I love my little island life with my beautiful family but greatly enjoy travelling, seeing new sights, cultures and perhaps this won’t surprise you trying new food. And I really do think that food is all the better for being in the right location and ambience, pasta just seems to taste better in Italy and simple salads of tomato and olives burst with flavour in Greece. One of my enduring experiences as a teenager was winning a trip to Norway, the stunning scenery, the wonderfully hospitable people and the really fantastic food. Fresh seafood, particularly bucket loads and I do mean bucket loads, of crayfish for breakfast caught that morning, buttery cinnamon porridge, sweet and tangy Brunost and most of all the Smörgåsbord; pickled herrings, Gravadlax, sausages, meatballs, lobster, prawns, basically a buffet table of many of my favourite foods.
Smörgåsbord means buttered open sandwich and many of my favourite types are made with rye bread, a dark, intensely flavoured bread, high in fibre, which is popular across Northern Europe. Rye bread spread with cream cheese and topped with prawns or salmon with a little watercress and lemon is my number one sandwich. Don’t be put off by the thought of bread making, it is not particularly difficult if you follow the Rye bread recipe carefully and be patient. I hope you try it and enjoy the results.
Easy Rye Bread Loaf –
You can top the loaf with sunflower and pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch
500 gr Rye Flour
500 gr Strong White Bread Flour
20 gr fresh Yeast
35 gr Black Treacle
30 ml good quality Olive Oil
20 gr Salt
¾ litre warm Water
25 gr Fennel Seeds, roughly ground
A little extra flour for dusting
If you possess a kitchen mixer place all of the ingredients in the bowl apart from the flour for dusting. Gently combine the ingredients a little with a fork, this stops a face full of flour when you switch on the mixer ( I have been there I promise ). Fit into the mixer with the dough hook. Switch on at the lowest speed setting and then once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed turn up to top speed. Mix for five minutes. When mixing by hand I would allow a thorough ten minutes.
When the dough is mixed, shape into a large ball, coat with a little more flour and place in a large bowl covered with a clean tea towel. Leave the dough to prove. In an airing cupboard or similar warm environment, the dough will rise to around one and a half times its original size in approximately two hours. If you have the time prepare the dough on the day prior to baking and you can slow the proving process down by leaving it in the fridge overnight. This method of proving produces a dough with deeper more robust flavours.
Half an hour before you are ready to cook turn on your oven to 475 F / 240 C / Gas Mark 9 and place in a heavy non-stick baking tray. Five minutes before baking, fill a small ovenproof dish with hot water from your kettle and stick it in the bottom of the hot oven. Turn your dough quickly out of the bowl onto the baking tray and put it straight into the hot, steamy oven as fast as you can. Try to leave the door open for the shortest possible time so the temperature does not drop.
After ten minutes, drop the oven temperature to 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4 and check on your loaf. Opening the oven door will drop the temperature quickly and help prevent the loaf from burning. Cook for a further twenty-five minutes and check again. When cooked the loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. It should be left to cool thoroughly on a wire rack before slicing.
For the toppings –
Gravadlax and Mustard and Dill Sauce
Ham and sliced Dill Pickle
Cream Cheese, fresh Prawns with Lemon and Paprika
Sliced hard boiled Eggs, Beef Tomato and crisp Bacon
Sliced rare roast Beef, Watercress, quick pickle Red Onion and Horseradish Crème Fraiche
Pickle Herring and Remoulade
Blue Cheese, Apple Batons, and Watercress
Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Baby Gem and finely diced Red Onion
Allergens in the Rye Bread recipe are;