Baking ( not as easy as it sounds )

Yes we can go to the nearest big supermarkets 30 miles away to get most of the ingredients you need for baking but we choose not to, we like to use what we’ve grown or can get locally at the market. Winter is my baking season, it’s just too hot in the Summer months and the cooking pechka is on for heating the house so it makes sense to use it for baking with. I remember the days when I’d get up decide to bake, write a shopping list, jump in the car pop to the local supermarket and be back home an hour later with everything I needed, but that is no longer the case.

I like to make big batches all at once so the day before is spent working out what we have and what I can make, then it’s usually a case of bashing some walnuts, cracking hazelnuts and, if we have any, chopping up dried fruit. Our dried fruit is a mixture of figs, apples, peaches, plums and cherries. Some of these I buy at the market as we have had limited success so far drying own fruit but a dehydrator is on the list of things to build later this year. We don’t use raisins and sultanas because so far we haven’t found a seedless variety of grapes for drying and they are expensive to buy compared to the home dried fruit on the market. Then because the chickens go on strike in winter I work out how many eggs are needed and get them out of the freezer, which we freeze  when we have a surplus. You can get self-raising flour but it only comes in small bags and is expensive, so we get a big sack of plain and add baking power. This only comes in tiny packets of about 2 teaspoons worth so I make my own out of bicarbonate soda and cream of tartar which also has it’s problems as we haven’t been able to find cream of tartar here so, when friends visit from the UK and ask if I need anything bringing, that is always on my list.

On baking day we light the pechka, keep checking it till it reaches temperature then damp down, then all day is spent either adding wood to bring temperature up or damping down to cool the oven off. We have also found things cook quicker in the pechka than a normal oven, don’t know why it’s just the way it is, so clock watching doesn’t work ( not that we’ve got one anyway ) so you can’t go off and do something else. At the end everything gets bagged up, labeled and stuck in the freezer.

We have got quite inventive with our cake making, we used to make carrot cake, but now we have added beetroot, ( our neighbours’ are the size of footballs ) pumpkin, courgette and green tomatoes to our list of veggies used if we have them.

  7 comments for “Baking ( not as easy as it sounds )

  1. Sara Brunger
    January 10, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    I admire anyone who can bake a large cake or loaf to perfection in a modern Prity. I have had bread come out looking stunning but then sliced it and it’s raw in the centre, same with cake. Buns, either cake or bread, scones, flatbread are OK though. But as you say, daft to waste the heat and most meals are cooked on there when it’s lit. After losing a couple of batches of bread I now stick to the conventional oven as the waste is unbearable after mixing and kneading and proving all day as I have bread ‘days’ Same with large cakes. I do have a dehydrator and do grapes, my husband insists on de-pipping them for me! Great for all fruits and a favourite is raspberries, great intense flavour. I dry to fairly soft texture then freeze. Yummy.

    • Joe
      January 10, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Hi Sara, as chief bread-maker I can say that a thermometer is an essential bit of kit for baking. I wouldn’t try it without one. That said, now I’ve got used to our oven I don’t rely on it so much. It sounds like your oven is getting too hot – have you tried baking loaves in a cats-iron pot? You can only get one in at a time, but it protects the bread from extreme heat. Would Dave like to come and de-pip our grapes? 😉 The other tip for a too-hot oven is to prop the door open slightly, but again, a thermometer is essential to judge it, but usually opening the door for a few seconds every ten minutes works well

  2. Steph
    January 10, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Having had the great fortune to taste your baking I can only verify you have fantastic success!! Steph x

  3. January 17, 2016 at 4:56 am

    Happy New Year to you !! and all around you !! The shops in Popovo are maybe no Supermarkets ! Compared to England ? And I am glad, that they are not bigger yet ! In the tiny little “Supermarket” close to the Hospital in Popovo, you can buy “wild wheat” or more accurat, the ancestors of wild Bulgarian – Wheat, Wich was declared instinct ! Just like the European Buffalos ! You will never find that in PennyMarket -Or Metro ! And it is only 7 miles away !!

  4. January 17, 2016 at 5:15 am

    And it is a pity, that so many Bulgarians don’t know anymore, how Good Bread can be ! Most of them eat only tasteless-white-fluffy-factory-made bread ! Not even “Enriched Wheat” to compensate for all the vitamines that are gone !!

  5. January 17, 2016 at 5:56 am

    And, There is no more than 5-6 Miles from Palamartsa to the nearest Good Shop !! Support the little Shops ! Or they will give up soon !!

    • Joe
      January 17, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Fridrik, we never use the big supermarkets, we enjoy the challenge of adapting to what we can buy from local shops and markets, it makes for a more interesting life 🙂

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