Tag Archives: living in Rome

“Solrose” bread for terrace drinks

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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.

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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!

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No-knead seeded bread on Good Friday

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Garbatella! Yes, I am having a Roman Easter, which is very nice indeed. Back for five days to see my husband, which is lovely, and I am making the most of it. So nice to be home in our neighbourhood Garbatella, even with the grafitti and grey skies. Today was all errands: bank, pharmacy to get medication for the next three months, plumbing store to get a new kitchen faucet, with food shopping in between and a stop at the bakery for pizza bianca  and brutti ma buoni biscuits.

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It is 20C here (68F) and many neighborhood dogs are still in coats. Beats me. I keep bumping into neighbours who exclaim “Ma dai! Sei tornata!!”  – you are back! No, not yet, I say.  Many were carrying bags with Easter eggs, which here are large, extravagantly packed and voluminously wrapped. The supermarkets are full of these Easter eggs, as well as colombe, which are like a panettone but shaped like a dove.

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I am working my way through my culinary wishlist for this trip: fresh gnocchi, fresh strawberries, chinotto, pizza margherita, icecream, Aperol Spritz …..  and of course, baking some bread. Such a luxury to do that without sweating! I was thinking of an overnight slow-rise dough, but this is a slow afternoon dough, in between errands, so I upped the yeast a bit. I’ll be baking bread to freeze for my husband, so more one-person loaves.

No-knead seeded bread for Good Friday  (makes 2 medium loaves)

600 ml water
10 grammes fresh yeast (or 5 grammes dry yeast)
600 grammes plain wheat flour (here 00)
200 grammes wholewheat flour (here Italian integrale)

25 grammes flax seeds
2 tsp salt

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Combine the water and yeast, until yeast dissolves. Add flour. Mix in a bowl. After ten minutes, fold in seeds and salt Cover the bowl (I like hotel shower caps) and let it rest countertop in room temperature (20C) three hours. Then, uncover the bowl and fold the dough in the bowl for a couple minutes with a wooden spoon or a spatula, you’ll feel it get stretchier. Line your loaf tins with baking parchment, to make it easier to get the bread out. Now, divide the dough into your loaf tins — maybe 2/3 full, each tin? Depends on loaf tin size, here I divided it by tin sizes (385 g/385g/670g). Cover the tins with a kitchen towels and leave to rise again, for 90 minutes or so.  (If you are in a warm kitchen, maybe an hour). Bake at 230C for 40 minutes until done.

Voila! Not bad. Two small loaves,  and one medium one. I might just take a small one along to as a contribution to tonight’s apertivo at a friend’s house. She always serves nice cheeses and nibbles. Thereafter, out for pasta at a local trattoria. Amatriciana, carbonara, gricia, cacio e pepe….. Choices, choices!

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I also found some crema di pistachio today (like a sweet smooth peanut butter) and am wondering if I could bake with it. Something like cinnamon rolls, but filled with pistachio cream?  It might all just melt and be terrible, it’s not pistachio paste. OR…… (see the lightbulb going off above my head here?) Tomorrow night I am trying out my new Danish cast iron pan for æbleskiver, or munker: pancake puffs. Too hot in Accra to try, so the pan came back to Rome with me. I will report back. Those might be very nice with pistachio cream. To be explored.  

 

 

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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