It’s Easter Monday, andre påskedag in Norway and Pasquetta here in Rome (little Easter), which is often marked locally with a picnic. Lovely sunny day, with a cool breeze, nice on a state holiday, and it’s been very quiet here in Garbatella. Our neighbours upstairs just got married this weekend, and they have invited the condominium up for celebratory drinks on the rooftop terrace this afternoon. This bread is our contribution.
“Solrose” bread (makes two)
25 grammes fresh yeast
500 ml milk
50 grammes olive oil
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
50 grammes hulled sunflower seeds (plus some for top)
700 grammes plain wheat flour
50 grammes wholewheat flour
Milk for brushing just before baking (or a beaten egg)
Handful of hulled sunflower seeds
Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm milk. Add everything, fold with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is smooth and you feel a bit of spring. Cover the bowl (plastic shower cap works well) and let it rest for an hour so, until it doubles. It depends how cool your kitchen is. Once doubled: tip the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and divide it in two. This will make two loaves (very handy when you are heading to drinks at 1830, then dinner elsewhere at 1930…… This also transports well in cake carrier.)
For each half of dough: get your parchment paper ready, and form a round ball for the centre, then roll out a smooth sausage of dough to make a circle around the ball. Maybe 30 cm or so? Pinch the edges together so it is smooth.
Then cut the ring every two cm or so, to get nice deep slashes right through to the parchment. Cover each sheet with a tea towel and leave to rest another 40 minutes or so, it will rise nicely (above is just rolled out). Heat oven to 220C (210C if doing one tray at a time). Right before baking, brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with more sunflower seeds.
Bake about 15-20 minutes, until nicely golden. I swapped the trays over after ten minutes to get a more even bake, I might try 210C and fan assist next time.
Note: This is adapted very lightly from “Gjærbakst på alle bord”, 1987. A classic! One of my first cookbooks when I left home for university. The original recipe calls for 50 grammes fresh yeast and much faster rises. You could also use 12.5 grammes dry yeast. Also, the recipe uses margarine rather than oil, and only 700 grammes white flour, but I thought the dough looked a bit wet so I added the wholewheat flour. Normally I’d brush the dough with beaten egg, for more shine, but loaf #2 is coming along for a dinner tonight where someone is allergic to eggs, so I used milk for both.
Tomorrow is my last day in Rome before heading back to Accra: coffee with neighbours, go see the plumber, have pizza with friends, and in between, the last round of food shopping this time. Cheese, more cheese, celery, and zucchini. With limited fridge space there, there will be more longlife items on this trip: flour, crackers, olives, passata….. it will be shared and enjoyed!