Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pane Bianco | We Knead to Bake August '14

I love baking breads and love it especially when I have to make it savoury.All the savoury ingredients kneaded into the dough or topped onto it makes it heavenly. Its ok when you roll it out fill it and bake it as a normal rectangle or round loaf / buns. I have tried crescent rolls as well.Thats the max I could go I used to think. Shaping a filled bread always gave me goosebumps.

 But when this month Aparna gave us a theme - savoury filled and differently shaped bread - instead of a recipe I decided to conquer this fear and tried out a bookmarked bread which I used to sigh at. In the end the bread turns out nice and a perfect snack and my confidence several notches up.

I had sourced the recipe for Pane Bianco from the usual source King Arthur Flour. This is an Italian bread where Pane means bread and Bianco stands for white. Apart from this I could not source out more details about this. And as usual I halved the recipe and tried it out. Also I went for roasted tomatoes and Italian seasoning instead of the sundried ones and granulated garlic used in the recipe. You can ofcourse follow the exact recipe.

All Purpose Flour: 3 cups
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp

Warm Water: 4 tbsp
Warm Milk: 1/2 cup + optional 1-2 tsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil : 8 tsp
Egg: 1 or EnerG Egg: 1.5 pkd tsp + 3 tbsp water

Filling/ Stuffing:
Roasted Tomatoes: 2 -3 medium ones.
Italian Mixed cheeses: few tbsp -1/2 cup. I used a mix of mozzarella &parmesan
Fresh Basil: roughly 4 tbsp chiffonaded or torn
Italian seasoning: as per taste

Combine all ingredients - dry ones first and then add the wet ones. Mix and knead to form a smooth soft dough. 

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat and let it rise until doubled covered with a plastic wrap.

Meanwhile line the baking sheet with parchment/foil and optionally grease it.Keep the filling ready in separate bowls. 

Finely chop the tomatoes and keep aside. The recipe went for sundried tomatoes. I went for quick roasted tomatoes. I simply roasted quartered and deseeded tomatoes at 220C after sprikling them with salt, pepper and little sugar and  a drizzle of olive oil. This took around 20 minutes where they caramelized and the juices concetrated.

Gently deflate the dough and divide into half. Roll one piece into rectangle.I went for a thin rectangle so that there could be many layers. Spread the cheese onto the rectangle followed by seasoning, tomatoes and finally basil.

Starting with the longer side, roll the dough into a long log, pinch edges to seal.Place the log seam side down onto the lined sheet. Using shears, start 1/2" from one end and cut lengthwise down to the center about 1" deep to within 1/2" of the other end.Make sure you don't cut the bread fully.

Shape the log into an 's' shape or tuck in both the ends under/ at the sides of  the centre to form an '8'. Pinch the ends together to seal. Cover and let it rise until doubled for another 1 hour. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/ 175C for about 35-40 minutes , covering the bread with foil  -else the filling will burn- after 10-15 minutes.

Take out let it cool and serve sliced as a snack. You can go for mini sized versions for individual servings. 

It looks good when you bake a bread shaped with you initials , doesn't it? Enjoy the bread. Its quick and easy to make and texture similar to the loaf bread that we get her. You can play around with the flours if too much experimental and obviously the filling which you can make savoury or sweet. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spinach Cheese Swirls | Baking Partners August 2014

I rarely try making puff pastry at home. The ingredients are just flour, salt and butter but the work involved over a span of 2-3 days is enough to put me off. But still it was a well enjoyed challenge this month for Baking Partners when puffpastry from BBC was chosen by Sangeetha and Swathi

All Purpose Flour:  2 cups
Salt: 3/4-1 tsp
Ice cold water: 100-150 ml

Butter: 250 gms


Sift flour and salt into a deep bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add in water 2/3rds at a time.Knead into a firm rough dough adding more water as needed.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead into a smooth dough rolling it out to form a rectangle.Cover with a plastic wrap and let the rectangle rest in the fridge for atleast 20 minutes or even overnight.

Meanwhile chunk the butter and place within two parchment sheets. Roll it out into a smooth rectangle  smaller than the size of the dough and then refrigerate.

When the dough is ready, place the butter in the centre and seal it properly. Roll out the dough in one direction only to three times its width. Keep the edges straight and even.

Dont try overworking the dough. The dough  needs to be cold all the times else butter might melt and leak out . In any step of the process, feel free to chill the dough for atleast 20-30 minutes before continuing rolling out. 

Once the dough reaches the needed dimensions, fold the top portion of the dough onto the centre. Then bring the bottom third up and over that. Then give the dough a quarter turn to the left or right and roll it out again into three times width. Chill if needed before rolling out again. 

Continue this process for another 4 times and then let dough chill in the fridge before being used. The next day you can repeat the process for two more time before freezing the dough if not using.

Spinach cheese Swirls:

The recipe is adapted from here. Its pretty simple and you can go with the estimates you have in mind. 

Mozzarella : 5 tbsp shredded
Parmesan chese: 3-4 tbsp shredded.
Garlic powder: 1/4 -1/2 tsp. 
Onion: around 3-4 tbsp finely chopped.

Spinach: one small bunch, washed, drained and finely chopped.

Mix together mozzarella, shredded parmesan, garlic powder and finely chopped onion. Dry and finely chop spinach. 

Roll out the dough onto a floured surface into a rectangle. Brush with melted butter on the surface and spread the cheese mix. Sprinkle the spinach on top of this. 

Roll it up from the longer side and using a sharpe scissors, cut the dough into  smaller rounds. Place the rounds onto a lined baking sheet and brush with melted butter.

Bake the swirls for 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F till the top turns golden brown. Take out serve warm. 

Tasty rolls with the perfect filling. I felt they were a bit too buttery, but butter adds to the taste doesn't it? You can use the puff pastry to make a dish of your choice but I definitely prefer the excellent swirls.

Lets hop over to Swathi's to check out the variety of puff pastry dishes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cashew Mayonnaise | Healthy Mayo, Vegan too

Mayo or Mayonnaise is a thick creamy sauce made by emulsifying egg yolks with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. It can be given a makeover or enhanced by adding seasonings or spices. I familiarised with the word mayo when I heard of coleslaw. Being made with eggs it was offlimits for my conservative family. From then on,I associated with Russian cuisine, though it originated from Spain or places in Europe where eggs and olive oil were in abundance.Even Italian aioli is another version of mayo. 

History apart, these days we are flooded with eggless mayos. So its available to all the people though ofcourse original is original. I prefer an eggless mayo and have tasted few of these and most of them are based on nuts or  olive oil. On googling I even saw a weird recipe for eggless mayo made using condensed milk, though I steered clear of it. Few days back the Russian apple salad posted here used vegan cashew mayo  and me being me made the vegan mayo at home by adapting this recipe from savvyvegetarian and it turned out perfecto. 

Cashews : 1/2 cup
Water: 2 tbsp
Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp
Seedless soft Dates: 1 chopped
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Onion Powder: 1/2 tsp (homemade or store bought)
Garlic Powder: 1/2 tsp (homemade or store bought)
Fresh ground pepper : as per taste
Extra Virgin Olive oil: 2 tbsp

Soak cashews in water for 2 hours, drain and add to the blender bowl. Combine all other ingredients except oil and blend till smooth.

Add  in the oil while the blender is running and let it emulsify.

Add more water if too thick.

Refrigerate and use within a week. 

You can make coleslaw or pasta salad or healthy apple salad. Or use it as a healthy dip for crackers and veggies of your choice.

Healthy and vegan mayo. If you have a problem with fatty cashews you can go for other low fat nuts like almonds, soy mixed nuts etc. or even go for a tofu version. Each version might be tasting slightly different due the nuts used.

The cashew one I made tasted similar to the eggless mayos I have been using though ofcourse without the preservatives. May be those who love the original eggy sauce might have a different opinion. 

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