Homemade Pita Breads are something that wouldn’t normally be on my baking radar. I admit that most pitas from the grocery store are half-stale and fall apart when I split them, but I do live within walking distance of a shop called Damascus Bakery, where I can (and do often) get great pitas that are fresh made. Those pitas in the picture are actually ones I made a couple of years ago, back when we did Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas, a recipe that used the same dough as its base.
This was a pretty easy bread dough to make (and apparently, it can even be made a week ahead and kept in the fridge till you’re ready to pita). It does use a sponge, but by now that no longer feels like an advanced technique. The recipe gives instructions for mixing the dough fully by hand…I of course cheated and used the mixer. You can bake the breads in the oven on a stone, as I did, or there are instructions for cooking them on a griddle on the stove-top. In the middle of August, the latter may have been the better choice! These puffed up really well and have a good pocket for tuna salad for lunch or a fried egg sandwich for breakfast. They are also perfect for warm pita and hummus snack, obvi, and since they’re about half whole wheat flour, they have real flavor.
Tags: baking, bread
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Maybe you are getting a tres leches soaking or quadruple checking a mole recipe to make sure you didn’t miss an ingredient. If you are thinking about flatbreads today, you’re probably thinking about tortillas, but put Ka’kat on your radar for later. I had never heard of ka’kat before, but Dorie says they are a very typical Eastern Mediterranean street food. You can find them everywhere apparently, just like soft pretzels here in New York. They’re made with a really straightforward yeast dough. If you make it in the morning after breakfast, you can easily have fresh, warm bread snacks by lunchtime!
Although this is another recipe in the flatbread section of the book from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, my ka’kat (at least) came out round and chubby. With sesame seeds on top, they did not look unlike mini bagels. Ka’kat are often flavored with ground mahleb (also mahlab), which are little tiny cherry kernels. This spice has a bit of that bitter almond flavor and is used in Middle Eastern, Greek and Turkish baking. You probably won’t find it at your standard grocery store, but you can get it online (at Penzeys, for example) or in a Middle Eastern market. I found whole seeds at Sahadi’s here in Brooklyn (I love that place!) and ground them to powder in a spice grinder. All that said, the mahleb is totally optional. It gives a very subtle aroma and taste, and I always like to buy an interesting new ingredient, but you can leave it out, no probs.
These were so tasty warm and soft from the oven. I ate four– no kidding! But they are little, yeah? I dipped them into olive oil and dukkah (like I did with the Pebble Bread)…they’d be good with salty butter, too. I made half a recipe and divided the dough into fifteen ka’kat to fit neatly on one sheet tray. I have about half of them left in the freezer and I’ll definitely warm them up a bit before eating them.
Tags: baking, bread
A couple of weeks ago, the group made the Pebble Bread recipe from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, world travellers who have brought us a few other flatbreads you may or may not remember. I was all geared up to make this one, and then I didn’t. Sometimes I just run out of gas. Thankfully we get a make-up week every now and again.
Pebble Bread is a round Moroccan flatbread; traditionally baked on hot pebbles, it gets dimply and a little puffed. The not-so-traditional Western method we used here involves a bowl of water, your fingertips, and a heavy skillet…first dipping a rolled out dough round into water to create steam, next quickly dimpling it with your fingertips, then starting the bread in a skillet on the stovetop to cook the bottom, and finishing it under the broiler to cook the top.
I only made half a recipe (four large-enough-to-share pieces of bread) and since I used two skillets and they take just a few minutes each to cook, I worked though the process pretty quickly. Of course I totes torched the top of my first one under the broiler, but, just like my morning toast, it was nothing a little scrapey-scrape with a serrated knife couldn’t fix. You learn, eat your mistake before anyone else sees it, adjust and keep going.
I’d call these a definite success. I can’t roll pie dough into a nice round to save my life, but these breads all rolled out into perfect circles. They had just enough puff and chew, and a good flavor from the overnight sponge (yes, you need to plan to make a sponge the day before you make the bread, but it’s virtually hands-off) and the barley flour in the dough. I have a couple breads left in my freezer and I am very happy to eat all of them warm, ripped up and swiped first into olive oil and then into dukkah (which is actually an Egyptian nut and seed mix, but we found it all over the place when we lived in Australia, and ever since I must have it on a regular basis).
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Pebble Bread a couple of weeks ago!
Tags: baking, bread
I’ve been intrigued by Lora Body’s Salsa Quitza recipe for a long while…I’ve nominated it at least five or six times, but seems I was the only one so interested! With refried beans in the crust and layers of cream cheese and salsa in the filling, I’ve never heard of this bizarre Southwestern quiche-pizza hybrid thing. Must be a Lora Brody original. I made it for Sunday’s game (which did not at all end the way I hoped it would, by the way), and my husband asked what to expect…I told him the only thing I was sure of was that it would be weird.
The quitza crust is a bread dough that can apparently also be made into a loaf, if you don’t want to go full-quitza on it. The dough instructions call for a bread machine, but I don’t have one so I made it in my stand mixer and let it rise on the counter. I combined the ingredients in the “regular” way, with yeast and liquids first (including the not-so-regular addition of refried beans…I used canned pinto), followed by the dry stuff. The dough was soft, but not sticky, and made a nice ball after about eight minutes of knead-time. I let it rise twice, about 45 minutes to an hour each time, before shaping it in the pan.
I made half a recipe and baked it in an 8″ regular cake pan. For the filling, I followed Cher’s suggestion to decrease the salsa by about half (proportionally, of course, for my half recipe), and I also chose to reduce the cream cheese layer by a couple of tablespoons and add on a smear of refried beans, since I had extra from the dough. I topped it with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella.
OK, yeah, it was kind of weird, but good-weird. The dough was soft and rose high, like a deep dish. The filling was really creamy from the cream cheese (and I’m glad I reduced the cream cheese and salsa or it would have been sloppy and too much). And it went well with beer. If I make it again, I think I’ll sprinkle some olives on top.
Tags: baking, bread
Before making Lauren Groveman’s Eastern European Rye, I began to daydream about a turkey reuben on homemade bread. Liz Lemon is not the only one with very specific food fantasies. I was out of rye flour, though, so I bought a bag of local (okay, not NYC, but NY state) farmer-ground organic rye flour from the Greenmarket and got to mixing. I saw a tip to mix the dough in a stand mixer for 3 minutes, turn it off and let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then back on again for about 12 more minutes of kneading. I did this mixing method, and the dough rose nicely, and apart from my three slash marks, it didn’t split open in the oven. The final dough shaping and rising instructions are a little wacky when you read them in the book, but in this video, Groveman demonstrates those same steps on her pumpernickel loaf recipe. They are still wacky, but are at least understandable after seeing them on video.
The bread that I wound up with was not the Levy’s-like sandwich loaf I was expecting, but a rustic loaf with more of a true whole grain bread feel and a craggily crust. I couldn’t really get nice sandwich-sized slices from it, so no homemade turkey reuben for me this time (since I have a one-track mind, I did go to Mile End yesterday and get one!), but the bread does have great rye and caraway flavor and it’s nice with salty butter or a bit of good cheddar. I think it’ll make a good tomato soup dunker, too.
I assumed that the whole grain rye I used was the culprit for the denser loaf that I got…after reading Alisa’s post this morning, if I make this again I’ll either just reduce the amount of rye I use or sub a bit of it with some extra white flour and see what I get .
Tags: baking, bread
Two things you need to have before making Steve Sullivan’s Mixed-Starter Bread are a piece of leftover bread dough and plenty of time. The “old dough” can be just a little hunk of raw dough saved from last night’s pizza party. As for time, we’re talking about a whole weekend. That’s the time needed to feed that old dough and turn it into a big batch of airy new dough.
Once you’ve successfully done your time feeding the starter and kneading and rising your dough, you can make a variety of shapes out of it…like a nice baguette, an amazing couronne, or cute wheat stalk. You can even knead in a heap of walnuts and make a big Walnut Bread. Not wanting to fully stock my freezer with bread loaves, I made a half-recipe of the dough and divided into a somewhat imperfectly snipped wheat stalk (pain d’epi) and a walnut boule.
In the book, the walnut boule is made with an entire batch of the finished mixed-starter dough, so mine is just a baby boule and it baked through much faster than a big guy would have. As a result of reduced oven time, it didn’t brown as much as I would have liked, so I cheated by painting on a little olive oil before its last five minutes of baking. I still wish I’d gotten a both breads a bit darker.
Due to the lack of afternoon light in my house this time of year, I didn’t get a good shot of the cut breads. Even though you feel like you’ve done a lot of waiting while making this dough, it actually doesn’t hang around long enough to develop a sourdough flavor. You get soft white bread with air holes inside and a real crust outside. The walnut version is excellent with cheese, and I’ll take salty butter on the epi, please.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (the mixed-starter bread is also here and the walnut bread is here). There’s also a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make and shape the mixed-starter bread. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bread
Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!
In a kitchen without A/C, mid-summer bread baking is not really my idea of a good time, but the oven doesn’t need to be on too long for Craig Kominiak’s Leaf-Shaped Fougasse. From what I gather, French fougasse is similar to Italian focaccia, and the teardrop leaf shape is traditional in Provence. I should research the technical differences between the two breads, because I’m sure there are some, but for this purpose, we made the same easy dough recipe that we used for the focaccia last year (overnight rise and all that stuff). I thought that getting the dough into the teardrop shape would be diffucult, but it wasn’t at all and I followed Cher’s suggestion to easily cut the pattern in the dough by snipping it with kitchen shears. Also, I did my cutting directly on my sheet pan (which I sprinkled with cornmeal but did not line with parchment), and that saved me from having to delicately move around and transfer the shaped bread.
I find soft, bubbly, salty, oily bread like this to be addictive, and the hole pattern in the fougasse makes for little sections that are way too easy to rip off and snack on. After R & I demolished the left side, I quickly wrapped up the right side for the freezer, just to stop ourselves from eating the whole thing in one go. The word “fougasse” makes me think of the band Fugazi, but I guess that’s for another blog.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (a modified version of the dough recipe itself is also here and there’s a video here that includes Kominiak shaping, cutting and baking the fougasse). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bread
A toasted bialy with salty butter is my idea of a very fine breakfast. I’m sure a number of my fellow Americans have never heard of a bialy– I hadn’t before I moved to New York City. Then after about six years of living here, someone *finally* brought a sack of them in from Kossar’s at the first restaurant I worked for, and I was hooked. I now know that I can find bialys at almost every bagel shop in the city, but they’re usually pulled out of a plastic bag, and I get the feeling that they aren’t made fresh in-house. To get my fix, I stock up at Kossar’s anytime I have errands to run on the Lower East Side. I was pumped to be making Lauren Groveman’s Onion Bialys for TWD this week! BTW, I feel like every other week we’re making another recipe from Lauren Groveman…
I’d call bialys cousins of the bagel, although they are not boiled, they are flatter than bagels (despite the fact that mine came out looking like balloons), and instead of holes they have awesome caramelized onion-filled centers…so on second thought, even though they have a similar dough, they are really not really like bagels at all. Speaking of the dough, it was soft and lovely (I didn’t need all the flour called for) and easy to work with. Of course my bialys took off in the oven, but I’m sure it was my fault. I did prick the heck out of the centers, but next time I’ll hand stretch them a little more, too. I don’t really care– they tasted great and had perfect texture. Fresh from the oven, they are even better than Kossar’s!
Tags: baking, bread
I’m just back from a week-long course at Penn State studying the science and federal regulation of large-scale ice cream manufacture…”from cow to cone,” as the main professor said. OMG–so fun, but also really hard (especially since I hadn’t studied chemistry or physics since high school and didn’t know squat going in about the mechanics of freezers or homogenizers). Now that I geeked-out on ice cream for a week, it only makes sense that I’m back here with Joe Ortiz’s Country Bread (huh?).
This made one monster loaf! The dough polished off what was left of both my yeast and my bread flour. I was expecting the crumb to have larger air holes, but now that I think about it, given the whole wheat and rye flour in the dough, it makes sense that it had a denser structure. I made a good breakfast with it this morning, and it’ll be a great soup-dunker, too.
Tags: baking, bread
I really thought about skipping Lauren Groveman’s Pumpernickel Loaves. I was annoyed at the thought of having to make prune butter first. I didn’t have any caraways seeds. And then there was some crazy stuff about S-hooks and slings. I sucked it up and went to the store, made the prune butter (using the lekvar recipe that’s in the book) and thought about a way to form the bread that didn’t involve a sling.
I made half a recipe for one big loaf. Since I had a smaller batch, I mixed it in my KitchenAid. I found that I didn’t need quite the full amount of flour to get a nice dough. This pumpernickel gets its color (and a lot of flavor) from dark things like chocolate, espresso powder, molasses and, of course, that prune butter. Who knew that stuff was in there? After giving the dough two rests in a bowl, I shaped it and put it in a 9.5″x4.5″ loaf pan for its final rise (I sprayed and dusted the pan with cornmeal first).
I actually was expecting it to look darker than it turned out to be…I’ve had store-bought pumps that were almost black. The flavor from the caraway seeds is lovely and the crust is great.
There’s an accompanying recipe for Reuben sandwiches in the book, and I made those for dinner the other night. Yesterday I just had a plain turkey and cheese for lunch. Both were totes yum, and my husband was extremely excited about having homemade pumpernickel. I have this problem with slicing whole sandwich loaves, though. I can never get a straight slice, so my sandwiches are always lopsided (I tried to disguise that in this picture)!
For the bread recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. It’s also here, and there’s even a video of Lauren and Julia making pumpernickel together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!