Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bread Baking Day #75: Favorite Weekend Breakfast Breads

This month's Bread Baking Day challenge is hosted by Immer wieder sonntags....  The theme is one of my favorites:  breakfast breads.   Immediately, this calls to mind two things -- sourdough and scones.  (No, it's not a yeast bread this time, but it is quick and really delicious.)   

My choice was Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Scones with Cinnamon Chips.  I made this recipe twice, fine-tuning it the second time around.   Adding toasted, chopped pecans would also be another tasty variation.  

For the first go-round, I made the basic recipe; the second time, I added the cinnamon chips, because I felt it needed something extra.  I also cut the dough into smaller squares, rather than eight large triangles.  One word of caution, the dough is really dry, so it might require a bit more starter or more than 2 tablespoons milk until the proper consistency is reached.

At any rate, the scones are well worth the effort.  You can even mix all the dry ingredients the night before to save a few minutes in the morning.

Hope you all give it a try and enjoy the delicious results.

Thanks, also, to Zorra for originating this wonderful event.

Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Scones with Cinnamon Chips

2 1/2 cups flour, either all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves (to taste)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cinnamon chips (or more, if desired)
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup 100% hydration sourdough starter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk (might need a bit extra)

Stir the dry ingredients together; cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the cinnamon chips.

Combine the wet ingredients.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture; mix until just combined.  Add the milk to achieve a soft biscuit-like dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 9-inch circle.  Cut into either 8 wedges, or smaller squares (about 9 pieces).  You can brush the tops with milk if you wish.

Place on a parchment-lined baking pan, about 1/2-inch apart. Place in the freezer while you heat the oven to 400° F.  

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Muesli Rolls -- A Babe at last!

It was a typical morning -- rise a little after 6 am, dress, walk the dog, count the number of hot air balloons floating in the sky.  Then, return home, put the kettle on to boil, turn on the computer, and read news and email.  

Only, this particular day was far from typical.  There, in my inbox, was an email inviting me to become an actual, living, breathing Babe!   How could I say anything but yes?  Truly, I was thrilled.  

My first task as a Babe was to bake these delicious Muesli Rolls, chock full of seeds, fruit, and chocolate.  Almost a meal in themselves.   These gems were brought to us by the Kitchen of the Month, Karen: BakingSoda of Bake My Day.  

While I spent a small fortune buying the various seeds that I didn't have on hand, they will be useful for future baking projects.  I swapped out apricots for dried tart cherries, and did include the chocolate bits.  There's something about the combination of nuts, seeds, cherries, and chocolate that I love.  (Reminiscent of a certain Trader Joe's trail mix.)  

I also brushed the tops with egg white so that the malted wheat flakes would adhere, and I heated the oven only to 425, not wanting to repeat of the previous smoke alarm incident.

I'm still playing with the effects of high altitude and a too-hot oven, so, I think my square rolls came out a bit flatter than others.  They are still tasty, nonetheless.  

Be sure and check Karen's website for instructions and for links to the other Babes, and, of course, the guidelines for how to be a Buddy.  (I'll get the hang of all this eventually.)


Muesli Rolls 
by Dean Brettschneider - Bread makes 15 rolls
450 gr (2.3/4 cups) strong bread flour
50 gr (1/3 cup) wholemeal or whole wheat flour
40 gr (1/2 cup) jumbo rolled oats
8 gr  (2.3/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
10 gr (2 tsp) salt
30 gr (1.1/2 Tbs) treacle or blackstrap molasses
20 gr (1 Tbs honey
20 ml (4 tsp) olive oil
370 ml (1.1/2 cups) water
40 gr (scant 1/2 cup) walnut pieces (chopped small)
30 gr (3 Tbs) linseeds/flaxseeds
20 gr (2.1/4 Tbs) sesame seeds
80 gr (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
80 gr (2/3 cup) pumpkin seeds
40 gr (1/4 cup) dried apricuts, cut into pieces
80 gr (1/2 cup) small chocolate chips/drops (optional)
100 gr (1 generous cup) jumbo rolled oats to decorate
Place flours, oats, yeast, salt and wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Using a wooden spoon, combine to form a dough.  Tip dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 15 minutes, resting it for 1 minute every 2-3 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Check dough throughout kneading for stickiness; add a little more water or flour if necessary to achieve a soft dough that's  not too firm.

Add walnuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate(if desired). Knead until well incorporated and combined into dough.  Place dough in  a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place for approximately  1 1/2, until dough has doubled in size. Gently knock back dough in bowl by folding it back onto itself several times. Cover again and leave for a further 30 minutes.

Tip dough upside down onto a lightly floured work surface.  Sprinkle flour over top of dough (which was on the bottom of the bowl).  Very carefully turn dough over and gently flatten to 2cm (3/4 in) thick.  Using a dough scarper or large chef's knife, cut dough into 7cm (2 3/4in) squares.  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops with water, Sprinkle entire surface of each roll with rolled oats, and pat down gently to stick them on.

Line a baking tray (cookie sheet) with baking (parchment) paper.  Place rolls onto lined tray (sheet), leaving a 2-3cm (3/4-11/4in) gap between each roll.  Cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and leave to prove for 30-45 minutes, depending on room temperature.

Place rolls on baking tray (cookie sheet) in a preheated 230C/450F/Gas 8 oven, apply steam and quickly close oven door.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning tray around halfway through baking if needed Remove rolls from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

The Bread Baking Babes are:
Bake My Day - Karen  
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth  
Bread Experience - Cathy  
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle  
girlichef - Heather
Life's a Feast - Jamie  
Lucullian Delights - Ilva  
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna  
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien  
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Biblioth√©caire)
Karen’s Kitchen Stories – Karen  
Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Novel Dessert -- Lemon Gems

Several months ago, March to be exact, I accompanied a friend to an Author Event at a local historic theater.  The author was Alexander McCall Smith.  I had heard of him before; many of my friends said how much they enjoyed his stories, but I, alas, had never read any of his books.  

That changed after hearing him speak.  What a delightful and generous person he was! And, I can't imagine how many different types of stories are swirling around in his mind.  Along with the obvious series (lady detective in Botswana), I set out to explore some of his lesser advertised novels.  In this particular case, that would be Corduroy Mansions, a description of the lives of an eccentric group of Londoners and one precocious dog.  

I've been aware of the Novel Food event for years, but I'm not usually prepared to participate.  I read books for a living, non-fiction books, so finding time for any pleasure reading (other than cookbooks), is a challenge.   However, inspired by the March event, I decided to make time for pure escapism.

So, the latest Novel Food event and my reading of Corduroy Mansions coincided at the perfect time.  

Two of the novel characters, Caroline and James, spend an afternoon making cookies.  Not just any cookie, though, but Lemon Gems from Nigella Lawson's cookbook, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, which just happens to be on my bookshelf.  And, sure enough, there was the recipe.

Lemon Gems are divine.  I have to share, or I will eat them all, probably with dire consequences.  If you have or can acquire a copy of Lawson's book, I highly recommend giving them a try. 

Lemon Gems
(adapted from How to Be a Domestic Goddess)

1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
scant 1/4 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Lemon curd, either 1 jar or homemade

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar; add egg yolk, lemon juice and zest, and salt.  Gently fold in the flour in two additions, followed by the almond flour and cornstarch.  Chill the dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Form the dough into 1" balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1" apart.  Make an indentation in each ball, using your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and firm.

Remove from oven and immediately fill each cookie with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of lemon curd.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 40 cookies.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

BBB Buddy Bread: Flaxseed and Prune Ciabatta-style loaves

Once again, the Bread Baking Babes have come up with another winning loaf of bread.  Don't let the flaxseeds and prunes fool you -- this is one delicious bread.   

This was also a very noisy and exciting bread for me to bake.  Mixing the ingredients and letting the unbaked loaves proof was pretty straightforward.  The baking part, however, was unique.  

My newly purchased house came equipped with a gas range (not my first choice), so I'm still learning its limits.  Now, for this bread, the oven needs to be heated to 450 degrees, and thereby rests the problem.  I'm not sure whether it's really 450 degrees, but the smoke alarms in the house weren't pleased.  At least two alarms began shrieking loudly (a two-alarm bread!!).  The cacophony increased with the addition of howls from the resident German Shepherd Dog.   Understandable.  If I were a dog, I'd have howled, too.

This noise continued until the bread was baked, and the oven turned off.  The dog and I spent much of the time outside in the front yard.

As for the bread, it was supposed to have a hole-y texture, and only the ends achieved this result.  Being an analytical type, I think next time I will make 3 or 4 loaves instead of 2, and see if that helps with hole formation.

I would dearly love to make this bread again; however, I'm not mentally ready for dealing with the smoke alarms again.  I've bought a new smoke alarm, so perhaps that will make a difference.

This wonderful bread was brought to you by Cathy of Bread Experience.  While I've missed the deadline for being included in the round-up (family matters), be sure and tune in to her website to see who participated. 

(Burnt parchment -- most probably a contributing factor to smoke alarm noise.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

BBB Buddy: Romanian Easter Braid

Let it be known that this is one seriously delicious bread.  One of those breads where you can't consume just one piece.  One whole loaf, maybe.  But not just one piece.  

Pat, of Feeding My Enthusiasms, was the BBB kitchen of the month, and she adapted the recipe from Kathy Cutler's The Festive Bread Book.  

For the basic dough, I made two changes:  I used organic coconut sugar in place of the sugar, and I let the dough have two rises before shaping.  I've moved to high-altitude country, so an extra proofing was in order. 

 For my version of the filling, which I doubled, I used Trader Joe's Almond Meal, more organic coconut sugar, and the zest of a lemon and an orange along with the cinnamon.  I could have eaten the filling right on the spot, it was that good. 

The loaf lasted for several days and didn't even dry out in this climate.  I also gave away/shared part of it, and tried very hard to make it last, but, alas, it disappeared way too quickly.

You can find the recipe on any of the Babes' blogs.  Each baker made a slightly different variation, and all sound delicious.    .

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BBD #72: Nutty Breads

This is going to be a very short post.  The bread is baked, but I've run out of time to do a decent write-up due to my recent move (working, unpacking, working, trying to find kitchen tools, etc.)

This month's challenge was hosted by Greenway 36, and breads with nuts was the theme.  I chose to bake a sourdough fruit and nut bread.

The recipe can be found on King Arthur's website, and I only did minor changes, using whole wheat pastry flour for pumpernickel flour, and candied lemon peel for the dried fruit.

Nutty-Fruity Sourdough

This dense, moist, gently tangy bread makes wonderful breakfast toast. Or slice it very thin, and spread it with cream cheese or butter—what a treat!

1 cup (about 8 ounces) fed sourdough starter
1 cup water
3/4 cup pumpernickel flour
2 1/2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups Fruitcake Blend or the dried fruits of your choice
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
Mix all of the ingredients (except the fruit and nuts) by hand, mixer, or bread machine till you've created a smooth, elastic dough. Because the consistency of sourdough starters vary, you may need to add a bit of extra flour or water; the dough should be medium-soft but not sticky. Add the dried fruit and nuts, kneading until they're evenly incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Turn the dough onto a lightly greased or floured surface, and form it into a fat log. Place the log into an Italian stoneware baker that's been greased on the bottom, or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the loaf, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it springs back very slowly when lightly pressed.

If you're baking in a covered stoneware baker, place the bread into a cold oven, set the oven to 400°F, and bake for 40 minutes. Check the bread, and bake for a bit longer, if necessary; the internal temperature should be about 190°F when measured on an instant-read thermometer. If you're baking on a sheet pan, preheat the oven to 375°F, and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until the bread is brown. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Yield: 1 loaf.


BBBuddies: Granary-Style Bread

A christening of sorts -- my first official bread in the new house turned out to be Granary-style bread from the Bread Baking Babes Tanna chose quite a challenge.  Because this bread requires a very special kind of flour, only found in England, all the bakers had to rely on their creativity to replicate this loaf. 

In the interest of speed and brevity (I need to post this immediately), I will just say that I auditioned two recipes, both requiring malted wheat flakes, which I ordered from King Arthur Flour.  It arrived in time, and I proceeded to bake my breads.

The first recipe is from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  The dough is made a day in advance, then you can bake a loaf to order.

The second recipe is from King Arthur Flour's website.  I still haven't found my bread pans, so I improvised with foil.  Let me just say that a make-shift foil pan may be a good idea, but it's no match for the power of rising bread.  The result was only ok.  It lacked flavor.

My preference was the Artisan bread.  Definitely flavorful and easy to make. 

Now that I have the malted wheat flakes, I'll give this bread a try again.

English Granary Style Bread
Makes 4 loaves, slightly less than one pound pound each. Can easily be doubled or halved (store and use extra dough in the fridge for up to 10 days)

3 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granulated yeast (or one packet)
1 tablespoon coarse salt (recipes tested with Morton’s Kosher)
1/4 cup malt powder
1 cup malted wheat flakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
cornmeal or parchment for the pizza peel

Cornstarch wash (blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water using a fork; add 1/2 cup water and microwave or simmer till mixture appears glassy)
1 tablespoon cracked wheat, for sprinkling [optional]

Mix, store, and shape the dough according to the Master Recipe Instructions, but include the malt powder with the water, yeast and salt, then add all the flours and malted wheat flakes.  If you want a more open hole structure, consider the longer rest after shaping.

Place a metal broiler tray (no glass) near the bottom of the oven, and a baking stone near the center– and preheat to 400 degrees (about 20 to 30 minutes). Just before the loaf goes into the oven, brush with cornstarch wash and sprinkle with the cracked wheat if you’re using it. Slash a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone, pour 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray, and bake for about 35 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking times