Sundried Tomato And Garlic Breadsticks

I have been on a bread baking spree lately. Not all of my experiments make it to the blog. Some of them go straight into the trash can. Some just sit on the counter top because they are, well, blah! Not bad but not very exciting either. But some, like this recipe, shoot straight to the top of my list of (current) favorites.

IMG_1146 (1)

Who knew baking breadsticks was going to be this easy? Not only are they easy, they’re quick (by bread baking standards), they lend themselves well to experimentation and they make a great all day snack!

I used Paul Hollywood’s Olive Breadsticks recipe. The only change I made was to swap out the olives for sun dried tomatoes and garlic. They’re glorious! I am sure they will work just as great with any other flavor of your choosing, should you decide to experiment.

On a side note – I urge you to buy a cheap kitchen scale, if you haven’t already. They are more precise than measuring cups and mise en place is so much easier!

Ingredients

  • Bread flour – 500 grams
  • Salt – 10 grams
  • Instant yeast – 10 grams
  • Warm water – 400 ml
  • Olive oil – 2  tbsp
  • Sun dried tomatoes in oil – 150 grams roughly chopped
  • Garlic puree – 1 and 1/2 to 2 tbsp
  • Fine semolina – for dusting optional

Method

  • Take a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one. Add the bread flour. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the instant yeast to the other side of the bowl. Make sure they do not mix just yet as the salt will kill the yeast
  • Make sure your water is between 110 to 115 F. Add 3/4th of the water to the flour. Using a mixer with the dough hook attached start mixing on low speed
  • Once the dough has come together add the rest of the water in and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. The dough will be quite wet and very stretchy

Snapseed (5)

  • Add the olive oil to the dough and mix for two minutes. Then add the sun dried tomatoes and garlic and run the mixer till the are thoroughly mixed in. The garlic will smell a little pungent but will mellow out after it is baked
  • Oil a 2 to 3 liter capacity rectangular or square plastic container. Make sure it has a lid. Put the dough into the container. Close the lid and leave it in a warm place to rise. The dough should triple in size. This takes about an hour

Snapseed (4)

  • Dust your work surface generously with semolina and little flour. Gently tip the risen dough onto this surface making sure not to handle it too much. Don’t knock any air out of the dough. Dust the surface of the dough with more semolina and flour. Gently nudge the dough into a rough rectangle without flattening it – you need all the air in the dough to stay intact
  • Line 3 baking trays with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 425 F or 220 degree Celsius
  • Starting at the short edge and with a bench scraper or sharp knife cut the dough into 18 to 20 strips. As you cut each strip roll it gently in the semolina and flour on the work surface. This makes it easier to handle as this dough is very tender and stretchy.

Snapseed (3)

  • Transfer each piece to the parchment lined trays and space them about an inch apart. You can take the help of the bench scraper or a wide spatula to do this. The dough will stretch a bit while you transfer it but that is okay. Just make sure all the breadsticks are more or less of the same length before baking

Snapseed (2)

  • Bake the breadsticks in a preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes till they turn golden brown
  • Cool them on a wire rack till they have cooled down completely.
  • Breadsticks are best when eaten fresh on the day they are made. Store them wrapped in foil in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days

Snapseed (1)

Advertisements

Pesto Swirled Bread

FullSizeRender

I’ve only recently discovered how therapeutic bread baking can be. Right from activating the yeast to the kneading (oh, the kneading!) to watching it proof – the entire process is so rewarding. Of course it took me a quite a few failed attempts to get to this point. But it was all worth it. A freshly baked loaf of bread resets my mood. Slicing into a homemade loaf, toasting a slice with butter and topping it off with a fried egg….that’s how you need to start your day!

IMG_3307

The pesto swirl just kicks it up a notch. Pesto and bread are a match made in breakfast heaven. I made my own spinach-kale-basil pesto but a store bought pesto will work just as well. Make sure it is not too watery. If it is, cook it down on the stove top on a medium-low flame till it reduces to a thick spread-like consistency. You don’t want any extra moisture or water in your bread, trust me!

IMG_3285

If you’re not a pesto person then go ahead and substitute it with whatever spread you like. Or jam. Or applesauce and cinnamon. It’s a very versatile recipe.

The instructions will seem a little too long and complicated but the actual process is anything but. This is definitely something you can try if you’re new to bread baking.

IMG_3290

Ingredients

  • Warm water – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Active dry yeast – 2 and 1/4 tsp (one packet or 7 gm)
  • Light brown sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Unsalted butter at room temperature – 3 tbsp
  • All purpose flour – 3 to 4 cups divided*
  • Salt – 3/4 tsp
  • Pesto – 1/2 to 2/3 cup

*You may not need all 4 cups of flour. Start with two cups and add flour gradually  till the dough is just formed as per the instructions given below

Yield – 2 loves each approx 8×4 inches

Method

  • Warm water on the stove top or in the microwave till it reaches 110 to 115 F (43 to 46 degree Celsius). Stir in the brown sugar and sprinkle yeast over it. Stir gently and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to let it activate
  • In a large bowl add butter, salt, 2 cups of all purpose flour and activated yeast and using a mixer, knead it on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes
  • With the mixer still running add more flour to the dough 1/4 cup at a time. Stop when the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl and starts to gather around the dough hook
  • Feel the dough between your fingers. It should still be a little tacky but should not stick to your fingers
  • Take the dough out of the bowl, place it on a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands till it turns smooth and elastic. If you feel the dough is too sticky add flour 2 tbsp at a time and continue to knead till it turns smooth. Make sure you don’t add too much flour
  • Grease a large bowl (you can use the one used to mix the dough) and place the ball of dough in it. Turn it once so that both sides of the dough ball are now lightly greased. Loosely cover the top of the bowl with a cling film and set it in a warm place to rise. It should double in size. This takes approximately 45 minutes
  • After it has doubled in size take it out of the bowl onto a floured surface, punch it down and then divide it into two halves. I used two 7.5 x 3.5 inch pans. If you’re using a larger loaf pan you may not need to divide your dough
  • Roll each half of the dough out into a rough rectangle about 1/4 inch thick
  • Spread pesto evenly over the surface of the dough and starting from the short side, roll it up as tightly as you can
  • At this point you can pinch the ends together and place it into a greased loaf tin. You will get spiral swirls of pesto. If you’re looking for a little more drama then you can braid the dough as described below
  • Cut the rolled up dough in half lengthwise leaving about an inch from the top still joined. Twist each cut portion of the dough outwards a couple of times. Then loosely braid these two portions over each other and pinch together at the free end. It will get a little messy but that’s okay. Place this loosely braided dough in a greased loaf tin. Repeat with the other half of the dough ball.
  • Loosely cover the loaf tins with greased clingfilm and set aside in a warm place to rise again till they double in size. This takes 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius while they proof
  • Bake the loaves in a preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes till they turn a deep golden brown on top and sound hollow when you knock lightly on the bottom of the loaf. If they don’t feel hollow put them back in the loaf pans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes and then check again
  • Once done take the loaves out of the pans and set them on a cooling rack to cool down completely
  • Once cooled you can store them at room temperature covered in two layers of aluminium foil. They will stay fresh for a couple of days. If you need to store them for longer then I would suggest freezing slices of bread. Though I have not frozen bread yet, I’m sure they last much longer that way.

IMG_3299

Apple Cinnamon Scones with Maple Glaze

IMG_0896

Is it September already?! I know ‘time flies’ and all that but this year, in particular, has driven by at top speed. I enjoy summer and I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. If there is a silver lining to this whole autumn-winter business it is that baking season is just around the corner. That can never be a bad thing right? Apples, figs, pears and all those warming spices? Yes please! Though, I have to admit, that was not the inspiration for this recipe.

 

IMG_0893

These scones came about because dear old husband bought the wrong brand of applesauce, which the toddler disapproved of in no uncertain terms, and I needed an excuse to use it up. That and the lone apple languishing in my fruit bowl. Don’t be fooled by these humble origins though. These scones are legit!

Tender and crisp on the outside, soft and crumbly on the inside and flecked with  juicy bites of apple that pop in your mouth – this may be my favorite scone version yet!

IMG_1923

They are surprisingly easy to make. You need simple ingredients. You don’t need to bring any of them to room temperature. No need for fancy equipment or elbow grease.

Just add all the ingredients to a bowl, mix till you get a slightly wet dough. Form into two circles and cut into wedges. That’s it! You’ll go from dreaming about scones to having them with your morning coffee in about half an hour.

IMG_1945

Yield – 12 scones

Ingredients

For the scones

  • All purpose flour – 2 cups
  • Granulated sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
  • Cold butter – 1/4 cup*
  • Unsweetened applesauce – 1/2 cup
  • Chopped apple – 1/2 cup
  • Half and half – 1/2 cup**

For the glaze

  • Icing sugar – 1 cup
  • Milk – 2 tbsp
  • Maple syrup – 2 tbsp

*I used salted butter. If using unsalted butter add 1/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients

** If you do not have half and half you can use an equal quantity of milk

Method

  • Preheat oven to 425 F or 218 degree Celsius. Shred cold butter using a grater and place it in the freezer while you get the dry ingredients ready
  • In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine
  • Add the shredded butter to this bowl and cut it in using a pastry cutter or a fork. The flour mixture should begin to look a little like sand with pea sized bits of butter still visible
  • Add applesauce and half and half to this mixture and stir with a spatula to combine. You should arrive at a soft dough that is just a tiny bit sticky and still wet. If the dough is too wet add flour one tablespoon at a time till you arrive at the right consistency
  • Add the chopped apples and gently fold them through the dough with a spatula
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two halves. Do not knead. Using floured hands flatten each half of the dough into a circle approximately 6 inches in diameter. Cut each circle into 6 wedges
  • Place these wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet at least a couple of inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of granulated sugar. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes till they turn golden brown and a tester inserted into a scone comes out dry
  • Transfer them to a cooling rack
  • For the glaze – Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk till smooth.
  • Top the scones with glaze while they are still warm and allow the glaze to set for about 5 minutes

These scones are best eaten fresh out of the oven while they are still warm. You can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Warm them up in the microwave for 20 seconds before eating!

IMG_0894

Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Magpie

Fig Loaf

When your toddler refuses to get within 10 feet of anything that even remotely resembles a berry or dried fruit, you grumble a bit, blame it on her daddy’s genes and then, if you’re like me, you get baking. I find loaf cakes are excellent for camouflaging all kinds of those ‘too healthy to eat’ ingredients that your toddler and/or husband actively avoid. That’s how this Fig Loaf came to be.

It’s extremely easy to make. It goes excellently well with tea or coffee and it makes a great breakfast too! I like it lightly toasted with some chocolate spread and sprinkles on top. Now tell me that didn’t entice you!

This recipe requires you to make a fig puree or ‘jam’. You then add this puree to the batter which gives the loaf cake its pure fig-ey taste. It is a simple process that takes about 10 minutes start to finish.

If you want to forget about the loaf cake and just settle down with a bowl of this and a spoon, that’s okay too. I won’t mind.

UPDATE! I tried baking this recipe with Aquafaba, which is basically water in which chickpeas have been cooked, with fantastic results. Just substitute the egg in this recipe with 3 tbsp of aquafaba and follow the recipe as is. It turns out perfect as you can see from these mini loaves

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Oil – 1/3 cup (Any neutral oil will do. No olive oil)
  • Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup (Can increase to 1 cup for more sweetness)
  • Buttermilk – 1/4 cup
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/3 cup
  • Chopped dried figs – 1 heaping cup
  • Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Method

First we make Fig Puree

  • In a small saucepan combine figs, brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence and cook over medium low heat. Once the sugar has melted add the water to the figs and cook them down, stirring occasionally. Make sure the figs don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
  • Once the figs turn mushy and begin to break down, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Puree the fig mixture, using very little water if necessary, to form a chunky ‘jam’. Set aside

Now onto the bread

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside
  • In another bowl whip the egg using a hand blender till it turns frothy
  • Add the sugar to the egg and whip till the mixture becomes very pale and fluffy. This takes 2 to 3 minutes
  • Now add the oil and the fig puree to the egg-sugar mixture and whip till it is thoroughly combined
  • Next add half the flour mixture and whip briefly to combine
  • Add in all the buttermilk and whip again
  • Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and whip till it is all incorporated
  • Using a spatula gently mix in the chocolate chips and make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter
  • Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan till it is 2/3 full
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, check on the loaf cake. If the top is too dark, tent the loaf pan with foil and continue to bake till it is done. This ensures that the top doesn’t burn while the cake bakes
  • The loaf cake is done when a tester inserted into it comes out clean or with very few crumbs attached.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack
  • Gently invert the pan onto the cooling and let the cake slide out and then allow it to cool completely

NOTES – I used a 7.5×3.5×2.5 inches loaf pan and had a bit of batter left over that made 3 small cupcakes. Every oven is different. Keep an eye on your loaf cake after the 30 minute mark to make sure it doesn’t over bake. Store the loaf cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Then store it in the fridge.

img_0799

This recipe is based on the Fresh Fig Bread recipe over at thespruce.com

Avocado and Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are my current favourite! No butter and no oil. The avocado supplies all the fat you need – talk about healthy!

  
     
I was looking for unconventional ways of using up that one ripe avocado sitting in my fruit bowl when I had a brainwave – why not make muffins? One simple search on Pinterest however, revealed that I was not the only creative baker in the world – of course this has been done before! So I picked up the most promising recipe I could find and set out to make it my own. As with all recipes, I try not to vary the original recipe too much on the first attempt. But this one needs no tweaking – it’s purrfect! And the lovely, all natural, pale green colour just took my breath away – yes, I’m that easy to please……somebody tell my husband that haha!

  

The recipe has been adapted – very very slightly – from Gimmesomeoven’s version.  The original recipe has a streusel topping which can be left out but I find it works great with the muffin and doesn’t make it too sweet. 
I got 16 cupcake sized muffins from this batch

Ingredients

Muffin

  • All purpose flour – 2 cups
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Mashed avocado – 1
  • Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Egg – 1
  • Yogurt – 1 cup
  • Blueberries  (or any berry of your choice) – 1 cup

Streusel Topping

  • Melted and cooled butter – 2 tbsp (I used salted)
  • All purpose flour – 4 tbsp
  • Granulated sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Raw cane sugar – 1/4 cup

Method

Streusel Topping

  • Whisk all the ingredients together and set aside

Muffin

  • Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 degree Celsius
  • In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk until thoroughly combined. You could use any spice you like though cinnamon and nutmeg work best. Or you could leave out the spice altogether
  • In a bigger bowl beat avocado with a mixer until it turns into a smooth puree
  • Add the sugar and beat until the mixture looks a little light and fluffy
  • Add the egg and whip again till completely mixed in
  • Add the yogurt and vanilla extract next and whip till combined
  • Now add the flour mixture in two batches. After the addition of each batch whip only until it is just combined. Do not over mix
  • Fold in the blueberries using a spatula
  • Scoop into prepared muffin/cupcake liners. Make sure fill only up to 3/4 of the liners. These muffins do rise a bit
  • Sprinkle the streusel topping generously over each muffin and bake in a preheated oven for about 15 to 17 minutes till a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Turn the pan around at the halfway mark. I used a cupcake pan. If you use a regular muffin pan the bake time will increase to about 20 minutes
  • Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely
  • You can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 36 hours. They will need to be refrigerated after that

BONUS

They’re Toddler Approved! Score 🙂