Phthalates In Food- When Labelling Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

Over the summer months I’ve been reading rather than writing. I’m currently reading Nate Silver’s ‘The Signal And The Noise’, which is a fascinating look at the world of Big Data; not really the sort of thing I discuss here, but I would highly recommend it none the less. What might be more relevant to my readers however is a book which has made a huge impression on myself and my family; it has changed the way we look at many foods and has genuinely altered the way we source and cook ingredients. Continue reading

Water Content Of Sourdough- Is Wetter Really Better?

I have a confession to make: I first attempted to take up sourdough baking around five or six years ago, but gave up after several weeks because of frustration. I couldn’t decide whether I was just a rubbish baker, or whether all the hype around sourdough was a case of everyone admiring the Emperor’s new clothes. Self-taught, using online resources such as The Fresh Loaf, I found my breads lacked structure, and resembled vulcanised rubber when being chewed. The dough was extremely difficult to handle, and refused to accept shaping into anything other than a flat ovoid. It’s hard to enjoy baking when the process becomes a bit of an ordeal, and the result is unspectacular. When my starter developed a mould infestation after several days of neglect, I felt almost relieved to allow it to succumb. Continue reading

What Is Diastatic Malt Flour?

I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with new ingredients this week; not only have I recently discovered a wonderful local Irish wholemeal flour, but I received a surprise package from BakeryBits in the mail.
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Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom In Bread Baking

'Baking bread' from Tacuini sanitatis
‘Baking bread’ from Tacuini sanitatis

I think it’s amazing that Western society is having to re-learn the importance of fermentation in bread baking in the 21st century. There is abundant evidence of humans producing fermented bread many thousands of years ago, although presumably the earliest bakers didn’t realise exactly what benefits the fermentation conferred to their diet. Continue reading

Easy Sourdough Pizzas With No-Cook Tomato Sauce

I would imagine that pizza ranks highly on most peoples’ list of favourite foods, it certainly does in our house, and Saturday is generally pizza night in Chez Nous. It’s always a hit with our little people, particularly when they get to choose and arrange their own toppings. Homemade bases are always so much better than store-bought, but if you have your sourdough starter up and running you can take this to a whole new level Continue reading

Clonakilty Black Pudding & Porridge Sourdough

20150515_223959I found myself in the Cornucopia that is Cork’s English Market the other day, and with Conor Bofin’s recipe for pork belly fresh in my mind, I headed straight for the butcher’s counter. I somehow seemed to end up with the porcine equivalent of Giant Haystacks, and I anticipated significant quantities of leftovers, so I was in need of a bread which would make the most of the belly sandwiches to follow. Sticking with the leftovers theme, the inspiration (and ingredients) for this recipe came from my kids’ breakfast dishes yesterday morning. Continue reading