Friday, February 28, 2014

Swedish Coffee Bread

17 years ago I met a group of fabulous gals online. Last month we decided to bake together once a month. Kneading Bakers emerged out of this thought. Every month we plan to bake the same dish. Our very first venture is Swedish Coffee Bread.

I had a lot of fun shaping this bread. I had never used a kitchen scissors on dough before. If I were to make this again I would probably go deeper with the cuts to have a very pronounced end result. But I am happy with this bread. I learnt a lot.

The dough was very sticky and my palm and fingers hurt kneading it. But the resultant bread as so soft it was a pleasure to munch on.

I used two sources for the recipe. I used the filling from here and next time I may use the optional raisins and almond paste as well. The dough is from here. It is not very sweet, just the way I like it but the bread is super soft. This will be my stand by sweet bread dough recipe for the further.

For the dough
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. cardamom powdered
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk, lukewarm
1/4 cup water, warm
1/2 oz. Fleischmann instant yeast (2 packets)
2 1/2 cup bread flour
1 cup all purpose flour

For the filling
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. milk

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the butter, sugar, egg, cardamom and salt. Warm the milk and add it to the bowl.

Warm the water and dissolve the yeast in it. Whisk it into the contents of the bowl. Now add 2 cups of the flour and start forming a dough.

Add more dough as needed. The dough will be sticky. Continue to knead and add more flour as needed. I needed all 3 1/2 cups before the dough came together. Transfer the dough to a clean greased bowl.

Turn the dough around to coat with oil and keep it aside covered for an hour or two until it doubles in size.

Grease a baking sheet and keep aside. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and keep aside. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle about 15 x 9.

Spread the filling on the rolled out dough up to a forth of an inch from the edges. In winter you may have to keep the filling warm to prevent the butter from solidifying. You could put it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds if the butter does solidify and you are unable to spread the filling.

Starting from one of the short ends start rolling the dough.

Roll all the way to the end to form a smooth long roll. If the thickness of the roll is uneven, use your fingers to even it out the best you can.

Seal the edges by pinching them together, like this.

Transfer it to the greased baking sheet with the edge on the bottom. Form into a ring and seal the two ends together.

Using a kitchen scissors cut into the ring about 2/3 of the way in. Do not be afraid to go deeper than what I have here. Just make sure you do not cut all the way to the end.

Go all around the circle making cuts every inch.

Now pick up one of the cut pieces and turn it upwards. 

Repeat all the way around going clockwise. When done cover with a greased sheet of plastic and allow to sit for about 45 minutes. The dough will rise again.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 F. Warm 3 tbsp. of milk in a bowl and wash the surface of the bread with the milk using a pastry brush. You could use egg yolk wash but I do not like the egg smell so I use milk. Bake the bread for about 15-20 minutes.

Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Beautiful Bread

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads.  Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

This challenge was inspired by the design creations of Valentina Zurkan. The end result was intimidating. I baked a sunflower bread a couple days earlier. It is easier to shape and I wanted to get an idea of how shaping the dough affects the final result. I am glad I did that but I was nervous nevertheless. Surprising, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the dough and molding it to the desired shape. The house smelt of cinnamon and freshly baked bread. I think I found a new hobby.

The bread was a treat with evening tea. My daughter walked through the door with her nose in the air asking what smelt so good. She even asked if she could take a piece to school for her mid-morning snack.

The recipe was easy to follow but I tweaked it a little. I used mostly bread flour in place of all purpose flour, cut down on the cinnamon and did not drizzle anything on the bread after it was baked.

You will need
For the dough
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 oz. butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 oz. Fleischmann yeast
2 1/4 cup King Arthur bread flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cardamom powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. sugar

Between the layers
2 oz. butter, divided
3 tbsp. cinnamon powder
1/2 cup sugar

Leave the egg and the butter on the counter top at least an hour before you start. Shell the cardamom and pound the seeds to a powder. Mix the water and milk in a bowl and heat in the microwave for about 25 seconds. In a large mixing bowl whisk the egg. Add sugar, softened butter, yeast and the warmed milk and water. Whisk it together. Add the cardamom and salt. Mix in the flour a little at a time. Knead well to form a soft dough.

Oil the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise to double its original size.

Flour a working surface and dump the dough on it. Break away a small piece of dough for the center. Divide the rest into four portions.

Roll out the portions to about 9-10 inches. Save a tablespoon of butter and in a small bowl mix the remaining butter, cinnamon powder and sugar to be applied between the layers. Place one of the rolled out portions and spread a third of the cinnamon mixture all over the top.

Place another rolled out portion of dough over the top of the first. Apply half of the remaining cinnamon mixture over it and place the third portion of dough over the top. Apply all of the remaining cinnamon mixture over it. Place the last portion of dough over the top. Brush the top with the butter that was kept aside earlier.

Shape the layers into a circle doing the best you can. The better the circle the prettier the baked bread will look. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut the four layer thick disc into 8 wedges. Using a knife cut a slit in each of the triangles as shown in the picture.

Take one of the triangles and fold the narrow edge over the top and into the slit.

Pull it from the bottom and spread it out again as shown in the picture.

Repeat for all the triangles.

Grease a baking sheet large enough to hold all the pieces. I used a pizza sheet. Place the triangles on it to form a circle. Retrieve the little ball of dough put aside earlier. Roll it into a thin rope. Starting from one side coil the rope to the end. Place it in the center. Pinch the open ends of the triangles together. Mix the milk and sugar for the topping and brush it liberally over the top.

Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime preheat the oven to 450 F. Bake the bread for 5 minutes at this temperature. Reduce the temperature to 390 F. Bakes for about 10-12 minutes. The bottom of the bread should be brown. The top can be covered in foil if it browns too early. Alternately it can be broiled if it does not brown enough.

Let the baked bread rest for 5 minutes on the pan. Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool completely before storing. The bread can be stored at room temperature in an air tight container for 2-3 days.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lithi and Tomato Chokha

Lithi is one of the most popular Bihari dishes. Both Lithi and Chokha are cooked in the tandoor. I do not have a tandoor so I used a regular oven. The flavors of the two dishes go surprisingly well together. In fact this combo is on our school lunch rotation.

The shell of the Lithi is made of whole wheat flour and the stuffing is made of Sattu. The resultant Lithi is flavorful as well as healthy. Chokha is made with roasted vegetables, I used tomatoes. It can be made with eggplant or potatoes.

Sattu is roasted ground yellow gram dal. I found it in the Indian store but they did not have a small bag. I knew I would have a lot of flour left over and wondered what I would do with it. I did not have to worry. My husband enjoyed having sattu flour as breakfast cereal until it was all gone. His family is from Madhya Pradesh (Maharashtrians who had moved to Madhya Pradesh during the Holkar days) and that breakfast reminded him of his childhood.

You will need
For the Lithi shell
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used chappati flour)
2 tbsp. olive oil divided
1 tsp. salt

For the Lithi stuffing
1 1/4 cup sattu (roasted ground yellow gram dal)
2 tbsp. onion, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 Serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
1 tsp. Ajwain (Carom seeds)
1 tsp. Kalonji (onion seeds)
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt to taste

1 tbsp. olive oil

For the chokha
2 tomatoes
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
salt to taste

First make the Lithi shell. In a mixing bowl mix all the ingredients using only one tbsp. of olive oil. Using water form a soft dough with the wheat flour. Moisten the palm of your hand with the other tbsp. of olive oil and knead for a couple minutes. Keep aside for at least half an hour.

Warm up the broiler in your oven. Slit the skin on the tomatoes lengthwise and place then on an oven proof sheet.

Put them under the heated broiler for about 4 minutes. Watch them so they do not burn. You do want the skin to be charred and the tomatoes to be soft. Turn them around after 4 minutes and broil them on the other side for up to 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

Skin the cooled tomatoes and chop them. Using a masher mash lumps if any. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.

Next make the sattu filling. Mix all the ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Using water form a soft filling. Use as little water as you can. Divide into 6 and roll each part into a ball.

Make the Lithi. Preheat oven to 375 F. Knead the dough that after it has rested for half an hour. Divide into 6 parts. Roll each part into a ball.

Flatten one ball of dough on your palm.

Place one ball of filling inside it.

Pull up the sides of the dough over the filling and seal closed. Smooth it out in your palm and keep aside.

Repeat the process with the other 5 balls of dough. Now pour 1 tbs. of olive oil on your palm and caress each lithi with it. Place the oiled lithi on a baking sheet and let it bake for about 25 minutes or until the bottom is brown. Turn over and bake another 5 minutes. The top should brown quickly.

Melt a half tsp. of ghee over the top and serve with Chokha.

This is my entry for week four, day two of BM #37 for the theme Rolled and Baked. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#37.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Garlic Naan

Soft and browned to perfection with a distinct garlic taste, Garlic Naan is one of the most popular variation of the Indian flat bread.

Garlic naan has been made popular by Indian restaurants that serve them fresh with their buffet. They go well with sides that have gravy or those without. My daughter loves to munch on a hot naan without adding anything to it.

This naan is leavened using yeast and requires a couple hours to rise. However, it cooks very quickly under the broiler taking all of 2 minutes.

You will need
For the dough
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 oz. Fleischmann instant yeast
3 cloves garlic
4 tbsp. yogurt
2 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 fl. oz. warm water

For the topping
10 leaves cilantro, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced

Sift together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Crush the garlic and mince. Add it to the flour. Add the yeast.

Now add the wet ingredients except water. Add water a little at a time and form a wet, sticky dough. Use a little flour to knead into a soft but sticky dough, about 10 minutes if kneading by hand. This is the hardest step as the dough is very sticky. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl greased with oil and allow it to rest covered for about 2 hours or until it doubles in volume.

Punch down the dough and divide into 6 portions. Using a little flour roll each portion into a ball and keep aside for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 F.

The dough would will rise again.

Place a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet in the second rack from the top. Switch to broiler on high heat. Flour a working surface and roll one of the six portions of dough to about 7 inches and about 1/4 inch in thickness. Sprinkle some of the garlic and cilantro over the top. Roll lightly to press into dough. Repeat for another portion of dough.

Take some water in a bowl. Pick up the naan and place it on the palm of your right hand with topping side down. Dip your free left palm in the water. Moisten the plain side of the naan with your wet palm. Now carefully place the naan on the hot inverted baking sheet. When you are done the topping should face up and the moistened plain side of the naan should touch the pan.

Repeat for the other naan. Broil on high for about 2 minutes watching to ensure the naan does not burn. It should puff up and brown on the top. Take it off the baking sheet and fold in a cloth towel.

Repeat for the remaining naan. Serve hot with a side of your choice.

Submitting this as my second entry for this week for the 2014 52 Week Challenge for the theme Garlic.