Sunny Sunday Baking Day

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X marks the treasure. This is how my fridge looked on Saturday.

I made 6Kg of sourdough bread dough on Saturday morning, with the plan to bake them in the evening in Big Bill my clay oven. But then I had to do some work in the afternoon, and by the time I finished work, it was 5:30pm and I got tired. I knew if I started the fire then, I’d not get into bed before midnight. So I rearranged my fridge, and was rather impressed with myself for getting 6Kg of dough into it.

On Sunday morning, I took all the dough out of the fridge to warm up before 10am, then started a fire in Big Bill close to 11am. Before we got into making pizzas for lunch (I made some pizza dough once the fire was going), I shaped the loaves and focaccia, and tucked them back into the fridge. It was a very sunny warm day, and I didn’t want the bread to over-prove. The blue bowl of ciabatta dough also went back into the fridge, because it was looking bubbly enough already.

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We made some yummy pizzas for lunch, just for Kiwi Bird and I.

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It was 2:30pm by the time we finished our lovely leisurely lunch.

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Then I baked 2 trays of 20% wholemeal spelt, lemon and rosemary focaccia for 20 minutes. Four ciabatta and a spelt and pumpkin seeds loaf then baked for 40 minutes. Six more loaves of bread baked for an hour. They were one more spelt and pumpkin seeds, 2 lemon and poppy seeds, 2 onion and poppy seeds, and 1 cheese and sugar twist made with left over pizza dough – inspired by the cheese and sugar pizza from the last pizza party. My oven thermometer is somewhat broken…, and I don’t think the reading is trust worthy, but my baking time guided by experience seemed to be all right.

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Airy 20% wholemeal spelt, lemon and rosemary focaccia.

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Cheese and sugar twist (rolled with cheese and sugar, then twisted).

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The cheese and sugar bread made from left over pizza dough had a caramel/cheesecake flavour, and was definitely popular at the dinner table.

After baking all the bread, I put into Big Bill a broccoli and olive quiche, and two plum cheesecakes. I checked on them in an hour, and they were still very much in a liquid state… It was now close to 6pm, and the quiche and cakes were meant to be our dinner with the rest of the family, who are turning up at 7pm… So I shut the oven door and kept my fingers crossed.

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When I pulled the quiche and cakes out at 7pm, they were set perfectly, with just the slightest wobble in the centre, and the surface was beautifully smooth without any splits and cracks – thanks to the lower baking temperature. We enjoyed a wonderful meal of freshly baked bread (6 different types!), quiche, vegetables and salads with family, complete with lovely creamy plum cheesecakes, and some of my homemade plum ice creams made with the wild plum jam I made a few weeks ago.

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I have a particular soft spot for this creamy plum cheesecake.

When I took out the quiche and cheesecakes from Big Bill, I also tucked in a pot of sliced onions with a knob of butter to caramelise, and a leg of lamb prepared with the recently popular Donna Hay Slow-Cooked Balsamic and Garlic Lamb recipe. These cooked slowly for the whole night, and I got them out of Big Bill on Monday evening for our dinner.

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The large amount of pan juice from the lamb was reduced down to half (I added a good chunk of the caramelised onions to it while it was reducing too), then served with the lamb. Kiwi Bird very much approved of it. It was amazing how even though the lamb was falling off the bone, and we could pick it apart with a fork, the meat was still pink and very juicy inside. All thanks to the low cooking temperature paired with the long cooking time inside my wonderful Big Bill.

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