50. Authentic Danish Rye Bread – Rugbrød

Danish Rye Bread

Danish Rye Bread

My wonderful friends Josh and Mark shared their genuine Danish Rye Bread recipe with me months ago and I’ve been dying to try it! I was going to visit them in Manchester and thought it the perfect occasion to take them some freshly baked Rye bread too to say thank you for letting me stay!

A cross section of Danish Rye Bread

A cross section of Danish Rye Bread

The recipe arrived in 3 photos of hand written sheets so I knew it was going to be good and truly authentic. It requires rather a lot of flour as it is enough for 3 loaves. My brain couldn’t calculate the maths to scale this recipe down so 3 loaves it is!

The Rye Bread Sourdough Starter

The Rye Bread Sourdough Starter – porridgey

The recipe calls for a homemade sourdough base. I have attempted to make my own sourdough starter from scratch before following the Fabulous Baker Brothers method of capturing the yeast from the air in flour and water and letting it ferment. Perhaps my house is not particularly yeasty, I’m not sure but for whatever reason I couldn’t get it to bubble. Having made a successful Herman the German Sourdough starter and cake before I know that adding instant yeast is a sure fire success. Therefore, I admit it, I deviated from the rules immediately, before I even began baking pouring in a little cheating instant yeast to get the sourdough started.

Starting the Rye Bread in my massive cake tin

Starting the Rye Bread in my massive cake tin

I don’t own a bowl big enough to stir this vast amount of flour in so wielding my largest cake tin I set to work… and consequently ruined said cake tin, bending it out of shape with the cement like dough!

If you were making your own sourdough starter, you could keep some back and carry on feeding it so you can make many more beautiful loves in the future. I was making just enough for this recipe, but may attempt to make my own sourdough rye starter again.

There's a lot of flour in this Rye Bread

There’s a whole lot of flour, seeds and grains in this Rye Bread

Rye is quite the healthy flour, full of wholesome goodness, as opposed to refined white flour. This means that it has quite a distinct flavour and it is much heavier than white flour. It creates a rather dense loaf. Mixing rye flour with white flour lifts the texture and colour of the bread slightly. The addition of seeds, nuts and grains give it extra texture and nutritious value!  This bread is perfect for applying lashings of cream cheese and smoked salmon to. I love the traditional Smørrebrød, or Danish open sandwiches. Rye bread is an essential part of proper Danish sandwich making.

If you plan this in advance you will have plenty of time to allow the starter to ferment. I however did not. You should mix the flour and water together, stirring it into a smooth, thick paste and leave for at least 12 hours to let it bubble. I made my starter but needed it to be ready to go asap so I cheekily added 7g of instant yeast to make sure it rose fully.

Adding the flour and seeds to the sourdough start mix

Adding the flour and seeds to the sourdough start mix

Once your starter is ready you can save a cup back for future sourdough creations or, whack it all in to the mix like me. The beauty of rye bread is that it doesn’t require kneading! However you do need strong arms for the mixing. My weapon of choice was a wooden spoon to battle the heavy dough with. Combining the sourdough starter with the rest of the rye bread mixture, alternating between the dry ingredients and the water is hard work but you must keep on stirring until everything is combined, including the seeds and grains. Prepare yourself for a good 10 minutes of elbow grease.

How to fit all of this in one bowl... water, flour, seeds and sourdough starter

How to fit all of this in one bowl… water, flour, seeds and sourdough starter

Unfortunately there were a few ingredients that I didn’t have to hand so improvising to my hearts content, I chose sunflower and sesame seeds to add to the dough. I haven’t been able to find malt powder so I just left it out of the mix, but I bet you can get it in healthfood shops. Rye/barley/wheat grains don’t really feature in my cupboards (other than broth mix and I’m pretty sure dried barley and split lentil is not what we’re looking for here) but oats were an excellent emergency substitute!

Thick and porridgey just how the best Rye breads should be

Thick and porridgey just how the best Rye breads should be

Once the dough is the consistency of thick porridge (lumpy in a good way) it’s ready to pour/scoop into your greased and floured loaf tins. It is quite a stiff liquid so your have to encourage the dough as you pour it into the corners of the tins. Pour in enough dough fill two thirds of the tin, so there’s still space for the dough to expand without overflowing the tin. I had to resort to baking one loaf in a square cake tin (the same size as 2 normal loaf tins) and some mini pudding tins as I only have the one small (500g) loaf  tin!  Coat each loaf with a nice wash of oil and sprinkle a few oats/seeds on the top. Cover the loaves with greased cling film and leave to prove/mature for 8-12 hours. This time allows the sourdough to mature further and add a deeper tangy flavour to the bread.

Pour your rye bread dough into all of your loaf tins (and every other container you can find...)

Pour your rye bread dough into all of your loaf tins (and every other container you can find…)

When proved the dough will not double in size like other breads but it will increase in volume and should reach the top of your loaf tins. Prick the tops of the proven loaves all over with a fork, this will help keep your crust intact as it may fall off if left un perforated. It also prevents the loaves from rising and cracking in the oven, maintaining that distinctly symmetrical Danish Rye bread oblong shape.

The cling film covered and proving loaves

The cling film covered and proving loaves

Pre heat your oven to 220 degrees C. Bake the loaves at 220 degrees for 10 minutes. This initial blast of heat helps to force the bread to rise and the crust to develop. Lower the temperature to 175 degrees C and bake for a further 75  minutes.

Sometimes pegs come in handy to keep the cling film in place...

Sometimes pegs come in handy to keep the cling film in place…

If your loaves can be removed easily from the tins at this point do so. if not, leave for another 5-10minutes until they can be removed. Bake the bread for a further 5-10 minutes without the tin directly on the oven shelf to allow the crust to become extra crunchy.

The forked loaf ready for the oven

The forked loaf ready for the oven

Once they’ve cooled they’re ready to eat! You should be able to keep them at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or they freeze really well too.

Danish Rye Bread fresh from the oven

Danish Rye Bread fresh from the oven

I always know when I’ve baked something especially tasty as Super Hans will go out of his way to steal it from me. He was desperate for a bit of my Danish Rye Bread. I love the depth of the flavour in this bread. It radiates health and wellbeing. It’s also rather filling, so thin slices are a must. The sourdough tang cuts through the fantastic texture of the seeds and nuts. Now that I have the Kitchenaid I can dispense with the cake tin mixing method, so I will be purchasing more rye flour very soon and having another go. I would also love to try other dark breads. I can see me attempting many more in the future. Thank you Josh and Mark for sharing your fantastic recipe with me!

Extreme close up of the crunchy crust

Extreme close up of the crunchy crust

Things that I used to make Danish Rye Bread

Sourdough Starter

  • 300ml luke warm water
  • 250ml rye flour
  • 7g of instant yeast (if you’re in a hurry)

Mix together to a thick smooth paste and leave to ferment until bubbly (12-24 hours) or if you’re impatient add 7g of instant yeast to your starter…

Rye Dough

  • 1 litre of warm water
  • (if you can find it add 1 tablespoon of ground malt -I didn’t)
  • 200g sunflower seeds
  • 200g sesame seeds
  • 400g oats (or whole rye, barley/wheat grains)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 300g strong white flour
  • 900g rye flour
A slice of rye

A slice of rye

My pair of rye loaves

My pair of rye loaves

49. German Pretzel Playtime

Pretzels, Pretzels, Pretzels!

Pretzels, Pretzels, Pretzels!

I discovered that I have a slight obsession with Pretzels on our recent visit to Berlin, where I bought many delicious chewy pretzels the size of my head. I really rather enjoyed Berlin, my first venture into German cusine! Traditionally Preztels are a savoury German snack, dipped in a rather caustic solution of lye to achieve the dark brown coating with the distinctive chewy texture.

In amongst the Curry Wursts, Strudels and Pork Knuckle I filled my self up on pretzels as often as I could. We explored the historic sites and the bohemian avenues in the post Christmas and wedding drizzle. Berlin was a very welcome change of scenery, with pickled herring and salmon for breakfast. I went all in with the Germanic food. My instagram feed became awash with a vast array of wonderful and interesting food. Nothing went undocumented!

Dough ready for some good kneading

Dough ready for some good kneading

Upon returning home I wanted to recreate some pretzel perfection, preferably without the hazardous solutions. No chemical burns for me please! Pretzels are made from a basic soft white bread dough recipe. The flour, yeast, oil and water should be mixed together in a big bowl until it can then be kneaded on a oiled board for 10 minutes. Once the dough is smooth and bounces back when pressed your kneading is done.

Kneaded dough ready to prove

Kneaded dough ready to prove

The dough can then be left to prove in a warm place in a greased plastic bag, for about an hour or two.

The proven preztzel dough

The proven pretzel dough

When the dough has doubled in size it’s ready to shape. This is probably the most complicated and time consuming bit of the entire pretzel making process. But it’s not as difficult as it may seem! I shall demonstrate in 10 easy steps…

Stage 1. Roll your dough to a sausage shape and cut into 12 equal pieces

Stage 1. Roll your dough to a sausage shape and cut into 12 equal pieces

Stage 1: Roll your dough to a sausage shape and cut into 12 equal pieces

Stage 2. Roll your 12 pieces into balls (check that they're all roughly the same size)

Stage 2. Roll your 12 pieces into balls (check that they’re all roughly the same size)

Stage 2: Roll your 12 pieces into balls (check that they’re all roughly the same size). Redistribute the dough to make sure you have equal sized dough balls here if needed.

Stage 3. Take one dough ball and leave the others covered with cling film in a greased bowl to stop them drying out. Roll your dough into the longest thinnest sausage you can make

Stage 3. Roll one dough ball into the longest thinnest sausage you can make

Stage 3: Take one dough ball at a time leaving the others covered with cling film in a greased bowl to stop them drying out. Roll your dough into the longest thinnest sausage you can make. Give the dough a good slap if you spot any air bubbles along the way. You need to pop any air bubbles to get a good even bake and to maintain your lovely pretzel shape.

Stage 4. Start shaping you sausage. Curl the dough into a circle but don't close the ends.

Stage 4. Start shaping you sausage. Curl the dough into a semi circle but don’t close the ends.

Stage 4: Start shaping your sausage. Curl the dough into a semi circle but don’t close the ends. You need those loose ends to finish your pretzel shape.

Stage 5. Bring the loose ends of the dough together and twist them up the centre of the circle

Stage 5. Bring the loose ends of the dough together and twist them up the centre of the circle

Stage 5: Take the loose ends of the dough and twist the strands together, one under the other up the centre of the pretzel circle.

Stage 6. Bring the loose ends two thirds of the way up the sides of the pretzel like arms

Stage 6. Bring the loose ends two thirds of the way up the sides of the pretzel like arms

Stage 6: Bring the loose ends two thirds of the way up the sides of the pretzel like arms. Reshape the circle of the pretzel as you go to keep the even shape.

Stage 7: Gently press the 'arms' of the pretzel into the dough to fix it in place.

Stage 7: Gently press the ‘arms’ of the pretzel into the dough to fix it in place.

Stage 7: Gently wrap the ‘arms’ of the pretzel around the pretzel. Gently press the arms into the dough to fix them in place.

Stage 8. Carefully line up your pretzels on a greased and lined baking tray

Stage 8. Carefully line up your pretzels on a greased and lined baking tray

Stage 8: Carefully line up your pretzels on a greased and lined baking tray. Cover them with greased cling film and leave them to prove again for another hour.

Stage 9: Give each pretzel a good coat of egg wash and water and sprinkle with rock salt before baking

Stage 9: Give each pretzel a good coat of egg wash and water and sprinkle with rock salt before baking

Stage 9: Give each pretzel a good coat of egg wash and water and sprinkle with rock salt before baking. In hindsight I went a bit mad with the rock salt. It kind of burns the tongue when you put that much on! I might in the future smash up the rock salt with a pestle and mortar to get smaller chunks and sprinkle a much smaller amount on!

The baked pretzels

The baked pretzels

Stage 10: Give the pretzels a good baking in the oven for 15 -20 minutes at 200 degrees C. These are snack sized rather than the extra large pretzels that I was eating in Berlin, which could probably constitute a main meal. So if you wanted to make yours larger you could divide your dough into 6 lumps rather than 12 and shape them to your hearts content.

The golden pretzel

The golden pretzel

After a quick bake in the oven these mini pretzels beauties are ready to be devoured! The most complicated bit of the entire process is the shaping and after a couple of goes you soon get used to the technique. I’m sure you will end up developing your own pretzel twisting style too. I adore these pretty bread shapes and will most definitely be making them again. They look impressive, so you can wow your friends with your technical know how and let them imagine you’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen preparing treats for them.

Piles of Pretzels

Piles of Pretzels

They also taste amazing with their glistening golden crust. White bread can sometimes be a bit plain, but as the pretzel is thin it takes on the depth of flavour from the egg yolk and salt. Combined with the chewy texture, they are like a plaited bit of bread heaven.  You could even make sweet pretzels if you prefer, with cinnamon and sugar coatings, or add sesame seeds or poppy seeds for a bit of variation. Then you can enjoy them for breakfast lunch and dinner! I may attempt some wholemeal pretzels too to inject some health into my bread products. I will also be attempting extra large pretzels with the distinctive slash as soon as possible! Things I used to create Mini Pretzels Pretzel Dough Recipe

  • 350g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 215ml of luke warmwater
  • 10ml olive oil

Egg Wash Topping

  • 1 egg yolk mixed with a tbsp of water
  • A sprinkling of rock salt to decorate
  • (Or you could dust them in cinnamon sugar, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds if you wish!)

Bake for 15-20mins until golden brown at 200 degrees C

39. Bagels Bagels Bagels! Polish Bakery

Bagels! Bagels! Bagels!

Bagels have been on my to bake list FOREVER! Inspired by a recent episode of The Great British Bake Off (new series and I’m guessing everyone else is totally addicted to it like me too?) I uncovered my wonderful (signed) copy of  Thoughtful Bread  ‘Bread Revolution’ for a recipe I could begin late one night. (I’ve even tweeted @thoughtfulbread to let them know I was baking from their book and got some lovely late night baking encouragement.)

We were treated to a short history lesson on bagels by the Great British Bake Off. Although they are more recently considered to be an American bread, they were originally brought from Poland to England and then on to America. They are typically Jewish Food with a wonderfully chewy crust from the poaching of the dough before the bake. (My favourite bit!)

Mixing up all the flour, salt, honey and yeast

A spot of late night preparation was in order to get this dough on the road. I mixed together the flour, dried yeast and a little salt to0. I ran out of strong white flour so made up the difference with brown strong flour, so these bagels were almost healthy too.

Add the water to get a sticky dough and stir!

Then to add the water. I had to add a little more water as I worked with the dough, probably due to the slightly drier brown flour I used.

Ready for some good kneading

When I started kneading the dough I was determined to reach the elusive ‘window pane’ stage where the gluten in the flour has become all stringy and elastic  and stretches out when pulled to create a transparent window when held up to the light in the dough. Alas after the allotted 10 minutes of kneading the rather tough dough by hand I was still windowless. A further 10 minutes of kneading (tracked by my faithful hamburger timer) and I was STILL windowless… I asked Chris to have a go with his brute strength and STILL no window. So I gave up comforted slightly that the dough had been kneaded at least twice as long as it was supposed to be and it did bounce back when prodded with my finger.

Me kneading on tip toes

I think I need lower work surfaces for bread making as I always have to resort to balancing on my tip toes to get the full impact of the kneading…

proving time

I left the ball of dough to prove and double in size over night in a greased bowl covered with greased cling film. Et voila! The next morning I awoke to beautifully risen dough.

Beautifully risen dough

Punching it back I kneaded it thoroughly again (it’s a good job I do yoga press ups!) dividing the dough into 12 (equal-ish) portions I left it to rest for 5 minutes whilst I arranged the next stage. Water bath!

12 chunks of dough

Taking my largest soup pan I filled it about half way with water from the kettle.

Stage 1: The dough sausage

Then to shape the bagels. I tried a few different methods to see which worked best and I think I prefer the traditional method. Roll a long sausage about 20 cms long) of dough and shape it into a circle.

Stage 2: shape into a circle

Fold the loose ends together and squash them together.

Stage 3: Fold the loose ends together

Then put your hand through the ‘hole’ in the centre and roll the join together until the two ends are firmly merged. Then if required roll the rest of the dough ring in the same way to even up the dough and shape it into a bagel.

Stage 4: Squash the loose ends together

The other method is more modern and maybe slightly quicker. Where you shape the dough into a ball, flatten it, poke your thumb through the centre and then whilst holding the dough in your palm squeeze around the dough to widen the hole and shape the dough into a bagel.

I used for each bagel? Poor dough ring on the right is a bit more of a bagel bracelet

Once shaped the bagels need to prove for about 30 minutes under a damp tea towel or greased cling film at which point you can start to warm up the oven and water so it’s simmering nicely.

If you want to add flavouring to your bagels you can add toppings like sesame or poppy seeds after the poaching stage, but if you like your bagels fruity on the inside (like me) then you will have to add your chosen flavour before you shape the bagels. I chose to make half savoury and half sweet.

pre soaked dried fruit, apple, cranberries and raisins

I pre soaked some dried fruit, raisins, apple and cranberries overnight in a little boiling water with a dash of cinnamon. Drained off the excess water and folded in a teaspoon (or 2) of the fruit along with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon into the dough before shaping it.

Step 1: Filling the bagel

It makes the bagel a bit unpredictable with spots of fruit poking out all over the place but I found if I sealed the fruit into the dough and then shaped it, it was a little easier.

Step 2: folding in the edges to make a fruit pouch. Sealing the edges together

Step 3: roll into a dough sausage and follow the stages above to shape the bagel

Then all you have to do is plonk the bagels into your pan of simmering water for 2 minutes (turning them over half way through for an even poach).

Bagels in for a swim

The bagels do expand slightly so don’t over fill your pan, do them in batches so they have room to breathe.

Ever increasing circles

Then out of the pan an into the oven! I used my Nana’s slotted spoon to scoop the bagels out and drain off the water. Then gently pop then onto a lined baking tray (sprinkle on your choice of topping while the bagel is wet) and into the oven they go.

Ready for the oven

This means you can have a continuous run of bagel poaching and baking until all of your bagels are baked. However this meant I was waiting for my breakfast for almost 2 hours. I ended up devouring 2 hot bagels and butter straight from the oven and they did not disappoint! Hot and buttery they were just what I needed.

Fruity Bagels in for a swim

They are definitely easier to split down the middle when they’ve cooled a bit though. The plain bagels were easier to eat and even better toasted too to give an even crisp coating and chewy soft centre. I LOVED this bake. You know you’re making something special when it takes a bit more effort and skill.

Bagels! Hot from the oven

The fruity bagels were a little more moist in the middle, but this is what I had expected. You can’t put fruit into a bagel without adding a bit of moisture.

bagel splitting

Perhaps in the future when I think they’re baked I might also turn them over and return them to the oven for a few more minutes just to ensure the bagels are baked evenly. As I did find that the bagels were quite wet when they went in the oven so they were slightly soggy when they came out of the oven, but a lot of this moisture dried as they cooled (and I guess adds to their chewiness.)

Bagel goodness

I would also add more cinnamon to the bagels as they weren’t quite cinnamony enough for me. All in all a very good bake and I’m adding this to my baking repertoire now!

Bagel sandwiches

Things I used to make this recipe:

Lovingly adapted  from Bread Revolution by the Thoughtful Bread Company

  • 375g strong brown flour
  • 375g strong white flour
  • 3 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 375ml warm water
  • 7 tsp honey
  • additional strong white flour for dusting the board

Fruit filling

  • A bowl full of dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, dried apple)
  • cinnamon

Optional Toppings

  • I used sesame seeds and just sprinkled enough to coat the bagels on each one
  • You could use anything such as poppy seeds, sunflower seeds,

Cath Kidston Flour Sifter – so handy when you’re covered in sticky dough

The Hamburger Timer – so handy for timing all those batches of bagels

35. Merry Christmas! Stollen – Germany

Ok, ok, this may have been a long time coming (or perhaps I’m just ultra organised for this coming  prepared for Christmas)  BUT now it’s Summer it makes perfect sense to stop by Germany for a spot of Christmas Stollen. My wonderful baking friend Julie over at Sweetgum Bakery sent me a copy of her Patisserie course workbook (all the way from Australia I may add) which had this delicious recipe. I love this  book. It teaches you the techniques to create beautiful ‘bakery products for Patissiers’ including pastries and breads. I have already had a good go at a few things like  pretty dinner rolls pretending to be a real Patissier. This Stollen recipe  encompasses everything that I love about Christmas. Marzipan, spice, RUM and dried fruit. What’s not to love??

Stollen is for life, not just for Christmas

A stollen is a sweet, rich yeast dough laced with almond paste (or marzipan) and studded with dried fruit. Perfect for your Christmas celebrations (or any tea table al year round! Why deny yourself something so gorgeous just because it’s not December?!)  I may start just eating this all year round. I bet you could also make smaller Stollen buns or a Stollen Crown loaf, or a Stollen plait, or Stollen cupcakes! I might be getting carried away but the possibilities are endless.

Stollen is a traditional European dish which originated in Germany. You can vary the filling depending on your mood (or what’s in your cupboards) with flaked almonds, poppyseeds, or sultanas and candied peel. Whatever you prefer! Apparently you can also purchase Stollen tins to help keep the traditional shape during baking, but I am yet to find one. Although I’m sure it would be a wise investment indeed as I think mine spread a little on the baking sheet, but this didn’t stop it tasting lovely.

It’s always a good idea to pre soak your sultanas in a generous slosh of rum overnight to plump them up and enhance their flavour. It also adds to the festivities.

As with any yeast based dough it requires some proving time so make sure you have some time to spend with your Stollen. The recipe calls for compressed yeast. I was using instant dried yeast so adapted the method to suit.

Yeasty flour

Mix the 20g of  flour, 7g instant yeast (normally when I make a loaf of bread 500g of flour requires 7g of instant yeast so I used 1 sachet of Hovis instant yeast) and milk (200g)  together. Mix together then leave to prove for 20 mins in a warm place.

Yeasty batter

Add the rest of the flour (380g) to the mix along with an egg, lemon zest, lemon extract and sugar (100g). Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film. Leave in a warm place to prove until it’s doubled in size

Buttery yeasty batter

Add the butter and mix it in until it becomes clear.

Proving time

Cover and leave the dough to prove again in a warm place, for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.

Dough has definitely doubled in size!

Knock back the dough and mix the sultanas, mixed peel (and optional nuts) in carefully, so as to not break the skins of the dried fruit.

Mixed Fruit

I used sultanas and cranberries (what I had in the cupboard!)

Fold in the fruit

Leave the dough to prove again for another half an hour, whilst you prepare the marzipan filling.

Making Marzipan Filling

Taking shop bought marzipan (120g) add the lemon zest and  an egg yolk and mix together to create a firm paste.

Marzipan paste

Divide the marzipan into 3 and roll into 3 long ‘logs’ (about 30cms long). I found my marzipan was a bit on the sticky side at this point so arranged it onto a sheet of cling film and rolled it inside the clingfilm. This made it a bit easier to move into the fridge to let it firm up a bit more.

Marzipan logs

Chilled Marzipan Logs

Take the dough and roll it out lightly with a rolling pin, into a rectangular shape. Aproximately 30cm long and 15 cms wide.

Flattened sticky fruity dough

Arrange the chilled marzipan logs in the centre of the flattened dough and fold the edges of the dough over to enclose the marzipan. Seal the edges of the dough.

Arranged Marzipan Logs

Place the dough, sealed edge down, onto a baking sheet greased and lined with greaseproof paper. Allow the dough to prove for the final time. Then bake for 25 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Sealed and shaped stollen

Once it’s baked place on a wire rack to cool. While it’s still warm pour the melted butter over the top of the loaf. This step may feel a bit on the odd side, as when pouring a cup of melted over the Herman the German Friendship Cake  but believe me it’s utterly delicious.

Straight out the oven Stollen

After a day the butter seeps into all  of the available sweet dough crevices and infuses the Stollen with a gorgeous buttery moisture. It also helps to stop it from going stale so it can keep for a week (if you can bear to hang on to it for that long).

Soaked in butter Stollen

When it has cooled completely dust the Stollen with a generous dose of icing sugar, for added Christmas magic and sweetness. (It also helps to keep your fingers from getting all buttery and greasy.

Snowy Stollen

One of my friends told me this was her favourite bake so far in the aroundtheworldin80bakes challenge. I have to agree. I love the gooey marzipan layer sandwiched into the dough and I love the plump and juicy sultanas.

Snowy sliced Stollen

Although I think my dough didn’t rise quite as much as it should have, as it spread out on the baking sheet, it was most definitely worth the effort. To help spread the Stollen love and festive cheer I chopped it up into Stollen bites and took a batch to work and it quickly disappeared. A good sign indeed!

Stollen Bites

Does it feel like Christmas yet??

Extreme Stollen Close Up

yum yum yum

Just in case you would like to have a go here’s what I used to create this German Stollen

To make the initial yeast paste

  • Strong plain flour (20g) –
  • Instant yeast (7g)
  • Milk at 30 degrees C (200g)

Yeast Dough (add the yeast paste to)

  • Sugar (100g)
  • Lemon zest (1/4 tsp)
  • Lemon extract (1g)
  • Butter (100g)
  • Strong Plain Flour (380g)
  • 1 egg
  • salt 3g

The Fruity Filling

  • Sultanas (pre soaked in a slosh of rum) (120g)
  • Mixed peel (25g)

The Marzipan Filling

  • Marzipan (120g)
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • Lemon zest (1/4 tsp)

The Final Topping

  • Butter (melted) 40g
  • Icing Sugar (40g)

26. The 10 Minute Irish Soda Bread Challenge – Ireland

Soda Bread

I’ve heard pretty good things about soda bread but never have I attempted to make it myself. I discovered a recipe from Ballymaloe House in Ireland, in my food processor cookbook that appeared to be very straight forward. Promising to only require 10 minutes preparation and 40 minutes cooking! I took on the 10 minute soda bread challenge and set to work.

This was actually very quick and dare I say it… Easy to bake! With very little kneading or washing up required. Hurrah!!

I literally whacked everything in the food processor…

  • 450g of plain flour (not bread or strong flour)
  • 500g of plain live (active/cultured) yoghurt (or alternatively you can use 350-425ml of buttermilk)
  • 1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp sugar
  • A glug of double cream (just because I needed to use it up)

… and set it to high for a couple of minutes using the dough hook attachment. You could use a bowl and a spoon or even just your hands to combine it all together into a runny, floury mixture.

Once it all comes together the challenge is to remove the sticky mess from the bowl in one swoop and not get coated in runny flour mess. I failed on this count and had to deploy a spatula to encourage the mix out of the bowl.

I tipped it out onto a lightly floured surface (also known as my glass worktop protector thing). Adding more plain flour to the board until I could bring the dough together without it adhering to my hands.

Once it starts to take shape all it needs is some encouragement, folding and lightly kneading the edges into the middle to form a round dough shape about 4 cm deep.

Flattened circle

I greased and floured a flat baking sheet and plopped the smooth circle of dough (folded edge down) onto the sheet.

Challenge complete in less than 10 minutes!! Taking my sharpest knife I cut a shallow cross into the top of the loaf and teased the edges out slightly so the cross was more defined. The cross helps the heat penetrate the loaf and cook evenly throughout. Irish folklore also says that that the cross lets the evil spirits out. Good to know.

Criss Cross

Into the oven it went for 10 minutes at 230 degrees c. (gas mark 8). While the oven was heating up I popped a roasting pan in the bottom to get really hot. Then just before shutting the oven door I threw a cup of cold water into the pan to create some steam and a soft crust on the bread. Perfect! (I love this tip – thank you Holly Bell)

After 10 minutes I turned the oven down to 200degrees C (gas mark6) and baked for 30 more minutes until the crust was golden brown and the loaf sounded hollow when tapped on the bottom.


What a result!! I was astounded that a yeast free bread rose so much! It doubled in size and didn’t need any proving or strenuous kneading either! Amazing result for so little effort. It smelt amazing and tasted a bit like a cake too. What could be better than a bread/cake hybrid?!

One hunk of Soda Bread

We ate this for breakfast one weekend and I loved it. I could happily eat it without any butter as it’s so moist, but I did put nutella on it (it was Saturday after all). This loaf should serve 4 and is best eaten fresh which is a good thing as I devoured a quarter of the loaf chunk in one sitting.

with lashings of Nutella?

I loved it so much I made it again however I was obviously a bit complacent after my initial success. I used plain yoghurt which wasn’t active but a little past it’s best, assuming this would mean it had grown some cultures. I guessed wrong as this time it didn’t expand as impressively and I was a little disappointed by its lack of height. I will be baking it again but following the recipe properly next time! If you haven’t baked it before I really recommend it! And please let me know how you get on!

The slightly deflated second attempt…

*Recipe taken from Kenwood Creative Food Processor Cooking Book, by Becky Johnson. Thanks!

Irish Soda Bread

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9. Black Olive and Cheese Rolls – Italy – Mary Berry

I ordered a proper  Mary Berry – At Home cookbook. It is amazing. It has everything that you could ever need like which things you can freeze and how to reheat things. Clever Mary. I really want to bake everything in it and also recreate in my kitchen the fabulous 70’s photos of Mary smiling while popping a tray of something lovely in the oven. I’ve post-it noted all of my things to bake and the first out of the hat was…

Italian Black Olive and Parmesan Rolls

Italian Black Olive and Cheese Rolls. I wanted to bake something special (and savoury) to complement the Chocolate Roulade for my Book Group friends, I was definitely channelling Mary that night! I even purchased proper bread flour and parmesan for the occasion, rather than making do with plain flour and Red Leceister Cheese, which wouldn’t be very Italian.

I have been to Italy briefly and it was great. A long weekend in Milan, venturing up to the top of the Duomo, gorging myself on coconut gelato and wandering round Gucci and Prada gazing longingly at everything that I could never afford in a million years.

Up on the roof - Duomo - Milan

I followed this recipe almost exactly, but added double the amount of yeast…(that just means it will be extra fluffy, right?) and left it to prove as prescribed. I pre chopped all the olives and grated the cheese. I even bought myself an early Christmas present, a big kneading board, with measurements on for cutting dough, this will force me to become more exact in my measurements, eventually.

The new kneading board. Look at those concentric circles!

I thoroughly enjoyed throwing the dough about and kneading the ingredients in. I have almost perfected a one handed kneading/throwing teachnique which means I can multi task to the extreme. I fear that my neighbours may complain about the noise from my over zealous kneading however.

Ready for the second knead

The rolls, once sprinkled with parmesan and shaped, had to prove once more. I fashioned a rudimentary tent from cling film (as always) and a grater, as nothing else was big enough to hold the tray full of ever expanding dough.

Rudimentary Cling Film Tent

Pre Oven and Pre Proved

A very quick 30  minutes in the oven and the kitchen smelt gorgeous! So much so, that at 10pm I was tucking into a fresh baked, still warm, golden rolls. My mouth is watering just writing about these buns. I LOVE them. Mary has done me proud yet again.

The Final Bun

I even took them for my lunch all week as they are like a pre prepared sandwich. I definitely recommend warming them up again in the microwave so the cheese melts slightly inside. Beautiful!

Crammed with Olives - my lunch

3. Before Work Baguettes… France (again)

I realise that I’ve baked from France already, but the more I think about what I could bake, the more I realise that I want to bake everything that I’ve never tried before. This could actually be an impossible task. Alas a girl can’t survive on cake alone, although she can give it pretty good go, I must bake something savoury.

I’ve made bread before, mainly in cookery class at school and the odd occasion at home. It usually turns out more like a solid brick, so dense I could probably hammer nails in with it. So  I wanted to try something that is actually supposed to be crunchy. Now I must admit the weekend I conceived the Around the World in Eighty Bakes idea I had began a baking frenzy which did involve baking a plaited loaf. To pay hommage to the Great British Bake Off (yet again) I thank finalist Holly for the wonderful tip of adding a dish of water to the bottom of the oven. Amazing tip! Soft bread!

A plaited loaf. It was pretty good (even if I do say so myself)

A quick google and I found a Paul Hollywood baguette recipe to have a go at. (Thanks for the recipe!) I don’t think it’s the full recipe, so in hindsight it’s more akin to a technical challenge on GBBO with some of the steps missed out. I didn’t really think about the consequences and carried on regardless.

It looked quite simple with chucking flour, water and yeast in and leaving it to prove overnight… I didn’t really take into consideration the other 2 hours of proving required. I set my alarm to get up early thinking I could pop them in the oven before work and have a lovely baguette for lunch. I also rather over estimated my multi tasking abilities and also prepared a chicken and potatoes to roast. (I didn’t cook the home grown ones however.)

Early morning pre work proving (and chicken baking too)

and potato digging?! Disappointly pea sized potatoes

Needless to say the dough was not proved in time for baking so I left it all day to rise instead then finished them when I got home. It probably had an extra 10 hours of proving time (not sure what Paul Hollywood would say?!) and I had to do a bit of substitution. I didn’t have any strong flour so just used plain (this is probably a mortal baking sin) and no fresh yeast so a sachet of dried fast action yeast instead.

The final rise

Hoping this is what they are supposed to look like before baking

Epic fail. The dough was very very sticky. I didn’t think (or dare to deviate from the recipe) to grease or flour the baking paper in case it changed the consistency of the bread. This resulted in two baguette like breads being welded onto the paper. In fact I think the paper has now become one with the bread. Try as I might, I can’t prise them off the paper. Curses!!!! I’ve learnt my lesson. Follow the recipe but use common sense too. I sampled a slice and it (or the top) does indeed taste very baguetteish. It’s a lovely soft butter texture and a bit of a crunch outside. The water worked yet again.

Baguettes (baking paper still welded to the bottom)

If you don't look closely you can't see the brown smooth papery finish

These baguettes are tasty but must be eaten with a warning. Do not consume the bottom. Must do better next time….

The look relatively baguette-like

A tasty slice