Something for a Halloween dinner. Another sourdough loaf tied with string and baked in a Dutch oven. Use an almond or pecan for the stem. Serve it with eyeball soup (tomato soup with mini bocconcini combined with stuffed green olives). An olive and rosemary roach as garnish.
I found photos of the beautiful flat breads that they bake in Uzbekistan on a travel blog and headed to my kitchen. The bread stamps that they use, called chekich, is not available here, so I spent an afternoon in the garage making my own. It is a soft fluffy bread that contains yogurt. According to their tradition the bread should be torn by hand and not sliced. Quick and easy to make and eat.
I recently discovered a blog called: Tavola Mediterranea - Home of Culinary Archaeology on the Web. It is a fascinating and very informative blog on ancient history and baking. Two breads on this site really caught my attention and had me heading into the kitchen. The Roman Panis Quadratus and a Greek Prosphora.
The first bread I baked is Panis Quadratus. It featured in a post on baking with the Romans. The most interesting thing about this bread is that carbonised loaves were unearthed from the ruins at Pompeii. This version is a 100% wholewheat sourdough loaf that contains poppy seed, fennel seed and parsley. I think my modern wholewheat was not quite strong enough or else, I must not have tied the belt around the toga tight enough. My bread developed a bit of a belly, like a lazy Roman emperor. It is a reasonably dense loaf, but not heavy and tastes really good.
I will try her second version that is 50% wholewheat and 50% spelt flour next.
The tastiest sourdough I have ever baked. And also the most aromatic. It is one of those recipes that you bake in an enamel cast iron casserole dish and it just did not rise as much as I hoped. It had to prove in the fridge for two hours before being tipped into the hot pot, but I went swimming and it spent at least double that time in the fridge. I am not sure it that may have affected the rise. It is the best tasting bread without a doubt.
The mix of applesauce, ground almonds and orange is a great flavour combination. The recipe also included raisins, but I felt it did not quite feel right with the other ingredients so I gave it a miss. Orange flower water is very strong in terms of its perfume, so I settled for a half teaspoon and zested two oranges instead. I think it turned out perfectly in terms of taste. I will make this one again and again.
Our winter arrived very, very early and with a bang. Blizzard conditions in the alpine areas nearby and flash flooding and gale force winds at home. I packed a fire and spent the day baking. These came out of the oven first. A quick, one rise recipe. I took a few pictures immediately, because they are not going to last.
I used my 'cheat' sourdough starter for this one. It is reasonably quick because it uses yogurt and a 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast and makes a fair volume of starter. The recipe stated 180g of starter refreshed with 80% wheat and 20% rye flour. The bread is made with coconut water and also contains grated coconut. Slow rising, it sat in the fridge overnight for its first rise and I finally baked it the next evening. I love the way the aroma of the coconut takes over the kitchen when you toast it. We took the final slices with us when we went hiking in the mountains.
The various Rosellas in our garden loves eating the lavender seeds, sometimes daintily holding it with their feet while eating. It served as my inspiration for bread this week. Lavender makes me think of France, so voila, Lavender Fougasse!
The lavender flavour is very strong, so I used only a sprinkle and combined it with rosemary and orange thyme. I used my wheat sourdough starter for this one.
Leftover brandy from all those festive season plum puddings and cake. So I decided to make Sweetened Brandy Buns for brekky in the new year. Not nearly as sweet as I expected. It is quite good with something more savoury, butter and a gentle cheese like a gouda. From The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard.
I have not posted anything for ages. It has been a busy year full of life changes, gardening and travelling. I mainly stuck to my usual recipes. But I received the recipe for this interesting cake in West Australian Yoke Mardewi's December newsletter. Just had to try it and it is delicious. Next year should be more settled with lots more experiments in baking, roll on 2019!