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 taste.com.au

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

Monday 14 June 2021

Covid19 lockdown reflections, sights and signs 4.0

In Melbourne we are easing out of lockdown 4.0.  It was only 2 weeks of absolute lockdown of offices, schools, and non-essential retail with only 5 reasons to leave the home and 2 hours exercise a day.  However while it seemed long compared to other lockdowns, it was billed as a circuit breaker lockdown which made it feel longer, especially after our lockdown 3.0 was only 5 days.  Personally, I found it harder going into it with a sick cat and lack of sleep.  

As well as feeling isolated, it is unsettling to feel again the uncertainty in our freedoms, just as I was starting to spend more time with family and friends and find some routine.  Obviously I had too much confidence in our Covid normal life that I had a lunch organised, tickets to the Rising Festival and a 2 day workshop within a week.  All got cancelled. I missed the swimming pool, the office and Sylvia learning in the the classroom.  Luckily I have had sourdough, walks with friends, bike rides and the cat is much better.  While we are in a better position, we are back to mask wearing, I am still unclear about when I will be back in the office and when I had an outdoor swim yesterday the change rooms were closed.

Above is a photo of the Flinders Street Station in the middle of the city.  I had a long ride to the city a week ago when they sweetened the second week of locdown by increasing the distance we could travel from home from 5 to 10 km.  I was surprised to see it so deserted on the weekend, expecting others to be attracted there like me.  Usually Flinders Street Station is bustling with people coming to town on trains, meeting others and just hanging out.  Let's have a look at some other sights and signs in our lockdown.

One of the differences between this lockdown and previous ones is that the community had access to a vaccine and recognised how important it was to keeping us safe and out of lockdown.  Queues at vaccination hubs were as common as queues at testing sights.  Quite a few people I knew were frustrated trying to book vaccinations as they were opened up to younger people.  I had my first vaccination just before it got really busy.

I went to the Melbourne Exhibition Building, because I chose to go where I could look up in awe at the architecture rather than think about a needle digging into my flesh.  (Anyone else feel queasy about all the footage in the media of people having a needle pushed into them?)  Sitting there for 15 minutes after my jab was just lovely and I could have sat there all day if I had not been told it was time to go.

I loved the media wall I passed on the way out.  I guess that is for the "vaxxie", a new term I just learnt for the vaccine selfie.  Then I went outside and ended up chatting to a woman who wanted to have the vaccine but was unsure about it.  The covid vaccine culture is fascinating.  As has been noted in the media a few times recently, when we get other vaccines we usually don't know the brand or the risks but believe they are going to be a good thing.  Yet there have been such lengthy discussions about brands and risk that I think we all have information overload.

Another new term was the "circuit breaker" which as not only in the politicians speak but also in the notices.  It was to be a short sharp week but was extended to 2 weeks and now we are at the end of week 3 with quite a few restrictions still in place.  As you can see in the above sign, there was uncertainty about exactly when the libraries would open again.

 Not only was our library closed but the return chutes were taped closed.  I might have been unobservant during other lockdowns but I do not remember seeing this.  Perhaps books were returned in the wrong way during previous lockdowns?

I liked this sign: "the time has come to sanitise".  I think this will make a great song when they make Covid: The Musical!

Before this lockdown, we were only wearing masks on public transport and in taxis.  Suddenly yet again we were wearing masks indoors and outdoors.  I had to find all my masks that were stashed in different bags and get back into regular washing.  I liked the signs on this shop that no only said they were selling reusable but gave mobile phone numbers for those who had a reusable mask emergency need outside shop hours.  (I blanked out the mobile numbers as it did not seem right to share them online.)

The lockdowns hit businesses hard.  Even if they could stay open, many had lots of challenges.  I took a photo of this random shop's click and collect process.  I guess after a few lockdowns, Jaycar has perfected the process but I can't imagine the staff were looking forward to making sure people practiced patience as they stood on the X and stepped back 1.5m when the order was placed on the table.

This cafe seems to have had problems enforcing the orders to wear masks inside.  To be clear, they would have been allowed to eat and drink inside.  They were only there for a takeaway so there was no excuse ot to wear a mask.  But it was quite common to see people without masks walking outside holding a takeaway coffee, as if to say I can't wear a mask because I am about to sip my coffee any moment.  Sometimes it was genuine and sometimes it seemed less so.

Lockdown meant a return to remote schooling and more than enough screen time.  These two aspects met in one of Sylvia's school projects where she was asked to make a tv or film set in art.  We had been bingewatching Friends so she set up a set for the Central Perk cafe.  We looked into purchasing orange felt by click and collect for the sofa but couldn't see any nearby.  So Sylvia settled for cutting up an microcloth duster.  I am glad that duster finally saw some action!  I am less glad it was glued onto dolls house

I took a few more photos during my bike ride to the city.  These signs at Federation Square made me feel guilty for being out and about.  But I also know that bike riding has kept my spirits up so I didn't feel too bad.  Also those seagulls at Fed Square are really annoying so although they were cute on the photos, I liked the idea of them stuck at home rather than stealing food.

What a poignant picture of a lone seagull in a closed Fed Square!  Except, if I know anything about those seagulls, where there is one there is a flock.

And the final Fed Square sign shows a seagull putting a mask on so badly that he makes Greg Hunt looks like he is an expert at putting on masks.  Poor Greg Hunt will not live down his botched demonstration of how you put on a mask last year!  I did tell you that I don't trust these Fed Square seagulls.  They will not live down taking a sushi hand roll out of my hand a few years back in the good old days when we could gather in groups in Fed Square.

During my ride to the city, I enjoyed having a look around at the street art (I think there might be a post coming up if I can find the time).  Though I must say it was so quiet as to feel a little creepy walking around deserted laneways.  All a bit On the Beach.  There was a picture of Ali G wearing a Pfizer ring.  I was curious to know if this is just fun vax-bling or if there is a story behind it.

Finally on my way home from the city, I passed Princes Park in Carlton.  It is such a beautiful park and was a lovely sunny day that it was understandable so many people wanting to get out of their house and stroll around the walking track.  Yet it did seem interesting how deserted the city was and how busy the park was.  Lockdown is a frustrating but also a fascinating beast!

More posts on Covid signs: