Creamy cream cakes and chewy bread

Bread is the staff of life, so it is said, a staple food to sustain on life’s rollercoaster road. For too many years this staff has been demeaned until little more than a crack-filler that clags up the mouth, and lies heavy in the stomach. But signs are now discernable that humble bread is making a comeback. Some eating places now even flaunt the importance of their bread and feature the types, textures, and flavours they offer as an integral part of a satisfying eating experience.

Bread on display

Bread on display in a shop window.

I have to confess to a bias in the bread area, as I have a husband who bakes bread for our table. His grandfather owned bakery shops in Aberdeen, so perhaps the impetus comes from there. Perhaps also husband’s rather gung-ho attitude to ingredients, a pucklie of this, a pucklie of that, and only read the recipe if all else fails, comes from a sense of inherited knowledge and understanding of the bread-making process. Whatever conditions his stance, we revel in regular loaves of bread that boast different tastes and textures. Husband likes to be adventurous in his bread-making, so he experiments with a variety of flours and combinations, and throws in seeds and berries to see what happens. Perhaps his grandfather from some floury heaven guides his hand, as his loaves are invariably wonderful. The only occasion when they fail to reach the nadir of success is when he forgets he has a loaf baking in the oven and it turns out… over crusty. The purchase of a timer will hopefully help here.

Easter bread and conserves

Easter bread and conserves in a market in eastern Algarve

Bread, olives and sardine pate served as a pre-starter are one of the palate-remembered memories of a recent holiday in the eastern Algarve. Simple ingredients that satisfy and feed anticipation of the culinary pleasures to come. Now as we pop a sun fed olive into mouth the taste conjures up a storybook of warm memories.

Presentation is all

Cake, like everything else in Tallinn, Estonia, is served with flair and a colourful quirkiness.

Many years ago, we enjoyed rye bread from a Polish delicatessen in the Morningside area of Edinburgh. Ever since, I have judged all others by the standard of these remembered loaves. Great when eaten new, but when toasted and spread with butter all the mouth-smooching, sweet and sour flavours were released. Recently, after a visit to a coffee house and bakery in Gullane, East Lothian, I have been able to relive that heady-bready experience.

Cake with edible artwork

Tallinn restaurants like to show their creativity, not just in their food but also in its presentation.

The coffee house owner is a konditormeister, a highly trained German master pastry chef whose creations are made according to strict rules laid down in law. His cakes are scrumptious, creamy cream creations, but his coffee house and shop also offer a mouth-watering selection of traditional German bread, baked daily on the premises. I couldn’t leave without buying Golferbrot, a multigrain bread with a slightly chewy texture and a wonderful malty, nutty taste. Roggenmischbrot, a medium rye, also was wrapped in paper for me. A lighter rye, Bauernbrot, is available, but I craved the hit of strong rye (bread of course!).

Cake with rose decoration on plate

In Tallinn when you order a sweet it comes complete with artwork. It makes you feel your custom is appreciated.

I was fascinated to learn that the rye sourdough raising agent used for his rye breads is considered a member of the family. It’s over 100 years old, and Heinrich is its name. Every day, whether working day, high day or holiday, the culture has to be refreshed to keep it active. The demise of Heinrich would mean the demise of the bread-making side of the business. Heinrich’s existence appealed to me as a foodie. Heinrich was proof the staff of life still exists. Its life history continues to enrich the lives of those who enjoy the products it raises. Good traditional, richly satisfying bread.

Oranges in a market

If you fancy a change from bread or cake you can always opt for oranges in the Algarve. In the local markets they are cheap to buy and taste fresh and sweet, very different to oranges bought in a supermarket at home.

Chestnut seller

If you fancy a change for bread and cake, and oranges don’t quite fit the bill, then how about chestnuts. This hot chestnut seller had his stance on a main street in an eastern Algarve town in November. The weather seemed chilly to them, but balmily warm for us.

Advertisements

About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Creamy cream cakes and chewy bread

  1. zweebee says:

    Well done Mum! Lovely reading. Matt has had a real baking fever recently too – he went on a Richard Bertinet breadmaking course which he still hasn’t stopped enthusing about and he’s bent on making bread and cakes to sell after he finishes with Occam. He’s started to make some wonderful breads, including a rye, caraway and sultana loaf…

    We got given a Herman – not Heinrich – by a friend at Easter. It’s a German Friendship cake ferment, which you keep and nurture, and keep feeding – and slowly he starts to take over your kitchen and eats all of your flour and sugar, until one day you split him up, cook a bit (or multiple) and give the other bits away to friends. We’ve still got some going and have given away a few bits as well as the baked pieces. It is weird to think how long he may have been going for, how many homes he has seen, and how many different ingredients!

    While Matt is busy baking I’ve been getting more and more interested in raw food and am keen to buy a dehydrator so I can make raw (‘living’) breads and biscuits and so on. It’s a whole other world and completely different way of approaching ‘cooking’ but just as fabulous. I have a mission to make the first proper raw Cornish cream tea… without dairy!

    Hope life is treating you well,
    x

  2. zweebee says:

    Just commented and it lost it after wanting to log me in…. grrr!

    Lovely. Was just saying Matt has been doing a pile of baking recently too. He’s getting into the habit of doing some bread and/or cakes every day so he can go into business when he finishes with Occam. I sent him on a Richard Bertinet course in Bath for his birthday which he hasn’t stopped enthusing about – he’s got a very unique approach to breadmaking, or ‘dough-making’ rather, where you don’t knead it, but slap it on the counter lots to encourage air into it! So I now wake in the morning and inevitably fall asleep at night to the sound of dough slapping onto the kitchen worktop repeatedly…

    Hope you’re all doing well
    x

  3. Hi, Is this you, Dorothy. I’m not sure I am at the right place.
    Lovely piece. Nice start to your blogging world, Cheers!! Eileen xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s