Semolina (Rava) Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” – M.F.K. Fischer



True that !! Nothing like the smell of baking bread !! 
The weather was awesome….a light breeze and a constant drizzle with spells of heavy showers off and on….. Isn’t it the perfect setting for baking. Baking breads. 🙂
I made Semolina Bread. Semolina known as Rava or Sooji in India. Semolina flour is often also used in making Pastas. In breads it adds a sweetish fermented aroma and a smooth silky texture.


This bread dough is made with a technique called Sponging. It is an old fashioned type of sponge called Flying Sponge. So first we create the sponge (more in the recipe….) and then add it to the main flour. 
Yes you do need to have time at hand to do this bread but one bite and you know it was all worth the effort.  It has a crispy crust and chewy inside. 
So it was a perfect Saturday spent with a surprise from the cousins over lunch and then bread baking. Between making and sponge and the main dough KJ and I decided to take a walk in the rain…. yes we had that kinda time in between 🙂



So here it is:

Semolina Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

Ingredients:
Sponge:
180 g (1 ½ cups) Semolina Flour
180 g (1 ½ cups) Bread Flour
250 g (1 1/8 cups) Water
1 ¼ tsp Instant Yeast
½ tsp Sugar
Final Dough:
270 g (2 & 1/8 cups) Semolina Flour
270 g (2 & ¼ cups) Bread Flour
306 g (1 and 3/8 cups) Water
1 tbsp Salt
2 tbsps Olive oil, extra virgin
Sponge, all of the above

Procedure
Creating the Sponge:
1. Mix the semolina flour, bread flour, water, yeast and sugar until evenly incorporated.  You can use the mixer, but I just used a large fork.
2. The sponge should be fairly loose.  Let the sponge ferment for about 1¼ hours.

Mixing the Dough:
1. Add all of the ingredients, including the sponge, to the mixing bowl and mix on first speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes.
2. Increase the speed to the second speed and mix for another 2 to 3 minutes.  The dough will be of medium consistency. It should have noticeable gluten development.
I used my hands to mix the dough and kneaded it with hands too.
Bulk Fermentation:
Let the dough bulk ferment for 1½ hour and fold the dough after 45 minutes.  

Dividing Shaping and Baking the Loaves:
1. Divide the dough into two halves, preshape lightly into rounds and place the rounds on a lightly floured surface, seams up.  Cover the rounds with plastic.
2. After about 10-20 minutes, when the dough has relaxed sufficiently, shape it into tight round or oval loaves.  Place the loaves into floured lined baskets.
3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C.
4. Invert the loaves onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  They came out of the baskets really easily.

5. Spray the top of the loaves with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds or nigella seeds and score the bread with a sharp knife or a blade.
6. Once the oven is preheated, bake the bread for 15 minutes on a water bath, and then lower the oven setting to 230 degrees C.  Continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes more.  Check the breads during the bake and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking if necessary.

7. Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.



Happy Baking !!

Multigrain Bread | Baking


After all the fun I had, doing the 30days30dips Series, I’m back with baking bread.
This bread has been on my to do list for a while. I love making breads and especially the whole wheat and multigrain varieties. I must confess it took me 2-3 times before getting the mix right. Yes. If I make it pure pure multigrain then the bread becomes too heavy and hard and if I add too much flour I was changing the character of the bread.


When I started doing breads I took it up as a challenge on myself to be able to make the real multigrain or the real whole wheat, because I used to see my mother promptly opt for the branded multigrains or whole wheats thinking she was buying better healthier options. However the truth is that store bought commercial bread (i’m not talking about bakery breads here) only contain 10% multigrains or whole wheat flours. The rest is white all purpose flour. While white breads have the best textures and are really really yummy, they may not always be the healthiest. 
Here I’m not trying to preach anyone the benefits of multigrain or whole wheat over white breads, nor am I saying that homemade multigrain is only multigrains and no flour, but if and when you want to eat a multigrain eat the real thing.


For my multigrain recipe, I use a homemade multigrain flour mix. The details of the multigrain flour will be listed out after the bread recipe.

Multigrain Bread


Ingredients

4 cups or 400 gm Multigrain Flour

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup All Purpose Flour

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tbsp Honey

3 tbsp Milk Powder

4 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt

Directions

1. Sieve together the multigrain flour, wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt and the milk powder.

2. Activate the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.

3. Once activated, add to the flour mix and rub it through the flour with your fingers. Keep mixing till you get a bread crumbly texture.

4. Now add a little water and start kneading the dough. Add the olive oil and fo on kneading. This dough requires a little more water compared to other doughs.

5. Once kneaded well, this should take about 10 minutes, keep in a dry clean bowl and cover with cling wrap and keep in a warm place for an hour or till the dough doubles in size.

6. Once the dough doubles in size, punch it down lightly with your fingers and give it a light knead.

7. Shape it into a desired shape, place it on a baking tray and let it rest for another 30 minutes. You can sprinkle either poppy seeds or nigella seeds.

8. In the mean time preheat the oven to 200 C degrees for 10 minutes. Now place a shallow tray with hot water at the bottom of the oven, place the grill in the middle rack over the waterbath and place the trays with the loaves. Bake for 20 minutes till the crust browns golden in colour.

9. Remove from the oven and place on cooling rack.

This bread is best served toasted.

Multigrain Flour

2 cup Wholewheat Flour
1 cup Ragi
1 cup Soya Flour
1 cup Kala Chana Flour
1 cup Pearl Millet (Bajra)
1 cup Sorghum (Jowar)
1 cup Oat Flour

Sieve all these flours together and store and use as required.

Happy Baking !!

Breads | Parmesan Pesto Rolls

If you like your bread warm…..look no further !!! This is heaven !!!
Pesto Rolls are delicately fragrant with the basil and garlic and the tartness of parmesan !! Best served warm…. actually just of out-the-oven warm 🙂
I get very touchy about my breads….hence all the fuss !!

I’m all for this bread especially because it tastes awesome without the added calorie burden of butter and cheese of the world. It doesn’t feel dry in the mouth, has a lovely flavour, a great accompaniment or can be had by itself for breakfast.

I’ve been baking bread every weekend…. and it usually is the whole wheat loaf which has become a standard default loaf of the Jayaram household. Making these rolls was such a welcome change, not to say that I get bored with my usual whole wheat recipe, but who doesn’t like a soft silky aromatic bun !
I must admit, while whole wheat breads taste great and are always always a much healthier option, nothing beats the good old white flour bread.

I always have a bottle of my homemade Pesto in the fridge…you can always choose a different relish, flavour, condiment etc of your choice. A caramelised onion and ham filling is also great :-).

Pesto Rolls

Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour or bread flour
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp Sugar
3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
Pesto
Parmesan
Warm water to knead the dough

Directions

1. Mix sugar and yeast in lukewarm water and let it prove for not more than 10 minutes.

2. Once the yeast starts frothing, take a flour in a large mixing bowl and ad the yeast. Mix well with your fingers. It’s more like rubbing the yeast into the flour. Once rubbed it well, take some warm water and add gradually, simultaneously add salt and olive oil.

3, Mix well and now transfer the dough onto the work platform and knead well using both your hands. Knead it till the dough feels silky and stretchy.

4. Transfer the dough in a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep in a warm place for 1 hour till the dough doubles in size.

5. Once doubled, punch it down lightly and give it a quick kneed.

6. Now roll the dough into about half centimetre thickness, this should be about 12″ x 15″ in dimension.

7. Spread pesto generously and grate some parmesan.

8. Now keeping the longer side (15″) towards yourself start rolling the dough. See the images below. Make sure the roll is tight.

9. Cut into equal parts and lay in a round cake mould.

10. Now let ir prove again for 30 minutes.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 220 C preheated oven.

12 Serve warm.

Happy Baking !!

Caramelised Onions and Cheese Pull Apart Bread


The sight of a pull apart bread loaf on various blogs is so so so appetising. I couldn’t resist making one myself,  for too long. So I found this absolutely yummy recipe. Mine came out a little different from my recipe source but scrumptious all the same.

It’s perfect for a day when all you crave is carbs. A dip on the side or a soup and nothing else is needed. I could have a full meal with just that.


We had this loaf with our pasta dinner, with a cuppa chai in my office and just warmed with some beetroot pesto and loved it in all its avatars !!


Caramelised Onion and Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Adapted from Cooksjoy.com

Prep Time: 02h 50min
Cook time: 01h 15min
Ingredients:
Garlic – 3 cloves

Red chillies – 1

All purpose  flour – 3 cups

Dry Active Yeast – 2 tsp

Sugar – ½ tsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Olive oil – 2 tbsp (butter can be used instead)

Milk – 1 ¼ cup (luke warm)



For Filling

Oil – 1 tbsp

Onion – 2 cups – chopped

Salt – to taste

Pepper – to taste

Cheese – 1/2 cup (Any cheese – I used cheddar) 


Direction:

1. Pound (in a pestle and mortar) red chilly and garlic, and keep aside. 

2. Take the luke warm milk, add yeast and sugar and let it culture for not more than 10 minutes.

3. Take flour and salt in a bowl and mix. Add the chilly-garlic paste and olive oil. Crumble together.

4. Add the now foamy yeast mixture and form a dough. Knead for around 10 minutes to get a smooth dough. Keep aside, covered with a wet kitchen towel or cling wrap,  in a warm place to rise and double in volume.

5. Meanwhile, for the filling, heat oil and add onions, salt and pepper. Saute` until the onions are caramelised  It took around 30 minutes for me. If the onions start catching a bit at the bottom, just add a table spoon or two of water and continue browning them.

6. When the dough doubles in volume, punch it down and place on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a loaf and roll into a 12 x 12 inch square. Brush butter over it and spread the caramelised onions and cheese. Use as much as needed.

7. Cut into 6 strips. Stack the strips  (one on top of the other) with the topping facing upward. Next cut through gently using a sharp knife into 6 equal square stacks.

8. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan (i didn’t do that since i was using a non stick load pan). Keep it vertical if possible and place the stacks. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cover and allow it to rise for another hour.


9. After an hour, brush the top with milk and bake in a preheated 180C oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

10. Serve with a dip or soup or just like that !



Happy Baking !!

Cinnamon Rolls to mark the end of 2012

The last post for the last day of this year.
A roller coaster year that this has been, it’s had its Ups and Downs and Happiness and Sorrows….Its cold and warmth…Its surprises and disappointments….. overall an eventful year !!
A year of realisations and learnings…..a year of growing up……a little more !! A year of promises kept and promises broken….
A year in a lifetime and year of a life well lived……
So what better way to celebrate life lived in this year, than with a batch of warm freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls.

A perfect tea-time enhancer, these aromatic cinnamon rolls fill the atmosphere with their sweet, spicy aroma bringing smiles to anyone’s face.

I’ve been putting baking these rolls on a back-burner for a while..another one of those dishes that intimidate me, but finally I mustered all my courage yet again and dug deep into my flour sacks to bake this aromatic yeasty dough !!

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients
1 cup warm milk (45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup white sugar
2 ½ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions

1. Place flour, yeast, salt and white sugar into your mixer or bowl. Mix together.
2. Add milk, eggs and butter to mixture and mix until combined. If you are using a regular bowl, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a floured surface for 5 minutes. 
3. Place dough under a large bowl and let it rise for about 20 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
4. While dough is rising, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
5. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle.
6. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls.
7. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan.
8. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
9. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. 
10. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, ¼ cup butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
11. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Happy Baking !!!

THE DARING BAKERS’ September 2012 Challenge: EMPANADA GALLEGA

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and 
she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas!  We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!


I found the entire concept of an empanada very fascinating. My first thoughts after reading the recipe were – A pie made with bread dough !!! How cool is that !!

An empanada (or empada, in Portuguese) is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Western Europe, Latin America, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.


Empanadas trace their origins to Galicia and Portugal. A very popular dish across the world, it’s known by different names in different parts. In Afganistan it is called a Bolani. In Asian countries like Indonesia it is known as a Panada or a Pastel. And in many other parts of the world people simply call it Meat Pies.

For the dough I followed Patri’s grandma’s recipe however made my own filling with chicken mince.


The recipe below serves 10. However I halved the recipe.




Dough Ingredients:

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour 
2 cups  (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 tbsp (15 gm) dry yeast or  (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 tsps (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tbsps (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Dough Directions: 

1. Measure out all the ingredients.

2. Shift the flour into a big bowl and make a well in the middle. Rub the yeast in with your
fingers.

3. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt. 

4. Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the 
flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough. 

5. On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes
6. You could do all the above using a stand mixer, in that case mix the ingredients with the
 paddle attachment until mixed and then switch to a dough hook and knead on low for about 6 minutes. 
7. Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.   


                                  Before rise                                        After the rise
8. Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.   
9. Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round. 
10. Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.  For your first time, make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.  

Ingredients For the Filling:

1 kg Chicken Mince
2 Onions finely chopped
6-8 cloves of Garlic crushed
1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
2 tbsp Refined Oil
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 tbsp of Tomato Puree
                                                                               

The filling ready for the Empanada

Direction for the Filling

1. Heat oil in a pan.

2. Saute` onions, ginger and garlic.

3. Add the chicken mince.

4. Saute` till the chicken changes colour.

5. Add the soy sauce and the tomato puree.

6. Add the sugar.

7. Saute` for another minute or two to make sure all ingredients are perfectly incorporated. And cover and cook on low flame for about 15 minutes.

8. Check for seasoning and adjust according to your taste.

9. Cook it open till the meat look dry enough. We do not want a very watery filling or it will make the dough soggy.

10. Let the filling cool down completely before assembling.


Assembling the Empanada

1. Lightly flour or line with wax paper your pan or tray. 


2. Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
 


3. Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanada become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible.
 


4. Start preheating your oven to moderate 350°F/180ºC/gas mark 4.

5. Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base. You can use a piece of wax paper for this too. Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling.

6. If not using wax paper, move carefully the top to cover the filling. If using wax paper, transfer the dough, turn upside down, cover the filling and gently peel off the wax paper.

7. Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. 

To see how it is done you could watch the video at  http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk

8. When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.
Using a fork, prick the top layer or, using scissors, make snips that go all the way through the layers.

9. In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.  

10. Bake at 180 degree C for 45 minutes. Serve warm.


Happy Baking !!


Spiral Herb Oatmeal Bread

It’s true that once you get the hang of the basic bread dough, there is no stopping you… So this time around, it had to be something more than just the plain loaf. Hence a stuffed loaf !!
Spring onions are one of my favourite filling for sandwiches so I assumed that they’ll do equally well for a loaf.
I coupled spring onions with some bell peppers and parsley and there it is……the perfect companion with your soup, evening tea or coffee or just as it is.

I find the stuffed loaf, a very handy side dish…have one of these in the spread and you can easily do only one main dish and a salad and still you have a complete meal up your sleeve.

Spiral Herb Oatmeal Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients
250 g Flour (half whole wheat flour and half refined flour)
10 g Dry Active Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1/4 cup Warm Water (to activate the yeast)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Oats
2 tbsp Olive oil
1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup milk mixed together to knead the dough
For the filling:
2 tbsp Butter
1 cup chopped Spring Onions (with the greens)
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 cup chopped Parsley or Coriander
2-3 pods of Garlic – crushed
1 Green chilli – chopped
Salt-n-Pepper to taste
Directions:
For the filling:
  1. Heat butter in a pan, add garlic and onions along with the greens. Cook for a minute. Ad dthe bell peppers.
  2. Cook till soft, add green chillies, salt and pepper. 
  3. Cook for 1/2 a minute. Add chopped parsley and mix well.
  4. Remove from fire and let it cool completely before use.
You can prepare this while your dough is proving.

For the dough:
1. Sift the 2 flours together in a large mixing bowl. Add Oats. Keep aside.
2. In a bowl of lukewarm water, add sugar and dry active yeast. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes (till it gets frothy), in a warm place . (Can keep in your microwave – switched off)
3. Now add the activated yeast, oil and salt to the flour. Mix it well.
4. Add warm water-milk to the dough gradually, as you go on kneading it. Knead well till the dough feels absolutely soft and stretchy and is not very sticky. The more moist the dough, the better it will rise.
5. To make it smooth and elastic, put the dough on a lightly floured platform . Push the dough  forward with your palms and fold over towards yourself with your fingers, and push again with the palm. Give the dough a turn and knead again.Knead till smooth, for about 10-15 minutes.
6. Put the dough in a large clean bowl and cover with cling wrap or a moist cloth. Keep it to prove for 1.5-2 hours, till it doubles in size.
7. After 2 hours remove the cling wrap and punch down the dough lightly.
8. Roll out the dough is a big oval shape. Cut into a clean rectangle. 
9. Brush with butter. Spread the filling evenly, all over the rectangle, leaving the edges clear.
10. Roll up tightly and pinch the edges to seal from all sides. Make sure all joints should come at the bottom. If the joint is coming on the top, just invert the loaf. ( Yes I was perhaps lost in thought or way too much in a hurry to shoot :-), and before I realized, I had already glazed and sprinkled the wrong side.)
11. Place in a loaf tin and leave to prove again for 30 minutes.
12. Brush with glaze, and sprinkle 2 tbsp of Oats. 
13. Bake at 220 degree Centigrade for 20 minutes. 
14. Serve warm.

Happy Baking !!

Soup Sticks with Sopa de Elote (Mexican Corn Soup)

Soup Sticks or Bread Sticks have been on my mind for a long time now. Every time we are out for dinner and the bread basket is served with fresh bread sticks, I promise myself to try baking them myself over the weekend, but somehow hadn’t got around doing that….

Since saturday mornings are baking mornings, today was the day for Bread Sticks…..Finally !!!
I’ve always associated soup sticks with soup. So how could they be complete without a nice sumptuous soup.
Recently we were at a Mexican restaurant where I tried corn soup, but with the Mexican twist. Quite interesting it was. Since fresh corn is readily available at this time of the year, I let my taste buds guide me in replicating the same soup at home. The recipe mentioned here is my own version and I’m not sure if this is really the authentic Sopa de Elote.
Today in this post the tables have turned and the humble bread stick is my star with some soup for company.

Rolling out bread sticks was fun !! I felt like a 5 year old rolling away my plasticine to make coils or snakes. If you have children at home, involve them in rolling out the dough….they’ll love it.
The more I play with the bread dough I realize that it is one of the most versatile doughs. One can add just about any thing…..from dry herbs, fresh herbs, garlic, spices to finely chopped vegetables and each one makes new bread, distinct from the other.

This recipe is a basic dry yeast dough recipe with the addition of 2 tbsp of corn flour for the crispiness.
It makes about 40 sticks.

Bread Sticks or Soup Sticks

Ingredients:
250 g All Purpose Flour
10g (2 tsp) Dry Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
4 tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
3/4 tsp Dry Oregano
1/2 tsp Paprika Powder
1 clove Garlic
Luke warm water to knead the dough

Directions:

  1. Activate the dry yeast in 1/4 cup or 50ml lukewarm water and a tsp of sugar.
  2. Mix salt, dry oregano, paprika powder, cumin powder, crushed garlic to the flour. Add the oil and rub so the flour looks crumbly.
  3. Now add the activated yeast to the flour mix and knead with a little lukewarm water.
  4. Knead the dough and prove it for an hour. When the dough has doubled up, gently punch it down. Add 2 tbsp of cornflour and knead again. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll out to a thickness of 1/4 of a centimeter. Cut the dough disc in strips. About 10-12 strips depending on how thick or thin you cut them.
  5. Take each strip and roll it into the desired thickness and length. At this stage if you need to roll out the strip entirely again or redo it a couple of times, go ahead without worrying. More kneading or redoing will not change the character of the dough.
  6. Place them on a greased and lined baking tray at a distance of 1/2 inch. Let it rest for 15 minutes and then bake in a preheated oven at 220 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes.
  7. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Once baked, transfer on a wire rack to cool down and store in an air tight container.
  9. You can safely store them for 5-7 days  (if they are not polished off  by then. 🙂

Sopa de Elote (Mexican Corn Soup)
Ingredients
750g Boiled corn kernels
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Clove Garlic crushed
1 Onion finely chopped
6 cups Vegetable Stock
2 tsp All Purpose Flour mixed in 1/4 cup cold water
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Directions
  1. Cut 1/4 of a piece of each of the bell peppers and chop it finely and keep aside.
  2. Roast the remaining 3/4 of the bell peppers in an oven at 250 degree centigrade for 10 minutes.
  3. Crush the corn (leave aside 1/2 cup to ad in the soup) and the roasted bell peppers to a smooth creamy paste in a blender.
  4. Take a pot on the fire, add 2 tbsp oil. Once the oil is warm, add garlic. Saute`. Add onion. Saute`. Now add the remaining finely chopped bell pepper and saute` further for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the corn-bell pepper cream or paste . Cook on high for another minute or so. Add the vegetable stock, salt and freshly ground coarse black pepper. Lastly add the flour mixed in cold water and let it boil.
  6. After the first boil, let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat. Keep stirring in between.
Serve with bread sticks.

My First Dry Yeast Bread Loaf…

Ever since I started baking bread (read – bread loaf, garlic loaf, dinner rolls) I’ve always worked with Fresh Baker’s Yeast.
I was once told by someone who makes bread, that Fresh Yeast is the best yeast for breads, so ever since I’d been following the advice and using fresh yeast.

Though fresh yeast is not so readily available, however with a little effort one can find it in markets like INA, but these packs come with screaming instructions that the yeast should be used up within 15 days from the date of manufacturing. It was never possible for me to use even half of the 500g block of fresh yeast (they don’t sell it anything smaller than 500g) in 15 days and invariably I’d end up wasting it or realizing that the yeast is not rising and my plans for baking the bread would be shelved for until I went to INA to buy new yeast.
As usual this Friday when I wanted to bake a loaf I realized the fresh yeast was a bit old and I might not get the best results, but I had to had to bake the loaf and so this time I decided to get a little experimental and bake with dry active yeast.
Dry Active Yeast is readily available in most Departmental Stores, hence making life so much easier for us bakers.
This recipe that I’m sharing with you today is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Best Buns. I’ve made a loaf instead of burger buns and have used dry active yeast instead of Instant Yeast.
One cannot find instant yeast in Delhi NCR. However the results with dry active yeast seem as good. (Do read the verdict at the end of the post)



Ingredients:

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus more as necessary
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast ( I used 2 tsp of Dry Active Yeast)
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt ( I used regular salt)
1 1/3 cups room-temperature water
1 teaspoon mild honey
¼ cup olive oil ( I used regular vegetable oil)
¾ cup toasted mixed seeds, such as cracked flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower and pumpkin, or 1 tablespoon sesame seeds for the topping (optional) ( I used poppy seeds)
Milk or water, for brushing the tops of the buns (optional) ( I used an egg wash)

Directions:

  1. It is wisest to always test your yeast before mixing all other ingredients. Hence sprinkle the dry yeast on 1/2 cup or 100ml of lukewarm water . add a teaspoon of sugar, cover and keep in a warm place (I usually leave it in my turned off microwave) for 15 minutes.
  2. Once the yeast is activated or risen, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour and the salt. 
  3. Add the yeast, honey and oil. and knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand, adding water little by little as required, until smooth and springy. The dough should be soft and just sticky enough to cling slightly to your fingers. If it is still very sticky, knead in a little flour. If it is too stiff, spray it with a little water and knead it.
  4. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled. (The indentation from a finger stuck into the center of the dough should remain).
  5. When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into a log. and transferring it into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper (Its easier to remove the loaf from the tin). Make sure the loaf is even and smooth on the top. 
  6. Brush the dough lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover the loaf tin with an inverted larger plastic box or loosely wrap with cling film and let it rest for another 45 minutes or until almost doubled; when the dough is pressed gently with a finger, the depression should very slowly fill in.
  7. 15 minutes before your dough is ready to go into the oven, preheat the oven on 220 degree centigrade and once preheated place the loaf tin into the oven. Bake at 220 degree centigrade for about 20 minutes and at 180 degree centigrade for another 10 minutes.
  8. Once the bread is golden brown on the top remove from the oven and transfer the loaf on to wire racks until it is completely cool.
  9. Slice and serve as it is or toasted or make a sandwich !!!

The Verdict: Very tasty. Crusty on the outside and very soft inside. Leaves a sweetish pleasant after taste. Excellent for sandwiches or when toasted.

Soft Dinner Rolls for Dinner…..

I’m a weekend bread baker, or so my husband would like me to be, but with a full time job and a house to manage, bread baking at times can get a little demanding (of time). However the baker in me wins more often than not and my kitchen smells of fresh oven baked dinner rolls.

A perfect Sunday evening when KJ is busy following the F1, I had all the time I wanted to be alone in my kitchen talking to my oven with Gulzar sahib’s poetry in the background. Today it had to be bread and nothing else.

The first bread I’d baked was nothing but a Big Disaster!!! KJ teased me that it would be a good weapon to clobber someone.
 But I did not give up just yet and eventually with some guidance and understanding of all the basic ingredients and the roles that they play I got my first perfect loaf. There has been no stopping ever since.
The trickiest ingredient in the bread is the yeast. With Instant Yeast not readily available in India bread baking is all the more challenging for a home baker, but I guess that’s what makes it fun.
Will talk about Yeast in my coming posts, till then here is a basic dinner roll recipe.
Dinner Rolls
Makes 20 Buns



Ingredients

250 g (2 Cups) All Purpose Flour
10g (1 tbsp) Fresh Yeast 
5 g (1 tsp) Sugar
5g (1 tsp) Salt
25 ml (2 tbsp) Oil
1/4 cup Milk
3/4 cup Warm Water
For Milk Wash
1/2 cup Milk
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Sugar
For the Egg Wash
2 tbsp Eggs
1tbsp Water
Mix them together.
Directions:

  1. Put warm milk in a bowl. Add sugar and yeast and mix. Cover the bowl and keep aside in a warm place for about 5-10 minutes or till it turns frothy and rises. DO NOT keep for more than 15 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour and salt together.
  3. Once the yeast froths up, add it to the flour. Add the oil and mix it well so that the mixture looks crumbly.
  4. Now start adding warm water gradually and knead the dough till it is smooth and no longer sticky.
  5. to make it smooth and elastic push the dough forward with your palms and pull it back towards yourself with your fingers and then push again with your palms. Give the dough a turn and knead again till smooth. this should take about 10-15 minutes.
  6. To check if the dough is well kneaded, roll it into a ball and press it gently, if the springs back, the dough is ready. If not, knead it a little more.
  7. Rest the dough in a big bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep it to prove for 1.5-2 hours, till it doubles in size.
  8. After 1.5 hours punch down the dough and divide it in 4 equal portions. From each portion make 5 lemon size balls. In all this dough makes 20 balls
  9. place them on a well greased baking tray with 2″ space in between.
  10. Keep it to prove in a warm place for about 30 minutes, till it becomes almost double in size.
  11. Just before you put it to bake brush it with either milk wash or egg wash. Sprinkle the buns with poppy or onion seeds.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven at 200degree C for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve…..