Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sesame Garlic Bread

After reading Andew Whitley's book, Bread Matters, I decided to try out making yeast-leavaned bread for once in my life.  I recommend his book to those interested in bread-making, as it covers a wide scope of bready topics and explains rather well dough-related jargon and practices.
Here, I'm posting his recipe for a simple white bread, with my modifications.

As an aside, throughout the book, Whitley reminds the readers that a wet, difficult to work with dough is not terrible.  This dough will stick to your hands quite a bit, but Whitley is correct that adding extra flour really does do unsavory things to the texture.  For this reason, I kneaded the dough in the air, and as it could not stick to a table, the temptation to add excess flour was minimal.

Ingredients

600g / 4.75 cups strong bread flour
(200g + 200g) / (1 cup+ 0.6 cup) warm (~35˚C / 95˚F) water
8g / 0.25 oz fresh yeast
3g / 2T dried black tea leaves, powdered
5g / 1t salt
3g / 1T chili pepper flakes
30mL / 2T sesame seed oil
5g / 3T fresh chives, chopped finely
2g / 1.5t fresh ginger, grated
Handful arugula leaves, torn into shreds
5-10 basil leaves, torn into shreds
3 cloves garlic, diced
3g / 1T black sesame seeds

Butter or coconut oil, for oiling

1 egg yolk
Well-preserved herb leaves, herby flowers, sesame seeds, and chili pepper flakes to decorate

Procedure

In a bowl, mix bread flour, tea leaves, chili pepper flakes, and salt
Dissolve 8g yeast in 200g warm water, and pour water into flour mixture.
Wash out bowl with remaining 200g water, and pour into flour mixture.
Using your hands, mix the dough until it comes together.
Lift dough out of the bowl and knead in the air, as though you were clapping, for 10-15 minutes.  The dough should be relatively smooth at the surface, springy, and supple.
Return dough to its bowl and cover with a plastic bag.
Let rest in a warm place for 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in volume.
After 2 hours, oil a large cooking vessel.
note: cast iron cookware gives a great-looking crust to the bread.
Assemble ginger, sesame seeds, arugula, basil, garlic, and sesame oil.  Place on top of dough.
Take dough out of bowl and incorporate additions into dough using kneading motions.
On a flat, lightly floured surface, plop down dough and flatten into a square.
Fold in half, and flatten.
Roll into thirds, and flatten again.
Roll into a cylinder and transport into cooking vessel
note: these steps are done to arrange the dough's gluten proteins in such a way that the dough doesn't try to explode from the bread as it bakes.  They are much easier said than done, and I did these steps very loosely.
Let rise in cooking vessel for 30 or so minutes.
Preheat oven to 230˚C/450˚F
Break an egg yolk in a small bowl, and brush onto risen dough, gently, so as to not deflate it.
Decorate dough as you wish with flowers, leaves, herbs, and seeds.
note: I used dill, onion flowers, arugula flowers, wood sorrel, basil, and arugula leaves.  These additions do not affect the flavor of the bread's dough.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotating halfway if you have poor convection.
Turn oven down to 205˚C/400˚F.
Bake for another 30 minutes, again turning halfway if you have poor convection.
If dough sounds dense after baking time has passed, let sit in hot oven for 5 or so minutes.
Remove from oven, cover in a cotton cloth, and let cool on a wire rack to prevent soggy bread bottoms.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Apple Cornbread

After reading this cornbread recipe, I very much wanted to make something similar.  I modified the ingredients slightly to fit what I had in my kitchen.
This cornbread has a pleasant smell and is just sweet enough to be a dessert.  I am very satisfied with the texture, which is crumbly without being mealy.

Ingredients:

125 g / 1 cup white flour
115 g / 1 cup corn meal
13 g / 3.5 t baking powder
6 g / 1 t salt
1 1/2 large apples, or 3 small ones
note: select apples that are good for baking.  Very crunchy as well as mealy apples tend to bake poorly, so if possible, select more sturdy types, such as Gala, Fuji, or Granny Smith.
85 g / 6 T unsalted butter
2 eggs
30g / 1.5 T wildflower honey
75 g / 0.3 cups + 1 T brown sugar
note: Turbinado or molasses-darkened sugar both work here
240 mL / 1 cup milk
Optional: generous handful mixed berries and/or raisins



Procedure:

Preheat oven to 205˚C / 400˚F
Chop apples into slices or rounds no thicker than 0.75cm / 0.3 inch.  Remove peels if they are rough.
In a bowl, stir together flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt.
Heat butter until it is still solid, but very soft.
Add in butter, honey, sugar, eggs, and milk to the bowl.
Mix until no clumps are present.
If using, stir in berries and raisins.
Oil a 30cm / 12 inch diameter round baking dish, such as a cake pan or cast iron skillet.
Place one third of the chopped apple slices on the bottom of the dish, and cover with one half of the batter.
Place another third of the apple slices atop of the batter, and then cover with the remaining mixture.
Place final third of apple slices on top of the batter.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a brown crust is present and the center does not jiggle.
Serve warm.






Sunday, June 2, 2013

Walnut Scones


This is a recipe for simple walnut scones.  The dough can be very quickly assembled, and is not too sweet, but rather rich.  The scones kind of look like biscuits, but I'd like to think that their taste and smell make up for that discrepancy.  If you wish to make them look more dessert-like, you could sprinkle the dough with large-grain sugar, like turbinado, or cover in an icing (such as a glaze made from a few spoons of milk and half a cup of confectioner's sugar, with some lemon zest).
These can be served warm or cold, and the given proportions yield about 16 medium sized pieces.

Ingredients:
2 cups / 290g white flour
4T / 50g white sugar
0.5 t / 3g baking soda
0.5T / 5g baking powder
Dash salt
6T / 85g cold butter, cubed
1.25 cups + 1T / 250mL cream
0.5T / 5mL vanilla extract
0.5 cup / 60g walnuts, crushed into pieces 1cm or smaller

Procedure
Preheat oven to 425˚F / 220˚C.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and combine well.
Add in butter cubes, and mix well either with a large wooden spoon or with very clean hands.
Gradually stir in cream and vanilla extract.  Stop mixing once dough becomes evenly moist.
Stir in walnut pieces.
Drop scones in circles on a parchment-covered baking sheet, or cut into triangle shapes.  Make scones approximately the size of a deck of cards.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the process if you have poor convection.
note: you will probably have two batches of scones.