Monday, May 16, 2016

Babes celebrate Spring!

Springtime in Southern California is much like the other three seasons, only not usually as hot.  There is no snow or freezing temperatures, very little rain, and normally comfortable weather.  Plants begin blooming in January.   

My personal harbinger of spring is when the local strawberry stand opens for business (Terry Berries).  This year, it was January, and three varieties have been available:  Gaviota, Albion, and Via Patricia.  The latter is a delicious berry, not quite as red as the others, but definitely sweeter.  If you want a berry to nibble on, Via Patricia is the one.  On the other hand, Albions, while also tasty, hold up to heavier-duty uses, such as baking, and this is the variety I chose for my Babe challenge.





This month, our Kitchen-of-the-Month was Cathy Warner from Bread Experience.  She asked the bakers to create a Spring Focaccia, using either a favorite recipe or one she offered using sourdough starter.  I actually did both, since I do have a favorite recipe, and also starter in the fridge.  The best version turned out to be my favorite recipe.  The sourdough one ended up being super flat and hard as a rock.  The starter is good, but it really does need a boost of yeast.

For the spring topping, I cut the Albion strawberries in half, lightly sugared them, then placed them on the focaccia dough and baked the bread for 20 minutes.  To serve, I mixed some mascarpone with a small amount of sugar and a splash of vanilla.  (I probably should find some clear vanilla, since the topping ended up a beige-y color.)

This strawberry-topped focaccia makes a lovely breakfast or a tasty afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  

All the Babes are so creative, so it's worthwhile to stop by their blogs and see what spring toppings they chose.  Also, if you want to participate and share your take on a spring topping, submit your focaccia to Cathy by May 30th, then check back a few days later to see the roundup.


Leaner/Lighter Quick Focaccia
(from The Best of Gourmet 1997)

3/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

The following ingredients are part of the original recipe that I omitted due to the nature of the topping:
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
course salt to taste

Instead, I added some grated orange and lemon zest.

 

Lightly grease a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking pan.

Mix the dry ingredients, including the yeast, in a bowl, then add the water until a soft dough forms.  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until elastic and smooth, about 5 minutes.  Shape into a ball, cover, and let rest about 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough to fit the baking pan; transfer to the pan, pressing it into the corners.  Let the dough rise in a warm place, covered loosely with plastic wrap until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. 

Spread some soft butter on the dough, place the strawberry halves on top, and sprinkle lightly with sugar.  



Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.  Cut into serving pieces and top with sweetened mascapone or a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired.



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Friday, April 29, 2016

Bread Baking Day #82: Sweet rolls for coffee

Several weeks ago I tried out a new sweet dough, which was easy to make and versatile.  It was the perfect dough for the latest Bread Baking Day challenge.   This month's hostess is Simone from Aus der Lameng.  She invited everyone to make a sweet roll or bun that would go well with morning coffee.   



Basically, I combined the first batch of dry ingredients in a bowl, then stirred in the wet ingredients, which were at room temperature*.  I let the mixture rise for several hours, added the second round of dry ingredients, then placed the bowl in the refrigerator for an over night rest.  The next morning, I rolled out the dough, spread it with melted butter, sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar and mini cinnamon chips, formed it into a roll, then sliced it up for individual rolls. I let the rolls rise for about 40 minutes, then baked them in a 375 degree oven for between 18 and 20 minutes.  While they were barely warm, I frosted them with a maple-flavored icing.  (The brownish color comes from the flavoring.)   



My goodness, they were delicious!.  Because the dough is easy to make, having these rolls around could develop into a bad habit, especially with my morning coffee.   

Stop by Simone's website in a few days to see the variety of sweet rolls, and head over to Zorra's blog for all kinds of fun baking events.

The original recipe can be found here(A small-batch version can be found here.) 

*I didn't find it necessary to heat and cool all the liquid ingredients before combining them with the dry ingredients.  This is my standard procedure for yeast doughs.

For a savory version, have a look at my previous post.

 
 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bread Baking Babes: Two-for-One Special

It's time for another reveal from the Bread Baking Babes.   Because last month was unusually busy for me, I'll share two baking challenges this time.  

First up is the current challenge -- Un-cinnamon rolls.

The dough for this challenge is super easy to make and extremely versatile.  It's based off of a recipe from a well-known Oklahoman food celebrity.  I just happen to have three of her cookbooks, and upon diligent research, discovered that 1) the bread recipe appears in all three books, and 2) the recipe has evolved over the years.  Our Kitchen of the Month, Karen, of Bake My Day, has the recipe posted on her website.  

Basically, I combined the first batch of dry ingredients in a bowl, then stirred in the wet ingredients, which were at room temperature.  I let the mixture rise for several hours, added the second round of dry ingredients, then placed it in the refrigerator over night.  



The next morning I tore off about half the dough, rolled it out, rubbed it with melted butter, then spread on my filling.   Because this was a non-cinnamon roll, my filling was a mixture of chopped spinach, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and dill weed, bound together with one egg.  I let the resulting rolls rise about 40 minutes, then baked them at 375 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.  



They are pretty tasty, and go well with just about every main dish.  

The remaining dough was refrigerated until the next day, when I turned that into bonafide cinnamon rolls.  But more on that another time.

Alas, I never got around to posting about the previous bread challenge, the Auberge Walnut Bread.  At the time, my camera was being contrary, so I only got one or two photographs of the bread.  And, sadly, the bread disappeared before I could shoot any more.   It was delicious bread, though.  The Kitchen of the Month was Elizabeth, of blog from Our Kitchen.




So, for April's bread, head over to Karen's for the recipe and instructions on how to participate as a Buddy.  Like I mentioned earlier, the dough is easy and versatile.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Bread Baking Day #81: Rolls and Buns

It's time for another bread baking challenge!   

This month, our hostess is Sandra from From Snuggs Kitchen.  Sandra challenged us to bake some kind of roll or bun.  Because Easter was in March this year, I decided to bake some Hot Cross Buns.  I combined two recipes, and was pleased with the result.  The buns were tender and had a nice touch of spice.




Thanks to Zorra for creating this fun challenge, and to Sandra for hosting.  Be sure to visit Sandra's website in the next few days to see all the delicious submissions.



Hot Cross Buns

  • ½ cup Water
  • ½ cup Milk
  • ¼ cup Butter, room temperature
  • 1 Egg, room temperature
  • 3+1/2 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 2 TBSP Orange zest
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp Ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp Ground cardamom
  • 2+1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup Dried currants
 


Powdered Sugar Glaze
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 3 to 4 tsp Water



 

Combine dry mixture, liquid ingredients, and butter in mixing bowl with paddle or beaters for 4 minutes on medium speed. Add egg; beat 1 minute. Gradually add remaining flour and knead with dough hook(s) 5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease top. Cover; let rise until dough doubles.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Place on greased cookie sheet, sides touching. Cover; let rise until indentation remains after touching. Combine 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water; brush buns. Bake in preheated 375ยบ F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets; cool. 

Frost with Powdered Sugar Glaze.


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