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

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.
 

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!

Jam-filled turnovers

Makes: about 24
Preparation: 1 hour + 1 hour to rest
Cooking time: 30 minutes


Ingredients:

3 cups/45o g all purpose plain four
1 cup/200 g sugar
dash of salt
2/3 cup/150 g butter, cut up
3 whole egg, lightly whisked
3 Tbs Jamaica rum
1 1/2 cups/450 g Morello cherry or plum jam
or any other jam you have in a pantry 🙂 I used plum and strawberry
4 Tbs icing/ confectioners’ sugar


Method:

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
Make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs and rum. Combine well, without working the dough too much; it should be just smooth.

Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C fan forced.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to just under 5 mm thick. 
Keep your rolling pin floured as well.
Use a pastry cutter to cut out 8cm disks.
Place a teaspoon of jam in the center of each and fold it in half to form a half-moon shape.
Press the edges together to seal using a fork.
Don’t be tempted to fill them too much. A little teaspoon full is enough. Or they will crack and spill in the oven.

Place the filled turnovers on a greased and floured cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a rack, dust with confectioners’ sugar, make yourself a cuppa and ENJOY!

Store any leftovers in an airtight container.





Madeleines

I tested numerous recipes and this is the one that comes out great every time.
You will need a special madeleine mould tray. I use a non-stick 12- mould one. 
Even if you use a non-stick tray you’ll need to grease the moulds with some butter for each batch.
Lots of recipes call for refrigerating the batter. This recipe can be mixed and baked straight away.
 
I usually sprinkle mine with icing sugar (confectioners sugar). 
I also enjoy icing them with a simple lemon glaze. 
 
You can also tweak this recipe and add a couple of Tbs cocoa powder. This changes the colour and taste to chocolate.
 
Adding a Tbs of honey to the batter is another great option.
 
 
 
 
 

MADELEINES

Makes 24

100 g unsalted butter (room temperature) – plus extra to grease the moulds
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
125 g caster sugar
3 eggs and an extra egg yolk
125 g sifted self-raising flour

Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Melt 100 g butter very slowly – don’t let it get hot.

Grease a tray of madeleine moulds well with some of the butter.

In a medium sized bowl put lemon juice, salt, caster sugar, eggs and extra yolk.
Mix together well with a wooden spatula.

Sprinkle in self-raising flour and mix until smooth.

Finally add the melted butter and mix until combined.

Spoon the mixture into moulds. Fill only to 2/3.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until madeleines are golden.

Turn out onto a wire rack.

Let them cool a little before dunking them into glaze.
Return to wire rack to cool completely.

Simple lemon glaze

1/2 cup icing sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice

Mix both ingredients well.