Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

In my internet travels, I found a link to how to make “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. There is also a book, a healthy book, and various youtube links.

With some encouragement (and the imminent death of my beloved (borrowed) breadmaker, I tried this last week, and LOVED the result. I found the bread a trifle too salty, but I loved the taste, the crust, and the dense, chewy middle. I experimented with another batch, with less salt, and different loaf shapes. Then I made a double batch, with the idea that some of the dough will last in the fridge long enough to develop that beautiful sourdough flavour. Previous batches have all been cooked and eaten within a few days.

So without further ado, and because I am assured that before and after shots are always fun (by RoseRed, via Bells), here you have it.

These a brushed with a little soy milk, and dusted with, clockwise from top left, Nigella seeds, Carraway Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Poppy Seeds.

After baking, but with the tray 180 degrees from the previous shot. Forgive me, we were running late for the Symphony darling.

Oh, and yes, it does taste as good as it looks. And the smell is amazing.

What do you do…

…when life gives you –

one mouldy orange
half a bottle of mango and apple juice
one random cleanskin red (with a skin so clean it doesn’t even list a variety or region, let alone year. Yup. Clean)
and a six year old bottle of cinzano bianco from a brief martini fad

You make sangria of course.

And yes, I deserve it!

Rainbow Cake Recipe

Thanks to my friend Simone who made Inigo’s first birthday cake, and then shared the recipe with me to make his second.

250 g butter
250 g white chocolate
200 mL water
1½ cups caster sugar
1¾ cups plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

And food colouring. Don’t bother with the liquid ones you get at Woolies, you need specialty cake decorating gels. Liquid colours won’t give you the intense colours that you need for the full rainbow cake impact, and if you’re going to go to all that trouble, you want to get the wow factor. I got mine here – cheaper than eBay, and awesome quick service.

Preheat oven to 150°C. Line the cake pan with baking paper (this cake will stick).

Heat butter, sugar, chocolate, and water in a saucepan and stir over low heat until all combined. Let it cool a little bit so the self-raising flour doesn’t fizz before its time.

Sift both flours together and blend into chocolate mixture (don’t worry about lumps).

Stir in eggs, sour cream and vanilla (use a whisk for this bit and any remaining lumps will break up once these wet ingredients go in).

Pour the mixture into a deep 20 cm tin* and cook for about 1 hour, or pour into two 20 cm shallow tins and cook for about 45 minutes (this time is way out – cook it until a skewer comes out clean which will take much longer). I would also seriously consider cooking the cake/s au bain marie ie. once the mix has been poured into the cake pan, put the cake pan into a big roasting pan and fill the outer container with boiling water so the cake won’t form the really thick crust that comes with having to cook it for so long.

Recipe notes
Instead of sour cream you could use thickened cream, yoghurt or condensed milk, this just adds to the moistness of the cake. Also great with white chocolate ganache (hell, what isn’t?).


Here is where being married to a maths nerd is handy – but don’t worry, I married one so you don’t have to. My cake batter weighed at about 1600gms, so I separated out the batter for colouring in the following proportions –

500gms – red
400gms – orange
300gms – yellow
200gms – green
150gms – blue
50gms – violet

Pour the colours into the tin in the above order, trying as much as possible to keep the pouring centered. You will end up with a tin that looks like a multi coloured target from the top, and each colour will fall “inside” the previous colour like a bubble.

1.7 litres (3 pints) = 200 mm (8 in) ROUND = 180 mm (7 in) SQUARE
2.3 litres (4 pints) = 230 mm (9 in) ROUND = 200 mm (8 in) SQUARE
3.4 litres (6 pints) = 250 mm (10 in) ROUND = 230 mm (9 in) SQUARE
4.5 litres (8 pints) = 280 mm (11 in) ROUND = 250 mm (10 in) SQUARE

And if you want more rainbow goodness – try pancakes!

Smashed Radishes

Mum made these at Christmas, and I finally got it together to make them at home. My grandfather used to make them for Christmas every year, and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them, even though he is gone. George was a really, really good cook – he could taste a dish in a restaurant, and then replicate it perfectly at home. Or even improve on it. Though we usually struggled to get him to go to restaurants, because he complained that he could do better himself. He was usually right, but he needed an army of staff to clean up after one of his banquets!

Because of his amazing talent at mimicry and invention, I have no idea if this recipe is stolen or made up, but it is awesome, and you should try it, even if you aren’t mad about radishes. Like me.

Smashed Radishes

1 bunch radishes, washed, tops and tails given to a bunny
1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger – young ginger if you can get it
Soy Sauce to cover

You’ll need a large cleaver to lay flat over the radish so you can bash your fist down to smash the radish. If you’re going to be eating them soon, go for more smashing, if you have a day to marinade, you can get away with less bashing. I usually chop larger radishes in half or quarters before smashing.

Once your radishes have been subdued, put them in a steep sided bowl, and add remaining ingredients. Leave in a warm spot for at least an hour to congregate, or overnight in the fridge.

Eat! Keeps for a few days in the fridge.

Spiced Chickpea Snacks

4 Cups chickpeas
3 tblsp vegetable oil (I use peanut)
2 tblsp Cumin Powder
2 tblsp Tumeric Powder
2 tblsp Coriander Powder
1 tblsp Cinnamon Powder
1 tblsp Garam Masala
1 tblsp Cardamom Powder
1 teaspoon Chilli Powder – to taste. Mine is really hot!
Salt to taste – I used almost 2 tablespoons.

Boil chickpeas until al dente. Be careful nit to overcook, as the skins will come off and look horrible.

Add oil to a large wok, heat, then add spices and salt. Fry until spices become fragrant and are well mixed.

Add drained chickpeas, and mix thoroughly. Make sure each one has a good coating of the spice mixture.

Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper, and spread the chickpeas on the trays. Its ok if they touch, but make sure they are in a single layer.

Put the trays in a slow oven for a few hours, until chickpeas are crunchy and toothsome. I put mine on about 150 degrees for about 2 hours. Be aware that they get more crunchy after you take them out of the oven, so wait until they are cool to make a determination about crunch factor!

Enjoy with beer or a dry white wine. Or a martini. Or whatever!


Jane’s Brazilian Buddhist Retreat Lentil Soup

Before Mark and I got married, I had a kitchen tea. But since we’d already been cohabiting for a while (and I’d had my own kitchen for years), we had no need for “stuff”. Instead, I asked friends to cook their favourite vegetarian dish, and bring me the recipe. We ate the yummy food, and Miriam put the recipes into a big folder for me to keep.

It was a gorgeous day, and I wish I had photos to show you now.

What I do have for you now is a superb recipe. I didn’t get around to cooking this until a few weeks ago, and I went through a period of mourning the years that I lived without this soup.

Jane learned the recipe from the monks at a Buddhist retreat that she went to when she was living in Brazil. Just what you need after a hard days meditation.

It’s easy (super, amazingly easy) to cook, and has such a wallop of deliciously distinctive flavour that you won’t be able to stop at one bowl.

500gm Red Lentils
3.5 Litres Water (I use a little less)
1 Onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped

7 Tblspns Sesame Seeds
1 Tblspn Salt

Chuck first 4 ingredients in a pot. Simmer till lentils turn to mush. Blend with a bamix to make a smooth consistency.

Dry fry sesame seeds over a medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. You want the seeds to change colour, but it doesn’t have to be a big colour change.

Grind sesame seeds and salt – to be proper authentic you’d do this in a big stone mortar and pestle, but my shoulder gave in and I did it in a food processor. It still tasted good.

Stir sesame mix into lentil goop.

Serve with a garnish of fresh chopped continental parsley if desired.

This recipe freezes well, and is thick and hearty enough for a meal on its own.