Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gingerbread Biscotti

This is the second batch of biscotti that I made and let me say they were both amazing and amazingly addictive! I couldn't stop eating these! These are wonderfully spicy with a nice hit of crystallized ginger. That was the best part. The texture of these was great-- they were hard and crunchy, like traditional biscotti ought to be. Like I said previously, biscotti are some of the easiest things to prepare in the sweet kitchen and they keep for a long time. That is if you can keep them around that long.

Ginger Biscotti
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup finely diced crystallized ginger

Preheat your oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, place the eggs, sugar, leavener and salt.Beat until thick.Add the spices,the flour and the crystallized ginger.Beat well to combine.Dump the dough onto your baking sheet and pat into a rectangle.Bake in the oven until it looks like this, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for at least five minutes. Before you're about to slice, spritz the cookie with some water. Let that sit for at least five minutes more. Lower your oven temperature to 325. Slice the biscotti, and return to the baking sheet standing up. Bake for an additional 25 minutes until dry. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with tea, coffee, or all by their lonesome!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Honey Sesame Biscotti

For some reason, these past few days I've been on a biscotti kick. I could not for the life of me get them off my mind until I made a couple of batches. And a couple of batches I made! Biscotti is the famous Italian cookie that is baked, sliced and then baked again- the word biscotti literally means twice cooked. This recipe for Honey Sesame Biscotti comes from, where else, the Cookie Companion. That's right, it contains an entire chapter of biscotti recipes and variations. All one needs to do is make up her mind and get into the kitchen. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for these so I whipped them up right away and let me say biscotti seriously could not be easier. I added some semolina that I had on hand which I don't think perceptibly made a difference. Due to the honey in the dough they brown fast, so keep an eye out. Mine got a bit well done but that was no deterrence. The honey flavor really shines through here while the sesame is a subtle but supporting flavor that shines in the background. It's pleasantly nutty. These biscotti have a gentle bite but aren't the overly hard type. I've been enjoying these in the morning for breakfast. They'd be awesome dipped in coffee or tea, but really, so unnecessary.

Honey Sesame Biscotti
adapted from KAF Cookie Companion

2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup honey
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl.Cream.Add the eggs, sesame oil, and honey. Whisk until combined.
Add the flours, baking powder, and salt. Beat until incorporated.
Spread out on the lined baking sheet. Smooth out.
Bake for around 30 minutes or until they look dark and done. Let cool for at least five minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300. Spritz with water and let sit another five minutes.
Slice into even slices. Place them standing up on the baking sheet. Place in the oven again and bake for another 30-40 minutes until dried out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cinnamon Buns and Chocolate Buns

I'm not gonna deny it. I've been wanting to bake and blog about cinnamon buns for a long time but I felt like I needed a good excuse to make them. (Really though, does one ever truly need an excuse to bake?!) A friend of mine has been feeling a bit blue and I decided to make these for her to perk her up. The only thing was, I couldnt decide whether I wanted to make cinnamon or chocolate filled buns. Duh. Of course the answer was to make both. So I did. I made a double recipe of My Sweet Yeast Dough and made two pans of buns. Let me say, that not only did these cheer A up but they smelled up my entire room with their glorious scent. It was a struggle to keep me from tasting just a bit of each! We wisely decided to stash the bags of goodies in the freezer to be heated up as desired to avoid some bun bingeing. A told me she preferred the cinnamon but thought that there wasnt enough cinnamon so feel free to add more. On the other hand, one of my tasters told me the chocolate was delicious, so I think it just depends on personal preference. If you ask me, cinnamon all the way! As far as time goes, just use your eyes and nose to let you know when these are done.

Cinnamon Buns
1 recipe My Sweet Yeast Dough
vegetable oil, for brushing
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon

Chocolate Buns
1 recipe My Sweet Yeast Dough
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa
oil for brushing
For either recipe, roll out the dough to approximate a rectangle. For the cinnamon: in a bowl, whisk the cinnamon and brown sugar. Brush the dough with some oil.Scatter the cinnamon filling across the top and press in.

Roll the dough up jelly roll style an using a bench scraper or serrated knife, cut the dough into pieces.

Place in a parchment lined 9x13 or similar sized pan. Let proof until puffy and then bake at 350 until dark and melty and delicious.
For the chocolate buns, whisk together the cocoa and sugar. Brush dough with some oil.

Generously sprinkle the dough with the chocolate filling.

Roll up jelly roll style, portion the dough and place in the pan. Allow to proof until puffy.
Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until golden, melty and ooey gooey yummy.

Like this. If you're like me, you'll think a glaze is totally unnecessary. So sue me.

My Sweet Yeast Dough

It's taken me quite a while to find an all purpose yeast dough that I like. Well, I finally settled on one. This is a recipe that I've been tweaking for a while now. It's not to say that I won't continue tweaking, but I'm happy with it for now. Using vegetable oil instead of butter makes this dough a bit healthier and it also makes the softest, silkiest dough. Indeed, this dough is extremely supple and a dream to roll out. Try for yourselves. Use this for Cinnamon Buns or Chocolate Buns, babka, and any of a million other applications that your imagination brews.

My Sweet Yeast Dough
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour, or more as needed
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp instant yeast
Place all of the ingredients, except the flour, into a large bowl.Whisk thoroughly. Begin adding flour a bit a time,and stir until a shaggy dough is formed and all of the flour is moistened.Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface.
Knead until the dough is smooth and silky.

Place in a bowl to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour. The dough will not double but it will puff slightly. Don't be alarmed by this- the amount of sugar and fat in the dough prohibits the rise. If you choose, use specially designed osmotolerant yeast. Proeed with the desired recipe.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Whole Wheat Pita

Call me a rebel, but for the Shabbat lunch I recently hosted I wanted to do something different instead of the usual challah. Pizza stone in hand, I decided on whole wheat pitas. Pitas are something new that I've never really tried and I've been wanting to try them now for a while. I know that you can get pitas on the cheap here in Israel, but nothing takes the place of making them homemade and getting a kick out of seeing the breads balloon. Oh yea, it works. This recipe comes from Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread. I haven't mentioned her in a while but I haven't forgotten her, either so fear not! I made these pitas using all whole wheat flour and the dough kneaded, rolled and handled like a dream. I let the dough retard overnight in the fridge and then let it rise for an hour the next day at room temp. These are best fresh out of the oven but freeze for optimal storage.

Whole Wheat Pitas

1 kilo whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
water as needed to make a workable dough

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl.Whisk to combine.Add the oil and water. This is the dough using the original amount of water called for- 2 1/3 cups- but to account for the whole wheat flour absorption, you can see that far more is necessary. That's why I say add until a workable dough is formed.

This is a shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead until the dough becomes smooth and silky but is still a bit tacky.Place in a greased bowl and refrigerate overnight.Here is the risen dough.Preheat your baking stone to the highest temperature. Turn the dough out,and using a bench scraper, portion the dough into pieces. Round the dough pieces and allow them to rest.

One at a time, roll out the pitas. Keep the remaining dough covered until you're ready to work with them. Place each dough piece on the baking stone. Theyre beginning to rise! And balloon! They really balloon. Cook each pita about 3-4 minutes or until fully ballooned. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

Here is my stack of deformed pitas. I need to learn how to roll a circle. You think it'd be simple, no? Enjoy with some hummus and Israeli salad or falafel if you like. Bitay'avon!