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

James Beard (1903-1985)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

BBB - Indian Bread

Cookie Baker Lynn's Bread Baking Babes' challenge this month was baking naan. Yum! A lovely Indian flatbread that is easy to bake, quick and very, very tasty, the exercise took me back to a wonderful dinner in London with two dear friends two summers ago. I knew naan as a savory bread but when I bit into a peshwari type naan, I was double sold: the bread had a sweet filling, consisting of nuts, raisins and coconut. Whoa!

So when I saw the Bread Baking Babes' topic for this month, I knew I had to try and replicate that sweet bread. I used the recipe to bake three savory loaves, sprinkled with black sesame seeds, and three peshwari.

Naan dough
4 cups of bread flour
1.5 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
Melted butter for brushing

For the savory naan
1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds

For the peshwari filling
1/2 cup of golden raisins, soaked
1/4 cup of salted almonds
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
1 tablespoon of shredded coconut
2 tablespoons of apple sauce

Warm the milk to 110F, sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for five minutes. In the meantime, chop the raisins, the salted almonds and mix with the coconut. Set aside. Heat the oven to 500F and put a baking sheet on the middle rack.

Put the flour in a mixing bowl and add the yeast with the milk. Stir several times, then add the salt and the cumin. Stir until the dough comes together, take it out of the bowl onto a lightly sprinkled counter and knead until the dough is soft and flexible. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 30 minutes, or until double in size. Punch down and divide into six equal pieces.

Press each piece or roll it with a rolling pin until it's flat, about twice its size. Set aside on the counter and cover while you do the other ones. When all six have been rolled, cover and let them rest for about ten minutes.
The oven should now be hot enough. Carefully roll one of the rested pieces once or twice to make it bigger, then pull the hot baking sheet out of the oven, and put the dough on top. It will immediately begin to blister. Push the tray back into the oven, wait three minutes, then open again and turn the bread over onto its other side. Close the door, wait another three minutes, open the door and turn the bread again. Brush it with melted butter and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Close the door, bake for four more minutes and your bread is ready. Repeat this with two other pieces.

Now take one of the three leftover pieces of dough, spread a light layer of apple sauce in the middle and place a heaping spoon of the coconut-raisin-almond mixture on top. Fold one half of the dough over, pinch the seams and roll the dough carefully into a larger, thinner piece. Repeat with the other two pieces.

Pull the baking sheet out of the oven and place all three pieces on it. Close the door, bake for three minutes, turn over and bake for another three minutes. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle with the coconut and bake for another two to three minutes, taking care to not burn the coconut.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brat Buns

This weekend I had planned to make traditional Dutch sausage rolls, worstenbroodjes, but I never got around to it. I had already thawed a pound of hamburger but with laundry, friends, work and a lazy Saturday evening watching my favorite show on PBS.....no worstenbroodjes. What can I say? I only have myself to blame.

Nevertheless, by Sunday evening, plagued by procrastination guilt and the slight yearning for a snack from my homeland, I found myself in the kitchen wondering what I could fix that would at least tend to the craving. Ha! My always faithful freezer came to the rescue: I found a six-pack of brats and I was ready to go!

Brat Buns
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup of milk, warm

6 brats*
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk

Add the yeast to the warm milk and let sit until foamy. In the meantime, put the flour in a bowl and add the sugar. Now pour in the yeast with the milk, stir several times until well mixed, then add the salt, butter and the beaten egg. Stir or mix until the dough pulls away from the sides, scoop out and place on a counter that's lightly dusted with flour. Knead for five or six minutes until the dough comes together and is flexible, then put it in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double the size (approximately one hour). Punch down the dough carefully, then weigh and cut in six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover and rest on the counter for about ten minutes.

In the meantime, heat your oven to 375F. Roll each piece of dough into an oval, slightly longer than the brat. Place the dough oval with the long side horizontally towards you. Put a brat on top of the dough , fold the left and the right short ends over the meat, then wrap the dough half that is closest to you over the sausage, and roll the whole thing over onto the top half. Pinch the seams and give it a quick roll back and forth so that it becomes a tight roll around the brat and set aside. Do the same with the rest of the dough and the brats.

Place the sausage rolls on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let them rise for about 30 minutes. Brush the rolls with egg wash, score with three diagonal slashes and bake the rolls golden brown in about 15 minutes.
(Make sure that the internal temperature of the meat supersedes 165F degrees, for food safety reasons).

* I prefer my brats grilled. In this case I was too greedy and hungry to mess around much longer so I placed the brats on the dough as they came, straight from the package (they are already cooked). And they were great, hence the fact that the brat bun above was the last one left before I realized I had not taken any pictures yet :-). The next time however, I'm going to grill them first, then let them cool down before I wrap them in dough. In either case, make sure that the internal temperature of the meat supersedes 165F degrees, for food safety reasons, before consuming it.

Think about all the great possibilities you have here: wrap the brat in cheese before you wrap the dough around it, or brush some spicy mustard on the brat before putting the bun together. All these choices! This would be a great Superbowl food: brat bun in one hand, the remote in the other :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

BBD#26 - Boursin Buns

"Du pain, du vin et du Boursin" (bread, wine and Boursin) is a commercial slogan that was used in Europe to promote this garlicky soft cheese. It's light, tasty and useful in the kitchen, and easy to replicate if you cannot find it in your store (or if its price is prohibitive).

Bread and Boursin make indeed a good combination. Spread on toast or as a foundation for fresh vegetables on a wrap, it adds creaminess and flavor to your dish. It's even better if you bake bread with the soft cheese incorporated into the dough: the rolls come out golden brown with a hint of garlic, herbs and just yummie goodness.

These rolls are a favorite at dinner parties or potlucks, and they're the first ones to go. That's why I baked them for BreadBaking Day #26. For more information on this month's baking event, check out Life's a Feast.

The rolls are tasty enough to eat by themselves, or with a lick of cold butter. Even better, spread some additional cheese on the roll and you have double the flavor!

Boursin Buns
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cup milk, warm, divided
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/3 cup of Boursin*
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg

2 tablespoons of milk, warm
1 tablespoon of Boursin*
1 teaspoon of dried herbs, optional

Pour the flour into a mixing bowl. Combine the yeast with 2/3 cup of the milk and set aside until foamy. Add the yeast mix to the flour in the bowl and stir several times. Spoon the Boursin into the remaining 1/3 cup of milk and whisk until dissolved. Add this to the flour in the bowl, then add the sugar the salt and the egg. Mix for several minutes or until well combined. Take the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for five minutes until the dough is soft and flexible. If the dough is too wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time: if it's too dry, sprinkle some milk on top and knead. Grease a bowl, place the dough inside and cover: let rise until twice its size.

Turn the dough out onto the counter, again lightly dusted with flour as the dough may be a bit sticky. Carefully deflate by pushing out some of the air, then cut and weigh into 2 oz (56 grams) pieces. Shape each piece into a roll. Grease a springform or pie dish, place the rolls inside, cover and let rise again.

Heat your oven to 350F. Mix the Boursin into the two tablespoons of warm milk and brush the rolls. Sprinkle with dried herbs if you want. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in the pan for about ten minutes, then serve warm, or continue to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 rolls.

* If you don't have Boursin, it's easily made. Take 1 cup of whipped butter and an 8 oz stick of cream cheese at room temperature. Stir these two together in a blender (if you have to, I prefer to do this by hand) and stir in one minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of dried parsley, thyme, oregano, marjoram, basil and thyme each. You can add or leave out whichever one you don't care for. Carefull fold these in and taste. Good enough? If not, add some more of whichever one you prefer, you can also stir in some black pepper for a more, well....peppery bite :-). Replace the cheese in the recipe with this and you're set!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spelt bread

Spelt is an ancient grain that was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s. It is a little sweeter and slightly nuttier than whole wheat but is not as "bulky". Spelt flour can be easily found in specialty stores or in larger supermarkets. It contains some gluten but not enough to validate a "spelt only" bread, hence the bread flour in this recipe.

Baking this particular type of bread takes a little bit of planning but it's worth the effort. The day before, mix a flour slurry with spelt, warm water and a bit of yeast. Let it sit overnight at room temperature and in the morning it should smell slightly sour and yeasty, with bubbles.

Spelt loaf

The day before
1/4 cup spelt
1/4 cup warm water
1/ 4 teaspoon active dry yeast

Stir the warm water and the yeast into the flour until well blended. Cover the container and let sit at room temperature for 12-16 hours.

The next day
1/4 cup bread flour

Stir in another quarter cup of bread flour, cover and set aside for about four hours.

Four hours later
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups of bread flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup warm water

Carefully stir a 1/4 cup of warm water into the slurry, making sure there are no lumps. In a mixing bowl, add two cups of bread flour and pour in the warm, bubbly yeast mix. Add the dry yeast and stir into the flour. Let it sit for a minute or two, then add the 3/4 cup of warm water and the salt. Mix the dough until it comes together, then scrape it out of the bowl and knead it for five minutes on a lightly dusted counter. If the dough is too dry, spray it with a little bit of water. If it's too wet, flour your hands and carefully incorporate it into the dough.

When the dough is soft and flexible, oil a bowl and put the dough in it. Cover and rise until 3x its size. Punch down, cover and rise until 2x its size. Prepare a banneton with flour (or if you have a plastic wicker basket, spray with cooking spray and flour generously). At this point you can also weigh the dough and divide into equal parts for rolls, batards or baguettes.

Heat the oven to 400F. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack and add half a cup of water. Knead the dough and shape it into a ball. Put it carefully, seam side up, into the prepared basket and cover. Let it rise one more time, until double its size. When ready, invert the basket carefully onto a baking sheet so as not to deflate the dough and bake for 35 minutes. For the last five minutes, leave the oven door cracked open so that the moisture can disappear and a crunchier crust forms on the loaf.

Cool on a rack before slicing.

Buttermilk Buns

These rolls are based on a recipe from The Fresh Loaf website.

Buttermilk Buns
1 envelope(or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup water, warm
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons sesame seeds*

Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl and set aside. Add the honey and the salt to the buttermilk and stir. In the meantime, scoop the flour into the mixing bowl. When the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the flour, mix and then slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Continue to mix for several minutes until the dough comes together. If it's too wet, add a tablespoon of dough: too dry, sprinkle in some water. Now lightly dust the counter with some flour, take out the dough and continue to knead for four or five minutes until the dough is flexible and soft. Spray the inside of the bowl with some oil or baking spray, add the kneaded dough and cover. Place it in a warm place until the dough has doubled, approximately an hour and a half.

Carefully take the dough out of the bowl, place on your counter and push some of the air out. Weigh it and cut the dough into 10 equal pieces, and roll them into individual balls. Butter a baking sheet (or a round springform pan), place the rolls with equal distance to each other, cover and let rise until almost double in size.

Heat the oven to 400F. Uncover the rolls and brush with the rolls with the egg, then sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. If you bake a cluster, as in the picture, the baking will take about 35 minutes.  

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

* If you don't care for sesame seeds, you may want to try poppy seeds or sunflower seeds. Plain rolls are very tasty too, and for a sweet touch, consider rolling them in cinnamon sugar before placing them in the pan.....