Friday, June 16, 2017

The BBB make Lebanese Street Bread


Our task this month is to bake a Lebanese street bread called Kaak.  It is a unique bread in that it is formed into the shape of a purse.  The vendors actually hang the breads by their handles and cut a pouch and fill them when purchased with either a za'atar paste or sprinkle, cream cheese spread, or sometimes something sweeter, for a portable lunch item.


I think the authentic Kaak purses may turn out closer to a pita center, with a nice little pocket in the middle, but I made mini Kaak and didn't roll them as thin as I've now seen them done in Beirut.  They look wonderful!  But our version turns out great too and I suspect there is plenty of variation between bakeries there as well.  Some of the YouTube videos I watched had a nice soft, light center into which a pocket was cut, rather than just opened.  This was my first time tasting za'atar!  Loved it.  I had picked some up for a different recipe which I now cannot remember.  Isn't that just the way it always goes?  I made a little za'atar paste with olive oil and used it with some havarti cheese, which was the creamiest option I had at the time.  I think these would be great with Boursin too.  And hummus!  They would be outrageously good with hummus!  But I used up all my hummus two days ago.  Need to whip up a batch.


This is a fun bread to make, simple and tasty.  My kids gave it thumbs up too, just plain.  We'd love for you to try it out and share your results with us!  Check out the host kitchen's blog for the original post and pictures of her results.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread 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.

Kaak Bread
Makes about 10 small breads or 4-6 large breads

135g (about 1 cup) whole wheat flour (I used sprouted spelt)
490g (about 3½ cups) all purpose flour
1½ tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp instant yeast (if you use active dry, activate it in some of the water first)
235g (~1 cup) scalded and cooled milk or buttermilk (I used almond milk with a splash of lemon juice)
245 grams (~1 cup) water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1 tbsp water
2 to 3 tbsp sesame seeds

In a bowl or a stand mixer, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and instant yeast.  Add the milk, water, and olive oil, and mix with the dough hook or large wooden spoon until you have a smooth dough, about 7 to 10 minutes or can no longer handle with the spoon. This is a sticky dough if you use all the water, so stretching and folding it in a large bowl a few times would be a helpful technique.
Lightly oil the dough and place the dough back into the bowl.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour. (This took 2 hours in my cold kitchen.)  Deflate the dough, give it a few more kneads, and let it rise a second time before proceeding to shaping.  This second rise will take only 45-55 minutes.
 Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper, preheat your oven to 425º F.  This bread benefits from steam, so place a steam pan on the lowest rack of the oven (or use your favorite method for setting up your oven for steam).   I use a spray bottle and toss in some water onto the bottom of the oven when putting in the breads.

There are two methods for shaping this bread. One is to roll out the dough into a disk and use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut a hole to create the purse handle.  This leaves you with a little spare circle to bake, and is fine.  The method I used was to roll the dough out into a log, leaving the center thick and rolling the ends thinner.  The the ends and drawn up and together and sealed to form the handle of the purse.

Turn out the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces, either by weight or just eyeball it.  (I made a half batch and formed five 115g balls by weight.) Form the pieces into balls by folding the dough over itself a few times. With floured hands, gently roll the dough into a short log.  Then roll the ends of the dough back and forth, outward, until they are skinnier than the middle. Pick up the log and place it on the parchment lined baking sheet, and curve the ends up to the top and pinch them together to form a purse shape.  If they aren't long enough, roll some more.  Pat the thicker part of the dough to flatten it to about ¾ inch thick.  (Methods vary on the thickness called for here.)  Cover loosely with plastic or a tea towel. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. There should be two to three purses per half sheet pan.


Whisk together the egg and water and set it aside.

 
Let the loaves rise until puffy, about 20 to 30 minutes.
When the breads have puffed up, brush the large purse section with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  No need to brush the handles.  Add one cup of boiling water to the steam pan just before baking the bread.  Ice cubes work as well, or a spray bottle.
Bake the loaves, one pan at a time, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bread is golden, and reaches an internal temperature of about 190-200º F.  Add more steam for each batch.
Cool the loaves on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.  Fill with your desired seasoning or filling.




YUM!  Give them a try!



The Babes:


Approximate nutrition per purse for 10 smaller purses:


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shubbak el-Habayeb with the BBB



Our challenge from Karen's Kitchen Stories is up for the month, and I get to use my new mahlab spice again.  These pretty buns are an Iraqi bread and the name Shubbak el-Habayeb translates to "the lover's window".  It's a delightful smelling bread, scented with orange blossom and rose waters, as well as cardamom and mahlab spice.  The dough smells lovely both mixing and baking!  I had bottles of Middle Eastern flower waters, but I understand that the Nielsen Massey versions are much stronger and should be used in smaller measure.  I also found that, like many spices, mahlab is best kept whole, so if you get the pre-ground kind, consider keeping it in the freezer to retain its flavor better.

Shubbak el-Habayeb is a bread best eaten on the day it is made.  Otherwise, you may want to wrap and freeze the rolls for later.  They are wonderful with butter and marmalade, or date syrup, and quite lovely with a cup of tea.  Mine turned out with a tight crumb and I think despite adding more liquid, my dough was still a bit too dry.  (I don't think I used the whole ½ cup extra that Karen wrote in.)  I would recommend using enough liquid to get a nice soft dough.  The shaping almost reminds me of a fougasse, and so I think they will work well with a more slack dough next time.  I also found that using my fine celtic sea salt, the salt measurement given was too much.  It's an average baker's percentage, but for this particular recipe, I prefer less and have seen almost the exact recipe elsewhere with less than half the salt.  Now I don't like a bland bread either, so I would go for a happy medium between the two.

The sweet little description in the Book of Buns, from which this recipe was taken, mentions that the buns should be eaten while thinking of your true love.  I assume that the four slits are to represent one of those window panes with the wooden trim and cross bars.  I remember growing up in a room with a large picture window covered with the little wood frames to make it look like dozens of little window panes.  It looked out onto our pear trees and deck.  Loved that house.  I guess these can be reminiscing buns as well.  ☺  Our host kitchen did give a substitute for mahlab if you find it hard to come by: 1½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ tsp ground bay leaves: mix together and use measure for measure in place of the mahlab.  I also read in my last recipe that a hint of almond extract can also be added for mahlab substitution.  So with or without the special ingredient, we would love for you to join us in making these aromatic buns this month.  Check out the host kitchen's blog for the original post and pictures of the special ingredients.  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.

Shubbak el-Habayeb
makes 12 rolls

600g (4¾ cups) all purpose flour (I used a combo of all purpose and spelt)
3 g (1½ tsp) instant yeast
100 g (½ cup) sugar
225 g (1 scant cup) milk, scalded, cooled to lukewarm
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
½ teaspoon rose water
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground mahlab
12 grams (1 tbsp) salt (I would use 8-10g {1½-2} tsp next time)
50 grams (3 tbsp) butter, melted and cooled

up to ½ cup extra water, added to the dough by wetting you hands as you knead the dough

For the egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbsp water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Sesame seeds (I used both black and white sesame)


Place the flour in a bowl and mix in the sugar and yeast.  Create a well in the middle and add the milk. Pull down some flour from the sides to cover the milk.  Cover the bowl and let rest for one hour.
Add the eggs, flower waters, cardamom, mahlab, and salt to the flour and milk mixture and mix with your hands to form a rough dough. Turn out onto an unfloured counter, and knead for 10 minutes, or knead using a stand mixer.  Add the butter, and knead for 10 more minutes. While kneading, if the dough is too stiff, dip your hands in the extra water, and continue to knead. Continue dipping your hands in the water and kneading until you have a nice, soft, elastic dough.  You can also do this with a dough hook, adding the water one tablespoon at a time.  Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm spot, covered, for about two hours or until doubled.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface.  Divide dough into 12 equal portions and form them into balls.  Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.  Roll each ball with a rolling pin into a square that is about ½ inch thick.  Cut the dough with a sharp knife to make short vertical cuts in each quadrant of the dough for a total of four cuts.  Open the slits with your hands to make sure they are cut all the way through.  Place the squares on two baking sheets lined with parchment, putting six squares per pan.

Cover each sheet pan with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise for one hour.  Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220º C) with the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Whisk together the egg wash ingredients and brush over the rolls on one of the sheet pans.  Immediately sprinkle with the sesame seeds.  Bake the first pan of rolls for 13-15 minutes, until golden.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Repeat with the second pan of rolls.
Enjoy!



If you have some rolls leftover, here's what one of our Babes did with hers: Croque Monsieur
And here is what I did with some of mine: Pan french toast!  It was fabulous!


Approximate nutrition per roll:



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Peach and Amaranth Muffins



I got to use a new ingredient today.  Mahlab or mahleb is a spice that is ground from the seeds of a Mediterranean sour cherry.  It's commonly used in Middle Eastern baking to sharpen sweet foods and cakes.  The first time I saw this ingredient was during my binge watch of the Great British Bake Off series, in a Greek pastry called a flaouna.  Then I found out I needed some for this month's bread challenge recipe. Then I found another recipe in my sourdough book that calls for it!  It was meant to be.  I've never used mahlab before, but I'm loving it and will use it more often.  Today it was peach amaranth muffins with emmer, sprouted spelt, light spelt and my loving, forgiving sourdough starter. Oh how I love that thing.  The author of the sourdough book describes mahlab as having a distinctive floral aroma that embodies the perfect union of fruit and almonds.


One great thing about these is that they are sweetened with maple sugar and syrup, not cane sugar, which I am sensitive to and would do better to avoid.  Using only the ancient grains instead of modern wheat, to which I am also sensitive, makes these my new favorite breakfast item.  That and the fact they are delicious.


If you can't wait to try these and don't have any mahlab, you may substitute ½ tsp almond extract in its place.

Peach and Amaranth Muffins
lightly adapted from Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More
makes 12 standard muffins

100g wholemeal spelt flour (In this case I used 50g emmer flour and 50g sprouted whole spelt)
100g white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground mahlab
2 large eggs
70g maple sugar
50g maple syrup
127g butter, melted and cooled
100g Greek yogurt (I used honey Greek yogurt and reduced the maple syrup by 5g)
100g 100% hydration sourdough starter (Mine is more like 85% which yields a slightly less fluffy muffin)
25g whole amaranth grain (I used sprouted amaranth)
150g coarsely chopped peaches (It's okay to use canned, out of season)
25g sliced almonds
Optional: coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and mahlab.  In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the eggs with the maple sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the maple syrup, butter, and yogurt and mix until incorporated.  Beat in the sourdough starter with a fork until no streaks remain.

Add the dry ingredients in three batches, stirring until just barely incorporated between each addition.  Don't over mix.  Make sure the chopped fruit is fairly dry; you can pat it dry with paper towels and toss with a tbsp of extra flour to ensure that it doesn't sink, though the batter is thick enough to hold up the fruit anyway.  Gently fold in 15g of the amaranth and all the peaches into the batter.  Use a muffin scoop to evenly distribute the batter among the lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle with the remaining 10g amaranth and the sliced almonds.  If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar for extra sparkle and crunch.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the muffins test done and the almonds are golden.  These muffins are heavenly when warm from the oven, but they will keep well in an airtight container for a couple days.  They also reheat beautifully.  Rich, and very satisfying, one will hold you for some time.


Nutrition per muffin:


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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oygxy4i3u30.  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!  

Jachnun
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oygxy4i3u30

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”
http://food.lizsteinberg.com/2011/02/08/jachnun-yemenite-breakfast/)

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.

Enjoy!

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.


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