You may have heard in your life about different therapies people follow. Some are into yoga, some do marathons, some drink, some swim. Some attempt to do all these things in the same day. Therapists joke about their Mondays. The patients creep in for massive triage. Patients get advice and perhaps some medication, they recover, and the next weekend they are back at it. In the yin-yang of habits versus advice, yin wins.
Suzen is just that way. Her therapy is to bake. Every weekend. The girl simply loves flour. She treasures hours making dough, watching it rise, adjusting a heat lamp focused on a baguette, measuring the rise, shaping and punch the dough [better the dough than me], and finally gazing and smelling as loaves come steaming out of her ovens. It makes her happy. So that makes me happy, although I am the one lugging 50# bags of flour around. Take about dead weight!
As with many home bakers, Suzen first focused on French breads. Who wouldn’t? Any trip to Paris will convince you that bread can be wonderful. A baguette, some French butter, and bottle of wine [red or white] is not a quick meal. It is a feast.
I have talked with her about counties beyond France and tried to describe my experiences as kid eating breads from Scandinavia and Germany. I was never able to get my point across, and she was never enticed. I lacked pictures and real recipes.
Then we got a copy of the Nordic Bakery Cookbook. The very first recipe is Archipelago Bread and Suzen jumped at it. The look of that first picture and the intrigue of the ingredients just grabbed her attention. And in a whirl, she was grabbing ingredients.
“I need barley flour,” she pushed me out the door. “Hurry.”
Neither rain, nor snow, nor … It’s okay. It was only three miles down the hill to the local market and much of the road had been plowed.
She’s made the bread multiple times. It is easy and faultless. Her bread looks just like one in the book, just like it. The taste is just as described. This bread is totally multi-tasking. It’s suggested that you pair this bread with smoked salmon or pate with pickles. We did the salmon and were awed. This is not your mother’s white bread. It has texture and flavor to match anything. Paired with smoked salmon, and some sour cream, and you have a very satisfying and complex flavor combination.
Yesterday it was steak sandwiches with horseradish sauce on this bread. Stunningly good. And you can make this bread yourself. You really can.
Archipelago Bread comes from the islands in the Archipelago Sea. That’s part of the Baltic Sea, lying between Sweden and Finland. Lovely place to visit in the summertime. Both weeks of summertime. Winters there are times spent with gales and whitecaps on the waves and fireplaces offering solace, all while consuming very good bread. Like this one.
Yield: 2 loaves
For the bread:
- 2 ¼ cups lukewarm milk
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 6 ½ tablespoons plain yogurt
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
- old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 cups dark rye flour
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the glaze:
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 2 nonstick 2-pound loaf pans
Put the milk in a large mixing bowl with the yeast and whisk until it has dissolved. Add the yogurt and whisk to combine. Fold in the rest of the ingredients. There is no need to knead the dough; just mix it well to create a soft and sticky mixture.
Divide the mixture between the loaf pans, filling the pans only half full, as the dough will rise. Dip a spoon in water and use the back of it to press the mixture slightly down into the pans. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let prove in a warm place for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven 325°F.
Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the glaze by putting the maple syrup and hot water in a small bowl and stirring until blended.
After 1 hour of the baking time, remove the loaves from the oven, brush some of the glaze over the tops, and return to the oven for another 45 minutes, or until dark brown.
Remove the loaves from the oven and tip out of the pans onto a wire rack. Brush a little more glaze over them and let cool under the kitchen towel for 1 hour. Eat warm or cold. The bread will keep in an airtight container for several days.
Source: Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink