I promise I haven’t disappeared, but it’s been a hectic (and fun) few weeks!

I’ve still been walking though, and this sunrise was just too pretty not to share with you. It was taken with my iPhone at 7am. If you click on the image, a much larger version will open and you’ll be able to see the gloriousness that greeted Big Boy and I this morning.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon to catch you up on what’s been happening! ♥

I’ve been going crazy with the fish tweezers!

After my initial experiments with embossing sourdough loaves, I thought I’d try monogramming initials on. My first attempt was a bit dodgy…

…but look how it turned out!

My friend Emilie is visiting Sydney at the moment, so I made her a monogrammed loaf as well…

So much fun! If you’re trying this, I’d suggest using a lower hydration dough as the firmer texture is easier to pinch with the tweezers. I might try a more intricate pattern next…watch this space!

I’m SO excited by this discovery that I’m sharing it with you before the loaves have even cooled down!

Last night, I was reading about the Azerbaijani dessert Shekebura, which uses specialised tweezers to pinch a design into the pastry before baking. I thought it might translate to sourdough, so this morning I made up a batch of our cooking class dough and gave it a go.

After proving and shaping the loaves in bannetons, I made one long slash down the side (to control the rise and ensure that the loaves didn’t burst), then set to work with my fish tweezers…

I actually squealed with excitement when I took the lids off the pots! The finished loaves have beautifully patterned crusts…

I’ve found that dusting with fine semolina prior to baking enhances the pattern – you’d probably get an even more pronounced effect with a coating of flour prior to baking…

I’m wondering now if I can emboss more detailed patterns or possibly even words onto the surface…

Have a go! It’s definitely something worth experimenting with! ♥

We have finally figured out the secret to growing snake beans!

Well, Pete has, at least. They need lots and lots of water. We planted a dozen seeds this year, on the basis that they never all grow…but they did. So now we have a mountain of snake beans, which we’re eating at every meal and freezing for winter…

They’ve been my favourite vegetable since I was a small child, so I’m very happy…

The plants need the solid support of our large homemade A-frame

Here’s what we’re picking on an almost daily basis – hopefully we’ll get another couple of weeks out of this crop…

Our current favourite dish to make with them is Thai Prik Khing, constructed very simply with pork mince and an awesome little tin of paste…

At just $1.19 per tin, I keep a stack of them in the pantry…

Finally, remember our young friend Grace? She was spotted last weekend wandering through the snake bean tunnel. You’ll be pleased to know that she’s still the same shark-suit wearing impromptu ballet performing girl sorceress that she’s always been! ♥

. . . . .

PS. If anyone is interested in how we made the A-frame, there are detailed instructions in this post

Following on from our sourdough blueberry cake (previous post), I thought I’d try using leftover starter in place of buttermilk. I had to add a teaspoon of lime juice to raise the acidity level, but the finished cake was deliciously tender and flavoursome.

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 150g almond meal
  • 200g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150ml liquid sourdough starter*
  • 1 tsp lime juice (if needed)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • mulberry jam (any jam or curd should work)

*I didn’t fuss too much about the starter – I used mine straight out of the fridge and just eyeballed the quantity in a cup measure. Taste it first to see if you need the extra lime juice.

1. Cream together butter, sugar and zest, then mix in eggs and vanilla. Beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

2. Stir together the flour and almond meal in a separate bowl.

3. Mix in half of the flour mixture, then the starter and lime juice, then the rest of the flour, mixing well after each addition.

4. Spoon half the batter into a well-oiled bundt pan, spoon on a layer of jam, then top with remaining batter. Bake in a preheated fan forced 160C oven for 40 – 45mins, rotating the cake halfway through if needed.

5. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.

I tried this cake again in my 20cm square tin with removable base (which was sooo much easier to wash than the bundt pan). It needed a few minutes longer in the oven, but produced a gentle, easy eating cake that the boys are finding irresistible. And as Pete and I are becoming more lactose intolerant in our old age, we’re very happy to find a way to revisit all the yoghurt and buttermilk cakes that we’ve had to avoid in recent years.

So the next time you have leftover sourdough starter and some jam, bake a cake!

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