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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Archipelago Bread and Living your Dreams



Happy New Year 2013!
It's January 1, 2013.  You have 365 days ahead of you in the new year.  How are you going to spend it?

Kallahti, Helsinki - roads diverging in a yellow field

I look back on the last 12 months, and time has absolutely flown by.  I wonder when the month changed from February to June and from August to October.  Yes, it often seemed that one month would end and another would be half gone before I noticed.  The days fly by faster and faster, and then, somehow, it's New Year's Eve again, and we glance back at the blurry memory of the year just gone, wish those around us "All the best for the new year", may or may not make a few resolutions for how we'll improve our health, lose weight, increase fitness, learn something new, travel more, be more patient, spend more time with people we care about, do a little more self-reflection, live in the moment, and Slow Down.

Vuosaari, Finland 
Deep down inside each of us is a dream, large or small, to do something special.  Some take action, some do not.  Some talk about taking action - and spend so much time talking that it absorbs all the time and energy they have for actually doing the thing.  Some are paralyzed by fear:  fear that they'll be neglecting the duties of family or history or expectation...or worse...fear of neglecting what they "should" do for what they actually "want to do".

I speak to myself as much as to anyone when I say this:  there is no time like the present for living a life full of the things you love.  That in itself requires that you sacrifice something, and that "something" is different for everyone, whether it be time, money, someone's approval, our own comfort zone.

Just before the snow
Our own comfort zone.  Ah yes.  "Ships are safer in the harbor, " William G.T. Shedd  said, "But that is not what ships are made for."  I strongly believe that we do not live our fullest lives nor is progress ever made because we sit back accepting what is in front of us if it does not make us happy.  Man does not fly in the air from one country to the next because of complacency for what is.  We do not have universal suffrage (i.e. the right for everyone to vote) in democratic nations because of complacency or reluctance to deal with what is uncomfortable.  No new ground was ever charted in science or education or literature or sports or politics or food or technology or medicine or anything else due to complacency or the reluctance to do the hard thing.  

Window in the Finnish National Museum / Suomen Kansamuseo
We can tell ourselves we don't have the time to change or to learn what we need to learn in order to bring that new something into our lives that we dream of.  But then if we think of all the time we spend doing things of no consequence - if we count them as wasted hours that could be applied toward actions that fill our lives with things that bring us joy, whatever that is for you - then the picture changes and you realize that really, the only thing that stands between you and what you want is the willingness to get started.

Wild Strawberries on a straw - a traditional way to gather them in the Finnish countryside
Let 2013 be the year you start on fulfilling that dream you've been hiding away deep down inside:  from getting a college degree, to changing careers, to running a marathon, to traveling to a foreign country, writing a book, starting a company, beginning a new hobby or finally organizing those thousands of digital photos into something you can actually enjoy and share.

And because change is something that moves us out of our comfort zone so that we can grow, here is some comfort food to enjoy as you get started.  It's from the Åland Islands (Ahvenamaa) - an archipelago off the coast of Finland home to a good number of freedom-loving Swedish-speaking Finns.  According to Wikipedia:  " By law, Åland is politically neutral and entirely demilitarized, and residents are exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defence Forces.  The islands were granted extensive autonomy by the Parliament of Finland in the Acto of the Autonomy of Åland of 1920, which was later replaced by new legislation by the same name in 1951 and 1991.  Åland remains exclusively Swedish-speaking by law. "

In other words, it's an archipelago full of people who are doing what they want.  And the bread?  The bread goes with pretty much anything.  I like it with Borscht Soup, spread with a soft goat cheese or with a thin layer of butter.

While the bread bakes, tell me - how are you going to spend your year?


Saaristoleipä / Archipelago Bread

Saaristoleipä / Archipelago Bread
slightly modified from Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink, who owns a bakery in London where she sells Finnish food to lucky London fans.  As Miisa says, this bread is traditionally made with buttermilk and hops, but she's simplified the recipe, making it really simple to follow and absolutely delicious.

500 ml / 2 cups lukewarm milk
7 g / 1.5 teaspoons dried yeast
100 ml / 1/2 cup natural/plain yogurt / quark
150 ml / 3/4 cup golden syrup or mild honey
150 g / 2/3 cup barley flour
150 g / 2/3 cup oatmeal
250 g  / 1 cup + 2 tablespoons wholemeal rye flour
250 g/ 1 cup + 2 tablespoons wholemeal bread flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

Put the milk in a large mixing bowl with the yeast and whisk until the yeast has dissolved.  Add the yogurt or quark and whisk to combine.  Fold in the rest of the ingredients.  You don't have to knead the dough; just mix it well to create a soft and sticky mixture. 

Grease two loaf pans with butter or oil and line the bottom with parchment paper, or alternatively, dust with flour.  Divide the mixture between the two pans, filling them only halfway, as the dough will rise.  Dip a spoon into hot water and use the back of it to press the mixture slightly down into the pans.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave it to prove/rise in a warm place for 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 170°C / 325°F.

Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, make the glaze:

In a small bowl, combine until blended:

1 tablespoon golden syrup / honey
50 ml / 2.5 tablespoons hot water

After 1 hour of the baking time remove the loaves from the oven, brush with some of the glaze over the tops and return to the oven for another 45 minutes or until dark brown.  Mine took likely less than 45 minutes, but ovens are different so take a look at after about 30 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and tip them out of the pans onto a wire rack.  Brush a little more glaze over them and leave them to cool for one hour.  Eat either warm or cold.  The bread will keep in an airtight container for several days.  It also freezes exceptionally well.  

Makes 2 loaves.

6 comments:

  1. Great post, gorgeous photos. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks Ann! Happy New Year to you too.

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  2. Ann congratulations on your Archipelago bread. It is indeed very common in long the coast. And in many Finalnds-Swedish hoes for Christman and Midsummer. It is sold at eery local market. Backers cal it "maltlimpa" . In my nephews school in Espoo the parents (and the kids, hopefully together with their parents!) had made more than 100 loaves of Archipelago bread as a fundraiser.

    ***
    However, as I have spent quite some time in Åland Islands I would not say they have this bread there. The traditional Åland black bread is much darker, quite black, and more compact; some peope even think it it has blood as an ingredient, but it doesnt. Malt is the most important ingredient. However the recipes are quite secret and to make it you need two or three days at least. Here's a recipe i found for traditional Åland Islands black bread, "svartbröd" but I am not so sure it is the best recipe. :

    1 liter buttermilk
    150 ml molasses
    150 ml brown sugar
    150 ml malt
    1 ts salt
    1 kg rye flour
    25 g fresh yeast
    500 g graham flour

    Heat buttermilk to 37 C: mix in molasses, brown sugar, malt, salt and 3/4 of the rye flour. Knead into a dough.
    Sprinkle the rest of the rye flour on top.
    Cover and let stand in a draft-free place for 1-2 days.
    Dissolve yeast into a splash of water and add to the dough along with the graham flour.
    Let rise for 6-8 hours, covered.
    Preheat oven to 200 C.
    Shape into four 1,5 cm thick round loaves (the size of dinner plates).
    Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.
    Prick the loaves with a fork and bake for 20 minutes.
    Mix molasses and brewed coffee, and brush the loaves with the mixture every 10 minutes while the loaves are baking.
    After 20 minutes, wrap the loaves in foil and continue to bake at 150 C for 3 hours.
    After the three hours, turn the oven off but leave the loaves in the oven until it has cooled completely.

    Here's a recipe for traditional Åland isand black bread:

    1 liter buttermilk
    150 ml molasses
    150 ml brown sugar
    150 ml malt
    1 ts salt
    1 kg rye flour
    25 g fresh yeast
    500 g graham flour

    Heat buttermilk to 37 C: mix in molasses, brown sugar, malt, salt and 3/4 of the rye flour. Knead into a dough.
    Sprinkle the rest of the rye flour on top.
    Cover and let stand in a draft-free place for 1-2 days.
    Dissolve yeast into a splash of water and add to the dough along with the graham flour.
    Let rise for 6-8 hours, covered.
    Preheat oven to 200 C.
    Shape into four 1,5 cm thick round loaves (the size of dinner plates).
    Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.
    Prick the loaves with a fork and bake for 20 minutes.
    Mix molasses and brewed coffee, and brush the loaves with the mixture every 10 minutes while the loaves are baking.
    After 20 minutes, wrap the loaves in foil and continue to bake at 150 C for 3 hours.
    After the three hours, turn the oven off but leave the loaves in the oven until it has cooled completely.

    This shoudl make the Åland Balc bread, not eh egular Archipelaog bread, but you better doublecheck by buying a "Svartbröd från Kökar".

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    1. Bitte, this is wonderful feedback! Thanks for this - I really look forward to trying these recipes for the Åland Black Bread so I can try the real thing. I have purchased it several times from various bakeries, but I never know if I am getting the real thing. Maybe we'll need to discuss the difference between Åland Black Bread and Archipelago bread as part of the Slow Food Helsinki Bread Course.

      Is the standing time for the dough in order to let it rise, or ferment or both? I would be really interested to learn more about it.

      Happy New Year!

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  3. Hi Ann - I am exploring this archipelago bread lately and came across your blog that way - then browsed to see you are in Helsinki, where I lived for 3 years before returning to the states (NM) 2.5 years ago, then I see mention of Snow Falling on Cedars, which I recently picked up at a used book store and am 1/3 of the way into - so many coincidences! Your blog is quite nice - I really enjoyed exploring Nordic food during my time there, and was extremely lucky to eat at Noma in Copenhagen one month before it was declared the best restaurant in the world. I loved Juuri's sapas in Helsinki too. I'll drop in and read often. Thanks. Laurie

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laurie, thanks for stopping by and for the nice comment! It's amazing how small the world really is when you can connect with so many people via the internet, and how much people's paths "cross". I haven't been to Noma yet - but a trip to Copenhagen is in the plans as it is one of my favorite cities in the world, and when they combine mouthwatering food skills with their enviable interior design, it makes me want settle in and stay awhile. I'm learning more and more about Finnish foods and the related traditions - like so many places, there is no faster way to understand a culture than via what they eat! BR, Ann

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