Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Rolls for Thanksgiving - We Knead to Bake 33

I have not been writing or doing any blog reading during the past month. There were other commitments outside of this small space that kept me away. I hope to get over being irregular and get back to blog more regularly. I fall into the trap of my own laziness and keep going off. Call it, if you may, a writer's block or by any other, I sit keeping the page open and stare at the blank template, not knowing where to begin. I hope this post will be a start of getting back to routine, even if only slowly.
One of the members of the We Knead to Bake group, Ms. Mayuri Patel found this interesting bread and highlighted a link on our group. By then Aparna had chosen this bread for thanks giving season and hence we shall bake it this November.
These spiced rolls are not only shaped as tiny pumpkins but also have the real vegetable added to the recipe. These are slightly sweet, very soft and are very easy to make. They look gorgeous in the bread basket during this festive season.
I made the pumpkin puree at home. you might use store available ready made puree too. I shall add the recipe for making the puree also.
I share here the recipe as given by Aparna for both the rolls and the puree. There are other recipes found to make the puree, but I found following Aparna's recipe easier. I have as is usual with me, baked with reduced proportions to get five rolls in all. This following recipe, however, makes 8 to 10 small size rolls.

Spiced Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving

(Adapted from Beyond Kimchee - http://www.beyondkimchee.com/pumpkin-dinner-rolls/ )

Makes 8 - 10 small rolls 
1/3 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons honey (or 1/4 -1/3 cup sugar if you like sweeter rolls)
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
40 grams butter melted
1 egg (I left the egg out, did not substitute also)
1 teaspoon salt
21/2 to 23/4 cups all purpose flour
1/ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered dry ginger
1/2 teaspoon all spice
5-6 pecans cut in 3 vertical portions (or any that will pass of as a stem; I used dates seeds)
Glaze with melted butter or honey mixed with warm water.

To make pumpkin puree:
Remove the peel of pumpkin, cut and remove the core with seeds and membrane.
Cut small pieces and cook them until soft.

Cool and blend in a puree in a blender.
This can be used in a variety of dishes.
Store in a clean container in the refrigerator until you want to use.

For the bread rolls:
Place warm milk, honey and yeast in a bowl. Allow the yeast to proof. This step is not a must for instant yeast. but it will help to see if the yeast is active.
You may knead the dough by hand or use a processor.
Place flour in a large bowl/ that of your processor.
Add salt and spice powders and mix them.
Add the yeast mixture, pumpkin puree, melted butter and egg (if you are using). Knead until a smooth and elastic dough that is somewhat sticky is achieved.
The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Add little ore flour or liquid to get this consistency.
turn the dough on to a flour dusted work surface and knead for a couple more minutes, roll in a ball shape and place in an oil smeared bowl, turning the dough in oil to coat all over.
Cover and keep the dough aside for an hour to an hour and a half allowing it to double in volume.
Turn the risen dough on the work surface, gently deflate it and divide in eight or ten small portions. if you want larger rolls, divide in six. Roll each portion in a ball.

Flatten slightly and using a sharp knife make eight diagonal slits in the dough to give it a flower with open petals shape. This will make a cute pumpkin shape when the dough gets the second rise.
In the centre of the flower pattern, use the back of a wooden spoon or tip of your finger, lightly dipped in oil to avoid sticking, and make a slightly deep dent. This will hold the pecan 'stem' when baked.

Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined or lightly oiled baking tray.
Repeat this with the rest of the dough portions.
Brush with some milk.
Loosely cover and allow the rolls to puff up.
Bake in a pre-heated 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and give a glaze.
Place the cut vertical pecan stem in the centre.

You may use, celery stalks, stems of small bell peppers or any of your choice.
Serve these very cute pumpkin rolls for thanksgiving.
Please head over to Aparna's post here to check other members' posts too.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Barmbrack - Irish Halloween Fruit Bread - We Knead to bake -32

Barmbrack or Báirín Breac which means Speckled Bread, is an Irish fruit added bread. Interestingly the candied, dry fruits are soaked in hot tea. this imparts the flavour to the bread. This is October, when people celebrate Halloween, this bread was chosen by Aparna, so we, the members of the We Knead to Bake group can try to bake in our kitchens.
The raisins in the bread give it the speckled look and “báirín”is for loaf in Irish and “breac” means speckled. It is shaped either as loaf or roll bun, cut in thick slices and eaten with rather a generous lather of butter.
Aparna shares the following information:
The origin of Halloween goes back to the Celtic festival of "Samhain" which is derived from Old Irish and supposedly roughly translates to "Summer's End." The Barmbrack is very much a part of a traditional Irish Halloween custom that involved baking various objects or “fortunes” into the fruit bread. When the bread was cut and served, if you found one of the objects in your portion then that would tell your fortune.
There are yeasted versions of this recipe as well those that use baking powder to leaven it.  We are baking the yeasted barmbrack this month. The given recipe will make two loaves, i had to halve that to bake just one for the two of us.

Barmbrack (Báirín Breac) – Irish Halloween Fruit Bread/ Cake

Makes 2 loaves 8"X5"
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sultanas
1/8 chopped dried apricots
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1&1/2 cup hot, strong black tea to soak the above fruits
3&1/2 - 4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspon salt
30 grams unsalted butter softened, at room temperature
1 lightly beaten egg (I topped the liquid to substitute)
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm milk for making 1 cup of milk+tea (drained after soaking process is complete)
(The milk should be warm enough that the tea is warm to help the yeast to proof)
1 tablespoon caster sugar mixed in 1 tablespoon hot water for the glaze.

Place the dried fruits in a bowl. 
Make strong black tea and pout on the fruits while hot.
Let them stay soaked overnight or if that is not possible, for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours.
Drain the liquid tea after the fruits have swollen. Reserve the drained liquid.

kneading the dough can be done either by hand or by machine. 
Place the flour,instant yeast,sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl, or in that of the machine.
Whisk them to mix well.
Add the egg if you are using and the butter. Mix them well.
Now pour the reserved liquid into a 1 cup measure, top it with hot milk to make 1 cup tea. Let this be just as warm to proof the yeast in the flour mix. 
I added extra milk to this to substitute for the egg (it could have done without also, this made the dough a bit loose that needed more kneading and used up all the given measure of flour).
Knead to a dough that is smooth and elastic and is just about sticky to touch.
Turn the dough on to a counter, make a rough rectangle and spread the swollen fruits over the surface.
Fold the dough in half once and fold that again in half. Knead gently to incorporate the fruits evenly.
Roll the dough in a ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning it to coat all over with oil.
Cover and keep it away to double in volume for 1&1/2 to 2 hours.

Gently knead the risen dough, divide in two portions. Shape them to fit in two 8"X5" loaf tin, or in rounded buns.
Cover and allow them to rise for another 45 minutes. They would puff up and rise slightly.
Bake them in a pre-heated 180 degrees C/350 degrees F oven for 35 - 45 minutes.
If you are giving it the sugar glaze, prepare the glace by mixing sugar and warm water. Just befor five minutes to complete baking time, take the bread out, give it the glaze and put it back in the oven to complete baking.
The tops should be golden brown and the bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Cool them on wire racks.
Cut thick slices and serve with butter.
Aparna's post here has links to posts by other members. Do check them out too.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cranberries and Raisins Cookies

I do not qualify as an enthusiastic baker. I do not run away from baking, but I do far and few. Recently, baking with the WKtB group has given me more confidence to venture a few even without the illustrated and step-wise instructions.
Some time ago while visiting my daughter in the US of A, we were at a bookstore and it felt for me like a child in a candy store literally. we browsed the books on breads and in the used books section we picked up two books, both at a discounted price.
One of those books, is only breads, though not many. The other has more options and details techniques and every recipe has been illustrated. I had not found time to go through most of the recipes; to select something to bake was a task by itself. Few days ago, I bookmarked some recipes that did not call for eggs and this is one of those. Better still this does not call for butter either. I happened to have the cranberries and raisins which were given as variations. The original recipe uses prunes and candied citrus peel. So, here is what I baked from the book and am sharing today.

Cranberries and Raisins Cookies
( A variation of the Prunes and Candied Peel Cookies from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking by Martha Day)

Makes 12 to 16 (depending on the size)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cups raw sugar*
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped raisins
1/4 cup sunflower oil
5 tablespoons skimmed milk**
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chai masala***

* I used unrefined cane sugar.
**I used semi skimmed milk. I needed a little more than the listed 5 tablespoons.
*** The given recipe goes with 1/4 teaspoon each of apple pie spice, ground ginger and ground cinnamon. I used the chai masala instead.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.
Sift the baking powder into the flour.
Sift along the chai masala.
Stir in the sugar, cranberries, raisins and the rind of lemon.
Mix the oil and milk and add to the flour- sugar mixture.
Make a dough that is just about binding together.
Lightly oil a cookie sheet/ baking tray.
Spoon the cookie dough in rough mounds.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before storing.

I may have rolled smaller quantity of dough and I got 16 cookies while the recipe lists 12 only.
These cookies are good to serve with tea.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Yet Another Milagai Podi pairs Dosais and Idlis

We are  heavy breakfast, moderate lunch, an evening snack and a light dinner routine family. Idlis and dosais can be made in varieties for the morning and the batter helps plan something for dinner too. Most likely, I might eat my idlis and dosais with a freshly made sambhar or some chutney. While that is the to-go accompaniment for them, apart from a quick tomato masala, I keep stock of idli milagai podi also. My mother's pantry never runs short of supply of  her  milagai podi. Stock in mine and my sister's though, seems one batch stays forever. Just the other day I used up all of the podi I had in stock and was wondering if I could have a recipe other than my frequently used ones.
My paternal cousins, my sisters and I are always a WhatsApp message away from each other. So that was the best forum to get a recipe and I put out my request. Not surprisingly, each one had a recipe, however little they varied in terms of ingredients or proportions. Thus, be warned, I shall be posting a different podi recipe soon as one stock gets finished.
The recipe I share today is from a cousin who follows her mother-in-law's. I did not make any tweaks or changes on my whim, though a lot of discussion happened, about more wholesome additions.This recipe is quite adaptable to such tweaks and one may try variations.

Milagai podi for Idlis and Dosais - Version 3

All measures are 125 ml cup
Yield: Fills a 450 ml jar/ 280 grams

1 packed cup dry red chillis broken in small bits
1 cup urad dhal
1/2 cup channa dhal
1/3 cup white sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoon powdered jaggery (for flavour only, so you may adjust accordingly)
Salt to taste
2 drops caster oil to fry chillis (optional)

Rub in the oil on the chillis and roast the chillis in a heavy bottom pan until brittle and brown without burning them.
Transfer to a largish plate and keep aside.
Dry roast each separately, the urad dhal and channa dhal until the lentils are golden and aromatic.
Transfer from heat.
Roast the sesame seeds until they pop and add to the dhals.
Finally toss the salt (I use coarse sea salt) in the heat of the pan and keep aside.
Transfer the dhals and sesame seeds to the jar of your spice grinder/ blender and pulse to a coarse powder.
Add the chillis and salt and grind further until almost fine.
Finally add the jaggery, pulse to mix and transfer to a dish.

Allow to cool and store in an airtight jar.
Keeps well for months at room temperature.
Serve this podi as side for idli and dosai along with sesame oil/ ghee.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tender Ridge Gourd Salad with Nuts

I complain time and again that I do not find here, in Togo, most vegetables I might walk into my green grocer and pick up back home. The variety is so small that I might repeat the same fare week after the other. Though the variety is limited, I find most of the vegetables year around and that I am happy for. Many times the available vegetables are not quite fresh, but when you do get some fresh and tender, I will grab those, only to stock up inside the refrigerator. The vendors have standard prices and they would refuse to sell just the quantity I offer to take. I have no choice but buy a whole bunch. That said, I have learnt to freeze certain  vegetables and use when I choose to.
On my last visit though, i found very tender ridge gourd on a rare occasion and took them home. As I was trying to check them for the bitterness, which might be common with these gourds, they tasted so fresh, tender and almost sweet. I might be wasting the tenderness by cooking, I thought. Also in my supply I had cherry tomatoes and somewhat sour green grapes. Thus, the idea of this salad came up. Toss in a handful of favourite nuts and a colourful salad with crunch of nuts is ready to be consumed.

There is no specific recipe to share. It is upto one's own choice of vegetables to go in and nuts to add to. Nonetheless, I might share a basic recipe which anyone may build on.

Tender Ridge Gourd Salad with Nuts 
Serves two people 

2 very tender ridge gourds
8-10 cherry tomatoes
10 slightly sour green grapes
A fistful of mixed toasted nuts
Chilli flakes just a little to add heat

Cut the ridge gourd in small size cubes.
Halve the cherry tomatoes.
Halve the green grapes and remove the seeds. I had grapes with thick skin and thus peeled it also.
In a salad plate arrange all the above and toss in the nuts. Mix in the chilli flakes.
I had sour grapes so it balanced the heat. If necessary squeeze the juice of limes as desired.

Serve freshly put together salad.
The No Croutons Required Event is jointly hosted by Lisa and Jacqueline. This month's event is being held at Lisa's Kitchen. This salad is being sent to the same.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread - We Knead to Bake 31

Having been away from this space for just about a month, I am back baking with the We Knead to Bake group this month. This month's is a simple bread which does not mean that it is not delicious. It might sure become one of your favourite breads.
Aparna chose this yeasted banana bread for this month. I had been away from my home and was back only a few days back. I had to wait to go to the market to procure certain ingredients needed and mainly bananas to attempt the bread. Here I am sharing this bread with readers.
Aparna adds,
"Banana bread as we know it is usually a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread, that is a bread that is leavened with baking powder.  This month’s bread however is a twist on not just banana bread but also the classic white sandwich bread.

This Banana Bread is a yeasted slightly sweet sandwich bread that makes particularly excellent peanut butter sandwiches. Also try making French toast with it and you won’t regret it, I promise. You can also make savoury sandwiches with this Banana Bread or serve it on the side with curries or soup.
This is a recipe for Sandwich Bread so it’s best to leave it plain. If you would like to flavour the bread with something though, here are some suggestions for flavour pairings/ combinations that go well with banana.

Fruit - Apricot, Blueberry, Cherry, Date, Fig, Guava, Kiwi, Kumquat, Lime, Mango, Orange, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberry
Spices - Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Tea
Others - Caramel, Coconut, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Honey, Macadamia, Maple, Oatmeal, Pecan, Walnuts, White Chocolate."
I chose to leave it plain with only the basic recipe given. However you have the above mentioned choices to try.

Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread
(Adapted from http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/yeasted-banana-sandwich-bread-recipe )

Makes one medium loaf 81/2"X41/2"
3/4 cup to 1 cup lukewarm milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour *
1/2 tablespoon vital wheat gluten* (optional)
25 grams butter soft at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
3 small ripe bananas (Chopped to fill 1 to 1&1/2 cups)

* I chose to use bread flour replacing the all purpose flour and hence did not use vital wheat gluten.
You may use all purpose flour and not use the vital wheat gluten also.

I use the machine to knead my dough while it can be done by hand also.
Place all the ingredients except the milk in a large bowl/ bowl of your processor. Mix well.
Add the milk and knead until you have a shaggy dough. Add more milk as necessary to achieve this. I needed a little more than 3/4 cup but not all of the 1 cup listed above.
Take away from the bowl and knead further by hand until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic.
Shape it into a ball and place in an oil coated bowl. Cover and let the dough double in volume for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Gently deflate the risen dough and shape it in a loaf to fit a 81/2"X41/2" loaf tin. Cover loosely and let it rise again to the top of the tin.
Brush the top with milk and if desired press some oats on top. 
Bake in a pre heated 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F oven for about 40 to 50 minutes until the top is nicely brown and the breads feels hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before slicing it.

Serve as sandwich or plain with tea.
Now, head over to Aparna's post where you might find links to posts by other members also.