Grow Gather Enjoy: Bread

Showing posts with label Bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bread. Show all posts

Stuffed Mexican Rolls (or another way to use up bread that's nearly past it)

21 August 2018
I got back from a weekend away at the snow (the reason for no Sunday post) to find some sad looking rolls that I forgot about. I had meant to pop them in the freezer but in my organising to head away with two small kiddos it somehow slipped my mind!

I really do so I was trying to think up a way to use them for dinner that didn't involve heating them with soup. I feared that even some generous warmth wouldn't quite be enough. I also had some black beans in the fridge in need of quick use and an idea was born: Stuffed Mexican Rolls.

Stuffed Mexican Rolls

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The #1 thing I've learnt about sourdough success (so far)

26 July 2018
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I've been working on my sourdough baking this year. The reason for this has been two fold. Firstly, I wanted to try out different recipes and experiment with just how many things I can make with sourdough. Secondly, I wanted to build my overall baking skills and figure out why some bakes are good and others aren't.

There has been a lot of baking going on around here, and a lot of bread eating - which is an enjoyable experience in my book (although it ). There has also been a lot of learning and I've discovered the number one reason why some of my previous sourdough baking attempts were not so stellar.


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Mid Winter Happenings

05 July 2018
Each morning we wake to frosty grass and chilly temperatures. My morning walking ritual has not been as frequent and the urge to stay in bed cozy under the doona is strong. We are in the middle of winter.

On the flipside, the sun shines brightly most days and I have a special afternoon sun soaking spot to relax in (kids allowing!!). We took our girls to see snow for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they were enthralled. The visual seasonal contrasts is nice to appreciate. And the weather is just perfect for warming, comforting foods. Also, different seasonal foods leads to experimentation in the kitchen.

Kale and carrot slaw.

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A very versatile sourdough flat bread dough

01 July 2018
On my quest to extend my sourdough baking repertoire I spent a little time (ok, a lot!) researching flatbread options. Previously I've used commercial yeast, yoghurt or even no raising agent at all in my variety of flatbread recipes. I'm happy to report that I found a sourdough winner.

This flatbread dough recipe is quick, easy and serves many purposes. It started out as a flat bread and gozleme dough and then one day I got distracted and never got around to rolling and cooking. So, by the time I got back to it I thought I'd try it out as a pizza dough and was happy with the result. I've also used it to make naan and tortilla for Enchiladas and quesadillas. I haven't found a flatbread style use yet that it hasn't worked for.

Versatile flatbread pan fried and ready to enjoy.

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Baking Bread: no fancy equipment required

28 June 2018
When I first started baking bread I used what I had on hand. However, in the back of my head I was thinking I'd need to upgrade to some 'proper' equipment if I got into the swing of things.

I would often eye off different woven and linen lined bannetons. I researched lames and bench scrappers and all those things. I even looked at different bread bins and the best options to store my loaves.

Homemade sourdough.

Alongside my adventures in bread baking I also started to move towards a stronger connection to my values and how these underpinned my everyday living. A strong value for me is around reducing waste and conscious consumer purchasing. So, I started to question these ideas around what I thought I needed to bake bread. Now many years later I'm still just using what I have on hand.

I thought I'd run through some of the things I use. Hopefully this is useful for those out there doing the same to know that you aren't alone in not owning all the beautiful bread things. And also, for budding bakers I hope this shows that you can start right now, you don't have to wait until you get the right 'insert coveted baking item here' to get started.

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sourdough bagels: further bread adventures

21 June 2018
I declared 2018 the year I got my sourdough experimenting on. I wanted to try out new recipes and also to get a bit more of a feel for why some bakes worked well and otherwise, well, not so much. There has been lots of baking and lots of learning.

I've been trying out a few recipes but mostly slowly working my way through an awesome Christmas present: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. I started with an everyday loaf and a cinnamon swirl () and then tested out one of the sandwich loaves (). I've also been baking her focaccia and some tasty thyme rolls (yet to be blogged). I haven't found a dud recipe yet.

But what I've been eyeing off from the start has been the bagels. I've previously made yeast based bagels and was intrigued to give sourdough ones a go. Let me tell you I wasn't disappointed.

Sourdough bagel success

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Here and Now: June 2018

12 June 2018
Just like that it's June. The weather has shifted from chilly autumn into definite winter. The trees are mostly bare and their shed leaves collect around the garden (thanks mother nature for laying my mulch for me!).

Gloomy skies and (all but) bare trees)

It's hibernation time. I've shifted from the reflection of autumn to the feeling of being still. Most days find me wanting to curl up under my nanna rug on the couch with a pot of tea and a good book. Alas, the daily tasks still beckon no matter the weather, but there is a definite slower pace.

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Here and Now: May 2018

15 May 2018
Autumn is definitely my favourite season. As a child I think it had to do with the fact it was my birthday season, but over time it has maintained its place as number one season in my book. 

There is a grounding and calming about autumn that I really enjoy. Things naturally slow as the weather cools and the days shorten. The changes in nature provide a visual prompt to pause in the moment and savour the here and now. To connect with this time and place. To slow, to turn inwards and to reflect.



Loving // The amazing colour show that is Canberra in autumn. There has been lots of rustling walks through the leaves and leaf collecting happening around here.

Eating // Warming soups and cheesy sourdough toasted sandwiches. I'm hoping to try out a few new soup recipes this winter (if you have any recommendations on a soup that is a little different please feel free to share).



Tea in the sunshine, enjoying the autumn show.

Drinking // Tea - no surprise there. Getting back into making chai now the weather has cooled.

Feeling // A little under the weather with a cold at the moment but overall feeling content with a sprinkling of inspired. I'm working away on re-building my 'day job' business and it feels nice to use my brain for different things.


Harvesting and preserving the last of the tomatillos.

Making // Lots of baked goods lately - trying different breads, experimenting with sourdough starter in things other than bread and keeping the snack jar full. The last of the preserves.


Thinking // About so many ideas for my business. On the home-front I'm thinking about lots of weekend jaunts and day trips to discover the food and wine places that have emerged while I've been interstate.

Current library book pile.

Dreaming // Of a winter holiday up north to warmer climes. I'm enjoying the change in season but I know a little holiday where it's warmer will help to break things up. Also, one of my lovely sister in laws moved to Brisbane at the beginning of the year so we are looking forward to spending time with her and hopefully a few others along the way as we road trip up.

What's been happening in your world? Fancy updating us all in the comments below or on your own online space. Head on over to to check out what others have been up to and to join in if you can - you'll also find some pretty inspirational knitting to enjoy.

P.S I'll be back on Thursday with Reuse: Food Waste Part 3.

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Baking a sourdough sandwich loaf

26 April 2018

This year I've been challenging myself to improve my sourdough bread baking. I've been working through some recipes in the book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa as I a few weeks back.

I've been wanting to add a sandwich bread to my sourdough repertoire for a little variety and the option of a softer crust. I find that unless my girls are really hungry the crusts of my free form loaves always get left behind. I think it's just too much chewing. In my youngest daughter's defense she does only have six teeth in total and all at the front so it's probably pretty hard going...but I digress.

It was great to come across sourdough sandwich loaves in the book as I had been stalling on trying a sandwich bread because I wanted to stick to the sourdough and hadn't come across many softer loaf bakes. This is probably because the delicious sourdough crust is surely more than half the appeal for those of the population that aren't too lazy to chew and have all our molars. I was also reluctant to begin looking for one as once I start researching new recipes it's a slippery slope....


My first attempt at a sourdough sandwich loaf.


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Working on my sourdough bread

03 April 2018
Lately I've been experimenting with my sourdough baking. I mentioned in an  that I'm keen to try new recipes and improve my everyday loaf. I feel like this year is a perfect time to do it as I have a little more time on my hands with my eldest  off to pre-school and living in a rental without my large food garden (sad face).

I received a copy of  Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa for Christmas and have started working my way through a few recipes. I read about this book over on which is in itself a great resource for sourdough baking. Celia had posted about a few recipes she had tried from the book and they looked so amazing. I was sold.

Everyday Sourdough

It was opportune timing as I had been thinking a lot about working on my baking skills and as immensely useful as blogs are I do like to have a book as a reference as well. I promptly dropped a hint to my husband that should anyone be looking for a Christmas gift for me this book could be a good option. And by dropped a hint I mean I texted him the book depository link which he eventually passed on to an interested party.

Cinnamon swirl bread.


When I finally got around to  making my first loaves from the book I wasn't disappointed. I started with the Everyday Sourgdough and Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. The recipes use a small amount of starter and a long bulk fermentation (which is the first rise of sourdough making) which I was keen to try out.

Everyday sourdough loaf crumb.


True to form I did deviate from the recipe for the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. I used dried cranberries instead of raisins and sunflower seeds instead of walnuts as these were what I had on hand. I also chose to bake it in a loaf tin rather than free form.  However, I didn't let them rise in the tin enough before I put them in the oven. This was an oversight on my part as further reading of the loaf baking section shows that the dough should be proved a little longer for the final proof compared to a free form loaf and baked at a lower temp. Room for improvement next time.

Cinnamon 'cranberry' swirl proving.


I was really happy with the overall results. As you can see I'm no expert sourdough baker but the bread was more than edible, had a great crumb and mostly looked the part. In fact the Everyday loaf was gone in one day. So I think I'm onto a winner there.

Have you been baking anything new lately (bread or otherwise)?
Where do you stand on the whole recipe following thing – to the letter or a bit more laissez-faire?


P.S When I read the book I realised that I was actually familiar with the author's blog. Her post had formed part of my drawn out extensive research on sourdough before I jumped down the rabbit hole. Heaps of great info to get your head around the whole 'sourdough thing'.


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Using up your bread scraps: reducing food waste

22 March 2018
Using as much of a food as possible can extend to so much more than 'nose to tail' eating. For me it fits with my values around respecting the resources that have gone into making the things we eat and reducing food waste.

Since making my own bread we often have scraps around. Sometimes it's the end of a loaf that's gone hard before being used up or the uneaten crusts that the kiddos leave behind and even the crumbs on the board after slicing up a loaf. None of the ideas below are ground breaking but they are so simple to do, not to mention frugal too. They are also great strategies to implement if you are keen on reducing your kitchen food waste.

And probably most importantly they simply taste good.

Croutons

What's not to love about crispy tasty bite sized bits of bread? I make croutons from any chunks of leftover bread, including the aforementioned discarded crusts and petrified bread ends. I simply chop into bite sized pieces and pop into a container until I'm ready to bake them up, which is usually when I have the oven going for something else. Once you are ready to make them simply spread on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with seasoning of choice. Then pop them in a moderate or low oven to toast away – do watch them as they brown pretty quickly. Toss them on your salads or soups or do as my four year old loves to do and simply snack on them straight from the container.

Crunchy bread goodness

Adding to meals

If you want to skip all that crouton making palaver here are a couple of easy ways to use up chopped up leftover bread:

  • Sprinkle on top of any cheese topped dish destined for the oven
  • Strata – think savoury bread and butter pudding or fritatta with chunks of bread in it. It's a popular breakfast dish in the US but I think it's good any time of the day
  • Bread and butter pudding - an oldie but a goodie, I like to add some stewed or preserved fruit for a bit of a flavour lift.

Breadcrumbs

I can't tell you the last time I actually bought breadcrumbs. These days I simply scrape up the crumbs left behind on the bread board or in the bottom of the bread bag and store in an airtight container in the cupboard or freezer. I also add any crumbs from crackers or crispbreads to the mix too. These are an easy substitute for the bought variety and do add up surprisingly quickly. Home collected bread crumbs are usually a little bigger and less uniform than the commercial variety but I just call them rustic and go with it. If you can be bothered or are using a recipe that calls for a fine crumb they can be whizzed up in the food processor to make them a little finer.

Home 'harvested' breadcrumbs

Tasty tip - home collected breadcrumbs make great pangratatto for sprinkling on your pasta or veg for an added texture boost.

So there you have it. A couple of simple strategies to turn crusty bits of bread into tasty kitchen goodies.

Are you working on reducing your kitchen food waste?
Got any other ideas for using up those crusty bread bits?
Does anyone else out there collect their breadcrumbs or am I on my own on this one?
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Baking my own bread

08 March 2018
When I was a kid I rarely ate bread. Growing up in a small rural town it was generally the generic fluffy white bread option and I just didn't like it. More specifically I hated the taste of the crust – it used to make me gag. So everyday I took my crispbreads and spreads to school in lieu of the standard 1980s sandwich for lunch. Toast was ok but 'fresh' bread – no way.

Sourdough fresh from the oven


The first time I tasted good bread was when I was staying with a friend's family in Canberra while doing a uni placement. Her mum was having mothering withdrawals and so looked after me rather well. When I got home from work on the first day she made me toast – woodfired italian bread toast. It was a revelation to me. The chewy texture, the crunchy crust, the actual flavour. It opened my eyes to what bread could be (later my palate was completely blown away when I first went to Europe and tasted all they had to offer). And so bread made its way back into my life.

I started baking my own bread about five years ago when I had begun my endeavours to make more things from scratch. I sampled a few different recipes and settled on this  from one of my favourite blogs. It made a great loaf, was easy enough to do during the week, around work and later with a new baby (well newish, I don't think I got back into bread baking for at least 6 months or so). I've since passed this recipe onto countless people who have expressed their interest in baking their own bread and it has been universally successful. Even for my mum who has been scared of cooking with yeast my whole life. So if you are looking for a place to start or have been thinking about making your own bread, even just occasionally, I can't recommend Rhonda's tutorial enough.

Tasty 5 minute bread


My interest was piqued in giving sourdough a try when I had a newborn. Hours on the couch feeding led to lots of reading of things that I wanted to be doing but wasn't – namely gardening and cooking. I lived vicariously through books and blogs (I always have and still do). Sourdough seemed the ultimate in making bread from scratch, paring things right back to the basics of just flour and water. When it comes to trying something new though I generally don't rush. Which in this case was a good thing seeing as there was no way I was going to be able to look after a starter and a baby at the same time.

Fast forward a year or so and I was ready. I'd over researched sourdough starters and beginner loaves and I no longer had a newborn on my hands. My friend gave me some starter. I killed it. Or thought I had at the time but in hindsight, and a few years experience with the occasionally neglected starter, I realise I probably could have coaxed it back to life. It was probably for the best though as I think actually making my own starter from scratch gave me a greater understanding of the flexibility of sourdough. Despite my extensive research into starting a starter I did what I always do and winged it a little. I wasn't exact with my daily feed measurements and I even used plain old all purpose no brand flour to start. It worked out and my original starter is still going strong.  I also must admit that in further bucking of my sourdough research I didn't even name my starter – every now and then I try and think of a fitting name but my starter remains nameless.

My nameless starter getting ready to do its thing.

Bread baking has become a part of my routine now. There are times when I bake more and times I bake a little less. Recently when we moved interstate I didn't bake at all for a few weeks either side – occasionally I remember to keep food prep expectations in line with what is happening in life. But I did put my starter to bed and bring it with me in the esky (along with a few other fermenting friends) and got back into things once the dust settled on our move. This year I'm planning to do a little more perfecting of my everyday loaf and also a bit of experimenting. I'm particularly keen to find a good fruit loaf and a sandwich loaf with a softer crust for my girls because they ALWAYS leave the crunchier crust behind. I'm no expert but I'll share a few of my bakes with you here in the hopes of inspiring you to give it a go and as a handy way to keep track of my efforts.

Are you a bread baking enthusiast or aspiring to be one?
Do you too research things to death before taking the plunge? Or do you take action first and ask questions later?
Have you got any go-to recipes that I should add to my 'must bake' list?
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