The secret bread of Morten Bak

Wait for the smack!

I had the good fortune to work a night shift with the über Breadman, Morten Bak whose bread is famous even with people who actually never tasted his bread but only heard of it.

The Breadman ( as I call him in my mind) was so kind ( and patient ) to allow me to follow the entire process of his bread making, (probably because he was sick of me asking about his recipe every time I saw him!) and he gave me his permission to publish his recipe – so here is the result: a somewhat crazy against all logic recipe for a bread that tastes, feels and smells like something out of this world:

Ingredients:

About 800 ml liter of cold water

About 1 kg of white strong flour

About 10 grams of yeast

Lots of salt ( I seem to recall him putting like 3-4 tea spoons in!)

And a lot of beating, nothing else- beating and lots of time to rise.

Procedure:

As I observed there are five parameters that are essential :

1. The dough must be wet (approximately 40 % liquid), a lot wetter than I am used to- almost like a thick porridge.

2. The beating! This dough needs to be worked through beyond what you might imagine is reasonable. When you think enough is enough, you have to push a bit more, and a bit more- as The Breadman says: ‘Wait for the smack!’ And he is right, when the dough, against all odds because it’s such a wet dough, forms a ball that starts slapping around in the mixing bowl with a smacking sound- it’s ready! You need a good strong machine or it won’t work – and even so you might have to hold the machine down ( the Breadmans machine has been on the floor quite a few times) I have to admit my Kenwood Major isn’t really up to it and I am considering buying an other machine as the mixing time is almost a bit more than half an hour- and The Breadman’s mixing only took about two times 6-10 min.

3. The proving/ testing time: at least 6-7 hours- in a cold place.

4. The very high temperature when you bake it.

5. DO NOT PUNCTURE the dough when cutting it into loafs and placing them on the baking tray! If you do, you don’t get the holes in the bread!

Morten Bak started by mixing the water ( cold water) with the yeast and salt ( which in my book makes no mind as the salt kills the yeast- we all know this, but as I said, this recipe is against all logic)- he turned the machine on vigorously for about 6 minutes- and then added the flour – he adjusted the amount of water: the dough has to be wet- so wet it’s almost a thick porridge. He then worked it at high speed- and told me:’ Listen for the smacking sound- wait for it, wait, wait- there! Did you hear it?’ And I did. And when I make this bread I use my eyes to watch the dough – and every time I am inclined to stop, because it LOOKS ready- I hear the voice of Morten Bak in the back of my mind:’Wait for it’ and I wait- and every time it’s true, it’s audible- you can actually hear when it’s ready. ( and yes, I have tried stopping it when my eyes and sense of logic told me it was ready- and the result does show in the finished bread, it’s not as elastic and light. I have a notion of him saying about 6-10 minutes. As I said earlier with my Kenwood Major it takes more than half an hour- and I have to hold the machine from falling to the floor.

Let the dough rest in a cold place covered with a cloth over night – he starts off the dough when he gets in at work and bakes it in the morning, so the whole place smells like bread heaven. As he said, he’s seen people cover it with plastic wrap but he always uses a cloth. (And I have an idea this might be part of the magic- as the dough gets air to work with.)

When the dough is ready its grown a lot, maybe out of the bowl, and it will be really bubbly and almost alive and a bit alien ( I have actually seen it move/ bubble right in front of me).

Now comes another crucial technique: shaping the breads. I have tried not following it, it tastes good but the texture won’t be as good. You want this bread to be light and full of holes. If you puncture the holes, it won’t work and the bread will be heavier.

So dust your clean kitchen counter top with a lot of flour ( so the dough won’t stick) and pour the dough out on to it, carefully. Where in the process of making the dough you beat the crap out of it, now it’s time for some tender loving care!

Use two dough spatula ( I really don’t know the word for it) to CAREFULLY cut out small breads and place them CAREFULLY on a dusted baking tray, and use the spatulas to sort of fold the sides in, under the bread as to tighten them. Do not make the breads too big and do not worry if they don’t look perfect, they are supposed to be rustic and uneven looking, it’s all part of the charm.

Bake the breads at once at 250 degrees- for approximately 25 minutes or until done. My oven burns them if I bake them for 25 minutes- so adjust as you think. The breads are done when they are done in the bottom. I lightly tap them and if they sounds finished they are. Of cause Morten Bak just looks at them and know when they are finished, but hell- he worked on this bread for 6 years!

Let the breads cool off on a rack.

You’ll know you got them right if the breads are golden brown with light crisp crunchy bubbly thin crust, the inside should have holes in, be a bit chewy and springy ( the test is: when you push down in a with a finger, the dough should bounce back up) but still very light- and they should taste like magic- bread so good it almost feels like a crime to put more than just some fresh butter on it.

This bread stays moist, fresh and delicious for a day or two even- but if you bake more than you can eat in a day, freeze some- and then just pop them in the oven when you wants a loaf of delicious bread. I tried roasting a slice ( or ten) on the second or third day after, it’s simply fantastic!

Crumpets!

So our youngest came home from a holiday with his best friend and his friend’s father in Hastings where the father grew up. He brought us presents:  Marmite and Crumpets from Warburton. We never had Crumpets before and fell completely in love with them!  I started searching the net for recipes and also asked friends from U.K. for help as I had ordered a set of crumpet rings from Amazon as soon as I finished my first crumpet, knowing I had to try to make my own.

Here is my first attempts- not as spongy or with as big holes as the ones from Warburton- but still delicious.


Recipe:

Mix lukewarm milk with two spoons of yeast and spoons of sugar, let it stand aside a while to activate the yeast. Sift strong flour with a teaspoon spoon of salt, a teaspoon of baking soda – pour in the yeast mixture, half water half milk and stir it into a thick batter ( not a dough) and let it rise at room temperature for and hour or two- until double in size and lots of bubbles has formed ( it has to be froathy)


Warm a greased flat pan ( not a curved one as the batter will rise unevenly), place your greased crumpet rings and when hot pour batter in them, not more than half. Bake/ fry on the pan on low to medium heat till lots of bubbles has formed and burst ( this will take about 5-8 minutes) and the top has dried out, then flip them very briefly on the other side- and take them off the pan and repeat the process.

Careful not to have too much heat so the bottom will brown and burn- and not too low either as then the bubbles doesn’t form/ grow as well.



I have to say it was tricky for me to get the bubbles to stay, in the beginning the holes formed but didn’t stay, they sort of just got covered with batter when they ‘burst’. I read somewhere that the flour has to be ‘strong’ which means it has to have a high amount of protein- or the batter can’t hold the holes/ canals of air holes- which is the purpose of a crumpet: to hold as much butter and jam ( or Marmite?) as possible.

Fast Chocolate Snacks
These chocolate snacks are very fast to make and extremely easily done- you can make it anyway you want it so there is no real recipe
Choko snack
Wanna be recipe:
Dark chocolate ( rich dark and with a large % of chocolate beans)
Corn Flakes
Melt the chocolate- I have to admit I just throw the chocolate into a big thick bottomed pan and smelt it slowly, stirring all the time. When its all melted and cooled off for a minute or two ( it shouldn’t be too hot as it will soften the cornflakes  or too cold as then it will stiffen when the cornflakes gets in) stir the cornflakes carefully ( dont break them) and pour the mix into little paper cups. Cool off and eat!
Keep them in an airtight container after cooled off completely.
kokos makroner
Note: You can use milk chocolates as well or mix the two that makes it very nice- not too sweet ( as I tend to find milk chocolate) and not too bitter ( as my kids tends to find the dark chocolates, which are my favorite). You can stir in roasted nuts ( unsalted), coconut, candies fruits with the mix as well.
Kokosmakroner
These Danish coconut macaroons made with egg whites, sugar, grated coconut and kokos makroner (2)marcipan and coated with dark chocolate are really nice when eaten on the same day as they are baked. They are supposed to be crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside- so dont bake them too long. I found this recipe in my daughter’s cookbook and its actually quite nice;)
Recipe:
2 egg whites ( use the pasteurized to make sure you avoid salmonella)
100 gr sugar
100 gr grated coconut
25 gr pure marcipan
100 gr dark rich chocolate
Mix egg whites and sugar well together in a  bowl, grate the marcipan and add it. Leave for at least 30 min.
Make 16 spoonful of the mix on a baking tray ( use baking paper or it will stick), press them into shape with your hands and bake them at 175 degrees for about 15 or until slightly light brown.
Cool them off/ and when cooled dip the bottom of the macaroons in melted dark chocolate of a good quality. Leave to cool and serve when completely cooled off.
Keep them in an airtight container if you have any leftovers.)
Gitzes Mini Muffins!
My daugther Regitze is very interested in cooking and baking and has been engaged in cooking like folding springrolls and making soups and cakes since she was 7-8 years old. When she made these she was 11- her fantastic Mini Muffins:
Gitzes Mini muffins (2)
Ingredients:3 eggs
2 dl sugar, prefereble ecological sugar cane sugar ( we dont use the white refined sugar- not much taste or soul to it!)
2 dl. flour ( again here she used ecological flour)
1 1/4 dl sunflour oil ( we use oil instead of butter as its less unhealthy than butter;)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar ( if you dont have the right stuff)
Rind of 1-2 lemons ( make sure they are ecological, so you dont eat all the fertiliser poison stuff they spray with)
1/2 dl juice of a lemon
Icing sugar for sprinkling on top when they are done
Mix everything together, dont whisk it but stir it loosely. Regitze started with adding the eggs, then sugar, the flour, salt, baking soda, vanilla, oil and then the lemon stuff. Pour it into small mini muffin moulds, in a mini mufifn paper cup and bake them till just firm and slightly brownish in a 180 degrees oven.
Serve them sprinkled with a bit of sifted icing sugar or make a lemon icing for them. They are delicious!
Emok*s Yorkshire puddings!

..an attempt to copy my favorite chef’s recipe for Yorkshire puddings…mine didn’t look like his at all, but they tasted great!!

Emok puddings 004Emok puddings 001

Emok puddings 005

Emoks original recipe:

1 Cup of plain flour
1 Cup of eggs ( Free range ofc)
1 Cup of milk
Salt and White pepper ( plenty off as the flour will take a lot guide is good 4 pinches of both)

* Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix together.
* Put some oil ( enough to fill the bottem of each Muffin hole ) into the muffin holes.
* put into even Medium heat, Gas mark 6 , about 160 oC. for 20 mins
* WARNING do not open oven while cooking if u have to check after 20 mins then only have a lil tiny peak as if the heat gets out they will flop and turn into crappy pancakes.

 

 

 

 

Apetizers with olive tapernade

So this is a little snack to be served with a drink or just as an appetizer- they are quick to make, you can freeze the unbaked rolls and thraw them just before you bake them! Easy and tasty and looks so good;)olivensnegle

Get a roll of Puff pastery, lay it out flat on the table. Take a jar of black olives ( they are more deocorative) mix it in a small blender with a clove of garlic, a few pieces of sundried tomatoe, some lemon juice, some lemon peel, a pinch of salt or a few salted anchoves and some red chilies if you like;)
 Blend and spread out on the puff pastery- and roll it up. Leave it cool for a couple of hours till cold and harden- then cut it out thinly and bake in oven will light brown and crispy.
You take one duck and inflate it!

Peking dupekingduck2ck! This has to be the silliest thing I ever cooked–the recipy it self was sooo funny..starting with: ‘you take the duck, dry it up, inflate the duck with a bicycle pump’. It took me days and it was so much trouble for a little housewife like me- but it was worth it. It didnt present itself  like a real Peking duck, but then again..I am just a housewife;) But to my own consultation I read somewhere that a Peking Duck chef works for 10 years before actually getting to cook a duck! Its an art! This is my homemade art:
Blowdried duck
Anyways..so I took the duck…dried it in front of a ventilater for a day or so..inflated it..and NO..the bycycle pump didnt work, so I just sort of blew some air in with a straw. The trick is to get the skin as crispy as u can and still have the meat as tender as can be. When you dry the surface of it..the skins starts to loosen from the skin and the reason why you force air in is to make a pocket of air between the skin and the meat. Then I basted it in some sauce and baked it and voila..served with spring onions, hoisinsauce, and cucumber- and not to forget the mandarin pancakes to roll it all up in…mmmm….its sooo good once you had it, you will always want more! In real Peking Duck kitchens you get the meat and the skin served seperately- the skin is so crispy its unbelievable and the meat so tender and moist! My skin wasnt that succesfull so I just sliced the duck very thinly;)

pekingduck

Does frying pans dream of electric pancake machines?

I Springrolls (12)usually makes small crispy Thai springrolls, but this guy at work, Long made the most fantastic huge springrolls, with his own springroll wrappers and home made chili sauce, so I started experimenting to make them like his. I never succeeded even after quite a few attempts, so Long is still the Springroll Master, but mine didnt turn out that bad even so;)

Filling:First I prepared the filling with minced meat and other stuff – Long says meat and cabbage and stuff, for my first time ( on this picture) I just used meat and bamboo and onions, salt and pepper. Since then I have been using meat, spring onions, grated carrots, finely chopped white cabbage, garlic, a drop of sesame oil ( just to flavor), salt and pepper, and it’s good. Leave the filing to cool.

springroll fillingSpringroll wrappers:
Mix eggs, salt and peber, water, flour, 2/3 regular wheat flour and 1/3 rice flour ( 1 egg to 300 gr of flour approx) into a nice smooth batter, not too thick …and leave it for a while. Bake the pancakes on a pan – on only one side! I brushed the pan with a tiny bit of oil when needed and poured the batter on and baked the pancakes on one side till they look like they were just baked, not browned yet- you know when it’s ready when the edges starts to curl up a bit. Peel it off the pan and proceeded to the next one. I left them to cool completely off before rolling them, cover with some cling film so they don’t dry up.

I deepfried the ones we wanted to eat and put the rest in the freezer. Very easy to take them out, thraw them and deepfry them if we feel like some warm crispy springrolls!
uncooked springrolls (5)
Pies on my mind!
More piesPies with meat and onions- a bit of Branston Pickle, and a hint of Heniz ketchup and a touch of Tabasco. The crust is readymade shortcrust. The pies took 10 min to make! A really fast super snack!
 I have been looking, wishing me, asking for, dreaming of a piemaker for years and years after having borrowed Glyn’s fantastic Magic Piemaker from Breville which magically made 2 wonderful pies at the same time at least a dusin times and sometimes for half a year at the time. At some point they stopped making it, but I read somewhere that after a lot of protests they starting making piemaking machines again- if’ this is true or not I dont know- but when they finally started making it. with 2-4 or 8 slots (!) I couldn’t find a place that would send it to Denmark- but finally witPiemaker openh the help from my good friend Brodock who found it for me on Amazon, here it is my very own Gourmet Piemaker from Breville which makes 4 pies at the same time!