Thursday, January 28, 2016

BBB - Adjaruli Khachapuri - a Georgian Boat Shaped Bread

Oh my goodness, am I glad I decided to make this challenge recipe at the last minute!  Not the fact that it was last minute, but that I made it at all, it was so delicious.  This is one of those regional recipes that has many variations and lots of history.
"Acharuli/Adjaruli Khachapuri is a boat shaped bread from Georgia, that has melted salty cheese and a soft cooked egg or sometimes two in the middle hollow part of the “boat”. The name Khachapuri has its origins in the words “Khacho ” meaning cottage cheese / cheese curd” and “Puri” meaning bread. I believe the Georgians often eat this very popular bread as a snack or for lunch."
I didn't do the egg because I am the only one in my family who would eat it that way. Since I had a Mexican dish for dinner, I went toward that theme with my topping. What I ended up with was cheesy bread heaven. Even the girls, who are very picky about melty cheese, declared it quite tasty. Hubby said it was awesome and I agree. Do go and check out the original post at My Diverse Kitchen and scroll down to see all the versions made by this group.  My version is noted by any changes in blue.

Acharuli/ Adjaruli Khachapuri
(Adapted from Saveur)

For the Dough:
1 tsp instant yeast
½ tsp sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 egg (optional) (left out)
1½ cups flour, plus more for dusting (1 cup light spelt, ¾ cup all purpose flour)
1 tsp salt

For the Filling:
1½ cups grated/ shredded Mozzarella
1½ cups crumbled feta cheese
2 eggs (or any other topping of choice)

My Filling:
1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 heaping tbsp sour cream
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2-4 cloves pressed garlic
1 tbsp chopped chives
sliced Roma tomatoes
sprinkle of oregano

For topping after baking:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed

Put all the ingredients for the dough into a mixing bowl and combine/knead together with a dough hook or your hands until a smooth and somewhat loose elastic dough forms. This dough should not be too dry.

Transfer the ball of dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Loosely cover and let rise till double in volume, about 1 to 1½ hours. It will hold a little longer if necessary.

Place a pizza stone or a baking sheet on a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250ºC (485ºF). (I baked at 450ºF)

Combine the cheeses in a bowl and set aside. (Combine cheeses, sour cream, mayo, garlic and chives.) Deflate the dough and divide it into two halves. Working with one piece at a time, roll each piece into a rectangle about 10” long and 1/8” thick on a piece of lightly floured parchment. This makes it easier to transfer the dough to your baking sheet.

Roll the long edges in a bit curving them inwards at the ends and seal well (with a little water) or the edges will open up during baking. I pressed along the inner edge with my fingernail to seal. Then bring the edges close and pinch together on both ends to form a “boat” like shape. Again, make sure the ends are sealed well. Transfer the “boats” to the baking sheet or leave on parchment if using a pizza stone.

Dock the center area and fill with half of the cheese mixture so that it is a little higher than the edges of the dough “boat”. Repeat with the other half of dough. Right now is when I topped with sliced tomatoes and sprinkled with oregano. Bake them for about 12 to 15 minutes until the Khachapuri are golden brown.

Take the breads out of the oven and gently crack an egg on each bread without breaking the yolk (for the traditional topping) and return them to the oven. Bake for another 3 to 4 minutes till the egg is set.

Take the Adjaruli Khachapuri out, and place a couple of cubes (2tbsp) butter on each. Serve them hot. It helps to wait for about 10 minutes before eating them so you don’t burn your mouth! This recipe should serve 4 to 6 people.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sausage Ratatouille

We love this meal.  When I told the girls I was making it tonight, they both immediately requested that any leftovers be marked for their lunch boxes tomorrow.  I clipped the original recipe from a magazine six years ago and it sat in a folder for about five years of that time.  Last year I noticed it while clearing out old recipes and decided to try the recipe out.  It was the first time my kids had tried egg plant, and possibly the first time I had cooked with it myself.  Certainly the first successful time!  For my eldest, it was an instant favorite.  Little sis was a bit dubious about the eggplant, but loved the rest.  Now, it is an eagerly anticipated dish and I almost always get cheers when I mention it is on the menu.  Even my Dad requested the recipe after I served it to my folks!  Mom said with a wry smile, that he liked it better than hers.  My Mom is a completely awesome cook by the way.  

I think one of the reasons it turns out so well is that the dish is built in stages.  The eggplant and zucchini are first cooked separately and then added back in later on.  This prevents them from becoming a mushy mess.  It really is a delightful dish and a great way to start off someone who is new to eggplant.  The sausage makes it a full meal, but ratatouille is often simply the vegetable part served as a side or appetizer on top of a crusty baguette.

Sausage Ratatouille
Serves 6
Adapted from Family Fun

4 links Mild Italian Sausage
5 tbsp olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into ¾" pieces
2 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 medium green bell pepper, quartered, seeded and sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley or 2 tsp dried (2 tbsp if using freeze dried)
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 3 tsp dried

Puncture the sausage links and place in a pot of boiling water.  Cook at a low boil until no longer pink in the middle.  Drain and cool, then slice into ¼-½" rounds and set aside.

 I found this gorgeous striped eggplant at the market.  It was so creamy colored and no dark seeds like the dark purple aubergines.

Warm 3½ tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the eggplant and zucchini and season with a little salt and pepper.  

Sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned but not soft.  About 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Warm remaining 1½ tbsp oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sausage and sauté and stir for 3 more minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, eggplant and zucchini.  Season with the 1 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper.

Add the herbs and partly cover the skillet.  Gently simmer for the next 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with fresh basil chiffonade if desired.

This is a great one dish meal, but you can round it out with some crusty bread and a nice green salad.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Lemon Cheesecake Crinkles with Scratch or Shortcut Options

I tried out these cookies because a friend posted them on facebook and I needed a recipe to make for my kids' homework club dessert.  They got rave reviews and I liked them even better when they had aged a day.  This is a good last minute, throw together recipe if you happen to keep cake mixes on hand.  We can't use store bought cake mixes because of the ingredients, but I happened to have a homemade cake mix in the freezer that worked beautifully!  It was a vanilla, yellow cake mix but I converted it to a lemon cake mix fairly easily for the recipe.  The only drawback is that because of the frosting, the cookies are not stackable.  However they do freeze and thaw well.  I had one set that I took out to thaw and they got left out overnight, in their sealed container.  The next day they were amazingly tender with delicate crispy shell around the outside.  Really good and just the right amount of lemon.  They weren't decidedly puckery like lemon bars, but tart enough that you weren't left feeling cheated out of the lemon experience.  I think I would do them exactly the same way again.  If you don't happen to have citric acid on hand, I would suggest using more lemon zest.  I added it for tartness in the mix because I adore lemon desserts and sweet, bland lemon flavor is just wrong in my opinion.  Citrus should be citrusy.  If you only keep yellow or white cake mixes on hand, you can add the same things I did to turn mine into a lemon mix.  Play around with the amount of citric acid to suit your own desired level of tartness.  This makes more frosting then you need, a half batch might suffice, especially since these cookies are great even without the frosting.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 box lemon cake mix (recipe for homemade cake mix follows)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 eggs
Zest and juice of one large lemon (2-3 tbsp juice and 1 tsp zest)
1½ cups powdered sugar

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Zest and juice of one large lemon (2-3 tbsp juice and 1 tsp zest)
¼ tsp lemon oil (for baking, not essential oil!) 

In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine cake mix, oil, eggs, lemon juice and zest, and mix until it is uniformly combined and smooth.  Chill the dough for 15-20 minutes to make it easier to handle.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls with your hands and then roll in the powdered sugar until well covered.  Place balls on a parchment lined baking sheet.  

Bake for 12-15 minutes until just set and starting to turn golden around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting:  Mix the cream cheese until fluffy, add in half the powdered sugar and mix to combine.  Add the vanilla, juice and zest and mix.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar a bit at a time until the frosting has the desired amount of tart/sweet and consistency.  

Pipe frosting onto the cookies with a decorating bag.  Or simply use a quart freezer ziptop bag with a small corner cut off to pipe the frosting.

To convert my yellow cake mix into a lemon cake mix, I added 1½-2 tsp fresh micro-planed lemon zest, ½ tsp lemon oil, and ½ tsp citric acid.  This will convert one box portion of mix.

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix
Makes 2 boxes worth - use one and freeze one
Adapted from Chef Tess Bakeresse

4½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup tapioca starch (or cornstarch if corn is not an issue)
2½ cups sugar (I used organic evaporated cane sugar)
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp salt (I used a slightly scant tbsp sea salt)
1 cup shortening (or butter)  (I used half butter, half unhydrogenated shortening)
1 tbsp double strength vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients in a stand mixer on low.  Add the shortening/butter in bits and combine on low until a fine meal is achieved.  Drizzle in vanilla while mixer is running and combine well.  You could also use a food processor to make this or cut in the fat by hand and run it through a flour sifter to get a fine meal. 

Makes about 9 cups mix.  4½ cups is one box mix.  I divided mine by weight and got 24.5 oz each.  I believe the butter is heavier than the shortening as well as the less refined sugar than its white counterpart.  Since I used part butter, I am keeping the other mix in the freezer.  (Shortening for tenderness and butter for flavor in a cake.)  Using all shortening would be shelf stable for maybe a month or so.  According to the author, you can flavor this with oil flavorings as well as citrus zests and it mixes up exactly like a store bought mix with the 3 eggs, 1/3 cup oil and 1 1/3 cups water.

Adapted from

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Extra-Chocolatey Cocoa Brownie Cookies

My mom got a KitchenAid a year ago.  I was a bit jealous because mine was 16 years old and needed a tune up.  It still needs one but at least I've had it and this was her first, so I'm happy she finally got a nice machine.  One nice thing that came with the new machine was a beautiful cookbook.  It was the title recipe that caught my eye at first, but there are a lot of dishes in there I'd like to try.  Mom let me borrow it because she won't really use it, and I can test out the good looking recipes before I return it.  So, big surprise, I started out with a sweet recipe:  Extra-Chocolatey Brownie Cookies.  These cookies are just barely adapted from that recipe.  The batter is super dangerous.  (Yum.)  The cookies are large, rich and satisfyingly chocolately.  If you want them super pretty, like a cookbook picture, press a few pieces of chocolate and nuts into the dough after you have scooped it onto the sheet.  That's how they do it for those pretty staged photos.  This is a Messy Kitchen though so... yeah I don't do that, sorry.  Here, this is how it looks if you want to waste invest that extra time on it:

I do recommend these cookies for those chocolate lovers out there!  If you want to stick with the original recipe and use larger chocolate chunks for effect, it calls for one 11½oz package.

Extra-Chocolatey Brownie Cookies
adapted from the Complete KitchenAid Stand Mixer Cookbook
makes 3 dozen medium cookies or 2 dozen large cookies
2¼ cups light spelt flour or 2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp sea salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown muscovado sugar, lightly packed
½ cup evaporated cane sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¾ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup mini white chocolate chips
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl until well blended.  Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixer on medium, until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Add flour gradually and beat on low until blended.  Fold in the chips and nuts.  Drop dough by double tablespoonfuls about 2" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten slightly before baking.  Bake for 12 minutes or until set.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

These are delightful with a nice tall glass of milk!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Anadama Bread with the BBB

I just happened to catch this post and bake it on the day that the new recipe comes out.  I don't often get to do that, it's usually a last minute thing.  But I remember this bread.  I baked it over 20 years ago in high school for a harvest party.  I think I made squaw bread and colonial bread as well.  Actually, the colonial bread might have been the same as the anadama, the ingredients are extremely similar.  I seem to recall the title saying, "also known as Anadama bread", but it didn't have the history of the name.  It was a bread machine book so maybe they didn't want to use a swear word in their publication, who knows!  But the nostalgia was there when I saw the post and it really comes together fairly quickly.  The heady smell of the molasses makes this a joy to bake as it spreads through the house.  Perfect baking smells for dark winter days.  This version has lots of seeds in it, and though I love that now, I know I would have scorned it when I was younger.  Birdseed bread is what I called that stuff that my mom loved to buy.  More traditional recipes may not include the seeds and you may certainly add more or less to your own taste.  The other fun thing about this loaf is the mystery of how it got its name.  Stories generally have a consensus of a disgruntled husband being tired of the same old mush or plain bread every day and grumbling under his breath at his wife as he tried to do his own thing to break the monotony.  "Anna, damn her," he said as he combined the cornmeal for the mush with the flour for the bread in an attempt to come up with something new.  The many stories may be apocryphal, but they are similar enough to wonder if there isn't some basis in fact to the history.

For my loaf, I used a blend of flours, all purpose, spelt, and einkorn.  Because spelt and einkorn don't absorb liquid like regular flour, I ended up having to add a lot more, between ¾ and 1 cup of regular flour (to boost the gluten).  I still left the dough on the sticky side though because too much einkorn can give you a dry or dense loaf.  I must have hit it right because I got neither of those.  The loaf was hearty, for certain, but not heavy and still nicely moist.  I only figured out today that I used double the sugar as the original post, because I looked at another babe's post first which did the same.  Maybe that was why my loaf took so long to rise, the sugar inhibits the yeast.  I might use less next time but it was really good as it turned out!  And I still got fantastic oven spring.  I was worried because you don't want to overproof spelt or einkorn or your loaf will fall flat.  Eldest daughter tried out the heel of the loaf when it had cooled, with butter, and proclaimed it wonderful.  And that was with the disclaimer that it looked unsure to her because of the color and seeds.  Glad the flavor won her over!  My mom will love this bread.  I had it for toast this morning and it was delicious!  Not too sweet, and the millet gives it a delicate crisp and popcorn-y flavor and this just deliciously perfect with the butter.  Do go check out the original post at Feeding My Enthusiasms, and scroll down to see all the other loaves that the BBB made, they are just beautiful!

Anadama Bread
makes one loaf

2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 envelope (¼ oz.) active dry yeast (about 2 ¼ tsp) I used instant
1 cup stone ground medium cornmeal I used medium ground millet for the corn allergy
¼ cup mild-flavored molasses or honey I used BOTH, oops
2 tbsp hemp seeds or white sesame seeds didn't have black, so I used 3 tbsp white
1 tbsp nigella seeds or black sesame seeds
2 tsp golden flaxseed golden flax meal
2 tsp brown flaxseed golden flax seeds
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 ¼ tsp sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading ¾ c all purpose, ¾ c white spelt, ½ cup einkorn, + another half cup each spelt and all purpose to reach proper consistency
1 large egg, beaten to blend omitted

Salted butter, for serving

Lightly butter an 8 x 4" loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang.

Place yeast in a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add 1 cup warm water; stir to dissolve the yeast. Add the cornmeal, molasses, seeds, and salt. Stir to combine using a wooden spoon.  Continue stirring with a wooden spoon or the dough hook if using the stand mixer.  Add 2 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter and mix until no dry spots remain.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes OR mix in stand mixer on medium speed 8-10 minutes.

Lightly butter a medium bowl.  Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough to deflate.  Cover again and let rise until about doubled in size once more, about 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 375º F.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into and 8' x 4' rectangle. Starting at the short side furthest from you, roll up dough, pinching the seam as you go to create a tight roll. Pinch seam to close and tuck ends under, pinching to seal. Place seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic and let dough rise. Uncover before it crests the top of the pan and wait for it to spring back slightly when pressed, about 1 hour.

Brush top of dough with egg if desired.  Bake, rotating halfway through, until bread is baked through and the top is a deep golden brown, 45-50 minutes.  Let cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack before turning out.  Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing (if you can wait that long).  Serve with salted butter.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Russian Chrysanthemum Bread with the BBB

I'm so glad I was able to fit in this month's baking challenge for the BBB!  Quite often I miss out on the November and December bakes because I am just too busy making other things.  This time I actually whipped it up at the family house for day after Thanksgiving breakfast.  And, bonus, I was able to use up some of the extra cranberry sauce I made.  (Still leaving enough for leftovers of course!)  This was a lovely dough and bread and my folks had two servings each and kept the rest to eat for breakfasts later.  The original is a savory, meat filled loaf but yes, I usually go to the sweet side.  You've seen that T-shirt, "Come to the Dark Side... We have cookies."?  I love that because I am a feeder.  We ended up using a smaller pie plate since we had fewer people this year, and saving the rest of the dough for another project.  It's a great dough.  If you want to see the amazing flowering bread that the host kitchen baked, check it out at Notitie van Lien.  This sweet version was really easy to put together, the meat filling takes a bit more work, but you can also do things like a pizza flower or a pesto flower.  You can see those versions linked in the original post as well.  So here are the directions for the beautiful Chrysanthemum bread.  I used ¾ cup finely chopped pecans, ¾ cup cranberry sauce, and 2 tbsp brown sugar for my filling.  I also sprinkled the bread with coarse raw sugar after brushing with the egg glaze.  I think it would be wonderful with an icing drizzle after baking but as it was, it was lovely and not too sweet.

Russian Chrysanthemum bread
(1 large round loaf)

Filling: (this is an example, you can make up your own savory or sweet filling. If you want to go vegetarian, think mushroom, bean mash etc.)
500-600 g minced meat (beef, lamb etc.)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, chopped
140 g cheese, coarsely grated
30 g butter
100 ml cold water
salt and pepper to taste
spices, to taste*

(this is the filling the host kitchen used)
450 g beef mince
100 g smoked turkey, finely chopped
½ red pepper, seeds removed, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 shallots, chopped, glazed and cooled
1½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika powder
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
80 g grated emmental cheese
± 80 ml cold water

500 g strong flour (I used 125 g white whole wheat and 375g white spelt)
7 g dry instant yeast
125 ml milk, lukewarm
125 ml kefir or yogurt (I used my mom's fresh, thick kefir and wow did the dough love it!)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
90 ml olive oil

1 Tbsp milk
1 egg yolk

also needed:
1 round cookie cutter or glass (7.5 cm in diameter, or 3 inches)
large shallow pie dish 28 cm in diameter (I used a shallow 9")

Making the dough:
Mix the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm milk. Mix the kefir with the salt, egg and oil, then add the flour and yeast mixture. Knead into a supple dough. Shape into a ball and let rest in a lightly greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled.

Make the filling:
Glaze the chopped onion and garlic in a frying pan. Leave to cool.Mix the ingredients for the filling well (really knead it through). set aside.

Lightly grease your pie dish.

Work with about ⅓ of the dough at the time. Roll it out to a thickness of about 3 mm, cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. This way the dough will be relaxed and won’t shrink when cutting the rounds.

Cut out rounds with a glass or cookie cutter. Place 1 Tbsp of filling on each round, spread it out, leaving about ½ cm free around the border and sprinkle with some cheese. Fold the circle in half, and fold the two point together. It now looks like a petal. Place in the pie dish, starting around the border with the point of the petal facing to the center. Repeat until there is just a little space left in the middle. Make three half circles, fill and place them in a line ⅓ overlapping and roll them up (flat side down) and place this in the middle. Cover with lightly greased plastic foil and leave to rest and rise for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

Whisk egg yolk and milk for the glaze and brush the bread with it. Place the bread in the oven on a rack and bake for 25 minutes. Lower the temperature to 170ºC (325º) and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden.

When the loaf is done, take it out of the oven and the tin, place on a wire rack and brush with some melted butter.  Let cool or eat lukewarm.

(adapted from:

*The spice mix in one of the recipes was “kmeli-suneli”, a spice mix from Georgia (not in the US, but a small land stuck between Turkey (not the bird) and Russia). I found a recipe that you could make yourself: all herbs/spices are dry:

2 tsp each of marjoram, dill, mint, parsley, coriander seeds, marigold flower petals and summer savory
1 tsp each of fenugreek leaves, black pepper, fenugreek seeds
2 laurel leaves 

Grind them all in a coffee/spice grinder, sieve and it’s ready to use.

But you can use any kind of ready spice mix or your own mixture!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An Einkorn experiment

I decided to combine this month's baking challenge with my new acquisition of all purpose einkorn flour.  The results were not what I was looking for, but still very interesting.  My hot dog buns were moist and tender with a fine crumb, but they didn't keep well and weren't strong enough to hold up to the actual dog and were better just toasted and eaten as a roll.  I think einkorn is just too delicate for use with the tangzhong method which was the challenge.  Tangzhong incorporates a flour starch gel or roux into a bread dough to give loft and springiness.  This water roux is a mixture of one part flour to five parts water by weight, that you stir and cook until the starches in the flour bind and the mixture thickens. It happens very quickly at right around 149-150°F, or 65°C.  After covering and cooling down to a warm temperature, you simply add the tangzhong to your recipe.  I calculated the proportion of flour and water that I could replace from the bun recipe I was using to be at most 7% for the roux.  I also used spelt for the tangzhong since it has the same amount of starch as regular flour where einkorn has less.  My dough ended up not nearly as sticky as it should and I added a couple tablespoons more water as well as forgetting the salt and adding it in much later.  Probably overworked that delicate einkorn gluten a bit.  The dough was actually very nice to work with and I will be trying out many more recipes with it, but I want to try the tangzhong again with regular flour so I don't have to worry about my loaf failing.  Do go and check out the results for a traditional use of tangzhong at the host kitchen's post.  And even though it wasn't perfect, look at the pretty crumb in my rolls!

Einkorn Buns
makes 6 (this is a half batch)

360 g einkorn flour (I used 335 g einkorn + 25 g spelt for tangzhong)
5 g (1 tsp) sea salt
1 1/8 tsp instant yeast
30 g olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
148 g water or milk (I used 22 g water + 126 g milk for tangzhong)

(Though I don't recommend the tangzhong for einkorn, I did bring it together by mixing the milk and spelt and stirring constantly over medium heat until it thickened at 150º.  Then I incorporated it into the dough.)
Combine water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and let stand for a few minutes.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Add oil and eggs to yeast mixture and beat it well with a fork or whisk.  Pour the liquids into the flour and bring together with a wooden spoon.  Knead by hand in the bowl until rough and sticky, then rest for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto floured surface and do two folds with a 15 minute rest in between them.  Cover and proof for 2 hours.  Divide dough into 6 pieces and form into hot dog or hamburger buns.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover.  Proof for one hour, being careful not to over proof.  Bake in a 390ºF oven for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool before slicing open.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Making Conchas with the BBB

When I saw the challenge for this month, I knew I had to join in for this recipe.  (Hello, sweet tooth!)  I had made the Spanish ensaïmadas years ago and loved them, but this was my first Mexican bread.  These struck me more as a donut type texture than the super light and fluffy ensaïmadas, but then they are a sweet bread with twice as much sugar in the dough.  (And I forgot an egg.)  My eldest wanted to eat the whole batch and I had to quickly make them disappear though she heartily enjoyed another one for breakfast.  We decided on cinnamon for our sugar shell topping and loved it.  I added more cinnamon to taste with my eldest confirming it was good, but I might even double it next time because after baking it wasn't that strong and we love cinnamon!  

I added a handful of potato flakes to help keep the buns moist, since a heavily enriched dough like this will tend to dry out quickly and I knew it would take a while to eat up these sweet buns at a reasonable pace.  The fact that I forgot an egg didn't affect my buns as much because 1: I was using jumbo eggs already, and 2: I was using a large portion of spelt flour which requires less moisture than regular flour.  Dodged one there!  I meant to use half non-hydrogenated shortening and half butter for the shell, but the pantry was empty so all butter it was.  Do go and check out the host kitchen's post and also the links to all the other Babes' conchas at the bottom of the post.  You will want to eat these for breakfast lunch and dinner, but they do freeze and reheat beautifully.  The topping will not be as crisp depending on how you reheat but they are still delicious.  I recommend warming in a toaster oven to keep them like fresh baked.

Conchas, or Mexican Pan Dulce
makes 12 large or 16 medium buns

For the dough:
392g (14 oz) bread flour + more as needed  (I used 100g all purpose, 265g white spelt and 35g sprouted spelt, + a handful of potato flakes)
2 large eggs  (My eggs were jumbo so I only used one which turned out perfect for the spelt) (Actually, I just forgot one and it still worked. ☺)
1 large egg yolk
¼ tsp fine salt (Bumped that up to a generous ½ tsp, would not use less)
7 g (¼ oz / 1 packet) active dry yeast (2 tsp instant yeast, rise time was very long - 3 tsp next time or osmotolerant might be a good option)
½ cup water, lukewarm
102 g (4 oz / 8 tbsp / 1 stick) unsalted butter, at soft room temperature
140 g (5 oz) superfine sugar (I only used 100g regular evaporated cane sugar and might reduce further.  Plenty of sweet in that topping.)

For Sugar Shell Topping:
112 g (4 oz / 8 tbsp) vegetable shortening, at room temperature (I was out and used butter)
110 g (½ cup) superfine sugar
65 g (½ cup) powdered sugar
130 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
pinch of fine salt (again, generous pinches to offset the sugar)
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder, optional
1 ½ tsp cocoa powder, optional
(I used ½ tsp vanilla and 1½ tsp cinnamon)

Add flour, eggs, egg yolk, and salt to a mixer set with the dough hook. Start the mixer at low speed. Meanwhile, add yeast to water and stir until creamy and well dissolved. Pour into the flour mixture and let mixer continue to work, now over medium speed, for 3-4 minutes.

Add the butter, and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes. Lastly add the sugar, continue mixing for another 3 - 4 minutes or until the dough is gooey, sticky, elastic and very smooth.

Turn dough out of mixer, form into a slack ball and place in a greased bowl. (Mine certainly didn't need greasing with that nice buttery dough.)  Cover with plastic or a kitchen towel and let rise at a warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3-4 hours.  (5+ for a cold room!)

For the Sugar Topping: Cream the shortening (butter) and sugars together, then beat in the flour and salt; they will be crumbly. Use your hands to press the mixture together.  (I combined all the dry ingredients and then just cut in the butter with forks and then my fingers.)

Divide dough into thirds (~130 grams each third). If using matcha and cocoa, set one third aside (for white topping). Beat Matcha powder into another third (for green topping); set aside. Beat cocoa into final third (for brown/chocolate topping).  (Next time I would use a full tbsp cinnamon for one whole batch of topping.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease with shortening or butter.  Rub a bit of butter onto your hands to make for easy rolling.  (My dough was of a consistency that was just sticky enough to roll beautifully without extra butter.)  Divide dough into 12 (16) equal pieces and form into balls. Then, slightly press them flat, as in a thick disk. Leave about 2 inches of space between each of the conchas so they will have room to expand.
Divide your sugar topping into 12 (16) equal pieces (same number as dough balls). Form each into a ball and flatten into a thin disk. Place a disk on top of each dough ball and lightly press down. The sugar should cover basically the whole surface - it will pull away from the edges as the dough rises.

If you have a concha mold, press it on the sugar topping. If you don't have one, cut through the sugar topping with a knife or edge of a circle cutter, making shell-type lines.

Leave the prepared conchas in a warm area of your kitchen, uncovered, and let them rise again for about 2 hours, or until they've almost doubled in size.  (Mine did not rise or puff very much on the sheet, probably the spelt, but they spread and doubled in the oven to a nice, big palm sized bun.  I wouldn't want them any bigger!)
Preheat the oven to 350° F during last 15-20 minutes of rise time.  Slide the conchas into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the conchas are just golden around the edges and have puffed up.

Carefully remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.


You could leave the matcha and cocoa out and have all white sugar shells. You could also add food coloring, cinnamon, or finely ground freeze-dried fruit to the sugar shell to color and/or flavor it.

Butter or margarine can be used in place of the shortening.

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