Tag Archives: bread

Brioche Hamburger Buns, Hoagies and a BBQ

I’ve barbecued for at least three weekends in the last month because, miracle of miracles, it’s NOT raining.

And I like the taste of bbq’d meats.

No other explanation needed.

I was going to throw sirloin steaks, burgers and a chicken breast on the grill but switched out the last two pork chops in my freezer for the steaks, so I wouldn’t have two beef items. In anticipation of the burgers, I decided to make my own hamburger buns. My recipe makes enough dough for sixteen buns but I made hoagies with half, so I ended up with eight buns and four hoagies. Brioche breads freeze and thaw wonderfully, so that’s why I decided on an enriched rather than a lean bread recipe. It tastes good too.

Hamburgers … naked and dressed – I don’t like raw onions on my burgers but onion rings. Oh mama!!

The rest of the barbecue – Now I just have to figure out what to serve for sides in the week ahead … although I’m thinking of sticking that chicken into one of the hoagies.


Cold Proofing Sourdough Bread … Two Experiments

When I first started working with sourdough, I was discouraged by the need to follow the precise timing which required a 12 hr baking schedule. When I read that it was possible to cold proof in the fridge (both the bulk and final proof) I was excited. Until my bread didn’t rise even after more than 48 hrs in the fridge. It turns out that was the fault of my less than active starter. My second starter, the canned pineapple juice/whole wheat one, doubles happily at room temp (68-70 deg F) and is ecstatic at higher temperatures. However, it will even make the dough rise in the fridge (34-38 deg F). All of which makes baking sourdough almost as convenient as baking with yeast.

My latest pair of experiments is an examination of the relative oven spring/bake that comes from transferring a cold proofed dough into a cold dutch oven, and then placing it into a preheated oven) versus transferring the dough into a dutch oven that had been preheated along with the oven.

For the first experiment, I started with a plain, no knead sourdough bread recipe from Carole L. One of the unexpected benefits of cold proofing is that your chilly dough is very easy to score. You can get creative with your lame and end up with sharply defined slashes that open up dramatically during baking. NOTE: Since this isn’t a high hydration recipe, there won’t be big holes in the crumb.

After 12 hours in the fridge, the dough is turned out and slashed, then baked.

For the second experiment, I added sun dried tomatoes and dried basil to a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then stirred the add-ins into the second stage of the dough. This dough was cold proofed 16 hrs before being turned out, slashed and baked in a pre-heated dutch oven

Conclusion, there isn’t an measurable difference in the oven spring of the two loaves.

The crunchy crust and soft crumb make this bread great to dip into extra virgin olive oil, an artichoke or other dip, a hearty stew or slather with hummus.

Sourdough Anadama Bread

Anadama bread is a traditional New England yeast bread which uses cooked cornmeal and molasses to give it its distinctive texture and sweetness. I recently ran across mention of the bread and was intrigued. I just happened to have about half a cup of Grandma’s Molasses in my pantry which I couldn’t think of a use for … a happy accident you say?

No, DESTINY.

Oh, and since I had just taken my jar of sourdough starter out of the fridge to feed up, because I ran out of bread (horrors!), I decided to convert the recipe I had to sourdough.

This is a moist dense bread with a touch of sweetness and crunch in every bite. Great warm with a smear of room temperature butter or to dip into egg yolks for breakfast or brunch.

Sourdough Anadama Bread – makes about 1.1 kg dough, enough for 2 loaves baked in a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan

1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 1/4 – 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/4 cup cornmeal, fine or coarse
2 tbsp unsalted butter, margarine or shortening
1/2 cup molasses (Grandma’s molasses, fancy)
1 tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl with a lid (or use plastic wrap if it doesn’t have one) combine the sourdough starter, warm water and 2 cups of all purpose flour, reserving the rest of the flour for the next day. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight (12-16 hrs).

The next day, place 1/2 cup room temperature water and the cornmeal in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter or margarine, salt and molasses. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled cornmeal mixture with the sourdough mixture; stir until well blended.

Add the remaining flour about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together into a ball, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours depending on your starter.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a loaf. Place the loaf in a lightly greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes but it may take longer.

NOTE: I ended up with about 1.1 kg of dough, too much for a single pan, so I split the dough up into 2 loaves. I let them rise for about 1 hr 15 minutes before I judged they were ready to bake..

Pat the loaves down flat to distribute the dough evenly in the pan after shaping the loaf.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Victoria Day Weekend and Palak (Spinach) Paneer

Between taking time off for a bad cold which started with the sore throat from …. well, you can guess, and a Friday without any calls, I’ve been home for six days. And doing very little cooking that I can post about.

So, this palak paneer is a stretch to be creative with very little energy.

Palak, means spinach, but the more broadly defined saag paneer, which refers to various ‘greens’ including spinach, mustard greens and fresh fenugreek leaves, is the more commonly served vegetarian dish found on Indian menus. Paneer refers to a fresh cheese which you can buy in Indian grocery stores but make, quite easily, at home.

I combined a couple of different recipes I found on line for the recipe below.

Palak (Spinach) Paneer – serves 3-4

250 grams / 8-9 oz cooked spinach*
250 grams / 8-9 oz fresh cottage cheese (paneer), cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp vegetable oil

For the gravy or sauce:

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 bay leaf (medium to large)
1 onion, medium, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 or 2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
1 pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), use 2 tsp if you want a more bitter taste
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup whipping cream or drained plain yogurt**
a pinch of sugar
salt as required
1-2 fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)

*  I used a 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and cooked according to package directions.
** I would have used the yogurt but I didn’t have any this time.

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water with 1/2 cup of ice cubes in it and leave for 1 minutes to cold shock (stop the cooking). Drain the spinach well and puree in a food processor or blender if you want the spinach to be a fine puree. Otherwise, just chop as finely as possible.

Optional: Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Pan fry the paneer cubes until golden brown on several sides to add additional flavour and texture. Remove the paneer cubes and drain them on paper towels.

Making the gravy or sauce:

In the same oil in which you pan fried the paneer, add the cumin seeds and the bay leaf and saute over medium high heat until the cumin seeds crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and stir well cooking until they turn a light golden colour.

Add the ginger paste, garlic paste and finely chopped green chilies, stir and saute till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away. (If using the tomatoes, add them now.) Now add the spice powders – turmeric powder, black pepper, and dry fenugreek leaves, crushing the leaves before adding.

Stir well, reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach puree. Season with salt and sugar. Stir well, simmering the gravy for 5 to 6 minutes or until it thickens slightly and the spinach is cooked well.

Add the whipping cream along with the garam masala powder and stir very well. The cream should be mixed thoroughly with the spinach gravy.

Turn off the heat, add the paneer cubes and stir them gently with the rest of the gravy so as not to break up the cubes.

Serve the palak paneer hot with various Indian breads ie. rotis, naan, chapatis, paratha or cumin basmati rice or biryani rice.

I had to eat even though I was sick so I made some other quick and easy dishes …

pan-fried boneless pork chops with leftover enchilada quinoa and

roasted chicken drumsticks which had been marinated in Italian salad dressing, steamed broccoli dressed with sweet Thai chili sauce, vanilla bean panna cotta topped with a compote made with frozen blackberries, blueberries, orange juice and some orange zest.

I even made another sourdough tartine loaf with dried dill weed and minced onion. Great as a snack with some butter or toasted and spread with cream cheese.

Oh, and there was a sourdough pizza and sourdough pancakes with macerated strawberries and strawberry coulis.

Tri-Colour Quinoa Honey Whole Wheat SD Loaf And SD English Muffins

ETA: If you don’t have any starter, simply replace it with 1/2 cup of warm milk, about 1/3 cups more AP flour, 1 tsp of sugar 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast in the quinoa bread recipe below. Proof the yeast with the warm milk into which the sugar has been dissolved and add it to the dough at the same point that you would have added the starter.

On a recent trip to Bulk Barn I picked up some tri-colour quinoa and riffing on my previous honey whole wheat sourdough bread experiments, I made a lovely sandwich loaf with some soaked quinoa.

Tri-Colour Quinoa Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf

Tri-Colour Quinoa Honey Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf – 860 grams of dough, makes one 9″ by 5 1/4″ loaf

1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed 3 times and soaked overnight at room temp in fresh water**
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground garlic powder (optional)
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm milk
1 large egg, room temperature, slightly beaten

** You may find that some of your quinoa has sprouted the next morning.

 

 

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the AP flour, the WW flour and the salt, stir well.

Add the quinoa, honey, olive oil, garlic powder (if used), starter, milk and egg and beat well with a large wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter. Gradually stir in the rest of the all purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a ball around the spoon.

Turn out the dough onto a floured working surface and gradually knead in the rest of the flour until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Knead for 5 minutes, let rest for 5 minutes under a bowl and then knead for another 5 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a sheet of saran wrap or a damp towel and place in a warm place until doubled. (This took about 1 hr 45 min in my oven with the light turned on.)

Shape the dough and place into an oiled 9 by 5 1/4 inch loaf pan. Cover again with saran wrap or the towel and let rise until doubled, another 1 1/2 – 2 hrs.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and bake the loaf for 25-30 minutes until well browned and the bottom is firm and sounds hollow when knocked. You may need to cover with a sheet of aluminum foil if it gets too brown before it’s finished baking.

Turn out and let cool on rack. Don’t cut until it’s cooled to room temperature.

Recently, I had a craving for English muffins and this weekend I tried a new recipe I found on line, which used sourdough starter. It ended up being a bit fiddly to execute and the finished muffins were much bigger than I liked. I split and toasted the muffins and ate them with butter, honey and peanut butter. I even had a hearty ham and peanut butter sandwich. Tasty, but not remarkable.

Sourdough English Muffins with honey

Easter Sunday (and Easter Monday) Dining

Sorry for the delay in posting … no real reason.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend with friends and family. Four days off seems like a lot but, amazingly, it’s Monday already and they flew by. It was a mild weekend so I went outside and bbq’d a tray of lamb shoulder chops, a package of asparagus and a package of jumbo hot dogs for my Easter dinner. It was all delicious.

Supper – Chickpea soup with a crispy kale garnish and the lamb chops, kale salad, sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus.

Instead of buns or rolls, I used part of the dough from the traditional Romanian Easter bread, pasca, which I posted already, to make a pull-apart braided cross.

And here’s the star of the meal. The cheese filling is an accent not the main feature.

I cut some of the flowers from the front ‘garden’ for my Easter table and though the daffodils are all faded (they were gorgeous last weekend) the narcissus are beautiful, as always. My dad’s plantings are doing him proud yet again.

And speaking of plants, I planted a small egg tray (2 seeds in each of 6 cups) of lavender seeds a couple of weeks ago but there’s no sign of any seedlings yet. I’m not quite sure why I decided to plan them, but I have had this package of seeds for a while so I thought I’d give it another try in the face of previous fails.  UPDATE (04/22) : only 1 seedling germinated. It was never a very successful package of seeds so I suspect there was something wrong from the source.

I’m debating on what else I should plant this year from my collection of seed packets. Mostly herbs since that’s mostly what I have. Basil (Italian and Thai), some shiso since none of the four or so lovely plants I had in the house over-wintered successfully indoors, from the fall planting. One leaf after another dropped off until all I was left with was a bare stalk with faded blossoms on it. I suppose I could have gathered the seeds but I didn’t plan ahead. As to the mitsuba, I have one very leafy plant sitting on the window sill in the entry way. I pinched off the older faded leaves as a new furl appeared in the center and now I have huge leaves on it. The pot isn’t very large or deep but I’m wary of transplanting in case the shock causes them all to drop off.

It seems like the sage plant I bought from the city market has overwintered successfully outside without any type of covering but the rosemary … I’m pretty sure it’s dead. Thyme, oregano and mint plants were also in the pots but it’s too soon to tell if they’re going to come back.

Pasca cu aluat de cozonac (Romanian Easter Bread)

There are several kinds of Easter bread or preparations called variously, pasca or pascha or paska. One is even a molded type of cheese. But this version, made with the same sweet yeast dough as cozonac, has a sweetened cheesecake filling. The cheese used is a dry curd cheese, though ricotta, drained cottage cheese or even cream cheese has been used in recipes I’ve seen on line. I had a bit of cottage cheese in the fridge but not enough for the recipe I wanted to try so I made a batch of paneer (cheese made from acid curdled milk) which I drained well and used instead.

I wanted a higher cheese to bread ratio so I only used 1 1/2 pounds of dough (instead of the full two pounds the dough recipe makes) for the pasca.

Paneer – freshly made curd and after being drained and pressed

 

The sponge for the dough was allowed to proof for 30 minutes and was then combined with the rest of the ingredients

Dough shaped into base and braided border – next time I have to press down the center area where the cheese is spooned in.

 

I made a braided bread cross with the remaining dough.

 

In Romania and other countries where the pasca is made, it has deeper religious meaning, but it’s also a very tasty bread enjoyed at this time of the year.

Honey Whole Wheat – Trio of Experiments

An early pair of experiments in which I transformed a yeast mini loaf recipe into one with JUST sourdough was a success so I repeated it here, in reverse, starting with yeast and sourdough (SD) starter and gradually reducing the amount of yeast used. I baked the bread in an actual loaf pan … something I rarely do … just because I’m bored and this will at least make me feel like I did SOMETHING productive. The bread was pretty good too, though next time, I’m only going to use whole wheat in the starter, as I’m not very fond of the taste in the finished loaf.

Nice bubbly starter fed with all purpose and whole wheat results in a ‘poofy’ dough after bulk proofing. Don’t you just love the technical jargon of bread baking?

Experiment 1 – 2 tsp of dry yeast and <1 cup of SD starter, mostly all purpose (AP) flour but with some whole wheat (WW), 2 lbs of dough all baked in one 9×5″ loaf pan, at 375 deg F.

I learned not to trust internet sources too much as 2 lbs of dough were obviously too much for the 9 by 5 inch bread pan and I ended up with a mushroom topped shape. Over proofing probably didn’t help. Oh, and the cracks in the crust? I dropped the pan as I was transferring it to the cooling rack. (sigh)

Experiment 2 – 1 tsp of dry yeast and <1 cup of SD starter, as above, 1 1/2 lbs of dough baked in loaf pan and the other 1/2 lbs of dough were baked in a smaller disposable aluminum foil pan. The resulting mini loaf was quickly sliced and devoured … for quality assurance, you understand.

Using only 1 1/2 lbs of dough in my pan gave me a much nicer final loaf shape after baking. I proofed the loaf a bit longer as I had reduced the yeast to 1 tsp, rather than 2 tsp, while still keeping the same amount of starter.

Experiment 3NO YEAST, only <1 cup SD starter, as above, 1 1/2 lb of dough baked in loaf pan, rest of the dough (>1/2 lbs) shaped into crescent rolls. I used 1 cup of  WW flour to ~ 2 1/4 cups of AP flour in this final trial.

Shaping the crescent rolls – > 1/2 lbs dough rolled out into an 8 x 14 inch rectangle. Triangles had a base of 7 inches resulting in 3 perfect triangles and a 4th triangle pieced together out of the two end halves.

PS: Gave away the loaves from Experiment 2 and 3, as well as the 3 crescent rolls, so I only have the brioche buns I made a while back and some of the bread from Experiment 1 left in the freezer.

I may write up the recipe of a basic version of this loaf but it’s pretty repetitive of previous ones I’ve posted.

Sourdough French Baguettes, Naan and Popovers

I know … you’re probably thinking I should rename this LJ/blog “The Sourdough Fanatic” with all the sourdough baking I’ve been doing. It’s addictive even though, as I’ve said before, I don’t actually like sourdough bread that much. At least not the ‘artisanal’ high hydration doughs with the big holes. However, feeding that jar of starter on the top of my fridge and watching it double in a couple of hours, and then triple, before finally collapsing as the gas produced stretches the gluten strands past their limit is something that must be experienced.

And I really liked the sourdough tortillas I made so, when I ran out, I had to make more on which to serve the chicken fajitas from a recent purchase of boneless, skinless breasts.

And, let’s be honest. Baking bread is cheap.

Even if it’s not the greatest bread in the world, you can turn it into croutons or bread crumbs, or dressing as I did with some of the jalapeno-old cheddar cheese sourdough I baked recently. Not that it wasn’t good, I just needed some bread to go into the giblet and rice dressing I made to serve with my roast turkey.

Did I post a picture?

No?

Well, just one of the outside of the loaf.

I tried making French baguettes out of Carole L’s no knead sourdough using the shaping technique I used in my previous attempt at sourdough French baguettes. They tasted great and the crunchy, chewy crust and toothsome interior can’t be beat fresh out of the oven. But they don’t hold up. By the second day, the crust has softened and the interior is dense. You can warm it up in the oven and it’s edible, but no where close to its previous state. Still, it was an interesting experiment. And I had fun practicing my slashing technique.

I also used some of my sourdough starter to make Indian naan or flatbread. The first batch was plain but I fancied up the second batch by adding dried fenugreek leaves (methi) and powdered garlic. A bit of melted butter on the warm naan and it’s a wonderful snack or vehicle with which to pick up and eat a saucy curry dish.

And, before I dried the last of the sourdough starter I had revived this time, I used the King Arthur recipe for a quick batch of eggy sourdough popovers. Whether you serve them with a roast beef dinner or enjoy them with honey and a cup of coffee for breakfast, it’s a great way to use up some of that sourdough starter.

Well, that should satisfy my craving to nurture sourdough for a while

Visual Guide to Baking Carole L’s No Knead SD Bread

This easy no knead, sourdough bread recipe was shared by Carole L on FB. I took a number of pictures at different stages during the bake as a visual reminder of what one would expect when making it.

Dough 1 – just mixed                            Dough 1 – 6 hrs later, room temp (70 deg F)

Dough 1 – 15 hrs later                        Dough 2 – mixed, shaped and put in bowl  to rise

Dough 2 – after 2 hrs of proofing           Dough 2 – turned out onto parchment paper
at room temp

Slashed and ready to bake                     Baked

Loaf cut in half to see the crumb