Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Catching up - Beirut Tahini Swirls

Once again doing two BBB recipes this month, the current one and a catching up recipe. This one, Beirut Tahini Swirls, was originally baked in July of 2009.  Now I like sesame seeds but I have mixed feelings about tahini.  I did not like the store bought kind I bought last time so I decided to make my own.  It's pretty simple, just take sesame seeds and blend to a paste.  Toast first if desired, add oil if desired.  Tahini is bitter on its own and works best as an accent flavor.  I wonder if soaking or sprouting them would take away some of the bitterness...  Maybe another time.  Still not 100% healthy yet and that's too much work.  Reading in the catch-up host kitchen and the original post, I saw that these were meant to be like a flat bread and not a swirly bun.  Oh well.  I like swirly buns, but I was a good kid and flattened my buns.  ☺

I did decide to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to my tahini for flavor.  You couldn't taste it at all but as you can see from the finished buns, it left a pretty swirl that showed through even after baking.  I didn't add sesame seeds to the outside, didn't want to over do it, but I resisted the temptation to drizzle them with a sugar glaze because I figured that would be completely in-authentic.  And like the posts suggested, they did puff up like little pita pockets.

Hubby ate an entire bun and said they were interesting and good.  I think the tahini was a bit strong for my taste but yes, they were interesting and good.  I would cut the tahini with half almond paste next time to let it be more of the great accent flavor I like.  I used light spelt and sprouted whole spelt for the spelt and whole spelt in the host's post.  I also used rapadura for my sugar, which is a very unprocessed form of sugar that is crumbly brown and opaque.  Mixing that with the homemade tahini made for a crumbly filling so I crumbled it over the dough squares as the host kitchens did.  Check out the original and catch-up posts for good how to pictures.  Here is the recipe as published in this month's host kitchen post:

Beirut Tahini Swirls
makes 6 coiled rounds

The Dough:
½ teaspoon instant active dry yeast (about 2 g)
1 cup (240 ml) lukewarm water
a bit more than 2 cups (240 + 35 g) spelt flour
½ cup (80 g) whole spelt flour (original recipe: about 2½ cups (350 g) all purpose flour)
30 g ground flaxseeds
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt 
The Filling:
¾ cup (200 g) tahini
¾ cup (170 g) raw cane sugar, ground

The Topping: Unhulled sesame seeds (original recipe: none)

Directions for the stand mixer:
In a small bowl, sift the flours together.
In the bowl of the stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water.
Stir in one cup of the flour mixture, then add the sugar and the oil and knead with the paddle attachment.
Remove the paddle attachment and install the dough hook.
Incorporate the rest of the flour mixture and the ground flaxseeds and knead for about 2 minutes.
Then add the salt and go on kneading for another 8 minutes (if after 8 minutes the dough is still too sticky, add some more flour, a little at a time and knead until smooth).
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in volume.
Meanwhile, place a baking stone (or unglazed quarry tiles, or a baking sheet) on the middle oven rack and preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
While you are waiting for the dough to proof, prepare the FILLING:
Mix together the tahini and the sugar, stir until smooth

Pour the dough onto a well-floured surface, fold it a couple of times and form a ball. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces, divide the tahini mixture into 6 equal portions and work with 3 pieces of dough at a time, keeping the other 3 covered.
Firstly flatten each out on a lightly floured surface and then roll each out to a rectangle of about 5x10 inches (12 x 26 cm).
Spread the top surface with 1/6 of the filling mixture, spreading it almost to the edges (I could not spread it out as it would tear my dough apart; so I dropped some “small chunks” all over).
Roll up the rectangle from a long side into a cylinder, which will stretch as you roll to about 20 inches (50 cm) long.
(At this point I’ve brushed the rolled dough with water as I was afraid the flour around it would prevent the dough from adhering properly).
Anchor one end and coil the bread around itself (like a snail), then tuck the end in.
Sprinkle with some unhulled sesame seeds and flatten with the palm of your hand, then set aside, covered, while you fill and shape the other 2 rectangles.
Return to the first coil and roll out gently with a rolling pin, then roll the other 2 out a little and then return to the first one and roll it out a little more thinly, and so on, until you have rolled each to a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter.
A little filling may leak out—don’t worry, just leave it.

Place the first 3 swirls on the hot baking stone or tiles (or baking sheet) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky (I’ve lined my baking stone with parchment paper as I was afraid the sugar filling that was visible on the swirls base would glue them to the stone. The parchment paper did a great job!)
Transfer to a rack to cool and shape and bake the remaining 3 pieces of dough.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
They really had good swirling going on inside despite the flattening!

Natashya's kind advice: The swirls should end up like puffy pita. If they are very thin they will be crispy, if they are not rolled enough, they will puff up like cinnamon rolls. We are striving for a flatbread pastry that puffs a little. Try them a couple of times, experiment. They are fun to bake.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BBB - Carrot Bread

Hellooooooo COLOR!

Shook off that rotten flu to make this bread at the last second so I could be a BBBuddy this month!  I think the color of the dough is just amazing.  Now it may have had something to do with the fact that I juiced a couple of carrots for the juice called for in the recipe and decided the pulp was just the perfect amount to use for the grated carrots as well.  That leaves a super fine pulp compared to a hand grater even on the fine blade.  So it kind of blended all in.  I am tempted to make french toast out of this bread, I think it would be interesting.  The host kitchen was girlichef this month and go check out her gorgeous loaves with that crackle glaze!  I chickened out on the Dutch crunch topping.  I've had something like it once and just didn't like the texture or mouthfeel.  One of these days I will have to try it just so I can be sure though.  ☺  After seeing one of the babes use an eggwash which totally enhanced that gorgeous color, I decided to go that route.  This is a plan ahead recipe as the poolish requires day in advance prep.  Unless of course you spike it with sourdough, which loves rye flour, and it totally goes bonkers and overflows within hours... twice.


(Oops, bumped its poor little head when I took its temperature...)  Here is the recipe as published on the host kitchen's website, including a cool little note on knock-back at the end. 

Carrot Bread 
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 28 hours (mostly unattended)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
makes (3 loaves)

    ¾ sp active dry yeast
    1 cup lukewarm water + more as needed
    2½ cups (13 oz / 364 g) stone ground rye flour

    1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
    ¾ cup toasted sunflower seeds
    2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 cup carrot juice, lukewarm
    1¼ cups grated carrot
    ½ cup chopped parsley
    6-6½ cups (29.4-31.8 oz / 823.2-890.4 g) bread flour
    2 tbsp + 1 tsp golden syrup (or honey or maple syrup)
    ¼ cup sunflower oil
    4 tsp sea salt

Crackle Glaze:

    1 tsp active dry yeast
    ¾ cup + 2 tbsp lukewarm water
    ¾ cup + 1¼ tablespoons (4.7 oz / 131.6 g) rice flour
    2 tsp sugar
    1¾ teaspoons sunflower oil
    ¾ teaspoons sea salt

Day 1: Make the Poolish
Dissolve the yeast in the water, and let sit a few minutes to bloom. Whisk in the flour until smooth - if it is very thick, continue whisking in more water until it is the consistency of a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours; at this point it should be a bit bubbly.

Day 2: Baking Day
In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment), dissolve the yeast in the carrot juice, let sit a few minutes until it looks creamy (bloomed). Add the grated carrot, parsley, the lesser amount of bread flour, golden syrup, and the poolish to the bowl. Knead on low speed for 3 minutes. If the dough doesn't seem too sticky, then don't add any more of the flour; it will firm up as it is kneaded (plus you have more to add to it).

Add the oil to the bowl and knead for another 8 minutes. Add the salt, increase the speed, and knead until elastic, about 7 more minutes. At this point, the dough will not be sticky any longer. Use the extra flour, a tiny bit at a time, to remedy the dough if it is. Add the toasted seeds, and gently mix in.

Place the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl or container and cover. Let sit for 60-90 minutes, *knocking the dough back halfway through. To knock the dough back, remove it from the bowl and set it on a work surface. Use your hands to knock the air out of it. Fold the edges towards the center to form a cushion. Replace in the container, seam side down.

Crackling Glaze:
While the dough is rising, dissolve the yeast in the water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. It should be spreadable, but not runny. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before using.

shaping and baking:
Turn the dough out onto a lighty floured work surface and divide into 3 equal parts (approximately 78 ounces of dough to equal three 26 ounce portions).

Form the portions into three round balls, and cover them with a clean tea towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Shape each circle of dough into an oblong loaf, by gently pressing ball down into a circle and then tucking/rolling into shape. Set loaves, seam side down, onto a lightly floured bread peel or thin cutting board. Glaze the loaves generously with the crackling glaze (you'll have a lot of leftover glaze), and leave to rise at room temperature for 60-75 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size and the the surface is crackled.

Place a baking stone into the oven, and preheat to 475° F during last 20 minutes or so of rise time.
Slide the loaves onto the stone (let them rise directly on a baking sheet or two if you don't have a stone - slide that into preheated oven) and spray generously with water. Close oven door. Lower the temperature to 400° F after 5 minutes. After another 10 minutes, open the oven door to let in a little air. Repeat two more times (every 10 minutes). Total baking time will be 45 minutes.

Remove bread from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Host kitchen notes:
These loaves are fantastic sliced up and shared in a bread basket, or served alongside a soup and salad. They also make great toast (slathered with salted butter) and sandwiches. My breakfast for a week was thickly sliced piece of toasted Carrot Bread, with salted butter, a thin slice of smoked ham, and a few shards of strong cheese.

*On "Knocking Back":
Knocking back is normally done only with wheat doughs. Acetic acid is formed between 36° F and 75° F, which slows down the fermenting process. Knocking the air out evaporates most of the acetic acid, but what remains together with the softer lactic acid forms that great aromatic smell. The traditional cushion shape makes the dough more pliable, and the temperature ensures stability and provides the yeast cells with new nourishment. The removal of carbon dioxide from the dough flavors fermenting, the yeast propagates, the gas bubbles increase in number and the dough rises more quickly. By knocking back the bread you get a larger bread, which is easier to handle and which has a better and more elastic interior. (source: Artisan Breads by Jan Hedh)

adapted from Artisan Breads: Practical Recipes and Detailed Instructions for Baking the World's Finest Loaves by Jan Hedh

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin butter and Easy Pumpkin Puree

The first time I made homemade puree with a pie pumpkin, I did the whole cutting and cleaning out of the pumpkin thing before roasting.  Well I'm here to tell you that that's not necessary.  Just cut the sucker in half and stick it on a pan to roast.  Rub it with oil if you like.  When it's done it is so easy to gently scoop the stringy guts and seeds out, and the flesh practically falls out of the skin.

To Roast a Pie Pumpkin

1. Get a pie pumpkin...  ☺

2. Cut it in half.

3. Place cut side down on a baking sheet.

4. Oil skin lightly, if desired.

5. Bake for about an hour at 350ºF, until flesh is soft and skin depresses when touched.  Skin will also sink a bit on cooling.

6. Allow to cool.

7. Scoop out guts and seeds.

8. Scoop flesh into a bowl, blender or food processor.  Add the skin if desired for color and nutritional value.  (There are skins in canned pumpkin from the store.)

9. Puree with a high powered blender if adding skins, or stick blender or food processor.

10. You may cook down your puree a bit in a saucepan to remove moisture if wanted.

Pumpkin Butter
makes up to a pint depending on your pumpkin size

puree from one pie pumpkin
¾ cup light brown muscovado sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp fresh grated ginger
pinch of fresh nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over low to medium low heat.  Simmer for about 30 minutes up to an hour until the mixture is thickened to your liking.

Note that while pumpkin butter should last a couple weeks or more in the fridge, pumpkin puree will only last a few days.  Use it or freeze it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Expanding lunchbox options - The Apple Sandwich

I have been lax of late regarding sandwich bread.  I just haven't been making it and really don't care to buy it.  So I have been poring through websites, cookbooks and Pinterest trying to find ideas for lunch that do not require bread.  I don't always have soup on hand, and I've decided that S is not really ready for soup in her lunchbox yet.  She just eats too slowly.  She would prefer the soup for breakfast actually, and that's what she had this morning.  Lucky kid that can withstand the call of sugar and carbs; I set down a piece of cinnamon toast in front of her from the Sûkerbôlle from this weekend and she actually started crying.  She wanted "squishy eggs" instead.  (That's poached eggs.)  Good thing they only take about seven minutes to both heat up the water and cook.

At any rate, Pinterest and blogs are a good way to get new ideas.  I've seen many versions of this pretty looking "sandwich" on Pinterest.  I don't know who came up with it first but I thought I'd try it out.  You can add granola if you want some crunch or starches.  I still have a bit of banana bread left and it is great for sending in lunches.  Lately I have introduced the girls to "ants on a log" which they wholeheartedly embraced once I decided to use mini chocolate chips as the ants.  Big surprise there.  I hope this goes over well because it is really pretty and it should taste just smashing.  I decided to add dried cranberries to the mix.  Those would probably be great on the original ants on a log as well.  They are super easy and I will tell you how I assembled mine.  Use your imagination and favorite toppings!

S LOVED her apple sandwich and ate the whole thing at lunch, to the exclusion of everything else.  But she finished the rest after school.  ☺ 

The Apple Sammy
makes 1 serving

1 apple
your choice of nut or seed butters
mini chocolate chips
dried cranberries or raisins
granola (optional)

lemon juice

Slice your apple into rings approximately ¼" in diameter.

Using a small cookie cutter or paring knife, remove the core area.  (You can get cute here and use a mini heart or star or whatever shape cookie cutter - I just used the little 1" removable center circle from my biscuit cutter.)

Fill a bowl or glass measuring cup with a little water and a couple splashes of lemon juice and dunk the apples slices to prevent browning.

Lay the slices on a paper towel to dry and assemble.

Spread half the slices with your preferred nut/seed butter.

Place the dried cranberries or raisins around the ring and then sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.  Add granola too if desired.

Sandwich the plain slices on top of the spread slices.  One large apples should yield two to three sandwiches plus apple snackies, depending on how thick you slice.

You could drizzle these with honey at home for a special treat!

This post is linked up to:
Healthy2Day Wednesday {123}
at Whole Intentions