The year that was….

Another year is at an end and 2018 is on the anvil with loads of promise. Every year when Valli asks us to write about the Best of the Year, she gives pointers like – best recipes, most liked ones, etc. But what I end up doing is write about my entire life in that year because this blog is my life journal. So you have to read about the boring details of my life because you chose to click here.

When I read my old posts, I am transported back to the time I made the particular dish, my kitchen and the mood then – probably my daughter tugging at the apron wanting to butt in on the dish or the husband hungrily asking if I had any more clicks left or could he eat already or my maid waiting impatiently to clean the mixing bowl and gettin on with her job or the rare occasion when it is just me, the dough and some soothing music in the background.

This year was pretty uneventful on the personal front – I stayed in one house for the entire year!! I made some amazing friends in my apartment complex and so has the daughter. She seems to have settled in her new school and I spent quite some time figuring out how to dress her up in various avatars as demanded by the school. I am convinced parenting was easier when I was a kid. Sigh!

On the blog front, this year has been promising. The reason I started this blog was to document my bread baking and I kind of lost the plot somewhere along the way. This year I have managed to bake quite a few loaves and learn a lot about baking in general and breads in particular. The highlight definitely was the April Mega Marathon when I baked 26 breads, one for each letter of the alphabet.

I also baked bread for this year’s Bake-a-thon in December.

Another highlight was our September Mega Marathon when I blogged about 26 Protein Rich Dishes

Thanks to Valli, who started the exploration of a country’s cuisine every month, I learnt about cuisines of USA, Morocco, Greece, Lebanon and Caribbean. I am hoping to do better on this front in 2018.

I know I shouldn’t but I do love certain bread recipes I made more than the others. There are a few I am partial to and simply cant help loving them a wee it more than the others. So here are my favourite recipes of the year that i blogged about –

1. Boule

This bread is special because it is the first one I baked with bread flour and the results were awesome to say the least.

2. Rewena Paraoa

I loved making a starter with the humble potato and that led to an amazing flavourful loaf. It was so much fun learning new methods and ingredients in bread baking.

3. Pain d’epi

You can’t bake bread and not be a fan of the French. The diversity and variety there is beyond imagination. This bread made me excited and a wee bit proud of my efforts in baking bread. It was on my list to bake for a long time and achieving it made me estatic.

4. Sourdough Brown Bread

I started baking with sourdough this year and this has been one of my better loaves to come out of those experiments. Also, whole wheat flour has lent a lovely flavour and texture to ṭhis beautiful loaf.

5. White Bread

I have been trying to get a hole-y bread forever now. Though I still haven’t, this loaf gave me hope that I can achieve it someday. This looks like an important step ahead in that direction.

6. Raisin Yeast Water Bread

Yeast water is an absolutely new discovery that I made this year and it is a huge ocean of knowledge in itself. This loaf is made from my first raisin yeast water to get some commendable results. Looks like an exciting area of exploration.

So that was my year. How was yours?

Happy Baking!

This is going to the Best of the Year hosted by Srivalli

Bake-a-thon Round Up

We come to the end of another Bake-a-thon, which is my favourite event of the year because I have legitimate reason to mix flour water salt and yeast and get all excited and worked up at the same time. My original plan was to have all recipes in this theme as sourdough baking but I am guessing I still have sometime to go before I can be competent and confident enough to publish those efforts.

So this time is about breads – sourdough and yeast breads, not to mention yeast water breads.

Here is a recap –

1. Raisin Yeast Water Bread

2. Rosemary Fougasse

3. White Bread

4. Cornell Bread

5. Sourdough Brown Bread

6. Pullman Loaf

7. Apple Yeast Water Bread

8. Khobz Dyal Zraa’

9. Whole Wheat Bran & Seeded Bread

10. Roasted Garlic & Potato Bread

11. Crusty Cloche Bread with Maize Flour

12. Cinnamon Rolls

13. New Year’s Eve Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

Happy Baking!

New year’s eve Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

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This will be the final recipe for the year 2017. I will save the disbelief for the year having gone past quickly for another post. I have been wanting to make a pizza for this Bake-a-thon but I never got around it. The main reason was that I happened to visit 3 Italian restaurants in a span of 10 days and if I dared to make pizza after that run, I knew I would be seriously injured or maimed. But then finally I hit upon this idea and it call came together very well.

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I chanced upon this recipe for New Year’s Eve Pizza and thought it would be a wonderful way to end the year. The best part about it is that the pizza is topped with bread crumbs mixed with olive oil giving it a lovely crunch and crisp top. I had some bread frozen because my experiments did not turn out too well and no one wanted to have it. So I have been pulsing them and using as bread crumbs. I figured I could use up some of that too with this recipe. Then I remembered I had a large head of cauliflower waiting to be used. So I mixed the bread crumb topping with cauliflower crust and voila, we have this awesome pizza that works perfectly well when it comes to clearing out my refrigerator.

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Makes one 11″ pizza

WHAT WE NEED

1 kg Cauliflower

60 gms Almonds

3 tbsp Chia seeds

4 tbsp Water

1 tbsp Dried oregano

1 tsp Salt

Toppings per your choice

1/4 cup Bread crumbs

1-2 tbsp Olive oil

WHAT TO DO

  • Break the cauliflower into florets and blitz them in a food processor / mixer to form a rice like consistency
  • Transfer it to a microwave safe bowl
  • Cover with cling wrap and microwave for 8 minutes till softened
  • Transfer it to a kitchen towel and let cool for 10 minutes
  • Grind the chia seeds and mix it with water in a bowl and set aside
  • Squeeze out as much water as possible from the cauliflower through the kitchen towel
  • Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl
  • Grind almonds into rice like consistency
  • Add the almonds, chia seed mixture, oregano and salt to the cauliflower and get them together like a dough
  • Press into a greased baking tray at 1/4″ thick
  • Ensure that the thickness is the same overall without having highs and lows
  • Preheat the oven at 200C
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes till light brown
  • Take it out and let cool for 15-20 minutes
  • Preheat the oven at 250C
  • Add toppings to the pizza base as per your choice
  • Mix the bread crumbs and olive oil and sprinkle on top of the pizza covering it well
  • Bake at 220C for 10 minutes or till the top turns golden brown
  • If necessary, broil for 2-3 minutes
  • Serve hot
  • Enjoy!

 

NOTES

  1. The bread crumbs are optional and can be omitted if you wish
  2. Chia seeds can be substituted with flaxseeds
  3. If you do not want to microwave the cauliflower, then steam it for 8-9 minutes

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Cinnamon Rolls

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Every now and then I wonder how I end up missing the classic dishes, the most popular ones that have stood the test of time. I keep thinking about baking them and blogging about it but then I discover something new and exciting and this gets sidelined to be revisited another day. I always imagine someone visiting my blog and then is stunned speechless because there is no recipe for cinnamon rolls or pound cake. So now there is one less thing to worry about.

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The husband and daughter threw a fit about having to eat too many breads. They wanted something sweet and made all sorts of threats to ensure I give them that. So I figured I could make cinnamon rolls because they satisfy my criteria of yeast dough and so kind of fall in the bread category and at the same time they are sweet and will please the family.

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Recipe adapted from here and here

Makes 15 medium rolls

WHAT WE NEED

For the rolls

120 ml Milk

56 gms Unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/8 tsp Instant yeast

pinch of salt

3/4 tsp Cinnamon powder

8 tsp Brown sugar

204 gms All purpose flour

For the glaze

1/4 cup Icing sugar

1 tsp Unsalted butter, melted

1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

2-3 tsp Milk

 

WHAT TO DO

For the rolls

  • Heat 21 gms butter and the entire milk together in a microwave oven/ saucepan till melted
  • Let it cool to become lukewarm
  • Transfer the butter and milk mixture to a large bowl and add yeast, 2 tsp brown sugar  and salt
  • Add the flour little by little and knead to a loose ball consistency
  • Cover and set aside till the dough doubles in volume, around 1-2 hours
  • Roll out the dough to a thin rectangle
  • Brush it 21 gms butter and top it with 6 tsp brown sugar and cinnamon powder
  • Roll the dough tightly into a long tube shape and place it seam side down
  • Cut it into 15 pieces with a knife
  • Place the rolls in a greased baking tray leaving little space between them
  • Brush the top of the rolls with the balance butter
  • Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or till it is slightly golden brown

For the glaze

  • Mix all the ingredients for the glaze to form a thick glaze
  • Pour over the rolls as soon as they are taken out from the oven
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Crusty Cloche Bread with Maize flour

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I have been trying to bake with different flours for sometime now. Not all experiments are successful but each is definitely a learning experience. I found some maize flour in my local supermarket quite suddenly one day. I knew that I should grab it before it disappears again and I did. I was not quite sure as to what I should make with it but I picked it up anyway. Even if I don’t get great breads with these different flours, I know I can always use them up to make dosai or rotis and so they won’t be wasted.

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Ever since I discovered crackling crusts can be made by covering the dough while baking, I have been to heaven. I love the crackling sound when I cut into the loaf and the texture it gives the crust. So when I chanced upon this recipe which has baking with a cloche and uses maize flour, it simply had to be done. Another interesting part of the recipe is that it needs no preheating and is baked in a cold oven. The only issue I faced was that the dough was too small and cloche too big and so it did not rise as much as I thought it would but nevertheless it was a delicious bread, more so when toasted with olive oil.

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Recipe adapted from here

Makes 1 medium loaf

WHAT WE NEED

200 gms All purpose flour

65 gms Maize flour

175 gms Warm water

1 tsp Instant yeast

3/4 tsp Salt

1 tbsp Olive oil

2 tsp garlic / onion powder / mixed dried herbs (optional)

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix all the ingredients to form a dough
  • Let it rise till double in volume
  • Shape the dough like a ball
  • Transfer to a baking tray and cover it with a cloche / any large oven safe bowl
  • Let it rise for 45 minutes or nearly double in volume
  • Sprinkle the dough with some flour and slash the top
  • Place the baking tray with the cloche covered in the cold oven
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes
  • Remove the cloche and bake uncovered for 10 minutes
  • Take it out of the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Roasted Garlic and Potato Bread

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If you don’t know already, let me tell you that roasting garlic is one of the most amazing things you can do in the kitchen. It lets out a lovely aroma that delights the senses, works up your imagination and appetite and lends a wonderful flavour to the dish. So when I saw this awesome bread with roasted garlic and mashed potato, I knew I simply had to do it. It turned out so light and flavourful that even the daughter and husband were asking for seconds.

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It takes a little longer to make this bread because of the additional step of roasting garlic and mashing potatoes but it is definitely time well spent which rewards you with an amazing loaf. I have used all purpose flour for this loaf but you can replace upto 50% of it with whole wheat flour or other flour of your choice. But the bread will be denser than a loaf made entirely with all purpose flour.

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Adapted from New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes

Makes one large loaf

460 gms All purpose flour

340 gms Warm water

1 1/2 tsp Instant yeast

2 tsp Salt

2 1/4 tsp Sugar

110 gms Mashed potatoes

1 garlic head

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Wrap the garlic head with its skin in foil and bake for 25-30 minutes
  • Take it out and squeeze out the garlic pulp and set aside
  • Mix the water, yeast, salt, sugar, mashed potatoes and garlic in a large bowl
  • Add the flour and mix it to ensure no dry flour remains
  • Cover and set aside till it rises and flattens or collapses, around 2 hours
  • Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
  • Take out the dough from the bowl and dust it with a little flour and shape into a ball
  • Let it rest for an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 250C
  • Sprinkle some flour and slash the top of the dough
  • Cover and bake for 20 minutes
  • Take the cover off and bake for 10 minutes
  • Unmould the loaf and let cool completely on a wire rack
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Whole Wheat Bran & Seeded Bread

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All my life, I have been a staunch supporter of all purpose flour when it comes to baking bread. It makes a lovely light loaf and easily beats all other flours in terms of taste. Call it destiny or old age, of late I have started enjoying whole wheat loaves a lot. I love the chewy texture and the flavour it brings along. Though I still maintain that the case against all purpose flour is mostly making a mountain of a molehill, whole wheat flour features a lot more in my breads these days.

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If you remember, I had written about how imperative it is for me to finish a pack of wheat bran that I had bought and forgotten. So I have been trying to add it to many bread loaves just to get done with it. I have significantly modified the whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe from the New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. So I figured this is a good loaf I could add bran to. I also topped it with some seeds to get the daughter to eat them. Both these ingredients are optional and the bran does make it a comparatively dense loaf but it is a healthier loaf and the little extra dense-ness is a small price to pay. Else it can be replaced by whole wheat flour. I forget about the dough during proofing and ended up over proofing it which can be seen in the loaf. So don’t do that and bake the loaf at the appropriate time.

 

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Makes one 8″ loaf

WHAT WE NEED

140 gms All purpose flour

110 gms Whole wheat flour

30 gms Wheat bran

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Instant yeast

26 gms Honey

20 gms Oil

226 gms Warm water

Mix of seeds

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix all the ingredients except the seeds and form a dough
  • Cover and let it rise till it flattens or collapses which should take around 2 hours
  • Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
  • Take out the dough and sprinkle some flour on it and shape it like a ball by pulling the dough back on all 4 sides
  • Grease an 81/2″ * 4 1/2 ” pan
  • Pull the dough to form an oval shape and drop it in the loaf pan
  • Cover and let it rest for 90 minutes
  • Preheat the oven at 250C with an empty tray at the lowest rack
  • Sprinkle some flour and slash the dough on top
  • Pour 1 cup hot water on the empty tray in the oven
  • Bake the loaf on the middle rack for 50-55 minutes till it is richly brown
  • Let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Moroccan Roasted Carrot Soup

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The weather is Bangalore is amazing this time of the year. It is cold enough to want to have tea and hot, deep fried snacks all the time but not too cold that you need multiple layers of clothes. It is perfect weather for a soup and I had some carrots which had to be used at the earliest. I roasted them with some onions and garlic and blended it with some roasted cumin and the results were delicious to say the least. It is the perfect recipe for a lazy day meal because you get rather tasty results with minimal efforts.

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Recipe adapted from here

Serves 2-3

WHAT WE NEED

3 carrots, medium to large

1 onion, large

5-6 garlic cloves

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp roasted cumin seeds

2-3 cups water / veg stock

Salt & pepper

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Cut the onion, carrots and garlic into large chunks and transfer them to a oven safe dish
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix in the olive oil
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes till the carrots start shrinking
  • Blend the carrots, onion and garlic with roasted cumin
  • Transfer the mixture to a vessel and add the vegetable stock / water
  • Let it come to a boil and turn off the gas
  • Serve hot with some bread
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon for the theme, ‘Moroccan Cuisine’.

BMLogoCheck out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Khobz dyal Zraa’ – Moroccan Wheat Bread

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Another awesome part of baking bread is the scoring of the dough before baking. Scoring is simply slashing the dough top so that we are able to control where the bread expands from. When you score the bread with a pretty design it adds a delightful artistic side to the loaf, a treat to the eyes and you are in awe of it even before biting into the first slice. Though it appears easy, scoring requires a little confidence and quite a bit of practice. The tool used to score dough is called lame and it is basically a regular blade mounted on a stand. As usual, this is not available in India and so I fashioned myself one in order to be able to score the dough well. This is my first effort with my new tool and it doesn’t look too bad for a first attempt, right? Despite a slightly misshapen loaf, that is.

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Bread is an integral part of Moroccan cuisine and they have a wide variety of breads, both dough raising and flat breads. I picked the whole wheat bread which has an equal amount of whole wheat and all purpose flour. This bread is a relatively flat bread and needs only one rise which makes it a comparatively faster bake. But because of the low hydration, the air pockets are not huge but small and uniform throughout.

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Recipe adapted from here

Makes 1 large loaf

WHAT WE NEED

135 gms All purpose flour

135 gms Whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp Instant yeast

180 gms Warm water

1 tsp Salt

1 tbsp Oil

1 tbsp Honey

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt together
  • Make a well in the middle and add the yeast
  • Add the oil, honey and water to the yeast and mix it first
  • Then mix with the flours to form a dough
  • Knead for 6-7 minutes till you get a soft pliable dough
  • Set aside for 15 minutes
  • Grease a baking tray and sprinkle some semolina
  • Press down the dough with the palm of your hand to make a 1/4″ thick circle
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 1 hour
  • Preheat the oven at 250C
  • Sprinkle some flour on top and slash the dough in any pattern of your choice
  • Put the dough into the oven and reduce the temperature to 220C
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Turn the tray around and bake for another 10 minutes or till the loaf acquires a rich brown colour
  • Take it out of the oven and cool on a rack
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘Moroccan Cuisine’.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Moroccan Zaalouk

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We try and explore the cuisine of a different country each month in our Blogging Marathon and I try to take up the theme, if only to bake a new kind of bread from a new country every month. This month’s cuisine is Moroccon and as I was browsing through various recipes, I realised how similar it is with Indian cuisine. I found this recipe for an eggplant and tomato salad called Zaalouk which is quite similar to Baingan Bhartha made in India. Coincidentally the husband picked 2 large eggplants on his trip to the supermarket and I decided to kill multiple birds with one stone.

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This is a salad in Moroccan cuisine and is said to go very well with bread. I simply topped it on my toasted homemade bread and I have to tell you it is divine. I would have frowned on having baingan bartha for breakfast but this zaalouk with bread is a treat. The key difference between the two is the amount of tomatoes used in the dish. While we use 1 or 2 tomatoes for an entire eggplant, this dish calls for 3-4 making the taste significantly different, not to mention delicious.

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Recipe adapted from here

Serves 4-5 people

WHAT WE NEED

2 large Eggplants

5-6 Ripe tomatoes

4-5 Garlic cloves

1 tbsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp red chilly powder / paprika

Oil

Salt

Water

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Rub some oil on the eggplants, poke a few holes with a fork and roast them on high flame till they are cooked
  • Remove the skins and mash well
  • Heat 2-3 tsp of oil in a pan and add cumin seeds
  • Finely chop the garlic and add to the pan
  • Add finely chopped tomatoes and chilly powder and let cook for 5-6 minutes on low flame
  • Add the roasted eggplants and mix well
  • Add salt and a little water and simmer for 5-7 minutes
  • Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot
  • Enjoy with some bread!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘Moroccan Cuisine’.

BMLogo

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM