Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Focaccia Bread

I can't say I am a great bread maker although I do throw some ingredients into my breadmaker machine at least twice a week. I use a German Grain bread mix established by Friedrich Laucke in his first flour mill in the Barossa Valley in 1899. Since then, four generations of the Laucke family have continued to produce flour and mixes that remain Australian owned and operated.  This makes me feel good,  not only am I supporting Australian made, and is very reasonably priced - 4 individual bread packets including yeast for under $8.00,  the bread is thick, heavy and delicious, and it smells soooo good while it is slowly chugging away in the bread maker. However, this is probably still seen as cheating by the "real" makers of bread.
German Grain Bread Mix
Bakers Flour
So when the Random Recipe Challenge for this month was bread, I thought this is my trigger to actually make bread from scratch, on my own, elbow grease and all! An unbelievable fact is I don't have a Bread Book purely dedicated to the subject matter. Dilemma dilemma! The only alternative was to drag out all my books that have bread recipes embedded and pick one of those.  So in true "pin the tail on the donkey" style I ended up with Focaccia from Lorraine Pascale's "Baking Made Easy"  an excellent book that my friend June gave me as a goodbye present when we were in the UK last year.
Lorraine's book is simple and lovely - clear recipes and nice simple but perfect photos, well worth the investment (thank you June).
Order Book Here

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
1 x 7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
80ml olive oil plus a little to drizzle
150 - 250ml warm water
Vegetable oil or oil spray for oiling
1 bunch fresh rosemary sprigs
Large pinch of sea salt for sprinkling

What to do...
Rosemary studded going into oven

  • Dust a large flat baking tray with flour
  • Put dry ingredients in a bowl and add olive oil plus enough warm water to make a soft but not sticky dough.  
  • The dough should feel pliable not tight or difficult to knead.
  • The more water that can be added the lighter the bread will be, but resist the temptation of add more flour.
  • Knead by hand for about 10 mins! (This is good for those "tuck shop" arms) or 5mins in an electric mixer with a dough hook.
  • The dough will feel stretchy when pulled.
  • Test by making a ball with the dough and press a shallow indent  1/4" in the side, if the indent disappears by way of springing back the dough is ready to shape, if not keep kneading!
  • Shape into an oval and place on the tray flatten out to 12in" long 8"wide cover loosely with the oiled cling film (but make sure it is airtight).
  • Preheat oven to 200C (400F) Mark 6 
  • Leave dough in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  • With a floured finger press holes in the dough - right down to the bottom - at regular intervals .
  • Take sprigs of rosemary and press into the holes. 
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the top third of the oven.
  • Bake for 25-30mins or until well risen, golden and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped.
  • Remove from the oven, drizzle with a little olive oil and leave to cool on the baking tray .
  • Perfect served warm with olives or a hearty bowl of my pumpkin soup. 
Once again I am trying to scrape into Belleau Kitchen's Random Recipe's for May!

Check out my other attempts at breadmaking here Butternut pumpkin and feta loaf.


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day Chinese Chews



 On Mother's Day I took along to my Mother-in-law's,  a fresh from the oven tray, of Chinese Chews for afternoon tea. They were still warm when we arrived.

This slice makes 18 good size bites which ensures everyone will get a taste or two.

I have made these once before - a recipe adapted from Hotly Spice blog - so I was fairly confident the ingredients would be in the cupboard. Its a versatile slice so you can add and subtract the fruit and nuts at will, which is just as well as I had no dates and no walnuts.  Instead I substituted prunes and apricots for the dates and almonds for the walnuts.  There were no complaints! See recipe instructions and pictures here.

It was a nice chatty afternoon - I don't think one chew survived!
See other Mothers Day Cake here 
Orange Halva Cake - Mother's Day 2012

Chinese Chews 2012

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Afternoon Tea at the Conservatory

Just waddled out of the Conservatory at the Casino Melbourne.
What a wonderful pre-Mother's Day High Tea. My girls and I (two daughters and two daughter-in-laws) indulged ourselves with a "girls" afternoon tea celebrating our motherhood without the children (apart from one baby granddaughter who could not be left behind).






The Conservatory sits at the top of the opulent staircase at the front of the Casino and is a lovely elegant setting for high tea, the view of the river lovely, the chairs so comfortable and the "all you can eat" delicious savouries and tempting sweet treats were never ending.  A glass of champagne made the occasion complete.
My Girls waiting to be seated
  

 And when the savouries were done we started on the sweets and copious cups of tea and coffee and the odd glass of champagne.

Take your pick
No calorie counting here!
Chocolate Fountain just crying out for marshmallow and fruit dipping

Dark chocolate mouse on biscuit base with edible silver leaf
Tangy Lemon Tart with mini Meringue
Pannacotta
Creamy filled chocolate base topped with strawberries

Tarty Rhubarb with raspberry 

 
Selection of ice cream and toppings
All that sugar makes us tired!
Definitely not a place to go if you are counting calories but lovely once in a while 
- in the diary for next year!