Posts Tagged ‘sourdough’

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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Spelt is one of the so called “ancient grains”, grown in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times. It’s related to modern day wheat, but with a noticeably different flavour and some purported health benefits.  These include a broader nutritional profile, and a more easily digestible protein structure, which makes spelt accessible to some people with wheat intolerances.  However, it does contain gluten, which means it’s not suitable for coeliacs.

Spelt flour is very expensive – a kilo costs six times as much as regular bakers’ flour, and twice as much as organic bakers’ flour.  Having said that, it makes little difference when you compare the cost of using it at home to the price of purchasing ready made – an organic spelt loaf might cost $2.50 in raw materials, but a loaf of sourdough (made with regular bakers flour) from a reputable bakery could set you back $8 or more.

As we were delighted with the results of our 100% white spelt loaves, I thought it might be fun to experiment with organic wholemeal spelt.

The 100% spelt sourdough loaves I made were slow to prove, and despite a surprising amount of oven spring, the wholemeal crumb didn’t display the huge holes of the white spelt.  That didn’t detract from the bread though, which was deliciously nutty and, as Pete put it, wholesome.  The rising dough and  baking loaves exuded the most gorgeous aromas and our sons, who don’t usually like anything other than white bread, ate an entire loaf between them for lunch, smothered in peanut butter and jam.  The spelt baguettes formed the backbone of a vegetarian dinner we had on the weekend, and went perfectly with Pete’s beetroot dip and guacamole.

Emboldened by this success, I tried using the wholemeal spelt in Dan Lepard’s Guardian cookie recipe.  I substituted cranberries for the dried blueberries (which are prohibitively expensive here) and omitted the almond essence.  Dan’s recipe was written for regular wholemeal flour, and the essence was included in part to mask any bitterness in the flour.  As the spelt has a nutty, sweet flavour, I didn’t think it was necessary here.

The end result were these chewy, moreish treats, reminiscent of old-fashioned oatmeal cookies. I’ve already eaten two this morning!

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‘So it is,’ they answered. ‘But we call it lembas or waybread …. One will keep a traveller on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall Men of Minas Tirith.’

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

My breads don’t often fail, but this time I’d been impatient – I hadn’t let my starter reactivate properly prior to mixing up the dough.  Regardless of how brilliant the flour is, an inactive sourdough leaven can’t produce  great bread.  The mixed grain rolls I’d intended for school lunches came out like heavy lumps of clay.  Pete, unwilling to waste food, patiently chewed his way through half a roll and announced that whilst it was dense, it was also extremely filling and satisfying – akin to Elvish bread.   He and Maude declared that I’d created lembas and that half a roll would have been sufficient to sustain an Elven warrior through a day of battle.  It’s just a shame I don’t have any Elven warriors to feed it to – not sure what I’m going to do with the other eight hockey pucks…

. . . . .

Averse to failure, I had to make more grain bread straight away.  I was much happier with this batch, which was made with a ripe starter and given lots of time to prove overnight.  Lesson learnt – patience leads to better bread!


not lembas 3

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Clever Maureen, at the insistence of her son, discovered that Kevin Sherrie’s grain mix works brilliantly with dried fruit.  I made an overnight batch of sourdough and threw in a handful each of raisins and whole dried cranberries, as well as a couple of teaspoons of Herbie’s mixed spice (but didn’t add any sugar).  Because I used less leaven than I normally would, the end result was a chewy, substantial and totally addictive fruit bread, which Pete is wolfing down as I type (always a good measure of success!).


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I started baking bread in December 2006. I’d made the occasional loaf prior to this, but it wasn’t until Maude  bought me a copy of Richard Bertinet’s Dough that the mania really set in.  This book was great for two reasons – firstly, it was easy to follow with lots of gorgeous photos and great techniques.  Secondly, there was a dvd included, which showed the eye-candy Frenchman simplifying the breadmaking process to something my seven year old niece was able to master.

Bertinet’s book focuses on yeast breads, but it wasn’t long before I wanted to make my own sourdough.  After a couple of failed attempts at brewing my own (I did manage to grow some rather scary looking purple mould), I opted to purchase some dried starter over the internet. About three seconds after I’d hit the “Pay Now” button, it occurred to me that I’d asked for little sachets of white powder to be sent to me from the US. Visions of trying to explain this to the AFP led to several frantic calls to friends – “Look, I know this sounds bonkers, but if the Federal Police ever ask you, please tell them that I mentioned I was buying sourdough starter, ok?”.  Surprisingly, nothing ever came of this – the envelope arrived unopened.  I placed a second order a few months later and that was opened, but quarantine approved it and sent it on through.  I guess wild yeasts just aren’t a problem.

The dried starter took off like a dream and within a week I’d made my first loaf of sourdough.  This was in January 2007, and we haven’t purchased a loaf of bread since (except for when we’ve been on holidays).  Neither has Maude, whom I passed a jar of bubbling leaven to as soon as it was healthy enough to bud off. Since then I’ve shared the starter with half a dozen friends, most of whom are still using it today.

Here is our midweek sourdough bake – three loaves of white for school lunches, a loaf of grain bread for Pete and I, and some mixed grain epi, using Kevin’s pre-mix.  This will feed our family well for three to four days, so I’ll be baking again on the weekend.


Friends often ask me why I bother, given that it’s now possible to buy great sourdough locally.  Of course, there are the usual reasons – being able to control what goes into the bread, huge cost savings and the warm inner glow that comes from some small measure of self-sufficiency.  But there is  another reason I “bother”, and that is because I find the rhythm and routine of the process very comforting.  We bake our own bread, that’s just what we do, and I know that twice a week, the house will be warm and filled with hot, fresh loaves that smell divine, and I’ll be filled with a sense of peace and contentment.

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