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Welcome: This blog is associated with my web site of the same name - Mum's Cookbook Site.

12 November 2011

Soft Crescent Rolls

My interest was piqued by a mention in the Best Recipes forum of a product called Pillsbury Crescent Rolls which is available in the US.  They seems to have quite a range of convenience bread and "biscuit" doughs which you buy in cylinders and bake at home.

These are not available in Australia - well not where I live anyway.  So...  I've come up with a recipe that approximates these soft, very morish treats.  There's no reason why you couldn't use the dough for any of the variations on the Pillsbury web site.

These are so lovely and soft.  Such a treat and less butter than croissants but the rich buttery taste is there.

Want to try the recipe?  It's in my online cookbook.  Let me know what you think.

29 October 2011

Sourdough Flat Bread

I'm refusing to buy bread these days and I still make the odd baker's yeast bread but prefer my sourdough.  Oops, forgot to make a fresh loaf and wanted something bread like to serve with scrambled eggs.  Ahh, what about making flat bread - a sourdough flat bread perhaps?

All puffy and ready to serve.
Did some research and found lots of help online for all sorts of flat breads.  But I decided to wing it and have to say, I'm pretty chuffed with the result.  Mind you, this is how we've been making bread for centuries and most cultures have a flat bread version. 

Here's my recipe.... 
Note that I added cumin seed to the pan before placing the dough on top to cook.  Added a nice touch to my "Mexican" eggs which were flavoured with capsicum, onion and chilli powder.

Topped with scrambled egg - yes, it's there underneath the capsicum strips.

25 September 2011

Breadmaker Sourdough

OK, so I realise that all you sourdough aficionados out there like the artistry of shaping and baking your dough but mostly, I just want a loaf that I slice for toast.  It needs to be squarish to fit in the toaster.

After much experimentation and research, I have come up with a recipe that works for me.

Check it out here.

05 September 2011

Dough Slapping

I was taken with the method of kneading dough as on Poh's Kitchen last week.  I've always used a gentle folding and rocking motion but this method looked like fun.

You can watch this episode on iview

Here's another method that is similar.  Note the very wet dough comes together nicely.

18 August 2011

Meet my new kitchen friend

This is Bella.  She came gift wrapped and has her own recipe book which I need to read.  I love her already although it's a bit different using a mixer where the bowl doesn't rotate.

She's already done a fine job of blending and whipping my butter and oil mixture.  Well done Bella!

Tomorrow, we might try mixing bread dough together.

08 August 2011

Yoghurt - looking for cheaper options

OK, so I'm a skinflint - it's a must when the budget is limited but I like the challenge.

The EasiYo mixes certainly are convenient but also expensive.  Granted it's cheaper than buying ready made yoghurt but I remember making yoghurt years ago with heated milk and seeding it with a little bought yoghurt.  There's tons of info online and I've been experimenting.  So here's what works for me.

Half fill the container with filtered water and add 1½ cups of full cream powdered milk.  Put the lid on and shake to mix.  Add 2 tab Greek Yoghurt (powder or prepared), fill to the line and replace the lid.  Give it a good shake then put it into the prepared thermos.  Leave it for about 16 hours and refrigerate.  I serve it with strawberry topping or home made strawberry jam.  Yum.

06 July 2011

EasiYo Yoghurt Maker - review

Years ago, when the kids were little, I use to make yoghurt using an electric yoghurt maker that had a number of small tubs - probably a collectable by now.  It was a fair bit of work to make that yoghurt, a bit hit and miss and the finished product wasn't popular with the family.  I've been buying yoghurt ever since.

You are probably like me and walked past the EasiYo display in the supermarket many times and dismissed the idea of making yoghurt using a powder.  Well, a friend served me a dessert with fruit and this lovely sweet, thick creamy topping.  "Greek yoghurt" she announced - "I made it myself."

So here I am with my first batch on the go.  Will it be a success?  Stay tuned.

01 July 2011

Jams and Marmalades

I like to make at least 2 batches of jam and marmalade each year as there's very few commercial brands that I like.  The Buderim Ginger varieties are a notable exception.  Cherry is my favourite when I can get reasonably priced fruit.

This week I processed some strawberries and also made some grapefruit marmalade so I've enough for 12 months or so now with a few spare jars to give away.

My recipes are here....

Sourdough bread in the bread maker

I'm still experimenting with my sourdough made using the breadmaker from sponge to loaf.  I think I'm close.

My breadmaker is an elderly Breville but it does give me the opportunity to manually set up a recipe.  Based on other recipes that come with the breadmaker and what's needed to make a sourdough loaf, I've tried a number of manual settings now.  While the loaves are fine, they are difficult to remove from the bread pan - small price to pay for automation IMHO. 

Once the sponge is left overnight to rise and become active, the process takes between 5 and 9 hours, which isn't too bad.  I'm thinking that the process will take longer in our Winter than it will come Summer.

Keep tuned for the recipe.

29 June 2011

Chocolate Liqueur Cake

Chocolate Liqueur Cake with Chocolate Ganache
I made a lovely cake last night and added the ganache this morning.  The recipe is based on one I found on Best Recipes for Irish Cream Fudge Cake.  No Bailey's in the cupboard - well there was but it had been opened about 12 months ago and was well past it's best by date.  I used a chocolate flavoured liqueur instead.

Totally decadent.

I made the cake for a photo competition but missed the cut off.  Oh well, next time I'll get my act together and in the mean time, I have a lovely cake to console myself with.

PS - this is not the shot I was going to use, but it's not bad is it?

14 June 2011

Simple Sourdough

Simple Sourdough baked last night
While it's nice to have artisan bread, really, I just want a loaf of bread that tastes nice, toasts well and doesn't take a lot of mucking about to make.  I think I've found a method that suits my needs.

See my recipe and method for Simple Sourdough Bread.

05 June 2011

Breadmaker Sourdough

I've been looking for a recipe for English muffins.  First attempt failed as muffins but I managed to produce reasonable flatbreads.  Too many distractions happening - well that's my excuse.

The recipe I used is a simple one though and would make good pizza dough.

Moving the thought process onwards, I experimented with making a sourdough loaf in the breadmaker using the same recipe.  I set a sponge going overnight using all the water and 2/3rd of the flour.  The next morning, the sponge was poured into the bread pan along with a little salt, sugar, the rest of the flour and a little bicarb soda.  Normal setting produced a loaf with reasonable holes and the most amazing crust.  Not sure I'd do it again though because the stirrer blade was well and truly embedded in the loaf and very difficult to remove because of the crisp crust.

18 May 2011

Sourdough Crumpets

So what can you do with 750ml of accumulated excess starter - those portions of mix that you are suppose to throw away when you are refreshing your precious starter?

Crumpets for now, breakfast in the morning and the rest can go in the freezer
Why, make a triple batch of crumpets of course....

You can see my recipe here

Sourdough pancakes

I seem to have a fair amount of "discarded" starter in my fridge - Yes, I know you are suppose to throw it out, but I can't bring myself to do that and each time I refresh my starter, I toss the surplus into a container in my fridge.  I add some flour and water into the mix when I remember and it stays fresh and sweet.

So, pancakes for breakfast using my recipe.  They are just so nice - light and fluffy and the bicarbonate of soda counteracts the sour in the starter.  Basically, you take about a cup of starter (no need to refresh), add an egg, some oil and powdered milk, a little sugar, salt and bicarb and there you have it.  Mix it up and make your pancakes.  How easy is that!

Now I need to work out what to do with the other litre of left over starter.

24 April 2011

Pressed pickled pork

I managed to buy a nice piece of pickled pork last week and finally cooked it today.  It's one of those pieces that come in a string bag which is never a good look for a piece of meat.  However this one cooked up nicely and there's not a lot of fat with it.

Mum's old meat press on the left and mine on the right.
So, to the press.  I scavenged a nice meat press from my Mum a while back and it's probably the best one I've ever seen.  It's heavy cast aluminium and rectangular in shape.  Mum tells me that my Nana gave it to her many years ago so it's done a bit of work and still looks fit for another 50 years of service.  My other press is a lightweight aluminium affair that looks cheap and nasty but I guess it does the job too - not as nice to use as the old one.

23 April 2011

Pulla - Finnish cardamom bread

I made Pulla yesterday for the first time in many years.  I just love the smell of cardamom in this bread and the loaf is not overly sweet.  Just the thing for breakfast, toasted and spread with butter and maybe a little honey.

Full recipe here.

19 April 2011

Braised Steak

Had a longing for something warming tonight and found some scotch fillet in the freezer that I'd bought at Christmas "just in case".  Yes, I know it seems a waste to use such a nice tender steak in a braise, but the meat has to be used or it will end up only good for dog food.

I was planning on using the slow cooker, but ran out of time so the pressure cooker was dusted off.  So nice.

Browned three fillets in a pan and made gravy with the brownings.  Added a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, a sachet of tomato paste, some vegemite and stock powder, 3 chopped onions, and some sliced carrot.  Served with green peas and mash.

Here's my full recipe

There's leftovers too.

13 April 2011

Grow Sprouts!

How to Garden on your Benchtop – Grow Sprouts! | The Micro Gardener:

I may just have to get into growing my own sprouts again. So easy to grow and refreshing on sandwiches.

07 April 2011

Such a grand loaf

This morning I had a friend come over for breakfast of pancakes and poached blueberries.  The sourdough pancakes weren't as spectacular in height because I didn't have the mix as thick this time.  Very light and lovely.

Breakfast loaf
My second Boy loaf came out of the oven this evening.  I made the dough into a single large loaf in a pan and this better suits my needs for toast in the morning.  The crust isn't as chewy and the loaf has smaller holes - all the better for buttering with my breakfast egg.

I feel that I'm conquering this sourdough bread making.  This time, my initial sponge was doubled in 4 hours.  I cut back on the times allowed for the bulk proof and final proof stages and the dough was much easier to handle at the shaping stage.

After the initial shaping, the dough stood proud and didn't collapse.  I shaped again (for luck) and let it rise in a large loaf pan.

Slashing wasn't (in retrospect) as deep as it should have been because the loaf "broke" on one side.  I need to either become more confident with the curved blade lame or give up on it and use a sharp knife instead.

I'm really happy with this loaf - can you tell?

05 April 2011

It's working

The Brett Noy yeast and recipe is giving me a better loaf and I'm thrilled with it - henceforth the starter shall be named Boy.  The bread reminds me of the taste of bread from my youth so I'm wondering if there was an element of natural yeasts and long preparation back then to give such great flavour.

Yogi is not forgotten.  He gave me great results with my pancakes and both Yogi and Boy have distinctive "banana" odours.  Perhaps they have cross pollinated in the refrigerator.

I am disappointed that I've purchased a lame with a permanent blade.  I can't replace the blade when it becomes blunt or rusty.  It's also a curved blade and I'm having a problem using it.  I think a flat blade would be easier to wield.  The banneton is smaller than I imagined.  It's meant for a .75kg loaf and I'm thinking that I need to make larger loaves for myself to be able to slice for toast.

04 April 2011

So so scones

I found a recipe on the net for sourdough scones and baked them as a trial.  Not a huge success and I'm not sure how they could be improved.  The scones rose a little in the oven, but I'm thinking they might need to proof a little while before baking.  Will try that next time.  It was also a very dry dough so I'll use less flour next time.

My usual scone recipe is a very wet mix which has minimal handling - I combine wet and dry ingredients in a bowl and plop the mix onto a floured counter, sprinkle more flour on top and gently press the dough to flatten before cutting.

02 April 2011

Adopted yeast has arrived.

My new yeast has arrived and is showing promise after 24 hours of rehydration.  I've just fed it and I'm already noticing a difference in the smell.

There's a new loaf under way and I'm experimenting with the "no knead" system.  Basically you mix the starter, water, salt and flour together and leave it for 18 hours.  Then you fold, rest, shape and let it proof again before baking in a cast iron pot.  I'm using Yogi again and already the dough is rising very well.  I'm concerned that it's very soft and moist though.

29 March 2011


I finally managed an edible loaf.  There's still some work to be done with technique and I didn't manage any oven spring, but the loaf is edible but not photogenic.

In the mean time, I have ordered a commercial starter, a lame and a banneton.  It will be interesting comparing how the two starters taste and perform.  Exciting....

27 March 2011

Starter Revived

Well it took a couple of days, but I now have a viable sourdough starter.  It was the pineapple juice that did it.

23 March 2011

SDJ - day 25

Another 2 sets of sourdough bricks have been produced using 2 different recipes and methods of proofing and shaping the dough.  It's so disappointing. 

It's time to take stock.  I now think that my starter is not as active as it should be and I'm experimenting with 3 different ways of reviving it.  No, reviving is not the right word.  The starter needs to be strengthened.  It just doesn't perform as it should.  The initial rise is very slow and not at all vigorous.  The dough becomes very liquid and virtually impossible to shape and retain any form.
  • Starter version 2.1 is enjoying a feeding of a little rye flour.
  • Starter version 2.2 will be fed some pineapple juice.
  • Starter version 2.3 has consumed some grapes.
Now that I have read more, I do think I was hasty to discard Hooch.  Too late now!  My interpretation of the feeding instructions was actually starving the starters. I thought "Equal flour and water" meant by volume, but it's actually by weight which is a big difference.  Also, you can develop your starter using small amounts of ingredients and stay fairly small until you are reaching the stage of using the starter in a batch of bread.  Live and learn....

19 March 2011

SDJ - day 21

I haven't posted for a while so here's an update.

Yogi has matured into a very nice starter. Smells yeasty and remains active.

I attempted my first sourdough loaf the other day and ended up with a brick. The taste is lovely but it's destined to be reborn as tasty breadcrumbs.

Perhaps my mistake was to treat the dough as I do yeast bread dough. It's quite different. The way the natural yeast works produces a dough that is delicate so a gentle touch is required past the initial kneading and rise.

Now that I'm better informed, attempt number 2 is on it's way. I'll let you know how this one goes.

10 March 2011

SDJ - day 12

Well, I do believe that Hooch has died and gone to heaven. He is smelling decidedly rank now and no action except for a few tired bubbles.  Hope the worms appreciate his remains.

Yogi is still smelling yeasty and froths. I expected a little more action though. He probably increases by about 50% in the 24 hour period. Perhaps I need to feed him more often now?

08 March 2011

Collapsing dough

I'm still struggling with my dough being too soft to hold it's shape and little or no oven spring.

I really do think that I'm allowing too long for proof at each stage and indeed, my recent reading indicates that the time it takes for the double rise in the first sponge indicates how long the preparation should take up to baking the loaf.  So, if my initial rise is 6 hours, then bulk proof, kneading, shaping. and all the mini rests in between should be about this time or even a little less.

I timed my sponge at about 5 hours to doubling.  I let it continue for an extra hour and found that the sponge had collapsed at the 6 hour point.  So, to my thinking, the much longer proof times that recipes have been telling me to use has done nothing except exhaust the dough.  It becomes very wet and difficult to handle and there's no capacity for oven rise.

05 March 2011

SDJ - day 5

Yogi is increasing in volume and smells lovely and yeasty now. He didn't double over the 24 hour period, but is likely to soon.

Hootch is not doing anything much. Still producing hootch and the alcohol smell just about knocks me over.

04 March 2011

SDJ - day 4

Nothing happening - I think it's just too hot inside. Thinking of draping wet hand towels around them to see if they do better in a cooler temperature.

Yesterday Yogi had a nice little fungus growth happening on the surface which I was able to remove as there was also a skin formed. Some bubbles on the surface this morning, so he is still alive but not active. Pleaseant smell.

Hooch has a very ripe alcoholic smell and I don't think any fungi are game to grow in that environment. Very thin layer of hooch on the surface but no other activity.

02 March 2011

SDJ - day 2

Starter babies fed and ready to grow again
This morning I was anxious to check on my babies and here's my progress report.

YOGI: I have a nice crop of fungus growing on the sides of the container where some of the starter has splashed and stuck during stirring. Not sure if I should be worried. There's none on the starter itself and I could ladle it out and clean the jar. Still smells OK and mix is quite fluid. A couple of bubbles on the surface, but level hasn't risen.

HOOCH: Last night I diluted the mix and strained out what remained of the grapes - just seeds and skins.  Big changes this morning. The froth floating on top of the hooch has now virtually disappeared - I stirred it a couple of times last night in the hopes that this would happen because I now think that the initial action is not the one I need. There's not much hooch now but still a strong smell of alcohol.

I'm starting to think that the current high temperatures are not ideal for growing new starters. I'll continue for a few more days with the current cultures though.

Later in the day:

Yogi has a silky smooth texture with a few bubbles popping up to the surface - like 1 or 2 bubbles per hour. His house is clean again.

Hooch is bubbling - just reduced the volume of starter and fed him. I am hoping for some expansion over the next few hours.

01 March 2011

SDJ - the beginnings

Day 2 - Yogi on left and Hooch on the right

This is a record of my first attempts at making a sourdough starter.  My home bread making skills span about 40 years but I've never made or even tasted sourdough.  I like the idea of it because it's a natural process and the science is interesting.  An internet friend is advising me and there is so much information online - how could it possibly go wrong, right?

My first sourdough babies were conceived on the 28th February.

I decided to make two starters to see which worked best and which flavour I preferred. These will be "white" loaves and later I will try a couple of grain starters - wheat and rye.

Starter number 1, who later became known as "Hooch", was made with grapes, water and flour. By day 2 there was some action happening - bubbles aplenty and the mix had a yeasty smell.  I had high hopes for young Hooch.

The second starter was made with yoghurt, milk and flour. The flour was added on day 2 and the only noticeable change was, well nothing really.  He was destined to be named "Yogi".

Note that Hooch has three distinct layers, foam at the top, a clear liquid formed and at the bottom of the jar is a fairly solid paste.