Mad Monday – Day 27 NaBloPoMo 2017

A quick post tonight after a very mad Monday!

I realised fairly late in the day that I had no burritos or tacos to go with the wonderful beef and bean taco mix the Gentleman of the House (aka GotH) had made up while I was out at work. I usually make fairly big batches of my own wheat tacos with bread flour, a little water and a dash of oil – just enough to pull it all together – roll them out and freeze the leftovers. Sadly, the freezer was bare!

So, while I was feeding Wee Beastie, my sourdough plant, I struck on an idea that turned out to be a total winner. I love having real sourdough but we don’t go through a lot of bread in this household, so I’m always looking for ways to use up excess starter.

Here’s the recipe:

Wee Beastie Burritos (Makes 4)

1 cup strong bread flour

1/4 cup sourdough starter

1/8 – 1/4 cup water

1 tab olive oil

pinch of salt

extra flour for dusting


In a mixing bowl combine the bread flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the sourdough starter. Mix with a wooden spoon until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the water a little at a time until it comes together in a ball and mix in the oil. It should come away cleanly from the side of the bowl.

Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead it for a couple of minutes, it should be quite smooth and elastic but a little drier than a bread dough. Put it back in the mixing bowl and cover, leaving it for about an hour.

Prepare a heavy-based fry pan on medium high heat. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knock any air out of it. Cut it evenly into four pieces. Roll out each piece to a thin, roughly pan-sized circle and cook in the dry fry pan a minute or two on each side. Be careful not to burn them!

Wrap the cooked burritos in a clean tea towel – I take them to the table like that!

Fill with your favourite taco or burrito mix (we had Chilli Beef and Black Beans tonight), grated cheese and chopped leafy greens, Italian parsley or coriander leaves.

I’m going to make more of these for the freezer later in the week I think – they were delicious! If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think – I’m keen for feedback 🙂

New Traditions – Day 3 NaBloPoMo 2016

I’m writing to you with the smell of new bread baking in the kitchen. It’s one of those things that spells “home” to me though my family weren’t into yeast-based cookery when I was a kid. We had bunches of dried herbs, cured meats and always pickled onions. I also remember the rows of Fowlers Vacola preserving jars (the Australian equivalent of Ball Mason canning jars) full of bottled fruit that my parents would put by every summer so we could eat apricots and peaches in the middle of winter.

I still put food by, it’s a deeply ingrained habit that I doubt I’ll ever fall out of love with. Instead of bunches of herbs hanging (and the luxury of a walk in pantry) I have new traditions – a dehydrator, a set of tall stockpots and a thermometer for water bath processing and a ragtag assortment of jars that I routinely wash, sterilise, fill, process, store and use.

My “pantry” is a bookshelf with a curtain to cut out the light and here I keep my preserved cordials, bottled and dried fruit, basil and lemon oils, homemade apple cider vinegar, bread flour and spare egg cartons. At the moment it’s mostly empty jars. There’s no bottled fruit left, one lonely roll of fruit leather from last summer, some pickled and dried chilies from the autumn harvest and a few bottles of sauce, fruit cordial, basil oil and flavoured vinegar.


To this day, I’m not sure why we never made bread when I was a child. I suspect with six of us in the house when I was young, it would’ve been much easier and less time consuming to buy bread than make it! My mother was a wonderful baker and I learned many delicious cake and biscuit recipes from her. Every Saturday was baking day and after lunch, the kitchen table would be cleared to make enough biscuits and small cakes for the coming week. In winter there would also be a few dozen Cornish pasties that would end up reheated as lunches, a savoury Pasty Pie and at least one large cake for the weekend and any visitors that might call in.

For those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while, I have a “pet” sourdough plant I named Wee Beastie. She lives on a shelf in the kitchen, where she watches everything that goes on and demands feeding daily. I started her off on new year’s day 2015 so she’s approaching her 2nd birthday.

Wee Beastie - watching and waiting!

Wee Beastie – note the air bubbles visible through the glass jar!

This living culture requires no other yeast and is a wonderfully frothy mix. My basic recipe is roughly 2 cups of Wee Beastie, 2 cups of strong bread flour, 2 teaspoons of bread improver and some olive oil to stop the dough getting too sticky. Sometimes I add half a cup of rye flour and add a couple of tablespoons of water so the dough is fairly soft. Once this is knocked together in a bowl I turn it out onto my wooden bench and knead it thoroughly for about 5 minutes. Then I make it into a loaf shape, coat my hands in olive oil (about a tablespoon) and massage the oil into the loaf, putting it in a bread pan to prove.

I’m essentially lazy, so it only gets one chance to rise. Normally, I knock the loaf together in the afternoon, leave the dough to rise overnight and bake it the following morning. The results of this slow process are pretty spectacular and incredibly delicious!


Even when it’s a few days old, this bread makes the best toast, perfect with a poached egg  ❤ I’ve even sliced it very thin and toasted it for an alternative to bought crispbread.

Meanwhile, I have to go. There’s an essay to write and (in the name of science) fresh bread to taste test 😉


Heavenly Homemade Sourdough – Day 16 NaBloPoMo 2015

At the beginning of 2015, I made one New Year’s resolution – to start making sourdough bread again. So, on the morning of January 1st, I found a clean pickle jar and some cheesecloth and got my starter set up. It took a few weeks to really get going and for the first month, I added decreasing amounts of commercial yeast to my loaves to make sure they were edible. Of course, there were a couple of “bricks”, it happens to all of us sometimes – but the toast from these loaves is still wonderfully tasty and filling – and the chickens got the rest.

My household aren’t big bread eaters, so on average I make one big loaf a week. The fresh bread is quite dense but moist and wonderful with hard cheese and salad, and after a day or two it makes the best toast ever! My favourite is the crust, still warm from the oven with just a little butter ❤

Sourdough Bread Oct 2015

I’ve played around with different shapes (I went through a round phase for a few months) and added different flours to create interesting flavours and textures, but the plant in the jar has stayed the same.

My plant has a name too, Wee Beastie. She sits in a very pretty jar on a shelf in the kitchen and as the weather is warming up now, she gets fed every day now. During the cooler months I only fed her every other day and it was still very happy. The big thing to remember is that every kitchen is different and there will be slight differences in the wild yeasts your Beastie will develop. Get to know your plant and what it likes!

Wee Beastie in her fluted jar

Wee Beastie in her fluted jar

Sourdough Starter


A clean large pickle jar    1 cup bread flour (white or wholemeal)    1 cup of filtered water   1 tab live yogurt (optional)


Day 1 Mix the flour and water together thoroughly in the jar with a wooden spoon. Add and mix in the yogurt if using it and scrape down the sides with a plastic spatula (I have a wooden spoon I only use for bread making). Sourdough doesn’t react well to metal, so bear this in mind before you start. Cover with a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band to keep insects and dust out and leave it out of direct sunlight in a warm spot in the kitchen.

Day 2 Add a half (up to 3/4) cup of flour and just under that of filtered water. You can use water straight out of the tap, but like any yeast, sourdough doesn’t work well with fluoride, so I recommend filtered or rain water. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, you should start to see a few bubbles in your Beastie.

Repeat Day 2 for three more days. By Day 5, your Beastie should be voluminous and a little frothy, with a pleasant, slightly sour tang. It’s time to make some bread!

Please Note: Don’t take any chances with this – if your plant is mouldy or smells “off” discard it and start again.

Wee Beastie - frothy and ready to become bread

Sourdough Bread  (Makes 1 large loaf)


2 cups of Sourdough Starter      2 cups of bread flour   2 teas bread improver      water, milk or yogurt    a little oil


In a clean, dry bowl add the flour and bread improver and mix well. Bread improver is mostly citric acid and helps wake up the gluten in flour, resulting in a much better textured crumb. Add 2 cups of Sourdough Starter and mix with a wooden spoon. At this stage, I feed Wee Beastie with flour and water and put her back on the kitchen shelf – she’s done her job 🙂 Depending on your dietary requirements/personal preference, add a couple of tablespoons of water, milk or yogurt and mix to bring the dough together. Roll the dough off the sides of the bowl and turn it out on to a floured board.

Knead it thoroughly for 5-10 minutes until the dough feels elastic and add a little more liquid if the dough feels too stiff. This element is something of an arcane art, it takes practice to know when the dough feels right and too much kneading can produce as heavy a loaf as too little!

Coat your hands liberally with olive oil and shape the loaf as you desire. Put it in the tin or tray you will bake it in, cover and leave it somewhere warm to prove. I have a hot water heater that’s perfect for this. With a new sourdough proving can take a few hours. Be patient with your loaf and remember, the longer you leave it the more pronounced the sour taste will be. I usually wait until it’s doubled in size.

Bake in a pre-heated oven on the middle shelf for 10 minutes at 210 C, then reduce to approximately 180 C and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. Again, every oven is different and I recommend using a pizza stone when you heat the oven up, it makes a lovely bottom crust!

White Sourdough fresh out the oven

White Sourdough fresh out the oven

What’s your favourite bread recipe? Please leave a comment below and happy breadmaking!