Lifeboat Farm

Crusty sourdough loaf
March 20, 2012, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes

This is one of my favourite home made breads. It’s a crusty sourdough made from our own sourdough starter.

Crusty Sourdough Loaf
2 cups of lukewarm water
1 cup of sourdough starter
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast or fresh yeast
5 cups of high grade flour
1 tablespoon of salt

There’s not much to it. Just mix the water, starter and yeast together and then add the flour and salt. Mix by hand for about five minutes or put everything in your bread machine and use the dough setting to mix it for you.

The dough should be quite wet and have a shaggy appearance. Put it in a bowl and cover with cling film, or inside a shopping bag to rise until it doubles in size. Leave the bowl somewhere warm for about two hours or somewhere cool overnight. The longer you take to rise the dough, the stronger the flavour will be.

When you are ready to bake the bread, split the dough in two and knead well to restart rising then put the two doughs into loaf tins. Alternatively, you can make the bread any shape you want and just put it on an oven tray. Loosely cover the dough with plastic again.

Let the dough rise again for about 45 minutes while you heat up the oven to 200-220 degrees C.

Bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on what shape your dough is (flat, wide bread will cook quicker than a taller loaf) and how crusty you want the top to be. It helps to mist the top of the dough with water just before you put it in the oven.

The crusty top and chewy, tangy sourdough flavour of this bread make it a great any-occasion snack. It toasts well too!


Our sourdough starter
December 18, 2011, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes

I’ve tried a few sourdough bread starters over the years but this one has been the easiest to start and produces a great sourdough bread. The only reason I’m starting it again is that I managed to kill my last one. As it turns out, sourdough starters that contain dairy don’t like to be left out of the fridge long term.

This recipe is from one of our favourite bread books – Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible. It’s definitely in the “if you only buy one…” category.

Sourdough Starter

2 cups of lukewarm water
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast or fresh yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk powder
1/3 cup of plain yoghurt
2 cups of bread flour

Feed for the starter

1/4 cup of water
1/3 cup of bread flour

You’ll need a medium sized glass bowl with a loose-fitting glass lid (or gladwrap is fine). Pour the warm water into the bowl and sprinkle the yeast, sugar and milk powder over the surface. Stir with a whisk until dissolved then stir in the flour and mix until well blended.

Loosely cover with a glass lid, gladwrap or a double layer of cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for at least 48 hours, whisking the mixture twice a day. You can leave it for up to four days, depending on how sour you want the starter to be. The mixture will start to ferment and bubble with a clear liquid forming on top – just stir that back in.

On day two to four (depending on when you want to stop) it’s time to feed the starter. Mix in 1/4 cup of water and 1/3 cup of bread flour, cover again and let it stand overnight. Store it in the fridge, loosely covered and feed it again every two weeks.

Using the starter

Bring it to room temperature before using.  Remove the amount of starter you need then add one cup of flour and 1/2 cup of non-fat milk to the remaining starter. Mix well and let stand at room temperature for a day to start fermenting again, then refrigerate. I’ve found that if you are using and replacing the starter regularly (once a week or more) you don’t need to feed it as well, unless you want to grow the starter to the point you can split it in half and give some away to another keen baker.

The starter will improve with age (my last one was nearly a year old when I killed it). It should smell of pleasant fermentation – yeast and alcohol. If it starts to smell foul or develops a pink colour it has probably succumbed to an airborne pathogen – discard it immediately and start again.

It helps to leave yourself a note for the first few days’ activities so you don’t have to keep diving back to the recipe.

Zucchini/Courgette Chocolate Cake
February 22, 2011, 10:27 am
Filed under: Food, Recipes

With a glut of zucchini we are always on the lookout for new recipes to use up the seemingly never-ending harvest. Karen found this great recipe on the Wickham family blog.

Zucchini/Courgette Chocolate Cake

125g butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c yogurt
1/2 c cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 cups (350g) grated zucchini/or courgette
1/2-1 c chocolate pieces (optional)

Line 25 cm square tin.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour mixture. Add vanilla and yogurt and stir well. Sift in dry ingredients and stir in zucchini.
Pour into tin, and sprinkle with chocolate pieces if desired.
Bake at 170C for 45 minutes.

You can substitute gluten-free flour for the regular flour and it still comes out just fine (although we did end up cooking it for longer than the recipe). Hopefully next time we make it we’ll remember to take some photos before it gets eaten.

Hot Cross Buns
April 13, 2009, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes
This recipe is from Tim Allen’s Book – The Ballymaloe Bread Book and it will put you off store-bought buns forever. It’s a little bit of work but well worth the effort.

Hot Cross Buns
25g fresh yeast
1 Tablespoon castor sugar
50ml warm milk
450g bakers flour (assume high grade flour here)
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1-2 teaspoons mixed spice
85g caster sugar
85g butter
225-300 ml tepid milk
85g currants
2 eggs
50g sultanas
25g chopped peel

Egg wash to glaze ( milk egg yolk and sugar)
shortcrust pastry

Preheat over to 220 degrees C

In a measuring jug dissolve the yeast with the tablespoon of caster sugar in the 50ml of warm milk
In a large wide mixing bowl sieve the flour then add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice and 85g of sugar. Rub in the butter.

In a bowl whisk the eggs and remaining warm milk. Pour this into the measuring jug with the yeast mixture. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture. Combine to a soft dough.

Leave for about 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, then add the currants, sultanas and peel. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and shiny.Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (an hour or so).

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock the dough back and leave to rest for a few minutes.
Divide into 16 pieces, shape into buns. Place them on a baking sheet, egg wash and mark each one carefully by putting a cross of shortcrust pastry on each bun.

Allow to rise for an hour and egg wash again.

Bake in a preheated oven for 5 minutes then reduce heat to 200 degrees C and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden.

Cool on a wire rack.

Our BBQ Sauce
February 25, 2009, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes

This is our own recipe based loosely on the DYC vinegar recipe with some extra (not so) secret ingredients.

Lifeboat Farm BBQ Sauce

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of cooking oil
2 big tablespoons of caramelised onions
1/4 cup malt vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of tomato puree
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1/4 cup of finely chopped dates
1 teaspoon of mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed saucepan or frypan, cook the onion in the oil until translucent. Add all other ingredients and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes. Pour the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth. Put into a sauce bottle and store in the fridge.

February 25, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Food, Recipes

The best shortbread recipe I know is in the Edmonds Cookbook.


250g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup cornflour
2 cups plain flour

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift cornflour an flour together. Mix sufted ingredients into creamed mixture. Knead well. On a lightly floured board roll out to 0.5cm thickness. Shape into a circle or cut into pieces. Place on a greased oven tray. Prick with a fork. Bake at 150 deg C for 30 minutes or until pale golden. Makes about 30.

The Paddock Vac Has Arrived
November 13, 2008, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Garden, Recipes, Technology

For those wondering “what the heck is a paddock vac for”, well it’s a vacuum for the paddocks – more specifically the manure in the paddocks. This one is powered by a Honda 4 stroke 50cc engine and stores about a half a cubic metre on board.

The two main reasons for using it are: we remove the horse manure (and it’s parasites) from the paddock, and I get an unlimited supply of horse manure to compost for the garden. Oh and thirdly, it uses internal combustion so what’s not to like about it?

It has an amazing amount of suction and will pick up leaves, sawdust, probably cats as well as manure. Here’s a before and after photo.

My only worry is that our more traditional farming neighbours may think us a little odd when they see us vacuuming the paddocks.