Sunday, December 20, 2015

Vánocka - Czech Christmas Bread | Baking Partners Dec'15

Now that Christmas is just a few days away it makes sense to post the festive bakes one by one. Especially the christmas festive bread. This time Swathi has chosen a Christmas bread from Czech Republic- Vánocka (va-nawtch-kah) for Baking Partners A Simple sugary brioche type bread but rich with eggs. Now thats where my adaption skills work. I had earlier trid brioche without eggs and it had come out fine. So here too I replaced the egg yolks in the recipe with EnerG egg replacer. Now as per Swathi its like a " curry without salt" but still the bread turned out perfect. As usual I halved the recipe and read it below..

All Purpose Flour: 2 cups
Salt: 1/8 tsp
Sugar: 3.25 tbsp
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Lemon zest: 1/2 a lemon
Grated Nutmeg: 1/2 tsp

Vanilla :1/2 tsp
Lukewarm milk: 1/2 cup (100ml)
Butter: 4 tbsp melted
Egg Yolk: 1 (1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G + 1 tbsp of water)

Raisins: 1/4 cup
Peeled almonds: 8 tsp

Egg wash: 1 egg + 1 tbsp of water

In a big bowl, mix together flour,salt,sugar, yeast, nutmeg and lemon zest. Add in the vanilla, butter, milk and egg yolk in the well in the middle and start stirring with a spoon mixing into the surrounding flour. Once the dough becomes too stiff for a spoon, begin t knead it with onehand trying to incorporate tje remaining flour. If the dough is too dry/crumbly, add in 2-3  tbsps of milk.

Turn the dough into to a counter and knead for another 10 minutes prying apart the dough with the  lower part of your palms, fold in half and twist and repeat this till you get a smooth soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased pan and let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in volume. Meanwhile heat water in a bowl and add raisins. Let it boil until  it plumps up. Drain on a kitchen towel and set aside.

Transfer the dough on to a lightly dusted surface and place the raisins on top if it. Try to incorporate the raisins into the dough while kneading.

Divide the dough into 9 equal parts and roll out each about 15cm long cylinder.Take the first 4 cylinders and lay them next to each other .

Join at one end and then bring the first one at extreme left over the third one. And bring the fourth one at extreme right over the top of second one. Now the earlier frst one has become 4th and the previous 4th has become 1st. Repeat the steps 1 over 3 and 4 over 2 and join the ends to get a beautiful 4 stranded braid, Keep it aside.

Take the next 3 strands and make a three braided dough and keep it aside.

Make a 2 stranded braid with the remaining two.

Place the 4 braided piece on a lined baking sheet and bake a slight depression in the middle so it can hold the other two braids. Place the three braid bread ontop of this followed by the two braided. If there are loose ends try to tuck underneath the entire bread.

Stick almonds on the sides -either sliced or whole peeled. Then stick toothpicks in between so that it doesn't flip during baking.

Preheat the oven to 350F /175C while the dough is resting - which should not be more than 30 mnts. Brush the bread with egg wash  or milk/butter  and bake for about 38-42 minutes making sure the top doesn't brown too much.. in which case cover it with a foil.
 After removing from the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar /glaze and let it cool completely.Slice into pieces and serves.

An excellent raisin bread. The aroma of sugar and raisin definitley gives a festive feel.The original recipe adapted from here and which came from Swathi sugested baking time of 38 minutes, but my eggless version definitely took few extra minutes as I have seen in some of the egg replacer preparations. I suppose this is because the egg replacer powder is made up of different plant based startces which take longer time to cook.

Lets see who all baked Vánocka for Christmas. Hope over to Swathi's

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Healthy Cooking with Canola Oil | Healthy New Year 2016

These days people are becoming aware of more and more about eating healthy and eating right. But are you sure you are actually eating right? Ofcourse you are substituting butter ,ghee and shortening with oil but is the oil right? 
How about reusing oil?You have also heard conflicting opinions about the reuse of frying oil.. Some say you can't reuse the oil used for frying? But others say you can? Whos is right? And Why? 

What is smoking point and how is it different for different oil and how it affects health?

If you have all these doubts then please read on..

I had the opportunity to attend a cook off event by Canola council of Canada. The event conducted to create an awareness of canola oil  showcased culinary delights from Chef Surjan Singh (a.k.a Chef Jolly), director F&B, Marriott Hotels at Spice Terrace, JW Marriott, Bengaluru on December 3,2015.

Canola oil is one of the friendliest and versatile cooking oils which can be used for all types of cooking.This can be vouched by yours truly who has used it while in US. Its the commonly used cooking medium in US and Canada from where it originated.

Bruce Jowett, VP, Market Development of Canola Council of Canada spoke about the origin of the oil, how it got its name and the intention to create a world wide awareness on Canola oil. 

Canola oil comes from canola seeds , a variation of rapeseed. Rape seeds contain around 45% of erucic acid whereas as per standards lesser percentage is needed in food or cooking oil. So in short the rape seeds are modified to obtain the canola seeds from which the canola oil (Canada Oil Less Acid) is obtained.The canola oil so obtained has just under 2% acid and gives 45% of oil per seed. 

So roughly 1kg canola seeds gives approx 450mls of oil which is quite good..

As for flavour, the oil is neutral in taste and blends into the dish without giving a distinct taste or flavour unlike certain oils. It is an excellent supporting actor especially when you want to showcase the ingredients you cook with and not the medium. This can be vouched for by me as I have used canola while baking and even regular routine Indian cooking.

That means you can use it in cooking , baking and deep frying as well. Wait did you hear deep fry? 
What about the smoking point? Can we reuse the oil after frying? Read on...

Smoking point is the temperature at which the oil gets separated into fats and other contents and usually oils like rice bran, soybean, coconut oil etc reach this point/temperature very quickly. We can see this when smoke starts coming out of the oil pan. They simply get separated into several compounds which do not take heat well and some are not needed in food at all. We commonly say that they have low smoking point.Such oils are not suitable for deep frying.

The smoking point of canola is 242Deg Celsius and deepfrying temperature is 190°C. So the oil never reaches its smoking point and can be reused later for whatever dish you want. 

All these facts was demoed by Chef Jolly who served a simple spinach stirfry on top of  mini missi roti rounds as excellent canapes. The stirfry was very simple with no masalas for taste giving but was perfect as a starter.

Also demoed were the pickled dal stuffed into bhavnagari chillies which were deep fried to perfection and this also verified the facts on smoking point of canola. The oil blends in perfectly with any of the ingredients making sure the ingredient is star in whole. 

This was asserted by Chef Jolly's new signature dish Phool Tikki - broccoli florets marinated in spices, canola and little cheese and grilled to perfection. The taste of star broccoli brought to front by the supporting actor canola which  literally made us all stop talking and simply eat ,eat and eat....

Other facts that make Canola a star performer

  • Its high in mono and poly unsaturated fats
  • High in plant based Omega 3 fat
  • Lowest in saturated fats 7% - which is less than that of ricebran oil  (25%), Sunflower Oil (12%), ground nut (19%) and olive and even soybean (12% each) oils
  • Its free of transfats
  • Reduces the risk of heart diseases when used in place of butter.. 1.5 Tbsp a day keeps the cardiologist at bay

As of now..
I have rarely seen canola in the local supermarkets. It is available only in certain upscale supermarkets and shops. Its perfectly suitable for Indian cooking and also makes them heart healthy. It is economically priced and will fit any budget too. 1 Litre of canola is roughly priced around Rs.130/- 

Hope this post helps you to start thinking about canola and its advantages. Please visit the website here for more information.

More awareness about the oil helps to ensure its available even in local shops or kirana stores and helps take you the first step towards a healthy life this coming year 2016.

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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