Chleb – Bread

Today is the third anniversary of my blog – I started posting on 4 July 2015 and this will be my 155th post!

I am really enjoying the research, the cooking, the photography  and the writing and have many more recipes to share with you all.

Chleb – Bread

A wedding tradition in Poland is to greet the bride and groom on their arrival at the reception with bread & salt.

The bread is seen as a gift from God and is a wish that they never go hungry.

The salt is a seen as a gift from the earth and is a wish that they overcome the bitterness of life.

Rye

To be called bread in Poland the loaves or rolls must contain some rye.

Wheat loaves or rolls are called bułki or bułeczki but this is also the name  given to some cakes and buns – hence there is often some confusion!

Żyto is the Polish for rye.

Rye   – Secale cereale  is a grain and is used for bread and for making some of the best vodkas.

It grew  wild in Turkey and  since the Middle Ages it has been cultivate widely in    Central and Eastern Europe.

Rye grows well  in poor soil and in cold and harsh conditions.

Nowadays rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe and the top three rye producing countries are Germany,  Russia & Poland.

Poland consumes the most rye per person at 32.4 kg/capita (2009) followed by Nordic and Baltic countries. (From an article in Wikipedia).

Sour dough

This method of bread making uses the natural yeasts that are found on the grain and in the atmosphere.

I had never tried using a sour dough method before.  I have now tried it out twice –  even as a former science student  – it felt like MAGIC! – the results were wonderful!

This recipe is adapted from one in found in my American book – Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert & Maria Syrybel.

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It takes around 3 days to make 2 loaves.

I suppose I could halve the recipe but I am quite happy to cut and freeze any surplus and the bread keeps for several days and can always be toasted.

Whey

This recipe uses whey which I often have if I have made any twarog – curd cheese.

If I do not have any whey I make a mixture of around 2 parts yoghurt to 1 part water instead.

Method

Day 1

At around 5 pm mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water in a bowl.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 24 hours.

Day 2

Again at around 5 pm,  mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water and the mixture from the night before in a bowl and leave overnight or around 12 hours.

 

Day 3

In the morning

Ingredients

350g rye flour

350g (strong) plain flour

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds

450 – 500ml  of whey  or a mixture of 2 parts yoghurt & 1 part water

Plus the starter mix from the days before

Method

Combine all the ingredients together.

Aim for a “wet” mix – it is harder to handle but gives the best results.

Knead for around 5 minutes – longer if you can!

 

Shape the dough – cut  it in half and make 2 oval-shaped loaves and place them on greased baking trays or you can put them into tins – I used  a round – loose bottomed tin – 20cm in diameter in my second bake.

Leave to rise  for around 5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Place some water in a roasting tray at the bottom of the oven.

 

They take around 50 minutes to bake – I swap the two trays around after about 20 minutes.

 

Delicious with just butter – Well worth the wait!

 

Caraway Yeast Buns

Whilst doing some research on caraway,  I found that in 2011, Finland  produced over 25% of the worlds caraway.

So I thought why not a recipe from Finland!

This is a based on a recipe for pulla –  in Poland they would be called  bułeczki  – they are yeast buns and in Finland they are served with coffee.

These buns  are originally flavoured with crushed cardamon seeds – I have adapted this for caraway.

In Poland caraway is often added to rye bread but not usually added to wheat flour buns.

Ingredients

500g plain flour

50g butter

80g of granulated sugar

300ml tepid milk

1 teaspoon of dried yeast

1 egg beaten

1 tablespoonful of caraway seeds

1 teaspoon of salt

1 egg white, beaten, for glazing (does not burn as easily as whole egg).

Optional

Crushed sugar cubes.

Method

In a small dish start the yeast off with 2 tablespoons of the milk and 1 tablespoon of the sugar until it is bubbling.

Rub the butter into the flour.

Add the salt, caraway seeds, sugar, yeast mixture, milk and egg.

Mix thouroughly with a wooden spoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover the dough with clingfilm or a cloth and leave to rise.

I left mine over night in a cool cellar and then followed by a few hours in the morning in a warmer kitchen.

Grease 2 baking sheets.

Take the dough out of the bowl – a special dough scraper is very good for this.

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Divide the dough into 12 pieces  – a dough cutter is most useful for this  and shape each one into a ball using floured hands – do not over work the dough or add flour – keep the mix as soft as possible.

Place the balls on the sheets – leaving room for expansion.

Cover and leave to rise.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 6 – 200°C

Brush the top of each bun with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with the crushed sugar if desired.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden – brown.

 

Getting ready for morning coffee

 

 

Enamelled coffee pot by the Cathrineholm ironworks in Norway  –  Lotus – from the 1960s,

Coffee cups and saucers by Elizabethan  – Carnaby – from the 1970s

The buns are on a hand-decorated  cake stand made by Fairmont & Main who were established in Huddersfield in 1994.

The pattern is Carnival and this is a recent birthday present from one of my friends.

Note

As with all yeast buns these will go stale quickly – if I have any left – I cut them in half and pack into bags and freeze them.

On de-frosting I toast them and serve with butter.

Caraway Biscuits

Caraway is such a popular herb/spice in Poland and is used in breads, meat & vegetable dishes.  So it is quite surprising that it is not used  in cakes or biscuits there.

Drawing from Wikipeadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to try out some biscuits with caraway seeds.  I found that the biscuts were better if not too sweet.

These are the results – they are semi-sweet and are really delicious  with cheese.

Ingredients

225g self-raising flour

100g butter

50g caster sugar

1 egg – beaten

6 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Grated rind of a lemon

1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C

Grease 2 or 3 baking sheets.

Rub the fat into the flour until it is like fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, caraway and lemon rind.

Mix in the egg and lemon juice to form a soft dough.

Roll out the dough on a floured board.

Cut out circle using a 7.5cm  diameter, fluted cutter.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes till lightly browned (take care not to burn them).

Leave them to cool on the tray and then move them off on to a cooling rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served on Las Palmas by Aynsley, from the 1960s, with some soft Brie.

Variation

Use 75g of caster sugar instead of the 50g to make a slighly sweeter biscuit which is delicious just nibbled on its own with tea or coffee.

Caraway Seed Cake

Caraway is such a popular herb/spice in Poland and is used in breads, meat & vegetable dishes.  So it is quite surprising that it is not used  in cake.

Caraway – Image from Wikapedia

 

I have looked in all my recipe books and I have not found any use of caraway in Polish cake.

So I have gone to what by many is seen as an old-fashioned  quintessential British cake – Seed Cake – which is  Caraway Seed Cake.

This cake has been popular since the 17th century and especially  in Victorian times  and the 1920s and 1930s.

Caraway Seeds are thought to aid digestion – so this is a good cake to have at the end of a meal.

I have found several variations – this is one that has worked for me & I am sure it would be well received in Poland!

I have tried this out in 2 different shapes of tins.

Ingredients

110g butter

110g caster sugar

2 eggs – beaten

150g self-raising flour – sifted

25g ground almonds

3 tablespoons of milk

3 rounded teaspoons of caraway seeds

Several crushed sugar cubes or 1 level tablespoon of Demerara sugar for the round cake and 1/2 a tablespoon for the loaf.

 

Version 1

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Grease a 19cm round cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

Mix the flour, ground almonds and caraway together in a little bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time.

Using a metal spoon fold in the flour mixture.

Add the milk to give a good dropping consistency.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and level off the top.

Sprinkle the top with the sugar.

 

Bake for between 35 – 40 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

 

 

 

Version 2

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Line a “1lb” loaf tin with a tin liner or grease and line the tin with greasproof paper.

Make the mixture as in version 1.

Sprinkle the top with the 1/2 tablespoon of Demerara sugar.

Bake for between 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

Once cold, wrap in foil and keep in an air tight container.

 

 

Caraway & Dill & Parsley

When I think of Polish cooking three popular herbs which always spring to mind are caraway, dill and parsley.

They all  belong to the Apiaceae family which includes  carrot and celery. 

This family is also called  Umbelliferae (from the Latin – umbella  – for parasol or sunshade) – the flower heads consists of umbels  which have equal length flower stalks coming from a central point which forms a flattened head – rather like an umberella.

Carum carvi is caraway –  kminek – in Polish.

It  is native to  Europe,  North Africa & Western Asia.

Caraway – Drawing taken from Wikapedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caraway  fruits are often called seeds.

Caraway is thought to be an aid to digestion.

In 2011 Finland supplied over 25% of the world’s caraway.

 

 

 

Caraway is often added to rye bread, to dishes with sauerkraut and also many meat dishes,  especially pork, such as Sauerkraut & BaconPork & Prunes  and  Pork & Sauerkraut Gulasz.

Caraway  is often  added to twaròg (Polish soft curd cheese)

 

Anethum graveolens is dill – koperek  – in Polish.

Dill is grown for its leaves, which are fern like, and its seeds.

Dill leaves are  best when used fresh  (I never bother with dried dill).

 

 

 

 

 

Dill  leaves are used as a topping for many salads and for boiled new potatoes.

 

 

 


Dill leaves are added to twaròg (Polish soft curd cheese) and smetana (soured cream).

Dill leaves are used in sauces including ones served with fish.

 

 

Dill seeds are similar in flavour to caraway seeds.

Dill seeds are used in dill pickles –    – which are cucumbers preserved in brine – Ogórki – Gherkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name of the Polish astronomer  – Copernicus  in Polish is  Kopernik (so in Polish he is Mr Dill!)

Petroselinum crispum is flat leaf parsley – pietruszka –  in Polish

Flat Leaved Parsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chopped flat leafed parsley  leaves are added as a garnish or topping for many salads and savoury dishes.

 

 

Petroselinum crispum tubersum

This is Parsley root or Hamburg parsley.

Flat leafed parsley is also grown for its white tap root which looks a lot like parsnip and is also used in  Polish cookery, often added to casseroles.

I have seen this for sale in Polish markets, you might find it in the larger Polish shops that have fresh produce.

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Parsley root grated with apple or pear and with added lemon juice is one suggestion for a fresh salad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ribs with Sauerkraut

For this dish use the best pork you can buy – I used some locally reared Yorkshire pork.

Ingredients

1 -2  racks of pork ribs

900ml – large jar of sauerkraut

2 onions – thinly sliced – fried.

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 cloves of garlic – chopped

1 tablespoon of sugar (more or less depends on the sourness of the sauerkraut)

4-5 peppercorns

350ml- of chicken stock (can be from a cube or concentrate) – extra might be needed for topping up.

Caraway Seeds

Method

Take the sauerkraut out of the jar and put into a saucepan with any liquid from the jar.

Cover the sauerkraut with water and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to GM3- 160°C

You need a large oven proof dish with a lid  – I use an enameled dish.

Put the sauerkraut, and any liquid, and onions in the dish and mix well.

Add, caraway, garlic, sugar & peppercorns.

Pour most of the stock over the sauerkraut mixture.

Place the ribs on top of the sauerkraut and pour the rest of the stock over them.

 

 

 

 

Put the lid on the dish and place in the oven.

Check on the liquid level during the cooking time and add any extra needed so it does not dry out.

Move some of the sauerkraut  mixture over the ribs.

Cook for 3-4 hours.

This would usually be served with either rye bread or boiled potatoes.

Sauerkraut – Traditional with Bacon

This is  a very popular dish to make in the winter time with produce from the stores.

Ingredients

1 large jar sauerkraut – 800-900g

100g smoked streaky bacon

1 onion

1 teaspoon caraway.

2-3  tablespoons of plain flour

Oil or bacon fat for frying

1 tablespoon granulated sugar*

 

*The acidity of sauerkraut varies very much and homemade is often not as acid.

*Rinsing bottled sauerkraut before use will lower the acidity.

*The amount of  sugar  you add to the dish is a personal preference – if rinsed 1 tablespoon should be enough – if not rinsed you might need 1 -2 tablespoons more.

 

Method

Drain the sauerkraut and keep the liquid ( you may want to use it to adjuct the acidity of the dish later ).

Rinse the sauerkraut with cold water.

Place the sauerkraut in a large saucepan and pour boiling water over it until it just covers it.

Add the sugar.

Bring to the boil and then cover the saucepan with a lid and let it gently simmer for around 10  minutes.

Continue heating either gently on top of the stove or put the pan with the lid into a low to medium oven.

Cook for  around another 30 minutes until the sauerkraut is soft.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the caraway seeds – put the dish  back into oven or keep on the stove with the lid on.

Chop the bacon into small squares and heat gently in a frying pan to release the fat.

Chop the onions into small pieces and add them to the pan and fry the onions until they are golden.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and heat gently to brown the flour.

Add spoonfuls of liquid from the sauerkraut mixture to the onion mix.

Stir and heat to form a thickening roux/paste.

Add this to the sauerkraut mixture and mix throughly.

Put the pan back in the oven for around 10 minutes – or heat gently on the stove.

Sprinkle ground black pepper on the top before serving.

Serve with rye bread or boiled potatoes and hot roast pork or cooked Polish sausages.

 

Here served with Kolos rye bread,  from the Bradford Ukranian Bakery,  founded in 1961 and grilled Polish sausage from Torun (kiełbasa Toruńska) – the birthplace of the astronomer Copernicus (Kopernik ) – also famous for its spiced honey cake (piernik)

Served on Carnation by Royal Doulton, 1982 – 1998.