Saturday, April 12, 2014

Challah



Here is another catch up recipe that is very appropriate since Easter is only about a week away.  Sweet and That's It is where you can find great step by step pictures on how to make it.  And it was originally posted by one of the BBB right here in 2008.  It's funny that I've never made challah before, because we love egg bread.  I'm sure I've made something similar.  The girls loved this version, not as sweet or rich as some challahs I've seen, but so soft and spongy that they went through half a loaf in one sitting.  The recipe makes two loaves so I decided to do one in the traditional braid and one in a loaf pan.  They both turned out beautiful and I'll definitely make them again.  Might try a more enriched version next to see which we prefer.  I think this one will keep better.  If we have any leftovers, and that is a big IF, I understand that this makes the most marvelous french toast.  An egg bread for an eggy bread.  Perfect.  Since I used spelt flour for my loaf, I did not beat the batter for minutes at a time.  I added by portions as it was worked in and only kneaded until the dough was smooth and elastic.  Just a few minutes for spelt.  And while this is traditionally a fancy braided bread, it made a great sandwich style loaf as well.


Challah
makes 2 loaves

5½-6½ cups flour (I used light spelt, kamut and potato flour)
3 tbsp sugar
1½ tsp sea salt
1 pkg active dry yeast (I used 2 tsp instant yeast)
½ cup butter, softened (I used half butter, half greek yogurt)
pinch of powdered saffron (I used threads)
1 cup warm water
4 eggs, room temperature, divided
1 tsp cold water
poppy seeds for topping

Combine 1¼ cup of flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.  Mix in the softened butter (and yogurt if using).  Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves and wait for it to cool down a bit (100-110°F).  Add the saffron water slowly to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly.  Beat for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer (or in the stand mixer) at medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally.  (I did this part in the bread machine.)  Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Reserve the yolk for the egg wash.  Blend the egg white and the other 3 eggs into the batter.  Stir ½ cup flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured board for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.  Cover the dough and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until double in bulk (about one hour).

To shape the dough, flour a pastry board or cloth lightly and set the dough on it.  Divide dough in half and cover one piece.  You can either do a 6 strand braid as I did, (google for directions), or do a stacked regular 3 strand braid.  Use 2/3 dough for the base and 1/3 for the top.  Tuck the ends under for a nice finish.  Repeat braiding with second piece of dough.  Place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Mix the reserved egg yolk with the 1 tsp cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds and let rise covered with plastic wrap or a towel until almost double, in a warm draft free place (about 1 hour).  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until done.  Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.


Back to the Future, Buddies

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Chocolate Chip Butternut Spice Muffins


I made these to use up a squash that had been sitting around for a couple months.  (Love winter squash that last that way.)  I wasn't expecting too much.  I will be getting butternut squash more often now.  These are so tasty and moist that I can't eat just one at a time, I must have two.  At least the standard muffin tin size still makes it less than a costco muffin.  I heated one up for 6 year old S this morning.  She raised her eyebrows skeptically and slightly wrinkled her nose.  (They don't look like much.)  She said, "It looks okay...  It smells good...  Mmmmmm, it's delicious!"  I love her little dramatic pauses.  I haven't gotten R's reaction to them yet, she has one in her lunch box today and had the same skeptical reaction when I told her about it.  We'll find out shortly if they fly with her as well.  Well, they got an emphatic GOOD! with eyes wide open and a big smile.  And a request for more.

This was originally a pumpkin recipe, but the butternut squash is so mild flavored that this is a year round little spice muffin.  Almost a cupcake.  Slap some cream cheese frosting on there and it would qualify.  I suspect you could reduce the sugar to ½ cup to have a muffin that would still be sweet enough to please.  This batch made a baker's dozen muffins for me with the extra going in a custard cup.  The inside of these muffins is chock full of chocolate chips, but if you want to be fancy, you can sprinkle some on top of the batter to look extra pretty.

Chocolate Chip Butternut Spice Muffins
makes 1 dozen standard muffins plus one

2 large eggs
¼ cup coconut oil
245g (about 1 cup) cooked butternut squash, pureed
¼ cup milk
¾ cup evaporated cane sugar
1¾ light spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground allspice
½ cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.  Blend the eggs, coconut oil, squash, milk and sugar together in a blender or food processor.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, soda, spices and chocolate chips until thoroughly blended.  Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and mix by spoon or whisk, just until combined and all the flour is moist.

Scoop the batter into the tins using a muffin scoop or large spoon.  The wells should be about ¾ full.  Baker for about 20 minutes or until light golden on top and done.  Cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool on a rack.  Delicious warm or room temperature.

Especially delicious warm and melty chocolatey with a glass of milk!

Inspired by Vitamix.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Catching up - 5-Grain Bread with Walnuts

 

Time for another catch up bake-along, making old recipes from the BBB that I didn't get to do the first time around.  Today, a nice, nutty five grain loaf.  Well actually, seven grains for me.  The original recipe came from My Kitchen In Half Cups, and the chance to bake it again came from Sweet and That's It.  I admit I was tempted to leave out a main ingredient, the walnuts.  Not because I don't like them, but I wasn't sure about the girls and I needed to use this for sandwich bread.  But I remembered they like Dave's Killer Bread and that is nutty, so decided to go ahead.  I did double the sugar for the heaviness of the grains and for sandwich bread flavor, though I used coconut sugar so it wasn't double the sweetness.  Just a rich caramel note and a touch of sweet.  Perfect for my needs.  The dough actually turned out to be pretty forgiving too, given the grains I used.  My timing ran into an hour long appointment and I had to pop the loaves in the fridge and hope they wouldn't over proof before I got back!  The results were nicely risen, enough oven spring, and a firm but moist crumb that was not dense as I had feared it might be.  It makes divine toast and dandy sandwiches.  Now I raised my eyebrows at the amount of salt, and the dough tasted a bit salty, but the bread is fine.  However I did use celtic sea salt, which doesn't have the harsh pure sodium chloride saltiness of table salt.  I would use less of that or kosher salt if using either of those. 

5 Grain Bread with Walnuts
makes two 9x5-inch loaves (I used 8x4 pans)

1¼ cups (125 g) walnuts, roughly chopped
3¼ tsp instant yeast or 3¾ tsp active dry soaked in ¼ cup lukewarm water
3 cups (720 ml) water, room temperature (I reduced by ¼ cup as well as omitting the ¼ cup yeast water soak for active dry version)
3¾ cups (500 g) unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 3 cups spelt and ¾ cup kamut)
1¼ cups (125 g) oat flour or finely ground rolled oats (I used ground sprouted oats)
1 cup + 2 tbsp (125 g) rye flour (I used the last of my dark rye and a bit of emmer)
1 cup less 1 tbsp (125 g) whole-wheat flour (I used sprouted wheat flour)
¾ cup (125 g) brown rice flour
1 tbsp sugar (2 tbsp coconut sugar)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp (20 g) salt (celtic sea salt)

Carefully toast the walnuts in the oven or stovetop.  Don't let them burn.  (I skipped this because my walnuts were sprouted/crispy.)  Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Reserve a third in another bowl.  Add the water to the mixing bowl and combine to get a sticky dough.  Rest for 20 minutes.  Add in the walnuts to disperse evenly and knead in the remaining portion of dry ingredients until the dough is firm and elastic and no longer sticky.  (I mixed mine with a mixer and let it remain just slightly sticky.)  Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Divide the dough in two and shape into loaves.  Place in two greased loaf pans and let rise until doubled again, 45-60 minutes.  Slash the tops as desired and bake in a preheated 400ºF oven for 40-45 minutes.  This is a heavier bread and will need to be completely baked to avoid a gummy interior.  Interior temperature should be around 200-205º.  (I baked mine 40 minutes and then removed from the pans and baked another 5 minutes.)  Cool completely on a rack when done.  Slice only when completely cool. 


These loaves slice very nicely so you can get a thin slice but still have a very hearty sandwich.  I am a toast lover though, so I will probably make some tuna melts soon!  Comfort food!

Oh yes, awesome tuna meltage.


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Back to the Future, Buddies

Monday, March 17, 2014

Water-proofed bread - BBB, a.k.a Beautiful Brioche


My daughter came in the house after school, took one whiff of the air and started begging for a piece of fresh bread.  I must say, this bread perfumed the house wonderfully.  She took one bite of bread, the heel no less, and literally started screaming.  "Oh my gosh, this bread is so awesome!!"  I haven't had a reaction quite that exuberant in a long time.  After her third piece, she claimed it as her after dinner treat.  She is still begging for more.  What makes the Bread Baking Babes so cool is that there are so many recipes I never would known or chosen, but for their monthly challenge and roundup.  This gorgeous, golden, brioche like loaf has a pillowy, tender, moist, and almost cake-like texture.  R says it is like cake to her.  Stellar outcome from a rather unique method.  The dough is proofed under water.  And it was very happy to do so.  Plunk the sticky dough onto a floured tea towel, wrap, secure and submerge.


Forty minutes later, it was bobbing around like a merry old cork.  The stoneware bowl really held the heat well.


I thought I would be smart and sprayed the towel with sunflower oil before flouring it, to minimize the inevitable sticking.  It kind of worked.  I should have done the whole towel and not just a large square because whatever dough expanded beyond the edge of the treated area, stuck like sticky dough on an un-floured towel.  In other words, glue.  But actually, when I took my bread scraper to the edges, as soon as I got past that couple-inch perimeter, the middle section peeled right off.  Still, it was a fun experience no matter the mess.  Once turned out onto a well floured new towel, it turned into the softest, velvety dough ever.  I love how that stuff feels to work with!


I did use only half the yeast that the recipe calls for and my bread practically exploded once I put it in the oven.  I was tempted to let it proof longer and crest the pan a bit, but remembered that these were smaller portions of dough and doubled at just barely reaching over the top.  The poke test showed they were ready.  I did a lengthwise slash and they were ready to bake.  I also tossed in a small cup of water when I put the loaves in, and another small cup about two minutes later, to steam the loaves at the beginning.  And that bread just took off!


I am hoping that the bread ages well, I think brioche is noted to dry out quickly.  Otherwise, it will make some divine french toast!  Here is the recipe as written in the host kitchen's post.  Kudos to Feeding My Enthusiasms for picking a fun and yummy challenge!

My slight changes:  I used half the yeast, rapadura sugar, and more flour due to the hydration needs of spelt and kamut.  I reduced the salt by ½ tsp, but would be happy using the full amount or at least 1¾ tsp next time since I used unsalted butter.  I also mixed with my bread machine.  Not the full cycle, but enough to get the dough smooth, silky and perky while still being sticky as expected.  My pans were 8x4 and just perfect for my dough.  I wouldn't want to use the larger size.  The timer was set for 30 minutes, but my nose told me the bread was done with 4 minutes to spare.  Beautifully golden brown all over.

Water-Proofed Bread
from Beard on Bread, 1973
makes two loaves

2 packages active dry yeast (I used 2 tsp instant yeast)
½ cup warm water (100 - 115ºF, approximately) 
¼ cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar 
½ cup warm milk 
1 stick (½ cup) butter 
2 tsp salt 
3 eggs 
3½ cups all-purpose flour (I ended up using about 4½ cups as I was using spelt and kamut and my farm eggs were positively jumbo!)
More flour for the tea towel 

Rinse a 4-quart mixing bowl with warm water. Dry thoroughly. Put in the yeast, the ½ cup warm water, and the teaspoon of sugar, and stir until the yeast dissolves. Allow to proof for 5 minutes. 

Heat the milk with the butter and ¼ cup sugar until lukewarm, then add to the yeast mixture. Add the salt and stir to blend well. Add the eggs, one at a time, and again blend thoroughly.  

Then stir in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, to make what will probably be a very wet and sticky dough. Stir quite vigorously. 

Spread out the dough on a working surface - a table, a piece of marble, or a board - sprinkled with the additional ½ cup flour. Use a baker's scraper or large spatula to work in this last portion of flour and make the dough firmer. Scrape under the flour and the dough, lifting and folding inward. Repeat until the flour is well incorporated. When the dough is easy to handle, begin kneading by hand.  

Continue until the dough can be shaped. (The process of kneading first with the scraper and then by hand is very effective for delicate dough. In this case the dough will remain rather sticky, but don't worry about it.)

Lift the dough, pat with flour, and place on a clean kitchen towel also sprinkled with flour. Wrap it and tie it in the towel, just as you would a package, but very loosely. Submerge this packet in a large bowl filled with warm water (about 100 - 115ºF, approximately). It will sink. Let sit for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until it rises sufficiently to float on top of the water.  Lift the dough from the water and let the excess water drip off.

Unwrap and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Again it will be quite sticky, so scrape off any dough that adheres to the towel. Knead and shape into two loaves, using both dough scraper and your hands. Thoroughly butter two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans and place one loaf in each pan. Cover, put in a warm, draft-free place, and let the dough rise slightly above the tops of the pans, or until almost doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Brush the dough with cold water, and if you like, make a slash in each loaf with a sharp knife. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when rapped with the knuckles, top and bottom. When done, place the loaves directly on the oven rack, without their pans, to brown the bottom a little more and crisp the crusts. (Mine did not need this step.)  Cool on racks. 


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Friday, March 14, 2014

Layered Banana Split Cream Cheese Pie - Happy Pi Day!



Happy Pi Day everyone!  This is the first year I have actually come up with something for this day.  I have thought about this dessert for some time and debated the best way to do it.  Should I make separate batches for each flavor or one big batch, divided?  I decided to go with one big batch, divided.  I did end up making an extra mini batch to deal with an issue with bromelaine.  That's the enzyme in fresh pineapple.  It causes gelatin not to gel, acts as a meat tenderizer and reacts with cream to produce a very bitter flavor.  I forgot that important fact, but fortunately figured it out before I added the final layer to my pie.  You can denature the enzyme by cooking your pineapple a bit, but I decided that banana splits most often use a cooked or canned topping anyway and so I chose to use a tin of crushed pineapple.  If you want fresh, remember to heat it first and add a few tablespoons of sugar if necessary.  158ºF will neutralize the enzyme.

This is a no bake, light and creamy cheese pie.  You can make it in a deep dish pie pan or a spring form.  I love my spring form pan and thought the slices would show the layers better that way as well as being easier to cut and remove.  I decided to use brown sugar in the crust for a hint of caramel flavor.  Oh yes, I almost always stabilize my whipped cream for dessert topping.  You can find directions on how to do that in this post.  I used ¼ tsp gelatin for today's 1 cup cream topping rosettes.

Banana Split Cream Cheese Pie
serves 10-12

Crust:
9 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
2 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted

Filling:
24 oz. cream cheese (3 bricks), softened to room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
pinch fine sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla
¼ cup milk or water
4 tsp gelatin (I like this brand because it is very fine and dissolves nicely as well as being grass fed)

Layer one:
1 large banana
1 tsp lemon juice 
2 tsp honey

Layer two:
5 oz. strawberries
1-2 tbsp sugar

Layer three:
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, drained

Toppings:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Optional toppings:
sliced bananas, treated with lemon juice to prevent browning
sliced strawberries
chocolate sauce
caramel sauce
chopped peanuts 
sprinkles
maraschino cherries (Tillen Farms makes a supreme version with no corn syrup and no artificial colors!)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and sugar until they are fine crumbs.  Slowly drizzle in the butter and pulse to combine.  Press the mixture into the bottom of your spring form, or on the bottom and sides of a deep dish pie pan.

Bake for about 8 minutes until just slightly golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Before starting the filling, put the ¼ cup milk or water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand until the gelatin is bloomed or softened.  A few minutes.  Microwave it for 30 seconds or heat in a small saucepan until the gelatin is fully dissolved.  Set it aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the filling flavors:
Mash the bananas together with the lemon juice and honey and set aside with a piece of cling film pressed against the surface.  

Mash or puree the strawberries with the sugar and set aside in another bowl.  The amount of sugar needed will depend on the sweetness of the strawberries.  Pureed will give a uniform color and hand mashed will leave pretty chunks.  Your choice.

Make sure the pineapple is well drained.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt for a couple minutes until smooth and creamy.  Stop to scrape down the sides once or twice.  Add the cream a bit at a time and beat light and fluffy, another couple minutes, scraping sides again.  Add the gelatin mixture and vanilla and beat for a final few minutes until smooth and airy.  Divide the filling into three equal parts.  (I weighed mine out for this.)  

Fold the banana mixture into the first portion and spread over your cooled crust.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Now fold the strawberries into the next portion of filling and carefully scrape out onto the first layer.  Gently spread the filling evenly over the top and return to the fridge for another 10 minutes.

Fold the pineapple into the final portion of filling and carefully spread over the first two layers.  Chill until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Decorate the pie with the desired optional toppings.

Whip the cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.  Scrape into a piping bag or ziploc bag with a large star tip and pipe rosettes or ribbons around the border of the pie and center.  Top with sprinkles and a cherry if desired.



Enjoy!
 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stuffed Peppers


Here is my take on a stuffed pepper recipe.  We particularly love this filling, it's great even on its own as a kind of goulash.  But of course having it in a tender stuffed pepper is more healthful and delicious as well.  ☺  I have been pulling these little yummies out of the freezer, one at a time, for easy lunches since I made a full batch.  That's two dinners worth for us.  You can use white or brown rice, quinoa or even a mix of your choosing.  I recently discovered that using a rice cooker gives the best quinoa I have ever had, especially since I combined my red and white quinoa.  (They cook at different rates.)  Rice cooker makes them both perfect, hooray!  No more mushy, crunchy quinoa.  Remember to rinse your quinoa very well if using, to get that soapy coating off.  I have tried this recipe as an "unstuffed pepper" casserole, and while it was good, the chopped peppers I used should have been stir-fried or slightly steamed first to make them more tender.  They were a bit crunchy just throwing them in raw and baking.  I like the little packages you get with a true stuffed pepper though.  Your choice as to whether or not to leave the stem intact for presentation.

Stuffed Peppers
Serves 8

4 large red or orange bell peppers
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb mild Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup cooked rice or quinoa (or a mixture of the two)
1 cup salsa
½ cup sour cream
½ cup chopped green onions
1½ cups shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
2 dashes Tabasco (optional)
fresh ground pepper
water

fresh basil for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.   Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and take out the seeds and ribs.  Set aside in a casserole dish.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and onions.  Cook for about a minute then add the ground beef and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and the sausage is cooked through.  Turn off the heat.  Add the salsa, rice or quinoa, sour cream and green onions.  Sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture and fold in evenly until the mixture is well combined.  Divide and stuff the mixture into the peppers.  Add about ¼ cup water to the bottom of the dish if to help the peppers bake up tender.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to cook until heated through and golden on top, 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped basil and enjoy.


If making to eat and freeze, bake the whole batch and freeze the cooked leftovers, covered in foil.  Then reheat as desired.  The peppers will release more moisture during the reheat, but they still taste great.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Viennese Striezel - A Braided Loaf


This weekend I'm participating in another catch-up bake session for the BBB past recipes.  I had to do this one, it was so gorgeous!  The last couple I didn't do because I had made them the first time around.  Somehow missed this one the first time and so was very happy to have another chance.  I am scarfing down buttered pieces of striezel right now and can't wait to toast it, french toast it, and possibly bread pudding it.  Good stuff.  Yum.  I am tempted to make another and use cardamom instead of mace.  I think that would make it more of a fruited Finnish Pulla than a Viennese Striezel, but delicious nonetheless. 


Here is the recipe if you wish to try it out or save it for holidays or a get together... weekend brunch...

Viennese Striezel
1 braided loaf

Basic Sweet Dough

1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp - I used instant yeast)
¼ cup very warm water
½ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 3/4 – 3 cups flour (I used 100 g whole spelt and about 320 g white spelt)
1 large egg

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Scald milk. Put milk, sugar, butter, and salt in bowl of mixer. Cool until just warm. Stir in 1 cup of flour. Mix in dissolved yeast.  Whisk egg and add to dough.  Add most of remaining flour and knead until smooth and satiny.  You can knead by hand or use a stand mixer or bread machine to work the dough.  Mix in fruit before the final bit of flour.

Add-ins:
¼ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup candied cherries, chopped (I used dried cranberries)
2 tbsp candied orange peel, chopped (I used fresh orange zest)
1/8 tsp mace

Topping:
½ cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp milk
almonds or walnuts for sprinkling

Add fruit and mace to basic dough before the last cup of flour. Mix in well. Add remaining flour and finish kneading until smooth.  Shape into a ball, place in lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 2¼ hours.

Punch down. Divide into 9 pieces, shape each into a ball and let rest 5 minutes.  (I used a scale to divide mine equally.)

To shape the bread, you will make a 4 strand braid, a 3 strand braid and a 2 strand coiled rope.  Cover the balls you are not using for braiding.  For directions on how to braid a 4 strand loaf, look here or just google and choose your favorite way. There are a number of different methods.

Lay the 4 strand braid on a parchment lined sheet and use the side of your hand to press a trench along the length of it.  Then braid the 3 strand and lay it along the trench.  You can make another slight trench in this braid as well.  Then place the final 2 strand rope on the very top.




Cover the loaf loosely and let proof until doubled, about 1½ hours.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 40 – 45 minutes.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Combine the powdered sugar and milk until smooth and drizzle over the cooled loaf.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Back to the Future, Buddies
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