Roadside stall today

Many products available, including jars of lemon curd that I’ve just finished making from Tasmanian lemons, free range eggs, Danish butter and more.  There are gluten free rhubarb and apple tartuffins, breads, raspberry snowballs and lots more, including fresh made quince paste in little packages.

I’ve had a request for a photo of the stall, so here it is – be it ever so humble, it’s always well stocked….


Just look at these wonderful offerings – crabapples we picked yesterday here in the Derwent Valley.  They’ll soon be turned into jelly, paste (to serve with cheese) and sparkling crabapple drink.  Yum.

Between these and an abundance of apples and quinces, it’s going to be a busy weekend here in the kitchen.

Raspberry Snowballs

Raspberry snowballs in the making earlier this morning, available now on the stall or, if there’s none there,  down at the cooking school …….

Autumn produce and preserves

Generous friends and neighbours we have here in the valley – over the last couple of days this is what we have been given by way of fresh, organic, seasonal produce.

Apples and quinces

Pumpkins and zucchinis

Looks like we’re going to be busy preserving and hopefully making some cider. Quince and apples diced and preserved in syrup or even water (Fowlers or water bath style) make excellent fillings for pies and strudels. Of course there will be quince jelly as well, pumpkin chutney….. Any other suggestions gratefully received, especially for the zucchini. I’ve dehydrated many from our garden, both as slices and as powder to ad to soups etc, and of course pickle, but some new ideas would be great.

I might also make some wine jelly with the apples, great to serve with venison or other game meats.

Today I’ll also be making a mammoth batch of raspberry snowballs so there will be plenty available on the roadside stall here this week.

Malted Barley bread (aka Single Malt Bread)

Some little while ago I was able to get some malted barley from Redlands Estate here in the Derwent Valley. I had the notion to include it in my homemade bread, so tried grinding it in my huge old faithful wheat grinder, but that worked not at all.  In fact, it turned into a paste on the grinding plates – took a strong wire brush to remove it and then with difficulty. So much for that option.

Next I tried the food processor and, while it worked to a degree, the machine wasn’t all that happy about it and overheated rather alarmingly.

Next, mortar and pestle, with Robert persevering with this for an hour or so with limited success.  Finally I tried the good old slow cooker, making a type of barley porridge which in turn I thought could be included in the bread.  This worked a treat.  At first I put a stick blender through the ‘porridge’, breaking up the barley, but soon I came to prefer to leave the grains whole.  When they are included in the bread, each grain then releases a little pouch of creamed barley when you bite into it, very pleasing indeed.

Because the grains are so soft from their slow cooking, they don’t tear the strands of gluten in the dough and so the texture of the bread is really good.

I include some spelt in the dough mixture – it’s earthiness matches perfectly to the barley.

Anyway, here is the recipe to try (time to share it now I know it works), along with photo of a batch of the bread baking in the oven recently.  That day I’d made a double batch so that I could bake some of the dough in little clay pots, which makes the loaves especially delicious.

Malted Barley Bread

½ cup malted barley

1½ cups cold water

2 cups plain flour

2 cups spelt flour

4 teaspoons dried yeast

2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons sugar (or 2 of mild flavoured honey)

2 tablespoons olive oil (mild flavoured)

½ to 1 cup warm water, approximately – optional

1 egg,, whisked together with 1 tablespoon water

The first step is to cook the barley, which is best done in a slow cooker, the size of which is no larger than 3.5 litre capacity.  In fact I make triple this amount in a 3.5 litre cooker and freeze the two unused portions for a later batch of bread.

To slow cook the barley, place in a slow cooker with the cold water.  Set temperature to Low and cook for 3 hours.  Pour into a container and leave to cool to lukewarm, then process with a stick blender to make a barely ‘porridge’.  Do this only briefly as you still want some of the grains left whole.  Or, simply use the porridge as it is with all the grains still whole.

To make the barley dough, in a large bowl mix together the flours, yeast, salt and sugar.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil, together with the barley porridge and mix to a soft dough, adding extra warm water if needed.  I’ve found it’s good to keep back a little of the barley porridge and certainly the water as flours take up different amounts of liquid on different days, according to the level of moisture that may be in the flour at any given time.

Mix well with a spoon and then cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise until approximately doubled.  Turn the dough over with a spoon, then leave to rise again.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and sprinkle with extra flour.  Knead briefly and then shape into two balls, making sure the tops are smooth and even.

Grease a large loaf tin, 13cm x 21cm approximately and place the balls of dough inside.  Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise almost to the top of the tin.

Brush with the combined egg/water mix.

Bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees C (fan forced).

Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Malted Barley Bread in the baking

Stall tomorrow

Roadside stall here tomorrow – there will be choc-a-block cookies (4 types of chocolate in there) and also some fresh savoury muffins (with 2 cheeses, parsley, silver beet, ham, onion, zucchini, carrot, free range eggs, milk and more – all those healthy ingredients and they even still taste good!)  There is fresh made raspberry jam, along with other preserves of course.

Roadside stall today and Derwent Valley Autumn Festival tomorrow

Roadside stall this weekend: from 10 this morning there will be fresh baked breads – white loaves and spelt. They are a bit slower to rise given the chill of the mornings now. There are rock cakes, that old fashioned favourite, with the twist of the addition of some home dehydrated plums for extra flavour, plus a pinch of that lemon powder I made a week or so ago.

I’m headed out to the cooking school now to bake some nashi tartuffins and blueberry muffins, so they should be ready by 9.15. If you come to the stall and they are not yet out, come down to the school and have a coffee while I package them for you.

And of course there’s preserves – there are preserves – a rather nice quince/apple/nashi key and a really rich quince jelly.

Tomorrow there won’t be any breads as we will be at the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival – come visit us there. There will be snowballs galore (different flavours), marshmallow bunnies and other treats, bunny shortbreads, Stephanie’s excellent taffy and preserves and more besides. Who knows what today’s baking might bring that will end up on our tables tomorrow….

I’ll be doing a demonstration at 11am and 1pm by the way – tomato preserves.

When is a cooking school not a cooking school?

Of course, it’s not that there’s been no time for fun over the last four weeks.  For instance: when is a cooking school not a cooking school? When it’s converted to the scene of a Warhammer game, such as last Saturday when son Elliott and several of his friends set up a battle in the cooking school space.

Serious strategic battles these are with tiny hand painted figurines and war paraphernalia fighting for supremacy in a pseudo universe. The best fun for me was to cook for the crew who came along – sausage rolls and pizzas by the score!

Enough time to preserve again – hooray!

The very busy times of the last four weeks have abated just a little so today was able to get to working with the two large buckets of plums we’d been given. They mostly made their way into the dehydrator; once dried they are a stunning addition to a home made muesli or biscuits.

You can never have too much Worcestershire sauce and so there is a 6 litre batch on the go. I love the aroma of it as it cooks. Don’t know if the neighbours feel the same way – you can smell it right out at our gate.

I stewed a goodly number too – plum pie or crumble for dessert tonight for sure.

I was quite happy with a quince/apple/nashi jelly I made this morning – the nashi seems to have added almost a floral edge to it.

Pity I can’t remember the exact quantities I used of each. Oh well, just have to do it again.

With the remaining quinces there is quince jelly in the making, that quintessentially autumn delight. Yum.

If you cure your own bacon, try using a touch of this instead of maple syrup – it’s far nicer (and cheaper).

It’s great to be back in the kitchen and can’t wait for al the autumn and even winter produce to come in.  There’s always something to preserve thank goodness!

The Derwent Valley in autumn

Despite the busy times of the last four weeks, there have been some magical moments such as a visit to Redlands Estate where we were able to pick some hops from one of the garden beds.  A staff member helped out and picked along with us, he taking the lead by picking the best and juiciest up near the top.

The bagful o chops are now drying on the kitchen table, in readiness for making a colonial style yeast.

The Derwent Valley is just lovely now with poplars turning yellow and the grass greening up. The Autumn Festival on the 6th of April promises to be stunning.