Friday, August 22, 2014

It's raining croissants

A rainy day for us is something to be celebrated and it is considered very poor form to ever complain about it, no matter when it falls.  On rainy days we stay close to home unless venturing out is absolutely necessary.   Our roads are much easier to negotiate when they are dry and aside from the road situation we love being at home to simply enjoy the moment. 

When rain tumbled down recently I felt the need for a baking project, in addition to my usual bread adventures and I settled on croissants.  This was my third ever attempt at croissants and my first attempt in the cold weather.  With such a glorious amount of butter involved, cold weather baking is easier for croissants, in my opinion.

I wouldn't recommend attempting these with a cluttered kitchen bench, a sink full of dirty dishes, visitors looming or when you are feeling impatient or frazzled.  Although not necessarily difficult, croissant creation is a lengthy process involving quite a few steps and plenty of clear, clean bench and fridge space is preferable.

The dough prior to the addition of butter is the most magnificent, silky combination of flour, milk, brown sugar, yeast and salt.  It smells and feels heavenly.

There is a lot of laminating (folding) and resting the dough, while keeping everything cool at all times. 

Pointy triangles are carefully cut, using a template and then rested. 

The triangles are carefully rolled, gently stretched and left to quietly prove.       

These croissants were flaky, crisp and less oily than previous batches I have attempted.  I know I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to learning these complex baking techniques.  But, this batch made me happy and I found the process both therapeutic and rewarding.  Isn't that what cooking should be about?

Have a lovely Friday and weekend friends, I hope you find time for some baking.  

**I will not be sharing this recipe on my blog.  Instead I recommend using the recipe from here: Bourke Street Bakery, the ultimate baking companion by Paul Allam and David McGuinness.  This is easily my favourite baking book for easy to follow instructions, achievable recipes and inspiring photography.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Out and about in the bush

Life is jam-packed.  Some exciting plans are on the horizon.  We are preparing for spring and a possible escape to the beach before the hot weather arrives.  There are busy times ahead on the farm and the school year is rushing by. 

For me the best way to handle the hectic rhythm of life is to make time to get out and about.  Fresh air and the wide open spaces help to reset the mind and remind me of everything I am grateful for.

I kept one eye firmly on the horizon while I quickly took this photo, waiting for the father emu to return to his sparse nest. 

Sunrise through one of our apple trees.  It was -4°C when I took this photo which is about as cold as it gets in our part of the world. 

The lonely, parched skull of a feral pig resting in the red dirt.

Early morning olive tree shadows on the woolshed. 

 At a recent family engagement party most people rolled up to the community hall in utes and four wheel drives to join the celebration.  One outback character and his lovely wife made an understated entrance in this big machine and nobody thought anything of it.  Another reminder that we do live in a unique part of the world. 

I hope you are getting out and about! 

Happy Sunday to you.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

In My Kitchen, August 2014

Here we are again in my kitchen and this month there is a lot of bread happening.  My friend Paula gave me two kilograms of fresh yeast.  As most home bakers know, this is an enormous amount of yeast.  I have tried my hardest to make a dint in it.

Mouthful/handful size panini rolls made with yeasted olive oil dough.  These were soft and easy for the little people to handle.  

A yeasted white loaf which almost turned into a high top.  Once again, this was a hit with the kids.  

Kipfler potatoes from the patch where we grew potatoes last year.  We either missed them last year or they continued to produce.  Either way, they were a happy discovery.

This cauliflower weighed in at just over four kilograms.  Although it looks like two separate heads, they were actually growing together.  I see cauliflower soup in my future.    

I recently purchased some beautiful fresh pecan nuts, still in their shells from Elina at the Sunraysia Farmers Market.  Before they all disappeared I wanted to bake something special with them.  So, I invented this sourdough loaf containing currants, sultanas, barberries, dried figs and pecan nuts.  While it was still warm the loaf received a generous honey glaze. This turned out to be comforting winter food at its best.  


Are you baking or inventing?  I hope so!
Are you keeping warm?  
Thanks for calling in, I hope you are having a lovely Sunday.

I am linking up with Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  

Lastly, Katie and Reuben have kindly hosted me on their blog House of Humble.  Take a peek.