Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The BBB Steam up some Bao Buns

Our challenge bread for this month is a classic, light and fluffy dim sum bread known as a Bao bun, or Gua Bao.  To be quite honest, straight out of the steamer basket, they smell like Wonder bread!  But so much better.  They are typically filled with some sort of barbecued pork and picked vegetable mixture.  I think they would be absolutely wonderful that way and do check out the other posts to see versions like that.  I muddied the waters and crossed borders by using a Moroccan Tagine inspired filling.  And it was delicious too!  These buns are seriously soft, light, fluffy, and a pleasure to snack on.  I did make a few changes because, having had steamed buns before, I know I prefer them less sweet.  So I went with just a slightly different recipe.  Not too different, just less sugar, a pinch of salt, and the addition of some rice vinegar, which I find very appropriate for a Char Sui filling.

We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished buns to Karen's Kitchen Stories by the 29th of this month. You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month. New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Just a tip, if you happen to order a steamer just for a recipe like this, give it a run through before you use it the first time to actually steam something.  The bamboo will have a strong aroma the first time!  So before using for the first time: Wash all pieces with hot soapy water, rinse well and then soak in hot water for 30 minutes. After soaking, steam all baskets and lid for about 30 minutes (while empty).

Steamed Bao Buns
(original recipe) makes 9-10 buns

2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup (70 grams) sugar
4 grams instant or active dry yeast
½ cup (120 grams) water, about 100 degrees
1 teaspoon neutral oil

The altered recipe I used: 
also makes 9-10 buns

260g all purpose flour
1 tbsp fine sugar
½ tsp instant yeast
¼ tsp salt
25 ml milk (1 tbsp + 2 tsp)
110 ml water
½ tbsp sun-coco oil
½ tbsp rice vinegar
½ tsp baking powder

Mix together 260g plain flour, yeast, 1 tbsp sugar and ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl.

Add 25ml milk, ½ tbsp sunflower oil, ½ tbsp rice vinegar and 100ml water to the flour. Mix into a dough, adding a little extra water if needed.

On a lightly floured work surface, knead for 10-15 mins or until smooth.  (You may, of course, use a mixer.)  Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover to rise for 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Cut out 10 parchment squares to line the steamer basket.  Lettuce leaves may also be used to prevent sticking.

Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured work surface and punch it down.  Flatten dough with your hands, sprinkle over the ½ tsp baking powder and knead in for 5 mins to combine.

Divide the dough into 9 or 10 pieces of about 50 grams each.

Roll each piece of dough into a ball and leave to rest for 2-3 mins.

Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into an oval shape about 3-4mm thick.  Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and place on a parchment square.

Transfer buns to a baking tray, cover with a clean tea towel or lightly oiled cling film and leave to prove in a warm place for about 30-45 mins, or until puffy and increased in size.

Bring a pan or wok of water to a steady boil (just slightly more than simmering) and fit your pan or wok with a steamer, bamboo basket, or steaming rack just above the water. Place the buns in the steamer, cover, and steam for 12 minutes. (you may need to do this in batches).  Four was okay for mine, five was too crowded, three would have been ideal.  The top level seemed to steam better than the bottom due to less crowding.  TIP: turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes in the steamer before uncovering to prevent wrinkly buns!

Cool slightly, then fill with your desired filling and enjoy!

You can freeze leftover buns. They may either be thawed and re-steamed for 3 minutes, or wrap one in a damp paper towel and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.  Delicious!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition per plain bun for a yield of nine buns:

Sunday, September 16, 2018

BBB Bakes Filipino Spanish Bread Rolls

Our host kitchen this month chose a popular breakfast and afternoon snack bread in the Philippines, Spanish bread rolls.  They make use of breadcrumbs, both in the filling and topping with the option of using either melted butter and a filling sprinkle, or creaming the butter and filling ingredients together depending on which recipe you find.  I happily used up some remaining slices of sprouted sourdough bread I found in the freezer to make my crumbs and they were delicious!  It makes 16 rolls, which you can roll up in the traditional oblong jelly-roll fashion, or a more contemporary crescent roll style.  My crescents were so happy that most of them unrolled during baking!  There were a few that kept some of their curls.

The rolls freeze beautifully, but you can make a half batch if you want.  We have been reheating them for school morning breakfasts and only have a couple left.  It's a very rich dough, like a brioche, and so they are very satisfying.  Evidently, cinnamon is not a traditional addition, the normal filling being just sugar and butter and breadcrumbs.  But we absolutely love cinnamon, so we did add just a touch to the filling.  We threw around the idea of savory versions of these, with a pesto or tapenade, or sundried tomato and feta type filling as well!

We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to My Diverse Kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Filipino Spanish Bread Rolls
Makes 16 rolls

For the Dough :
2 tsp instant yeast
3½ cups all-purpose flour (I used 100g each fresh ground sprouted white wheat and sprouted spelt and the rest all purpose flour 230g) (Sifted off 10g of bran)
1/3 cup sugar (I used ¼ cup, half sugar, half erythritol)
1 tsp salt
½ cup milk, scalded, cooled to lukewarm
½ cup unsalted butter, melted (I would probably use less next time)
2 eggs

For the Filling :
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (I used ¼ cup, softened + 2 tbsp avocado oil)
½ cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup sugar (brown sugar)
2 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)

For Coating :
A little milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup sugar

Method :

You can knead the dough by hand or machine.  Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.  Add the milk, melted butter, eggs and yeast mixture and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough. You may add a little more of flour or milk if you need it to achieve desired consistency of dough.  You know your dough has been kneaded enough when you can make a windowpane out of your dough.  (I gave mine a few folds while proofing as well.)

Cover loosely and let the dough rest for about 2 to 3 hours until it has doubled in volume.  Press down the dough gently and divide into two equal parts.

There are two ways of shaping Filipino Spanish Bread.  One is to roll out each portion into a round and spread with filling.  Then cut each circle into 8 triangles like a pizza and roll up croissant style.  The other is a more traditional way.  Divide each half of the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each piece into roughly a 3- by 5-inch rectangle.  Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and sugar (or cinnamon sugar if you prefer).  (Or use the creamed butter filling option.)  Roll the piece as you would a jelly roll, except starting from one corner and rolling towards the opposite corner.

If you don't want to roll out the pieces individually, roll each half the dough into a largish rectangle about 10” x 12”.  Brush the surface generously and completely with melted butter.  Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs and the cinnamon-sugar mixture over this evenly.   Now cut the dough into half lengthwise and into quarters width-wise to yield 8 rectangles about 5" x 3.

Which ever way you shape your rolls, place the pieces seam side down on a lined or greased baking sheet and pinch the seams so they don't unroll.  Let the shaped rolls rise for 30 minutes.

Brush them with a little milk and sprinkle with more breadcrumbs and sugar. You can also roll the shaped dough in the breadcrumbs and sugar if you like.  (I used plain fresh bread crumbs from an old loaf, no sugar, no milk, they stuck beautifully.  Might add a little sugar as listed next time since the expectation is for that crunchy topping to be sweet according to hubby.  But the kids loved them! ☺) 

Bake until golden brown at 190ºC (375ºF) for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool on a rack.

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition for one roll according to original recipe:

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Breakfast with the BBB - Blueberry Yeast Coffeecake

Join us this month in using the summer bounty of berries in this delicious yeast risen coffee cake chosen by our host kitchen at Judy's Gross Eats.  We are fortunate to be in an area where "U-pick" berry fields are easy to come by, but this rich and delightful coffeecake is easily made with a homemade blueberry jam using frozen blueberries any time of year.  The original recipe is made with a brioche, but I am on a challah dough loving kick right now, and happy enough that it is lovely tasting and not quite so rich as brioche!  I had used the same bucket method for challah recently as is described for the brioche in the original recipe and post and knew it would work beautifully.  If it will make awesome sticky buns, it will make brilliant coffeecake!

Since this recipe makes enough dough for 3-4 batches, consider trying out something else, like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, or sweet rolls of some sort.  You can cut down to a quarter batch with the challah dough easily for just a single coffeecake since the eggs split up nicely that way.  Feel free to use the original brioche from our host kitchen's post, or the challah listed here.  They are both the same method and super easy, since you basically throw it in a bucket, barely mix up, and leave it overnight to be ready in the morning!  I think I over-baked mine by 5 minutes because I wasn't sure it was done due to the center rise differential, and it was still delicious!  My daughter's friend happily gobbled up two pieces.  Hubby and youngest loved it as well.

We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to the host kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Yeasted Blueberry Coffee Cake

Challah Dough:
makes enough for 3-4 cakes
Lukewarm water:  1¾ cups/14 oz./400 grams
Granulated yeast:  1 tbsp/.35 oz./10 grams
Kosher salt:  1-1½ tbsp/.6-.9 oz./17-25 grams
Large eggs, lightly beaten:  4/8 oz./225 grams
Honey:  ½ cup/6 oz./170 grams
Butter, melted:  ½ cup (1 stick)/4 oz./115 grams
All-purpose flour:  7 cups/2 lb., 3 oz./990 grams

Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter in a 6-quart bowl or a lidded container/dough bucket.

Mix in the flour until fully incorporated, but without kneading.  Use a Danish dough whisk, a large wooden spoon, or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).  The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled; don’t try to work with it before chilling.

Cover loosely and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours, then refrigerate.

The dough may be used as soon as it is well chilled and easy to handle, at least 3 hours. Refrigerate the container and use over the next 5 days.

This recipe may be halved if you don't want to end up with extra.  If you halve it, try to use at least a 3-quart container to prevent the dough rising above the top.  Even a half recipe will provide enough dough for two separate bakes.

Blueberry Skillet Jam
one cake worth

5 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries
1 cup sugar (I only used ½ cup)
Juice of ½ lemon (juice of a whole lime plus a tbsp lemon juice)

Cook the berries, sugar and juice until the blueberries have broken down a bit and the fruit juices are thick enough that you can run the spoon across the bottom of the pan and it doesn’t immediately fill in.  It should be the consistency of honey.

You are welcome to experiment with other fruits.

This can be made ahead.

Streusel Topping
one cake worth

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and work it into the sugar mixture with your fingers.

This can be made ahead.


Take 12 ounces of the brioche (challah) dough, or 16 ounces if you are using a 9” springform pan. (You can also use Whole Wheat brioche dough.) (I did use the 9" springform.)

Divide the dough into 3 pieces, shape each piece into a ball and then roll out into disks that will fit comfortably into the springform or cake pan.  It’s okay if the edges go up slightly on the sides.  Let the dough rest for a few minutes if it does not want to roll out easily.

Lay one of the disks into the pan.

Cover with 1/3 of the jam, spreading it out, but not quite to the edges.

Repeat with the remaining two disks of dough and jam.

Cover the pan and allow to rest for 1-1½ hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

While the coffee cake is resting and rising, set out or prepare the streusel topping.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Add the streusel to the pan just before baking, otherwise it will get soggy from the jam.  Scatter it over the top, still in pieces.  Don’t press it down, just leave in nice chunks.
Bake for about 45 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the pan.

Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting to allow the bread layers to set or cool longer and serve room temperature.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition for a wedge of a coffeecake cut into 12 pieces :

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Epic brownies.  Unfiltered chocolate goodness.  Those are the comments from teenager and hubby.  Youngest child simply grinned and said "Yum!" through the crumbs.

They are quick to throw together and bake, and delicious while still warm.  In other words, dangerous goodies!  Fortunately it only makes nine or ten large cookies, so it really is an ideal indulgence!  Portion control built in.  Unless you eat the whole recipe yourself, for which I cannot be held responsible but would understand.  I have been culling my cookbooks and magazines and this was a recipe that was surprisingly unavailable online that I could find.  So I am sharing it here for my benefit and yours.  I was able to make it with just a wooden spoon, so only one dirty bowl and no mixer beaters to clean and that is a bonus for some!  Normally I make cookies smaller, but for best texture I do recommend the large size scoops here.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies
from Miriam Miller
makes 10 large cookies

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, divided (It called for squares, but I used mini chips.)
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Melt 4 oz. of the chocolate in the microwave and cool to room temperature.  Chop the rest if necessary and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a small mixing bowl.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, mixture may look somewhat curdled.  Beat in the melted chocolate until the mixture is evenly creamy.

Combine the flour and baking powder and add to the chocolate mixture.  Stir in pecans and chopped chocolate or chips.

Drop by ¼ cupfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutess or until firm and tops are cracked.  Let cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Breakfast with the BBB - Singing Hinnies

These tasty little griddle cakes had me singing for the wrong reason at first.  That reason being that I accidentally dumped my flour and butter all over the flour as I was getting the milk out.  There was no saving any of it.  But stubbornness prevails and the second batch came together nicely and was griddled and consumed with delight.  They are quite rich, these fatty cuties (as they are known in Scotland), also known as griddle cakes or scones, and bannocks and are particularly well known in Northumberland in northern England.  Typically made with flour, butter, lard, salt, baking powder, milk, and dried currants, we were given the option of whichever dried fruit we preferred so long as they were scone-like and griddled.

I used (for the second batch) freshly ground einkorn, kamut, and oats, mixed with all purpose flour and went with dried cranberries for my add-in.  I do like currants, but didn't have any on hand.  These would be great with any sweet dried fruit since they are so rich and otherwise unsweetened.  Traditionally served with melted butter on top, like a crumpet, they were also delicious with jam added to that.  Since it is such a crumbly cake, more so than a scone for mine, I did not take the risk of splitting them and having them fall apart.  Easier to eat just topped anyway!  And I'm told you can freeze the cakes before griddling so that they are ready to go just a few at a time when you need them!  (Defrost before cooking, freeze up to 3 months.)

Devouring them while still nice and warm.

The host kitchen at Feeding My Enthusiasms chose this recipe to avoid turning on the oven this month, for which I am eternally grateful.  We don't have sweltering heat often enough for air conditioning to be found in most houses, so when it does get toasty, it gets miserable.  It was lovely to get a bread made that could just be quickly done on a stove top or griddle.  These are an easy and unique little breakfast bread, rich, tasty, and beautifully filling.  We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to the host kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Singing Hinnies 
makes 8

225grams (8ozs) plain flour (I used 100g all purpose, 50g sprouted einkorn, 50g sprouted kamut, and 25g sprouted oats, all freshly ground for the sprouted)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
100g (4oz.) butter
50g (2oz.) currants (snipped dried cranberries)
Milk to mix to a dough (about 6-9 tbsp) (I used 6 tbsp)

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.  Rub in the fat (or cut in with pastry blender or two knives) (I used the mixer paddle) and stir in the currants or raisins. Add enough milk to make a firm dough.  (I let mine chill and rest for a bit to try to get more loft out of my whole grain mixture.)  Roll out onto a floured tray or board and cut with scone or biscuit cutter into rounds of chosen size, usually about 3 inches wide.

Heat a heavy pan (griddle or cast iron skillet work well) and lightly grease. Place scones onto griddle on a very low heat so that the scones can cook very slowly.  (I found 5 minutes per side to be a common number depending on a slightly higher heat.  I cooked longer.)  Turn once and cook on other side. To check that they are cooked remove one of the cakes and tap it gently – it should sound hollow.  The top and bottom should be browned but not burnt.  Let cool slightly and serve warm with melted butter on top.  Excellent with jam as well!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Approximate nutrition per singing hinny for a batch of 8 cakes:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pain au Levain with Whole Grains, Citrus and Herbs - BBB

I cheated on my low-carb diet with this bread.  Was it worth it?  Yep.  Not sorry.  So good.  Not much beats fresh bread with butter, especially when it has such lovely flavor.  Worth the double workouts.  It's an extended time recipe, which is what gives it such good flavor, but not too much hands on time, which makes it relatively easy.  Everyone in the house loved this bread.  Pain au Levain can be considered a "sandbox bread" I suppose, a basic (perfectly simple, yet flavorful on its own!) structure upon which to build whatever flavor you imagine.  The only rules for this loaf were that it include at least 30% whole grain flour of our choice, and some combination of citrus and herbs and/or seeds.
I chose lemon zest and lime thyme for the main components.  I originally wanted to add in some cooked millet for my seeds but am apparently out right now.  So I looked through my fridge stash and found some pine nuts and pepitas from previous recipes and decided they would do nicely.  A little rosemary to round it out and my flavoring was done.

Next time I will try the millet or just use toasted pepitas.  The pine nuts are good, but I like them even better toasted on the top of bread than within it.  They are so rich that they don't stay crunchy when baked inside the loaf.  Regardless, this was super tasty.  Very moist and chewy crumb, without being too chewy.  I chose Kamut and Spelt for my whole grains and ground them fresh with just a cursory sifting of the largest bran pieces.  I really like the flavor of the Kamut in particular, and the properties it gives to bread dough in combination with spelt.  It really is delicious straight up, but this bread would make excellent sandwiches.  I can see clubs, paninis, egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, all being very happy on this bread!

We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to the host kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Citrus Scented Pain au Levain with Herbs and Seeds
Makes 1 Very Large Loaf or 2 Medium Loaves

This bread will take 2-3 days, depending on how long you let it cold ferment, but is flexible as to timing.  Adapted from From the Wood-Fired Oven by Richard Miscovich

Levain: *
227 g | 1½ cups + ½ cup all-purpose flour
227 g | scant 1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
45 g | 3 Tbsp liquid sourdough starter
499 total grams **

* If you don’t have or don’t want to use a sourdough starter, you can make an overnight poolish. In that case, you will need to add a bit of yeast (about 2%) to the final dough.
** The total weight of the levain is 499 g. You are supposed to remove 45 g of sourdough to keep as your starter for future use which would leave 454 g of levain. If you choose to use all of the levain, just adjust the final dough accordingly.  (I added the extra back to my sourdough.)

Final Dough:
400 g all-purpose flour 
290 g whole wheat flour (baker’s choice) (I used 200g sprouted Kamut and 90g Spelt)
375-500 g water + 25-50 grams (to mix with salt) *** (I used 400g and then 30g for my flours)
14-17 g fine sea salt (I used 14 but would use 16 next time as the herb/seed mixture added  sweetness)
1-2 Tbsp Citrus zest, or as desired (I used the zest of one lemon)
20 g chopped herbs, or to taste (I used fresh lime thyme and rosemary from my garden)
150 g seeds, or to taste (I used ½ cup each toasted pepitas and pine nuts)

*** Adjust the hydration according to the type/blend of flour used. The addition of whole wheat flour makes the dough thirsty and the coarser the blend, the more water it soaks up.

Day 1:  In the evening – Mix the Levain or Poolish

Mix water and starter together in a large bowl. Add in flours and mix until fully hydrated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature overnight or for 8-10 hours.

Day 2:  Mix the Final Dough/Shape Loaves:

Add the water to the levain and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or whisk to disperse.  Whisk the flours together and add to the water/levain mixture.  (Reserve the salt until after the autolyse.)  Mix thoroughly using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon to begin developing the gluten.

Add the citrus zest, seeds and/or herbs. Mix thoroughly using your hands. (I forgot to add them the first 20 minutes, so I folded them in with stretch and folds later.)  Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle the salt over the top and dissolve it with the 25-50 grams of water.  Use your fingers to pinch the dough to incorporate the salt evenly throughout.

Cover and let the dough bulk ferment for 120 minutes.  Stretch twice, every 40 minutes. (I ended up doing three stretches.)

Divide the dough, pre-shape, and then it rest (covered) for 20 minutes before final shaping to allow the gluten to relax.  Heavily dust two lined or un-lined bannetons with rice flour and place an optional sprig or two of thyme or rosemary at the bottom of the basket. (Couldn't find my rice flour, again.  Grain mill to the rescue!)  What I have found works very well for flouring proofing baskets is to spray lightly with a mist of water before flouring with the rice flour.  My dough pops right out with no sticking that way.

Shape the dough into an oval or round shape and place seam-side up in the baskets.  If you don’t have a proofing basket, place the loaf seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet to proof. Cover and proof for about 30 minutes at room temperature.  Place in the refrigerator to cold ferment overnight, 8-10 hours.

Day 3: Bake the Loaves

Place a baking stone or steel on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 450ºF for at least 45 minutes.  If you plan to use steam, place a steam pan on the top shelf.  Alternately, instead of baking the loaves on a baking stone with a steam pan, you could bake them in a preheated bread cloche, Dutch oven or Dutch oven combo baker.  I used steam. 

When the oven is sufficiently preheated, remove the loaves from the refrigerator.  Carefully invert the loaves from the proofing baskets (if used) onto parchment paper or a heavily dusted peel.  Score the loaves as desired.  Slide them onto the preheated baking stone or steel (if using) and bake for 35-45 minutes.  A larger loaf will take longer.

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

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes:

Approximate nutrition for one ¾" thick slice of bread as prepared here:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mini Lemon Bar Tarts

I love my mom's lemon bars.  They are the best.  But they're not exactly transport and finger friendly.  You can take them to a potluck fine because there are plates.  But sharing at work or informal get together, church, whatever venue without plates, makes them a bit too messy.  I wanted to make a portable, bite sized, finger friendly version of mom's lemon bars.  I like tassies, specifically pecan tassies, because I like the ratio of crust to filling.  But in this case I did not want a tassie crust, which is a cream cheese pastry crust.  I wanted the shortbread-like crust of the bars.  And I definitely did not want a sugar cookie crust, which is all I found when I went looking for mini lemon bar tarts.  Lots and lots of lemon cookie cups.  Well that's just too sweet.  Lemon bars, in my opinion, should have a rich crust with just a hint of sweetness, and nice a puckery, sweet-tart filling.  I cannot abide a lemon or lime bar with a sweet, bland filling that tries to pass itself off as citrus based.  Blech.  So here is what I came up with, using my favorite-of-all-time lemon curd (10 minutes from blender to done), and a short crust that is just like the bar, but finger food friendly.

The dough should not be crumbly when done, but easy to mold and form into a ball in your hands without sticking to them.  The way I measure, 2¼ cups was perfect, but when my mom tried, it wasn't quite enough flour and we needed just a couple tablespoons more.  She lightens and spoons into the cup and then levels off.  I spoon but do not lighten much.  Next time I make these I will weigh my flour and put weights in for consistency.

I love how these tarts turned out!  Really not much more work than a batch of bars, and so cute!  Not to mention portion controlled.  They were well appreciated by all who tried them and disappeared quickly.  Hubby's work team loved them as well.  I think the comment was made that I could make more any time.  Soon.  Please.  They were the favorite of the four things I sent in and had no leftovers.

The curd recipe makes enough for all the tarts, plus enough for spreading on a couple scones or muffins.  And it really is a brilliant lemon curd.  Definitely my favorite of all time.  You can halve the recipe for the crust.  I haven't tried a half batch of the curd but it should work if careful with the heat.

Mini Lemon Bar Tarts
makes 4 dozen

cups flour (2¼-2½ depending on how you scoop)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup butter
¼ cup sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 egg yolks

Lemon curd:
makes about 2 cups

6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest (use organic lemons please to avoid pesticides)

Extra powdered sugar for garnish

For the curd:
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and no butter grains show, a few minutes. Pour into a saucepan and cook over low-med until thickened.  If using a thermometer it should be done around 170ºF.  It will thicken noticeably and coat the back of a spoon.  Do not boil.

Transfer to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming.  Chill until ready to use.  Will keep up to a week in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Combine flour, salt, soda, and cream of tartar in a bowl and set aside.  In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, and lemon zest.  Mix in the yolks.  Gradually add the flour until the dough comes together into a loose ball.  It should be firm enough to roll into balls without sticking to the hands.  If dough is still sticky, add flour by 2 tbsp until it is no longer sticky.

Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners.  Using a small cookie scoop, portion into scant tbsp sized balls and press into the liners.  I used the floured end of my marble pestle, it was perfectly sized.  You can use a wooden muddle, large wooden spoon handle, or there are tart tampers made for the purpose of pressing mini tarts.  You can also just press down with your thumb.

Bake crusts for 8 minutes and remove from oven.  They will have puffed up a little.  Refresh the holes in the crust shells with the end of your tamper (don't use your thumb this time, they are hot), and fill with a generous teaspoon of lemon curd.  Return to the oven and bake for another 6 minutes.

Remove baking tins from oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the tarts carefully and finish cooling on the wire rack.  I found a seafood pick worked well to get them out, a bamboo skewer would also work well.  They are delicate when warm, so be gentle removing them.

When cool and ready to serve, dust with a little powdered sugar for garnish.  Don't do this too far ahead or the filling may absorb the sugar after a few hours.

Approximate nutrition per tart:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Red Pepper Coques with the BBB


Easy, delicious, make ahead(ish)...  All winning points for this month's challenge bread!  Karen chose a tasty Catalan-style flatbread known as Red Pepper Coques.  The dough is made the day before and will last up to three days in the fridge.  The topping may also be made ahead, leaving only rolling and assembly (and baking), when you want to eat these.  Preheat the oven while rolling out and it's an easy, delicious appetizer or light dinner served with a salad.  My daughter had many ideas for things these breads would pair well with, indeed having two pieces for dinner and two later for a snack.  At the last minute, I decided to steam some broccoli to add to our flatbreads and it was a good decision.  Very tasty and that was the flavor of choice for my eldest.  Steamed in the instant pot and shocked with cold water to stop cooking, they were fine to add with the rest of the topping and stay green and tender with just a touch of color.  Oh, I also added a couple leeks.  They needed to be used up.  Paired nicely with the onions and garlic.

Pine nuts aren't something I keep on hand because they are so perishable, but they were brilliant on this bread.  Such an awesome flavor after roasting!  Hooray for the bulk section and getting just the amount you need for a recipe.  Our host also was adamant that the sherry vinegar is super important to the flavor of the recipe.  Since I don't keep sherry vinegar I was going to use rice vinegar instead for a similar flavor.   Fortunately we happened to get a mini bottle of sherry vinegar in a recipe bundle the week before I baked.  I saved that and used red wine vinegar for that recipe instead so I would have the sherry vinegar for this one!

The dough is wonderful, comes together in a flash in the food processor, though it can be kneaded by hand or mixer as well.  This was my first time using the dough blade for my processor.  I am in love with using the infused olive oil in a bread dough now, so much flavor!  And the crust is delightfully crispy with a bit of chew in thee middle.  We loved the broccoli on top even though it didn't originally call for it.  However you choose to top this flatbread, it is most definitely worth a bake and we would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to the host kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Red Pepper Coques
Makes 4 flatbreads to serve 6 to 8

468g (16½ oz / 3 cups) bread flour (100g fresh ground, sprouted Kamut, 170g light spelt, 200g all purpose)
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp instant yeast
102/3oz (11/3 cups) ice water (I used 300g for my flours)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used a Tuscan herb infused olive oil)
1½ tsp table or fine sea salt

Red Pepper Topping:
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced (red onions + two small leeks)
2 cups jarred roasted sliced red peppers
3 tbsp sugar (I used 2 and might only use 1 next time)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
¼ cup pine nuts
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley


In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a dough blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and yeast about 5 times to combine. Turn the processor on and slowly pour in the ice water.  Process for about 10-20 seconds.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Add the oil and salt to the dough and process for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the dough forms a ball.  Remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand for a few seconds, forming it into a ball.  Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days.

Heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onions, red peppers, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and bay leaves.  Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes over medium low. 

Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for another 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are golden brown.  Discard the bay leaves and transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl to stir in the vinegar. Cool completely before using. You can make the mixture in advance and refrigerate overnight.

To Prepare the Coques:

Knock down the dough and divide it into four equal sized pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball and place seam side down on your work surface.  Cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let rest for an hour. (Possibly due to the flours I used, my dough did not need so much time to rest, maybe 15-20 minutes initially and 3-5 minutes during rolling if it was springing back too much.  Really a nice dough!)
Place oven racks in the upper and lower third positions and preheat the oven to 500ºF.  Brush two half-sheet pans with 2 tbsp olive oil each. (I actually only baked half my dough on one sheet and saved the rest for the next day - that nice make ahead quality of the recipe.)
Place one dough ball on your work surface and roll it out to a 15-inch x 5-inch oval.  Place on the baking sheet, lengthwise.  There will just be room for two on each half-sheet pan.  Repeat with the remaining dough balls.  If the dough springs back, let it rest for another 10 to 20 minutes, (3-5) and continue rolling.  Dock each about 15 times with a fork.  Brush each piece of dough with the rest of the olive oil.

Bake the dough for 8 minutes, rotating the pans at the four minute mark. 

Remove the pans from the oven and spread them with the red pepper and onion mixture.  Sprinkle with the pine nuts.  (I added the broccoli at this time as well.)  Place the baking sheets back into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, switching and rotating the pans at the 8 minute mark.  Bake until the flatbreads are golden and crispy.

Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with the parsley and transfer to a cutting board to slice and serve.  A pizza wheel works well to slice these!


The rest of the Bread Baking Babes:

Approximate nutrition for one slice of flatbread, given five slices per bread:

Approximate nutrition for half of a flatbread:


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