Archive for July, 2008

No-Knead Bread

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Imagine being able to enjoy a delicious, moist home-made sourdough loaf with a light crisp crust. Imagine being able to make such a loaf without any kneading at all. No, this is not an advertisement for a new kind of bread-making machine! I’ve simply discovered a new bread recipe that is perfectly suited for busy people who want to enjoy the taste and health benefits of slow-rise sourdough bread.

No-Knead Bread

First of all, I must give heartfelt thanks to Kurt, for giving such a thorough and enthusiastic introduction to making artisan bread at home on the Living Green Farm blog. Thanks for sharing, Kurt! We love your website, and this recipe has made a big difference in our lives around here! (Don’t get me wrong; I love the therapeutic activity of kneading bread dough. But these days, with a baby to cuddle and play with as well as all the usual Farmlet business, a no-hassle bread recipe like this is just what we need!)

The following recipe is the Farmlet version of Kurt’s “No-Knead Bread,” adapted for use with our wild sourdough starter and 100% wholegrain flours:


1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 cups whole wheat flour (We use freshly ground Arawa or Otane wheat)
1 cup rye flour (We use zentrofan rye flour that we buy from Terrace Farm in Canterbury)
1/2 tablespoon sea salt


1. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with just enough water to make a loose dough (This might be a bit more or less than one and a half cups of water. Could be quite a lot less if your sourdough is runny!). The dough should be much wetter than regular bread dough, but still stiff enough so that you’ll be able to lift and manipulate it. Kurt describes the correct consistency as “stiffer than pancake batter, but still a bit moist and slumpy.” I would liken the dough to a rather sticky scone dough — for those of you who have ever made scones!

2. Cover the bowl, and leave the dough to rise for 18 to 24 hours.

3. Sprinkle a layer of cornmeal on a work surface, flour your hands, and turn the dough out onto the cornmeal. The dough will now be much stickier now than it was when you first mixed it 24 hours ago, but hopefully can still be folded over on itself a couple of times to form a very rough loaf (Don’t knead it!). This part usually works out really sticky, squishy and messy for me, but the end result has always been fine!

4. Spread a thin layer of corn meal on a smooth tea-towel and put the dough on top of it. Dust the top of the loaf with a little flour or cornmeal if it seems sticky, and fold the tea towel over to cover it.

5. Leave the loaf to sit at room temperature for another 2 hours.

6. 20 minutes before this second rise is finished, preheat your oven to degrees(475 degrees F) with the empty Dutch oven (or covered casserole) in it. 475 degrees F.

7. When the 2 hours are up, open the hot oven, take the lid off the Dutch oven, carefully transfer the risen loaf into the Dutch oven, and replace the lid.

8. Bake in the covered Dutch oven for about 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the loaf looks nicely golden and crisp (more like 10 minutes in our oven!).

9. Remove loaf from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Why does the bread require no kneading? It seems that the long rise-time and extra moisture in the dough allow the gluten molecules to align themselves as if they had been kneaded. Anyway, the result is very pleasing!

Why do you bake the bread in a Dutch oven, first with the lid on and then with the lid removed? To imitate the action of the fancy steam-injection ovens used by professional bread makers to produce a light, crispy crust.

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Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Thanks, BS!


Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Farmlet posts have been a bit sparse lately. One reason for this was our recent family holiday at the beach. Kevin, Owen and I joined my parents for a few nights in a beach bach, hidden in the peaceful reaches of the Parengarenga harbour in the Far North of New Zealand. There’s no telephone there and no internet access, so this was a real holiday!

Before we left, Kevin wrote:

I don’t know when I last took a couple of days off, mid-week, but that’s when the best specials run on accommodation like this. The fact that leaving the site alone for a couple of days is giving me a touch of anxiety almost certainly means that I have developed an unhealthy relationship with this work. (I promise that you won’t read a lengthy and now commonplace “burned out blogger” post here, even if it happens.) Admittedly, I did check to see if there was a phone line available for dialup because I was planning on bringing my laptop. Nope. I’m packing a box of beer and a few books instead.

See ya in a couple of days…

We spent a lovely few days in the crisp winter sunshine enjoying fresh fish and oysters, with Owen revelling in the adoring attention of his grandparents.

Here are some pictures that Kevin took while we were away on our little holiday:

Mangrove Bach, Paua

Owen inspects the kitchen

Watching the tide roll in… and out…

The Quangle Wangle Quee?

Becky and Owen

Becky’s Dad, Bruce, catches fish for dinner

The owners of the property keep an incredible menagerie

Heavy traffic on the trip home

A Better Way of Taking Off Gumboots and Overpants

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Tonight, I became the poster boy for the results of procrastination—but I learned something.

We separated Coco and Sucky (Henrieta Hamburger) yesterday, so today was milking day. Rainy, cold milking day. And, because I put it off earlier, I was facing a dark milking evening. You know, “Maybe it will stop raining and I’ll go milk then.” No. It just kept raining and then it got dark.

Luckily, I have quality storm gear. I use the Kaiwaka Stormtec overpants and jacket. These are 100% waterproof for when it’s really ugly out. I couldn’t have done it without my trusty headlamp—although this one is probably better. That is, I couldn’t have procrastinated and still managed to get the job done without my trusty headlamp.

If you try to tuck the overpants into your gumboots, rainwater will cascade down the pants and soak the insides of your gumboots. To keep the rainwater out of your gumboots, you’ve got to wear the overpants OVER the gumboots. (Don’t worry, I understand all of this rocket science.) The pants have snaps on the legs at the bottom. I’ve tried snapping them around the tops of my gumboots and then folding the extra material over, but the snaps come undone during work. The result is that all the water, shit, mud, etc. that normally goes up the sides of your gumboots also gets on the insides of the overpants at the bottom.

This only becomes a problem when you go to get out of your gear. The gumboots come off and then you get slimy legs when you take the pants off.

I managed to milk Coco. The narrow beam from my headlamp was my only window into the pitch blackness all around me. The light cut through the steam coming up from the warm milk in my bucket. Coco’s valves and pipes bubbled and gurgled away as she gobbled her palm kernel and molasses treat.

My gear was soaked from head to toe and I’d gone calf high in slop on my walk to the shed in the pouring rain. As I milked away, I was thinking, “It’s nice to be dry, but how am I going to get out of these pants without getting mud and crap on my legs?”

Kiwis are probably born just knowing the answer to this ancient conundrum. Unfortunately, all of this is quite new to me. I stumble around and do stupid things that often don’t work, but, tonight, I really just wanted to stay clean for some reason. If I wanted to get out of those gumboots and pants without getting muck on my legs, I was going to have to put some thought into it.

I finished milking and slogged my way back up to the house to deliver the bucket to Becky.

All that was left was to go to the garage and get out of my gear.

And that’s when it hit me…


Just drop the overpants all the way down around the gumboots and step out of the whole mess! Then pull the overpants up and off of the gumboots.

No, a beam of light didn’t shine down from the heavens to mark my glorious epiphany, but I chuckled at the nature of the “problems” in my life now and the fact that I can find happiness in such a trivial thing as shedding my rain gear.