Posts Tagged ‘homemade bread’

Something unusual happened last week.

Pete was getting some meat out of the freezer, and he mentioned that there were just two sourdough rosetta rolls left in there.  That’s probably the lowest our bread supplies have been in years – no doubt a product of my recent photo-snapping hypomania. It was time for some serious weekend baking.

I baked eight wonky sourdough ciabatta loaves and a batch of supernatural brownies on Friday. Only four of the loaves made it to the freezer – the rest were eaten or given away.

These were followed by a batch of Dan Lepard’s potato stotties, which were gone before they had a chance to cool…

Inspired by lovely Joanna’s recent post, I baked another batch of semolina bbq buns. I’d forgotten how much I adore these!  And it was fun to bake a couple of quick yeast breads for weekend eating – it made a nice change from sourdough.

As usual, I over-scored these, so some of them broke apart into teeny tiny mini buns.  We had visitors on Sunday, and their small children were absolutely delighted…

I uncovered an old tub of ricotta in the fridge nearing its expiry date, so I drained it and tipped it into a small pie dish.  The top was drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil and topped with a scattering of citrus salt, rosemary and thyme, then baked in a hot oven until firm and golden. It made a great accompaniment to the buns and stotties…

And finally, I baked four large (1.3kg) white sourdough loaves in my Römertopf clay loaf pans.  These have become a house standard – the boys enjoy having “toast” bread, and I love not having to preheat the oven.  I now cut the loaves in half before freezing them, as the wolves have been known to defrost and eat a whole one at a single sitting!

I baked two regular loaves, and two with the Billington’s Molasses Sugar that I bought last week.  The small change resulted in a deeper coloured crumb and crust…

I slashed the tops with two sweeping arcs that crossed at either end, which produced a nice, even oven spring. Pete made a comment about loaves and fishes…

So…the bread drawer in the freezer is fully restocked. But given that school holidays are imminent, I’ll probably be baking again next weekend!

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Sydney’s inner west suburb of Haberfield is known around these parts as Little Italy.

I’m at the Haberfield shops at least once a week, visiting Johnny’s cheese shop, drinking chai lattes at Manny’s cafe, or buying pasta from my friend Joe at Peppe’s Pasta.  Lorraine at NQN did a great walking tour of the suburb – grab a cup of tea and check it out here.

At the heart of Little Italy is Lamonica’s IGA – a supermarket quite unlike any other in Sydney.  As well as standard groceries, they also stock a wide range of imported Italian goods, including interesting pastas, deli items, cake ingredients, olive oils, vinegars and more.

When I was there last week, they had Italian flour on sale, including 5kg bags of Granoro 00 for $8.99, and Granoro durum semolina flour for just $2/kg.

Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro is re-milled durum wheat semolina – a superfine flour with 12% protein content (more information here).  It’s great for making egg pasta, but I also find it the perfect flour for my ciabatta loaves.  This one nearly attained the desired “slipper” shape…

A disclaimer: this isn’t how ciabattas are traditionally made, nor is the end result an authentic representation of anything other than what I call a ciabatta. My apologies to any purists out there who are miffed by this.

Having said that, the loaves have a chewy, elastic texture which we find highly addictive, and my family will eat all four loaves within a couple of days.  This is not light fluffy white bread, and the crumb has an intriguing, almost plasticky shine in the holes…

This is also the bread I make when my hands are sore, because it requires very little actual kneading or shaping.   Unfortunately as I get older, these things all have to be taken into consideration!

A note to my fellow sourdough bakers – the hydration of the dough is approximately 77%, which is quite high, but the durum wheat flour seems to absorb more moisture than regular bakers’ flour. Don’t be tempted to use fine or coarse semolina instead of semolina (durum wheat) flour – the former is too coarse and won’t absorb enough water, and you’ll end up with a soggy mess.  If you can’t find semolina flour, substitute more bread flour in its place and reduce the water by about 5%.

Ciabatta con Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro
(an original Fig Jam and Lime Cordial recipe)

  • 300g active sourdough starter (fed at a ratio of one cup water to one cup flour)
  • 675g iced water (must be at least fridge cold – this is important)
  • 500g bakers/bread flour
  • 500g Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro (fine durum wheat semolina flour)
  • 18g fine sea salt

1. Measure all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

2. Squelch and scrape everything together to form a sticky dough.  Scrape your fingers off and cover the bowl with clingfilm.

3. After about an hour, give the dough a quick knead in the bowl, and cover it up again.  Repeat this procedure when you’re next in the kitchen (within the next hour or so).  Then cover the dough up and allow it to rise until doubled in size.  In our Sydney weather, the time from initial squelching to the photo you see below was about six hours.

Place pizza stones into the oven if you’re using them, and preheat the oven to maximum (about 250C with fan).

4. When the oven is hot, generously dust the bench with rye flour.  Scrape the dough onto the bench, flour your hands and gently pat it into a large rectangle.  Now fold one third into the middle, and the other third over the top of it, to create a long thick rectangle.  You might need to use the scraper to help you, as the dough will be quite sticky and wet.

5. Cut the dough into four roughly equal pieces.

6. Tear off four sheets of parchment paper and with well floured hands and the scraper, gently transfer a cut slice of dough onto a sheet of parchment, giving it a little stretch as you go to emulate the “slipper” that ciabatta is so famously named after.  The dough will be quite soft and a bit sticky, so dust it with a little more rye flour if necessary, and also make sure you’ve got plenty of flour on your hands.

If you don’t have pizza stones, you can place the loaves onto a parchment lined tray instead.  The loaves are immediately ready to bake – there’s no need for a second prove. Note: please check your parchment paper instructions to ensure that it can cope with these oven temperatures.

7. Spritz the tops of the dough with water, and immediately slide them onto the pizza stones to bake.  Reduce the oven temperature to 220C with fan and bake for 20 minutes, then further reduce to 175C with fan and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes, until the crust is set to your liking.  After the first 10 minutes or so, I like to carefully remove the parchment paper from under the loaves to allow the bottoms to brown up (don’t bother with this if you’re baking on a lined tray).

My oven will take four loaves at the one time, but if yours isn’t quite as ginormous, you could halve the recipe, or shape the dough into larger loaves to begin with.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

PS. A little bread trivia from my miller friend Kevin Sherrie – research has shown that including a small percentage of durum wheat flour into bread dough will keep the finished loaves fresher than bread made solely from soft wheat flour.  More information here.

. . . . .

Addendum:  Maths isn’t my forte, but if you’re using a sourdough starter at 100% hydration, the following formula should work:

  • 300g active sourdough starter (100%)
  • 715g iced water
  • 485g bakers/bread flour
  • 485g Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro (fine durum wheat semolina flour)
  • 18g fine sea salt

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This is one of those recipes.

When I was kneading the dough, the texture was so silky and bouncy that I just knew it was going to be most fine.  I was so confident about this that I made another batch while the first was rising!

The recipe comes from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf –  I amended it slightly to use yoghurt and water instead of the specified whey, and the resultant loaves were tangy and delicious as a result.

The dough is made with an interesting mix of flours – Italian 00, maize flour and bakers (bread) flour. The crumb is quite tight and chewy – a young friend pointed out that this would be the perfect bread to have with a cheese fondue, and I think she might be right!

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Breadmaking is a wonderfully therapeutic process.

Life has been crazy busy lately, but my weekly Saturday breadmaking always affords me a little downtime.

I’ve been baking bread at home for over four years now, and the routine has become both comforting and easy. And since we don’t buy bread (with the exception of Lebanese pita bread), I have no choice but to bake at least once a week, often more.

I fed my starter up on Friday night, spent twenty minutes making the dough the following morning, then another twenty minutes or so shaping the dough after lunch.  The sourdough process takes a long time, but very little hands on involvement is required on my part.  Yeasted breads are even faster!

As the new school year is about to start, I baked a large  (90cm/36″) tray of sourdough focaccia for Small Man.  He takes a substantial slice for lunch each day, spread with Vegemite…

I also knocked up a very large batch of sourdough (half spelt, half bakers’ flour). The finished dough weight was 2700g (nearly 6lb), and it became two pointy-eared epi…

…six oversized lunch rolls…

and three baguettes.

If you’ve never made bread before and would like to give it a go, you might find this basic tutorial useful.  But be warned, breadmaking is addictive!

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Pete’s cousin Andrew and his wife Rachel were in town today, so I was up early baking scrolls for morning tea.   It was a fun thing to do on an otherwise wet and gloomy Sunday!

I began with sourdough cheese and olive scrolls – Small Man’s lunches for the coming week. They were made from a batch of dough mixed yesterday evening and left on the bench to prove overnight.  The same dough also made two 750g loaves, which will be eaten over the next  couple of days.

For morning tea, I made nutella scrolls (recipe here)

…and these caramel and cinnamon ones.  They’re quite easy to make, and Big Boy absolutely loves them.

  • 1 batch of bread #101 dough or sweet bread dough, proved
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white or caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 220C with fan.  Blend together half (¼ cup) of the unsalted butter and brown sugar in a small bowl.  Spread this over the base of a parchment lined rectangular baking pan.

2.  Oil a clean bench, then press the dough into a large rectangle.  Mix together the remaining butter, white sugar and cinnamon, and spread over the dough, then roll up tightly.

3. Slice the dough into twelve rolls, and position them over the butter and sugar paste in the baking pan.  Cover and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.

4. Spritz the top of the scrolls with a little water, then reduce the oven temperature to 200C with fan, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, rotating the pan once during the baking time.  Be careful not to burn the tops of the buns.

5.  Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan before turning out (carefully, as the caramel will be hot!) onto a wire rack over a sheet of greaseproof paper to catch any drips.

When cool, these can also be frozen – they’re a nice treat to have on standby!


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