This week at Mawson we get hands-on in the bakery and its stocktake time in the green store.

Mawson bakery

Nothing says ‘decadent brunch’ more then a croissant, those flaky buttery crisps of pastry that melt in your mouth. So last week when Gav the chef on station asked if I wanted to help make a batch of fresh croissants for our Saturday morning brunch, I jumped at the chance to learn. How impressive is this skill going to be when I get home!

We made a soft dough from flour, milk, eggs, yeast and sugar and then kneaded it until it was smooth and the gluten was slightly activated.

Then we started to build the layers by rolling the dough out into a rectangular block about two centimetres thick. Then cover in butter and fold the long sides into the middle to make a small package. Place in the fridge for 30 mins and repeat the process until all the butter is used, four times in total. Lots of layers of butter = flaky fluffy pastry.

The process took about two hours and then we wrapped the pastry in a moist tea towel and left it in the fridge overnight.

Saturday morning, I was super excited. After warming the dough to room temperature, it was soft and pliable. We rolled it out to about one centimetre thickness and cut half into triangles and the other half into diamonds. To make croissants we rolled the triangles from the base of the triangle to the points and then formed a crescent shape. To make the Danish’s we put a big blob of thick custard in the middle of the diamond along with some tinned mandarin segments then brought two sides together. With the leftover pastry we cut rectangles and rolled around chocolate strips to make Pain au Chocolat.

They were amazing, flaky and light – the perfect way to start the day, or for lunch or even a sneaky one after dinner.

While the Danishes were a bit of a treat, fresh bread is almost an every day occurrence. We have fresh bread rolls, crusty loaves of white, wholemeal or fruit bread. At lunch there is usually a scroll of some description, roast capsicum, sun dried tomato or caramelised onion.

When we arrived at the station, last years chef Kim handed over the starter that he had carefully nurtured. In turn, Gav has been caring for the starter through this year.

The starter is a live natural yeast mixture that adds taste and texture to the bread. Because it is ‘live’ it needs to be fed regularly with fresh flour and water and kept at the right temperature. Most nights Gav can be found in the kitchen feeding the starter ready for the mornings bread making.

This morning it was white bread day, the starter was bubbling away and we added flour, sugar, salt, yeast and water to the starter. It was kneaded in the Hobart mixing machine and then left to double in size before Gav shaped the loaves and rolls for morning tea and lunch today. 

Sorting the stores

Towards the end of the winter we need to start cleaning out our fridges and storage areas. The apples, onions, cabbages and pumpkins that have lasted since February are starting to get a little sad, well more then a little sad in truth. We also had to clean the cheese and egg fridge and some of the spare Davis cheese that was left here in February was starting to go off… Imagine our surprise when we found a five pound note in a box of Edam! How odd.

As well as sorting the remaining fresh veggies and fruit we also completed the annual dry store and freezer stocktake last week. About 6–7 people spent a few hours wandering the racks in the green store muttering ‘pecans’ and ‘tumeric’ under their breath as we attempted to find all sorts of different items and count them up. We also found some more unusual items like wild rice, fermented black beans and Korean cooking wine.

The incoming summer expeditioners that arrive in eight weeks can relax, I think we have enough BBQ shapes and Tim Tams to last till resupply in February.