Thursday, 14 December 2017

Big sourdough adventure

Maybe it is the lovely cool weather, the fact that the holidays are almost upon us or perhaps an alignment of the stars, but yesterday seemed to be a day for daring to go out of my comfort zone. I went for an extra long run at dawn, spent an extraordinarily long time admiring wildflowers afterwards (when I should have been in the shower getting ready for work), I took on a new project I knew little about, and baked the biggest, most hydrated  sourdough I've ever tried with my new starter.

And you know what, everything turned out well! The crumb of the bread (which I baked this morning) is as soft as cotton candy, and the crust is as crisp as the air in the mornings.

Life is good!


100 g sourdough starter (with 100% hydration)
700 g wholewheat flour
630 ml of water (90% hydration)
14 g salt


I made a preferment with 300 g wholewheat flour, the starter and 400 ml of water and let it bubble and grow for two hours.

The remaining ingredients were mixed in with a spoon and left for a 40 minute rest.

I kneaded the whole mixture by hand until it turned silky and stretchy and left it in a warm place for the next 4 hours. Into the fridge it went after that, for the next 8 hours, where it rose impressively (nearly double).

Once the dough had sat on the counter for an hour or two,  I kneaded it briefly to evenly distribute the yeast (another daring thing, I am usually quite timid about roughing up once-risen sourdough).

The shaped loaf sat covered, for two more hours in a very warm place, and the oven preheated to 250 degrees C.

The loaf was upturned, scored and sent in with a bowl of boiling water for 10 m.

I lowered the temperature to 190 degrees and gave it another 40 minutes.

It was a good thing I was out for a meeting, or I may not have been able to resist pinching corners to sample while my beauty cooled.

Like all good things, it was worth the wait 😁

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

3-grain savoury biscuit experiment

I sometimes think that pizza home delivery people believe their customers eat pizza as an appetiser and seasonings as the main course.

The last time I ordered pizza, I got at least a dozen little packs of chilli flakes and oregano seasoning. That's enough seasoning to keep a small Tuscan field occupied for a season.

And since most things I do is life is guided by the principle of 'you never know when I'll need this', I stored all those little packets in the fridge, where they joined a community of older seasoning, besides sachets of ketchup, chilli sauce, instant noodle toppings  and salt 'n' pepper that other takeaways so kindly flood us with regularly). And in the normal course of things, there they will live, unused and undisturbed, until they make their final journey to seasoning afterworld.

This week, the story changed, for four little packets. They actually got used in a cracker recipe!!!

I used a mix of grain flours, including bajra which is flooding every grocery shop hurrah!
The taste of the biscuits was satisfyingly savoury, and the seasoning added a nice edge to the taste. The biscuits taste particularly nice used as scoops for homemade dahi (yoghurt). The calorie count works out to 70 per biscuit.

Some things could have been better, which I've listed at the bottom.

Ingredients (for 20 2"x2" biscuits)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 quick oats
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1/4 cup sunflower oil
2-3 T milk
2 packets of pizza seasoning and 2 packets of chilli flakes


I mixed all the dry ingredients together (except 1 packet each of pizza seasoning and chilli flakes) before adding in oil and the egg.

I kneaded the mixture, adding enough milk to form a rough, stiff dough.

The dough was rolled out on a parchment sheet into a thin sheet half a centimetre thick, and cut into squares. (I use the term squares loosely, as you can see from the picture 😜 )

I brushed the tops of the pieces with milk to get them ready for the stars of the show *slow clap - a packet of oregano seasoning, and a packet of chilli flakes.

These were sprinkled on the crackers, while the oven reached a temperature of 160 degrees C.

I baked them for 20 minutes, switching trays halfway through, and let them cool completely before sampling.


The dough should have been rolled thinner and smoother. More milk next time and a little more effort on rolling should do it. 
I could have kneaded a couple of packets of seasoning into the dough, adjusting the salt quantity accordingly. The oregano tasted quite nice with the flour mix. 
I wish the biscuits had been a bit browner. Shall try raising the oven temp to 180 degrees next time.