Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BBB - Romanian Easter Buns



This month the Bread Baking Babes went with an Easter themed bread, although it can also be found at other special occasions.  The original recipe was for a filled braid but I was struck by how much the dough reminded me of a previous BBB recipe: Ensaïmadas.  Those were such a treat that I decided to try to combine the two ideas and recipes, ending up with a filled, coiled bun instead of a braid.  And then I saw in the host kitchen's post that the Romanian version is sometimes shaped as a large coil.  Perfect.  I used only part spelt this time to ensure my dough could handle being rolled out so thin with filling.  Here is the recipe with my changes in red.


Romanian Easter Bread
makes 1 loaf or 12 large buns

3½-4 cups flour (500 g half all purpose, half white spelt + ¼ cup to make workable + 1 spoonful sourdough starter)
1½ tsp active dry yeast (2 tsp instant)
½ tsp grated fresh lemon zest
2/3 cup milk (200 ml milk, scalded)
4 tbsp unsalted butter (2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp olive oil)
¼ cup sugar (50 g)
½ tsp salt (1 tsp salt - and I would recommend that amount)
2 eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup water (105 g water)
1/3 cup sugar (195 g light brown muscovado sugar)
1 cup finely ground almonds (or walnuts, poppy seeds, etc) (300 g ground pecans)
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (or use orange zest) (¾ tsp fresh lemon zest)
½ teaspoon cinnamon (1½ tsp cinnamon)

Glaze:
1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp milk (omitted - used a powdered sugar drizzle instead)

Combine flour and yeast in a bowl or stand mixer.  Scald the milk and add in the butter, sugar, salt and zest.  Mix until butter is melted and let cool to lukewarm.  Add cooled milk mixture and eggs to flour to combine.  Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth.  (Spelt requires less time.)  Cover dough and allow to rise until double, about an hour.  Punch dough down and divide into three (12) pieces.  Roll each into a 7x16" rectangle.  Spread each with a third of the filling, leaving a margin around the edges and roll up as for cinnamon rolls on the long side.  Seal edges and ends and braid the rolls together.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.


For buns, shape each of the 12 pieces into a ball and let rest for 30 minutes.  Flatten them and then proceed to rolling.


Roll each ball into a long, flat oval and spread with filling.  I used 2½ tbsp per roll and spread each with ½ tsp softened butter before the filling as well.


Roll up from the long side so the rope will be long enough to coil around.


Pinch the edges to seal.


Set aside as you continue to fill and roll.


Coil and place the buns on two parchment lined baking sheets.

Preheat oven to 365ºF.

Allow buns to rise until puffy and almost double.  Brush on glaze before baking if using a glaze.

Bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown.  (Bake braided loaf for 40 minutes)


Cool on wire rack.


Make a simple powdered sugar glaze with a cup of powdered sugar and 1-2 tbsp of milk to thin to desired consistency.


Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins - Quickbread Style


I already had a recipe for blueberry muffins that the family loved.  But I just came into possession of a new sourdough starter with roots going back to the gold rush.  And it is already doing wonderful!  I really wanted to keep it happy since it perked up so quickly after I received it.  It hadn't been fed for two months and still was doing amazingly great.  So I have been on a mission to use it and keep it happy.  We did a batch of our favorite chocolate waffles, added a bit to a loaf of granary bread to get the consistency perfect, and then I decided to try a muffin recipe.  Now while my kids love sourdough, I don't really prefer noticeable sour flavor in certain baked goods.  Since this recipe only made a few muffins, I thought it was a perfect trial.  I was very pleased with it, even before baking them.  I used tall muffin cups and got 6 huge muffins.  For standard baking cups or an unlined tin, I would suggest making 8 muffins.  There is no sour flavor since the sourdough just acts as the acidic activator for the leavening.  It's just like a quick bread.  They have great texture and an awesome crust.  Sublime with butter spread inside but delicious plain as well.


Sourdough Blueberry Muffins
makes 6-8 muffins

1 cup sourdough starter (fed recently)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup light spelt flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup sugar
½ cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400ºF.  Combine the sourdough starter, egg, vanilla and butter until fully mixed.  In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients, then toss in the blueberries.  Mix the dry ingredients with blueberries quickly and carefully into the wet mixture, taking care not to over mix.  Scoop batter into lined muffin cups.  Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown and done.

Eat them warm, eat them cool, add butter or not.  Just enjoy!  And keep your starter happy!


Friday, April 3, 2015

Brown eggs and natural dyes? Yes you can!


A couple years ago I did a post about natural Easter egg dyes.  They turned out great and only took a few hours of prep and soaking combined.  This week, a friend asked if the technique would work with brown eggs.  Good question.  I thought it would and since we always get pastured brown eggs from the farmer I figured I would try it out.  So here are my notes for doing brown eggs.

The method is the same.  Four cups of foodstuff chopped up (I used my food processor) into a quart of water, 3 tbsp for the turmeric which is dried spice.  Onion skins go a long way so you might even get away with 2 cups especially with the brown eggs.
Red/Pink:  Beets
Orange:  Yellow Onion skins
Yellow:  Turmeric
Green:  Red Cabbage + Turmeric
Blue:  Red Cabbage (For more navy blue tones, add blueberries)
Violet:  Red Cabbage + Beets

To make the dyes, use 4 cups of chopped or grated (beets, cabbage, onion skins) with one quart of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  Turmeric is 3 tbsp powdered spice per quart.  Bring to a boil, then cover and keep at a hard simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain the dye into a bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon of salt.  Let cool until not steaming, then soak your hard boiled eggs for 30 minutes in the dye.  For all colors except red, rinse and set on a napkin to dry.  The colors will intensify somewhat when dry.
One thing I added this year, mostly because they were freezer burned because R left them uncovered in a bowl in there for weeks, was ¾ cup frozen blueberries to the red cabbage mixture.  I wanted to boost the blue a bit for brown egg dying.

Big Tip #1:  Heated dye works better.

Big Tip #2:  Multiple coats are your friend for the reds.

So for the red/pink, I did the normal 30 minute soak and then took them out carefully to set on a napkin to dry.  Really, additional coats after that can just be dipped in to get the best coverage and set to dry again.  There will be a prettier side and a not so pretty side.  I reheated the dye when it cooled off and did a few more coats.  I think there were at least 10 dunks to get what you see in the picture, but it only takes a second to dunk and set out.  Remember not to rinse the reds or purples.

For the orange, I had enough dry onion skins to fill a 2 Qt pan.  Those eggs I only soaked for 10-15 minutes since the dye looked very concentrated.  You will want to check on them every 5 minutes or so after 10 minutes.

The yellow also only soaked for about 15 minutes.  These eggs you will want to rinse since the turmeric leaves a powdery residue.  Be careful!  Turmeric stains big time.

The green turned out a little different because I didn't mix the dyes like last time, I did a double soak.  First in blue, then in yellow.  I think I like the mix better, but I still got some nice mossy greens.  Those two eggs were different browns, the one in front a very light brown.  The one in back really took the blue dye more.

Blue was an easy and straight forward soak.  I gave it another 15 minutes with reheated dye to get them nice and saturated with color.

Lastly were the purples.  Starting with a nice saturated blue soak, then a shorter soak in the red and a few extra coats of red added on to dry.  Same technique as for the plain red.  No rinsing when done.

I think the brown eggs turned out great and actually look almost the same as the white eggs with natural dyes.  Perhaps a smidge darker and more of a saturated color effect.  They did take a little bit more time to get the results I wanted.  But I didn't have to worry about getting eggs I wouldn't normally buy.  So there you go.  If you want to try brown eggs for dying, it works just fine!


Oh yes, here are the eggs straight from the farm.  Occasionally there are some that are a bit lighter and I tried to choose the lightest ones for the green.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guilt Free Chocolate Pudding - No cook


The search continues for a cooked, corn starch free pudding.  But in the mean time, I found this amazing recipe in Danielle Walker's Against All Grain meals made simple cookbook.  It is a beautiful cookbook with large glossy photos and appealing recipes, not to mention make ahead options, nutrition facts and grocery lists.  She also has some great chocolate custard style pudding and fudgesicle recipes on her website that are cooked egg custard style.  S and I loved them but they were too rich and dark for R.  But this recipe, this uncooked, almost sugar free recipe is fantastic.  I can say yes to this treat any time without feeling like I am giving the kids something unhealthful.  It is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  Heads up, you really need a high speed blender to get this super silky smooth like regular pudding.  Otherwise the chia seeds can leave a little bit of gritty texture.  In the original recipe, the only sweetening is from pitted dates.  And it is great just that way too, but I found that I liked the roundness that just a tablespoon of maple syrup gave to the flavor.  Even my picky hubby thought the taste and texture was just about perfect.  Now that is a win!

Healthful No Cook Chocolate Pudding
serves 4-6

1 can (13.66 oz) coconut milk 
½ cup hot water
4.5 oz pitted dates (I used Medjool; Deglet Noor, which are smaller, would be around 18 dates)
½ cup raw cacao powder (I used fair trade cocoa powder)
¼ cup chia seeds
1 tbsp melted coconut oil (the mix gets hot enough you don't have to have it melted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional addition not in original recipe)
¼ tsp sea salt
dark chocolate shavings, coconut flakes or berries for garnish

Put everything in a high speed blender and process at high speed until completely smooth.  Danielle says for about 45 seconds but I let it go a couple minutes to get ultra smooth.

Pour/scoop into serving dishes, cover and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.

 This is straight out of the blender and still warm and you can see how thick it is already.

Garnish with chocolate shavings or berries if desired.

Or get fancy and pipe it into a fancy serving goblet.  Garnish optional.

This mixture also makes fabulous fudgesicles!

Freeze overnight in dixie cups or a popsicle mold and enjoy!  My kids like peeling off the dixie cup paper.


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