Sourdough Bread – Part II: Savoury sourdough slice

Savoury Sourdough Slice

Now that my sourdough has been sitting in the fridge for over a week, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t really have any recipes at hand; just wanted to make a bread or slice or pizza-like meal with it. So I went out to get some beef salami-styled sausages (I know it sounds weird), fresh rosemary and mozzarella. Initially I wanted to add sundried tomato pesto to the whole mix but I decided against it at the last minute.

The kids found it amusing to nosy around the table as I worked on the dough – it was very soft and ultra sticky. I didn’t really use any measurements – only estimates – so that could be the reason. Still, it turned out to be a pretty flavourful slice of some sorts. The tang that you would normally expect from a sourdough isn’t quite there (it’s very subtle) but the smell is!

I might attempt this again but this time with the unrefined organic plain flour I purchased earlier. Wholemeal – while extremely filling – can be a little bit dry and “too much” for the kids.

Savoury sourdough slice

Ingredients

Slightly under 1 cup sourdough starter
1.5 to 2 cups flour (wholewheat mixed with plain flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
Toppings of your choice (sausage, bacon, onions, olives, etc)
Fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc)
Cheese (mozzarella, Gouda, Gruyere, Edam, etc)

Method

  1. A few hours before your meal, mix the flour, sourdough starter, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add water if necessary to form of pliable dough. Set aside to proof for at least 4-6 hours (the longer you proof your dough, the more flavour it develops).
  2. When ready, preheat your oven to 220°C and prepare a pan of your choice.
  3. Roll your dough out on a lightly floured surface and place it on the pan. This is meant to be a slice so your dough should be about .5 to 1 cm thick.
  4. Brush the extra virgin olive oil all over the surface of the bread before sprinkling it with a good amount of fresh herbs. Add the toppings of your choice (I used beef sausages, bacon and some garlic) before adding in rough chunks of cheese (I used mozzarella but feel free to add cheddar, parmesan and Gruyere for that extra kick).
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the surface and crust is golden brown. Serve fresh from the oven as it is or with a few splashes of hot sauce.
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Store updates…

Soaps waiting for the heat gun.

The past couple of days have been crazy at the store. I recently launched some skincare products – nothing fancy, just my usual butters/balms that can be found online – and the response has been insane! I didn’t anticipate each batch to sell out within hours of production. I feel awful for not having more foresight which resulted in me having to make a rush order for jars for the butters and putting people on a waiting list. I have a couple of recipes I need to churn out so that means more work at the shop for the next couple of weeks. With that I decided to invest in a little gadget to help make my life easier when it comes to make balms. I’ll announce this on the store’s Facebook page when the time comes.

On that front, I seem to be running out of soaps very often and this has led me to consider churning out bigger batches at one time. I have tried silicon molds and I don’t like them in terms of sizing and the soap outcome (too much wastage, etc). Currently, each batch yields about 6 full bars and 6 sample bars. I either need get a longer mold or increase the number of molds I use each time I work on a batch. The trouble is that the soaps sizes are pretty unique so it’s either I get the molds custom-made (if I want them to be longer) or buy more molds. I have contacted someone here in Penang who might be able to help me out and if all goes well tomorrow (we meet to take a look at the master mold – which is the only mold I have), I will be able to churn out larger batches and hopefully don’t run out so fast.

Then there are the little things that goes on behind the scenes – churning out invoices and making sure payment is received promptly, preparing fabric bags and tags, as well as coming up with new recipes, promotions and other marketing items. Needless to say, it’s exhausting work – I actually fell asleep in front of the TV after dinner while the kids were watching their usual once-a-day dose of cartoons. Gah!

Still, I am feeling blessed – busy is good! *grin*

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Sourdough Bread – Part I

Sourdough starter!

I didn’t know what sourdough breads were or what it tasted like until I came back to Malaysia. Weird when you consider that some of the yummiest breads I’ve ever tasted came from France. O’well…

Someone suggested this bakery in Balik Pulau that churns out really yummy sourdough bread and after taking a look at their inventory, I gave it a try since they had dark German styled rye bread – my hubby’s favourite. During my last purchase, I fell in love with their classic sourdough bread and that got me to thinking…

Why not try to make my own sourdough bread? It looks like fun…

Of course when I thought of the idea, I wasn’t aware that it would take a while to get some stable sourdough starter! But hey, I have time. LOL.

All I did to kick start things was mix together 1 small cup of flour with 1 small cup of water. I stirred that in my large plastic container, covered the opening with a paper towel that is held in place with a rubber band and set it up on top of my fridge.

Now all I had to do was wait.

Took about 1.5 days for some sign of life – bubbles and all. Once that got going, I added in another cup of flour and another cup of water to feed it. Today is the third day and as you can see in the pics, it looks pretty bubbly. I forgot to remove half of the starter before feeding it earlier today – I read that you have to remove half otherwise, you’ll have to double up on the amounts for each feed. I’ll do that tomorrow morning – hopefully it’s be still as good then.

In the meantime, it’s back to knitting…I ought to add more oil to my knitting since I’m almost at the end but soaping (and working on a new range of stuff) is keeping me really busy!

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Baked banana doughnuts

Baked banana doughnuts

Eva had been hounding me for the last few days about baking up something with bananas, honey, eggs and all that. So as I was driving the kids to school, we discussed this and decided on doughnuts (she discovered the mould). Okay, I set about on searching for a recipe, came up with one and waited for the kids to finish their nap.

On cue, at 4pm, both wake up and demand to be in the kitchen – yes, Noah included. The little man sat in his IKEA high chair, wondering what was going on. He got all excited when I sent Eva to get the bananas. After downing two, he realized that we were doing something with the darn bananas and started asking for a piece of the action. He wasn’t satisfied with just staring. So I gave him a butter knife. Nope, that didn’t make him happy. In fact, he didn’t stop screaming until I set the mixing bowl right in front of him! Then Eva got upset because she wanted to see what was going on too. I gave her the task of mixing the eggs into the batter. That made Noah angry. So okay, I gave him the butter knife and got him to crack the egg. Nope, that wasn’t enough. He wanted to molest the broken egg. Aiks.

The two finally calmed down but that was only because they were each busy licking off batter from the butter knife and spatula.

Heh.

Anyway, the resulting doughnut doesn’t really have the crunchy exterior that you get from deep frying but that’s okay. It is more of a cake-muffin in the shape of a doughnut but it still went down well with everyone including the hubby who came home and promptly ate three doughnuts at one go. Heh. As always, it’s best to use ultra ultra ripe bananas for any baked goodies. I didn’t have that were about to die so I settled for “just ripe” bananas. The taste is still good and quite delish but I think it would have been better had the bananas been riper. I might even add some chocolate chips or chopped dried fruit or chopped almonds to the batter the next time I attempt this. Yums!

Baked banana doughnuts
Adapted from Janie’s Kitchen’s recipe here

Ingredients

3-4 small ripe bananas
Slightly less than 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour/plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Method

  1. Preheat your oven at 180 C.
  2. Mix the mashed banana, sugar and greek yogurt together until incorporated.
  3. Add in the melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. Fold in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Do not overmix!
  5. Scoop the batter into a zip lock bag/food grade plastic bag or a pipping bag and seal shut. Using scissors, snip the bottom corner of one side of the ziplock bag to create your homemade piping bag.
  6. Pipe the batter into the doughnut mould until it’s 3/4 full. You can sprinkle brown sugar & cinnamon powder on the top if you like (I sprinkled some brown sugar on a few of the doughnuts).
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the doughnuts are golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool before eating/storage. These can be kept in an airtight container for 1-2 days before storing them in the fridge. To reheat, simply warm them up in a microwave (covered) or steam (covered) for a few minutes.
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Knit: Red Diamonds Entrelac Stole

FO: Red Diamonds Entrelac Stole

Red Diamonds Entrelac Stole
Pattern | Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole by Kathleen Power Johnson
Yarn | Patons North America SWS (Soy Wool Stripes) in Natural Geranium & Natural Violet
Needles | 6mm

I finally finished a very very VERY old project. Took me a grand total of FOUR YEARS & EIGHT MONTHS – yes, you read that right – to finish! I have no real excuses except a few of the cross-continent moves I made in between and the very long bouts of knitters block. The last move triggered me to not just stop stashing but to also finish my old projects that have been hibernating.

When I took out this project, I realized that I didn’t have much to knit up – I was down to my last two balls…well, slightly over one since nearly half a ball will go to making the fringe on the ends. So I decided to pick up the speed – I began knitting whenever I took a break from soapmaking and found that with one or two hours a day, I was making good progress.

FO: Red Diamonds Entrelac Stole

I didn’t really follow this pattern – there are many variations of it floating around the Internet and some of these variations are free. So I adapted it to suit what I was looking for, the size I wanted, etc. Trouble is that I started this many years ago so along the way, when I had picked it up again in between then and now, I must have done something “off” because the width suddenly increased a little. I might have switched needle sizes or changed my knitting tension. Who knows? Hopefully, with a little blocking, this error won’t be obvious.

One thing tho – this won’t be going on anyone’s shoulders. The approximately 10 balls of yarn that went into this has resulted in a heavy stole. I suspect it’ll be more suitable as a wrap in terms of the weight but not quite the width. I don’t know if I’ll be hanging onto this or gifting it since Christmas is coming soon (I usually give something handmade like knitted wear or soap for Christmas).

I must say that now that this is done, I’m quite glad to see it gone. I’ll be picking up the cardigan I started for myself – hopefully I’ve kept track of my progress!

Ravelry Project Page Ravelry info available here.

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Up & running again!

Recent soaps!

I picked up soapmaking again!

While it’s a new experience – soaping in the tropics is completely different from in Europe in terms of temperature and humidity – and it can be hard/expensive finding “exotic” oils, I’m still enjoying the process.

Being back home has allowed me to fine tune my branding policy and how I’d like to approach the whole concept of handmade cold process soaps. I am still standing by my decision to use natural colorants in my soaps (clays and plant matter – not even oxides or micas) as well as every day items like vegetable, herbs, fruits, other dry condiments like tea, coffee and spices. But since getting essential oils locally is going to be a challenge, these will be imported but through a co-op. I’d still like to toy around with fragrance oils for certain items so soaps made with these things will definitely have a note on it that says it contains fragrances.

Another thing I’m in the middle of exploring is buying things directly from producers or other small business owners. I am in the middle of sourcing for locally produced beeswax and honey for a new range of items. So it is exciting to even talk a little about that. Can’t say too much because this is part of the business strategy and direction.

I have also switched my packaging from paper to fabric bags – these bags are made from fabric that has been sitting in my cupboard for a few years and to coincide with destash year(s), I decided to use them as part of packaging for the store. I reckon it adds a nice touch to things.

In the meantime, hop on over to our website here for more write-ups and eye-candy as I enter into the world of soapmaking again and if you’re on Facebook, check out our page here too!

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