Bread Horns | Baking

So I’ve been working on my sourdough bread which turned out to be disaster, last week. Yes the sourdough starter is live and kicking but the bread was another story. Will elaborate on that in another post soon. So when your bread has failed, you are miserable, and you feel like you suddenly don’t know how to cook / bake etc…. it’s time to go back to the basics (for moral boosting) with a twist….well literally eh !!



Over the weekend I baked Bread Horns. They are such a delight to look at !! Perfect for parties and a sure shot crowd pleaser. I used the basic dinner roll recipe for these cuties and filled them with chicken mince. You can obviously let your imagination run wild and will with whatever you like. Though a nice prawn salad or a refreshing corn and cucumber salad will be good ideas 🙂



Bread horns come with an added advantage of being guilt-free, unlike their Cream Horn look alikes (well almost), which are made of puff pastry so full of butter and lard and cream….ummm yummm !!!

Bread Horns

Ingredients

250g All Purpose Flour
2 tsps Dry Active Yeast / Instant Yeast
1 tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
Luke warm water as required

For The Filling

500 g chicken mince
2 spring onions
1/2 a red bell pepper
1/2 capsicum
1 tbsp oil
White sauce / cheese sauce.
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper powder



Directions

1. Prove the yeast with a teaspoon of sugar and lukewarm water.

2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt and olive oil. Mix well with your hands

3. Now add the cultured yeast and the warm milk. Rub well, till the yeast and milk are completely incorporated in the flour.

4. Now start kneading the dough and use the push-n-fold method. You’ll need to knead this till the dough is elastic enough and absolutely smooth, about 10-12 minutes.

5. 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.

6. Rest the dough in a big bowl and cover with cling wrap. Keep it to prove for 1-1.5 hours, till it doubles in size.

7. Once the dough has doubled itself, punch it down and divide into 12 equal portions. 

8. Now roll each ball into a long strip (the way we used to play with our playdough and make snakes) and wrap it onto the horn moulds. Make sure you pinch them at the bottom to seal them.

9. Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment.

10. Brush with the milk and sugar glaze or the egg wash and let it rest for another 20 minutes.

11. In the mean time preheat your oven to 220 degrees C and bake the bread horns for about 20 minutes.

12. Remove from the oven, transfer on the cooling rack and let them cool down completely.

The filling

1. While the horns and baking and cooling make the filling.

2. Saute` onions in a pan, add the chicken mince and cook through. Now add the bell peppers and capsicum and saute` for another minute. Finish off with salt and pepper.

3. Mix in the white sauce / cheese sauce, adjust the seasoning and let it cool down completely.



Once both the horns and the filling is cooled completely, fill the horns with the chicken mince and serve.
you can either warm them slightly or serve them as it is. This depends on your preference as well as the kind of filling !

Happy Baking !!

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 !!

Bread…yet again | Baking


Another weekend, another bread loaf !! I think i’ll never get tired of telling you how much I love to bake breads and how versatile a dough it is !! Before you think I’m a broken record…..let’s move on…


So this time it is a 30% whole wheat flour  (atta) and the rest is maida (all purpose flour). You will see every time you change the proportions of the flour your dough behaves differently. A simple basic loaf that goes well with curries or even as a grilled sandwich.




Ingredients

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2.25 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1.5 cups Lukewarm Water



Directions


1. Activate the yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water.

2. In the meantime, mix both the flours, salt and olive oil together.
3. Now add the yeast and mix it well into the flour mixture. It should look crumbly, like a bread crumbs mix. You essentially need to rub the yeast into the flour with your fingers.
4. Now add the water gradually and knead it into a soft springy dough.
5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. 

6. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled.
7. When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into the desired shape. I wanted to make it round ! Transfer onto the dusted baking tray.
8. Cut a cross onto the loaf. Sprinkle some poppy seeds and let it rest for 30 minutes.
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.
9. 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.
10. Slice and serve as it is or toasted or make a sandwich !!!

Happy B(re)aking Bread !!

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 !!

Ciabatta – The Italian Bread

It’s best to cook when you are cooking for someone….cooking something on someone’s request !!!

A few days back, I met a old friend after a long long time and got talking on food (what else would you expect from me….) and during the course of the conversation discovered a mutual love for all things good (read Italian food). He loves to eat and I love to cook.
I’m always up for a new challenge….always ready to try something I’ve never done before and breads are my favourite. He asked if I knew how to bake a Ciabatta. I said I didn’t but I could always try…..
Ciabatta is an Italian white bread…..it’s crusty on the outside and soft inside. The pores of this bread are larger, they almost look like small craters or pockets. It is an excellent accompaniment to soups and is best had toasted. 
A sandwich made from the ciabatta is called a Panino.
So here’s my first attempt to baking the Italian Ciabatta !!!
Discovered a new way of using yeast….did some improvisation on the original procedure.
Ciabattas take longer than the usual breads to prepare, but it’s worth every bit of that effort. A perfect bread to bake on a weekend.
Like sourdough breads require a starter…. though it is a natural starter without yeast, Ciabattas also require a starter called the Biga (in Italian). It is a pre ferment made with yeast, flour and water.
Biga is used in breads which require light open texture with holes…yes holes along with the regular pores and also adds a complexity to the bread’s flavour.

I was quite pleased with the results and so were KJ and mum-n-dad. I already have an ultimatum from mum that this time she surely wants a bigger loaf …. 🙂 Can’t wait to get them baking again….

Ciabatta Recipe
Makes 4 loaves

Ingredients
1 tspn active Dry Yeast
5 tbspns Warm Milk
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons Water, at room temperature (if using a food processor, use cold water)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 very full cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) biga, rested for 12 hours (see the recipe at the end)
3 3/4 cups (17.5 ounces / 500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 tablespoon (0.5 ounces / 15 grams) salt
Cornmeal
Direction
If making the ciabatta in a stand mixer: 
Stir the yeast into the milk in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the water, oil, and biga and mix with the paddle until blended. Mix the flour and salt, add to the bowl, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Change to the dough hook and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, then 2 minutes at medium speed. Knead briefly on a well-floured surface, adding as little flour as possible, until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show evidence of being velvety, supple, springy, and moist.
If making the ciabatta in a food processor:
Stir the yeast into the milk in a large bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons of cold water, the oil, and the biga and mix, squeezing the biga between your fingers to break it up. Place the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the dough blade and pulse several times to sift the ingredients. With the machine running, pour the biga mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough comes together. Process about 45 seconds longer to knead. Finish kneading on a well-floured surface until the dough is still sticky but beginning to show signs of being velvety, supple, moist, and springy.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours. The dough should be full of air bubbles, very supple, elastic, and sticky.
3. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces on a well-floured surface. Roll each piece into a cylinder, then stretch each cylinder into a rectangle, pulling with your fingers to get each piece long and wide enough. It should be approximately 10 by 4 inches.
4. Generously flour 4 pieces of parchment paper placed on peels or upside-down baking sheets. Place each loaf, seam side up, on a piece of parchment. Dimple the loaves vigorously with your fingertips or knuckles so that they won’t rise too much. The dough will look heavily pockmarked, but it is very resilient, so don’t be concerned. Cover the loaves loosely with damp towels and let rise until puffy but not doubled, 1 1/2  to 2 hours. The loaves will look flat and definitely unpromising, but don’t give up; they will rise more in the oven.
5. Approximately 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC) and slide your baking stones on the center rack to heat.
6. Just before baking the ciabatta, sprinkle the stones with cornmeal. Carefully invert each loaf onto a stone. If the dough sticks a bit to the parchment, just gently work it free from the paper. If you need to, you can leave the paper and remove it 10 minutes later. Bake for a total of 20 to 25 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Transfer the ciabatta loaves to wire racks to cool.

Notes:

1. If you do not have a baking stone you could invert a cast iron skillet or a griddle and place it in the centre of your oven. It works equally well.

                          
Recipe for Biga

Ingredients

¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup (2 ounces/ 60 grams) warm water
¾ cup plus 4 teaspoons (7 ounces/ 200 grams) water, preferably bottled spring water, at room temperature
2 1/3 cups (11.6 ounces / 330 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
Directions
1. Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, 1 cup at a time. 
If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes. If mixing with a stand mixer, beat with the paddle at the lowest speed for 2 minutes. If mixing with a food processor, mix just until a sticky dough forms.
3. Transfer the biga to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at a cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours. When ready, the starter will be triple its original volume and still be wet and sticky. (The bakers I admire most advise 10 to 11 hours for the first rise, but others are very happy with the 24 hours it takes for dough to truly become yesterday’s dough. If you like sour bread, allow your biga to rest for 24 to 48 hours, or you might even stretch it to 72 hours.) Cover and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. (If refrigerating the biga, use within 5 days. If freezing the biga, let it rest at room temperature for about 3 hours until it is bubbly and active again.) When needed, scoop out the desired amount of biga for your recipe and proceed.
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 !!


Sourdough Bread

With the mercury soaring to 45C, this is the perfect time to try my hands at the temperamental Sourdough !!
The December Challenge for the Daring Bakers was the Sourdough bread which did not work for me. The temperamental starter refused to cooperate and ferment. It felt a little too cold in my December kitchen and I was determined to try it again when the weather changes.
The reward of a summer baker is beautifully risen sour dough starters and yeast fermentations.
I love doing breads in summer. Cakes and rich desserts are more for the winter or the spring !!
So this weekend’s baking was the Sourdough bread.

For those of us who are new to sourdough here’s what it’s all about:
Sourdough bread is essentially bread made without yeast. In comparison with yeast-based breads, it produces a distinctively tangy or sour taste, mainly because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli; the actual medium, known as “starter” or leaven.

Sourdough likely originated in Ancient Egyptian times around 1500 BC and was likely the first form of leavening available to bakers.
Bake along……

Russian Rye Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves and excess rye starter to keep for further baking.
Rye Starter – Day 1:
Ingredients
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total scant ½ cup (110 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
Directions:
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86°F/30°C if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer. It should be a very sloppy, runny dough, which will bubble and grow as it ferments.
Rye Starter – Day 2:

Ingredients
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1/2 cup (110 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant 1 cup (220 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.
Rye Starter – Day 3:

Ingredients
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
scant 1 cup (220 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (330 ml) (9 oz/255 gm)
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place. If you notice it has a grey liquid on top, just stir this back in and continue as normal.

Rye Starter – Day 4:

Ingredients
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 ml) (25 gm/1 oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) water (at 104°F/40°C)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (330 ml) (255 gm/9 oz) starter from Day 3
Total about 1¾ cups (440 ml) (12 oz/340 gm)
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!
Rye Starter, ready for baking.

Russian Rye Bread – Step 1: Production Sourdough


Ingredients
1/4 cup less 2 teaspoons (50 ml) (50 gm/1 ¾ oz) rye leaven (starter)
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) whole (dark) rye flour
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) water
Total 2½ cup (600 ml) (500 gm/17½ oz/1 lb 1½ oz)
Directions:
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. Cover and set aside for 12-24 hours, until bubbling. Set aside the remaining starter for further loaves – see the Notes section for tips!

Russian Rye Bread – Step 2: Final Dough

Ingredients
2 cups (480 ml) (440 gm/15 ½ oz) production sourdough (this should leave some (½ cup) to become your next loaf of bread!)
2 1/3 cups (560 ml) (330 gm/11 ⅔ oz) rye flour (light or whole)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm/.2 oz) sea salt or ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm/.1 oz) table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (200 ml) (200 gm/7 oz) water (at 104°F/40°C)
Total 5 cups plus 3 tablespoons (1245 ml) (975 gm/2 lb 2⅓ oz)

Directions:
1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. With wet hands, scoop the dough up and put it in a well-greased loaf tin.
 2. Put the tin inside a large plastic bag, blow it up, and seal it. This should make a good little dome for your bread to proof inside. Set aside somewhere room temperature to warm.
3. The dough should be ready to bake with in anywhere between 2-8 hours, depending on how warm it is. I proof mine by a sunny window in about 4 hours. If the dough was halfway up the tin when you started, it will be ready when it reaches the top (i.e. almost doubles in size).
4. Preheat the oven to very hot 470°F/240°C/gas mark 9. For a large loaf, bake for 50-60 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after about 10-15 minutes. If baking in small loaf tins, bake for 35-45 minutes, reducing the temperature after 10 minutes. If you are unsure about whether it is done, give it a few minutes longer – it is a very wet dough, so the extra time won’t hurt.
5. Leave to cool on a cooling rack, and rest the loaf for a day before eating it.

Happy Baking !!

Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah Bread | Daring Baker’s Challenge May 2012

“Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz”
(Blessed are you, LORD, Sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth)

May’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was pretty twisted – Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to make challah!  Using recipes from all over, and tips from “A Taste of Challah,” by Tamar Ansh, she encouraged us to bake beautifully braided breads.

I’d missed out on the last few Daring Baker’s Challenges, so this month I was determined to take one … especially when it’s a beautiful bread.
Challah is a traditional Jewish bread baked on special occasions like the Sabbath. Baked with eggs, the bread gets a beautiful texture and is usually a braided bread. These could be three , four or six strand braids.
I worked with 3 strands since I was trying my hands on a braided bread for the first time.

I still remember the taste of the first ever home baked bread I had every eaten. I was 11 yrs old and  our neighbour, a young twenty something South Indian boy used to bake this absolutely delicious out-of-this-world braided bread. That aroma I’ve never smelt ever again…..so unique so delicious so appetizing.
If you are someone like me who is braiding a bread for the first time, the links at the bottom of the post will come in handy to learn braiding.

Ruth’s “Go-To” Whole Wheat Challah
(adapted from D’s Whole Wheat Challah)
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 4-6 hours
Ingredients
2 (.25 oz.) packages (4½ teaspoons) (22½ ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (100°F/38°C)
½ cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3½ oz) brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup (one stick) (120 ml) (115 gm/4 oz) margarine or unsalted butter – room temperature
2 tsp. (10 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) salts 
3 large eggs
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) whole wheat flour
2 cups (480 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (120 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) rolled oats (Old Fashioned work just fine!)
Additional flour for kneading (½ to 1 cup) (120 to 240 ml) (70 to 140 gm) (2½ to 5 oz)
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water for glaze
Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until creamy/foamy.
2. With paddle attachment beat 3 eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and oats into the yeast mixture. Or, if mixing by hand (ok, spoon), combine eggs and margarine/butter with yeast mixture until well mixed. Add flours and oats and mix until it becomes difficult to mix.
3. Once combined, switch to the dough hook and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding flour as/if needed. If kneading by hand, this should take about 10-12 minutes.
4. Form dough into a round, compact ball. Turn in oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen/tea towel. Let rise in warm area (I put it in the oven with the light on) until doubled, approx. 2 hours.
5. Once dough has doubled, punch down. Recover with towel, allow to rise again for an hour, but even 30 minutes will be fine if you’re in a hurry.
6. Punch the dough down again, divide in two.
7. Shape each half as desired (3, 4 or 6 strand braid, rolls, etc.). Place shaped loaves onto parchment covered baking trays. Cover with the towel and allow to rise another hour.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash. (Sprinkle with vanilla sugar/sesame seeds/poppy seeds/other topping here if desired)
10. Bake 30 to 40 min. until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11. Transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool before serving.

http://s1075.photobucket.com/albums/w440/tinkrsh/challah%20braiding/?action=view&current=020.mp4

http://s1075.photobucket.com/albums/w440/tinkrsh/challah%20braiding/?action=view&current=023.mp4

http://s1075.photobucket.com/albums/w440/tinkrsh/challah%20braiding/?action=view&current=035.mp4

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.