Pretty much anyone living in the UK at the moment will be aware that everyone has gone baking-mad.  My UK-based friends keep sending emails telling me how good the Great British Bake-Off is this year.  I am, sadly, missing it as it doesn’t seem to be available here.

You only have to go to your local supermarket to find a whole aisle devoted to baking and, with it, your choice of flours.  It wasn’t always the case but I think us Brits have come to take it for granted over recent years and I was quite surprised to find that the range of flour suitable for making bread is not so readily available here in Australia.  This is somewhat ironic as a lot of the flour we use to bake bread in the UK is imported from Australia as the flour grown here is high in protein and suitable for baking the high-rise style loaves we seem to love.  Strong white flour is available in supermarkets here as are bread mixes of many varieties but stoneground wholewheat and rye tend to be found only at health food shops and are vastly expensive and I have not yet come accross any granary type flours.

It is not true, however, that no-one bakes and in my adventures of finding new friends I am also finding fellow bakers.  One of these new friends very kindly came to my rescue as she has a cousin who recently left a city-based career to become a baker and was able to get me a good stock of flours to get me started.  A friend of my Mother-in-Law also loves to bake bread.  She has gone to the extreme of buying grain directly from a mill out in the Dandenongs and stone-grinding it herself but confessed she has not been able to do that recently as she was finding it more difficult to lift the 100kg grain sacks in and out of the car!  She now knows she has a willing volunteer in me and I am thinking of going down this route myself.

In the last week I’ve been trying to establish a new wheat sourdough starter.  I’m not sure if I am friends with it yet.  It smells a bit different from the one I had before and it isn’t behaving very well yet (as evidenced by the picture of the ‘loaf of shame’ above) but I seem to remember that my old one took a few loaves to become properly established, some I am giving it a few chances.

In the meantime I have been baking, with commercial yeast, and wondering just how many loaves/rolls I could bake in a day given that I have an oven about twice the size of the one I had in the UK.  Our local community farm has a produce swap once a month and I’m wondering if I could swap some bread while I’m waiting for my veggie patch to flourish (which it isn’t showing any signs of doing just now).