Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ancient Grain Challah

Necessity is the mother of invention. This week I wanted to use up a started bag of King Arthur Ancient Grain flour blend  and also needed challah for Shabbat.  The blend is gluten free, but the following recipe is certainly not : the bread has white whole wheat, bread and all purpose flour blended together with the ancient grain blend.  The resulting dough is less stretchy than more traditional challah dough. After the first rise I  deflated the dough by hand and noticed that it felt a bit "grainy."  The color of the dough is "beige" rather than yellow or white. The texture is not quite traditional challah, not quiet artisan bread. The crust is a bit thicker and a bit crusty. The loaf slices wonderfully, the bread makes very satisfying sandwich slices.

Choreography/ Notes:
A longer, slow slow first rise improves the texture of the dough.  I mixed the dough, drizzled oil into the bowl and turned the dough so that the entire dough ball was covered with a slick of oil. The dough was then covered with plastic wrap and left in the refrigerator for 8 hours. It rose nicely, albeit a bit slower than challah usually does. As I mentioned, the dough is not as stretchy as traditional challah, but allowing the dough to come to room temperature helped improve the workability of the dough.

kitchen scale
measuring cups, measuring spoons
electric mixer (optional, but helpful)
baking pans : 3 medium loaf pans or two large loaf pans or parchment lined baking sheet

4.5 tsp instant yeast (2 packages)
2.5 tsp kosher salt
15 to 16 oz warm water  (2 scant cups)
4 large eggs
8 oz ancient grain blend - I used King Arthur Ancient Grains blend, but would appreciate feed back if    anyone uses another mixture.
8 oz white whole wheat flour
10 oz bread flour
10 oz unbleached all purpose flour
4oz (1/2c) honey
4 oz (1/2c) olive or vegetable oil plus approximately 2 Tbsp to grease the bowl
1/4c soy or almond milk
1/4c brown sugar mixed with a Tbsp or two of hot water
1/4c old fashioned oats
spray oil to grease the pans
small amount of cornmeal or flour for dusting the bread pans

1. Weigh and measure the ingredients. Warm the water. For details on yeast and measuring you can click this link. 
2. Combine the oil and water and eggs. Measure and combine the bread and all purpose flour
3. Pour the ancient grain blend and white whole wheat flour into a large mixing bowl.
4. Add the salt at one edge and cover with a bit of the flour and add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl.
5. Pour the water over the yeast and start the mixer on low speed.  If you are mixing the dough by hand, use a wooden spoon to start mixing the yeast/water into the flour.
6. Pour the oil/water/egg mixture into the bowl and continue to mix.
7. Add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and blend in at low speed or continue to mix with a large spoon. Continue to blend in the remaining flour and mix for 3-5 minutes until well blended and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
8. If you are mixing by hand you may need to turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in the final 10 oz of flour.  The dough will be firm, a  bit sticky and not particularly stretchy.
9. Pour 2 Tbsp of oil along the edges of the mixing bowl and turn the dough around so that the dough ball has a thin layer of oil all over it.
10. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours.
11. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes before working with the dough.
12. Deflate gently, turn several times and divide/shape. The dough will make 3 medium loaves, 2 large loaves or approximately 18 (2 oz) rolls. Click on this link to see several examples of bread shapes.  Prepare the pans by spraying with spray oil and sprinkling with cornmeal or flour
13. Mix the brown sugar, water and oatmeal to make a thick paste. Smear on the top of the bread. Let rise in a draft free spot (a slightly warm oven or a proofing box is perfect) for about 45 minutes.
15. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Load the bread into the hot oven, lower the heat to 360 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes. Check the bread after 30 minutes, the crust will be be dark and golden. Internal temperature, if you're inclined to use a thermometer, should be approximately 190- 195 degrees.  I like to very gently push on the top of the crust a bit to make sure the loaf "feels" done.
16. Cool in the pan for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before wrapping and storing. The bread should be double wrapped in plastic if you are freezing.  It will stay loosely covered at room temperature for 2 days.

Other interesting BreadandBabka challah recipes you might like to try include:
Pumpkin Apple Challah  , Challah Bread Pudding , or Challah with Za'atar and Apricots .

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Quick to make "Creamsicle" (orange-vanilla) Sorbet

It's warm outside and if you're lucky enough have freezer space to keep the mixing bowl of an ice cream maker frozen, then you can enjoy this sorbet within an hour.  Some of the richer ice creams and complicated sorbet bases require mixing, heating and cooling. Some, but not this one!

The base of this sorbet is a can of room-temperature coconut milk (light or regular, but NOT canned coconut cream). Add sugar, orange juice, a bit of flavor-boosting and your more than halfway there. Use either fresh or NON-reconstituted juice or a combination of both. Reconstituted OJ just doesn't work as well as a flavoring component in this recipe; small flecks of fruit make it visually interesting and more delicious. I prefer LorAnn oil bakery emulsion as the flavor enhancer, but don't let that stop you, extracts will work.

This sorbet scoops well with or without the optional addition of a tablespoon of vodka.

a mixing bowl or 4 cup measuring cup for mixing
mixing spoon, measuring spoon, measuring cup
ice cream maker of your choice

1 can (about 13 oz) coconut milk at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Approximately 1-1/4 cup orange juice - preferable at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bakery emulsion from LorAnn Oils
2 tsp orange extract or orange bakery emulsion from LorAnn Oils
1 Tbsp vodka (optional)

1. Combine the sugar and coconut milk. Mix well, the sugar must disperse into the liquid.
2. Add the orange juice to equal 3 cups of liquid. Mix well, make sure there is no sugar settling at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
3. Mix in the flavorings.
4. Chill in a freezer for 30-45 minutes.
5. Pour into a chilled mixing bowl of your ice cream maker and process according to directions.
6. OPTIONAL: when the mixture is just about ready (thick, slushy) add the vodka and continue to mix.
7. The sorbet will be the consistency of soft-serve, I like to freeze it for an additional hour or two before serving. Let the sorbet stand at room temperature for a few minutes for easy-scooping.


If frozen desserts are your thing, try BreadandBabka's Blueberry-Lemonade Sorbet

Monday, June 1, 2015

Oregano Pesto with Walnuts and Orange

Oregano Pesto with Walnuts and Orange 

It's springtime and a few days of very warm sunny weather has sped the growth of oregano in the garden. Oregano is a great plant for edible gardening: it's a beautiful ground cover, will flower if left untrimmed and best of all is reliably perennial to zone 6 and often survives winter in zone 5 if you protect with mulch. Once established it thrives on neglect and doesn't require regular watering. The key to a constant supply of fresh leaves is to keep it trimmed and avoid flowering. 

OK, so you don't want to grow your oregano, but you do want to try this pesto. Buy a package of fresh oregano, you'll need a loosely packed cup of leaves.  It's easy to remove the leaves from the stem by sliding your finger along the stem moving from the bottom of the stem toward the end with the new growth. The leaves will easily separate from the stem. 

Pesto is a versatile condiment associated with Italy, but also has roots in Southern France (pistou). The origin of the preparation dates back to ancient Roman times, where a mortar and pestle (hence: pesto) were used to hand grind herbs, cheese and nuts. Although it's now typical to use "Genovese" type basil as the herb base in pesto, any herb can be used.  I never prepare pesto with cheese, you can always add grated Parmesan if you'd prefer.  

Serve Pesto along with pasta or spread thinly on slices of crusty bread. You can dilute the mixture with a bit of oil and cream to make a creamy sauce.  I like to  make an oh-so-easy baked chicken by spreading pesto on chicken and baking. Spread pesto on a piece of salmon fillet, spray oil on foil, wrap the fish and bake or cook on the BBQ.  You can also create a vegan sauce by mixing pesto with a bit of oil and lemon or orange juice. Pesto is wonderful served over rice.  Try cooking barley, saute an onion and mix the barley with the onion and a few tablespoons of pesto.  You can always use it to make the garlic-pesto-yogurt sauce that accompany chard patties.  You'll soon realize that the possibilities are endless. 

Preparing pesto is quick and easy. It takes longer to organize the ingredients than to whir them in a food processor. I don't grind the mixture by hand, but it might be interesting to try your hand using a mortar and pestle. 

Prepare the ingredients before blending: separate the oregano leaves from the stems, roughly chop walnuts, zest a small orange, squeeze the juice, peel the garlic cloves .  All ingredients are processed at once in a food processor until they form a smooth paste. 

1 cup loosely packed oregano leaves 
zest from one small orange 
1 oz orange juice 
3/4 c roughly chopped walnuts 
2-4 cloves garlic (this will depend on how much you do or don't love garlic)
2 oz olive oil - you can increase the olive oil by 1/2 oz increments if you want a thinner mixture
large pinch Kosher salt  

Add the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whir until it forms a smooth paste. 

 Scrape into a covered container. Store in the refrigerator, use within 2-3 weeks. 
Yield approximately 1 cup.