THE ENGLISH ROSE OF SWEDEN
Sung to the tune of the American folk Ballad The Yellow Rose of Texas
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).
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.
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!
Clare and I are sending this beautiful bread recipe over to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly Yeastspotting event.
CLARE’S NO-KNEAD BREAD
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.
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