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Sydney discovers Leura

The story so far: 

After illegal origins, the Australia's first sourdough bakery and cafe, which had found its 'native  habitat' in Leura, NSW, also finds its feet. But then, just when I thought I was beginning to get the hang of it, Sydney discovered Leura.

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Sydney discovers Leura
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Heading for the hills!

In previous posts, I've talked about my bakery's illegal origins. It has always been 'the bakery that just had to be'. It couldn't wait for money or permission or public understanding of fermented bread. We are in 1993, and Australia has begun to discover, among other things, coffee.

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Heading for the hills!
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Luna Landing

After some four years of prototypes, including Bertha 1 and Bertha 2, Luna, the woodfired oven, landed. With precision.

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Luna Landing
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Home Woodfired Ovens

Sooner or later, most keen home bakers experience someone else's home made wood fired bread. Envy kicks in. Or, they might simply visit an actual woodfired bakery. The effect of well made, sole baked bread from a woodfired oven is primal.

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Home Woodfired Ovens
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Legal at last

So, onwards into the future we go. This is the final part of the three part series about the Illegal Bakery. This is the bit where we go legit.

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Legal at last
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The Illegal Bakery Pt 2

The story of the Illegal Bakery so far could be summarised as follows:

'Sometimes, something's just gotta be done, and you don't have time to see if there's a rule applyin' to it' - Huckleberry Finn

The story of the Illegal Bakery continues!

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The Illegal Bakery Pt 2
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The Illegal Bakery

It's an unusual way to arrive at becoming a career baker, I know. Truth is almost always stranger than fiction, though, and this story adds weight to that argument.

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The Illegal Bakery
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My Glorious Sourdough Obsession

It's actually quite difficult to choose the point where normal existence ceased and my baking obsession took over. But that's what happened. One day, or it could have been many days, a bit at a time, I became more interested in making bread than just about anything else. 

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My Glorious Sourdough Obsession
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Baking in the BBQ!

Curious about how the original breads were made? Wanting to make something that is authentic, with an incredible 'kick', which also can have the type of crust you only find from a bakery?

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Baking in the BBQ!
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How to use an oven properly

Baking bread is trickier than the recipe books will tell you! But it's also simpler.With a bit of thermal understanding, you can turn a well made and formed dough into something special via expert use of the oven.

That's why you need to read this to understand how to get the results you want.

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How to use an oven properly
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Delayed Salt Method (autolyse)

This method is known to bread geeks and bakers alike as the 'delayed salt' method, and is also referred to as the 'autolyse'.  It's a very handy thing for bakers to understand.

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Delayed Salt Method (autolyse)

Wholewheat Sourdough

You can use any type of sourdough starter in this recipe - liquid or dough. It's assisted by the 'porridge' of wholemeal flour prepared beforehand, through which an ideal food is made available for the sourdough yeasts to feed on.

Wholewheat Sourdough
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Fifty fifty Sourdough

This delicious and deeply flavoursome bread is made using the dough starter sourdough (desem) technique. It's meant to be baked on the sole of the oven, and when you get it right, you should have a nice, open crumb - though it won't be as open as a dough made entirely on white flour. 

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Fifty fifty Sourdough
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Continental Bread

Continental Bread was one of my family's staple breads. There are numerous variations on the theme of a traditional yeasted sourdough recipe. I call them all 'Semi Leaven' breads, because they contain some sourdough starter and a tiny amount of yeast, which creates a light yet flavoursome bread, with the kind of crust that's typically Italian.

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Continental Bread
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Open Crumb White Sourdough

This White Sourdough bread recipe utilises the 'dough starter' sourdough method. If you don't have starter in the dough form, it can be purchased  This bread will happily be baked in a tin, or on the sole (hearth) of the oven.

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Open Crumb White Sourdough
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Basic White Sourdough

This basic white sourdough bread recipe will make two one kilo sourdough loaves. It is designed for liquid sourdough starter, but can be used with other types by simply keeping an eye on the liquid content when making the dough.

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Basic White Sourdough
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Using a Desem Starter

Desem, or 'dough' starter is one of the easiest ways of making sourdough bread at home. It requires substantially less feeding than a regular liquid starter.

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Using a Desem Starter
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Healing your Starter

From time to time, starter gets a bit out of balance. Either a bit too acid, or a bit too alkali. Mostly, this comes as a result of neglect, but it can also come about from the home baker not being able to read the starter correctly.

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Healing your Starter
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Maintaining the Starter

Keeping your sourdough starter alive seems to be the thing that takes new sourdough bakers the longest to master. There's a good reason for that - I think it takes people a while to grasp the fact that sourdough starter is actually alive, not just flour and water. As such, it has its own rhythms and requirements, and it doesn't always conform to our own.

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Maintaining the Starter
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Foods for the Ferment

An area of interest for lots of us has been discovering what a starter likes to eat. Like all creative types, home bakers are, if anything, keen experimenters. I get some great stories about what works, and why, so I'd like to share some of them now.

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Foods for the Ferment
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Intro to Sourdough Starter

The thing about Sourdough Bread which makes it unique is the Starter it is made from.

Starters are living things - they eat, sleep, multiply and, if looked after correctly, can be very productive. Starter is tough, too - in the case of my own starter, it has had a long life (over 20 years), and while it's had a few close shaves, so far it's lived to tell the tale!

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Intro to Sourdough Starter
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Dough Starter (Desem)

The amazing thing about making sourdough bread is that each time one makes a new discovery, there is a pretty good chance that someone has been there before; thus, nothing is new!

When I started running my starter at a ratio of 2 parts flour to 1 part water, I thought I had finally solved a long term starter issue. Turned out, the Finnish folk have been running their starter that way for centuries!

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Dough Starter (Desem)