Best Home-made Bread


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.


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


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


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.



Chia, yoghurt and oats for breakfast


Soak overnight:
1/3 cup oats in
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
add 1 Tbsp chia seeds
Stir together, cover with foil and place in the fridge.

Enjoy in the morning topped with fresh strawberries, banana, dollop of your favourite jam, apple and cinnamon, the combinations are endless.

For added sweetness drizzle with 1 Tbsp agave syrup or honey.

Raw Coconut, Cacao and Walnut bites

2 C Dried Coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 C Almond Flour
1/3 C Cacao Powder
1/4 C Coconut Butter
1/4 C Maple Syrup*
1/4 C. Agave Nectar
1 Vanilla Bean (the scraped insides)
1 C Walnuts, Chopped

Mix all ingredients except walnuts until very well combined. Stir in Walnuts. Shape into balls and dehydrate at 116 for 4-5 hours. I used my heart shape measuring spoon (tablespoon size) and dipped it in water, that makes the bites pop out easy.

*taste the mixture before adding the Maple syrup, it may be sweet enough already


Balinese Recipe – Clear mushroom and vegetable soup





On our recent visit to Bali we spent an afternoon in a little village called Ubud and participated in a cooking class led by a balinese housewife. We chopped and stirred and learnt a thing or two about traditional balinese family life. One of the recipes we tried was a clear mushroom and vegetable soup. Really quick and easy, tangy and warming soup full of goodness.

I spent the last week in bed with tonsillitis and let me tell you, this soup was a lifesaver. After a bowl full I no longer shivered, instead I felt warm and happy and when I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep I almost felt the balinese sun on my skin.

Here is the recipe, the only thing I altered is that I added more veggies to bulk it up.



Serves 4


2 cups of button mushrooms, sliced

2 small carrots, sliced

green beans, 1 cup diced

2 big florets of cauliflower, separated

2 big gloves of garlic

2 shallots

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 Tbsp coconut oil

juice of half lemon (2-3 Tbsp)

5 kaffir lime leaves, torn

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 litre salt reduced chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

salt and cracked pepper to taste

1 Tbsp fried shallots for garnish (optional)



Chop shallots and garlic finely. I use my little electric chopper for this.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot and sauté the shallots and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Pour in chicken stock, remaining vegetables and lemon juice. Add kaffir lime leaves to the stock.

Bring to boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes, you want the vegetables to remain slightly crunchy.

Season to taste.

Serve this steaming goodness in a bowl sprinkled with fried shallots.


How easy was that?












Crystal skin vegetable dumplings

Do you like chinese dumplings? If so, try this recipe.
It is a little fiddly, but worth all the effort. They look awesome and taste even better.
Makes about 24 dumplings
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms chopped finely (you can use dried, just soak them in hot water for 15 minutes)
1 Tbsp oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50 g garlic or normal chives, chopped finely
50 g spring onions, chopped finely
100 g Chinese water spinach (kankong) or Kai lan, shredded
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine (shao shing) or dry sherry
1/4 cup water chestnuts, chopped finely
chilli sauce or soy sauce to serve
Crystal dumpling dough
200 g wheat starch (or wheaten cornflour)

1 teaspoon cornflour 
3/4 cup boiling water
oil for kneading

You can find wheat starch in asian grocery stores.
Wheaten corn flour contains gluten, unlike cornflour.
I researched the topic of “what to substitute wheat starch for” on the internet.
If you’re having trouble finding the wheat starch you can have a look for substitutes in this forum.

My dough ended up being pretty much similar to what you get at yum cha restaurants. 
A little more chewy, I’d say. I don’t think I rolled it quite thin enough.
Don’t wait too long – eat your dumplings straight away as the dough hardens as it cools down.

Chop the mushrooms and water chestnuts in a food processor. Not too fine though, you want to be able to see some small pieces. 
Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat, add ginger, garlic, a pinch of salt and white pepper. 
Cook for 30 seconds.
Add the chives, spring onions and spinach and cook for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir all together. 
Combine the stock, oyster sauce, cornflour, soy sauce and rice wine, and add to the spinach mixture.
Cook for 1 minute or until thickened, then cool completely.
To make the wrappers, combine the wheat starch and cornflour. Make a well and add the boiling water, a little at a time, bringing the mixture together with your hands.
Knead with lightly oiled hands until the dough forms a smooth ball.
It might seem like there isn’t enough water and there is still a lot of flour not bonding. Just keep trying  to bring the dough together with your hands and don’t add any more water.
Roll out a walnut-sized piece of dough between two sheets of parchment or baking paper until you have a very thin 8cm diameter circle. Use a  cookie cutter to make a perfect circle.

Keep the rest of the dough under a damp towel while you work.
My special dumpling-making gadget
Place 1 Tbsp of the filling in the centre of your circle, fold the circle over and crimp the sides together in a half-moon shape.
As you can see from the photos, I used my gadget to shape the dumplings.


You may need to wet the edge of your circle with some water to make it stick nicely.
Put the dumplings in a parchment or baking paper-lined bamboo steamer, leaving a gap between each dumpling.


Cover and steam for 7-8 minutes. 
While the dumplings are in the steamer the dough will remain opaque – as soon as you take them out they will become translucent.

Serve with chilli sauce or soy sauce.


Let me know how yours worked out. I’d love to hear from you!


Nasu Dengaku – Miso-glazed eggplant

This recipe was adapted from
1 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons shiro miso
3 tablespoons sugar
1  eggplants, cut in half lengthwise, score in criss-cross pattern*
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
sliced green onions, for garnish     (optional)
Place the mirin and sake in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to cook off. Then add the miso and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, reduce the heat to very low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, while you grill the eggplant.
Brush the cut sides of the eggplant with the sesame oil. Put the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet and place under the grill of your oven for about 3 minutes, checking often to make sure that they do not burn. Turn them over, and cook for another 3 minutes or until the tops are a light to medium brown. Do not burn! (If your eggplant still isn’t tender all the way through, turn the grill function to bake at 200˚C for a few more minutes; then proceed with the recipe.)
When the eggplants are tender, top each one with the miso sauce and put them back under the grill until the sauce bubbles up–this should take less than a minute, so watch them closely. Enjoy hot, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
* I used a regular eggplant, but the thinness of Japanese eggplants work better with this dish because they roast faster. Also, if you score the eggplants, they’ll cook faster and the sauce will flavour even more of the flesh.

Almond milk

Oh how I love my Blendtec blender…
It can do so many wonderful things.

Here is a quick and cheap to make 4 cups of delicious, frothy and fresh almond milk. It will be much better than the overpriced stuff you find at the supermarket.

This recipe was taken from the Blendtec book “Fresh Blends”

If you don’t own a Blendtec, don’t worry, any domestic high speed blender will do a good job.


1 cup almonds, soaked overnight and rinsed
4 cups of water
2 Tbsp agave nectar or stevia or similar sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla seeds scraped from bean or vanilla bean paste
1/8 tsp salt


Add water and soaked almonds to blender jar and secure lid. On your Blendtec blender select “Whole Juice” button, on your ordinary blender, blend on high speed for about 2 minutes.
Strain milk through a cheesecloth to remove almond skins and pulp. Throw the pulp in your compost.
Rinse blender jar, place strained almond milk back in jar with remaining ingredients and secure lid. Pulse it 3-5 times.

And voila – you have yourself some almond milk. Great substitute for cow’s milk, loved by the lactose intolerant.

Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.