In My Baking Kitchen, October 2015

A duck full of sugar
A duck full of sugar

School holidays bring a flurry of baking as the young folk flock to the kitchen for pancakes, chocolate chip biscuits and cake making. This, along with my renewed passion for sourdough bread making, makes the kitchen the centre for flour, sticky bowls and general mayhem.

I asked him not to pose!
I asked him not to pose!

This batch of buttery biscuits was devoured in less than two hours. The kids pick out the biggest ones to eat first then claim to know exactly which biscuits they personally made. At times ‘there’s a fraction too much friction”, there are monsters in my kitchen.

Concentrating on shapes.
Concentrating on shapes.

I invested in some bread making paraphernalia. This whisk is designed to stir wet dough at the initial mixing stage. Impressed by the man on the Breadtopia site, I ordered one and then added a few other items to make the postage from USA worthwhile! Included was a silicon mat which I hope will encourage better pastry making. I used the whisk this evening and soon dumped it for my hands! Maybe more practice is required before I whisk like the man from Breadtopia.

Bread dough whsk
Bread dough whisk

Other bread making gear was purchased in my favourite shop of all time, Costante Imports in Preston, Victoria. Costante is a shrine to self-sufficiency. The shop has expanded over the years and the place is always abuzz.ย They sell equipment for wine making, small frantoi for pressing olives, sausage making gear, pizza ovens, cheese and bread making equipment, copper pots and brass rustic hanging lights. The surrounding conversation is Italian as young chefs gather to buy authentic pots and pans, and suburban grandmothers come for corks and bottle tops. It is a land of temptation and a source of inspiration. http://www.costanteimports.com.au/

bannetons for bread rising.
Bannetons for bread proving from Costante.

My flour collection has taken up residenceย in the laundry, which is slowly morphing into a larder. The flours include one huge supply of white bakers flour, this one in a 12.5 kilogram bag for $12.00 and milled in Yackandandah, Victoria. I also keep a softer white flour for pastry, biscuit and cake making as well as a self raising flour. Then there’s a Tipo ’00’ from Italy.( It is sometimes impossible toย find the ‘best by’ or packed on date on Italian produce, which is a concern for bread making where fresh flour is important). Then comes the finely stone ground semolina, Atta, Australian wholemeal and spelt, rye, and buckwheat! This is ridiculous I know, but it will get used.

My new starter, Sorella, is bouncy and reliable: thanks Celia for the emergency back up. I make two types of bread when not experimenting: a plain white and a 75% white with 25% spelt. Both are equally popular.

Sour dough white, Celia's recipe.
Sour dough white, Celia’s recipe.

I preheat the oven to 250c, add metal trays at that point, then dust a pizza paddle with fine semolina, turn the proved bread onto the paddle, slash ‘with panache’, then slide it off onto the hot tray. I give the bread and oven a quick spritz with water then quickly close the door and reduce the temperature to 220c. Performing this action with two loaves at once is proving tricky while trying to maintain oven heat, like a clumsy kitchen ballet performed by a strega. The ‘spring’ on my latest loaves is much better, the texture much lighter, but retaining the sour dough taste, so the performance is worth it.

Soudough with spelt
Sourdough loaves with spelt

Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts this monthly kitchen event. Check out some of the other posts. Celia is also responsible for spreading the love of bread making throughout her global community, which always feels local and close.

65 thoughts on “In My Baking Kitchen, October 2015”

  1. Oh now just look at that loaf… bloody beautiful, it is! Agree with you about that whisk… concept sounds good, but my arms would not be strong enough either, methinks. The duck measuring cup is a treasure, as is the little one licking the beaters xx

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  2. Wonderful school holiday time baking with the grandkids. I’ve missed it this time round. Your bread look fabulous Francesca!!! Costante has been there since the year dot. I remember it from my days at PANCH in the early 70s. Nice to know some things stay the same

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  3. Oh Francesca I am almost wishing you hadn’t shared the link to Costante Imports, this looks and sounds like dangerous territory. My favourite sort of shop. A girl can never have enough flour in her pantry or enough bread equipment…in my opinion! Your kitchen sounds like a happy place to be in the school holidays. That little duck filled with sugar is beautiful, is it a measuring spoon? Happy baking x

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  4. I love your duck measurer, I have a salt chicken… which a duck set would complement wonderfully but I have pink love heart measuring cups and spoons, gifts from the G.O. How many is too many I wonder ?

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  5. I didn’t know that was there either Francesca. Must check it out as have only been to Mediterranean Wholesalers. We were given some very old bread-making tins years ago by a neighbour so might give this a try. They were used in a bakery. ๐Ÿ˜‹

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  6. There is something very appealing about that cup of moist brown sugar. Stop tempting me with that link to Costanteโ€ฆ I so want a bannetonโ€ฆ As for $12 for 12.5kg โ€“ are you kidding me?! I don’t use the pot method either. I perform the same ballet but use a pizza stone which I have to slide the bread onto. The idea of the spritz of water is a good one so I will give that a go too. Cheers!

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  7. So many good things. I grew up in Preston and still shudder at what it used to be like. Haven’t been back since mum passed away but I might be tempted to check out Costante! Exciting seeing you with the kids in the kitchen, we are going to be 1st time grandparents in January and I’m a tad nervous (but more excited!) Your flour stash resembles mine, buckets everywhere! I’ve seen those whisks on a few sites and wondered if they performed. I’ll await your feedback with future attempts! Cute duckie! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Go back to Preston: it has come alive. Have lunch at Pho Hung in High St. ( I call it ‘Well Hung’. Then the market, then Costante’s. High st has a few other gems- down a lane near the market there is a great Sichuan dumpling shop.
      I know where you are coming from in this ‘shudder’. I grew up nearby in Paco ( Pascoe Vale) and feel the same.

      You will love the grandparent thing- better than being a parent for me. I have 6.

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      1. Goodo, sounds like a plan. I was blown away by the changes in Coburg so I should try with an open mind. Some things that are harsh memories just stick in there, good to throw away the devil on your back I suppose. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        1. Yes, confront that devil, look him in the face and tell him to piss off. My time in those suburbs was also tied up in the Catholic school system of old- suburban, catholic, northern suburbs- let me out!

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  8. Hi Francesca, I too am checking out Costante Imports. It sounds like my type of store. Your flour collection sounds like mine. It is interesting what you said about fresh flour. I remember Maggie Beer saying “flour improves with age.” Buggered if I know. Your bread looks fab BTW.

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    1. I don’t think Maggie is correct on this one. Like olive oil, fresh is best.Flour goes rancid and gets a distinctly off smell.. Glenda, you would LOVE Costante Imports. Your kind of place.

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  9. Fra, lovely post! For what it’s worth, I’ve been told by two millers that flour needs to age for six weeks before it’s at its baking best. I’ve found this to be true – freshly ground bread flour doesn’t get the same rise. But six weeks is very different to two years which is sometimes the case with imported flours, and I’ve had imported flours go rancid on me before. I keep them in the freezer to prevent that. I have one of those dough whisks as well, and they’re lovely, but the dough gets caught in between the metal at the base, and it’s very difficult to clean. I sometimes use it for less sticky things like muffins (on the odd occasion that I make muffins!). Sorella looks like she’s doing her job well, your loaves are gorgeous as always! ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

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    1. Thanks for the advice on milling – all the more reason why we need milling dates on the packs. When talking about fresh, I just mean before the suggested use by date. Some folk forget this, specially when decanting into larger bins. Also, some grocers flog off the very large bags cheaply, when there is only a month to go.
      I’ll play with my bread wand some more- I must say, the thing hurt my arms. Maybe it could be a gym substitute?

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  10. Francesca, I would LOVE to visit your favorite store. It sounds wonderful! That aside, your IMK post made me want to get my hands into bread dough a.s.a.p. — such a satisfying feeling. Can’t imagine “whisking” it (!) — what a workout. (Cool tool, though.) Your kitchen “helpers” are darling, your breads are beautiful, and your “ballet” sounds fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Hey Miss … good pose. Nothing like a bit of help in the kitchen. that shop Constante sounds like my sort of place. I laughed when I read about the larder moving to the laundry. I have honey in plastic buckets in strange places too! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  12. Your duck filled with sugar made me smile! Such bread-y and baking delights in your kitchen this month! Constante sounds like a groovy place to hang out ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. The bread dough whisk caught my attention – I’ve toyed with the idea of purchase for eons, just ‘cuz it’s cute. Your loaves look divine with their crackly, crispy crusts. Nothing beats fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread – not even chocolate.

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  14. Ah yes in my kitchen my children HAVE to pick out the largest biscuits then claim they’ve made the biggest therefore they have to eat them (truthfully I often make the biggest for myself). Your bread looks fabulous!

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  15. Love the duck measuring cup, what fun for baking with kids. I know my boys enjoy baking and cooking when they are on school holiday. We have an unexpected week at home due to flooding now and have had a few fun projects in the kitchen. Love you sourdough loaves, beautiful!

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  16. Your sourdough loaves from Sorella are sure working beautifully for you – thanks for the tips too. May I ask where you got that great big bag of bakers flour from? Were you in Yackandandah when you bought it? That’s a bit of a bargain & it would be a great investment for future sourdough attempts. Good luck with your new whisk ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  17. I love the sounds of Costante – I will need to keep my eye open for a Brisbane equivalent. Your little sugar duck is very cute. My children are not old enough for school so school holidays are moot in our house… but Saturdays are for pancakes and baking the sourdough that proved overnight. Fridays are play date days as I don’t work so we often bake something sweet, usually with the bananas that everyone insisted were a necessity when grocery shopping on the weekend but that no one ate during the week! Thank you for sharing and good luck with the whisk! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. Kids are such fun to bake for – looks like a great time was had by all in the school holidays (I am still getting over them here!) Interesting to see your bread paraphernalia – I have passed Costante Imports in the car too often and sometimes wondered about the place but am always going somewhere. Your loaves look very impressive and that whisk is a work of art (though hands are too – they are so useful in the kitchen)

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