Everyone needs a Cheers

I had the loveliest of mornings today. A little coffee shop has opened a few blocks from our house & it’s perfect. Somehow, in the space of two months Mio has become our “Cheers”. Daniel, the owner, knows our coffee order, he flirts with the old ladies, let’s the babies crawl round & serves phenomenal grilled cheese sandwiches. Lately we have been sneaking there once the baby is at nursery and enjoying a cheeky espresso and a fresh juice. Sometimes its a grab & go, other times it’s like a mini breakfast date with avo on toast & a good old chat with the other regulars.

Behind the bar is stacked high with traditional breads that he buys in from a bakery in Grunwald. BrotZeit makes real bread. Simple, rich, dark sourdoughs with ancient starters. Thick bread studded with walnuts or rolled in sunflower seeds. Bread that cries out for fresh sliced tomatoes and a crunch of salt.

This morning I got to hang out at Mio with friends. We drank coffee, ate bites of freshly baked apple cake & sampled bread. Then I rushed home, fed the baby and made cut myself a doorstep of walnut, chia spelt sourdough. It was slathered with the only butter worth eating (thank you Beillevaire for existing) and topped it with a stray plum tomato. Total perfection!

Building a tribe with feta and spinach bread

They say that it takes a village to raise a child and as this year ticks on, I am beginning to believe them. I guess that it wasn’t that long ago that families lived closer together, that you knew your neighbour, that you had childhood friends down the road. As most of you know we moved to Munich when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. I ended up two weeks overdue, was induced and after 30hours (with zero progress at all) had an emergency section (the umbilical cord was wrapped multiple times round Mays neck). From the minute May arrived, we needed a tribe and we haven’t stopped needing one since. We needed our freezer filling, our dog walking, our baby to be cooed over. We needed to be taken care of. The few friends that we had here made us feel loved and special but we had only met them weeks before and we weren’t at the stage of being able to let them into a crazy house, in three day old clothes stained with milk leakage. We needed people that knew us. People that knew our normal and could read between the lines. We needed friends that knew our history, that knew how to ask the difficult questions and who would ship us off to bed when we needed it. This year has been the very very best of years. We have watched in wonder as our little daughter grows and learns. But it has also been the hardest of years. Doing something so life changing as becoming parents meant that we needed the support of loved ones around us and on top of that, the husband has struggled this year with depression. He has found moving here harder than me in many ways. He has struggled with the culture shock of the land and of becoming a dad. I have spent the last 13months trying to keep his head above water whilst being the best mum I can be and when there is just the two of you, everything is felt more intensely. I think that why this year more than ever, cooking has mattered. It has been my respite, my solace. It is the little bit of me that I can cling on to. On days where words haven’t hit the spot the action of putting down a bowlful of something delicious has been my way of showing love. Serving homemade cakes to friends has bought us closer. Taking freshly made goodies to playgroup allowed me to open up and chat round the language barrier.

Today I dropped May off at nursery and then met a old friend for coffee. We greeted the owner by name, we sipped espresso and we laughed. It felt homely. I realised that somewhere along the way, we have been building a tribe here. That despite the hard days, the days where I was sure I was failing everyone, it turns out we were doing something right. I came home wanting to cook. I was wet and cold from the weather and I needed the oven to on and to break bread. So as Cold Feet played in the background I measured out this loaf. It is silky rich when baked and souffle light. It is salty from the feta and earthy from the spinach and it needs that tiny hint of chilli warmth. It would be delicious toasted along side a bowl of ratatouille, dipped in roasted tomato soup or topped with a crunchy carrot and seed salad.

Happy Tuesday x

Large handful of fresh spinach chopped
2 eggs
200g – 250g flour
1 tsp baking powder
0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes
1.5 tbsp ricotta
40g feta crumbled
1.5 tbsp rapeseed oil

Preheat your oven to 170C
Grease a loaf tin
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl
Stir in the ricotta, crumbled feta, chilli, oil and spinach
Fold in the flour and baking powder – use as much flour as you need to reach a thick batter
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 50-60mins or until a skewer comes out clean and it is golden brown



Cinnamon breakfast buns

I really dont have much of a sweet tooth. I like my chocolate as dark and bitter as possible and my favourite way to end a meal is with an espresso. But sometimes there are those days when only a cinnamon bun will do which is how I found myself kneading dough yesterday evening as the little one had bath time with her papa.

It was so crisp and sunny yesterday here and it felt like possibly the last of the summer heat in the sun. All we wanted to do was drink coffee and be outside. So thats what we did. We cycled our bikes, we played in the grass, we hung out with friends. But then, as the day was winding down, I felt a little lost somehow. Sometimes its like that on a Sunday night when you say goodbye to one week and you perch on the brink of the next. There are all the lists to be made and things to be done. You realise how much of last weeks ‘to dos’ will simply roll right in to this weeks. You wonder if you achieved enough or if you could have done more. Last night I was missing things. What exactly I’m not entirely sure. I was just missing the easy familiarity of life. I wanted the TV to be in my mother tongue and my family to be nearby. I wanted to be eating different food and to be hanging out in streets that I know like the back of my hand. In those moments it is so easy to compare everything and to wish the evening away, and believe me, we have done that many many times. So instead, I baked cinnamon buns. We lit some candles, snuggled up and watched a Nordic show (Lillehammer.. have you seen it?) and suddenly this flat felt more like home and we were a little team, things were cosy and the week ahead just had to wait a few hours.

To me there is something so cosy and comforting about baking and especially baking something so familiar plus the heady smell of sugar cinnamon didn’t hurt either. These buns are not your classic uber sweet syrupy version. They are more wholesome, more bready, more Nordic, more breakfasty but I promise they still come with the same amount of belly warming hygge.

Ingredients (makes 12)
Use the same recipe as here for the dough
In addition you also need:
4 tbsp coconut oil or butter
2 tbsp cinnmaon
2 tbsp pureed apple
6 tbsp unrefined sugar
1 banana (or an additional 2 tbsp butter)

Once the dough has proved roll it out until you have a large rectangle
Preheat your oven to 170C
Blend the coconut oil (or butter), apple, banana, cinnamon and sugar together
Spread over the dough
Roll the dough up into a log (starting with a longer edge)
Once fully rolled, place seam down and slice into 12 slices
Place the rolls into a well greased baking dish
Bake for 30mins

Beitzels – the beigel, pretzel hybrid

First came the Cronut, then the duffin….and now we have the beitzel! My hybrid of a beigel and a pretzel. These bad boys are a seriously good thing!

Our baby is definitely half Bavarian. I say Bavarian rather than German because she was born in Munich, during Oktoberfest time & her absolute favourite food are bretzel. Pretzel are a go to here. For breakfast split & slathered with butter, on the go during the day, for “Brot zeit” dinner (bread & cold cuts) and of course the supersize version to help mop up beer.

If the little one is being particularly cute you can guarantee that somebody in a bakery or cafe will hand her one having dusted off the salt. I have to let you in on a secret though, I don’t like pretzel. It’s the distinctive lye taste that I don’t like. Lye is used to give pretzel their traditional brown colour and you can replicate it at home but it’s pretty dangerous as it involves sodium hydroxide, gloves & eye protection…..which makes me question whether it is a good thing to be ingesting. I also wanted to make a pretzel that was simple, that shunned the buttery dough and all the added salt.

These beitzels are a pretzel -beigel hybrid. They are made from a simple risen dough which is then shaped & boiled, sprinkled with seeds and then baked till golden brown.

These beitzels have the shape of a pretzel & the delicious doughiness, but they also have the satisfying crunchy chew of a traditional boiled beigel. The little one had one this morning, we had some last night warm out the oven, dipped in sweet potato hummus. They are great spread with jam or made into a sandwich and if you are celebrating Oktoberfest then I’m sure that they paid well with any beer too!

Ps- if you need some help shaping your beitzels that check out my video on my instagram page yolandanaturally

450g strong bread flour

1 tsp salt

7g instant yeast

220ml slightly warm water

1 tbsp maple syrup

1.5 ltr water

3 tbsp mixed seeds to top (optional)

Place the flour into a large bowl

Place the salt on one side of the bowl & the yeast on the other

Add in 3/4 of the water and stir the dough to bring it all together

Combine well, adding more water as you need

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface & knead the dough for 10mins

Once smooth, place back into the bowl, cover & pop in a warm spot for 1 hour

Once the dough has doubled in size tip out & split into 12 portions

Roll the portions into long sausages and then shape into pretzel

Bring the water to the boil, add in the maple syrup

Place the pretzels, a few at a time, into the simmering water

Cook the pretzels on both sides for a minute & then remove with a slotted spoon

Place them onto a lined baking rack

Sprinkle with seeds

Place into a preheated (190C) oven & bake until golden


YNBO – Fig and cardamon braided vegan loaf

Last nights Great British Bake Off saw the bakers tackle bread. They started with chocolate studded loaves, battled with ‘Dampf knodel’ (steamed dumplings), before finally tackling braided breads. I considered making dampf knodel as they are pretty popular in this household. Alex normally gets them whenever we head to the Stadtfest in Oldenburg or the Christmas markets. They are a total meal as you get a huge dumpling which is filled with hot cherries and then bathed in custard. Totally delicious.

The thing is though, that I felt that I had to tackle the plaited or braided loaf. I am not a very technical baker or cook. I rarely attempt anything that requires exact measurements or that needs you to follow specific guidelines. The only bread I tend to make is soda bread and honestly yeast scares me a little. So, in true bake off spirit I decided to do an 8 strand plaited loaf which would be studded with figs and spiced with cardamon. You could use this recipe as the base for so many breads. You could do cinnamon and raisins buns, muesli studded plaited wreath or a kale pesto braided tear and share.

It is actually really easy to do, and whilst I held my breath every time I checked to see if it had risen, it seems to be a failsafe. I made the dough when the little one got up as she played with wooden spoons, left it in the spare bathroom with the towel rail on a low heat, and came back to it two hours later. I replaced the egg wash with a blend of maple syrup and almond milk but if you are making a savory loaf then I’m sure just the milk would work too.

The house smells amazing still, and half the loaf is already gone as Alex is home an has been sitting chomping away, slathering it in local honey. There is officially nothing greater than home baked bread and now I know how to do it, there may be no stopping me…

600g strong bread flour (I used a mix of white and spelt)

12g salt

12g instant yeast

35g softened coconut butter (or normal butter)

400ml warmish water

1 tsp almond milk

1 tsp maple syrup

Optional – 3 finely chopped figs, 1 tbsp cardamon

Place the flour into a large bowl, add the butter in chunks

Place the salt on one side of the flour and the yeast on the other (you don’t want them to touch)

Add 300ml of the water and stir with a clawed hand to combine

Bring all the ingredients together well adding more water slowly if you need it

Tip onto a very lightly floured surface and knead well for 10 mins

Place into a large oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for up to 2 hours or until it has doubled in size

Remove and knock down, then split it into 8 even portions. If you are adding in items now is the time to do it. Simply add in fruit/chocolate/nuts into each portion

Roll each portion into a long sausage

Place all the sausages in a row and then join the top ones together (so it looks like an octopus with a top and 8 spread out legs)

Plait the loaf – if you are unsure of how to do it then it is best to google it and follow a video but basically

You take leg 8 over leg 5

2 under 3 and over 8

1 over 4

7 under 6 and over 1 and then repeat till you reach the bottom

Place the dough onto a lined tray and cover loosely and place back into a warm spot for 30mins

Preheat your oven to 210C (fan oven)

Wash the bread with the maple syrup and milk wash

Bake for 30mins or until it sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped