27 May 2013

Dark Rye Bread, Homemade Ricotta and Balsamic Strawberries

For once we have actually had sun on a British Bank Holiday! I've been treated to a lovely afternoon tea at Fawsley Hall to celebrate the end of exams and a weekend of endless waitressing shifts. 
After a hectic few days I'm beginning to start packing for my trip to Sri Lanka but am also trying to fit in as much cooking as possible before I'm kitchen-less for 5 weeks! 
So last weekend I set myself a little challenge to make some homemade cheese. Thanks to Annie's recipe at Annie's Eats, I now realise that making cheese can be quite easy! 

Ricotta is a good basic cheese to start off with and was surprisingly easy to make. I came across Annie's recipe that step by step shows you the details of how to make ricotta with great photos and easy-to-produce delicious results. I also attempted my first rye bread made with dark black treacle and cardamom and topped with fennel seeds. I love the dark nutty flavour of rye bread and it doesn't need much kneading however the dough will feel fairly different to your usual bread dough as the rye flour makes it slightly denser. I followed Paul Hollywood's recipe for rye bread as I think his recipes are really reliable and easy to follow. 


2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed
2.3 litres pasteurised whole milk
1tsp salt

1tsp cardamom seeds, ground
Fennel seeds
500g rye flour
10g salt
10g instant yeast
20ml black treacle
350ml cool water
Olive oil for kneading

1tbsp honey
1tbsp balsamic
Strawberries or fresh figs

Rocket leaves


Annie's recipe for homemade ricotta:

Put the milk and salt into a suacepan over a medium heat and continue to heat, stirring occasionally until the milk reaches 185 degrees F. 

While the milk is heating, prepare a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth layered over it. 
Once the milk has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the lemon jucie and vinegar. Stir it just enough to distribute the acids evenly and then leave for 5-10 minutes. 

When the mixture has fully curdled, it will have separated into white curds and translucent yellow whey. If it hasn't fully curdled add a little more vinegar a spoonful at a time and leave to sit for a bit longer. 

Then carefully pour the mixture into the colander and let it drain for about 8-12 minutes or a little less if you want it a little more moist which is best for sandwiches. 
Then transfer the curds to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled. 

Store for up to 5 days. 

Paul Hollywood's rye bread:

Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Add the treacle, ground cardamom seeds and three quarters of the water and then turn the mixture round with your fingers. Gradually add a little more water until all the flour is incorporated and you are left with a rough soft dough.

Coat a clean work surface with a little olive oil and then knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes until the dough starts to form a soft skin and is slightly more pliable and elastic. 

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size. (Roughly 4 hours)

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold it repeatedly in until the air is knocked out. Then form the dough into a smooth ball and put it into an oiled loaf tin. Leave to prove again for another 2-3 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C and put a roasting tray into the bottom and a baking tray onto an oven shelf. 

Once proved, score the top of the dough with a sharp knife and sprinkle with a bit of extra rye flour and some fennel seeds.

Bake the loaf on the baking tray and immediately pour some hot water into the roasting tray in the oven to create steam (which will give the loaf a nice crust)and bake for 30 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow. 

To serve, heat the honey and balsamic until syrupy and then serve drizzled over strawberries or figs, the homemade ricotta, some rocket and a piece of freshly cut rye bread. 

I found that my rye bread was a little too dense in consistency- I think this is because I hand-kneaded mine and wasn't strong enough to give it the extra power it kneaded so I'd suggest using a dough hook in a mixer if you can!

Just thought I had to share this photo with you- I swear Eddie is actually smiling!


  1. Did Eddie try some of your ricotta is that why he's smiling! So creative to make your own cheese! Definitely will be trying this out when I'm all moved into the new house!!

    Katie <3

    1. Haha he's a nightmare! and a real ninger at nicking food when I'm not looking so probably! I didn't realise just quite how easy it is to make so you should definitely give it a go too:) xx

  2. You're like a god in my eyes now, I didn't even really realise you could make cheese at home... Crazy! Xxx

    1. Neither could I until I saw how easy Annie's recipe was! Definitely worth the effort:) xxx

  3. SO awesome that you made your own cheese! I guess I never realized how easy it was. Have a great trip and don't miss your kitchen too much in those 5 weeks! ;)

    1. Thanks Ashley! 5 weeks seems like such a long time- but I can't wait to sample some Sri Lankan food! xxx

  4. I just made homemase ricotta last week and fell in LOVE with it! It's so much better than the store bought stuff! And I love the look of that dark rye bread.

  5. I saw Annie post this recipe and am excited that you has success with it. I may have to try making it soon!

  6. I love the idea of serving ricotta and balsamic strawberries on homemade bread! This sounds like a delicious meal. Lovely post... :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It's really appreciated and lovely to hear some feedback. Katie x