Look no further - good bread is as near to home as it is far away

shiao-ping's picture

It was Dan DiMuzio who first brought to my attention that people who came from a pastry background are more sensitive to ideas about design and fashion when they become bread bakers.  I regularly visit a Brisbane specialty chef and bakers store to see what's new.  I was there last week looking for a gigantic stainless steel bowl for long batard or gigantic miche baking one day.  Just about I was leaving, I glanced over the New Arrival books section.  I was almost sure I had already had all the books in the world that I ever wanted to purchase, but no harm browsing.  [i]Bourke Street Bakery[/i]?  Hmmm, what's that?  Um, the sourdough on the cover page looks gooooood, deep score with very rustic exterior. 



                                                [i]Bourke Street Bakery[/i] by Paul Allam & David McGuinness 

What? A bakery in Surry Hills, Sydney!  That's near where we used to live (well, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge).   I read, on page 10, "Baking is part science, part stoneground milling and part river-running romance.  But it's not the romance that will keep your baking consistently good, it's the science....  If you take our electric deck oven and mixer from the production process, you are not far away from how bakeries would have operated in [u]the 16th century[/u]."  Just those few words would get in into their bakery! 

Courtesy of Paul Allam, following are a couple of photos from the book: 



                                               Page 110                                                                                 Page 104 

This is the exact book that I've been waiting for from a bakery - full of bread pictures and unpretentious, rustic, and mouth-watering pastries for a home cook.  Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt's Tartine Bakery cookbook is very good but it is only cakes and pastries.  I have been waiting for their bread book.  Now I won't have to.  

For this post, I have made the [b]humble beef pie[/b], page 194.  As Paul and David said in the book, "If you ask most people, 'What is Australian cuisine?' they will often answer, 'The meat pie.'  ... A bad pie is just un-Australian."  They gave their pie to Paul's father, the chief "pie eater," to try; his father claimed that it had "too much flavour!" (page 197).  Well, just how I like it.  The following are my pies based on their recipe with minor variations: 





I told my husband about these pies; he asked for one to be reserved for him.  I quickly shuffled two into the freezer before my children gobble them up.  Yozza, if there were same-day freezer courier service for home cooks (as in Taiwan), I would have loved to send one (no, I would send two) for you to try.   For these pies, I used the best available puff pastry: [b]Carême[/b] all butter puff pastry, handmade, from Barossa, South Australia.   I had not wanted to make my own puff pastry.




Also in this post, I have included pictures of a bread that I made last week to try to finish up some old flour that I had.  This levain bread is 1/3 golden semolina flour, 1/3 WW, and 1/3 bread flour (72% overall hydration):  






I find semolina gives a tough texture to the bread, not to my liking.  I should have added olive oil (3% will do) to soften the crumb.  Honey would also have benefited the crumb as semolina has sort of a bland taste. 

As I was slicing the bread, Polly was waiting ever so patiently for her share: 



It has been very wet for the last few days where we are.  Our dam is finally back up to 80% capacity, last seen eight years ago.  Some remote towns are flooded and the radio reporter couldn't even pronounce their names.  Our lawn is now moss green.  The bamboos outside my tea room are alive to have been bathed in rain.  I felt like in Japan over the last few days where some parts of the country rain for two-thirds of the year.  Outside my windows I saw squirrels coming out to stretch and leap.  And, a baby goanna came to visit my lawn!  He was not scared of me.  As I moved closer to take the shot, he stood still, turned his head and smiled.  What a fine showing.  Is he a dinkum Aussie animal




How often do you hear people say that the best view from their house is from the worst spot of the house?  Maybe not in Australia, but certainly in Taiwan where apartment buildings are so congested.  I never forget one day, one of the high school teachers, with whom I still keep in contact, led me to the side of her meditation room to sneak a view of the mountain against which her apartment is situated.  The containment and satisfaction on her face!  Well, it was a clear night some months ago, one of those drought weather nights, which seems so far away now that the rain has come back to us in Queensland, Australia.  I was getting ready for bed; for some reason I stuck my head out of my bathroom window, facing south-west.  And, [b]WO![/b], there were a cluster of stars as bright as glistering tinsels from my childhood Christmas card, which I had never seen before.  What was going on in the night sky?

I ran out to my front balcony.  As I saw more and more stars, I went closer and closer down the steps to my front lawn, and in the end, standing in the wide open, with my jaws dropped, looking at the ... [b][color=blue]Milky Way[/color][/b].  

I had never looked at that side of the night sky before.  I had always looked at the other side for... the Southern Cross.  That night the Southern Cross wasn't there. 

When I came back up my balcony again, what I saw 10 - 15 minutes ago had largely disappeared - how fast had the Earth spun just in that time.  But that night I went to sleep with Milky Way in me.




LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2010 March 13

 $28.87 USD at Amazon,  I don't know that I would use it much.  I seem to be off exploring bread ideas that I have right now.  It is very enjoyable for me to do this exploring but the book is tempting.  Truthfully just about any bread book is tempting.

Tania 2010 July 19

Hello Shiao-Ping,


I am new here having joined up after much lurking, glad I did, so much knowledge, so much talent!  All of your bread on every post looks amazing!! Just makes me want to have a go myself. The Bourke Street Bakery book is on my wishlist for sure!! But I digress, I am located in Brisbane also, would you mind posting the address for the specialty bakers and chef store that you said you visit? My apologies if this isn't the right place to be asking, I haven't ever joined anything like this before.

shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2011 December 30

Hello Tania, I am sorry that I had overlooked your question (or I might have answered your query in private messages but I am not sure).  In any event, the specialty store that I mentioned in my post is called Executive Chef in South Brisbane.  If you google it, you will find it.  I havent' been there for quite a while.  Shiao-Ping

Fire Beard's picture
Fire Beard 2010 July 19

Hi Shiao-Ping

I just read your post and hopped across to amazon.co.uk and bought the book for £14.99. Thanks for you post the book looks amazing.


Cielkaye 2011 December 28

Hi Shiao-Ping, I totally agree with you about the Bourke Street book. It has given me hours of pleasure just reading and gazing at the pictures. I look forward to trying some of the recipes.


I would also like to thank you Shiao-Ping for your generosity and good spirit on this blog. I eagerly await your posts and this one was full of info, recipes, news and just plain good humour.

shiao-ping's picture
shiao-ping 2011 December 30

Hi Cielkaye, Thank you for your comment.  I have not been baking very much lately and have not kept up to date with what's happening in the baking world.  There are many people baking beautiful breads.  Baking is a craft which gets better when we keep at it.  Hope we all bake better breads next year!  Best wishes for 2012! Shiao-Ping

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