Convent Bakery and Scones

It’s been a while since I last posted, which was certainly not my intention when I set this blog up, but the tennis kind of takes over in January. Not to worry, I’m back at it and have plenty of posts and photos lined up 🙂

I have tried on many occasions to bake sourdough bread without huge amounts of success. My starters are always good in the beginning, but I never seem to be able to keep them alive. So at the start of my bread making phase we get nice sourdough without the strong ‘sour’ flavour and by the end we get lovely flavoured sourdough but the bread doesn’t rise very well so it ends up very dense. Not nice frankly.

Fed up with seeing me frustrated, and sick of dense bread, D thought it might be nice to get me a bread making workshop present from the Convent Bakery at Abbotsford Convent.

Sourdough after scoring and before baking

Having bought yummy cakes and bread from there before, I was very keen to find out their secrets and see if it could help me on my quest for the perfect make-at-home sourdough.

The bakery is one of the few remaining places to have an original wood fired oven which was a pretty amazing structure. So off I went one Saturday morning, ready to learn the art of making sourdough.

Freshly baked white sourdough

The course started at 8am and we were finished by about 2pm. We fit a lot into the day and I had a great time. Most people there were in pairs, but it was a small class (8 people I think) so I didn’t mind being on my own.

We started off the morning making white sourdough before moving on to scones which we then had for morning tea with fresh jam and cream supplied by the bakery. Yummo!

Morning tea: scones with raspberry jam and cream

Once our bellies were full we went on to make rye sourdough and pizza which was to be our lunch. For anyone who hasn’t tried to make bread before, I can assure you that kneading it is hard work! I built up a good sweat that gave the lady next to me a good laugh. I take the ‘I was keen to get it right’ defence.

Rye bread: part 1

By the time we had set our rye dough and pizza off to prove, we were pretty ahead of time and still reasonably full from our scones, so we chose not to have our pizza straight away and go for a tour of the convent and learn some of its history.

Rye bread: part 2

By the time we got back our  dough had been resting for a while which gave it time to rise – good for the bread but not so good for the pizza as the base wasn’t as flat as I like, but it was still yummy nonetheless. My recipe for good pizza will come in a future post 🙂 As with all good pizza, I kept the toppings to a minimum – chicken, mushroom, olive and capsicum and salami, mushroom, olive and tomato.

Lunch (and dinner)

The recipe we were given for rye bread was double that of the white, so needless to say, i brought home A LOT of bread! And pizza. And scones. We were well fed for a couple of days.

All in all it was a great day. Our teacher was very knowledgeable and the bakery looked after us. We had coffee on arrival (well, I had a chai), with morning tea and again with lunch. I am still working on perfecting the sourdough, so in the meantime, here’s the recipe for the scones we made (tried and tested by me, and D approved!)


Scones baked at home


400g self-raising flour
30g sugar
2 pinches salt
40g butter
250ml milk


Put flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. There is no need to sift the flour. In fact i think you get a better result if you don’t. The butter needs to be at room temperature/soft so you can work it into the dry mixture to form breadcrumbs. Use your fingers/palms to rub them together.

Once you’ve done that, add in the milk and very gently stir the mix by hand, but only to incorporate the milk. Try not to mix it too much as you aren’t making a smooth bread dough – the rougher the better. This is probably the most important thing to remember – don’t overwork the dough when you add the milk. I think that is where a lot of people go wrong.

Once all the milk is incorporated and there isn’t any dry flour visible, turn the dough out on to a clean surface. At this point i just pat the mix down to be the height that I want to cut it out. You could shape it as a round block, score the top and cut it up when it comes out of the oven or you can use a cutter to cut circles out. Up to you 🙂

Bake them for 12-15 mins at 220 degrees. Just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.

Serve with fresh jam and cream and you have a quick and easy afternoon snack.


5 thoughts on “Convent Bakery and Scones

  1. I did that course a couple of years ago – even though I don’t really eat much bread anymore – I just wanted to play around with the amazing oven.. I brought home such a lot of bread. Did you use yeast AND sourdough starter? We did and I have to say I was a bit disappointed by that – but you can’t say they don’t feed you well!

    • Yes, that oven certainly was amazing. It’s really a shame there aren’t many proper wood fire ovens left. We did use yeast which defeats the purpose of using the starter but they said they leave their bread out virtually overnight to rise so time constraints meant we had to cheat a bit. We ate well for a couple days afterwards and I ended up freezing some of the bread for later consumption because it would’ve gone off by the time we got around to eating it otherwise. Especially the rye bread because it was double the quantity of the regular white…

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