Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Mum's Crusty Potato-Bread

I travelled to Germany on Friday last week for my Easter-break, so this is where I am writing from today. Last Saturday we went to the market in a city nearby and bought a normal German bread... And it was heavenly! I had been looking forward to that for a while after having several conversations about German bread ;-)

Back in England I ordered 5 kg of rye before I left with the intention to bake some real German bread upon returning since I had promised to do so to a few of my friends.

I told my Mum about my plan and she promised to bake some bread with me for practise. So far usually I only watched her baking bread. Myself I usually only made easy bread recipes, sweet things or cake.

My Mum is a fantastic baker! ♡

She has a bread-baking oven where there is a metal plate that heats up instead of the air in the oven heating up. Further on the oven has a steam pipe, but apart from that it is fairly sealed so that moisture (in form of steam developing from the wet dough) is to a great part retained in the oven. This helps develop the crust.
A few years ago, when I was still living at home, my Mum used to bake lots of bread each Sunday morning. Sunday was baking day.

Today we shared the work when testing how to bake the bread with just normal means (no bread baking oven and no massive dough kneading machine). Now I think I’m going to be able to re-create this for everyone I promised to in England!
Of course now you could also give it a try yourself since I am going to tell you now how you can get your very own German bread. Maybe you'll have mastered it already when I am back ;-)

This bread is crunchy on the outside, flavourful and moist on the inside.
It is pure heaven if you slice off a piece while it still is slightly warm, spread dollops of butter on it and enjoy it.
I am awfully sorry if I sound overly enthusiastic today, but I had some warm, crunchy bread for lunch today ;-)

Mum's Crusty Potato Bread

time required: about 4-6 hours of on and off work - not straight of course ;-)

inspired by a recipe from "Brot und Brötchen selber backen" by Marianna Buser

1 loaf 2 loaves 4 loaves
300 g 600 g 1200 g whole wheat flour
50 g 100 g 200 g whole rye flour
8 g 17 g 35 g honey
100 g + 200 g + 400 g + water
1-2 g 3-4 g 7 g dry yeast (double if using fresh yeast)
200 g 400 g 800 g potatoes (the kind that mashes well)
10 g 20 g 40 g salt
40 g 80 g 160 g cashew milk
--> 7 g --> 13 g --> 25 g for the cashew milk: nuts, top up with water
(or use milk or a double cream/water mixture)
flour for dusting

If you make four loaves you might need to make the dough in two batches since the amount is rather large.
  • Mix the two kinds of flour and place in a bowl. Make a dip in the middle. Mix honey, water and yeast until honey and yeast have dissolved. Pur the liquid in the dip. Mix with some flour from the sides until a thick paste forms. Cover by sprinkling with flour from the sides. Place cling film or a lid on the bowl and let rest in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until cracks are visible in the flour covering your paste.
  • In the meantime: Cut the potatoes into small cubes. Leave the skin on. In a steaming basket or a metal sieve fitted in a pot steam the potatoes over water until very soft (about 15 minutes). You could also boil them in water, but when you steam them more nutrients will be retained in the potatoes. When they have cooked save some of the cooking water. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes as thoroughly as you can. Add some of the cooking water if you feel like this will help mashing.

  • Then add the mashed potatoessalt and cashew milk to the bowl with the dough. If you have one use a dough kneading machine for this step. Start kneading. The aim is to have a soft ball of dough that doesn't stick to the bowl anymore. Add more water if necessary.
  • When you have reached that consistency take the dough from the bowl and form into a ball by folding in the sides and rotating the ball of dough until the bottom side of the dough is smooth. Turn over and return to the bowl. Cover the bowl and return to the warm place. Let the dough rise until it has at least doubled in size. This may again take about 1 ½ - 2 hours.

  • After that time heat up or turn on your oven. For a gas oven use gas mark 9, for upper and lower heat use 260°C, for fan heat use 240°C. Additionally place an old baking tin or any enamel dish filled with water in the oven. This helps to keep the bread moist and helps with letting the crust develop. If you happened to have a bread baking oven you could skip this step.
  • Line a baking tray with baking foil or non-stick parchment paper.

  • Take the dough out of the bowl and divide into as many pieces as you are making loaves. Using the same technique as before give them a short knead to shape the pieces into balls. Place them on the baking tray, the dough ends facing down. Wet your hands and moisten the loaves. Using a fine sieve dust the dough balls with flour until totally covered. Let them rest for 5 minutes.

  • Place the loaves in the oven.
  • Bake (these are upper and lower heat temperatures):
    • 15 minutes at 260°C (whatever you started with)
    • + another 15 minutes at 220°C (turn down by approx. 40°C)
    • + another 20 minutes at 190°C (turn down a bit again)
  • This procedure will first let a firm crust form. Then when the heat is decreased the bread will slowly bake on the inside (pretty much like a cake).

  • Remove the bread from the oven. If you peek under one, tap on the bottom of the bread with your finger. If it sounds hollow the bread is fully baked. This should be the case. Otherwise you would bake it for another few minutes. Place the loaves on a baking rack for cooling.
  • If you made more loaves than you plan to eat right away you can freeze them. To do so place them in a freezer bag after 20 minutes when they are still a bit warm and freeze immediately. To defrost, place them on a rack again and let it defrost in the freezer bag. If you want to you can pop it back in a warm oven for a few minutes to get it crunchier again.
  • If you eat your bread right away (this is the very best option!) let it cool on the rack for a minimum total of 30 minutes and then slice carefully.
  • For fresh keeping any leftover bread a good option is to wrap it in a dish cloth (preferably linen) and place in a paper bag.

Enjoy it =)

Friday, 20 March 2015

Millet-Polenta and Pan-Fried Leeks, Spinach & Peas

And I am back again already ;-) As I told you there are quite a few things I've made in the past two weeks that I'd like to share with you!

Today's post is about what I made today though, as I was surprised how well my "I-want-some-dinner-and-I-want-it-fast" experiment turned out.
I had been at the library until 7.30, working for five hours straight on an assignment without falling asleep - I am really surprised by that =P
So in fact my dinner was not that inventive, since half of the recipe was what I made yesterday (you don't have to make it twice in a row ;-) ) and the other half were the vegetables I had left. But it was very good! As was yesterday's, but I totally missed out on taking some photographs of that.

Today what I made was a millet-based polenta-like something with a green vegetable-assortment pan.

Polenta is usually made from coarsely ground corn and, in the Italian version, seasoned with parmesan cheese. Besides, some of the hot water, which the cornmeal usually is stirred into, can be replaced by stock or milk so that the dish has a richer flavour. Then, the mixture can be more or less creamy depending on how much liquid is used. It can be pan-fried or baked as well.
There is also an African version, called Sadza. Sadza is the made up of water, salt and corn only.

My version here is made of coarsely ground millet, since I didn't have any corn semolina and since my grain mill cannot grind corn anyway. Corn is about the hardest grain, which is why a very strong mill is needed if you want to grind corn.
I've found, though, that the flavour doesn't differ that much and the color is nearly the same too!

Before I've tried using cornflour, which is usually used for thickening liquids. The result was...well. Not quite what I had been thinking of and the colour I found to be a bit weird too.
So I do not recommend that.

In any case what I made with the millet was delicious, regardless of how any original version is supposed to be.

Total time for making both: About 30 minutes.


per person
75 g millet
200 - 230 g water
about 1/4 tsp salz
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tbsp butter

  • Using a blender, coffee grinder or grain mill coarsely grind the millet so that it has the texture of semolina. When it turns out to be a flour this is not a problem. The recipe will still work - only the texture is a bit nicer when the mixture is a bit more grainy.
  • In a small pot bring the water with the salt to a boil. While whisking with a whisk or a fork slowly add the millet semolina to the water and keep stirring. Holding the lid over the pot bring the mixture back to a boil. The bubbles that surface when the mixture starts boiling might shoot at you, that's why I recommend the lid. When the mixture is boiling immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting and put on the lid. After about two minutes turn off the heat and whisk the mixture again. Put the lid back on and let stand for about 10 minutes so that the millet can absorb more water and soften.
  • Season with salt and nutritional yeast, whisking with the fork again. If the mixture is not creamy, add a bit more hot water (preferably from a kettle). Add the butter and stir until incorporated.
  • Spread out the polenta on a plate and top with your desired topping.

  • Alternatively, wet a cutting board. Pour out the polenta on the board and flatten to a disk with wet hands (be careful, it will still be hot) or a spoon so that it has the same thickness in all places. Heat a pan with some butter over medium heat and fry the polenta disk in it until browned.
  • To turn over, place a plate on the pan and turn around. Then add more butter to the empty pan and let the disk slide back into the pan to fry the second side.

Green Leek-Spinach-Pea-Assortment Pan

for 1 person as a side
1 leek
70-100 g spinach (fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup peas (frozen)
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp olive oil
250 ml vegetable stock
curry powder
dried herbs (mixture of sage, thyme, majoram, basil)
lemon juice
lemon peel

  • Cut the leek in 0.5 cm rings. Finely chop the garlic.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan for which you have a lid (or a plate that fits on it) over medium heat. Add the leeks. Fry over medium heat for 5-10 minutes*, stirring often so that the leeks brown slowly and slightly. Then add the spinach and some of the stock to the pan. Cover and let bubble over low heat until the spinach is defrosted or wilted. Add peas and garlic. Add more stock. Let simmer, covered, for a few more minutes.
  • Season to your liking (with the spices suggested) and add more stock if the vegetables are too dry and burning.
  • Serve over polenta.

* At that point I started preparing the ingredients for the polenta and went on making it whenever the vegetables didn't need any attention.

I apologise for the photos not looking calendar or cookbook-like ;-)

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Hi there!
In case you were wondering where I've been over the last weeks - the "evil flu" got to me at the beginning of last week. So I was in bed for two days with a horrible headache and had several versions of colds for the rest of the week. I hope this doesn't sound familiar to you!!!

So I haven't been doing much.

Well, this is not true. Since I've been at home at lot, I've taken lots of photographs of what I've made. Only I've succumbed to sleep in the evening instead of writing. I hope you're forgiving me ;-)

So, to get back on track: Right now I've got a Schneckennudel dough rising next to the heating and . . .  *insert-the-sound-of-some-drums-here* . . . an apple filling waiting for tomorrow morning in the fridge.

I know I told my friends I'd make an original German nut filling the next time, but I was so tempted by the apples today. I'm sorry! The nut filling is still to come!

The apple filling is an Apfelmus or apple puree, just like you would use it for pancakes, Schupfnudeln or Kartoffelpuffer. Am I confusing you there?

"Apfelmus" is the German word for apple puree. "Apfel" means "apple" and "Mus" means "puree".

I don't know what you'd have apple puree with here in England, but where I come from it is common to have with the above mentioned dishes.
Pancakes I'm sure you all know one way or another.
Schupfnudeln are longish shaped potato dumplings which have pointed ends. They are cooked and then usually pan-fried and served with honey-braised Sauerkraut or with Apfelmus.
Kartoffelpuffer are, as Wikipedia tells me, called potato pancakes in English. Maybe you could compare them to hash browns. I have to admit that I've never liked them, but maybe I haven't found the right recipe yet.

In any case apple puree is versatile and you can use it, like I am planning to, as a filling or simply as jam or to have with anything you fancy!


inspired by Ella Woodward's Apple Puree from her new book (Woodward, E. (2015). Deliciously Ella: Awesome ingredients, incredible food that you and your body will love. Hodder & Stoughton, p.19)

for 1 small jar / 1 Schneckennudel filling
2 apples
1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • Core the apples and roughly cut them up. Place the pieces in a small pot and add a bit of water, so that the bottom of the pot is covered.
  • Bring to a boil and cook the apples uncovered for 30-40 minutes. Add more water as necessary. In the end there shouldn't be a "soup" left, but the apples should not have burnt.
  • Having added the cinnamon, pour the apples into a blender or use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth.
Keep in the fridge.

You can adjust the seasoning to your liking. Vanilla or cardamom might be interesting options! If you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Banana Bread Rolls

I have been baking again this week as you might guess!

Besides, I've been tackling my list of saved recipes this week! The result so far is: I have actually tried three new recipes in three days. None was a disaster, one was fantastic, one quite good and one...not bad, but not on the list for making again.
I am happy about how this went this week. Usually I save so many recipes and at some point I decide that I have to do a clear-out, because I can't find anything anymore =P
So in case you are curious - the one that was fantastic (honestly! I think I haven't tried anything that nice in quite some time!) was this version of Shepherd's Pie from Edible Perspective.

But back to what I've been baking! Banana Bread Rolls!
And no, they're not muffins, even though I always make them in a muffin pan - the dough is quite sticky and soft, that's why.
They don't require any artistic talent in case you didn't want to make the Schneckennudeln because of that ;-) These rolls are not like a typical cake or muffin recipe. They're made with yeast and resemble a typical yeast roll that is a bit heavier and has a subtle taste of banana and cocoa that is not overwhelming, though.

Banana Bread Rolls

Time required: about 30 min + waiting + 30 min + waiting + 10 min + 30 min for rising + 25 for baking

for 9 rolls for 12 rolls
335 g (34 g nuts 445 g (44 g nuts) Cashewmilk
6-8 g 8-10 g fresh yeast
OR 3 g 4 g dried yeast
and in that case 1 tsp 1 tsp honey
335 g 445 g whole wheat flour
335 g 445 g whole wheat flour
2 tsp 2 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp +1 tsp 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp 1 1/3 tsp salt
300 g 400 g banana, mashed
equals 2 large 3 normal sized bananas
2 2/3 tbsp 3 ½ tbsp honey
54 g 72 g butter, melted

  •  Grind cashew nuts and blend with water  to make cashewmilk. Pour a part into a jug and, in the same blender, blend the remaining milk with yeast and (if using dried yeast, honey).  In a bowl, mix flour, yeast-milk and remaining milk. If using a electric machine, use the paddle attachment. Using a spatula, try to fold in the sides to give the dough a bit of tension. Let rest covered for at least 3 hours at room temperature.

  • In a second bowl mix second part of the flour, cinnamon, cocoa and saltAdd mashed banana, honey, melted butter and the flour mixture to the dough. Knead into a dough. This will not become smooth, but will remain very sticky. If using a machine, use the dough hook attachment. If the dough seems quite hard add some water. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 8 hours at room temperature.

  • Cut out squares of baking paper (do not use - under no circumstances - greaseproof paper - this will only give you lots of grief! ... I've done that) and, smoothing them over a small glass turned upside-down, turn them into moulds. You can also use non-stick muffin tin liners (but only if they're non stick). If you only have paper versions, rather just grease the muffin tin very well.
  • Knead the dough again. With wet hands pull the dough into pieces and place them in the moulds. This doesn't have to look nice. Just rip the dough in pieces and make sure it's all in the moulds. Put the muffin pan in a warm place where there is no draught and let the rolls rise for about 25 minutes.
  • If your oven needs preheating, preheat to 210°C.
  • When the rolls have risen, place them in the oven and bake for 22-24 minutes.
  • Remove them from the tin directly after baking and place on a cooling rack. If you used any paper for lining remove this. If you'd like to freeze any rolls, freeze them in sealed plastic bags directly after baking when hot (this way they retain the moisture). For thawing let them thaw in a plastic bag at room temperature for 4-5 hours. If you have the possibility you can reheat them for example on a toaster rack.

As always: If anyone tries this I'd love to hear from you!
Also I'm happy about any wishes and comments :-)

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Rich & Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Hi there on Sunday night! Do you have some time to spare for cooking something nice tomorrow? Or do you have a butternut squash you don't know what to do with?
Stay with me then until the recipe is revealed ;-)

In fact I did not have a plan today for what to make for dinner....
But since my housemate went to the market today and brought home lots of things - which is great, Thanks! :-) - I just decided to go for what looked like it needed to be eaten first.
In that case it was a butternut squash.

Have you tried it before? Butternut is a quite sweet-ish sort of squash. It has much more flavour than the usual Halloween pumpkin, which doesn't taste like anything to me if I'm honest. It was even my favourite squash before my housemate brought home some green squash for the first time. Unfortunately I don't know the name of that one right now, but it really is delicious!

In this sauce though, butternut squash works just fine!
You could use Hokkaido, which is probably the most popular pumpkin in Germany. The sauce will taste quite different, though, since Hokkaido does not taste anywhere as sweet when cooked. Sweet potato, in my opinion, is kind of too sweet. Carrot alone I haven't tried yet, but carrot mixed with squash is quite good as well!

The recipe I started from I found a few years ago here on Oh She Glows.
Since then me and my Mum have changed it a couple of times and the following is the current version ;-)

Due to the nutritional yeast the sauce tastes a bit cheesy and not at like "healthy vegetables" ;-)
It is rich and creamy and is a perfect comfort food for wintery or rainy days.
There are a lot of similar recipes out there on the internet. They often describe the sauce as a "Mac'n Cheese Sauce". Since I've never tried that I cannot tell you if it does indeed taste like that. So if you try this and you know traditional English/American Mac'n Cheese then I'd love to hear what you think about that comparison!

for 3 people
450 g butternut squash, in cubes
olive oil
1tbsp butter
26 g cashew nuts
200 g water
1-2 tbsp flour
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp mustard (vinegary & tangy, not sweet)
1 garlic clove, grated
nutmeg (best is freshly grated)
300 g pasta
250 g spinach, fresh (cut) or thawed

  • Cut up the squash. I find it easiest to cut it into rounds (or half-rounds if you're on the part where you scoop out the seeds) and then to cut the peel off the rounds instead of trying to peel the whole thing.
  • Place in a baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle on olive oil. Put into the oven and roast at 220°C for 40 to 60 minutes, so that it is slightly browned.
  • In the meantime make the sauce:
    • Grind cashews in a blender until they are as fine as they get. Add water and blend again.
    • Melt butter over low heat in a medium-sized pot. Have a for or whisk at hand. Pour cashew milk into the pot and add flour. Whisk until smooth. Turn heat up slightly. You want the mixture to simmer over low heat. Add in nutritional yeast, mustard, grated garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk. Make sure that the sauce bubbles slightly and, whisking frequently, let bubble uncovered for about 7-10 minutes. Let stand until squash is roasted.
  • Heat pasta water and cut or thaw spinach.
  • When the squash is roasted, put it into the pot with the sauce. With a stick blender blend up the sauce. Alternatively you could do this is a blender or food processor. If you have neither I think it should work if you mash up the squash with a potato masher as fine as you can and then whisk the sauce. I haven't tried that though, but I'm quite confident it will work.
  • Taste and season as desired.

  • Cook pasta. Reserve some cooking water in a cup. Drain pasta. Place drained pasta along with the spinach into the pot with the sauce. Thin out with pasta water as desired. Let pasta simmer on very low heat in the sauce for about 3-5 minutes. This will let them absorb the sauce better and will let spinach wilt (if it is fresh).
  • Enjoy!

The sauce (at the stage where you've just blended it, before you add spinach) also freezes well!