Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April Bread Baking Babes: Pretzel Croissants


This month Heather over at girlichef is our host and she asked us to marry her. Or wait… she introduced her recipe and then asked if we wanted to marry her? I am not sure but it had something to do with pretzels, croissants, butter and marriage. Something. Not sure which was first.

Butter and croissants is always a good idea. Reading a recipe before you pick a day to bake is a good idea. No, make that reading your recipe thoroughly especially when you plan is a very good idea. Certainly when those recipes involve something with puff pastry and dough. (Cautionary advice; it wouldn’t hurt to read through anything regarding marriage before you embark either..)

Of course I didn’t read the recipe thoroughly. I skipread the recipe with a firm accent on the skip part of skipreading. I saw croissants… pretzels… yadayadaa…. –mumbling holy cow that’s a lot of butter this month- latidaaah sesame seeds, glaze…oh baked baking soda now that is interesting…teedeedeee.. loads of time left to bake…wheewheewhee … birthdays, last tests for school…let’s see..hmmm this week I can manage but not on tuesday.

And then I heard my fellow Babes over the three day approach…. and the two day approach…. and dough in the freezer to divide the hands on time…

My brain went in overdrive. (To be honest? It went fuzzy first.. that’s where I asked if I could use my puff pastry I had resting in the freezer. Of course not. Read the recipe!)

So. To make a long story short. No pretzels today. No croissants either. Nope not going to happen. Think I will make a Buddy this month.

me-made flower arrangement for Easter

However… please hop on over to my Bread Baking Babes to see how gorgeous and flakey their croissants turned out!

The Bread Baking Babes (current dozen) are:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bread Baking Babes make a splash; Floating Dough

This month we wrapped our dough in a teatowel, tied a pretty twine around it and called it a day!
please join us as a Bread Baking Buddy! Let Elle  know how you wrapped your dough by the end of this month....

Hehe, we did a little bit more than that but you guessed that already. Elle over at  Feeding My Enthusiasms        was our host this month and we gathered around her kitchen table while she spun us a story about how to wrap your dough and sink it off in a bucket of water....

The dough was a very rich dough, quite the amount of butter, sugar and eggs added to get a brioche like dough. Don't let it scare you, the dough was amazingly well-behaved, easy to handle and tame!
So far so good, nothing new there. But here we go.... now  we were supposed to wrap the dough in a floured tea towel, tie it up en sink it in a large bowl filled with warm water! Yes. Immerse a package of dough in hot water.

And then? Well, it sinks to the bottom.

Then within 30-45 minutes it rises back to the surface (any submarine songs?)
The packet bobs right up and floats on the water... so funny! It's all bulky and feels airy.

Because it's still wrapped in that teatowel! Granted, I floured it heavily but then again, the whole thing is soaking wet so what the dough looks like? I was really wondering if I could get it out more or less in one piece.

Turns out I need not worry. The dense layer of flour kept the dough ball intact and protected from the water and with the help of my dough scraper I could get the dough out pretty easily.

Again on the work surface and pushed back, balled up and put to rise in a loaf pan. I didn't make two separate loaves but instead chose a bigger loaf pan and put two balls of dough next to each other to rise.
And then made dinner, all of us around the table (doesn't happen very often these days), enjoyed after dinner coffee..... forgot ALL about that dough rising@

Unfortunately -in this case :-() it rose pretty quickly although I used only 1.1/4 tsp of yeast. Over rise! So so very unnecessary. I baked it and we had it the next mroning for breakfast. A real brioche like dough, dries out quite fast but overall very very nice loaf of bread!

Thanks Pat for this step out of our comfortzone again in a direction I never imagined!

It was fun and I was almost sorry the boys have grown so much because this must be so great to do with children around! Sinking and rising dough packages! Can it get any better? And see -> no ruined tea towel!
But now, can someone please tell me WHY we do this?
I mean, does it help the dough in any way? Make it softer? Or quicker? More controlled rise?

This is what Elle discovered:
The theory is that the dough, being delicate, will benefit from rising in water where the water barrier will keep the yeast produced gases inside the dough, for a better first rise. Having it wrapped in a tea towel is probably necessary since Beard says this is a sticky dough, even when the first kneading is done.

Also please let Elle know you baked along with us: YOU are invited to play along, get watery, and become a Bread Baking Babe Buddy. Just bake the bread (recipe below), take a photo, send her an e-mail (to elle dot lachman at gmail dot com) with the photo and a link to your post, plus a few words on your experience baking this bread. Variations are encouraged, but do try the water proofing, OK? By the way, this makes excellent French Toast


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

and again with results: Baking Rgaïf....

I was so proud to be able to stretch the dough thin, almost see through thin. Then I folded the sides inwards just like the pictures at Lien's show you.

Right from the get go I can tell you that it was so much easier than I thought! What a dork am I to let my fear hold me back. Then again, this being a flatbread... this flatbread did exactly what all flatbreads do to me:
they puff.

At that point they already started to look puffy. Touching  the hot surface of the pan (I used a crepe pan) up up they went. Barely touching the surface they tiptoed through their baking time. The result was a delicious smell, a lovely outer crunch but still doughy -undercooked- inside.

 Please tell me; what am I doing wrong? I can think of several things:

- I used bread flour and a mix of amaranth/quinoa   --> too elastic, too bready?
- Too impatient? A hot pan and thus short cooking time?
- Not thin enough? I really did my best to stretch the dough real real thin but when folding up again I got a thickness back.

I took really reallly horrible pictures (here's looking at my fellow Babes with their master pictures. Yes you! All of you! I am crying over my ugly but lovely Rgaïf with a dollop of hummus)

One of the pictures perfectly shows my thought process...

fold in quarters... hmm not going anywhere, puffing up and undercooked
fold in quarters then stretched again... terribly out of shape and still puffing and undercooking
unfold in half with a little butter in the pan... mwah
try again... half fold... bare pan... mwah
try again... bare pan.. stretched some more... doesn't look nice
hey.. let's try some very finely sliced spring onions in it....munches half.. nice! Doesn't look good but nice!
Oh bother... ugly words... flap it in the pan as is. Unfolded and deeply stretched... woohaa.. not nice but cooked!


I better test another one with the hummus I made. A very nice one I might add. (Humus not Rgaif).

Lien, I'm coming over to your place and please teach me how to do this?!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Celebrate the Babes! Stretching my deadline for baking Rgaif from the Bread Baking Babes!

Blame it on the non-existing winterdays here in the Netherlands but I completely missed that our posting date was this weekend. It didn't help that I was partnered to throw a birthday party for my sister's oldest boy this weekend as well, the noise 6 over-excited 5yr olds make.... I really needed my husband to remind me that some time ago our boys had been 5 as well but still I can't believe they were that loud!

Sunday was spent nestled in the couch, baking a couple of loaves, handquilting a bit, drinking a cup of tea, watching the Olympics not for one moment realising that after 15 comes 16 and my post was due!

The Babes are celebrating their 6th birthday!! No really! We make noise as well, making waves and baking bread for 6 years now. We also welcome two new Babes to the block! So happy to announce that we found Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen to join us, and also Cathy from Bread Experience.
Welcome girls! 

Then our bread for this month is Rgaïf, chosen by Lien of Notitie van Lien.
That girl knows how to scare a Babe! This is a flat bread that needs stretching and stretching and then some more.... until you get a very thin sheet of dough that is then folded and baked in a skillet on the stove.

I can make dough, I stretch, I fold and I'm not afraid to use the stove... but that thin!! Seriously? I crumbled and read all I could to help me get through this but in the end I procrastrinating out of sheer fear pushed me over the deadline and I didn't make it. Yet.

However... Howwwww Evaaah... There is a pot of pumpkin-rutabaga soup on the counter for tonight and I figure this bread is the perfect companion. So yes, I will do it. Today!!

For the recipe and the information on how to be a Buddy please head over to Lien at Lien's Notes. She will provide you with everything you need to know and offer encouragement that yes, it can be done!
This is what she says:

Bread Baking Buddy, be a Buddy and let us know all about it, by sending your details and results to Lien (as she is kitchen of the month this time). Mail her your name, blog url, post url and attach your favorite picture of the recipe. Send it to notitievanlien(at)gmail(polkadot)com. Deadline is the 29th of this month.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bread Baking Babes went to the Dark side... Chocolate Prune Bread

Humhum... not sure if this is going to work as planned but I successfully accessed an out-of-the-house camera, transferred pictures through a screen I never saw before and got them safely (or that's what I am thinking right now) on to my tablet. Hah! Take that employers that do not wish to look beyond age, job-hiatus and allegedly not up to date computer skills!
With age comes grace, flexibility, inventivity (because contrary to popular belief you don't get stuck in your ways when over 30, because at over 40 you know that things don't always go as planned and you invent ways to get things done. Bottom line here: get things done any which way!)

Okay. Stop the rant and enter the dark side.

The dark side of bread that is. This month's challenge issued by our Babeness Jamie was to bake with chocolate, prunes, more chocolate and bread dough, resulting in a Chocolate Prune bread as per the recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (revised & updated edition) by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François.

That is no-knead bread. Ai!! No knead? Those were the breads that were either wonderfully moist inside or clammy and not really cooked depending which way you sway... and I had some memories lingering which led me to believe that no-knead breads = gummy innards. So yes I was a bit apprehensive, but the combination of chocolate and prunes called!

Mixing up the dough made me wonder how I was going to roll it out (and up) because once prepared the dough resembled brownie batter more than bread dough. I prepared my work area with a smattering of flour and lo-and-behold... it was so easy! Granted I didn't use a rolling pin but chose to flatten and pat the dough into a rectangle and that proved to be very easy. Definitely chill the risen dough in the fridge for a couple of hours! Mine was in the fridge for only two hours but the chilled dough was definitely easier to handle, so keep that in mind when you try this.

When I had my rectangle of dough I sprinkled the chopped prunes and a cup of chocolate chips on plus.... I added a 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar. Yes. I did. Not scared to admit it. And boy was that a stroke of genius! I made the whole batch of dough (sufficient for two loaves) and the second part of the dough was sprinkled with chopped dates and walnuts.

The prune chocolate bread was then rolled up and sliced as you would slice cinnamon rolls, arranged them in a spring form (22cm) and let them rise.
The second loaf, sprinkled with dates and walnuts was rolled up and then coiled (like a snail) and put in another springform to rise. Both doughs rose well but I could see that the shaping made a difference already. The coil rose evenly and stayed in shape. The cinnamon roll type rose all over the place and looked quite wet and bubbly.

Baking went without any problems, again the coil behaved beautifully, the rolls fluffed out and didn't look nice at all. Bummer!
Then the proof is in the eating..... I loved the walnut-date combination with the chocolate, I didn't care much for the prune-chocolate combination but boy that cinnamon sugar I added... Yum!! It brought everything together!  So if I were to bake this again I would stick the date-walnut-chocolate with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and coil it.

The boys loved it but they weren't sure how to take it. Is it a bread? Is it a brownie? Is it cake? I thought the texture and looks were more cake-like but the mouthfeel was definitely bread. Oh and I would like to tell you that it toasts magnificently ... my oh my..... a bit of butter.... (or do as the chocolate monster did: nutella!)

Thanks Jamie! Restored faith in the no-knead breads! Please hop over to the other Babes and see how they got their chocolate fix! (Find the links in the right hand side bar)

January’s Bread Baking Babes recipe is Chocolate Prune Bread from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (revised & updated edition) by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François. You too can bake along with us and be a Bread Baking Buddy. Simply bake this Chocolate Prune Bread, blog it – don’t forget to mention being a Bread Baking Buddy and link back to Jamie's blog post! Then send her the link (please include your name and your blog’s name) by January 29th to jamieannschler AT gmail DOT com with January Bread Baking Buddy in the subject line and Jamie will add you to the roundup at the end of the month.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bread Baking Buddies show Aloo Paratha! The roundup:

And off we go; our Buddies came through with their version of our November bake: Aloo Paratha! So this is show-and-tell-time, or maybe it's show me your stuffing time? We were glad to see we weren't the only ones trying to keep our filling from escaping.


First let me introduce you to Sunita over at My Foodlab, where we all had more or less trouble in keeping the filling in while rolling the parathas as flat as possible Sunita added an extra challenge by making a filling with radishes... radishes ooze liquid... and still she made beautiful paratha!

Beautifully crisp parathas with an original yummy filling were made by Carola, at Sweet and that's it, look at how thin and crispy they are:

Renee shows us her non-traditional baking at Kudos Kitchen, she made crunchy potato pockets and used leftover potato mash in the filling, clever!

Aloo Parantha Recipe

Gilad baked along for the 13th time (we're flattered and happy!!) send me a link to his blog and shows us the process in pics as well, have a look:

And if you weren't already hungry you should take a closer look at these beauties! Lucille baked and send me her picture.... I want a plate of those! (yes please and some of that dip!)

Sandie blogs at Crumbs of Love and send her daughter to school with leftover parathas... I wouldn't mind such a lunchbox! Gorgeous filling there as well:

Ivy showed her first ever Buddy Bake and paratha's at our facebook group:

As did Louise; Louise took a very practical approach, no rolling? Then just push and flatten and see how forgiving this recipe is:
Louise Persson's photo.

I am happy to see so many of you baking with us, our next challenge is underway and we hope you find some gap in your busy December schedule to bake along with us. We will post as always on the 16th and I can already tell you that Lien will invite us at her kitchen table to be our Kitchen of the Month. Stay tuned!

Thanks again Buddies for baking with us!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bread Baking Babes roll it all out: Aloo Paratha

Aloo Paratha, that's what I chose when it was my turn to bake for November. I saw the recipe earlier and immediately though that that should be the one. I don't know what it is with flatbreads that grab my attention. I think they are hard to get right (yes really) and somehow they are a comforting kind of bread for me. In my minds eye there's always a stack of flatbreads wrapped in a vibrantly colored cotton towel, a warm damp kitchen, a wooden table and some thick spicy curry steaming in an earthenware pot with a sturdy spoon resting against the rim....

Dream along with me?

Now what is a paratha? A parantha/paratha is an Indian unleavened flat-bread. The word Paratha (Parantha in Punjab) is an amalgamation of the words parat = layers and atta= flour. They are supposed to be crisp and brown on the outside and the inner part should consist of thin and soft layers.
This paratha we are going to bake here has a savoury filling of potatoes and herbs. But.. and that's the fun part, we are not restricted to that, I think spinach (sauteed and pressed to get rid of the liquid) would be great, as well as leek. A fun bread to bake! Follow the recipe or make it your own.

Mark Bittman uses a recipe he learned from Indian cook and cookbook writer Julie Sahni, her recipe, modified.

Aloo Parantha
("how to cook everything by Mark Bittman")

1.1/2 c whole wheat flour
1.1/2 c ap flour plus more for rolling out the dough
1 ts ajwain* dried thyme, or ground cumin
2 tbs neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for brushing the breads
1.1/2 pounds starchy potatoes, peeled and cut in half (I think that is way too much! See notes)
1 jalapeño or other fresh hot chile, seeded and minced or more to taste
2 tsp ground coriander
freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 small lemon
melted butter

*ajwain comes from carom seeds which look like celery but taste like very strong, slightly coarse thyme


  • Combine the flours with 1 teaspoon salt and the thyme in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add the oil and 3/4 cup water through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough and, using flour as necessary, shape into a ball; wrap in plastic and let rest while you make the potato mixture. (At this point, you may wrap the dough tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to a day or freeze for up to a week; bring back to room temperature before proceeding.)

  • Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover and a large pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily; cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then drain. Mash the potatoes along with half the chile, the coriander, a large pinch of salt, some pepper, and the lemon juice; taste and adjust the seasoning (you may prefer more chile; sometimes aloo paratha are quite hot).
  • When the dough has rested, set out a bowl of all-purpose flour and a small bowl of oil, with a spoon or brush, on your work surface. Lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin. Break off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Toss it in the bowl of flour and then roll it in your hands to make a ball. Flatten it into a 2-inch disk, then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a thin round, about 5 inches in diameter, dusting with flour as necessary.

  • Mound about 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center of one of the rounds of dough. Bring the edges of the round up over the top of the filling and press them together to make a pouch. Press down on the “neck” of the pouch with the palm of one hand to make a slightly rounded disk. Turn the disk in the bowl of flour and roll it out again into a round 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Pat it between your hands to brush off the excess flour. Put the paratha on a plate and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Continue to roll all of the remaining dough into parathas and stack them on the plate with a sheet of plastic wrap between them. You can keep the paratha stacked like this for an hour or two in the refrigerator before cooking them if necessary.

  • Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two, then put on a paratha (or two, if they’ll fit) and cook until it darkens slightly, usually less than a minute. Flip the paratha with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds on the second side. Use the back of a spoon or a brush to coat the top of the paratha with oil. Flip and coat the other side with oil. Continue cooking the paratha until the bottom of the bread has browned, flip, and repeat. Do this a few times until both sides of the paratha are golden brown and very crisp, 2 to 3 minutes total for each paratha. As the paratha finish, remove them from the pan and brush with melted butter if you’re going to serve hot; otherwise wait until you’ve reheated them.
I am sure you all can come up with more variations on filling than I can mention here, but I do like the sound of garam masala with the potatoes, spring onions and peas instead of potatoes, or maybe cauliflower...

This is a link to the recipe in the Huffington Post (in which Mark warns us that it may sound like "carbohydrate overkill)

My notes:

- Of course I had some difficulty rolling the dough into a disk... my whole wheat stayed  a bit course and the dough a bit too dry so it didn't relax enough. I found that rolling them a second time after some rest worked wonders.

- I really liked the flavour of these, don't be too shy in adding herbs and flavour, they can use some spice!

- I didn't get crisp through and through they stayed a little pancakey but that wasn't bad at all. Not sure if they are meant to get all crispy?

- Potatoe filling in mine, my spices were falafel, parsley and fresh cilantro. I could have added a green pepper for a bit of oomph.

- Loads of left over filling, too much filling will ooze out so I only used a scant two table spoons in each. You could safely do with half of the mentioned potatoes.

go forth and bake my girls!

And when you do, please send me the link to your post at bakemyday AT gmail DOT com with Aloo Paratha in the subject line before 29th November so I can send you that much coveted Buddy Badge!
Please check with the other Babes to see how creative they made their Aloo Paratha's!