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!)