spiced sourdough fruit buns

31 Mar 2014

Hi every-one,

Hot cross buns have been available in the supermarket since Christmas. Although I love them, I only want to eat hot cross buns at Easter so I've resisted them until now. During the weekend, I was going to make an Apple, Yoghurt, Rye and Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf from the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook, but I decided to add the fruit soak from another recipe from the book to the dough and before I knew it, the loaf became spiced sourdough fruit buns.

Now sourdough takes time, so I actually started the process on Friday night and had one of the buns straight from the oven on Sunday morning. It helps that I wake each day before 5.00 though, perfect baker's hours.

I like the taste of candied peel, so I added a little to the fruit mix and added some mixed spice to the dough.

Here's the recipe for you with the addition of the fruit soak. 
I've attached the quantities as written in the book but I tend to find the Bourke Street Bakery bread recipes quite salty, so I halve the salt

Spiced Sourdough Fruit Buns (makes 16 buns) 
adapted from the recipe for Apple, Yoghurt, Rye and Cinnamon Sourdough Loaf from The Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook.

(you’ll need to start this recipe the night before)

Fruit soak
50 g currants
150 g raisins
10 g diced candied peel
140 ml boiling water

Place the dried fruit into a small container.
Pour the boiling water over the fruit then cover.
Soak the fruit overnight then drain the water before using.

40 g (1½ oz) white sourdough starter
110 g (3¾ oz) organic rye flour
340 g (12 oz) organic plain flour
2½ tablespoons plain yoghurt
250 ml (8 fl oz/1 cup) water
10 g (¼ oz) fresh yeast/5 g dried yeast
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
10 g (¼ oz/1 tablespoon) sea salt
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Using a dough hook, combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl and mix for 4 minutes on low speed then 6 minutes on high speed until you have a soft, smooth dough. By hand, gently mix in the drained fruit soak. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container, cover and leave for 1 hour to prove.

To knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and press out into a rectangle, about 2.5 cm thick. Use your hands to fold one-third back onto itself, then repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again into thirds. Place the dough back into the oiled container and continue to bulk prove for a further 30 minutes. At this stage I put the dough in the fridge overnight loosely covered with a plastic bag and brought it back to room temperature the next day before continuing.

Divide the dough into small buns (65 g each) and place onto 2 baking trays lined with baking paper. Let the buns rest in a humid place (25°C) until they've grown in size by two-thirds. This could take anywhere between 1 and 4 hours. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to its highest setting. Score the buns and place one of the trays in the oven. Spray the oven with water and reduce the temperature to 220°C/425°F. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, then turn the trays around and bake a further 10 minutes watching carefully to make sure the buns don’t burn. The buns should have a good colour. 

Bun Glaze
2 tbs caster sugar
2 tbs water

While the buns are cooking, prepare the glaze.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Set aside until ready to glaze the buns.

Using a pastry brush, lavishly brush the glaze over the buns. Return the fruit buns to the oven for a minute or two, or until the glaze has dried. Allow to cool before removing from the baking trays.

I topped one of the buns with a scrape of butter and a spoon of my home made summer berry jam. DELICIOUS!

Next week will be a big week on the blog as I'll be doing a week of Passover baking. I've been beating egg whites and melting chocolate like it's been going out of fashion. Why you ask? - last year my mother and I both noticed how many hits my 'renovated for Passover recipes' received so I figured there's a need out there for a modern approach to Passover baking.

So see you all again next week,


mieze's plum cake

24 Mar 2014

Hi every-one, you'd have thought I'd be over my plum obsession by now but no. Since my last plum cake post, I've been oven roasting plums with honey and orange juice which I serve with homemade labne and I've made a batch of plum jam as well. Next I want to make a rustic plum tart before the plum season is over.

Last weekend I came home with a big bag of plums from our trip into Maitland and decided it was was time to try this plum cake recipe from Stephanie Alexander.

In the end I slightly adapted my usual plum cake recipe and topped it with the Stephanie Alexander plum topping.

I took the cake into work and waited for the response. No-one really said anything about the cake but when lunch time arrived and there wasn't a single crumb left, I took that as a positive sign. I ate my slice of plum cake during the weekend and it's pretty yummy with a moist vanilla scented base and a cinnamony plum topping.

Here's the recipe for you. If you'd like to make a 23 cm cake, just double the ingredients, the cooking time remains the same.

Mieze’s Plum Cake – Jillian’s adapted version
100 g softened unsalted butter
70 g (scant ⅓ cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup self-raising flour
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup almond meal
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tbl buttermilk
Additional ¼ cup ground almonds or fresh breadcrumbs
6-8 ripe plums, stoned and quartered

30 g butter
¼ cup caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease and line a 16 cm spring-form tin.

To make the topping
Melt butter and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Allow to cool a little.
Whisk the egg well and stir into cooled butter mixture. Set to one side.

To make the cake
In a small bowl, mix together the flours and almond meal.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix the egg with the buttermilk and then add to flour mixture. Mix to make a softish dough (it should drop easily from the spoon).

Spoon batter into prepared tin (it should not fill more than a quarter of the depth, as the cake rises a great deal), smooth the top and sprinkle over ground almonds. Arrange plums on top, cut-side up, starting around outside edge and working towards centre. Spoon the topping over and around plums on cake.

Place cake in oven and reduce temperature to 180°C. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a fine skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

To serve 
Serve warm with cream, yoghurt or ice-cream. Any leftover cake can be warmed, wrapped in foil, in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes.

Just the other day I counted the weeks until I fly to Amsterdam and it's now just 7 weeks. With Easter just around the corner the next month will just fly by. As well as Amsterdam, I'll be spending some time in London, Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels. As it's been a while since my last shop shoot I thought it might be fun to shoot a few shops while I'm away.

If any of my blog readers can suggest some new and exciting shops for me to photograph on my trip I'd be grateful. I like to contact the shop owners in advance to schedule a day and time so you can email your suggestions to me (my email address is in the 'about me' section on the blog) or just leave the information in the comments section if you prefer.

See you all again next week,


salted peanut butter cookies

17 Mar 2014

Do you like peanut butter? Growing up I did not. I was definitely a Vegemite girl. With time I've grown to like peanut butter but it doesn't like me very much so I have to keep my consumption to a bare minimum. That's probably why until a year or two ago, I'd never tasted a peanut butter cookie. I made a batch and I loved them, so last month when I found this recipe for crunchy peanut butter cookies in Belinda Jeffrey's Mix and Bake, I thought I'd give it a go.

I did make a few adjustments though. I lowered the sugar a little from ⅓ cup to ¼ cup each of caster sugar and the brown sugar. I left the salt out of the dough and used smooth peanut butter because that's all I had in the fridge. I used half the dough and stored the rest in the freezer.

Last weekend the cookie jar was empty and as a friend was coming over for a cup of tea I used the remaining dough. I rolled the dough into logs as suggested but I actually found it easier to roll out and cut 
the dough into rounds using a scone cutter. The scone cutter cut through the whole peanuts really cleanly whilst the knife blade kind of dragged through the dough. I only used a tiny sprinkle of salt flakes because I didn't want to over do things.

Here they are fresh from the oven. They are pretty delicate so one did crumble as I removed it from the baking tray.

These are absolutely delicious - crisp, a little bit sweet and a little bit salty. They do soften after a few days but I think they'd crisp up a bit if you returned them to the oven for 10 minutes or so.

Here's the original recipe for you.

Crunchy Peanut Butter and Sea Salt Cookies
Adapted from Belinda Jeffery Mix and Bake

Makes 50-60

2 cups (300g) plain flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
180g unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into chunks

⅓ cup (75g) caster sugar
⅓ cup (75g) firmly-packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
110g crunchy peanut butter

⅓ cup (50g) salted peanuts
Sea salt flakes, for topping

Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a food processor and whiz them together for about 10 seconds so they’re well combined. Tip them out into a bowl.

Put the butter and both sugars into the food processor. Whiz them for 40 seconds, stopping and scraping down the sides once or twice with a rubber spatula, until they’re light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and egg and whiz them in for 10 seconds; the mixture may look a bit curdled, but it will be fine once the flour is added. Scrape the peanut butter into the egg mixture and whiz the machine briefly again so it mixes in. Add the flour mixture to the processor and mix it in with on/off pulses, until it just forms a thick soft dough (Don’t overdo the mixing in of the flour or the biscuits will be a tad tough.)

Add the peanuts to the dough and stir them in with a spatula (you might find it easier to do this if you tip the dough out into a bowl and work the nuts in by hand, as it’s always a bit awkward in the processor). Scrape the dough out onto a chopping board and divide it in half.

Lay a large sheet of foil on a bench and cover it with a sheet of baking paper. Gently knead one piece of the dough briefly to bring it together and then roll it into a log about 5 cm in diameter.

Sit the log on one edge of the baking paper and roll it up in the paper. Next, roll it so it’s wrapped in the foil. Twist the ends of the foil tightly in opposite directions so you end up with something that looks like a very long bonbon. Repeat with the remaining dough.

If you’re baking the biscuits on the same day, chill the logs for 2-3 hours in the fridge until they’re firm enough to slice. Or, at this stage, you can freeze the logs until you need them (they keep well in the freezer for about 5 weeks; just defrost them in the fridge before slicing them.)

Preheat your oven to 150°C. Line some baking trays with baking paper. Unwrap the log (or logs) and cut into 6-7 mm-thick slices. Sit the rounds, about 2 cm apart, on the prepared baking trays. Gently sprinkle a little sea salt onto each one; I’d go fairly lightly on the salt the first time you make them, and then when you've tried them once you can adjust the amount.

Bake, in batches if necessary, for 20-25 minutes or until the biscuits are light golden-brown and feel crisp to touch. If your oven cooks a bit unevenly, turn the trays back to front and swap the shelves halfway through the baking time. Remove the trays from the oven and leave the biscuits to cool completely on them. Store the biscuits in an airtight container, where they will keep well for 5-6 days, or freeze them for up to 2 weeks, and when you want, defrost them at room temperature.

I've just come home from a weekend in the country. I came home from the Maitland Harvest markets with bags of plums, pears and rhubarb and some Tuscan cabbage and a bag full of crab apples from Farmer Andrew's garden. I've just made a delicious looking plum cake, recipe on the blog next week, and I'm going to try making some crab apple jelly this weekend, something I've not done before. Any tips for me?

I hope you all had a lovely weekends. 

See you all again next week,


tomato bread

10 Mar 2014

It's time for another installment of Jillian's adventures in bread making. I found this recipe for tomato bread in a back issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller and decided to give it a try.

I stick to a low fat diet so I had to modify the recipe quite a lot and in the end it kind of morphed into a tomato topped version of this olive oil bread recipe from the Bourke Street Bakery.

I found some pretty multi coloured tomatoes at the supermarket which I used instead of cherry tomatoes. I had some basil in the kitchen so I used that to top the bread instead of thyme.

Here's the Tomato Bread recipe for you.

1 tsp dried yeast
350 gm plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
10 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing and drizzling
10 mls milk
200ml lukewarm water

200 gm cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil leaves, torn

Combine the yeast, flour, salt, oil, the milk and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead until a soft smooth dough forms (10 minutes). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with a tea towel and stand until doubled in size (1 - 1½ hours). Knock down 3 times during this period.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 18cm x 27cm rectangle, place on a 22cm x 27cm oven tray lined with baking paper, cover with a tea towel and stand until doubled in size (20 minutes).

Press tomatoes cut-side up into dough, scatter with basil, drizzle with oil, season to taste and prove for a further 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to its highest temperature. Spray the oven with water before lowering the temperature to 210°C. Bake the tomato bread until golden and cooked through (20 - 30 minutes) rotating the bread halfway through. 
Transfer the bread to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

I topped the bread with some shaved Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of salt and it was yum! The bread doesn't keep well so eat it the day you make it or freeze any leftovers for later.

See you all again next week,


swetschkuchen - german plum cake

3 Mar 2014

It's been a drizzly old start to autumn in Sydney - perfect weather for baking. Last weekend when I was home in Brisbane, I noticed some lovely looking plums lurking in the fruit bowl. I hunted through some recipe books before finding this recipe for swetschkuchen in Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food. I've never made a swetschkuchen or zwetschgenkuchen before, but I like anything with plums, so I thought I'd give it a try. As there were only a few of us at home, I halved the recipe and made 6 individual cakes rather than 1 large one.

The cakes took no time to make in the food processor but I did strike a few issues with my mini versions.

The cakes were completely cooked after 20 minutes, long before the plums were ready. After 10 minutes, I lowered the oven temperature to 325°F/170°C and covered the cakes with baking paper to stop them burning. In the end it took about 40 minutes for the plums to cook through. If I were to make mini-German plum cakes again, I'd thinly slice and sugar the plums first to speed up the cooking process.

Here's the original Claudia Roden recipe for you.

German Plum Cake (Swetschkuchen)
125g (4½ oz) caster sugar 
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1/2 tsp baking powder)
75g (3 oz) cold unsalted butter 
1 small egg, lightly beaten 
1 tbs cognac 
750g (1½ lb) plums, pitted and cut in half 
Icing sugar 

Mix half the sugar with the flour. Cut the cold butter into pieces and rub into the flour and sugar mix. Mix in the beaten egg (you may not need to use all the egg) and the cognac and work very briefly with your hand - just enough to mix it together - adding a little flour if it's too sticky. Take lumps of pastry and press into a 25cm/10 inch baking tray or tart pan. 

Arrange the fruit, tightly packed, cut side up on top of the pastry and sprinkle the remaining sugar on the plums. Bake in a preheated 375°F/190°C oven for 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the plums are very soft. The sugar draws out the plum juices, which run into the pastry and makes it rise up between the plums so that these are embedded in the light pastry. Serve hot or cold sprinkled with icing sugar.

My family don't have a sweet tooth, so I tried to reduce the sugar in the recipe. Don't! The plums I used were mouth puckeringly tart so I had to add a little extra sugar to the cooked tarts to ensure they were edible. Once I did that, I enjoyed my little plum tart with a nice cup of tea.  I'm thinking it's probably time to make some tangy plum jam before the plum season ends even if I'm a Vegemite on toast girl.

I hope you enjoyed your weekends. See you all again next week,


P.S My recipe for blood orange tea cakes on decor8 can be found here if you're looking for more inspiration.
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