aphids (1) bread (1) cooking (3) eggplant (1) eggs (1) Eucalyptus (1) fermenting (1) lemons (1) pests (1) pizza (1) preserves (1) sourdough (1) spring (1)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Image may contain: pizza, food and indoor
sourdough pizza with homemade kefir farmhouse cheese

My No-Knead Sourdough Bread recipe

I have made sourdough bread on and off over the years but recently I have found a method that is easy, quick and tastes delicious. Everyone in our family enjoys it which hasn't always been the case for my bread. Maybe that's because we only have bread twice a week now, since cutting down on gluten, so they appreciate it more. I like to think its because I've found the perfect recipe and method for us! It makes a medium-sized dense, chewy loaf with a nice crust. Some sourdough connoisseurs might scoff at the simplicity of a no-knead sourdough baked in a tin, but it is a nice compromise for busy people! When using sourdough cultures, long kneading times are not necessary as the cultures in the sourdough and the long soaking time act on the gluten. And no messy flour-covered benches to clean up!  So I thought I'd share it here. It's perfect for anyone who wants a long-soaked no-knead homemade sourdough without too much effort or fuss.

If you haven't tried sourdough bread before or you are fairly new to it, it may take a few attempts to get it the way you like it. Sourdough baking requires forward planning, a bit of intuition and observation, and adjustments need to be made accordingly. Every sourdough culture is different, variable and doesn't perform exactly the same each time. If you keep your sourdough fed and happy you will find a good rhythm with the process and be less likely to encounter problems. It's not like the generic bread yeast, which is a predictable mono-culture of fast-acting yeast cultured in a laboratory. Sourdough is made of wild yeasts and bacteria which are beneficial to our health and when allowed to ferment the bread flour, these bacteria and yeasts will break down phytates in the grains, produce enzymes which partially break down the gluten making it more digestible and delicious. These enzymes also make many nutrients more available, especially B vitamins. For more info on this see here  Many people who can't tolerate normal bread can eat properly-made sourdough without any problems. I'm one of those people!


1 cup active sourdough starter (see recipe below)
2 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 1/2 cups spelt flour and 1 cup buckwheat flour, organic)
1 1/4 cups non-chlorinated water
1 tsp natural salt (non-iodised)
Optional- 1/4 cup each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds


Put all ingredients into a mixer with a dough attachment. Mix for 2-5 mins. If you don't have a dough attachment is not necessary since this is quite a wet mixture, a normal mixing attachment will do fine. If you don't have a stand mixer just mix by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon for 2-5 mins. Mixture should be quite wet but not too runny. Add more water or flour if needed. Let stand, covered for 6-12 hours for the first rise. Mix again briefly for 2 mins then pour (yes, pour!) into an oiled or buttered loaf pan. Smooth the top and lightly oil or butter the top to prevent drying. Cover with a cloth. Let rise for another 4 hours or until dough has doubled in size, but before it starts to collapse (over-proof). Rising time depends on how active your sourdough is and the room temperature. In summer this happens quicker (about 3-4 hours), in winter this takes longer and you may need to place in a slightly warm oven to rise. (See note) Cook in a 200 degree Celsius oven for 10 mins then reduce temp to 180 degrees Celsius for 25 mins. Turn out onto cooling rack immediately and allow to cool. Don't forget to eat it with lots of butter!

Variation 1- Fruit Bread- Add to mixture:
1/2 to 1 cup sultanas, or any combination of dried fruit you like such as chopped dates or figs
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs honey

Variation 2- Pizza Crust
Omit the seeds, use all spelt flour, add 2tbs olive oil to mixture. Proceed with the first rise, knock down, then press out thinly onto oiled pizza trays with oiled hands. This recipe will make 2 medium pizza crusts. Top with pizza toppings, bake in a hot oven for 10-15mins.

Note: At any stage if you need to slow down the rise, either the first or second, the dough can be put into the fridge, covered. I usually do a double batch each time, cook one loaf and put one tin in the fridge after the second rise for cooking at a later time. Just take it out when you are ready and allow to rise for an hour or 2 then cook as usual. The longer it sits in the fridge or on the bench the more sour it will become.

If you find the taste too sour for your liking, (or you want bread sooner!) reduce the fermenting time, or skip the first rise all together and just put straight into the pan 6-8 hours to rise and then cook. However, the longer it ferments, the less phytates will be present, and the more easily digestible the bread will be.

Sourdough Starter

This will take about a week to be ready to use in bread baking. Make sure you use non-chlorinated water and unbleached flour, preferably organic. By far, the best sourdough I have ever had has been made with rye flour. So use that if you can. The sultanas help to contribute yeasts to the sourdough and makes it active more quickly. It can be made with out them however since these cultures should be present on the flour and in the air too.

1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup non-chlorinated water
1 tsp organic sun-dried sultanas


Mix everything in a jar and cover with a cloth and rubber band to keep flies out. Leave it on your bench for about a week. Feed daily by stirring in 2 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp water. On the third day, strain or scoop out the sultanas. Mixture should become bubbly around the 3rd day and smell yeasty and fruity. By the end of the week it should bubble up and double in size after being fed. It is then ready to use in bread-making. Feed your starter 6-12 hours before you plan to make bread so it is active and you have enough starter to use in your bread plus some left over. For this recipe will need to feed it about 1 cup each of flour and water. Always be sure to save a small amount of starter to continue feeding for your next batch of bread! You should save at least 1/4 cup. Then feed your starter every day just 2 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp water to keep it active. In cold temperatures you might get away with feeding it every 2nd day.

If you ever need a break from making bread, feed it and keep it in the fridge. Be sure to feed it weekly. Sometimes it becomes strong smelling if it hasn't been fed for a while or if the weather is too hot. Discard half and feed it well for a few days and it should be smelling nice again. Keep it in fridge if the weather is too hot and it might be happier, but it will be slower and less active. If it doesn't recover it's probably best to throw it out and start again.

I hope you enjoy eating this bread as much as we do.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A New Start!

Image may contain: 2 people
Moving my daughter's pony to our new home
We have moved to 2.5 acres! Yah!! We've been here 7 months now and we've also had another addition to our family in that time, a son who is now 5 months old. So we have been pretty busy since we moved, but we've formulated some plans in that time for our property which we are slowly getting to do. One major job was to revamp the already existing vege garden. We found some cheap bales of hay locally and have been making major progress with that this week. My wonderful husband has been working very hard! I am so looking forward to having a vege garden again, I really missed our vege garden from our old house and it was so hard to take it all down and replace it with grass when we left!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Getting Back to the Garden

Getting Back to the Garden
My poor garden has been so neglected over the past year! Due to health issues and lack of rain, things have been pretty dismal looking. I have had a few successes, but the majority of plants gone into my garden have not done very well and it has certainly been nothing worth blogging about!
However, things are looking up! My health is improving, and finally, we've had some rain over the last month after a very dry summer. Also, the kids have been asking me many times if they can garden, and have even done some on their own. I gave them each a small patch to look after since I have been unable/unmotivated to do much gardening myself. Their attempts at gardening have been well-intentioned, but due to their forgetfulness, have been mostly unsuccessful. I have usually stood back and observed, sometimes offering advice, allowing them to work it out for themselves. The lack of rain hasn't helped their cause much either. However, I have realised that too many failures can result in wanting to completely give up (I've been there myself a few times with gardening). I want them to enjoy gardening, while also enjoying the fruits of their labours'. So I realised I need to work with them more in order for them to experience more success.
Along with the much awaited rain, my motivation and improved health have returned. So now, it is time to get back into the garden! And since the children are a bit older and keener this time, my plan is to involve them and teach them more about gardening. I look forward to growing the majority of our vegetables again. I have also enticed them further with the possibility of selling our excess produce through a local business and earning some extra pocket money! That would be great if it works out! This will require a lot more organisation on my part and extra effort on the children's part too if they are to get a share of the earnings! But I think it will be a good life-learning experience for them.
So in order to bring all this wonderful chemical-free produce into existence, a huge improvement in my soil's fertility is needed. Especially after the long dry spell and neglect that it's had. I started about 6 weeks ago by pulling everything out and planting a green manure crop. Luckily it has rained nicely in that time, and the seeds have grown green and lush. Today we started digging them in- chopping them up with the spade, sprinkling on some extra fertiliser and covering with mulch to allow everything to break down. Miss 7 and Master 3 had fun squashing all the soft green growth before I dug it in. They also helped to spread out the mulch.
Apart from the green manure, we have been busy collecting bags of horse manure from Miss 7's new Shetland Pony to turn into compost. We've also planted lots of seedlings to put in the garden after the green manure has been dug in. The kids have all been very enthusiastic so far. Surprising, considering how much patience is required while waiting for the green manure and the seedlings to be ready. They have checked things everyday, and there is always excited announcements made when anything new has happened, such as a seed that someone planted a few weeks ago has finally come up.  Things don't happen overnight when you're gardening. A lot of patience is required. Patience, another great life-lesson that can be learned from gardening...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eggplant Chutney

Today I am making Eggplant Chutney with the abundant supply of Eggplants my 2 plants are giving me! I don't know why I didn't think of using them in this way before? I'll also be using some of the jars for christmas presents if it turns out well. I got the recipe from here-
Eggplant Chutney
The flowers in the back are Eucalyptus Summer Beauty, in flower in my garden at the moment. They are one of my favourite flowers! They're so beautiful and they remind me of May Gibbs' Gumnut Babies.

Image Detail

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


What do you do with heaps of lemons and heaps of eggs? Lemon butter of course! We will easily go through a jar a week, thankfully the children love it and and since we've had lemons from our tree, from friends, and from the neighbours, I've been making a double batch of it every 6 weeks or so. My neighbour also has limes and lemonades which i have used along with the lemon juice, which is really nice too. The recipe I use is from Annabel Langbein's The Free Range Cook, which is a great book.

Whenever I make Lemon Butter I always end up being reminded of my Grandma. She always seemed to have it in her fridge, and I wonder what she would think of my garden? Does anyone else have a food that reminds them of their Grandma or a particular person from their childhood? I think my Grandma's love of gardening rubbed off on me. Even though I was young I somehow absorbed the flower names she told me and found myself just knowing many names of plants, I guess because of her and probably my Dad too. I remember visiting her unit at Marooka and exploring the communal gardens there that all the elderly residents worked on. I remember it being such a place of peace. I vividly remember the smell of geraniums and some other plants which I don't know the names of, but if I smelt them I would know them.

I took this photo a few months ago, just because I thought jars of homemade products look gorgeous. Don't you think? Especially when you've made them yourself!

A favourite way to use the lemon butter - lemon meringue pie!

Another new favourite way to use eggs and lemons - Lemon Delicious -
just as the name suggests - Delicious!
                                          Lemon delicious

On a separate note, these beautiful flowers have been on my dining table all week. Hippeastrums, I believe they are and they're the best plants. But I can't take any credit for them, they were already here when we bought the place, and I have done nothing to them at all except move a few bulbs around the garden. They never get watered, and most of the time they just look like a few strappy leaves, but they reward neglect by bursting forth with four huge, dramatic flowers in the spring just to let you know they are still there!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Verge of Spring!

Spring is only a matter of weeks away - and my garden knows it!

Around the garden with my camera this afternoon, I could see the anticipation of Spring in almost all my plants.

Apple blossom

Blueberry flower

There were new buds and flowers, new fruit and leaves.

I also noticed the increased insect activity - the first sign of cabbage moth catepillars (which I dread),

 and aphids multiplying faster than before. As much as I don't like them, I'm always fascinated with how the ants 'farm' them. They will actually carry them from plant to plant creating new colonies of aphids to ensure the sap-sucking aphids' survival and proliferation. The ants will look after them, defending them against any predators, just like little shepherds! Why do the ants go to all this trouble? Because the ants will pat them and cause them to emit a sugary juice which the ants harvest! Isn't that fascinating??...or maybe it's just this picture there are aphids on a newly formed broad bean

Thankfully, I can also see the signs of good insects - a preying mantis and a few different kinds of ladybirds - a welcome sign of a healthy garden without chemicals. Sarah and I actually observed a ladybug eating an aphid the other day.

                                         Cabbages, brussel sprouts, coriander and broad beans

                                                           Garlic, spinach, radiccio

Nasturtium or "drinking flower" as Joel calls it because he loves to pick them and suck the nectar out of them!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Smiling Sunflowers

Sunflowers are the happiest flower you can grow in the garden! They always make me smile, especially when they are smiling too!

But they don't just look pretty, they also attract bees and birds, provide shade for other plants in the summer, act as a climbing frame for peas, beans etc., and kids LOVE their huge flower! Sunflowers come in a variety of colours and sizes, the most dramatic would have to be the giant ones. The variety I have grown before is the Giant Single. The seed packet says the height is 1.8 - 4.5 metres! But don't expect it to grow very big in poor soil, the more you feed it the more it will grow. They can also be grown in winter in my subtropical climate I've found, just as long as they have a warm, sunny spot.

One idea I would love to try is the Sunflower House, from the book Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots (Sharon Lovejoy). Sunflowers are planted in a rectangular shape, leaving a space for the door. As they grow, they create a leafy sunflower room!

When the heads are finished flowering, the seeds will form. This is the time to make sunflower faces. In the past I have cut off the heads, tied them together, hung them up under cover to dry. I use them as a treat for the chooks, throwing half a head to them every so often and watching their excitement! The seeds can be eaten by us of course, and you can get varieties specifically for seed. However, extracting the seeds from the flower head and then the kernel from the husk is time consuming and hardly worth the effort I'm sorry to say! On the other hand, a handful of seeds can keep the kids quietly entertained for half an hour easy!

This coming spring, i hope to plant many sunflowers in my garden. I haven't had any for a while and I've certainly missed their charming character!

 Sunflower our Buff Sussex hen who, ironically, is the grumpiest chook we've ever had!

My garden in Summer 2009