May 15, 2009

See You Later Alligator

Off to the land of a thousand shades of there will be few if any posts for a while. A little walking, a little putting up the feet and reading.
Happy end of Spring!

May 10, 2009

A Swirl of Many Grains and Raisins

As a little girl one of my favorite snacks was cinnamon toast. Warm bread, lots of butter, plus a healthy dose of cinnamon and sugar...comfort food at it's best. I liked it best with a big mug of hot cocoa. I'd setttle down with a good book and time would just slip away.

Lots of people my age can tell you the exact words of commercial jingles from television, even though it was decades ago. I'm a cultural misfit because afte I was about 8 years old we didn't have a working television. One day it just 'broke' and my Dad took all of us who were old enough to get a library card straight to the library. We went back once a week. My younger sister would leave with a stack of books almost as tall as she was and she would plow through them during the week, ready for new ones when we returned last weeks' treasures. I was lucky to finish three books a week, but we all developed a love of reading...or became printaholics...depending on your point of view.

Now that I have the siren song of sourdough starters calling from my fridge, I spend more time baking bread than reading about it. Through trial and error I have figured out the proportions that make the kind of bread I like, so I mostly forget about recipes.

This week I decided to make some raisin bread...something that I love but have not yet tried as a sourdough loaf. The recently arrived order from King Arthur flour included a lovely sack of 12 grain flour. Included are flours of wheat, amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, brown rice,spelt, barley, millet, oats, rye, buckwheat and corn. They add a lot of flavor and some extra nutritional value. The swirl is a combination of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon...lots of cinnamon!...walnuts and, or course, raisins. It is great as is but even better toasted and spread with a bit of butter. Didn't try it yet with hot cocoa, but it was quite enjoyable to eat while reading my latest novel. It would even be good while reading a cereal box...something I've done as a printaholic when no other print was available.

12 Grain Raisin Swirl Sourdough Bread
makes one large loaf

1 cup sourdough starter
1 ¼ cups milk, slightly warm
1 tablespoon molasses (dissolved in the warm milk)
1 egg, slightly beaten or ¼ cup egg substitute
3 cups all-purpose bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup 12 grain flour mix (I used King Arthur brand)
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, mix together the sourdough starter, milk, Molasses, and egg.

In another bowl mix together 2 cups all-purpose bread flour, 1 cup 12 grain flour and the salt. Mix to combine thoroughly.

With dough hook attached to the stand mixer, gradually add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture, letting the mixer dough hook knead at low speed as you add the flour. Once that is all incorporated, continue to add the rest of the all-purpose bread flour until a soft dough forms and the dough ball cleans the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead for 10 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly flour surface and gather into a ball, kneading a few times if needed to thoroughly mix the dough.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl or dough rising container, turning the ball to oil all sides. Cover lightly and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.

Punch down risen dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times, then flatten dough with your hands to about 8” by 10” rectangle. Spread softened butter evenly over the surface, leaving ½ to 1 inch around edges free of butter.

In a small bowl combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the butter.

Evenly sprinkle the raisins, then the walnuts over the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the dough.
Roll up along the long side, jelly-roll fashion. Seal the edges at the end of rolling. Turn under the ends to fit a large bread pan. Lightly oil the bread pan. Place dough, sealed side down, into the bread pan. Cover lightly and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 ½ hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake risen loaf in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until top is browned and loaf sounds somewhat hollow when bottom is tapped. Due to the filling it won’t sound a hollow as an unfilled bread loaf.

Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Slice with a serrated knife to serve.

This recipe goes to Tangerine's Kitchen for Bread Baking Day #20 - Multi Grains! It also goes to Susan at Wild Yeast for that wonderous event Yeast Spotting - if you love yeast you should really check it every week!

May 03, 2009

There Are Spicy Biscuits On the Other Blog

Thought I might post about 'em here, but changed my mind. Go on over the Feeding My Enthusiasms for some delightful Spicy Seedy Cheesy Biscuits!

May 01, 2009

It's Spring - Onions

In years past I’ve noticed the bunches of spring onions for sale at the market and passed them by. They look a lot like green onions or scallions, but are more expensive. This year I decided to try a bunch in some filled bread.

Surely these onions, looking like a cross between scallions, leeks, and regular white large onions, would be a taste of spring. They really are only available during the spring. Left in the ground I suspect that they become prosaic white onions.

To go with the spring onions, I used some fresh baby spinach, another harbinger of spring. The leaves are bright green and tender, needing only a quick chop and brief steaming to break down the cell walls, releasing the excess moisture and wilting them slightly. I dried the steamed spinach with paper towels because extra moisture wouldn’t be a great idea in baked buns.

The final part of the filling is shredded jack and cheddar cheese. You could also use some feta for a tangier combo.

The bread dough is one I put together using a King Arthur Flour recipe for Stuffing Buns for proportions. I changed so much of the recipe that it is barely based on theirs. I used my whole wheat sourdough starter and a little reconstituted active dry yeast, too. Some potato starch adds suppleness. Look at what a great crust it has!

Some Meyer lemon flavored olive oil goes well with the onions and spinach. A little dried rosemary gives additiona flavor. An egg and some milk add richness, more whole wheat flour and unbleached bread flour give the rolls their body.

This dough is a little sticky, but a pleasure to work with and easy to form into the filled buns. Once the dough had finished it’s first rise, I punched it down, turned it out onto a lightly floured board, kneaded it a few times to release any extra trapped gas, then used my bench scraper to cut it into eight pieces. If you want smaller buns, you could probably make ten or twelve buns.

The nice thing about having eight was that a tablespoon of the cheese mixture went into each one and that is exactly a cup. A little cheese leaked out of a few of the rolls, but that's OK. Each bit had a nice cheesiness to go with the spinach and onion flavors.

These are great little buns for lunch or brunch or even a picnic, although the cheese won’t be melty as it is when served warm from the oven. I'm going to send them over to Cinzia at Cindystar for Bread Baking Day #19...Spring Country Bread. She invited us to have a virtual picnic. These rolls should find a welcome place in a picnic basket.

Spring Onion Stuffed Rolls

1/3 cup warm water
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup sourdough starter, whole wheat if you have it
2 tablespoons olive oil – I used Meyer lemon flavored, but good quality plain olive oil is fine
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup milk at room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup potato starch
2 cups unbleached bread flour, divided
½ teaspoon dried rosemary, broken into very small pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely shredded cheese – either one kind or a mixture
Spring Onion and Spinach Filling Mixture – at end of recipe.

In a small bowl, mix together the warm water and active dry yeast. Let stand 10 minutes to proof. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sourdough starter, proofed yeast, olive oil, egg, and milk.

In another bowl or a measuring cup, combine the whole wheat flour, potato starch, and one cup of the unbleached bread flour.

With the dough hook in place on the mixer, slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add the salt and mix. Continue to add the remainder of the flour mixture. Then begin adding the rest of the unbleached flour, letting the dough absorb the added flour a little at a time. Knead with the mixer for 4-5 minutes until the dough is supple and silky. You may still have some of the unbleached flour not used.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. If it seems too sticky, knead in a little more flour. Gather into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl or rising container, turn dough ball over to oil all sides. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise until double in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.

Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times to release any trapped gas. Divide dough into 8, 10, or 12 pieces, depending on how many buns you want and how big.

Take each piece of dough and spread it into a circle roughly 5 inches in diameter. Into the center place 1 tablespoon shredded cheese. Top with a generous teaspoon or a little more of the spring onion mixture.

Gather the edges together to make a ball, pinching to seal. Place sealed side down on a greased baking sheet or silicon mat which has been placed in a baking sheet. Repeat until all dough has been filled.

Place a towel over the pan and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Optional: Paint tops of rolls with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) and sprinkle with sesame seeds right before putting in the oven.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for xx minutes, until rolls are browned. (Rolls can be brushed with melted butter once removed from oven if you prefer a soft top and have not done the egg wash.)

Let cool slightly on a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spring Onion and Spinach Filling Mixture

1 cup thinly sliced spring onions, root end removed. Use a little of the stem part, but not as much of the greens as you might with scallions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ cups packed chopped fresh spinach, briefly steamed and then drained

In a heated sauté pan place the olive oil and let it heat a minute. Add the onions and stir to coat with the oil. Stir over high heat for another minute, then cover and reduce heat to lowest setting. Let onions and oil sweat gently for 15 minutes, then uncover and turn off the heat. Any remaining extra moisture will evaporate as the mixture cools. Once cooled, add the steamed and drained spinach and stir to combine.