Monday, April 17, 2017

Kare Pan - Japanese Curry Buns with the BBB

Well these were a hit with my eldest and my hubby.  Big thumbs up.  Youngest hasn't tried yet, but I really liked them too.  We are a curry loving family, usually coconut curry, but the idea of putting leftover curry into dough, rolling it in panko, and deep-frying it was a new one for us.  Our favorite curry is one of those recipes that is too liquidy for the recipe to work well, so I gladly used the recipe kindly provided by our host kitchen.  Hers is a nice vegetarian curry.  The only changes I made to her recipe were the veggie blend, which included a few more veggies since I used a mixed blend and a stir fry blend, and to add a bit of tabasco for some heat.  Not too much, just enough to be pleasantly noticeable against the bread background. Still need to work on my shaping technique to get the filling centered better, but despite having more dough on one side, these were still delicious.

I've never actually seen blocks of instant curry roux in the stores, but they are evidently out there and often used for the Japanese curry.  I had everything for our recipe but the garam masala and picked that up easily.  Oh, fresh coriander (called cilantro here in the US) is something I have only learned to like in recent years.  I used to think it tasted like soap.  I still prefer it finely chopped to large pieces.  But I can never use up fresh, so freeze dried is my preferred option and almost just like fresh.  We really enjoyed Aparna's version of curry and it was perfect for filling the buns.  You'll want to give this one a try!  You have the option of deep frying, shallow frying, or baking, as you choose.  And you don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished curry buns to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen at (aparna(at)mydiversekitchen(dot)com), by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see most of the Babes' baking results during that time.

Kare Pan or Japanese Curry Buns

For the Dough:

1 tsp dry active yeast (or ¾ tsp instant yeast)
¼ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose bread flour (I used King Arthur all purpose)
½ cup whole wheat flour (I used whole emmer flour)
½ cup cake flour (I used a homemade substitute with spelt and arrowroot starch)
1 tsp salt
1½ tbsp oil
½ cup water

For the coating:

A thin almost watery slurry/ mixture of all-purpose flour and water (or two eggs beaten well) (I used one egg and a couple tbsp water)
1½ cups Panko crumbs

Oil for deep-frying

Aparna's Vegetarian  Curry (makes more than you need for the buns):

2½ cups diced mixed vegetables (carrot, cauliflower, beans)
1/3 cup frozen green peas
3 big potatoes  (I only had two but very large)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 big onion, chopped fine
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (I used a can of diced tomatoes)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (adjust to taste) (I had regular chili powder)
1½ tsp coriander powder
1½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tbsp coriander chopped fresh (cilantro)

You can make the curry ahead or do it while the dough is rising. Steam cook all the mixed vegetables and the potatoes till well done. Mash them very well and keep aside.

In a large wok or pan, heat the oil.  Add the ginger and garlic pastes and saute taking care to see that it doesn’t burn. Add the onions and sauté again until soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook them till they’re soft and mushy.

Use your potato masher or a wooden spoon, to mash the onion-tomato mixture further. Cook until the oil appears on the edge.

Add the turmeric, chili powder, ground coriander, cumin and garam masala powders. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until the raw smell of the spices disappears. Add the mashed vegetables, salt and about a quarter cup of water. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the curry is an evenly thick, moist consistency with no gravy left.   Mix in the chopped coriander (cilantro) and let it cool.  Use to fill the Curry Buns.

For the Dough :

Mix together the yeast and sugar into the ¼ cup warm water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. If you’re using instant yeast, just mix that directly into the flours along with the sugar.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the flours and the salt. Add the yeast mixture (or instant yeast and sugar), the oil and the water. Knead well, adding as much more water or flour as is needed to form a smooth elastic dough.

Roll the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover loosely and let it rise until double in size (should take about 1½ hours or so).

Deflate the dough and divide it into an equal 10 (or 12) pieces. (I made 12 and they were still palm sized when cooked.)  Place them on a lightly floured work surface, cover and let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile get the Curry filling ready. Also set up the flour slurry or beaten egg, and the Panko crumbs in bowls for the coating.

Working quickly with one piece at a time, gently press down a piece of dough and roll it out into a circle about 1/4" thick. Place a generous amount of filling in the center, (not too much or you won't be able to seal it) and bring up the sides together over the filling to shape into a ball. Or you can fold over into a half-moon taking care to seal the edges very well. Use water or egg wash if necessary to seal.

Dip the dough ball into the flour slurry (or beaten egg) and then roll it in the breadcrumbs till it is coated well. If shaping into a ball. Use your palms to gently press in the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate or sheet. Quickly repeat with remaining dough pieces and filling.  Let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.

In the meantime heat enough oil in a wok or fryer for deep frying the dough balls.  Once the oil is hot enough (365º F/ 185º C), gently drop 2 or 3 of the dough balls in the oil turning them over so they brown evenly. Once they are a deep golden brown after about a couple of minutes, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and let them drain on paper towels.

Serve them warm as they are or with sauce. They should be crisp and crunchy on the outside and slightly bready on the inside with the filling.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread with the BBB

The Babes are back for this month's recipe and it is a hearty and tasty loaf of cinnamon raisin bread!  The recipe comes from that well known bread baker, Peter Reinhart.  It may not look that way, but there are quite a few extra grains in this loaf, making it a more complex bread.  Our host kitchen found the recipe in a little paperback book that had been hidden in with the mysteries in her bookcase.  A timely and useful discovery for our baking needs!
I initially was going to do an overnight ferment, but ended up just baking it on a long afternoon.  I did add a nice spoonful of sourdough starter to my dough and reduced the yeast.  This gave the finished loaf just a bit more chew and a very nice finish to the flavor.  I have seen this recipe done the way it is presented and also using the extra grains as a soaker first.  Since we were leaving them dry, I decided to leave my dough slightly more on the sticky side than recommended, because I knew the dry grains would be absorbing liquid.  Since my dough with reduced yeast took twice as long to rise, by the time I was ready to shape, the dough was the perfect consistency.  I favor a longer rise for better flavor anyway.
Now this recipe makes three hearty loaves, so feel free to reduce the quantities to make one or two loaves, or one and some buns.  However, it will freeze beautifully if you want to make all three.  It slices great, makes awesome toast, and I can't wait to try making some French toast with it.  We would love for you to join us in making this bread this month.  It is not a difficult loaf and quite delicious; lightly sweet and very satisfying.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf to the host kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see most of the Babes' baking results during that time.

A few notes for my bake, I used brown basmati rice, and decided to give it a whirl in the food processor to break down the pieces with the bran and oats.  I wanted to make sure there would not be huge pieces left in the dough.  Brown rice stays pretty firm.  I also used oat bran instead of wheat bran, and millet instead of polenta, (corn allergy).  Easier on our tummies.  And I ended up using 2/3 King Arthur all purpose flour and 1/3 light spelt flour for my flours.  The golden raisins are my preference because they tend to be more plump and moist than regular raisins.  And I like the color!

Cinnamon Raisin Struan Bread
makes three 1½ pound loaves
from Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe by Br Peter Reinhart

7 cups (960g) high-gluten bread flour (2/3 all purpose, 1/3 light spelt)
½ cup (60g) uncooked polenta (coarse ground cornmeal) (coarse ground sprouted millet)
½ cup (45g) rolled oats
½ cup (110g) brown sugar
½ cup (19g) wheat bran (oat bran)
4 tsp (24g) salt
3 tbsp (48g) active dry yeast activated in 4 tbsp (60g) lukewarm water (reduced to 2 tbsp yeast and added large spoonful of sourdough starter)
(alternately, use 2 tbsp (28g) plus 1 tsp instant yeast, mixed with the dry ingredients)
½ cup (98g) cooked brown rice, cooled (chopped in food processor)
¼ cup (84g) honey
¾ cup (184g) buttermilk
About 1½ cups (~360g) water (be prepared to add more if needed)
3 cups (435g) raisins (golden raisins)
½ cup cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon to 2 parts granulated sugar)
4 tbsp (57g) melted butter 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, polenta, oats, brown sugar, bran, and salt.  If you are using instant yeast, that may be added to the dry ingredients.  If using active dry yeast, activate it in the warm water and add with the wet ingredients.

Add the cooked and cooled rice, honey, and buttermilk and mix all together.  Add 1 cup of water, reserving the rest to add if needed. Mix on low speed with dough hook until combined.  Add more water if dry ingredients remain unincorporated.  Let rest for 5 minutes.
Because Struan has so many whole grains, it takes longer to knead than most breads. Allow at least 15 minutes for hand kneading, but be prepared to knead for 20. The dough will change before your eyes, lightening in color, becoming gradually more elastic and evenly grained. The finished dough should be tacky, not sticky, lightly golden, stretchy and elastic, rather than porridge-like. When you push the heels of your hands into the dough it should give way but not tear. If it flakes or crumbles, add a little more water.
For this whole grain dough, keep the mixer on low speed or low medium.  Knead for 5-10 minutes and redistribute dough occasionally.  When the dough is slightly sticky but elastic, add the raisins and knead for 2 more minutes, until the raisins are evenly distributed.  You may need to work in by hand at first and finish with the hook.  When the dough is slightly sticky but cleans the sides of the bowl, it should be about good.  (Even with the added grains, I could almost get the windowpane test to work.)

Cover the bowl with a damp towel, lid, or plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until it has roughly doubled in size.  (Mine took 2 hours due to the reduced yeast.)

Divide dough into 3 equal pieces (or more if you want to make smaller loaves). With a rolling pin, roll out each piece into a long rectangle.  (Make the rectangle fairly long, but no wider than the length of your loaf pan.  This will allow more swirls in the cinnamon bread.)  Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp of cinnamon sugar over the surface, spreading it evenly and pressing in lightly.  Roll up the dough into tight loaves, tucking and pinching the seams into one line on the bottom. Put the loaves, seam side down, in greased bread pans, (I used a standard 8x4" loaf pan for mine).  Cover and allow the loaves to rise until doubled in size.  (About 1 hour 45 minutes for mine.)

While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350º F.  When the loaves are ready, place on the center shelf and bake for about 45 minutes. The loaves should be nicely domed and dark gold. The bottom and sides should be a uniform light gold and there should be an audible, hollow thump when you tap the bottom of the loaf. If the loaves are not ready, remove them from the pans and place them back in the oven until done.  They will finish quickly when removed from the pans.

When done, brush a little butter, margarine, or oil over the tops, then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, coating each loaf with a layer of cinnamon crust.

Allow the breads to cool on wire racks for at least 40 minutes before slicing.  Bread that is fully cooled will slice better.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Babes tackle Jachnun... Happy Anniversary!

Wow, Lien picked a doozy of a challenge for the Bread Baking Babes' 9th anniversary.  This month we ventured overseas for me and were given the task of baking a traditional Yemenite food, Jachnun.  The dish is one of many slow-cooked Jewish foods designed to be prepared a day in advance and baked all night long, so that there can be hot food on the sabbath, when lighting fires is prohibited.  It is traditionally served with grated fresh tomato, zhug (a Yemenite hot sauce), and a hard-boiled egg, cooked in the pot along with the dough.  I cooked my eggs separately.  Jachnun is a barely leavened bread, using just a bit of baking powder.  The dough is stretched out paper thin, spread with shortening, oil, or clarified butter, and folded and rolled up.  It has a dark amber color and a slightly sweet taste from the date syrup used in the dough.  It's a popular item with street vendors, restaurants and even the frozen section of the supermarket.  I understand it is supposed to be like filo dough.  I did not get mine nearly thin enough and my results were closer to a rolled, thin crepe.  One of those, practice, practice items.

But it was actually quite good with the sauces.  I've never had anything quite like it.  I used the traditional clarified butter, and the smell was just wonderful!  Not very sweet at all, though I accidentally put a pinch too much salt in the dough, making it end up more savory.  I made a half batch, but a full batch would have given me more practice stretching super thin.  Here is a video showing the shaping process:  If you'd like to expand your horizons with this traditional dish, we would be thrilled if you would join us for this month's baking challenge.  Check out the host kitchen's post at Notitie van Lien to see the original recipe.  You can also check out the posts on the Facebook Group.  You have until the 28th of this month to bake and submit a picture or a link to your post to the host kitchen.  Then you will receive a Buddy Badge graphic to add to your post and be included in the end of month round up.  Remember, this is an overnight bake!  

makes 6
500 g bread flour (part whole wheat will work, but the dough will be harder to stretch without tearing)
25 g date syrup (or sugar/honey)
20 g honey
pinch of baking powder
12 g fine salt
± 300 g water (or more to make a springy dough)
60 ml oil (or 100 g margarine or butter)

To add later:
6 eggs (or you may boil them separately the day before)
1 large tomato (or 2 smaller ones)
zhug (* recipe below)
For the dough:
Mix the flour, honey, date syrup, baking powder, salt and water together to form a sticky, wet dough and knead for a few minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes to let the gluten relax.

To strengthen the gluten, start to knead the dough for 5 minutes. Place it in a lightly greased bowl and give it a stretch and fold like this: Lift up the side of the dough and fold it over, turn the bowl and repeat this for about 7 or 8 times. Check by making a window (stretch a piece of dough between your fingers as thin as possible, it should not tear and it should be thin enough to let lots of light through, otherwise knead or fold some more).  Good gluten development will facilitate the stretching process!  Cover with plastic and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.  (You can also leave your dough overnight, it might give more elasticity, but you have to let it come back to room temperature if chilled, otherwise it will be hard to stretch it out without tearing.)

Prepare the pan and oven:
You can use any (ovenproof) cooking pot or springform (about 20 cm in diameter).  (I used a 4 quart stainless steel pot and lid.)  It is optional but recommended to place some slices of stale bread or pita on the bottom of the pan, as this can prevent the jachnun from burning.  You also can place the parchment on the bottom as it is.  Fold a long piece of parchment paper lengthwise and place it in the pan, so the ends hang over the rim of the pot.  Preheat the oven to 105ºC/225ºF and place a rack in the lowest position in your oven.  (I didn't move my racks, but I did check the temperature of my oven!  It was reading 250º when I had it set at about 175º.  I knew my oven ran hot, but turned it down even more so my jachnun would not be done at 3am!)

To shape:
Divide the dough in 6 more or less equal pieces, shape them into a ball and leave to rest 10 minutes before the stretching begins.  The shaping method requires the dough to be stretched using butter, oil or margarine.  Grease the work surface, place one piece of dough on it, grease the top and start working to make it the thinnest possible, while adding more oil/butter regularly.  Doing this by hand works best to achieve the thinnest result.   A rolling pin will tear the dough and not be thin enough.  (This takes a lot of practice.  I didn't read closely and wasn't using the butter to facilitate stretching, so mine was still too thick.)  When the dough is very thin (preferably like filo or strudel dough) fold 1/3 of one side over onto the dough, repeat with the other side (like a business letter). You now have a long strip, keep buttering/greasing the top, while you roll – starting at the narrow edge- the dough in a tight cylinder.  Stretch and keep it tight as you roll.

Still not thin enough!

This video will show you how:

Prepare for the oven:
Place three rolled logs next to each other, crosswise over the strip on the bottom of the pan. Place the other three crosswise on top of the first layer.  (I cut a sheet of parchment into strips and set each jachnun into it's own cradle.)  Grease or butter a double layer of parchment paper on one side and place on top, greased side down.

Now you can place the (raw, uncooked and whole) eggs on top of the parchment paper.  (I think some babes tried out one or two eggs this way but mostly opted to boil the eggs separately to avoid a green ring.)  Take a double layer of aluminum foil, cover the pot, securing the edges of the pan. Use a lid or a sheet pan to place on top of the foil to keep it tight.

Place it on the rack in the oven and bake for 12 hours. (Mine was done at 10-11 hours though not crisped.)  To crisp up the top, take lid and parchment paper off and bake in a fan oven for 20 minutes (200ºC/400ºF) or until golden.

To eat in the morning, take out the pan, place the jachnuns on a plate and arrange with the peeled eggs around them.  Serve with grated tomato and Zhug (hot, spicy and garlicky dipping sauce) for breakfast.

So this recipe does take some planning ahead. You could also bake when convenient and then just reheat the rolls on a baking sheet to warm through and crisp up a bit.  It's not traditional, but it works.

*Zhug (traditional accompaniment; a dipping sauce with garlic, pepper and herbs)
3 dried red chili peppers, or 1 fresh red chili pepper (or 1 tsp chili flakes)
1 tsp black pepper, ground
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander, ground
4 medium garlic cloves
Pinch of cardamom, ground
Pinch of cloves, ground
½ tsp salt
30 g coriander leaves (or parsley if you dislike coriander)
Olive oil, enough to make a sauce-like consistency

Place all ingredients in a bowl and crush it to a sauce in a blender or with a stick blender. Place the Zhug in a clean jar, tighten the lid and keep in the fridge until use.  (Refrigerated shelf life, about 2 weeks, with a small layer of oil on top)

(inspired/adapted by/from: “Breaking breads” – Uri Scheft and “Cafe Liz”

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Simple and Delicious Mint Bars

These little gems are a treat we have enjoyed every year since I was a teen, probably starting when Hershey's came out with their mint flavored chocolate chips.  Those aren't readily available anymore that I have seen, but I think they do still make them since I've seen them online.  There are also chocolate mint blends out there.  The base of these bars is a wonderful brown sugar shortbread, made richer, sturdier and even more tender by the inclusion of an egg yolk.  It still has a brilliant sandy texture but does not crumble apart.  For this batch I used regular chocolate chips first, then melted and piped on some Guittard mint chips.  Unfortunately they were a bit old and didn't melt nicely.  I had to add a few teaspoons of coconut oil to thin them out and they still wanted to set in seconds.  It's possible that fresh ones would melt nicely, but I can't recommend them as an easy option.  The reason we really like them is because they taste just like the cracked ice candy we get when we visit the candy shop in Cannon Beach, OR.  Mint candy melts would work nicely, or if you don't care about having two colors, just add a couple drops of peppermint oil to regular chocolate chips and melt together, then spread over the bar base.  They are highly worth making even with the search for mint chips.  They are not super minty, just a nice hint of mint.  That's what makes them so all around delicious.

Another day, I will post a mocha variation of these which is equally delicious and absolutely perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.

Chocolate Mint Bars
makes one 9x13" pan

1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

2c flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine sea salt

1 (12oz) pkg chocolate or chocolate mint chips
¾ cup mint chips of contrasting color (optional)

Preheat the oven to 335ºF.

Combine the flour, soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  The dough will be fairly stiff.  Break into small pieces and pat evenly into a 9x13" pan lined with parchment.

Bake the base for about 25 min until golden brown. Immediately sprinkle with 1 package chocolate mint chips or equivalent.  Allow to sit for a few minutes until the chips melt, then spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Alternately, melt the chips in a separate bowl and pour and spread over base.  If desired, a contrasting color of chips may be melted and piped on top.  Pipe the contrast in lines width-wise across the bars while the base chocolate is still melted.  Draw a toothpick across the lines lengthwise, alternating direction each stroke, to form a pattern.  Chill to set the chocolate quickly.  Store, tightly covered, at room temperature.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Fouace Nantaise - an Orange Scented Bread with the BBB

Join us this month, as we make Fouace Nantaise!  I was quite happy at the prospect of the recipe for this month because it reminded me of some of my favorite orange knots that I used to make, except without an icing glaze.  The orange flower water was certainly an exotic ingredient for me, though it was, thankfully, easy to find in the international section of the local grocery store.  Actually, when I opened it up and smelled it, I was apprehensive because it has quite a strong floral perfume to it.  And it still smelled strong when mixed in the dough.  But I needn't have worried, it mellowed when baked to a delicious hint of scent, totally enhancing the "orangeyness" of the rolls.  This is a very soft dough and bakes up nice and soft as well.

I loved how the little flecks of orange peel were so pretty in the finished rolls!  Now I had Grand Marnier and Triple Sec as my choices for orange flavored liqueurs, and after smelling them I chose the Triple Sec.  It actually had a nice, strong orange smell, while the Grand Marnier mostly just smelled sweet.  (Traditionally, the bread is made with rum rather than orange liqueur.)  For the flour, I used mostly light spelt, but the host kitchen says it was just wonderful with a bit of wheat germ added!  I don't keep that on hand because it needs to stay in the freezer and I don't have the space.  I might have to see if I can get it in very small quantities.  I did end up adding about 50g more flour to the dough, even though our host said resist the temptation to do so.  I gave it a chance with a good bit of kneading, but it was more than sticky, it was batter like.  That extra flour left it still very soft and sticky, but not so sticky that it clung to fingers.  It was perfect.  And after going back to the original recipe, I saw that it was okay to add a bit more to get it softly smooth.  (And I do love soft doughs!)

This is a delightful bread and we would love for you to bake along with us!  The rolls are soft and rich and truly fabulous with creme fraiche and Damson plum jam by the way!  Check out the original post at blog from OUR kitchen.  Then just bake your version of this bread by January 30th and send the host kitchen a note with your results and a picture or link to your post.  Then you can be included in our buddy round up at the beginning of next month.  You will also get a buddy badge graphic to keep and/or add to your post.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture is fine!

Fouace Nantaise
based on Jamie Schler's recipe for Fouace Nantaise

50g (3½ Tbsp) salted butter
60g (60ml) milk
3.5g (1 tsp) active dry yeast
250g (~2c) flour (Host kitchen suggests: 50g whole wheat, 185g all purpose, 15g wheat germ)
4g (~½ tsp fine) sea salt
25g (2 Tbsp) sugar (I used coconut sugar)
45g (45ml) orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec)
7g (~1½ tsp) orange blossom water
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
zest of one orange, optional, but recommended
milk or cream, for brushing on shaped loaf

In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Turn off the heat and pour in the milk to bring it to lukewarm.  Make sure it is not too hot by doing the baby bottle test:  Place a drop on the inside of your wrist - it should feel like nothing, neither cold nor hot.  Add the yeast and whisk in until it has dissolved.  Add the eggs and whisk together, then pour in orange liqueur and orange blossom water.  Place flour(s), sugar, salt, and orange zest (if using) on top.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until the flour has been absorbed
Knead the dough using one hand to turn the bowl and the other to dig down to the bottom to lift the dough up to the top.  Turn and fold, turn and fold, repeating until the dough is smooth and elastic.  As you knead, resist the temptation to add more flour or water.  (It is okay to add enough extra flour to the dough so that it is no longer sticky and is soft, smooth and homogeneous.)  Once the dough is finished kneading, cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a draft-free area until almost completely doubled.
(Preheat the oven to 350ºF).
When the dough has doubled, it is ready to shape.  Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board.  Divide the dough evenly into 7 pieces.  (I did this by weight.)  Shape each piece into a ball.  Draw the edges into the center a few times so that the ball is smooth and somewhat firm across the top.  Place one ball in the center of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange the other six balls loosely around the center ball to form a flower. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rise until almost doubled. (To test, using a floured finger, gently press against the side of the shaped bread.  If the indentation immediately jumps back, it is not ready; if it stays indented, it has over-risen; if it gradually fills in, it is ready to go.)  (Some of the babes seemed to have trouble with the dough being reluctant to rise.  That's why I bumped up the yeast to a full teaspoon.  I also turned the oven on warm, then turned it of after the burner had been on a few seconds, and let the dough proof in there like a nice proofing box.  It took a couple hours, but rose very nicely.  Maybe in summer temperatures, it's not such an issue.)
Make sure the oven is at 350ºF.  Gently brush the top of the bread with milk (or cream).  Put the tray on the top shelf of the oven (to prevent the bread from burning on the bottom) and bake for about 30 minutes until the bread is a deep golden brown.  Jamie also writes that the outer "petals" of the flower "will have just started to pull away from the center ball".
Place on wire rack to cool.  Bread may be warmed in the oven for 10 minutes if it has cooled completely and you wish to eat it warm.

Here's a tip for reviving any bread that has gone a bit stale:  Liberally wet the outside with a spray bottle, cover with foil, and warm in the oven for 10 minutes at 250ºF.  It should come out just like fresh baked.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Beet Challah - a Colorful Creation with the BBB

We have a colorful challenge to put forth this month!  This lovely loaf is made with beet puree to yield one heck of a bright loaf.  During the multiple renditions the Babes have been trying for this challah/brioche bread, we have seen the color range from barely there post baking, to vivid pink.  In using beets for dying eggs, I have seen this same range from ruddy red to vivid fuchsia depending on the age and origin of the beets.  I once made the Pinterest Valentine's beet pancakes and those were vivid and bright pink. 

Before flipping...
After flipping.

My eldest flat out refused to even try them because of the color!  But my youngest declared them delicious.  And no, you could not taste the beets.  They were just a tiny bit more moist than regular pancakes.

I decided for my rendition, that I wanted to avoid having the entire loaf be pink.  We were given the option of using golden beets if we chose, but I left mine out too long and they got soft.  So I went with carrots instead for the other half of the dough.  (Inspired by the Italian recipe for Carrot and Beetroot bread: Panbauletto Carota & Barbabietola.)  We have after all made a delicious carrot bread before with the BBB.  I didn't get quite the orange color as that one this time, but I was using steamed puree instead of fresh raw juice.  I still really like how it turned out.

I think most of the Babes did go with a sourdough loaf or a faux sourdough with a levain starter, but the option was given for a yeast version and since my sourdough is asleep right now, I took it.  I did do an overnight ferment and I suppose the bit of sour cream I used might have contributed a tad to fermentation.  Maybe.  But I'm still very happy with how it turned out.  It smelled SO good at the end of the bake cycle.  I was also thinking of a Finnish Pulla (Cardamom Braid) when I came up with my final version, so I added just a bit of cardamom, as well as some lemon zest to brighten it up.  Beets can be earthy after all.  There was just a bit more sugar in my combined doughs, but not so much as in a Pulla loaf.  Like I said, it smelled divine, but we haven't broken in to it yet!  I'll have to update with a picture and verdict when we do soonAnd there it is.  Beautiful!

If you feel like being adventuresome and trying out this unique bread with us, you can bake it up any time between now and Dec. 30th.  Then send a picture or a link to your post to the host kitchen at Bread Experience.  She will then send you a nifty Buddy badge graphic to add to your post or keep on your desktop, and include you in the Buddy Roundup at the beginning of January.  We'd love for you to join us.  You can also see what's going on for each month's recipe on the Facebook Group.  Be sure and check out the host kitchen's post since it shows multiple versions, techniques,  and colors of how the bread can turn out!  What follows is the original version of the bread.  My changes will be posted after that.

Beet Challah
(Sourdough version)
makes 3 loaves

Overnight Levain:

25-30 g sourdough starter (or ½ tsp instant yeast)
100 g bread flour (or all-purpose)
40 g water

Place sourdough starter in a small bowl and mix with the water to break it up.  Add in the flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Cover and let rest at room temp for 8-10 hours.  At this time of year if your house is cold, it could take longer.  To test if the levain is ready to use in the dough, perform a float test by taking a little bit of the starter and dropping it in a bowl of water.  If it floats, it's ready. If not, let it rest a while longer and try the test again.

Final Dough:

700g bread flour or all-purpose flour, divided (450g, 200g, 50g)
3 tbsp sugar (38g)
1 tsp fine sea salt (8g)
2 tbsp oil (27g)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
100g water (100ml)
3 raw beets cut into small chunks (~280g)
1 tsp vanilla, optional (5ml)
Poppy seeds, optional

Egg Wash:
Leftover eggs whites mixed with a little water

Puree the beets in a blender, adding the water gradually, until the mixture is completely smooth.  This will take a little while unless you have a high-powered blender.  Weigh the beet puree mixture, if it weighs more or less than 280 grams, you'll either need to add more or less flour.

Mix 450g of the flour, the sugar and the salt together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the pureed beet mixture, beaten eggs and yolks, oil and vanilla, if using.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the sourdough (levain starter) on top and mix thoroughly.

Gradually mix in up to 200g of flour using a stand mixer or your hands.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. 

Remove the mixture to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough. Add the additional 50 g of flour if necessary to form a supple and workable dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover and let it proof for 2-3 hours.  Perform a fold at 60 and 120 minutes.  You can let the dough rest for the final hour or place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Note from host kitchen: The next day, I took the dough out of the refrigerator and shaped the braids using the cold dough.  It worked really well.  I didn't want to add any additional flour so I spread a light layer of olive oil on the work space instead of flour.  This method worked really well for me.  Just don't put too much oil or you won't be able to roll out the braids.
After the bulk ferment, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and shape them into a ball.  Let rest a few minutes, then divide each ball again into 3 equal pieces.

Form each piece into a long rope, flattening and removing the air.  A couple folds first will help the structure of the ropes.  Then braid three ropes together, pinching the ends to seal and then tucking under.

(Mine was a four strand braid.)

Place the braided loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Cover gently with oiled plastic wrap so it doesn't stick to the braids and let them proof about 1½ hours, until they have grown to about 1½ times their original size.  Rising time will depend on the temperature in your kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and place the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Brush the loaf again with egg wash and sprinkle the top with poppy seeds.

Bake the loaf for 20 minutes, rotate the pan for even baking, then bake an additional 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the loaf. It should register at least 190ºF in the center.

Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let it cool for 1 hour before slicing.

My version is as follows and the carrot and beet doughs are identical other than the different purees.  I pressure steamed the veggies for only a couple minutes, so they were still pretty firm and took a while to puree.  I ended up with some bits that I picked out of the dough.  (Roasting the beets seems to yield a softer red color in the finished loaf.)

225g all purpose flour
25g light rye flour
55 g light spelt flour
190g beet/carrot puree
5g active dry yeast
20g milk
1 whole egg
20g sour cream
6g fine sea salt
1/8 tsp cardamom
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp sugar

Egg wash:  1 whole egg + 1 tbsp milk, whisked

Basically, I combined the milk, egg, sour cream, sugar, puree and yeast first.  Then mixed in the cardamom and zest.  Then added the flours and mixed until the dough was cohesive and not too sticky.  Then I let it rest in the fridge overnight.  (Separating the colors, of course!)  Let it warm up a bit the next day, punched it down, gave it a fold and divided each dough in half.  Gave those pieces a couple folds until the gluten felt strong, then rolled into ropes and braided in a four strand braid.  Brushed the egg wash just before baking and sprinkled with poppy seeds.  I did add a bit of steam right at the start.  Rotated the loaf after 15 minutes and turned down the oven to 325ºF.  Also covered the loaf with foil after 25 or 30 minutes so it wouldn't get too brown.  It's a moist crumb and I let it get above 200º inside to make sure it was done.

Oh yes, do remember that beets STAIN fingers, counters, everything they touch.  And beet dough color will bleed through waxed paper.  ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BBB Porridge Bread Roundup

The end of the year is a busy time for folks, but we did get a couple of intrepid bakers to try out our Rye porridge bread.  It's worth a try, even if it isn't for a buddy baking challenge!

Our first buddy baker was Shirley from Flour.ish.en Test Kitchen who completely knocked it out of the park with an amazing version filled with pistachios and raisins.  Just a beautiful loaf:

And one other baker, Soep, showed us her rising loaf on the Facebook group:

 Hers was a whole wheat version of the porridge bread and looked great.

That's it for November, stay tuned on the 16th for the next recipe and challenge.  You can also find the posts of many of the Babes for each month on the Facebook group!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pain Bouillie - a Rye Porridge Bread with the BBB

It is my honor this month to be the host kitchen for the Bread Baking Babes for the first time.  I had a few recipes in mind, but in consideration of the usual hectic schedules this time of year, I decided to go with something hearty and a bit more practical.  This month we have made Pain Bouillie or Rye Porridge Bread from The Village Baker.  It does have an overnight soak for the porridge, but the dough comes together easily and goes into a cold oven, so in all it is fairly simple.  Our recipe comes from a great book that I purchased after doing another recipe with the BBB as a buddy:  Korni Bread.

I love a rye bread that is not quite so dark and dense, though this one has a delightful texture, both chewy and moist.  This is more like the rye breakfast toast you might generally find in a typical American restaurant, which I am quite fond of though this is so much better, being home baked.  Freshly cooled, the crust is crisp and very chewy!  It makes great bread for soups and stews, and fabulous toast.  I'm sure it would make lovely savory sandwiches as well, I know some of the other babes made delicious sounding versions with Boursin and smoked trout or salmon, and perhaps a Reuben or two.

Here is the book's description of the bread:
"Whenever you see a French recipe that begins with the instructions "Faire une bouillie..." you know you have come across a very old recipe because it starts off with a mush made by pouring boiling water over flour.  The mush, which will ferment slightly overnight, is used the next day mixed into a bread.  The most fascinating recipe I have heard of for pain bouillie is one from the Alpine region of France around the town of Villar-d'Aréne.  The bouillie is made with dark rye flour and set aside to rest for seven hours.  The porridge is then mixed into a dough, without any yeast, and allowed to rest for another seven hours.  When the dough is finally made into loaves, they are placed in an oven that has already been used for bread and so the temperature is only about 200ºF.  The loaves bake for seven hours and the process produces a moist, dense, completely sourdough bread that lasts well over six months - or so the story goes.  The bread is traditionally made in November and it keeps best when stored in wine cellars and hay lofts."
The Village Baker version does include yeast and a little white flour to make it more accessible for today's bakers than that traditional version!  Though I loved that it was started in a cold oven, some of the babes it didn't work as well for and you do tend to get a thicker crust doing it that way.  I might try it with beginning steam and a preheated oven to see if a thin, crispy crust is attainable that way.  I love the caraway in rye bread and I loved how the caraway and raisin paste smelled.  I will be making this one regularly.  Now just a few notes, I used flaked rye (looks like thick oatmeal) instead of cracked rye, and I also used light rye flour (Bob's Red Mill I think) that I had on hand.  Some of the other babes ended up with loaves more dense than mine, though still tasty I understand!  So the coarseness of grind, brand of flour, and the way the cracked or flaked grain absorbs liquid might make a difference in the end product.  Here are my rye flakes, which incidentally weigh 50g less than the equal volume of cracked rye:

I think many of us also ended up adding more flour than the recipe calls for.  I added quite a bit more due to spelt's hydration preferences, but still ended up with a nicely sticky dough, typical of rye.  I have adjusted the recommended flour from 2 cups to 2-3 cups to accommodate that experience.  My version of the book only has the volumes in cup measurements, but some of our other Babe Bakers linked on the right, have awesomely figured out the weights and metric equivalents.  This is a wonderful bread and we would love for you to bake along with us!  Just bake your version of this bread by November 30th and send me a note with your results and a picture or link to your post at eleyana(AT)aol(DOT)com with Buddy Bread in the subject line and I will include you in our buddy round up at the beginning of next month and send you a badge to keep and/or add to your post.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture is fine!

Porridge Bread (Pain Bouillie)
makes two mini 14-oz loaves in one pan

The Bouillie (Porridge)
2 tsp honey (10 ml, 14g)
1¾ cups boiling water (414ml)
1 cup organic rye flour (102g) (I used the light rye I had on hand, dark rye will likely produce a more dense loaf)
1 cup organic cracked rye grain (~150g cracked, ~100g flaked) (I had a very firm, thick, rolled rye or barley, couldn't remember which, so I used that in equal measure)

The dough:
1 tsp active dry yeast (4g)
3 tbsp warm water, divided (45ml)
All of the bouillie from the previous step
2 tsp fine sea salt (8 g - different salts have different weights)
2 tsp caraway seeds (4g)
1 tbsp raisins (10g)
2-3 cups organic, unbleached white (or all purpose) flour  (250-375g) (I used a 50/50 combo of all purpose and light spelt and ended up using almost 3½ cups because I didn't reduce the liquid for the spelt.)

To make the porridge starter (bouillie):  Mix the honey into the boiling water until dissolved.  Pour it over the rye flour and grain in a bowl.  Let it soak for a few minutes, then give it a stir to make sure all the flour is moistened.  Cover the bowl and set aside overnight in a warm area.

For the dough:  Dissolve the yeast in 2 tbsp of the warm water.  Put all of the porridge (bouillie) into a medium bowl or stand mixer and mix in the salt.  Crush the caraway seeds with a mortar and pestle until fragrant and broken.  Add the raisins and grind into a paste.  Stir the last 1 tbsp water into the caraway/raisin paste.  Add 2 tsp of the resulting caraway flavoring into the porridge.  (I added ALL of it).  Slowly add 1½ cups flour, mixing in on low speed or with a plastic dough scraper.  Mix in the yeast.  Continue adding the remaining flour slowly until the dough is a medium firm consistency.  Knead for 5-8 minutes, adding a little more white flour if necessary.  The dough will be sticky but should be firm.

Put the dough in the bowl, cover with a moist towel, and let rise in an unlit oven (or warm place) for 1½ - 2 hours.

When the dough has doubled, cut into two pieces.  Shape into flat loaves that are 5" square and 2" high by flattening and then folding the edges toward the middle and sealing the edges with the heel of the hand.  Grease a 9x5½" bread pan and oil one side of each loaf.  Place them together in the pan with the oiled sides touching.

Cover again with a moist towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes in a cold oven until the dough has crested the edge of the pan by ½-inch.

Slash the top of each loaf with a little 2" cut, and brush tops with oil.

**Set the oven to 450ºF and immediately place the loaves in to bake.  Bake in the heating oven for 25 minutes.  Reduce heat to 400ºF and bake for 45 minutes longer.  They will be quite dark.  (My oven runs hot and I pulled mine at 40 minutes.)

**(So a lot of the babes ended up with burnt or dark tops and thick crusts with a cold start.  It is very dependent on the oven I think.  If you want to try it in a hot oven, it would be 375ºF for 30-45 minutes.  With steam, it would be 425ºF for about 10 minutes, then turn down to 375-400ºF for another 15-25 minutes.  With rye, you want to make sure it is fully cooked in the center, so let it go longer, it should be fairly dark anyway.  And let it cool fully before slicing!  I will try it again at 375º and with steam for the first 5-10 minutes.)

**Update: Here is my result starting in a not fully preheated oven (200ºF) and using steam via bowl of water and spritzing loaf with sprayer, turning up to 425º immediately and baking 15 minutes.  Then turning it down as written and baking another 20 minutes until done.  I also gave the loaf some time directly on the rack after I took it out of the pan.  Results: thinner crust and better oven spring!

Cool on a wire rack and slice thinly when bread is completely cooled.

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