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Feelin’ Salty

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Just to share my current love of salty sweet treats, here are two great cookie recipes to try. They are both from the NY Times. The first is a salted tahini chocolate chip cookie.  The tahini paste adds a subtle, almost elusive,  nuance to the cookie and for the chocolate I used a combination of bittersweet and semisweet chunks. A sprinkle of kosher salt as soon as the cookies come out of the oven adds the right finishing touch.

Find the recipe here….

 

The second is a Salty Peanut Butter Sandie. If you love peanut butter, you will love this cookie. Made with all natural, unsalted peanut butter, it is then mixed with brown sugar and crunchy salt for a deep satisfying flavor. The top is sprinkled with Maldon sea salt and turbinado sugar. Addictive, to say the least.

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Find the recipe here….

 

These are both worth trying. Enjoy!

Happy Easter

DSC_0185Wishing everyone near and far, family and friends, a very happy Easter and Purim. Celebrate with good people and don’t forget to eat some Cake!

 

 

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Where does the time go? All of a sudden, I look up at the  calendar and realize that it is the end of the month already. Arghh… What was the Bakers Challenge?? Lamingtons – sounds great. Make them in hurry, three varieties. Taste great. I now realize that it is past the 27th and it takes me hours to post something. I just don’t have the motivation to stay up until midnight blogging. I guess I am skipping another month….  Am I the only one who feels like a loser for doing this?

Okay, so what about the Bread Baking Babes? Maybe I will give this a shot and be on time. Cathy, from Bread Experience was the babe of the month. A quick look at the recipe and I see that a poolish is needed. It takes 14 + hours, but I really want to try this recipe. Oh well, I guess being on time is not my thing. I could have done it if I stayed up until midnight, but no, I chose to pop my final dough into the fridge overnight before shaping and baking this morning. More flavor, right? Right!

All kidding aside, this is a fantastic bread and so worth the time and effort. I wouldn’t say that this is a beginner’s bread, since it is a very wet dough (I think that Cathy  said 90% hydration), but I wouldn’t be scared of giving it a go either. All that moisture creates a light, chewy bread with lots of air pockets. there is no kneading, just folds at 45 minute intervals. I love prunes (or should I say “dried plums”) so I upped the quantity, but another dried fruit would work fine. Or olives. Or roasted garlic.

(later on…)BBBuddy Badge May 15

So now that the bread is baked and has cooled (perfect time to take my daughter to dance class), all I can say is “Delicious”!, but I better hurry since one loaf is already gone and another is half eaten. Even my daughter loved it. Except I told her it was plums in the bread (Why do prunes get such a bad rap?)

So, all I can say is Bake On!

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Flaxseed and Prune Ciabatta-Style Loaves

 

Poolish:

(I improvised here and did 85 grams 100% hydration starter, 85 grams flour, 85 grams water, and a tiny pinch of yeast.  It sat for 10 hours before moving forward)

  • 125 grams / ~ 1 cup bread flour or all-purpose flourDSC_0557
  • 125 grams / 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of instant yeast

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated with D.D.T. of 70°F.
Allow to ferment 12 – 14 hours at room temperature (65 -70°F)

 

 

 

 

Flaxseed soaker:

This makes the seeds more easier to digest. You will notice that the mixture gets very gelatinous, which is normal.

  • 48 grams/ 1/4 cup + 1 T flax seeds
  • 72 grams / 1/3 cup water

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated, cover and set aside.
Let it sit for at least one hour.

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Final Dough:

  • 300 grams / ~ 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 50 grams / ~ 1/3 cup coarsely  whole wheat flour
  • 25 grams / 1/4 cup coarsely  whole rye flour
  • 278 grams / ~ 1 1/4 cups water
  • 10 grams / 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 84 grams / ~1/2 cup prunes (I used 140 g)
  • 2 grams / ~3/4 teaspoon instant yeast (I used 1/4 tsp)

Mixing: Hand Mix

  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the flax seeds, and plums.
  2. Once everything is thoroughly incorporated, mix in flax soaker and dried plums.
  3. Transfer the dough into an oiled container.

Dough Temperature: 76-78°FDSC_0565

First Fermentation: a total of 3 hours with 3 folds

  • 45 minutes at room temperature; fold
  • 45 minutes at room temperature; fold
  • 45 minutes at room temperature; fold

At this point I covered the dough bowl and placed it in the fridge overnight for a nice slow rise

Divide: Dough is not scaled. It is divided by measurement (i.e. eyeballing the dough).

Place loaves on a floured couche, proofing board or a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Rest : 20 minutes at room temperature

Preheat Oven: to 475°F with a baking stone on the bottom rack and a steam pan or iron skillet on the top rack of the oven.

Transfer loaves to baking stone: Carefully transfer the loaves from the baker’s couche (or proofing board) to the preheated baking stone.

If you proof the loaves on parchment, which is what I did, just transfer the loaves (parchment and all) to the baking stone and remove the paper partway through the bake cycle.

Quickly add several ice cubes to the steam pan (I just added a cup of water), spritz the loaves with water (oops, I forgot that) and immediately turn the oven down to 450 degrees F.

Bake: 15 minutes, then rotate the loaves for even baking and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until done. They should be a rich, dark color. I turned my oven off, cracked the door ajar, and let them sit for another 10 minutes.

Let cool completely.

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How about instead we just call this swirly delicious bread? I would hate to think that this would/could only be made at Easter time. It was so fluffy and yummy. Oh, and gone in less than 24 hours. Maybe it should be called dangerous…

Elle, over at Feeding My Enthusiasms, has chosen a delightful filled bread for this month.

“The description of the recipe in The Festive Bread Book, by Kathy Cutler talks about “The delicious walnut filling” but the recipe calls for ground almonds. I suspect that you could use any ground nut you desire…walnut, almond, pecan, hazelnut…and you will get a nice filling. The full description is, ” the delicious walnut filling of this bread helps make it a Romanian classic. Serve it as a snack or with Easter dinner.” It doesn’t have any icing, so it may be a bread that is somewhat unsweetened. You can always add a sweet glaze and/or nuts once the baked bread has cooled if you prefer it a bit sweeter.”

I chose to make a poppy-seed filling for mine so I am not sure I can say it is Romanian, but it is still very much keeping with European flavors. The bread is rich with eggs, milk and butter resulting in a dough that is a pleasure to work with. Seriously though, isn’t all bread dough wonderful? The magic of bread is never-ending.

My poppy-seed filling is just something I made up but I  ended up with too much. That is okay  with me since I am planning on making another one later today in just a simple jelly roll style but I am adjusting it here for you, or double it like me. I like a lot of filling. Ah,gluttony (it’s my middle name)

Bake On!

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Romanian Easter Braid

makes one loaf

from The Festive Bread Book, by Kathy Cutler

3 1/2 – 4 cups flour, divided
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I used the zest of I orange)
2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used 3/4 tsp kosher salt)
2 eggs

Filling: (Please see Elle’s site for the original version)

5 oz poppy seed
6 oz whole milk
2 oz honey
2 oz |(1/2 cup) granulated sugar
2 oz butter

Grind the poppy seeds in a clean coffee grinder to break them down a bit. Place into a small pan with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat slightly and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool completely.

Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk (I skipped this)

Preparation: Combine 2 cups flour , the yeast, and  zest in a mixing bowl.

Heat milk, butter, sugar and salt until butter melts; remove from heat and let cool until it reaches 90-100 degrees F.

Add milk mixture and eggs to dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (I used it all). Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth – about 10 minutes (I used my stand mixer)

Place in greased bowl, turning to coat top. Cover; let rise in warm place until double – about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into a 7 x 16-inch rectangle.

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Use 1/3 of filling one each rectangle, spreading filling, but leaving a margin around edges; roll up jelly-roll style. Seal seam and ends. You will have three filled and sealed ropes. I used way too much filling on my first roll!

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Braid ropes; place on greased baking sheet.

Cover; let rise in warm place until double – about 30 minutes.

Make glaze and brush on loaf.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack.

(Optional: Make a sweet glaze with 1 tablespoon warm milk and enough powdered sugar to make a drizzle glaze. Drizzle cooled bread and then sprinkle with sliced almonds, for decoration, while glaze is still wet. Let dry.)

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Here are the links for thBBBuddy Badge April 15e other Babes:

BakeMy Day  –  Karen
Blog from OUR Kitchen –  Elizabeth
Bread Experience –  Cathy
Girlichef –  Heather
Life’s a Feast –  Jaime
Lucullian Delights –  Ilva
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
My Kitchen in Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie van Lien – Lien

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Irish soda bread muffins,  that is.

On St. Paddy’s day, I am always reminded of the  “holiday” cards my mom would get from the O’Wileys or the O’Gormans. Her friends always adding the “O'” to their last names to get in the spirit of things. I also remember my mom making corned beef and cabbage back when I was in grade school. I haven’t eaten beef since I was 12 yrs old but I was just telling my husband yesterday that I remember it tasting SO good. While he won’t be having that tonight I did just buy some Guinness beer and will make him a beef irish stew. As for me, I have already had a delicious irish soda bread muffin with my morning coffee.

These are super fast and easy to put together. Since they are baked in a muffin tin the baking time is only 20 minutes. The size is perfect. One went in my daughters lunch box, another wrapped up for her teacher.

Back in the day, for a few years I had an office that overlooked 5th Avenue in Manhattan and had the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade pass under my window. The streets would be filled with many drunk folks and after work I am sure I was one of them too. Never green beer though. Now I bake muffins. O’ the times they are a changin’….

Bake On!

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Yields 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups (177 g) AP Flour
3/4 cup (85 g) whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (74 g) granulated sugar (I actually used 1/4 c)
1  cup (135g) currants
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, or to taste
1 large egg
1 cup (8 oz)  buttermilk
1/3 cup (2 3/8 oz) canola oil

Preheat your oven to 400 F and line a muffin tin with papers.

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (egg, buttermilk and oil) wet

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and give a few quick stirs with a large spoon to combine everything. Do not overmix! As with all muffin recipes, this only toughens the dough. It will be a thick batter. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 of the way full and sprinkle with some course sugar (I used green).DSC_0115
Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Flip them out of the pan so the bottoms don’t get soggy. Let cool slightly before digging in.

 

 

 

 

 

The leprechaun catcher…….
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Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Kouign Amann

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So that 4 mile walk I did this morning? Down the drain after digging into these gorgeous, caramelized morsels of pastry. Can you stop at just one? I dare you. I double dog dare you. Holy cow, these are unbelievable. I am on a sugar high right now and probably on the verge of diabetes (just kidding)….

Lien of Notitie van Lien has chosen the French pastry Kouign amann (pronounced “queen a-mahn”) and it  hails from Brittany, France. It’s kind of like a croissant but also  a palmier, with layer after layer of buttery, flaky pastry on the inside, yet caramelized with sugar on the outside. Pure heaven.

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It’s the 7 year anniversary for the Bread Baking Babes and as a tag along buddy I wanted to share in their celebration.BBBuddy Badge Feb 15

Since I have been quite lazy about posting anything I really felt it was about time I got back on the bandwagon and here is the perfect opportunity. . Even though, I have been quiet as a mouse I still have been baking along with them.

Last month was chapatis

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December was a yummy nutella bread ( It was so much fun I made it twice)

nutella

So I start getting my ingredients together and get the scale out. I weighed the butter and realize that my butter is underweight. I weigh it again. A pound of butter should be 452 grams and I am coming up at 260. What???  I am ready to write the butter company telling them they ripped me off when my husband asks about my digital scale. Mmmmm…. I just changed the batteries so it can’t be that. so I put 8 oz of water on the scale and sure enough…4 1/2 oz. I have never heard of a digital scale going wacko like this, I figured it would just stop one day. So, no scale for now. Oh well…

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And now onto this lovely, layered treat. It is a laminated dough, which just means that butter (and lots of it) is incorporated into the dough through layers so when it goes into the hot oven the steam from the butter puffs up the dough to amazing heights. For some strange reason, I adore making laminated dough. The first time I made puff pastry though, it was not so pretty, not to mention a waste of butter. A few more tries, and a few more pounds of butter, and now I love it.The multi day process of making croissants is actually fun and I look forward to making them. By comparison, these were a breeze to make. I still made them over two days but that was just because it fit better into my schedule. That is the beauty of laminated dough. You must let it rest for at least 30 minutes between each “fold”. Fear not, you can easily make and enjoy these in one day though

This is a great recipe to try for your first go at a laminated dough and if you are anything like me, it won’t be your last.DSC_0056

Now word on butter. I always buy unsalted butter. I love salt, but I like to add my own. I always keep a few pounds on hand tucked away in the freezer. For laminated dough it is recommended that you use good European style butter. It has a higher butterfat content and less moisture. It is also very expensive. I admit I do not spend the money on it. Instead I soften my butter that is needed for the recipe and cream in some flour. For this recipe I used about 3 tablespoons.

For laminated dough’s you also need a “butter block”. This is just butter formed into a square so that it fits into the center  of the dough, which is then wrapped around it and rolled out. My foolproof  way is to line a square cake tin and line it with cling wrap, overhanging it on the sides. I then take my softened flour butter (see above) and press it into a plastic lined square pan, using the overhang as a shield between my hands and the butter and making an even surface. this now gets popped back into the fridge to chill until needed. So easy and convenient. For this recipe I used a 6 inch cake pan.

Since Thursday was national pistachio day, I inserted some pistachio paste into the center of some of them. I also upped the sugar by using some Belgium sugar in the final fold.

BAKE ON!

Equipment and preparation: for this recipe you will need a 12-cup muffin tin and a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. I made 6 large ones using my muffin tin and 18 petit ones using a mini muffin tin. It was for portion control. It didn’t work…

KOUIGN AMANN

1-2 hours preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour cooking time
300-340 g strong plain flour (I used 2 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour)
5 g fast-action yeast (1 1/2 tsp SAF gold)
3/4 tsp salt
200 ml  warm water (roughly 3/4 cup)
25 g unsalted butter, melted (2 tablespoons)
250 g cold unsalted butter, in a block (1/2 pound)
100 g caster sugar for sprinkling on the dough (the final fold just before rolling it out and after it’s been rolled out – not between the other layers), plus extra for sprinkling on top (1/2 cup)

Put the flour (start with 300 g) into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be soft but not sticky (so don’t add too much).

 Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour. Prepare your butter block (6×6 inch square) and chill until needed.
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 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a measure 7 x 14 inches. Place the butter at one end leaving about 1 inch at the edge and then fold the  other half of the dough over it. Pinch the edges firmly to seal in and encase the butter block.  I find this much easier than the standard “envelope” method.DSC_0033
 Roll the dough into a 6 x 18 inch rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.
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Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns. On every turn rotate the dough before you begin rolling it out. In other words, if you end a fold with the two sides seams horizontal, then after the 30 minute rest when you begin rolling again the two sides seams should now be vertical.
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Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with 1/4 cup  sugar and  fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 12 x 16 inch rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with the remaining 1/4 cup  sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.DSC_0040

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin well with oil. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Press these corners well together, they can open up when unattached to each other (as mine did) Sprinkle with some more sugar and leave to rise (room temperature), covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until
slightly puffed up.DSC_0042
 Preheat oven to 425 F.
Bake the pastries for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much (and they will). Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn  yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelized sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin. Serve warm or cold. Warm is best!
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If you don’t want to eat them all in want go (of just if you want to, but shouldn’t), bag and freeze them.  Before you eat them: Defrost them and place them in a warm oven (275 F ) for about 4-6 minutes or until warm, they will crisp up again.
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Okay, it’s been a few months since I participated as a buddy with the Bread Baking Babes. Enough already. The funny thing is that I have actually baked the bread every month….

Polenta Bread

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Historical Bread

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BBBuddy Badge Oct 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this month, Katie, from Thyme for Cooking chose a delicious bread that is meant to be eaten from the oven. Mmm….who doesn’t love warm bread oozing with gooey cheese??? Since it is just days before Halloween I made my version  a spooky blend of sourdough, pumpkin,roasted garlic (to ward off the vampires), onions carmelized with blood-red balsamic vinegar, and orangey cheddar cheese. Half was gone 20 minutes out of the oven. Enough said.

Please visit Katie’s site for the original recipe!

Make 1 large loafDSC_1621

3 oz  active 100% hydration starter
4 oz (1/2 c) pumpkin puree
1 tsp instant dry yeast
2 oz (1/4 c) water
1 egg
1 egg yolk
4 oz whole wheat flour
6 oz AP flour (I had to add another tablespoon of flour)
3/4 tsp salt

Mix the starter, yeast, water and pumpkin puree together in a large bowl. Add  the flours and salt. Knead together for 10 minutes. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours. Punch down and place in the fridge overnight in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, make the filling…DSC_1604

2 heads garlic, roasted and the cloves peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg, beaten (for a wash)

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium low heat and sauté the onions until soft. Add the herbs, the roasted garlic, and the balsamic vinegar; continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

The next morning…..

Take the bread dough out of the fridge and roll it into a rough 10 x 13 inch rectangle. Spread the mustard down the center in a strip, leaving about a 1 inch border at the top and bottom. Pile the onion/garlic mixture over the mustard strip then sprinkle liberally with the cheese, saving a small amount to sprinkle over top.

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Using sharp knife and starting at 1 corner of dough, make diagonal cuts 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart almost to filling to form strips along 1 long side of dough. Repeat on other side, cutting diagonal strips in opposite direction.Alternating strips from each side, fold strips over filling to resemble braid, overlapping ends by 1 inch (2.5 cm) and brushing with some of the egg to seal. (which I totally forgot to do)

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Cover with towel; let rise in warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Brush with the beaten egg .and place in your preheated oven for about 25 minutes then pull it out and sprinkle with the remaining cheese that you saved. Bake for another 5-10 minutes. Serve warm (or let cool completely).

 

You could also sprinkle the bread with black sesame seeds and paint a goblin face on the bread for a Halloween treat. My 8 year daughter loved it.

Happy Halloween

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