Eating out in Cannobio – the hidden gem

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 20.52.31The restaurants by the lake were similar and offered much of the same food. We tried a few and can no longer remember their names, but we were satisfied with what they had to offer and they were cooperative in finding food that our baby girl, then 9 months, could eat. But then
, we visited a well hid restaurant for lunch one day. We had been given an address and set out to find it. We were very insecure when we found the street and street number. We could not find anything that looked like a restaurant. But looking closer, the gravel-covered parking Hid a building with a gate that looked less private than the houses around. We entered a courtyard with tall trees that cast shadow over most of the open space. On the walls around us hang memorabilia from past farming and vintage images. At the tables sat Italian men smoking, eating and talking. They were mostly workers on their lunch breaks, all locals.

We didn’t get much attention, except for the glances from the people around us who were not used to tourists invading their space. Even the staff didn’t seem thrilled to see us. And nobody spoke English, anywhere, when we did they answered in Italian. When I tried German, they answered in Italian. When I tried French, they answered in Italian. When I tried in Italian, they were a little more cooperative. They warmed up to us after a while. But the breaking point came when they served us a small basket of bread. And the bread is the reason for this post! We didn’t try anything special at the restaurant (the insalata mista was nothing to brag about, the gorgonzola pasta was good, the pizza was delicious, but it was not what the locals ate). But the gem! The bread! It was baked in a stone oven. It’s been given time to rise, time to develop that amazing flavour. Heat enough to set a crust so crispy, and resilient, and savoury, and… well, you know exactly what I mean. Huge air-bubbles in the crumb showed off a gluten web so intricate and beautiful that nothing but love and patience can create. A drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt made the bread truly a divine experience. We complimented the bread and they gave us some more, along with that came a smile. A ciao for the kids while they ruffled their hair. We felt well taken care of. And the bread, yes, that bread.

 

Sourdough baking

These little lumps of goo have transformed the breads I bake. I have finally mastered sourdough baking and feel like I have come as far as I want when it comes to breads (what will my next project be?). The breads I now bake rise well, take very little effort, come out of the oven with a crispy crust, are succulent inside, they last for several days in a tea towel; and last, but not least, they taste wonderfully!

Baking with sourdough is an ancient tradition, we’re talking thousands of years and ancient Egypt. There are some who claim to have starters going back to the 18th century (the 17 hundreds). And what this is proof of, is how easy it is to do. There is no magic powder, secret ingredients, or blessings made by wizardy unicorns that gets the process going. What you need is flour (wheat and rye are the most used types), water, and a container with a lid. Flour grains and the air around us have traces of yeast spores in them. This is a natural type of yeast that our bodies digest more easily than the store bought dry or fresh yeast. Keeping flour, mixed with water, in room temperature the yeast is given perfect conditions for fermentation. The yeast takes some time to get going, but as soon as it has started it will quickly get very efficient.

Making your own starter takes about ten days. I have started the process and quit several times as I so easily forget to feed it every day. It takes no more than one minute, it’s just that I am so absent minded and easily distracted that I often don’t remember to do it. But a month or so back I managed, and then I managed to convert half of it from wheat to rye, which means I now have two working sourdough starters.

 

I’ll give you the step by step guide for how to making your own starter in a few days. If you live in the area and would like to have a go at sourdough baking I am very happy to share my own starter with you. Just give me a shout! 🙂

Bread recipe – spelt and wheat

This bread recipe is very similar to the rye, wheat, and oat bread I shared earlier this week. This is, however, a version with spelt. Not very much is changed, but you still get quite a different tasting bread.

Start with mixing water and yeast, add a pinch of sugar.

  • 6 dl water (a bit more than a pint)
  • fresh yeast (about the size of the nail of your pinky finger)
  • a pinch of sugar
Start with wheat flour and add a pinch of salt. Mix the flour with the water before adding the rest. Wheat rises easier than the other types of flour, and you thus want to mix that with the yeast and water straight away. Add a pinch of sugar to give the yeast a little extra oomph.
  • 5 dl of sifted/bolted wheat flour
  • a pinch of salt
The flour you add afterwards can be of any type you want. For this bread I added.
  • 2 dl whole spelt flour
  • 8 dl sifted spelt flour
Add a few handfuls of seeds and grains, for example:
  • whole spelt
  • sunflower seeds
  • linseeds
I added a total of 2 dl grains and seeds.
Now, mix everything together and let some machine do the kneading for you. Let it run for about ten minutes. When kneading dough you would have to let Kenny (The Kenwood) knead it for over 30 minutes in order to do any harm to the dough. However, it’s a little different with spelt. Spelt should not be knead for more than 15 minutes, 10 minutes is perfect 🙂 While kneading, continue to add flour until the dough becomes a ball that no longer clings to the bowl. Afterwards cover the bowl with plastic and leave to rise for 2-12 hours (letting it rise much longer than that will cause the yeast to ferment and it will taste and smell of alcohol – not recommended!).
After having let the dough rise, knead it just a wee bit more. Add flour until it no longer sticks to your fingers and make two loaves and place in two bread forms. Let the breads rise for another 20-30 minutes. Bake in the centre of the oven at 200 degrees Celcius for 1 hour.
Test if the bread is done by knocking on it, if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

Bread recipe – oat, rye and wheat

Freshly made home-baked bread straight from the oven

An easy recipe for a very tasty bread. Follow the guidelines given in the rules of the game and you’ll have get a perfect result.

Start with mixing water and yeast, add a pinch of sugar.

  • 6 dl water (a bit more than a pint)
  • fresh yeast (about the size of the nail of your pinky finger)
  • a pinch of sugar
Start with wheat flour and add a pinch of salt. Mix the flour with the water before adding the rest. Wheat rise easier than the other types of flour, and you thus want to mix that with the yeast and water straight away. Don’t stress it though, just soak the flour.
  • 5 dl of sifted/bolted wheat flour
  • a pinch of salt
The flour you add afterwards can be of any type you want. For this bread I added.
  • 2 dl whole wheat flour
  • 4,5 dl whole rye flour
  • 5 dl of rolled oats
With the flour add the seeds or whole grains you prefer. I added:
  • sesame seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • linseeds
Combined that came to a bit more than a cup of seeds. Add as you prefer.
Now, mix everything together and let some machine do the kneading for you. Let it run for about ten minutes, while adding a bit more flour until the dough become a ball that does no longer cling to the bowl. Afterwards cover the bowl with plastic and leave to rise for 3-12 hours (letting it rise much longer than that will cause the yeast to ferment and it will taste and smell of alcohol – not recommended!).
After having let it rise for that long, knead the dough. Add more flour until it no longer sticks to your fingers. Make two loafs and place in two bread forms. Let the breads rise for another 20-30 minutes. Bake in the centre of the oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 1 hour.
Test if the bread is done by knocking on it, if it sounds hollow, it’s done.

The bread project – the rules of the game

I started a bread project sometime in a previous life (or so it seems). I have now made it! I can no bake bread. And they’re good too 😀 I had a few criteria that needed to be fulfilled before I could call the project successful:

  • it had to be easy
  • baking couldn’t be time consuming and fit well into a busy schedule
  • the bread would have taste good
  • and be healthier than most shop-bought breads
  • and without additives and stuff I’m unable to pronounce
I now bake about two times each week. I spend 30 minutes all together in the evening making the dough, and another 30 minutes in the morning. During those 30 minutes I multitask, as they consist of no more than 10 minutes actual work while the rest is spent waiting. To do this I need some kind of kitchen appliance that kneads dough. I am very happy with my now tired and weary Kenwood. Now, before starting on the recipes there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way (I have now been baking for about a year, and have tried and failed a lot).
  • the yeast should be fresh as it is easier to work with
  • yeast packed in plastic foil will last for weeks in the fridge, and work perfectly fine no matter what the date says
  • you never need more than a few grams of yeast, I use a piece the size of my pinky fingernail
  • always use cold water with fresh yeast
Then onto making the dough, which really is very simple.
  • preferably let your machine knead the dough for 10 minutes
  • the dough has the right consistency if it lets go of the bowl (it forms like a ball while kneading)
  • let the dough rise twice, first in its bowl, then shape it before placing it in a bread form
  • don’t add sugar, honey or syrup if you plan to let the dough rise overnight
  • always add a pinch of salt
I make the dough in the evening. Then leave on the counter overnight. In the morning I knead it a bit more, adding more flour until it no longer sticks to my fingers. I make two bread and place them in their forms, turn on the oven and hit the shower. The breads don’t need to rise for a long time, and by the time I’m dressed (20 mins later) the oven is warm and I bake them for about an hour.

Polar breads – children friendly rolls

I have recently cut down on carbs, and thus eat not bread (or at least very little) which means that every time Husband is off to work, Son is the only one eating bread. Of course he doesn’t eat too much, and as he has become used to seeing me eat anything but bread, he wants the same treatment. I don’t think he should eat bread no matter what the cost, but it is very easy when going out to just put two slices together and hand it to him. It’s not messy, and he can easily eat them with no help from anyone else. He doesn’t like regular rolls, so I was looking for something more baby friendly. I found a recipe for some “polar breads”, which are bascially small, flat rolls. Soft, yummy and much better than those you buy in the store. (There are so called “polar breads” sold at the stores here).

Jeg har kuttet ned på karbohydrater i det siste og spiser lite brød, noe som resulterer i at det blir spist veldig lite brød mens Mannen er på jobb. Etter hvert som Sønn har blitt vant med å se meg spise alt annet enn brød, har han blitt veldig skeptisk til skiver. Jeg synes ikke det er nødvendig at han skal spise brød, men noen ganger er det veldig enkelt å smøre en skive, det søler lite og han spiser den lett uten hjelp fra andre. Jeg var på jakt etter en oppskrift på polarbrød, og fant en veldig god en. Og så lenge jeg kaller dem for boller, elsker Sønn dem og spiser dem uten og klage.

For quite a lot you need:

100 grams oatmeal

300 grams whole grain wheat flour

1-2 tablespoons of honey

A little yeast (depending on how much time you have)

A little salt

2,5 dl water

3 dl milk

1 dl of vegetable oil


Til ganske mange trenger du:

100 gram havregryn

300 gram sammalt hvetemel

600 gram hvetemel

1-2 ss honning

Litt gjær, mengden avhenger av hvor mye tid du har til heving

1/2 ts salt

2.5 dl. vann

3 dl. melk

1 dl vegetabilsk olje

 

Run the oatmeal in a food processor or something similar and until it looks more like whole grain flour. I didn’t have enough of oatmeal and used the same made by barley. I love the taste barley gives, so I absolutely recommend trying it if you haven’t already.

Kjør havregrynet i en foodprocessor eller lignende til det ser ut som grovt mel. Jeg hadde ikke nok havegryn og erstattet ca halvparten med byggflak. Jeg elsker byggsmaken i bakverk, og vil absolutt anbefale deg å prøve viss du ikke allerede har.

Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. Roll it out making it about a centimetre thick. Punch out small circles and let them rise for a little while. I used the same punches I used for the small focaccias, see here. After you’ve let them rise, about double size, or a little less, then cook for 6-10 minutes at 225 degrees.

La deigen heve til omtrent dobbel størrelse. Kjevle den ut til ca en cm tykkelse. Stikk ut sirkler med 10-15 cm diameter og la de heve på brett til ca dobbel tykkelse. Jeg brukte de samme formene som på de små focacciane jeg skrev om tidligere, se her. Steik i 6-10 min på 225.


If you bake a batch then freeze them. They are ready to eat only a few minutes after you take them out of the freezer, just remember to keep them wrapped in plastic so that they don’t dry out.

Viss du lager en del fryser du dem bare. Tar du opp et par tiner de på få minutt. Bare husk å holde dem i plastikk så de ikke tørker ut.

The recipe is based on a the recipe found here.

Sourdough Breads

I’ve had a sourdough project contaminating my kitchen for the past two weeks, this weekend it was finally mature enough to result in two breads. And the fact that it did result it bread, means I’ve done it right! I’ll get back to you on the details of making a sourdough starter, as for now, the result:

Jeg har hatt et surdeigsprosjekt som har infisert kjøkkenet mitt de siste to ukene, denne uka var surdeigsstarteren endelig moden nok til å bli til brød. Og det ble faktisk brød av det også, noe som betyr at jeg har gjort det riktig. Jeg kommer nok tilbake til surdeigsbaking og surdeigsstartere senere, men nå, resultatet:

Now that I have a starter means I have done the job for everyone who’d like to try themselves. If you’d like to have a go, let me know, and I’ll give you part of my starter (which you can bake with right away.) It’s the simplest way of baking breads and a tradition that goes back centuries. No yeast, nothing unnatural, simply a bit of homegrown mould 😉

Nå når jeg har en starter betyr det at jeg allerede har gjort jobben for andre som også vil prøve surdeigsbaking. Viss du har lyst til å prøve så gir du meg et lite hint så skal du få en bit av starteren min, som selvfølgelig er klar til å bake med med en gang. Det er verdens mest naturlige måte å bake brød på og en tradisjon som går mangfoldige år tilbake I tid. Ingenting unaturlig, ingen gjær, bare god gammeldags hjemmegrodd sopp 😉

According to wikipedia, sourdough originated in Egypt about 1500 BC, so, what I said about centuries is a bit wrong, let me correct that to millennias! We’re out of bread again today, so baking again tonight. Hopefully I have a great result to show you tomorrow.

I følge Wikipedia så startet egypterne med surdeigsbaking omtrent 1500 f.Kr, så hva jeg sa om mangfoldige år kan rettes til årtusener. Vi er tomme for brød I dag, så det blir baking igjen I kveld. Forhåpentligvis har jeg et bra resultat å vise dere I morgen.