Saturday, February 28, 2015

BBB makes Kouign Amann


These are amazing little bites of crispy, buttery, chewy pastry goodness.  I've had Kouign amann on my radar ever since a relative emailed me a picture of one from a bakery, asking if I could make it.  It looked wonderful!  So when I saw that the Bread Baking Babes were making them for this month's challenge, I knew I had to find time to bake along as a buddy.

I had pinned a recipe and video from chefsteps about "queen" "ah-mahn" a while ago and I did make very slight adjustments to the recipe based on that and other bakery renditions I've seen.  I used mostly spelt, but added 100g of regular all purpose flour for strength.  I hoped to maintain the open flakiness that way.  I also reduced the water by 25 ml to account for the use of spelt and increased the dough butter by 10g.  Finally, I added just 15g sugar.  That was only a quarter of the sugar used in the video dough, but there was none in the BBB recipe.  I figured with all the sugar sprinkled and rolled in, not too much should be in the dough but I did want to feed the yeast a bit extra for optimal rise.  For the butter block, I did add a tiny bit of flour since I didn't use european butter and could have been concerned about moisture content.  I also added just a bit of sugar and salt as shown in the video recipe though not nearly as much as they did.  Just to really get that salted caramel flavor and crisp.  I ended up using about ½ tbsp flour, 25g sugar and 1.5g salt mixed together.  I sprinkled it on top of the butter block and bashed and folded it in as I formed the block until it was mixed and nicely pliable.

Laminating dough is a challenge, I will admit.  My croissants turned out pretty good last time, but I still had butter bleeding out on any turn over two.  The same happened here.  But they still turned out wonderful.  I highly advise putting a sheet pan under the muffin tray to catch any butter oil and sugar that boils over the edges.  Otherwise you will have a very smoky house.  Not that this has ever happened to me...  Snicker, snicker.  I think refining my laminating will help reduce that effect and get these even crispier when done.  I'm also thinking the butter block doesn't need the salt and sugar if you are rolling out on the salt/sugar mixture.  The pastries are plenty buttery and sugary and delectable as it is!


For an example of beautiful lamination and supreme flakiness, check out the host kitchen's post at Notitie Van Lien.  Here is the recipe as posted on her blog.  Next time I make these I will do a plain butter block as indicated for the BBB recipe but I will still do a sugar/salt sprinkle for the final fold.  That little bit of saltiness is sensational.

Kouign Amann 
makes 12 pastries

300-340 g strong plain flour (plus extra for dusting when rolling)
5 g fast-action yeast
¾ tsp salt
200 ml warm water
25 g unsalted butter, melted
250 g cold unsalted butter, in a block
100 g caster sugar for sprinkling on the dough (the final fold just before rolling it out and after it’s been rolled out - not between the other layers), plus extra for sprinkling on top

1. Put the flour (start with 300g) into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the water and melted butter and mix on a slow speed for two minutes, then on a medium speed for six minutes. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be soft but not sticky (so don’t add too much).

2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Put into a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour

3. Sandwich the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin, then roll out to a 14 cm square. Place in the fridge to keep chilled.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20 cm square.  Place the butter in the center of the dough diagonally, so that each side of butter faces a corner of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter to enclose like an envelope.



5. Roll the dough into a 45x15 cm rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough up over the middle, then fold the top third of the dough over. You will now have a sandwich of three layers of butter and three layers of dough. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. This completes one turn.


6. Repeat this process twice more, so you have completed a total of three turns, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between turns.

7. Roll the dough into a rectangle as before. Sprinkle the dough with the caster sugar and fold into thirds again. Working quickly, roll the dough into a large 40x30 cm rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with caster sugar and cut the dough into 12 squares.

8. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter. Gather the dough squares up by their four corners and place in the muffin tins, pulling the four corners towards the centre of the muffin tin, so that it gathers up like a four-leaf clover. Press these corners well together, they can open up when unattached to eachother. Sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to rise (room temperature), covered with a clean tea towel, for 30 minutes until slightly puffed up.

 I rolled my dough out on a sugar/salt mixture.  Both sides.
 
 I also buttered the tin and used the sugar/salt mixture to "flour" it.

9. Preheat oven to 220ºC.  Bake the pastries for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil halfway through if beginning to brown too much (and they will). Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful not to burn yourself on the caramelized sugar, but don’t leave them to cool for too long, or the caramelized sugar will harden and they will be stuck in the tin. Serve warm or cold. Warm is best!

If you don’t want to eat them all in want go (or just if you want to, but shouldn’t), bag and freeze them. Before you eat them: Defrost them and place them in a warm oven (180ºC) for about 4-6 minutes or until warm, they will crisp up again.

(slightly adapted from: Paul Hollywood – BBC “The Great British Bake Off” http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/kouign_amann_09102)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Northwest Salmon Soup


This recipe comes courtesy of a special magazine publication by Better Homes and Garden, Soups & Stews, 2014 second printing.  I couldn't find any copy of the recipe online and this turned out exceptional so I simply had to share it.  I have made a number of the recipes in the magazine and been very pleased.  This is a beautifully simple soup, not heavy but nicely warming.  Hubby commented that it would be a wonderful summer soup, he loved the addition of the kale, and he would welcome seeing the soup again any time.  The girls both asked for seconds and thirds.  I must say, the smell of onions sauteing with paprika is delightful.  We will definitely be seeing this healthful soup at our table again!

Northwest Salmon Soup
barely adapted from BHG
serves 4

12 oz. fresh or frozen salmon fillets, thawed
2 tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth (32 oz.)
2 cups chopped fresh kale or baby kale
2 cups chopped Yukon gold potatoes or new red potatoes
½ cup shredded carrot, about 1 medium
1 tbsp snipped fresh dill
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Optional toppings:
sour cream
kettle chips
fresh dill
salmon roe

Remove skin and bones from salmon if necessary.  Cut into 1" pieces and set aside.  In a large sauce pot, melt butter over med-low heat.  Add onion and cook for 10-12 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.  Season lightly with salt and pepper while cooking.  Increase heat and brown onions until just golden.  Stir in paprika and pepper.

Stir in chicken broth, kale, potatoes and carrot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Add the salmon and dill.  Cook, uncovered for about 3 minutes until salmon flakes easily.

Top with desired garnishes and serve hot.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Egg salad for one or two


I love egg salad sandwiches.  Normally however, I can't eat but one half of a sandwich.  Especially the larger kind you might find at a coffee shop.  My youngest girl and I usually split one of those since we both really like the egg salad from Tully's.  Growing up, my mom made egg sandwiches.  Not egg salad, just egg.  They consisted of bread lightly spread with mayo and layered with plain, sliced hard boiled eggs lightly salted and peppered.  They were fine sandwiches for school lunches and such, but now I really prefer the egg salad.  I came up with this mixture based off the profile of the coffee house sandwich we like.  Mildly seasoned with just a tiny bit of crunch.  And just enough to feed my daughter and I since Daddy doesn't like eggs and my eldest would prefer tuna salad.  I recently started steaming my hard cooked eggs and I have never had farm eggs peel this beautifully!

Egg Salad for One Sandwich

2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
2 tsp mayonnaise
1 tsp sour cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp finely chopped celery
scant 1/8 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dill relish
pinch fresh ground pepper
pinch dill weed
fresh chives, optional

2 pieces sandwich bread
lettuce leaf, optional

Gently combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.  Chill if desired, to blend flavors.  Serve on sandwich or sourdough bread and add a piece of lettuce to your sandwich if desired.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Chili Everyone Liked!



I have been trying different chili recipes for the last 15 years.  I have had some really good ones, some flops, and some mixed reviews, but never a 100% everyone loved it winner.  I finally found a chili that the whole family liked and demanded that there be leftovers for work and school lunches.  This was such a great response that I felt I needed to share the recipe.  It does call for one can of Ranchero beans, and I was going to try it again without those to see if it would still hold up.  Darling hubby told me not to mess with a good thing.  I think the Ranch style beans are pretty universal if it says Ranch beans or Ranchero, they should be pretty similar.  Generally it tends to be pinto beans with some tomato, cumin, chili, oregano and garlic spices.  I found the 365 organic brand on sale at Whole Foods and used that.  The chili has a little heat, but not too much for the kiddos.  My eldest had it three days in a row for four meals!
Last time I had to make a double batch to have some to freeze...  I still only ended up with three servings in the freezer!

Universally Likeable Chili
Serves 6

1-1½ lb ground beef or stew meat
1 large onion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped (any sweet pepper should work fine)
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz) Ranchero beans, undrained
1 can (15 oz) Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth or water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp Southwest seasoning (I used Penzey's SW seasoning, or more chili powder is fine.)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (My favorite is Tuscan Sunset, also by Penzey's)
1 tsp parsely
1-2 tsp sea salt to taste
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Cook beef, onion and pepper in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add garlic after beef starts to brown.  Cook and stir until beef is fully browned and veggies are tender.  Drain fat if necessary.  Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth or water, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Simmer for 30 minutes for ground beef, or an hour or more for stew meat.  Stir occasionally until the meat is tender.

Serve with taco chips or crackers on the side and top with sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, fresh chopped chives, green onions or cilantro, or whatever is your favorite chili topping.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Apricot Cream Cheese Flower Loaf


It's been a while since I've been able to bake along with the BBBabes as a buddy, but I am so glad I found the time this month!  If you want a really spectacular bread to share with guests for Christmas or whatever special occasion you like, I highly recommend this one.  You may have seen it going around blogs recently or pinned as a Nutella Flower or Star.  Check out Bread Experience for the hosting kitchen's post.  Those flowers really are quite stunning.  Now, I do love Nutella, but for this time I decided the recipe would lend itself very well to a special breakfast bread, so I chose an apricot and cream cheese filling.  The scraps baked up so deliciously with a little dollop of each filling, that I will make it that way always.  I can get my Nutella straight from the jar.  Oops, did I write that out loud?  Don't tell.
In addition to the change in filling, I made the wonderful brioche dough just a touch less rich, with one less egg and two tablespoons less butter.  It turned out perfect for my taste, rich and light, but with a tiny bit of chew left.  I think it will keep longer as well.  Toward that end I also added a tablespoon of potato flakes to the sponge.  Potato enhances moistness and shelf life of bread.  Here is a picture of the loaf without the glaze, so you can see the beautiful effect of the twists in the flower shaping.  It's really not that difficult and so worth the extra time it takes.  No more work than making cinnamon rolls and just as delicious if not even more impressive.  You could definitely do a cinnamon filling for a giant cinnamon flower bun too!


Here is the recipe, I am including the fillings that I used, but bear in mind that it will make more filling than you will need by almost half again as much.  They were something I used last year in a delicious babka recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.

Filled Brioche Flower
makes 1 large flower loaf

Adapted from:
Nutella Brioche Flower by thebreadkitchen.com and
Poor Man’s Brioche from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart


For the sponge:
½ cup (2.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
½ cup (4 ounces) whole milk, lukewarm (90-100º F)

For the dough:
3 large eggs, slightly beaten I used 2 eggs
3 cups (13.75 ounces) all-purpose flour I used 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup light spelt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted I used 6 tbsp
1-2 teaspoons milk, if necessary to form a smooth dough

For the filling and glaze:
Nutella or similar hazelnut chocolate paste for the filling
1 tablespoon milk plus 1 tablespoon water for glaze
Icing (confectioner's) sugar

Apricot filling:
1½ cups dried apricots
½ cup orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 scant tbsp sugar (more than the original for this recipe)

Cream cheese filling:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a large bowl or stand mixer.  Pour in the milk and whisk or mix with the paddle until all of the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 30-45 minutes, or until the sponge has risen and falls when you tap the bowl.

To make the dough, add the eggs to the sponge and whisk (or beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment) until smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add to the sponge mixture and stir (or continue mixing with the paddle on low speed for about 2 minutes) until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to let the flour hydrate and begin to develop the gluten. Then mix in the melted butter by hand, using a wooden spoon, Danish dough whisk or with the mixer on medium speed using the dough hook. Add in a couple teaspoons of milk or water if the dough is too dry.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. It shouldn't be too sticky to handle.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in a clean bowl. The butter should keep the dough from sticking to the bowl. Let the dough proof in a warm place (70-75º F) for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, make the fillings if not using an already prepared filling.

To make the Apricot Filling: Combine dried apricots, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apricots are softened and liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  When cool, transfer mixture to a food processor and process until a puree forms. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

To make the Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and lump-free. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and salt.  Stir to combine.  Cover and set aside at room temperature.


Meanwhile, cut out a circle of parchment paper about 30 cm (12″) in diameter. Place the paper on a baking sheet.  I used a pizza pan, upside down, and parchment.

To shape the flower, turn the dough out onto a surface, punch it down and knead for 3-4 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each piece into a ball.

Roll a ball of dough out into a circle measuring about 25 cm (10″) in diameter. The dough should be about 3-4 mm (1/8″) thick.  I went about a ½" larger to have some room for trimming.

Place the dough onto the baking paper and use an offset spatula to spread on a layer of Nutella or other filling, leaving a small gap at the edge. Don’t make the layer too thick but be sure to evenly cover the dough.


Roll out a second ball of dough, place it on the first layer and spread with Nutella.  Repeat with the third and fourth balls of dough but do NOT spread filling on the final layerI used apricot for the firsst layer, cream cheese for the second and apricot for the third.


At this point, you may want to trim the edges for an even circle.  Cut the brioche into 16 segments but leave a small (3 cm/1½”) area in the center of the dough uncut.  Use a small glass or ramekin to mark that area in the center to prevent cutting into it.  Mine was more like 3 inches.

Take a pair of adjacent segments. Lift and twist them away from each other through 180°. Lift and twist through 180° again, then twist through 90° so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process for all pairs of segments.  This blog has a beautiful picture of the finished Nutella loaf but more importantly, an excellent video showing the twisting technique at the end if you need a visual.  The Bread Kitchen


Place the flower in a large plastic bag or cover with lightly oiled film. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours to rise.

Brush with the milk glaze then bake at 160°C/320°F fan oven, 180°C/360°F conventional oven for 20-25 minutes.  I baked mine at 375ºF for 15 minutes, then turned it down to 325º and baked it another 5 minutes.

Place the bread on a wire rack to cool. Once cooled, dust lightly with icing sugar, if desired.  I made a powdered sugar glaze with a touch of vanilla for my flower.


Let cool completely before cutting.  Reheat after cooling if you want to eat it warm.  Enjoy that burst of fruity creamy filling!


I am submitting this loaf for yeastspotting!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Festive Yule Wreath


'Tis the season for baking, and what a wonderful recipe to use to catch up on a BBB post that I missed in 2008.  For beautiful step by step instructions, go to Sweet and That's It to see the most recent post.  The BBB originally baked this beautiful bread in December of 2008.  I used a mix of all purpose and spelt flour for my wreath and found that the wonderfully soft and delicate dough didn't show off the interior rings like the other loaves that I have seen.  Still, I love how it turned out.  For the almond paste, I made a half batch of homemade, which was still double what I needed.  I also added a tiny bit of butter/sugar brush for crunch and sparkle, and sliced almonds before baking.  Actually, when I look closer, it is that sugar topping mixture that has puffed during baking and is obscuring the filling rings, along with the almonds.  Oh well, it's still beautiful and I can't wait to dig into this almond filled pastry!

Yule Wreath
makes 1 almond ring loaf

Dough:
1 package active dry yeast (7 g)
¼ cup (60 ml) lukewarm water (100°F/37°C)
¾ cup (180 ml) lukewarm milk
¼ cup (50 g) sugar I added ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
¼ cup (55 g) butter, softened
1 large egg at room temperature
About 10-15 cardamom pods (optional) I used a heaping tsp of cardamom seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (if you do not use the pods, use ½ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon salt
3¼ to 3½ (455 g – 490 g) all-purpose flour I used 2 c all purpose and 1½c + 1 tbsp light spelt

Almond filling:
½ cup (125 g) almond paste (or make your own: In a food processor finely grind 8 oz (225 g) blanched almonds. Process in 8 oz (225 g) powdered sugar. Then knead in 1 egg white. Store in the refrigerator.
¼ cup (60 g) packed brown sugar (I used 30 g light brown and 30 g dark brown sugar)
¼ cup (55 g) softened butter

Glaze: 
1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon hot water (helps the sugar clumps dissolve!)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract I used almond extract

Dough:

Open the cardamom pods and remove the seeds.  Lightly crush them and add them to the milk.  Warm it up just below boiling point.  Cool to lukewarm (about 100°F – 37°C) and strain the seeds out: you don't want the crunchy seeds in your dough.

In the bowl of your mixer (or in a large bowl), dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the milk, sugar, softened butter, egg, ground cardamom and 2 cups of flour (280 g).  Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth and then mix in the salt.

Change the paddle to the dough hook.  A little at a time, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth dough.  Knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease all around. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 60-90 minutes.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling:
Mix together the almond paste, brown sugar, and softened butter until smooth.

Shaping and Baking:

When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle of about 15 x 9-inches (38x22cm).  Gently spread the filling over the dough leaving ¼-inch border (6 mm) all the way around.

Roll up tightly, beginning at the wide side. Pinch the edges to seal well. Stretch the roll to make it even, and with sealed side down, shape into a ring on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. Pinch ends together to complete ring.

With scissors, kitchen shears or a sharp knife, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1-inch intervals (2.5 cm). Then turn each section on its side (90 degree turn), to show off the pretty swirled filling.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 40-50 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350°F (175C°).

Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. (If it browns too quickly, cover loosely with parchment paper or foil).

While the wreath is baking, prepare the glaze.  Keep it well covered or it will dry out.

Once the wreath is baked, carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool down.  Drizzle with glaze and decorate as you wish with nuts, dried fruits, marzipan fruits, sprinkles, or whatever you like.


I am submitting this loaf to Yeastspotting!

Back to the Future, Buddies
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