Autumn, Plums and Bread on a Stick

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I watch her run through the leaves with her warmest sweater on and a fruit basket in her hand. She is laughing a bubbling laugh and tells me to try to catch her. I run after her and she starts screaming of happiness. I think about how life would be if we lived here.

Our friends live a bit away from the city. They have a huge house now. It’s the opposite of fancy, but utterly charming. And a gigantic garden filled with fruit trees, fallen leaves and flowers. You can tell that the garden was beautiful and well taken care of, 40-50 years ago. But during these last decades it has slowly decayed. Our friends have, since they moved in, started to bring the garden back to life. But they are not in a rush, this will take many years.

Elsa runs through the leaves in their garden. We pick fresh plums and apples from the trees. And then we make a fire together. Luise wants to show us how to make Bread-on-a-stick, like she did as a kid. She tells us to find some branches that we can use. I find the perfect branch and trim it thoroughly. Luise looks at it and tells me that it’s too thin: “It won’t be able to hold the bread”. “Of course it will, this is perfect” I reply. She brings out a big bowl of spelt & rye müesli dough that she has prepared, and teaches us how to wrap it around the stick. We all sit there in their garden, with our stick-breads baking over the fire, drinking tea, talking about the advanced science of wrapping the bread so it stays on the stick without making it look like a sausage. I notice that my stick-bread slowly is falling closer to the fire. “Damn, the branch is too thin” I think to myself while looking at Luise. She grins at me with her most devilish I-told-you-so-expression.

We break off hot pieces of bread and dip them deep in the plum marmalade jar. Elsa’s hand is all covered in marmalade. She says “oops”, but it’s completely intentional. She sits in the grass and licks the marmalade off the bread, then off her hand. I think about how life would be if we lived here.

It’s getting darker. We say goodbye to our friends and drive back to our apartment in Stockholm. The day after, we decide to head out for breakfast at a new cafe. On the way there, we run into a samba band; drumming, singing and dancing. I watch Elsa’s eyes glitter as she claps her hands and dances to the music. She talks about the samba all the way to the cafe. We eat a wonderful breakfast. They have fresh juices with ginger, good coffee, rye bread with pickled vegetables and delicious salads. On the way back, we find a new playground with a big tree horse that Elsa immediately starts climbing. Soon she is playing with another kid there and I have to drag her off the horse as it starts raining.

I think about how life would be if we wouldn’t live in the city anymore. No more unexpected samba, great cafes and undiscovered playgrounds filled with friends. And suddenly I don’t think about it anymore. Not for now, anyway. Even though we are a bit of a hippy family, we still have our souls rooted in the city. We love it here. But we sure are glad to have friends with gigantic gardens, fruit trees and bonfires.

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Müesli Bread on a Stick
around 8–10 breads

This is not a rocket science recipe. Feel free to experiment with measurements and ingredients. Try apples instead of carrots, cranberries instead of raisins, etc. If you want to try using a gluten-free flour, we recommend adding some kind of starch to it, otherwise the bread won’t stick to the stick (no pun intended).

1 1/3 cup / 300 ml lukewarm water (40°C/100°F)
3 tsp dry active yeast OR 25 g fresh active yeast
1 tsp good quality honey
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
4 cups / 1 liter / 500 g flour of your choice (we used 2 1/2 cup (300 g) fine spelt flour and 1 1/2 cup (200 g) whole grain rye flour)
2 shredded carrots or apples
1 handful organic raisins
1 handful seeds or nuts of your choice

Pour lukewarm water into a bowl. Add yeast, honey and salt and stir to dissolve. In another bowl, sift the flours together and add carrots, raisins and seeds. Mix to combine. Add about two-thirds of the flour mixture to the yeast and water. Use your hands to knead it into a dough. Gradually add more flour until it is soft and no longer sticks to your hands. Do not over-knead, the gluten in spelt and rye is fragile. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until double in bulk.

Meanwhile prepare the campfire (or grill).

Find 6 branches from broad-leaved trees, they should be about 3 feet (1 meter) long and the size of your thumb, thicker is better than thinner. Trim the bark back from the tip of the branch. When the fire is ready, take a handful of the bread dough and form into a log with both hands. Start from the tip of the stick and wrap it tightly around until it sits firmly. Hold the wrapped stick over the hot fire (no flames) and slowly rotate to get it evenly baked and golden brown. It can take from 5 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your bread and how close you hold it to the fire. Tap to see if it’s done. It should sound hollow and be crispy and brown on the outside. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then carefully loosen it from the stick. Eat as it is or dip in plum marmalade (see recipe below).

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Plum Marmelade
makes 2 cups / 500 ml

20 oz / 550 g plums (around 12), stones removed
1/4 cup / 60 ml water
1/2 cup / 120 ml apple syrup or honey
1 small organic lemon, juice and zest

Wash the plums and remove the stones. Bring plums and water to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add apple syrup or honey, lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Place back on the heat and cook for 60 more minutes. When done, let cool slightly, then pour into a clean glass jar. Seal and store in the fridge. Keeps for at least a week.

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69 Comments

  • I absolutely love the idea of bread on a stick. Cooked over a flame too. And plums are such a great late summer/early fall treat. I love that this recipe is more of an activity. Something fun to do with te ones you love. Thank you for this!
  • What a wonderful garden for children (and adults!) to explore. I love your gorgeous photos. So great to find a plum preserve recipe that isn't crazily full of sugar too, lovely!
  • What a wonderful post - so beautifully written. I can understand your city v country living inner debate. We too live is a lovely vibrant city by the sea (Hove on the south coast of the UK) but when we drive 20 mins north into the beautiful South Down there is such peace, simplicity and you can't help but feel at one with nature. I too watch my kids run free in the fields, enjoying the natural surroundings. But could I really give up the city (and the sea on my doorstep) - If I'm honest, probably not. Love the bread on sticks - I actually tore a similar recipe out of a magazine some months back and vowed to make it with my son. He is only four but says he wants to be a chef when he grows up. He is also completely obsessed with sticks. So it's a win-win recipe really. Thanks for the prompt - will be doing bread on sticks in the coming weeks :)
  • helen
    brilliant idea with the BBQ - always wanted to try it with the Kids - but didn't want to build a bonfire in the garden!!
  • Aleksandra
    Your new creative energy is very evident. Your writing has something playful and poetic about it. You are living the best of both worlds. I know how you feel. Inevitably when you are connected to food in the way you guys are it is difficult not to love a garden or the countryside. On the other hand the City offers so much and is so Vibrant. I can't say I would be ready to live in the Country. Enjoy your time just as you are and everything will come naturally. I can't make a bonfire but I will try the bread recipe. Coincidentally, I made plum jam last week(my Kids kept on digging their fingers in the jar just like Elsa).It didn't last long! Thanks for this lovely post and much love from Vienna!
  • Beautiful story, makes me want to live there too!
  • Kristina
    Have been waiting for a recipe with plums! Our ones really need to be taken care of now so perfect timing! :) beautiful photos!
  • Caroline
    I really like your take on the traditional danish classic! I'm defiantly making these tonight! Maybe with some falafel's or something!
  • Antje
    Guys, I love you! This time for your perfect timing. We're planning to have a fire and "Knüppelkuchen" for my daughter's fourth birthday but all the recipes we tried for bread on a stick were not that exciting/healthy at all. Plus last weekend I collected a whole bunch of plums in the countryside. Guess what will be cooking in my kitchen tonight :) Thanks and lotsa love from berlin!
  • Annina
    beautiful! haha elsas chubby fingers <3
  • Carmen
    How nice to read your post! Spring is just beginning here in Chile, so the bread around the fire is exactly what I will begin to enjoy thanks to you and your wonderful recipe. :))
  • Love this!! Such a fun idea. Especially with the jam :)
  • Yes! I've seen this before, but haven't had a chance to try it. Your bread recipe sounds pretty amazing though!!
  • Elei
    It bring´s me back childhood memorys. Sitting on bonefire in August nights. Potatos rosted in the fire, bread - stick´s over it and a Cricketconcert around us. The bread - stick batter sound so creative and good! Thank you for inspiration, maybe to build beloved childhood memorys for my niece. :-) Elei
  • This post is so beautiful - thank you for sharing it. I can completely relate to that tension between the country, nature, long grass and tall trees; and the city, with its bustling, energetic atmosphere. I think it's about satisfying both aspects every now and then, finding time for nature outside and inside the city. These photos practically transport me to that orchard (while simultaneously filling me with jealousy!). And this bread looks rustic and gorgeous - I love that it's almost half-way between a favourite breakfast (müsli) and a bread.
  • this has to be one of my favorite post from you guys. So utterly gorgeous and love the writing. I often tell my husband how I would love to live away from the city and he gives me that look which means it just sounds fancy you are not meant for it. I tell him of course I'm. But deep down I think for now city is just fine :)
  • Valeria
    I ran into a samba band on Brazil day about a month ago as well :) I believe indeed there is a certain charm to living in a city (specially in such a nice one as Stockholm); you feel immersed in so many things (some are planned, some are not, that's the beauty of it) and always find new interesting/fun/beautiful/charming places. The photos are lovely (as usual, ha ha). Do you think there's an alternative for baking that bread in a conventional kitchen (without a bonfire). I'm guessing it's probably similar to one of the muesli bread recipes you posted a while back, but for this particular recipe any recommendations? (on baking time, or baking method).
    • Hi Valeria, Thank you for your comment <3 If baking it in an oven, I would probably roll them into buns and bake them on 200C/400F. I want to point out that I haven't tried it myself, so I am not sure how they will turn out. I have a hunch that they might be a little more dense then a regular bun (depending on which flours you use), but give it try and let us know :-) Best Luise
  • emily
    What a wonderful autumn post! I also often dream about moving out of the city but am afraid that I would feel too lonely if I did. Love to have friends and coffee places around the corner. Love the photos!
  • I have never heard of bread on a stick before...but what a fun idea! How great to get to experience the best of the city and the country. Elsa is so adorable...looks like she had so much fun!
    • Bridie
      'Bread on a stick' is a traditional Australian cuisine (if you can call it that). It's called 'damper' and used to be a staple for drovers and the like living on simple rations of bread salt and water in the outback. It can be quite yummy with the right jam or butter. However this bread on a stick looks and sounds muuuuch more yummy and nutritious!

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