Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shubbak el-Habayeb with the BBB

Our challenge from Karen's Kitchen Stories is up for the month, and I get to use my new mahlab spice again.  These pretty buns are an Iraqi bread and the name Shubbak el-Habayeb translates to "the lover's window".  It's a delightful smelling bread, scented with orange blossom and rose waters, as well as cardamom and mahlab spice.  The dough smells lovely both mixing and baking!  I had bottles of Middle Eastern flower waters, but I understand that the Nielsen Massey versions are much stronger and should be used in smaller measure.  I also found that, like many spices, mahlab is best kept whole, so if you get the pre-ground kind, consider keeping it in the freezer to retain its flavor better.

Shubbak el-Habayeb is a bread best eaten on the day it is made.  Otherwise, you may want to wrap and freeze the rolls for later.  They are wonderful with butter and marmalade, or date syrup, and quite lovely with a cup of tea.  Mine turned out with a tight crumb and I think despite adding more liquid, my dough was still a bit too dry.  (I don't think I used the whole ½ cup extra that Karen wrote in.)  I would recommend using enough liquid to get a nice soft dough.  The shaping almost reminds me of a fougasse, and so I think they will work well with a more slack dough next time.  I also found that using my fine celtic sea salt, the salt measurement given was too much.  It's an average baker's percentage, but for this particular recipe, I prefer less and have seen almost the exact recipe elsewhere with less than half the salt.  Now I don't like a bland bread either, so I would go for a happy medium between the two.

The sweet little description in the Book of Buns, from which this recipe was taken, mentions that the buns should be eaten while thinking of your true love.  I assume that the four slits are to represent one of those window panes with the wooden trim and cross bars.  I remember growing up in a room with a large picture window covered with the little wood frames to make it look like dozens of little window panes.  It looked out onto our pear trees and deck.  Loved that house.  I guess these can be reminiscing buns as well.  ☺  Our host kitchen did give a substitute for mahlab if you find it hard to come by: 1½ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, ¼ tsp ground bay leaves: mix together and use measure for measure in place of the mahlab.  I also read in my last recipe that a hint of almond extract can also be added for mahlab substitution.  So with or without the special ingredient, we would love for you to join us in making these aromatic buns this month.  Check out the host kitchen's blog for the original post and pictures of the special ingredients.  You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished loaf 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 most of the Babes' baking results during that time.

Shubbak el-Habayeb
makes 12 rolls

600g (4¾ cups) all purpose flour (I used a combo of all purpose and spelt)
3 g (1½ tsp) instant yeast
100 g (½ cup) sugar
225 g (1 scant cup) milk, scalded, cooled to lukewarm
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon orange blossom water
½ teaspoon rose water
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground mahlab
12 grams (1 tbsp) salt (I would use 8-10g {1½-2} tsp next time)
50 grams (3 tbsp) butter, melted and cooled

up to ½ cup extra water, added to the dough by wetting you hands as you knead the dough

For the egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbsp water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
Sesame seeds (I used both black and white sesame)

Place the flour in a bowl and mix in the sugar and yeast.  Create a well in the middle and add the milk. Pull down some flour from the sides to cover the milk.  Cover the bowl and let rest for one hour.
Add the eggs, flower waters, cardamom, mahlab, and salt to the flour and milk mixture and mix with your hands to form a rough dough. Turn out onto an unfloured counter, and knead for 10 minutes, or knead using a stand mixer.  Add the butter, and knead for 10 more minutes. While kneading, if the dough is too stiff, dip your hands in the extra water, and continue to knead. Continue dipping your hands in the water and kneading until you have a nice, soft, elastic dough.  You can also do this with a dough hook, adding the water one tablespoon at a time.  Place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm spot, covered, for about two hours or until doubled.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface.  Divide dough into 12 equal portions and form them into balls.  Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.  Roll each ball with a rolling pin into a square that is about ½ inch thick.  Cut the dough with a sharp knife to make short vertical cuts in each quadrant of the dough for a total of four cuts.  Open the slits with your hands to make sure they are cut all the way through.  Place the squares on two baking sheets lined with parchment, putting six squares per pan.

Cover each sheet pan with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise for one hour.  Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220º C) with the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Whisk together the egg wash ingredients and brush over the rolls on one of the sheet pans.  Immediately sprinkle with the sesame seeds.  Bake the first pan of rolls for 13-15 minutes, until golden.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Repeat with the second pan of rolls.

If you have some rolls leftover, here's what one of our Babes did with hers: Croque Monsieur
And here is what I did with some of mine: Pan french toast!  It was fabulous!

Approximate nutrition per roll:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Peach and Amaranth Muffins

I got to use a new ingredient today.  Mahlab or mahleb is a spice that is ground from the seeds of a Mediterranean sour cherry.  It's commonly used in Middle Eastern baking to sharpen sweet foods and cakes.  The first time I saw this ingredient was during my binge watch of the Great British Bake Off series, in a Greek pastry called a flaouna.  Then I found out I needed some for this month's bread challenge recipe. Then I found another recipe in my sourdough book that calls for it!  It was meant to be.  I've never used mahlab before, but I'm loving it and will use it more often.  Today it was peach amaranth muffins with emmer, sprouted spelt, light spelt and my loving, forgiving sourdough starter. Oh how I love that thing.  The author of the sourdough book describes mahlab as having a distinctive floral aroma that embodies the perfect union of fruit and almonds.

One great thing about these is that they are sweetened with maple sugar and syrup, not cane sugar, which I am sensitive to and would do better to avoid.  Using only the ancient grains instead of modern wheat, to which I am also sensitive, makes these my new favorite breakfast item.  That and the fact they are delicious.

If you can't wait to try these and don't have any mahlab, you may substitute ½ tsp almond extract in its place.

Peach and Amaranth Muffins
lightly adapted from Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More
makes 12 standard muffins

100g wholemeal spelt flour (In this case I used 50g emmer flour and 50g sprouted whole spelt)
100g white spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground mahlab
2 large eggs
70g maple sugar
50g maple syrup
127g butter, melted and cooled
100g Greek yogurt (I used honey Greek yogurt and reduced the maple syrup by 5g)
100g 100% hydration sourdough starter (Mine is more like 85% which yields a slightly less fluffy muffin)
25g whole amaranth grain (I used sprouted amaranth)
150g coarsely chopped peaches (It's okay to use canned, out of season)
25g sliced almonds
Optional: coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and mahlab.  In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the eggs with the maple sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the maple syrup, butter, and yogurt and mix until incorporated.  Beat in the sourdough starter with a fork until no streaks remain.

Add the dry ingredients in three batches, stirring until just barely incorporated between each addition.  Don't over mix.  Make sure the chopped fruit is fairly dry; you can pat it dry with paper towels and toss with a tbsp of extra flour to ensure that it doesn't sink, though the batter is thick enough to hold up the fruit anyway.  Gently fold in 15g of the amaranth and all the peaches into the batter.  Use a muffin scoop to evenly distribute the batter among the lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle with the remaining 10g amaranth and the sliced almonds.  If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar for extra sparkle and crunch.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the muffins test done and the almonds are golden.  These muffins are heavenly when warm from the oven, but they will keep well in an airtight container for a couple days.  They also reheat beautifully.  Rich, and very satisfying, one will hold you for some time.

Nutrition per muffin: