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Archive for July, 2012

Crackers

The July Bakers challenge is being hosted by Dana McFarlane , a non-blogger who loves to create in the kitchen. She has challenged us with the (almost) lost art of homemade crackers. I say lost art since you very rarely see homemade crackers served anymore. What a shame since you can personalize it at home yourself, though I will admit it is a lot easier to purchase premade crackers at the last-minute, and there are a lot of good ones on the market. But can they be as good as your own?

I wish I had concentrated on this challenge more since I have quite a few  cracker recipes that I enjoy making but summertime fun and entertaining has pretty much taken up all of my time. Not to mention the fact that I went down to Montana this past weekend to go cherry picking (and Glacier National Park). Oh, and I am leaving in 1 1/2 hours for the airport to go to New York for a month (and still not quite packed…) so this has to be quick.

The crackers I chose to bake are sesame crackers from Bernard Claytons New Complete Book Of Breads. These are super easy to whip up but  a pasta machine is very helpful to roll them out thin and even (though I am sure that when there is a will there is a way, so don’t let this stop you). We really enjoy these with some hummus and they keep really well so you can always have some on hand. We were provided with three other excellent recipes that I promise to get to and post at a later date. In the meantime go check out some other fabulous bakers here. Bake On!

SESAME CRACKERS

1 Cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup hot water (120-13o F)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
egg white for brushing
Mix together 1 cup each whole wheat and white flours and add the yeast and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together the hot water, butter, honey and sesame oil. Pour the liquid slowly over the flours and beat with the paddle attachment (or a  wooden spoon ) on low-speed for 3 minutes . Add the white flour, 1/4 cup at a time to forma soft dough.

Knead for 5 minutes (by hand or with the dough hook). Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375 F

Divide the dough into 4 pieces, covering the dough you are not working with). In a pasta machine, or with a rolling-pin, roll the dough into a thin rectangle, as thin as you get it (I went to 5 on my roller). Worry more about the thinness than it’s length or width (insert jokes here). Place the length of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cut strips about 1-2 inches wide. Dock with a fork (that just means to pokes holes all over the dough with the tines of a fork). Brush with a little white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 6 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cracker. Watch them carefully!. Let cool completely then break off into pieces. They keep 2 -3 weeks in a covered container.

Okay, 40 minutes left to pack!!

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The Bread Baking Babes are taking it a  little easy this month and as a buddy I am thankful. It’s been a fun crazy month with the 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in town. As a city girl, I really eat this stuff up. This year Calgary was also the host for the world marching band championships. If I had any idea marching bands could be so awesome I would have been in one growing up.  Not only did I attend an afternoon of semi finals, a “drum off” on another day, but I watched the 4 hour finals held in the Calgary Saddledome with about 10,000 other people. I must admit that it was spine tingling. Seriously. We also have been having some really nice weather so there has been a lot of entertaining at my house. We love to have people over for dinner, so I have been cooking and baking up a storm. I’m just too lazy to blog about it. Oh well.

That’s why this months BBB recipe is great. While it has yeast in it, it is really like a tea bread, super fast and easy. It isn’t the prettiest of breads but your taste buds will love the homey flavor. The only change I made was to add 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds. This was great fresh out of the oven with a cup of coffee.

Sarah, from i like to cook chose this lovely little number ,”Easy Little Bread” from 101 Cookbooks. Please check out her site and also visit the other talented Babes. They are all inspiring.

This was a breeze to make (and eat). Bake On!

Easy Little Bread
from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g whole wheat flour
1 cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.
Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

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Onion and Poppy Seed Braid

A beautiful dough to work with, a tasty filling, a simple braid= a beautiful loaf

After making challah bread last month with a six strand braid, a three strand braid seemed like child’s play. I say that because the six strand was easy once you got the hang of it (If I can do, you can do it). This particular bread had caught my eye last month after I picked up the book Baking Bread, Old and New Traditions by Beth Hensperger at the Calgary Heralds annual book sale. This is a great book sale with the proceeds going  to support Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary and the Calgary Herald literacy programs. I got this book for $2! It’s filled with many recipes that I am eager to try over the year.

I really wanted to try this one and we were having a BBQ so I thought it would be perfect to serve along with dinner:

thinly sliced marinated flank steak over a bed of arugula
lemon spiced chicken drumsticks
sofrito scented pork burgers
chorizo sausage over peppers and onions
watermelon and feta salad
sliced avocados and tomatoes

It was very well received indeed and I would make this again for sure. I will say that next time I will make this as 2 smaller loaves since this made 1 giant loaf. Great for a crowd but too overwhelming for a small family! This is excellent bread for sandwiches (especially egg salad) or as toast as well. Bake on!

Onion and Poppy Seed Braid 
one large or 2 small loaves

Dough:
1 Tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
3 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Cup hot milk (120F)
1/2 Cup hot water (120F)
1 egg
1/2 Cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces

Filling:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Cups chopped sweet onion, preferably Vidalia
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
5 Tablespoons poppy seeds

1 egg white, mixed with 1 teaspoon water for glaze

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds for sprinkling

Place the yeast, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour in your mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low-speed until a smooth batter is achieved. Add the egg and the butter and mix to incorporate. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough is achieved (since I live in a dry climate I always use the lesser amount but humid areas tend to use the full amount). Knead for 10 minutes. Place into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

It is well risen when you can poke a finger into the dough and the indentation stays

* remember, while a standing mixer is a great help, you can make any bread by hand (and get good arm muscles along the way). Do not let the lack of a mixer stand between you and good bread!

While the dough is rising prepare the filling:

Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute them until wilted and translucent. Do not let the onions brown as this will make the bread taste bitter. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese and poppy seeds. Set aside to cool.

When the dough is ready transfer it to a lightly floured board and roll out to a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Cut it into three, 4 inch strips. Place 1/3 of the filling in a thin strip down the middle of each strip, leaving a border around all the edges.

Fold over the edges and pinch them together, encasing the filling. Carefully transfer the long strips onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Pinch the top of the strands together and braid, pinching the ends together when you get to the end, tucking the ends in for a neat finish. Set aside to rise again for 30 minutes

Preheat your oven to 350F

Right before placing the bread into the oven, lightly brush the top with the egg white and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing.

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