Bread


What a big month!

I resigned from my job.  Started another.  Prepared for Christmas, our special visitor and all our festive entertaining.  Oh, and somehow managed to squeeze in some Christmas baking in between!

The beginning of the month hailed the end of my job for six years.  I returned to work from maternity leave at the end of August, but quickly started to search out a part-time alternative – as the work-life balance in the Mélanger household lacked the necessary harmony, to say to least!  Fortunately, a few months later, I secured the perfect part-time alternative at a brand new company, and immediately made the switch.

But there was no time to dwell on leaving my old job, as Christmas was fast approaching.  Much to organise and prepare!

I have to say, this year has been one of my best Christmases yet, thanks to my pint-sized minature.

It may technically have been baby Melanger’s second Christmas, but it certainly felt like her first.  With bub only a few months old last year, the day came and went without much fanfare.  This year, however, was bursting with endless shrieks, giggles and laughter at the endless stream of everything ‘new’.

The tree attracted the greatest attention.  There was nonstop pointing and ‘talking’ with lots of fast hand movements.  And there were quite a number of dances in front of the tree, including the odd twirl or two for added effect.  It seems to have made quite an impression!

Our visit from bub’s Ukki, also added much to the festive cheer.  It was such a delight for baby Mélanger to meet her grandfather face-to-face for the first time, and for her Ukki to see her BIG personality first hand.

I also had a lot of fun baking up some new traditions this year.  The Joulutortut and Joulupulla were the firm favourites.  And I have no difficulty visualising baking these goodies up year after year (whilst trialing some new flavours and ideas, too!).  Many thanks again to my friend Celina Laaksonen who was an enthusiastic guide in this month’s menu.

I hope you all enjoyed the selection this month, too?  I may or may not take a little break in January, but I hope to post a new exciting theme again soon.  In the meantime, here is the round up of this month’s recipes.

:: I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday and that 2012 brings much joy and happiness to you all xxx ::

{ Joulutortut :: Finnish Christmas Stars } For some time I have greedily eyed off these tender butter pastries, simply shaped as a festive star, and dotted with a small kiss of sweet prune filling in the centre.  This recipe produces a soft, cream based pastry.  It is incredibly simple to put together, and fairly easy to work with.  These little Finnish Christmas stars got an immediate thumbs up from Mr Mélanger{ Read more here…. }

 

  { Jouluriisipuuro :: Finnish Rice Pudding & Joulupiparkakut :: Gingerbread } Traditionally, this Christmas rice pudding can be served alongside a dried fruit soup (sekahedelmäkeitto), and there is always a whole blanched almond hidden inside (a bit like hiding a sixpence in a Christmas pudding!).  But I could not resist sharing this combination as a tribute to Celina!  The idea is genius.  The creaminess of the pudding, goes deliciously with the spicy, crunchy gingerbread.  I particularly love the gingerbread.  As soon as you warm up the spices with the syrup, the entire kitchen starts to smell a little of Christmas.  { Read more here …. }

  { Taatelikakku :: Finnish Christmas date cake } Finland has some light, fragrant and curiously bundt shaped Christmas cakes.  Far different from my Christmas cake memories.  I selected to bake up the taatelikakku, as part of this month’s experiment.  This is a wonderfully light yet moist cake.  The addition of coffee to the mixture adds a lovely depth of flavour against the sweetness of the dates.  And in my opinion, this cake should not be reserved just for Christmas.  It is simply too delicious!  { Read more here….}

  { Joulupulla :: Finnish Christmas buns }  This is really just a basic pulla dough shaped into the special festive shape.  I have made pulla more times than I can remember, and I have ultimated adapted this recipe from a few different sources (Beatrice Ojakangas, the Nordic Bakery Cookbook plus my friend Celina Laaksonen).  My father-in-law mentioned his mother’s pulla was less sweet, but he preferred the extra sugar in this recipe.  So feel free to experiment! { Read more here….}

I love a good plan.  My life is full of them . . . and lists and spreadsheets and to-do’s.

So when a spanner is thrown into my planning works, I have a tendency to get a little jumpy and anxious when things are in jeopardy.

My plan this Christmas was to trial run a few Finnish Christmas treats (to surprise my Finnish father-in-law, who was visiting baby Mélanger for the first time), then bake a few favourites on Christmas Eve (THE day to celebrate Christmas in Finland).

Good news is I successfully completed all my trial runs.

Bad news is on the morning of Christmas Eve, we blew a fuse and knocked out all the electricity in the house.

Not only did we have two fridge/freezers plus a deep freeze FULL of food, but more importantly, we had no oven!

Whilst Mr Mélanger and his father were out off to stock up on ice (if we needed to transfer food from the fridges), I was aimlessly staring at the kitchen completely puzzled how I was going to complete my festive baking tasks.

No electricity also means no internet, and no way to look up the name of an electrician.  So after a few “phone a friend” calls to my mum and sister-in-law, we manage to gather a big list of electricians in the area.  With luck, we finally managed to contact someone who not only answered their phone on Christmas Eve, but actually turned up to the house at the stated time.

In the end, we were about 6 hours behind schedule, and with a deck full of company arriving in only a few short hours, I did manage to whip up a batch of Joulupulla for my father-in-law for our well deserved afternoon coffee break.  The smell of the bread baking immediately brought back memories for him, and he eagerly taste tested these almost straight out of the oven.

For my trial batch (the images shown here), in addition to the traditional cardamom flavoured Joulupulla, I also created a saffron flavoured bun as a little nod to the old Swedish influences in Finland.

{ Joulupulla :: Finnish Christmas buns }

This is really just a basic pulla dough shaped into the special festive shape.  I have made pulla more times than I can remember, and I have ultimated adapted this recipe from a few different sources (Beatrice Ojakangas, the Nordic Bakery Cookbook plus my friend Celina Laaksonen).  My father-in-law mentioned his mother’s pulla was less sweet, but he preferred the extra sugar in this recipe.  So feel free to experiment!

* Ingredients *
250ml whole milk
7g active dry yeast
85g caster sugar
3g salt
7g ground cardamom (or to taste)
1 egg, beaten
450g-500g plain flour
75g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten to glaze
Sultanas/raisins to decorate

* Directions *
Warm milk in a small saucepan until it comes to the boil, then allow to cool until it reaches about 45C.  In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.  Add one teaspoon of sugar and let stand for 5 minutes until yeast foams.  To the yeast, stir in the remaining sugar, salt, cardamom, egg and enough flour to make a batter (about 150-200g).  Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add half of the remaining flour and beat well.  Add the melted butter and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff (you may not need all the flour).  Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.  Knead the dough until smooth and satiny.  Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top.  Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled. About 1 hour.  Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 12 parts weighing about 80g each. Roll each piece into a 15cm strand. Then, with a sharp knife split both ends one third of the way towards the centre.  Then curl up each of the ends.  Place the buns onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper. Let rise for 30 minutes.  Brush each bun with egg wash and dot with raisins/sultanas in the curled ends.  Bake at 180C for 15-18 minutes. Check occasionally — because the bottom can brown easily.

Makes 12 buns

:: Yeastspotting ::
I am submitting this Joulupulla to Yeastspotting.

 

Juggling the demands of life is a daily challenge for most people.

As Mr Mélanger continues to survive full time work obligations with writing a thesis (brave man!), and I the art of juggling full time work and the inevitable “always feeling like you are falling short” role of mum to baby Mélanger, our spare time is spread incredible thin.

The volume of collective commitments and responsibilities in our lives seems to create a massive deficit in the family time bucket.  So snatching a precious minute here and there together is a priority.  But the reality is, a weekend breakfast may be the only genuine time we get to spend together all week.

This month’s theme has reinforced my goal to create a new food tradition for my family.  But more importantly, it has become the catalyst to earmark what little time we have, and steal a few moments enjoying breakfast together on the weekend as a family.  I cannot think of a more delicious way to spend that time.

Here is a roundup of this month’s recipes.  For versatility, ease and speed, our favourite pick is the Pannukakku, the Finnish baked pancake. 

 { Wholemeal English Muffins }  Topped with homemade marmalade or jam this dish is the epitome of simple.  With a boost of wholemeal flour for added nutrition, this little recipe is a keeper.  Prepare the dough the night before, for freshly baked English Muffins in the morning.  Left overs are great to freeze for breakfast on the run. { Read more here … }

 

  { Clementine curd crêpes with seasonal fruits } Citrus curd makes a perfect complement to a stack of crispy, wafer thin crêpes.  Prepare a stack in advance, or freeze leftovers for a quick crêpe snack any time.  Enjoy with any endless combination of fruit.  Whatever you have on hand.  Ditch the fruit if you prefer! { Read more here … }

 

 

{ Marinated mushrooms on bacon bread toast }  The hearty bacon bread marries well with the light, fragrant flavour of the marinated mushrooms.  This dish is a bit of a twist on a childhood of ‘mushrooms on toast’.  { Read more here … }

 

 

  { Baked Apple Pancake }  This baked pancake is popular for dessert or as an accompaniment for coffee, or, as here, makes a nice main dish for breakfast or a brunch served with juice, smoked sausage and coffee (always coffee, of course!). { Read more here … }

Perhaps foolishly, with a 2 ½ week old baby in toe, I launched a “Pink month” theme on my blog last October to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.  On the surface, it was perhaps a little ambitious to be concerned about blogging with a “practically just born” baby in care, but the topic was close to my heart.

My maternal grandmother lost the breast cancer battle.  Countless friends and family friends have also battled.  Some have won.  Some have not.

It is a cold, harsh reality that most of us know someone close to our hearts who has been afflicted by breast cancer.

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed my posts are typically absent of sponsored content.  My blog is tremendously personal and a space to share content that is very individual to me, so I generally decline offers that come my way.  But breast cancer is personal to me.

That is why I am proud to support the Australian Mushroom Growers Association’s ‘Mushrooms Go Pink‘ campaign.  Not only is the Australian Mushroom Growers Association aiming to donate up to $50,000 to cancer research in support of Pink Ribbon Day, but new research has shown that women who ate 10g or more of mushrooms each day had a 66% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those who had no mushrooms.

Either way, it is win win for breast cancer, no?

Breakfast as a young child was occasionally mushrooms on toast.  I am not sure if it is a typically English thing, but it is a standout breakfast in my childhood memories.

I cannot imagine losing my mother to breast cancer, but my mother did.  So to pay tribute to both of these amazing women, here is a twist on one of my childhood favourites.

Disclose: Australian Mushroom Growers Association provided the mushrooms for this dish.

{ Bacon bread } Original recipe by Julia Tuomainen @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
230g warm milk (approximately 45C/110F)
80g water (approximately 45C/110F)
10g sugar
7g instant yeast
500g all purpose white flour
7g salt
25g olive oil
150g diced bacon

* Directions *
Heat a small fry pan over a medium heat, and cook the bacon until lightly browned.  Set aside to cool.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the yeast, milk, water and sugar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.  Once the yeast is ready, mix on low speed slowly adding the flour mixture.  Continue to mix for a few minutes until completely combined and until the dough is cleanly coming away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn the speed up to medium, and continue to mix the dough for a further 5 minutes.  Add the olive oil and continue to mix for another 5 minutes.  At the end, add in the cooked bacon until just combined.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size, about 1 ½ hours.  After it has doubled in size, transfer to the bench and punch down gently.  Knead the dough and then form into a loaf shape.  Place the dough in an oiled loaf tin (or as I did, a 750g rectangular banneton).  Cover and set aside again for a further 1 hour until doubled in size.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 220C/430F.  Once the dough is ready, place the loaf tin in the centre of the oven (or as I did, place the dough from the banneton directly onto a lightly greased baking sheet), and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when tapped.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

:: Yeastspotting ::
I am submitting this bacon bread to Yeastspotting.

{ Marinated mushrooms } recipe adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly

 * Ingredients *
250g button mushrooms
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
Pepper

* Directions *
Clean mushrooms, remove stalks and slice thinly. Combine lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, tarragon and parsley in bowl.  Mix well.  Add mushrooms and combine until coated.  Cover.  Marinate mixture 4 hours or overnight.

15 years ago today, my father passed away.

I can honestly say, not a day goes by where I do not think of my him.  To me, he was a great man.  He was reserved and quiet – and oh, so British!  And although he was very well educated, read and travelled, there were many things in life he preferred to keep simple.

Food was one of those things.

He had neither a voracious nor a meek appetite.  Food was enjoyed in moderation.  Flavours were kept honest, simple and uncomplicated.

Every day he reminds me life is precious and that time is not to be wasted.  Quite a fitting reminder, as I recognise the importance of family time during ‘Breakfast’ month.

So for my (belated!) kick off to the month, my first offering celebrates my father’s food philosophy, and I start with the humble English Muffin.  With homemade marmalade and jam on the side, and a nod to England at the centre, I think he would approve.

{ Wholemeal English Muffins }

* Ingredients *
450g bread flour
150g wholemeal flour
5g salt
375g whole milk, lukewarm
7g dried yeast
5g sugar
15g olive oil
Semolina, for dusting

* Directions *
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, place the milk, yeast and sugar.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the yeast begins to foam.  Stir in the remaining milk and olive oil, flours and salt.  Mix together for 5-7 minutes until the dough comes away from the side, and becomes smooth and elastic.  Transfer the dough to a clean oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.  Turn out the dough and knock back.  Roll out the dough so it is approximately 2-3cm thick.  Using a 7-8cm cutter, cut out 12 rounds.  Grease a baking sheet and dust with semolina.  Place the dough rounds onto the baking sheet, cover and let rise for about 30-45 minutes.  Warm a heavy based fry pan over a medium heat.  Carefully transfer the muffins in batches to the pan.  Cook slowly for about 6-8 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Once cool, carefully cut the muffin around the outer edge only, and pull apart.

Makes 12 muffins

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these Wholemeal English Muffins to Yeastspotting.

As a child, I adored achingly sweet food.  For me, coconut ice was the pinnacle of sweetness.

How could a kid not love condensed milk (laced in buckets of sugar!), mixed with even more sugar and oodles of sweet coconut?

I am sure this little square confection is popular at birthday parties, so I decided to put a spin on an old favourite to create a coconut ice flavoured doughnut.  Essentially, a condensed milk based sweet bread dough, topped with sweet icing and coconut.  Pretty delicious in my book!

These doughnuts are baked, so if you feel a little guilty with the amount of sugar you are consuming, just remember these have not been deep fried!

{‘ Coconut ice’ doughnuts }

For this baked doughnut, I adapted my standard sweet dough recipe switching out some of the milk for condensed milk to create a softer and richer dough.

These are best when straight from the oven, but like most breads, they freeze well.

For the batch I created, I topped one half with the coconut ice inspired topping and the other I brushed on melted butter and sprinkled a healthy dose of cinnamon sugar for more of an old fashion doughnut flavour.

* Ingredients *

For the dough
100g condensed milk
150g whole milk
7g dried instant yeast
45g caster sugar
60g eggs, about 1 large
5g salt
500g bread flour
75g unsalted butter, diced

For the topping
100g icing sugar
15g whole milk
Pink food colouring, optional
Desiccated coconut

*  Directions *
Warm the condensed milk and milk to 37C (lukewarm).  Add to a bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment along with the yeast and allow to sit for five minutes.  Add the sugar, eggs and salt.  Add in half of your flour and start to mix on a low speed for a few minutes.  Then add a further quarter of your flour and mix again for a few minutes.  Stop mixing when there is no dry flour in the dough.   Then start to add the butter gradually piece by piece.  Mix the dough for a few minutes once all incorporated.  Lastly, add in the remaining flour and mix until dough comes together into a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl too much.  It should be smooth, soft, elastic and slightly sticky.   Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise at room temperature until doubled – anything between 60-90 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare two baking trays with parchment paper. When the dough has risen, sprinkle a pinch of flour on it and knead to deflate the dough.  Divide the dough into 18 even pieces.  Like you are preparing a bagel with the roll and loop method, roll into a rope about 10-15cm long.  Form each rope into a circle and join the ends, pressing well to seal.  Place on the baking trays cover with a towel and leave to prove again for 20-30 minutes and preheat the oven to 200C.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.  While baking preparing the icing.  Simply mix the icing sugar with the milk and add food colouring if desired.  Once baked, allow to cool for a few minutes, then top with the icing and sprinkle on with desiccated coconut. These are most delicious eaten when warm, but are also great to freeze.

Makes 18

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these ‘Coconut Ice’ Doughnuts to Yeastspotting.


It has been a month of new flavours in the Mélanger kitchen.

Enjoying the fruit of an avocado in a sweet ice cream dessert.  Experimenting with glutinous rice flour and homemade red bean paste in a mochi cake.  Combining a water roux bread making method and the flavour of pandan in a popular ‘Rotiboy’ inspired bun.  And ditching the typical heavy “British influenced” pudding (a common craving for me!) for a light and refreshing Asian inspired tapioca pudding.

I hope you enjoyed my Asian inspired assortment.  But next month will take us in a completely new direction.  All I will say now is, I hope you will be tickled pink with the idea.  I know I am.

In the meantime, here is a round up of this month’s recipes!

  { Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream & sesame brittle } For quite some time I have wanted to incorporate avocado into a sweet dessert.   I was inspired by the avocado milkshake, apparently one of the most popular drinks in Southeast Asia, in Pichet Ong’s, The Sweet Spot.  This ice cream is sinfully sweet, yet surprisingly, pairs well with the sweet nuttiness of a crisp sesame brittle.

 

{ Green tea and red bean mochi slice } This slice is ridiciously simple.  But even better than that, it is delicious.  One taste, and I practically slapped myself for taking so long in whipping up this mochi slice.  It has a delightful hint of sweetness offset by the earthly flavour of the green tea.  And the sprinkling of red bean paste added a surprise texture with each mouthful.

 

  { Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns } It was quite shameful to admit I had never tasted the flavour of pandan.  So enter these soft and fluffy on the inside, and crunchy and sweet on the outside buns.  The best bit it uses a gelatinised dough method (water roux starter).  There really is nothing to it, and it truly does produce an unrivalled softness.  If you have never used this method of bread making before, I urge you to try.  Soon!

  { Coconut lime tapioca pudding with chilli salt green mango fritters } I paired a zesty green mango with this pudding.  I stuck with the tradition of serving the green mango with salt and chilli by sprinking a healthy dose on the fritters once cooked.  The inherent sweetness of the pudding (from the coconut milk as well as the lime syrup), is the perfect balance to counter the spicy, salty flavour of the fritter.

Nestled in between my lofty dreams and goals is a little, cold stash of reality.  If you are like me, your notepads and daydreams are filled with places you want to see, people you would love to meet, experiences you want to have.  But the harsh truth is time and money is limited.

So what is the next best thing?

Reinventing your plans to suit your circumstances?  (How pragmatic is that?)

A little escape to Malaysia with the family may or may not be in my future, but bread baking sure is.  I came across these buns on Su-yin’s tasty blog, Bread et Butter.  This London resident, originally from Penang, shared a post on some coffee and matcha ‘Mexican’ buns.

I had never heard of these strangely named buns before.  Intrigued, I immediately investigated these (apparently very popular in Malaysia) buns further.  Apparently they have been made famous by a Penang based company called Rotiboy.

It is not every day you have a friend who can do a bit of a recce for you.  My friend Emma is currently living in Penang with her husband for the next 3 years.  (Well, make that 2 ½ more years.)

It seemed not even 24 hours past after a quick email exchange (asking if she had heard of these buns), when I received an MMS complete with close up images from the store in question.  Big snaps for Emma.

Motivated more than ever, I pressed on to make a batch in my little Brisbane kitchen.  But what recipe?  I decided to adapt a recipe from Chef Alex Goh, which appeared in a Malaysian food magazine, flavours.

It seemed fated.

The best bit about this bun, is it uses a gelatinised dough method (water roux starter).  There really is nothing to it, and it truly does produce an unrivalled softness.

If you have never used this method of bread making before, I urge you to try.  Soon!

In my research, there seemed no clear consensus on why these are called Mexican buns.  But my guess is because the technique and topping is similar to the famous Mexican bun, Conchas Blancas.  (But if anyone does know how they got the name, please let me know!)

{ Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns } Adapted from Alex Goh

* Ingredients *

Gelatinised dough
100g bread flour
70ml boiling water

Bread dough
300g bread flour
100g plain flour
80g sugar
20g milk powder
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
175g cold water
60g cold egg
60g cold butter, cubed

Topping
125g butter
125g icing sugar
1 egg
240g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon milk powder
1/8 teaspoon pandan paste

* Directions *
To make the gelatinised dough, add the boiling water into the flour and mix until well-blended to form dough. (I did this in a food processor.)  Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.   The next day, add the flour, sugar, milk powder, yeast and salt to a mixing bowl.  Tear the gelatinised dough into pieces and add to the bowl along with the egg.  Using a mixer with a dough hook, mix on low adding the cold water gradually.  Mix until the dough is well combined and leaves the sides of the bowl.  Add in the butter and mix to combine.  Then mix until smooth and elastic.  Remove the dough and shape into a ball.  Put into a bowl, and cover with plastic.  Leave to proof for 40 minutes, until doubled.  To prepare the topping, cream butter and sugar until smooth then mix in egg. Add the four and milk powder and pandan paste, and mix until well incorporated. Preheat the oven to 190C.  To prepare the buns, divide the dough into 50g portions and mould into round balls.  Arrange on baking pan and leave to rest for 10 minutes.  Place the topping into a piping bag.  Pipe the topping in a spiral pattern onto the buns starting from the top and finishing about half way down the side of the dough.  Proof for a further 20-30 minutes and then bake for 12-15 minutes.  Best when eaten warm.

Makes 18-20 buns

 

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns to Yeastspotting.


I entered this month’s theme with a little trepidation.

I set myself the challenge to investigate homemade alternatives for four (4) popular, and standard packaged good items.  The plan was to create my own recipes for each, and bake them from scratch.  But I truly had no idea how it would all turn out.

As I started this challenge, I was wondering would it require an enormous amount of time to prepare and bake some of these goods?  Would the cost of the ingredients significantly exceed the store bought item, and blow the case for homemade out of the water?  Would some of these items be a little tricky to make, and not necessarily practical for most people?

But fortunately, after creating the four (4) recipes, the case for homemade has been made (well, I think anyway!).  Most items only required 5-10 minutes preparation time, the raw ingredients were a fraction of the cost of buying prepackaged (as low as 1/4 of the cost of store bought!), and all the recipes were pretty simple to put together.

It is no secret the side of the fence I sit on, but if homemade is not your thing, I hope this month has encouraged you to give it a try?

Mrs E.P. – I am very proud of your homemade banana bread effort. :)

  { Buckwheat & nutmeg banana bread } Banana bread is very popular. Not only in children’s lunchboxes, but as a staple in coffee shops and cafes around town. It will certainly make a regular appearance in baby Mélanger’s daycare lunch box – as well serve as breakfast-on-the-run for the busy working mum I know I will soon be!  { Read more here … }

 

  { Homemade milk arrowroot biscuits } Even though these biscuits are not an exact replicator of the biscuit you will find in store, it still imparts a characteristic softness from the arrowroot flour, is only slightly sweet from the small dose of sugar, has a slight crunch but still melts in your mouth like a good arrowroot should. { Read more here … }

 

  { Homemade nut-free muesli bars } After three muesli bar trials, this recipe version was my favourite.  Lightly crunchy, these muesli bars are a snap to make, and stay fresh and crisp for up to 2 weeks in an air-tight container.  Feel free to adapt the combination of seeds and fruit to your own preferences, and include nuts if nut-free is not an issue. { Read more here … }

  { Homemade olive oil wholemeal crackers } Hardtack crackers (made from a simple combination of flour, water and salt) are quite popular and easy to make, but I wanted to mimic the depth of flavour and crunchy texture of a soda cracker.  So enter here some leavening agents, a hint of shortening, and a few rounds of experimentation, et voilà!  { Read more here … }

These little crunchy squares are my triumph for this month’s theme.

I have wanted to create a homemade cracker for some time, but have been quite particular about the type.

I know hardtack crackers (made from a simple combination of flour, water and salt) are quite popular and easy to make, but I wanted to mimic the depth of flavour and crunchy texture of a soda cracker.

So enter here some leavening agents, a hint of shortening, and a few rounds of experimentation, et voilà!

{ Homemade olive oil wholemeal crackers } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

I experimented with 1) the yeast and leavening agents, 2) dough fermentation times, 3) the shortening, and 4) the temperate and bake times.  The following recipe reflects the result I preferred.

Feel free to top your cracker with any flavouring you like.  Throughout my experiments, I tried sea salt, mixed sesame seeds, as well as dried herbs (all a hit).  This particular version included dried oregano, and combined with the olive oil in the dough, there was a slight scent of pizza in the air!

Note – you will need to start this recipe a day ahead.

* Ingredients *
80g (½ cup) wholemeal plain flour
150g (1 cup) white plain flour
7g (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
¼ teaspoon each of salt, baking soda and cream of tartar
1 teaspoon sugar
90g (6 x 15ml tablespoons) warm water (45C/ 110F)
60g (4 x 15ml tablespoons) olive oil

* Directions *
In a bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and sugar until well combined.  Pour in the water and mix with a wooden spoon for a few minutes to work the dough.  Finally, add the olive oil and combine well.  The dough will be a little crumbly at this stage.  Transfer the dough to the bench and knead for a few minutes until the dough comes together nicely and starts to look silky – will only take a few minutes.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge overnight.  Next day, preheat the oven to 160C/320F.   Take out the dough and divide into two.  Roll the dough out as thinly as possible (e.g. around  ¼ – 1/3 cm thick or 1/8 inch thick).  You should get around a 20cm / 8 inch square per half.  Place the rolled out dough onto parchment paper and then cut into your desired squares/shapes.  Place the parchment onto a baking sheet.  With a fork, prick each shape a few times, and then spray the dough lightly with water and top with your choice of flavourings (e.g. sea salt, herbs, seeds etc.).  Bake for around 12-13 minutes depending on size, remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Store in an airtight container.  Crackers should remain crisp for 1-2 weeks.

Makes about 300g / 10oz of crackers

A bit of a disclaimer — these are the results from my experiment only. Costs will obviously differ depending on your local grocery prices and the brands you select.  Time will depend on how quickly you work in the kitchen!

 

:: Yeastspotting ::

I am submitting these homemade olive oil wholemeal crackers to Yeastspotting.

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