Category Archives: bread

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).

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Arm to Table Menu

The Saint
Bloody Mary alla Case Vecchie
by Marek

Panelle
(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
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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!

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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

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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

 

Plain Sourdough Bread

About two years ago I started my two sourdough starters, wheat and rye. Both of them are still active and have been with me back and forward to Sweden, London and Brooklyn. This summer I will bring them to Sicily and Amsterdam.

The breads I bake are often simple, with or without extra flavor (for e.g. Caraway, fennel or anise seeds, rosemary etc). The flours I mostly use are regular unbleached flour, whole wheat, dinkel or rye flour (mixed with regular flour or 100%). I have also baked with the addition of sunflower seeds, linseeds, prunes and with beer or my home made kefir instead of water. I also bake sourdough knäckebröd.
(I will share more of this eventually). The variations are endless, but I am always amazed how good just flour, water and a little salt can taste.

Plain Sourdough Bread
adapted from Peter Reinhart’s recipe of San Francisco Sourdough Bread, “artisan  bread every day”, Ten Speed Press, 2009.

gives 1 large, 2 medium or 3 smaller loaves

starter dough

60 grams (about ¼ cup, 60 ml) lively starter (rye or wheat), at room temperature
142 grams (2/3 cup,  a little less then 150 ml) water, at room temperature
230 grams (1 2/3 cups, 400 ml) all-purpose flour (unbleached)

the dough
(8-10 hours later)
all of the first starter dough
400 grams (1 ¾ cup, 400 ml) water, at room temperature
570 grams (4 cups, 945 ml) all-purpose flour (unbleached)
2½ teaspoon salt

starter dough (I suggest in the morning)
Mix together starter with water and flour until well blended and you can form a ball (this starter dough should feel like a dough and be sticky). Transfer to a slightly floured flat surface and knead for about a minute. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 8-10 hours (or overnight).

the dough (for e.g in the evening)
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Place them in a bowl and pour over the water. With your fingers or a spoon loosen the pieces up in the water.
Add the flour and salt and mix together until well blended.
Let the dough rest uncovered for about 5 minutes.

The dough should feel slightly sticky and be flexible (add more flour or water if necessary). Transfer the dough to a slightly floured flat surface and knead for about 1-2 minutes.
Let the dough rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough. Form the dough to a ball and place in a bowl (slightly oiled), cover with some plastic wrap. Repeat the stretch and fold 1 – 2 times with 10 – 30 min rest in between.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1½ hour to 2 hours and place it in the fridge overnight.

The dough should have grown a little larger and it will increase in size some more in the fridge. (if you want to skip a slow rise in the fridge just let the dough rise outside for 3 – 5 hours before shaping).

Take the dough out of the fridge at least 4 hours before you plan to bake the bread in the oven.

After about 2 hours, shape the bread into 1, 2 och 3 loaves.

Flour all around and place on a floured (all purpose or semolina flour) tea towel (or use a bakers couche), see illustration above. Cover with a tea towel and let proof for about two hours.

About ½ hour before baking, preheat the oven to 250ºC (480ºF). Place a baking sheet in the oven plus a smaller baking tin (for water to create steam while baking) on a rack underneath. If using a baking stone (which I don’t) you will need to preheat the oven earlier.

When it’s time, take out the warm baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the shaped dough and drop each one onto the hot surface. Score the dough in a pattern you like with a sharp knife or a bread slashing tool (I use my sharp serrated bread knife).

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Pour some water, hot or cold into the baking tin below. Close the door.

After 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. Depending on size, bake for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Repeat opening the oven door every 5 to 10 minutes (I have been told that this should give the bread a nice crust). You can also turn the breads upside down to get a nice brown color all around.
The bread is done when it sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom. If you are not sure just bake it a little longer.

Let the breads cool on a cooling rack before slicing, at least 1 hour.

This bread is a quite simple bread that works by itself, dipped in olive oil or spread with butter. Its also great with cheese (goat cheese with honey and thyme is my favorite), thinly sliced dried sausage or toasted with jam for breakfast.

* You can of course shape this bread into rounds as well. Place them in bread baskets (banetons) or like me in small serving bowls lined with a floured tea towels.

some more links

Sourdough Bread with Rye
Sourdough knäckebröd by kokblog
How to make a sourdough starter – movie by Iban Yarza (this is how I learned it)

3-2-1 Contact! – notes by Andrew Janjigian on how he feed levain (starter).
Pain de Martin’s bread movies
More shaping by Mark @ the Back Home Bakery
scoring bread post by the Fresh Loaf
Dan Lephard’s sourdough starter with raisins and yogurt post by Azelia’s Kitchen

Lussebullar (Lucia Buns)

The 13th of December is the day when Swedes celebrate Saint Lucia by lighting up the darkness with candles and crowns on their heads. The Swedes also sing songs and eat funny shaped buns they call Lussebullar (Lussekatter, Saffron Buns). Even if Lucia’s day has already passed, anytime is ok to bake and enjoy these saffron rich buns. Below is Anna Brones’ recipe (updated and tweaked) from our book Fika. Please read Anna’s Lucia article over at Foodie Underground (with more illustrations by me).

Lussekatter – Saffron Buns
makes 30 to 40 buns

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
dash of whiskey or cognac
3/4 cup (6 ounces, 170 grams) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 milliliters) milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
1/2 cup (3 ½ ounces, 100 grams) natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 ½ cups (2 pounds, 925 grams) all-purpose flour
handful of raisins, for decoration

Using a spoon, crush the saffron in a small bowl. Then add a few drops of whiskey to help fully develop the saffron flavor and set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter; then stir in the milk. Heat until warm to the touch (about 110ºF/43°C). In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until bubbles form on top of the yeast.

In a large bowl, whisk 1 of the eggs and blend in the sugar and salt and the saffron mixture. Pour in the remaining butter and milk and stir until well blended. Mix in the flour and work together with a wooden spoon or your hands until well combined.

Transfer the dough to the counter top or a flat surface and knead it until smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. The dough should feel a little wet, but if it sticks to your fingers and the counter top, add a little flour. Go lightly, though; if you add too much, the buns will end up dry. The dough is fully kneaded when you slice into it with a sharp knife and see small air bubbles throughout. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and place in a draft-free place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Grease a baking sheet. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it into classic bun shapes (see diagram). Place the buns on the baking sheet with about 1 1/2 inches (4 centimeters) between each bun. Cover and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Whisk the remaining egg and brush on the tops of the buns. Decorate with currants (they traditionally go in the center of where the bun is rolled.)

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the buns from the baking sheet to the counter. Cover with a tea towel and let cool before serving.

These buns dry out quickly, so if they are not eaten on the day you bake them, store them in the freezer.

 

 

Pide (by Jeremy Shapiro)

Let me present my next guest blogger here on kokblog: Jeremy Shapiro, a professional chef and incredible baker. For over 20 years Jeremy has been cooking in top kitchens in New York City and beyond. Today he is the head chef  in a super secret private club in New York where he lures customers with endless sweets and savory treats.

Jeremy is also creator and editor of  Stir the Pot, a food blog that he started in 2005. If you visit his site you will soon discover that bread is a major subject. Jeremy explores different kinds of baking methods as well as flour and grain types. He bakes both sweet and savory, including croissants, fruit tarts, rustic rye breads, pizza, baguettes, bagels, loaves and breads with airy crumbs & crispy crusts. This summer Jeremy started a Micro Bakery in his apartment kitchen (just bigger than a bread box according to him). I’m impressed by his energy; he seems to be active, baking and cooking 24 hours per day.

Jeremy also interviews people in the food world that he finds interesting, from professional chefs to home cooks like myself (ahem), including Ibán Yarza who has previously appeared here on kokblog as a guest blogger. He has also connected with Sandor Ellix KatzAnthony BourdainDan Lepard and many many more. I really recommend listening to his interviews, or just reading through the list of names. It’s a great and unusual recourse of inspiration.

Pide
by Jeremy Shapiro

While on my visits in Istanbul cooking for my friend in her restaurant, I would daily pass a pide restaurant. Though I never tried from this specific place, I was able to try some from a young knowledgeable baker employed by my friend. He’d show his amazing hand skills with dough’s supple and see through like durum, not the flour of the same name, but the roll up wrap style sandwich bread a common street food in Turkey. When I returned to NYC, I’d often yearn a good pide with suçuk or sujuk, a spicy sausage that can be ground or sliced to accompany a canoe shaped pide, filled with cheese, tomatoes, eggs. When I finally sourced an amazing Montenegro butchers suçuk I was in business. As well as playing with this dough for different guises, like a lamacjun or a Ramadan flat bread.

It’s a bit tricky to make pide with sourdough, so an easy and quick yeast dough is just as good.

Pide Recipe

500 grams flour (all purpose is fine)
15grams salt
12 grams yeast
25 grams sugar
300grams water

You could approach this basically like any straight dough, mix all the ingredients and bulk ferment till doubled. Then divide and shape according to your desired need. For a pide, or pizza you could take say 80g-100g of dough, roll it out with a rolling pin, or press your hands to flatten the dough oblong about 10 to 12 inches long. Keeping the ends pointy and the sides about 6 inches wide.

The choice of fillings can be anything, think local if you can, and seasonal… Though I love cheese, onion, tomatoes and egg, and yes, suçuk, that may not be a possibility to find those items. Some nice choices, beet tops and feta, or chorizo with pumpkin?

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more about Jeremy:
Bread Inspiration from a Master Baker
– zen can cook meeting Jeremy Shapiro
You can also follow Jeremy and his work on twitter, @stirthepots

 

Sopa de Ajo – Traditional Spanish Bread Soup (by Ibán Yarza)

Ibán Yarza is a self-taught baker (and bike mechanic) based in Barcelona where he organizes baking classes and promotes good bread for everyone. I first got to know of him through his site ¿Te quedas a cenar? (“Are you staying for dinner?”) and for the last few years we have been talking through twitter, mostly about baking, cookbooks and Sweden. Iban runs two other websites that are only dedicated to bread, La Memoria del Pan where he shares stories and interviews and El Foro del Pan which is the leading bread forum in Spain (they have one section in English).

Ibán has been to Sweden several times and he probably knows much more about traditional Swedish baked goods than many Swedes. Last year he worked as a volunteer at Ramsjö Gård, an organic farm in Björklinge (north of Stockholm) where he followed their daily work for 2 months. Lately Ibán has been seen on Spanish Television where he bakes together with David Jorge and Robin Food. In one episode he bakes my absolute favorite, a classic Swedish Cardamom bun.

Ibán has an education in journalism and translation. In 2010 he translated Dan Lepard‘s book “The Handmade Loaf ” from English to Spanish.

I’m so happy I finally asked Ibán to be my guest here on Kokblog. Welcome!

Sopa de Ajo – Traditional Spanish Bread Soup
by Ibán Yarza

There is a certain austerity to many traditional Spanish dishes that I find utterly appealing. It probably has to do with the fact that I grew up with my grandparents, my grandmother being a classic example of a Spanish cook: hardly any spice in the cupboard, simple and honest ingredients bought daily at the local market and cooked in the simplest of ways (stewed, boiled, braised, fried) always respecting the flavor of the ingredients in the pan. Simple as they can be, some recipes that date back to the Middle Ages can bring unique emotions to our table, well in the 21st century. Sopa de ajo (literally “garlic soup”) is one of those dishes, an example of the great cuisine of bread, the kingdom of leftovers and the audacity to make the best out of what’s in the larder. A simple and filling meal made out of stale bread, what many Spaniards would definitely refer to as their favorite wintertime comfort food (another soup, gazpacho, most likely being its summertime counterpart).

If one had a look at the menu of top-notch Spanish restaurants over the last years, a clear Asian influence would be easily noticeable, in the form of a zen-esque approach to elaborations and presentations. However, if you dive deep enough into traditional Spanish cookbooks, simple, minimal recipes appear with an almost-spiritual scarcity of means and ingredients that could seduce any Zen master. A famous Spanish writer and gourmet, Xavier Domingo, once described traditional Spanish cookery as “a minimal cuisine”, with only three basic foundations: olive oil, garlic and bread. Sopa de ajo remains a peerless example of this.

Then there is something about the word “sopa” (soup) and bread, the essential food. They go hand in hand in the mind and speech of Spaniards. Even to this day, the first meaning of this word in Spanish does not refer to the liquid food, but to a piece of bread soaked in liquid. In fact, “hacer sopas” (literally “to make soups”; this is, to soak bread in stock, coffee or whatever is at hand) seems to remain a favorite way of eating in my homeland, both pleasant and nutritious. You can find soups made with bread throughout Spain, from North to South, from Majorca to Andalucía, cold and hot, thick and light, meaty or full of vegetables. The recipe below is perhaps the best known version, where only four ingredients (bread, garlic, olive oil and paprika) are able to convey childhood memories and a bit of daydreaming on a dull winter evening. As any traditional meal, recipes vary from one family to another.

Seasonal hint: because of the lack of meat, this soup has traditionally been a Lent dish; in fact, the whole concoction is plain and clear frugality. Rejoice.

Sopa de Ajo
(serves 4)

150 – 200 g of good bread, stale. Life is too short to eat bad bread, even if it’s stale. I like to keep the crust for flavor, color and texture. Traditionally we would use a white dense wheat loaf, but feel free to use wholemeal, sourdough… I’ve even cooked delicious sopas de ajo using rye bread (to my fellow countrymen’s disdain)

3-5 cloves of garlic, sliced

3 tsp paprika. The best you can find, my favorite is smoked bittersweet Pimentón de la Vera, available nowadays in gourmet shops worldwide

1 – 1,5 dl extra virgin olive oil. Again, try to find good oil: dense, deep and fragrant. We are using few ingredients, so try to find the best

1,5 liter water (or stock, if you happen to have it at hand; but water is more than OK).

4 eggs (optional)

Traditionally, in Spain you would use a clay pot for this recipe, but any deep pot would do. Slice the cloves of garlic and fry them in olive oil until they’re golden (I tend to think that the amount of olive oil we use in Spain would seem rather large abroad; just don’t be shy, pour it in). Take the pieces of garlic out of the pan and keep them aside so they don’t burn and turn bitter. Now place the bread in the pan and fry in the remaining oil (it will soak up part of the oil). Take the pot off the stove, add the paprika and stir with the bread and oil making sure it doesn’t burn, otherwise it would lose its wonderful fragrance and turn bitter and tart. Once this is done, add the water (or stock) and garlic, and let it simmer for some 10-15 minutes. At the very beginning, it will probably not look the most appetizing of meals, but just be confident, time will bind the soup and the result will be simply delicious.
Some people like to have their sopa de ajo really thick and dry (some even finish it in the oven), I prefer to keep mine just on the creamy side of the term soup, with thick blobs of creamy bread that melts in your mouth. Once the soup has thickened, and while I set the table, I like to take the pot off the stove and use the remaining heat to poach one egg per person. Once at the table, the yolk will break in each guest’s bowl, taking the sopa the ajo experience to its very limit, so to speak. Sometimes I also like to sprinkle a bit of ground cumin. Feel free to add anything you like.