Autumn, Plums and Bread on a Stick

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_01

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.

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_03

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_04

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_06

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_05

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_08

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_07

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).

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_09

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.

Autumn_plum_stick_bread_10

69 Comments

  • With me it is the opposite: I love living in the country - AND i love having friends in the city, i can visit. Bread on a stick is great, we have it here too and call it "Stockbrot". Best, Franziska
  • Mel
    I grew up on a little farm and I recently moved back with my 4 yr old daughter. I loved inner city Sydney, bondi, redfern, surry hills, but having a yard, my own huge paperbark tree and vegie garden, chooks, rabbits and more has just brought a new peace and inspiration. Definantly a busier life than the city weirdly. All these things you can have in a small yard. I guess for me even though I loved the city I knew my heart was always in a small town surrounded by the a beach and an aqua blue lake.
  • A very big thank you is due here. Your recipe inspired this post on a new, whole foods/clean eating/earth friendly blog: http://www.gastropermaculture.com/blog/20/10/2013/the-bread-that-wasnt Cheers!
  • This is so cool! I love this post and the photos are beautiful.
  • beautiful post.. lovely photos. i made both the bread and the plum marmalade and they were both amazing! i live smack in the middle of a huge city (Toronto,Canada), and so needless to say, i didn't cook the bread over a beautiful fire. i shaped them into rolls and baked them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes and they came out wonderful -- not too dense. thanks for the inspiration!
  • I love the words in this post and the pictures are beautiful as always. I share the feeling you've captured; going home to my parents house with that big garden full of fruits and greens is wonderful. then again so is having breakfast at the café just around the corner from my apartment in Vasastan. I'll have to keep those friends and family with big gardens close and not forget to visit from time to time. /S
  • What a simple and quite beautiful post, I loved it. Bread on a stick brings back memories of camping as a kid in the bus in Australia. And I love plums, I can't wait to plant a couple in my new garden. We've just made the move from the city to the country after many years of thinking about it. We don't have loads of land, but we will have a big enough garden to grow our own vegetables and some fruit, lemons, limes, pears, apples, and of course plums.
  • I made the plum jam- super easy and very tasty! Thanks for the instructions. Hoping I'll get to try your bread sticks whilst camping this weekend!
  • Inés
    I tried this recipe of yours today in my oven - no campfire at hand ;-) As forms I made small bread rolls (80 g each) instead of twirling it round a stick after letting the dough rise overnight with less yeast. Next time I'd add a bit more salt, though, but the combination of raisins, nuts and carrots was lovely! I really like your photographs too! They are usually what makes me want to try a recipe and yours always look kind of warm and full of life - which I like =) Thank you!
  • I truly enjoyed this beautiful post David, you are certainly in the creative flow! I can feel the love for your "girls" and life because it is shining through your poetic words. It is making me smile as today we just celebrated our little girl 5th Birthday at the park on a gorgeous Autumn afternoon and seeing her running around with her little friends in their tutus or capes and laughing out loud was just the most precious gift ever! We'll have to try your bread on the stick soon, which sure will be a lot easier than the long rising and baking in the oven for the past artisan bread classes I have been teaching this month. I bet this recipe will be a hit at our next bonfire or camping trip. Thank you for inspiring us all as always, keep the good work!!!
  • Lovely post. Really makes me appreciate country life. How amazing do those freshly picked plums look in your first photo? Yum.
  • Kristen J
    Such a beautifully written post. The writing and the photos made me feel as if I had experienced those few days right along side you. It's a crisp fall day here and I now have an urge to fire up the BBQ just to make that bread...I also have plums... Once again, thank you for the inspiration.
  • This is the best GKS-post I have ever read, and I've been reading your blog for years.
  • Laura
    What an amazing story, once again. You always get me positively 'jealous' with the will to do what it takes to get to that place of gratitude, ease and, almost naive look on life. Your stories make me pause and take a big fresh breath. What definitively makes me jealous is that plum jam. I have iniciated the I Quit Sugar program have you heard about it? If so, I would be very pleased to know what your thoughts are on it..? Congratulations on Elsa she is prettier everytime we get to see her photos!!
  • Beautifully written,thankyou so much. We used to make bread on a stick over a fire when we were kids, but we call it 'damper' (I think it was a staple of early white Australians). I have the fondest memories of removing it from the stick, hands burning, while someone poured butter maple syrup into the centre where the stick had been. The trick was always to wrap it so there were no gaps were the maple syrup could escape. So much fun! Thankyou again, as always xxx
    • wooden spoon, if you can remember, I'd love to see that recipe too!
  • Darby
    what a beautiful post! just lovely.I also have similar feelings. I get to spend some time at a small seaside community off the coast of Virginia. when I'm there I want to move there. but then I return home to my vibrant and diverse community in the New York metropolitan area and can't imagine living anywhere else. Just lucky to have the beat of both worlds.
  • Honestly I wasn't for sure what was going on with the bread on the stick but the end result looks amazing! Especially with the marmalade, whoo boy that looks great.
  • Beautiful photos, as always! Elsa looks so happy and adorable- seeing these pictures makes me really want to return to my childhood again :) The next time I go to a bonfire or barbecue I'll be making bread on a stick! Yum.
  • Love the idea of bread on sticks.. Awesome clicks..
  • You know what, I never thought I'd say this as I live in the tropics now, but I miss Autumn and everything about it. I started to tear up a bit :)
  • Also, how funny that you have so many commenters called Julia!
  • What a beautiful post. I'm sure wherever you chose to live you would lead a charmed life. Elsa is adorable, and usually I don't really feel very drawn to children!
  • Teti Konstantinidou
    You were a very good storyteller already but now you sound like a poet.
  • Bea
    hei takk for en nydelig post. denne gangen også. har dere oversikt over hvor lang tid det tar å steke pinnebrødet på åpent bål?
    • Hej Bea, det tager mellem 5 -15 minutter pr. brød, afhængig af brødets tykkelse. God fornøjelse Luise
  • I started reading from your oldest post to here and now, I saw how big Elsa has become. I commented when you traveled with her around the world and you were still carrying her. Now, she is running and so bubbly.
  • What a wonderful,love-filled post. Thank you for sharing this :) I recently moved to stockholm from Honolulu, and though I'm living in the city I work out "på landet." I feel the same every day as I come home from the nature and wonder, "Oh, how lovely it would it be if I had those apple and plum trees in my garden...?" Your blog has inspired me long before I moved here and I feel so much closer to you and your delightful creations and experiences now that I'm in the same city. Thanks for being here!
  • ce.leb
    funny that you pick up that topic.. it has been on my mind for two weeks. we've been out of town to visit a relative. she has a big house and garden. Its always the same: I imagine myself in this garden, with its beatiful walnuttrees, plumtrees and so much space.. In my head, its wonderland (think of all the vegetables you could grow there!). later the same day we drove to the house of her daughter.. out there, its afordable, but here in the city I can only dream of a big house with a big garden.. its to expensive. so, for now i will stay here, because of all those thing: running in someone you know on the street. having the opportunity to go to the cinema every night, every time (and if I want to, watching ten different movies in ten different cinemas). seeing all those selfconfident people at the pride. diversity: thats citylife. and its wonderful!

Leave a comment