“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

James Beard (1903-1985)

Monday, December 27, 2010

BBB - Taralli Pugliese

These girls sure know how to find great recipes. After a heavy Christmas baking session with cinnamon, sugar, candied fruits, almond paste, more sugar, chocolate and did I mention sugar, I am ready for something simple, savory and cleansing to the palate.

Ilva from Lucullian Delights is this month´s host for the Bread Baking Babes. She chose an Italian specialty called taralli pugliese, a crunchy, crispy dough ring to munch on. Perfect!

The recipe calls for fennel seeds but since I don´t have access to any, I chose fresh rosemary. Works great as well, especially with the olive oil.

Taralli Pugliese
adapted from Anna Maria Gostti Della Salda's monumental food bible "Le ricette regionali italiane"

4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of tepid water
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, minced (or 2 heaping teaspoons of any other favorite, Ilva uses fennel seeds)
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, beaten

Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of tepid water. Mix the yeast water with the lightly whisked eggs and the olive oil. Mix flour, rosemary and salt and then add the liquid. Start working the dough and continue to add small amounts of tepid water until you have a firm but pliable dough.

Start rolling 2 inch long ropes that are as thick as your little finger and pinch the ends together to make an oval. Put the taralli on a parchment paper, cover with a towel and leave them to rest about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 390°F.

While the taralli rest, bring a large pan with water to a boil. Put 3 to 4 taralli at a time in the simmering water and when they surface, remove them with a skimmer and put them to dry on a kitchen towel or a rack.

Put them on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. They should be lightly tanned and dry to the touch. Try one to see if it´s fully baked and not still raw on the inside! You want to have a crunchy bite, inside and out, not chewy like a bagel.

Place them on a cooling rack to cool, then try not to eat them all at once.... I made these this afternoon and at first, everyone present found them a little blah..."they could use a bit more salt", "I would have liked more rosemary" etc etc. But not even fifteen minutes later, they were all gone. Ha! These little bagel-esque taralli will surprise you with their simplicity.

Monday, December 13, 2010

BBD#35 - Bread with dried fruits

Ah, the challenge! Everywhere in the world, novice and seasoned bakers await excitedly for the topic of the month. Will it be a sweet bread? Maybe something with grains? How about a bread with booze? You can practically hear the groans when it turns out to be a sourdough bread. But whichever one is picked, each participant and host adds a very personal and creative contribution to the Bread Baking Day Challenge.

This month, Umm Mymoonah from Taste of Pearl City is hosting this month's Bread Baking Day. She picked dried fruits for this month's challenge, perfect for this time of year!

I initally planned to bake a kerststol. I love the sweet buttery dough, the chewiness of the raisins and the slight tangy-ness of the candied peels. The almond filling is creamy, nutty and makes the whole bread just one fabulous experience. But the prospect of having an entire stol sitting on my counter (and then having to eat it *grin*) was not entirely convincing so I ended up doing something a little different :-). For a step-by-step instruction on how to make the flowers, see Mis Recetas Favoritas (where you can see a beautiful example!) I love the shape, but found it too cumbersome with the wet filling. Next time I'm going to go with either a pastier filling, or a different shape. Still, they may not look pretty but they were very good!

Christmas Daisies
For the filling
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1/2 cup of candied peel
1 cup of orange juice

For the dough
1 cup of milk, warm
4 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of yeast
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups of all-purpose flour

4 grams of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 egg, beaten

Soak the raisins and the candied peel in the orange juice. In a small bowl, add the yeast to the warm milk and let it proof. In a larger bowl, place the flour, salt and the sugar. Add the yeasty milk, stir until well blended (the flour will be dry), then add in the two eggs and the butter. Knead everything into a nice, shiny, slightly sticky dough. Cover and rise for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the cream cheese with half of the beaten egg (you'll use the rest for brushing the bread), the sugar and the flour into a thick paste.

Carefully punch down the dough and cut pieces of 2 1/2 oz, roll into balls. Cover and rest while you squeeze the orange juice out of the soaked fruits.

Now carefully roll a ball of dough into a larger circle. Spread some almond spread on top and sprinkle with some soaked fruits. Pulling the dough around the filling up, pinch the seams and carefully roll the ball back together. Place on the counter, seam down and covered, while you fill all the other ones.

Pat the dough down, cut and fold according to the instructions. The filling is wet and lumpy so it takes a bit of practice (or a lot). I'm sure you can do better than I did!

Put your flowers on parchment paper on a baking sheet, or a silicone mat, cover and let rise for another thirty minutes. Brush with eggwash, and bake in a 350F oven for about 25 minutes or until golden.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

BBD#24 - Knäckebröd

I've mentioned before how the Dutch have a huge breakfast culture: many types of breads, sweet toppings, savory meat products...you name it, it's all there. The breads range from soft, white, fluffy buns to hard, crispy flatbreads. These last ones are originally from Sweden, and they're called "knäckebröd", or crisp bread.

The flour used is mainly rye, which gives them a nice, nutty flavor. It's cheap, easy to keep as long as the environment is dry (it will go limp in humid weather) and apparently travels back all the way to the Viking era. Well, how about that!

Just yesterday, I bought some at one of our local stores. The cost of knäckebröd in the United States, as an import item, is prohibitive, but every now and then I treat myself to a couple of "wheels". It's very tasteful, spread with some good butter and a nice jam. But when I saw this month's BBD's challenge to bake bread with grains, I figured I'd give this Swedish bread a try. Might as well learn how to make my own instead of buying it in the store, right?!

I found a recipe from a trusted source, Görel from Grain Doe. She's one of the Bread Baking Babes and several years ago gave a fabulous recipe for it, as follows. As for the sourdough starter, I keep a jar on the counter at all times. It's easy to maintain as long as you remember to feed it regularly and it helps add extra flavor to the breads you may be baking

For the pre-ferment
500 ml/2,1 cups milk
25 g/0,9 oz fresh yeast
3 tbsp honey
180 g/6,4 oz rye flour
80 g/2,8 oz whole spelt flour (or whole wheat flour)
50 ml/3,5 tbsp rye sourdough starter*
Optional: 1 tsp aniseed, ground

For the dough
2 tsp salt
300 g/10,6 oz rye flour
100 g/3,5 oz wheat flour

Heat milk until it's lukewarm. Dissolve yeast and honey in milk. Add flours and sourdough. Cover with cloth and let rise for 40 minutes.

Add salt, the wheat flour and 2/3 of the rye flour to the pre-ferment mixture. Add more rye as needed until the dough is "firmish", but not stiff. It should still be a little tacky. Mix well, but don't knead. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 16 pieces, form the pieces into round, tight spheres and leave on table under cloth.

Heat oven to 200 °C/390 °F. Roll out the dough balls to thin rounds. Prick the rounds with a fork and take out a hole in the centre with a small glass or a cookie cutter.

Bake two rounds at a time for appr. 15 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and crisp. If necessary (watch out!), cover with foil during the last 5 minutes. Let cool on racks. I prefer mine a little lighter, so I took them out when they were starting to golden and let them dry on the side.

I used spelt and rye, and chose to add the ground aniseed. It is not prominent but gives the bread just that little 'extra'. Try it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Potato Loaf

I peeled some extra potatoes when making hete bliksem yesterday and while I was waiting for the spuds to boil, I realized that although the Dutch love to eat potatoes and they're included in almost every meal, I cannot for the life of me remember ever buying or eating potato bread.

Perhaps it's because potatoes are such a intricate yet humble addition to the meal. They're always there, on the side, serving their purpose, unassuming. In a potato loaf, they would shine and be the main ingredient, the key player to the success of this staff of life. Perhaps the humble Dutch potato is too Calvinistic to assume that role, who knows.

Not so the giant and proud Idaho potato. It sits prominently on the plate, draped in colorful and rich jewelry and coverings: ruby-red bacon bits, velvety sour cream, golden cheese shreds, emerald green onions.....Anyway, you get the idea. It's a big one and it knows it. And that's how it behaves in bread as well. It's there. I mean, THERE.

Bread making is an easy process, and once you get over the yeast paralysis, you'll find that potato dough is very receptive to yeast and to being kneaded. It's a great bread to get started with!

Potato Bread
1 cup of boiled potatoes
2 cups of milk, warm
2 teaspoons of active, dry yeast
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt

Mash the boiled potatoes with the warm milk, add the yeast and let sit for five minutes. Then add one cup of flour at a time, adding the salt in between, mix and knead until the dough comes together. Grease a bowl, put the dough in, turn over and cover. Rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Carefully push air out, knead once or twice and shape. If you bake in a breadpan, place the seamside down. Cover, rest and proof while you heat the oven to 350F.

If the dough does not immediately jump back and the bread has risen slightly above the rim of the pan, place it in the oven. Bake in approx. 30 minutes.

Let cool on rack. Also lovely toasted!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BBB - Broa

Broa is a nice, rustic corn bread from Portugal. I should probably say "bread with corn", as it's not really anything close to corn bread as we know it, a yellow square of cakey, squishy, moist bread made with honey and corn and highly enhanced when consumed with butter. Although, having said that, this bread is kind of squishy and made with corn and honey and also benefits from a good lick of butter....Heck, maybe it's corn bread after all!

This month's Bread Baking Babe's recipe comes from Elizabeth, who chose the Portuguese bread Broa, a traditional bread made with corn. The bread itself is a dense loaf, rustic on the outside and a moist crumb on the inside. I favor it best a couple of days old and toasted.

Here are Elizabeth's recipe and instructions:

Broa – Portuguese Corn Bread

based on Jane’s (Little Compton Mornings) Pao de Milho
makes one large round loaf or two smaller ones

300gm (~1¼ US c) boiling water
7 gm (~1 tsp) honey
145 gm (~1¼ US c) white cornmeal, finely ground (I used Harina P.A.N)
4 gm (1 tsp) active dry yeast
120gm (~½ US c) lukewarm water
60 gm (~½ c) whole wheat flour
300 gm (~2½ c) unbleached all-purpose flour, not necessarily all of it
15 gm (~ 2 Tbsp) white corn flour (I used yellow corn flour)
10 gm (~1¾ tsp) sea salt

corn flour, for dusting

About an hour before mixing the dough, put the cornmeal (finely ground meal from dried corn, aka maize) and honey into a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir well. Set aside to cool until just warm (do the baby bottle test on your wrist to test).

When the cornmeal has cooled, pour lukewarm water into a small bowl; add yeast and whisk well. Set aside.

Add the corn flour, wholewheat flour, 275 gm (~1¾ c) all-purpose flour and salt to the cornmeal mixture (you’ll use some or all of the remaining flour for kneading). Stir well. Check the temperature again to make sure it isn’t hot. Stir in the yeast mixture. The dough should be pulling away from the side of the bowl. Don’t worry if it’s somewhat sticky. Don’t be surprised if it’s down right sloppy.

Kneading: Sprinkle a little of the extra all-purpose flour onto the board. Plop the dough out.

Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Yes, this step is important. It prepares the rising bowl, gets your hands nice and clean AND allows the dough to rest a little.)

Knead the dough until smooth and shiny by hand about 10 minutes. Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean . Add a tiny bit more flour if the dough seems sticky but try not to add too much – the dough should be soft (you don’t have to use up all the extra half cup of all-purpose flour).

Proofing: As best you can, form the dough into a ball and plop it into the clean bowl (there is NO need to oil the bowl!!) and cover the bowl with a plate. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t seem to be all that smooth. Cover the bowl and leave in a non-drafty area of the kitchen for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes has passed, very lightly sprinkle the work surface with flour. Carefully turn the dough out. If necessary, gently spread the dough out (try not to disturb any bubbles). Using the dough scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the sloppy left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more. Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up. Cover the bowl. Let it ferment at room temperature for 20 minutes again. Repeat this step two more times. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) It may not be until the third time that the dough will look like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in those three maneuvres is not more than a couple of tablespoons in all and probably much less (I have never actually measured). It’s the merest dusting.

After the final folding maneuver, cover the bowl again and let rise in a no-draft place on the counter (or in the cold oven with only the light turned on), until it has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, this can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours – if your kitchen is around 21C (72F) it will take about an hour. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to dip your finger in cold water and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn’t risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.

Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Press the dough into a rectangle. Fold the left side into the center, then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Turn it over. Continue to fold it underneath itself to form an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. Place it seam side down on parchment papered peel or cookie tray. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by any old large plastic bag and allow to the bread to rise in the same no-drafty area of the counter until is has about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough. (1 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature of the kitchen). 

Preparing the oven: About fifteen minutes before baking the bread, make sure there is a rack on the second to the top shelf. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Baking: Spray the loaf liberally with water then sprinkle with cornflour. Slide the bread onto the stone if using (the parchment paper can go onto the stone) and bake the bread at 400F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 375F and turn the bread around at the same time to allow for uneven heat in the oven (remove the parchment paper if the bread is on a stone). Bake a further 15 minutes until the bottom sounds hollow when knocked or the internal temperature is between 200F and 210F.

When the bread is done, remove to cool on a footed rack. Wait until the bread is completely cool before cutting it (it’s still not finished baking inside when it’s hot out of the oven).

It's not ugly, it's rustic......

Ofcourse, I don't have half the patience Elizabeth has so I added the boiling water to the corn flour, added in the honey and the salt and let it sit for a good ten minutes until the temperature had dropped to about 110F. Then I mixed the rest of the ingredients together, threw in the now warm corn meal mush, mixed it all and let it sit, covered, for twenty minutes. It is indeed a goopy mess, so I added a handful of flour, kneaded the dough as well as could be expected and let it sit for another forty. Turned on the oven, heated the baking tiles to 450F. Kneaded the dough a bit more, then turned it out onto the floured counter, shaped it into a ball and put it on parchment paper. When the oven was up to 450F I turned it down to 400, put the parchment paper with the dough on the tiles, threw in a couple of ice cubes in the tray on the bottom and closed the door. After fifteen minutes, I lowered the temp to 375F, baked the bread for another fifteen minutes and checked internal temp. 199F and rising, so out it came and rested on the metal grid to cool off. Judging from the fact that more than half of it is gone this morning (toasted last night for dinner and this morning for breakfast), I'd say it's worth the hassle!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scandinavian Apple Bread

It started with Emile wondering on FB if it was too late to make an apple pie."Never!" I replied. And then Raffa brought up the Danish movie "Adam's Aebler" or "Adam's Apples" in English (which I have yet to google, no clue what it's about. I'm guessing a guy named Adam and a basket of apples. Or at least, that's what I hope). Well, the word "aebler" made me think of "aebleskiver", those Danish puffy pancake balls that have nothing to do with apple slices, even though that is their name.

Anywayyyyy......so I'm sitting at the compu watching my dear friends going into this thing about apple pie, aebleskivers and whatnot, and my mind is running wild in the meantime. Something like this:
"Mmmm....apple pie sounds good. Ann just gave me a big bag of apples, I should make some. But I really would like to make aebleskiver instead, but I don't have the pan I need. Maybe I should make something Danishy with the apples. Like eh...apple bread. With cardamom because that's really Scandinavish. Sort of like anything with feta is Greek. Is that a word, Scandinavish? Probably not. I should look that up on google. Oh, it's supposed to be Scandivanian. That doesn't sound right, like it has something to do with birds. I wonder what birds they have in Scandinavia?" Anyway, you get the idea.

So while the whole world, give or take a few, was glued to the TV watching the BSU game, I was in the kitchen kneading a gorgeous dough for an apple bread. For once, I chose to stay away from the everpresent apple/raisin combination and decided to stick with apples alone, but you can do whatever you like best. It's all good. I usually try to use 1/3 of dehydrated apples, the apple flavor intensifies and some of the moisture from the fresh apples goes towards moistening the dried ones. This also keeps your bread or crust from getting too soggy.

Three hours later the bread was cooling, I had done some laundry, emptied the dish washer, ate dinner and learnt that BSU had won the game (duh!). With a cup of tea and a still warm slice of my apple bread, I was in hog heaven.

Scandinavian Apple Bread
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (300 grams)
1/3 cup of sugar (75 grams)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (7 grams)
3 tablespoons of butter (35 grams)
1 1/2 cup of warm milk (175 ml)

For the filling:
3 medium apples, preferably three different varieties
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 egg
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

Add the flour, sugar, cardamom and yeast together. Pour in the warm milk and knead for a couple of minutes, then add the salt. Knead until the dough comes together, let it rest for a good four to five minutes, then add the melted butter in, little by little, until the dough is soft and supple. Shape it into a ball, and rest it in an well oiled bowl, covered. Let rise for about 45 minutes.

Peel and dice the apples, toss with the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice. Roll the dough out into a square, add the apples and roll it, jelly-roll style, into a tight sausage. Place the bread roll, seam side down, onto a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for another thirty minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 375F (200C).

Beat the egg. Brush the bread roll with the egg, sprinkle demarara sugar on top. Now cut three or four horizontal slices in the bread, about halfway down. You can leave it like this, or push each side out as in the picture. Either way is fine.

Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until done. Slice and eat warm.

My post is going to Susan's Weekly Yeast Spotting event at Wild Yeast. Check out her blog for some amazing breads!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wild Yeast Sourdough

Several weeks ago, I visited the Annual Fruit Field Day at the University of Idaho's Extension Research Center in Parma. After hearing the presentations, we were invited to taste the different varieties of fruit that are researched and grown at the Center, and even encouraged to take some home. Now...I had just put up twenty pounds of peaches so I wasn't entirely interested in taking anything home that needed to be canned, dried or otherwise dealt with, but when looking over the table grapes with my friend Naomi, I decided to take home some Alborz and a few bunches of a grape called NY65. (There is a section of numbers that follows the period in NY's name, but I don't recall.). Especially this last grape, a dark, small fruit, densely clustered, had a beautiful dusty sheen on its skin. Wild yeast.

I just finished making the sourdough starter for this month's BBB's bread, the Brunkan's långa, when I had a brilliant idea. Well, brilliant.....I had heard that wild yeast could be used for sourdough starters. It seemed at the time a great idea, especially if commercial yeast was ever to disappear from the market, or if I found myself lost in the wilderness with a strong hankering for bread. No telling what my imagination can come up with, but the fact that wild yeast could be found in, well, the wilderness, was a very comforting thought to me.

So I made two batches. One with yeast for the Brunkan's langa, and one without yeast for the grape sourdough. Once mixed, I dumped a short bunch of grapes, unwashed and unrinsed, into the batter, covered the jar and let it sit on the counter.

Two days later, I had the most beautiful, bubbly and slightly sour smelling starter!

Feed your starter every other day with the same amount of unbleached flour and water. Best is to use spring water from a bottle, as tap water is often chlorinated or too salty because of the water softener. Organic grapes are going to be your best bet, and do not rinse, wash or otherwise handle the grapes too much. You want to make sure there's plenty of natural yeast on those grapes.

For the sourdough:

Day 1, morning:
Mix 1 1/2 cup (150g) graham flour with 1 1/2 cup (180 ml) water. Crush a grape or two on the cluster and dump the whole thing in the dough. About ten or twelve grapes are more than enough. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature.

Day 1, evening:
Add 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water. Stir carefully and make sure the sourdough does not coat large parts of the glass. It will dry up and possibly mold, affecting your sourdough, so pour the batter into a new, clean container if it's covered with batter. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature.

Day 2, morning:
Add 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water. Mix carefully. By now, the sourdough should be active (bubbly). Leave at room temperature.

Day 2, evening:
Feed the sourdough with another tablespoon of flour and water each, mix carefully and see if the bubbles remain. The starter should have started to develop a network of gluten, visible when you pull up a spoonful of the batter, and the smell should be slightly sour. Cover with film and place in the fridge.

Day 3
Your starter is ready to use. Scoop out one cup of starter. Feed the remaining sourdough with two tablespoons of flour and water, mix, pour into a clean container, cover and leave at room temperature.

For the bread:
1 cup of sourdough starter
2.5 cups of flour
1.5 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of active yeast
1 teaspoon of salt

Mix all the ingredients together, salt last. Depending on the wetness of the starter, you may have to add a little bit more water or flour, but you are looking for a fairly slack dough. Knead for a good five minutes, then shape into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes, then place in the refridgerator overnight.

Day 4:
Take the dough out, about three three hours before you are ready to bake. Punch down carefully, shape into a ball and place back in the bowl. Cover and let sit on the counter at room temperature. One hour before baking, heat the oven up to 450F and place a Dutch oven in the oven.

Punch the bread down again and shape. Let it rest in a well-floured towel until the dough has proofed. Place the dough in the Dutch oven, replace the lid and return to the oven for up to 25 minutes. Remove when golden brown. Cool on wire.

Ofcourse I sent my blog post to Susan at Wild Yeast for this week's Yeast Spotting!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

BBB - Brunkans långa (the short version)

One of the many reasons why I like to bake as a buddy with the Bread Baking Babes is because of all the different and new varieties of bread we bake. It's great to try a new recipe and have six or seven other ladies bake it ahead of time so you can see what it's supposed to look like, read about the challenges or add a new recipe to your growing repertoire. Görel from Grain Doe was this month's host of the challenge and chose to bake a Swedish bread called Brunkans långa, or Brunkan's long bread.

When I read the recipe I was hesitant to participate. Five days? Graham flour? I mean, I had the five days but I didn't have the graham flour*. Plus it's a sourdough which can be tricky. Well, not really but it's tricky for me because I am lacking severely in this one area: patience. (Well, and perhaps humility...) And with sourdoughs you have to have patience. I already get antsy when I have to let a dough sit overnight, let alone five days.

But a challenge is a challenge and I know myself well enough to know I wouldn't be able to let it go. So while I prepared the ingredients, the other half went off to the store to find graham flour. I chose to divide the recipe not in half, but in four since I was going to do some additional baking. It resulted in a long enough loaf to feed three for lunch and a rather large heel for me to toast and munch on the next day (I love heels!!).

I cannot explain how much I love this bread. For one, the smell and texture reminded me of the Belgian loaves that my grandma Pauline liked so much. Sweet, slightly moist and extremely flavorful, the bread keeps well even after several days. Also lovely toasted...but then again, what bread isn't?

Görel's original recipe is here: http://graindoe.blogspot.com/2010/09/bbb-brunkans-langa.html. It makes for two rather large loaves, no less lovely for their size. If you want to bake a smaller version, you may want to use the following recipe. I figured it would no longer be called "långa" since it suffered severly in size, so I called it "shånga". Since "långa" means "long", I've decided that "shånga" means "short". (Actually, kort means "short" in Swedish from what I understood, but that doesn't sound half as much fun. I am totally making this up and sure hope shånga is not some dirty word or a gross insult!

(Not) Brunkans shånga
For the sourdough: 
Day 1, morning:
Mix 0,42 cup (60g) graham flour with 0,5 cup (120ml) water.
Cover with cling film and leave at room temp.
Day 1, evening:
Add 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water.
Mix, cover with cling film and leave at room temp.

Day 2, morning:
Add 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water.
Mix. By now, the sourdough should be a little active (bubbly). If not, add a teaspoon of honey, some freshly grated apple or a teaspoon of natural yoghurt. Leave at room temp.

Day 3, morning:
Feed the sourdough with 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water .
Mix, cover with cling film and put in fridge.

Day 4
By now, the sourdough should be ready to use. If you don’t want to use it right away, you can keep in the fridge if you feed it as above a couple of times/week.

For the bread: 
0.7 cup of water (150ml)
2.1 cup high protein wheat flour (281g)
0.5 cup of graham sourdough starter (see above) (94g)
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast (3g)
2 tablespoons of dark muscovado sugar (38g)
1 teaspoon of honey (7g)
1 heaping teaspoon of sea salt (8g)

Mix all ingredients except the salt. Work the dough in a stand mixer for 10 minutes or by hand for 20. Add the salt. Knead the dough for 5 minutes more. Put the dough in a oiled, plastic bowl and cover. Rest the dough (and yourself, if you have a minute) for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes: fold one side of the dough against the center of the dough, then fold the other end inwards, finally turn the whole dough so that the bottom side is facing down. Cover the bowl, place it in the fridge and let the dough rise overnight.

Day 5
Set the oven temp to 480 F (250C). Leave the baking stone in if you use one. Pour out the dough on a floured table top and shape it into a loaf. Place the dough seam side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and place another parchment paper or a damp towel on top.  When the oven is ready, put in the sheet or shove the parchment paper with the loaves onto the baking stone. Put a small baking pan with 3-4 ice cubes on the bottom of the oven. (The water releases slowly which is supposed to be better.) Lower the oven temperature to 350F (175C) immediately after you have put in the bread.

After 20 minutes, open the oven door and let out excess steam. Bake for 35 minutes or until the loaf has reached an inner temp of 208F (98C).

Cool on wire.

*According to Wikipedia:Graham flour is not available in all countries. A fully correct substitute for it would be a mix of white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ in the ratio found in whole wheat. Wheat comprises approximately 83% endosperm, 14.5% bran, and 2.5% germ by mass. For sifted all-purpose white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ having densities of 125, 50, and 80 grams/cup, respectively, one cup of graham flour is approximately equivalent to 84 g (~2/3 cup) white flour, 15 g (slightly less than 1/3 cup) wheat bran, and 2.5 g (1.5 teaspoons) wheat germ.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pogacha - bread from the Balkans

The first time I came across this Balkan bread was in someone else's kitchen. Asija, the Bosnian lady who I knew from work, had made some sarma for me to try and I stopped by her place on the way home to pick it up. Before she handed me the enamel pan, she asked me what kind of bread I was going to eat these stuffed  cabbage rolls with. "It has to be a good bread so you can sop up the sarma sauce. Any other bread will be a catastrophy." Asijah had the most serious look on her face, waiting for me to answer. When I told her I wasn't sure if I had any bread at home at all, she put the pan down, threw her hands up in mock disgust and told me to wait right there.

Asija's sarma
At first, I thought I may have misunderstood her. Wait here? For what? Asija grabbed a small bowl from the counter and reached for the flour container. After putting several cups of flour into the bowl, she walked over to the fridge, bowl in hand, and added a glug of half-and-half and a scoop of sour cream in the bowl. Her hands were moving so fast I had a hard time registering the ingredients, but back at the counter she added yeast, salt and a little bit of oil to the bowl and proceeded to knead. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh her hands rolled the dough, kneading it into a soft, silky matter. Quickly she patted it into an oval, cut three lines across the top, wrapped it in plastic and handed me the whole package. "Proof for one hour, when you get home bake it at 350F until done. Then you can eat the sarma," she grinned. Time past? Not even five minutes!

When I arrived home, I baked the loaf and it was the prettiest, silkiest, loveliest white crumb I'd seen in a long time. What a great bread! It sopped up the sauce very well and held its shape. I jotted down the ingredients as best as I could remember and vowed to soon make this bread again.

The next time I saw pogacha mentioned was when I was researching ajvar for my Ethnic Idaho blog. Ajvar is a lovely vegetable spread made with roasted red peppers, garlic and eggplant. Spread on a slice of pogacha bread, it is a great way to bridge the distance between lunch and dinner. Since I had just tested several recipes for ajvar and was blessed with plenty of it, I decided that this was a great time to bake another pogacha!

Ajvar and cream cheese on pogacha
4 cups of flour
1/2 cup of half-and-half
1/4 stick of butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of yeast
1/2 cup of sour cream
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Measure the flour out in a bowl. Put the half-and-half in a cup, add the butter and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute: the milk should be warm but not boiling hot. Stir in the sugar and set aside to cool to lukewearm. In the meantime mix the yeast with the flour, then add the half-and-half/butter mixture. Slowly knead four or five times, then mix in the sour cream, the oil and the egg, each one separately until well incorporated into the dough. Finally knead in the salt and continue to knead until the dough comes together and is smooth and silky. Cover in an oiled bowl, and rest until doubled in size. Punch down, shape into a loaf or bake in a loaf pan, slash three times horizontally and bake in an 350F oven until golden brown, approximately 45 minutes.

Pogacha, the Balkan beauty!

Cool on a rack, slice and enjoy with a good stew or something else that requires a good sop-up bread. This bread also toasts nicely.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BBD#33 - Torrijas de vino

Oh those girls (and boys) from Bread Baking Day......I am so glad the weather is finally turning into something a bit more agreeable, because I've missed these baking challenges. This month's recipe is Bread with Booze, hosted by Baking Powders, and wouldn't you know it......

I've only recently begun enjoying wine again and, as it happened, had a bottom of Barefoot's Muscato wine in the fridge. It's a very sweet, almost dessert-ey kind of wine. Together with several slices of day-old bread on the counter and a couple of eggs, I made something I had been wanting to try for years: Spanish torrijas de vino.....sweet wine soaked pieces of French toast.....yum! This dish is great for dessert, served with some freshly cut fruit, or as a breakfast item for an early morning start.

Yesterday I baked bread for our monthly ladies dinner. It's an eclectic but wonderful group of women who meet to eat, greet and laugh. A lot. I kept one loaf for breakfast this morning and by the end of day had only half a loaf left. It was perfect for this dish! You really want bread that has lost some of its moisture so that it soaks up the wonderful flavors of the sweet wine. Remember to save the wine you soaked the bread in so that you can reduce it to a syrup afterwards.

Torrijas de vino
Half a loaf of day old bread, preferably baguette or something else with a crust
1/4 cup of sweet white wine 
1/4 cup of warm water
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of honey
Powdered sugar

Cut two inch slices off the bread, preferably at an angle so you get a nice large piece. Mix the wine and the warm water with the sugar and stir until the sugar is melted. Pour into a bowl large enough to soak the bread in. Beat the egg in a separate bowl.

Place the bread one side down into the water/wine mix, then turn over so that the bread soaks through. Take it out and coat it in the beaten egg. Melt the butter in a skillet and place the soaked pieces of bread in the pan, and fry them golden brown on both sides. Place on a plate with some paper towels to soak up most of the grease.

In a separate sauce pan, add the remaining water/wine and stir in the honey. Slowly stir and reduce by half to a syrup. Place the warm torrijas on a plate, pour the syrup over the bread and dust with powdered sugar. Eat warm. The slight tang of the wine combined with the honey syrup and wonderful eggy bread is an absolute must to try!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

BBB - Portuguese sweet bread

The sweet smell of Portuguese bread is filling my kitchen while I type this post. It's lemony, sugary and promising....it's going to be a good one. Sweet, eggy, lovely breads like these are dangerous for me to bake. Dangerous because I'll stand at the counter, slathering butter on a slice of still warm bread, take a bite and dream away.........and before I know it, half the loaf is gone and I am slightly nauseous from all the eating.

For this month's Bread Baking Babes, Tanna chose this lovely sweet Portuguese bread. What a way to start my day! The bread is easy to make (remember to make the sponge the day before) and will toast up lovely if you don't eat the whole loaf in one go. I chose to make a loaf according to instructions, and one pan loaf, so I could slice it and make toast for the next couple of mornings.

Sweet Portuguese Bread
For the sponge
3/4 cup of bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup potato water (I didn't have any so used water with a pinch of mashed potato flakes)

For the dough
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cups of brown sugar
Lemon zest of one medium lemon
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temp.
1/2 cup of milk, room temp.
4 1/2 cups of bread flour

Mix together the sponge the night before baking the bread. Leave sitting at room temp 8 to 12 hours (overnight).

Beat sugar and butter until creamy. Add zest and salt and beat. Beat in each egg separately and completely; mix will appear curdled. Stir in milk and sponge.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and beat vigorously (in a stand mixer it would clear the sides of the bowl, by hand lifting the spoon up should stretch the dough about a foot.) Add remaining flour to make stiff dough. Knead 5 minutes or more to incorporate all the flour. The dough should be smooth, soft and very supple with a slight stickiness. Looks a little like very thick cake batter or a brioche dough.

Shape into ball, oil bowl and dough ball. Cover and allow to rise about 2 hours, should almost or triple in size. Divide into two pieces. Shape both as a boule, or shape for loaf pan or cake tin.

Allow to rest 20 to 30 minutes before final shaping. Use a skinny rolling pin or a 1 1/2 inch dowel to make indentations in the dough. Allow to rise an hour to 2 hours; more than double in size.

Before placing in the oven brush with egg wash if you want that beautiful glossy finish. Bake at 350° for approximately 50 minutes. After 35 minutes or so, check to see if the top is not burning or getting too dark. If so, then tent with aluminum foil.

Brush with melted butter when hot from the oven. Try to refrain yourself from cutting into the loaf until it's cooled down sufficiently. Good luck......I failed miserably and cut a big chunk of bread out of the round loaf, slathered it with butter and stood at the counter with a happy-go-lucky greasy grin on my face.....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

BBD #32 - Italian Bread......Meet the ciriole!

Summer's been brutal here in Idaho. One day it's hot, the next day it's hotter. The dough mixer, the oven, even the flour has been looking at me, wondering when I was going to put them to good use. Sorry guys!! Not in a hot minute, I am.

Until I saw this month's Bread Baking Day challenge - Italian bread. Andrea from the Family & Food & Other Things blog announced this month's baking theme and I was immediately sold. Today's the last day to submit my entry so I took it as a sign....Time to strip down to the bare minimum and get into that hot kitchen!

Ciriole is a typical roll from Rome. It has a crunchy crust and a lovely crumb on the inside, perfect for sandwiches or a quick snack. It was easy to make, fun to roll and even better to eat......nothing beats fresh bread with good cheese and a homegrown tomato!

7 cups of bread flour
3 cups of water, warm
3 teaspoons of instant yeast
1/3 cup of olive oil
3 teaspoons of salt

Mix the flour with the water and the yeast, knead for a good ten minutes by hand or by mixer. Add the olive oil until integrated into the dough, then add the salt. Take the dough out of the mixer and hand knead for about five minutes until the dough has come together and is pleasant and soft to the touch, but springy....

Rest in an oiled bowl and cover until risen, about 3/4 of its original size. Punch down, rest for a couple of minutes and cut into 100 gram pieces. Roll into balls, cover and rest for five minutes.

Preheat the oven to 420F.

Roll each piece into a rectangle with a rolling pin. Put your hand on the bottom edge and carefully roll the dough into a cylinder, as if you were rolling croissants. Repeat with the other pieces, then cover for the last rise. Depending on the heat of your kitchen, this can be as quick as fifteen minutes. The dough is ready to bake when the rolls have risen to about 1/2 of their original size and the dough does not quickly spring back if poked with a finger.

With a sharp knife or a razor blade, score the bread once lengthwise. Place on a sheet pan or baking stone and bake crunchy and golden in about twenty minutes. The bread will "sing" when you take it out of the oven! Cool on a rack.

Monday, April 26, 2010

BBB - Potato Bread with Chives

As soon as the Bread Baking Day Challenge hits, I know it's only days until the Bread Baking Babes publish their monthly recipe. They were the first challenge I participated in and I find it most rewarding.

So, too, this month's Bread Baking Buddies. Sara from I Like To Cook came up with a potato bread with chives for us to bake. Oh, how I love potato bread! It is moister, more pleasant to work with and always comforting. It is reason enough to boil an extra tater or two for dinner, so that the leftovers can be processed the next day in a lovely loaf of bread. But what I didn't have were chives, so I set out to meet my friend Lynn at the local nursery. She was going to look at trees and I would look at eh...chives. Kind of the same thing, only different.

Back home, I had the chives, the flour but no boiled potatoes or soy milk. Oops. I don't care for soy milk so "cheated" by using real moo juice and potato flakes. It worked like a charm! The dough rose beautifully and was bubbly, soft and light. For some extra texture (I like chewy crusts) I proofed the bread in a banneton and baked it in a pre-heated enamel Dutch oven, lid on, in a 450F degree oven. The smell of the bread, the look and the taste definitely say Spring!

Half of the bread was gone by evening, and tonight I made leftover steak sandwich with two slices of the chives bread.....yummm!!!!!

Potato Bread with Chives

from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

"The addition of mashed potatos gives this bread a moist, dense texture and delicate flavor that is accented by that of the chives. This bread is best eaten slightly warm from the oven on the day it is made. It is also good toasted."

2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar or pure maple syrup
2 Tb corn oil
2 tsp salt
1 cup cold mashed potatos
1 cup soy milk or other dairy free milk
5 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 Tb minced fresh chives

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and 1/4 cup of the water. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, then stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of water, the corn oil and the salt. Mix in the potatos, then stir in the soy milk. Add about half the flour, stirring to combine, then work in the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Transfer to a lightly floured board.

Lightly flour your hands and work surface. Knead the dough well until it is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes, using more flour as necessary so the dough does not stick. Place in a large lightly oiled bowl and turn over once to coat with oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, lightly oil a large baking sheet and set aside. Punch the dough down and knead lightly. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle with the chives, and knead until the dough is elastic and the chives are well distributed, 3 to 5 minutes. Shape the dough into one large or two small round loaves and place on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly and cover with a clean damp towel or lightly oiled plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400'F. Use a sharp knife to cut an X into the top of the loaf or loaves. Bake on the center oven rack until golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes, depending on size. Tap on the bottom of the loaf or loaves - if they sound hollow, the bread is done. Remove from the sheet and let cool slightly on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

BBD#29 - Baking In A Pot

Spring is here! I've already spent some considerable time (and money) working in my garden, building new beds, amending the soil and trying to figure out where and when to plant the huge amount of vegetable seeds I seem to end up with every time I go to the garden section of the store. How does that happen? Does a girl really need eight different types of green beans? (eh..yes!)

Cathy from The Bread Experience is announcing this month's Bread Baking Day challenge: baking bread in pots. Since I've already been cleaning, filling and planting pots, I might as well bake in one too!

The "pot" I chose is a red terra-cotta clay pan from Spain. I usually use it directly on the stove or as a salad bowl, but had never baked in it before. And to stick with the spring theme, I picked something to do with the fresh spinach from my garden: smoked turkey and spinach rolls!

Smoked Turkey and Spinach Rolls
4 cups of flour
1.5 cups of warm water
.5 cup of warm milk
1 heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 heaping teaspoon of kosher salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon of butter
16 slices of smoked turkey slices
1 package of Boursin cheese
2 cups of fresh spinach leaves

Add the milk and the warm water to the flour, sprinkle the yeast on top and mix the dough once or twice. Now add the salt, the egg and the butter and knead the dough into shape: add a tablespoon of flour if the dough is too wet, or a tablespoon of milk if it's too dry. Knead for a good five minutes or until the dough is soft and does not stick to your hands.

Rest the dough in an oiled container, covered, in a warm spot until the dough has doubled almost in size. Lightly flour the kitchen counter, pat the air out of the dough and stretch or roll it into a rectangle.

Layer the smoked turkey slices shingle-wise on top of the dough. Put half of the Boursin on top of the turkey, then layer the spinach leaves on top. Distribute the rest of the cheese over the spinach, then roll the dough into a jelly-like roll towards you. Pinch the seam and carefully cut the roll into equal sized pieces (2 inch each). Grease your pan (you can also use a muffin pan for individual rolls), and place the rolls with their cut side down in the pan. Cover and rise for about 20 minutes in a warm location.

Heat your oven to 350F and bake the rolls on the middle rack for about 30 minutes or until golden-brown. These rolls are good warm or cold.

Blueberry Buns

Almost every year I go fruit picking with my dear friend Lynn. We pick pounds and pounds of apples, blueberries ancd cherries at local farms in the area and have a blast. But the work is not quite done when you put down the buckets and gather your pickings: when I get home I have to wash, dehydrate or freeze the blueberries, pit the cherries (which leads to splatters of cherry juice absolutely EVERYWHERE) and freeze, can or dehydrate them. The apples are peeled, sliced and frozen, canned, dehydrated or stored whole for the winter.

I love the cherries and the apples, but I never know why I go blueberry picking. I don't care much for the berries and truly think they are overrated, but heck, they're there so I pick 'm. Which means that I have gallons of these little blue marbles frozen and taking up space in the freezer. The cherries are long gone, the last of the apples will go into apple pies tomorrow and the blueberries were here to stay. Until I saw this recipe from Gloria's Canela Kitchen at the BBD#28 roundup: blueberry buns. What a great way to use up at least some of my berry bounty! Gloria uses a lovely apricot glaze for the buns, but I'm serving them with a creamy lemony sauce instead so I chose not to add the glaze.

Because the berries I pick over here are so juicy, I dry them for several hours in the dehydrator so their flavor intensifies and the juice does not color everything it touches.

Blueberry Buns
For the dough
3 cups of flour
1 heaping teaspoon of yeast
1/4 cup of water, warm
1/2 cup of milk, warm
1 egg
1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of sugar

Mix the yeast with the flour, add the warm liquids, the egg and the lemon peel. When they are well blended, add the salt and the sugar, and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and pliable. Rest in a greased bowl in a warm spot, covered, until doubled, or for about 40 minutes.

For the filling
1 package of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of milk
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of grated lemon peel

Mix everything together, taste, adjust and set aside.

Punch down the dough and rest for a couple of minutes (the dough, not you!). Lightly flour the countertop and roll the dough into a rectangle. Make sure you don't roll it too thin! Spread half of the cream cheese filling over the top of the dough, leaving a half inch margin on all sides. Sprinkle a cup of blueberries over the spread, making sure they are distributed evenly. Then roll the dough, starting from the top, jelly-roll style, toward you. Pinch the seam and cut the roll in 2 inch pieces. Be careful to cut through the dough slowly so as not to "squish" the sides: you want the open side of the roll to be, well, open.

I baked mine in a round cake pan. If you prefer, you can bake them individually in muffin pans like Gloria did. But whatever you do, grease your baking pan or container, and place the rolls cut-side up in a circle. Leave a bit of space on all sides as the dough will proof one more time and fill in the voids. If you have some blueberries left over, place them on top of the rolls. Now cover the container and let the rolls sit for a good 30 minutes until they've practically doubled. Heat your oven in the meantime to 350F. Right before you put them in the oven, carefully brush an egg wash over the dough (For the egg wash: beat one egg with one tablespoon of water.)

Bake the rolls on the middle rack in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden-brown.

Add two more tablespoons of milk to the cream cheese/lemon mix and stir so that you get a tangy, creamy, lemony sauce. Serve your blueberry rolls with a generous drizzle on top. Yummmmm!!!! (Why is there no picture with cream cheese drizzle, you ask? Eh.....because I forgot.....I was too busy eating, shame on me!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Bunny Bread

I was supposed to be working in the garden today. My mind was all made up: I was going to re-pot the tomatoes and peppers so that they could stretch their toes a bit, I was going to rake the leaves towards the fence and if the weather would warm up just the slightest bit, I was determined to move four of my raised beds so that I could make some adjustments planting-wise. Yeah.....never did happen. The moment I was ready to step out the back door, brimming with sugar-induced confidence, it started raining. Hard.

All this pent-up energy had to go somewhere, so I turned to my baking books and decided that something had to give. After my first gluten-free disaster (not the last one, I presume) I wanted to bake something easy, quick and given that it's Easter this weekend, I looked for something Easter-ey. And I found it! Cute little Easter bunnies, clutching an egg in their bready little paws, with raisins for eyes, stared at me from my old Albert Heijn cookbook. "Bake me, bake me!" they seemed to say. Oh well, I've always been a sucker for rabbit, so here goes....

Easter Bunnies
4 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of warm water
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
6 small eggs
1 egg, beaten

Mix the flour with the warm water and the buttermilk, sprinkle the yeast on top and knead. Add the salt and continue to knead until the dough comes together. Cover and rest in a greased bowl, rise until double. Punch down and divide into six equal parts. Relax the dough for five minutes, then roll into rectangles of approximately 7 to 8 inches tall. With a sharp knife, make a cut of about two inches length-wise in the top and in the bottom part of the dough: those will be the ears and legs. Put three raisins (two for the eyes, one for the nose) where the face is going to be and make a cut on each side of the dough to form the cheeks of his face. Stretch both of those cuts, put an egg on its tummy (somewhere between the chin and the beginning of the legs) and fold the dough over, like arms. You may have to shape the dough a bit into a "bunny" shape. Place the bunnies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the dough with egg wash, cover and let rise in a warm place until puffy. Make gashes in their paws and feet with a sharp knife before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Owwww, ain't that cute? Well not so cute that I made six of the little buggers, only three. Because by Easter bunny number three, I was well done with trying to get their stumpy little arms to stick around the eggs and their shriveled little eyes to look vaguely like they had any intelligence in 'm. So with the other three parts of the dough, I made a braid, stuck an egg in each fold, slathered the thing in egg wash and baked it after the bunnies came out. And then, while standing at the stove, I ate two of the eggs and half of the bread while it was still warm. Just like that. Because I can *hehe* and it tasted oh-so-good! Happy Easter to ya'll!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

BBB - Gluten-free bread

Gluten-free bread is eh........interesting. I work with it on a regular basis but never eat, let alone bake it. I'm glad to see that some of the other bakers had better results with this recipe but my experience was definitely challenging. Gluten-free bread is this month's Bread Baking Buddies topic and is hosted by BreadChick.

I must have done something wrong because, for starters, the bread didn't rise much, if any at all. (At first I thought it might have been the yeast but I used it the day after on another dough which rose beautifully). Then the long first rise caused an almost pungent smell to the dough that did not leave, even after the bake. Nevertheless, it was an interesting challenge and I am grateful for it. It has given me a new insight into some of the challenges that people with gluten allergies have to deal with, and it has allowed me to have a newly found respect for those that bake professionally and somehow make gluten-free bread look so good.

Gluten Free No Knead Hearty Seeded Sandwich Bread from Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple

Makes one loaf

1 2/3 cup of white rice flour, divided (may need more depending on your dough)
1/2 cup of cornmeal (or brown rice flour)
1/2 cup of cornstarch
1/3 cup of tapioca flour
1/3 cup of ground flax seed
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of instant yeast
1 1/3 cup of ice water
1/3 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of molasses (not black strap)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup of plain yogurt, drained of excess liquid
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3 tablespoons of millet (can also use poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, or a combination), divided

First Rise: In large bowl, stir together 1 1/3 cups of white rice flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, tapioca flour, flax seed meal, salt, yeast, and 2 tablespoons of millet. In another bowl, whisk together water, oil, molasses. Add to flour mixture and mix thoroughly. (If too stiff to blend, add more water to form a barely firm dough). Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 3 – 10 hrs then let stand at cool room temperature for 12 – 18 hours. Dough will stiffen as it stands and it is alright if it doesn’t rise very much.

Second Rise: Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside 1 tablespoon of it to brush on top of loaf. Add the yogurt, baking powder, and 1/3 cup white rice flour into the remaining egg and stir to combine. Vigorously stir the yogurt mixture into the First Rise dough until completely mixed. (If it is too soft, you can add more of the rice flour). Turn dough into a well greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan and brush a little oil on top of loaf. Brush the reserved egg and remaining seeds over the surface. Using a well oiled serrated knife, make a 1/2″ deep cut lengthwise down the loaf. Cover the pan with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap.

Third Rise: Let dough stand for 2 1/2 – 4 hours in a warm room until dough extends 1/8″ above the pan rim. Loosen plastic wrap as dough nears top of pan to prevent dough from smooshing down.

Baking: Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake bread on the lower rack for 55-60 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. If the top starts to over brown, cover with a piece of foil. Continue baking until a skewer inserted comes out with few crumbs or the internal temperature of the bread reaches 206-208 degrees. Bake for 5 minutes more. Remove bread from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let it cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

BBD#28 - Tiger Buns

They are known as "tiger buns" in Holland, or here in the USA as Dutch Crunch rolls. Tiger buns are wonderfully tender with a crunchy top and look fantastic, whether served with savory or sweet items.

As a child I loved "tiger bread", the big brother version of the tiger buns. I think it was partially the name: it sounded exciting and wild! The other reason was because I was able to pick the crunchy bits off the top and still have a crust available to hold the rest of my sandwich together.

When I read on Tangerine's Kitchen that the theme for BBD#28 was buns, I immediately thought of these "tijgerbollen" or tiger buns. I've been wanting to make these for a while and, at least, now I have a good excuse! BreadBaking Day is an event created by Zorra. Check it out!

I used my standard recipe for buns but found the recipe for the crunchy crust on an old 2006 posting on the Baking Sheet blog, the original recipe coming from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.

Tiger buns
For the dough
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup of warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of butter, melted

For the crust
3/4 cup of rice flour
1/2 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Mix the flour, salt, yeast and sugar. Add the warm water and knead until a soft dough. Add in the tablespoon of melted butter, knead together. Let rise until doubled, punch down and divide into equally sized rolls ( I measure mine out at 3 1/2 oz each, leaving some extra dough to experiment with.)

For the crust, mix flour with water, yeast and the sugar. Stir, then add the salt and the oil. Let sit for about fifteen minutes (get a cup big enough because it will rise extensively!). Brush the rolls with the mixture, applying a layer of the paste on the top and sides of the rolls.

Proof the rolls for another ten minutes, then bake in a 375F oven for about 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

BBB - Ensaïmadas

It's odd. I've baked for years and never once remembered to bake ensaïmadas. Even worse, I never once thought about ensaïmadas until I saw this month's Bread Baking Babes challenge, posted by Karen. As soon as I saw the title my memory took me back to the time I lived on Mallorca, during the late seventies.

I had a friend named Cora Guiscardo with whom I often hung out after school. Cora, her two sisters and I would treat ourselves to tender, flaky ensaïmadas that we'd rip to pieces and dunk into our cups of hot creamy chocolate for our afternoon merienda. We'd sit on the balcony of their parent's apartment, close to the Palma harbor, and enjoy the beautiful view, wondering what else was out there beyond the horizon.

Well, there's plenty out there and sometimes I wonder if I've seen it all. So I have no hesitation to bake myself back into my early teens and memories of the company of three dear friends on a sunny balcony in beautiful Spain. Let's go!

Give them plenty of time to rise
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup milk, warm
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 tablespoons of soft butter (the traditional version uses lard)
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

Mix 3 cups of flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and add 3/4 cup of warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top, stir once or twice and cover. Let sit for five minutes, then stir in the rest of the milk, the eggs and one tablespoon of olive oil. Knead into a soft and supple dough, adding flour if needed. Place in a greased bowl, cover and rest for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Not for the faint of heart....
Use the second tablespoon of olive oil to grease the counter. Take the dough out of the bowl, weigh and divide into 6 equal parts. Roll each into a ball, set aside and cover. (If you have an untreated wooden rolling pin like I do, rub a little bit of olive oil into the wood before you start rolling, it will avoid tearing the dough). Roll each ball into a thin circle, then use both hands to carefully stretch the dough thinner. The dough will grip the oiled counter, allowing you to stretch really thin. Spread the soft butter onto the dough, then carefully roll the dough into a tube, starting from the top. Here's a video that shows you how to do it: much easier then me trying to verbalize it!
Coil the now rolled dough onto a baking sheet prepared with parchment. Leave some space in between the individual circles so that the dough can fill this up when it proofs. Cover and rise in a warm kitchen up to 4 hours. Heat the oven to 350F and bake the ensaïmadas golden brown in about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar: eat and grin!

Saïm stands for "lard" in Mallorquin. Ensaïmada therefore means something like "covered in lard", or "larded" (Is that a word?).  I guess mine should be called "enmantegadas" (mantega = butter) which doesn't half sound as yummie.

As for the chocolate recipe: melt one 8.8 oz bag of Dove chocolates in a small saucepan with 1/ cup of milk and 1/4 cup of whipping cream. Pour in a pretty cup, tear a piece of pastry off and dunk :-). Yeah, it's not healthy but it sure tastes good!