Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

A Giant Bag of Grain Mix

Sigh. I’ve done it again.

Last week, when I popped into Southern Cross Supplies (to get more salt, but we won’t even go there), I passed sacks of Mauri grain mix on the clearance pallet. These had expiry dates of September and October this year. It’s worth noting that the instructions on the sack are to “use at 20%” – in other words, add 200g grain mix to 1kg of flour in a batch of dough.

So 20 KILOS…is quite a lot.

The grain mix normally wholesales at $78 per sack, and the clearance price was half of that. But the weather has warmed up in Sydney, and $39 was too much to punt on a bag of potentially bug-infested grain, so I asked them if they’d take less (my Chinese ancestors would have been so proud). In the end it only cost me $25, and it’s in perfect condition…

It’s a great mix of grains and seeds…

I immediately stashed half the bag in the freezer (confession: in thick plastic bags) and kept the rest for sharing and experimenting with. I made a batch of Em’s Mighty Multigrain from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple

I then adapted an idea from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf and boiled the grains briefly, drained them, then macerated them overnight in a pint of Little Creatures Pale Ale. The following morning, I blithely threw about a kilo of soaked grains into my usual sourdough recipe, which of course completely messed up both my salt and water quantities.

After adjusting by feel (never a process that works well for me), I ended up with a very wet dough that tried to slide off the table as I was shaping it. The final result was six large, slightly flat loaves…

My ever supportive neighbours tried them…and loved them! The crumb was very soft and the grains chewy rather than gritty. I’m off to raid the rest of Big Boy’s IPA stash…

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Apart from bread, I thought I’d try the grain mix in muesli bars (or flapjacks, as they call them in the UK). These worked brilliantly – so much so that I’ve just baked my third batch! They’d never pass as a health food, but they are deliciously moreish and quite filling…

Here’s my recipe, adapted loosely from the one in The River Cottage Cakes Handbook by Pam Corbin, and it’s dead easy…

  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 40g treacle
  • 150g raw sugar
  • 200g rolled oats
  • 100g grain mix
  • 100g organic sultanas
  • pinch sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 160°C with fan. In a large saucepan, gently melt together the butter, treacle and sugar. Be careful not to split the butter – once it melts a bit, take it off the heat and stir everything together until combined.

2. Stir in all the other ingredients and mix well. Turn the mixture into a lined 20cm x 25cm x 5cm baking pan. Spread everything out evenly, and then give the mix a good pressing in with the back of a spoon – you want to squish it as flat as possible.

3. Bake for 25 minutes until dark golden brown. When you pull the pan out of the oven, the mixture will still be bubbling and very hot – let it cool completely on a wire rack before removing to a board and cutting into bars. The base of the bars will be quite oily, so I blot them on a clean tea towel (you could use paper towels) before storing in an airtight container.

These are remarkably addictive and nothing like the boring supermarket versions! The original recipe used 250g oats and no grain mix, in case you don’t have a 20kg bag of the latter lying about…

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I’m not a fan of bircher muesli, but I’d love any other suggestions you might have for the grain mix. A friend suggested granola last night – might have to give that a go next! ♥

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Light Rye Loaf

“Em, can you please send me a new copy of your book? Mine is covered in oil…”

My friend just laughed at me – she knows I already have both the paper and digital versions of her magnum opus. If you’re a sourdough baker and you haven’t already bought a copy of Emilie Raffa’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, then you’re missing out.

Yes, I know, I’ve been raving on about it for a year now, but I’m still finding new recipes in it to experiment with. Last weekend I baked two of her focaccias (with a slightly amend blended of flours) and they went down a treat…

Our current favourite though is her light rye loaf…

I’ve tinkered with Em’s formula just a little, increasing the quantity of light rye flour to 30% instead of 20%. Here are the quantities I used to make the three loaves above:

  • 100g bubbly active starter
  • 730g water
  • 40g honey
  • 300g light rye flour
  • 700g bakers flour
  • 18g fine sea salt

On top of Em’s excellent instructions, I have four tips to offer which will make this bake extra special…

Firstly, track down a decent rye flour. It’s surprisingly difficult to find – I stopped baking with rye years ago after several disappointing batches. It was only my eagerness for Em’s recipe that led me to try again, and I’ve discovered an excellent German light rye from Southern Cross Supplies. It’s a new product and only available in 5kg bags, so you might want to consider sharing with a friend…

. . . . .

Secondly, even though there’s only a small amount of honey in the mix, use the best you can afford, because the flavour is very evident in the finished loaf. I’m using either the excellent Miellerie honey from Tasmania, or my friend Ian’s Pink Anarel honey, both of which add a gentle but sophisticated sweetness to the dough…

. . . . .

Thirdly, be aware that this is a sticky dough. Dust the bench and your hands with plenty of fine semolina or rye flour. If you’d like to achieve a holey crumb, wet your fingers slightly, shake them off, then dimple the dough as shown in our earlier post

. . . . .

Finally, turn the heat down a tiny bit and watch the loaves carefully once the lid is off the roaster – the honey turns the crust a magnificent dark brown, but it can also cause it to burn more easily.

I’m baking three smaller loaves rather than two larger ones (the original formula was for a single loaf using 500g flour), so I allow 23 minutes at 220C fan-forced with the lid on, then 16 – 18 minutes at 200 – 210C fan-forced with the lid off. Occasionally, I’ll pop the loaves on the shelf for an extra 5 minutes at 170C just for good measure. Adjust according to how your oven bakes – mine has a tendency to run hot.

Once cool, the loaves keep really well in a beeswax wrap!

. . . . .

As my friend PeteV says, this recipe is a keeper! The loaf has a chewy, elastic crumb, a slightly nutty flavour, and a gentle sweetness that makes it perfect with everything from cheese to peanut butter to slow smoked brisket. I’m baking it at least once a week these days, as the boys can’t get enough of it (neither can I, if I’m honest). Thanks for such a fabulous recipe, Em! ♥

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Holey Loaves

Sorry I’ve been so quiet these past couple of months!

We’ve had a bad run with coughs and colds (I’ve had three since the beginning of March) and it’s been hard to get the momentum up to blog.

That said, I’ve still been baking every week, and Priscilla has been in fine form, producing loaves with wonderful texture and flavour. In many ways, her winter loaves are even tastier than her summer ones (I think it’s the longer proving time)…

Here’s the shaping trick I use these days to achieve a holey crumb – adapted from a technique taught to me by the son of an old Italian baker. Emilie has a similar method in her book as well (Artisan Sourdough Made Simple).

Small Man, with his rock steady magician’s hands, took this video for me…


Start with a high hydration dough – I use 100g starter, 750g water, 1kg bakers flour and 18g sea salt.

Once the dough has proved overnight, divide it up, roughly shape each piece into a ball and allow it to rest on a well dusted bench (I use fine semolina) for about 15 minutes. When it’s time for the final shaping, flip the ball seam side up, then flatten it out. Now wet your fingers in cold water and shake off the excess. Push your fingertips right down to the bench top (but not through the dough) dimpling the dough as you might a focaccia. Then shape into a loaf, prove and bake as per normal. It works a treat! ♥

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A Korean Food Adventure

Long time readers might recall that we were introduced to Korean food by Big Boy five years ago.

Since that time, we’ve had a growing fascination with the flavours of this wonderful cuisine, moving on from the widely available barbecue offerings to japchae and spicy stews like jjigae (photo above), which we’ll whip up for dinner on a regular basis. We use a fabulous recipe by Adam Liaw, taken from his Asian After Work cookbook…

Asian After Work: Simple food for every day by [Liaw, Adam]

Earlier this year, we experimented with dolsot bibimbap for our seasonal vegetarian dinner party. This dish is traditionally cooked in a hot stone bowl to create a crispy rice crust and heat through the other ingredients. We didn’t have individual bowls, so we improvised with our Emile Henry Flame pots. It was a huge hit…

Pete and I had so much fun prepping this dish that we decided to explore Korean cuisine further.

The first step (of course) was to acquire the necessary cookware. We decided that traditional dolsot (stone/granite bowls) were too heavy for us to handle, so we settled on the far more economical ceramic ttukbaegi pots, which my darling friend Al and I found at Asiana Grocery (Korean supermarket) in the Lemon Grove Arcade in Chatswood. The folks there were very helpful and answered our questions cheerfully.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a bit obsessed with clay cookware, so finding such gorgeous new pieces was like uncovering treasure…

Next, we went looking for recipes.

Maangchi to the rescue! Many of you will already know of this prolific Korean blogger and YouTuber, but it was the first time we’d come across any of her recipes. We carefully studied her videos on shopping in a Korean supermarket and then took ourselves off to Komart in North Strathfield. This is what we came home with…

The receipt made me laugh a lot, as I have no idea what most of it meant…

The first dish we tried was Maangchi’s dakjjim (braised chicken with vegetables and starch noodles). Each of her recipes comes with an excellent video. The kids adored this dish – an entire wok full of stew was scraped clean (and yes, that’s cooked cucumber in the photo below)…

Last night we made her kimchi-sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew with kimchi and pork belly). It was the perfect excuse to test out our new ttukbaegi pots. I soaked them in cold water before heating on the gas burner…

Again, Maangchi’s instructions and video offered excellent guidance, and we were delighted with how dinner turned out. I ate until I couldn’t bend over and had to lie down to let my stomach settle. But just look at how pretty it was!

There’s a lot more to explore on Maangchi’s website, and I’ve also purchased her cookbook, which is available in Kindle format for just $4

Cooking Korean Food with Maangchi: Book 1, 2, & 3 by [Maangchi]

So…it looks like 2018 is going to be the year of Korean cuisine in our house. Thankfully our sons (particularly Big Boy) both love the flavours as much as we do. I’ll keep you posted on our adventures!

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Here is a quick variation on my previous recipe, using chocolate chips and a reduced amount of milk.

I made it for friends who are slightly lactose intolerant, but it’s proven to be a big hit with everyone else as well. Each bun contained just 1¾ teaspoons of milk. The glaze was made simply of water and sugar, with a little butter added to reduce flakiness (there’s almost no lactose in butter).

I’ve increased the hydration slightly to lighten the crumb, resulting in a slightly stickier dough that’s a bit harder to work with. It’s worth the extra effort though, as the finished bun is fluffy and light, with a brioche-like texture. I’ve also omitted the spice, as I wasn’t sure how it would go with the chocolate.

For 12 buns, I used the following ingredients (please resize quantities as needed):


  • 500g bakers/bread flour
  • 50g ripe, bubbly sourdough starter
  • 7g fine sea salt
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large (60g) free range eggs
  • 100g dark chocolate chips (I used Callebaut 811 54%)
  • 100g full cream milk, heated gently and then cooled to blood temperature, or UHT milk, unrefrigerated
  • 150g water


  • 2 tablespoons self raising flour
  • 1 – 1½ tablespoons cold water


  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (approximately) of unsalted butter

Note: Please follow the method outlined in our previous recipe. I baked this batch of 12 in a small lamington tin (29 x 19cm). Enjoy!

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