“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, 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!!