Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bread making update

I have been making bread for so many years now that I feel I can almost do it in my sleep. I always have a jar of sour dough sitting in the fridge, ready to go into my bread dough. I keep a spare batch in the freezer, where it will keep for ever. When I need to use it, I just let it come back to room temperature and it will be perfectly fine!

Whole grains are packed in sealed bags so I can even make my own flour from scratch. But every now and again, the recipe starts to a bit stale and the bread making routine becomes boring, a chore rather than a joy. At that point it is good to have another look at some bread baking books.

And there are a few great candidates out there that I have on my bookshelf and that I like. One of the great baking books is without doubt "Bourke Street Bakery. The Ultimate Baking Companion".

If you ever wondered how a quality baker makes bread and other baked goods, you must read this book. I love the photos, just looking at them makes your mouth water. The recipes for the starter doughs are a bit more elaborate than what I would do, so don't be put off by that, you can also simply use my base recipe and then continue on with making one of their many amazing varieties of breads. They also have recipes for traditional bakery fares such as home made puff pastry, danishes, croissants, exquisite mini-quiches and cakes and biscuits.

For a slightly less elaborate approach that will still result in a loaf of bread that will taste many times better than whatever you may be able to buy in your local supermarket, I have used "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking". 

The basic recipes in this book are quite similar to my own base recipe for bread making in the oven. However, I like the fact that they also have some recipes for gluten free bread - I don't have to eat gluten free, but some of our friends have to for medical reasons, and being able to offer them homemade bread that they can actually eat without having to buy a whole different book on gluten free eating is wonderful.

Do you have any bread books you have used that you can recommend? There are so many recipe books available that it is actually quite difficult to choose.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Make your own felted slippers

Life has become too busy over the last couple of years. The family is growing up and new challenges have come our way. To get a bit of a break from it all, I have taken up knitting again!
Felted Slippers - I Wool Knit
Boys' felted slippers

I was particularly keen to make felted slippers - these are very popular in Europe, and on a recent visit to Germany, I made some for all my boys. They don't usually like putting on slippers and quickly wear out their socks instead, but the felted ones actually stay on their feet, as they feel like socks, so they quickly forget they are wearing them!  

I love that I can just crunch them up and drop them in my handbag, ready to take out when I need slippers somewhere else. 

I have taken a few pictures after we have been wearing them for a while, so they are not in a brand new state anymore :-)

They were super-easy and quick to make: You knit up the slipper and then do the felting in the washing machine. The slippers shrink by about 40% in the process, so it is important to make them big enough to start with. Once they come out of the machine you need to carefully stretch them until they fit perfectly. 

I am thinking I will make some more, maybe even venture into some more challenging patterns. Finding the right kind of yarn in Australia has been a bit of a challenge though. Update: stocks European felting yarns!

I have got this great little book from Germany with slipper patterns, I am now trying to work out which one to do next. I will keep you updated on my progress!