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Middle Eastern Flat Breads

We’d spent the morning making spicy, flavourful Merguez sausages by hand, an undertaking that was as satisfying as it was rewarding and one we decided that we should do far more often.

As they lay on the bench all trussed in neat little bunches (not as hard as it seems thanks to a few U-Tube videos) we decided that our handiwork was too good not to share and so invited round a few friends for an impromptu lunch.

This meant some good bread was needed and these little flat breads proved just the thing. With their shiny golden crust, soft white crumb and just a smattering of cumin they hinted at the exotic spices of the sausages but in no way overwhelmed or overpowered, leaving the tasty little meaty morsels to star.

As the bread finished off in the oven, we threw a little fresh salad, some Greek yoghurt and our sausages onto a platter then headed out to sit under the trees.

Cue a few cold bevvies, some relaxed tunes and our late lunch in the sunshine was what all meals should be made of.



840g white flour

25g salt

30g cumin, ground

15g yeast

30g honey

525g warm milk

Egg to glaze

Mix flour, salt, yeast and cumin then add honey and enough milk to form a soft dough.

First Rise: Work the dough for ten minutes then leave to rise until double in size.

Knock back then divide into 12 portions, roll each portion out then flatten to about 2cm thick. Brush with egg. 

Second Rise: 20 minutes

Bake: 220 Celcius for 15-20 minutes

Yield: 12 pieces


Comments { 3 }

Banneton Bakery’s Sourdough Rye


A good slice of a dense, chewy, flavourful rye can immediately conjure so many memories. A pastrami sandwich hastily slapped together on a hire car bonnet (using only a Swiss army knife) while driving through the Black Forest, a particularly indulgent dinner of eggs, caviar and champagne or a Croque Monsieur, German Style literally dripping with cheese.

While not that common in Australia, rye bread is the staple of many a European country and brings a huge amount of flavour, along with a massive shelf life and just one or two slices of this dense bread will keep you going for hours!

The recipe below is from the wonderful Eric Ramonda of Banneton Bakery in Brisbane, Australia. Not only is it a rye, but it’s a sourdough, so while the recipe is a little difficult to get your head around if you’re new to baking, you can be assured that the result will be one of the finest examples for this style of bread anywhere – traditional, flavourful and just what a rye bread ought to be.

To baker’s notes, rye bread is best eaten after 24 hours as it may taste a little uncooked if it is still fresh out of the oven. Furthermore, gluten cannot be worked in rye as there is not enough of it (instead, gums known as Pentosans are present in the dough which binds it together). This makes it a good option for those with a low gluten tolerance level (though it is certainly not gluten free).

Also, please note that if you do not already have a starter culture, this recipe will take at least a week.


1000g rye flour

800g rye leaven – see second recipe below

24g salt

900ml water

300g rye berries (also known as whole rye grains or kibbled rye), soaked for 24 hours then simmered for 2-3 hours and cooled.

1, Knead all ingredients together for a few minutes – ensure the dough temperature is at 26°C to control the rising (do this by altering the water temperature to equalize the temperature of the flour)

2, Divide equally into bread tins. Don’t be afraid if dough is a very soft and sticky consistency – that’s the way it should be.

3, Proof for around two hours or more (depending on the ambient temperature). If it is a cold day, perhaps pop the tins into the oven at 25 degrees.

4, Bake at 210°C for 75 minutes for a 1kg loaf. Check colour of bread after 45 and if getting too dark lower oven temperature to 200.

5, To check if the bread is baked enough, take it out of the tin and tap the bottom; if it sounds hollow it’s a good indication it’s cooked.

Yield: 3 loaves

Levain or Starter Culture Process

-          Soak dry currants, sultanas or even fresh apples in water for one to two weeks.

-          When some mold starts to appear on the fruit and the smell turns slightly sour, discard the fruit and keep 300ml of water.

-          Add 500g of rye flour and knead for few minutes by hand.

-          Put in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth.

-          After 24 hours, the dough should have fermented.

-          1st refresh: Keep 300g and add 300g of rye flour with 400ml of water.

-          Knead for few minutes, then put in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth.

-          Let it ferment for another day.

-          The 2nd fermentation should be quicker.

-          2nd refresh: Discard excess, keep 300g and add more flour as per above.

-          Knead for few minutes then let the starter ferment for another 8 to 10 hours.

-          At that stage, you have a “chef”.

-          This means that your starter is ready to ferment a bigger batch.

-          It contains enough yeast to provide adequate fermentation, but the bacteria responsible for the flavor will take several more weeks to develop.

Keeping your starter:

-          If you use your Levain every day, then you do not need any particular care.

-          Just refresh it at the end of each day and use it the following day.

-          If you use it once a week, keep it in a fridge or cold room and refresh it twice before using it


-          The more starter you put in your refresh, the quicker it will ferment.

-          It might have a very sour flavor the following day.

-          You can slow it down by putting a ratio of 1 part starter 4 parts flour.

-          You can add 1% salt to it (don’t forget to adjust the final recipe)

-          In the final dough, use between 300g to 450g of starter per kilogram of flour in the recipe.

-          Taste your starter every day to assess the differences.


Comments { 2 }

Pizza Bread (gluten free)

Adapted from Claire Berman’s recipe from the excellent website - a great source of gluten free recipes of both sweet and savoury application so please check it out for further inspiration or simply click here to go straight to the post.

Savoury gluten free recipes (including bread) are a most challenging beast. After a lot of experimentation we finally settled on this recipe, based largely around a version from the ‘This Gluten Free Life’ website. It has a great texture (nothing even like a crumbly cake), a good crust and with a few big-flavoured toppings, is a pretty respectable alternative.

Like with all gluten free baking, there is a fair bit of variation with results due to the unforgiving nature of the flour blends – some doughs end up too wet, others too dry.

So to try and minimise this as much as possible, we’ve listed the brand of gf flour used in production down the bottom of the recipe (even though as a rule, we don’t list brands). I’m sure others would work just as well but for the sake of standardising results, we’ve done so on our gf posts.



12g Active dry yeast
2g Sugar
472g Warm water (110 F)
800g Gluten-free flour
12g Xanthan gum
12g Salt
480g Eggs (8 large)
120ml Extra-virgin olive oil
12g Cider vinegar

Pizza sauce


Yield: 10 large pizza breads

1, Mix the yeast and sugar in with the warm water then leave to sit for around 10 minutes or until frothy.

2, Meanwhile sift the flour with the xanthan gum and salt into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

3, When the yeast mix is frothy, add it along with the eggs, oil and vinegar. Mix on low until combined then on med-high for one minute until a very sticky, moist dough has been formed that is just slightly lightened in colour.

4, Use a scraper to tip onto a clean bench. Divide the dough into 10 pieces, then shape on trays into flat rounds, about 1.5cm high, using floured hands.

5, Let rise for 1 hour (they will only increase slightly in size, but the dough will ‘soften’ in texture), then bake for 15-20 minutes at 200°C.

6, If topping with pizza sauce and mozzarella or any other variation – keep the ingredients light and simple, and only add them for the final five minutes of cooking.

  • Gluten free flours differ slightly between blends, therefore add the last of the wet ingredients slowly so as to ensure the dough is not too wet – a dough you can just pat into shape is what you’re after.
  • For all our Gluten free recipes we used FG Roberts Plain Flour which is a mix of Maize Starch, Tapioca Starch, Soy Flour and Rice Flour.
Comments { 1 }

Italian Easter Scrolls

I love a good hot cross bun; made from scratch and fresh out of the oven there’s nothing better than tearing one in half, slathering all that fruity, spicy goodness in butter and devouring one on Easter Sunday morning (in between nibbling on the ears of a chocolate bunny or two).

However in recent years the Italian version – Colomba di Pasqua – a traditional dove-shaped cake similar in texture and appearance to the Christmas panettone but crusted with pearl sugar and almonds has popped up onto the radar.

Which brings me to a certain dilemma – in between the chocolate eggs and doing justice to the veritable feast that is our Easter lunch, there is simply not enough room for both bakery treats on the menu.

So instead of having to choose this year, I decided to create a recipe that would combine plenty of fruit and spice with the best features of both – the hot cross bun’s fluffy, light crumb and individual portioning with the Colomba’s almondy goodness.

The result is a deliciously soft and moreish scroll bun redolent with mixed peel and cloves (having eschewed the usual sultanas and mixed spice) and swirled through with an indulgent buttery almond filling.

Glazed and topped with a suitably Easter-themed decoration, they are going to be the star attraction on Sunday. This is especially so, since they can be made the day before and frozen just prior to the second rising, then thawed and risen again ready to pop into the oven that morning – ensuring minimum fuss for those who are churching it but still want beautifully warm and fresh homemade goodies for their family.


475g milk

10g instant yeast

55g sugar

720g bread flour

15g salt

10g ground cloves

150g mixed peel

100g eggs (2 whole)

80g butter – room temperature

30ml orange flower water

15ml vanilla paste

Half recipe Van Wegen’s almond filling

1, Heat milk until it is warm but not hot, mix in sugar and yeast and set aside while you prepare your other ingredients.

2, Sift flour into a bowl then add salt, cloves and mixed peel.

3, When your milk mix is foamy and bubbly, add it to the flour along with the eggs, butter, orange flower water and vanilla.

4, Mix until combined then turn out onto a bench – it will be very wet and sticky.

5, Begin to ‘knead’ by lifting up the dough mass with your fingers, turning it over towards you and dropping it back onto the bench as you pull your hands apart slightly. Repeating this process steadily will have the effect of slowly beginning to work the gluten and bringing the dough into one homogeneous mass. Try to only use the tips of your fingers to minimise mess but don’t use any more flour, just keep working away lifting and turning until the dough becomes less sticky and more a single mass – ten minutes will be plenty and use a dough scraper if necessary.

6, Once kneaded, place into a lightly-oiled bowl, cover and let rest until double in size.

7, In the meantime, make half the recipe of almond filling given in Van Wegen’s almond croissants found here.

8, Once doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a clean bench and press out to a rectangle roughly 30x45cm.

9, Spoon almond mix on top and spread out evenly all over leaving a 5cm strip of dough uncovered along one of the long sides. Note: everything is sticky at this point – sticky dough and sticky almond mix, persevere as best you can – I use my fingers to spread the almond mix as gently as possible so as not to move the dough.

10, Now time for rolling; make sure the long side without the almond mix is furthest away. Start by rolling from the other long side (covered in almonds) and continue until you have a long sausage shape.

11, Cut into pieces about 3cm wide (don’t try to slice, simply press through with a sharp knife then re-shape a little) and place into a lightly buttered oven tray ensuring enough room to expand.

12, Allow to rise again then bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.

* If you would like to glaze them, bake for 25 minutes then brush with a mix of 30gms brown sugar melted together with 30gms butter and 15ml boiling water then bake for the final five minutes.

13, Cool in tray a little then carefully turn out onto a wire rack.

*Decorate if you like using modeling fondant rolled to about 2mm thick and cut into doves, crosses or other suitably Easter themed shapes – but they’re just as delicious without.

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Rosemary and Rock Salt Grissini

In all honesty, I never got what was so great about bread sticks (or grissini if you want to be authentic about it). The ubiquitous table staple at every second Italian restaurant always seemed dry, hard, flavourless and only an option when truly, really starving (which does seem to happen quite often).

That was of course, until we went to the brilliant 1889 Enoteca in Brisbane. Motivated largely by aforementioned hunger, I contemplated the glass of grissini that had been dutifully delivered along with our drinks. The first thing I noticed was that there were not your standard packet variety, but something far more special – a handcrafted version, rolled out lovingly, lightly browned and crusted with salt.

 That first bite was a revelation, (which quickly progressed into a second serving and certainly added to the difficulty of fitting in dessert).

A few days later, reminiscing about the meal got me thinking; could my faithful standby antipasto platter ever need something a little less robust than rustic chunks of sourdough or a hand-torn ciabatta as an accompaniment? Perhaps if I investigated grissini further, could I have my nibbles and second bowl of pasta too?


Yield: Around 60 pieces


  • 620 g flour
  • 400 g water at room temperature
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 50 g olive oil
  • 50g finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • Salt flakes for finishing


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and rosemary. Pulse to combine.
  3. With the processor running, add the liquids in a steady stream.
  4. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Prove dough until doubled in volume, about 1.5 hours.
  6. Divide the dough into four equal pieces, then each piece into about 16. Keep the pieces you’re not working with covered.
  7. Roll each piece out to about 35cm long and finish by doing a final roll on a work surface dusted lightly with salt flakes.
  8. Place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Lightly spray or brush the grissini with olive oil.
  9. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp all the way through.
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