Saturday Baking With My Levain

April 27, 2013 § Leave a comment



Fennel Rye and Fruit Loaf

April 25, 2013 § 10 Comments

Things are moving along with the bakery build, and I am taking every opportunity between my current baking schedule to road test some loaves I may bake once we move. Today I made a Rye Fennel and fruit loaf. I think I will eat it with bresaola and a sharp hard cheese. Fennel rye and fruit loaf.

Oilve Oil Loaf

September 19, 2012 § 3 Comments

I have been thinking about a loaf of bread. It is the sort of loaf that when sliced would be perfect wrapped around a sausage smothered in tomato sauce at a BBQ. This loaf has been bugging me for a while. I am chasing a childhood food memory of  that good old squishy white bread soaked in sauce that is better than the sausage it is holding, but every time I buy that type of loaf it doesn’t seem quite right now that I have been eating complex rustic sourdough for so long. I want the chewiness of a sourdough, the squishiness of a traditional white sandwich loaf, a little bit of the denseness of a bagel a tiny bit of the sweetness of a turkish loaf and the thin crust of a Italian loaf. Is this too much to ask? It needs the tensile strength to stay together when made into a saucy steak sandwich or remain soft and delicate in the fridge when made into a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich. Yesterday I came close with an experimental olive oil loaf.

Steak Sandwich Mayonnaise


3 egg yolks

40gm American Mustard

350gm Sunflower, rice bran, peanut or grape seed oil (not olive as it is too strong a flavour)

3tbs cider vinegar

2 tbs lemon juice

2 tsp chopped chives

2 tsp chopped parsley

1/2 tsp sea salt


Whisk the egg yolks and mustard until they are well combined. Slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl while continuing to whisk, when all the oil has been incorporated and the mixture is thick and smooth whisk in the vinegar and lemon juice. Then the herbs and finally the salt. This mayo is great with a juicy steak.

Herb Brioche Crumbs

September 10, 2012 § 3 Comments

I love breadcrumb toppings, leftover brioche makes a lovely delicate sandy breadcrumb that is fantastic with fish or salads. When I am not eating cake, I eat a lot of fish. I am really lucky to live just down the road from the local fish co-op, so I drop in to pick up fish about 4 times a week after my muffin delivery run. I usually buy a couple of small locally caught fish and get the fish monger to leave them whole and just gut and scale them for me, because after a whole day baking and cleaning pots and pans it is about the easiest thing I know how to cook. I wrap each fish in a parcel filled with herbs from the garden and sliced onions and throw into my hot oven that has been cranking all day baking cakes and tarts, for about 20min at 200 degrees celsius. I then tuck into the fish straight from the bag. On nights when I don’t mind the idea of a few extra pans to clean might bake fish fillets with a crumb toping. I save any leftover bits of brioche and keep them in the freezer for this purpose. I like to use a mix of herbs I have growing in my garden but any mix will do, here I have added some dried lavender which makes it a sort of Herbes de Provence mix.


2 cups brioche chunks

A bunch of fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary

2 teaspoons of culinary lavender

Zest of a lemon

1/2 teaspoon of salt


Place the brioche on a pan in the oven set at 150 degrees celsius and dry out for about 10min, turn off the oven and leave the crumbs to cool. Meanwhile in a pestle and mortar bruise the lemon zest, salt and lavender. When the brioche has cooled place it in a food processor and blend until sandy, add the herbs and blend well. remove from the processor and rub the lemon lavender mix into the green crumbs. The crumbs are now ready to top salads, casseroles, fish, meat or even cauliflower cheese.

Herb Brioche Crumbs Two Ways

September 10, 2012 § 3 Comments

The first recipe I want to share using my herb brioche crumbs is really fast and easy. It is a cabbage salad that is quite a tasty side with a rich dish such as roast lamb or cold cut meats and cheese. I have been lucky over the last few months to have a constant supply of fantastic locally grown cabbage from one of my favourite farmers at the markets Chris Pillidge.

Brioche Crumbed Cabbage Salad


2 Cups of finely shredded cabbage

1/2 cup of herb brioche crumbs

3 tbs lemon juice

1 pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup of candied hazelnuts *

Black pepper


Place the cabbage in a bowl and toss with lemon juice and salt then the bread crumbs. Toss the nuts through and season with pepper just before serving.

* candied hazelnuts can be made by making a sugar syrup (combine 150g sugar and 150g water then boil until the sugar dissolves) coat 250g of nuts in the syrup place on a tray in a 180 degree celsius oven until dry and toasty (about 10min). They keep well in an airtight container for several weeks.

Brioche Crumbed Fish with Zucchini Salad


I used Trevally but use any fresh local fish fillets from your fish monger.


4 fillets of fish (skin on)

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes

6 cloves of organic garlic

1/4 cup of herbed brioche bread crumbs

2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

1 lemon

1 zucchini


Place the tomatoes and garlic (skin on) and 1 tbs of oil on a tray in a 150 degree oven for about 10min or until the garlic is soft. Remove the tray from the oven and turn the temperature up to 180 degrees celsius. Rub the fish fillets with the remaining oil and season with salt and cracked pepper, place skin down in the pan on the tomatoes and garlic and top each fillet with herb brioche crumbs. Place in the oven and cook depending on the size of your fillets for about 8-10min. Meanwhile slice the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. When the fish is done place the fillets on the plates and squeeze the garlic out of its skin onto the zucchini and toss through the cherry tomatoes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Test Baking Sourdough & Sharing With My Family

August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Baking a good loaf of bread really makes my day. I have been playing with sourdough for a few years now, but yesterday I felt like I was finally getting closer to a loaf I am really happy with, maybe one I could even sell. It is my brother in laws birthday today, so I though I would make him a loaf buy some nice cheese, and a bottle of special beer and drop it off at his house. This is the loaf I made yesterday it contains 10% rye loaf at 65% hydration.

Drunken Stuffed Brioche

August 15, 2012 § 6 Comments

Each Sunday I pile a shelf behind my stall at the Newcastle Farmers Market with plain large brioche loaves. For the first few weeks I started doing this I didn’t sell any and I would bring the pile of loaves home and turn them into Bread and Butter Pudding or Bostock. Then finally people started buying them and now I sell out. Often I am asked by customers how I prefer to eat brioche. Really most of all I love simple brioche toast and jam but I thought I might blog a few recipes using the loaves. At first I though I would make a tiramisu inspired brioche using coffee, mascarpone and marsala, but decided to put that recipe off until next time as I had a fridge full of produce from my neighbouring stalls, and a jar of creme fraiche that I had made earlier in the week (recipe here). How could I go wrong with soaking brioche in the lovely First Harvest Noble Semillon from Mill Creek and fresh strawberries?


1 Brioche loaf

2 punnets of Strawberries washed and sliced

200ml of sweet wine such as a botrytis semillon

150 ml water

145 gm organic sugar

3 egg yolks

250g of creme fraiche

250g cream

1 vanilla pod


Put the strawberries in a bowl and pour over the wine cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Meanwhile combine 75gm of sugar and the water heat until the sugar has dissolved then leave to cool. Cut open the brioche and carve out the centre set the inside pieces aside (or if you prefer just slice the brioche and assemble in a glass dish like a trifle). When the strawberries have finished soaking drain the liquid into the sugar syrup. Whisk the cream and creme fraiche until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and scraped vanilla seeds over a double boiler with the rest of the sugar until pale and frothy then fold through the creme fraiche and cream.

To assemble the brioche brush the inside liberally with the wine syrup and layer strawberries then cream then a layer of the set aside brioche pieces continue by brushing this layer with the syrup until the loaf is full. Wrap in plastic wrap and put into the fridge over night to soak. You should be left with some of the brioche centre you can freeze these pieces for making bread crumbs.

I have to admit I ate this for breakfast but I think it would be lovely on a picnic.

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