Thursday, March 11, 2010

Greek Country Bread

Here's the bread I mentioned in my crostini post. It's great for a beginning bread maker because it's a resilient dough. No, (like me) you might not know if the bread has over-fermented a bit, if it's under-proofed just a wee smidge, or if the loaf has fully tripled in size. But give it a try. Did I mention this dough is resilient? And it's gratifying as heck to go through the process. If nothing else, your kitchen will smell amazing. No worries, though, it'll be good bread! It's "light and billowy" crumb and irresistibly crispy crust will keep you reaching for the bread basket.

Pan de Horiadaki -- Greek Country Bread
from A Blessing of Bread
makes 2 rounds and requires about 5 hours (1 hour active time)

7 1/2 cups bread flour
1 t. instant yeast
3 cups warm water
1 T plus 1 1/2 t. salt
2 T plus 1 t. sugar
2 T. olive oil, plus extra for oiling pans

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and yeast. Add the warm water and, using a spoon, mix it in just until the flour is moistened and a rough dough forms. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Mix the dough
  • Using the dough hook, mix the dough on medium speed until it is very smooth, soft and tacky, 10-15 minutes. If it seems too firm, add a Tablespoon or two of water. Add more flour if it's super sticky.
  • Add the salt, sugar and oil and mix on medium speed until the sugar and the salt have dissolves, about 2 minutes. At this point, the dough should tighten up and clean the work bowl. Test the dough by stretching a small portion of it; if you can almost see through it when stretch without shredding, you're good to go. If not, continue to mix another minute. And add more water if necessary.
Ferment the dough
  • Place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel. Let dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  • Generously oil two 8-inch round cake pans. Divide the dough in half and deflate each, and shape into tight balls. Coat each with oil in the cake pans and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point the dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Let the dough ferment until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (2 if it's been refrigerated).
Shape and proof the dough
  • Remove rounds from cake pans. Shape them into tightly rounded loaves and put them back in their pans seam side down. Oil tops and cover with plastic. (Again, you can refrigerate for 24 hours.) Let dough proof until tripled in size, about 1 hour (2 if it's been refrigerated).
  • After shaping the dough and while it's proofing, preheat the oven to 400.
Baking the dough
  • When the loaves have tripled in size and remains indented when gently pressed, lightly oil again, and bake for 50-55 minutes. After the first 35 minutes of baking, rotate the pans so the bread browns evenly.
  • When the loaves are done, they should sound hollow when knocked, remove from the oven and cool on racks.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mashed Potato Cakes

This is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes. It's a Sara Moulton recipe. She recommends not adding butter or milk, etc. to the portion of potatoes you reserve to make the cakes. But I go ahead and mash all the taters into creamy, buttery bliss and "settle" for cakes that are a bit softer and less (and more!) shapely. These babies got curves..

Serve with roasted chicken , topped with a poached egg or sprinkled with scallions.

Mashed Potato Cakes
makes 8 cakes

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
2 T canola oil
2 T butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 t. salt plus additional to taste
1/4 t. black pepper plus additional to taste

  • Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide mashed potatoes into 8 portions. Form into 1/2 inch (a bit thicker if using potatoes mashed with butter and milk bc they will soften and flatten more) patties.
  • Mix the flour with the salt and pepper in a pie plate. In a large non-stick or cast iron saute pan over medium-high saute pan heat oil and butter heat oil and butter until it's ripple-y almost smoking.
  • Coat the potato cakes thoroughly with seasoned flour. Add to the hot oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until cakes have formed a golden crust, 15-20 minutes. Turn and cook other side until brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if you like. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Note: cakes can be kept for a couple of days in the fridge and reheated for a few minutes under the broiler until hot.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two-Bite Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a great go-to for any occasion. They come together in a snap and, well, they're scrumptious. And they're mini, so go ahead and have two. Happy day!

Two-Bite Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

makes about 40

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 t. instant espresso (optional)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins.
  • In a small bowl, combine water cocoa and espresso, stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl or that of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn mixer to low and slowly add flour, and then the cocoa. Mix until smooth.
  • Fill lined tins 2/3 full and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you make regular cupcakes, bake for about 15 minutes.)
  • Cool in tins for 5 minutes, move to cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 box confectioners' sugar
1 t. vanilla
2-3 T milk

Beat thoroughly until smooth, adding more milk as necessary.

Note: Go easy on the milk if you are using food coloring because the color will loosen the buttercream.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clementine Cake

I love clementines. They are easy to peel, have few pits, and are usually super sweet and juicy. I tend to buy them by the crate because I can rip through a few in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, the last bunch I brought home was a dud. After a couple of hopeful tries, I gave up; the tasteless, dry fruit was just too disappointing. Unable to waste 'good' food and unwilling to eat not-so-good food, I decided to dress up my wan clementines and give them new life... Here's a recipe for clementine cake. It's gorgeous with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Clementine Cake
adapted from Nigella Lawson

5 clementines
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups almond meal (either purchased as flour or finely ground in processor)
1 t. salt
1 heaping t. baking powder
  • In a medium sauce pan, submerge clementines in cold water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. Drain and allow clementines to cool to room temperature.
  • Cut clementines in half and remove any pits. Coarsely puree in food processor.
  • Preheat oven to 375 and butter a spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs and add pureed clementine pulp; mix thoroughly. Add sugar, almonds, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 40 minutes. Rotate pan, cover with foil and continue to bake for another 2o minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack.
  • Enjoy!

Place a bowl over the clementines to submerge them, if necessary.