Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rising inspiration

I love a moment of inspiration. When an idea, person or thing gets the brain ticking and formulating a thought, strategy or intention. Even if nothing is done with it, the inspiring moment itself is an uplifting experience; fleeting as it may be.

While I can’t say that I’m regularly inspired to copy when I’m at a restaurant (microherbs, paints and foams – I think not), it’s a different matter at a bakery or café, although it’s not necessarily an easier feat. There’s just something more appealing about attempting a cob loaf than a finely plated seafood dish of 10+ components.

Breads on display at Bourke Street Bakery, Bourke Street, Surry Hills
The hallowed Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills has become an institution, with their own cookbook no less. The long queue out the door and constantly turning-over outdoor seating is quite something; like a known and accepted ritual and a must-do if you’re in the vicinity on a weekend.

Rhubarb and almond tarts
However much a pie fiend I am, my ritual at Bourke Street is tarts. For fear of ruining these perfect cream concoction filled pastry cases, I would not attempt to make these at home. For fear of offending one of the tarts, I don’t have a favourite.

Pear and almond tarts
Depending on my mood, I’d have the lemon curd if I was up for a little cheek-pinching sourness; the chocolate raspberry if I was feeling a little naughty; one of the brulee tarts if I wanted the full force sugar hit; and one of the pear and almond tarts if I was pretending to be healthy.

Strawberry brulee tart
This particular day, I needed sweetening, so it was the strawberry brulee tart. The first touch of pastry is exhilarating and brings you back to the memory that is Bourke Street’s perfect pastry cases. The crunch through the toffee top leads you through the thick, uber-sweet custard of the crème brulee on a treasure hunt for the strawberry; hidden somewhere in the bottom of the tart.

Chocolate and raspberry tarts (back), lemon curd tart (front left) and strawberry brulee tart (front right)
It’s a very rich journey, much helped with a coffee on the side – or in my case, a chocolate tart. And a bite of the lemon curd tart. I have no favourite. The ride home is somewhat inspired by the tarty gorging on sugar and all things bakery, as well as a recent kitchen acquisition. And there’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread.

Using the dough hook attachment
I’d never used a dough hook before, and despite its menacing look, it’s rather fun and takes the elbow grease out of bread-making while leaving the playful yeast and proving parts. Though one really shouldn’t work the mixer till it starts smoking no matter how many more minutes the dough needs to be smooth.

My 'cob loaf' - not quite a cob loaf shape
Working from a simple cob loaf recipe, I’d wrangled some kind of roll-like shape for the first lot and brushed the top with beaten egg followed by a sprinkle of polenta. This loaf turned out a little denser than I’d intended, but was excellent cut thin and toasted to a crisp for dipping.

Sundried tomato bread proves
I wanted to change up the second lot, and trawled the fridge to find a jar of sundried tomatoes and basil, and the pantry to find chilli flakes. With these tossed into the mixer bowl, an orange hue ensued – not red. I’d seen another recipe that created a bread pull-apart, and lo and behold inspired, I had my very own round pull-apart proving in front of me.

Sundried tomato bread pull-apart
It baked to be rather fluffier than the white loaf – which I wonder if it relates to the amount of yeast (I added a bit more to the sundried tomato one) or proving in a tin which restricts expansion upwards only. Either way, I like the fluffiness and will attempt to achieve that texture from here on. I feel that sourdough endeavours are probably a bit further down the track, and I will accordingly rise to that challenge when more educated and advanced inspiration hits.

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

oh those brulee tarts are amazing aren't they? and well done on your breads - nothing more satisfying than making your own. the pull-apart looks particularly tasty!

Betty said...

i wanna go back to buroke st bakery, i only tried the cheese & spinach roll last time :s

Tina said...

Hi Helen - Thanks :) And I probably wouldn't bother trying to make the brulee tarts at home - no way they'd be as good as BSB's

Hi Betty - I'm the opposite, I need to try more of the savoury menu...!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

As a bit of a weakling (ok a lot) I love how a dough hook helps with baking! :D

Tina said...

Hi Lorraine - I made my mixer smoke - that's shouldn't happen should it? :) I kinda like kneading by hand though...


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