Naturally occurring microorganisms produce many fermented milk products.
This preservation of milk has been known to be used since around 10,000 BC.
Soured milk, kefir, and yoghurt are three such products.
They could be described as “cousins”.
Lactose, the sugar, in the milk is converted into lactic acid – this is what gives them the sour taste.
Soured Milk – Kwaśne mleko or Zsiadłe mleko – is the fermented milk product that is found in Northern Europe, especially in Poland. It forms naturally from bacteria in fresh milk and these bacteria live happily in colder climates.
When we used to have farm milk at home my mother made soured milk all the time and then also made twaróg – Polish curd cheese, which is used in lots of Polish recipes – savoury and sweet.
However you cannot make soured milk from pasteurised milk at home (of course it can be made in a dairy where they will have starters).
Yoghurt – jogurt – is the fermented milk product that is found in Southern Europe and the Middle East. It forms naturally from bacteria in fresh milk and these bacteria live happily in warmer climates.
You can make yoghurt at home because you can use some bought yoghurt as a starter and some milk and then continue using your yoghurt as a starter and so on.
A few months ago I went on a craft week in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) and as always I was looking out for new recipes and ideas.
I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt. Now in the past, every cake I have made with yoghurt in the ingredients was not a success with it either being straight to bird table or straight to bin!
Anyway, I tried this one out and was really pleased with the results.
I used Greek style full fat yoghurt and I am sure low or no fat yoghurt would not do! – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.
I have made a few alterations to the original recipe.
Having made a super sour dough rye bread , I now thought I would have a go at one using baker’s yeast as this is a quicker option.
Only rye flour is used which does make it a harder to handle dough.
500ml yoghurt & water ( around 1:1 ) at hand heat
1.5 tablespoons of dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
100g rye flour
650g rye flour
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of caraway seeds – plus extra for sprinkling on top
In a bowl mix the yoghurt and water , yeast , sugar and flour.
Leave for a while until it starts to bubble.
Mix the rest of the flour, salt and caraway seeds in a large bowl.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon.
Aim for a “wet” mixture, adjusting with water or flour as necessary.
Cover this with a cling film or a cloth and leave overnight.
This will make 2 loaves – either two round or oval loaves which you can place on greased baking sheets or you can use small baking tins – shallow ones rather than loaf tins work out best I think – I used a 16 x 27cm mermaid tin.
This dough is very hard to work with – I cut it into two and shape each piece without much kneading and try not to add much extra flour.
Cover and leave to rise – this may take several hours – you do not get much of a rise.
Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.
Brush the top of the loaf with hot water and sprinkle with caraway seeds. You can make 1 or 2 cuts on the top of the loaf.
Whilst experimenting with this recipe I found that if you make the loaf too thick then it can burn on the outside and still be uncooked in the centre.
I found that a flatter loaf and the one in the rectangular tray came out consistently better.
Bake for 50 – 55 minutes – I swap the trays around after 20 -25 minutes.
Mix the flours together with the baking powder and leave to one side.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and the icing sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks – one by one.
Then beat in the lemon zest and juice.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs white until they are stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the creamed mixture.
Gently fold the whites in the flour mixture.
Place the mixture into the prepared babka tin.
Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for around 30 – 40 minutes.
Check with a cake tester.
Remove from the oven and let the cake cool a little.
When cooled – remove carefully from the tin – this is easiest when the cake is nearly cold.
Dust the cake with icing sugar or pour over it a runny icing glaze.
Instructions for those who do not have a babka tin
At the moment (February 2016) Marks & Spencer are selling babka tins at a reasonable price – I bought one to add to my collection!
However if you do not want to go to the expensive but want to try out the cake I have made the cake using 2 types of loaf tins with good results
First using a long narrow tin
and secondly a 2lb loaf tin.
You need to grease and line the tins or use loaf tin liners – I discovered these recently and think they are a boon. You can get them in 2 loaf sizes. They are available in many stores but also you should also be able to find them in the cheaper discount stores.
The cake takes 40 -45 minutes in a pre-heated oven at GM4 – 180°C