Cat was sharing with me recently about how her grandmother taught her to bake bread. Of course I jumped on that straight away, because I love how families share recipes and pass down traditions of food, and secondly, I wanted the recipe... for all of us.. of course..
So thank you Cat - and people, if you like what you read (of course you will) head over to Be Loverly.
Like many of you I'm a mad MasterChef fan and I've been quite excited by the commercials for Junior Masterchef which starts on Sunday evening. I just know those kids are going to blow me away...a bit like watching the gymnastics during the Olympics and seeing kids a third of my age achieving things I was never able to do myself!
I got to thinking about my own food influences and who taught me to cook. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time with my Grandparents and like a lot of kids, I baked with my Grandma who I call Bako. Here's a pic of my Mum, Bako and me on a special day some (nine!) years ago now.
My favourite thing that she made though was a traditional, non-yeasty bread called pogača which is eaten in the area from which my Mum's family comes from. It's actually cooked several different ways and there are loads of recipes out there but the one I grew up on is a dense, damper like bread. I say that as a point of comparison but really, it's nothing at all like damper and is far more moist and dense with a crunchy crust.
I was (and still am) really close to my Bako and she and I are similar in nature and I was keen to learn from her at a really young age. I asked her for recipes for my favourite recipes and found my little notebook circa 1983 when I was about 8 not so long ago.
You can see my "immature scrawl" here. Not my Bako's correction of my spelling in the title - cute!As kids my brother and I called it "Fork Bread" because part of the process is stabbing the top of the bread with a fork.
Now that I have an almost two year old little man myself I'm uber aware of what we eat and I'd much rather make things from scratch than buy them and I'm particularly mad about perfecting various bread recipes. Despite all of that it's been ages since I gave cooking up some pogača a go (I'd say before I moved out of home which is err, again far more years ago than I care to remember).
The recipe is super dooper hazy and I found it amusing to try and reinterpret it mainly because my Bako used teacups rather than what we know as "cup" measurements and cos she's MAD on both salt and oil in her cooking.
I did manage a pretty good batch though with the following recipe which I happily gift to you:
4 and a half cups plain flour
3 cups of water
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
2. Mix flour, salt and butter together.3. Add water.
4. Knead to a smooth-ish consistency, adding flour as needed until it no longer sticks to the bench.
5. Push out to roughly the shape of your tin which should be a flat-ish baking dish (the one I used in the pic was a bit large actually).
6. Place in (oiled or sprayed) dish and stretch it out to fit at an even thickness and so it fills the whole dish.
7. Prick the dough all over with a fork (that bit's actually quite fun).
Until it looks kind of like this:
8. Place in oven and bake for 10 mins at 200.
9. Turn oven down to 160 and bake for around 30 mins or until quite golden brown on top and on the bottom when you lift it up to see.
10. Break apart - don't cut with a knife as it tastes not as good and serve with lashings of butter whilst still hot. It's actually very traditional to serve it up with sour cream.
The bread will last for several days in a fairly airtight bag and it's worth warming it up in the microwave a little to serve as it always tastes better warm.
I must have done an ok job as my house smelled exactly like my Bako's house.
My Bebito's verdict: "Mama, crunchy bread TASTY, more please!" Thumbs up methinks.
This is really simple "peasant" food and it brought back so many memories for me in cooking it. I'd love to know any traditional recipes your family has, especially if they're a little out of the norm like this one.
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