14 July 2013

Easy Knäckebröd


The other week, we finally finished the latest batch of crispbread. In fact it was while my Sister Bip was over to visit and we had a cheese evening. Obviously Lundulph stayed in another room. Bip on the other hand was rather surprised at how tasty my crispbreads were.

So it was time to replenish the stock, so that Lundulph has something to munch on, while impatiently waiting for dinner to get ready. And I have two new recipes that I want to try - sent by my Mum from her weekly magazine.


Today I went for "Marinas knäckebröd" from a September 2012 issue, unfortunately the recipe is not on the magazine website any more. The intro on the page is "forget about difficult crispbread bakes, here is an easy version that doesn't even require rolling".

One big change I had to make was to use wheat flour instead of spelt wheat, simply because I didn't have it in the cupboard. Further, I didn't have whole linseed, but used cold milled instead and swapped the rape oil for grapeseed oil. I used the stated full tsp of salt, which was too much for my liking, so I've halved it below.

Makes about 12, depending on size

1 dl wholemeal flour
1 dl white flour
1 dl sunflower seeds
0.5 dl linseeds
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 dl grapeseed oil
2.5 dl hot water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C and line a baking sheet or two with baking paper. I used two baking sheets of 32x23 cm size.
  2. Measure up the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.
  3. Add the oil and stir it in to form crumbs. Make sure to mix it in well too.
  4. Now add the hot water and stir quickly to form a sort of porridge with seeds in it.
  5. Transfer to the baking sheets and using a metal spatula, carefully spread it out as thinly as possible.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven, then take out and carefully cut into the desired shapes.
  7. Bake for a further hour or so, until the crispbreads feel dry and have a light golden tinge to them.
  8. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool down completely, then store in an airtight container.

The amount was enough for one whole of the baking sheets and two-thirds of the second one and was about 0.5 cm thick. The consistency is very like porridge and very sticky, so avoid touching with fingers and I think a metal spatula works better than a plastic one in this situation.

The original instructions state to cut the pieces after 5 minutes of baking, but the mixture was still too wet at this point, which is why I say 15 minutes above. I got a total of 20 pieces, about 5x12 cm. It could be because I'm using a gas oven, I suspect a fan assisted oven would do a better job.


Baking for an hour resulted in a nice smell spreading through the house, but there was still some softness to the crispbreads, so I moved the baking sheet to the bottom shelf of the oven and placed the second baking sheet in the middle. This worked quite well, since the temperature at the bottom of the oven is much lower when there is a baking sheet above to block most of the heat.

As the breads bake, they will shrink a little and some holes might appear where the mixture was spread a bit thinly, but remember there is no raising agent in the mixture, so nothing to make it light and airy inside, therefore they must be very thin in order to dry out during baking.

For the visual side, I think it would look nice to sprinkle some pumpkin and poppy seeds on top and gently push in to make them stick.

Flavour-wise I suggest adding spices like anise seeds, cardamom or caraway to the mixture. Preferably ground, I should think. To make a sweet alternative, I suggest sprinkling some cinnamon and granulated sugar on top. This is a fond memory from a trial combination on sale in Sweden in the 90-s, which I really liked to the point of eating way too many of them and gaining a couple of kilos.

Lundulph and I tried one as soon as it had cooled down - yummy and crunchy.

13 July 2013

Rye Sourdough Bread

I've been baking straight white sourdough bread for several months now, the trusty old 1-2-3 recipe and I felt it was time for some variation.

Rye is always nice I think, so I started looking for suitable recipes. I have in my mind that there are other recipes of the type X-Y-Z, which describes the proportions of starter-water-flour, but I wasn't able to find anything during my quick search and most rye bread recipes required slightly different preparations to what I'd already started on. We'd run out of bread, so I'd already fed my starter, when I started looking for a rye recipe, so I couldn't possibly use them, but then I found this on Susan's Wild Yeast Blog, which seemed just right. Here are my amounts, the starter feeding routine is my usual one - I have about 200 g of starter in a jar in the fridge. I feed stir in 200 g water and 200 g flour and leave it until it at least doubles in volume. This time, I fed it in the evening before going to bed. Straight after feeding it, I put 200 g of the starter back into the jar and into the fridge and the rest went into a large yoghurt pot and into a nice warm shelf in the living room. The next morning (some 9 h later), it was more than double the volume.


410 g starter that has been fed
408 g strong white flour
204 g stoneground rye flour
300 g water
2 tsp whole anise seeds
1 tsp vitamin C powder
15 g salt
oat bran for coating the bread tins


  1. Mix together the starter, flours, water, anise seeds and vitamin C powder into a dough. It should be fairly soft, but not too sticky.
  2. Add the salt towards the end of kneading, a little at a time.
  3. Leave to rest for an hour and a half, covered with cling film.
  4. Butter two loaf tins ("2 pound" size) and coat with oat bran.
  5. Weigh the dough (I got 1338 g) and divide into two.
  6. Shape into loaves and place in the loaf tins, sprinkle more oat bran on top and cover with cling film.
  7. Place on a warm shelf for 6 - 8 h until it doubles in volume (and fills up the loaf tin).
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 240 degrees C and bake for 20 minutes, then place a sheet of aluminium foil over the loaves and turn down the heat to about 200 degrees C and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and the loaf tins and allow to cool down completely on a wire rack.

Well, this turned out to be a rather nice bread indeed, surprisingly light and soft for a rye bread. Lundulph commented that it was "anise seedy", I decided to interpret this as a good thing. I just had a slice with butter as dessert and it was yummy. Lundulph also had some honey, which I suspect would have worked nicely too.


In the evening I made one of my many attempts at omelette, which as usual deteriorated to scrambled eggs with stuff, so I just piled it on top of a slice of the lovely bread and this was our dinner. A friendly neighbour complained that the wild garlic was taking over the back of her garden, so she allowed me to help myself to some leaves and flours, both of which taste lovely and are quite pretty too, so I used some for decoration.

7 July 2013

Missed posts

A few weeks back we had our neighbours over for a barbecue. We'd been talking about it for ages, but with the changes in climate in the UK, Spring has been the coldest for some 50 years, not to mention the rain. And so, a date for a barbecue has been difficult to find. But we did it finally.

I got some lovely chicken breasts and lamb leg steaks from our butcher and kicked off two recipes from Ye Olde Recipe Collection - Lamb Steaks with Chick Pea Mash from January 2010 and Yakitori Kebabs from March 2006.

The barbecue went well, even though the grill itself refused to co-operate and some of the dishes didn't work out. But I didn't get a chance to take photos and I completely forgot to blog about it. So here goes.

Lamb Steaks with Chick Pea Mash

Serves 4

600 ml vegetable stock
2 cans (of 400 g each) chick peas
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
40 g fresh flat-leafed parsley
salt and pepper to taste
4 lamb leg steaks of about 150 g each
1 tbsp Belazy Rose Harissa paste


  1. Make up the vegetable stock - I used 2 Oxo cubes to 600 ml boiling water - straight into a large deep pan and keep it boiling.
  2. Drain the chick peas and add to the stock, along with turmeric and stir in well, then let simmer for 5 - 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the stock away and mash the chick peas in a food processor to achieve a coarse texture.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil.
  5. Cut the parsley coarsely and stir in as well, then season and set aside until needed.
  6. Trim off fat from the steaks if needed, then rub in the harissa all over and grill them to desired done-ness.
  7. I recommend turning the steaks every minute, rather than leaving for longer on each side, this way, the steaks tend to remain juicier.
  8. Serve with the chick pea mash.

The lamb leg steaks were really nice, the butcher made them to order and was only able to keep the bone on two of them. The harissa was fairly mild, I would have preferred the meat spicier. But on the whole very tasty. The butcher recommended using rump for steaks - perhaps not as flavourful, but a bit more tender.

The big disappointment was the chick pea mash and partly my fault, I put too much lemon in the mixture, so it was quite over-powering. However, the texture was nice. Just make sure to start with smaller amounts of spices and taste and add to reach a good balance. I also made the mash a day in advance.

Yakitori kebabs

Serves 4

400 - 500 g chicken breasts
4 tbsp Japanese Soya Sauce
2 tbsp Yutaka Japanese Mirin
1 tbsp honey
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and pressed


  1. Trim the chicken breasts and cut into thin strips, about 1.5 cm thick.
  2. Place the chicken strips in a double plastic bag, then add the remaining ingredients to the bag.
  3. Tie each of the bags separately, try to squeeze out most of the air.
  4. Toss around the bags to coat the chicken with the marinade, then leave in the fridge overnight
  5. When ready to grill, either skewer the strips onto bamboo skewers or simply cook in a barbecue wok for a few minutes.

I ended up marinating these for over 24 h and Lundulph who was managing the barbecue itself over-cooked them as the temperature was too high and the skewers wouldn't play along, so he transferred to the barbecue wok and blackened everything to make sure we wouldn't eat raw chicken.

What we ended up with was fairly similar to the shredded duck available at Chinese restaurants and take-aways in the UK. The marinade was rather good. I didn't know what Mirin is, so I can tell you now - it's white wine. I guess made on rise or such. It tasted funny, so definitely cooking ingredient rather than accompaniment, but perhaps it was the brand that was at fault here and I'm not an expert, far from it.

But the chicken was really nice and I'd definitely make it again.

I also decided to make kyopoolu, but again due to the difficulties in working the barbecue in the windy weather, the aubergines didn't cook properly and the goo I ended up with released loads of liquid and refused to keep together even after removing loads of the stuff. Obviously our dear neighbours were very nice about it, but it was horrendous and this is the first time I've truly failed at this simple dish.

I ended up making a second batch from frozen stock (made in the pepper roaster!) just to assure myself that I've not lost it all together and I've just today bought some lovely big aubergines and peppers and will try to make some more tomorrow and also take some to the neighbours so they get to taste the real thing.