Category Archives: baking

Chilly Rome, and helkornbrød III

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A cat basking in December sunshine. We had ambled up the hill to meet friends from Accra at the farmers’ market on Via Passino, and a lovely sunny morning it was. Laden with biscuits (brutti ma buoni, neretti, cantucci)  we brought them back for a lunch of cacio e pepe ravioli from the pasta shop downstairs, with a market-bought lemon and fruit crumble for dessert. It’s been a very nice Roman day.

Garbatella

Walking back through the narrow streets of old Garbatella, on our way home. It is really odd, knowing that in twelve days I’ll be headed back to Accra again. Am I packing for three weeks there, or a year ? There is still no news on what 2018 brings, which is rather nerve-wracking. As usual, baking is calming and feels soothingly productive when most else is uncertain. Tonight we see friends, so this bread is coming along as our contribution. My husband is baking jollof-flavoured focaccia, so the kitchen is warm and toasty and smells divine.

Since I am only here for a few weeks, the pantry is low on seeds and flour types, so it’s variation III of helkornbrød, wholewheat bread with cracked wheat. Here are variations I and II. This time I also used overnight-soaked cracked wheat, but I added a pre-ferment overnight sponge for flavour.

Saturday potluck bread: helkornbrød III

The night before:
150 grammes of whole cracked wheat
250 grammes of water
Leave to soak over night in covered container, on counter in cool kitchen (17C) or in fridge.

Also the night before:
50 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
100 grammes coarse rye flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
10 grammes fresh yeast, crumbled (or 5g dry yeast)
200 grammes water
Stir together. Leave over night in covered container, on counter in cool kitchen (17C) or in fridge.

Next day, in large bowl:
500 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
100 grammes wholewheat flour
15 grammes fresh yeast, crumbled (or 7.5g dry yeast)
250 grammes water
3 tbs vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
+ the soaked cracked wheat with any leftover liquid
+ the overnight sponge

Stir it all together, mixing well and folding with spatula, you will see the structure develop. Moist, sticky dough but not wet: I was thinking of round loaves this time, hoping the dough would not collapse if baked free-form without tins, but still wanting a decent hydration. Very guess-timated here. Leave to rise until nicely doubled. Here it was left for four hours in the kitchen, while we went off for our market walk and had impromptu lunch guests, which was great.

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When our friends had left and the wine glasses were washed, I folded the dough vigorously in the bowl with a spatula for a few minutes, then split it in two and shaped two rounds, sitting on parchment paper. I covered these with a tea towel and let then rise again for an hour or so. I slashed them before baking and sprinkled both with some water right before they went into the hot oven. Bake at 225C for 45 minutes or so, depending on your oven, on lower rack.

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Off to dinner they go! These could maybe have had five more minutes in, but the jollof focaccia also needs baking. It sounds odd, but is really good for apertivi! Same Gabriele Bonci dough as usual. A very good weekend to all.

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Enjoying Rome, and helkornbrød II

Garbatella

It is very strange, being back in Rome for a few weeks. Being slightly cold most of the time, taking the bus, brushing your teeth in tap water, having a hot bath. How cheap food is, especially cheese and celery. Horse meat in the supermarket, not goat. Not hearing chickens at dawn. Still being a badly dressed foreigner (a straniera, an obruni). Seeing so many friends and neighbours, who exclaim: “You’re BACK!”  Explaining that the move is pending, that in 19 days I head back to Accra, and wanting to make the most of it while we are here.  Enjoying the food: the coffee, fresh pasta, Roman pizza. The thrill of seeing prepped puntarelle. Rome is amazing. Not that Accra is terrible, by all means.

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There was a Garbatella street run today, so the police had closed the piazza and we could hear the loudspeakers and see runners meandering through. Here, the kiddie section is passing by.

Last Sunday I baked bread, reveling in being cool enough to knead dough comfortably. I made helkornbrød, whole cracked wheat bread using the cracked wheat packet recipe. Today I made it again, halving the amount of fresh yeast and adding rye flakes.

Whole cracked wheat bread II (helkornbrød)

100 grammes whole cracked wheat
50 grammes rye flakes (or coarse oatmeal)
250 grammes water
2 tsp salt
* This should be mixed and soaked overnight – this time I did that. Then added to dough with water and yeast next day.

750 grammes plain white wheat flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
100 grammes coarse rye flour
600 ml tepid water
25 grammes fresh yeast
50 grammes vegetable oil

Mix ingredients, knead 4-7 minutes. Cover and leave to rise until pillowy, and dough is doubled in size, a couple hours in a cool kitchen, bowl covered with a hotel shower cap. Fold dough for a few minutes in the bowl with a spatula, it helps the structure. Shape and split dough between two loaf tins. Leave to rise an hour or so, then bake at 225C on lower shelf in oven for 45 min. I slashed these slightly right before baking. If you take it out of tin, and tap base, it should sound hollow. Take out of loaf tins and cool on rack before slicing.

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I was a bit overwhelmed by the supermarket selection today: ricotta, mascarpone, broccolo romano, pecorino cheese with truffle…… So much I have missed, and now I hardly know where to start. But yes, I bought puntarelle, and anchovy fillets in oil, so that will be a lovely puntarelle salad tomorrow night. Maybe with this bread.

 

What a week…… and baking helkornbrød

Ministries, Accra
This has been quite a week. We were due to move from Accra to Rome by now, but clearances are still pending. We had cancelled our Accra lease, as all was meant to be on track, so we found ourselves with no flat and no idea how long the delay might be. One week? Six months? Accra landlords like longer leases. Impossible to house-hunt with no time-frame, also when you have two cubic meters of stuff to lug around. Fans, office chair, sheets, pots and pans: most of our Accra things will be given away, but not if there are more delays in the move.

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Last Sunday, we thus packed what we had in bags, and bought my husband a one-way ticket to Rome. Fridge and pantry contents were given away to friends, guards and compound cleaner: pasta, flour, jams… squid ink, frozen cheese, mint syrup for coffee, soba noodles, weird condiments… it all went. The fridge was given to my driver. Monday, we moved our things by taxi trips to a kind friend’s place, temporarily. Insanely sweaty experience in Accra. But we had heard that I had a short-term mission to Rome, which was amazing  news. Tuesday, we moved into a hotel. On Wednesday, my husband flew to Rome and I followed on Thursday.

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On Saturday I woke up to this. No chickens or coconuts, but Rome in cool November sunshine, 12C today. I do like Accra, but it is wonderful to be back in Garbatella, even if it is just a temporary visit. We have a small flat here with most of our stuff. As we were last here in the summer, and I just arrived here in open-toed sandals, I have been excavating my winter clothes today and looking for shoes, sweaters, anything warm and not spangly Italian beach holiday-wear.  And I baked!

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Several friends have borrowed the flat here in Rome, so there are odd remnants in the cupboards: some rice, several boxes of chamomile tea, stock cubes, half a bag of pasta. Plus cracked wheat and rye flour I left two years ago, so we popped to the local supermarket for yeast and vegetables and I baked two loaves of bread this afternoon. Recipe off the Norwegian cracked wheat bag.

Whole cracked wheat bread

150 grammes whole cracked wheat
200 grammes water
2 tsp salt
* This should be mixed and soaked 8-15 hours. I cheated and just boiled water and tipped in cracked wheat, and let it soak 20 min. Then added to dough.

650 grammes plain white wheat flour
100 grammes wholewheat flour
100 grammes coarse rye flour  (I didn’t have fine rye flour)
600 ml tepid water
50 grammes fresh yeast
50 grammes vegetable oil

Mix ingredients, knead 4-7 minutes. (I could knead without dripping with sweat! My goodness!)  Cover and leave to rise 45 minutes. (I left it two hours in a cool kitchen, bowl covered with a hotel shower cap.) Shape and split dough between two load tins. Leave to rise an hour or so, then bake at 225C on lower shelf in oven for 45 min. If you take it out of tin, and tap base, it will sound hollow. Cool on rack before slicing. Or eat it while still steamingly hot, with salted butter, as we did.

bread