Friday, July 24, 2009



Sung to the tune of the American folk Ballad The Yellow Rose of Texas

There’s an English Rose in Sweden
That has come to visit me
She leaves behind her Viking
To come and bake (you’ll see).

She’s the sweetest rose of Europe
Slogging through the snow,
She hikes and bikes and shoots ‘em
Like the meanest dude I know.

Yet, delicate and girlie
And sweet as apple pie
Blond and very British
She’s sure to catch your eye.

There’s an English Rose of Sweden
We all love her to bits,
Our golden-eyed lassie,
Her friendship never quits (nor does her enormous personality!).

Our dear Swedish Clare, that lovely lassie, our blond-haired, hazel-eyed English Rose, is sweet and young, funny and caring. Yet behind that delicate English Rose exterior hides one tough cookie. Having packed up and moved north to a frigid, icy land, she has gotten used to the rough terrain, the meters of snow, the 6 months of dark and the 6 months of light. A bottle of wine tucked under one arm and her rifle thrown over the other shoulder, she pushes her way out of her cottage and out into the wild wind of Sweden. All booted up, strapped into her skis and head tucked down, she trudges her way through the white, white landscape to meet friends for a chatter and a giggle or a client. Battling Mother Nature, she soldiers on, translating from those strange, quirky Scandinavian languages into English, coming home each evening to a young son and a hunky Viking Superman (who has spent his day de-mining fields, fighting forest fires and rescuing cats from trees and who, in his spare time, runs across entire countries for pleasure).

Jamie and Clare together at last! Fun on the town... and looking Absolutely Fabulous, dahling!

Clare and I met through the magic that is internet, first bumping into each other early every morning on the Mudflats blog while most Americans were snuggled safely in their beds, waving to each other over the waves, sending virtual messages back and forth as our simple political comments and contact grew into friendship. We shared early morning cups of coffee over the internet, half of Europe between us, finally migrating over to e-mail and then Facebook so we could share photos and chat away to our hearts content, no longer limited to political commentary.

And now Clare has trained down through the wilds of Europe to visit me in our new apartment, relaxing in the comfort of our down-home lifestyle, cooking, baking, eating, drinking coffee and talking, with the occasional trip to the market or time spent on internet checking up on our friends or watching Absolutely Fabulous.

"Clare, red wine or Bolly?" "Oooh, red wine, just a smidge!"

Together we form a strangely odd couple, one so blond, the other so dark, yet so similar. We feel like Patsy and Edina without the cigarettes, laughing at the same jokes, finishing each other’s sentences as if we had grown up together, giggling over jokes that no one else gets (particularly not the men in the house). Yet, would Edina and Patsy bake? Methinks not, yet bake we did. Yet if these Absolutely Fabulous women had decided to bake bread, this recipe would be the one. Toss everything in one bowl, stir it all up into a mass of goop, plop it all out into a pan and bake. And no matter how many “smidges of Bolly” you’ve drunk, this is truly a no-fail bread (just ask the Swedish side of Clare! You know those long dark nights of winter in Sweden…). The results are Absolutely Fabulous!

"Oh, Clare, should we be doing anything now? You've come all the way from Sweden to visit me!" "No, Jamie, I am perfectly fine like this, now give me a light and shut up!"

Clare and I are sending this beautiful bread recipe over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting event.

"Jams, don't question me! I spotted the yeast over there."


1 lb (500 g) white flour *
1 yellow onion
1 packet (7 g) active dry yeast
2 tsps sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs vegetable oil
14.5 American fluid ounces/15 UK fluid ounces (420 ml) lukewarm water
Poppy seeds or caraway seeds to top

* As long as you have the same dry weight to wet volume, you can put almost any type flour you like. Clare often makes this bread using half white flour, half whole wheat.

Dice the onion.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together with the diced onion. Pour on the warm water and the vegetable oil.

Using a silicone/plastic spatula (or wooden spoon), mix it all together until you have a well-combined, homogeneous gloop.

Scrape out into an approximately 8-inch (21 cm) round springform pan or another pan with similar volume.

Set aside to rise for an hour to an hour and a half (depending on where you live and the quality of the ingredients) until doubled in bulk.

You can see that it forms like a skin on top, but that is normal.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Sprinkle the top with either the poppy or caraway seeds, whichever you like best!

Pop into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes at 400°F (200°C), then lower the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven. The bread should have risen and the crust will be thick, golden and crusty. Clare removes the bread from the pan immediately and allows the bread to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Cut, serve and eat. And enjoy!

The results were astonishing. Bite through the crispy, poppy seed-speckled crust into the dense yet light crumb, and you will certainly be surprised by the sweetness of the bread. The onion bits have all melted and given the bread a wonderful hint of sweetness. Perfect for sandwiches, with slices of cheese or even for breakfast

"Having a nice visit, dahling?" "Lovely, now where's that wine your husband bought?"


Heavenly Housewife said...

I totally love ab fab! I am an Eddie, to be sure ;). Whenever i go through holland park i always think of her (thats where her house is in the show... lucky eddie!!) Beautiful bread, inside and out.

Hilda said...

I love Ab Fab, I'm glad you're back although I had more time to comment when I was at my sister's house. It sounds like it was a totally awesome visit. Amazing the people you meet on the web isn't it? ;-)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That bread looks fantastic! It is great to meet people via the net! That's how I met a lot of my good friends...



Chow and Chatter said...

what a great story oh I love ab fab have fun together the cake is great

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

The two of you, and the bread, are so ab fab! Have a wonderful time.

Elra said...

Love that show. I never seen show that was so funny.

Bread look absolutely fabulous as well.

Zoe said...

I love ab fab! Im an eddie as well.

Daily Spud said...

Fabulous, dahling! Methinks I'll have mine with a bottle of bolly...

Jenn said...

Haha...Ab Fab. I haven't seen that show in ages. LOL. I actually miss that show. Great story to go with an awesome bread recipe.

asiangrrl said...

Hey, gals! Looks like you had a great time giggling and gabbing while making mouthwatering bread at the same time. I bet some wine was consumed as well. Love the blog entry, and I will have to check out Ab Fab. I've never seen it!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love the heart shaped bread. Great idea. Your pictures and stories are always fabulous and this one was one of your best. Bravo.

Irishgirl said... two finally met up. I hope you had a lovely weekend.

♥Deeba @Passionate About Baking♥ said...

Absolutely fabulous dahling! I ♥ it!! So glad Clare braved the wilds of Europe to visit you. This is so much FUN!! YAY for the internet!! Enjoy her visit! ♥ the photographs Jamie; they are screaming FUN!
O and of course, the bread is abs fabs too!

Sophie said...

Hahahahahaha,..the story & the bread is Absolutely fabulous!!

I loved that sitcom on TV!! I mis good humour like that! It is lovely that you have found your match in this friend!!!

What a lovely story, Jamie!

görel said...

That wouldn't be Clare in Åre by any chance? Oh, and I love those Absolutely Fabulous ladies too.

Madam Chow said...

Wonderful description of the bread, especially the onions melting into it. Lovely post about food, friendship, and Ab Fab!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...