Monday, February 24, 2014

Viennese Striezel - A Braided Loaf

This weekend I'm participating in another catch-up bake session for the BBB past recipes.  I had to do this one, it was so gorgeous!  The last couple I didn't do because I had made them the first time around.  Somehow missed this one the first time and so was very happy to have another chance.  I am scarfing down buttered pieces of striezel right now and can't wait to toast it, french toast it, and possibly bread pudding it.  Good stuff.  Yum.  I am tempted to make another and use cardamom instead of mace.  I think that would make it more of a fruited Finnish Pulla than a Viennese Striezel, but delicious nonetheless. 

Here is the recipe if you wish to try it out or save it for holidays or a get together... weekend brunch...

Viennese Striezel
1 braided loaf

Basic Sweet Dough

1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp - I used instant yeast)
¼ cup very warm water
½ cup milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 3/4 – 3 cups flour (I used 100 g whole spelt and about 320 g white spelt)
1 large egg

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Scald milk. Put milk, sugar, butter, and salt in bowl of mixer. Cool until just warm. Stir in 1 cup of flour. Mix in dissolved yeast.  Whisk egg and add to dough.  Add most of remaining flour and knead until smooth and satiny.  You can knead by hand or use a stand mixer or bread machine to work the dough.  Mix in fruit before the final bit of flour.

¼ cup seedless raisins
¼ cup candied cherries, chopped (I used dried cranberries)
2 tbsp candied orange peel, chopped (I used fresh orange zest)
1/8 tsp mace

½ cup confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp milk
almonds or walnuts for sprinkling

Add fruit and mace to basic dough before the last cup of flour. Mix in well. Add remaining flour and finish kneading until smooth.  Shape into a ball, place in lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 2¼ hours.

Punch down. Divide into 9 pieces, shape each into a ball and let rest 5 minutes.  (I used a scale to divide mine equally.)

To shape the bread, you will make a 4 strand braid, a 3 strand braid and a 2 strand coiled rope.  Cover the balls you are not using for braiding.  For directions on how to braid a 4 strand loaf, look here or just google and choose your favorite way. There are a number of different methods.

Lay the 4 strand braid on a parchment lined sheet and use the side of your hand to press a trench along the length of it.  Then braid the 3 strand and lay it along the trench.  You can make another slight trench in this braid as well.  Then place the final 2 strand rope on the very top.

Cover the loaf loosely and let proof until doubled, about 1½ hours.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 40 – 45 minutes.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Combine the powdered sugar and milk until smooth and drizzle over the cooled loaf.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Easy Beef Stew in the Pressure Cooker

Even though I grew up with my mom using a little pressure cooker for some of our favorite meals, I was a bit scared of using one myself for the longest time.  I am so glad I got over that!  I love my cooker for making stock especially.  Fabulous flavor and gel and so much faster than using the slow cooker for 18-24 hours.  The brisket I tried came out wonderful and I have never had a roast turn out as well as when I use pressure.  Recently, a local grocery store (that was not Whole Paycheck) started carrying some grass fed beef offerings.  I was so stoked and grabbed a package of stew meat to try out.  Nothing like a good old meat and potatoes, warming, comforting stew when it has been below freezing for weeks.  And the especially nice part is that it's ready to go in around 30 minutes!  I used a special ingredient that most people will not have on hand, South River Miso, but you can always substitute an equal amount of black bean paste or even just a sprinkle of steak seasoning.

Quick and Simple Beef Stew in the Pressure Cooker
Serves 4

1 lb lean beef, cubed in bite sized pieces
1 cup tomato juice (you can use tomato sauce and water 50/50 as a substitute)
1 large onion, chopped in large chunks
2 large potatoes, cut in large chunks
4 carrots, sliced to 1" pieces
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can green beans, drained
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp South River Miso or black bean paste
dash or two of hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
½ tsp steak seasoning, optional substitute for miso/bean paste (reduce salt if using in addition to miso/bean paste)
¼ cup cold water
1 tbsp flour

Put onion, water and beef into 6 qt pressure cooker.  Close the cover securely and top with the regulator.  Heat until pressure regulator starts rocking slowly and cook for 10 minutes (15 minutes in the instant pot).  Cool the cooker immediately under cold running water.  Remove lid when pressure has dissipated.

Add in the potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, salt, pepper, miso/bean paste and steak seasoning if using.  (If you are using an artisan fermented miso like South River and would like to retain the benefit of the natural cultures, add in the miso after the cooking is done and the stew has cooled slightly.) Cover securely and place regulator back on lid.  Bring back up to pressure and cook for 6 minutes with the regulator rocking slowly (7-8 minutes in the instant pot).  Cool the cooker again under cold running water.

Mix the flour and water into a slurry and stir into the stew.  Stir over heat until the stew thickens.

Serve with crusty bread and a salad for a very filling meal.  Or it stands on its own as well.

Adapted from Presto.