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.
Continue reading

Phytic Acid- The Antinutrient In Your Bread

When it comes to choosing our breads and breakfast cereals, I think it’s fair to say we all know we should be eating more wholemeal/wholegrain products. There are several very good reasons for this- wholemeal flour, which includes more of the outer parts of the grain, is a good source of dietary fibre for one, and the great majority of us in the western world do not eat enough fibre to maintain healthy gut function. These parts of the grain also contain far higher levels of vitamins and minerals than the soft endosperm which goes into making white flour. In fact, almost 90% of some key nutrients are lost in the extraction process, making white flour a food with poor nutritional value. For this reason, flour millers are legally required to supplement these flours with B vitamins once the extraction process is complete in order to prevent widespread nutrient deficiencies. This seems a convoluted way of producing a nutritious product doesn’t it- removing naturally occurring nutrients to later replace them with industrially-produced imitations. So we’re agreed- wholemeal all the way, right? 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

San Francisco Sourdough – The Insomniac’s Version

Having been subjected to a general anaesthetic for knee surgery the day before, my circadian rhythm was clearly struggling to re-establish itself yesterday morning. Bright as a lark, I found myself perusing recipes and blogs on the cursed ever-present smartphone. One of my favourite sourdough bloggers is dmsnyder on thefreshloaf.com, and I was taken by his San Francisco sourdough with added wholewheat, which looked and sounded divine. My drug-addled brain calculated that I would have just enough time to squeeze in a bake before heading back to bed in around 21 hours time, so slipping on my dressing gown, I glided (hobbled) downstairs to get to work. Continue reading