Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Daring Bakers! - Ensaimadas

Well, it's that time of year again, time to pack the car to bursting, lug refrigerators down seemingly endless hallways, buy boxes full of overpriced textbooks...oh wait, no it's not. It's quite possibly never going to be that time of year for me again. I'm not going back to school...I'm done. It doesn't really feel like summer is winding down for me because I don't have any of the experiences associated with end of summer happening right now. The transition from summer into fall just isn't that big of a deal anymore. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. 

I think...I might like it. There's no impending sense of seriousness looming over me. I'm enjoying myself immensely. I even went to the state fair for the first time, since I didn't have to think about packing and driving. 

Saw this terrifying figure there. Ugh. 

We'll see if my feelings change in the fall and I get all weepy and nostalgic. Anyway, my challenge for this month was either chimney cakes, which I do desperately want to make but I was afraid of setting my house on fire, or ensaimadas, which I also wanted to make, and seemed like less of a risk. I'll get you someday, chimney cake! Ensaimadas, I've decided, are the perfect breads. Soft, buttery, Douse 'em in powdered sugar or, if you're feeling the Filipino style, sprinkle with cheese. 


The August Daring Bakers' Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

2½ cups (10½ oz) (300 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast OR 2 teaspoon instant yeast OR 14 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1 large egg
½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
7 tablespoons (110 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) butter, softened
Confectioners’ sugar/icing sugar/powdered sugar for dusting

If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar add to lukewarm water and set aside for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy. You can use the other yeast types directly with the flour
In a large bowl or bowl of kitchen aid mixer combine the sugar, egg and olive oil. Add flour, salt, and yeast. Knead for 6 minutes if using kitchen aid mixer or 10 minutes by hand, until you get a soft and pliable dough. Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl and covered with plastic wrap or covered with a cloth. Let rise for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in volume.

Punch down dough and shape it into four pieces. Lightly oil the work place and place a ball of dough, using a rolling pin roll out the ball into a long thin rectangle about 12x4 inch (30x10 cm) piece. Divide your butter to 4 pieces. Place a butter portion on the rolled out dough and spread it into a thin layer. Take pieces of dough between your fingers and try to gently stretch the dough to be even thinner and larger about 16x7 inches (40 x18 cm). Roll the dough into a long tube, then coil it like a snail shell. Make sure to keep the coil loose so that there is space in between the layers, this will help the dough to rise.
Repeat for the other three dough balls and butter portions.
Place the snails onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slightly press the sides with your hand. Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let rise for 1 hour.

During the end of second rising, pre-heat oven to 180⁰C/350⁰F/Gas mark 4
Bake ensaimadas for about 15-20 minutes. Watch them closely during the end of baking time. They should be golden brown in color.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mocha Crunch Oatmeal

There have been at least three times this month where I intended to post something and either a). was unsatisfied with how it turned out or b). got too distracted with something else. I apologize. Right now...I will keep on keepin' on. Move forward, right? 

It's a muggy, kind of yuck day out, but if I don't go outside, I can pretend it's cold out and perfect weather for a hot bowl of oatmeal and a crossword puzzle. Who am I kidding...that behavior is appropriate for all times of the year. Right? Regardless...that's what I did today. And it was great. 

If you've never had steel cut oats, they aren't terribly different from normal oats...they just have a heartier texture. These oats are dressed up with chocolate, espresso powder, and nuts to create a pleasing array of flavors and textures. Plus, they're super filling. Now, if you'll excuse me...I have to get back to my crossword. 

Mocha Crunch Oatmeal 
from the kitchn

3 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar or agave nectar
1/4 cup roasted mixed nuts (I used cashews, almonds, and pecans)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Milk or cream, to serve (or coconut milk! That'd be great)

Bring water to a boil. Stir in oats, espresso, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring back to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oats reach your desired tenderness. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar or agave nectar.
Meanwhile, while the oatmeal is cooking, roughly chop the mixed nuts and chocolate chips. Mix them in a small serving bowl.
When the oatmeal is ready, serve hot with milk or cream on the side, and sprinkled liberally with the nut and chocolate topping.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Do you have any words in your life that you continue to pronounce wrong, despite knowing the correct way to say them? Bruschetta is one of those words for me. Think about it. Do you say it with a soft, sh sound? "Brushetta"? I do. But it's wrong. It's "brusketta!" I will probably keep saying it the other way, at least in the United States. If I venture to Italy, I will make an effort. 

Bruschetta is, at its most basic, grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomato and olive oil. Other common toppings include basil, fresh mozzarella, and prosciutto. I'm bizarre in that I will not eat a slice of tomato on a sandwich, but chopped up on grilled bread is perfectly delightful. Weird how shape can change an eating experience, isn't it? 

This was such a fresh and summery snack to have around, and a great way to use the stale loaf of bread that had been hanging around the kitchen and the gnarly heirloom tomato I had to have (it was very charming in its own mutant way!). 


1 baguette or Italian loaf, cut into 1-inch slices
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil
Salt and black pepper
½ large garlic clove

1. Heat the oven to 450°F, or heat a charcoal or gas grill. Brush the bread slices on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake them on a baking sheet or grill them, turning once, until they’re golden brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes, the basil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
3. When the bread has cooled enough to handle, rub the top of each slice with the cut side of the garlic half. Top the bread with the tomato mixture, and serve warm.