Category Archives: bread

Soft Pretzels! (not so scary)

PretzelsPretzels are one of my all time favourite snacks. When a pretzel stand opened at my local shopping centre (Garden City, Booragoon for those of you playing along at home) back in 2005/6, I was so excited I think I had one a week for about 4 months. So soft, so salty, so covered in various toppings and with a myriad of dipping sauces.

S-J shares a similar love of the baked good and so we decided to get down to the business of pretzel making. This recipe was super forgiving to our extended periods between getting things done. I made the dough base at my house then pootled about getting ready for way longer than the suggested rising time, before jumping in the car and taking the bowl of expanded dough over to S-J’s house for rolling, boiling and baking. We managed to get all of that done (and baked up the dipping sauce) while her small son napped.

If that doesn’t tell you this is a recipe for you, I don’t know what will. Continue reading

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Review: Candied Bakery, Spotswood

This amazing bakery, located in the wild western suburbs of our fair city, has been on our minds for months here at New Fat Ladies HQ. We’d heard tales of crusty bread, creamy apple pie shakes and imaginative sweet pastry treats that tickled our taste buds.

We bundled ourselves into the car with empty bellies and drove the 40 minutes to Candied with only a little bit of bad directioning and an iphone that JUST WOULDN’T LOAD THE MAP to delay us. It was still worth the trip. Think about that for a second.

The bakery is located a stone’s throw from the Spotswood train station, very close to Scienceworks and would make for an excellent day trip of sweets and science!

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Prices are a little on the high side, but for a boutique-style bakery that’s pretty much to be expected. I also didn’t care at all after I put the things in my mouth. SO TASTY.

We tried the following (for science):

– Crispy based Brownie
– Jam Donut
– Chocolate and Marshmallow Cookie
– Pain au Nutella (Nutella Croissant)
– Honey Joy Cheesecake
– Korean Chilli Paste Focaccia
– White Country Loaf
– Coffee
– Coffee Shake

All the sweet treats were met with happy faces and giddy licking of fingers, so I’d say we like them a lot. Look out for a New Fat Ladies rendition of the Honey Joy Cheesecake coming soon. The lamination on the Pain au Nutella had S-J and I making impressed faces at each other for about 5 minutes. We are baking losers you guys, no shame.

Both breads were excellent. I’m a chilli-wuss so none of the focaccia passed my lips, but it looked super tasty and seemed to disappear pretty fast. (SJ: IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD!) The white loaf was super tasty. Crunchy but not impossible to chew crust, soft interior and was still fresh after 2 days – great for organic bakery bread!

SJ noted that her coffee was a little bitter on first sip, but mellowed as she went on. The coffee shake I had was pretty perfect, an excellent mix of flavours, not too thick and not left with 5 inches of undrinkable froth at the end, lovely and cold and delicious.

If I was to make a recommendation as to what you should get if you pass by Candied? Definitely the Coffee Shake and a chocolate and marshmallow cookie.

We plan to head back again and try out the pies and sausage rolls. Can’t wait!

Opening Hours
Wed-Sat: 7.30am – 4pm
Sun: 8am – 4pm

81a Hudsons Rd
Spotswood, Vic 3015

Ph: 03 9391 1335

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Coq Aux Vins Sandwich (Or: yes, we did actually use two wines and then nerded it up grammar style.)

And then there came a day unlike any other* when I decided it would be a good idea to take all the delicious elements of Coq Au Vin and put them in a sandwich.

It was a good day.

I was having leftover Coq Au Vin for lunch one day and mopping up all the deliciousness with a nice piece of bread and had a moment. I will now recreate that moment through a short playscript.



My Brain: We should make this into a sandwich.

Me: Holy smokes! How would we create such a devilish treat?

My Brain: Let’s get Katie in on this.

Me: Good thinking, Brain. *texts Katie*

Katie: *is the ideas person*

And so this sandwich was born. Was it a labour of love? Yes. Did it take longer than your usual lunchtime repast? Yes. Was it worth it? HELLZ YES.

Continue reading

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Fancy French Toast (Or: Remember that time we made challah and I froze some?)

Long time readers (like, since August), might remember the successful Challah making that took place at New Fat Ladies headquarters (there was dancing, and celebrating). I am only one person and could not quite manage to eat a whole loaf of delicious challah in one go, so I sliced up a few very serious sized slices and sealed them in zip lock bags and tossed them in the freezer ready for a future brunch adventure. That adventure turned out to be brown sugar-y french toast!

Fancy French Toast

Time: 20 minutes, 2 minutes bread prep the night before
Yield: 2 serves

5 – 6 thick slices of challah (or brioche, or any decent sturdy bread)

6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
butter (for frying)

2 large ripe bananas
Maple Syrup for drizzling (or, um, drowning in if you’re me)
1/2 cup whipped cream

Note: If your bread is frozen, leave it out to thaw overnight so it’s ready for the morning. If using fresh, slice and leave it out overnight so it gets slightly stale. French toast is always better when made with slightly stale bread.

In a dish that will comfortably fit half of your bread, use a fork to whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Lay 3 slices in the eggy mixture and leave for 3 – 5 minutes. Carefully turn slices over and soak the other side.

In a large frying pan, gently melt a knob of butter (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) until it bubbles a little. Drain the excess eggy mixture off and add the slices to pan. Fry over a medium/low heat until it is deep gold and caramelises a little, turn and do the same with the other side. Remove cooked bread to a plate to keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the other slices of bread.

Timing tip: When you remove the first batch of bread, add the remaining slices to the eggy mixture, turn those when you turn the ones frying.

Pile the bread up on a plate, cover with banana slices, a dollop of whipped cream and drizzle maple syrup all over the pile. Share with someone else if you like, or shovel it into your mouth until you explode. Your call.

I think you know which decision I made.

p.s. you’ll probably have leftover eggy mixture at the end, you can just discard it, or if you whisk in some flour and a little baking powder and a splash more milk to get it to pancake batter consistency, you can whip up a few pancakes and make a brunch buffet 😀

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A Tale of Two Starters (Or: A long and sordid story involving murder.)

About two years ago, I bought the Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook, thanks to a gift voucher from some family members. Now, I’ve never been to the Bourke Street Bakery due to Melbourne-ness and the fact that we never seem to have time when we occasionally go to Sydney, but I had read so much about it and was keen to try out some of the recipes in the book.

I’d also been thinking about wanting to expand my bread making repertoire: I went through a stage of making our bread but it was a fairly boring plain white loaf which was hard to get enthusiastic about.

After leafing through the book, what I needed was sourdough.

I love sourdough. The texture, the taste, the way it makes everything tastier — sourdough is a total winner.

And, more correctly, what I needed was a sourdough starter.

I’m not going to say it wasn’t disheartening when I read about starting a starter in the Bourke Street Bakery book and realising that it would be about a month before I could even make a loaf of bread. And that I would be caring for this starter like it was another pet (which we had four of at the time). And there was still the possibility that it would all go wrong and some sort of chemical shenanigans would render my starter sad and unusable.

However, my reasoning was this:
1. I love bread making and I love working with yeast.
2. I actually find the time that bread making takes is really quite relaxing and therapeutic.
3. This is like making my own yeast!
4. It takes even longer!
5. It results in sourdough.

So I started a starter. I needed to make it like a member of the family so that I remembered to care for it. And so Stefan was born.

I worked hard on Stefan – feeding him, watching him grow, throwing a bunch of him out on a regular basis. He made delicious bread the few times I actually got to use him. I wrote detailed instructions for people house-sitting as to what he needed and when.

Sadly, however, we moved house. And I became a starter murderer.

Look, it wasn’t on purpose! He was moved with the utmost of care! I tried to reinvigorate my love of feeding and caring for him! It just wasn’t happening. I let him languish and he died. I murdered Stefan.

In the last two weeks, I decided it was time to start again.

Everyone, meet Sigrid.

Note: this picture is from a week or so ago. She is much bubblier now.

She seems strong and healthy so far. I’ll keep you updated on how she’s going and, obviously, the delicious things she helps us bake.

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Challah! (or, The New Fat Ladies illustrate their love of Jewish baked goods through, well, baking.)

Sesame Challah Glamour Shot

Today we’re baking bread! Rising, resting, kneading, growing, shaping, plaiting, washing, baking, and eating. One of the staples, it is a delicious thing on its own, but is in my opinion, best as a vehicle for any number of sandwich toppings, used in dumplings, puddings, stuffings, crumbing, and baking!

I am a bit of a bread making novice. I’ve used a trusty breadmaker many, many times with success (pour flour, yeast and other things in, press button, walk away, peer in the through the lid, walk away, peer in again, BEEP, have bread!) but have had mixed results with breads made by hand. I think this is down to my lack of ability to put something somewhere and leave it alone. I am forever lifting the teatowel on top on the bowl with the dough in it “just to check” which I’m fairly sure lets out the heat and magic bread air that makes the thing rise so beautifully. So with all that in mind, I was super excited to try bread (and not just any bread, a bread from Deb, our not-so-secret hero) with S-J who has had much more hand-made bread experience and success.


So after much excited recipe perusing and exclamations of our secret food dreams, we came to the decision to make Challah (it beat out tortillas, bagels, soft pretzels and cinnamon scrolls), based on the delicious looking recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

There is something so wonderful about Jewish food. So comforting, warming and magical. This bread, with its pretty braided construction and double egg wash finish is the perfect blend of sweet, mellow, and delicious.

I have to say that I think both of us pretty much had the best time ever making these loaves. There was so much high fiving going on it could have been the Olympics of bread-making, and the smell that filled S-J’s and E’s kitchen tonight has to be one of the happiest smells ever.

To be honest, we pretty much followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe to the letter, with the small exception that we left out the sultanas/currants and S-J topped hers with sesame seeds and I left mine unadorned by any seeds of any kind (seeds on/in/around bread is a sadness that I cannot abide). Seriously though, the loaves are the prettiest baked goods I’ve ever seen.


LOOK AT THAT BRAID! Well played, Katie!


Adapted from Joan Nathan via Smitten Kitchen
Time: all up about 4 hours for us, but we cooked dinner and baby wrangled too
Yield: 2 loaves

  • 11g of active dry yeast
  • 13g sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 8 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for flouring surfaces)
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

In the large bowl of your mixer (if you have one, or any large bowl if you’re using elbow grease), dissolve yeast and first measure of sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

Whisk oil into the yeast mixture, and then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time. Once incorporated, mix the second measure of sugar and the salt in.

Grease the dough hook attachment for your mixer. Replace the bowl with yeast/sugar/egg/salt/water mixture onto the mixer.
With the machine on low/mixing with strong arms, gradually add all of the flour (you may need to stop and scrape the sides occasionally). When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (Note: Deb expressed concerns about the dough not fitting into a standard size Kitchen Aid. We used S-J’s Kmix with great success for the mixing and kneading. We oiled the dough hook at the beginning which helps to keep the dough from sticking too much. Stop the mixer and scrape down sides and hook quite often until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it feels sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface while you clean out the bowl and grease it with the extra oil, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size (our resting place wasn’t very warm so it was a half-hearted rising and pitiful punch down – but the bread was still good, HAVE NO FEAR!). Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour (second rising, we left our bowl in a sink full of warm water – a much better rise).

Now for the best part, braiding the loaves!

To make a 6-braid challah, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls (S-J was excellent and weighed hers out, I am lazy and went the eyeball-it approach). With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 30 cms long and 4 cms wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another.  Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. Make a second loaf the same way.

We read the instructions out to each other as we braided and this was a much easier way to do it, there’s no way either of us could read and braid at the same time. TOO HARD! At this point you should stand back, high five your baking partner, then do a little (or big) happy dance around your flour dusted kitchen singing about how amazing challah is.

Once you’ve finished your dance, place each loaf on its own sheet pan lined with baking paper.

Beat one egg and brush it on loaves. Leave the loaves to rise for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 180C and with another beaten egg, brush the loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using.

Bake for 30 minutes with one loaf on the top rack and one on the bottom, turning and swapping racks at 15 minutes. Try not to overcook. The loaves will be lovely and shiny and a deep brown.

Cool loaves on a rack.

Nom with great abandon!!

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