Just checking the blog still works!

I think my last post was our annual gingerbread house demolition, so it’s been a while! The easiest way to bring things up to date was to randomly select a range of photos and tell the story of each. It has been incredibly busy day-to-day, add a long harsh summer with bizarre weather conditions, virtually no rain and loads happening in my world of sourdough. As I keep saying, this retirement gig is hard work! So here’s the update in pics.

Our daughter and grandsons designed these gorgeous little signs as part of our Christmas gift to put in our lane. I thought they were beautiful decorative additions and the bonus is that I think they have really made people slow down a bit (well some anyway).  We had our annual Baw Baw Sustainability Network open food gardens day in January which was an absolute cracker of a weekend. Over 160 people came through our garden who we got to share stories with, offer and receive some tips and celebrate growing your own food. I run a Facebook support group for Australian Sourdough Bakers where the focus is geared on giving advice and support, in particular to new bakers. I also encourage people share leads for supplies of local bread making supplies. This group is just about to hit 2500 members and I think many have gained valuable information from it. I negotiated a deal for members to purchase beautiful handcrafted lames at a highly discounted price than if purchasing from USA. One thing led to another and I found myself being the official Australian reseller……

This pushed me into finally setting up an online store which was an interesting challenge…. I eventually managed to navigate my way around this and am very proud of my Simply Sourdough site. It is a good way of selling everything in one space and I am amazed at how it is going. On the reno front, we have just about completed the main bathroom. Some fittings, filling and painting of trim and it will be done. Of course these last-minute things will take longer than the whole build did! My little right hand man in the kitchen just loves doing anything with creating food. He told me the Canele custard (pre the rum addition) was just like making milkshakes! Loves donning his Celia apron too! The finishing touch on the Canele. This was about the best pick from our crappy tomato season. Wasn’t worth planting this year. Something that came totally out of the blue was being approached by Gippsland Magazine to see if we were willing to have an article about my little bread business and our home run in it. I was nearly beside myself thinking they’d not find enough to talk about, but all went well and we featured on the front cover! That’s a bit special and testimony to all the hard work we have done. The magazines a great way to learn more about our region. As well as my weekly community bread bakes, I’ve had a few special event bakes and did a presentation to a large group at the ‘Women on Farms‘ event held at Gippsland Community college about baking sourdough. I quite enjoy doing these presentations, especially when I receive thank you gifts such as this lovely tea towel designed by Rachel Flynn at Red Tractor Designs. I love this but Mr ATMT doesn’t have the same level of appreciation for it as I. I’ve been playing around working on a 100% sourdough baguette and I am getting close to being satisfied with it. Nothing I Googled really resembled a classic baguette which is what I am aiming for. These were for a special order on a grazing table and they kindly sent me a crumb shot. Nearly there with this formula!Getting my creative side on with this arrangement of  cotoneaster, spent agapanthus heads and coprosma cuttings. So basically its a bucket of weeds!  Quite pretty if I say so myself.Lastly for the Catch up snippets, team Dad ‘N Dave have returned from their trip to Nepal as part of the Habitat Australia earthquake victims home rebuilding project and feel their contribution  to the cause was valuable. Such trying conditions and extreme levels of hardship on these people make you wonder how they maintain the happy dispositions they have. A huge thank you to all those who supported Geoff and David in this project.

Let’s see if I can get another post in before Christmas!

Another year has ticked over.

It keeps happening, turn around, blink, lose focus for a minute and another year has passed. It seems amazing that our baby grandson has now turned one year old and his brother will be turning 3 in January. We are so lucky to not only have these 2 little tackers in our lives, but we are extremely fortunate in that they live close enough for us to get to enjoy them often.

Such a cutie, but starting to demonstrate some extremely strong straits of determination and stubbornness.   Just the thing to get through this maze of life. His mum (my daughter) doesn’t do many cakes these days, a shame as I think she has an amazing talent. This blue whale white chocolate fudge cake managed to turn everybody’s mouths blue as well as look stunning.Both the boys love getting out into the garden, a sure-fire way to soothe a bad mood and redirect anxiety when necessary. A special little basket makes collecting and harvesting a real delight. Then there are questions to be answered, goals to strive for when things catch your eye. Made it!The freesia are huge this year, late-blooming but superb.One of my favourite flowers in the garden are these irises. I absolutely love them and look forward to their short display every season. These are another re-housed lot of bulbs from my sisters place that they lifted before moving. Thanks Margaret.

After an adventure outside it’s back inside to an afternoon tea of sourdough French Toast and a cuppa. On the bread front, these are some baguettes I baked for the 1st birthday party. Colour is a little uneven as I tried to fit too many on the oven shelf. Tasted great though. I’ve never made bagels before, in fact the closest I’ve ever been to a bagel is the ones I’ve seen mentioned on the tele in New York delis and movies. I’m expecting a quite dense and chewy result but we’ll see.I managed to get summer vegetable seeds planted for germination last week, hopefully they will go well and the weather will be a bit consistent for a change. Just have to wait and see I suppose.

Very happy to see the first asparagus for the season appearing. It really must be Spring!

 

New Introduction to Sourdough Baking Class Scheduled.

Due to demand, I have added an extra class to the Introduction to Sourdough Baking schedule. Sunday 16th September, 10.00-3.30ish. Go to Simply Sourdough tab or to my Facebook Simply Sourdough Events Page for event details. Tickets can be purchased online from Sticky Tickets, price of $154.50 includes booking fee.

Gift vouchers available, contact me direct for details.

Weekly wrap-Getting my pretty on and No Weddings here!

This week I thought I’d venture out of my comfort zone and try going pretty. Ann Gabur over at The Bread Journey  does the most amazing, detailed, well proportioned and meticulous scoring on her loaves that I thought I’d have a go. I’ll probably have another couple of attempts but it just isn’t my style. I much prefer the rustic, bold look of big oven springs, bursting out through minimal scoring. I do however appreciate her talent and can see a place for it in certain loaves and that it would suit many people. This pic was was my first attempt. For someone who gets bored going up and down in straight lines when mowing lawns and tries to write my name with the mower in the grass, I was pretty impressed I managed this much continuity.

 The loaf I tried this on was a very quickly thrown together loaf using the 1,2,3 method. This is – 1 part starter, 2 parts water and 3 parts flour, add a pinch of salt and in this case some chopped rosemary, mix, let sit for a couple of hours, toss into the fridge overnight, shape, throw into a banneton and bake. I wanted to test out how using a good old Aussie Bedourie Oven worked. These are basically a camp oven but made of spun steel and they not as heavy as the cast ones. The lid can also be used as a pan and the quality is beautiful. This is a 12″ one so you could fit either a round or an oval loaf in it. The big bonus is that the Dr Livingstone ones are Australian Made by Southern Metal Spinners and can be bought online either direct, or at really good prices from many camping/RV stores. I believe we need to support the little bit of local manufacturing we have left while we can. May not be as pretty as some ‘you beaut’ DO’s, but it certainly did the job well.

This lovely little loaf didn’t take long to be devoured by a couple of seagulls!I’ve been referring to Emilie Raffa’s wonderful Book ‘Artisan Sourdough Made Simple’ for inspiration with flavours and haven’t been disappointed. This dough is based on her olive, parmesan, thyme and lemon zest loaf, but I changed the flour, the hydration, salt and fermenting times to suit me. Handy tip on how to grate a 2kg bloke of parmesan into small bits when your hands don’t work- use your meat grinder. Works a treat! I would however next time leave the parmesan much chunkier, it does melt into the loaf.

I would also recommend leaving the loaf until the next day to eat. It was delicious freshly baked, but superb when left to mature over a day or 2. I had another wonderful Simply Sourdough Introduction to Sourdough Workshop today. Gee they are tiring, but I really enjoy getting together with like-minded people, having a few giggles and exchanging knowledge. Everyone keeps asking about the chick pea dip I make so I’ve recorded it. Into a food processor throw a can of rinsed chick peas, juice of 1 lemon (may need a bit more), couple of garlic cloves, bit of chilli if you like it, a huge hunk of parsley, a pinch of salt and in this case I had an end bit of parmesan from the olive bread so that went in too. Blitz the lot and drizzle olive oil in as its going until you get a nice smooth texture. Serve in a bowl with olive oil drizzled over. Nice on bread, toast, crackers etc. That’s it at rear right of the platter we had in class today. Other sourdough bits from L to R are baguette, roast capsicum focaccia, pizza with tomato & pepper paste (sulca biber), labneh marinated in oil, garlic, chill, pizza cheese and green capsicum. Then there is some of the olive/parmesan bread and my wonderful parmesan and rosemary sourdough crackers.

Nice to just be able to pick through the session. The kitchen space is working really well for classes, didn’t look like this at the end of the day though! Everyone is smiling except for the mad woman holding a mini baguette looking like she’s going to turn maniacal with it! She is smiling on the inside, trust me. Great group, great day! One place in this class was donated to One Planet Classrooms to use as a prize at their major fundraising event. I was thrilled to be able to offer this tiny bit of support to the cause.Finally, I have deliberately not watched, seen nor heard much about ‘The Wedding’,  but a friend of mine loves stirring so sent me a load of pics. The only thing I took notice of was that in this one I thought the poor boys shoelaces were undone. On closer inspection I realised it is probably a shadow from the end pin of his cello.  What do you think? I much prefer thinking it was his shoelaces undone theory. Am I evil?

In My Kitchen – March

As  another month rolls over (far too quickly), I wonder if there is anything I can share with the other IMK’ers over at Sherry’s Pickings that isn’t just a rehash of previous posts. Sherry has links from lots of fellow bloggers who are generous and let us have a peek into what’s going on their kitchens each month. Amazing what you can learn and share! Thanks Sherry!

Good old Bangers & Mash

Mr ATMT is rather partial to a feed of bangers and mash. Instead of doing a heavy, flour based gravy, we usually make a sauce by frying off onions and adding a bottle of tomato passata to the pan and let it simmer away to thicken and flavour up. We had so many lovely fresh tomatoes, I just added some of them to the pan to slowly cook down and thicken. Yes, I did burn the container!

The mash had a face lift too by adding the dregs of the bottle of infused garlic oil which also had the macerated garlic cloves in it. It was time to start a fresh batch of garlic oil so these from the existing bottle didn’t go to waste!

Rich, fluffy mash with delicious tomato and onion gravy on the snags and good old frozen peas on the side. Mr ATMT was very happy!  I have been making a lot of sourdough crackers using the King Arthur Flour recipe  and I admit was getting bit sick of parmesan and dried rosemary as the flavouring. I had run out of dried rosemary so chilli parmesan twists were created instead. Same basic recipe, but I added 2 frozen chilli cubes and a ‘splodge’ of sweet chilli sauce along with some grated parmesan. Instead of cutting into cracker shapes, I cut long strips then twisted them and baked. Big hit! The long sticks on the right of this platter is the baked result, served with some roast tomato and garlic focaccia and baguettes. There was also a sourdough fruit slab here. I’ve been playing with different formulas and the baguette on the left is a normal sourdough baguette but the chia and saffron ciabatta on the right is made using fermented fruit water instead of a traditional starter. Recipe credit for the ciabatta with saffron recipe (in part) to Sylvain from Gourmetier which I adapted somewhat! Sylvain’s food photography and styling is spectacular! Wonder what he could have done with this lot? I initially found this concept of using fermented fruit water a bit bizarre, but I really like the outcome and the theatre of fermenting the fruit is pretty good fun too. Who remembers their mum’s ginger beer exploding?  Shades of that with the fermenting fruit if you are not careful.

Removing the bone from my leg of lamb.

Of course along with every other most other Aussies, I have tomatoes in my kitchen. This year I cut back on how many I planted and it’s been a nice steady supply with just enough for eating and a few extras to make tomato pickles with. Couldn’t wait to top these sourdough loaves with a few slabs of tomato, cracked pepper and labne cheese. One of the joys of growing your own produce is the ability to cook meals based on what you have to hand. For a recent family dinner I butterflied (de-boned) a leg of lamb I’d had in the freezer and coated it with pesto made using basil, parmesan, garlic, macadamia nuts, mint and lemon juice. I then cooked it in a pan on the bbq and served it with a salad from Sandra’s blog, Please Pass the Recipe. What a delight this Na’ama’s Fattoush dish was, a great way to use some excess tomatoes, old bread, cucumbers and herbs. Will repeat this recently I think! Thanks Sandra! I served the lamb and Na’ama’s Fattoush with extra pesto, some pumpkin roasted with black and white sesame and pumpkin seed oil, freshly picked beans and flatbread. I added some boiled potatoes to stretch the ability to feed everyone. Can’t do better than that!So that’s about it for In My Kitchen this month, what’s going on in yours? Would love to peek, so go and link your story in to Sherry’s blog and share.

Remember me? Lots to report and plans afoot.

I keep wondering why I have had so much trouble getting to writing posts and I have come to the conclusion that when I was working I was looking for a form of escapism and regular blog posts were like therapy to me. Since having left work I am continually doing things that I enjoy, am busy all of the time and just don’t seem to have the time to sit and focus on writing a post.  We also spent a month in New Zealand that I haven’t worked out how to write about as I’m still not sure how I really felt about it. Whoever said they didn’t know how they had time to go to work was right on the money. So what’s been happening?

The new Courtyard Taking shape.

This area is out from the kitchen and up until recently has been mainly a utility area. The blood orange tree was planted against a wall but left freestanding after we rotated the ‘dentist’ room.  The area will be paved, have some kitchen garden plantings and be a great outdoor eating area. We took a gamble and using some great tips from a lovely Instagram friend, moved the orange tree (thanks @minipermaculture). It actually looks like it is doing better now than it was where it was moved from. We trimmed it back, planted it in a large hole that was full of compost, worm castings and other goodies, gave it a drink of very weak Seasol and sprayed the foliage with this solution as well. We are now making sure it is protected from the extremely harsh frosts we are experiencing and keeping everything crossed. The water feature is my leaving gift from work and once it integrates to lots of greenery it should ‘disappear’ yet be a focal point at the same time.

Seems to be doing well so far! Fingers crossed for us. This is the area with recycled bricks waiting to be laid by the very weary Mr ATMT who has been working his butt off. As well as the courtyard area, we are working towards getting the driveway edging and toppings done, but we had to run power and water to the courtyard first which meant making some mud. We hired a little digger and plumber son did a great job running the trenches for pipes and cables.

He got a bit of help with this little cutie. What is it about machinery that is so appealing?It’s coming together nicely and I am pleased to say we have just about lost all of the leaves  from the oak. I haven’t managed to accumulate much in the way of leaf old so far but they will still be waiting for me to collect and mulch up so there is no rush.

Some exciting plans.

I had always said I would convert the ‘dentist’s  room’ into a preserving or food related area and have made the decision to fit it out as a registered kitchen so I can have approval to sell  my bread. This is the white room on the right and I am currently working through all of the necessary red tape to satisfy council requirements. My plan is to only sell by pre-order of loaves I enjoy making and keeping it manageable and most importantly, enjoyable. We have so far stripped it out and are getting the electrical and plumbing sorted out so I can plaster, tile, fit out and get things on the road. I am really excited about this, its not planned to be a big commercial operation, just me making something I love doing, on my own terms. This is what it was like inside before I started gutting it. As well as working towards registering the kitchen I am planning on holding some workshops for people interested in learning how to make sourdough. I had a lovely group of ‘guinea pigs’ come at the weekend so I could get an idea of how the format I had in my head worked in real-time. We had a lot of fun and I have tweaked quite a few concepts of how to present and once we have the council tick I will offer some workshops. It is a really good way for me to think about how things are done and improve my skills as well.We hd a little set back with the new bathroom/laundry that was part of the exteno. I posted that I was thrilled that we finally had a finished room, and then KAPOW, poor Mr ATMT was wiping out the shower and came up under the tiled-in soap shelf.Luckily no damage to him, (I did ask!)and we have decided to replace that shelf tile with 2 single tiles as it is highly likely that this would happen again. Back to the suction cup rack but comfortable that it will be safer.Out in the garden I have some broccoli heading up, the bok choy and leeks are doing really and I still have a couple of capsicum hanging on in the greenhouse.

  

Here is an assortment of my Friday family & friend bake. Some multigrain, some flaxseed loaves that are using the excellent recipe that Francesca over at Almost Italian  posted and some light rye loaves. I love the way the kids are so keen to collect their bread on A Friday night or Saturday morning to get them through the week. Finally I just have to share this gorgeous video of our grandson experiencing milling flour for the first time. It is especially precious to me, as I would have had welts in a few places if I’d been caught sitting on the kitchen bench like this. I am going to let him sit and participate with me as much and as often as possible! I love it.

 

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

End of Summer season in the patch

I take my hat off to all our dedicated food growers, especially those who are committed to growing organically. It’s when we have seasons like this I can’t help but wonder how this nation ever got off the ground at all!

As the summer season comes to a close I’ve been trying to sort out the veggie garden to have it ready for some serious, more dedicated growing throughout the year.

I started by moving the 2 compost bins that were in the area where we have just moved a small outbuilding from. This area will become a courtyard and I don’t really want to look out the kitchen window to the bins. The bin made from wire and lined with weed mat contains last seasons leaf mulch and it’s not quite ready to use. I need to work out where this years leaf bin will go. This area does become a natural collection point for the english oak leaves so it can’t be too far away. I will have to move the little blood orange that you can see in the front. This was being espaliered on the wall of the building we moved, so it may end up against the fence.I have previously mentioned how when you clear the compost you discover insidious bits of plastic that you didn’t know you had. Here you can see the remains of a spinach box. I bought it in a box thinking it was plastic free, but as with so many packaged items the plastic is hidden. GRRRR!You can also see here that the paper vacuum cleaner bag still has a bit of decomposing to do. I will just put that into the relocated bin. I am cutting back needing to use bags in the vacuum as I now have a barrel unit that can be emptied directly into the compost (unless it has bits of glass etc in it). The big vac with bags will be used much less frequently.From these 2 compost bins I got enough compost to top dress the big 6 meter long wicking bed and the 3 smaller wicking beds as well as give the orange tree a really good top-dressing.As  always, our last chook Rene was on hand as oversee to the works!

Last men standing.

I removed all of the tomato plants that were passed it and their remains have been put on the bed that will be where corn will be grown next summer. I really should remake this box as it was put together as a temporary bed when we first moved in, but it still has another season in it I think.The remaining tomato plants in this big bed, have had exclusion bags put on the last fruit and I will be planting a green manure crop of mustard seed and assorted seeds that are well beyond their prime and that I am unlikely to plant here. I keep  saying I will rest this bed for a season, but space is just too precious. I guarantee I will still end up using half of the bed for something!I have had marginally more success with pumpkins this season, but they are still not what I would have a hurrah over. The plants that were not going to give any return have also been pulled and put on the pile with the spent tomato plants and I’ve let the ones still performing in, hoping that they will develop and mature some more.There are quite a few small ones still developing but I don’t think they will develop enough  before the cool weather hits. They are pretty though!Remember my experiment of trained versus free range tomatoes? This is a couple of pics of the issues I had with free ranging tomatoes. I don’t think I’ll try that again!

The big success this season is our grapevine, this is performing really well and these grapes are delicious! Although it is a slip grape, supposedly for winemaking, it tastes like passionfruit and we use them just for nibbling on. They do have a few pips but I don’t  mind that.

There are still a few jobs to do but I really enjoyed getting back out into the garden and claiming some thinking time as I worked.

Sourdough

This is a pic of my rye dough that decided it wanted to take over the world. I thought the overnight temperature was going to be quite a bit cooler than it turned out to be, so I gambled on leaving it out on the bench overnight. The lid was nearly at right angles before I removed it! Fortunately I saved it in time and managed to produce some lovely loaves of 50% rye and 50% organic Laucke T55 white flour. The tang in these is amazing!So now I have to decide on what my next ‘get back in control’ jobs will be in the garden. Well, everywhere I think!

In My Kitchen February 2017

Well we are back and rearing to go! A shout out to Liz over at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things for taking the time to hook us all up. Head on over and have a peek at some amazing kitchen happenings from around the world.

So what have we got going on this month? Bread, bread and lots more bread I’m afraid. I have become quite obsessed with trying as many different grains, methods and styles as I can. I have set up a Facebook Page too hoping to get more ‘local’ sourdough lovers to share their stories, learn more about making sour dough and offering tips for local suppliers of baking supplies like flour and equipment. If you are interested or have a friend who is interested tell them to come and join in. Sourdough Baking Australia & New Zealand is a closed group so people need to ask to join or be invited by Members. Some of my recent baking highlights have been; barley bread,barley breadSome home milled wholewheat blend.bestand I’ve been working on mastering the making of sourdough croissants. sweet-starter-croissantsThe finished croissant.Sourdough croissantsWhile doing some research on dough lamination, I stumbled across this youtube video  where the chef uses what he calls a ‘tarp’ for rolling his pastry. I had never heard of this concept so off to the Google Research Centre and I discovered some really interesting information about the benefits of using a pastry cloth to toll pastry on. Seemed too good to be true, so off to Spotlight for fabric and using these basic instructions I made a couple of pastry cloths. I found them to be everything they were touted to be and I love the fact many mentioned that they had their family ‘hand-me-downs’ from mothers and grandmothers tucked away in their drawers. I made a double layered large one and 2 smaller single layer ones, but after using them I think the double is much better, so I’ll just fold the smaller ones when I use them. I only dusted flour twice while rolling out these croissants. No sticking whatever. pastry-clothOf course I had to have croissant for breakfast didn’t I? Here are a couple of the finished items along with a cup of tea made in the delightful cup with a china infuser and hat that I was given for my birthday. The spotty pots are a couple of my favourites too.tea-croissants The little cap on the infuser acts as a drip tray when you remove the leaves from the cup and as a lid for the cup when not in use. I love it.infuser-cupWe have finally been able to hang some pictures that were stored and this photo is one my nephew (who is a very talented photographer) had at his exhibition. She is a peanut-seller at the market in Vietnam and he really captured the essence so well it came home with us. Unfortunately my photo doesn’t do it justice at all!peanut-lady When I left work our Parents & Friends Association very kindly gave me a voucher for my favourite shop in Warragul, String & Salt.  String & Salt  have an excellent selection of quality homewares and cooking equipment, they run some incredible cooking classes and they also sell Falcon Ovens which is where we bought ours. The key factor to being a delight to deal with, is their level of service, not easy to find these days and they shine. Anyway, I used my voucher to get this gorgeous little Burgon & Ball Trug. We are starting to get a run of tomatoes coming in, not much else I must say, I know I’ve not been as attentive this season but things just seem sparse. Neighbours and friends are all saying the same so I’m glad it isn’t just my neglect.Burton Ball TrugThen finally In My Kitchen this month is something a bit different. I’m finding undoing the car seat, high chair and pram clips are causing excruciating pain to my dodgy fingers so I went back to the Google Research Centre and found this little thing called a buckle bopper.  You rest it in the palm of your hand and the knobby bit pushes in the clip and releases it.buckle-bopper It was ridiculously expensive for what it is and there are no Australian sellers so postage was also up there but if it reduces pain levels it’s not too bad.

So that’s my lot for “In My Kitchen” this month, I’m popping over to Liz’s now

for a peek into some of the others.

New FB Sourdough Support Page.

Just putting it out there that I have started a Facebook Closed Group for anyone wanting to learn, share and chat about sourdough bread and other sourdough baked goods. I find that the big overseas groups are brilliant but it is difficult when ingredients and equipment they discuss are not available locally. Seasons and use of fahrenheit too is also a challenge, we are always arse about (or they are).

So anyway, I plan to try to post some weekly tips for anyone starting out, put some links for really good reliable information and have people share their baking results and ask questions. Although target audience is Australia and New Zealand, others are welcome to request to join. So, if you know of anyone who may be interested in learning more or sharing knowledge please pass on my link.

 

Facebook group is Sourdough Baking Australia and New Zealand, link is https://www.facebook.com/groups/SDaustralia/

bestThanks, Maree.

Trifle. Or is it just a cake in a glass bowl?

It all started a few weeks ago when I was clearing out cupboards and posted on Instagram and Facebook a call for ways to use some old crystal bowls I have and am never likely to use for a number of reasons.

CrystalThat horrible dilemma when you really don’t like something, you can’t imagine ever using them again but they do have sentimental value and aren’t worth anything to sell. Some have been wedding or engagement presents and  have emotional ties.  If I gave them away I would prefer they go to someone I know or who is part of the family. I don’t usually have any issues discarding things I cannot see value in keeping, but these have worked their way into and under my skin. I think it stems from being brought up thinking these things were ‘the good’ stuff only to be used for special times and they demonstrated we weren’t poor when people came to dine.

I had many interesting responses on what to do with them or how to repurpose them, ideas such as creating some garden ornaments similar to these,

crystal-garden-ornaments

or a bird feeder like this,

crystal-bird-feeder

or even as pretty vessels for burning tea light candles in.

crystal-tea-light-holder

There was even a suggestion some could be used as the missile for the annual smashing  of our Christmas gingerbread house (cheers Stuart). That, I wasn’t going to entertain! Glass in the grass is not good when you don’t wear shoes.

Then came the trifle ideas, many voted that the larger bowl was definitely a candidate for trifle to be served in. My niece is a really good cook and sent me a couple of links for some nice sounding recipes, one was a limoncello one that looked pretty good. Celia reminded me she had a recipe on her blog that was easy as well as delicious and Francesca said she had a whole book dedicated to trifle and would like to send it to me. The selection in this book has to been seen to be believed, I will revisit this in the future I think.

img_0678I’m not convinced about trifle, childhood memories still make me gag at the thought. I hate custard, not the good stuff like creme pat, but the packet or store-bought goo labelled as custard. I also have memories of soggy peaches stuck into horrible, grainy  cake that tasted like sawdust. I do remember though that I liked the jelly and cream, especially if it was a nice dark jelly like port wine etc. Convinced by my cheer squad that a good trifle is great and I should go for it, I decided that my quest was to create a trifle to share with guests at our Australia Day BBQ. The research began and I must have looked at 100’s of recipes but could not decide on a finalist. I started to see the pattern of ingredients emerge so I winged it, convinced we would end up with yet another soggy, grainy mess.

Basically I was making a black forest cake in glass bowl.

This was my concept,

  • Layers of chocolate cake which had been sprinkled with booze which is traditionally kirsch in a BFC.
  • Thin Layer of  chocolate mousse
  • Layer of cherry jelly made using the juice from canned cherries and a splash of booze
  • Layer of black cherries
  • layer of whipped cream

Pretty simple  really. So this is how I did it, I made a jelly using the juice from the 2 cans of black cherries thickening it with corn flour and throwing in a splash of rum.

I made a simple chocolate mousse but thinned it down slightly so it wasn’t too thick. This was the alternative to custard part of the creation.

Annabelle Langbein’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake was baked  in 2 small round tins rather than one big springform tin.

Cream whipped, what can go wrong?

My cake was cut and ready to start assembling the layers in the bowl  but not unexpectedly, I had not been able to get Kirsch at any of the bottle shops. My next option was Cherry Brandy but no, not available either. I considered making cherry juice but gave that a miss. I took a leap of faith and decided to use some white rum as we had a supply of it in the cupboard. So here we have my Black Forest Rum Chocolate Trifle.

But look at the bowl………………..please ignore the creamy smudge. I know you wouldn’t notice it if I’d used the cut crystal but that’s karma I guess.

Chocolate Black forest Trifle After all of that I just couldn’t bring myself to use the crystal. I just don’t like it but I do think it might make a nice bird feeder! This was a winner with all of our guests, people could take a small spoonful portion or dig in and take as much as wanted. The rum was an absolute winner and I think that will be repeated if I make this again. There was no graininess, just boozey, chocolatey, creamy, rich yumminess. Now, a couple of days later the flavour and texture has improved even more. Verdict by Mr ATMT is that it was a cake in a glass bowl, a delicious cake in a glass bowl, but not a trifle. My internal psyche must have overruled I think.

Here are a few of our Australia Day BBQ snaps. Beautiful afternoon, great people and some great food for sharing. As well as my Black Forest Chocolate Trifle I made a Pavlova and peeking in the background is a lammington roll that a friend brought along.DessertsI baked a selection of sourdough breads. From L to R, baguette, baguette, sesame loaf, tomato paste, thyme and feta, baguette, caramelised onion and parmesan loaf (DELICIOUS) and a roast tomato focaccia. I believe the focaccia was great but the vultures devoured it too quickly to sample.img_2247 I was going to say we are so lucky to have such a beautiful area to share these events with family and friends, but it is mostly due to some very hard work on our part to create this space. Australia Day 2017

All worthwhile and we are lucky, very lucky.