Tuesday, August 05, 2008
It's raining here. Raining a whole lot. It's wetter than wet - and there's also a very strong wind. You really don't want to go outdoors, unless you absolutely have to. Sadly, to get home from work, I'll have to eventually. But let's not think about that. Instead, let's talk about what you can do when you're at home, when it rains: bake bread. It's one of my favorite things to do, and it makes me feel very competent and accomplished. Plus, it fills my freezer and saves me from having to eat store-bought bread. (Which is often full with preservatives and things I really rather not eat.)
This is a very simple bread. I really recommend it even if you don't usually bake, because the dough is so easy to work with. And they freeze beautifully - just thaw in the microwave (or overnight if you're good at planning ahead), slice and toast for a nice crispy surface.
The recipe comes from a lovely book my in-laws got me for my birthday: Smaker från Saltå Kvarn. ("Flavours from Saltå Kvarn".) Saltå is a mill outside Stockholm, and they produce lots of different flours but also things like beans, lentils or whole grains. You can find them pretty much anywhere in Sweden, and everything they make is organic. The book is lovely - it has three chapters: bread, sweet stuff and food. I'm dying to try some of their salads, using beans and lentils - I generally shy away from that, but I will make a point of trying those recipes. On another rainy day, perhaps.
from "Smaker från Saltå Kvarn"
50 g fresh yeast
1 litre water, tepid
1 tbsp salt
200 ml polenta (0,8 cups)
2,4 litres all-purpose flour (10 cups)
Crumble the yeast into a bowl, and stir it with some of the water until it's dissolved. Add the rest of the water, salt and polenta. Work in the flour gradually -by hand or with a stand mixer, but be aware that this is a pretty big dough and it was slightly too big for my Kitchen-Aid. (Which meant lots of cleaning afterwards.)
The dough should hold together easily, and release from the bowl, but it will still feel slightly sticky. Pour it onto a clean surface and cover with a towel. Leave to rise for 45 minutes. Divide into 20 evenly sized portions - mine weighed 120 g each - and shape into small rectangles. Place on baking sheets, cover with a towel and leave for another 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 175°C. Bake the breads for 20 minutes. I used a water sprayer to create some mist in the oven at the start.
Leave to cool on a rack.
Recipe in Swedish: