Relive the Romance of the Outback with Damper Bread

 

The Moonshiner, The Man from Outback and Home at Sundown are just some of the books Lucy Walker wrote about life and romance in the Outback. Of course damper , Australian soda bread, was baked in the coals by hunky Australian stockmen. An iconic Australian dish, it is a great idea for outdoor picnics, and where it used to be eaten with some dried or cooked meat, these days it can have other ingredients added in and eaten with honey, syrup or jam.  Aboriginal women traditionally baked this ‘bush bread’ with grains and nuts they were familiar with, and today damper bread is even available in bakeries in Australia.

making famous Australian Bush Bread

If you don’t want to buy damper bread, next time you have a barbecue, allow the kids to make their own damper, add it onto a stick and allow them to cook or bake it over the fire. All it requires is a cup of self-raising flour, a tablespoon of butter, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, a tablespoon of butter and a cup of milk. You simply rub the butter with the flour until nice and crumbly, mix the salt, sugar and milk till it forms a dough. Allow the kids to make a snake shape and wrap it around a nice clean stick. Delicious eat with cheese or jam.

A Delightful Cheese, Garlic and Onion Bread

I absolutely love the taste and smell of garlic, herbs and onion, and of course when I eat a pizza, these ingredients plus cheese are always somewhere among the others. I love baking bread as you know by now, so it seemed the most natural thing to bake some kind of bread based on some of my favourite foods like pizza.

Baking the cheese, onion and garlic bread

Australian garlic just happens to be so much better than imported garlic too and I could just imagine the cheesy, oniony, garlic bread  I was going to try. In typical Aussie style, I’ve got a quick and easy recipe that takes just 5 minutes requires just 1 tablespoon of dry yeast and rosemary, a half tablespoon of salt, 3 cups plain flour, a cup and a half of lukewarm water and a teaspoon of sugar. Before baking add in 2 or 3 cloves of chopped fresh garlic and some chopped onion and cheese. This bread is baked for between 30 and 40 minutes. Its best not to bake the bread when you’re hungry because the aromas that fill your kitchen and home will just be two overwhelming to resist and you’ll want to haul out the butter immediately.

Simit…Yummy…

 

Turkish 'snack' bread sold all over Turkey, bread rolls covered in sesame seeds

Simit

A fair few years ago I had a wonderful time visiting Turkey. I spent time in Istanbul then to Ankara followed by a visit to the captivating and very unusual area of Cappadocia. If you even get the chance go and visit. The Lonely Planet describes it better than I can. The history and the culture is a mixture of east and west, exotic yet sophisticated. Everywhere you go you will find a spot that feels like it has never changed. The food there is wonderful, and needs a whole blog to itself but I want to mention the bread here. Fresh bread is readily available throughout the day and a Turk would not sit down to a meal without bread, it is definitely the Turkish stable along with tea (or chai as they call it). It seems that at every street corner appears to have simit sellers. These circular bread rings covered in sesame seeds are delicious. Eaten on their own or with cheese, jam or honey they make a perfect breakfast accompaniment. A Turkish breakfast is a treat in itself. Tulum cheese, Feta cheese, olives, honey, jams, cucumber and tomatoes are just some of the delicious foods you will find on a Turkish breakfast table.  On one occasion travelling through the mountains we stopped for breakfast and a veritable feast came out.  I remember breaking open a warm simit and spreading it with butter, except it turned out to be Turkish cream, kaymak, so thick you cut with a knife and spreads like butter, not sweet but certainly not I was use to on bread. I looked at a few recipes for simits but felt this one was the best. My first attempt turned out a bit of an odd ring more oval really but I am getting better with practice.

Simit seller can be found wandering the streets of any Turkish Town but try finding the actual bakery for one fresh from the oven!!

Simit seller

Mielie Bread Adds  Subtle Touch to Outdoor Dining

I love baking bread, and why not? Its certainly one of the cheapest sources of carbohydrates and is especially nutritious when home baked with wholemeal flour. Yeast is also a valuable source of vitamin B which you’re not going to get with breads made with white flour from the stores.
bread
Last year my trip to Africa took me to the Kruger National Park with friends, and its here that I discovered their ‘mielie’ or corn bread which is served with meat which has been cooked over an open fire and served with salads. I had the privilege of eating this bread hot out the oven so that the butter melted on it. Mouth watering delicious. The bread is so simple to make too and offers a tantalizing sweet and salty combination on the tongue.

All the delicious bread requires to make it is a tin of creamed sweetcorn, a teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, three eggs, 125 ml of both flour and buttermilk or yoghurt and  one teaspoon of baking powder. The friends I was with added in some crushed garlic as well, but this depends entirely on your taste. You simply mix up the ingredients and pour into a greased loaf tin and bake the bread for an hour at 180°C.

I always say that the enjoyment of food is in its presentation, and this yellowish bread looks tantalizingly delicious alongside well cooked meat and a green salad. Be daring, learn your herbs and spices and the basic rules of seasoning and blending, and you’ll also have a delicious, tangy bread to eat with any kind of meal you’re preparing.

Making Bread quickly

Bread requires long time with fermentation with yeast and baking. The techniques of baking different kinds of breads are unique to the type. There are certain types which can be made quickly.

Bread

  • Buttermilk biscuits – Knead the dough only for 5 minutes. Add buttermilk instead of water to quicken the process of baking. Fold the dough and bake in the oven. Quick snacks are ready and they are tender and yummy.
  • Lemon Muffins – Add lemon to the dough and egg. The olive oil will make it soft and tangy. For the full recipe you can read this article.
  • Peanut Butter and Banana Bread – This is quick to make and tasty to eat. Peanut butter is put in the dough with banana. Together they make the bread soft and tasty.
  • Scones – Less sugar and more egg helps to make these sweeties. They are not very sweet and you can have it even if you have diabetes. A sprinkle of dry fruits increases the fibre content.
  • Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread – Using pineapple as a flavour and mixing with warm cinnamon makes this tasty bread. Quick to make and nice to eat.
  • Pumpkin Bread – This bread tastes best with morning coffee or tea. Light flavour with aroma of fresh pumpkin, this is vintage stuff – right out of grandma’s recipe.
  • Coconut Bread – This is a special one. The coconut milk used to knead the dough makes it soft and I have never had softer bread. I love to make this for friends.

Bread making is a nice hobby and I will follow up with something new next time. It will most probably be the sandwitches.

Don’t Forget The Pizza

Their homely fare dispatch’d, the hungry band
Invade their trenchers next, and soon devour,
To mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour.
Ascanius this observ’d, and smiling said:
“See, we devour the plates on which we fed.

Virgil Roman Poet circa First Century BC

See I can bring a bit of culture to this blog. Everyone has an opinion about the origin of Pizza’s, even a Roman Poet! Persian soldiers where known to bake flatbread on their shields, to which they added cheese and dates -was that the original pizza? I don’t know and not really bothered but this book is quite interesting for history buffs.

 I cannot write about bread and not mention pizza, thin and crispy, deep pan, calzones I love them all. Around the world different pizza’s exist, I have tried Turkish Pide, Italian calzone and more besides, each and every one is as individual as the country I have eaten them in. Unfortunately I have never managed to get to Italy to eat pizza there but a trip to Rome might just be on the cards. Looking into a loan from Ferratum, if successful I am off on a trip with my mates to Rome and Florence for two weeks in April.

For the best pizza base that works for me I must pass the accolade onto Jamie Oliver, his pizza dough for crispy pizzas is the best. Clear instructions and sound advice, you cannot go wrong following this recipe. Now as for toppings well, anything goes, and I even make square pizzas as easier to cut and serve. Sacrilege I hear you exclaim, why they taste just as good.. try it before you complain. Let me know you favourite topping.

 

Pizza dough and pizza with a topping of olives cheese and cherry tomatos

Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia

As you already know, I’ve been obsessed with baking for a while now. When looking for something edgy but comforting to bake, I came across a recipe for making rosemary and olive oil focaccia. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of focaccia but I am a huge fan of rosemary and this recipe just seems so darn interesting, I knew I had to try my hand at it.

Rosemary Focaccia

Now, this was my first try, so it did not turn out as amazingly as I thought it would, but it turned out well enough for me to know that I will try baking this bread again. I added slightly more salt than suggested, but the bread still turned out quite good. In a moment of inspiration, I added a dash of garlic when I was baking. I found the combination of rosemary and garlic to be incredibly interesting- they complement each other in a way I had not particularly paid attention to before.

Next time I make this bread, I think I’m going to experiment some more. I have found some recipes for rosemary focaccia with red onions that I am certainly interested in trying. What kind of focaccias do you like baking?