Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Daring Bakers: Lavash

September 28, 2008

I decided to come out of blogging hiding to write about this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. When I saw that the challenge was making Lavash, an Armenian cracker, I was not so excited because I’m not a big cracker person. I was even less excited when I read that we had to make a vegan dip or spread to go with the crackers. VEGAN?!? I’m the furthest thing from a vegan you will ever find! I can’t live without my meat and I DEFINITELY can’t live with cheese or eggs!!!

Despite my reservations, I decided to suck it up and give it a shot. After all, being a Daring Baker is all about being challenged right? Well, I’m glad I didn’t pass on this month because it actually turned out to be a great experience! I really enjoyed the Lavash and I never would have thought it could be so easy to make your own crackers. Plus, I love the rustic look of the broken apart shards that you get. These would be great for a party!

I made my Lavash with whole wheat flour and I sprinkled Kosher salt, dried rosemary, and sesame or poppy seeds on top. I really loved this combination of toppings! The first batch of Lavash didn’t turn out as crispy as I wanted (parts of it were more like pita bread) so I learned my lesson with the second batch and rolled it out even thinner. The second batch turned out perfectly!

For the vegan spread I decided to improvise and make a very simple Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Spread. Basically it’s just a can of artichokes, a few sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, a splash of the sun dried tomato oil, juice from half a lemon, salt to taste, and about a tablespoon of olive oil. I just threw everything in a food processor and ground it up until it was pretty smooth. It turned out suprisingly good for being so simple and not have any dairy products in it!

Thanks to Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl for challenging me to step outside my non-vegan box!

Lavash

RECIPE – Recipe Reference:  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.  Copyright 2001.  ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian).  The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin.  The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking.  The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2.  For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

or

2.  For Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4.  For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down.  Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.  Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment.  If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

or

4.  For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper.  Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment.  Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper.  Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.)  Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough.  You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.  If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6.  When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

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Barefoot Bloggers: Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread

July 10, 2008

Technical Problem Update: I’ve started using a new photo hosting website for the photo in this post and all posts from here on. Please let me know if the photo in this post is still not showing up in your Google Reader. Thanks!

This week’s Barefoot Bloggers recipe was Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread as chosen by Sabrina and Alexander of Cooking with the Kids. I was very excited to make something that fit right up my “Spicy Skillet” alley, so to speak. In the end, my cornbread lacked spice but I could easily have fixed that by not taking out the seeds and membranes of the jalapenos. The texture was very fluffy and not dense like many cornbreads can be. I was overall very pleased with this cornbread, as were my guests! Thanks for another great recipe, Ina!

I’m going to be lazy this week because we had guests over for dinner tonight and I’m just getting to posting this at 10:30pm on the post day. For the recipe click here. Also don’t forget to check out the Barefoot Blogger website for updates on future events.

Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

July 1, 2008

I have been eyeing The Daring Bakers group for a long time now. I always wanted to join but never did because a) I was intimidated by the things that they made and b) our kitchen situation was uncertain. So once we moved into a real house with a real kitchen I decided to bite the bullet and join. When I read that my first Daring Baker challenge was going to be a Danish Braid made with laminated dough I was more than a little bit terrified. I could barely understand what the recipe was telling me to do so how the heck was I going to do this?!?

However, after reading, re-reading, and re-reading the recipe again and reading the advice other Daring Bakers were giving on the forum, I felt a little bit more confident so off I went. I was amazed at how wonderfully it all came together! It was not that impossible after all! The hardest part was being patient enough to wait for all the chill-time in between rolling out the dough.

In the end, it was a great challenge and a success. I was so pleased with how it turned out. We were at liberty to choose any filling for the dough, but since it was my first challenge I was feeling less adventurous than some. I just decided to stick with the suggested apple filling in the first braid and a simple chocolate chip filling in the other braid. I really enjoyed the flakiness of the dough and I plan on making this recipe over and over again and trying all kinds of delicious variations.

I would like to apologize to all of the Daring Bakers for posting this two days late. I made the recipe a week and a half ago and planned on posting it on the post date of July 29th. However, at the last minute I had to leave town on Sunday and didn’t remember about the post date until I was already gone. So other than the being late on posting this was a perfect first challenge and I thank all the Daring Bakers for welcoming me into their prestigious group!

This Months Challenge was hosted by Kelly of  Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’?

DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH
Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.  Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice.  Mix well.  Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.  You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer:  Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.  Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.  Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain.  Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.  Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.  With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.  When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes.  You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

BUTTER BLOCK
1.    Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.  Set aside at room temperature.
2.    After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick.  The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.  Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.  Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.  Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.  The first turn has now been completed.  Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.  Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3.    Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface.  The open ends should be to your right and left.  Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.  Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.  No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4.    Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns.  Make sure you are keeping track of your turns.  Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.  The Danish dough is now ready to be used.  If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it.  To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze.  Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling.  Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.  (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet.  After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash:  1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1.    Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  On a lightly floured  surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick.  If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.  Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2.    Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart.  Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3.    Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.  Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover.  Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling.  This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished.  Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1.    Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid.  Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2.    Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3.    Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.  Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature.  The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

June 14, 2008

I think Alex and I have only eaten at Red Lobster once in all the 5.75 years we have been together. It’s just not our favorite place to eat BUT we do love their Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Those made an impression. I’ve seen copycat recipes over the years but I never made them because I guess I thought they would be too time consuming. I’d rather work on a great main dish than an unneeded accompaniment like biscuits.

However, now that I’ve finally made them I know I will make them over and over and over again. They seriously took about 12 minutes from start to finish. They are so simple and SO delicious! Alex and I both loved them.

I did some research and combined several recipes I saw into something I thought would best suit us. I’m very happy with how they turned out. I took a lot of inspiration from this recipe.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Makes about 12 biscuits

2 cups Bisquick

2/3 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning (or any kind of cajun seasoning if you don’t have Old Bay)

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Combine Bisquick, milk, and cheddar cheese and stir together.

3. Using two spoons or a large cookie scoop, spoon about 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure to leave room for them to expand while cooking.

4. Combine butter, garlic salt, and Old Bay in a small microwaveable-safe dish and microwave for about 30 seconds or until the butter is melted.

5. Brush the tops of the uncooked biscuits with some of the butter mixture using a pastry brush. Make sure to leave about half the butter for brushing after baking.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on the tops.

7. Once the biscuits come out of the oven brush them again with the rest of the butter mixture.

8. Eat and enjoy. These are best when served warm.