Classic Roasted Tomato And Sweet Pepper Soup With Swedish Poppy Seed Bread
I’m such a bread person you guys. I’m definitely one of those people that really can’t live without it. The smell of it baking is just heavenly. I’m a novice bread baker but hoping with practice that will change. I was quite happy to receive Magnus Nilsson’s most recent book The Nordic Baking Book. I was also sent his previous two books The Nordic Cook Book and Nordic: A Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food and People - the latter being a personally curated selection of Magnus Nilsson’s photographs from The Nordic Cookbook, also including previously unpublished images taken during his research. It’s beautiful. He does not call himself a photographer but his snap shots say otherwise - his eye for photography is amazing - a true artist when it comes to food and photography.
The Nordic Cook Book is a documentary of recipes compiled in a way that people can understand what Nordic cooking is all about and that it’s more than gravlax, herrings and meatballs. The Nordic Baking Book is very much a continuation of the Cook Book. Magnus himself calls it a snapshot of what people actually bake today in the Nordic region that he has compiled. It contains pretty much all the dishes of the Nordic region containing grains: from porridge to pasties, breads, cakes, cookies and pastries. That is why I was excited to receive these books.
A little more on the man behind these amazing books. Magnus Nilsson is a Swedish chef who is head chef at the restaurant Fäviken in Sweden. He was in the Netflix series Chef’s Table season one, if you are a fan of the series like we are, you may remember his restaurant in which he serves incredible dishes in a quick paced succession - approximately 30 dishes in a span of approximately 2½ hours. How excited was I to receive his books by Phaidon Publishing company! The categories in each Cook Book are laid out logically and the recipes are very clear and the book also has some very helpful illustrations especially when it comes to more complex bread shaping.
It was recommended that I make two specific recipes from the Nordic Baking Book and the first one I was asked to make and share is a Swedish Wheat Loaf with Poppy Seeds. It’s a white milk bread which has its roots in a traditional challah. The Swedified version though does not contain any eggs (except in the egg wash if you count that) and doesn’t have the traditional braided appearance that challah does. It’s a fabulous bread and actually quite easy to make. It was my first time using fresh yeast and I loved using it but this way - it dissolves nicely and I will def be using it again. If you don’t have fresh yeast available, according to Nigella.com if the recipe has 30g (1 ounce) fresh yeast then you can use 15g (½ ounce) active dry yeast or 7g (¼ ounce) instant yeast instead.
The bread is light but still has substance to it when it comes to texture. The recipe calls for making it in a standing mixer but mine for some reason couldn’t handle it so I used good old elbow grease. I made it a couple of times and noticed that I was more confident in recognising when the dough is ready to proof. You really do get a feel for it. I really can’t wait to bake more of the breads and baked goods in the book.
We enjoyed this bread with a fabulous roasted tomato and sweet pepper soup. It’s one of my favourite soups to dip bread into and thought this one most definitely would be delicious with it. It’s just a simple soup recipe that I love to make and I love to eat it with toasted bread slathered with a bit of pesto. This was the perfect bread to do that with - it was also the perfect sandwich bread and perfect bread for French toast. I will share a snap of it made into that on insta soon. I can’t wait to share the second recipe with you guys which is actually in both the Cook Book and the Baking Book. It’s going to be pretty epic! In the meantime do make this loaf and do make this soup - you will love them together and you will have enough leftovers for French toast the next day.
Swedish Wheat Loaf with Poppy Seeds
- 17 oz. (500 ml) milk or water (I used milk in mine)
- 2 oz (50 g) fresh yeast
- 2 tsp (10 g) salt
- 3½ tbsp (50 g) butter, at room temperature, plus extra to grease if using
- 5½ cups (750 g) strong wheat flour
- 1 egg plus 1-2 tbsp of milk for egg wash
- 3 tbsp of poppy seeds
- Pour the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer and dissolve the yeast into it.
- Add the salt, butter and flour.
- Work everything together with the dough hook for 10-12 minus at a rather high speed until very shiny and elastic. (Approx 15 minutes by hand)
- Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and leave the dough to rise for about 35 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
- Line 2 baking sheets with baking (parchment) paper or butter three 9 x 5 3-inch loaf pans.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work counter and divide it in half if you are fitting it into loaf pans.
- Shape them nicely and then, if you are making free-form loaves place each one on a prepared baking sheet.
- If, however, you are baking your dough in loaf pans, place them in the buttered pans.
- Cover the shaped dough with aa clean dish towel again and lave to rise for another 20 minutes, or until doubled in size
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Whisk the egg and milk together until it becomes quite frothy and light in colour and smooth with no lumps - approx 2 minutes for the egg wash. Brush the loaves lightly with the egg wash and then sprinkle each loaf evenly with poppy seed.
- Bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and nicely golden.
- Leave to cool completely on wire racks before you cut into them.
For the Roasted Tomato and Sweet Pepper soup
- 2¼ lbs (1 kg) tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 red onion
- 1 garlic head (7-8 garlic cloves), skin on
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp of chili flakes
- 2 cups (480 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp (1 g) oregano
- ½ tsp of dried or fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup of heavy cream for drizzling over soup or stirring in for richness (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters, red pepper into chunky pieces, onion into wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet
- Add the garlic cloves leaving the skin on.
- Season with salt and pepper and chili flakes and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Transfer the cooked vegetables with the juice into a blender.
- Squeeze in the garlic flesh and add the oregano and thyme and blend until smooth.
- Pour the soup into a pot and add the stock and the vinegar and bring to a low boil to heat through.
- Stir well and serve sprinkled with fresh basil, a drizzle of good olive oil or heavy cream and some toasted bread with a slathering of pesto (homemade or store bought)