Sourdough Surprises: Granola bars

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Granola bars are the challenge this month for the Sourdough Surprises baking group. I've made mine with homemade granola that's based on "Aunt Melissa's Recipe" from the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (the recipe can be found online at the authors' site). My tweaks: coconut oil, black sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dates and crystallised ginger. This is really good tasting granola.

So I was surprised that the bars didn't taste all that great the day I made them. I used 100g of starter and simply added a spoonful of agave nectar and enough granola for the mixture to hold its shape without being too stiff. But the next day... the taste was so much better. This seems to be the case with all my baked goods made with sourdough starter. Odd. You feed your starter and let it mature through the months and years, and yet it still takes a day to develop in flavour. Huh. You just gotta love it...

Have a look at all the other other granola bars in the group.


Coconut and lemon curd bars

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I made the lemon curd used in these bars with this foolproof method. The only tweak I made to the recipe was to add a tablespoon of corn starch to the mix after the eggs are beaten in. It's advice I took from a cooking show many years ago, and it works ~ the corn starch prevents the eggs from curdling as well as thickens the custard.

Coconut and Lemon Curd Bars
Makes sixteen 4.5cm square bars

Grease an 18cm square tin. Line the base with paper that extends over two opposite sides. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place 75g cold butter, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup icing sugar in a bowl. Blend with a pastry cutter. Tip into the prepared tin and press to compact. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then bake the pastry until light brown, 8-10 minutes. Cool.

In a bowl, beat 1 egg and 2-1/2 tablespoons caster sugar together. Add 1 cup lightly toasted dessicated or shredded coconut (or a mix of both).

Spread 3-4 tablespoons lemon curd on the cooled pastry base. Tip the coconut mixture on top and press lightly to even out. Bake until golden, 10-12 minutes. Cool and cut into bars (they're easier to slice after being refrigerated for about 30 minutes).

Bread in a clay baker

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I have been baking bread in a cast iron Dutch oven, but the loaves are round because of the shape of the pot, and I don't find them completely suitable for sandwiches. But I got a Romertopf unglazed clay baker ~ don't think it was ever used ~ from a thrift shop in San Jose on my last trip to California. Brand new, it's priced at US$59 plus shipping. I got it for just an odd cent over US$4, and carried it home as hand luggage safely bubble-wrapped. How's that for a bargain? I baked an Italian semolina loaf in it yesterday. Had a toasted cheese and mango chutney sandwich this morning.