Monday, December 17, 2018

Edible Lattice Bread Basket

I few years back I baked two woven bread baskets. I have since found this edible spring basket referenced in a few easter articles. Both of my earlier versions of baskets used ropes and the weave was tight. I was very happy with those baskets but I wanted to try something different. I wanted a make a basket with open holes that looked like it was part of the weave. This is what I came up with.

This basket was not made with ropes. Instead I made the lattice using flat strips of dough. I used a different technique with the weave. Instead of weaving it on the mold I wove it on a flat surface and then transferred it to the mold. This caused the holes to form in between the strips something I was looking for. In the end I was very happy with the result.

This basket is a lot easier to make than the two I made before. It is much smaller and uses a small amount of dough. The weaving technique is simpler too. I used my sourdough starter for this recipe but you could use commercial yeast if you wanted to. If you use commercial yeast refer to this basic dough recipe to prepare your dough.

Roll out a large rectangle from the dough. Using a small custard or similar bowl to ensure you have coverage cut a portion of the rectangle as the base (portion on left below). Cut this rectangle into wide strips being careful not to cut all the way through. Cut the remaining dough into wide strips cutting all the way through. These strips are to be used for weaving.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. On the base fold back alternating strips. Place a strip horizontally such that it covers end to end. Unfold the folded strips. Now fold back the other set of alternating strips and place a weaving strip horizontally.

Continue working the weave until you get to the end. Cover the outside of the bowl with foil. Place the woven lattice over the bowl taking care to see it does not unravel. Cut off the access.

Trim the edges to get a smooth edge around the edge of the bowl.

Using the discarded dough roll out a strip long enough to circle the edge of the bowl with a little overlap. Trim the strip to get neat edges and place it around the bowl. Seal the ends together by pressing the overlapping ends over one another.

Place the bowl on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. The bowl should begin to brown slightly. Allow it to cool on a rack for a few minutes. Unfold the foil over the bowl and remove the bowl carefully. Now carefully peel off the foil from the bread.



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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Savory Besan/Chickpea Flour Crackers

My post today is another version of crackers. I have few versions on this space already. Crackers are make a perfect snack with a cup of tea or coffee. After baking crackers with wheat flour I decided to try others flour combinations. Two days back I baked semolina crackers. Next I tried crackers with besan or chickpea flour. These were harder to perfect. I first tried with uncooked flour and realized the flour does not cook completely in the oven. The next time I used oil to roast the flour but that did not work either. Finally I tried ghee and it worked out. The crackers are crunchy and delicious.

Everyone at home loved the flavor but I think they have had too many versions of my baked crackers. I think I will have to finish these myself. Need to give these cracker experiments a break for a while. But now I have four perfect cracker recipes.

You will need (~50 crackers)
1 1/2 tbsp. ghee, melted

1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup unfed sourdough starter (100%)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ajwain or carom seeds

Heat the ghee in a pan. Add chickpea flour and on low heat roast the flour until cooked. You could do the same in a microwave checking and mixing the mixture every 30 seconds until the flour is cooked. Let it cool. Combine with all the remaining ingredients. Place it in a bowl, cover and put it in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it on a parchment paper to about an eighth of an inch. Using a knife or roller cut into 1x1 inch pieces. Pierce with a fork. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Check often as these burn quickly.

When done transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.



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Monday, December 10, 2018

Baked Semolina Crackers

I usually take a small afternoon snack with me to work. Whole wheat crackers are my favorite. About 10 1x1 inch crackers usually suffice. I would bake the crackers over the weekend. They would make a filling snack.

After a few weeks I began to crave variety. So last month I began experimenting with different flours. Some experiments were failures and some were successful. One Saturday my husband decided to make upama for an evening snack. When I saw the fine semolina I realized it was a good candidate for my experiment. Unfortunately the experiment failed. The flavor was really good but you could taste the gritty semolina as an after taste. I realized I had to roast the semolina before I made the dough. The next attempt was a roaring success.

You will need (~50 crackers)
1/3 cup fine semolina 
1/3 cup unfed sourdough starter (100%)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. onion seeds (kalonji)

Place the semolina in a pan and roast it on low flame until it begins to change color. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to form a ball. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Take the ball of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll it to an eighth of an inch. Using a pizza cutter, a knife or a decorative roller cut the dough into 1"x1" squares or diamonds. Pierce each cracker with a fork.

Place the parchment in a baking sheet. Place the sheet in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. The crackers will be soft when taken out of the oven. The will harden and turn crispy as they cool.

Perfect as a snack or with a cup of tea.



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Friday, December 7, 2018

Cauliflower and Tomatillo-Red Bell Pepper Chutney Stuffed Sourdough rolls

Stuffed bread rolls are perfect for weekend brunch. Most of the prep work happens the night before. The day you want to bake these all you have to do is heat the oven and pop them in. This is the reason they are my favorite when my daughter is visiting. I can prep everything ahead of time and let the refrigerator and then the oven do all the work.

I like to make something new and different when my daughter visits from college. I have made stuffed rolls before but changing the stuffing makes for a completely new recipe. This time I used tomatillo and red bell pepper chutney mixed in with some cauliflower. You can take any chutney/sauce you have on hand, mix it with minced vegetables, saute until almost dry and use it as stuffing for these rolls.

The sourdough rolls are my recipe made with whole wheat flour. The end result is wholesome, filling and flavorful. I got the recipe for the chutney from Harini's blog.

You will need (for 6 buns)
For the bun
100 gm 100% sourdough starter
190 gm water
20 gm sugar
30 gm olive oil
330 gm white whole wheat flour
8 gm salt

For the stuffing
1 head cauliflower, cut into tiny florets or minced
1 cup chutney, I used tomatillo and red bell pepper chutney
1 tbsp. oil (vegetable or olive oil)

For the chutney
1 large tomatillo
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp. oil (vegetable or olive)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp white sesame seeds
3-4 curry leaves
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
salt and red chilli pepper powder to taste

The night before combine all the ingredients for the buns in a mixing bowl and form a soft dough. Cover and keep aside for 30 minutes. Uncover, reach down to the bottom of the far side, pick up the dough and fold it over the top towards you. Turn the bowl 90 degree and repeat. Continue until you have gone around twice. Cover and keep aside. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure two more times every half hour. Finally cover and keep aside for at least 4-5 hours. Alternately, keep refrigerated overnight.

Before you are ready to stuff and shape the rolls prepare the stuffing. For the chutney chop the peppers. Peel and chop the tomatillos. Heat oil in pan. Add the mustard seeds, sesame seeds and channa dal. When the mustard seeds sizzle add the curry leaves and peanuts.

When they change color add the chopped vegetables. Saute until cooked.

Turn off the heat and let it cool. Run it through a blender to desired consistency and keep aside.

Heat a 1/4 cup of water in a pan. Finely chop the cauliflower, you could mince it if you like. Add it to the heated water and let it cook on medium/high heat until done but not mushy.

Lower the heat a little to medium/low. Add the chutney and adjust seasoning. Remember the bread does not add much flavor so the stuffing has to compensate for that. Saute until it is dry with very little moisture. Cool.

Take the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into equal parts of about 70-80 gm each. Begin working each piece of dough into a bread roll like in my original sourdough buns recipe. When you have a smooth surface flatten the dough and stuff it with the stuffing. Bring all the sides together and continue shaping.

Place each roll in a baking sheet. Cover and place the sheet in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight. When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the baking sheet, uncovered, in the oven and bake for 30-33 minutes.

Cool on a baking rack and enjoy!


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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

No Knead Light Sourdough Wheat Loaf

Last week I had the sudden urge to have sandwiches for breakfast. I decided to bake myself a loaf of bread. I got some fresh squeezed orange juice from Whole Foods to go along with the breakfast sandwiches. I put the sourdough starter out on the counter top to come to room temperature and bubble up. That is when I realized my favorite loaf recipe uses commercial yeast. I don't buy that stuff anymore so I decide to convert my old recipe to use the starter instead.

In case you are not into baking with sourdough here is the original recipe. It is simple and makes a super flavorful loaf. Do not get intimidated with the time it takes. That is what makes it so flavorful.

I followed these instructions that I had written up long ago to convert recipes to sourdough. The original recipe I had was in cup measure so I converted it to weight. I got 560 gm of flour and 430 gm water. Once you have these two numbers you can easily convert the recipe. If you are interested the math is as follows: First I calculated 40% of 560 and got 112 or round to 110. This is the weight of starter needed for this recipe. Since my starter is 50% flour and 50% water I reduce both water and flour by 110/2 which is 55 gm. My new flour by weight is 560-55=505 gm or rounded to 500 gm. The water needed by weight is 430-55=375 gm.

You will need for 1 loaf
110 gm 100% sourdough starter
505 gm flour (I used whole wheat flour, you can use 50% all purpose or any combination)
375 gm water
10 gm salt
3 tbsp. oil (vegetable oil or olive oil)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and keep aside. After 15 minutes, reach over the far side of the dough and pull it over the top. Turn the bowl 45 degrees and repeat. Repeat two more time and keep aside. Fold and turn every 15 minutes another 3 times. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 4-6 hours.

Keep you loaf pan ready. Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured working surface. Fold over from both sides and place seam side down in the loaf pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 375 F. When the oven is heated remove the loaf from the refrigerator and take off the cover. Score the top of the loaf with a sharp blade or knife. Sprinkle a little flour over the top to add some interest. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Check after about 30 minutes and if the top is browning too quickly, tent it with foil.

Take the loaf out of the oven and let it sit for a couple minutes. Slide the loaf out of the pan and cool it on a cooling rack.

Slice and enjoy!


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Monday, December 3, 2018

Eggless Banana Bread

This month I am going to post a few baked recipes as part of bakethon, an excuse to post recipes of baked goods with a few blogging friends. I am starting with a sweet basic banana bread. I baked this version of banana bread during the summer with my daughter. She was home for the summer and needed an afternoon snack when she got home from her EMT training. I did not have eggs and so I decided to bake the bread without eggs. I used mostly whole wheat flour so it was filling and tasted perfect.

Banana bread is one of the simplest sweet breads you can bake. It is almost impossible to get the recipe wrong and it tastes great. This is a great place to start your baking journey. This was one of my first breads.

Whenever a banana is overripe I put it in the freezer to use later. We usually buy the medium or small bananas so I have to wait for 3-4 to be able to use them.

You will need
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
4 small overripe bananas
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mash the bananas. Cream the sugar, butter and oil. Add the cinnamon and continue mixing in the ingredients in the order they appear above except the flours. Add the flours a little at a time until you have a sticky batter.

Pour the batter into a loaf pan and place in the oven center rack. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and tent with a foil. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest on the counter top for 5 minutes. Slide the loaf out and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Slice and enjoy!


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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Masala Tea in Instant Pot

My husband loves tea, strong tea, especially Masala Chai. I dislike tea and have never taken an interest in making strong tea. My husband makes his own cuppa every morning and evening. Unfortunately, some times he forgets he has the pot on the stove and leaves the kitchen. Many a time he has had to spent time cleaning up the mess. When I heard chai can be made in the instant pot my immediate reaction was "No hovering around the kitchen stove!".

This is my attempt to make two cups of tea using the instant pot. My husband liked it. My opinion does not matter as I am not a fan. If you had guests or had a lot of cups of tea to prepare in a hurry then this would be a really good option.

You will need
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. tea powder
2-3 peppercorns
1/4 in cinnamon
2-3 pods cardamom, shelled

Add all the ingredients to a small stainless steel pan. Insert the trivet in the instant pot and add 1 cup of water. Place the pan with the ingredients for tea on the trivet. Turn on the instant pot and cook on manual mode for 2 minutes. NPR (Naturally release pressure) from the instant pot for 2 minutes. Then slowly turn the venting knob to vent the steam. If you release the steam all at once the tea leaves and tea will make a mess in the pot.

When the pressure pin drops open the pot and enjoy the tea!

This is my entry for week four, day three of BM #90 for the theme Bookmarked. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#90.