Friday, November 01, 2013

Pretzel Buns - a Gorgeous Chew Treat

Homemade Chewy Pretzel Buns
I have wanted to do this for ages but have long been scared off the whole process of making them turn that signature mahogany colour.  I've been having crazy pregger cravings and this was one of them. Well actually, it was for Giant Soft Pretzels but I deffo thought I'd start with simple round balls before venturing over to the labour of rolling out Pretzels.  Plus, lil T was having a friend over for supper and I thought they'd make great toddler slider buns.

In the end, the extra stage from just chewy bread to glowing pretzels was not that big a hassle and I'd do it again and again.

Pretzel Buns or Soft Pretzels

1 1/3 c Warm Water
1 T Sugar
2 1/2 t Dry Active Yeast

2 1/2 c All Purpose Unbleached Flour
1 c Whole Wheat Flour
1 c Dark Rye (or Light Rye) Flour
1 T Dry Mustard Powder
2 1/2 t Salt

60g or 2oz Butter, melted

Topping options:
Course Salt
Sesame Seeds
Poppy Seeds
Sunflower Seeds

1 l Water
1/3 c Baking Soda

In a stand mixer, dissolve the Warm Water and Sugar.  Sprinkle the Yeast over the Water and let stand for 10-15  minutes.

Whisk all the Flours and Mustard together.  Add the Salt and Butter to the foamy Yeast mixture.  And then half the Flours.  Mix on lowest speed to combine without causing a floury hurricane.  When it's all moistened, slowly add the rest of the Flours.  Mix on the two lower speeds, alternating, for about 15 minutes.  I like my Bread nice and chewy.  Occasionally, turn off the mixer, remove the Dough from the hook into the bowl and continue kneading. 

In a large bowl, or the mixer bowl, lightly grease.  Add roll the dough in to a nice ball and turn around in the bowl to lightly coat the ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for at least 2-3 hours. 

After the rising, gently press down the ball and knead a few times in the bowl.  Get out a handy scale or do this by look and feel.  Tear off 75 g sized balls and knead into nice smooth balls by smooshing, folding in half smooshing and folding intil it's nice and round and smooth on one side.  Pinch down the underside well.  75g will give you about 3/4 of a tennis ball sized piece of unleaven dough.  It should yield you 11-12 Buns.

Lay out on a lined baking sheet.  I use a silcon mat.  And cover with the plastic you used for the bowl.  It needn't be a firm cover because you want the skin to dry out a bit.

Let rise for an hour. 

Pre heat your oven to 425F with a rack in the lower third.  Bring a medium sauce pan that is nearly full with about an inch clearance of water to a simmer.  i.e. not boiling but not still.  Over Medium Low heat.  Add the baking soda BEFORE you heat or you'll have a foamy mess.  Bring your baking sheet next to the stove.  With a slotted spoon or skimmer handy, lower 3-4 balls into the pot.  Move them around and flip over.  Let simmer in the bath for 3 minutes.  Lift out with your spoon, draining as well as you can, and place them back on your baking sheet.  Place 3-4 more into the water and while they soak, top your bathed balls with Sesame Seeds and Salt... or whatever you like, while they are still sticky.  They'll have puffed up a bit as well.  Continue until you've bathed all your buns.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Let them cool for a few minutes because there is quite a lot of steam inside those nicely sealed buns.  The alkaline bath of Baking Soda should have ensure you get that nice dark colour without a need for an Egg wash, whose flavour  don't care for on all my pastry.  There was a nice gentle mustard taste.  It wasn't too much that lil T noticed but present.  I wouldn't up the Mustard though.  For some reason, it inhibits rising.  I don't know why.  I've made bread with Mustard in the past and pushed the amount and it didn't rise at all. 


Monday, October 07, 2013

Quest of the RING! - Onion Ring trials

So after a year of temporary housing while we hunted endlessly for a home, we're finally there!  That means bye bye temporary cramped century old plumbing, 70's dumpy kitchen with no counter space.  What's one of the first things D and I bought for our new place :D.... a deep fryer.  Fo real.  Seriously.  We actually bought it before we took possession.  Pan or dutch oven frying my homemade fries or Arancini has not been fun.  There was something nuclear about that old white stove.  We did get used to it tough.

This past summer, we went on a roadtrip.  I hope to post those lovely restaurants in upstate New York and Maine.  Anyhoo, we hit one AWESOME random shack we saw on TV called the Porthole in Portland ME.  They had, unequivocally, the best Onion Rings of my and D's life.  The Onions had a good bite so they didn't slither out of the ring, leaving an empty shell.  The batter was full of flavour, seasoned well and held on to the Onion without being too doughy or heavy.  It crispy and airy without being greasy or using breadcrumbs.  After visiting twice, we asked the server the recipe.  She didn't not give us proportions nor instructions so I'm now on a quest. 

Ring Quest 1 

1 1/4 c Flour
1 c Cornstarch
1 1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Paprika
1 t granulated Garlic
1/2 t Black Pepper
1/4 c Vodka
1 bottle Beer, medium body
1/4 c Cornmeal (my add)

1 large Onion (Softball sized)
OR 2 medium Onions (Tennis Ball sized)

Preheat your oil to 350.

Place a wire rack with some paper towels on one half with a pan underneath.

In a large bowl, whisk the Flour, Cornstarch, Salt, Paprika and Pepper.  Place in Fridge while you prep your Onions.  I also put my Beer in the freezer now too.  I'm mirroring some tempura technique here. 

Peel and slice the onions into 3/4inch slices and separate into rings and pat dry with a paper towel.

Take out the batter stuff.  Whisk in the Vodka.  Add half the Beer.  Add the rest in quarters until you reach a point where the Batter is about the consistency of Pancake batter and will cling to the Onion.  I used the full bottle.

Dunk the Onions with one hand until coated but shake off excess.  Place in the Oil slowly.  Carefully hang on to the ring for about 2 s before letting go.  I made the mistake for the few couple of just dropping and they stuck to the bottom of the basket.  Turn over with a pair of steel tongs with the non dunking hand.  Always use the same hand so you're not trapped.  2-3 minutes until honey brown.

Place on the paper towel on both sides briefly but move over the the non paper towel side to cool and not get soggy sitting on the towel.  Salt more if needed. 

Do not over crowd the fryer or they'll stick together.

I also fried up some French Haricots too! mmmm


1. Not enough SALT.  Thought with a nice sprinkling of Salt when they were done and still hot.
2. Flavour of Beer was awesome.
3. Vodka helps avoid making too much chew Gluten.
4. Light and Airy and held together while eating
5. Onions not slimey. 

Next time, I'll up the Salt, cut back the Beer and Flour.  Quest goes on.  One Onion-ring to rule them all will come from my kitchen!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Unsuppressable Cornbread or Cornmeal Muffin Craving

Quick and Easy Awesome Cheesy Spicy Cornmeal Muffins (or Cornbread)
For over a month now, I've had a craving for Cornbread.  It didn't help that we were in Roncey and looking for brunch, we stopped to read the menu at Hey! and saw that they had Cornbread on the menu.  We ended  up eating at Barque which has a pretty good Brunch menu PLUS they have a kid brunch menu that isn't junkfood!!  Anyhoo, haven't been able to shake it and you can't easily find bakeries that sell it.  WTF?  And we don't live near a Mmmmuffins.  Have you ever tried to google that stupid bakery anyway?  You have to have the correct number of M's! 

So I decided to make some.  I played with the Cornmeal and Flour balance and the BP because of the acid from the Lemon Juice.  So After three batches, I think these are pretty Awesome.  It wasn't great I forgot the prepped Cheese in the fridge.  D laughs whenever I do that because I do it fairly often and it's often not an insignificant ingredient.  His mom used to do that too. HA!

Mixing to finishing baking these took me 30 minutes. But I had the routine down and my baking stuff is all to hand.

Quick and Awesome Cheesy Spicy Cornbread or Cornmeal Muffins

3 T or 15 g Unsalted Butter
3/4 c Cornmeal
1/2 c + 1/8 c Wholewheat Flour 
1 T Agave Syrup
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/4 t Salt (up to 1/2 t if you leave out the Cheese)
1/4 t Cayenne Pepper
1 large egg, room temperature or at least in the room for a few minutes
3/4 c Milk, room temperature
1/2 T Lemon Juice, fresh (or Vinegar)
1/2 Jalapeño, minced
1/2 c Shredded Cheddar (optional.... especially when you forget to put it in)
1/4 t ground Cumin (optional)

Preheat Toaster Oven or regular Oven to 400F

Melt the butter in a small oven proof dish with the spices and Jalapeno in the microwave for 30s. Fat carries aromatics better than anything else so I like to infuse the Butter with the spice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the Cornmeal, Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt.

In a large (2c measuring cup) or small mixing bowl, add the room temp Milk, Egg, and Lemon Juice... or you can replace the Milk and Lemon Juice with Buttermilk but who keeps Buttermilk in the fridge for such small quantities, right?

Mix the Dries together. Mix the Wets together to breakdown the Egg. Add the Wets to the Dries and Mix until combined but do not over mix or you'll have tough muffins.

The batter will make 6 Medium Muffins or 1 Loaf. Spread the batter evenly across the 6 cups... approximately half way up. Or just pour into the loaf pan and shake sort of flat but don't over do it. It will spread on it's own. 20 minutes for Loaf Pan or 17-18 minutes for Muffin Cups. Remove from pan or cups. Let cool on rack enough for you not to burn your fingers or tongue :)