Probiotic (lactofermented) Amba

I did a lot of research for this recipe. Amba is very traditional sauce from Iraq, with it’s roots back to India. Historically it was made with fermented mango, but most modern recipes just use sugar and vinegar to get the sweet-sour flavour of the sauce. Even the more traditional recipes I came across cooked the mango after fermenting it. Cooking the mango will allow for a smoother texture in the sauce, but I wanted to make sure the sauce retained all the good probiotics from the fermentation process. It is important to use unripe mangoes in this recipe. Ripe mangoes contain too much sugar, and will ferment into alcohol, not the gut boosting elixir we are after. Don’t be surprised if the mangoes aren’t golden when you cut into them, much of the golden colour of the final sauce comes from the turmeric and other spices we add at the end.

Amba sauce was new to me until quite recently, when my Yazidi friends from Iraq introduced it to me as the accompaniment they traditionally serve with falafel. I usually like to have my falafel with yoghurt sauce, but they insisted this is how they eat it. They showed me the shop bought bottle they keep in their fridge, but I did think I could do better. I am very pleased with this result. Amba is also a key ingredient in sabich, a popular breakfast sandwich for Iraqi Jews that migrated to Israel. The sandwich also contains boiled egg, fried eggplant, and tahini sauce. Sometimes it also contains tomato, cabbage, quick pickled onions, salad, other pickles, or hummus.

Makes about a litre

5wholegreen mangoes
1tablespoonmacadamia oil
1tablespoonyellow mustard seeds
1tablespoonfenugreek seeds
2teaspooncumin seeds
1teaspooncoriander seeds
4clovesgarlic, crushed
2teaspoonsAleppo pepper
2teaspoonsKashmiri chilli

To begin with, you need to ferment your mango. Sterilise a glass jar with a loose-fitting lid or fermenting crock. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the mango and cut the flesh of the green mango into small pieces. Discard the seed and skin. Weigh the mango flesh you have and calculate appropriately 10% of that, in salt. Carefully pack the mango into your sterilised jar and sprinkle in the salt. Pour over enough water to just cover the fruit. Put the lid on your fermenting vessel, making sure there is a way for any build up of air to be released as the fermentation progresses. Leave it to ferment for at least ten days.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds until they start to pop, then add the fenugreek, cumin and coriander. When they begin to smell aromatic, remove from the heat and add the garlic and turmeric. Let the heat from the pan cook the garlic then transfer the spice mix to a mortar and pestle, pound to a course paste. Think about making sure the finished sauce will not have any particles that will cause a stoppage in your sauce bottle, otherwise, you can make it as course as you like. Add the Alleppo pepper and chilli powder.

Meanwhile, pour off the fermenting liquid from your green mango. Reserve the liquid for next time you want to pickle green mango, it will quicken the fermentation process. Blitz the mango pieces with a stick blender or in a food processer, adding the spice paste as you go. Add half a cup of water to the sauce and keep blending. Add more water if you want a thinner sauce.

This makes about a litre of Amba. You can freeze the sauce to halt the fermentation and flavour profile where it is. Store the sauce in the fridge, but it will continue fermenting and may become more sour. If you want, you can add some brown sugar to the sauce before serving, but please note if you add sugar to the whole bottle, this will just provide the bacteria more food to digest in the longer term.

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Apple, mint and rosemary jelly

I first tried apple mint and rosemary jelly when I bought a jar from the Stawell Farmers Market at the showground many years ago. I loved it. That little jar was flecked with little pieces of mint. It was perfect served with both roast lamb and roast pork, so became a great accompaniment, better than either mint sauce or apple sauce which I never otherwise really bothered to have around.

My lovely friend Sarah, with her basketful of our roadside haul of wild apples

I started making my own when I realised it would be the perfect use for the cores and skins left from making cider from wild apples foraged along country roads. These are both parts of the apple with high levels of pectin, and would otherwise often go to waste, but I end up with so many of them when juicing for cider.

It’s been several years since the wild apple trees around Canberra have born fruit, but my friend Sarah and I have had some wonderful outings foraging around town the past few weeks, harvesting all sorts of wild abundance, including a goodly volume of wild apples. So I am on track to catch up with my apple preserves and can now share with you my ‘recipe’ for apple, mint and rosemary jelly. I say ‘recipe’ but it’s more of a guide really.

Wild apple trees, confused by the strange seasons this year, bearing both flowers and fruit at the same time

I like to use a range of different apples from wild trees to give the jelly a well-rounded flavour. It works best with apples that are more on the tart side, than the sweet side. If you want, you can slowly collect your peels and cores from Granny Smiths and the like in a bag in the freezer as you eat through your regular apple collection.

Apple, mint and rosemary jelly

These quantities are just guidelines, the recipe is based on ratios

1stock potapple peels and cores
2sprigsrosemary, plus garnish
  apple cider vinegar
2kgwhite sugar

Fill your pot with the cores and peels of apples. Cover water and boil for 1-2 hours, till the fruit falls apart. Add the herbs toward the end of the cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tip the contents of the cooking pot into a jam bag, or a sieve lined with a chux cloth, or a triple layer of muslin. Allow the liquid to naturally fall through into a clean pot. DO NOT press the fruit pulp, this will make your resulting jelly cloudy.

For every four parts of fruit liquid add one part cider vinegar (if you were using sweeter apples, you can use higher ratio of vinegar). Then, for every part liquid, add one part sugar.

Wash your jars in soapy water, rinse and place them in a warm oven to sterilise. Wash and rinse the lids and place them in a pot of simmering water. Leave them there till you’re ready to bottle.

Bring the mixture back to the boil. I use a thermometer to check if mine will set, but you can use whichever method you like. The jelly should set once it’s been bought to 104oC.

Bring your bottles out of the oven and pour the jelly into your sterilised jars. I like to add a sprig of rosemary at this stage, if you’d like to do that, make sure you’ve washed and dried it thoroughly. Place the lids on the jars and close tightly. I tip mine upside down to cool so the rosemary can be seen at the bottom of the jar, remember to turn them up the right way again before they go completely cold so the air bubble goes under the lid.

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Follow your food dreams

Today I attended the funeral of John Marshall, a.k.a Mr Frugii, Canberra’s Willy Wonka and Godfather of fine ice creams. I first met John when he worked full time as an IT guy in the public service. But he loved sweets and spent his Saturdays selling his wares at the Capital Region Farmers Market at EPIC. His story echoed with me, as a foodie writing and cooking very passionately while stuck in a public service job I wasn’t very passionate about. I liked him a lot.

He’d taken some high-end pastry courses and begun specialising in ice cream. Boy, did he make some incredible ice creams! He hit the press for crazy flavours like laksa and roast potato. I bought his pavlova ice cream for Christmas more than once, and his blue cheese ice cream was amazing. But his chocolate ice cream was truly one of a kind. What sounds like a run of the mill ice cream flavour was anything but in the hands of this master, he had worked hard on it. In fact, he even made his own chocolate, from scratch, especially for the ice cream.

I’ve had many wonderful, in depth conversations with John about fine quality chocolate, and his was the first 100% cocoa bar that I ate. I am incredibly grateful for all that I learned from him. He shared his passion freely with foodies great and small. Never seeking the spotlight, he didn’t wish to share the celebrity despite several seeking his insights. I know of at least a few of the early successful Masterchef contestants who sought him out for his expertise.

When the property developers offered him a space to open a shop in the redeveloping Lonsdale St, Braddon, it was his chance to make his dream a reality, leave the public service for good and open his dessert laboratory. Oh how I waited in anticipation! Even now, all these years later, despite buying a delicious sesame bun filled with red bean paste from the new stall holders there each week, I think of that stall as Mr Frugii’s spot. I missed his presence at market so much. But was so happy for his exciting new venture!

Frugii Desert Laboratory quickly became a Canberra institution. Groups of students from the university colleges coming in to satisfy late night cravings; Canberra foodie tours showing off our finest; hipsters coming in with their beards trimmed; families coming in for a regular treat; couples and maybe-couples on dates and not-quite-dates enjoying themselves in the welcoming atmosphere. My personal favourite of the deserts remains the lemon meringue choux, but all those speared with pipettes certainly evoke the ‘laboratory’ vibe.

Frugii showed that Canberra is a market ready for high end ice cream. Eventually, Messina set up shop down the road. Now we have Spilt Milk Bar in Dickson. They too have their devotees. I believe we owe the elevation of the Canberra market to John Marshall. But I firmly believe neither of those ice creameries make a chocolate ice cream as good as Frugii and the Dessert Lab is something else entirely.

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Rose and cardamom shrub

I’ve been having fun helping a friend develop plans for a restaurant. We’ve been working on the menu, drinks and décor. The restaurant will be a way to share some of his Yazidi heritage, bringing unique Iraqi food to Australia as a way to continue building a new community here in Australia. It’s a really exciting project. Some of the menu items will be fusion, some of them will be slightly elevated versions of the original, but they will all tell this story. We’ve been working on a few signature cocktails, but I wanted to make sure we had some mocktails too. The idea for this drink came from that project.

I am always looking for new things to do with the delicious ingredients I can find in the wild. Last year we picked SO many rosehips, and my friend and I made so much rosehip cordial that I still have enough to get me through till NEXT season, so I won’t be doing that again this year. Mostly, when I want to preserve the medicinal properties of the wild foods I harvest, I make a tincture, steeping the produce in brandy. But I’ve been trying to stop my alcohol consumption for health reasons, so I’ve been looking into other ways to extract the medicinal value from plants. I found that apple cider vinegar can be very good. At the same time, while doing my research into creating a balanced cocktail, I discovered an old-fashioned family of drinks called shrubs, based on fruit and vinegar.

Ordinarily, a shrub would be made by macerating the fruit in sugar then adding the resulting syrup to vinegar. You then dilute the vinegary syrup with soda to serve. However, this wasn’t an option for me for two reasons. Firstly, rosehips don’t contain enough water to create a syrup when macerated. Secondly, I wanted to use live apple cider vinegar but still have a relatively shelf stable base product, so adding the sugar to the base product wasn’t really an option because the vinegar would continue to ferment too much. So I add the sugar, in the form a traditional middle eastern rose jam, at the point of serving.

I actually sort of think of the infused vinegar as a bit of a love potion because I make it with the petals of roses given to me by, or bought in remembrance of, people of particular significance, the hips are life giving fruit that are good for the heart and keep the body strong with their disease fighting anti-oxidants, the apple cider vinegar continues to ferment when you combine all these ingredients, and the cardamom adds a perfect amount of spice.

Infused vinegar

3tablespoonsCardamom pods
1cupFresh rosehips
6 Fragrant roses, petals only*
500millilitresOrganic apple cider vinegar, with mother

*make sure the roses have not been sprayed with anything.

Combine all the ingredients in a clean, sterilised jar. Shake. Leave the jar on the bench and shake daily for a month. Strain the liquid back into the bottle the vinegar came in and store in a dark cupboard.

Rose and Cardamom Shrub

1tablespoonInfused vinegar
1tablespoonRose jam
¼teaspoonRosewater (optional)
3dashesRose bitters (optional)
  Soda water

Combine the vinegar, jam, rosewater, bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker with a little soda and shake till cold. Pour, unfiltered into a tall tumbler. Add a little more ice and fill with soda. Serve immediately.

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Coconut Christmas drink (coquito)

I have started watching the reboot of Charmed and am enjoying it’s intersectional feminism. The sisters are biracial, two of them with a Puerto Rican Dad. Anyway, it is via this fictional feminist family that I was introduced to the very real Puerto Rican Christmas tipple known as coquito which sounded absolutely delicious and very suitable to the hot Australian Christmas.

A bottle of coquito presented for a gift

Apparently some people think of it as coconut eggnog, but my research showed me that the addition of eggs is one of the hotly contested ingredients between families. As fabulous as eggnog is, I sort of think it’s a bit heavy for our summery Christmases. So the recipe below does not contain egg. It does contain the same beloved Christmas spices though: cinnamon, star anise and cloves…

My version is based on the one in this great YouTube clip by Puerto Rican-American, Evelyn Dominguez. But most coquito recipes call for cream of coconut, which is a sweetened coconut product not really available in Australia. So I’ve developed a base recipe based on quantities and ingredients available in Australia.

Coquito should be served over lots of ice. To serve it as a mocktail, I’d recommend serving it with coconut juice or water. To serve it as a cocktail, serve it with Bicardi or another white rum.

3wholecinnamon sticks
6wholestar anise
8wholeallspice berries
1cupraw sugar
1cupcaster sugar
395gramcan condensed milk
375mlcan evaporated milk
400mlcan coconut cream
400mlcan coconut milk
2teaspoonsvanilla extract

Place the whole spices in a small saucepan with about 2 cups of water and simmer for about 30 minutes. You want as much flavour to infuse into the water as possible.

Meanwhile, combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, coconut cream, coconut milk and vanilla extract.

When the spices have infused the water, strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Discard the spices and rinse your saucepan. You want about 1 ½ cups of liquid. Add the liquid, caster sugar, raw sugar and salt back into the saucepan. Bring the contents to the boil to dissolve the sugar and turn it into a simple syrup. Allow the liquid to cool.

Add the cooled syrup to the milks. Use a funnel to transfer the coquito into bottles.

Store in the fridge for up to one month.

Coquito should be served over lots of ice. To serve it as a mocktail, I’d recommend serving it with coconut juice or water. To serve it as a cocktail, serve it with Bicardi or another white rum.

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Savoury muffins

Savoury muffins

I was recently gifted a huge bucket of Kristen Allen’s incredibly delicious buttermilk ricotta that is sold at the Country Valley stall at the Capital Region Farmers Market. As such, I’ve been trying to come up with a range of ways to use said ricotta. I do believe this recipe is my favourite of those I’ve worked so far. It’s been a long time since I had a really good muffin, and longer still for a savoury one. I came up with the idea when my house mate bought more spinach that she could use.

While I suspect the superiority of these muffins comes from the quality of the ingredients I used, I expect they would turn out very well with the fresh ingredients you have at hand. I think the spinach and green onion provide freshness, the white part of the onion and sweetcorn provide sweetness, and the ham a deep savoury smokiness. All the flavourings make for well rounded flavour in the finished product.

If you don’t eat pork, you could substitute the ham with smoked salmon. If you’re vegetarian, you could leave it out entirely. But I do find it adds a lovely savoury smokiness to the muffins so if you happened to have smoked salt use that, or perhaps and smoked garlic if you had it. Or you could add semi-dried tomatoes for umami and remove the sweet corn.

I use the Tupperware muffin pan which is slightly taller and thinner than standard, but the muffins popped out beautifully.

Makes 12 muffins

Base muffin

1   free range egg
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup milk
1 cup ricotta
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/3 cup self-raising flour

Flavourings (all approx. measurements)

2   green onions
½   English spinach, well washed
150 grams free range ham
½ – 1 cup sweet corn kernels
1 cup grated vintage cheddar

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Whisk the egg in a medium sized bowl. Add the ricotta, milk, oil, salt and pepper and blend.

Finely slice the green onions (including the white part, but discarding the roots) and spinach. Dice the ham. Strain the corn if it’s from a can. Add all these ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Add the self-raising flour and stir till barely combined.

Divide the batter into the holes for 12 muffins.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Tip the muffins onto a cooling rack. Arrange them upright to cool completely.

Posted in Brunch, Lunch, Morning or afternoon tea, Snack, Spring | Tagged | 1 Comment

Australian hot cross buns

I really don’t like Good Friday. For me, it’s a forced reminder of how cruel people can be to each other. I do not believe in the death penalty and I do what I can to alleviate human suffering. But I do like hot cross buns. Confused by the presence of the buns in shops for months before Easter, a few years ago I forgot which was the traditional day to eat them. Well, hot cross buns are for Good Friday, the day Jesus was killed on the cross, and Easter eggs are for Sunday, to symbolise the day he rose again.

A few years ago I was in America for Easter and made an American version of the classic, with cranberries, maple syrup and blueberries. This year, I was inspired to do a truly Australian version with native fruit and herbs. So this recipe uses cinnamon myrtle as the only spice, muntries as the only fruit and honey instead of sugar. Cinnamon myrtle is a rainforest plant, in the same family as the more famous lemon myrtle. The leaves have a wonderful spicy flavour and aroma. Muntries are a tiny little, delicious fruit that grow in south eastern Australia. They are about the size of a blueberry, but with a pretty two tone green and burgundy colour. They taste remarkably like stewed apples but with the richness closer to sultanas. I thought them a perfect candidate for hot cross buns. In this way, you only need to buy two new ingredients to make these wonderful hot cross buns.

Makes 20


1 cup milk
50 grams butter
1 cup honey
1 free range egg
16 grams yeast
500 grams bread flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon myrtle powder
1 teaspoon salt
250 gram muntries


2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon honey

Heat the milk and butter together till melted. Leave to cool to blood temperature and stir in half the honey then add the yeast.

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Crack in the egg and yeast mixture. Combine the wet ingredients before folding through the dry ingredients. Mix to combine then knead for about five minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky. Place the kneaded dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles in size.

Add the remaining honey, cinnamon myrtle and muntries to the dough. Tip it onto a floured surface and knead for another five minutes before returning to the bowl to rise again, doubling in size.

Divide the dough into 20 equal portions. Knead each portion into a ball and arrange them on a lined baking tray. I lay mine in fie rows of 4 in a rectangular dish. Leave them to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 220oC

For the crosses, mix the milk and flour together and transfer to a small piping bag. Pipe this across the buns to form the crosses.

Bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven or until the tops of the buns are golden brown. Brush the tops of the buns generously and thoroughly with the remaining honey. Allow the buns to cool a little, before turning them onto a wire rack.

If you can hold onto the buns long enough for them to cool completely, store in an airtight container or in the freezer. They are delicious toasted and served with butter.

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Blue cheese biscuits

Blue cheese biscuits

I made these little crackers as a Christmas treat for my friends who don’t have a sweet tooth. I think they’ll make a nice addition to a tray of Christmas nibbles. I made three savoury biscuits this year, and cut them with a set of three cookie cutters I was given last year. One flavour, one shape. It seemed a no-brainer to make the blue cheese ones in the shape of a frosty snowman. Of course, if you want to make your life easier you could just cut the dough into little squares before baking. But I have a fabulous collection of cookie cutters, love a chance to use them, and think the Christmas shapes make a lovely contribution to the season. This recipe is super easy. Because my illness leaves me incredibly sensitive to sound, I didn’t use a food processor. If you are more interested in using the electric appliances, you can just pop all the ingredients in a food processor until they come together. I will definitely be making these biscuits again. I think they’d make a nice item to bring to someone else’s party too.

Makes about a 1 litre tup of biscuits

300 grams plain flour
100 grams Danish blue cheese, roughly chopped
150 grams butter, roughly chopped
1 free range egg
1 generous pinch of salt


Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter and cheese into the flour. Break up the egg and mix all the ingredients till well combined. Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170oC.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Working with half the dough at a time, roll the dough out to 3-4mm thick and cut into the desired shapes. Lay the biscuits on a lined oven tray. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the bottom of the biscuits is lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight

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Gewurzhaus in Canberra is NOW OPEN!

Throngs of customers swooped on the Canberra Centre today to be the first buy in the new ‘lifestyle’ precinct of what is now dubbed the ‘Monaro Precinct’ but others know as the ‘old Canberra Centre’. The new section contains some of the food and homewares shops that Canberra has lacked until now. I have been waiting with baited breath for the opening of my all time favourite food store, the spice shop by the name of Gewurzhaus.

If you’ve been with me on the blog for a long time, you’ll know that I have pedantically shopped at Gewurzhaus for my dried herb and spice needs for a very long time. I fell in love with the business when they opened what was their second store, on Lygon Street in Carlton. When I moved to Canberra I used to traipse my empty spice jars across the country to refill them in Melbourne. A few years ago, they opened a store in Sydney, which meant my jars didn’t need to traipse so far. But oh, how I’ve wanted them to come to Canberra!

It was a crazy night for the retailers trying to be ready for opening this morning. It sounds like something out of a dreadful reality TV show. They were there till 5am making sure they’d be ready for the big day. My oh my, doesn’t the store look as wonderful as all there others! Big clear circular bins of heady spices, herbs, salts, teas and blends thereof line the walls. Though I still won’t be able to refill all of my ground Mexican chilli powders, I can refull my jar of ground chipotle, which is very exciting. This is one of many improvements on the Sydney store.

They are decked out with their usual panache of Christmas joy. I was offered a cup of delicious Advent Christmas Tea, a beautiful burgundy blend of seasonal fruits. It evokes the classic flavours of a German Christmas, but with an Australian twist. Along with hibiscus, currants, elderberries and raisins, it contains pineapple, apple, coconut and papaya. This brew would be just as wonderful as iced tea as it was hot. Lucky for me, it’s caffeine free too, which means I am more than happy to continue indulging.

While there are beautiful homewares and quality gifts on offer, I tried my best to curb my spending, knowing I no longer need to stock up between visits. I did pick up a few lovely treats in the first of my Christmas shopping, and maybe added a few just for me. While the stores have stocked beautiful enamelware and copper items for years, I adore the more recent addition of a collection of Japanese ceramics including plates, bowls and sake sets.

If you venture all the way to the back of the store you can awe at the most excuisite ‘smell me’ shelf lined with myriad herbs and spices in the signature brown glass jars, waiting for you to open and inhale the heady aroma of Aleppo peppers, Grains of Paradise, or amchoor. I was able to buy a few new jars of spices, and saw some which I’m sure are new to their collection.

I tend to blend my own herbs and spices, but all of their blends are exquisite. Accordingly, I have succumbed and keep two in regular rotation in my pantry. The ‘Italian herbs’ are truly divine and get a surprising workout in my kitchen, even though it wasn’t I who first wanted them there. They also have a wonderful Berbere blend, which I have come to rely on heavily for my expanding repertoire of Ethiopian dishes. To celebrate the occassion of the new store opening, I will soon post my recipe for Ethiopian lamb tibs, a popular dish that is impressively easy to make at home if you are armed with a good Berbere blend.


Canberrans, cooks, I commend it to you, the brand spanking new, and unsurprisingly, but relievingly wonderful Gewurzhaus.

Opening hours:

Monday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Tuesday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Wednesday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Thursday: 9:00am – 5:30pm
Friday: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Posted in Gastronomnom...nom, Produce, Thoughts | 2 Comments

A Rubock family recipe – crumpets

When I was visiting my grandparents in Burnie over the holidays, we called in on my great Uncle Lyal and his lovely wife Heather. I like them both a lot. The Rubock family span the whole political spectrum and Lyal falls at the left end of that spectrum. For some reason, they all got on the memory train and were relaying great stories of shenanigans they’d been up to when they travelled and worked together selling encyclopaedias. It was great fun, and a great revelation! Lyal pulled out the only album he had of old family photos and dared me to call my somewhat gruff great Uncle Bill, ‘Billy’ next time I saw him, as their dear mother had done before she died. I dared not.

For several generations, the Rubocks were bakers. I take great pride in that fact, and relish hearing stories of the bakery. Everyone always said that my Great Pop was the best baker, but the flour had wreacked havoc with his lungs, so he ended up just doing the deliveries. Uncle David was the one in Nan’s generation who continued the baking tradition. Uncle Lyal did deliveries too, but he told me about how he used to cook the crumpets on the hotplate, with the metal rings building up in rows on the spatula. Apparently Auntie Joy used to love to eat them fresh off the hot plate, dunked in sugar that sounds terrible to me. But Uncle Lyal said he thought they were the best crumpets he’s ever eaten. I liked the sound of that and immediately decided to track down the recipe.

Rubock family bakery in Burnie

Rubock family bakery in Burnie

Uncle David remembered the recipe for me, but having always made it in vast quantities he gave it to me in the bakers’ way, in percentages of the flour by weight. They were all very insistent that they’d always been made with biscuit flour, not the strong flour used for bread. For such a simple recipe, in which the flour mattered so much, I couldn’t resist calling into the Callington Mill in Oatlands to buy some freshly milled, locally grown flour. As he suggested, I’ve played around enough to be confident in this recipe for a small batch, produced by volume. The only thing you’ll have trouble weighing will be the fresh yeast. I calculate mine by dividing up the block of yeast based on the weight given on its label.

The only other tricky thing is finding a suitable ring to use to hold the batter in the pan. You want something a bit bigger than an egg ring, though that would do if it really was all you had. I had thought to use cookie cutters, but then I remembered I have a tiny cast iron skillet that I use to bake small wheels of cheese. It came from Bruny Island Cheese Co who sell it as an ‘Otto Pan.’ It is absolutely perfect.

Makes about 8 crumpets

4 grams fresh yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ½ cups warm water
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 teaspoons salt flakes

Place the yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Add a little of the water whisking to dissolve the yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.

Add the remaining water to the bowl and whisk in the flour and oil. When it’s well mixed whisk in the bicarb and salt. Cover and leave till it doubles in size. This may be an hour or so, depending on the temperature.

As is the trick with cooking in a cast iron pan, make it hot before adding your food. The pan wants to be hot enough to smoke when add a tiny bit of oil to coat the bottom and sides of the pan, then pour in about half a cup of batter. You may need to experiment with the volume of batter because you want it as thick as possible, but you need it to be able to cook through most of the way on one side, leaving good sized bubbles on top. I aim to keep my batter less than a centimeter thick when I pour it in the pan. Then I turn the heat down very low and let the crumpet cook gently. You will gradually see the characteristic bubbles develop on the surface. If you like, you can gently flip the crumpet to cook the top for a few seconds.

Remove the crumpet to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining batter. Leave to rest overnight and toast in the morning. Serve with your desired toppings, but I’m a fan of butter and honey.

Posted in Brunch, Morning or afternoon tea, Thoughts | Tagged | 4 Comments