A midwinter baking day.

We have an old functional bake house in the village that gets used maybe twice a year (it has already made an appearance here). It has become a small tradition to do a gathering there shortly before Christmas - last year we didn´t attend for some reason I can´t think of anymore, but this year we did and I spent all Saturday morning preparing some goods that I wanted to bake in the brick oven. Above are Hungarian "Kipferl" made with a wheat sourdough and soured milk - recipe is here

Here´s the bakehouse. Basically what you do is burn a whole lot of logs in that oven over the course of one whole day so that the brick gets really hot. Once you want to bake the embers are being removed and the oven gets a rough cleaning with a very wet cloth and then the bread goes in. Sounds simple but of course it´s not because you can´t control the heat like in a conventional oven. But more on that in a minute.

My husband made mulled wine which we warmed over that bonfire. I got him that tripod/kettle thingy as a birthday gift a few years ago. Thank god for gatherings like these or otherwise we wouldn´t use it ever. 

Besides the Kipferl I prepared this sourdough bread with shredded rye (this recipe). It was a bit worried how it would turn out since we were running late - baking bread requires impeccable timing but at the agreed time the oven just wasn´t ready - not much to do about it. So my bread was way overproof by the time it finally went into the oven (meaning it had risen too much/was baked too late) but I think the cold prevented the worst. 

Here´s the result. It turned out really good I have to say. It´s a rustic bread so I figured it would do well in the hot oven, and I was right. It has a lovely crust and a flavor that you can only achieve in that kind of oven.

The Kipferl turned out fine too. The oven was still too hot for them so they got charred a bit but they tasted wonderful. One of the neighborhood kids polished off five Kipferl in one go and not a single one got left over so I assume I did well. 

Bonus picture that has nothing to do with baking bread but is too cute to not share it here. Happy 4th advent from Emma who sits on what will be a wreath some day. Always helpful!


New sofa covers.

A tiny little post on our new sofa covers because they are making me happy. In our living room we have an Ikea "Kivik" sectional that we dearly love. It was one of the first things that we bought for the house and I still think it is a great fit. However after more than five years of wear and tear, the covers were filthy. I did wash them twice a year but lately it didn´t really improve things anymore. I guess with twenty paws in the house this isn´t actually surprising.

However I didn´t realize how filthy the sofa was until we got our new pale grey covers and they were basically the same color as our old, originally white ones. Ha. The new covers are from Bemz - you can get replacement covers from Ikea but I didn´t like their fabric choices. Plus Bemz had a huge sale in November so we just went for it. And I am so glad we did, I love the new covers! So clean! For maybe two seconds until Ludwig first drooled on it. Oh well. 

I was a bit worried things would be too matchy-matchy in here since the covers are now almost the same color as the walls. I didn´t really mind though because I was planning to go darker in here with new paint. That might still happen, but I don´t think it´s terrible as it is. But maybe definitely some new cushion covers? Time will tell.


Christmas baking.

Christmas baking is kind of a big deal in Germany (if you´re outside of Germany and curious about it you should probably get this book by the lovely Luisa). I know people who bake 10 different varieties of "Plätzchen" (christmas cookies) before Advent even starts. I am not one of these people (making Plätzchen mostly stresses me out) but I try to do some christmas baking each year. 

In 2015 I started the tradition of making fruit/pear bread. Last year´s recipe - based on a yeasted dough - was very dry and not exactly what I was looking for. So this year I searched high and low for the perfect recipe that fit all my criteria (no added sugar, no candied orange/citron peel, a high percentage of dried fruit and nuts) and randomly came across this one (sorry in German only) that sounded promising. 

It´s based on a rye sourdough and I think it´s pretty much perfect - moist and not too sweet. Very happy how this one turned out! If you ever make this be sure to eat it with lots of butter.

I also made Elisenlebkuchen (gingerbread with a very low percentage of flour) after this recipe (sorry again in German only). I have a very precise idea how the perfect Lebkuchen should taste and I must say that these come very very close. Very moist, not too sweet, and yes there might be a pattern. I, for one, can´t stop eating them. (Note for German readers: I actually bought this thing which was very helpful). 

Next up are a few Plätzchen this weekend and shortly before Christmas I´ll try to make this rather crazy recipe for Panettone with a sweet sourdough starter (yep). I know it will most probably end in a desaster but I´m still excited about it! I´ve already bought the necessary paper molds and everything! This is my kind of adventure. I´ll report back. 


On my camera, late November edition. 

Here are some random pictures from my camera because sometimes that´s all I have to offer to you. A beautiful misty morning, looking out from my bathroom´s window upstairs.

Our gorgeous dog who is just the best thing that has ever happened to us. 

Some sourdough bread that looked really great from the outside but was a bit too sticky on the inside. Dough too wet? The mysteries of baking bread.

Another ice cold morning. I think my garden looks like in a fairy tale here. Also once the leaves are down it looks huge because you can suddenly see so much of it. 

Happy chooks. We´ve realized lately that Ludwig doesn´t hunt them anymore (why, don´t ask me) so they are allowed all over the garden now. It´s very cute to see how happy that makes them. 

Technically not a good picture, but I like it anyway. The view from our back door on a very foggy morning.

And sweet Lulu napping on a radiator. As you do when you are a cat (I would so love to be able to nap on a radiator. I mean, can you imagine?). Have a happy week!


A little Etsy gift guide.

Preface: It feels a little surreal to publish a gift guide after last week´s post and the comments it generated. There might be a follow-up/a response to all this in the near future, but in the meantime, let´s look at some nice things and calm our minds, shall we? 

So I´ve come across so many nice things on Etsy lately and I wanted to share them with you. First up is Not Perfect Linen. They are a family business in Lithunia and they have the nicest things. I particularly love their table cloths (pictured). I adore this stripey one but they also have a color named Swedish Blue which I am obsessed with (here´s a table runner in that color). My husband is building me a new wooden dining table for my birthday (!!) so I can´t possibly buy things that would cover said table, but maybe you can! 

More lovely linen things from Lithunia: Knock Knock Linen. I own two of their scarves and several of their bath towels. Very much recommended.

Also in Lithunia (I feel like I maybe should plan a trip to Lithunia real soon?): Woolen Clogs. I have stalked this shop for years now and one day I will own some of their lovely felted slippers (pictured are these).

More felted goodness from Lithunia (seriously!): Agnes Felt. The cutest cat beds you ever did see! My cats would never use a cat bed because all my pets generally ignore all the things we buy for them, but maybe you have cats that are more cooperating. 

Leaving Lithunia now: Julia Smith Ceramics. I particularly love her nature-inspired stuff like this espresso mug (which is sadly sold out now). We have great local ceramicists around here so I rather support these businesses, but if you´re in the UK this shop is for you! 

Also in the UK: The Leather Store. I own one of their bags and love it. 

Last but not least: Sara Carr. I´m that awkward childless person who always buys the wrong gifts for kids but frankly, I would love a ton of her knitted creatures for myself. One is cuter than the other - look there´s even Mog! And a kitty scarf! And then there´s this donkey above who apparently is called Donald, and yes it takes all my willpower to not make a joke here. But it does close the circle nicely. 

Have a happy week! Be kind! Buy lots of nice gifts for your dear ones! 

Pictures (c) by the respective shops. Clicking on the pictures will take you to the product/shop.