It has been a month since I wrote here. A month in which at first glance nothing happened but at the same time plenty has happened. The ongoing lockdown in our country, which is starting to get to me more than I would like, makes life pretty boring. But it also caused a few changes in my daily life. Good ones I might add.
First change is that this past month I decided to finally start a course Arabic language. A longstanding dream of mine which I have been postponing for ages. Obviously studying a new language is rather time consuming. Something I did not have in abundance while raising four kids and building a business at the same time. But two kids have flown the nest and the other two become more independent by the day. That fact combined with the main part of the business on a bit of a hold during this lockdown, causes me to have more spare time and thus running out of excuses. After a month of studying I can say I am well on my way and I to my relief I’m receiving high marks. The fact that I am fluent in Hebrew does help I must add.
Secondly, and this is strictly between you and me, I gave the phenomenon of so-called ‘binge-whatching’ a serious try! The Netflix series Bridgerton had the dubious honor of becoming my first ever binge watch experience! And boy oh boy, did that taste like more! Besides the fact that the world of the ‘Bridgertons’ offered me a welcome escape out of today’s surreal world, the handsome actors offered a beautiful diversion as well. I am prepared to unashamedly admit that I have watched it several times already! Should you not have seen it yet, finish this read and then rush to the Duke of Hastings yourself ☺️.
But let’s get back to food-business, which, after all, is what we are here for and is keeping me busier than ever these days. I am referring of course to baking our own sourdough bread. I told you about it this new venture in my previous blog. Since then I have been baking bread every day. Bagels, rolls and all kinds of loafs in different shapes. I have been experimenting with different flour mixtures, different toppings and/or additions, but all of it with the use of a fresh sourdough starter.
Maintaining a starter is an ongoing task to prevent it from ‘dying’, so that is keeping me busy. And then the actual baking itself, the preparation of the flour, the kneeding, the bulk rise. It is not so much time consuming but you need to plan really well! All very well worth it I must say. The house smells like a bakery all day long, the boys devour it and I don’t have to go out to buy bread anymore.
At the very beginning I stuck to the recipes of Zuurbrood. But as I grew more confident I started experimenting more, by using different blends of flour, shaping the bagels a different way and trying more decorative cuts.
And then the other day I visited a dear friend who celebrated her birthday. She had bought me a vegan cake and she treated herself to a slice of banana bread. I told her that I had never had banana bread in my life. She promised me to bake me one next time, the way she had learned to when living in the USA.
I too have lived in the USA and I know that banana bread is a ‘thing’. The many many posts on Instagram are proof of that as well. But like I said, I never ever tasted banana bread. It just didn’t tempt me enough I suppose. The fact that no one else in my family likes bananas or the taste of banana doesn’t help obviously. Preparing banana bread means eating the whole bread by myself! No matter how healthy and tasty that is not something I would recommend.
However, my friend’s enthusiasm combined with an actual sourdough banana recipe on Zuurbrood’s website made me decide to give it a try! I bought myself three ripe bananas and printed the recipe. Since their recipe is not plantbased I was forced to change some of the ingredients, such as eggs and milk. But somehow I ended up replacing quite a lot of the ingredients actually. The result being a vegan sourdough banana bread filled with pecans, dried blueberries (organic) and vegan chocolate chips.
It came out perfect! Moist, soft, not too sweet, a slight hint of banana but not overpowering. When I asked my family members to have a slice, they all declined but one. He was very enthusiastic and liked it as did I. I persuaded my husband to have at least one bite and he reluctantly gave in for my sake. The smallest of bites made him pull a face straight away: “too much banana for my taste”, was his comment.
That made me think that there had to be another way to bake a lovely bread like this by maybe replacing the banana. I decided to try apple puree. I cooked three sweet-sour apples into a puree (without adding sugar) with the intention to follow the same recipe as I did with the banana bread. But while working on it I thought that hazelnuts and apple make a tastier pair than apple and pecans. While mixing everything I came up with the idea to add fresh thyme leaves as well. Finally it became a new recipe in itself but based on the same principles as the banana bread.
Once again it turned out a soft and moist bread, fresh because of the apples, nutty because of the hazelnuts. Another lovely loaf of bread, this time appreciated by my husband as well!
I think it is fair to consider the activities described above a valid excuse for not writing here for so long, so I won’t apologise. On the contrary actually, I think it was all to your benefit! It provided you with not only an excellent Netflix tip but a delicious recipe as well 😉.