As we have a house full of pumpkins and oranges. Just missing carrots for the trifecta. πŸ™‚ Continue reading

A workshop in Sourdough

Yesterday I attended the Prickleberry Sourdough workshop on how to make sourdough. Considering how much I have learned and how my bread turns out most of the time (not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but not bad none the less) I was really surprised with just how much I learned. All complimentary to what I already knew but I did learn why some of the breads I’ve made are less than satisfactory. And I’ve now got another starter on the go who shall be named Andreas (please don’t let mt brother-in-law know I’ve named some flour, water and wild yeasts after him πŸ˜‰ )

I’ve come away with 2 recipes, or 2 variations of the same recipe for bread and then information on how to jazz up the bread in a dozen ways. Whilst we made fruit loaves using soaked apricots, sultanas and spices, Oskar made chocolate loaf. Yep, chocolate bread! NOICE! πŸ˜€ I’ve come home with quite a doughy bounty. I have a new starter, a loaf of plain shaped loaf, a cob fruit loaf (the way to form a cob loaf is MUCH harder than I thought – practice needed there), dough that I made there, now baked into olive bread here at home this morning and as there was extra dough at the end of the class and we hung around to chat, another batch of dough I made into a tinned loaf this morning. I learned that the oldest known sourdough starter in Australia is about 150 years old and kept in 3 forms – dried, fresh and frozen. I learned that starters do well with sugars in them and Andreas has a slice of apple in him which I will discard tomorrow and a generous pinch of sultanas which will remain indefinitely. I also learned that using the water from cooking spuds makes a very sour smelling starter but even an over fermented apple based starter will smell of sweet apple cider vinegar. I also learned that I have been baking with a LOT of starter which may not all be necessary. Now there are different ways to bake and everyone has their own method, recipe and style and I’m not actually wrong which what I’ve been doing but I now have other recipes and techniques. I had an absolute ball making it too.

The only bad news I have to report is that not once did I think of taking a photo! Not a since one. Sorry.

Prickleberry Sourdough are only a new bakery (although Oskar grew up in a cake bakery on Ackland Street) and have done very well for themselves with their new store opining in a little over a month in Mair Street (just in case anyone is going through Ballarat or lives locally) and given the taste of the breads we ate throughout the day, if you can visit I highly recommend it. They have a Facebook page if you’re on Facebook too –


And this is why I make my own!

I bake my own bread. I have done for a few years now, even before the arrival of Hermy the Thermy. I love that my whole family LOVES the bread I bake. I either make sourdough white bread or a sourdough home-ground spelt and white bread, depending on whether Thermy has just been washed or not (if he’s wet I have to spend the time to get him bone dry for grinding grains and that depends on available time and motivation at the given moment. πŸ˜‰ ) but either way I know EXACTLY what goes into each and every loaf I bake. Even before I made sourdough bread I baked at home, firstly using my mixmaster to help with at least some of the kneading and then usually putting in some time to hand knead too and then after the arrival of Hermy I’d get him to do the hard yards, both grinding and kneading. Now I still use his skills for mixing and kneading but the dough itself does the work for me as I use a no-knead technique which works beautifully as it also allows for souring time. Win all round.

I bake my own bread for several reasons. Firstly, with a history of gluten/wheat intolerance in my family and finding I have my own issues with eating plain wheat breads it is cheaper and tastier to bake my own sourdough than buy traditional supermarket gluten free breads.

Secondly, I enjoy it. Some days I can’t necessarily be bothered making the dough for the fridge (that’s where the no-knead dough lives whilst it kneads itself) but then I think of the wonderful benefits and taste of my bread and that never fails to motivate me, which brings about the third reason.

My bread, or any home-made, non commercially baked bread in my opinion, tastes far superior to supermarket bread or even bakery bread. That’s just my opinion though but one that my family shares. My bread is deep, rich, heavy (no light fluffy nothingness bread here), nutty when made with spelt flour included and completely filling. A cheese sandwich here is a filling meal! πŸ™‚

Fourthly, my bread is healthy. Aside from the argument that grain products aren’t good for us (read into the paleo diet if you’re interested) or the arguments about excess salt, my bread is healthy. It contains filtered water (no chlorine), rye sourdough starter which is full of all sorts of wonderful beneficial wild yeasts harvested if you like from the air we breathe and made with filtered water and freshly ground rye flour, some salt and I use Himalayan crystal salt, not refined table salt crap (read here for an interesting article on salt) and then of course, the flour. I use organic Lauke white flour and sometimes, as mentioned home ground biodynamic spelt flour. Flour begins to lose its nutrients after grinding so many of the flours in the supermarkets may well be nutrient-devoid or dead by the time we see them on the shelf. Grinding your own is the best way to guarantee it’s fresh. Some flours begin to turn rancid soon after grinding too, spelt is one of them and given the bread I bake I like to buy large quantities, not something I can do with spelt flour. With only 4 ingredients I can’t really go wrong! πŸ™‚

Fifthly, I bake it because I can. I don’t like to buy things that I can make myself. Call me a rebel but if I can “damn the man” in anyway possible, I do. πŸ˜€ As soon as I find something I think I have to buy I will have a good go at making my own just so I don’t have to give any more month than absolutely necessary to the big supermarket chains or large companies.

And sixthly, because I don’t trust the big companies, or even many of the smaller ones. At risk of sounding like some crazy conspiracy theorist (which I probably am to be honest πŸ˜‰ ) I don’t trust their ingredients or intentions (beyond making as much money as they can) as far as I can spit! THEY don’t care about the health of my family beyond the level that means I can’t sue them. If they can get away with it and it’s not illegal then they will do what they can if it makes them or saves them money. (Read this as a perfect example).

Anyway, this morning as I was acquainting myself with the flood and fire news of our country I came across this clanger! Now, bread, even homemade bread is at least vegetarian (some recipes use milk, butter or buttermilk) and I know mine is vegan (discounting harnessing and using the yeasts) but these articles, this one that I read some time back and this one I read this morning Β share that bread is not even vegetarian and in some cases, somewhat cannibalistic! YUK! If I want to eat hair I have plenty of my own thanks and I KNOW what products and chemicals have been used on it. As for chicken, if I want chicken I prefer it without the feathers and again, from sources I know! And NOT in my bread thanks.

Reading the second article this morning simply served to back up my beliefs that you cannot trust corporations in many cases as far as you can spit and the FSANZ is no better. These are the people that okayed BPA after all and didn’t even know that Canada had banned the use of BPA So I’m pretty convinced they aren’t doing their jobs to be honest. It all serves as a warning though that we cannot trust the government nor corporations to do what is best for us personally. They are balancing economics into the equation, just as we all have to do but their economics are in the millions and billions so the inclusion of an amino acid extracted from human hair or chicken feathers in our bread is probably not even a blip on their radar. We need to look and research for ourselves! It can make it a long and tedious (or more tedious) job to do the grocery shopping but if we want to avoid eating foods containing compounds of dubious origin or preservatives and food colourings with questionable research into their effects then research we must or simply, never purchase anything but pure raw ingredients. That’s rather difficult to do (mostly yes but entirely?) so reading and research really is quite necessary in order to avoid ingesting these sort of things.

Anyway, that’s me finished on my soapbox. πŸ˜‰

I will say one thing for conventional and supermarket purchased foods though. They can NEVER be accused of adding to the taste of foods. πŸ˜› We had a friend stay over the weekend and I cooked up a biodynamic corned beef I had (ok, I corned a silverside cut for the pedantic πŸ˜‰ ) and served it with organic green beans, mashed potatoes with parmesan cheese, carrots and organic turnips and I must say ALL the flavour was in the turnips and beans and they beef was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! I have NEVER had corned beef like this before in my life and there is no testament to my cooking there I promise you. I’m capable of cooking good foods and following recipes but I’m no great shakes as a cook I can guarantee. So, ALL the glory goes to the meat. It was mindblowing! We all ate far more than we should have, followed by organic rhubarb and custard which was also delicious. I can highly recommend spending the extra to buy organic and better yet biodynamic meats. Nom nom nom.