Tag Archives: bread

Independence Day, and Bread Rolls with sesame

2000px-flag_of_ghana-svg

This is the flag of Ghana. From Wikipedia“The red represents the blood of those who died in the country’s struggle for independence from the United Kingdom, the gold represents the mineral wealth of the country, the green symbolises the country’s rich forests and natural wealth, and the black star is the symbol of African emancipation.”  Very interesting.

Yesterday was March 6, Independence Day for the Republic of Ghana. Congratulations! The Gold Coast region declared independence from the United Kingdom on 6 March 1957 and established the nation of Ghana.
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After a massive electric storm Saturday night, rolling in from the Gulf of Guinea and lighting up the night sky for several hours, the weather is much better. We watched some of the the celebrations on TV, a national parade of school children and security services (by the look of it) at the Black Star Square. Very quiet in our part of town this weekend. We had a friend coming for lunch, so I made these bread rolls with sesame seeds. Electricity is so expensive, and as I was making an apple cake for dessert (following Toad in the Hole for lunch, since our friend wanted traditional British food), I thought I’d bake some crusty bread rolls at the same time, to take advantage of the oven being on.
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Independence Day, and Bread Rolls with sesame

400 ml water
1/2 tsp dry yeast
400 gr white bread flour
100 gr wholewheat bread flour
1 tsp salt

To top: 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Mix ingredients to a smooth dough, cover and leave to rise. This might be 8-10 hours in a cool kitchen; here, it is 33C and humid, so I left it for just three hours and then continued. Tip out dough onto floured countertop, and divide it into two sausages of dough. Cut each sausage into six pieces, and shape into balls (equally sized, round or oval, shapes as you prefer), on a baking tray with baking parchment. Brush with water, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Leave to rise another 15 minutes or so, while you heat oven to 200C, fan assisted.  Bake 25 minutes or so, until they are nicely golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Today is a holiday here and I am up in Akosombo, north of Accra. Even hotter here! We are cooling off in shade at a fancy hotel here before heading off to see the Akosombo dam. Reading about crime and dark freezing Norwegian winter in this Jon Nesbo book while sweating in the hot shade seems really strange. Nice to be out of town though, trip report to follow.

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Bread with soaker, and Umbrian soup

Seeded loaves

Sourdough is my preferred bread, but sometimes the weekend rolls around and shopping has not been done, laundry is piling up, visitors are are arriving and the sourdough starter has certainly not been fed for the last two weeks. And I’m missing Fiesta Friday again. Oh no! Time to get sorted. Thus we had scrambled eggs and pickled herring for breakfast (yes, I just had a trip to IKEA to stock up on Kalle’s kaviar, sursild and rhubarb cordial), we chucked some laundry in, and I contemplated what other bread baking would best fit the day. It is also finally warm enough for cambia di stagione time here, which is when you change over your wardrobe from winter to spring/summer, and pull out summer shoes and sandals, so it needed to be a simple bread. I soaked the base for this bread, went for coffee, then set this dough, stashed away winter wear, and made soup. All sorted by dinner time.

Bread with soaker (2 loaves)

Soaker:
100 grammes whole wheat berries (helkorn)
50 grammes flax seeds
50 grammes quick-cook oatmeal
250 ml boiling water
Pour water over grains, seeds and oats. Cover, and leave to soak and cool 1-2 hours.

Then:
25 grammes fresh yeast  (or 12 grammes dried yeast)
180 grammes plain yoghurt (I used goat yoghurt)
300 ml water
400 grammes all-purpose wheat flour (I used 00)
150 grammes wholewheat flour
5 grammes salt

Crumble the fresh yeast, pour over water and yoghurt, add soaked grains, seeds and oats. Add flours, and stir it all together. After ten minutes, add salt and fold several times again, until the dough is mixed well. Cover, and leave to rise to double size.
rising dough

Fold the dough again, divide it in two and move the two dough portions to two medium sized baking parchment-lined bread tins. Cover, and let them rise another 30-45 minutes. It depends on the temperature of your kitchen, but you’ll see the dough rise and expand.

Heat the oven to 220C. When ready to bake, slash the tops and bake them for 45 minutes. I increased the oven to 230C at the end, as I thought the loaves were a bit pale.

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These loaves were destined to be part of our dinner, but with what? We have been watching Italy Unpacked, which is great, and the last episode they went to Le Marche and Umbria. And I had a bag of Umbrian legumes in the cupboard, and a vegetable drawer that had seen better days, so Umbrian bean soup it was. Are the dried legumes not just beautiful?

Umbrian legumes
 

Umbrian bean soup
500 grammes of pearl barley and mixed dried legumes: green lentils, fava beans, borlotti beans, peas (any commination you have), ideally soaked 12 hours
2 sticks celery
handful parsley
small onion
3 carrots
1 litre chicken stock + 1 litre water
salt and pepper to taste
Soak the legumes 12 hours (I soaked these 9, I confess…….). Chop vegetables, toss them in a pot. Drain the soaked legumes, and toss everything in the pot. Cook gently for an hour or so.

There you go: dinner!

bread and soup It’s a humble contribution to Fiesta Friday 65, with thanks to co-hosts this week Effie @Food Daydreaming and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook.

Fiesta Friday

Sourdough loaf with buckwheat flour

Sourdough loaf buckwheatWhen life is a bit chaotic, baking bread can help. Feed the starter, watch it develop bubbles and the right smell; set the dough, and fold it now and then, and bake it when it suits your schedule. Familiar rituals, which are also soothing. I might have to leave Rome later this year for work reasons, and I find myself alternating between severe apprehension and resigned stoicism when thinking about it. Then I resort to compiling mental lists at 3 AM of  hierarchies of kitchen gear: what would absolutely have to be in luggage (sourdough starter, good knives, parmesan), what might go in a limited set of moving boxes (coffee grinder, moka, baking gear), and what we could certainly live without (ramekins, cocktail glasses, fondue set). And just how much parmesan and pecorino would one need to pack? Hard to tell when possible new destination is not yet known. Silly, I know, but it calms me. The move might not happen at all, but just contemplating the possibility is making it clear to me that I am really not quite ready to leave Rome yet, despite a number of years here. I have been very fortunate.

Rome is especially nice now in the spring, so I will just take a deep breath, try not to worry too much over what I cannot control, enjoy the spring and see what happens. Baking bread can be done almost anywhere, I tell myself. Here is a normal sourdough loaf with buckwheat flour bought in Northern Italy, in Varese. The speckled flour gives a nice chewiness and flavour to the bread, I will try that again.

Sourdough loaf with buckwheat flour

100 grammes mature sourdough starter, 100% hydration
400 grammes lukewarm water
450 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
70 grammes buckwheat flour
5 grammes salt

Stir the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add the salt. Fold dough with a spatula. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it. This was quite wet.

Garbatella

Cover the bowl and let rise for about a couple hours at room temperature. Go for coffee and enjoy a nice spring day first. I just discovered  a new lemon tree up the road.

imageFold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in size.

For baking same day: move the dough to a floured banneton and cover it with plastic (a hotel shower cap works well), and let it rise three hours at room temperature.  I cheat, and line the banneton with baking paper, less pretty markings but easier to lift over to the pot. Our kitchen is already 20C, so this rose quickly.

When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot (or after at least 20 minutes), take the pot out carefully. Invert the dough onto a piece of baking paper, slash the dough, and put the bread in the pot. Bake at 250C for thirty minutes with the lid on, then 10-15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.

Happy Easter to all!