Andrew of SpittoonExtra is hosting this month's edition of Waiter there is something in my ..., and the theme is bread. In ideal circumstances, I would have wanted to make a proper Estonian leavened rye bread. However, as I only just returned from London on the wee hours of Monday morning, and was busy celebrating my birthday yesterday, I didn't have time to start the rye bread. Yet as I was still keen to make something local, I decided to adapt an old recipe for a simple local loaf bread, karask.
Karask is a type of bread in Estonia and Finland that doesn't use yeast nor require leavening; instead, baking powder or baking soda is used to raise the bread (so it is a bit like the Irish soda bread then). Usually karask is made with barley flour (mine uses plain wheat flour), and a popular local version uses curd cheese to flavour and moisten the bread (I've also got recipes using leftover potato mash to give bulk to the bread). I made mine with mushrooms - one of my favourite ingredients, as most of my loyal readers would know by now (just see here), and added a generous handful of fresh herbs..
The texture of the bread is quite heavy, so if you're into light and fluffy breads, then this karask is not for you. However, it will be perfect for those of you who like mushrooms (and there are many fungiphiles or mushroom lovers out there, believe me!) It's at its best when served warm, straight out of the oven, sliced thickly and buttered with a slightly salted butter. Yet it is also delicious cold on the following day, and would make a lovely picnic dish, as it cuts into neat cubes or slices when cold.
Seenekarask or Estonian quick mushroom bread
250 fresh mushrooms (I used a mixture of brown and white champignon mushrooms), quartered
1 large onion (ca 100 grams), finely chopped
1 Tbsp oil
150 grams plain flour
60 grams porridge oats
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
200 ml milk
100 grams butter, melted
5 grams flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
30 grams cheese, grated
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, add mushrooms and onions and fry on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms have browned a little and onions have began to soften. Remove from the heat and cool.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and herbs. Stir in the milk and melted butter.
Pour into a buttered (and/or lined) loat tin and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
Bake at 200 C for 35-40 minutes, until the loaf is cooked (due to high mushroom content, the loaf remains moist).
Slice and serve.
As I said, the loaf is at its best when still warm, but remains delicious and flavoursome until the next day.
Here are links to my previous Waiter there is something in my ... entries:
March 2007 (EASTER BASKET, hosted by Johanna): a selection of various Easter delights.
February 2007 (PIE, hosted by Jeanne): a great Russian puff pastry and fish pie, Salmon Kulebyaka.
January 2007 (STEW, hosted by Andrew): my version (in collaboration with Anthony Bourdain:) of the French classic Boeuf Bourguignon.
UPDATE 26.4.2007: Read Andrew's round-up of sweet and savoury bread recipes