They say an army marches on it’s stomach. Well, I’m not sure about an army, but I certainly do. But sometimes when I get up early I’m not really in the hungry phase, and breakfast seems an effort. And if you don’t have time to make the whole scrambled eggs or french toast buffet selection, then porridge is the go to option.
The Pizza Oven. I know, I know… EVERYONE has one. But that’s ok. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I think it’s a fantastic addition to our garden. Probably helped by the fact that since we purchased it, the sun has been shining non stop. We love pizza in our house. It’s a real favourite, and to celebrate the new oven we were going with a sourdough pizza base, due to “Sabina” being in such good form and all…
Sabina the starter
Sourdough Pizza Recipe:
500g strong White Flour
360g room temperature water
150g sourdough starter
Mix the flour and water in your mixer slowly for about 2 minutes. Leave this, covered for 30 minutes. You are almost making a starter for your starter! Then add the starter to this, and start mixing slowly.
This needs to be mixed using a dough hook for about 5 minutes. At some stage towards the end slowly add the salt. You can do all this by hand, but I prefer the mixer, leaves me more energy and time to devote to toppings. Finish the dough by hand, then pop this back into the bowl. Cover and leave to sit in a cool place until doubled in size.
This then needs to be split into balls for rolling into the bases. We had added some einkhorn flour to the dough (reducing the amount of strong white used) as I love ancient grains and use them as much as I can.
Ready for rolling
At this stage it’s all systems go. Everyone in our house is in charge of their own toppings, I usually have the following available:
Roasted and thinly sliced duck breast
A couple of different types of cheese
The list is sometimes endless- but all are out on the counter ready to roll.
We discovered the secret to lighting the pizza oven and getting it to the hot temperature required was good quality charcoal, and not rushing it.
Duck, ham, mozzarella and spinach
And although only one pizza can cook at a time, everyone usually shares- and with a big bowl of salad floating around, it makes for a great evening.
Spinach, Egg and Pesto Pizza
But I like mine with a cold glass of something white… it was just fabulous.
I really enjoy making sourdough these days, and really really really (ok no more really in the post) was looking forward to my education with Richard. and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Mind you, as usual he wasn’t content with just one dough, we made several.
Although I think the one Nigel and myself were proudest of was the apple bread using a starter ferment that Richard had made the day before using Nigel’s cider. It was liking introducing our children to the world, we were like nervous parents!
Starting with cider….
The smell was really good, and I learnt today that the fragrance of the starting ferment, will be mimicked in the finished bread. Similar to using a beer in a poolish (also a type of ferment), you can use cider, and even Guinness. Richard gave a nod to the Irish contingency today by adding some of the iconic Irish Stout to the brown dough in place of some water. This brown dough challenged us, we made stars and plaits and a myriad of shapes…
Brown Bread shapes
At this stage, you just can’t be notice the amount of dough mixed every day in the class. You need to be organised, and certainly have your head screwed on. But its such fun. Our group are really starting to know each other, and I’ll be very sad to say goodbye tomorrow. We literally broken bread together on a large scale! Once again I found great comradeship with other like minded people who just love to talk about, and eat food- this week specifically bread.
And if I thought yesterdays lunch was good- todays completely took the biscuit…. or rather the cheese. A huge brie cheese to be exact. Honest to goodness it’s the first thing I’m going to make on Saturday (after my deliveries!)
Brie Baked in a dough crust. DIVINE
I actually thought it was the most divine combination ever. And then we had doughnuts….
I love making sourdough, so much so next week I am travelling to Bath to further my bread making education with Richard Bertinet. And yes, I am BEYOND excited. I know every day will be amazing, but for my the sourdough “day” is the one I’m looking forward to the most.
At the moment I use a recipe loosely based on one of his from “Crust”. Mine is a VERY loose recipe. And really it’s not very instructive. But feel free to try! I plan to do some bread demos in May, so keep an eye here.
I found this nifty little product last week in Waterford from Sea of Vitality, and am adding it to see what flavour it gives me. The jar said to use as seasoning, so am removing salt from the recipe, and am adding this instead. Dillisk (Palmaria palmata) is a red seaweed native to our Irish shores.The earliest recorded use, is by St Columbus’ monks:
Taken from a poem from the 12th Century :
Seal ag buain duilisg so charraigseal ag aclaidh,seal ag tabhairt bhídh do bhoctaibh,seal i gcaracair.
A while gathering Dulse / Dillisk from the rocka while fishing,a while giving food to the poor,a while in a cell.
Seaweed as a food is very easily digested and weight for weight contains more vitamins, nutrients and minerals than traditional “land” plants.
475g bread flour
25g of Another flour, I alternate between buckwheat, rye, malt etc etc. If you adding nothing else just add some more white bread flour.
Add the flour to the mixing bowl with the water. Mix it on slow for 30 seconds then leave this for 30 minutes. (or longer)
Add the starter and mix very slowly for 2 minutes, then add the dillisk and mix for a further 3 minutes, gradually increasing speed.
Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Dough risen for 4 hours in the fridge
Remove from the bowl and shape. Leave in the fridge overnight in the well floured proving basket.
Bake in a mega hot oven on a heavy tray for about 20 minutes until hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom.
And it just smelt so good I had to boil an egg to try with it…. just in case I didn’t eat later (LOL)
Dillisk Sourdough with a freshly boiled home grown egg
2015 was a complete whirlwind for me. I started with Ballymaloe in the first week in January. It finished in March, then it was straight back to the day job and the usual school routine. I was really hoping to get some time cheffing in a kitchen to bed down the skills, but this didn’t materialise, and I made do with the home cooking practice. Hopefully this year! (offers welcome!)
Making Bisque in the Demo Kitchen
In July I started running demonstrations from our kitchen. These have been so enjoyable for me, and I have had fantastic feedback. Click here for the latest schedule- What I enjoy most about them is meeting new people, helping them realise how important good food is, and how easy it is to cook!
Table set, ready for Demo
My bespoke cake business has also taken off to my delight (and also to the relief of the collective family waistline). I really love baking. Of every kind, and this year hope to expand into new avenues and directions. I regularly supply a cafe in Tramore and love making cakes for people for their special occasions. Here’s a selection- I won’t even say favourites, as every cake I make I love!!!
This tiramisu cake is a favourite, and I know, going forward it will be a winner in 2016 too.
This cake was such fun to make!
I just love how this Sugar Plum cake looks and tastes.
Who doesn’t look forward in having a tiger to tea?
Cupcakes featured heavily in December- I think I made over 500 one week. Jords was questioning whether I was cupcaked out!!! But no, I just love baking. My father in law brought me back a mega cupcake baking tray from America. It certainly makes my life a lot easier.
This year I am going to focus on further selling cakes, and hopefully desserts too. And bread. Good bread is very hard to come by, and really is the simplest meal. My sourdough is going from strength to strength and I look forward to showing and sharing my recipe with others. They can have some of Sabrina too!
My beloved sourdough
So looking back I’ve done so much in 12 months. Looking forward- who knows??? But hopefully much more of the same. With maybe a small holiday??? Pretty please??
Fermented foods are most definitely in vogue. Be it kefir or simply sourdough! I have been minding my sourdough starter (Sabina) since Ballymaloe. She is used most weeks, and I hope my bread is getting better and better. It certainly lasts longer than the white yeast bread, which is due to the slow rise of the bread using the natural yeast.
I also lie other fermented liquids….. WINE!! But recently I have been swaying more towards natural wines. My first experience of this was tasting an orange wine while in the Cliff House Hotel. I really must put the sommelier on my Christmas Card list. He really is my bestest wine friend. Orange wine is made the way white wine use to be made. It results in a slightly cloudy looking liquid. But the taste. WOW. There is a combination of flavours – cherries, orange, spices, nuts, pears – that you just don’t get in other wines. Even better is the textures: there is tannin and grip like a red wine, but less weight and density. But until I win the lotto and can move to the South of France with a truckload of clay amphorae, I’ll have to stick to making other fermented products.
So now I’m onto Kombucha. It’s a type of fermented tea. It uses a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to ferment the black tea. I got a “mother” from Hans and Gaby Wieland from The Organic Centre. They were demo’ing fermented foods at GROWfest. That’s the great thing about fermented foods- It’s all a bit under-the-counter!
Gaby & Hans- Kombucha Mentors
So now I drink Kombucha in the morning with my porridge instead of half killing myself trying to down a shot of cider vinegar. And not only is it helping my gut, it’s also helping my joints. And as someone who firmly believes in proof, this just makes me feel better, and there really is no scientific proof that it does have health benefits. But as a probiotic drink that I can make myself, and thereby know exactly what goes into it, I think I’ll keep at it.
It’s an easy pet really. You feed it now and then. You don’t need to wash it or walk it. The first week in Ballymaloe, Timmy gave me a small amount of the school starter to feed and produce as my own. So I bought a kilner jar and looked after my new child.
With no name as yet we haven’t done too badly, I have made every kind of shape and size loaf, and am still perfecting it. Last week I changed my proportions of strong white flour, adding more than I previously needed. Our flour must be slightly different to what I was using in the Ballymaloe Cookery school.
Sourdough breadrolls for picnics
I also need to work on making the “spine”. Each loaf seems to burst exuberantly from its shape at some stage in the cooking, giving a nose or an unsightly pimple appearance. But I’m getting there. When Nigel went to Richard’s course in Bath, Richard spent a lot of time on the importance of creating the spine, so I am learning, albeit slowly.
Sourdough waiting in baskets to be baked.
I think the things with having you own yeast is that every loaf will be different, but that’s a good thing. Uniformity in food does not always mean quality, or consistency of flavour. But if I could get them a teeny bit better looking I’d be happy!
Sourdough, with a good crust and lightness of texture
Bread, if you can believe it, is older than metal, thereby pre-dating the Bronze Age. There have been what are thought to be neolithic grinding stones, used to grind grain to make flat or unleavened breads. There was a “bread” found in Switzerland in 3500BC. And undoubtedly there was an overlap between the evolution of brewing and bread making, and the Egyptians have recorded the use of “leavening” in food, but the actual origins are probably impossible without a time machine.
Until the time of the development of commercial yeasts, all of the leavened bread was made using naturally occurring yeasts – i.e. all bread was actually what we would call sourdough, with it’s slower rise. Indeed, one of the reasons given for the importance of unleavened bread in the Jewish faith is that at the time of the exodus from Egypt, there wasn’t time to let the dough rise overnight.
But enough history- more another time!
White Yeast Bread Baguettes- my dough, Nigel’s skill at shaping and baking