Scalded Rye Sourdough

A dark, dense, moreish loaf that will sit so stoically supporting your avocado and eggs or cream cheese, dill and luscious cured salmon.

Ingredients

  • 375g leaven (recently fed sourdough starter)
  • 375g hot water (77°C)
  • 500g organic dark rye flour
  • 12g fine salt
  • 25g black treacle

Method

This recipe starts with your sourdough starter, which you can make using this recipe HERE if you don’t already have one. The night before your bake, refresh your starter and feed it with equal quantities of flour and water to make up your 375g leaven.

I make this bread using a stand mixer (trusty Kitchenaid) with a dough hook, as it’s particularly sticky and difficult to handle.

  1. Pour the hot water over the rye flour, mix together, cover with a shower cap or damp tea towel, and leave to autolyse for 4 hours.
  2. Add the leaven, treacle and salt.
  3. Mix/knead for 10 minutes.
  4. Cover and leave to proof for 4 hours.
  5. Heavily flour a material-lined banneton basket.
  6. Tip your dough out, squash it all together and pop it into the banneton with the help of a dough-scraper.
  7. Cover the basket and leave it to proof for another 4 hours.
  8. Preheat your oven and baking stone or dutch oven if using, to 250°C.
  9. Bake at 180°C for 1 hour.
  10. Remove your bread and leave it to cool on a wire rack.

This bread will improve in flavour if given a couple of days to mature.

Homemade Russian scalded rye sourdough bread

Guyanese Black Cake

All of a sudden we’re in November and it’s time to start letting ourselves dream about Christmas, even though the global pandemic has everyone rather worried about just how the festive season is going to pan out. At least this is one thing you can control and look forward to enjoying.

The Black Cake is a traditional Christmas treat in Guyana. To ensure this Caribbean fruit cake is rich, moist and delicious, it needs plenty of time to develop and mature. The best time to start making yours is in the first week of November.

Ingredients

  • 700g mixed fruit
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 100g Brazil nuts 
  • 300ml dark rum (plus extra for feeding/drinking)
  • 225g Demerara sugar
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tbsp black treacle
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice (blend of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg) 

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 150°C.

2. Briefly blitz the mixed fruit, peel and nuts in a food processor.

3. Transfer the mix to a bowl and pour over 150ml of rum, cover and leave overnight to soak.

4. Line a 20cm square cake tin.

5. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, and then add in the eggs one at a time. 

6. Stir in the treacle and the soaked fruit mix. 

7. Sift in the flour, spice and baking powder, folding through until you have an even consistency.  

8. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 2 hours. 

9. Before the cake cools completely, poke holes into the top with a skewer and pour over 150ml of rum. 

10. Once cool, store the cake in an airtight container. 

11. Feed your cake occasionally (weekly) by pouring over more rum.

12. Before Christmas, finish the cake in the traditional way by adding a thick layer of marzipan, dried tropical fruits and nuts, and an apricot glaze. Alternatively, you can brush the cake with an apricot glaze and then layer with marzipan and royal icing as shown below.

Guyanese black cake - a rich, dense fruit cake as a Christmas cake

Scandi Pear & Cardamom Cakes

Confession: I don’t really like pears. Often hard and grainy; quickly soft and mushy, they do little for me. This recipe is a direct result of receiving yet more pears in our weekly organic delivery and desperately trying to find new ways to ‘use them up’. Necessity is the mother of invention – Fika will never be the same again.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pears
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Lemon juice
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
  2. Grease some small baking tins with butter or line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  3. Pop the butter into a pan and melt it over a low heat. Leave to cool slightly.
  4. Peel and core the pears, then dice them into 5mm cubes. Squeeze the lemon over the pears to stop them oxidising and turning brown.
  5. Beat the eggs and then mix all of the ingredients together to form batter
  6. Fill the tins or cases and bake for around 20 minutes until golden. If you’re making a larger cake it will need a little longer to bake through. 
  7. Cool on a wire rack. 

Scandi styled cakes

These little pear cakes pair perfectly with a perky coffee – they have quite the cardamom kick if you’re using good quality fresh spice.  

Pears. I look forward to the next delivery… 

Lockdown Sourdough

The staff of life. Bread connects every human, transcending continents, countries, creeds and clans. The COVID-19 outbreak appears to have encouraged a resurgence in home baking (and a run on flour amongst other basic staples). There are many different types of bread, but I’m obsessed with classic sourdough bread – the old way of baking using a living wild yeast starter, before dried yeasts were invented and mass production led us astray.

I’ll try to summarise everything you’ll need to know about creating a starter, looking after it and baking sourdough bread – please do reach out to me via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or email if you have any questions or queries.

To start, you’ll need a starter (!)

Making your very own unique starter from scratch is really straight forward and it’s something you can be really proud of – everything you need to know is right here: https://foodfitforfelix.com/2018/02/21/sourdough-starter/

I’ve been handing out cuts of my sourdough starter, Däve, to anyone who’s local enough to collect him from the wall outside.

What to do if you’re gifted a live starter?

First of all, you’ll probably want to find him/her a new home (and think of a name for your new lockdown companion!).  A 600ml jar with a lid is ideal for looking after your starter as it provides enough space for it to grow if you’re keeping it around 100g.

Next you’ll want to feed/refresh it. If you’ve only been given a small amount, you might want to bulk it up in size, but generally you’ll halve the starter (discarding or baking with half) and feeding the other half with a 50/50 mix of flour and water.

Bread flour can be tricky to get hold of at the moment, and you’ll need enough to keep your starter alive, so here’s some tips for:

Reducing flour consumption

  • Refrigeration: Popping it into the fridge in a sealed container will slow down the fermentation process so you can get away with feeding it once every couple of weeks (although you’ll need to refresh it a few times to get it back up to strength before you can bake with it again)
  • Freezing: believe it or not, you can freeze a portion of your starter in a ziplock bag and keep it in suspended animation – defrosting and feeding at some point in the future.
  • Dehydration: spread a little starter out on a piece of greaseproof paper (very thinly) and leave it on a rack to try out completely – you’ll be able to store your precious culture in a jam jar and rehydrate it when you can get hold of flour again.
  • Keep your starter small!

The bake

My preferred process for baking sourdough can be found here: https://foodfitforfelix.com/2018/12/18/sourdough-2-0/ although I’ve more recently been baking my loaves for a total of 50 minutes rather than an hour, and I no longer use semolina as it becomes a little hard after baking. I’ve also decided that I prefer the flavour from wholegrain or malted flour rather than white rye; the choice of flour is yours (as long as it’s strong flour) – you’ll no doubt want to start experimenting with different kinds of flour once you’ve perfected your baking process.

Don’t overlook freezing – just slice your freshly baked bread, wrap it up and freeze it. You can toast slices directly from the freezer.

Leftover bread?

Unlike wine, this does actually happen in our house. Sourdough bread lasts much longer than processed bread. If you have some leftover which has started to go stale (but not mouldy) then you can make a panzanella salad (google it), croutons for soup or perhaps the gold dust that is pangrattato – https://foodfitforfelix.com/2019/01/13/pangrattato/

If you can (and ensuring social distancing rules are respected), share! Starters, flours, fresh bread, tips, ideas, bannetons, recipes, hope and joy.

sourdough bread

Cardamom Buns

As much as I’ve tried to avoid baking sweet things, I do love the reaction I get when I share these treats with friends and family. The festive season has been the ideal time to test, tweak and perfect the recipe, although it’s a frightfully early start if you want to get them on the table in time for breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 12)

Buns:

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 200ml milk
  • 5g salt
  • 7g sachet dried yeast (Easy Bake or Quick Yeast)*
  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g strong bread flour
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs

Filling:

  • 100g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom

Coating:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Start the buns by melting the butter in a pan with the milk and the salt. Allow it to cool a little.
  2. Mix the flour, yeast, cardamom and sugar in a bowl and incorporate the eggs and the melted butter and milk.
  3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth. A dough scraper will help as it will be quite wet and sticky at first.
  4. Leave the dough covered in a warm place to proof for 1 hour or until doubled in size. proving dough
  5. For the filling, mix the softened butter with the sugar, cardamom and cinnamon until combined.
  6. Roll out the dough out into a square about 35 x 35cm.
  7. Spread the filling over evenly and then roll the dough up.
  8. Slice it up into 12 pieces and place them onto a baking tray or into muffin cases. You can use a fine piece of string/cotton/wire to loop around slice the dough instead of a knife – this will prevent the dough getting squashed out of shape. Cardamom bun 2nd proof
  9. Cover and leave the dough to proof for a further 30-45 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan or 200°C conventional) and mix together the remaining caster sugar and cinnamon.
  11. Brush with beaten egg, dust with plenty of the sugar mix and bake for 12-15 minutes.

cardamom buns

cardamom rolls

*If you’re using ‘easy bake’ or ‘quick yeast’, you can add it straight to the flour mix, otherwise, you’ll need to activate the yeast by first mixing it with a splash of warm water and a sprinkle of sugar. It will be ready to go as soon as it starts to bubble.