Sunday, August 26, 2012

Roasted Garlic Za'atar Twists

About once a month, I go with my fiancĂ© to visit his parents.  They are fond of za'atar, so I thought I'd try and make something with the herb mix. I've also been playing with pizza dough a lot since it only requires one rising before use.

Stacey's Roasted Garlic Za'atar Twists:
2c bread flour, organic
1-2c unbleached all purpose flour, organic
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1c water
1/2c buttermilk
2 tbs honey
2 tbs olive oil, organic
1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2c-1c roasted garlic, mashed, mixed with olive oil
olive oil, organic
1/2c pine nuts
1/2c-1c shredded mozzarella

standing mixer
rolling pin
bread stone - mine is something like this for pizzas, but you can get rectangular / square ones too instead
parchment paper
cookie sheet

Combine the dry ingredients (with only 1 cup of the all purpose flour) in a standing mixer (you can use a big bowl and a hand mixer, or just use your hands if you have the patience and endurance). Mix the wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout and microwave it until it's about 110F.  You can use a thermometer or your handy dandy temperature gun (this one is my favorite).

Turn the mixer on with the dough hook on the lowest setting (stir) and slowly pour in the liquid. Let the mixer go until the dough is combined.  The dough should be fairly sticky.  If it's too sticky and wet to be formed into a ball with some effort, add more of the all purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time.  The wetter the dough is, the more tender and fluffy it will be in the final twists.

Brush oil over the dough and put it back in the bowl you were using or whatever other bowl that's at least twice the volume of the dough and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Put it somewhere warm to rise.  I like to leave mine in the microwave (not running of course - the microwave tends to just always be warm inside). I've also put mine on top of a heating pad.  When it's done rising, it will be 1 - 1.5 times the original size and will look fluffy.  It took about an hour for me.

OMG So Fluffy!
Before you begin working, you should put your bread stone in the oven and preheat to 450F.

You can now dump the dough out from the bowl onto a floured surface.  Add extra flour on top of the dough so you can roll it out with a rolling pin. Make a squarish shape and brush half the surface with olive oil.  On the other half of the dough, spread your mashed roasted garlic and olive oil and then sprinkle it with your pine nuts and mozzarella cheese.

Now sprinkle the whole surface with za'atar.

Fold the side over that does not have fillings on top of the other side.  Now you can use a sharp knife to cut pieces lengthwise.

Twist these pieces a few times until they have the number of twists that you like.

Put each piece on the parchment paper on a rimless cookie sheet or the underside of a rimmed cookie sheet.  You just need a flat surface to be able to slide the parchment paper with the dough on it into the baking stone in the oven.

I got bored of making them all twists, so I decided to fancy it up a little and pinch the ends of some of them together to make rings.

Same deal with these - put them on the parchment paper on the flat cookie sheet.  Once the oven has finished heating, slide the parchment paper and dough onto the bread stone.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the bread and cheese is golden brown.

Everyone liked these - fiancĂ© and his parents both enjoyed them.  Fluffy, cheesy, filled with yummy herbs.  Mmmmm...

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Chocolate Yeast Cupcake Experiment

I've been doing a lot of yeast experimenting lately on my waffle questing. In this recipe, I wanted to find out if I could use yeast as a leavener for a sweet cake (not quite like panettone, more like a regular cake and less like a sweet bread).  I have not found out the chemical reason for it yet, but yeast doesn't like having too much sugar and it under-rises.  I read this on another website, but there was no explanation for why.  If I had to guess non-scientifically?  I'd say that since yeast uses the sugar for food, which later makes it expel gas, perhaps having way too much food turns them into gluttons and then they kill themselves overindulging before they ever get to make enough gas.  All you food scientists out there, feel free to correct me and tell me I'm a moron.  :) At least then I'll get my answer.

In any case, here was my experiment.

Stacey's Chocolate Yeast Cupcake Experiment Ingredients:
1 3/4c unbleached all-purpose flour, organic
1/3c organic cocoa powder (dagoba)
2/3c granulated sugar, organic
1 1/2tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1/3c honey, organic
1 3/4c lowfat milk, organic
4 tbs (half stick) unsalted butter, organic
1/4c sunflower oil, organic
2 eggs, organic

Waffle Iron
Cupcake pan
Cupcake liners

(Ganache recipe below)

I made the batter the night before, like in the overnight yeasted waffle recipe I've been toying with from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book recipe.  First, mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Then mix the honey and milk and microwave it until it's around 110F.  You can use a thermometer or your handy dandy temperature gun (this one is my favorite).  Pour the milk mix into the dry mix and stir until combined. Over-stirring causes gluten to form, so don't stir more than you need to for combining unless you want it chewy.

Melt the butter and add it and the oil to the mixture and fold it in.  Beat the eggs slightly and fold that in.  Put plastic wrap over the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The following morning, I was hoping for the nice bubbles that I saw in the Havarti Dill Yeast Muffins recipe, but no such luck.

It looked flat and bubble-less, because of the aforementioned excess sugar.   I preheated the oven to 350F, and while that was heating, I decided to see what would happen if I put it in the waffle iron.  I turned on my Waring Pro Waffle Iron (it's pretty awesome and I got mine from Costco - well, my mom did for my birthday, but let's not split hairs) and decided to put a couple ladlefuls in there on heat setting 4 to see what would happen.

Results were not good, my lovely blog readers.  There was not enough structural integrity, probably because of the sugar, and I got the saddest, limpest waffle ever. It barely made it out of the iron, and at least it didn't stick due to the awesome magical coating on the Waring Pro.

It tasted okay, so I went ahead and filled my cupcake liners / pan. After the waffle fiasco, I had enough batter for 1 large dozen and 1 small dozen.

I baked the small ones for about 15 minutes on the lower rack and the large ones for about 20 minutes on the higher rack.  I'm not sure about your oven, but the top rack is hotter, so it cooks and browns more quickly.  I rotated once at the halfway point.

That last small cupcake in the lower right corner, I was really scraping the bottom for batter. So they didn't rise very much, but they sort of had the consistency of Filipino puto if you've ever had that before.  Basically it's a steamed cake.

I made some ganache to go with it too, another experiment.  It was pretty good, but I didn't measure, so the measurements are just a guestimate, since I just threw everything in a 2c glass measuring cup. Coconut oil makes for the most delicious meltaways, so I thought it would be perfect in a ganache. 

Stacey's Milk Chocolate Ganache Ingredients
1c Guittard milk chocolate couverture chips, organic
1 tbs coconut oil, organic
1/4-1/3c lowfat milk

I put the chips, oil, and 1/4c of the milk in a glass measuring cup and microwaved it for a minute.  My microwave is weak, so you probably only need 30 seconds.  Once I stirred it, I saw that it was starting to come out of emulsion, so I added a little more milk to bring it back together.  I know! It's magic.  Once it was all combined, I spread generous dollops on the large cupcakes.

I ran out of time before work, so I didn't do the small ones.  These tasted pretty good.  I think next time, I'll add less sugar and more cocoa powder since they ended up a lighter chocolate flavor and didn't rise as much as I'd hoped.   But, this is good news for people trying to cut down on their sugar intake.  Perhaps I'll have to try a whole wheat version with just a touch of honey or maple sugar or something "healthy."  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Havarti Dill Yeast Muffins

Yes, it's been a long time again.  I'm having trouble adjusting to my new schedule of driving to Cupertino every morning and trying to get in a morning run.  Also, I've been experimenting with waffles and they're not always that great, so I've been embarrassed to blog them.

This is a yeast waffle batter that I adapted to make muffins.  I loved how fluffy the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book recipe was coming out, so I decided to see if I could adapt it to make muffins.

Stacey's Havarti Dill Yeast Muffin Ingredients 
2c all-purpose unbleached flour, organic
1.5 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried dill weed
1 3/4c lowfat milk, organic
2 tbs honey (although 1 tbs is probably enough)
1/2c olive oil, organic
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 oz lite havarti cheese, cut in chunks (but you can use regular)
Muffin pan

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Then heat the milk to about 110F using a thermometer or your handy dandy temperature gun (this one is my favorite) and pour it into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined.  Add the oil and eggs and stir to combine.  Then mix in the cheese chunks. 

Let this rise somewhere warm.  I usually just put it in the microwave without turning it on because the microwave is usually always warm.  Otherwise you could cover with saran wrap and leave in a sunny window, or on a heating pad.  If you're more patient, you can just leave it at room temperature to rise. It will start to get bubbly and frothy. 

Once bubbly and somewhere between 1.5-2 times the original size, you can use a muffin scoop to dish out the batter into greased muffin tins.  I just brushed mine with more olive oil. I wish I tried to see how they'd turn out with muffin papers - you can try it and let me know or wait for me to do it and re-post. :)  Put them in the oven on the middle/top rack for about 15 minutes, rotating once at the halfway point.

Once they're a nice golden brown on top, you can take them out to let them cool. 

While they're still warm (don't burn yourself), use a butter knife around the edges to free them from their muffin pan prison.

They're so fluffy!  I thought this recipe was a tiny bit on the sweet side, so you can use 1/2 the honey like I mentioned in the ingredients list.  But if you love honey like I do... have at it. :)

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