Sunday, 18 July 2021

Lemon and Sesame Sourdough Bread

Today I bring you a sourdough bread I made in Melbourne's lockdown 4.0.  It is quite shocking to think that it only finished a month ago and on Friday we started lockdown 5.0.  Lockdown 4.0 went for 2 weeks and I found myself having more energy for bread baking than I have had for a while.  That means not just the bare minimum of energy needed to churn out some bread, but a desire to experiment on something different.  With a tree full of lemons, I remembered a Mollie Katzen Sesame and Lemon Bread that I had baked years ago. 

The recipe made a bigger batch of dough than I usually make.  I ended up with a large loaf and 10 rolls.  (usually I have a medium loaf and 8 rolls).  This was very welcome as I enjoyed having bread with some flavour.  I particularly enjoyed it warm with butter and vegemite.  Great comfort food!

And during the last lockdown I needed as much comfort food as I could get.  Two weeks was such a long time.  This current lockdown was tentatively planned for 5 days.  At the moment I am not sure that we will be released on Wednesday.  Meanwhile Sydney is in a terrible lockdown as they work out how to deal with the very infectious Delta virus.  There is a lot of commentary about the slowness of the vaccine in Australia, the success of the vaccine in the UK and USA, and the concern about "Freedom Day" in the UK tomorrow.  So much change this year that was meant to be settled after 2020.

I was quite disappointed I could not go and see my family in Geelong on the weekend and then to an art exhibition.  Even once we are in lockdown I have a few plans ahead that I fear will be affected.  However I actually have caught up with a few people this weekend.  I met a work friend yesterday and a local friend today to walk and talk.  And this afternoon my neighbour made cake and invited the people in our units to sit on our verandahs with a piece of cake and chat about life and lockdown.  And I baked sourdough bread today.  But tomorrow I am back to working from home and remote schooling which is challenging.  Here's hoping for some good news on new cases and easing of restrictions soon.

More interesting sourdough breads on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Carrot, onion and poppyseed bread

Charcoal sourdough bread

Malted loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts

Overnight sourdough bread with mashed potato

Roast potato and rosemary bread

Lemon and Sesame Sourdough Bread
A Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Makes 2 large loaves or 20 rolls

300g ripe sourdough starter
160g tahini
1 medium lemon - juice and zest
18g salt
12g honey
12g olive oil
550g water
600g wheat flour
400g spelt flour (or more wheat flour)
semolina, for dusting surface

A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly. 

About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix everything together.  It is easiest to mix starter, tahini, lemon, salt, honey, olive oil and water, then flours.  Use hands to mix if required.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 15 seconds.  Cover with greased clingwrap or a bowl cover and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Shape into a loaves (or cut and shape into rolls - if doing rolls I let them rise in the casserole as they don't need much in the way of slashing but slashing loaves is hard in the casserole dish.)  Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap or beeswax.  (I used semolina to dust the surface here.)  Set aside to rise for 30 minutes.  While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C.  I use enamel casserole dishes and don't heat them but used to heat them when I used ceramic casseroles.

Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin).  Bake for 20 minutes with lid (or foil cover) on.  Remove lid/foil and bake another 20 minutes.  Bread is ready if it sounds hollow when tapped.  If needed, return to oven for another 5-10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and sounds hollow.  Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

NOTES: I would have liked sesame seeds on top but adapted this from my usual sourdough bread and seeds would not stick so maybe the seeds might need to be on the surface where the bread is turned out onto or to have an eggwash or milk wash for the seeds to stick to.  I used spelt flour because I had it but using regular flour instead would work fine.

On the Stereo:
A Short Album about Love: Divine Comedy

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

In My Kitchen: July 2021

Even as life seems to calm down, it holds surprises.  At the start of June, Melbourne was in lockdown, followed by NSW, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.  July finds us with much more freedoms with only NSW still in lockdown.  However the remnants of lockdown are still felt more broadly.  I am feeling wary of planning and appreciative of what freedoms we have.  The federal government is bumbling their way towards stepping up vaccinations and a plan to open our borders but it is still such a slow and confusing process that it is disheartening.  

At home I have recently had the washing machine repaired and a new shower door, we have had a big review at work and I am on leave this week for the school holidays.  We had a wonderful lunch at Green Man's Arms after our review at work, following by drinks and dinner at the Clyde Hotel.  I have been quite spoilt with a few nice meals since we have been out of lockdown.  Above is Vegan Soufra Banquet from Maha that I enjoyed with my parents in Geelong on the weekend.

This is the plateful of the Vegan Soufra Banquet we had for lunch.  My mum ordered it from Maha using the Providoor service that delivers throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria.  It was delivered in lots of bags and little tubs with pages of preparation instructions.  I really enjoyed the meal but was surprised how much work there was to get them together.  I am quite fascinated by the process of thinking through how to deliver this sort of complex dish.  
For example the broccoli had to be heated in the oven, a slick of whipped macadamia spread on the plate, the broccoli arranged on top with some garlic oil drizzled over it and then some dukkah sprinkled on top.  It was a very impressive meal also including roast pumpkin, pickled cucumber, creamy green beans, aged rice, dips and flatbread with lots of interesting flavours.  Followed by some sweet treats from That Place.

I purchased these cauliflower puffs at the supermarket.  They are mainly cauliflower with some rice, oil and salt.  It was an acquired taste but I quite liked them.  Like a healthy version of cheezels!

Winter makes me want warm pudding.  When we had three manky old bananas, I baked a banana butterscotch pudding.  The first time I made it, I didn't have a third banana to slice and bake on top.  This time I had the extra banana and the slices were chewy baked on top.  Neither Sylvia or I were keen on the banana slices on top but they looked good and the pudding was delicious.

This is a photo of our fridge after a trip to the supermarket.  You can see some of our current favourite foods: yoghurts, kombucha, ravioli, quiche, and flavoured cream cheese.  You can also see Sylvia's fine art of organisation in stacking the fridge.

Our lemon and lime trees have been rather fruitful this winter.  I have used them in recipes (see below), frozen lemon and lime juice, and given away fruit to family, friends and work colleagues.  And yet there still seem plenty left in the fruit bowl and on the trees.  I often walk past and see more fruit fallen on the ground.

Here is some of my citrus recipes.  Lemonade and limeade is a favourite drink when the trees are fruiting.  I really love this red lentil soup with spinach and lime.  And I will soon post about the sourdough version of this sesame and lemon bread.  And as you can see there are plenty more lemons and limes.  Although so many recipes use citrus, very few use a lot of the fruit. 

I went back to Northcote health store, Terra Madre (had to pick up a picture from the framing store nearby) and told myself all I was going to buy was some good stock.  I found this vegetable stock concentrate, which was not cheap but was the quality I wanted for a dumpling soup.  Of course I didn't stop there but just kept shopping (see the following three photos).  I want to visit their new Brunswick store but it is all so tempting!

These crisps looked interesting. We loved the Hemp corn chips with feta and garlic.  The texture was like those light crisp corn chips but with an unsual flavour.  So moreish!  The Chickpea crisps with turmeric and black pepper weren't quite as amazing but I enjoyed them as a snack when working from home.

I bought some items for meals.  The Spinach Pesto Pie was very good and creamy.  Those luridly pink beetroot and roasted onion sausages surprised me in that they actually had a sausage texture.  I had thought they would be quite vegetably.  I tried them on pizza and loved them but they were not so good in a pasta with lemon, cheese, spinach and peas.  They also worked well on muffins with onion relish and melted cheese.  The packet of sausages looks more like regular sausages and is yet to be opened.

And then there were a few sweet treats from Terra Madre.  Every now and again I buy some freeze dried strawberries with hope of using them to decorate baking.  Every time Sylvia eats them before I have a chance.  To be fair, I haven't done much baking other than bread and pizza lately.  I also bought some burnt caramel chocolate and a vego nut bar.

After the lunch at Maha on the weekend I also went to a family dinner at my sister's place.  It was good to see siblings and niblings.  A lot of conversation centred around vaccination, lockdown and quarantine experiences.  I had a wonderful plate of cauliflower cheese, roast potatoes and lots of salads. 

At the start of the school holidays, Sylvia and I went to Northlands shopping centre and bought some things we needed and a few we didn't need!  I hope to store things for the freezer in the silicone bags.  The green soap dish and green phone charging cord were both practical and the right colour to cheer me up!

I am sharing a couple of books I have just read and a couple of recent additions to my to-read pile.  Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee is fantastically written but covers very distressing subject matter about sexual abuse in Australia.  Clothes Music Boys by Viv Albertine is very easy to read with lots of interesting insights about being a woman in the early punk scene, many familiar names and frank honest storytelling.  I am looking forward to reading Norman Swan's overview of health issues in What's Good For You? He has become a trusted source of health information during the pandemic.  I love everything I read by Julia Baird and bought her Phosphorescence on a whim.  I thought I could do with some insights into awe wonder and things to sustain us when the world goes dark.  It surprised me that all my current books are non-fiction because I usually read a lot of fiction.

I bought Phosphorescence at Readings Bookstore before picking up Sylvia from a friend's place last weekend.  On the way to the friend's two cars pulled out in front of me suddenly and had to brake hard.  I was so tired after a busy, stressful week that we decided to have takeaway pizza for dinner.  Sylvia stayed at home while I went to pick it up.  But at the pizza restaurant, I found that my wallet was missing from my handbag.  The manager was very kind and said to pay when I got home or just when I cam in next time.  At home I rang Readings and turned everything upside down.  My mind kept going back to the moment I braked hard.  Finally I went back to the car and searched it for about the third time, looking in every crevice and finally I found my wallet.  Thank goodness! 

Finally, here is a photo of our cat, Shadow with his catnip.  Thanks to everyone who has made kind comments about his recent illness.  We had another blood test at the vet's recently and were delighted to be told he has made a full recovery.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Sourdough cinnamon scrolls

When we first went into lockdown last year, everyone thought it would be the time to get a sourdough starter.  So much so, that when I recently told someone I was baking sourdough bread they asked me if I took it up last year in lockdown.  But my starter goes back many more years than that.  Which is perhaps why when most people laughed at the idea of baking sourdough bread in lockdown 4.0 last month, I was still doing it.  I even had time to experiment with baking sourdough cinnamon scrolls.

I baked these scrolls on the first day of lockdown 4.0.  Remote learning for school kids started the following Monday.  Schools closed on the Friday.  And Sylvia had already had the Thursday at home as a sick day.  My manager had suggested we work from home on the Thursday, given that lockdown was looming and the exposure sites were rapidly multiplying.  I put the dough together on Thursday night.

In the same week our cat was really sick and we were waiting for him to come home from a couple of nights on the drip on the Friday that lockdown started.  It was a pretty stressful time so I took carer's leave on the Friday.  I had been promising to make cinnamon scrolls for Sylvia for a while and decided this would be a nice thing for us to do as lockdown began.  We visited our cat at the vet's in the morning and then spent the next few hours shaping and baking scrolls before we could bring him home.

I have tried a couple of sweet scrolls before with my usual sourdough dough.  They were just a bit chewy rather than fluffy.  So this time I made more amendments to the dough to make it softer.  I added some sugar, butter, egg and oil.  I also found some stewed apple in the freezer and added this instead of some of the water.  Apple and cinnamon is a classic combination, even if the apple in the scroll was pretty subtle.

Sylvia enjoyed mixing up the cinnamon butter spread.  It was one of those mixtures that seem impossible at first but the come together into a nice paste.  Spreading the paste was pretty tough.  I wonder if just a dash of hot water might have made it easier to spread.

Then we had the challenge of rolling it up and chopping it into individual scrolls.  Sounds easy bit it aint!  (It would have been easier to remember pat the dough out on baking paper which helps to roll it up - so I have added that back in to the recipe.)  Rolling up a large rectangle of dough is when you realise just how even you have patted/rolled out your dough.  Ideally it should be all the same size.  In reality it looks more like a snake that ate a mouse and has unseemly bulges and tapers off into quite a small end.  Ugh! That is a rather unsettling analagy but I guess not many people read my notes these day!

A piece of dental floss with the mint flavour washed off and dried is an good tool for cutting the scrolls.  However I find I still need to shape them slightly on the tray.  Which is not so easy when they are so soft they are still a bit sticky.  And again, trying to cut them to be evenly sized is a bit of a challenge.  You might also spot the scroll that I tried move in the photo below.  Take it as a warning not to try this at home!

Once all the scrolls are on the tray and covered, then we begin waiting.  Waiting for the scrolls to rise.  Waiting for them to cook.  Smelling the buttery cinnamon smells that are so good they would sell a house!

Then we made up some icing to drizzle over the scrolls once just slightly cooled.  They were still warm enough that the icing was quite melty.  Then we had time to eat one before picking up our cat from the vet.  Comfort food was very much in demand!

And we might have eaten another when we brought our cat home from the vet.  We were so pleased to have him home but wished he would have had the ability to feast on good food the way we did.  That was a few days away from him getting home but we were glad to have him back snuggling up with us.  (Last week we got the good news that his now fully recovered.)

I felt like I had done a pretty good job of these cinnamon rolls.  I wanted to make the dough as easy as my usual overnight sourdough dough.  That means being able to bung everything into a bowl the night before and leave it to rise.  They weren't overly sweet but with the glaze, they were sweet enough.  I like to have a stash of sourdough rolls in the freezer and thought a stash of cinnamon scrolls would be a nice addition.  However even the frozen cinnamon scrolls did not last that long.  I guess we just needed the comfort food!  

Postscript: We are now out of lockdown in Melbourne.  Over the last few weeks the restrictions have been gradually easing.  But as our freedoms return we are seeing lockdowns happen across the country in NSW, then Darwin, then Western Australia and today Queensland.  The country seems in the grip of Covid in a way it has not been since early last year.  Best wishes to all those in lockdown or coming home from lockdown to quarantine.  It is a tough time! 

More scrolls on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Sourdough Cinnamon Scrolls
A Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Makes 20


300g ripe sourdough starter
75g butter or margarine, softened
150g chopped stewed apples
20g treacle
40g sugar
1 egg
18g salt
400g water
900g flour


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 tbsp cinnamon


1-2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp of butter or margarine
Hot water

A few hours before making the dough, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly. 

About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) make dough.  First mix sourdough starter and butter.  Mix in apples, treacle, sugar, egg and salt.  The mix in water and then flour.  It will be quite a sticky dough.  Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour.  Knead in the bowl for about 1 minute (sprinkle with a little flour if necessary).  Cover tightly with a wrap or greased clingwrap.  Leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours until about doubled in size.

Scrape dough out onto a well floured surface.  Pat the dough onto a long sheet of baking paper into a rectangle of about 45 x 30 cm.  It should be no more than 1cm thickness.  Mix brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.  It will take a bit of mixing to become a paste.  (A little hot water might help to loosen the mixture and make it easier to spread.)  Spread over dough. At the long edge, carefully roll up like a swiss roll using baking paper to support the dough until you have a long roll.

Use a non flavoured dental floss (I washed and dried mine) or fishing line to bring under the edge of the roll, wrap around the dough, cross over and swiftly pull the ends to slice pieces of about 1.5-2cm.  Place each piece on a lined tray about 1cm apart.  Cover with a piece of greased foil,  Preheat the oven to 240 C and leave for about 30 minutes or more.  They will not rise very much but that's ok.

When it time to bake, keep the scrolls covered with foil.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove foil, reduce heat to 220 C, and bake for a further 20 minutes but keep an eye on them after 10 minutes to check they are not browning too much.  Once they sound hollow when tapped remove from tray and cool slightly on a wire rack. 

Mix icing sugar and margarine.  Add a drizzle of hot water and stir.  Repeat adding a little hot water until the icing is thick enough to hold its shape but thin enough to drizzle.  Drizzle over buns.  They are best on the day of baking, though can be kept for the next day.  If they are not going to be all eaten, freeze on the day of baking.

NOTES: They are not overly sweet and need the icing to make them sweet enough.  Increase the filling if desired.  I also used stewed apples because I had them.  You can use apple sauce or yogurt or just more water or liquid such as milk.  These scrolls can be vegan if you use vegan margarine instead of butter and an egg substitute such as a chia egg, some soy flour, apple sauce or just some extra liquid.

On the Stereo:
The Slits

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Street Art in Melbourne: Coburg VI

As always street art in Coburg comes in many formats.  Faces.  Lockdown Yarn Bombing.  Stencil Art.  May Gibbs Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.  Native Animals.  And Marilyn Monroe on Munro Street.

Previous posts on Coburg Street Art:

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Licorice allsort slice for a rainbow morning tea

Everyone I talk to in Melbourne had a really hard time of our recent 2 weeks of lockdown.  It just gets harder and harder to wind back the lifestyle that we gave up so much for last year.  Before lockdown, we had had almost 3 months without a community transmitted case of Covid and felt almost carefree.  Not quite.  But it felt good.  Today I bring you a post from the time before our most recent lockdown when we were more hopeful and free.  It was a weekend where we could go out of town, visit cafes and bake for morning tea at work. 

On the weekend in question I went down to Geelong to stay with my parents.  My brother was visiting from Kangaroo Island.  He loves swimming as much as I do so we went to Torquay Beach for a swim.  For anyone who thinks Australians swim in the sea all year round, it is as likely for most people in the Southern states as our government opening our international borders by the end of the year.  And that aint going to happen!  

The water at Torquay was freezing.  I don't usually swim in late autumn.  But we had a quick dip, then I regretted not going under a wave and getting my hair wet so we went back in so I could go under.  By the time we came out my feet were like ice blocks and the hot shower back at my parents was very welcome.

Once we were warmed up, we went with my parents to Paddington Cafe in Belmont.  It is a cute little cafe in a laneway that feels like a slice of the city in an unexpected place.  I had worked up an appetite and ordered the Vegan Sandwich: the smashed garlic and peas, tomato, hummus, mustard, cucumber and spinach came in a toasted foccaccia with some crisps on the side.  It was very nice though I found the mustard flavour a bit intense for me as it isn't my favourite flavour.

I came home in time to go grocery shopping and bake with Sylvia in the evening.  We were on a mission to make two no-bake slices for a rainbow morning tea.  So they had to be colourful.  The first slice was a licorice slice with stripey licorice allsorts in a condensed milk and Marie biscuits slice, covered in chocolate.  A classic Aussie slice. 

I had had this slice before when my sister in law (the slice queen) had made it for a family dinner.  Even so, I was surprised how much I liked it. The soft sweet biscuit filling and the chewy licorice contrast nicely and pair beautifully with the chocolate topping.

Sylvia made the second slice.  It was a hedgehog with a rainbow topping that was inspired by a Tik Tok video.  She added some colourful add-ins but the vivid topping was the most impressive.  And the topping created the most dishes!  Little bowls of all the colours of the rainbow.

The slice looked great when it was just the strips of coloured chocolate.  Sylvia put on a lot of sprinkles (and I took a few off).  It actually looked so beautiful once the sprinkles were on and she added some little rainbows.  I was very proud of this slice at our rainbow morning tea.

One of my colleagues had organised a rainbow morning team for IDAHOBIT day (International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia).  It was really nice to have a morning tea with lots of people bringing food and a sense of occasion.  We had vegetarian sausage rolls, chocolate cake, peanut butter layer cake and smarties choc chip cookies.  Some of my colleagues wore colourful clothes.  It was surprising and disappointing soon after to see the headlines about Peter Dutton MP telling the Ministry for Defence that staff were "banned from wearing rainbow clothes because it's too 'woke'".  It was great to have a bit of fun and to celebrate diversity.

So here are a few links that make me more hopeful about change in our world:

More Australian Slices on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Apple slice
Chocolate caramel slice
Coconut ice (gf)
Classic hedgehog
Lemon slice
Marshmallow weetbix slice
White Christmas

Rainbow hedgehog 

Make a hedgehog with condensed milk.  Instead of Marie Biscuits, use a packet of 100s and 1000s biscuits.  Also add in some fun lollies such as jelly beans and maltesers (or whatever takes your fancy).  If too much liquid, add some more coconut.  Spread into a slice tin.  Melt a packet of white chocolate melts and divide into small bowls.  Colour them purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red with food dye.  Spread each colour in that order across the slice tin and then top with sprinkles, sparingly.  Set and cut into small squares. 

Licorice Allsort Slice
Adapted from

125g butter, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp treacle
1 x 250g pkt plain sweet biscuits (such as Marie), crushed
45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
400g Licorice Allsorts, coarsely chopped
225g dark chocolate melts

Melt butter, condensed milk, golden syrup and treacle (I did this in the microwave).  Mix in biscuits and coconut and licorice allsorts.  Tip into a lined slice tin (18 x 28 cm) and use the back of a spoon to spread and flatten evenly.  Set in the fridge for an hour or two.  Melt chocolate and spread evenly over the slice.  Return to the fridge to set.  (I did this overnight.)  Cut into small squares and share.

On the stereo:
Havilah: The Drones