Friday, July 25, 2014

Braided Bread

I have always been fascinated with fancy braids. In my college dorm I used to braid my roommates long hair. My daughter has waist length hair but she would not let me play with it. Then I found braided bread. I really like the bread with 8 or 9 strands. Today I present braided bread with 6, 8 and 9 strands along with a 4 strand round bread.

The turtle was made by my daughter. She said the round braid looked so much like a turtle she had to give it a head, hands and feet. It was a lot of fun making these as my daughter was a very willing participant. Guess she loves braiding as much as I do.

You will need
Dough prepared using my basic dough recipe

To make the braided bread you need rolled strands. I find it it easiest to roll the dough in a flat rectangle, cut out strips and roll each one into shape.

This gives me ropes of the same size and diameter that are evenly finished. To start place all the ropes parallel to one another. Bring one edge together and squeeze together. Now you are ready to begin.

To make the 9 strand braid
Start on the right. Place the right most strand to the left over the next two adjacent strands and under the following two strands. Do the same with the left most strand.

Repeat this process and the braid will start to appear.

Continue to the end as far as you can go. Tuck all the strands together under the dough to finish. Cut off about a half inch at the end from which you started and tuck the strands under.

For the 8 strand braid
Before you begin arrange the 8 strands the same way you would for the 9 strand bread. Pick up the rightmost strand and place it over the top of all the other strands to the left. Repeat with the leftmost strand.

Now place the right strand in the middle of the remaining strands. Place the new rightmost strand over to the left. Place the leftmost strand in the middle of the remaining strands and place the new leftmost strand to the right.

Continue to the end. Finish similar to the 9 strand braid. The finished 8 and 9 strand braids look like this.

For the 6 strand braid
This is very similar to the 8 strand braid except you have 2 fewer strands to work with.

For the 4 strand round braid and turtle
The 4 strand round braided bread is a little different from the above. To start place the 4 strands as shown in the picture below.

Now twist the adjoining strands such that the one that went under goes over and vise versa as shown in picture below.

Continue this process until you reach the end. Pick up the braid in your hand, turn it over and tuck the end on the underside. For the turtle attach head, hands and feet. Add cloves for eyes if you like. Wash everything with a milk to egg white and milk wash.

Bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes. I used leftover pizza dough to bake these breads.


Here is a link to a tutorial that I have found helpful in the past.

This is my entry for week four, day one of BM #42 for the theme Edible Art. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#42.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gourmet Pizza with Caramalized onions and sundried tomatoes

This recipe is a family favorite. There is no sauce on this pizza, just a bunch of vegetables and a sprinkling of aged parmesan cheese. I first made it after we had something similar at a gourmet pizza joint and hence the name. I made it regularly as a Friday night special. We either had family Pizza and movie night or Pizza and game night. The crust is made of whole wheat flour.

What I really like about this recipe is that it is not loaded with cheese and sauce and yet it is delicious. Use sundried tomatoes that are not stored in oil. I get mine from Trader Joe's. You could also make your own. If you do not have sun-dried tomatoes you can use a regular tomato.

I use good quality parmesan cheese that I buy as a block from Costco when they have their annual imported cheese sale. Parmesan is aged cheese and stores well. Use in small amounts. A little goes a long way.

You will need
1 300-340 gm ball of pizza dough (recipe here)
1 onion
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes or 1 tomato
1 cup baby spinach
1 tsp. dried basil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the pizza dough the night before as given in this recipe. The next day you are the ready to make pizza.

Chop the onions lengthwise. Place in a pan on low heat and allow it to be caramelized. It will take about 20-25 minutes. Keep aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 475 F. Chop the spinach. If you are using a regular tomato, chop lengthwise and drain on a paper towel. If you are using sun dried tomatoes, soak them in warm water for a few minutes and drain on a paper towel.

Use a little all purpose flour on your hands. Now using gravity work the pizza dough into a flat disk. Place it on a pizza pan. Sprinkle the basil over the pizza. Now place the caramelized onions and tomatoes on the pizza.

Add the spinach and grate parmesan cheese over the top.

Place the pizza in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve hot.


Hungarian Ring Bread

Hungarian ring bread is made for special occasions like weddings. There are seven rings, one on the outside and six on the inside, that intertwine with no apparent start or end. I have always wanted to try this bread and have had it on my wishlist for a very long time.

I made a decorative bread without sourdough after a long time. I am now used to sourdough and its long rise times. I let this bread rise a little longer than I should have before I shaped it. The end result was a delicious flavorful bread that was not exactly suitable for shaping. The dough kept rising. I am glad the shapes are still visible and did not blend into each other completely.

The bread was pretty easy to shape and I always have fun when I am playing with dough.

You will need
500 gm bread flour
40 gm sugar
37 gm egg yolks
70 gm whole eggs
37 gm vegetable oil
160 gm water
7 gm salt
15 gm fresh yeast

Combine the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. Sift the flours and add all the dry ingredients. Combine to form a soft dough. Knead well until the dough is elastic and smooth. Cover and keep aside until it doubles in volume. Divide into 7 pieces, 6 small (~70 gm) and one large (~ 300 gm). If you want to decorate it put a little dough aside before you divide into above mentioned portions.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the large portion into a rope and shape as a ring. Place it on the prepared sheet.

Shape the other portions as ropes. Intertwine as shown in the picture.

If you want you can add a few decorations.

Cover in egg wash and let it sit for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool on a rack.


This is my entry for week four, day one of BM #42 for the theme Edible Art. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#42.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pizza

I have made sourdough pizza before but this recipe uses whole wheat flour as opposed to all purpose flour. The pizza is heartier and tastes great.

Pizza dough is flat bread that is very versatile. I used a mix of mostly white whole wheat and all purpose flour for the dough. I fed my starter in the morning. At around 4 pm I mixed the dough. At night before going to bed I divided the dough and rolled it into smooth balls. I covered them and put them in the refrigerator.

The proportions I used
700 gm white whole wheat flour
200 gm all purpose flour
700 gm water
200 gm fresh fed starter
20 gm salt

The next day around noon, after 12 plus hours of refrigeration, I was ready to bake the pizza. Sometimes if I can, I keep the dough refrigerated longer; until dinner or maybe even lunch the day after. The pizza tastes better.

Today I made pizza topped with my favorite pizza sauce and shredded cotijo cheese. That was the only cheese I had on hand.

Preheat the oven to 475 F. If using a pizza stone and peel, place the stone on the top rack in the oven as it heats. If using a pizza baking sheet, place the sheet on the top rack. A hot oven and a hot cooking surface allow the pizza dough to cook quickly and puff up to create an open crumb. All you need is 7 minutes in the oven.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured working surface place one of the portions of refrigerated dough. Using your knuckles punch down the center leaving a small 1/4 inch border.

Flour you hands. Pick up the flattened dough with your fingers and using the border as a guide run it through your fingers. Holding the dough up vertically will allow it to expand. You could throw it in the air to expand it too.

Remove the heated baking sheet from the oven. Working quickly place the prepared pizza dough on the sheet.

Cover with sauce and sprinkle the cheese. Return the sheet to the top rack of the oven for 5 minutes. If using a pizza stone, assemble the pizza on a pizza peel and slide it on to the hot stone.

After 5 minutes switch to broil and broil the pizza for 2 minutes. Serve hot. Be prepared to listen to how tasty the pizza is knowing the compliments are for the pizza base and not the toppings.

This is my entry for week 30 of the 2014 52 Week challenge for theme Clean Eating.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cheesy Potato Sourdough Gozleme

Gozleme or the pastry with brown eyes is a delicious Turkish dish. It can be stuffed with a sweet or savory filling. Today I made it with cheesy potato. This recipe is very similar to paratha. The difference being the paratha is rolled out after it is stuffed. Gozleme is rolled out first and then wrapped around the filling.

The thought of using potato and cheddar cheese was really last minute. I was going to make a spinach filling with feta cheese. It would have been authentic for sure. But at the last minute I felt like eating something cheesy so switched to a pirogi type filling instead.

Once I realized what gozleme was I pretty much made up the dough and filling recipes. I knew what consistency and texture of dough I was looking for and pretty much added a little of this and that until I had what I knew would work. That comes with making flat breads almost everyday and stuffed ones on a regular basis. The leavened dough added a little spring to the gozleme. Everyone in the family loved this recipe so this is one more variation of stuffed bread that I can add to my rotation.

Note: the dough does not have to be leavened. If you want to skip the sourdough replace it with another cup of flour.

You will need
For the dough
1 cup sourdough starter (hydration % is not important)
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used chapati flour, a low protein soft flour)
water as needed
1 tbsp. oil

For the filling
1 large potato, boiled
3 tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese (you could substitute any cheese you have on hand)
1/2 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp. butter (optional)

Work in the wheat flour into the starter. Use water if needed to make a soft dough. Using oil on your fingertips knead again and keep aside for about two hours.

Mash the hot boiled potato and add the cheese. Cover and keep aside for 5-10 minutes. Let the cheese melt a little. Add the other ingredients and form a ball. Divide into 6 portions.

Divide the resting dough into 6 portions. Heat a flat griddle pan. Roll one portion of dough to at least an eighth of an inch. Place one portion of filling in the center and spread it into a rectangle.

Fold the opposite sides over the filling.

Repeat for the remaining two sides until you have a neat rectangle. Place it on the hot pan and let it cook until it has brown spots on the side.

Turn it over and cook the other side. Apply a thin layer of butter to both sides and take off heat.

Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.


This month the group Sourdough Surprises was challenged to come up with these delicious stuffed pastries. Usually I have my entry prepared weeks before the deadline. The post is scheduled and waiting to go online. For some reason this summer has been very hectic. It may have been the college visits with my teenager or that I have become just plain lazy but I had nothing this morning. I made this for lunch today, clicked and edited the pictures hoping I had good ones as it was all gone very quickly. Thank you for another great challenge.

Here are the other entries to the challenge.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nachni Urad Dal Dhirdi (Finger Millet Black Gram Dhirdi / Ragi Urad Dhirdi)

What is a dhirda (or plural dhirdi)? It is a kind of crepe popular in Maharashtra. It can be made with any flour or a combination of flours. I have a couple of other dhirdi in this space, bajri and nachni dhirdi and wheat flour and besan dhirdi.

We love the taste of the two flours nachni (finger millet) and urad dal (black gram) together as the result is a soft light dhirda. I do not mill the flours, I use ready made flours available in my local grocery store. You may want to roast the flours before use but I did not do that today. I soaked them a little longer than usual, about 6-8 hours. They made an excellent and filling breakfast.

You will need
For the dhirda
1 cup nachni flour (finger millet flour)
1/2 cup urad dal flour (black gram flour)
2 tbsp. yogurt
salt to taste

For the chutney
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. channa dal
1 tsp. urad dal
1 dried red chili pepper
1 Serrano pepper
1 cup shredded coconut

For the tempering
1 tbsp. oil
3-4 curry leaves
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. urad dal

To make the dhirdi combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add just enough water to form a thick batter. Keep aside for 6-8 hours.

Heat a griddle pan. Wipe with a clean wet towel followed by a towel dipped in a little oil. Pour a ladle of batter on the pan and starting from the center swirl in ever growing circles until the batter is spread in a good sized crepe.

Cover and let it cook under steam. When done flip and cook the other side. Take off heat. Repeat for the remaining batter.

To make the chutney heat the oil in a pan. Add all the remaining ingredients for the chutney except the coconut. Turn off heat. Cool. Pour in half a cup of water and grind it to a paste with the coconut. In a separate pan heat the oil for the tempering. Add the remaining ingredients to the oil. When they change color turn off heat. Let it cool and pour over the top of the chutney.


This is my entry for week three, day two of BM #42 for the theme Millet. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#42.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thalipeeth (Mixed Grain Pancakes)

Thalipeeth is one of the healthier pancakes. This is a traditional authentic Maharashtrian recipe. To make thalipeeth you need a combination of roasted flours.

You will need
For the bhajani
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup urad flour
1 cup roasted channa flour (dala)
1 cup nachni flour (finger millet)
1 cup bajri flour (pearl millet)
1 cup jwari or jondhala flour (sorghum)
1/2 cup coriander and cumin powder (instructions below)

For the thalipeeth (to make 6)
3 cups bhajani
1/2 onion
handful cilantro
1 Serrano pepper, minced
salt and paprika to taste

Bhajani is the flour used to make thalipeeth. To make the coriander cumin powder roast a handful of coriander seeds with a scant handful of cumin seeds until fragrant and seeds start changing color. Grind to a powder when cool. Keep aside. Roast each of the flours separately and keep aside. When cool mix them all together. The bhajani can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks.

To make the thalipeeth combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Using a little water form a soft dough. Knead for a couple minutes and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Heat a griddle pan. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Knead one portion well and flatten on a greased ziploc bag or wax paper. Using your finger make three holes in the center.

Place the prepared thalipeeth on the hot griddle. Pour a few drops of oil in each of the holes. Cover and cook on medium high heat for a few minutes until brown.

Uncover and flip over. Cook the other side until brown. Remove from heat. Repeat for each portion.

Thalipeeth is usually eaten with fresh made butter.

This is my entry for week three, day one of BM #42 for the theme Millet. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#42.