Sourdough Fougasse with Rosemary and Thyme

It’s nearly end of May. It is lovely time of the year. I am busy in our small garden when it is dry, as plants in the garden is growing quickly now and we always have lots to do.
I am baking a lot as usual, and I like that herbs are growing the tender new leaf now and I can use them for my baking and cooking straight from my garden.

P1070249 (640x481)Sourdough fougasse with rosemary and thyme.

I planted this thyme last year, from a herb pot you can buy at supermarket. It looked so sad and weak in the rain of Belfast through winter months, but it came back and flowered!
Rosemary I have in my garden came from cuttings I took at the last house we lived in about 5 years ago. My gardening skill is basic and I am not good at taking cutting, but this rosemary was strong and it survived and shriving.
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(Rosemary flower is on middle right, thyme flower is on left)
I realised that it is only a short period of time when you can put rosemary flower and thyme flower together, so I made the most of it by decorating this bread.

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I put finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme in the dough, and sprinkled some flower on top after baking.
The dough is basic lean white dough with sourdough starter, but I added a little olive oil.

I enjoyed this bread with a bowl of soup. It’s nice bread to tear and share.


Just before May is done, I thought I finally managed to write about the challenge Fiesta Friday Challenge No.1. The challenge for May was ‘yeast’ and ‘herb’.
BUT I was forgetting about cut off date, it was all done and dusted already!!
Check the great looking winner’s post here: Fiesta Friday Challenge results .
Oh well, next time…

(may 2014)


Sourdough Tin Loaf

I am doing Lent this year.
I have never tried Lent before, I haven’t even heard of Lent until I came over here. (or maybe I saw on the film or something first?)

Till recently, I felt like I had so much ‘giving up this and that’ time due to my pregnancy and breastfeeding of two boys.
During pregnancy, I cut down on coffee&tea, no alcohol for nine month. Then that continue with breastfeeding, as well as cutting down on decent sleeps. I do honestly says that I didn’t sleep one night through since I had my first one six years ago till recently. Even now, quite often one of my boys will wake me up in the middle of the night.

So, if anyone asked me, ‘Are you doing the Lent this year?’ I thought I was doing enough “giving up” and you could not take chocolate away from me! (OH I know, my “sacrifices” were not that big deal considering whatever the people go through in this world. )

Then, now, boys are little bigger, I thought I can do a bit of “giving up” in more productive, manageable & fun way.

I am doing lent on shop bought bread. Or to be precise, “not to buy bread at shops”. (I eat shop bought bread if someone offered me)
Oh well, it is not proper Lent,  I am not fasting or giving up on anything I really like, just convenience. But it is a challenge of not having the convenience of buying shop bought loaf whenever I need it.

It’s about middle of Lent now, and I am doing good so far.
I am baking some sort of bread nearly everyday or every other day, and having a great fun with it.

As I need to make more bread which my boys will eat for breakfast and is suited to make sandwich,  I started to make more tin loaf than ever before.
I love my white tin loaf, but I also wanted to be able to make tin loaf  with ‘sour dough’ starter.

Yes, with sour dough, natural yeast.
It is not so common to find ‘sour dough’ soft bread here, but it is quite possible according to Japanese baking books (and many bakeries which do natural yeast baking.)

P1070025 (640x481)Tin loaf with raisin starter.

Its texture is slightly chewier than usual yeast bread, and it smells sweeter.
The crumbs are a bit coarser than yeast bread, but it is bouncy and tasty.

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I followed the recipe of Japanese sour dough book, which I used to learn how to raise raisin starter.
(book title: 高橋雅子著 「自家製酵母」のパン教室―こんなに簡単だったんだ!マイペースで楽しく続けられる)

It was baked in a loaf with with lid, so I needed to make sure it raised enough to fill the tin. Raisin starter is very active, so it is possible to make this type of bread. My other stater (wheat+apple raised ‘Paul’) won’t be strong enough to do this job.

Although I used my strong raisin starter,  I couldn’t make it to fill the tin nicely at my first try even I followed the instruction.
I decided to add more raising power by ‘punching’ it. Not actually punching it, but softly folding bread dough half way though first fermentation time. It’s a technique used in Baguette making, but it worked for this one too!
I ‘punch’ twice, during first 7 or 8 hours, and then shape into tin and take about 1-2 hours  for second raising. It was baked in 220C for 30 min.

This was a bit of bread nerdy post, but hope fellow sourdough bakers find interesting.

Anyone else doing lent? What are you giving up? And how are you doing so far?

(March 2014)

Pain de Campagne – Raisin Leaven

I posted article about my new pet, raisin leaven (sourdough starter) some time ago, and I haven’t posted what happened with them. So, here it goes for Fiesta Friday.

This raisin born starter is my second pet, and I was excited to see how the bread will turn out.

I made pain de campagne, I often make this with my first sourdough starter, so it is good way to compare.
Pain de campagne is country bread, rustic and simple. It contains flour, rye flour, starter, salt and water.
Because it is simple, it is great simply eating with butter or making cheese toast next day.

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Here is the result! (I baked this last month, took too long to post it…)

The raisin starter was very active, creating much bigger air bubble than my first sour-dough starter, (he was born from apple+wheat), and it was quick raising as well.
Well, proofing time depends on room temperature, say 8 hours first and 1+1/2 hours second, where my first starter needs 8,9 hours first and 12 hours at second.

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Good raise and air bubble. It has a bit rough air hole.
The taste was good, very nice texture and taste.

I think the raisin leaven one has mild favour and slightly sweet smell. It’s quite different from my first starter. It’s a good one for people who doesn’t like or not familiar to sour bread like heavy rye bread.
I realised that this might be the reason why people in Japan who starts baking natural yeast bread prefer to use raisin starter first.

Very interesting to have different flavour, I love to make another leaven to try, maybe rye one next time. But, first, I should work on baking  better bread with my two starter pet. Lot more to learn, and lot more bread to bake (and eat!)

Have a nice weekend.

(Feb 2014)

Raisin Natural Yeast Starter Dough

I got a new pet.
It is very active, but very quite.
It is growing bigger and stronger each day since I got it.

It was born from raisins.

Like this,


This time, I followed the method written in natural yeast baking book from Japanese baker, Masako Takahashi.
(My first sour-dough pet which I’m keeping nearly a year is made with the method from Paul Holywood’s book. )

Raisins are soaked in water left in warm spot in the kitchen for nearly 10 days. (This picture was taken after I took half of the liquid for next process, so it is hard to see.)

I just needed to open the jar each day and shake is very gently.
It took about 10 days, at windowsill of my kitchen just above a radiator. My house temperature is set on 18C during day, and it will go down to 10C or below?? (I really don’t know, but it is not that cold in Belfast now, minimum temperature outside  is about -1 to +3C.)

Slowly lots of small bubble appears on the surface from nowhere and it shows that natural yeast is active inside.

Once it is ready, it was mixed with some flour to make starter dough.

Then after a half day, it grew.

Loooooook! It grew!!
Lots of air bubble in the dough, and yeast is very active.

Then, it went to rest over night in the fridge.

Next day, same process continued to make this starter dough stronger.
Adding bit more flour and water, mix and leave it in warm place.


It was left for 4-5 hours this time.

Then back to fridge to rest over night again.


nce it became big as this, it went back to fridge to rest again.

Same thing again. It rose steadily, and in 2-3 hours, it became big as this.

Then, I kept it over night in the fridge again. It grew while it is resting in the fridge as well.

(Day5) After resting overnight.
It’s grew so much,  I can see so many air pockets and looking very promising.

Ready to make bread now.
(FEB 2014)


Spelt Sour Dough

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I often bake my basic sour dough with bit of rye and wholemeal flour.
Recently, I purchased a bag of ‘spelt flour’, and tried new sour dough bread with this.

I used my normal sour dough starter, which is wheat only with 40% water mix.

The mix of this bread was, roughly…

wheat flour 100g
spelt flour 140g
sour dough starter 150g
salt 5g or so
water 110-130g or so.

Instruction on the flour bag told me that spelt flour raise quicker than wheat flour, so I need to watch and reduce the proofing time accordingly.
In the term of sour dough proofing, it’s hour not minutes.

I usually proof my sour dough 4-5 hours and shape into basket, then over night about 12 hours and bake 220C (as high as it gets in my oven).
But this time, it was slightly shorter. I did a bit less than 4 hours 1st proofing, and then 10 hours in basket.

I could smell different smell while proofing and baking, it is so interesting to use different flour.

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After baking, the taste wasn’t so different, but good flavour of sour dough.
I gonna try some more bread with spelt bread again.

(Aug 2013)

After long search and discussion with my husband, we finally bought new camera.

In the end, we decided on LUMIX GF6, a Compact System Camera, not DSLR, because I still need to carry around heavy kids’ bag everywhere, and DSLR will be too much.

I am photo beginner, so I still cannot use detailed setting, but with easy auto focus mode, I can take much more clear photos of my baking now.

This is the first bake pic I took with new camera. I love my new camera!!


Dates and Walnuts Sour Dough

I am making sour dough breads since this Spring, and I really enjoy this challenge. It’s so different from instant yeast baking, and there is a lots to learn. I finally bought a proofing basket (banneton) to help the shape of sour dough, and I love it.

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This is my sweet sour bough bread with dates and walnuts.

I realised that I need to dust more flour onto the proofing basket than usual when I make this bread, as the dates can get sticky.

(June 2013)