Tuesday, March 27, 2012

THE DARING BAKERS' MARCH 2012 CHALLENGE: Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my!

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Dutch Crunch Bread.
"So what are we making, exactly?" I found myself asking.
As I discovered, Dutch Crunch refers to the topping on the bread not the type of bread itself and is very common in Northern California where Sara originates from.

It wasn't until I kept reading and finding information on the Dutch Crunch bread that I realised that it is the Tiger bread I buy from the supermarket. I was never aware that the crackled effect on the top is from a topping spread on the unbaked bread just like Dutch Crunch. In Dutch it's called "Tijgerbrood". Yes, that's Tiger bread.
However as with all thing homemade the topping on this bread was unlike anything I had tried from the supermarket - it was crunchy, sweet and delicious.

The topping is a mixture of yeast, sugar, oil ( I used sesame oil) and rice flour. Rice flour has no gluten so while the bread underneath rises and expands the rice flour topping simply cracks and crackles.... 

...resulting in this!

My choice of sandwich was a BLT with fried egg and avocado.

Of course, the real challenge is getting your mouth around this!

I will give you the recipe for the topping and also for the white bread rolls I made however you can use any bread recipe you like, just spread with the topping to made TIGER BREAD! Grrrrrrrr.  

Dutch Crunch Topping
Printable Recipe

Servings: This recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9x5 loaves (23cmx13cm) or 12 rolls. If you make only 6 rolls in the soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.
2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (I used sesame oil)½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
2. Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. It works best just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.
3. Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping.
4. When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.

Soft White Roll
Servings: Six sandwich rolls
This recipe approximates the quintessential white sandwich roll found throughout the Bay Area. The recipe is simple, quick, and addictive.
1 tablespoon (1 packet) (15 ml) (7 gm/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (No need to use a thermometer – it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
1 cup (240 ml) warm milk (105-110º F) (41-43°C) )
1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (20 gm/ ⅔ oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm/⅓ oz) salt
Up to 4 cups (960 ml) (600 gm/21oz) all purpose flour
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).
2. Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together. (The photo to below is with the first 2 cups of flour added).
3. Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size.
6. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).
7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
8. Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping,  our hosts got better results by putting them directly into the oven.
9. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

 So be sure to load on the topping.

Thanks to our hosts Sara and Erica from Baking JDs for introducing us to this delicious bread!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"A Baker's Odyssey" Personal Challenge # 8 Flaky Turkish Feta Turnovers

Guess what?
This is my 100th post!
Little did I realise when I decided to start a blog to post my Daring Baker's Challenge where this little pastime would take me. In this time I have made many online friends with similar interests, leanrt heaps of new techniques and enjoyed every minute. Now I have my own personal challenge as I bake my way through "A Baker's Odyssey" by Greg Patent. Hopefully I will soon be able to direct you to Greg's blog where you will be able to purchase your very own signed copy! How exciting it that!

This is a recipe I have been wanting to make since I bought "A Baker's Odyssey" by Greg Patent some time ago. From the "Savoury Pastries" chapter of the book these are described by Greg as "a savoury turnover with a tangy feta cheese filling enclosed in a tender flaky dough" and certainly the dough is the star of the show. This dough gets its delicious flakiness from a unique combination of yoghurt, olive oil and butter. Be sure to use a good feta cheese for this recipe - in Australia I like Dodoni. 
These turnovers, which also are known by the Turkish name "Puaca",  are a great finger food to have with drinks.

Flaky Turkish Feta Turnovers
Printable recipe
makes 30 turnovers

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 large egg

In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
In a medium bowl whick together the olive oil, melted butt, yoghurt and egg. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir well with a wooden spoon until it gathers into a mass. It will be a rather raggy dough.

Scrape the dough onto an unfloured work surface and knead briefly until it forms a cohesive mass. It will still want to break apart but don't be worried. Place the dough into a clip seal bag and let it rest a room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. The dough will relax and become supply and feel soft. You can also refrigerate the dough overnight ( which is what I did ). Bring the dough back to room temperature before using. 

10 ounces/285g feta cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped dill
2 large eggs

Crumble the feta into a bowl and mix in the dill and eggs.
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Divide the dough into 30 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. I used a small rolling pin to roll each ball into a round of about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.That's about 9cm in diameter for the metric minded. I rolled the dough out on silicone baking paper which made the whole process easier.
Place a generous teaspoonful of filling just below the centre of the dough circle. Fold the top half of the dough over the filling to form a half- moon shape. Firmly press the edges to seal.


Fold the edge of the dough over onto itself. Place the turnover onto a baking paper lined oven tray and continue with the remaining dough and filling. Brush with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Rotate the oven trays halfway through to ensure even browning.

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

These delicious turnovers are best fresh but can be frozen when completely cool. Place in clip seal bags and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw in the bags, then reheat in a warm oven (300F/150C).

These pastries are really rather moreish and I know  I will be preparing them regularly.
Another fabulous recipe from my favourite cookbook, "A Baker's Odyssey"! 

Ok. Now, did you notice? Anything new?
Scroll up again.
See it?
Yep, that's right, Marcellina in Cucina now has "Printable Recipes".
This makes it a lot easier when you want a hard copy of a particular recipe.
Yes, it did take a while but now that I have figured it out I love it.
I hope you do, too!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

" A Baker's Odyssey" Personal Challenge #7 - Jian Bing

Today I have strayed away from the Sweet Pastries chapter of A Baker's Odyssey and onto a savoury chapter of the cookbook - Flatbreads. This recipe intrigued me in its origin as Chinese street food. Street food is always known to be good honest food and this recipe did not disappoint.

According to author Greg Patent, Jain Bing is prepared fresh to order, in front of you. The street seller pour a thin layer of batter onto a griddle. Once that is set an egg is broken onto the pancake, the yolk is broken and spread over the pancake and allowed to cook. Spring onions are sprinkled over and the pancake is folded, cut in a particular manner and wrapped in paper before being handed to the waiting customer. This version was taught to  Greg by his son's Chinese housekeeper. Her version involves rolling out a thin circle of dough, spreading it with a delicious pork filling and folded before again being rolled out thinly. This final rolling is the tricky bit. Greg recommends flouring liberally and continuing rolling out the dough. Remember this is after the dough has been filled with pork, so the dough is bound to tear and the filling seep through. Soldier on because delicious yumminess awaits!

Jian Bing
(Printable Recipe)

Makes 4 stuffed flatbreads

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (or measure 1/2 cup all purpose flour, remove 1 tablespoon and replace with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and sift together well)
3/4 cup hot water

1 pound (450g) pork tenderloin
3 scallions (spring onions)
1 inch cube peeled fresh ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil for cooking 

To prepare the filling, cut the meat into 1 inch pieces, put them on a tray lined with plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up the meat a bit; don't freeze the meat solid. Using the metal blade in the food processor add the meat to the bowl and pulse rapidly, stopping to scrape the side of the bowl until the meat is cut into very small pieces. Place the meat in a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and beat well with a wooden spoon. The filling can be made an hour ahead and refrigerated.

For the dough, place the flours into a large bowl and stir to combine. Gradually add the hot water, stirring to make a firm but sticky dough. Lightly flour your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Turn the dough to coat it with flour and knead.Fold the dough over onto itself and push it away with the heel of a hand as you rotate the dough. Once the dough has developed some elasticity pass it rapidly from hand to hand squeezing and kneading it for a minute or two. The dough should feel firm and no longer be sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for about 1 hour.

After this time divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and shape into ball. Let these rest for a further 15 minutes.

On a well floured surface roll a dough ball to a circle 9 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Spread a quarter of the filling as you see above leaveing about 3/4 inch border all the way around. Brush all the exposed surfaces with water. With a sharp knife make a cut from the centre of the circle and about a 1/4 inch to the left of the filling.

Lift the uncovered dough up and over filling as you can see above. Continue to brush
 with water and fold each quarter over until you have completely enclosed the filling.

You should end up with a folded and enclosed triangle like you see above.

Push the edges and tuck the seams under. With cupped hands shape the triangle into a roughly circular shape. Mine never really looked circular in shape!
Now is the tricky part. Gently roll the bing on a well floured surface to an 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. The dough will become very thin and you'll be able to see the pork filling through it. The dough will probably tear in a few points and the pork filling will squeeze through. Don't worry! Simple flour liberally, flip the bing over a few times and keep rolling to the specified size. Brush off the excess flour.

Heat the oil to very hot and slip a bing into the pan. It will sizzle. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover the pan, press the bing down if it has puffed up ( mine never did) and turn it over. Cover the pan and cook for 3 more minutes. Uncover, press the bing down if it has puffed up. Remove the bing and cut into quarters or sixths to serve. The bing can be kept warm in  a warm oven until all bing are cooked.

I had no problem with keeping my bing warm as they started to disappear even before I took a photo!
These were delicious and got a definite thumbs up by the family.
Another great recipe from "A Baker's Odyssey"!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"A Baker's Odyssey" Personal Challenge # 6 - Rugelach

I'm continuing my personal challenge of baking my way through Greg Patent's "A Baker's Odyssey". This is my sixth recipe and at this rate it will take way over a year, maybe more than two years, to get through the more than 130 recipes. I think I'm going to have to pick up the pace a bit!

This week I baked a batch of Rugelach which, from what I understand, are quite popular in other parts of the world but here in tropical Northern Australia, rugelach are unheard of.  Like the Date Babas, this recipe is from the Sweet Pastries chapter which promises that after baking through the collection of recipes in this chapter "you'll be equipped to handle just about any pastry recipe that comes your way". 

Rugelach  dough comprises of three ingredients - flour, butter and cream cheese! Needless to say these are not for the diet conscious! Filled with finely chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon these pastries are  delicious, rich and flaky. 

Remember Aussies, this is an American recipe using the American size tablespoon.

Makes 36 pastries

8 ounces (250g) regular cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (250g) butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour, plus more as needed

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons (62g) butter, melted

1 large egg yolk, beaten with a teaspoon milk for egg wash

Beat the cream cheese and butter together with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. On low speed, gradually add about half the flour, beating only until incorporated. Mix in the remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
Lightly flour your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Turn the dough to coast with the flour and shape into a 1 inch thick disk. Divide the dough into thirds, shape  each into a ball, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line two large baking sheets with non stick baking paper.
Make the filling by combining the sugar, sinnamon and walnuts in a bowl.

Roll out one portion of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12inch circle. Brush the dough with about one third of the butter and quickly sprinkle with one third of the sugar and walnut mixture. Place a square of waxed paper over the filling and press down gently with the rolling pin to embed the filling into the dough. Use a long sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 wedges.   

Roll up each wedge from the wide edge, set the rolls pint side down on one thof the baking sheets spacing them about 1 inch apart. 

Don't worry if a bit of the filling falls out just add it back into the bowl and keep going.

Brush the rugelach lightly on the top with egg wash and bake for about 30 minutes until the pastries are a rich golden brown. Roate the baking sheets front to back, top to bottom to ensure even browning.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Greg tell us that a variation to the classic rugelach is to mix 1/2 cup currents or mini chocolate chips into the filling. While I made the classic recipe, I think the variations sound good and  they will certainly be coming out of my kitchen in the near future.

So, did I like them?
I did find them very rich and could only eat one with a cup of tea. Interestingly, I did find that the flavour improved the day after baking. The pastry as you can see is delightfully flaky and the filling had just the right amount of cinnamon.

Another winner from "A Baker's Odyssey", my favourite cookbook!