Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warm & Fuzzy Feeling - True Comfort Bread (Raisin Walnut)

I admit I'm a sucker for this bread and always have been. I remember eating it as a kid back in Canada. I mean eating the store bought kind. Of course, back then (too many years) the bread was at least closer to being real bread, even if it was baked in an industrial oven by the hundreds. No, not thousands, I do come from a very small town, but still. Also, back then it wasn't laced with all the emulsifiers, and stabilizers and freshness enhancers like today. Oh, and the color was real, brought on by the cinnamon and the wheat. Maybe that's why raisin walnut bread has such a warm spot in my heart, I don't know. But for me it means breakfast, lightly toasted and covered with butter. Or, better yet, peanut butter that starts to 'melt' and gets sloppy all over everything from the still warm bread. Whatever it is, I admit it. I love raisin bread and this version, a recipe I kind of made up on the fly, is perfect. The evidence is that I made it yesterday, and the loaf is almost gone. What can I say?

Here's What You'll Need:

about 3 cups (420 g) AP flour
1/2 Tbs instant dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup dry milk powder (or use baby formula as a substitute)
1 tsp. cinnamon
about 1 cup (250 ml) warm water
about 1/2 cup re-hydrated raisins*
about 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

* To re-hydrate the raisins, place then in a glass dish and cover with very warm water for about an hour. They will plump up beautifully. Drain and squeeze the water out, then add to the dough. Because they have added water, you will need to adjust the amount of flour.

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Mix everything together  (except the raisins and walnuts) and mix to form a rough dough. Add flour or water to keep the dough just barely sticky and very soft. Knead the dough until smooth, then place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

2. Punch down the dough. Spread it out, gently, into a rough rectangle, spread the raisins and walnuts on the dough, then 'wrap' them up like folding a letter. Knead the dough until they are evenly distributed. You will probably need to add flour as the raisins are moist and will make the dough quite sticky. Add just enough to keep the dough just slightly sticky.

3. Form into a loaf, them place the dough into a prepared loaf pan, and cover to let it rise again, until just peering over the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.

4. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 30 minutes until it is a nut brown and fills the house with the most wonderful aroma. Oh, and it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

5. Cool completely (if you can) on a rack. Then smother with butter, cream cheese or whatever is on hand and gobble it up!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to My Roots (Sort of...) - Scottish Baps

So actually, I am not Scottish. Not really. But I was born in Nova Scotia, and you can imagine I have met one or two Scots in my day. In high school my English teacher had us sit in alphabetical order and the middle row was made up entirely of MacDonalds! And that's not counting the MacNeils, Camerons, and McInnes. What can I say, Nova Scotia (New Scotland in Latin) is aptly named.

This bread, is extremely popular there, especially for meat sandwiches. It is served hot, or at room temperature. They can be frozen for months and re-heated just before serving. I can honestly say these are some of the tastiest sandwich rolls you'll ever eat.

Here's What You'll Need:
about 5 cups of AP flour
1/2 Tbs. instant dry yeast
1 1/2 oz (about 50 g) butter (or margarine) softened
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm milk (or substitute)
1 cup warn water

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast and salt. Cut in the butter, then break it up so it is pea-sized and grainy.

2. Add the warm milk and water and knead to form a soft dough. Continue mixing until the dough is very smooth, almost silky.

3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (roughly 3 1/2 oz. or 100 g). Roll into a ball, then flatten each into a rough ellipse.

5. Cover and let rise until doubled again, about 30 minutes. In the meantime preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Just before baking, brush each roll with milk (or substitute) then sprinkle with flour.

6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Cool on a rack. Yum!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Healthy, Healthy - Whole Wheat and Soy Artisan Bread

So, you can already figure our where this is going. I have slowly been trying to define a different approach to healthy bread. To integrate two different styles, as it were and create something new. I want to somehow preserve the healthy aspects of working with whole grains and high protein flours without sacrificing the look and feel of 'everyday artisan bread'. This bread is, therefore, experimental. And only a first try at something a little different.

What makes it a little special for me is the use of a combination of flours I don't have much experience with: 70% whole wheat flour and soy flour. The soy flour is made by roasting (or drying) soybeans then grinding them into flour. There are many advantages but he biggest for some people is that soy flour has no gluten. It is very popular with bakers producing gluten-free breads etc. but cannot be used by itself. That is because it has a distinctive taste not everybody likes. But in combination with other flours, you don't really taste the soy. So you're left with the high protein content and no gluten! Let me know what you think.

Here's What You'll Need:
about 3 cups whole wheat flour (I used 70% whole wheat sometimes called 'light' whole wheat
1 cup soy flour
1 Tbs. instant dry yeast
2 Tbs. sugar (brown sugar is OK)
about 1 1/2 cups milk at room temperature (or warm water)

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Dissolve the honey and yeast in about 1/2 cup of room temperature water or milk. let this stand for about 10 minutes or until nice and bubbly.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir to make a rough dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together and becomes smooth. It will take maybe 5 minutes.

4. Form the dough into a ball, cover and let it rise until about doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Remember the soy has no gluten, and the whole wheat is heavy so it takes longer for it to rise.
5. Before covering the dough ball, slash the top with a sharp serrated knife. This is both decorative and allows gas to escape without exploding the bread when it bakes.

Before rising:
 After rising:

6. About 20 minutes before the dough finishes rising preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). I used a baking stone placed in the center of the oven.

7. Bake for about 30 minutes. Then turn off the oven, open the door slightly, and let it start to cool off on the oven for 5 minutes before removing.
8. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time to Experiment Again - Tehina Rolls

I like to collect cookbooks. It's a fact. I probably have a couple of hundred 'traditional', i.e., hardcover cookbooks all displayed in maybe half a dozen different bookcases all over the house. And that's not counting the ones I've downloaded in all kinds of formats, from PDF to epub. That makes a couple of hundred more. Oh, and let's not forget my recipe collection safely stored in MasterCook (maybe 100K recipes, only some collected by me, OK only most collected by me). And everyday, I get email from more websites with recipes for ..,. well you name it. In my own defense, I don't save then all. But I do save some of them. The collection is growing.

Which only begs the question, if I have all these recipes, how come sometimes, like today, I just want to try something new. Something I haven't read about, or seen elsewhere. Something that just sounds like it should be good, so why not? That's how this recipe came about. I was going through the fridge, and came upon an unopened container of tehina, with added garlic and parsley. It just had to work, so I tried it. I wasn't wrong :).

Here's What You'll Need:
3 cups AP flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. instant yeast
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup + 1 Tbs. warm water (about 265 ml)
1/4 cup (about 60g) prepared tehina paste (with or without the added garlic and parsley)
about 1 tsp. dried garlic flakes, crushed

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Place the dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, sugar) in a large bowl, or the bowl of a mixer, and stir to mix.

2. Add the water and the oil and mix to form a slurry, then add the tehina paste. Knead this soft dough, adding a little flour if you need to so it isn't too sticky until a rough dough form. Knead this dough for about 10 minutes until smooth. In a mixer, it will clean the bowl completely.

3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Form the dough into rolls (or leave it as is and form a loaf). Let this rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes before the end of the second rise, pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

5. Bake rolls for about 15 minutes or until a light brown. A loaf will take longer, about 25 minutes (on turbo) or 30 minutes with a regular setting. The house smells amazing! Oh, and with pastrami, it's to die for.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Something Else for Autumn Comfort - Onion Rolls

Honestly, I don't know why these rolls seem so right for this time of year. Maybe because they just smell soooo good - before, during and after baking. Maybe because they compliment so well the spicy cold cuts that you can load up and cover with ketchup and/or mayo. Or maybe because anything with onions is just plain comforting. Whatever the reason, you won't need an excuse to love them. Soft and sturdy, they are definitely up to the 'sandwich' task. And like I already mentioned... the smell!

Here's What You'll Need:
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 Tbs. instant dry yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (250 ml) warm water
3-4 onions chopped very finely

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Mix the yeast with the water and sugar to dissolve. Wait about 10 minutes until it becomes nice and bubbly (and smells 'yeasty'.

2. Add the salt, oil and one of the eggs, mixing to combine. Gradually add the flour until you have a soft only slightly sticky dough. If using a mixer it will 'clean the bowl'.

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until about doubled in volume.

4.Deflate the dough and stretch it out into a rough rectangle. Add about 2/3 of the onions, spread evenly over the top. Then fold the dough to cover the onions. Finally, knead the dough to distribute the onion evenly throughout the dough. You will likely find, like I did, that the onions are quite wet, adding liquid to the dough, and therefore, be prepared to add flour to the dough as you knead it.

5. Break off pieces of dough about the size of a large egg, roll into a round shape and place them on to a prepared baking sheet. When they are all rolled out, cover and let them rise again, this time for about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes before the end of this rise, pre-heat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

6. If you wish, you can brush the rolls with the remaining egg and sprinkle some left-over onion on top. I didn't because the rolls were already so 'oniony'. Bake for about 17 minutes then cool on a rack. The house will smell heavenly.