Friday, May 27, 2016

wood chopping, photo taking, sheep, and bonfires.


I've been thinking a lot lately, I always do I guess, about many things, but after reading Jane's latest post it got me thinking even more! Sometimes we can get a little lost in the 'everyday' and it's nice to stop and take a moment to reflect on the things and times that make us smile - the simple, unconscious, everyday happenings that just seem to wrap us up like a big hug and warm the heart.
 
Here are some of mine.....
 
Chopping wood with my little people,
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and marvelling at how helpful and independent they are becoming.
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Taking pictures with my biggest girl - she's creative and inspiring and is diving into the world of photography with such passion, it's contagious!
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Sheep - newly purchased, waiting in our yards. Its been so long since we bought new stock but thanks to some much needed rain at the start of the month we now have green pasture again and can increase our stocking capacity!
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Bonfires - with new and old friends, sharing food and stories at the end of the day.
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I hope that you're taking some time to reflect on the things that make you smile too?
 
Happy Friday Friends! x

Friday, May 6, 2016

Sourdough.... my beginnings

If you've been following me for a while than you'll know that I'm pretty new to the whole Sourdough thing. Back in September last year, I finally bit the bullet, so to speak, and started trying to create my very first Sourdough Starter. 

For those of you who have never made Sourdough before, but have always wanted to, you'll totally understand when I say that the simple process of starting this ancient art of bread baking is SO DARN DAUNTING!!! After many, and I mean MANY, an hour surfing the net and browsing through numerous cookbooks I just couldn't find an exact, easy way to start a 'starter'. It was all so complicated to this newbie and I didn't seem to have the exact components/ingredients that most recipes needed. 

So, I just threw caution to the wind and grabbed an old plastic (yes plastic!) yoghurt container and mixed (with a metal spoon too, mind you - a big no, no in the Sourdough world) 1/4 cup of good old plain/white baking flour with 1/4 cup of rain water straight from my kitchen tap!

My mixture at first resembled a really thick pancake mixture, and smelt a little sweet. I popped the lid on sat it on my kitchen window sill and hoped for the best. 

Everyday I fed my starter in the morning with a heaped dessert spoon of plain/white flour and approx. the same amount of tap water, all the while giving it a good mix with a metal spoon. After about 4 days I could start to smell something quite funky, almost beer like, and I saw lots of bubbles forming in my pancake looking mixture - something was happening!
This bubbling mess is my Sourdough starter... It amazes me how 2 simple ingredients, flour and water, can create a natural levain for my bread, AMAZING!!!
A couple more days passed, and I kept on feeding my starter. It was about the 10th day and my container was getting a little on the full side, you see most starter recipes will ask for you to 'purge' half of your starter before every feed but to me that was just too wasteful so I just kept feeding my starter and after 10 days it got quite big!

So, I decided it was time to test it, purge some of it in the process, and bake something sweet. I poured 1 cup of my starter into this recipe (not fed like the recipe asked for, just simply purged) and what do you know - it made the most amazing chocolate cake that my family and I have ever tasted!
 
I was hooked after my first baking success and couldn't wait to bake again! As I waited for my starter to build up her strength to bake actual bread I started purging my excess and baking all sorts of delicious treats - herby crackers,
Sourdough Crackers with Sea Salt, Rosemary and Thyme.... First time I've ever made a savoury cracker and they're absolutely delicious!!!!!!
fluffy pancakes, simple cookies, cakes, and even raspberry muffins. My sourdough starter was my new toy and I had to play with it every day! I loved how it turned a humble recipe into something amazing and all the while breaking down the stuff in regular white flour so that our bodies could digest it just that little bit easier - Sourdough truly is amazing!
Sourdough pancakes for breaky - I sure do love school holidays!!!! ♥
Now, 8 months later and as a family we haven't look back! Everyday (well almost) we bake Sourdough. The process of slowing down and creating such a beautiful, rustic loaf that's carved and shared as a family with a meal or as a snack is something that I truly do love.

I've baked bread for as long as I can remember and have always added oils, and processed yeasts, and sugars, and bread improvers but with Sourdough all it takes is 3 simple ingredients, flour water and a little salt - flour which I buy in bulk from a local mill, and water which I harvest in tanks when it rains. I love that while things are tight, financially, for our family as we wait for decent rains and feed to grow again in our paddocks to feed livestock, I can create a large loaf of bread like this for as little as 50c.
This loaf was pushed to its limits when I bulk fermented it for 5 DAYS! It still baked up beautifully this morning - Sourdough always amazes me,  and I love that!
So, are you a bread baker too? Have you ventured into the world of Sourdough baking yet or like I did, do you find it all to daunting and don't know where to start?