Author Archives: ahumblegrain

UMU Pizza – Auckland

In the summer of 2016, I embarked on a mission to build a pizza oven in our back garden. A lengthy research phase took place followed by numerous plans being drawn up, each being scrapped to accommodate additions and modifications. After getting my hands on the required amounts of sand, clay and firebrick, my project was underway by early July. A few short weeks later, we were dishing out pizzas from our very own oven, taking full advantage of the long Irish August evenings.   Continue reading

Image by Pivot Photography

The Midnight Baker – Auckland

As I continue to explore the world of bread, my appreciation for this incredible food grows ever stronger. It is a world of seemingly limitless diversity where bread is fashioned in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. For most of breads several thousand-year-old history, it was a product made from the flour of ground grain such as wheat, mixed with water and then baked. Innovation and diversification came naturally as bread spread throughout the world. Like a good cheese or a fine wine, bread is unique to the region it comes from. The recent industrialization of the worlds food system is putting this in jeopardy, but the majority of bread today is still produced by the hands of skilled bakers. Continue reading

Bread and Butter Bakery and Cafe, Auckland.

Farmers markets have a strong presence in New Zealand and a Saturday morning in Auckland boasts several to choose from. The Kiwi’s clearly see these outdoor, social, community gatherings as a welcome alternative to supermarket shopping. Fresh fruit and vegetable stalls usually take center stage and are snugly encircled by other artisan producers offering chocolate, cheese, meat, fish, eggs and coffee. But no farmers market is complete without a stall offering freshly baked bread. Continue reading

Olaf’s Artisan Bakery Cafe – Mt. Eden, Auckland.

It’s a chilly but enticingly clear and sunny morning in early June with winter quietly making its presence felt. I’m making my way over to Mt. Eden to meet the owner of one of Auckland’s award-winning bakeries. The suburb of Mt. Eden is bustling with activity and nowhere is this more evident than Olaf’s Artisan Bakery Café. The outdoor tables are full as cyclists and gym-goers enjoy a coffee in the morning sun. Brown paper bags decorate the tables evidently showcasing that these locals have stocked up on their favorite breads. Continue reading

100% Rye

Rye is often overlooked as a bread choice by many and preferences tend to head in the direction of white and whole wheat loaves. In many cultures of yesteryear, rye was seen as an inferior grain and frequented lower-class consumers. However, rye provides essential nutrients and is a particularly good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus and magnesium. I also find that it’s more filling and makes a serious open sandwich. Continue reading

Pain au Levain

Once you have an active sourdough starter, you are ready to take it to the next level and make some sourdough bread. I have experimented and tested with all sorts of recipes and flours, but the recipe I will share in this post has always proved to deliver consistent and delicious results. It’s the bread I bake most often at home and it’s a take on the classic French ‘Pain au Levain’, which translates to sourdough bread. The final dough will be divided after a bulk fermentation to give two loaves. After shaping the loaves, you can place them into proofing baskets or baking tins. I find the best result comes from then putting the loaves in the fridge overnight for further slow fermentation. This really builds the flavor. You can take one out to bake in the morning and another in the evening. Or, if you have space in the oven, bake both in the morning. Whatever fits your schedule. Continue reading

Creating and maintaining a sourdough starter

To make naturally leavened sourdough bread, you will first need to create a ‘sourdough starter’. The starter will act as a leavening agent to make the bread rise, but it also plays a key role in developing the flavor and making the bread easier to digest. An active and well-maintained sourdough starter will go a long way in helping you produce some serious bread. It all starts with two ingredients – flour and water. Continue reading