p3: Bagels

#24, Bagels

fresh-baked-bagels-4268-lgI’ve been wanting to do a recipe for bagels for quite a while, we’ve been stocking them more often in the pantry again, always a favorite breakfast snack! But there have been two distinct notes of opposition preventing me from doing this: first, of course, find a couple day period to spend making them, a pain when one keeps getting distractions or days that make you just not want to do anything. But the second, and bigger issue, is my recipe book’s requirement for “High Gluten Flour.” And no, this doesn’t mean just bread flour, high-gluten is a step higher than that and apparently instrumental to making those perfectly chewy bagels.

But apparently no one has it in stores, at least not the ones I’ve tried near me, and it is flipping pricey to buy online JUST for a bag of flour. So the thought was doomed, left to be procrastinated on for who knows how long. Thankfully, though, I ended up catching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they made, gasp, bagels! In it they DID use bread flour, or mentioned it was still a viable substitute for their recipe, helping get my brain back on track to the idea of making these holey goodies. Found a recipe online that actually STARTED with the ATK recipe but made his own manipulations to get an end result that was a little more classic and refined [plus without all those extra little odd steps they do in the show, which makes an awesome recipe yes but not a very classic one].

20160217_002101A few notes, this IS one of the bread recipes where, much like pretzels, the proofed dough is dunked into a boiling water solution mixed with baking soda to gelatinize the outer layer for an even thicker and distinct crust after baking. The dough itself is made VERY firm and stiff; it is highly advised you do NOT try to man up to knead it and just use a stand mixer instead. Because even THOSE will be struggling to whip it around. And I mentioned the special ingredient of high gluten flour, but there’s another one: Malt Powder or syrup. Apparently they’re used as the sweet aspect in lots of bagel recipes, both for the yeast to eat and to add an additional edge of flavor to the final product [likely a continued nod to the older times where some bagel makers just used some cheap available leftover materials from their or other beer making]. The powder itself is sort of in the same category as the flour, likely needing to order it, but one can find Barley Malt Syrup rather easily in stores, which I LOVE using by the way. For anyone who’s made beer and had to start out using the syrups and powders alongside the malt, they know the concentrated almost-molassasey goodness that this offers! Need to find some other cool things to mix it into… oh, and fair warning, this mofo is STICKY as all hell. No matter what it will not just fall off anything naturally, so be warned with pouring!

Recipe 20160217_001752 6 cup High Protein/Gluten or Bread Flour
2 ¼ tsp Dry Yeast
1 Tb Kosher Salt
1/3 cup + 1 Tb Barley Malt Syrup or 2/3 cup Barley Malt Powder
2 cup Hot Water [88-100F]
1 Tb Baking Soda
Desired Toppings, if any
Egg White Wash [if topping]

Directions

  1. Combine Flour, Yeast, Salt, and Barley Malt Powder [if using] in stand mixer20160217_002316
  2. If using 1/3 cup Barley Malt Syrup, mix with Hot Water to dissolve, slowly streaming into the flour mixture while mixing on low speed [using paddle attachment]20160217_002608
  3. Once all loose flour has come together into a single mass, exchange paddle for dough hook and start beating around the dough on medium speed20160217_002739
  4. Mix for at least 10 minutes, and yes your mixer WILL be working hard to do this, until your sturdy dough is smooth and elastic20160217_004341
  5. Plop this on counter, loosely covering with plastic wrap or damp towel, and let rest at least 5 minutes to relax20160217_011256
  6. Divide into 12 even-sized pieces. Placing a piece between your palm, fingers bent like a claw, and the counter surface [or if it has NO traction like my counter, your other palm], roll the dough rapidly in circles until it forms a smooth boule. It can help to tuck parts of it into the back like with regular boule-making technique at first
  7. Take each ball, gently pushing a hole straight through the center with your finger/thumb, and begin working this hole out to at least 1½” wide by slowly turning and pressing evenly with your thumb [that whole “spinning around your finger” trick probably DOES work, but only if the dough is absolutely perfect to start out with]. Alternately, one can roll the dough into an even log and wrap around your palm, re-connecting the ends into a perfect circle. Good luck20160217_013512
  8. Transfer to cornmeal-dusted pan, cover with plastic and move to refrigerator overnight20160217_115621
  9. The next day, take dough out and prepare your water bath. Combine 1 gallon water, the 1 Tb Malt Syrup, and Baking Soda, bringing to a boil20160217_120518
  10. Dip 3-4 doughnuts into the water at a time, leaving to boil on one side for one minute before turning over for another minute20160217_121003
  11. Transfer to a cooling rack to drip for a bit and then to another cornmeal-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. As this is going, preheat oven to 450F20160217_122514
  12. If sprinkling any toppings [I myself used a Lemon Flake Sea Salt on some], brush the tops and sides of your bagels with Egg Wash [1 tsp of water mixed w/ one egg white vigorously], then sprinkle as generously as desired, patting ingredients down and into it afterwards20160217_124754
  13. Move into oven, baking at least 15-20 minutes, turning 180 degrees halfway through cook time
  14. Once deep golden brown and baked through, remove20160217_124805
  15. Let cool half an hour before use or, if you’re cool, cut open immediately and cover those hot insides with butter and/or a schmear of cream cheese
  16. Enjoy

20160217_154230What Have I Learned This Time?

That I still need more work with shaping, these bagels were a pain trying to keep even and ‘perfect’ looking. At least those rough edges softened up by the final product through proofing and baking, but I may have to try the ‘roll and wrap’ technique for shaping if I ever do this again.

Bagels definitely do NOT need egg wash if there’s no topping; I much prefer their color when baked as-is, the others made me nervous of being in too long.

The benefits of using a slightly damp towel when resting certain doughs; the bagel dough definitely started to get one of those firm skins on parts of it before shaping, which made the process itself that much more difficult. I feel like it developed one rather fast too. Sadly I hadn’t noticed the ‘damp towel’ instruction in the recipe [and it might have just been in another one that I read earlier actually], but it definitely would have helped here.

Any Thoughts?

The end result comes reminiscent of pretzels… not surprising given the similar boil-bath before baking. Big, chewy, and for once with a crunchy exterior when eaten close to fresh, it’s a good version of a bagel. Can’t wait to try one in New York in a month or so to do a proper comparison.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It still thinks I need to work on my massage technique…

 

p3: Challah

#22, Challah

saffron-challah-loavesThere are two classic breads whenever one looks into the ‘enriched varieties;’ you know, the ones that have extra butter, milk, and/or eggs to make a richer and tender-crispy product. Of course Brioche is the first, and I gotta love making and eating them. Then there’s Challah, the braided wonder famous for its importance in Judaith traditions, eaten purely on the Sabbath. I mean, unless you’re like me and just want to eat it whenever you want. For instance, when I need something awesome to make an Almond French Toast for my Mother’s Birthday Brunch. I’ve bought it before from a store [and lucky for me I didn’t realize they only sold it on Friday, which is the day I HAPPENED to make it in and got the last loaf], but now I get the chance to make it myself!

Note that the recipe which follows will be for a simple 3-braided style loaf shape; there are quite a few others, including 4-braid, 5, and even higher which all have their own specific techniques to making the braid. I’ll probably try them out in the future should I ever attempt any other challah or braided loafs [hopefully!], but just letting you know for now.

I’d write more but I’ve been so busy with other things lately I don’t have anything else I really want to say here…

Recipe
4 cups/18oz Bread Flour
2 Tb/1oz Sugar
1 tsp/0.25oz Salt
1 ½ tsp/0.18oz Yeast
2 Tb/1oz Vegetable Oil
2 whole/3.3oz Eggs
2 whole/3.3oz Eggs, Yolks and Whites separated
7/8 cup/7oz Water, Room Temp
Sesame, Poppy Seeds, or anything else desired for Garnish

Directions

  1. Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt, and Yeast in bowl of stand mixer20160102_112732
  2. Separately, mix Oil, the 2 Eggs, 2 Egg Yolks, and Water until consistent, pouring into the dry mixture20160102_112841
  3. Mix on low speed, with paddle attachment, until everything congeals and forms into a ball; add more water if needed20160102_112854
  4. Switch to dough hook and let mixture run on medium speed around 6-8 minutes, adding more flour if sorta sticky, until it forms a smooth, supple mass and passes the windowpane test20160102_113626
  5. Roll into ball and toss in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and bulk ferment 1 hour20160102_113750
  6. At that point, punch or knead the dough down to de-gas, reforming into a ball and returning to covered bowl for another hour or until doubled in size20160102_135231
  7. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces, form into a Boule as shown Here and let rest on counter about 10 minutes20160102_135634
  8. Roll out each ball into as long and thin of a log/strand as desired, simply making sure that it’s somewhat thicker in the middle and thinner on the ends20160102_141810
  9. To shape loaves, lay each strand parallel to each other, and ideally vertical to you to discern a ‘right and left’ side. Take the end of the outer right leg, crossing it over the one to the left so that they’re crossed in the middle and the end is between the other two. Now take the outermost left strand and cross it over the now middle strand. Repeat where the end of the outer right is going over the middle and then with the left, until the ends meet up20160102_142156
  10. Do the same pattern with the OTHER half, only crossing underneath instead of over. Finish by pinching the ends closed20160102_142410
  11. Take egg Whites, beating well until frothy to make an egg Wash
  12. Transfer braid to parchment-lined sheet, brushing with wash and lightly spraying with oil before giving a loose cover of plastic or cloth. Proof 60-75 minutes or until doubled in size20160102_143244
  13. Preheat oven 350F
  14. Brush loaf once more with a coat of egg wash, sprinkling with Seseame/Poppy Seeds [or in my case, crumbled almonds]20160102_154743
  15. Bake for 20 minutes, turn 180 degrees, and then 20-40 minutes more depending, until it’s achieved a rich golden brown color and sounds hollow when thumped20160102_163051
  16. Remove and cool on rack at least an hour before serving. Enjoy

20160102_163120What Have I Learned This Time?

Apparently I need to find instructions on bread braiding that actually goes into proper detail on it. As you can see from my pictures, my loaf didn’t quiiiiiiieeete come out as pretty as a classic braid does… it has a cool shape, mind you, but not a proper braid. Figured out the reason though; the book I based this off has you label the ‘ends’ of each dough log 1, 2, 3. It says cross 3 over 2, then 1 over 2, then repeat. What it DOESN’T say is that when you cross one over the other, it then turns into 2 and the numbers switch so it’s always 1-2-3. So I kept trying to cross things over the main one and it didn’t turn out well for half the loaf.

Also, need to find a better way to make those dough logs/ropes… god it didn’t want to co-operate at all…

Any Thoughts?

20160102_175244I wish I hadn’t forgotten to take pictures of the awesome-as-hell Amaretto French Toast that I made with this… I mean damn it was good. Though, on its own, having a bite with just that bit of toasted almond on top was just nutty goodness. Oh, and I absolutely love this fresh from the oven; the crust is delightfully crunchy and toasty, perfect with that slightly-enriched center. I forgot how much lighter it was compared to brioche, so a bit of butter definitely brings it to awesome heights [I don’t care if it’s kosher or not! And I’m too lazy to find out!]. I sort of want to make it again as a fun all-purpose bread, especially to practice my braiding techniques, and use different oils and things to see how it affects the final outcome.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

The dough? Yes. In fact, I think it loves me like family now. The whole braiding technique thing isn’t impressed though… I’ll have to bring it chocolate and flowers next time.

p3: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

img_6469-version-2#21, Cinnamon “Raisin” Walnut Bread

I’ve had the house to myself for a while, need some loaf bread around, and it’s the holiday season so I’ve got to make something at least semi-suitable. Well truthfully I just wanted to make something simple, like a loaf bread, that I could turn into a project article and didn’t feel like doing any of my past recipes. And as I’m flipping through the book, I come across a recipe that I had completely forgot to take under my wing; I planned on making it at an early point but had yet to get around to it. Considering the time of year and need for something a bit simple, it seemed right to make a big loaf of Cinnamon Walnut Raisin Bread for the house; good on its own and interestingly versatile in the sandwich game. Not to mention I DID just recently receive a bag of organically small-farmed walnuts… had to crack the damn things myself, took two days, but they were worth it!

Thoug20151206_114957h of course I don’t actually HAVE any raisins… which is why we improvise, there being quite the simple solution here. It WAS a good way to use up all the leftover dried fruit I had from my yearly fruitcake making. With luck, my mixture of dates, figs, dried apples and walnuts, matched with this homemade recipe, can put the many horrible memories of childhood daycare cinnamon bread ‘snack times’ to proper shame.

 

20151206_115043Recipe
3½ cups/16oz Bread Flour
4 tsp/0.66oz Sugar
1¼ tsp/0.31oz Salt
2 tsp/0.22oz Dry Yeast
1¼ tsp/0.16oz Cinnamon
1 Large Egg
2 Tb/1oz Butter, room temp
½ cup/4oz Buttermilk or Whole Milk, room temp
¾ cup/6oz Water, room temp
1½ cups/9oz Raisins or other Dried Fruit [chopped if large]
1 cup/4oz Toasted, Chopped Walnuts

Directions

  1. Stir Flour, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, and Cinnamon in stand mixer bowl20151206_115658
  2. Add Egg, Butter, Buttermilk, and Water, mixing on low until everything comes together in a moist lump20151206_120803
  3. Switch to a dough hook and mix on medium, adding flour as needed if dough is too sticky, until it starts to get soft and pliable20151206_121036
  4. When it seems close to done, about 6-7 minutes-ish, add in Walnuts and your Dried Fruit of choice, mixing until everything is fully incorporate and fully kneaded, 1-2 minutes20151206_121852
  5. Transfer to oiled bowl, covering with cling wrap and bulk fermenting at room temp up to 2 hours, or until doubled in size20151206_141824
  6. Divide dough in 2 equal pieces or use it all for a bigger loaf, dimpling down to briefly degas before shaping into a loaf as directed Here. Place the shaped dough into a thoroughly oil-misted loaf pan, loosely covering with plastic20151206_142228
  7. Proof 60-90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size and risen above the edge of the pan
  8. Heat oven to 350F, moving the loaf pans on a sheet tray for baking20151206_153341
  9. Cook for 20 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and continue for a further 20-30 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when bottom is thumped
  10. Remove from oven and pans, placing bread on cooling rack for at least an hour before eating
  11. Slice and enjoy!

20151206_212936

What Have I Learned This Time?

I think I’ve noticed a trend in the fruit+nut-filled breads, mainly in the definite need for one to fold in as much mix-ins and other flavorings as possible. Truly they’re the main performers, for in all cases I’ve found so far the bread ON ITS OWN, if tried fruit-free, has felt very much on the plain/boring, if not even under-seasoned side. In the future, I believe I can improve this by increasing the salt additions for flavor, really felt like it needed it here alongside more cinnamon, but it’s just an interesting pattern of note. Though I’d bet a proper Panettone might be pretty darn good on its own… but there ARE always exceptions to every situation. But the main thing I took from it is that, in these recipes from here on out, I want to try to maximize the workable amount of mix-ins to as high as I possibly can without ruining the composition. If anything, it’ll just be awesome loading them up with goodies.

I’m not sure if this counts in this area, but after looking through pictures, it seems as if many a cinnamon-bread has a distinctive swirl going through it. That wasn’t achieved here, and I’m wondering if that is best done through rolling it even tighter, to create more ‘layering,’ or if I should just try dusting it with cinnamon before shaping a-la Caramel Rolls. Hopefully I’ll get to try.

Any Thoughts?

Not really… though I did REALLY enjoy the distinctly crisp texture on the outside. Not sure if it was natural with the bread or if I ended up over-kneading it, but I liked it! Money’s on the sugar addition helping it out though.

And yes, before those who’ve read these posts before [rare as you may be], I did end up forgetting to take a couple pics after it was baked.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It turned a bit ugly, but I think the fruit made sure the loaf bread is still sweet on me.

p2: Navettes des Marseilles

The Sweet

Due to flavor requirements from a certain Tropezienne cream-filled Tarte, I am now stuck with almost a full vial of Orange Flower Water with nothing to use it on. Lucky me, however, I recall yet another recipe in my lineup that calls for this not-so-oft-used ingredient. Luckier still, this past Thanksgiving had me as the person to bring over desserts; and with the host not actually like pumpkin pie or other very sweet items so much, a secondary confection was called for. And these guys just happen to look like little French footballs!!

navette064

For those in the know, I’m of course discussing Navettes des Marseilles; also known as ‘Navettes de Saint-Victor,’ ‘Navette a la fleur d’oranger,’ or simply ‘Navette’ cookies. These little spritz/sugar cookie/shortbread-like treats come equipped with a pow of distinct floral flavor from the orange flower water, though they can be easily flavored via other means depending on region and personal preference. Their unique oval and middle-indented shape belies their name, which roughly translate can come to mean ‘boat’ or ‘transport.’ This to supposedly celebrate the arrival on Saint Lazarus, Saint Mary Magdalene, and Saint Martha by boat in the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer over 2,000 years ago. Though the Catholic roots of this sweet have ALSO claimed that it was created as a ‘souvenir’ of sorts for wooden statue of ‘Our Lady of the New Fire’ that washed ashore of Lacydon in the 1200’s.

Nowadays various bakeries have become quite cult famous in their areas for their proficiency at putting this little treat together… which feels like it won’t bode to well for my attempt, but we’ll see how it goes!

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

I’m not really sure I have anything to discuss here, though a fair warning as you read through the recipe: I didn’t state it, but I added thyme to this recipe, which can sort of be seen in some of the later pictures. Obviously this has NOTHING to do with the classic cookie, but I wanted to do a flavor twist for the people I was serving this to. Plus it was for a Thanksgiving dessert, had to get something besides just orange in there.

Oh you know what, there IS one thing. I’ve noticed a lot of recipes, after or before shaping the dough, have you ‘rest it’ for 2 hours on the counter before baking. I have NO idea what this is for. If there was yeast or notable leavening ingredients in, or if it was simply pie dough, it’d make sense… here just don’t know. Perhaps it wants to rest any potential firmness of the dough right after being worked by hand so much, but I don’t see why it needs that long. I’ll do it anyways just to see if there’s anything I can divine.

Navettes des Marseilles
200g Sugar
3oz/6 Tb Butter
2 Eggs
1 Tb Orange Flower Water
1 Tb Kosher Salt
500g Flour
Milk

Directions

  1. Cream Butter and Sugar until fluffy20151123_202606
  2. Add in Eggs, one at a time, Orange Flower Water, and Salt, blending until fully incorporated into creamy batter20151123_202858
  3. Slow mix in Flour in thirds, waiting until mostly incorporated before adding more, and blend into a dough20151123_203755
  4. Divide dough into 24 even pieces via cutting in half, each half in quarters, and splitting each of those into 320151123_204655
  5. Shape pieces into flat, pointed ovals: one popular technique is to roll into a cylinder, press flat, slightly shaping into good starting form as you do, and pinching each end. Will likely need further manipulation20151123_205406
  6. Press a slit down the middle with back of knife, spatula, etc, arrange on baking sheets and leave to ‘rest’ for 2 hours at room temp20151123_213232
  7. Heat oven to 350-375 degrees [it’s not really consistant]
  8. When ready, brush tops with thin layer of Milk to coat20151123_224536
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes minimum, until firmed up and, ideally, it’s developed a light golden color around sides
  10. Remove, let cool, and enjoy20151123_234502

My Thoughts

In the vein of these being a French, orange flower water-flavored sugar cookie, this recipe worked out brilliantly! I may have overcooked probably half of them, but the flavor of the orange flower water came through nicely through a nice spritz-like cookie base flavor and texture. In the vein of what I WANTED to make… I chose the wrong recipe. From the pictures I saw, in creation and final product, I expected to see these cookies rise a bit, create that proper slit-bread-like-rift on the top, with a thicker form and softer, ender texture. Mine just came out firm, like an Italian biscuit cookie… though I did read a description that these ARE at times considered in the same context for texture, makes me feel a bit better. That said, I’ve encountered a few recipes that, among the proportions I’ve used, also add in Baking Powder and up to ½ cup of Water. Figured this would have greatly helped achieve the outcome I was looking for, but made the decision to avoid the baking powder since it didn’t seem like something that would have ORIGINALLY been used; debated the water, but the texture of the dough seemed perfect for me, as many a page mentioned ‘sticky look/feel but not actually sticky.’ So I know what I’ll be adding in next time when I want to make the other outcome.

20151123_234509Though there’s also the chance that I could have heavily improved my odds, perhaps even fixed the issue altogether, by leaving the cookies thick, perhaps even shaping them as big as I originally wanted with the slit. Thus by the time it was ‘fully cooked’ and had a bit of browning on the very edge/bottom, the more voluminous insides would remain soft and tender as opposed to getting so firm.

I swear it feels as if the purpose of this blog has switched from celebrating awesome recipes to simply providing perfect examples of what NOT to do.

Possible Pairings

Though many alcoholic accompaniments may taste good alongside these, truly there are a few exceptional options one should attempt to actually find.

First and foremost, ‘Orange Muscat/Moscato.’ Unlike how its name suggests, it is not moscato flavored with oranges; it is actually a specific variety/member of the grape’s extended ‘family.’ That said, it almost always carries an exceptional and deep flavor of the citrus fruit along with all other similar aspects. There are some lighter, classically fizzy versions, but here we want the dense and flat proper dessert wine versions. These will be reminiscent of what one will find in the dessert wines of the Italian Islands and French Mediterranean.  Not to mention perfect for dipping these little buggers.

cantucci-vin-santoSpeaking of dipping, ‘Vin Santo,’ an Italian dessert wine made by drying the grapes to concentrate their sugars and sweet flavors, is traditionally paired alongside biscotti for that exact purpose. And the flavor is amazing and deep. Perfect for these.

Finally, a simple glass of Grand Marnier with ice, or perhaps a similar Orange Liqueur-based cocktail, ideally with brandy. One could still dip for the more viscous drinks, or simply enjoy the matching flavors, letting the more complex notes of any of these options shine while the connected floral orange flavors of both cookie and drink tie them down to earth.

p2: French Yogurt Cake

The Sweet

French-Grandmothers-Lemon-Yogurt-Cake-5I do love when a recipe ends up convening with an appropriate get-together, and with a day of hangout following my cousin’s birthday it only made sense to tackle one of the many cakes on my list. To make things even more perfect, one of the more simple ones I’ve been meaning to make comes out like the classic birthday-favorite white cake, but of course with a little twist and some added flavor. French Yogurt Cake takes a simple sweet batter and mixes in that classic Mediterranean ingredient for added moisture, texture, and a little bit of tang in the cake itself; definitely helps with leavening too when combined with baking powder.

There’s little history to find on this, but what is known is rather interesting; not because of anything that ties into world events, local sourcing requirements, economics, fun accidents or whatever, but due to the homey simplicity. For one thing, the actual French name of the cake is ‘Gateau de Mamie,’ or ‘Grandmother’s Cake.’ This is due to the long habit, truthfully I don’t know how far back it goes, of this recipe being made by old French Grandmothers; or maybe it was just one generation that did it and it stuck. What makes it stick out is HOW they made it though. First, yogurt in France was actually bought in these small glass jars, like many things were packaged. This was dumped out into the bowl… and the jars re-used to measure everything else! So instead of weighing or leveling things by specific milligrams or liters, it was ‘one jar’ or ‘two jars’ etc, thus the recipe was ever a simple game of proportions, easy to make no matter what size jar or measuring devices one had on them.

Which made it easy to do recipe conversions; for though many would try to justify if these jars were exactly ½ cup or more, less, etc, at the end of the day all the ingredients just had to stay in these proportions. Most of the ‘conversions’ I found were exactly the same; and considering the jar-based source of this recipe, I almost wonder if it originally came off a company’s package a-la the famous Hershey Chocolate Chip Cookie. That said, there was one which looked absolutely delightful, the only difference being an extra egg, and I can’t say no to that.

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

20151025_122414Obviously I don’t have, and am too lazy to go find, the little French yogurt jars this recipe is based off of, but any decent Greek or Greek-style will do. Though I didn’t realize the one we had at home was Vanilla flavored, as opposed to plain, until I started, and I’m rather squeamish with the idea of any ‘flavored’ yogurts… make one wonder how properly yogurt-ish it actually is. But at least vanilla is simple, and I could just use THAT instead of adding extract like recipes usually do.

Speaking of additions, there is of course the classic ‘vegetable oil’ necessity in the recipe, providing a full liquid fat for texture and moisture. A few recipes allow, and even suggest, substitutes for Canola or Grapeseed, even Coconut, oils. None of which I had, and truthfully I didn’t like the state of my cheap-ass vegetable oil. Thus I made the decision, since there IS noted flexibility here, to use Olive Oil instead; which I think would be rather fitting, considering the region’s Mediterranean ties, the use of olive oil and yogurt together, and just the fact that it would only make it taste BETTER.

Finally, one particular requirement leads to a fun little lesson in a daily kitchen cheat! This, like many cake recipes, requires lining just the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. We could try cutting out a circle to fit, but the bottom we trace for it would be too big. I’ve learned an easy little trick where we take our decently-sized sheet of parchment paper, fold it in half, then again in quarters, and again and again… until one ends up with one thing, triangular sliver of multiple layers. Hold this above the pan, with the point at the center, and cut it just a bit under the inside edge of the cake pan, giving it a curve as you do. Unfold and there you go: perfect fit.

20151025_122825_001

Recipe
½ cup Greek-style Yogurt
1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs
1½ cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
Zest from 1 Lemon (optional)
½ cup Vegetable, Olive, Sunflower, or Other Oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and generously spray 8” Cake or Springform Pan with oil, lining the bottom with your circle of parchment paper (discussed earlier)20151025_122921
  2. Whisk Yogurt, Sugar, and Eggs together in bowl20151025_121335
  3. Add in Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, and Zest if using, mixing until just combined20151025_121727
  4. Add Oil, stirring until fully incorporated20151025_122555
  5. Pour into pan, tapping to remove any potential air bubbles20151025_123114
  6. Transfer to oven and bake anywhere from 30-50 minutes depending (check early), or until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean20151025_144740
  7. Remove and cool on wire rack, turning over from pan or releasing sides after about 10 minutes to continue cooling20151025_173542
  8. Cut into wedges and enjoy as desired, perhaps with some homemade ice cream…

My Thoughts

20151025_173805Just like a classic white birthday cake, on its own it’s soft, tender, with that great extra cake flavor and a base that allows any addition, like that lemon zest, to shine. And it may not be very distinct, but one CAN get a little bit of that yogurty sense if one looks for it. Also like any other white cake, one almost craves to pile it in whipped cream, frosting, dessert sauce, fresh/cooked fruit, whatever you can find to make it even BETTER, because you know it’d work as an awesome base. And the recipe itself turned out well, no issues I could see besides taking an extra 10 minutes of baking time than the original recipe called for.

Though let me say that a big attraction of this recipe for me was the picture of a perfectly flat, even, browned top on the cake. Which sadly did not get reproduced in this attempts, one of two reasons: either I should have given the pan an EXTREME amount of buttering so it didn’t rise in the middle, a-la soufflé technique. OR, and I’m now very heavily suspicious of this considering how the pictures on the original website are angled… they probable cut the domed top off and just turned the damn cake upside-down! The conniving old bastards! Tricking me with promises of caramelly cake crust deliciousness… I mean, I guess I got that anyway, but with a curve…

Possible Pairings

Ugh, I started this a couple weeks ago, had a brilliant idea on what would be perfect with this, and then went on vacation and forgot what it was! Not fair!

mlkThough I will say the idea of a Milk Shake seems fantastic. This IS totally the cake+ice cream kind of thing, sort of, so I could see myself going for that. Perhaps with a boozy addition of Cream Liqueur to boot; either that or just do it straight with ice. No Bailey’s, something purely cream/vanilla-focused alongside the supporting flavors… I used to love soaking my Tres Leches with Tres Leches Liqueur, or Rum Chata.

Speaking of liqueurs, keeping things simple is definitely the name of the game for this not-complicated dessert, and a nice, chilled glass of Limoncello would be a great way to match and improve the sweet cake without overriding any subtle flavors; matches the lemon zest too. Not to mention the recipe I got this from DID have a lemon icing glaze.

Though truthfully I think any simple, sweet fruit or creamy liqueur or non-complicated liqueur-based cocktail would work wonderfully with this, especially if one took the cake up a notch with some frosting or whipped cream and any accompanying toppings. But if one wanted to try something a bit off-base and fun, then perhaps a nice, simple glass of demi-sec or other semi-sweet sparkling wine, a regional French Cremant or Prosecco or something. Interestingly, I might actually AVOID Champagne, as I think the fruity-fresh-tart flavors are more preferential than the very yeasty-toasty-buttery notes that are so predominant with the classic methods so prevalent in that region.

I do wish I knew what my idea was though… pretty sure it had something to do with the yogurt aspect of the whole thing…

p3: Hoagie Buns

#20, Hoagie Bun

Hoagie-RollsSo this particular installment of the ‘bread battling project’ had an interesting inspiration and twist. Had a plan for a Sunday night dinner+shows evening with sis and friend, to which she shared the idea of this ‘philly cheesesteak lasagna’ recipe beforehand with notes saying how we should make this for our night of fun! So, in figuring out what I could make that would go along with it, and while keeping to one of my project needs, I came along what I still think is a rather brilliant idea. Why not make garlic bread… out of Hoagie Buns/Rolls!? Still have the cheesesteak theme, but it’s also a typical side with lasagna, win-win!

But of course the steaky-cheesy-pasta casserole didn’t get made, apparently it was an idea for ‘some potential weekend’ and not THAT one, so I had leftover hoagie buns that needed to be used before all going stale. Which is fine though, because we made sandwiches with them anyways… some pretty damn good quiznos-style griddled ones too.

It’s always nice playing with simpler bread styles every now and then I find, don’t have to think about making sure that I add in a new ingredient properly, worry over degassing too much in some intense shaping process, or all the hassle of trying to hearth bake perfectly in my home oven setup. Just yeasted water, flour, other stuff, knead it right and make sure I shape it to what it should look like and don’t over bake. Lets you get more used to basic techniques and also see where you REALLY may need work, and where you’re doing well so far.

As for the hoagie recipe itself, there’s not much to say. There are various ones which shift in proportions back and forth, as practically all bread recipes tend to do depending on who’s making them. But what stood out to me was the addition of sugar and butter; nowhere near enough as a fully qualifying ‘enriched dough,’ but still more than other bread can be. The sugar itself really seems to play a role here, with enough to kick that yeast into high gear, definitely a one-day bread designed for the quick and easy requirements needed by sandwich makers everywhere. Also, this particular recipe was listed officially as “Soft and Chewy Hoagie,” which I’m not sure if that’s supposed to distinguish it from OTHER hoagie recipes out there or if that’s simply the natural aspect to the bread. What I CAN say is that it’s basically the same as a white dinner roll… in all the best ways.

Recipe
1 Tb Dry Yeast
2 Tb Sugar
1 3/8 cups Warm Water
4 cups Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 Tb Butter, cubed and soft

Directions

  1. Mix Yeast, Sugar, and 3/8 cup Water in stand mixing bowl, leave for about 5-10 minutes to bloom20151018_101206
  2. Once bubbled up noticeably, add in Flour, Salt, and remaining water20151018_101708
  3. Using dough hook, mix on low a few minutes, until everything mostly comes together20151018_102029
  4. Increase speed to medium, whipping and mixing for at least 5 minutes, adding any further butter or water as needed to get a soft, smooth dough, working until it can pass the windowpane test20151018_103649
  5. Add Butter a bit at a time, mixing until it’s fully incorporated and dough comes back together20151018_103938
  6. Transfer to oiled bowl, covering tightly with plastic wrap20151018_104014
  7. Leave to bulk ferment 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size20151018_114303
  8. Remove, kneading or pocking down to de-gas, and divide into 8 pieces, or more/less depending on desired final size20151018_114426
  9. Shape into Batards as described Here20151018_115605
  10. Transfer to sprayed, parchment-lined tray, mist top with spray oil and cover lightly with plastic20151018_145408
  11. Proof for 30-45 minutes, or until about doubled in size
  12. Heat oven to 375F and when ready, uncover buns and move inside, cooking on tray 20-30 minutes, or until browned nicely from end-to-end and sounds hollow when bottom is thumped20151018_160822
  13. Remove, transferring bread to cooling rack, and let sit at least 20 minutes before use [or enjoy like hot rolls from the oven and slice immediately to drown in butter!]
  14. Slice horizontally down the middle and fill with whatever you desire!20151018_193642

What Have I Learned This Time?

Intensive de-gassing after the fermentation period won’t affect how much it proofs, so I should feel more confident in letting myself do this with other future breads in the hope of getting a more ideal structure.

Need to work more on my shaping skills for consistency, wish I knew some proper ‘tricks’ to it… maybe I’ll google it some on my next project. But more realistically, it’s probably going to have to come through repetition and practice. So whenever I start making more than one loaf of bread every week or so.

20151018_193942And finally, that these make the simplest, most satisfying and guilty-pleasure hoagie… spread bread in half, pile with desired meat, veggie, and sauce fillings. Cover it in cheese, making sure BOTH buns get a layer [or at least get butter and garlic on the other bare bread] and broil until… well… you see the picture. Tell me you don’t want to fold that and eat it, I dare you.

Any Thoughts?

Truthfully, I’m rather backed up on blog posts I have to get out, and I’m taking a nine-day-long vacation away from computer-access in a few days, so even if I COULD think of something to say here I’m not sure if I have the time! I swear I’m not trying to brag and sound snotty or anything!!

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It adores my appreciation to ‘what’s inside’ but still thinks I need a better fashion sense… ie it wants me to shape it better in the future.