Best Home-made Bread

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This recipe was given to me by my Slovakian auntie. She bakes her own bread on a daily basis.

For a long time I had missed the taste of  bread that I was used to from home  so I asked her to send me her recipe.

When I moved to Australia it took me a good couple of years to get used to the white fluffy, cotton wool-tasting bread you buy in the supermarket. And toasting the bread – that’s not the practice at home.  At least it wasn’t when I was growing up. You don’t really toast rye bread.

Rye bread with caraway seed is the most common variety in the Czech Republic.

One day I used my aunt’s recipe and tried to bake my own bread that tasted like the one from home. And I succeeded.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful bakeries here in and around Melbourne baking the most amazing sourdough I’ve ever tasted. For example The Red Beard in Trentham that we visit quite often.

But still, the first thing I go for when I get home to Prague is bread. Fresh, not toasted, plain, just like that, yum…

Or with a spread of home-made lard and thinly sliced onion and lots of salt. Not so good for my waistline though 🙂

Try baking your own bread. It’s quite easy. And the reward? Two loaves of preservative – free goodness. The better quality flour you use, the better the quality your bread will be.

I use white bakers flour, organic white spelt and organic wholemeal flour in a 2:1:1 ratio.

You can use just white flour, if that’s what you have at home.

I tweaked my auntie’s recipe a little.

Here is my latest version.

INGREDIENTS:

This recipe yields two loafs.

500 g strong bread flour

250 g white spelt flour

250 g wholemeal flour

3 tsp salt

1-2 tsp caraway seeds, whole or crushed

3 Tbsp vinegar ( I use organic cider vinegar, but white is fine)

3 Tbsp olive oil

200 g cooked potato, grated (3 small or 2 bigger potatoes will do, cook them in their skins, peel and grate finely)

200 ml tepid water

YEAST STARTER

1 Tbsp dry active yeast (my Tbsp is 20 ml, that’s 5 ml bigger than a standard US Tbsp)

3 tsp granulated white sugar

300 ml tepid water

METHOD

Mix the starter ingredients and let them ferment for about half an hour – until bubbly.

Put all remaining ingredients (except the 200 ml water) in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl if you don’t own a mixer.

I use my stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, makes the kneading so much easier. If you knead by hand, that’s a bonus exercise for you.

With the mixer on minimum speed start adding your fermented starter. Also add bit by bit the 200 ml of water.

Dough ball will start forming. Let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes on minimum. It’s a lot of flour, we don’t want to overheat your machine.

Dough should be elastic, smooth and not too wet. Keep adding water if the dough feels too dry. The ball should pick up all the flower off the sides of the bowl. If the dough feels too wet and sticky, add more flour.

Let the dough rise in a covered bowl for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.

1st rising

1st rising

after 1 hour, dough has more than doubled in size

after 1 hour, dough has more than doubled in size

Punch the air out of the dough, roll and knead for a minute, return it to the bowl, cover and let rise again for another hour or until the dough doubles in size.

Meanwhile prepare the tins for baking.  I butter mine and dust them with some corn meal (flour).

Punch the dough again and divide in two equal parts. Shape the dough according to your tin. I use rectangular high bread tin.

3rd rising in the tins, I’m using meat loaf tins

Let the bread rise one last time.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to maximum, mine gets up to 250C.

Make a couple of slits (with a thin sharp knife) in the top of your bread and brush it lightly with some milk, sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake in the middle of your oven for 15 minutes then reduce to 150C for 45 minutes.

When finished baking remove the bread from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

I slice mine and usually end up with 12 -15 slices per loaf.

This bread has no preservatives so it won’t last a week like the supermarket kind, but I promise you it tastes much better.

I usually put mine in a zip-lock back and freeze.

We toast it straight from the freezer.

marketa

Election Day

Today is Election Day here in Australia.

Being the good Aussie I am, I got to the polling booth early, yesterday afternoon. Missed out on the sausage sizzle today. Arrgh! If only I knew… Must remember for next time.

Archie came with me and received plenty of attention from all the volunteers shoving all the propaganda in your face.

There was a young girl next to me in the booth yesterday. She asked me in a shaky voice if she’s allowed to phone her mum to help her with filling of the ballot paper. Poor thing, didn’t have an idea. I asked her who she wants to vote for, her answer “for the Sex party” didn’t surprise me. I just laughed to myself and remembered how confused I was when I at barely 18 had to vote for the first time, all by myself. I think I went for the Greens back then.

Well, that’s how it is. Will see what the future brings and which party will get the leadership for the next 3 years.

Not that I’m into politics or anything.

I just went so I don’t get fined. Hehe.

Today is also the first day of fermentation of my sourdough starter. I purchased a dehydrated starter pack on eBay. I tried to grow my own sourdough bacteria a while ago but failed miserably.

This time it’s a proper, functioning starter, I hope. First promising bubble appeared on the surface today, yay.

I’m sure I’ll be baking my own sourdough bread in no time! Fingers crossed.

We’ve been baking our own bread for at least three months now. None of the preservative-laden commercial bread for us anymore.

I’ll post the recipe for my home-made bread very soon. It’s so easy. All you need is time. And flour 😉

Day 1, first bubble

Day 1, first bubble

TV is full of the Election stuff tonight. Boring.

Weather turned cold and rainy again. I was so stoked to wear t-shirt on our walks with Archie last week. Spring is my favourite season I think.

Time for a glass of wine and some of my comfort food red pasta dish.

Good night

xx

Mid-week dinner – Quinoa and vegetable pancakes with chipotle mayo

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Do you have some quinoa left over? Don’t know what to do with it? Why don’t you try to make these pancakes.

QUINOA AND VEGETABLE PANCAKES

Serves 2, yield about 8 pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled

1 cup shredded zucchini

1 cup shredded carrot

2 spring onions, finely sliced (or 2 Tbsp chopped chives)

1 egg

1 heaped Tbsp buckwheat flour (or AP flour)

2 Tbsp coconut oil for frying (or any other vegetable oil)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

2 Tbsp Mayonnaise with a few drops of Chipotle Tabasco added, to serve

Method

Place quinoa, zucchini, carrot and onions in a large mixing bowl, crack an egg on top and stir. Add flour, salt, pepper and paprika, stir again until all ingredients are incorporated.

Mixture shouldn’t be too wet, if it is, add a little more flour.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan. Using large spoon, drop mixture in pan and flatten a bit, creating a larger pancake, about 4 inches in diameter. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Be gentle and use a large spatula when turning the pancakes, they  tend to fall apart. If you feel that it’s impossible to flip them, add another egg in the mixture. This will help them to hold  together a little better.

Dollop some chipotle mayo on your pancake and enjoy.

YUM!

Chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting


INGREDIENTS

2 ounces (60 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetenedcocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1/2 cup (120 ml) boiling water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
 
 
METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line 15 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a stainless steel or heatproof bowl place the chopped unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. 
Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until they have melted. Set aside to cool while you make the batter.
In a separate bowl, whisk to combine, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. 
Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy. 
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture and beat to combine.
Add the milk and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated.
Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups, and bake for about 18 – 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. 
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. 
 
MARSHMALLOW FROSTING
 

4 large egg whites
1 Cup ordinary sugar (white or brown)
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence

Place all ingredients except the vanilla essence into a bowl which you can place over a pot of simmering water.

Whisk the egg white mixture constantly over simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.

It takes around 5 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a bigger bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla while beating. After 3 minutes, the mixture will be lovely and fluffy.
 
Pipe (I used a Wilton 1M star tip) or spread frosting on each cupcake.
 

Chocolate self-saucing puddings

This is a “must try” recipe for any chocolate lover. 
Very souffle-like, soft-centred puddings, oozing their hot chocolate at the lightest touch of your spoon.
They are rich but not over-poweringly sweet. Just perfect.

And guess what? You can make them ahead of time. What a bonus!
A perfect sweet end to your dinner party. (They can actually survive about a week in the fridge and still puff up perfectly. Trust me, I tried).

I like to serve mine with a vanilla ice-cream.

This recipe is taken from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander

INGREDIENTS

160 g unsalted butter, softened (plus more for buttering moulds)
1/3 cup all purpose plain flour (plus more for dusting moulds)
160 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli dark chocolate)
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar

METHOD

Butter 6 x 150 ml capacity moulds very well and dust with flour. Tilt moulds so that the flour coats all the buttered surfaces, then tap firmly to remove excess flour.

Melt chocolate and 160 g butter in a double boiler or in microwave.
When melted, stir gently until quite smooth.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool a little.

Preheat oven to 160 C.

Beat eggs, yolks and sugar in a stand mixer on high speed until pale and thick – about 10 minutes. 
Stop machine and sift in the flour. Set speed to low and mix.
Stop machine again and add chocolate mixture. Continue to beat on medium speed until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.





Divide batter among prepared moulds.
At this stage you can refrigerate the uncooked puddings, but bring them back to room temperature before baking, and expect them to need an extra 3 minutes baking time.
Bake for about 12 minutes until puddings look set around the edges but centres move slightly when moulds are gently moved.
Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Run a flexible spatula around edges and invert puddings onto plates.
Serve warm with ice cream, egg custard, raspberry sauce or a dollop of cream.
Enjoy!
If you try this recipe (or any other recipe on my blog), let me know how you liked it.
I’d love to hear from you.

 

Very lemony lemon slice

I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately added it to my “favourite sweets” repertoire.
It’s so light and moist, the best lemon slice I’ve ever tasted.
You can adjust the lemon glaze to your liking, just keep tasting it while adding sugar.
The slice ended up only about 3/4 of an inch thick, so it’s a pretty little morsel.

Note: the following measurements are US units, make sure you convert them if you need to

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Tart Lemon Glaze
1 rounded cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoon lemon juice
8 teaspoons lemon zest

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F /180°C . Grease/Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter/cooking spray and set aside.

Zest and juice two small/large lemons; set aside. 

In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Pour into baking dish and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center  comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.  
Do not overbake, or the bars will be dry. 

When the slice is cooled completely, make the glaze…sift the powdered sugar, add lemon zest and juice, and whisk together all three ingredients. Spread half the glaze over the slice with a rubber spatula. 
Let glaze set. Don’t rush, leave it until the glaze goes opaque.
Spread the remaining glaze over the top, and let it set again. This glaze does not harden like most. 

Cut into bars, and serve!

Stuffed sweet peppers in tomato sauce

 

This recipe has been a family favourite for a long time. It was handed down to me by my mum who got it from her mum. This is comfort food for me. It reminds me of summer school holidays spent at our holiday house, mum or grandma standing by the stove stirring a giant pot and the sweet smell of peppers and tomatoes filling the kitchen, the steaming plates filled to the brim …


Easy and delicious summer dinner. 
Give it a try, you won’t regret it.
 
 
INGREDIENTS

8 green sweet peppers, deseeded (you may know them as “bullhorn” or “sweet chille”)

Stuffing
 
500 g minced pork
500 g minced beef
2 whole eggs
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp sweet hungarian paprika
1 tsp thyme
 
if you are lucky enough to have some tsubrica (bulgarian spice) in your pantry, add a tsp of that to the mix
 
Sauce
 
1 large onion, finely diced
50 g butter
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Litres of water
2 cups of carrot, celeriac, parsnip – cubed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
10 whole peppercorns
3 whole all spice berries
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 tomato ketchup
salt
sugar
extra olive oil
 
 

METHOD
 
Preheat oven to 200C.
 
In a large bowl mix all the stuffing ingredients together.
Stuff the peppers with the meat stuffing. Be gentle as the peppers can crack if too much force is applied.
Put some of the extra olive oil on the bottom of an oven-proof roasting dish.
Lay your peppers in the dish, sprinkle some olive oil on top and add few Tbsp of water.

Bake uncovered in the oven for about 30 minutes or until peppers are slightly brown.
 
Have you got some meat stuffing left over?
Don’t fret. Make some meat balls. Oil another oven-proof dish and pop them in the oven at the same time as the peppers.
 
And while our peppers are getting their suntan on, let’s make some sauce.
 
Sweat the onion in a large pot in 2 Tbs of olive oil and 25 g of the butter.
Add the carrots, parsnip and celeriac and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes.
 
 
 
I keep this root veggies mix in the freezer in a zip-lock bag and use it in soups and sauces. It reduces the amount of salt- laden stock you have to add to your soups. 
Add the flour and stir for another 3 minutes. Don’t worry if it starts browning; we need a bit of colour.
Add all of the water in one go. Stir and add the spices, tomato paste and ketchup.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to minimum and keep it bubbling for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure it doesn’t burn to the bottom of your pot.
 
Don’t worry if you see any lumps of flour, they will cook off. 
The sauce should be the consistency of pumpkin soup; not too runny.
 
Take sauce away from the heat and pass through a strainer, leaving behind the veggies and spices.
Add the remaining 25 g of butter to the strained sauce.
This will make it velvety. 
 
If you need to thicken the sauce, add some flour whisked in to a cup of water;  return the sauce to the heat and boil for a further 5 minutes.
 
Taste the sauce now. It shouldn’t be too acidic. If this is the case, add a little sugar and stir.
 
Now it’s time to put it all together.
 
 
 
Add the peppers (and meat balls) to the sauce and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down to minimum and keep it simmering for a further 20 minutes.
 

And that’s it. 

Enjoy the peppers on their own or with a side of boiled potatoes or rice.

The dish will definitely develop its flavours as the days pass.

You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it.