Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Barberi, Breakfast Bread

Recently I included this bread in a blog post and some lovely people were interested in the recipe.  

This is amongst some of the easiest and tastiest bread I have made.  The loaves were soft, light and utterly delicious.  Toasted the next day and served with soup it may have even been slightly better!  Please let me know if you get a chance to try it for yourself.

This recipe is from the magnificent book Saraban: a chef's journey through Persia.

Barberi, Breakfast Bread

2 teaspoons dried yeast
500 ml warm water
750 g strong white flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
50 ml olive oil
fine polenta, for dusting
20 g unsalted butter, melted
sesame or nigella seed (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in 50 ml of the warm water and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes.  

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the centre.  Mix the oil with the remaining water and stir in the yeast mixture, then gradually work into the flour with your hands.  Knead on a slow speed for 10-15 minutes until smooth, shiny and elastic - add more tepid water if necessary.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.  Knock back the dough, then leave to prove for a further 20 minutes.  Halfway through the proving time, put a large, heavy baking tray into the oven for 10 minutes or until very hot.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knock back.  Divide into 6 portions and shape into oval balls.  Working with one piece of dough, stretch it it into a 30 cm long oval with your hands.  If it is easier, roll the dough out lightly with a rolling pin.  Scatter a little polenta over the base of the hot baking tray and transfer the stretched piece of dough.  Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to mark narrowly spaced parallel lines along the length of the dough.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the seeds of your choice.

Bake for 6-7 minutes, until slightly risen and a rich golden brown.  Transfer the cooked loaf to a wooden board and cover with a clean tea towel.

While the bread is baking, prepare the next loaf.  Continue with the remaining balls of dough.

Barberi bread is best eaten warm.  Alternatively, leave it to cool completely, then wrap in plastic and freeze for up to 1 month.  Thaw at room temperature and reheat in a warm oven.  

Today I am linking up with YeastSpotting.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lambs and bread...our weekend

The weekend at our place was busy, productive and enjoyable.  This seems to be just how our weekends roll. 

After some winter pruning in the garden I made these wreaths.  Sitting in the late afternoon sunshine it proved to be a very meditative task.  I plan to let them dry out and perhaps add some simple decorations to them at Christmas time.

We trucked 800 of these healthy looking lambs off to market.


Early on Sunday morning I wandered amongst the fog, mist and cobwebs with the camera at one of our dams, which we call Horse Lake.  An hour later the fog had gone and the scenery had changed completely.  

My friend Sarah recently loaned me this cookbook, Saraban: a chef's journey through Persia.  Immediately I had to test out a bread recipe.  This particular bread is called Barberi and according to the book is enjoyed for breakfast in Iran, often served with clotted cream and honey, fruit conserves, eggs or soup.  The flat, golden loaves were soft and delicious.  Please let me know if anyone is interested in the recipe and I will post it. 

Are you cooking, making or taking photos?
Are weekends at your place busy or relaxed?
I hope your week is looking good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Learning to love beetroot

Up to this point in my life I have actively avoided eating beetroot.  For years I have ordered salad sandwiches, insisting on no beetroot.  I hate the way it stains everything else in the sandwich and runs everywhere.

As a child tinned beetroot was regular dish on our lunch table, especially in the summer time.  It was convenient and had a long shelf life which made sense when Mum was feeding a family on an outback property, hours from the nearest real supermarket.

This year I decided that I needed to embrace beetroot and thought it would be a good vegetable to grow in the cooler months.  I am happy to report I have just harvested a healthy little crop and have been quietly admiring the pretty colours. 

To kick start my new friendship with beetroot I cut a handful into wedges, along with some home grown carrots.  I drizzled the whole dish with olive oil and seasoned with pepper and salt before roasting it slowly in the oven until tender.  I dressed everything with a sprinkling of fresh coriander, sesame seeds and a little more olive oil.  Served alongside some roast lamb I was very happy with the results. 

The earthy taste has given me a whole new appreciation for beetroot.   However, I still cannot warm to the idea of a salad sandwich soaked in purple juice…for now.  

Do you eat beetroot?
Is there any vegetables you just cannot matter how hard you try?
What are you growing right now?
Happy Friday my friends.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sourdough Fruit Buns

Winter is a great time to be experimenting with sourdough fruit buns.  This batch came out of the oven on a cold Monday morning as ‘smoko’ for hungry men who had been working with our sheep all morning.  These buns are slightly chewy and fill the kitchen with the most delicious sweet, earthy aroma when they are cooking. 

I urge you to use good quality dried fruit, I buy mine from Tabletop Grapes.  Their chemical free products smell like fruit cake before you even start baking with them!

Sourdough Fruit Buns
This recipe has been very loosely adapted from several bread recipes in the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook and the recipe for hot cross buns in the Real Food Companion. This recipe could be easily halved if necessary.

1530 g white bread flour
800 g active sourdough starter
800 ml water
40 g salt
Spices such as cinnamon to taste
360 g mixed dried fruit, soaked in water overnight and then drained.  I use raisins, currants, barberries and figs.  I chop the figs into small pieces.
¼ cup honey, warmed for glazing

Either by hand or in an electric mixer with a dough hook combine the starter, flour and water until a rough dough forms.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20 minutes. 

Add the salt.  If using an electric mixer, mix for 6 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms.  If mixing by hand knead for 20 minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough forms.  Add the fruit and spice if using.  You will need to use your hands to work the fruit gently into the dough.

Place the dough into a lightly greased container and allow to bulk prove for about 1 hour.

Knock back the dough and allow to bulk prove for a further 1 hour.

Place dough on a clean, lightly floured or lightly oiled surface.  With a dough divider, divide the dough into approximately 30 balls of dough, each weighing around 120 g.  It can be a bit sticky but don’t be tempted to add too much extra flour…it will work in the end!

Shape the dough into balls.

Place the buns on large sheets of baking paper leaving a little room between each bun.  I use two pieces of baking paper, ensuring each piece of paper will fit on my bread/pizza shovel.  This ensures I can slide my shovel under the whole thing to place it into the oven more easily.

Allow the buns to prove until they are touching each other and have grown by around two-thirds.  In the cold weather I leave them overnight to prove.

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature.  I use a layer of unglazed terracotta tiles in my oven for bread baking.  Ensure to place the tiles in a cold oven before you start preheating.

Carefully place the buns in the oven.  Spray the buns with a mist of water before shutting the oven door.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the loaves around and bake for a further 10 minutes.  The base of the buns should sound hollow when you tap them.

Using a brush, glaze the buns with warmed honey while they are warm.  The honey glaze makes the buns sticky to handle but gives them a lovely shine and adds a little extra sweetness.

I know there are some keen sourdough cooks out there so I hope this is of interest to you!

Do you cook with dried fruit?
What is your favourite way to use dried fruit?
Do you ever have a hungry crew to feed at smoko time?

Today I am linking up with YeastSpotting.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Winter goodness at home

School sweet it is to set our own routine and enjoy all the good things winter has to offer, such as toasting marshmallows.

Harvesting home grown broccoli.  

Pruning my young quince trees. 

Going for an extra long horse ride. 

Enjoying a special family morning tea to celebrate George turning three.

Watching the sun set through the bare branches of our mulberry tree.

Indulging in delicious baguettes, coffee and baby cinos at our favourite local cafe.

What are you up to at the moment?
Do you love winter?  I am learning to appreciate it more these days.
Happy Sunday friends.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Camp oven cooking for the RFDS

On our property it is very unusual for us to see thirty cyclists clad in lycra peddling up the dirt road and past our woolshed.  However, on Sunday this is exactly what happened.

The Silver City Bush Treadlers are currently on their way to Innaminka via Birdsville, raising money for the The Royal Flying Doctor Service.  Our shearer’s quarters provided their first overnight camping spot after they started their journey in Broken Hill.  With a helping hand from my family (thanks Mum and Feres) Terry and I catered for their dinner and breakfast.  

A cold day and seventy kilometres on a bike meant that everyone had a well earned appetite when they rode in.  After the riders took hot showers we served pumpkin soup and bread rolls around the fire bucket.

The small crowd were fascinated with the camp oven cooking. As the afternoon progressed the audience grew around the fire, watching Terry as he cooked roast lamb, vegetables and bread with the hot coals.

In the early hours of Monday morning we prepared a fully cooked breakfast.  As the sun rose the riders emerged from their tents ready to fuel themselves for another day of riding on the dirt roads.

By 8am breakfast was over, lunches were made, tents were packed up and our daughter Annabelle (5) led the riders away from the camp on her little bike.  This was a very exciting moment for her!

Good luck to the Silver City Bush Treadlers for the rest of your trip, you are an inspiration to all of us.  I can only imagine this trip is an enormous physical and mental challenge but it is for such a worthy cause.  Meeting and cooking for this diverse and interesting group of people is something we will be talking about for years to come.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In My Kitchen July 2012

Welcome to another little tour of my kitchen. 

This post starts with coffee.  Throughout my days at home I drink a lot of tea.  But, sometime around 9am everyday the household comes to a standstill for coffee.  After several years finding my way around our machine I am mostly happy with my amateur barista skills. 

A big pot of vegetables picked entirely from my garden except for the flecks of red onion.  This harvest was a rescue mission for the capsicums and beans before they finally surrendered to several heavy frosts.

Chocolate Waffles with Salted Guinness Caramel...yes this is major indulgence territory.  When I found this magnificent recipe I just had to try it and it did not disappoint.  I made them as small pancakes rather than waffles.  You must try this recipe at least once!

These photos are of my home butcher husband Terry, rolling a boneless lamb roast.  This is a great way to use odd cuts of meat and also makes carving the cooked roast easier.

A fragrant bowl of cinnamon, coriander seed, cloves and cardamon ready to be ground and pounded into my interpretation of Chai tea.  All these incredible spices came by mail order from Herbies, bless them.  

Finally, a box of Kourabiethes or Greek Shortbread.  I made these as a special birthday gift and topped the box off with a sweet ceramic tag from Paper Boat Press.  

What have you been cooking?
Do you have anything new in your kitchen?
Please share and join in the fun at Celia’s beautiful blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.