This lovely (though derelict and unusable) old brick oven in Upper Austria used to decorate the gardens of our old farmhouse. It was demolished last year after a lifespan of over 100 years (it hadn’t been in use since the 1950s). You can still see the baking chamber made of fireproof brick.
Once, this masonry oven was an important meeting point in the village where people gathered every few weeks to do their baking.
One day a new wood-fired brick oven will bring outdoor baking back into my garden 🙂
Looking for a bread recipe full of wholesome goodness? This loaf of brown seeded wholemeal bread is bursting with healthy seeds and kernels. Great for using up the various bits and pieces you might have waiting in your store cupboard!
Combine these ingredients in a medium bowl, cover and keep at room temperature for approx. 16 hours.
40g flax seeds (golden or brown)
Combine in a small bowl and cover for approx. 16 hours.
Day 2 – Prepare the toasted seeds & dough
Prepare the toasted seed mix
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
You can replace some of the above and mix in some rolled oats or poppy seeds or even some chopped nuts, whatever you have available or feel like.
Place the seeds in a frying pan (no oil!) and toast the mixed seeds for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, then leave to cool. (Alternatively, you can toast the seed mix in the oven at 150°C).
Prepare the main dough
300g sourdough from day 1
Flaxseed soaker from day 1
Toasted seed mix (as per the above)
600g wholemeal flour (wheat or spelt)
Combine the sourdough, flaxseed soaker, wholemeal flour, water and salt in a large bowl, then knead for 10 minutes. It’s important to get the consistency of the dough right, so make sure it’s not too dry and not too wet. Add some more water if the dough is hard to knead. If in doubt – wetter is better!
Add in the toasted seed mix until evenly distributed.
Cover and leave to rest in a warm place for ½ hour.
Butter a lidded pullman loaf tin, then move the dough from the bowl into the tin. Squash the dough in quite firmly and evenly.
Cover the tin with the lid and place in the fridge overnight or approx. 12 – 16 hours.
Day 3 – Bake
Take the pullman loaf tin out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 190°C for 20 minutes.
Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle some more sunflower seeds on top.
Bake at 190°C for 1 hour. Remove the bread from the tin approx. 15 minutes before the hour is up and put back into the oven – the bread will get a much better crust that way.
Remove from the loaf pan, wrap in a clean kitchen towel and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Last Sunday I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner and my friend Mariel from NY put on a huge feast for us (great homemade rum ice cream also by Rich!). Of course, my contribution to the dinner was going to be bread related and for this occasion it had to be cornbread (the savoury kind). This is my very own savoury cornbread recipe, tried and tested many times.
First of all, some clarification on cornmeal since I live in the UK and this is a typical US dish. Cornmeal (the finely ground version you need for cornbread) is also referred to as maize flour in the UK or you might get finely ground polenta.
Traditionally in the States, a skillet (a cast iron pan with slanted sides) is used for baking cornbread. The skillet is the only way to make it all-round crispy and crunchy. Unfortunately, I’m currently lacking a skillet (not much longer I hope!) so I used a baking tin. You can use the same recipe to make savoury cornbread muffins. Just divide the mixture among the muffin tins and bake for slightly shorter than in the below recipe (about 20 minutes overall).
Easy to put together and a great side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner or any other time of the year, whenever you fancy a delicious snack! TIP: Get all the ingredients ready and all the chopping and grating done before you start putting the savoury cornbread batter together.
Ingredients for savoury cornbread
100gplain white flour
½tspbicarbonate of soda
50gbuttermelted, plus 1 tbsp of butter for the onions
100gsweetcornfrom the tin, chopped
1large onionfinely chopped
2fresh green or red chillideseeded and finely chopped
How to make cornbread
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. In terms of baking tray size, the above recipe will fill a 23cm square (or round) baking tin, about 4cm deep.
Melt a tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan and sautée the onion for 2 minutes.
Add the chili and fry for another 5 minutes until the onions start to brown.
Add the chopped sweetcorn kernels and stir for another 2 - 3 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the maize flour, plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Stir the dry ingredients with a balloon whisk until well blended.
In a separate bowl - mix together the butter, eggs, honey and buttermilk - again a balloon whisk works best.
Add both mixtures (the dry and wet ingredients) together, mix it all up carefully until combined.
Gently fold in the onion, chili and sweetcorn mixture and ⅔ of the grated cheddar. You should now have a creamy, thick, barely pourable batter.
Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven to quickly sprinkle the remaining ⅓ of the grated cheese on top.
Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cornbread turns golden brown.
Check that the bread is baked through by inserting a toothpick into the centre – it should come out completely clean.
Allow the bread to cool in the baking tin for about 10 - 15 minutes before you move it onto a wire rack.
What a wonderfully colourful bread! Soft and moist on the inside with a deep golden brown top layer.
This savoury cornbread recipe works really well with soups, starters, grilled meat or salads. Try to fry slices in butter, it’s delicious.
Experiment with the ingredients, take out the chili and just add some fresh herbs such as thyme. Build a basic cornbread batter and add whatever you are in the mood for – sun-dried tomatoes or olives for example. Note that you might need to adjust the amount of buttermilk you use as the consistency of the batter will be determined by the moisture content of your selection of savoury ingredients.
Wrap any leftovers in foil and reheat in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
While visiting my brother-in-law’s family in Dublin last weekend, I was looking for something which would be fun to bake, make and eat with the kids.
After a lovely cycle along the Dublin coastline, we went for a bit of grocery shopping in Sandymount Village and paid Michael Byrne & Son (Craft Butchers) a visit.
We couldn’t help but notice the great variety of (huge!) sausages on display and decided to buy a selection for a family hot dog feast on Sunday.
Here’s a recipe for delicious hot dog buns. They taste A LOT better than any supermarket buns and add hugely to the hot dog cooking experience.
What you’ll need to bake them (ingredients) – Bakes 8 Hot Dog buns
500g strong white flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of dried yeast
200ml milk, lukewarm
100ml water, lukewarm
25g melted butter
1 egg, beaten
How you’ll bake them –
Add 100ml of the lukewarm milk, the sugar, yeast and 2 tablespoons of flour into a large bowl and mix together. Don’t add the salt or butter at this stage!
Leave to rest in a warm place until the volume has doubled.
Add the remaining ingredients to make the dough.
Knead for 10 minutes and leave to rise for an hour in a lightly floured bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a draught-free place
Preheat the oven to 230°C.
Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
Now form the hot dogs –
Use your palms to form a ball for each of the parts and then pat the pieces into oval shapes (about ⅔ of the length of your hot dog sausages). You won’t need a rolling pin for this.
Use the edge of your hand to indent the dough down the length of the center.
Gently fold the sides into the middle of the oval (length-wise i.e. only fold the two longer sides) towards the indentation you created and close by slightly pinching the edges to seal. Make sure the folded package is still going to be wide enough to fill with your hot dog sausages and tasty fillings later.
Turn the dough pieces around so that the seams are at the bottom (seam-side down).
Roll the dough buns carefully back and forth to gently seal the seams.
Tuck any sharp ends in to flatten / round the ends. Each piece should now be of the same length as your hot dog sausages.
Place all the pieces onto baking paper on a baking tray.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 mins.
Brush each bun with the beaten egg.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 20 mins or until golden brown. The buns should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool for about 10 mins on a wire rack before eating.
Gently open and fill – enjoy the deliciously rich flavour!
Apart from the very tasty sausages we added fried onions and wholegrain mustard, some Kilmeaden cheddar as well as chopped tomatoes (with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a bit of olive oil).
Daragh and Aoibhinn preferred the simpler sausage and ketchup version 🙂
At home in Austria for the week, I was keen to bake some traditional Austrian Schwarzbrot (black bread) with my family. It was a good team effort! My grandmother provided the recipe for Hausbrot, my mum prepared the rye sourdough and got the various ingredients ready and I did the dough work.
There are many different recipes for Austrian Hausbrot (‘bread of the house’) but all of them have the following ingredients in common –
A variety of flours whereby rye flour is always used but usually mixed with wheat or spelt flour
Typically, proving baskets/bannetons (called Simperl or Gärkörbchen in German) made of cane or rattan are used to rest and prove the bread and mould its final shape. These bread baskets come in round or oval shapes and different sizes. Proving baskets are perfect for soft and loose doughs and give your bread loaves uniform-ish shapes.
Hausbrot Austrian Schwarzbrot Recipe
A true taste of Austria, try this Austrian bread recipe (my grandmother’s authentic family recipe) with a creamy Austrian potato soup or hearty Goulash soup.
Prepare the sourdough and preferment in two separate bowls and cover. Keep at room temperature for about 16-24 hours.
Combine 500g of the sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake), the preferment, plain flour, rye flour, salt, yeast, fennel seeds and Austrian bread spices to make a soft dough.
Knead for approx. 10 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky due to the high rye flour content in this recipe but should be manageable.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a bowl, cover and keep at room temperature until it has doubled in size (approximately 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature of the room).
Prepare the proving basket by lightly dusting it with flour. If you don’t have such bread baskets to hand, you can also use a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and flour. This technique will support the shape of the dough and will ultimately avoid that the dough flattens when it expands.
Give the dough another quick knead and form a loaf.
Cover the dough surface with flour (I tend to do this on a floured work surface and with floury hands) and place it in the proving basket.
Leave to rest for another 2 hours or so for the bread’s final prove. Again, this may take longer depending on your room temperature.
20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 250°C. If you have a La Cloche baking dome, preheat this in the oven from cold at the same time. If you don’t have a baking dome, preheat a baking tray.
Turn out the loaf from the proving basket onto the hot baking dome plate or baking tray (line the tray with baking parchment first).
Kleingebäck or Kleinbrote are the German words and classifications for small breads weighing 250g or less. In Austria, Switzerland and Germany there is a huge variety of Kleingebäck – every region and, in fact, every bakery will have their own selection.
Kleinbrote are usually eaten for breakfast or as part of the Jause (Austrian German – a snack or small meal usually eaten mid-morning or in the early evening) and works equally well with sweet or savoury toppings. Salzstangerl are my personal favourite Kleingebäck.
Making Salzstangerl at home is easier than you might think. Go and give it a try!
Ingredients – 12 Salzstangerl
500g plain white flour / bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of dried, instant yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
(Note: If you would like a lighter end product replace the milk and butter with lukewarm water)
Coarse sea salt
How to make Salzstangerl
Add 100ml of the lukewarm milk, sugar, yeast and 2 tablespoons of flour into a large bowl and mix together. Don’t add the salt or butter at this stage!
Leave to rest in a warm place until the volume has doubled.
Add the remaining ingredients to make the dough and leave to rest again.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
Use your palms to form a ball for each of the parts.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour.
Roll out each dough ball into a very flat oval shape.
Hold onto the bottom part of the oval shape with your left hand while rolling the dough from the top part towards the bottom part. The more you squeeze the dough with your right hand while rolling, the longer the Salzstangerl will be.
Put all the pieces onto baking paper onto a baking tray.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest (and grow) in a warm place for 15 mins.
Spray with water and sprinkle with sea salt and caraway seeds.
Bake on the middle shelve of the oven for approximately 15-20 mins.
Cool on a wire rack.
If you want to freeze the Stangerl, parbake them for 10 mins, fully cool them, then freeze. You can then take them out of the freezer whenever you feel like Salzstangerl, put a little water on top and finish baking them in a non-preheated oven.
You can also freeze fully baked Salzstangerl for up to a month.
My bread baking journey with The Bread She Bakes is firmly rooted in the delicious flavours of Austrian rye breads I missed so much when I moved to the UK. A lot of dark breads in Austria, Germany (particularly in the South), Switzerland and South Tyrol are made with Brotgewürz (bread spices) which are both great for the taste of the bread and also really good for your digestive system.
Recipe for an Austrian bread spice blend
The basic seeds and spices used are caraway seeds, anise, fennel and coriander seeds.
Bread spice ingredients for a 1 kg loaf of bread
2½ tsp of caraway seeds
2 tsp of fennel
1 tsp of anise
½ tsp of coriander seeds
You can also experiment with small quantities of allspice, fenugreek, sweet trefoil, celery seeds and cardamom – or just use one of these ingredients for your bread e.g. just caraway seeds or just coriander seeds. The taste of your bread will be very different depending on your bread spice choice.
How to make a bread spice mix (Brotgewürzmischung)
In fitting with today’s delightfully autumnal weather, I decided to cook a hearty vegetarian curry with butternut squash. As is the case for most dishes, Indian curries taste best if eaten with freshly baked breads. I’ve made this spelt flour chapati recipe many times since visiting India in 2007 and it didn’t let me down today. These homemade spelt chapatis are no hassle at all – you’ll be done in just over an hour.
When visiting Malaysia recently, I picked up a tava (a round flat or slightly concave iron griddle) used in Indian cooking to make flatbreads. I haven’t got the traditional Atta flour handy, so I’m opting for a mix of wholemeal and white spelt flour instead.
Unleavened flatbreads (i.e. made from a dough containing no yeast or leavening agents)
An integral part of the Indian cuisine (also eaten in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia)
Traditionally made with Atta flour (stone ground wholemeal flour which has been sifted to remove the coarsest bran), salt and water. You can use a mixture of wholemeal and white flour if you don’t have Atta flour to hand.
Cooked on a tava (you can also use a flat bottom non-stick frying pan)
Spelt chapati recipe
Ingredients for 6 chapatis
100g finely ground wholemeal spelt flour
100g white spelt flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil plus extra for brushing
How to make the spelt flour chapatis
Before you follow the instructions, here is a video for a quick introduction of the process:
Place the spelt flours, water and salt in a large bowl.
Form a soft dough with your hands. Note that firmer dough is easier to handle but makes harder chapatis. If required, just add a little more water until you get the right consistency.
Add a tablespoon of oil and transfer to a clean surface.
Knead for about 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl and cover.
Allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
Divide into 6 equal pieces.
Shape the dough into balls by rolling the pieces between your palms.
Place them on a lightly dusted surface.
Roll out the dough balls (one by one) into a thin round on a lightly floured surface.
Heat up a frying pan over a medium heat and place the chapatis (one at a time) straight on the hot surface.
Keep it there for about 30 seconds until blisters appear and it becomes slightly darker in colour.
Turn and cook the other side in the same way. The steam trapped in the middle will cause the chapati to puff up. Use a clean kitchen towel to gently push down as air pockets form.
Once done, lightly brush the chapati with rapeseed oil (traditionally ghee is used) and cover with a clean dish towel until ready to serve.
Enjoy with dhal or your favourite curry – no cutlery needed!
Depending on the recipe you use, where you live and where you shop, flour can be named differently.
In general, wholemeal, wholewheat and wholegrain flour all refer to unrefined flours i.e. flours which are made of the whole grain (including bran, germ and endosperm). Note that wholewheat refers to flour made from wheat, while the terms wholemeal and wholegrain can also refer to other varieties of grain e.g. rye, spelt or buckwheat. Wholewheat could therefore also be described as wholemeal made from 100% wheat.
Refined (white) flours on the other hand only contain the endosperm of the grain (the bran and germ are removed) helping these flours to keep longer. However, by removing bran and germ, the flour also loses valuable nutritional components such as fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Brown flour uses a proportion of the whole grain, but usually not 100%.
There are regulations in place (“The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998” in the UK for example) which specify that four vitamins and minerals must be added to all white and brown flour (not wholemeal) to ensure the population still has an adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals even if they chose not to eat wholemeal. The process is called flour enrichment. The added nutrients are calcium, iron, thiamine and niacin which occur naturally in wholemeal but are lost in white, and to a certain extent brown flour. One key difference remains: refined flours are missing the dietary fibre of wholemeal.
The term wholemeal is more commonly used in the UK, while wholewheat and wholegrain are terms more frequently used in the US.
To make things more complicated (in the US in particular), you might come across white wholewheat flour. White wholewheat is made using whole white wheat grains while regular wholewheat is made from red wheat grains. White wheat is a type of wheat which has no major genes for bran color. White wholewheat is a lighter flour with a finer texture and milder flavour compared to regular wholewheat. Nutritionally, the two types of wheat are very similar.
Note that due to the different climate/agronomy, the wheat varieties grown in the UK differ to the wheat types in the US.
Returning from a work trip mid-week, I discovered that pretty much all of our bread stash (fresh and frozen) had been eaten. Noooo! I had to act quickly and this white spelt flour bread recipe was just perfect. If you need a bread-fix quickly, use this simple recipe for a basic white sandwich loaf to help you get by.
White spelt flour bread recipe (using yeast)
This recipe uses white spelt flour which I prefer using over plain wheat flour, but it will work with any plain white flour you have at home.
What you’ll need to make the white spelt flour loaf –
500g white spelt flour
280ml lukewarm water
7g sachet of dried yeast
How to make the white spelt loaf –
Add all ingredients above into a medium bowl and combine well.
Knead the dough thoroughly and patiently for about 10 minutes (this is the fun part!). The result should be a silky, smooth, elastic dough.
Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a lid for about an hour or longer until well risen.
Once risen, take the dough out of the bowl and reduce its size again by ‘knocking it back’ (kneading it firmly but briefly to knock the air out).
Shape into a boule and leave on the worktop for 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
Place the dough into a baking tin and cover with a polythene bag to prevent it from drying out.
Let the dough prove at room temperature until it’s doubled in size. This may take an hour in a warm room but longer in a colder room.
Preheat the oven to 220°C about half an hour before baking.
Bake the loaf for 45 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack or wrap in a clean dishtowel if you like a softer crust.
The result –
A great looking white spelt bread loaf – beautiful with butter and strawberry or raspberry jam in the morning. Great also for soaking up the juices from this amazing autumnal casserole dish.
White spelt flour bread recipe (using sourdough)
If you have more time, I would recommend baking the loaf with sourdough instead of yeast. Replace some of the white flour with wholemeal flour, infuse the dough with nigella seeds and you’ll have an entirely new loaf.
Here’s how to make it.
Ingredients for a spelt sourdough loaf –
50g sourdough starter
250g white spelt flour
250g wholemeal spelt flour
280ml lukewarm water
1 tbsp nigella seeds
How to make spelt sourdough bread –
Combine the sourdough starter with 100g white spelt flour, 100g wholemeal spelt flour and 200g water. Mix well and cover with a lid. Keep at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.
Take 50g of sourdough out of the bowl to put back into the fridge for future sourdough baking before adding the remaining 150g white spelt flour, 150g wholemeal spelt flour, 80g water and 7g salt into the bowl. Follow steps 2 to 10 below but beware that sourdough may take longer to rise. Just before step 6, sprinkle the nigella seeds into the baking tin before placing the dough on top.