Monday, June 13, 2016


When I started baking breads for A&B Naturals, I searched online for some interesting rye breads. A recipe that really intrigued me was made with an intermediate dough, with a batter-like consistency, and just poured into a loaf pan - no shaping involved!

At The Fresh Loaf, my Frisian Rye post sparked a bit of a controversy - a Dutch user protested this were not a "real fries roggebrood": a pumpernickel-type bread, dark, and very slowly baked.

North Frisian Islands

But the Frisian region stretches along the North Sea coast from the Netherlands to Germany and up to Denmark, and there is really no such thing as ONE authentic Frisian Rye.

A quick search on Google shows several different recipes, all with different amounts of rye, wheat, seeds, and what not. I was never able to find the original recipe again, but the guy who had posted it said he was from Frisia - so he should know!

Whether real authentic or not - this Friesisches Schwarzbrot tastes great! Over the years I tweaked the formula quite a bit to achieve a nice, thin crust and satisfying crumb.

                                               Amrum - my favorite North Frisian island

The North Sea coast is lovely, dotted with islands, with white sand beaches and dunes, and definitely worth a trip - whether on the Dutch, German or Danish side. Close to Hamburg, this was a popular destination for our family vacations.

Fortunately, it's not sooo different from Maine, so I won't get homesick!

A typical sea coast resident - whether in Germany or in Maine!


100 g rye meal
  26 g whole wheat or rye mother starter
200 g water, lukewarm

Intermediate Dough:
     all starter
100 g rye meal
100 g whole wheat flour
150 g water, lukewarm

Final Dough:
     all intermediate dough
100 g whole wheat flour
    6 g salt
  10 g honey
    8 g molasses
  25 g flax seeds
  25 g sesame seeds
  25 g sunflower seeds, toasted
  50 g water, lukewarm (or more, as needed)
sunflower seeds for topping

Sunflower seeds, sesame and flax seeds for a nice crunch

Stir together all starter ingredients in medium bowl. Cover, and leave at room temperature to ferment overnight.

The intermediate dough is very liquid

In the morning, using a large spoon or Danish dough whisk, mix together all ingredients for intermediate dough until well combined. Cover, and leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours, until its visibly risen and puffed.

Wow - hyperactive intermediate dough!

In small bowl, soak flax seeds in the water for final dough (longer soaking makes them better digestible).

In the evening, using a large spoon, dough whisk (or mixer with paddle attachment on low speed), mix together all final dough ingredients for a few minutes, until well combined - dough will have the consistency of thick pancake batter.

This is what the dough looks like after mixing

Fill dough up to 3/4 in lightly oiled medium sandwich loaf pan (9-inch), smooth with wet rubber spatula, and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Cover pan with aluminum foil (you will use it as cover for baking, later) and refrigerate overnight.

Ready for a cold night in the fridge

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before baking. The bread will have risen a bit, but not much.

Preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC.

The dough is puffed, but has not risen much

Place bread (covered with foil) in oven, reduce temperature to 425ºF/220ºC, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake for another 40 minutes (rotate180 degrees after 20 minutes, if bread browns uneven). Internal temperature should be at least 200ºF/93ºC.

Freshly baked Frisian Ryes

Remove bread from pan. Mist bread with water while hot (optional - this softens the crust a bit), and let it cool on wire rack.

To avoid a gooey mess on your bread knife, be patient and wait at least for 12 hours to cut into your bread - and it will have developed its full aroma, too!

Even if it's hard to resist - wait at least 12 hours before slicing!

BreadStorm users (also of the free version) can download the formula here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


If you undertake the (highly rewarding!) task to make croissants, you might wonder what to do with all that delicious, buttery dough - if you have just two people to feed (like me). 

It's not worth the effort to make smaller amounts, but croissants are best enjoyed the same day, and laminated dough doesn't like long hibernation in the freezer.

Fortunately, Standard Baking Co. ("Pastries") has more suggestions for the use of laminated dough: morning buns (aka sticky buns): flaky cinnamon rolls with caramelized walnuts.

Sticky buns,  very popular in the US, are the great-grandchildren of the good old German Zimtschnecke (= "cinnamon snail"), brought by immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 18th century.

With or without nuts - true to their name, these sweet little rolls are finger-licking good! 

These buns are finger-licking good!

When I make croissants, I always separately freeze a third of the prepared laminated dough, either to fill it later with ham or cheese, or turn it into sticky buns.

STICKY BUNS  (adapted from Standard Baking Co.: "Pastries")

         12 buns                                              Ingredients                                           4 buns   

1 recipe croissant dough                 after resting period, chilled             1/3 croissant recipe (ca. 460 g)
295 g dark brown sugar                                                                           98 g dark brown sugar
2.9 g/1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon                                                               1 g ground cinnamon
                                                          chopped walnuts, to taste

Sprinkle muffin cups with cinnamon sugar and chopped walnuts

In small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon.

Butter muffin pan (cups and top surface). Place 1 teaspoon (firmly packed) cinnamon sugar into each muffin cup, then sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Roll out croissant dough into a square (here for 4 Sticky Buns)

On lightly floured surface, roll croissant dough into 9 by 22 inch (23 x 56 cm) rectangle (12 buns), or a 9 by 7.3 inch/23 x 18.5 cm rectangle (4 buns), about 1/4 inch/13 mm thick.

Spread dough rectangle evenly with remaining cinnamon sugar.

Roll dough into a tight log (here for 4 buns)

Starting with a long side (12 buns) or a short side (4 buns), roll dough into a tight log. Place log seam side down. (Remove any loose flour from surface with pastry brush). 

Using a sharp chef's knife, cut log into slices

Using sharp chef's knife, cut log into 1 3/4 inch/4 cm thick slices (add any runaway cinnamon sugar to muffin pan)). Place dough slices into muffin cups, with cut side down. 

Place slices into muffin cups

Let buns rise at moderately warm room temperature for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until they have doubled in size (finger poke test: a dimple should not fill up again).

20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC, with rack in middle position.

The buns have doubled in size

Place muffin pan on rimmed baking sheet (to catch any sugary spills).

Bake buns for about 30 - 35 minutes, rotating pan 180 degrees after half the baking time). Buns should be golden brown, firm to the touch, and show no translucency if pulled apart.

Baked Sticky Buns

To turn buns out, line baking sheet with parchment paper and place in reach.

Remove muffin pan from oven, and immediately turn buns out (away from you) onto prepared baking sheet, before caramel hardens. Shake pan gently, if they don't release (if that doesn't help, loosen buns with a knife).

Turn buns out onto parchment lined baking sheet

Scrape out any caramel syrup sticking to pan, and drizzle over buns.

Serve warm. 

Sticky Buns taste best when fresh, but you can wrap them in plastic (when cooled), and keep for 1 day at room temperature. To serve, nuke a few seconds, or briefly warm them up in the oven at 400ºF/200ºC.

Sleepy Sunday for Ruffi

The scrumptuous rolls were my contribution to Zorra's BBD #81 (hosted by Sandra From Snuggs-Kitchen), with the motto: "Around the World"

American sticky buns for breakfast!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

I'm a curious person and love trying out new things. When "Cook's Illustrated", one of my favorite food magazines, published a gluten free cookbook, I bought it, out of curiosity, even though I have no problems with gluten.

I was especially interested in how the culinary geeks from "America's Test Kitchen" got to their good looking results. My own trials, though taste-wise acceptable, left a lot to be desired regarding their consistency.

My first gluten free bread - dense, greasy-looking crumb

When my lovely hairstylist asked me whether she could order some gluten free rolls for her Christmas menu, I jumped at the opportunity to try a recipe for dinner rolls from "The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook".

The rolls get their necessary structural support from psyllium husk, a fiber supplement from the natural food aisle, more known for its beneficial effect on all kinds of digestive maladies.

The additional baking powder and lemon juice help with softening the crumb, making it less dense. The flours should be finely ground - I used Bob's Red Mill brand.

Crumb like an English biscuit

My first trial resulted in nice fluffy rolls with a consistency like English Biscuits - better than anything I had seen so far in gluten free breads.

But I was less enthusiastic, when I sampled the dinner rolls. They tasted bland and a bit doughy. With jam on top this was less noticeable, and, when toasted, they were okay.

Fluffy crumb - but too bland and doughy for my taste!

Danielle assured me, that she liked the gluten free rolls - but I couldn't stop thinking about them. I don't like selling something I'm not 100% satisfied with.

There was nothing to criticize about the structure of the dinner rolls - the test cooks with their scientific approach had really given their best.

But how could I achieve a better taste for my rolls without risking their fragile, gluten-less structure? Exchange a part of the rice flour, potato and tapioca starch for a gluten free flour with a more assertive taste?

Four different gluten-free flour mixtures

In my pastries, I often substitute a quarter of the white flour with whole grain - without any problem. I would to try the same with the dinner rolls.

To keep it simple, I decided to limit my trial to four likely candidates: oat, buckwheat, and teff, and one nut meal: hazelnut. Since I didn't want to feed my long-suffering husband with gluten free test rolls for weeks, I intended to use all four flours in one pull-apart cluster.

After some calculations, I prepared four flour mixtures (for two rolls each). Then I mixed these small dough amounts with a handheld mixer, one by one. Since there was no gluten structure to develop, longer kneading was not necessary.

Doughs with buckwheat, hazelnut, oat, and teff flour.

I was rather relieved when I was able to shape all of the doughs into rolls - the one with nut meal (my secret favorite!) was especially sticky -   (you need to roll them in your wet hands, like dumplings).

They rose as nicely as the ones from the original recipe, and showed the same fine pores when I cut them.

And the best of it - each of the four test candidates tasted good (even when eaten on its own!). To make a side-by-side comparison easier, I cut the cluster into slices, like a loaf, instead of breaking it in single rolls. 

From upper left: hazelnut, oat, teff. Lower row: teff, oat, buckwheat

GLUTEN FREE DINNER ROLLS WITH OAT, BUCKWHEAT, TEFF OR HAZELNUTS  (adapted from ATK's "The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook")

(8 Rolls)

315 g/1 1/3 cups warm water (110ºF/40ºC)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk (save egg white for glaze)
185 g/6.5 oz white rice flour (finely ground)
58 g/2 oz brown rice flour (finely ground)
100 g/3.5 oz oat, buckwheat, or teff flour, or finely ground hazelnuts
53 g/1.9 oz potato starch (not potato flour!)
23 g/0.8 oz tapioca starch or flour
49 g/1.7 oz non-fat dry milk powder
13 g/2 tbsp psyllium husk
20 g/2 tbsp sugar
7 g/2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
6 g/2 tsp baking powder
7 g/1 1/2 tsp salt
85 g/3 oz butter, cut in pieces, softened

1 egg white, mixed with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp water, for brushing
rolled oats, seeds, or chopped nuts, for topping

*) If you want to make a gluten-free cluster with all of the 4 different kinds of flours (like my test batch) scroll down for the recipe.

Spray a 23-cm/9-inch round cake pan with oil spray (a springform pan works fine, too).

In a liquid measuring bowl, whisk warm water, lemon juice and egg plus yolk together.

Mix together all liquid ingredients

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle, on low speed, mix together gluten-free flours, potato starch, tapioca, milk powder, psyllium, sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt, until combined.

Slowly add water mixture, mixing until dough comes together, about 1 minute, scraping bowl down as needed. Add butter, increase speed to medium, and beat for about 6 minutes, until all ingredients are well blended (dough will be sticky!)

My four test roll pairs

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled work surface. Divide it into 8 approximately equal pieces. With wet hands, roll each piece in your palms as if you would shape a dumpling. Place one roll in the center of the pan, and arrange the other seven around it.

Mist rolls with oil spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and proof for about 1 hour at room temperature (they should double in volume). 

Preheat oven to  375ºF/190ºC (steaming not necessary).

The rolls have doubled in volume

With glaze and topping ready for the oven (here the simple version)

Brush rolls with egg glaze, and sprinkle with the topping of your choice.

Bake rolls for about 40 - 50 minutes (rotating pan 180 degrees after half the baking time, for even browning), until they are golden brown.

Freshly baked dinner rolls - these could be a bit more browned

Allow rolls to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then invert pan onto rack. Let them cool for 10-15, and serve warm.

We also liked them toasted (especially the ones with hazelnuts were delicious!)

They keep (wrapped) at room temperature for 3 days, and, also, freeze well (wrap in plastic and place in a freezer bag).

BreadStorm user (also of the free version) can download the formula here:


Place dry ingredients, except for the 100 g oat, buckwheat, teff or hazelnut flour, in a medium bowl. Using a whisk, stir together until well combined. Distribute the flour mixture evenly over 4 small bowls ((105 g/3.7 oz each)

Add 25 g/0.9 oz of either oat, buckwheat, teff or ground hazelnuts into each bowl, and whisk to combine.

Pour about 98 g/3.4 oz of the liquid ingredients into each of the small bowls. With handheld mixer, mix each dough, one by one, until well blended.

Place 21 g/0.7 oz of the butter pieces into each of the bowls. Again, mix each dough, one by one, until well blended.

With wet hands, shape 2 rolls from each dough. Arrange rolls in prepared pan, placing one in the center.

Otherwise, follow the steps in recipe above.

Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island, in February

Barbara Elisi from Bread & Companatico wrote a really interesting series about gluten sensitivity that gave me some new insights: Am I Gluten-Sensitive? - My Troubled Wheat Love Affair.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

In 2016 we Avid Bakers have a new challenge for breads and pastries: Weekend from the Netherlands.

This is especially interesting to me, since Amsterdam is one of my favorite places.

I have traveled there several times, and love what it has to offer, amazing art, a beautiful, walk-able city, and lots of good food.

Hanaâ, our "head baker", chose rondos, buttery pastry filled with almond paste - very appealing to a marzipan fan like me!

The little cakes, very popular in the Netherlands, are supposed to have a texture like Dutch apple pie - I never had one, so I can't comment on that, but they are certainly delightful.

Dutch bakers have special pastry rings to make rondos (or kanos, if they are ovals). Lacking these, I used my (slightly larger) English muffin rings (the other option would have been baking them in a muffin tin).

There are two choices for the marzipan filling, either the traditional almond paste that needs to be prepared a day ahead, or a same-day frangipane, equally nice - but with more butter.

A tender-crumbly little cake with marzipan filling

Not to stray from my good intentions for the New Year , I piously opted for the slightly slimmer almond paste (the rondos didn't need more calories, anyway), reduced a sugar a bit (this could have been more, as it turned out),  and exchanged some of the white flour for whole wheat.

The rondos turned out as delicious as described, a tender, almond-y little cake, crisp on the edges, with a hint of lemon (now I really have to check out Dutch apple pie!) They were still a tad too sweet for my taste - next time I would reduce the sugar in the dough even more.

Alas, I had to eat them all by myself - my husband being on a trip to Vietnam - but life is hard and requires sacrifices....

A great sacrifice - I had to eat them all by myself!

DUTCH RONDOS (adapted from Weekend
(8 -10 cakes)

160 g/5.6 oz pastry four (or Italian Tipo 00)
40 g/1.4 oz whole wheat pastry flour (or all white pastry flour)
5 g/0.18 baking powder
1 pinch of salt
150 g/5.3 oz  cold butter, cut in 1/4-ich/1/2 cm cubes
70 g/2.5 oz light brown sugar (down from 100 g/3.5 oz)
almond paste or frangipane (see recipes below)
8-10 whole almonds, for topping
egg wash for brushing tops (egg beaten with some water or cream)

Almond Paste
75 g/2.6 oz blanched almonds (or almond meal)
60 g/2.1 oz sugar (down from 75 g/2.6 oz)
1/2  lemon, zest
1 small egg, beaten (added just before baking)

50 g/1.8 oz butter, melted
50 g/1.8 oz sugar (I would reduce the sugar here, too)
1 egg
70 g/2.5 oz finely ground almonds /almond meal
1/2 lemon, zest

Almond paste

Almond Paste (must rest 24 hours for flavors to meld)
In food processor, grind almonds together with sugar to a very fine powder consistency. (Or use almond meal).

Add lemon zest and some water until you have a smooth and stiff paste, neither too wet, nor too dry. Store in fridge until needed (up to 2 weeks)

When ready to use, slowly mix egg into paste, until mixture is very smooth, and can be easily piped with onto dough rounds, but still hold its shape.

Spoon almond paste in piping bag and put it in fridge until needed.

Frangipane (can be made the same day)
Whisk sugar, egg and lemon zest until creamy. Slowly add melted butter while continuing to beat. Add almond flour and mix well. Put in a piping bag and refrigerate until needed.

The dough is quite crumbly, use the plastic wrap to press it into a disc

 Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in food processor bowl. Pulse to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse, until clumps form (don't overmix!).

Divide dough into 2 halves, wrap both pieces in plastic wrap, pressing dough into flat disks. Refrigerate dough disks for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 10 rondo baking rings (or 8 English muffin rings on the paper, with a small distance between them (or use a non-stick muffin pan).

I used English muffin rings to cut out and hold the dough rounds

Remove first disk of dough from refrigerator. Roll out to a thickness of 4 mm/0.15 inches (cover the dough with plastic wrap, before rolling it out, so that it doesn't stick to the rolling pin.)

Cut out 10 rounds with a 7-cm/2.8-inch cutter (I used an English muffin rings to cut out 8 rounds). Re-roll and cut out leftovers

Place dough rounds in baking rings. Use the second half of chilled dough to cut out the top rounds.

Almond paste filled rondos

Remove piping bag with almond paste or frangipane from the fridge. Pipe equal amounts of filling on bottom dough rounds inside the rings. Then top with remaining half of dough rounds. Press edges together to seal.

Brush each rondo with a first coating of egg wash. Place an almond in the middle of each cake and lightly press down to attach it. Brush rondos a second time with egg wash.

Brush rondos with egg wash

Bake rondos for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Immediately remove baking rings (protect your fingers with a kitchen towel). Leave cakes to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer rondos to a cooling rack.

Bar Harbor in January - no snow yet, but cold!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

When I started my little home based bakery, I wanted to offer a typical German Schwarzbrot. Though "schwarz" means "black", a Schwarzbrot doesn't have to be a 100% rye bread, only most of the flour should be rye.

With Peter Reinhart's pre-dough method from "Whole Grain Breads" in mind, I cobbled together different recipes into one I could work with. Baking this bread often (my customers love it!) I played with the formula around, and, over the years, tweaked it so much, that it became entirely my own.

It contains whole rye berries, has a little bit of sweetener, but, also, a pleasant natural sweetness, and it is not artificially colored with large amounts of molasses, cocoa, coffee or other additives.

People familiar with my blog know that I'm very much in favor of long fermentation. Breads that are allowed to ripen slowly are much better digestible, and long fermentation reduces the discomfort that gluten may cause for some.

We enjoy Schwarzbrot with ham or other cold cuts, but also with honey

But most important for me - the taste of most breads improves significantly if flavors have more time to develop.

Scarred by my father's strict enforcement of daily Schwarzbrot consumption as a child - "Schwarzbrot macht Wangen rot!" (black bread makes your cheeks red!) was his motto - I never cared too much for dark ryes.

But, overcoming my early Schwarzbrot trauma, I love this hearty, crunchy bread and always bake an extra one for my family, when I make it for my customers. We like it with all kinds of cold cuts,  Fleischsalat (German meat salad) and, also with an aromatic honey.


Rye Berries
150 g rye berries
water, for soaking

150 g whole rye flour
5 g salt
113 g water

40 g whole wheat mother starter (75% hydration)
116 g whole wheat flour
83 g water, lukewarm

Final dough
all cooked rye berries
all soaker and starter
37 g whole wheat flour
3 g instant yeast
11 g salt
15 g molasses
3 g honey
 rolled rye or sunflower seeds, for topping

DAY 1 (afternoon)
In a bowl, cover rye berries with at least 1 inch/2.5 cm cold water and let them soak for 24 hours.

Drain rye berries -  reserve the soaking water to water your plants!

In the morning, stir together soaker ingredients until all flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.

Combine all starter ingredients until all flour is hydrated, then knead (using stand mixer or wet hands) for 2 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.

Cook soaked rye berries in fresh water for half an hour

In the afternoon, drain soaked rye berries and discard water (I use it to water my plants, it contains a lot of nutrients). Place berries in a saucepan, well covered with fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Place berries in strainer to drain, cover, and let cool to room temperature. (Cooked berries can be kept at room temperature for 24 hours.)

Schwarzbrot is made with a whole wheat starter

In the evening, combine all final dough ingredients in mixer bowl and mix at low speed with paddle for 2 minutes. Continue kneading (paddle or dough hook) at medium-low speed for 4 minutes. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 1 minute more. The dough will still be somewhat sticky. Transfer dough to lightly oiled container. Mist with oil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The dough has risen overnight in the fridge

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.

Preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC. Spray loaf pan (8 1/2" by 4"/22 cm x 10 cm) with oil.

Loosening the slightly sticky dough with a spatula

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. (If you used a square container, it is already pre-shaped.)

Practically pre-shaped (from the container)...

....rolling it into a sandwich loaf is easy

Roll dough into a sandwich loaf and place it into the pan, seam side down. Mist with water, sprinkle with rolled rye or sunflower seeds, pressing them a bit down with your hands to attach, then spray with oil.

Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil, don't let the bread rise anymore!

Covered loosely with foil, the bread is ready for the oven (no second rise!)

Place pan in oven, reduce temperature to 425ºF/220ºC and bake it for 35 minutes. Take loaf out of the oven, remove aluminum foil, loosen the sides from pan with a spatula, and turn the half-baked bread out onto a baking sheet.

Remove foil from half-baked bread, and turn it out onto a baking sheet

Return bread to the oven to bake for about 30 minutes longer. It should be crisp, and register at least 200ºF in the center.

Transfer bread to cooling rack, mist with water while hot, and let it cool. For the first 24 hours, keep it in a brown paper bag to allow it to continue drying out and developing flavor. After that, it can be wrapped in aluminum foil. (Don't keep it in the refrigerator!).

A very popular bread in my bakery

 BreadStorm users (also the free version) can download the formula:

Ginger (from Ginger & Bread) made a lovely version of this bread: