Tuesday, December 24, 2013

No-Knead Multigrain and Seed Bread

I bought this pot a long time ago in the market and have never used it. It is marketed as a pot to be used for making Jachnoon - a Yemenite bread that is slooow baked overnight after being spread very liberally with butter. Put it in the oven an a low heat, say 150 F, and just leave it there for 10-12 hours! I have never made it, but I have eaten it, and it IS delicious but very different from any other bread I have eaten. Soft, and buttery, of course, but also flaky and rich. It is usually served with soft cheeses and grated (yes, grated) tomatoes spread over. Or Jam.

All this is a way of introducing my baking pot for this week's bread. I have read about Jim Lahey's no-knead technique for bread and am fascinated because it seems to fly in the face of everything we know about bread baking. Long slow rises, with virtually no kneading and then baked in a pot, covered, at high heat (425 F)! This bread is adapted from a cookbook I have by Nancy Baggett:  Kneadlessly Simple:Fabulous, Fuss-Free No-Knead Breads, a great addition to anyone's cookbook collection and a nice gift for the baker in your family (or you!).

I was intrigued by the techniques she uses and wanted to try them myself. The bread, because it is baked in a closed pot, is literally steamed, and therefore develops a lovely crisp crust. The crumb is full of nice big holes and, the bottom line, it tastes great. Eat this one for breakfast with cheese or jam. Definitely worth the effort.

Here's What You'll Need:
3 tablespoons cracked wheat (or chopped wheat berries; see Tip)
2½ tablespoons flax seeds, preferably golden*
2/3 cup boiling water
2½ cups (12.5 ounces) whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached white bread flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Generous 2¼ teaspoons table salt
1¼ teaspoons instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
2½ tablespoons clover honey or other mild honey
2¼ cups ice water, plus more if needed
Corn oil, canola oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil for coating dough top and pot
2 tablespoons liquid egg substitute or egg white for glaze
1½ tablespoons each flax seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds mixed together for garnish

* I used ground flax seeds because that's what I had on hand. In retrospect I think whole seeds would be better as they would not color the dough. A matter of aesthetics, I guess.

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a small bowl, combine the cracked wheat, flax seeds and boiling water. Mix then let it cool down completely.

2. In another bowl mix the dry ingredients, the flours, what germ, seeds, salt and yeast.

3. In yet another bowl mix the honey into the ice water. Then...

4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in the honey ice water mixture and the cracked wheat flax seed mixture. Stir to combine and make a shaggy dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl. You may have to add a bit of water (the whole grain and the seeds absorb more water) if it is too dry. Cover and let it rest and rise for anywhere from 3 to 10 hours, or even overnight. If overnight, place the bowl in the refrigerator.

5. The next morning, if you refrigerated the dough, let it stand for at least an hour before continuing so it comes to room temperature. Then, using a well-oiled spatula, pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and towards the center. Oil and flour your baking pot* and invert the dough into the pot, so it forms a rounded mound in the pot. Spray lightly with oil then cover and let it rise a second time, for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

6. Preheat the oven to 475 F (240 C). A hot oven. Place the pot, still covered, in the oven, reducing the temperature to 425 F (210 C). Bake for about 45 minutes until lightly browned. Then uncover the pot and let it bake for an additional 10 minutes or so until it is dark brown.

7. Remove the pot to a cooling rack, and let the bread cool for 15 minutes before removing it. Then, let it cool completely on the rack before slicing. This is a lovely bread for breakfast or as a snack. And, yes, this method definitely is worth trying again and again. It is less intensive than  traditional methods and produces very tasty, attractive bread.

* I bought a simple aluminum pot about 8 in. diameter and 5 in. high with a close fitting lid.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wintertime Treat - Mixed Seed Rye Sandwich Bread

Actually, the title is a little misleading. NOT because it is some other kind of bread. It really is a sandwich bread, complete with rye flour and even caraway seeds. In fact, this bread is probably the closest I have ever made to the 'white' rye we used to get at the famous Bernie's Bakery I have talked about in past posts. The crumb is a little closer maybe. The crust just slightly less chewy. But this is the real deal. It's just that you can make it and eat it anytime. I called it a wintertime treat because I am stuck in the house from a snow storm. Hence, the wintertime treat. You can enjoy it all year.

I got the idea from a customer of mine who likes the advantage of being able to special order just about anything and get it home delivered. One of the breads she orders MUST include lots and lots of seeds and nuts chopped coarsely, and mixed into the dough. Then baked as a loaf (not free-standing but in a loaf pan so it can be sliced for a sandwich.

This dough is different from hers but the idea is similar. I have included a combination of bread flour and rye and mixed the seeds right in. It is perfect for my famous TLT (turkey lettuce and tomato) sandwich.

 The photos you see here are of the bread, of course, but also the turkey pastrami and mayo both of which are also homemade. It's not difficult, and if anyone wants the recipe for either just drop me a line. I will gladly share. For the bread...

Here's What You'll Need:

3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk*
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Optional topping:
1 egg white
sunflower of pumpkin seeds

* To keep my dough non-dairy, I keep a package of non-dairy baby formula on hand. It substitutes perfectly in all recipes calling for milk powder, but without the dairy.

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

1. Sift together into a large bowl, the flours, milk powder, sugar and yeast.

Then make a well in the middle, and mix in the oil, lemon juice and lukewarm water.

Add the seeds.  Mix with a spoon until it comes together to form a shaggy dough that 'cleans the bowl'.

2. Remove the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is shiny and smooth.

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and deflate it. Shape it into a rough rectangle, fold it in three, like a letter fold and place it, seam-side down in a 9 X 5 in. loaf pan (23 X 13 cm.).

 Cover it with a damp dish cloth and let it rise for about 30 minutes until it reaches the level of the pan.

5. Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and bake for 30 minutes until it is a rich brown. Cool on a rack. If you wish, you can brush the unbaked loaf with egg white and sprinkle some seeds over the top. This is a truly delicious sandwich bread, one you will come back to again and again.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Something Healthy for Dessert - Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

An observation: I have noticed that of all the breads I have written about on breadmanTalking, very few are what are called 'quick' breads. These kinds of breads are usually sweeter, softer and well, quicker, than the breads I regularly post about. They fall in that gray area that lies somewhere in between bread and cake that I like to explore, but for some reason have not written much about.

One of the major differences is the leavening agent. For 'regular' breads it is always yeast. Even sourdough uses wild yeast painstakingly captured and coddled over sometimes weeks before baking. 'Quick' breads use baking powder, although not usually baking soda, just like a cake. The texture, however, is still decidedly bready, if that's a word.

So here I was, looking in the refrigerator, at a ton of zucchini, well maybe not a ton but lots. A mistake at the supermarket (mine, not theirs). What to do? There are lots of zucchini loaf recipes, especially popular at summer's end, when zucchini is popular. But they are really just a dessert cake loaf for serving at tea time. This recipe is for a bread, using whole wheat flour, to up the fiber, and baking powder to be sure. But still bread. It is adapted from my go-to cookbook for all things whole grain, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, a must have for anyone who takes baking with whole grains seriously. These guys really know their baking. Follow their instructions and tips, and so will you.

Here's What You'll Need:
2 cups (about 280 g) whole wheat flour, use 'white' whole wheat for a lighter colored loaf
1 cup (about 140 g) AP flour
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk to make in non-dairy)
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups (about 300 g) shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
 1/2 cup raisins
1 Tbs. lemon zest (optional)

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare a 9 X 5 in. loaf pan (23 X 13 cm).

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.

3. In another bowl, or a large measuring cup, mix together the wet ingredients: the eggs, oil and milk.

4. Slowly add the wet to the dry mixing all the while. Add the zucchini, continuing to stir.When it is just mixed, add the walnuts and raisins. Add the zest if using (I didn't).

5. When it is all combined, pour (it is quite thick) the dough/batter into the prepared pan and level it out with a spatula dipped into water.

6.Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

7. Let the loaf rest in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing it to a rack to cool completely.

8. Serve with butter, or cream, or both or jam, or... you get the idea. Yum!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Something Seasonal - Pumpkin Sandwich Bread

It is hard to believe, but this is my 150th post to breadmanTalking! Wow! I hope all of you, my readers and followers, are enjoying this as much as I am. When I started back in 2009, I never realized how much I had to share about bread, and how much fun this would be. Thank you all for coming along for the ride. I love your comments with suggestions and ideas. And, of course, the compliments! So let's get on with post number 150, and get ready for the next 150!

When I think of tastes that I associate with the Fall, there are some very specific things on my list. Root vegetables of all kinds, like potatoes, onions and carrots. Whole grained bread with nuts. Pumpkin. And Maple (probably because I'm originally Canadian). I think of pecan pies and apple pies. Thick soups (especially with barley).

Now, in Israel we don't really have the same kind of pumpkin like in Canada. You know the kind... orange and fairly large. The kind they carve for Halloween to make a jack o'lantern. But we do have something very close. A first cousin that is larger and with a cream colored peel. The flesh is a deep orange just like its North American cousin, and the flavor almost identical. So recently I was asked to bake a pumpkin pie, which came out quite good, and now I have made a pumpkin bread. Not a quick bread you slice for dessert and slather with honey, but a sandwich bread, you slice and cover with mustard. And cold cuts. Yum!

Here's What You'll Need:
3 1/2 cups (about 500 g) AP flour, sifted
1 Tbs. instant dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar (brown sugar, if you have it)
1 large egg
2 Tbs. oil
about 350 g cooked pumpkin, mashed but NOT pureed
enough lukewarm water to make a soft dough

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Sift together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.

2. Add the egg and oil and mix.

3. Add the pumpkin, well drained if wet, and stir it in.

4. Add the water, a little at a time, while mixing by hand, until it forms a dough.

5. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and continue kneading for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and shiny, and only slightly sticky. You will have to add more flour as you knead because the pumpkin is wet.

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

7. Shape the dough into a loaf form and place into an oiled 23 X 13 cm (9 X 5 in) loaf pan. Spread to cover the entire area of the pan, then cover to rise again until it rises just past the top of the pan.

8. About 20 minutes before bake time, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes or until it is a rich deep brown, and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom.

9. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

OMG!!! - Cypriot Bread with Olives, Herbs and Onions

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this, but I grew up on an island. I know I told you about Nova Scotia, but you probably don't realize that it consists of two parts, a peninsula (almost an island) and an island. Cape Breton Island is truly spectacular, has been named one of the world's most beautiful spots and is NOT to be missed. If you are ever looking for an out of the way but really beautiful vacation spot... this is it.

And so, I have this soft spot for islands, and for breads that come from islands. There is something about the influence of the sea that attracts me, and just makes me look a little closer. So this bread, from Cyprus, caught my attention for two reasons at least. Cyprus is an island, of course, a big island. And it is our neighbor in the eastern Mediterranean. Israel and Cyprus even share a marine border and some history. And, of course, Mediterranean culinary traditions. Olive oil and olives, garlic, onions and fresh herbs everywhere and in everything. What could be bad?

This bread is loaded with all of those and has the advantage of being quite moist so it lasts. Or at least that's the theory since it's usually gone in about a day or two. But it should last... if you can resist the temptation!

Here's What You'll Need:

about 3 3/4 cups (500 g) bread flour
1 Tbs. instant yeast
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 Tbs. salt
2 Tbs. good olive oil
about 1 cup (250 ml) of warm water

1 medium onion. finely chopped, and slightly drained of liquid
about 3/4 cup (200 g) black olives, chopped coarsely
a good handful fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, coriander, oregano...) chopped coarsely

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt thoroughly.

2. Slowly add the water and oil mixed together, while mixing by hand to form a rough dough.

3. Lightly oil your work surface, remove the dough from the bowl, and continue kneading for at least 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and shiny and only a little tacky.

4. Place the dough back into the bowl, now lightly oiled, cover and let it rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

5. Remove the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and deflate, spreading it out into a rough rectangle. Spread the olives, onions and herbs evenly over the surface of the rectangle. Fold the rectangle like a trifold letter to enclose the olive-herb mixture. Then knead to distribute them evenly. You may need to add flour at this stage as the olives and onions might be quite wet. Work gently, adding as little as possible.

6. Finally, form the dough into a fairly tight ball, and place it on a parchment lined baking tray. Cover and let it rise, again, for about an hour.

7. About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Bake for at least 35-45 minutes, until the crust is a deep brown and firm. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. At this point your kitchen will have a totally 'other-worldly' aroma!!

8. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

More Middle East Bread - Taboulle Bread with Zest of Lemon

I am always looking for a new twist on bread. Sometimes it takes me back to my childhood memories, and sometimes to various other places I have lived over the years. Since I've been in a few places it means I always can find something to bring you (even if it sometimes takes a while). I am a real sucker for all the flavors of the Mediterranean Basin, from Spain in the west to Israel and Lebanon in the east. That, of course, includes the culinary giants of the region, Italy (and its various cuisines), and Southern France, including Provence.

What are these flavors? Well, olive oil, of course, lemon, tons of fresh herbs of all kinds, tomatoes in a million different forms at least. Garlic. And hearty grains to hold it all together, or to mop up the juices from all of the above.

So this bread is really a marriage of all the very best that the Mediterranean has to offer. Regular and whole wheat flour, lemon zest, chopped parsley, bulghur wheat, garlic. What could be bad? The dough is a little sticky and so, please handle with care. The aroma it makes while baking is intoxicating... Not to be missed.

Here's What You'll Need:

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 3/4 cups AP flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. instant yeast
1/4 cup bulghur wheat, soaked in 1/2 cup water (for at least 2 hours)
1 bunch of parsley, stems removed and chopped coarsely
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 cups warm water

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Saute the garlic lightly over medium heat in the the olive oil. When it becomes fragrant, add the parsley. Continue sauteing, until the parsley is just wilted. Remove from the heat.

2. In a separate large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flours, salt and yeast), thoroughly.

3. Mix the parsley, garlic mixture with the lemon zest, bulghur and water. If the bulghur still has water not absorbed do NOT pour it away. Mix it in.Then add it to the dry mixture. Mix thoroughly.

4. Knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes smooth and shiny. It may be a bit wet, so add small amounts of flour as needed. You might wet your hands to make this easier, too.

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

6. Turn the dough out onto a bakers peel or a parchment covered cookie sheet. Form into a tight boule, trying hard not to deflate too much. Cover again with oiled plastic wrap, and let it rise for another 45 minutes.

7. About 25 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450F (400F if using turbo function; 220C or 200C if using turbo).

8. Slash the bread before placing in the oven. Bake, with steam, for about 30 minutes until it is a rich golden brown. (Place a small metal tray in the oven under the baking rack. When it is time to bake the bread, pour a cup of boiling water into the pan just after placing the bread. This creates steam which produces the most wonderful crust.) If you are using turbo function, turn it off for the first 10 minutes of baking, so it doesn't remove the steam, them turn it back on for the rest of the baking time.

9. Cool on a rack completely before slicing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Whole Wheat Buttery Dinner Rolls

It is early on a Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in front of my computer taking a well-needed and well deserved rest. Yesterday was hectic, even though on the weekend you are supposed to slow down a little. I spent most of the day driving to visit some new friends (and then back home, of course). Only then did I discover what seemed like an impossibility - I was out of bread! By then it was late, and, as I said, I was VERY tired. So it was off to bed and a few hours of sleep. This morning, still without bread in the house, I resolved that I had to do something, and fast.

So I turned to an old standby - a recipe you can put together quickly (about 3 hours start to finish) and you will have the most delicious dinner rolls you've ever tasted. Soft, buttery and they can be served while still warm. I have substituted about one third of the AP flour with whole wheat, just to add some fiber, and to intensify the wheaty flavor. But if you want, just use all AP flour. These rolls are guaranteed to pleasepretty much anybody.

Here's What You'll Need:

3 1/4 cups AP flour (or substitute 1 cup with whole wheat)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs. butter, softened
1 Tbs dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. butter, melted

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour(s), the sugar, salt and yeast.

2. Lightly beat the egg, mix in the softened butter, then add to the dry ingredients.

3. Add the water, slowly, while mixing by hand. Add just enough to make a slightly sticky dough. If you have used whole wheat flour, it may take just a little more water, as the whole wheat absorbs more.

4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead by folding and stretching, vigorously for at least 5 minutes. Ten is better. The final dough will be slightly sticky and very smooth.

5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled. This will take at least 1 1/2 hours.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl to a smooth surface and deflate. Divide the dough into about 10 equal pieces and place on a lined baking sheet. If you want to have softer rolls, place them closer together . Or if you prefer rolls that are just a little crustier, place them so they will not touch after the second rise.

7. Brush the rolls with melted butter, then cover and let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes.

8. About 15 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).

9. Bake for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. If you wish you can brush them with more melted butter when they emerge from the oven and are still warm.

10. Cool on a rack. They can be served while still warm (and are absolutely delicious, with butter, jam, cheese, or really, just about anything!)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Italian Artistry - Ciabatta Stuffed with Onions and Herbs

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but in the bread baking world I have a few heroes. Jeffrey Hamelman, the Master Baker and Instructor from King Arthur Flour is one. His book, simply titled Bread is a classic and when first released in 2004, was instantly hailed as the bread book. It is now into its 2nd edition and this time it is even better. 

Another baking hero of mine is Peter Reinhart, without doubt one of the greatest bread bakers of our time. He has written numerous cookbooks from Brother Juniper's Bread Book through Crust and Crumb and The Bread Baker's Apprentice and all the way to Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. Every one a gem. And if you follow the recipes they will no doubt lead you to better baking. I can almost guarantee it. 

This recipe is a variation on Reinhart's Ciabatta recipe, filling it with caramelized onion and fresh herbs from my garden. You can use just about any herbs but the taste family of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme or rosemary works best in my opinion. I also varied the shape of the loaves. Instead of the smallish rolls we usually make with this dough, I shaped it into a largish loaf and later sliced it to make incredible sandwiches. Toasted with a little sharp mustard, it is incredible. Like most recipes from Reinhart, this one includes a starter - in this case a poolish, which ferments for a few hours or even overnight. Make the effort with this one, it is definitely worth it.

Here's What You'll Need:
for the starter (poolish):
2 1/2 cups/11.25 oz/320 g bread flour (or AP flour)
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups/12 oz/340 ml water
1/4 tsp instant dry yeast

Mix the flour, water and yeast together to make a very thick slurry. It will have the consistency of thick pancake batter. Cover and let it stand, at room temperature for at least 3 or 4 hours, or even overnight. If leaving overnight, after 3 hours place the bowl in the refrigerator.

The next day...

For the dough:
all of the poolish
3 cups/13.5 oz/385 g bread flour (or AP flour)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
1/3 to 3/4 cup water at room temperature

for the filling:
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped fresh herbs
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. brown sugar

Using olive oil, saute the onions on a low heat until very soft. Add the brown sugar and the balsamic vinegar and continue stirring until it thickens slightly. Cool completely before using.

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

* If you refrigerated the poolish, remove it at least 1 hour before using it so it comes to room temperature.

1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl. Then add the poolish and 1/3 cup of water. Mix by hand until it comes together. You may need to add a bit more water up to 3/4 cups. When it forms into a rough ball of dough, remove to a lightly floured surface.

2. Knead the dough, which will be quite sticky and slack using the stretch and fold technique. Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle. Stretch the far side away from you and then on top of the remaining dough. Do the same with the dough closest to you so it is folded like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat.

3. Lightly spray the dough with oil, cover and let it rest for 30 minutes. Repeat this process 3 times, at 30 minute intervals, each time folding and stretching.

*The last time you stretch and fold the dough, shape it into a rough rectangle then spread the onion mixture over the surface. Stretch and fold the dough with the onions now incorporated into the dough.

4. Finally cut the dough into loaf size pieces (or rolls) and roll gently in flour. Try not to deflate the dough. Place the shaped dough (either rolls or loaves) on a lined baking sheet, cover and let it rest and rise. The dough will puff up but probably not double.

5. Preheat the oven to 450 F/220 C. Bake the bread, with steam*, for about 20 minutes (rolls) or 30-35 minutes for loaves. 

6. Cool completely on a rack before slicing. If you can.

*Place a small tray in the oven while you preheat. Just before placing the dough in the oven, pour about 1 cup boiling water into the tray and close the door quickly. This will create a steamy atmosphere and help make the crust crunchy and chewy (and delicious, of course).