Category Archives: bread

Sourdough Starter Diagram

© Johanna Kindvall

Currently I’m working on a new design of kokblog. I’m planning to launch the new design next week. In this process I have decided to turn some of my pages into posts. And one of them is my diagram on how to make a Sourdough Starter.

Description: The above diagram is just one way to start a sourdough starter. At the end you will have one rye and one wheat starter. I use either starter for most of my breads. The wheat starter can also be used in a sweeter dough like for e.g. Cinnamon Buns etc. I bake with my starters 1-2 times a week (sometimes even more). I keep them in my fridge and take either of them out one or two days before I want to bake. Depending on how long it has been without ”food”, I feed it once or twice with a few tablespoons of flour and a little water. I keep my starters small, in that way I always have just enough and there is no need to discard anything. I have kept a starter in the fridge (without feeding it) for up to 3 weeks (not recommended). You can also freeze the starter if you are not planning to bake for a longer time. Just give the starter some time to recover by feeding it once or twice every day for a couple of days before baking. When the starter is lively and full of bubbles it’s ready to bake with. My diagram is based on Iban Yarza‘s How to Make a sourdough starter video.

NOTE: Since I published this last year, I have discarded my rye starter (I simple baked it up). It was just easier to keep one. If I ever want to use a rye starter I feed one part of my all-purpose starter with just rye flour for a couple of days.

Links to my sourdough breads

Sourdough Bread with Rye

Plain Sourdough Bread

Wild Fennel Knäckebröd at Case Vecchie

Madame Fromage’s Semolina Crackers (book review)

© Johanna Kindvall

Another cookbook that’s become one of my favorites is Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes, and Pairings by Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage (Running Press, 2013). I have mentioned the book here several times but I think the book is worth it’s own post. First of all the book is not just a cookbook it’s an introductions to 170 different cheeses. The book is a collaboration with Di Bruno Bros., a well known cheese shop in Philadelphia.

In the book Tenaya simply tells stories around the selected cheeses, includes several ideas and tips on how to serve, what to drink and pair them with. Tenaya also teaches you how to buy a cheese and how to talk to a cheesemonger. The main purpose of the book is to help the reader find the cheese of their dreams. Unfortunately I want them all!

The book has several recipes for treats that works well with cheese, such as Lavender Mustard, Balsamic Poached Figs and Semolina Crackers (see below). There are also many cheesy recipes, for e.g. Manchego & Marcona Almond Pesto and mouth watering Grilled Peaches with Quadrello di Bufala

I’m so looking forward to her next book, which is a cocktail collaboration with her brother André Darlington. When ever I read something by Tenaya, the book or something on her website I end up hungry with a big smile on my face. Tenaya has loads of humor. Chapters as Baby Faces, Stinkers and Pierced Punks is just a few examples of her excellent wittiness!

I’m dreaming that one day Tenaya will have me over for dinner…
© Johanna Kindvall

Madame Fromage’s Semolina Crackers

(I didn’t counted them but there were plenty to serve with a cheese plate for 4 people)

As you know, I like to bake, so after receiving the book last Spring I almost immediately baked Tenaya’s Semolina Crackers (that are adapted from Heidi Swanson‘s recipe).  I like the way Tenaya bakes them, just simply rolled out on a baking sheet, baked, cooled and then “cracked” with your hands before serving.  You can also roll them out with a pasta machine, like I suggest here below. I have halved the recipe and changed the method slightly, otherwise it’s pretty much the same as in the book.

¾ cup (123 grams) semolina flour cup
¾ cups (106 grams) all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
one teaspoon flaky sea salt (more if you like saltier crackers)
½ cup (about 120 ml) warm water
about 2½ tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing

fresh rosemary

Mix together the water and the olive oil in a large bowl before adding the flours, sea salt and chopped rosemary. Work together well with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Transfer the dough to a floured flat surface and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should feel smooth and not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball. Place in an olive oil greased bowl. Let the dough rest in the fridge for one hour.

Cut out small pieces (size depends on how long crackers you want) and flatten them out slightly with your hands. Roll them out about 2″ wide with a rolling pin or pasta machine. Roll them out as thin as you can and desire. (I roll them out to level 5 in the pasta machine which is less than 1/8 inch thickness). Dust with more flour if the dough feels sticky.

Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the long crackers on the sheet and bake at 350°F  (175°C) for about 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Let the crackers cool completely (not stacked) on a flat surface. Store in airtight containers. My crackers never lasted that long, but according to Tenaya they store well up to a week.

© Johanna Kindvall


Tenaya will have some book signings (around Philadelphia) in December (2014).

More with Tenaya Darlington on Kokblog

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)  collaboration between Tenaya & me
Late Summer Cheese Picnic
(part 2) collaboration between Tenaya & me
Smoke and Funk: A Fall Cheese Board (part 3) collaboration between Tenaya & me
How to Turn Your Desk Into a Cheese Board – guest post by Tenaya

Sourdough Bread with Rye

One of my fun jobs this summer was to design chocolate packaging for Francoise Villeneuve at Wiggley Leroux Confections. My job was to create a label and a chocolate bean pattern for the chocolate bar wrapping paper. It was such a pleasure to work with Francoise on this project and her delicious confections are now available at BaconN’Ed’s food truck, Reston Station, Washington, DC.

Last week I was in Laramie, Wyoming to draw animals for the public art installation AnimalEyes by Walczak & Heiss at the Berry Biodiversity Center. It was great fun and I learned loads of cool stuff about local animals such as horned lizards, prairie dogs and bumble bees etc. Did you know that an ant queen can reach an age of 30 years? And that there used to be camels here?

On this trip I brought bread, which our hosts welcomed enormously. They served it with their in-house Roman dried tomatoes and pheasant gizzard confit. Wonderful!

This bread is also excellent, sliced thin, topped with aged cheddar and slices of fresh red pepper. This Autumn, I will have it as much as I can with a cup of strong black tea in front of the fireplace (or with my feet up on the radiator).

Sourdough Bread with Rye
one small boule

starter dough
50 gram well fed and lively sourdough starter
150 gram water (about 2/3 cup)
150 gram (1¼ cup) rye flour

2nd dough
330 gram (about 1 1/3 cups) water
600 gram (about 4¼ cups) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

starter dough: For the 1st dough, mix together the starter together with water and rye flour. Cover and let sit for 12-24 hours in room temperature.

the dough: Add water to the starter dough and stir before adding the flour. Mix everything well together. Let rest for 15-30 minutes before adding the salt. Work the dough some more to distribute the salt evenly and form a ball (I find it easier to do this directly on the countertop). Place in a slightly greased bowl. Cover with a plastic bag.

Stretch and fold 3 times with 45 min intervals. After last stretch and fold let the dough rise for about one hour.

Shape the dough into one round boule. Set aside for about 10 minutes and shape again. Place it with the seam side up in a round floured banneton. You can also use a normal bowl with a well floured tea towel.

Cover with the plastic bag and let prove for 2-4 hours.

About 30 – 60 minutes before baking your bread, set the oven to 500°F (260°C). Place a baking sheet or baking stone into the oven. A stone will need more time to heat up than a baking sheet. If you want steam during baking, place a tray under the baking sheet. I fill it with boiling hot water just before I bake the bread.

When it’s time, take out the warm baking sheet (or stone) from the oven. Carefully transfer the shaped boule onto the hot baking surface. Score the dough (see scoring links below) before transfer it to the oven. Lower the heat to about 450°F (230°C). Bake for 15 minutes, open the oven door to let out some steam. The bread should have risen up nicely and started to get some nice golden color. Bake for another 30 – 45 minutes.

The bread is done when it sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom. You can also check the breads inner temperature, which should be around 208°F (98°C).

Let the bread cool completely uncovered on a cooling rack before slicing.


More sourdough breads on kokblog

Plain Sourdough Bread
Sourdough Knäckebröd

Other useful links

Slashing or Scoring your Dough by Azelia’s Kitchen
Scoring Bread – post at Fresh Loaf


Coming Home to Sicily (book review)


Sicilian head pots with strawberries.

Coming Home from Sicily (published by Sterling Epicure, 2012) is an amazing book about seasonal farm to table cooking by Fabrizia Lanza. Fabriza is, as I have mentioned here before, the director of  Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School at Case Vecchie in Sicily.

Fabriza grew up in Sicily and is a trained art historian. For many years she worked and lived outside Sicily, mostly in the north of Italy. She only visited her family in Sicily on vacations. However about seven years ago Fabrizia decided to return to Sicily to help her mother Anna Tasca Lanza with the cooking school. Fabrizia, as she says in the book, finds it as interesting to learn how to make a Cassatta as analyzing an artwork by Bottecelli.

For over a year, co-author Kate Winslow and her husband Guy Ambrosino (the book’s photographer) followed the growing seasons of the vegetables, the harvest and the cooking at Case Vecchie. Kate worked closely together with Fabriza in the kitchen and collected seasonal recipes for the book. Casa Vecchie, beautifully pictured by Guy in the book, is located on Regaleali, which is one of Sicily oldest and largest estates. The estate also includes the Tasca family’s own winery.

In the book, Fabrizia shares sweet personal stories about herself, her family, friends and employees. It makes the book great fun to read as well as a marvelous cookbook. It also brings back my own memories of Case Vecchie. It makes me think about the mineral flavor in the white wine paired with the panelles in the courtyard. The deep flavor of the olive oil together with the sweetest tomatoes I have ever had. And the rooster who woke me up every morning at 5am.

If you have never been to Sicily, this book will surely bring you there.

Some of my favorites in the book are the Pan roasted Rabbit, the fava bean pesto (Macco), the Grape Crostata and the Sfincione (Palermitan pizza).
For this post I decided to bake Fabrizia’s focaccia, a recipe I especially like because of the special ingredient of one glass of white wine. I haven’t changed much in this recipe, just a few things. Instead of 1½ tablespoons fresh yeast, I used instant yeast. I also topped it with mushroom instead of the oil-cured black olives that is suggested in Fabrizia’s recipe.

The bread is a simple and a perfect treat to bring to a picnic.


Focaccia con Funghi
adapted from a recipe by Fabrizia Lanza


3½ cups (about 500 gram) durum wheat or semolina flour
1 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
about ½ – ¾ cup (180 ml) water
½ cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½ (120 ml) cup white wine
1½ teaspoon fine sea salt


about ½ cup (180 ml) mushroom confit (or sauteed mushrooms)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together flour and instant yeast and place it directly on your counter top. With your hands, make a well in the middle and add ¼ cup (60ml) of the water. Work it well into the flour before adding the olive oil followed by the white wine and another ¼ cup (60 ml) water. Add the salt. If the dough feels too dry, add more water. Knead the dough 10 – 15 minutes (it should be a sticky dough). Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes in a warm kitchen (I had it rising for about an hour as my kitchen wasn’t so warm and cozy).

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease a 10 inch spring form with olive oil. Press the dough into it and let it rise for about 10 minutes more.

Make dimples in the dough with your fingertips. Place the mushrooms in the dimples. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Lastly drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.


I also want to take the opportunity tell you that in the beginning of next year, Fabrizia and the cooking school will run a 5 week program for chefs around the world. The program will teach the chefs the experience of farm-to-table practices, in the field, garden and kitchen.


other related links

Olive by Fabrizia Lanza (book)
The Flavors of Sicily by Anna Tasca Lanza (book)
The Heart of Sicily by Anna Tasca Lanza (book)
Natura in Tasca – products produced by Fabrizia Lanza


Arm to Table – Workshop at Case Vecchie, Sicily

After driving on serpentine bumpy roads lined with wild fennel, through a beautiful hilly landscape of vines and wheat, we arrived at Case Vecchie and Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School. Fabrizia Lanza, our host and director of the school welcomed us with sparkling wine and appetizers in the courtyard. We were all (me and 3 other food writers) invited to participate in the Arm to Table workshop and to be part of the cooking school’s 25th anniversary. The school was started by Anna Tasca Lanza, Fabrizia’s mother  in 1989 to teach authentic Sicilian cooking.
In the moonlight we all went down to the garden to have gazpacho followed by anchovy cake  and salad.

The next day our workshop started with a visit to Fattoria Di Gèsu, a farm that grows ancient wheat such as Tumminia, Perciasacchi and Realforte, as well as green chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, tomatoes and almonds. Their produce and products (flour, pasta, almond paste, dried legumes etc) are sold and used by locals and local businesses such as bakeries and restaurants.

We also visited  and watched the shepherd and cheese maker Filippo Privitera, who milks 400 sheep by hand every day (twice a day in the winter) to make ricotta and Pecorino. The fresh ricotta (that was made in front of our eyes) was mind blowing. I couldn’t stop thinking of a plan to persuade my neighbor (who has a few sheep) what a great idea it is to make cheese.

In the afternoon we all had a wonderful lunch with fresh ricotta, varieties of pecorino, several types of dried sausages, potato salad with a Cataratto wine from the Regaleali Estate (the winery of the family). Now we were all ready for our afternoon task: to create a four course dinner with ingredients from the land around us and product of Natura in Tasca. The result was excellent and was served in the courtyard later that evening.

At this point, I knew I was  in paradise! (although I still regret, that I didn’t fill my pockets with pistachio cookies before I went to bed that night).

Arm to Table Menu

The Saint
Bloody Mary alla Case Vecchie
by Marek

(chickpea fritters)
by Fabrizia

Wild Fennel Knäckebröd
by me (recipe below)

Fava Bean Pesto with Busiate Pasta
by Fabrizia & Lauren

Rabbit in Red Wine & in-House Tomato Paste
with couscous (see illustration above)
by Fabrizia and Linda

Green Cauliflower with eggs
by Rachel

Torta della Nonna
(with fresh sheep ricotta and pine nuts)
by Pille

Pistachio Cookies
Ricotta & Caramelized Pine Nut Ice Cream
by David

The Birthday Party started with mingling in the courtyard where we were treated to bubbly rose and chickpea panelle. An hour later we all took a walk up to the school’s vegetable plot where we all (about 160 guests) sat down at an endlessly long table surrounded by broccoli,  green chickpeas and vine.

As the school is all about farm to table, the lunch consisted of exclusively in-house or locally farmed produce. There were pickled artichokes, capers, anchovies, chickpeas, lentils, flavorful aborio rice, aged pecorino, amazing olive oil, different kinds of salt, fresh basil & mint, cold cut meats and at least three types of bread. My absolute favorite were the tomatoes that was served fresh, pickled and dried. The lunch also included different kinds of wines and endless amount of  desserts. To save energy and water, all the dishes (including the sweet treats) were served on the same ceramic plates which we all  could bring with us home.

I never wanted this to end.

Wild Fennel Knäckebröd at Case Vecchie

I usually bake my knäckebröd with wheat and rye but even before I entered the Case Vecchie kitchen I was eager to try to bake it with other kinds of flours. In this version I used durum wheat flour together with the very aromatic flour, perciasacchi semola. It worked really well. And Lauren Mikus (the school’s intern) did a wonderful job cranking them out thinly through the kitchen’s motorized pasta machine.

60 gram (lively) sourdough starter
2 tablespoons wild flower honey
240 ml (1 cup) water @ room temperature
250 gram durum wheat flour
120 gram perciasacchi semola (ancient wheat flour from Sicily)

1 tablespoon toasted wild fennel
2 teaspoons salt crystals, slightly crushed

In a large bowl, mix together the sourdough starter with the water and honey. Add all the flour and work the dough well together. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for about two minutes. The dough should feel a little sticky to your hands when kneading.
Place the dough in a bowl and let it rise in room temperature overnight or for at least 6 hours. In a warm kitchen like Fabrizia’s it was ready to bake within two hours. However with a longer rise the dough will develop a richer flavor.

When the dough has finished rising add caraway seeds and sea salt. Knead the dough for about 2 minutes on a floured counter top. Add more flour if necessary. The dough should feel smooth and should not be sticky to the surface or your hands. Let the dough rest for about half an hour while your oven heats up to about 200°C (400°F).

Cut approximately 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch sized portions of the dough and flatten every each slightly between your hands with some flour. On a generously floured counter top, roll out long (1 ½ – 2 inch wide) stripes until very very thin. To avoid the dough sticking to the table, continuously flip the dough over and roll again. Add more flour as needed. The length of the stripes depends on the size of your baking pan. I normally roll them out in my hand cranked pasta machine (until level 5) to about 12- 15 inches.

Place the long stripes on olive oiled baking sheets. Bake for about 4-6 minutes. Adjust the temperature and time if necessary. The knäckebröd is done when they have got nice color and look crisp. The sides tend to bend upwards which gives them an interesting shape.

Let the crackers cool completely on a rack. Don’t stack them until they are completely cool as that will just make them soft. Keep the crackers in sealed containers.

Serve the knäckebröd plain or together with aged Pecorino, anchovies or dried sausages. Linda came up with the idea of topping the bread with fava bean pesto. It was excellent. The bent shape seem to be made for this kind of topping.

Thank you Fabrizia, Lauren, Costanza, Linda and everyone in the kitchen, winery and garden. You are all amazing! And it was great and inspiring to meet you Rachel, Pille and David!


Other posts about the workshop, 25th birthday party and more…

my photos on flickr
on red and white in Sicily
by Rachel Roddy
Sicily, Again by David Lebovitz
Case Vecchie and the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School by David Lebovitz
Making Cassata alla Siciliana, in Sicily by David Lebovitz
Recipe for Torta della Nonna by Pille Petersoo
anna tasca lanza cooking school {25 years} by Elizabeth Minchilli
cavatelli + sage pesto {cooking in sicily} by Elizabeth Minchilli
remembering anna tasca lanza by Peggy Markel


Interested to visit Anna Tasca Cooking school? Check out their school program.
If you are a chef you should check out the Cook the Farm Chef School that will take place in the beginning of 2015.
And my review of the book Coming Home to Sicily by Fabrizia Lanza