Multigrain bread

The time before Christmas and New Year is my preferred one to clean and refill my cupboards. If with my last bread I was finding a pizza flour mix, this time I have found a box of multigrain flour. Its destination was of course another bread. This one...

Date yogurt

The Christmas spirit goes well with dried fruits. Dates are ones of my favorites. So let's make an exotic yogurt.

Spelt and oat bread

Once I have received a pizza flour mix as a promotional package. It was forgotten for some months in my cupboard and I found it back when cleaning the cupboard. I did not use it for making pizza but to make bread and this was the result. This bread, near this pizza flour contains flakes of spelt and oat, chia seeds and other interesting ingredients. With such great ingredients, the resulting bread couldn't be different. An on the spot invention but an excellent rich bread.
Aaa... and one thing more... there is no salt in this bread ... so there is no mistake. You can put if you like ... I preferred to taste the bread without.

Quince in white sauce

This is a dish that my mother was doing a lot when I was a child. It is an autumn dish. The quince it is a symbol of the autumn.
As strange as it might look, although the quince is a fruit, this dish is not a dessert but rather a dish in itself that you can eat with bread or a side dish near some meat.
Every time I see quinces in a shop my mind go straight to this dish. As it is December, I was very lucky to still find them. In Belgium, these fruits are not very common and I needed to chase them in Turkish shops. And I am wondering why ... in Romania, my grand mother had a quince tree in the middle of her yard. When the autumn was coming, the parfum of the quince was all over the place.
I also remember my grandma's dog who was eating the quinces when they were falling down from the tree.
As a child, I hated to wash the fuzzy quinces. We were eating them after cutting them in slices as they were too hard to bite. My relatives were making this dish or jam from them. I did not appreciated them so much back then, but now I miss them so much ...

Whole wheat sunflower seed bread (version 2)

There are 2 ingredients in this bread that I have not tried before: barley malt and gluten powder. A dear friend of mine, not only recommended me these but also brought them to me as a present. I didn't have the chance to try them so far, so I have felt that this was the appropriate moment.

The first ingredient, the barley malt, you can find it in 2 shapes: as syrup or as powder. In this bread I have used the powder. This is a well known ingredient for bakers as it gives an improved fermentation. For commercial bakers is a secret as it also decrease the proofing time while increasing the volume. Even more, after baking the bread, it increases the life of the bread. No wander that is seen as a secret for bakers. The barley malt also darkens the color of the crumb and makes it more soften. It also gives a "malty" taste. But on top of this, this is a 100% natural ingredient.
I remember when I have opened the bag of barley malt powder it smelled strongly as coffee.  I checked again the package to be sure I was not mixing something else, but it was the right one. I was wondering at that moment if this would have not give a coffee aroma to my bread as well, which would have been a total failure as I am not a coffee fan. But it didn't. The final taste and aroma had nothing to do with coffee.

The second ingredient, was the gluten powder. Well, if you are gluten intolerant, forget about it. But I am not, and none of my family members is. This one is exactly what the name indicates: just gluten powder. If your wheat is weak in gluten, add a teaspoon to your bread and it will make miracles. Also, if you are making a bread with special flours that are not so reach in gluten / proteins, use it. Mine was whole wheat flour predominant so I have decided to try it. Again a natural ingredient, so no worry.

The result you can see it with your eyes: a nicely raised bread with lovely ears.

Olive and tarragon bread

I have the feeling sometimes to come back from where I have started. It was a day when I was looking for some Romanian specific pastry (merdenele) and I have found the amazing blog of Codruta Popa. I have started looking for something else and found my passion for bread. There has been years since then and if it lasted so long it is clear that was not just a temporary mood, it is a passion that we are talking about here. The passion of baking bread. I've read many books and blogs since then but I feel coming back to her blog all the time as it is so reach in details and accurate. However, what is the most impressive about Codruta's blog is her enthusiasm, her discovery of the world of baking bread with each post. It is the discovery of her passion that was so contagious to me as well. How pity that she stopped blogging as she was doing such a great job.
Coming back here, this is a bread with the recipe adopted from her  blog. I am always sure that her breads are a successful story so why stopping trying them?

Whole spelt bread

Lately I find myself running and running around to finish all my daily tasks. This is happening to me almost every year before Christmas season. I am really looking forward for the coming holidays to have a nice rest. But having bread in the house is a must. I can miss a lot of other dishes but not bread. This is how I arrived to simply invent a bread on the spot. I had no time to open a book and read a recipe. So, I have quickly checked my cupboard to empty all open flour packages or other related ingredients to put them into my bread. Quickly, quickly ... between other things, a mix, a stretch and fold, a shape of the dough, and a bake and voila.... look how it turned in the end: full of baubles and energy. And when I am thinking that with every single bread I made I was doing my best to get a nicely raised bread with ears.... and this dream bread comes exactly when I was just wanting a simple, no fancy bread to put on my table. 
As for the taste ...there is no negative critique to give.... just positive and superlatives. I let the comments to people eating, trying it or just looking at it ...

Poppy seed sweet bread (cozonac)

Christmas is coming and I needed to refresh my skills to bake our traditional Christmas cake. I also had a very nice occasion to share it, the Romanian national day, the 1st of December. 

Curry and sunflower seed bread

I start becoming exotic with my baking and try some non-European spices in my breads. Last time was cardamom. This time is curry powder. They are both excellent breads but let me express my preference for this one. The curry powder gives more color and taste. In combination with sunflower seeds the entire bread becomes a wow!

Carrot celery and apple salad

This is one of the most simple and known recipe of autumn salads. I remember my mother doing it very often when I was a child and it was always a pleasure to find it ready in the fridge. This salad is a mix of vegetables and fruits. The apples gives a sweet and sour taste to the salad. The carrots are also giving sweetness and celery comes with aroma. The mayonnaise I keep it to the minimum to avoid that fruits and vegetable change their color.
I made a big salad, so if you want smaller quantities, just divide.
The recipe is also very permissive, meaning that you can adapt it as you want, on your own taste. You can put more apples, or carrots or celery. If you like more mayonnaise put more. I don't.

Raspberry jam yogurt

There has been a while since my last homemade yogurt. As I was quite tired, I wanted to make the simplest recipe of home made yogurt, near the natural one that I do every time. Adding some jam to an almost normal yogurt was my best option. But not any kind of jam ... a raspberry jam made by my mother with love with fruits harvested from her own garden.

Durum cardamom bread

Do you have sourdough to discard? Well do not get rid of it, it can be reused. You can keep this one in a big jar in the fridge and at least once a month do something with it. You can do pancakes, or waffles or pizza or even bread. This is what happened to me, I wanted to reuse the sourdough but not to make anything else special than simple bread. To this particular bread, the sourdough is not the main raising agent but the yeast. The sourdough comes with its specific taste and enriches the bread. The 20g of yeast will definitely work much fasten than the sourdough.
This is an exotic bread I would call it. It is durum but with cardamom flavor. Have you ever tried it? Is a specific spice that can give interesting taste even to your cofee. The 2 taspoons of cardamom will give a very light taste. If you want a stronger flavor double the quantity of cardamom.

The resulting dough was very easy to work with and in the oven gave me a lot of nice surprises. IT opened the bread so beautifully and created ears to all my 3 bread.

A bread for my grandmother

There has been 4 weeks since my last post and my last home made bread. I was missing my baking hobby. Really. But on the other side, I have traveled a lot, I have seen dear family and close fiends. I had also participated to a sad event, the funeral of my grandmother. A simple woman, full of energy during her life who passed over great challenges in her time. I miss you, grandma, rest in peace. Please let me dedicate this bread to you.

Coming back home, I searched my pantry for things that need to be consumed. I have found some millet flakes that were special for babies to make porridge. I simply couldn't throw away them even if my daughter doesn't like them anymore, so I used them in a bread. They are very light, so 50g fills more than a big soup bowl. If you do not have this ingredient (which is probably the case), it can be easily replaced by 50g of flour.

I need to recognize that after so much time not baking any bread I was a bit nervous to restart. I even went for tins to not fail. But everything went well and I've got 3 nice breads of which I am proud. Nice taste and nice texture. Somehow, baking bread is like riding bicycles... once learned you cannot fail. Bellow is the recipe...

Basil sourdough bread

This is an incredible bread ! What an aroma! What a taste! What a raise! Never thought that a herb bread could turn out so well. I am actually in love with this bread and I can only recommend it.

The Sunday 75% Whole Wheat Bread

Again I am doing a Saturday bread on a Sunday. It seems that my preferred day to bake the bread is Sunday and this is correct. On Saturday I need to make all the food shopping and other small activities and bread is usually not on this day to do list.
So, almost the same recipe as the white version except the fact that 75% of the flour is whole wheat not white. To make it grow more, I have added 5g of extra gluten powder. (thank you, Rick for the present ;) )
There is a change from the original recipe and this is the type of yeast. The author specifies 3g of instant dried yeast which normally should be translated as 6g of fresh yeast. But I tried this version  and worked perfectly well.

Passion fruit ice cream

I know, summer is gone, but can you resist to a passion fruit ice cream? I cannot, sorry.

Caramel yogurt

I made them with jam, I made them with fruits, with nuts, with chocolate and the possibilities are endless. This time is with caramel. You can use instead any concentrated fruit juice. But this caramel flavor reminds me of the famous cake caramel, although we are talking here only about a yogurt.

Ciabatta with sunflower seeds

A round ciabatta for a sunny day of autumn.

Twisted baguettes with no salt

If you are wondering how come that I baked a bread with no salt, the answer is simple ... I simply for forgot to put it :D. But what I obtained in the end made me to think if the success was not coming from this little mistake... I'll probably need to bake again another bread without salt to test my theory.
These twisted breads have not been scored, and there was no need to do it. The twisted shapes give a good opportunity for the crust to go up by itself without the baker intervention. Just look how the parts were lifted up by themselves exactly like a roof.
Very nice dough ... a real pleasure to work with it and I didn't even used high proteins flours. Also I did not add extra gluten powder to the bread. I have used a simple bread flour with no enrichment that you can easily buy in a supermarket. So no fancy ingredients, just basic flour.
The result was amazingly superior than any bread I baked before and believe me that I use the same ingredients for a long time. The secret comes from the rather long fermentation of the dough with no additional yeast as the original recipe required. In fact, if I have to compare, I have deviated quite a lot from the original recipe that you cannot actually say that is the same. More sourdough, a bit more flour, no salt, no yeast. Maybe only the shape is the same. And, what makes me even more proud, is that my bread turned out even better than the photo of the author. Yess!
The only thing that I would change next time for this recipe would be to put less dough in each baguette slot on the tray. The quantity made was a bit too much for just 3 baguettes.
Anyway, who cares... these baguettes were incredibly tasty even without salt !

Ciabatta with pumpkin seeds

I made 2 ciabattas recipes, one with sunflower seeds and this one with pumpkin seeds. When shaping, I left aside 2 small pieces for my daughter to play with. When she was bored playing with the dough, we shaped them together and sprinkled them with pumpkin seeds. I do not have to tell that my daughter little breads turned out better than mines so they were meant to be photographed.

Sunday white bread

 It is probably funny, but this bread was called Saturday bread :D but as I did it on a Sunday how could I have called it Saturday. There is something special with Ken Forkish recipess. There is a special connection between me and his recipes. They all turn into a success. This is what motivated me to bake more from his book even if this was not a recipe with sourdough. This one is a straight bread so there is no preferment to do in advance.
When baked, this bread sang to me. A lot of noise when cooling down even more than any bread I cooked before. And also at the cooling phase started to give me nice cracks.
But the most special for me, was the dough. It was so easy to work with it even shaping it. It was not sticking bad and had a nice texture.
The photo I made it 3 days after the bread was baked and I kept it in a plastic bag to prevent drying.

Traditional flan

 A flan, a normal flan, a traditional vanilla one - this is what I was looking for. This was for a special occasion for a friend who I know he likes flans.
So, I found the perfect recipe. Done. As simple as that. When my husband tasted it, he immediately made the remark that I have prepared his favorite childhood dessert, what we call "colarez" (I doubt there is a translation for this as it is really a regional name). It is actually made by milk, flour and sugar and looks like a pudding). I had to disappoint my husband  but no, this was not what he had in mind. However it had a similar texture and a vanilla flavor. And the good thing was that both my special guest and my husband loved it. But there was one person more who got crazy after it, my daughter. She loved it so much that the left over I packed it as a snack for her next day at school.
Lovely taste and a recipe to remember.

Blueberry and almond tart

As my daughter was so in love lately with blueberries, I had to buy more. But suddenly, not necessary unexpected, she said no to fresh blueberries. Then I had to quickly find a solution to use the remaining ones. The best option was of course to make a tart with them. I do not usually make tarts with berries as I find them better to be eaten fresh, so rarely I bake them. But then, it was my moment. Quickly, easy, delicious, this is my motto for any recipe I make. And it is the case for this tart as well. As a plus, doesn't it look so inviting a tart with blueberries inside?
What can I ask more... even the school teacher of my daughter remarked it.

Apple and coconut tart

I made this tart for the birthday party of my daughter. Near the birthday doll cake I needed to serve some other sweets as well. Tart was an excellent option as it was easy to make. Also, having a lot of apples from down the hill near my house, it was a perfect combination to make an apple tart.
This one is not just a simple apple tart but is in addition with coconut. This gives a specific flavor that you won't find in simple apple cakes. And the combination was a success.

Tinkerbell doll cake

There has been 3 years. 3 years of joy and happiness, 3 years of having the most beautiful feeling in life. 3 years since my beautiful daughter saw the light of this world. Happy birthday my love, Irina.

Baguettes with poolish

I am planning a birthday party soon. As all preparations should be done just before the party, bread is something that I can do in advance. And freeze. And then unfreeze just the day before the party. As simple as that.
Baguettes are perfect for starters as their slices are small, so this is the recipe I used for this.

Poolish is nothing else than a preferment in which the quantity of water and flour are equal. With this, you get a kind of dough at 100% hydration. Kept overnight on the counter top of your kitchen will become spongy. The name came from the Polish bakers who brought the method in France, back in the mid 19th century.

Roasted hazelnut and prune bread

A rich bread and a lovely taste. I was a bit reluctant in adding prunes to a bread believing that will transform the bread into a cake. The reality instead contradicted me: the sweetness of the dried plums only added a delicate flavor to the bread. The second key ingredient of this bread was of course the roasted hazelnuts. They came with a special roasted nutty flavor. But what is the most incredible is the combination between the two: delicate sweet and nutty. Combine these 2 in a bread that contains also whole wheat flour and you will definitely chose this bread as one of your favorites.

On top of the successful combination, this bread is already writing history in my family. If you are asking why, the answer will be simple: it is the first bread made by my daughter. She shaped the little boule that you see bellow with her own little hands. I was working the dough on her left side and she was looking at me, copying every little movement that I was doing with my hands. It was such an emotional moment ... to be the teacher of your own child. She was so proud that she made this boule by herself and she was following its raise in the oven every 5 minutes or so, repeating me over and over again that she was the one who made it. And I was so proud of her too! I was not guessing before that I was having near me a little baker! A unique moment in life for a mother and a bread to be remembered.
I've let her play with the dough just as she was doing with play-doh. Just imagine how my daughter looked like after the shaping: full of flour everywhere, from hair to shoes. Anyway, I gave her a big laugh and a kiss.

When my breads are ready, usually she is asking for a slice. This time, she asked specifically for her own. This one was a little too tough because playing with so much flour makes the bread like that. But who cares, she enjoyed the process so much, and in the end... she has not put her piece down at all. It was hers and she ate it all.

Lemon yogurt

Now, when I am writing this recipe I am actually eating the yogurt form one of these 3 "hero" pots. Mmmm.. mniam ... has a small yellow layer on top with a strong lemon aroma. Deeper, another full teaspoon  and I reach a soft, delicate and whiter layer of yogurt. Even deeper, there is a third layer that is a mix of yogurt with lemon zest.... mmmm... I am actually eating the lemon zest. And what a strong lemon aroma! There is no bitter or sour taste in there and the zest is very soft. I have the feeling that I am eating a cake not a yogurt. If you do not like to eat the zest you can strain the zest out of the milk when you make the yogurt. But sincerely... are you sure you want to do this? Do you have any idea what taste and aroma are you missing? From all the yogurts I've made, this is by far the most flavored and tasty one. And there is no artificial aroma inside, everything is natural. I know, you'll point to the cane sugar... but it can easily be replaced by honey.

I finished my yogurt pot while writing these lines and I still have a persistent lemon aroma in my mouth. I am very satisfied. I made the best fruity yogurt ever!

Whole wheat bread (version 3)

When I have started to make bread with a bread machine (at that time)  I thought that the best bread should be the one with a lot of whole wheat inside. Although I was not wrong believing that this was one of the healthiest choice, in time I discovered other combinations of flours that could be impressive.
This bread reminds me of those beginning times although qualitatively is superior. I have added a tablespoon of honey but the bread do not taste sweet. It helps instead for the bread to grow more.
Ah, and I forgot again that adding sugars to the bread makes the bread becoming dark faster. Nevertheless, I have not burnt it.

Apple and ginger muffins

After the success of my previous blueberry muffins it was a must to bake more muffins. This fitted well, because near my house the apple trees were in their season to give me the best apples I've ever eaten. So, it was the perfect combination of muffins with apples. To make it more fancy, I have decorated them with one or two blueberries.

I was a bit in a hurry when I have done the recipe and I forgot one spice: cinnamon. The original recipe was requesting for it, but I simply forgot and the muffins turned out to be very good like that as well. If you want cinnamon anyway, add one teaspoon to the bellow listed ingredients.

Mixed flour miche

Miche, this is a special bread with high hydration and a great taste remembering of old times from the country side. As great the bread is, as difficult it is to make it. High hydration dough are terribly sticking and running around your board. It sticks to your hands, to your dough cutters, it sticks to your bannetons. The only trick is to develop a good structure of the gluten to be able to give it a shape. But this requires a good technique of kneading the dough. I thought the Manitoba flour will make miracles and it helps a bit it is true, but it is still the technique to make it better. I found myself many times working with high hydration dough and being forced to add a bit of flour when shaping. It is clear that it requires a lot of practice to master it. Until then, I am satisfied with the result I have already obtained. In the end, the result is what it matters and this bread has an excellent taste, aroma, and texture.

Blueberry muffins

I find myself lately looking for simple recipes of cakes that my daughter can take as a snack to her school. Cupcakes of course are a good option. Last time I made muffins, I have told the story how my daughter picked a recipe only because the topping had been decorated with blueberries. Well, when you feel bad that you cannot offer what your kid is asking, then you look for that thing in the the supermarket next time. And I was lucky to still find some blueberries on the market, so it was a clear demand for me to include them in my next muffins recipe. So here they are:

Rustic bread

I am baking sourdough bread during the weekend, but when I have some days off during the week I am baking yeast bread. This is an example of a bread from Hamelman's book made with yeast. It was the time for me to try this type of bread from his book as well as I was focusing so far only on the sourdough recipes. And the result is .... well .... is not like sourdough bread but is a nice bread.

Sour cherry cake

This is a very classic cake that I remember my mother was doing a lot when I was a child. The sour cherry could have been fresh, in compote or even those one preserved in aspirin. It is a simple recipe because is nothing else than a normal cake composition that you use in those fancy anniversary cakes with some cherries spread on top. The nice part comes when the juice of the cherries combines with this dry part of the cake. That creates a juicy and red area extremely delicious.
The recipe is for sure not at all limited to cherries. You can use in fact any kind of fruit with the only condition that you drain them well before. And now the recipe ...

Gratin de fusilli

I had in mind for some time to do some pasta. We do not cook pasta very often (not necessary for a specific reason) but I wanted a try. When I made this plate I was considering to make a separate dish for my daughter as I was in big doubts that she will eat it. But before cooking it, I showed her the nice fusilli with the thought that she would like to play with them. When she saw them, instead of playing with them she looked at me and said "hungry!" I looked at her with doubts thinking... are you sure.... then I continued the recipe. When finished, I put her a portion and immediately went to make the photo, leaving her alone in the kitchen. I couldn't finish my photo and I heard "I want more!" Quickly I've entered in the kitchen and I've started looking on the floor to see the pasta there. But no, she has been eaten it full. After that, you cannot imagine my speed to finish the photo to give my daughter a second portion.

Sourdough rye with walnuts

What about a combination of rye and walnuts in a bread? Do you want to try? For me this bread is remarkable. The percentage of rye flour in this bread is around 50% and this makes a crumb that is a bit dark. The beautiful taste of rye is brought to perfection with the addition of walnuts.
In the oven it raised nicely and I've chosen to bake it dark because this is how I like it... with a dark brown crust.

If you make this bread you will cherish even the last crumb of it.

Raspberry jam and meringue cake

Last time I've made this cake was almost 3 years ago. It was for the birthday party of my daughter so it brings me back memory from that time. Also, I have the recipe from my mother in law, so is more a family legacy.
It is a very sweet cake but so delicate and soft. It has 3 layers: a dough on the bottom, jam in the middle and meringue on the top. And if you have to eat something sweet, then eat something that it worth. This one for sure it does.

Durum bread (version 2)

Durum flour is in fashion in my house these days and this is the second bread in row with durum flour. This time is one with less durum flour inside than the previous one. As it can be seen in the photo, the crumb got more aerated and the bread raised nicely.
If I am asked to chose between the 2 versions it will be difficult to decide which one is better. Both are excellent breads and worth to be done over and over again. Just take out the butter from the fridge ...

Durum bread

I remember doing this bread once with semolina. It was such a failure that I simple didn't want to make a photo of it: flat and not so much raised. Of course, when I was thinking of semolina I thought is about the normal semolina, and this was the cause of my failure. It took me a while to understand the difference between the 2, (there is a nice article to explain the difference between the 2 in this article) but the result was clearly seen in the 2 bakes. The previous one was flat, with practically no shape and the only strength and elasticity of the bread came from those 100g of normal flour from the preferment. Of course was far to be enough.
After long searches I finally found the durum flour and order it. My mind went straight to this recipe and I wanted to redo it. Bellow is the recipe and above is the result in the photo.
I baked this bread over the weekend and it was a hot weekend (~30ºC). In the end, I felt my bread to be a bit over proofed but I couldn't do too much because I needed to wait for the oven to heat. For next time I'll either reduce the quantity of yeast in the final dough, or the time for the bulk fermentation. Instead, if the outside temperature is lower, like 21ºC, I will not change a thing!

I need to make a note about the dough. As you can read in the article about the difference between semolina and durum flour, the latter has a high gluten level. Mine was indicated to be 14-15.5% which is a lot! The dough was very elastic, a pleasure to work with it. But it was also extremely sticky... resembling more to the rye flour when you work with it.

As for the taste... oh My God... it is a fine bread, there is nothing to do with crunchy grains of semolina. You have to be a "connaisseur" to know that inside it is durum flour. Taste is like ... from the country side... just incredible !

In the end, when I have done the photo, it took me just one moment not to look at my hero food and that moment was used by my daughter to steal the morsel of bread from my table. As the crust was soft, she put her little teeth in it and made a nice bite. It can be seen in the piece on the left of the photo. So what better quality checker than my own daughter?

Here it comes the recipe:

Almond yogurt

Another simple yogurt, delicious as a dessert or in the morning before starting your day.

Chocolate muffins

It was Saturday, 7pm and my daughter was begging me to make together a cake. As I was enough tired of course I was thinking of the most simple cake and I even suggested her something like a chocolate waffle. But my daughter said no and it was no way to convince her. Oooook, so we took together a well known cookbook and we have reviewed together the photos. She has stopped to a page called "Cupcakes au chocolat"... and I was happy that she has liked it as it looked to be a simple one.
The good thing was that we had agreed on the recipe to do together so we went to work. I was gathering the recipes, my daughter was breaking the chocolate in pieces and so on. All done, all mixed, but before putting the composition into the little golden papers I have voiced the question "Have I missed any ingredients?" and I was reading the list of them. My daughter stated quickly "Yes mommy, the blueberries". "Huh, what blueberries, there are no blueberries in this recipes?" Or yes, they were... in the photo, as decoration. I felt so bad realizing that my daughter actually has chosen this recipe simple because she likes so much blueberries. Well, I had none so I had to improvise. What about some hazelnuts? It was a great choice and she was very happy to decorate them herself. Ah, and I forgot to mention that the recipe had a topping. Well fine, but my daughter likes these muffins to eat them in the morning, just before she is dressed up to go to the creche. Would you imagine this scenery of her eating a muffing with topping? I can... :D so no topping. And more... most of the toppings are containing a lot of fat and sugar so, lets not over do it. Light is better.

Another note to the original recipe, the author was mentioning that you'll get 30 cupcakes from this composition. Are you kidding? Are you doing there tiny cupcakes? I barely filled 8, so if you want more, just multiply the quantities of ingredients/

Now about the taste .... they are perfect: not so sweet, dark with a strong chocolate flavor, great raise and cracks without falling down (by the way, I made the photo the next day)... in one word, delicious. Highly recommended.

Basic country bread

I've finally got a loooooong desired ingredient in my pantry: a special flour called Manitoba. After looking for months from where to buy it, I found a serious English website to deliver to me 25kg of this flour at a decent price. If you are wandering what is so special about this flour, well it's all about gluten or proteins. The usual flour I can get from supermarket or farms around my house, it has 10-11% of gluten. I was admiring so much the breads made with American flour and I was craving for that kind of flour. But Manitoba is not American flour is Italian. It has instead the same particularities, a high gluten percentage (15%). I need to say this because is funny, this adventure is quite international: Italian flour that resembles the American one, sold by an English website,  delivered to Belgium and baked by a Romanian :)) )
So, my dream came true, the flour arrived to my house and I was so excited to try it.

My first choice was an old recipe of Chad Robertson with which I was not very happy how it succeeded before and at that time I have blamed the flour. It was now the time for a big retrial.

Lots of hopes, and indeed when I have combined the flour with water and sourdough, what I have obtained was a dough that resembled more to the glue. Its structure, instead of breaking by itself, it was like an elastic. However, the hydration of this bread was awful. Even after 4 stretch and folds didn't get any shape, and when I have put it on the board it was running all over the place. I have blamed the flour before but was not its fault. Salt had nothing to do, and I couldn't say that my water is too wet for my bread :D. It is something else that I've missed in this recipe to be considered a success. Chad Robertson does a kind of autolyse with sourdough included. Comparing to Ken Forkish recipes, the fermentation is done in a shorter time. I am not sure what is the trick of this recipe but it doesn't impress me at all.

Nevertheless, the more I bake bread, the more I become my own critic so, lets see the things globally: the bread was great as taste. Not so bubbly crumb as I was expecting (as I had to add 100g more flour when shaping) but when you take a bite, there is nothing that you can say bad about it.
I also reduced the amount of salt, just as a trial, and I can conclude that I prefer the version with 20g of salt instead of 15g.

This was my schedule and recipe this time:

Blueberry ice cream

I am so fond of blueberries that I have bought from the market last time too many boxes. What I haven't noticed then was that they were too much ripped and when I've got home I realized that they should be eaten very fast. OR... to be used in something. I couldn't dare to heat theses lovely berries, either had the time to look for a nice cake so it had to be something extremely quick and easy. What? Ice cream of course.
And they ended up to be one of the best popsicles I've made.

Hazelnut brownies

Chocolate, chocolate.... and cakes.... combine them and you'll get a brownie!

I made this cake at the wish of my daughter. In fact we were doing it together: I was cutting the chocolate, she was throwing them in the bowl to melt... and what a lovely experience we had!
When I've read the recipe I had one remark... there is no raising agent in this cake.... no baking powder, no yeast.... hmmm... I was wandering if will raise or just stay flat and dense. Well, when the cake was in the oven I was watching it closely in the beginning to see if it will become solid at first and get a crust. When I saw that this was happening I was going away from the oven and do other thing. When the alarm of the oven rang, I had a shock... seeing the most weird raise of a cake. It was tall on the edges and in the middle in 2 little hills. When my daughter saw it, she said loudly...mommy it got breasts... and we all had a good laugh together. (you can see them in the plates by the way :) )

The brownie was incredibly delicious... so my daughter ate 3 pieces, one after another. DE LI CI OUS ! And a little secret .... I'll redo this cake for the birthday party of my daughter .... sssssst.

Pain de mie (version 2)

I was looking for a a good recipe for "pain de mie" or sandwich bread. I had once another try (here) and it was OK, but I'm still searching for the perfect one.
The idea of redoing this type of bread came into my mind when I saw a video stating that cast iron tins are perfect for this type of bread because they cook evenly. I cannot confirm this hypothesis, and it can be seen even in the photo that there was no real difference between the 2 baked in cake tins and the one baked in cast iron tin. On the contrary, the one baked in cast iron (top right) was difficult to take out and I had to scrub a bit to clean it, while the ones put in non-stick tins went out perfectly. I was expecting a more brown color on the bottom of the one made in cast iron. This still remains to be retested anyway.
In my rush of making this bread, I forgot one ingredient: butter. The original recipe was asking for 80g of butter in addition to the listed ingredients. It happened to me to measure the butter, to put it in a cup and microwave it for 20 second to melt it down. The problem was that I forgot the butter there and I realized this when  the loaves were already in the oven. Nevertheless the difference in taste or texture was not that big.
I am not a big fan of sweet breads, not that I dislike them, but let's say I prefer the salty ones with no sugar or milk inside. This one contains just a bit of them and it is acceptable. This bread ended up quite fine but to be honest I am still looking for the perfect recipe ...

Ricotta cake

Last weekend I wanted something.... something sweet, but not that sweet, something delicious but not difficult to make, something with a rich taste but not fancy.
And I was searching for this something in 3-4 recipe books that I had at hand. My eyes stopped on a recipe that was called "Gâteau à la ricotta".... hmmm a kind of thicker cheese cake.... this sounds good doesn't it? Simple? Yeeees, more simple than putting all the ingredients in the mixing bowl cannot be. So, it was the cake of my thoughts and here it is its recipe.

Vortex cake

This cake was a total disaster when it has arrived on the table. Its story is quite funny, like taken out from comedy movies. I made it at home for the birthday of my friend's daughter. A combination between white and dark cake dough to alternate, like a chessboard. Although it went out quite easy from the pan, parts of the cake remained on the tin walls, so I had to take them gently and reconstruct the cake shape. I made a photo and then easily I have transferred the cake into a cake box for  transport. Everything went fine until I was taking out the cake from the back of the car. Having one hand busy, I took the cake box by the handle. When it was half way out of the car the bottom of the cake box fell down and the cake was facing down on the back seat of my car. Ruined...but not totally. Lucky me that I have not made a sticky chocolate glazing on top of the cake :)). So, I put back the big pieces and just imagine to present yourself to a birthday party with such a disastrous cake. :)) :)) :))

The taste of the cake was OK. I am so glad that I have reduced the amount of sugar that the original recipe was asking. Common, 500g of sugar for a cake is way to much for me, 200g was more than enough. It raised very nice in the oven, but what I didn't like, it was that the white and black layers of the cake didn't really stick together and the cake was quite dissembling by itself. Maybe is just a matter of aesthetics but sometimes it counts ( like when you make it for a birthday party :D ).
The cake was very easy to make and the taste was also good, so from these perspectives I can only recommend it.

Whole wheat sunflower seed bread

I made this bread in parallel with the French bread. It suited perfectly the schedule as one was with yeast and the other one with sourdough and I could bake them one after another without over proofing one. Of course the yeast one was the first and this one, with sourdough, was just ready to be baked when the first one was out of the oven. As 50% of it was wheat flour I was not expecting to raise so much and indeed it raised decently. It got a crumb more dense but a nice country aroma.

The flavor was also increased by the addition of  sunflower seeds in the dough.

Redcurrant icecream

This is a simplified version of my previous Redcurrants popsicles. Having some extra redcurrants makes me invent all kind of ice cream recipes.