I’ve discovered you can’t write a blog when you’re in the fog. Ha, you didn’t know poetry was my forte, did you?
Luckily that’s it for the rhyming prose!
It’s been quite some time since I last tickled the keyboard to try and impart any words of wisdom, recipes or just tit-bits from here on our block of life, so, “hello” it’s good to be back! I'm sharing some sour dough love today but first, this...
While I was out on my morning jaunt up the hill with ‘pooch’ today, the thick fog in our sleepy little valley started to clear and I caught a glimpse of bright blue sky and the promise of a stunning Autumn day. The simplicity of nature doing its thing made me realize that I’m ‘coming out of the fog’ too.
Sometimes life hurls some unexpected ‘poo’ and there’s just no escaping the fact it needs cleaning up – it can get mighty stinky if you just sweep it under the carpet. Don’t worry, I didn’t become a total hermit and buy a onesie or start drinking a bottle a night (not quite). The reality is, when you’re running a business, and a family – no matter how big or small – the requirement to ‘show up’ is what drives you through the fog. The key is to focus on what you can realistically achieve, be honest with those who have expectations of you, and don’t give any oxygen to the stuff you have no control over.
Looking back, that sounds quite profound and adult-like, but believe me, there were days when pajama hibernation seemed like the preferable modus operandi. Thankfully I kept up my regular exercise regime (at a somewhat slower pace), continued to nourish my body with good wholefoods, rediscovered journal writing and sought out words of wisdom from those who are qualified to help ‘shovel poo’. Also, with a little less focus on work, I allowed myself the time I needed to navigate the ‘steaming piles’ that couldn’t be side-stepped and with support from my nearest and dearest, here I am with a renewed vigor and yes, the fog is clearing.
So, enough about that, here’s something I learned while, metaphorically speaking, turning poo into compost (Bam! Even got a little gardening reference in there!).
I love bread!
No, I mean… I, REALLY, LOVE, BREAD! Actually, all things doughy and of course, with lashings of butter! This is no great revelation for those who know me well. I’m the one who craved (and ate) dodgy date scones from the supermarket every day I was pregnant with Olly and I still find it hard to go past a decent cheese scone with my daily caffeine fix. There’s no denying it, I’m not quite the super healthy foodie my Facebook posts may lead you to believe and fortunately my gut doesn’t suffer from these regular lumps of dough.
In saying that, I put my good gut health down to my equally insatiable love of fermented food and the ‘no numbers’ approach I have, to cooking fresh, homegrown, wholefoods and this, dear friends, is what leads to the reason for my ramblings.
I’ve been learning to make sourdough.
I first thought, “how hard can it be, Jamie Oliver has a recipe, I’ll give it a crack.” Well, back the truck up – I’ve made quite a few “sour bricks”.
However, I am happy to say – after much mixing, proving, tasting, more mixing and once or twice forgetting and having to biff out my inedible concoctions – I now have a recipe that satisfies my doughy cravings, and provides ‘dessert’ of toast and jam for my beloved.
If you’re keen to give it a go, here’s what works for me:
You will need Organic Rye Flour (I use Ceres brand), Water and Salt – that’s it!
Take 1 cup of rye flour and mix in 1 ½ cups warm water, whisk until smooth.
Cover with a clean tea towel, making it nice and snug and leave in a warm place overnight (my warm place is our linen cupboard that has a damp-chaser heater in the bottom but a hot-water cupboard would be perfect).
Add ½ cup rye flour and ½ cup water each day, for at least 2 days and return it to your warm place.
Dip your finger in on the 3rd day – it should taste sour – if you like a really sour bread then repeat for another day.
It should start to bubble a bit on the surface – this is the natural yeast process and it’s all good!
For the final prove – this is where the fun begins – liberally flour your bench top and add enough flour to your mix to make it workable, plus a teaspoon of sea salt, then begin kneading for around 5 minutes until you have a relatively smooth, soft dough. Don’t be disheartened if your first attempts seem a little brick-like…continue anyway and see what happens.
Return dough to a lightly greased bowl or place in a floured proving basket (this is where the lovely lines come from), cover with clean tea towel and return to your warm place overnight.
Baking day – turn your dough out onto a lightly greased tray or gently press into a loaf tin and bake at 180C for 35-45 minutes.
Use the tap-test and if it sounds hollow it’s done.
Allow to cool slightly then turn out onto a wire rack until it’s cool enough to slice into big chunks and slather with butter and your favorite topping.