

Friday, 24 July 2015

Bon Cini Boulangerie - Making sourdough starter

So, from my last post I began the process of making my own, home made sourdough.

Firstly was off to my local GoVita health food shop, where I discovered there were many, many different types of flours...buckwheat, spelt, rice, quinoa, stoneground whole grain, organic, bio-dynamic, ect, ect...but funnily enough, no plain organic flour. However they did have organic rye flour.

Finding all of my ingredients seemed to take a little time. I could not manage to get any bakers yeast, and my organic plain flour came from Safeway. However, I'm sure I could find all the ingredients in Melbourne. But I have to make do.

I have always been too impatient to take the time to make the starter, but this time I was doing it. Just as I learnt from Eric Kayser, patience is they key.

So to start my sourdough starter, I mixed 20g organic rye flour, 20g water and 5g honey in a bowel. The mixture seemed really thick, but I followed the recipe to the gram. So, as the recipe said, I then covered with a towel & leave 24hrs on the bench.

Now apparently, I should be seeing bubbles in the, no bubbles...Ok, I'll try the next step.

Add to the mixture 40g rye flour, 40g water and 5 g honey, cover and leave overnight. Still thick..hmmm...well, I'll just see how it goes.

'The mixture will be bubbling noticeably' Well, only a couple of small bubbles...No, not happy. Start again.

Then next batch of starter I made seemed a bit better, but I think this was because I added a little extra water each time, and I melted the honey.

After many trials, I figured out the success to a good sourdough starter. Here are my tips.

• Always use warm, not hot water
• Leave starter in a warm place. I leave mine on top of my hot water service in an esky, or you could leave in the oven with just the light on (i do this also with my co-yo).
• If you are putting it in the oven, make sure to cover the jar/bowl with a damp tea towel & wrap the jar/bowl in another towel. You want to keep it insulated, but don't want it drying out.
• Don't use the lid on the jar, unless you are putting in the fridge to keep. The starter needs to breathe. I cover mine with double layer cloth & tie down with some twine.
• The first step will always be thicker than expected, but this is ok. If you follow the above 2 tips, the starter will slowly thin out, and reach a pancake batter constancy.

Liquid Sourdough Starter

from 'The Larousse book of Bread' by Eric Kayser

• 140g organic light, medium or dark rye flour
• 240g water at 30C temperature
• 10g Clear, plain honey
• 100g all purpose plain flour

Mix 20g Rye flour with 20g water in a small bowl. Then add 5g (3/4 teaspoon) honey. Cover with a clean cloth and leave for 24hrs in a warm place.

Small bubbles will have formed on the surface. In a larger bowl/jar, mix together 40g Rye Flour and 40g water and 5g (3/4 teaspoon) honey. Then stir in the mix from the first day. This is called 'feeding' or 'refreshing' the starter. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to ferment in a warm place, for 24 hours.

The mixture will be bubbling noticeably. Mix 80g Rye Flour and 80g water into a larger bowl/jar. Blend in the mix from the 2nd day. Cover and leave to ferment for 24 hours.

To the third day mix, add the 100g plain flour and 100g water. Stir well. Your starter is now ready to use. It should have the consistency of thick pancake batter.
Store it in a glass jar, covered with a cloth. This will keep for 3 days until it will need to be 'refreshed' again (see below). Or it can be kept for some time in the fridge, with an airtight lid on the jar.

Caring for the starter

The starter will remain alive for an average of 3 days after it has been refreshed. Accordingly, it should be refreshed at 3 day intervals by adding 50% of its own weight in water & flour.
For instance, if you have 300g starter left, add 75g flour & 75g water.

If you will not be baking bread for several days, or if the ambient temperature rises, seal the jar tightly and store it in the fridge.

You can adapt the initial quantity of starter, depending on how often you plan to bake.

My next post will be all about how to use the sourdough starter to make your delicious Sourdough Bread!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Melbourne foodie adventure

Melbourne. One of my two favourite cities...along with Paris.
When I come to think of it, I really have moved around a lot over the past few years. I had always wanted to live in Melbourne, and so after landing a job, I made the big move to the city. After living there for four years, my partner in crime got a job in another city. Dubai. And what am amazing city, and experience that was!
Now after moving back form Dubai, we have found ourselves a little 'surf shack', down at Ocean Grove. Life is a little more cruisy by the sea. However I do venture back to the city for regular visits.
What better reason to spend a few nights in the city than for the Melbourne ford and wine festival!

Late Friday morning, we drove to the city to start our weekend at crown. All throughout the city for MFWF, many top restaurants hold an 'express lunch'. So you can get a 2 course lunch and wine for only $40. So, we went to the top of the list...the Atlantic.
I had an entree of Grilled Quail on top of a rocket & fig salad. With a balsamic reduction & shavings of Parmesan cheese. I can't imagine any better ingredients to go together. And the quail was cooked to perfection! It was soft, juicy & tender, but not undercooked. The figs were cooked slightly, so that they were soft and sweet. Rob had the mussel broth, which was mussels in an orange cream based soup with vegetables. For main, I had seared tuna in a bed of sautéed fennel. On the side was an olive, onion, tomato and parsley tapenade. Simple, fresh ingredients, cooked to perfection. Rob decided to see how Donovan did classic fish and chips. It was definitely the best fish and chips I have tasted. The batter was crunchy, salty and melted in your mouth. As did the fish. Soft, moist and flakey. And the chips had a crispy golden yellow outside and soft in the centre. There was a choice of white or red wine for the express lunch. For all the white meat we had, we chose the white, which was a lovely Chardonnay. A heavier white than we are used to, but the peachy honey aftertaste was delicious and refreshing.

As we had a late, large lunch, the idea was to have a light dinner. But when in Melbourne, why miss out on what the city has to offer. So, off we went to try to get a walk in table at Gradi! Surprisingly we were in luck. Only a few mins wait and we had a table for two. While we were waiting, we couldn't help notice the salumeria, where the prosciutto was being sliced wafer thin, as it should be! So, we ordered a plate! It came out served on pita crisps, dressed in olive oil, salt and rosemary. Along with a nice big shaving of parmesan. Well, just as we had thought, the prosciutto was amazing! Soft, paper thin, melt in your mouth.

As for mains, we both ordered pizza. When you go somewhere where they have won awards for something, you don't go order something else on the menu. So, I ordered the award winning Gradi Margarita Pizza...and now, I know what the fuss is all about! It was about the crispy, yet soft and pillowy base with little pockets of bubbles, charred from being baked in the wood fire oven. The basic, fresh tomato sauce, which tasted like their Nonna had just whipped up a batch. The creamy, oozy dollops of buffalo mozzarella, and the fresh scattered basil leaves on top. It was definitely worth stuffing myself, and rolling back to the hotel for! In saying that, we skipped dessert, which is very unlikely for us!

On Saturday, I woke up without my Roberto, as he was off paragliding with the boys. So now my date is the city. First was a breakfast date at 'a little bird told me'. Well, a little bird told me that I could get the 'best croissants in Melbourne', just a few blocks away in the CBD. These are Luna Croissants which are made at their bakery in Elwood. Usually I tend to get almond croissants, or Pain aux Raisins, but instead I opted for the classic...a plain croissant...along with my usual soy latte. Well, the latte was ok, a little weak, but drinkable. The croissant made up for the latte as it was absolutely amazing! It had a dark caramel crust with a glossy finish. Upon tearing apart the croissant, the crisp flakey crust broke into shards of paper thin flakes, and the centre was delicate and soft, like layers of buttery fairy floss. Now, I don't know if I have paid this much attention to croissants before, but this croissant was amazing! I can definitely understand why it is named the best croissant in Melbourne. I think that all of the other times I have bought an almond croissant or a pain aux raisins, the additional ingredients have masked the delicacy of the pastry. I was very inspired by this croissant and hope that one day I can perfect its pastry.

After a wonder around the city, I headed to the Queen Vic market. The regular shopping stalls of the market are all same same. Its the food that at least all the Melbournians come for. As much as you can get a bargain on fruit and veg, I wonder where some of it comes from, and where/how it is grown. And if the grocer has just picked the cheapest of the lot to make the most money, or do they truly care about their produce?
There were only a few stalls, apart from the organic section that looked like they cared about quality, as it showed through their presentation of the produce and their stall.
I bought some amazing asparagus. They were thicker than my thumb! I also bought a prickly pear, a red sweet potato, some heirloom tomatoes& then some fruit to go with my cheese! Some black shiraz grapes & a fig.
Then I wandered down to the deli hall. So many Cheeses!! After walking the loop (and trying to get past the croud of people waiting for a borek!), I spotted a french cheese shop! (Cue Angels singing!!)
The lady who served me, was so helpful! I asked for a brie & she asked me wether I wanted it strong, mild, creamy, nutty. I opted for strong. I love stinky cheese!! She gave me a little taste and OMG cue angels singing again!! I never knew brie could be so strong & good! SOLD! She cut me a little piece, just big enough for one. I had also wanted some blue. But after purchasing the strong bitey brie, I wondered if it was a good idea. But miraculously, she gave me a tasting of a 2 out of 5 mild blue & again...angels!! Just perfect! I also grabbed some duck terrine and I was done. But before she left, she said 'Make sure you get some bread!''Dont ruin that lovely cheese with crackers!'. So, off to the bakery, where I grabbed myself a baguette. Not nearly as good as the ones in France, but still good enough for my cheese. Also, while I was at the Deli, I picked up a fillet of smoked trout & some pickled octopus. What an amazing dinner I'm going to have!

Now, I was going to go to the spring st grocer for some gelato, but as I went to the movies, I had another favourite of mine...a choc top. But this is no ordinary choc top! This is Melbourne, and at Kino cinemas, they have caramel macadamia connoisseur choc tops! Yummmooo!!

Breakfast the next morning was leftovers from dinner as I had so much food! But I cant complain! Smoked trout & cheese for breakfast is pretty good - fit for a breakfast at the hotel windsor!
Unfortunately, being a Sunday, a lot of places are closed in the city. I went to Dukes in flinders lane, looking for some coffee, but found no luck - they were shut. Then I went to Sensory Lab. Hurrah! They were open! And they made me a great latte!

The Langham is such a beautiful hotel. A perfect venue for the MFWF Master Classes...and more!
The masterclass for Eric Kayser was held in the Grand Ballroom. Before that, we were given complimentary refreshments in the foyer. I don't think the coffee there would have been as good as my sensory lab coffee...but this is the MFWF!

The ballroom was jammed packed with people! Eric gave us the whole spiel on break & baking. How it used to be something special, where you would share a beautiful loaf of bread with family or friends. The bread was enjoyed as something special, it wouldn't just be part of another meal. He told us all about fermenting of the starter and how it is like fermenting wine, cheese or vinegar. Care must be taken. He told us how to make the starter & the basic key ingredients for bread. Flour, water, salt & yeast (the starter)/ It is really important to use local ingredients. And you must be gentle, take time & be patient. We were able to taste 3 amazing breads prepared for us. We had to smell the bread before tasting. You know if the bread is good because of the smell and because of the golden crust on top.

We tasted a bread called Emek, which was a sweet bread with a slight yellow colour. It was very soft, but with a golden crust on the outside/ We then tried a green tea and orange loaf. It was a little more sweet with a slight green tea flavour & candied orange peel scattered through the bread. And then raisin benoitons with moist, plump raisins though the bread.
There were a lot of people asking about gluten free bread. It seemed that Eric was not to worried about gluten free. They have only just started making it for his bakeries. But the question kept coming. Eric seemed to think that life as a coeliac would be quite miserable!
Inspired from all of this love of bread talk, I went and got myself a personally signed copy of Eric's book; The Larousse Book Of Bread.

Then off to a smaller room for a Masterclass on Gelato! From Gelato Messina, Donato Toce was running the class. And guess who happened to be joining us!? Maggie Beer!
Now with Gelato, it is all about balance. Balance of the sugars, balance of the fats.
Gelato is very different from Ice cream. It has less fat & less air than ice cream. It is almoast like chemistry. Depending on what your flavours are and how much sugars are in your ingredient, depends on how much of the sugars you add.
Also, the temperature & setting of the gelato can affect the texture. The longer the mixture takes to cool, the larger the ice crystals formed.
Now, to get less air in the gelato, you must use larger blades & a slower speed on your ice cream machine.

And you must use high quality milk and cream. No skim milks or low fats! If your not going to do it properly, don't make it at all!

So inspired again, i popped down to the bookshop to get a personally signed copy of Messina. And who might I bump into!? Maggie! She was just so lovely.

Now, I'm ready to run my own bakery & gelato shop!! Well, i am inspired to anyway.
Stay tuned for my blogs on baking bread & churning Gelato!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

My dad has a great veggie that I am very jealous of. But as they went off travelling to Kangaroo Island, I got to look after their veggie patch. And in doing so, I scored myself a delicious (& huge!) home grown pumpkin.

I was so excited! I was going to make baked pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin risotto, ect ect. The only problem was, that as soon as I cut into the pumpkin, it would only last a week or so in the fridge.

So, what do do with a pumpkin of this size! I just cant see food go to waste. I didn't want it to go off.

I was able to give a bit away, but I was still left with SO much pumpkin. After cutting some pieces to just keep in the fridge, I baked the rest in the oven & made pumpkin puree to freeze.

So, I started with some super healthy pumpkin bread. So delicious & so moist...a little too moist, so I had to put back in the oven for a little while on a low temp. And then there was pumpkin & sage scones! Wow, these were so good! With a little bit of Nuttalex (for Vegans) or even cream cheese.

Ok, but I still has more pumpkin left how about a pumpkin risotto (well not in the same day!) There is so much you can do with pumpkin...pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup.

I think I definitely have to try make a pumpkin pie...I still have pumpkin puree left in my freezer.

Well, if you do find yourself with too much pumpkin, here is some recipes that you can make to use up your pumpkin...

Pumpkin Puree (V+GF)


1 Pumpkin

Cut pumpkin in half or in pieces, depending on the size & place skin up on baking tray (lined with baking paper). Bake in the oven at around 180deg for 45-60mins, or until soft. Make sure you keep checking the pumpkin by lightly pressing on the skin.
When soft, remove from oven & cool. Scrape out of skin & mash or process in food processor.
Store in containers & freeze for later use.

Pumpkin seeds (V+GF)


Pumpkin Seeds
1-2 tbsp Coconut or Olive oil

Optional (Spices: Cinnamon or Cumin/Coriander) Coconut sugar/brown sugar

Wash the pumpkin seeds thoroughly & dry with a towel or paper towl. Make sure they are really dry. Mix in a bowl with oil, salt and any other flavourings. Place on lined baking tray & bake for 45mins at 150degC, turning & stirring in between. Let cool & enjoy

Pumpkin Bread (V+GF)


1.5 chia eggs (1.5 Tbsp chia seeds + 4 Tbsp water)
1 tbsp Coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 mashed ripe banana (primarily for binding)
1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice)
1/2 cup water
1 cup + 1 Tbsp gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp almond meal (ground from raw almonds)
1 1/4 cup Coconut flour
1 Tbsp raw pumpkin seeds &/or pecans

Prepare chia eggs in a large mixing bowl and preheat oven to 180degC. Prepare loaf pan by lightly greasing or lining with baking paper. 
To chia eggs add pumpkin, mashed banana, honey or maple syrup, coconut oil (you might need to melt a little, but make sure it is cool) and whisk to combine.
Next add coconut sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and whisk. Add water and whisk again.
Add oats, almond meal, coconut flour and stir. If it appears too wet, add in another couple Tbsp of oats or coconut flour. It should be semi-thick and pourable.
Scoop into loaf pan and top with pumpkin seeds &/or pecans
Bake for 40-47 minutes, or until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let set in pan for at least 20 minutes and then gently transfer to a plate to cool.
Let cool completely before slicing, preferably several hours, otherwise it can be a bit crumbly.
Also, slice gently, as it’s rather tender. Enjoy :)

Pumpkin Sage Scones (V)


3/4 cup unsweetened PLAIN almond milk + 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 cups wholemeal flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
pinch each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
2tbsp Coconut oil
2tbsp Nuttalex (Non-dairy butter)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp fresh sage, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degC.
Measure almond milk in a large liquid measuring cup and add lemon juice. Let curdle 5 minutes, then whisk in pumpkin puree.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg in a large bowl. Add nuttalex and use hands to combine until small pieces remain and it looks like wet sand. Work quickly so the butter doesn’t get too warm. Add coconut oil & mix again.
Using a wooden spoon, mix in chopped sage. Then stir gently while pouring in the almond-pumpkin mixture 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need all of it. Stir until just slightly combined. It will be a little sticky.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a bit of flour and then very gently turn the dough over on itself a couple times and add more flour as needed.
Form into a 1-inch thick disc, handling as little as possible. Use a 1-inch thick dough cutter or a similar-shaped object with sharp edges (such as a small drinking glass) and push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Repeat and place scones on a baking sheet. Gently reform the dough and cut out scones until no more dough is left.
Brush the tops with a bit more melted non-dairy butter and gently press a small divot in the center using your thumb. This will also help them rise evenly, so the middle won’t form a dome.
Bake for 13-17 minutes or until fluffy and golden brown. 

Recipes derived from: