Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bread for the masses

I live in The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, for almost three years now. I know I've been complaining about the weather, the fact that I have no family or close friends here, about missing my own country, but I have to admit, this is a city I'm proud to live in.
On March 3rd we have municipal elections here and expats are allowed to vote. Yesterday evening I attended the first ever political debate in The Netherlands and probably the first one in Europe that was held for expats in the English language. I was amazed that such a debate was taking place. The fact that the Dutch were acknowledging the fact that I too live here, that I too have rights and demands and responsibilities, that I too would like to know what the different parties stand for and what are their views on the issues that concern me, was a gesture of respect and acceptance.

Having lived in Greece for most of my life, this notion of a debate for expats seems incomprehensible. I could not imagine such a debate ever taking place in Greece, the land that had actually given birth to democracy, but still the land that its current democracy leads people to despair and uncertainty as a result of the government's- both past and present- horrible economic and social management. It saddens me that my country is so far from the European ideal in many issues, let alone the issues facing expats living in Greece.
Don't get me wrong, I do love my country and I'm not suggesting that my adoptive country is a perfect one, but I'm happy that it is liberal and democratic, forward and supportive of its new members. Because, after all, it's such a great feeling to be included and to feel welcome in the city or country you choose to live in.

I am a political and social being but I don't want to confuse you, this is still a food blog. And what better time than now to be sharing a recipe adapted from a Dutch chef. A very accomplished and highly respected Dutch chef, Rudolph Van Veen. The recipe is a simple bread roll, a quick bread roll to be exact. When I saw the recipe I thought "this is for me!". We're always out of bread around here and what a better way to tackle that than by making my own and in no time. I know I've promised you a particular bread recipe on a previous post but first things first. Let's begin with an easy one.

Now, don't expect this bread to be the classic soft, chewy bread. These qualities are given by the addition of yeast and this recipe does not contain any. What it does contain is whole-wheat flour for good health, baking powder which gives it its lift and a good amount of mascarpone cheese which gives it its unique flavor.

This bread roll, which is almost like a scone, is dense and a little bit crumbly with a beautiful golden brown crust. The slightly tangy flavor from the flour and the hint of sweetness from the mascarpone give an original taste to these bread rolls. You can eat them for breakfast with lots of butter and jam, for lunch with some goat's cheese and cold cuts of chicken or turkey, for a snack with salami and a couple of lettuce leaves and of course you can choose them to accompany your dinner.

Quick-and-Easy Whole-Wheat Bread Rolls
Adapted from Rudolph Van Veen

The original recipe calls for créme fraiche but I opted for something more luscious than that, mascarpone. You can also use cream cheese instead.

Yield: 10 bread rolls

450 g whole-wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
150 g mascarpone cheese
250 ml lukewarm water

1 egg, beaten, for coating

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Choose the air circulation setting.

Using a large bowl or a smooth surface in your kitchen to work on , mix the flour, salt and baking powder until well blended. You can use your hands or a wooden spoon to do this. I prefer using my hands.
Create a hole in the middle of the flour mixture, pour the lukewarm water in it and add the mascarpone.
Begin mixing the ingredients by hand by bringing the flour slowly towards the mascarpone and water, mixing the ingredients, incorporating them and creating a dough.
Knead until you have a firm dough. This whole procedure does not take more than 3-4 minutes.
Roll the dough out into a French baguette-style loaf, 5-6 cm in diameter and cut it into two large, equal pieces with a knife. Then take each large piece and cut it into five small equal pieces. Take each little piece and roll it into a ball. The size should be a little smaller than a tennis ball.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper or a non-stick mat and place the bread rolls on it.
Beat one whole egg and brush the top of each bread roll. Cut the top of each roll with a knife, making a cross, and put baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the oven to 190 degrees Celsius and bake for another 7-8 minutes. They should be golden brown on top and cooked all the way through.
Remove from the oven and place bread rolls on a wire rack to cool.

They're best eaten the same day but they're also delicious the next.


  1. These look wonderful Magda and must taste great with the mascarpone. I made some bread yesterday with a Chinese starter which were great and filled them with cheese and I am going to make some tomorrow as well.

  2. These do sound simple. I love a simple recipe that yields amazing results...these look amazing.

  3. What a lovely idea to include the mascarpone! I am so used to making my standby bread recipe and rarely make any other type for fear of making things too complicated. I will, however, try this recipe soon.

  4. These look delicious! My Italian boyfriend can't go a day without bread, but I hate dealing with yeast. This is a perfect way for both of us to be happy and not always have to buy bread from the store.

  5. Μάγδα looks lovely and very very tasty... very good to add the mascarpone cheese, lovely idea... and a very interesting replacement of ingredients...

  6. How inspiring! I know what we're having for Sunday brunch this week! :-)

  7. Ivy, Chinese starter? I've never heard of that before. Filling any kind of bread with cheese gives a magnificent result!

    Amuse-Bouche, thank you!

    Maria, this is sooo simple. Do try it!

    oranjeflamingo, Greeks and Italians are so alike and when it comes to bread, we both like lots of it!

    eleni, thank you!

    A., that's great!

  8. The bread looks delicious, especially as sandwich roll-yum!


  9. Your bread is beautiful! Im an expat aswell. Im an american living in the netherlands too:)

  10. Nisrine, thank you!

    Sonya, welcome to my blog fellow expat!

    Tobias, you said it!

  11. Mmmmarscaponnnnneeee... in bread! What a brilliant idea. Lekker ;-)

    But Magda, how did I miss that you are in Den Haag too?

  12. Just a Plane, I have no idea! :)

  13. Μάγδα τώρα είδα τα ψωμάκια και φαίνονται τέλεια!Θα τα βάλω στα υπόψιν μόλις μπορέσω να τα φτιάξω!

  14. Such and interesting, yet simple idea for bread. I just purchased some srpouted wheat flour and this looks like a great recipe to start the baking.

  15. very,very nice ....magda tnx

  16. Dear Magda, today I baked this rolls and they were much appreciated by the whole family. I made them for breakfast and within 45 minutes we had this nice fresh self-made rolls on the table. They go great with hearty and sweet stuff and I am sure we will bake them again... Greeting to you and S!
    Anke, K, C & K

    1. Hi Anke! I'm so happy you all enjoyed the bread and thanks for leaving a comment here :)
      My best to your family!