Be my friend: Sourdough Rye Bread


For me there is no greater satisfaction than sharing  food (well, and a good book as well) with someone. Sharing the food I’ve made by myself means sharing all intentions, wishes, time, patience and dedication I’ve put in it during the preparation. And even if other persons sometimes doesn’t or cannot see all those things behind the pumpkin soup or lentil salad, at least they could taste my taste. With every bite they could feel my mood at that particular day and they could participate in my imagination process that has supported the whole cooking act. I would say, they could eat me in a double sense: they eat the food I prepared and they eat a part of myself that delicately hides behind texture, temperature, color, taste, innovation or aroma of the dish I’ve composed. An example: If I ever share with you a lukewarm soup, you can be sure that I’m seriously worried about something, there is a heat in me, I unconsciously try to balance with the almost cold soup. Or another example: If I serve you warm rice with dates, almonds and saffron and the whole bouquet melts in your mouth, there is a huge possibility that on that day I feel cozy, safe, soft. You will also recognize my experimental optimism if I serve you a salad with unusual, „special“ dressing and in a plate with vietnamese soup you can discover a traveler’s fantasies.


Every time I cook, I completely put myself into the whole process. But, most intensively I feel it when making bread. The lengthy kneading of dough brings me into a meditative state of mind where my hands start to transform into the dough itself and the whole content of the bowl and myself become one. This is probably why I love to share selfmade bread. It is my art of giving myself.


Besides of that, during my studies I found a friend who taught me that bread actually symbolizes a faithful partner or friend: Many European languages have a similar word for bread- Italians call it pane, French call it pain, Spanish call it el pan, Portuguese call it pão. All those words are also root words for the word friend/companion: compagno (it.), compagnon (fr.), compañero (sp.), companheiro (port.). Sharing bread (food) is a community act that defines participants as companions, as those “who eat the same bread with me”. My friend is someone I share my bread with. The bread (food) that a community eats together also sets the limits between the community and that what is excluded from it. The way how food is shared, both qualitative and quantitative, structures the heart of the community and locates social roles inside of it. Therefore, bread is the most democratic food for a community. Different than meat, bread pieces are mostly equal in its form and substance, so sharing bread doesn’t have a hierarchic connotation as sharing meat does.


Another precious friend wrote me after I had cooked for him: „ … I still don’t know where my homeland is. But I know that home is there where someone bakes a bread for you. …“

This is where I get my inspiration from.

Sourdough starter 

Sourdough is an ancient method of capturing wild yeast to leaven baked goods. A sourdough culture is originally created by mixing flour and water and letting it sit out for a period of time to capture wild yeast. Traditional sourdough contains a complex blend of bacteria and yeast that grow naturally  he surface grains. There are many reasons why you should choose consume more sourdough than commercial baking yeast: sourdough breaks down gluten in the grains, making it easier to digest. The bread made with sourdough starter lasts longer and it is higher in nutrients.

Baking light, fluffy sourdough bread requires fresh, active sourdough starter. For that you’ll need only 2 ingredients: water and preferably spelt or rye flour. And here comes the method:

Day 1: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour (I used rye for the starter and spelt for making the whole bread)
Day 2: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour
Day 3: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour
Day 4: 50 ml filtered water + 50 g rye or spelt flour

1. In a bigger bowl combine flour and water and still until you get a battery consistence. Cover the bowl with a lid and set in a warm place.
2. After 24 hours, feed the starter with the same amount of flour and water. Stir to combine.
3. After another 24 hours, repeat the process of feeding with the same amount of flour and water.
4. After another 24 hours, repeat the process of feeding with the same amount of flour and water.

On the Day 5 your starter is risen and have doubled in size from day four. If not so, continue with the feeding process until the starter has risen. Make sure you co it in the warm place. Now you have the basis for your tasty sourdough bread. Here comes the recipe: 


Sourdough bread


200 g sourdough starter
200 g spelt flour (or any other flour you like. Spelt and rye flour are however my favorite combination)
1 dl lukewarm water, or a bit more
1 tsp sea salt


1. Place a sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl- it should be slightly sticky. Start adding only small amounts of flour at a time, to facilitate kneading.
2. Knead the dough by hand for 15- 20 min. After kneading, shape your loaf, cover it with a moist kitchen towel, and let it proof for 12- 24 hours.
3. Slash loaves with a very sharp knife or razor blade. When dough is placed in a hot oven, the yeasts work extra hard right before they go dormant, due to the high temperature. This is why the bread could rise a bit more in the oven, getting a nice, light texture. Slashing the loaf gives dough a direction to rise so that the final shape of the loaf is controlled.
4. Place the bread onto the baking trail covered with baking paper. Place in the preheated oven and bake for ca. 40 min. on 200 C. Always test your loaf for doneness. Turn the hot loaf over and flick it with your finger. If it sounds hollow, it is done.
5. Let the bread cool at least 20 min. before slicing.

Storing the sourdough starter

If you bake frequently, be sure to feed the starter daily (every 8-12 hours) and cultivate it at the room temperature, preferably at 25 degrees room temperature. Remove half of the starter each time so that there is always room for the fresh flour and water.

If you want to storage the starter and use it only sometimes, you can keep it in a fridge, in a tightly-closed container, and feed it once per week. To use again remove the starter from the fridge 12 hours before baking. Feed the starter with flour and water: combine equal amounts by weight of starter, water, and flour. Cover and set aside for 12 hours. When the starter is bubbly again, it’s ready to use again!




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Baked Apples (with Vanilla Ice Cream)


Everything is easier and prettier with friends.

This time two gorgeous women accompanied me into my cooking adventure and the whole   experience became a fireworks of laughing, talking, exploring, tasting, barefoot walking, swimming and food preparation.

My friend Dani lives in a cozy house close to the see and grows an amazing garden in her yard. Our day started with a long walk to the see where we shortly swam and appreciatively dived trough almost very last warm day in this year. Intoxicated by nature and slightly tired, we came back home with sophisticated appetite for a sweet treat. We exactly knew what we want: autumn and summer on one plate. Something warm and cold at the same time. Airy and earthy.

Monika Pala Photographymonikapala2monikapala4-1monikapala24-1

I looked to my right, then to my left and saw a field with fallen apples lying under my feet. It was not hard to get inspired.  We collected apples, picked the fresh herbs from garden and bought some vanilla ice cream (because we didn’t have enough tome for freezing) it. The rest is history. No, poetry!

Monika Pala, a talented photograph from Sicily and currently based in Berlin made a photo-collection that will always remind me of this late summer-early autumn day! Check her work on:

My imagination was totally influenced by feminine energy and this desert may look king of girly, but don`t judge it by picture! I’ll tell you one thing: a male roommate from Dani ate it as well. Two times in a row.

Recipe follows the photos. 


Thank you, magnificent women! I’m looking forward to a reprise.

Baked Apples

Ingredients (serves 4):

4 big or 6 small apples
1 Tsp butter (optional)
2 tsp grounded cinnamon
3 Tsp honey
Juice of  1 orange
2 cinnamon sticks (optional, for more aroma)
1 cup (100 g) almonds, roughly chopped
handful of fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme and mint (for garnish)
vanilla ice cream (for garnish, optional)


1. Preheat oven on 160 c.
2. Cut the apples into halves and remove the cores from the each side, in order to become a small hollows in each half of apple.
3. Place all halves into an overproof form, hollowed sides up. In each of hollow put a small piece of butter. Cover apples with a mixture of orange juice, honey and grounded cinnamon. Add cinnamon sticks to the form and place into the oven.
4. Bake apples for 10 min. Remove from oven and cover with chopped almonds. Put everything back into the oven and bake for another 10-15 min. Serve with bunch of fresh herbs and if you like, with vanilla ice cream. I like!



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Autumn in Barbagia, Sardinia


If you want to get better acquainted with Sardinia and people from there, you should go to the mountains. Although Sardinia has the most beautiful, wild, white-sand beaches, which I enjoyed swimming in middle of September without any tourist crowds, my wistful and curious gaze was attached to mysterious hills that friendly initiated me into the magic nature of this Mediterranean island and it’s people.


Somewhere in-between the east coast and Lago del Torpé, where ancient megalithic edifices remember of old Nuragic civilization, one women with wise eyes and youthful, indestructible smile offered me every morning a cup of delightful tea, made from herbs she had collected and dried. The whole Sardinian landscape became apparent in the expressive visage of this hospitable woman. There was no need for me to travel further. Her smile was the warm morning sun, her eyes a dark sea, her long, strong and black hair a dense forrest. Her hands were industrious, and every time when she moved an aromatic breeze was filling the room and made me close my eyes. The whole impression- melancholy. I was not there accidentally.


But, what Marina most often used was here nose. 

As an owner of a small, charming and nature-adapted guesthouse in which we’ve stayed, she uses the flowers- and herbs-full environment of Sardinia in the best possible way- by collecting  drying, distillating materials and transforming them into the exquisite natural essential oils. One cup of herbal tea and one drop of juniper essential oil. With it, the traditional crisp and flat bread carasau, rolled and filled with warm ricotta, freshly crated lemon zest and drizzle of an organic honey. Again, I wasn’t there accidentally. 


Barbagia is the name of the region I was trying to discover for myself. The land of the barbarians. Those, so called barbarians from the hills, were always more interesting for me than the jet set tourists and yacht owners down there from the coast. I would rather be a barbarian than a neo-capitalist. The way of barbarian violence seems to be more natural and necessary. While we were driving around the barbarian hills I thought of the words of the Italian director Pasolini: “The word barbarism- I confess- it is the word to the world that I love more (…). Simply, in the logic of my ethics, because the barbarity is the state that precedes the civilization, our civilization: that of common sense, security, a sense of the future. It’s simply the expression of a rejection, anguish ahead authentic decadence generated by binomial Reason-Pragma, the two-face god of bourgeoise.” Then I think on Bosnia, my homeland, but only for a second or two. Melancholia yes. Nostalgia no.


The food was simple. Strong. Food for hard working people, for shepherds, field- and mine-workers. Meat. Cheese everywhere and for everyone. Grapes, peaches and figs. Pasta and bread. Honey. Pranza stands for lunch that usually takes time around noon. Every day at that time we ate homemade cheese (pecorino or ricotta), local tomatoes, bread, fruits and olives. The food we bought from a local farmer who was regularly complaining about the hard work he must invest into his farm. I was starring at his garden and was jealous.


Autumn in Barbagia is a cultural event wich aim is to showcase Sardinia’s rural heritage and attract visitors during what is usually a low season for tourism. Every weekend throughout the autumn, towns and villages take turns to open their cortes i.e. the courtyards of the traditional houses. Visitors are able to gain a first-hand experience of the local country life, discover its scents, savour its tastes, learn about its traditions, handicrafts and art work, all of which has been jealously nurtured for centuries in the Barbagia area.


We went to the village Austis and were the only tourists there. Tourists that were fed on every corner.  The total atmosphere of this happening was warm, but not in a “too-friendly-hospitality” way. I was there, obviously a stranger, but as soon I tasted a freshly baked bread, piece of homemade cheese or local wine I was incorporated into the small village community that was trapped in the heart of Sardinia. “Bosniaaaa” they loudly sang in the famous Italian manner when I revealed my place of birth. And then again this barbarian smile. 


Times of barbarians are already over in Barbagia. But every year on one particular day allinhabitants turn back into their old tribes, trying to reconcile humans, animals and gods. Carnival is a heartbeat of Barbagia, a mixture of holy and profane rituals. Masks, differ in shape and name from town to town, freaky disguises, dance around big bonfires, procession and songs characterize celebrations. A feast is the highlight of the ceremony. Fava beans and lard, fritters and wine are the guaranteed.


Piccinna, bella piccinna                           Little girl, beautiful little girl,

cantu mi si s’aggradada.                          How much you pleased me.

Suli ni si andende a linna,                       I’m going to cut the wood,

esa dominica mudada.                             In my Sunday clothes.

With this old serenade from Sardinia I thank this island for all the beauty it showed me. 

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