Wholewheat bagels


Do you ever wake up and suddenly remember something delicious you had months ago and feel the sudden need to recreate that moment or eat something similar? I’d ordered a bagel sandwich while out for brunch and though the sandwich was pretty lacklustre, the bagel in question was extraordinary and so it stuck and one day I woke up craving a bagel.

Bagels aren’t as easily available where I live and so it’s better and more entertaining to make some yourself which is exactly what I did and these came out pretty good, though I do intend on tinkering and tweaking a bit more with the recipe.

Whole wheat bagels with absolutely everything on top, fluffy on the inside and chewy on the out!

The premises are the same as any leavened bread. Start with some risen whole wheat dough. Recipe here. You also need some sugar, baking soda, and a mixture of whatever seeds or toppings you’d like on the bagel. It could be as simple as salt and sugar or a mixture of poppy, sunflower, black and white sesame seeds as I have here.

Divide the dough into equal sized dough balls. I made a total of eight from a kilo of dough for medium sized bagels. Each dough ball is 125g. You can make larger fewer bagels or smaller.

Make even sized balls

and let rest covered for 25-30 minutes.

Once they’ve slightly risen poke a hole in the centre and stretch the dough around to create a doughnut shape which is essentially also the bagel shape.

Like so.

Bring some water to the boil and add in sugar and baking soda.

Once the water comes back to a boil slowly drop in the bagels

and let boil for a couple of minutes on each side

use a long spoon or chopstick to flip them over.

Fish them out of the boiling water once you see them floating, cover generously with the toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes at 200ºC until crisped and browned at the top.

Enjoy!


Ingredients and recipe instructions for whole wheat dough.
Ingredients for bagel

Wholewheat bread dough: 1 kilo
Sugar: 1tbsp
Baking soda: 2tsp
Poppy seeds: 1tsp
Black sesame seeds: 1tsp
White sesame seeds: 1 tsp
Sunflower seeds: 1tbsp


Recipe Instructions

Make the whole wheat dough a day before and let rise overnight in the fridge. Let rest at room temperature for an hour before dividing the dough into eight equal sized portions.

Roll each portion into a ball and let rest once again, covered, for 25-30 minutes.

Poke a hole in the middle of each dough ball and stretch around the hole to create a doughnut like shape.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in the sugar and baking soda.

Once the water comes back to a boil slowly drop in the bagels carefully, not spilling any water. Let boil for a couple minutes on one side before carefully flipping using a chopstick or a long spoon and boiling on the other for the same time.

Fish out onto a baking tray and sprinkle over the toppings.

Bake at 200ºC for 15-20 minutes until the top has browned.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. The outside should be chewy and the inside fluffy, and since these are whole wheat bagels the texture within will be a bit denser than the usual refined flour ones, but they will be just as delicious.

Wholewheat hamburger Buns


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There’s no reason why you can’t just run to the nearest food store and buy a packet of perfectly decent soft burger buns but here is the difference between the store bought ones and the homemade ones, and that is you know exactly what goes in here and I’m not even talking about the bread softening chemicals; it’s the quality of the ingredients that you have the power to control, not to mention that these have whole wheat in them which does set them apart from the absolutely refined floured buns, and really it’s worth the effort, not least because it’s hardly an arduous task. Just a question of mixing and placing and baking. Talking of which..

 

DSC_0992 copy

The ingredients are few and pretty straightforward. We have strong bread flour, wholewheat flour, melted butter, salt, sugar, yeast and some lukewarm water. It could be argued that these wholewheat flour buns do have bread flour in them, but it’s not all refined flour, moreover, when made entirely of wholewheat the buns tend to get a bit too dense.

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Mix the flours and make a well in the centre.

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Add yeast, salt and sugar

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followed by water

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and the butter

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Give it a cursory mix with a spatula or spoon just so that everything is dispersed evenly before we begin to get our hands dirty.

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Form into a shaggy dough to feel if you need some more water and I did.

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Add water little by little, or teaspoon by teaspoon lest the dough gets too wet and sticky

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form a rough clump before you begin kneading when the moisture to flour ratio feels just right.

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Slap the dough on a large surface such as kitchen platform and get kneading. I use a simple technique wherein I flatten the dough then stretch and pull at one end

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before bringing it back to meet the opposite end, and repeat

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until the dough starts feelings soft and pliable under the fingers and palm. You really have to get a feel of this to understand because it’s a transformation and takes anywhere between 5-7 minutes.

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Once you’re happy with the dough, form into a ball

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transfer to a greased bowl. Oil the dough as well to prevent sticking

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cover with cling film and let rest for an hour or until doubled in size.

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like so..

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scrape out of the bowl on a well-floured surface

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and divide into two equal portions

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dividing each portion into four equals.

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before forming into rounds and placing on a well-oiled baking sheet

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to transform these dough balls into decently sized hamburger buns, gently press each until a bit flat, about 7-8 cms wide and roughly 2 cm’s thick; ensuring you don’t make them too flat or they’ll be something of a pita bread.

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Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and let rise for another hour until doubled in size.

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Once they’re nicely fluffed, brush the top with some water/milk/egg white. I brushed mine with water because it ensures that sesame seeds stick and do not budge

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Speaking of which, sprinkle the top liberally with some and bake at 200ºC for anywhere between 15-20 minutes, or until the top gets deliciously browned and the buns have cooked evenly.

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Like so..



Ingredients

Bread flour: 300g

Wholewheat flour: 200g

Water: 250 mls + more if needed

Yeast: 2tsp

Salt: 1 tsp

Sugar: 2 tbsps

Butter (melted): 80g


Recipe instructions: 

Mix the flours in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add yeast, salt, sugar, water and melted butter to the well and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy dough.

If the mixture is too dry and not coming together add water a teaspoon at a time until the mixture forms a dough. Scrape onto a large surface or platform and knead until the dough becomes soft and pliable for about five to ten minutes and form into a ball.

Transfer to a large bowl and ensure it’s well greased to keep it from sticking.

Cover with cling film and let rest for an hour until doubled in size, after which scrape the risen dough on a well-floured surface and divide into two portions, further dividing each portion into four equal parts and form into balls.

Place formed balls on a greased baking sheet and gently press until they’re larger in size, ensuring that they’re at least 2 cms’ thick

Cover with damp cloth and let them rest for another hour until doubled in size.

Once they have nicely fluffed up, brush the tops with some water and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Bake at 200ºC for 15-20 minutes or until the buns are deliciously golden.


 

Onion focaccia


DSC_0384As a lover of all things carbohydrate and more specifically bread, flavourful focaccia is probably among the top five things I want to be seen dead with. There’s an almost borderline obscene love that I treasure for this bread. I mean honestly, it’s flat, chic, flavoured, reeking of olive oil and begs to be torn mercilessly into choicest shards, to be shovelled into your mouth with absolutely no regrets.

This to me works as an appetizer, a full meal, a snack, a towel to wipe my tears, a snug bed that doesn’t judge me, a mop for gravies, a lover, a husband…..

This blog already has a garlic basil focaccia recipe, and the premises for this wonder are no different. Onion somehow lends a sublime sweetness and when it’s caramelized dark with crispy edges, it makes this bread go places…Basically my kitchen to my bed where I spend all night fighting my body image issues with this lovely bread.

So here it is.

DSC_0334nregular bread stuff; flower, olive oil, warm water,  yeast, salt, sugar, dried rosemary and sliced onions. I’m using dried rosemary because I have no fresh ones available, but if you do please go ahead and up the quantity a bit.

DSC_0335let’s get bread making first. Sugar into warm water

DSC_0336followed by yeast. followed by a ten minute wait to let the yeast foam up.

DSC_0339in the meantime dump your flour in a big bowl

DSC_0340followed by salt

DSC_0341and a blurry picture of rosemary

DSC_0342followed by the foamy water.

DSC_0344and our star of this show.. the studly extra virgin olive oil ( about half of the total quantity), that shies from rough handling. Knead to make a smooth dough.

DSC_0345something like this. I kneaded the dough for at least 10 minutes, but in case you have a mixer of sorts go ahead and make your work easier, only you won’t love this bread as much.

DSC_0347We have to let the bread rest to puff up and become more bread like. So back into the bowl smeared lovingly with some more olive oil. Cover well and let it rest for at least an hour or until the bread has doubled in size. Mine almost took two hours. It’s cold here.

DSC_0348in the meantime, let’s get cracking with the onions. a frying pan on medium heat and a tablespoon of regular olive oil, just to get the onions sweating.

DSC_0351in with the onions.

DSC_0352slick well with oil

DSC_0353a pinch of salt, just to get them nice and soft

DSC_0355Now we’re talking. This is after about five minutes of cooking. They’re perfect like this but I like them a bit more caramelized.

DSC_0356something like this.

DSC_0357Reserve until the dough is ready.

DSC_0359which might look something like this. It’s aromatic and gorgeously flecked with rosemary. Punch it down and knead for a minute.

DSC_0361some more olive oil on your baking tray

DSC_0363to have the kneaded dough sit on.

DSC_0364Now to turn this bread dough into focaccia. Flatten it down

DSC_0365like so, without making it too thin. Spread some more olive oil and..

DSC_0367give it that characteristic focaccia dimpled look, by simply pushing in your fingers deep to make pretty little dents and have the oil pool in them. so pretty!

DSC_0368like so. If at this stage you feel that there isn’t enough oil on top and that it looks dry, just pour in some more. This looked perfect, so onions now.

DSC_0369like so. Make sure to push them in, or else they won’t stick.

DSC_0370cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

DSC_0371Now for some wonderful smattering of crunchy sea salt, for what is focaccia without a smear of sea salt?

DSC_0373It’s risen a bit more after the second rising, and you’ve to simply sprinkle the salt on top and bake at 200℃ for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the onions caramelized to a devious crispy dark

DSC_0375like so,  but wait!

DSC_0377some more extra virgin olive oil for the top to gleam and glow.

DSC_0382apply to face. This bread is a breeze to make and a delight to eat. Dunk in more olive oil, or sauce of your choice and make a meal of it.

Ingredients

Bread flour: 300g (around 2 cups)

Warm water: 200ml ( a little less than a cup)

Yeast: 1 teaspoon

Sugar: 1 tablespoon

Salt: 1 teaspoon

Rosemary: 3/4th teaspoon

Extra virgin olive oil: 80ml (1/4 cup)

Onion: 1 medium sliced thin

sea salt: 1 teaspoon

Preparation Instructions: Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water and leave for 10 minutes to activate and foam.

In a large bowl mix flour, rosemary and salt. Once the yeast water has foamed, add into the mix along with half the quantity of extra virgin olive oil. Knead to form a smooth dough (if the dough is too dry add more water, if it’s sticky add some flour) and let it rise for at least an hour or until it’s doubled in size.

Cook onions on medium flame in some regular olive oil until soft and translucent. Reserve.

Once the dough has risen, knead it for another two minutes and flatten out on a well oiled tray (use a tablespoon of the remaining oil), making dimples with your fingers and add some more oil to the top.

Spread the cooked onions on the top evenly and push them in so they stick. Wrap and let rest and rise for another 45 minutes.

After the second rising sprinkle top with some sea salt and bake at 200℃ for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Brush the remainder of the olive oil on top and let it rest for at least ten minutes before you dig in.

DSC_0387Enjoy!

 

Thyme scented bread


DSC_0599It’s been a while since I posted anything, but only because it’s been extremely, annoyingly, unbelievably, obnoxiously, stinging, frigidly cold. Yes it’s been very cold and some more. I don’t think there was ever a moment when it wasn’t snowing, or raining or hailing or a combination of all three. The weather is slightly better now. It’s not as frozen and water doesn’t seem all that spiteful but it’s severely cold still and of course there is nay a ray of sunshine.

What’s a carb loving gal to do in this hateful weather.. why of course bake some bread and shove it down in one big cartoonish gulp, because as I write I’m feasting on this ethereal scented bread, weighed down with copious amounts of butter and my computer has a severe case of the crummage.

 

Getting down to business, this bread is delectable, heavenly and all the good adjectives. It’s ever so slightly scented with thyme and this subtle perfume gives this bread an elevated elegance, which is so desirable in this weather. Also it’s easy and fun.

DSC_0542cBasic ingredients, except I wanted some heartiness to it, which is why I added whole wheat flour. It just takes the bread from mundane to exquisite. So..thyme, regular bread flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, warm water and some oil.

DSC_0544into a large bowl, dump in your flours

DSC_0545add the salt and mix

DSC_0547into the warm water add in sugar

DSC_0548the yeast

DSC_0549mix and set aside to let the water foam in peace.

DSC_0550de-stalk the thyme in case you’re using fresh stuff.

DSC_0552once the yeast has foamed, make a well in the centre of your flour mixture

DSC_0553add in the oil

DSC_0554the thyme

DSC_0555yeasty water and mix together to form a dough. If your mixture is too dry add some more water, a teaspoon at a time, in case it’s a bit wet add some flour.

DSC_0557let it form a shaggy dough which has barely come together. Now start kneading. You have to knead for at least 10-15 minutes. It’s a good workout. You know you need it.

DSC_0558the best way to knead is to stretch it away from you.

DSC_0562then pull it back together. This gets the gluten going and the resultant dough is nice and springy. Repeat this step for at least 10 minutes and you’ll realize the dough has come to life. Trust me, you’ll just know it.

DSC_0563once it’s nice and soft and smooth and springy, form into a ball.

DSC_0567oil it slightly and let it rest for at least 1-2 hours depending on how warm your house is, making sure it’s doubled in size. 

DSC_0569once risen as you can see, it’s more than doubled, plop it out on your work surface.

DSC_0572punch it well to get rid of any air bubbles and knead again for another minute or so.

DSC_0573form into a ball.

DSC_0575and transfer on a baking sheet, bread pan or dish of choice. I dusted mine with some cornmeal but you can use semolina or flour.

DSC_0576dust some more flour on top. Cover and let rise again for another 30-45 minutes.

DSC_0578like so. mine took about 1 hour.

DSC_0580this step is completely optional, but I like doing it. I make some gashes or slashes to make it look like some artisan loaf. be careful while doing it, you do not want to deflate your bread so don’t Jackson Pollock it.

DSC_0582mmmkay!!  now bake at 200℃ for 20-25 minutes until the top is well browned and tapping the bottom makes the bread sound hollow.

DSC_0586like this!! you see this? So beautiful. You have to let it rest for at least 10 minutes. It’s going to be hellish hot.

DSC_0614ooooh mama!!! this bread is lightly specked with thyme, with a very subtle aroma. It’s soft and the whole wheat flour makes it a hearty mouthful.

DSC_0615this is what the interiors look like. It’s GORGEOUS!!!

Ingredients

Bread flour : 250 g ( 2 cups)

whole wheat flour: 70 g (about 1/2 cup)

salt : 1 teaspoon

sugar: 1 tablespoon

yeast: 1 teaspoon + a pinch

water (just warm to the touch): 250 mls (1 cup)

thyme : 1 tablespoon if using fresh or 1 teaspoon if using dried.

Oil: 2 teaspoons

Procedure: Add the sugar and yeast into the warm water and let foam. Add the flours into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in the oil, thyme and yeast water. Knead well for at least 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy.

Transfer into a lightly oiled bowl and let rise for a couple of hours until doubled in size. Once risen knead again for another minute and transfer into baking pan lightly dusted with flour. 

Dust the top of the bread with flour and let rise again for about 45 minutes. After the second rising bake at 200℃ for 20-25 minutes until the top is well browned and tapping the bottom makes the bread sound hollow.

Please give this bread a try, feel like a magician and feast like a Queen!!

DSC_0611another image to motivate you.. Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic basil focaccia


DSC_0616Focaccia sounds like an enigmatic lover. It’s the kind of romantic name that would roll off my tongue after going easy on the wine, when in the throws of passion I’d utter in a husky femme fatale voice and say ‘oh focaccia my love, I have killed Valentino to be with you forever’ or something idiotic like that.. except Focaccia isn’t some  chivalrous lover, it’s a chivalrous carb form, a wondrous bread if you must. A sort of flattened bread, slicked with olive oil and a treat to end all treats. Much like focaccia the lover, you’d want to take this bread back to bed with you.

Wonderful as it is, I decided to up the ante by adding in hints of garlic and basil, seeing that harsh winters were not too kindly with my basil plant I decided to experiment with focaccia and the results were nothing short of magnificent. It was delightful and not too overwhelming. The best part however, was that it was easy to make.

Not too fussy and without too many ingredients

DSC_0475Flour, sugar, yeast, salt, olive oil, basil and garlic.. also water which I forgot to picture.

DSC_0477Chop the garlic and basil not too fine.

DSC_0478we begin with the garlic part of focaccia and I do this by making some garlic oil. I didn’t want to put bits of garlic in my bread as I want the garlic flavors, but not too pronounced. Heat some olive oil in a pan or vessel of choice.

DSC_0480add in the chopped bits of garlic

DSC_0485let the oil heat up slowly sizzling the garlic

DSC_0486slowly as the oil heats the garlic will start oozing its flavours.

DSC_0487like so..

DSC_0488and when it just starts turning brown you turn off the heat because they will keep getting darker in the hot oil.

DSC_0489at this moment when the oil is really hot you also add in the chopped basil

DSC_0490 the basil will sizzle with the garlic and you’d wonder why this aroma has never been used for creating incense sticks.

Leave it to cool and start with prepping flour for the bread.

DSC_0491sugar into a cup

DSC_0493followed by warm water

DSC_0494followed by sprinkling of yeast. leave it to proof for about 10 minutes and enjoy the proofing show from afar without disturbing it please.

DSC_0495Use a big bowl or vessel of choice for the initial mixing of the flour. here is the flour in question.

DSC_0497sprinkle in the salt.

DSC_0498and mix and create a crater of sorts in the middle. This is where our liquid items will go i.e the yeasty water and the oil, and speaking of the oil..

DSC_0499aha!! it has cooled down and now we just have a small task at hand.. we need to get rid of these bits of garlic.

DSC_0500I use chopsticks, but please feel free to use fingers, spoon, fork.. it’s your oil.

DSC_0501chopsticks are efficient. this is in essence very good aromatic and strong-smelling garlic oil with a hint of basil. here is where I realized I need MORE BASIL!!

DSC_0502Back our yeasty water. see how well it has foamed.

DSC_0503Water into the flour

DSC_0504Garlic basil oil into the flour and get a mixing

DSC_0505mix with yer hands until it all just comes together.

DSC_0511you need space for kneading.. so dump it on a very very clean surface and start kneading.

DSC_0513I knead by pushing the dough forward and pulling it back. This is where I thought would be a good time to add some more basil.

DSC_0516Basil meet dough. Dough meet basil.

DSC_0517cover and knead

DSC_0518like so

DSC_0519and like this

DSC_0520keep kneading to form a smooth ball. I worked on this dough for about 10 minutes. It gives you serious muscles but if you’re not a fan of working out then by all means use your muggle gadgets.

DSC_0525Now this dough, like any other yeast dough needs to rest. I used the same bowl from the initial mixing and poured in some oil, because we do not want our lover to stick do we?

DSC_0527coat the entire dough with the oil and you can see that it’s a beautiful soft dough.

DSC_0528Cover and let rest for at least 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. If your house isn’t warm enough it might take longer but don’t fret.. it will get fatter.

DSC_0530there!! so big, so beautiful. Flecked so daintily with basil.. sigh!!

DSC_0531Now retrieve a pan or tin from the abyss of your pantry which you’d want the focaccia to bake in. Oil generously!

DSC_0533Pull your risen dough out of its hibernating vessel. You don’t need to deflate or anything, because we will soon be puncturing its smooth exterior with much-needed dimples.

DSC_0534Plop it on the oil.

DSC_0535and using your fingers, spread it to fit into the pan.

DSC_0537Like so. You only need gently coax it with your fingers and this smooth dough will fit beautifully. If you want a very fat focaccia please use a smaller, less wider pan.. however I like them lovers a bit lean so…

DSC_0539Now we oil it more, because it’s focaccia and it needs the good stuff. be sure to use good olive oil all the way.

DSC_0540Massage in the oil gently.

DSC_0543Cover well with a cling film and let rest again for another 45 minutes or until the dough has visibly risen and puffed up.

DSC_0544like so.

DSC_0546It needs some more olive oil. Don’t be shy and spread on. Don’t forget this is focaccia not some virtuous salad, so spread on the oil and do not feel ashamed.

DSC_0547like so. Make sure all it’s pretty dimples have some amount of oil pooling in it.

DSC_0549scatter some sea salt on top and now it’s ready for the oven.

DSC_0550Time for celebration!! a jubilant slab of exquisite focaccia to be feasted on. devour with your eyes for now and let cool a bit.

DSC_0566while it cooled I brushed some more olive oil because why not?

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There you go!! Dip in some more olive oil and enjoy!!!

The garlic and basil flavors were not overwhelming but very mild and subtle. If you want bigger flavors, by all means increase the garlic and basil amounts.

Ingredients

Strong bread Flour 250g (about 2 cups)

Warm water 200 mls (about 3/4th cup)

Yeast 1 teaspoon

Sugar 1 tablespoon

Salt 1 teaspoon

Basil 10-15 leaves or more for stronger basil flavour

Garlic 1 clove (more if you want a stronger garlic taste)

Extra virgin Olive oil 75 mls (5 tablespoons) + more

Sea salt (optional) 1 teaspoon

Recipe:

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic until it starts turning brown. Turn off the heat under the oil and add the chopped basil. Let cool. Once cooled discard the garlic and retain the basil.

Mix the sugar and warm water and add the yeast. Let it start foaming on top. It takes about 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl add the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast water and oil. Mix until it starts clumping together and knead to form a smooth dough. In case the dough is too dry add some more water a little at a time. Knead for at least 10 minutes until the dough is very smooth and slightly springy to the touch.

Let the dough rest in a well oiled bowl for at least 1-2 hrs or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, tip it out on a well oiled baking sheet of your choice and spread using your fingers to give it the characteristic focaccia dimples.

Smear some more oil on top and cover with cling film and let rest in until puffed up (about 45 minutes)

Once it’s risen pour some more oil ( about 3-4 tablespoons) on top and let it pool in the focaccia dimples. Sprinkle some good sea salt on top or regular salt or none if you wish.

Bake at 190℃ for 25- 30 minutes or until the top has turned golden and the bread has risen gorgeously.

Let cool for a bit and brush again with some olive oil.

Serve with hummus (see recipe here) or just plain olive oil.

I eat mine with butter 😉

Enjoy!!

DSC_0616

Homemade Pita bread


DSC_0905I ta, you ta, we all scream for pita! ok, this makes no sense but these pillowy pita breads do! No, I haven’t gone completely insane and while you can buy perfectly fine pita breads in the supermarket, they wouldn’t be nearly as good as the ones you make at home. For starters these involve your blood, sweat and tears, or just some sweat or none.

Once you’ve made your own pitas you’d not bother buying one.

After many a failed attempts at baking pitas in the oven, I decided to give it another approach and now I’d want to kick myself for never trying this out.

Let’s talk a bit about pitas made in oven. Mine just never came out that good. They would puff up and beautifully brown, but they never had that softness and that cushiony thickness to it. They’d be hard, brittle and crack, unlike these, which can be stuffed with your furniture without as much as a tear.

These were just magnificent, soft, forming beautiful pockets and absolutely delightful. these are so incredibly easy to make that you’d rather make these than drive all the way to buy one.

DSC_0854such simplicity.. I cry. handful of ingredients:Warm water, yeast, high gluten flour, olive oil, sugar and some salt

 

DSC_0855Sugar + water = yeast love. Make sugar the water isn’t hot, or cold. It should be just warm, like warm to the touch. You don’t need any thermometers for this, just a finger.

 

DSC_0856Into the sugary water we add in the yeast. I’ve used the instant dry yeast, but please feel free to use whatever yeast you have handy.

 

DSC_0857Mix and let it be for at least 5 minutes. In which time we can prepare our flour.

 

DSC_0859add salt in the flour and mix it to disperse salt evenly.

 

DSC_0861Make a ridiculous well in the centre of the bowl and pour in the yeasty water. NOTE: the water should be foamy and frothy by now. If the water hasn’t foamed it probably means that the yeast hasn’t activated, in which case throw out the water and start again. make sure the yeast is fresh and the water isn’t very hot.

 

DSC_0862pour in the water

 

DSC_0863and the oil, and start kneading the dough.

 

DSC_0865Of course I didn’t take pictures while kneading the dough, I have but only two hands. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes and formed into a somewhat smooth dough ball. It should be slightly springy to the touch and not very dry. I also had to add a bit more water as I kneaded.

I also lightly oiled the bowl so that dough does not stick as it sits to rise. Cover the bowl and let it be in a warm place for an hour until it has doubled in size.

 

DSC_0867Magic!!!! the dough has become puffy and fat and I sort of want to rest my head and sleep on it. Ok, now punch the dough to release out all the air. you heard me, punch it like you’d want to punch your ex, ripping out its entrails and dancing on them… forget that last part. Just punch it ok.

 

DSC_0868Tip out onto a floured surface and make sure you knock out all the air from the dough.

 

DSC_0870form into some sort of geometrical shape, mine looks a rectangle. Make sure it’s evenly thick from all sides and edges.

 

DSC_0871now cut it in equal portions.

 

DSC_0873I ended up having about 8 equal portions, but you could have less, you could have more depending how big or small you want your pita, but I think this was fine.

 

DSC_0876form these into equal sized balls and let them rest on a floured surface. I floured the tops slightly and covered with plastic wrap. let these rise for another 30-45 minutes.

 

DSC_0877Oooooh, these have become fat yet again. No matter how many times I make bread, I can’t keep myself from getting amazed at what yeast does. It’s magic I tell you. Here’s your letter to Hogwarts!

 

DSC_0878Okay, now taking individual rounds, flatten them a bit and using your rolling-pin roll these out to form….

 

DSC_0889These!!!! ok, I admit they could have been rounder but once these have puffed up you wouldn’t care, also as you progress your rounds will keep getting better, in theory and in life. Let them rest for a couple of minutes.

While they are resting, bring out your skillet or in my case a non stick frying pan, and put it on a medium high flame. Let it get reasonably hot and put on the rolled out dough. Flip it after about 20 seconds and after giving the other side 30 seconds flip again and…

 

DSC_0885This!!!! It will rise, it will puff up, you will scream and shriek and you would want to embrace everyone. It actually puffs up. It forms a pocket. this really happens, in your own kitchen!!!!

 

DSC_0886Flip again to let the other side cook and brown a little and look at this little thing. It’s risen majestically. Bow down and pat yourself on the back, for you are now a proud owner of homemade pitas.

 

DSC_0901 DSC_0902 DSC_0890These are different pitas in different stages of puffing.

OK, now the first one would probably not puff up as much as you’d want because you’d still be getting a hang of it, the skillet/pan would be adjusting heat and perhaps your flipping would be either too fast or too late, but believe me, after the first two you’d know exactly what to do and there wouldn’t be a pita that wouldn’t rise. I promise!

 

DSC_0898Very soon your pita pile will get bigger,

 

DSC_0905and bigger, and now you’re a pro..

 

Ingredients

Lukewarm water: 250 mls (I cup)

Flour( High gluten): 400 gms

Yeast: 1 teaspoon

sugar: 1 tablespoon

salt: 1 teaspoon

Olive oil: I tablespoon

Recipe: Dissolve the sugar and yeast into the water and let rest until the yeast starts foaming. In the meanwhile into a large bowl, add the flour and mix in the salt.

Making a well in the centre of the flour mixture add in the yeast water and the oil and knead to form a soft dough. Depending on the humidity and the flour you might want to add in more water if the dough is dry or add in more flour is it’s sticky.

Once you’ve made a smooth ball it should be slightly springy to the touch, let it rest in a lightly oiled bowl. Make sure to cover it and keep in a warm place for at least 1-2 hours depending on the rising and how warm your place is.

After it has risen it should have doubled in size. Punch it to knock the air out and tip it on a floured surface. Even it out and cut into 8 equal sized portions.

Form them into balls and let them rest again for 45 minutes until they have puffed up and increased in size.

Using a rolling pin, roll them out to form about 1/4 inch thick rounds and let them rest for another 2-3 minutes.

Heat a skillet or a frying pan on medium high heat and place the rolled out dough and after every 20-30 seconds flip it over to evenly brown and puff. After about 2-3 minutes it would have cooked through and formed pockets.

Stuff these pockets falafels (recipe here), hummus (recipe here) and roasted red peppers (here)

Enjoy!!!!

Pretzels with beer cheese sauce


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Not exactly a revelation but a suggestion from my dear friend Aarti who replied to my desperate tweets on a Sunday afternoon, answering my “what should I eat today” question. She sent me this beautiful link from Curvy Carrot adding that If I was up for something elaborate then this is what I should make.

Looking at the blog’s beautiful pictures and totally mesmerized by the words ‘Pretzels’, ‘beer’ & ‘cheese’ in one sentence I knew this is what I would make.

I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit whatever ingredients I had handy that afternoon, but the results were nothing short of ecstatic. Once the pretzels were hot out of the oven and the beer cheese sauce gooey and warm, I nestled myself on the couch in front of the television, refusing to acknowledge this world or any other existence. For 20 minutes until there were but crumbs on my plate did I lift my head up to realize, the television was on, playing something absolutely unnecessary.. but did I care? No!!!.. this sauce is a fuzzy warm beery heaven, a grotto of pleasure worth visiting every time you can make any excuse for a dip.. at least I do..

I adapted my earlier Pretzels recipe already on this blog and instead of making miniatures, made two fat patties and continued with the recipe here

as for the beer cheese sauce…

Ingredients for the beer cheese sauce (adapted from curvy carrot)

6 tbsps butter (I used salted)

1 cup spring onion

1 bay leaf

4 tbsps flour

1.5 cups beer (any beer is fine)

3/4 cup cream (I used single cream)

1 tsp fresh ground pepper (not so fine pieces)

1/4 tsp allspice

nutmeg (a pinch)

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup cream cheese (room temperature)

Salt to taste

a dash of cayenne

Making this sauce wasn’t difficult at all. In fact I started making it once the pretzels were popped in the oven.. working fast I melted the butter on medium heat in a pan of choice.

Add the onions and salt and cook until translucent. Add in the bay leaf, pepper and mix for a couple of minutes.

Add the flour and mix for a bit, the roux will look all sorts of lumpy and dry but really it’s a good thing.

Slowly start adding in the beer, and keep mixing constantly to remove any lumps and, watch it all thicken.. apart from the beer facial you will get when you keep smelling it constantly. I did this for a couple of minutes .. kept smelling along with mixing.

Now add in the cream and stir as usual. add in the nutmeg, allspice and cayenne. Cook and stir and mix and let it lightly simmer. ensure that this mixture thickens as you’re cooking it on slow heat. Mine took about 15 minutes.

Just as it has thickened add in the cheese, turn off the flame and let it all melt and meld together.. of course keep whisking and stirring and mixing until all cheese has melted in it.

Serve warm ..

This is it.. beer cheese sauce. You can adapt, make changes to suit however you want your dip or a sauce to be. you can use all cheddar or any other cheese you fancy. I used whatever I had on me that time and it turned out fabulous.

The point is, when you have beer, cream and cheese all together you can’t really go wrong with it.

Enjoy !!!

 

 

 

Cheesy pizza.


Excuse these latest pictures, and feast ye eyes on this hunk of a cheesy pizza. Hot out of the oven and made from scratch. It’s fresh and it’s fast and it’s a feast.

This dainty little thing fed about 5 people. It’s not exactly thin crust, though you could make that if you wished. This was a fat, almost focaccia like base with tons of toppings and cheese.

Ingredients 

for the dough base:

500 gms strong flour

1 packet active dry yeast.

230 mls lukewarm water

1 tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

20 mls olive oil.(regular olive oil)

Toppings

300 gms of good mozzarella cheese

diced and chopped vegetables/meats of your choice.(billions of combinations, have fun with your food)

– I used peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, chillies diced thin.

Pizza sauce- my recipe

4-5 medium-sized blanched tomatoes.

1 tsp oregano

1 small chopped onion

3-4 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil (regular not extra virgin)

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup red wine (any good red wine)it really brings in the flavours.

1/2 tsp crushed black pepper.

DOUGH BASE

Firstly dissolve the sugar in the lukewarm water and keep aside.

Sift the flour, salt and add in the yeast. mix well. gradually add in the warm water to the flour and knead well to make a smooth, stretchy dough. If you need a mixer for the this, go ahead and knock yourself out. I love a bit of intense labour work and made a dough simply using my hands.

Once the dough is nice and smooth, and I kneaded for a good 10-15 minutes, add in the oil and knead again. Once done, leave it to rise in a warm place, cover with a well oiled cling film or moist tea towel. This rising will take about an hour.

PIZZA SAUCE 

in a food processor give the tomatoes a few pulses so that they size down a bit and are quicker to cook.

In a saucepan, heat oil and butter and add the minced garlic cloves and onions. add a pinch of salt and cook until translucent. Tip in the tomatoes and cook until softened and thickened about 10 minutes. Once the gloopy sauce has turned into a thicker paste and you see bits sticking into the saucepan add in the wine stirring continuously ensuring that all the caramelized pieces are deglazed and mixed into the sauce. Once the wine starts bubbling out and reducing, start adding in the oregano, salt and pepper. Let it all cook till it’s no longer watery and looks spreadable.

Leave it to cool, and check out your pizza dough. give it a couple of good punches, once you see it has doubled in size and let it deflate. Leave it to rise again for another 15 minutes and get on with the pan/tray you want to make your pizza in.

I used a jelly roll pan which was about 12X12X1 inch and generously oiled it.

Tip in the dough into the pan and start stretching it to fit completely. It might not look like it will fit, but yes it will. make sure that it’s not uneven. keep smoothening it out and make it fit well.

Once done spread the pizza sauce leaving at least 1/2 inch along the border of the pizza. sprinkle with half of the grated mozzarella cheese and adorn with toppings. Mound the remaining cheese on top and bake for 25 minutes in a  hot 200℃ oven.

Slice it into the pan, don’t even bother taking it out. Feed as many or reserve for a delicious cold breakfast next day.

Pretzels.. bite size morsels of awesome


Pretzels are these little cute little wonders of joy that can be eaten by the dozen without a second’s break. Either dipped in some sauce or just on their own, Pretzels are by far the fastest disappearing commodity on your table. A delightful snack or eating to kill boredom you have to make pretzels and be completely blown away by their chewy nature. They’re soft and chewy and amazing all at once..

I made these pretzels while I was making the buns and they are made of the same dough, with one alteration which I will tell you about. You can adapt the dough recipe from here

I used around 1/4 of the dough from the buns recipe and laid it neatly on a baking sheet. I sort of pressed it to flatten a bit from the top and stretched the dough to make it long. It was 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch wide and about 8 inches long.

I cut this into bite sized morsels, which were about 1/2 inch in size and let them be for 10 minutes.

Now for the slight alteration in the recipe. For the pretzels to get that chew top and soft center we need to do something pretty drastic. Don’t be alarmed, it’s nothing difficult. Put a saucepan full of water to a boil, making sure the pan is a little deep add in 2 tsp of baking soda. get the water and the baking soda full on boiling….. now…. slowly, gently immerse these pretzel pieces we have cut out into the water. Don’t worry these will not fall apart nor will they turn into goo. Just put them in the boiling water for not more than 10 seconds and gently fish them out.

make sure you don’t leave them in the water for long because that wil definitely turn them into some sort of glue. This entire process will not take long, just put them and pull them out.

Lay them on your baking tray and sprinkle salt on top.. if you want it sweet you can sprinkle powdered sugar and some cinnamon too..

You may notice that already they have changed their texture, becoming a bit light and seeming more porous. You’re in luck, these will tun out such pretty little pretzels.

that’s all bake it for 15-18 minutes at 190℃. Pull them out and let cool before eating. You’ll love them, love them.. so chewy and so tender.

Buns Buns Buns !!!!!!


These blistered little babies were made when I realized there is an overflow of yeast in the house and that I really needed to bake something new..

sadly I don’t have the pictures of this entire process because I remembered it all while I as actually kneading the dough and it was not a great idea to click pictures with those hands.

I have however got the recipe and all you gotta to is follow it and watch the miracle happen. These Buns are soooooo soft with a slightly blistered top which adds so much texture.

Ingredients

1.5 tsp active dry yeast

1.5 cup flour

2 tsp sugar

100 mls lukewarm milk

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp milk extra

Very easy and no fuss. Guaranteed bouncing beautiful buns in 2 hours..

Mix in the yeast and sugar with the flour and let it be a couple of minutes. Add in the salt and mix through. Now slowly pour in the milk into the flour yeast mix and gently using your hand mixer or stand mixer or simply your hands knead it well. It should become smooth and stretchy.

Now let this dough rest until it doubles in it’s size and btw cover the dough while it rises.. we do not want the top all dry and ugh!!..

After an hour of rising give it a good punch and let it deflate.. don’t worry it’ll rise back up. Another 45 minutes later we get this dough out and scoop out small balls. I didn’t try to make these perfect round balls, but if you’re a sucker for uniformity go ahead and knock yourself out.

Line them on your baking sheet, not too close to each other. Now for the blistered top, instead of an egg wash I drizzled the tops with some milk and let them be for another 15 minutes to rise a bit more. Before putting them into the oven brush their tops again with some milk and that’s all. I drizzled some flecks of salt on top too.. you can actually mix and match and put flakes of red chillies or basil or herbs DE Provence or whatever gets your ship sailing or just leave it plain.

Bake at 190℃ 18-25 minutes. that’s all..It’s heavenly. lather some butter, immerse yourself..

Enjoy !!!