Rugbrød (Danish Rye Bread)

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Those of you that know me, know that I have a real love affair with the Scandinavian way of life. I love the food, the cooler weather, the idea of long summer days, the Fika culture of coffee and cake with friends and the lovely hues of the painted buildings. If I were to choose somewhere to live other than the UK, it would undoubtedly be in one of those countries.

I gifted my mum the cookbook ‘The New Nordic’ by Simon Bajada after our trip to Iceland a few years ago. On my last visit home I found myself flitting through the pages, noting recipes I couldn’t wait to try, when I came across this Rye bread. I love Smørrebrød (a traditional Scandinavian open sandwich), of which Rye bread is an essential part.

Traditional Rugbrød is made with a sourdough starter however, Simon Bajada’s version uses a pre-soak made 18-24 hours before the dough is made to give it that sour taste without the hassle of tending to a sourdough starter.

My first attempt was sunken in the middle and raw. I knew when I had made the dough that it seemed too wet so, for my second I decided to add a little more flour and it turned out perfectly.

Rye bread stays fresher for much longer than white bread and is packed full of goodness. Cracked rye grains, sunflower seeds and linseeds means this bread is really filling without being too heavy.

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Cheddar + Garlic Herb Buttermilk Twist Bread

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I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately. Since we’ve been blessed with some warmer days here in England, picnics have become more frequent and so have the cheese and meat plates. Browsing artisan British cheeses in lovely little Deli’s is one of my favourite things to do. Having beautifully made ingredients in my fridge is something that really inspires me to cook. It’s so gratifying to rummage in the fridge and emerge with an idea for a delicious meal.

Having this alluring loaf made me really look forward to breakfast and lunch for a couple of days. My housemate had leftover buttermilk from her homemade cultured butter, so it was the perfect excuse to make some buttermilk bread.

This isn’t the kind of bread to make a sandwich with. Its delicate and soft with a crisp cheesy shell. The strong basil and rosemary garlic butter leaves grooves in the fluffy buttermilk dough where its been absorbed along with the melted cheddar and parmesan. My favourite way of eating it is to toast it, spread over a thin layer of butter, followed by a layer of thinly sliced cheddar (yes, cheese on cheese bread), a sliced pickled walnut and a few slices of ripe tomato. It’s a very grown up version of a cheese and pickle sandwich. It’s also lovely with avocado and eggs as well as just on it own.

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New York Style Bagels

 

IMG_6446Bagels have always been some what of a mystery to me. I absolutely adore eating them but it’s not something you find a lot around London. My first (and only) attempt a few years ago were such an utter failure that they never even crossed my mind again until last week.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to bagels and I really wanted to get it right. I spent hours reading recipes and watching videos on traditional bagel making methods. The dough needs to be firm and smooth to create a light but tight crumb along with the ability to mould and retain its shape.

What distinguishes bagels from regular bread is the boiling process. It feels almost sacrilege to put fresh proved dough into boiling water but its crucial to achieve that iconic texture. As you boil the dough you release some of the starches in the flour which then gelatinize and form a barrier around the bagel. By cooking the starches beforehand, you won’t lose as much moisture in the oven and have partially set the outside of the bagel resulting in a chewier and denser crumb.

A regular appearance of fresh puffed bagels with a generous schmear of cream cheese is very much welcomed in my kitchen. Since I can’t hop on a plane anytime soon, these will have to transport me to the busy pavements of New York.IMG_6424IMG_6457IMG_6469IMG_6502

 

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Vegan Rye Cinnamon Pecan Rolls

I really REALLY wish there was somewhere near me that sold vegan cinnamon buns. Because I would be there every single frickin day. I need more baked goods in my life; its making me mentally unstable. Alas, the only place that has a baked good that’s close to a ‘normal’ pastry is Crosstown Doughnuts who have started doing Vegan Doughnuts every Fri, Sat & Sun. All other vegan places near me are very health focused and their baked goods are either in fact raw, or are made with buckwheat flour and there’s no dough in site.

I have yet to venture to Crosstown to try the Vegan doughnuts but the dough (via instagram) looks so bloody tasty, I need to get there ASAP.  (You’ll be seeing an update on that very soon via my instagram.) If anyone knows of any good bakeries in central London near the Victoria/Westminster/Mayfair area, PLEASE let me in on it.

I made these cinnamon rolls with the intention to freeze them in order to sustain me during the week ahead, but they never made it even close to the freezer. I shouldnt be surprised as that’s typical me, but you can’t blame a girl for trying.

This recipe is actually really similar to your average cinnamon roll recipe, and it was really easy to create a vegan version. I gave one of my non-vegan friends one and she soon sent through a lovely text about how amazing they were and how you would have no idea they were vegan. Those kind of words make me so happy; to know that living a vegan lifestyle you don’t need to miss out.

So here you are; a cinnamon roll that both you and your non-vegan friends and family will love. Ssh don’t tell them its vegan and I 100% guarantee they wont even know.

 

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French Toast with Blueberry Compote and Whipped Ricotta

IMG_2762The first time I tasted French Toast was about two and half years ago. As part of my job, I was offered a free stay in the Hotel. This was a crazy treat on its own, but the food was what I was really excited about. My friend and I ate our way through what seemed like the entire menu that evening. Even when they offered us espresso martini’s, I had to genuinely consider if I could manage it.

After getting dressed up the previous night, all I wanted the following morning was a lazy, minimal effort start to the day. Something about ordering room service seems so luxurious to me. With the quick dial of a phone, you can place your order and then half an hour later your food miraculously arrives. No effort required, and more importantly, no dishes to wash. I certainly don’t shy at the opportunity of free food so I placed a huge order of coffee, fresh orange juice, full english breakfast, Danish pastries and french toast. Lets just say my eyes are always, without fail, bigger than my stomach.

I felt so absurdly posh sitting in my fluffy oversized dressing gown in my oversized room with my oversized breakfast. I went for the full english first because I needed some savoury to prepare myself for my sweets. I tucked into my french toast next without hesitation, took one bite, simply looked at my friend and muttered ‘oh my god’ through a mouthful of brioche. It was honest to god, one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. So simple but done so well. Crisp on the outside but soft and pillowy on the inside. It was paired with a generous helping of clotted cream and mixed berries… because rich buttery fried brioche isn’t enough.

From now on, whenever someone new joins our team and they book their stay. My one piece of advice is ‘just please, get the french toast.’IMG_2636IMG_2675 IMG_2678 IMG_2705 IMG_2721 IMG_2744 Continue reading “French Toast with Blueberry Compote and Whipped Ricotta”

Salted Caramel Brioche Doughnuts

IMG_1900Unbeknown to me, it was national doughnut day a few weeks ago. As soon as my WordPress, Instagram and Facebook feeds filled up with photo after photo of puffed, golden, chocolate covered doughnuts; I was mad that I had no idea this day even existed and more so that I’d missed it.

I hadn’t made doughnuts in a really long time. For me, they’re the ultimate sweet treat. So many people think of them as the ultimate guilt trigger too. The way I see it is that life’s too short not to eat delicious food. If you can’t eat it now then when are you ever going to eat it?

Lots of you have probably visited Borough Market in central London. The first time I went I was on my own; a scared London newbie with no idea where anything was. I walked around the market, strolling past the same stalls about fives times (only now do I realise I missed half the market.) It was a ridiculously busy saturday lunchtime and I was still overcoming the notion that I had to push to the front of the crowd to get served. Along with an abundance of bread, cheese, sweet treats and fresh vegetables, I came away with a morsel that would force me back to the market a whole lot more in the future. Continue reading “Salted Caramel Brioche Doughnuts”

Semlor: Swedish Almond-Cream filled Cardamom Buns

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Ah, Semla.

Where to begin? Firstly, I wish you came into my life earlier. So many years I’ve wasted without your Cardamom goodness.

Secondly, why aren’t you in my life right now?! Why have I eaten you all? Why isn’t there a Swedish bakery down the road from my house, wafting that delicious freshly baked warm bun smell into my house every morning? Continue reading “Semlor: Swedish Almond-Cream filled Cardamom Buns”

Tartine Bread: Basic Country Loaf

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I’m sure all of you know my obsession with bread has been increasing recently since I started cultivating my own sourdough starter using the Tartine bread book.

Enrique is now about a month old and smelling mature. Some days he smells like vinegar and others like overripe fruit.

This loaf isn’t actually my first country bread. I tried to bake the country bread when my starter was about two weeks old. Me being impatient yet again. The bread tasted lovely but Enrique just wasn’t old enough. The loaf didn’t develop enough gluten during its rise and ended up spreading and being very flat. Continue reading “Tartine Bread: Basic Country Loaf”