Narf7 bakes bread and loses a leg

Hi All,

Today we are going to take a little bit of an aside from my usual blog post format. Firstly, I didn’t lose a leg…I was just borrowing a quote from “Father Ted”. I have been communicating with a lovely lady in the U.K. called Joanne who hosts the wonderful blog “Zeb Bakes”. I found Joanne’s blog through a compilation bread blog site called http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/ that is one of the most incredible places to find just about any “bread” you could possibly want. Joanne posts some of her wonderful homemade breads to this site and that’s how I met her…through some of my exuberant comments to her blog.

http://zebbakes.com/2013/08/10/date-syrup-kefir-bread/

And here’s a follow up post for anyone wanting to try the recipe but who wanted to only bake a single loaf…Joanne is such a thorough and caring person when it comes to her blog followers…

http://zebbakes.com/2013/09/08/post-script-date-kefir-loaves/

This kefir raised bread couldn’t have come at a better time. I pulled Audrey, my sourdough starter, out of the fridge to feed her and discovered that she had decided to commit suicide. Rather than a yeasty scented mass of dough, she had gone belly up and was exhibiting a scent wholly unbecoming of a sourdough starter. R.I.P. Audrey, I did you wrong. I also found out that starters aren’t meant to be kept in fridges for extended periods of time and you are supposed to feed them regularly…that would be more than once a month…sigh…”BAD NARF7!”…I am a murderer! I tipped the squalid remains into the compost bucket where her now green and fuzzy remains will add a new suite of organisms to the resulting compost. I was just getting my head around the thought that I was going to have to make a new sourdough starter when along came Joanne with “The Recipe”…

I had asked Joanne about “Date syrup” a product that she had discussed in a post because I had never heard of it. I make date paste to use instead of refined sugar and after talking to Joanne a bit we started discussing kefir etc. Joanne posted the following post about using kefir to raise bread rather than using sourdough starter or a commercial dried/fresh yeast. I got VERY excited about this idea because I make kefir regularly using homemade organic soymilk sweetened with homemade date paste. I found that my kefir grains (sent to me by one “Rabid Little Hippy” who gets a HUGE hug across The Tasman for being so babelicious and such a generous blogger) adore the sugar in the date paste and I can tweak the fermentation of the kefir by the amount of date paste I choose to add. I have also experimented using other sweeteners and can’t see why using something like coconut sugar or rice syrup wouldn’t give you a similar result. Bread can also be baked with water kefir so I decided that I was going to give it the old college try and attempt to bake a loaf or two…

Joanne is an amazing blogger. Not only did she give us this wonderful recipe to tinker with, she actually wants us to get stuck in and inject our own take on the recipe. She tried making a gluten free variety but it didn’t work and asked if I would have a go at making a non-dairy version for people who either choose not to have dairy or simply can’t…there are a lot of us out there. I have linked to Joanne’s Post so that you can all go to her wonderful site and see it in person…she even gives you a PDF download of the recipe! Sorry guys, I am not quite up to that yet but give me a few years and you never know…at the moment, the best I can do is take Joanne’s recipe and add myself to it. I have bolded Joanne’s instructions in ”parenthesis” so that you know when I am quoting her wise words…the stupid words are entirely of my own design so please don’t judge Joanne for them, I take full responsibility ;). I am going to post my images here in a slideshow format. They start at the point where I had mixed the preferment ingredients together and end with the final bread. The last few images are of the bread the following day just before Steve made heavenly smelling toast with it…all in all this bread is wonderful and it won’t be the last time narf7 bakes it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Narf7 Bakes Date Paste Non-Dairy Kefir Bread

(This is where Joanne had put “Started” and had given the time she assembled the preferment) Started – err…no idea really but it was before lunch time and after breakfast so that narrows it down a bit for all of you bread detectives out there ;). The room temperature was reasonably cool here in Tasmania but we do have Brunhilda, our large wood fired oven slowly ticking over all day and so I would imagine the room temperature would have been around 20C.

Make a preferment with: –

  • 150g room temperature water. I used rain water
  • 200g fresh kefir which I make with homemade organic soy milk to which I add homemade date paste (I soak a packet of dried dates in boiling water to cover and once the dates are soft, I puree them to a smooth paste in a blender. To 1 ½ litres of homemade soymilk I add 300g of homemade date paste and this is the basic food for my kefir grains to feed on). Note, you can use mature water kefir in this recipe as well. Not sure how it goes but Joanne mentioned that another blogger that she knows of has made bread with it so it is possible. Mine was “milk” kefir though so don’t quote me on it 😉
  • 250g strong (bread) flour. I used regular strong white bread flour from a local Tasmanian flour mill
  • 50g extra date paste

“Mix these well together and leave in a covered bowl for approximately 18 hours in a warm room (20 – 22 C)  at which point it should be bubbling and thick and looking ready to go.” Note – I put the mix on a proofing rack over Brunhilda to make sure it bubbled enough but prior to putting it on the proofing rack it was bubbling albeit a bit slowly so I would imagine it would just take a little bit longer at a colder room temperature. Kefir keeps fermenting even when stored in the fridge and I have to open the lid of the container of fermented kefir that I keep in the fridge to make sure the lid doesn’t blow off.

Ingredients for the final dough:-

  • All of the preferment (as above)
  • 850g bread flour. I used the same white strong bread flour as I used in the preferment
  • 282g  water (again, rainwater)
  • 20g salt (I used sea salt)
  • 30g melted butter
  1. Using a Kenwood Mixer I put the starter in first, added the water and then the flours and mixed for about three minutes on the lowest speed. I did this too but my mixer isn’t a Kenwood and it started to list sideways somewhat alarmingly midway through the process so I decided to hand mix the dough from that point on.
  2. Leave to develop in the bowl for 20 minutes. I covered the bowl with cling wrap for the duration.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and trickle the melted butter in while the mixer is going and continue mixing till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Again, my mixer had a bit of a hard time with this dough and after allowing it to dance across the counter for a bit, I liberated the dough and hand kneaded it for a short while to make sure the butter and salt were evenly distributed.
  4. You may need to adjust the dough with more water if your flour is very absorbent. Mine wasn’t and the proportions above were just fine.
  5. 5.       (If you mix by hand then go with a more traditional order of ingredients, i.e. mix the water and starter together and add these into your bowl of flour.)
  6. I will let Joanne talk you through the next bit because I had never done this before…”I took the dough out once it was reasonably developed and put it into a big bowl, covered with a tea towel, and left it for about three hours. During this time I folded it in the bowl twice, as much to see how the fermentation was progressing as anything. Folding in the bowl is simply picking up the dough from one side and pulling it out and over the main bulk of the dough, like light kneading except you don’t put it on a board. You can put it on a board. There are no rules here!” I followed Joanne’s instructions to a “T” and figured that I would fold the dough once an hour and each time I folded the dough back onto itself, it had risen double, and I took this as a very good sign!
  7. Again, Joanne is the real bread baker here so once again I will let her talk you through this next bit…”Once it was showing good signs of activity and had increased in size by roughly a half. I weighed it into two equal portions.  Then I split those two portions in the ratio 85:15 using the % function on my scales. If you don’t have one of those, it would be about 135g for the small ball to 765g for the main ball.
  8. 8.       With the first portion I made a boule which I divided into four quartiles with a thin dowel rod and made a smaller boule with the small ball and put that in the middle.
  9. 9.       With the second portion I made a pointy ended baton and then a plait with the remaining ball which I placed along the top of the dough – because the dough had such a long second prove this didn’t come out quite as I had hoped but I like the effect that it gives anyway. A good way to create a nice looking effect on a loaf if you are finding slashing difficult.
  10. I put both loaves on baking paper on trays and tucked them inside clean bin liners to prove.” You can tell that Joanne is a real baker, I attempted to put my bread on a baking tray but realised that I had no way of stopping it for sticking to the bin liner so ended up putting it into 2 bread tins rather than have to fall on the ground twitching when the top of the bread stuck to the bin liner and deflated alarmingly (“FOOL ME ONCE BREAD DOUGH!”…)
  11. Second proof time was about three hours. Be patient, these are just as slow as a more traditional sourdough to rise. I need to point out here that my bread took less time to proof. For some reason it rose fast and it rose incredibly well. Just as good as any regular yeasted bread that I have made in the past. Proofing it on the bread rack over Brunhilda may have had something to do with it but who knows…I was just happy that all of the steps were going like clockwork and I wasn’t going to stick a spoke in any wheels just to ask questions 😉
  12. 12.   Egg-wash the crust with a mixture of egg yolk and kefir whey and sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top for interest.
  13. 13.   Here’s what Joanne said…”Bake in a preheated oven (with steam) either on the trays or slide them off onto a baking stone or kiln shelf which is what I use rather than a stone.” I just put the bread tins into the oven…no steam, no smoke, no whistles, no bells just a hot oven.
  14. “Starting at 220 ºC for the first twenty minutes and then dropping back by stages to 190 ºC for the last ten minutes of the bake.  About 40 – 45 minutes in all.” We had been stoking the fire to make it get hotter and inevitably the oven that we had the bread in kept getting hotter and we had to put the bread into one of the cooler ovens (I have 4 ovens to choose from in various stages of “hot”, how spoiled am I?) but the damage was already done and the bread top was a little “over-caramelised” but not beyond saving in the photo-shoot (and that’s all that really matters right food bloggers? 😉 )
  15. “Leave to cool on a rack as normal once you are satisfied the loaf is cooked; a nice hollow sound when you thump it is a good sign.” Being a natural fuss-budget I wasn’t entirely satisfied that it was cooked and tossed the loaves back into the oven for 5 minutes upside down once I took them out of the bread tin. It was probably overkill in hind sight but I wanted my bread to be a success…I had a lot riding on this.
  16. Wait till the bread is cool before cutting it.

Or if you are Steve and I, you will cut it when it is hot, soak it liberally in butter and Steve will eat 4 slices just before his tea and will feed a further 2 slices dripping in butter to the slavering hounds waiting below…we are ALL class here on Serendipity Farm. I am sure that most of you will have the diplomacy and willpower to wait until the bread is merely lukewarm before descending on it like wolves but whatchagonnado? My excuse is that I wanted to take photos of the crumb…it’s MY excuse and I am sticking with it! ;). The bread was amazing…the bread rose beautifully with no added yeast aside from the kefir whatsoever…the bread was almost textbook wonderful to bake and I couldn’t believe that I was able to replicate this amazingness being that the baking conditions were almost certainly directly inverse to those that Joanne’s dairy kefir were subject to. Let me clarify it a little bit further…

  1. Joanne is a wonderful bread baker and I am a bread plebeian
  2. Joanne used dairy kefir and I used something strange that I keep making because I SWEAR it is alcoholic (“HIC!”)
  3. Joanne is at the tail end of summer and Narf7 is on the tail end of winter
  4. Joanne created a wonderful recipe that anyone can follow and that a bread idiot couldn’t stuff up (I know they can’t, because I didn’t 😉 ) and I am waffling in excited stanza’s that are probably confusing any poor wayfaring baker from the ether beyond belief
  5. Joanne gave you a PDF…I am not even going to PRETEND to know how to do that so my regulars can just do one of two things “forgedaboudit” or “head over to Joanne’s blog and get yourself that delightful PDF and revel in its amazingness like I did when I downloaded it”
  6. Joanne cared enough about her blog followers to do a follow up post that clarified any issues in the first post and that gave interested people a choice whether or not to bake 2 loaves (the original recipe) or reduce the recipe down to 1. I won’t be offering you the same courtesy folks. It isn’t because I don’t love you all, it’s because why would I try to tweak perfection? Just head over to Zeb Bakes and check it out there.

Joanne, as a well-known bunch of geriatric Aussie rockers with a Scottish lead singer would sing loudly and proudly, “for those about to rock…we SALUTE YOU!”. You both “rock” and deserve my “salutations”. Please consider this most pathetic husk of a blog post that isn’t even worthy to crawl on its belly next to your post, a humble experiment designed to be for the greater good. Your recipe is great…mine was good. From this point on I can refine this bread. I can tweak it and mess about with it and I can include bread in my diet once more and for this, I owe you so much more than a bit of experimentation. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for allowing us free reign to tinker with it…consider it non-dairy tinkered and I offer the torch up to braver bloggers than I am to run with the Gluten Free recipe because that is a step too far for one Narf7 to take folks!

Here endeth the post…that’s it, that’s all folks…you can all go home now and revel in the fact that you can make bread WITHOUT ADDING SOURDOUGH OR COMMERCIAL YEAST. Yup…my job here…is DONE! :o)…except for today’s word cloud that is…here it is folks in all it’s bready goodness for you to enjoy…

Nondairy kefir bread blog post

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37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joanna
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 18:07:36

    You are really funny, I think I love you, what a sweet post, and you rock for trying this and I am just a wee bit jealous that your kefir is so amazingly strong and vigorous, maybe I should put mine on a vegan diet too – (proving in bin liners isn’t essential, you can put them in a big box with a lid or the traditional way with a floured teatowel over the top, the idea is just to stop the top crusting before you bake it – I use cheap shower caps mostly on tins as that gets round the sticking problem) The gluten free flour and the kefir didn’t get on for me, went very very stinky, but it might have been the blend. Thank you for all the blog love, best to you and Steve, Joanna @ Zeb Bakes xx

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:15:29

      HUGS! I have to say that my kefir is a little bit crazy (sort of like its slave, the good ship narf7 😉 ). I have been beefing it up with lots of date paste ever since I realised that it is a sugar hog and it adores the date paste in the soymilk. I reckon you could put it in water so long as it had a healthy dose of some kind of sugar in there. I have to admit that my kefir grows pretty fast and I put it down to the date paste diet.You deserve the blog love Joanne! You are such a generous blogger and give your dear constant readers all the help that they need to bake wonderful bread. I am SO glad I decided to bake this bread. It is so full of possibilities and I am just about to emark on feeding some of my kefir on coconut sugar. I want to test out the results and am interested to see how coconut sugar would affect the balance in the bread…I have also made date paste blended with pumpkin (sweet so I figured the kefir might like it) and apple. The apple/date paste mix resulted in kefir that tasted distinctly like apple cider! Hopefully the coconut sugar version results in rum! 😉

      Reply

  2. Jo
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 20:36:18

    Fran, I am breathless from the excitement of that bread bake! That sounds brilliant! If you ever have too much kefir to know what to do with, there would be a grateful recipient down this end of the highway..
    I have been reading about a technique of breadbaking where you soak the flour in kefir milk overnight before baking with it – apparently this begins to predigest the wheat gluten, making it much easier to absorb all those good whole wheat nutrients.. there are so many exciting new things to try in this world. I can’t believe there are people who get bored..
    That is a great website, by the way. Have bookmarked and will be reading more about wonderful bread!
    BTW I always cover my rising bread with a tea towel, no flour, just a clean tea towel. It has never stuck yet.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:33:10

      I have some dried/dehydrated kefir grains that I can drop off somewhere for you on Monday if you like Jo. I am heading to town to do the shopping and to visit my girls and I could drop them off wherever you like with a set of instructions for how to rehydrate them and get them active again. I love sharing the love! They do make amazing milk kefir and you can use goat or regular milk. I just used supermarket milk but to be honest it really doesn’t matter so long as it isn’t UHT. That bread website is fantastic and I set aside a day to check out their monthly yeast spotting post that is cram packed full of loaves, flatbreads, specialty breads from all over the world and sweet breads. They even have recipes that call for bread as an ingredient! Love it! You could also check out this amazing Italian site that I am going to post this recipe to… similar thing but Italian and you can’t get more bread authentic than that!

      http://www.myitaliansmorgasbord.com/

      This bread excited the heck out of me…think about it. You can work with your kefir grains to not only make a yoghurt sub that is constantly replaceable (so long as you don’t forget them) with minimal work on your part and no worries about moderating the temperature too much because they work in the fridge if you want to go away on holidays (but don’t put them in the fridge for too long, they don’t adore the frozen tundra’s…). So you get a yoghurty type drink/product and you can turn it easily into cheese (Joanne does that). After that you can use the results (the kefir drink) to soak your grains/flour in overnight (like you mentioned) to preferment breads and cakes. I modified a CWA cookbook date cake to use kefir and Steve loves it. It makes whatever you bake gorgeous and moist (like adding yogurt) and don’t forget it containes 60+ probiotics and it’s a symbiotic relationship between beneficial gut bacteria and healthy yeasts. You can use the whey to start your ginger beer plants and to turn juice into healthy soft drink. Check out the maestro’s site here…

      http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html

      I bought my very first kefir (both milk and water) from Dom WAY back when I was living in W.A. and got hooked then. You will find everything that you need to know about kefir here and more! Can you tell that I am kefir’s willing slave? I am a fuss budget when it comes to bread and worry that a tea towel is going to cause the top to dry out. I am going to have to give it a go now that a few of you have reassured me about it :).

      Reply

      • Jo
        Sep 14, 2013 @ 10:02:22

        Hi Fran, that is a lovely offer! Would you like to pop in for a morning cuppa? Or I could come out to Riverside, or meet you in town. I can’t work out how to email you, so here is mine jo heath 37 (no spaces) at gmail dot com
        Hope to see you soon.

      • narf77
        Sep 14, 2013 @ 16:53:28

        I am coming in on Monday and will be ferrying my (non driving) daughters around so it will be pretty full on and no time for visiting on the day :(. That’s part of the thing about only going shopping once a fortnight… there is SO much to achieve on the day! Anyhoo, I can drop it around to you if you like? I will email you and you can let me know where I can drop it. If you aren’t in, I can leave it in the mailbox. I will email you the instruction word doc to rehydrate them so that we won’t be contributing to tree demise (although I have caused enough tree demise out here in the last few years 😉 ). Off to mail you now 🙂

  3. caribougrrl
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 20:58:21

    Intrigued by the date paste; will be giving it a try as a sugar substitute.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:22:09

      All I do is get a packet of dried dates, tip them into a heatproof bowl, pour boiling water over them to cover and let them soak for about 30 minutes. I then puree them in my vitamix but if you don’t have a high speed blender, just let them soak for about an hour and they get very soft. I strain them out of the liquid and add a little of the soaking liquid and they form a paste. I then leave a bit of the paste in the bottom of the vitamix goblet and pour in the soaking liquid (that is sweet) and puree it all together and get a sweet syrup that I use when I make oatmeal (porridge) or to add extra oomph to my kefir if I want an extra boozy brew ;). I have also put a packet of dates and cut up pumpkin into water to cover and cooked them together to get a pumpkin date paste which was delicious (I used it in Korean pumpkin porridge) and apples and dates which was completely gorgeous and would make a wonderful cake filling. The good thing about using date paste is that it isn’t too sweet and it gives you added fibre and iron (important for women and vegans like me) to your diet without you even trying 🙂

      Reply

  4. Trackback: Date Syrup Kefir Bread | Zeb Bakes
  5. Trackback: Post script Date Kefir Loaves | Zeb Bakes
  6. christiglover
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 01:22:02

    Great news! And Fran, for the record, you and Steve are class acts. No matter how you eat your bread. Thanks for discovering Joanne for us all. 🙂 Oh, and your slideshow is state-of-the-art. Bake on!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:38:16

      I first read about kefir bread from you Christi and Joanne built on my inspiration and voila, the blogging love is spread around! I was dead chuffed to be able to make this bread and I really didn’t think that it would work with my non-dairy kefir (more hooch than boost 😉 ) but it worked amazingly well. That tells me that my kefir has “proof” in more ways than one! (HIC!) 😉 Hugs from Tassie…it’s FREEZING here today! I have Brunhilda opened up and burning like a phoenix just to heat up the kitchen. I bet there is a frost out there too and all of those people who have planted out their tomatoes early (FOOLS) are going to have to start all over again…happens every year folks! ;). Glad you liked the slideshow…I almost had a tantrum and threw the computer over the deck but wonder Steve came to the rescue…what WOULD the blogging world do without “Steve’s” in the background pulling the strings and making posts work! 🙂

      Reply

  7. Chica Andaluza
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 01:42:24

    Am so glad you didn’t actually lose a leg – otherwise we would have all had to have had a whip round to buy you a new (eco friendly, bionic woman, vegan) one 😉 This bread is amazing! Now, we have no such thing as kefir Up the Mountain, but I am sure when I get back to dear old blighty my local health food shop (a mere 2 minute walk from our little flat) will be able to oblige and then I will be giving this a go. Isn’t it amazing the many ways that you can make bread – so clever!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:34:51

      I KNOW!!! I was so stoked to hear that I could use kefir to raise bread because I had just murdered my sourdough starter and was feeling low…suddenly I got a life line from Joanne and I can bake bread again! I could send you some dehydrated kefir grains if you like. Let me know, I have lots of them hibernating in the fridge 😉

      Reply

  8. Littlesundog
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 04:16:03

    My grandmother taught me to cover rising bread with a tea towel also. This technique has always done me right too. I’ll take a look at Joanna’s blog. I’m sure I’ll find myself salivating over many scrumptious breads. We’ve tried to cut back on bread, but in fall and winter I’m prone to craving the whole experience!

    The word cloud is beautiful!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 05:01:56

      Thankyou for noticing the word cloud Lori 🙂 No Earl today (he was too busy licking the coffee icecream churner blades to pose nicely) but I have an Earl photobombing session for next Wednesday…stay tuned! 🙂

      Reply

  9. teawithhazel
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 07:33:30

    i’m really impressed with your kefir bread fran..does it have a different taste to a sourdough bread?

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 09:45:53

      It’s more like regular bread with a hint of a tang Jane and it was lovely and crunchy the next day as toast. I would bake the smaller batch (a single loaf) as it didn’t keep amazingly well but it was so delicious it probably wouldn’t last long in most households. I don’t eat bread and Steve doesn’t eat much so the loaves got to sit around for a few days. I am going to turn the last of it into delicious breadcrumbs, half to freeze “fresh” and the other half to dry out for crumbing. All in all it was a really good result from very few ingredients 🙂

      Reply

  10. rabidlittlehippy
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 12:44:25

    Oh my, look at that crumb! I think I will be giving this one a try! Better go wake up Kiefer my kefir then. He is languishing in overfermented milk in the fridge. Oh well, cream cheese anyone? 😉
    I am so impressed by your bread that I am going to experiment with date paste again. I have been using medjools because that’s what I have and I made date paste custard yesterday but it wasn’t all that sweet so I cheated and dumped in a little rapadura. Next time more date paste. 🙂 I shall experiment adding DP to my sourdough instead of the sugar it calls for (I use rapadura of course) as a little more fibre and iron is always a good thing. 🙂

    GORJUSS photos by the way. 😀

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 17:30:08

      That’s why I started using date paste, because as a vegan I am low in iron and if I could get a bonus from my sugar (as well as fibre so that would be more than 1 bonus 😉 ) I wanted it! I don’t use medjools, I use humble old dried dates in the packets. You can also get them from health food shops but I am slack (bad narf!). The bread was delicious apparently. I just processed the last of it to throw to another batch of chicks that have “accidentally” hatched out on Serendipity Farm…bet they are all beeping roosters! 😉

      Reply

      • rabidlittlehippy
        Sep 12, 2013 @ 17:48:21

        Oh I would relieve you of your roosters if I could. 😉 I shall send hennish thoughts to them all though ok? And tell those feral cats to stay away or you’ll sik Earl onto them.
        I guess low iron would be a particular haard for the vegetarian and vegan, something one must keep an eye on. I know, even as an omni, mine gets a little low at times. And sod eating “iron-fortified” cereals and such. They’re fortified by adding extremely finely ground iron filings! Don’t believe me on that? Buy an iron fortified cereal, mix it with water to make a mushy paste, blend for a while then use a white cloth or plastic or something and a magnet and dip the plastic wrapped magnet in the cereal paste, swirl it around for a bit then have a look! I saw it done once and I haven’t bought iron fortified anything since.
        I plan to make up a nice big jar of date paste and store it in the fridge for easy access. Thermy makes short work of it with a little water and the pitted medjools. I love dates and they are our houses version of chocolate so we eat them as is a LOT. Wish we had the climate to grow them. I have enough pits each week for a grove! I shall get the dear husband to pick up some packs of the cheaper ones for paste making though. Save the yumolicious ones for munching. 😀
        Just sliced my second loaf f sourdough and still holier than thou on the inside and not good crumb holes either. Still, this one is much better than the giant mousehole of the last loaf. I think there must still be too much lactic acid burping carbon dioxide into the loaf or some such. Take 3. 🙂 And a kefir loaf to compare against maybe. Maybe tomorrow. 😉

      • narf77
        Sep 13, 2013 @ 04:31:45

        The biggest problem that siking Earl onto them would cause is that Earl doesn’t diferentiate between feral cats and chooks and is just as happy to munch on either of them :(. Joanne was saying that longer proofing causes the bubbles because I was lamenting that my kefir bread looked like regular shop bought bread. I had proofed it over Brunhilda’s toasty happiness and it obviously had a head start on regular room temperature breads. Love that you can make sourdough… at least ONE of us can ;). Plant the dates anyway, they make lovely palms and if you think about global warming…you just never know…(there has to be SOME positives to it!)

  11. frandough
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 02:39:36

    Hi Fran,
    Your blog is inspiring. Many thanks to you and Joanna for your help and advice.
    You are both so kind in your help with the kefir. I have only baked with it a few months but find it quite addicitive. Also use it as yogurt and make a soft cheese.
    I find kefir very good for my digestion too. I am (aka) fancybake in the uk.
    Or Fran M. from Yorkshire.

    Happy Baking

    Fran M.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 13, 2013 @ 04:36:06

      Hi Fran M. Another Fran! There aren’t a lot of us around you know and we need to be very obtuse to ensure the rest of the world knows how special we are. Steve is ALWAYS telling me that I am “special” ;). Thankyou for the blog appreciation. I just throw my thoughts out there and hope that some of them land like dandelion seeds and take root. Joannes blog is amazing. It’s cram packed full of useful recipes and very helpful information…mine is sort of a hodge-podge of “stuff” that seems to make it to print every Wednesday…hardly the same but again, thankyou very much for appreciating it :). I am going to check out your blog right now 🙂

      Reply

  12. brymnsons
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 09:22:22

    Interesting read Fran. I’m looking forward to tasting your bread lol. The stromboli is already a hit. Made one with left over mince, sweet potato, cabbage etc and it was delish! I like the slide show too, very noice 🙂

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 13, 2013 @ 10:27:47

      Glad you have added the Stromboli to your regular repertoire now, bet Bruce appreciates it and it IS a great way to use up leftovers :).

      Reply

  13. brymnsons
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 18:41:10

    Yes it is in deed, and now we are only two we have plenty of left overs lol.

    Reply

  14. Angela @ Canned Time
    Sep 14, 2013 @ 07:37:46

    So envying your bread skills and that loaf is absolutely gorgeous! What fantastic info on the Kefir too.
    This sure makes my little 50 word posts look like kindergarden and I can’t wait to try this one out in my slowcooker method.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 14, 2013 @ 16:49:00

      It was the most forgiving dough Angela and was just as easy as using commercial yeast. None of the problems with getting it to rise, my non-dairy kefir acted just like commercial yeast. I would go with the smaller loaf (single loaf) as it doesn’t keep as well as other breads but it tastes so delicious I doubt that it will last long enough for the next days toast. The only reason that ours didn’t get completely scarfed on the night was that it was made with butter and I didn’t eat it! 😉

      Reply

  15. Allotment adventures with Jean
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 08:53:54

    A thoroughly interesting post Fran.
    I baked a loaf yesterday using my bread maker to the dough stage to get it started and then kneeded and shaped ready for the oven. I felt proud of my efforts until I read this blog post of yours! Your bread sounds fantastic. Thanks for all the detailed instructions too.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 15, 2013 @ 16:41:55

      You should feel VERY proud of any baking that you do Jean, I was testing Joanne’s recipe for her using non-dairy kefir and never expected it to work because sourdough and I are not good mates but the kefir worked amazingly well and the bread rose as well as if I had used regular commercial yeast so it added another notch to the narf7 belt. Always good to have lots of notches 😉

      Reply

  16. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 11:28:22

    Jeez, you scared me for a minute with that blog title… I didn’t know the reference!

    Super excited about your bread though, because I’m both a killer of sourdough AND I love date syrup. It’s even better than average molasses, if you ask me. I may have to tinker with the recipe a bit, too. Happily, So Delicious makes an awesome coconut kefir so this is practically as good as made.

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 15, 2013 @ 16:48:45

      YUM! Coconut kefir? Apparently you can make the bread with water kefir so it’s the yeasty beasties in the kefir rather than the milk protein that makes the bread rise so well. Mine rose magnificently and kept rising no matter how many times I folded it in the bowl and it rose quickly as well so no worries about waiting for 6 weeks like you do with sourdough ;). Let us know if you do make it with the coconut kefir and how it tastes. I am interested. I am going to culture a can of coconut cream with some of the finished kefir as it cultures amazingly well. I used to try using the grains but now that I know that I can use the fermented beverage to do the work for me the sky is the limit. I am going to make some coconut yoghurt using kefir and am going to mess about with some thick nut creams to see how they go. LOVE this experimentation! 🙂 Sorry about the leg quote by the way, I should have known that lots of people haven’t heard of Father Ted, but hey, a good reason to look it up 😉

      Reply

  17. Namita
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 13:15:24

    Hi Fran, Discovered a new side of you. You are a fantastic baker too. Your loaves look so well risen, beautifully shaped and perfectly baked. Loved the use of kefir. I am sure your home must have smelt heaven while the bread was being baked!

    Reply

    • narf77
      Sep 15, 2013 @ 16:45:00

      The bread tasted lovely as well Namita, I was testing the recipe for Joanne of “Zeb Bakes” as she had made it with regular milk kefir and had attempted to make a gluten free bread that didn’t work. She put it out there to those of us who were dairy free to see if we could make it with non-dairy kefir so I decided to try it. I don’t have a lot of success with anything other than regular commercial yeast so I was completely surprised to be able to turn out lovely loaves using only homemade soymilk kefir! A great thing to know in case I ever run out of regular yeast :).

      Reply

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