Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Experiment - Barley-Wheat Batard

I admit it. I have a weakness for sandwiches of all kinds. I like cold cuts, especially salami, for instance. Oh, and pastrami. I love a good roast beef sandwich with a sharp mustard and a kosher dill on the side. I'm supposed to avoid things extra salty, btw, so you can see how that's working for me. (We 'll leave aside my snack weakness for potato chips, just for now). That said, I also love dairy sandwiches, especially a good sharp cheese like a Swiss Emmental  or a Gouda from Holland. Again with the same mustard. This is a way of explaining to you, dear readers, why I bring you another great sandwich bread. This time, I experimented with barley flour. The flavor is similar to rye but the color is not as dark, and it seems to rise a little more readily as well. The result is a strong bread, slightly 'grayish' in color that holds a big stack of filling without falling apart! I shaped this loaf in the classical 'batard' style which is to say a kind of 'boule' that is tapered at each end. Although this shape is sometimes used as an intermediate stage to making baguettes, it can be a final shape in its own right. What I like about it, is that the tapered ends get very, very crispy. I mean very, very crispy. Make an open-face sandwich and crunch away... BTW, this post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

Here's What You'll Need:
about 2 1/2 cups AP flour
about 1 cup barley flour
1 Tbs. dry yeast
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. milk powder
2 Tbs. oil
about 1 1/4 cup warm water

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer) add the barley flour and the yeast. Add 1 cup warm water, cover, them let the mixture sit at room temperature for about an hour.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the salt, and mix to form a rough dough. Adjust for dryness by adding a little water or white flour as necessary. Finally, add the salt mixing thoroughly.

3. Knead the dough vigorously for about 10 minutes until smooth and even. The dough will be slightly gray in color because of the barley flour. That's OK.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered and let it rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly taking care not to remove all the gases trapped inside. Form the dough into a 'batard' shape applying slightly more pressure on the ends so they become tapered. Place the shaped dough on a parchment covered baking tray and cover for the second rise. This should take about 45 minutes.

6. About 15 minutes before bake time, preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Spray water into the oven to create a steamy atmosphere and bake the bread for about 35 to 40 minutes, removing the steam for the last 15 minutes or so. Cool on a rack.

7. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Closer to home - Jerusalem Bagels

No doubt the reason these are called bagels in Jerusalem, is because of the hole in the middle. But, as they say on TV detective shows, any resemblance to 'the real event' is purely coincidental. OK. So not purely but pretty close. In a previous post I showed you how to make Montreal  bagels, a variation on the NYC bagels and to North Americans the only true bagels in the world. It's just not true! These bagels, found all over the Mideast but especially in this form, in Jerusalem have the required hole, but that's where the comparison ends. They are completely covered with sesame, and most importantly, they are not boiled like their North American cousins. Regardless, they are delicious, and these relatively thin round, elongated breads are crunchy as well. The sesame adds a nutty flavor you just don't get with other breads like this. Serve them with za'atar and olive oil for dipping.

Here's What You'll Need:
4 1/2 cups AP flour
3 1/2 Tbs. sugar
2 heaping Tbs. milk powder
1 Tbs. dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tbs. oil (olive oil is good but optional)
1 tsp. salt

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook until it comes together into a 'shaggy' dough. Then mix at medium speed for about 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and a little shiny.

2. Place it in a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 6 or 8 pieces (depending on the size of the bagels). Then flatten each piece. Punch a hole in the middle using you thumb, then stretch the dough (careful not to tear it) into an elongated oval bagel shape.

4. Place each bagel on a parchment lined baking tray. Cover and let rise a second time, this time for about 20 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Before baking, brush each bagel with egg diluted in water then sprinkle heavily with sesame seeds mixed with sugar and salt (2 Tbs sugar + 1 Tbs salt + 3 Tbs. sesame seeds).

6. Bake for 15 minutes until they are a  rich golden brown and crispy. Cool on a rack and serve with za'atar and olive oil. Yum!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brunch time - Lemony Cheese Boule

Lately I have been working harder later in the day, and relaxing in the mornings. Well, maybe not exactly relaxing, but at least not working as hard, let's say. For instance, right now it's noon time and I am writing this post, while the world is out trying to make a living. I say, it's much more enjoyable, and not less profitable, to do it my way. And certainly much more fun. The weather is finally showing signs of turning springward and after about 3 weeks of terribly cold and rainy weather, it is warm outside. Warm enough that I have turned off the heat, opened the windows to air out the house a little. Get rid of the mustiness of winter caused by being shut down tight for the last few months. Birds are in the trees in the backyard, the trees are budding and the first flowers are blooming. What a change from last week! Last week we has snow, sleet, freezing rain and strong winds for 5 days straight, non-stop!

The relief that comes with spring weather made me start thinking about breads that would reflect my good mood and, after a little searching, and a little bit of my own tweaking, I came up with this fragrant loaf that is super tasty and at the same time refreshing and 'sunny', if you can say that about bread. This bread, a lemony cheese bread, is dairy, something that must be noted, because I don't usually add dairy to my breads, but this time I had to. The sharp tang of the cheese helps to make this a very special bread. Oh, and the lemon zest, too, of course. In the end this bread is perfect for warming weather and brunch. It is superb when toasted, and even when not. You'll love it I'm sure.

Here's What You'll Need:
2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
1 tsp. dry yeast
2 Tbs. vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheese (I used cheddar, but Swiss, Colby or Jack would be fine)
2 cups AP flour, about

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. In a large bowl mix the yeast into the milk. Then add the egg, sugar, salt, and cheese. Mix well. Finally add the oil, and lemon zest mixing all the time. Then 1 cup of the flour. Mix until fully incorporated. This mixture will still be quite wet.

2/ Slowly add another cup of flour, a little at a time, until the dough forms and starts to 'clean the bowl'.

3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly-oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and let it rise until doubled. This will take at least an hour and a half, maybe two hours.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl, careful not to fully deflate, then form it into a 'boule', i.e., a ball with a tight surface. Pull and tuck underneath then place on a parchment covered baking tray, covered with lightly-oiled plastic wrap, to rise again.This time it will take about 45 minutes.

5. Just before baking, brush the surface of the dough with egg diluted with maybe a tablespoon of water. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 35-40 minutes until it is a rich golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

6. If you can wait until it is completely cooled, then slather it with butter or cream cheese. Otherwise, it tastes even better when still a little warm.