Naan breads

Naan breads

Naan breads are Indian breads cooked in a Tandoor oven. I always order them when eating at Indian restaurants, and enjoy eating them when I cook Indian themed food myself. The ones you can buy pre-made are not really that great, though, so I try to make them myself.

You can’t get the special taste of cooking them in a real tandoor that you would get in a restaurant, but this recipe from Wenche Frølich’s Brød comes pretty close. They are fried on a stovetop before finished off in an oven.

This recipe is interesting, since normally naan bread is a yeast bread, but this is made with baking powder. It is still left to rest for a significant amount of time – the original recipe called for 3.5 hours. It is not as the bread will rise, but I assume the yoghurt will start some biological process with gluten – I have not looked into the science behind this. I made these twice recently, and the second time I did not have time to let them rest for more than 1.5 hours. They still turned out fine, but they were a little tougher.

Ingredients

  • 375g all purpose flour ( 13 1/4 oz)
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 200 ml yogurt (scant 1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

Method

1. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the rest. Mix well and knead for a couple of minutes

Mixing

Mixing

2. Leave to dough to rest for 3.5 hours, though shorter will do. The dough will not rise.

Resting the dough

Resting the dough

3. Turn on your oven on broil. Form the dough into a short roll, and cut into 6 pieces. Strech each piece to a triangle shape.

Forming the breads

Forming the breads

4. Brush one side with water, and fry them on the stovetop for about 2 minutes wet side down, until crispy brown on the back.

Frying the breads

Frying the breads

Nice and browned

Nice and browned

5. Put the breads on a sheet, and bake under the broiler until brown on the top and nicely risen – about 7-10 minutes (but broilers vary, so keep an eye on them!). I made 2 at a time like this.

6. Wrap the breads in a tea towel until all are done, and eat while still warm.

I made these for Simply Recipes’ Red Lentil Dal, which I modified for the slowcooker and played with the spices a bit. Two hints here: Don’t skip the nigella seeds, even if you can’t get panch phoran, and the red lentils needed more than 4 hours on low (this was what I saw in slow cooker lentil recipes), probably closer to 6 or 3 hours on high? (I ended up with 4 on low, 1 on high). Dal is such a great winter comfort food, and my son loves it. There are many different ways to make and spice it, what is your favorite?

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Oat bread

oat breadsThese are one of my favorite white breads, they are very moist and easy to make. Containing whole grain flour and oats, they are also a little healthier than plain white bread.

The recipe comes from a Danish book by Norwegian author Wenche Frølich: Brød, an excellent book with many great recipes. Unfortunately her books are not available in English, so this is the translated and adapted recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 200 ml water (scant 1 cup)
  • 1 L  milk (2 1/4 cups)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 50 g yeast cake or one dried yeast envelope
  • 300 g rolled oats (quick cook or traditional) (10.5 oz)
  • 300 g whole wheat flour (10.5 oz)
  • 750g- 1kg all purpose or bread flour (26- 36 oz)
  • a little bit of neutral tasting oil, such as canola oil.
  • oats, milk to decorate

Method:

1. Heat the milk and water to lukewarm, about 90 F/ 30 C. Pour the liquid over the yeast in a large mixing bowl (pull the yeast cake apart first if using fresh yeast). 

2. Add the salt,  oats and whole wheat flour, along with most of the all purpose flour. Knead the dough until smooth, elastic and easy to release from the bowl.

Mixing the dough

Mixing the dough

Kneaded dough

Kneaded dough

3. Let the dough rise under a tea towel for about an hour somewhere warm.

Nicely risen

Nicely risen

4. Turn the dough out on your work surface, and knead until elastic – add a little more flour if needed.

5. Split the dough in 3 parts and make 3 breads. Put the breads on a greased or parchment covered baking sheet, and brush a little oil on the sides that face each other (so they don’t stick together).

6. Let the breads rise under your tea towel for another 45 min. When about done, preheat oven to 395 F/ 200 C.

7. Brush the breads with milk and scatter oats on top, press the oats lightly into the breads.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

8. Bake the breads in the lower part of the oven for about 45 min. When done, they should sound hollow when tapped.

9. Let the breads cool on a rack.

Yum! I also sometimes make them into small rolls instead of breads, in which case the bake time is about 20-25 min.

These are great for freezing too, wait until they are cooled completely before putting them in the freezer. We can’t eat 3 breads before they go stale, but it is great to be able to pull a loaf out of the freezer.

If the bread gets a little dry after a couple of days this is great sliced and toasted too.

Baguettes

BaguettesI got a slow cooker for Christmas along with a great little book with a number of recipes. The slow cooker is very convenient and the recipes are great, the book has dishes that are inspired by all sort of cuisines around the world.

The other day I decided to make a Vietnamese Beef Stew and the recipe noted that it was usually served with baguettes and not rice, as a left over from French colonialism in the area (this crossover also brings you the Bahn Mi). I decided that I should make the baguettes myself and went to investigate.

A baguette is the classic French long, white bread simply made from water, flour, salt and yeast. They are usually meant to be eaten the same day you bake them, and does not necessarily keep very well.

A key problem in making these at home is that one of the hall mark features is the very crisp and hard crust which is hard to obtain without steam injection in the oven. I decided to do 2 things to help out. I pre-heated the oven to 500 F, about 50 degrees more than I wanted to bake them at, and I had the oven running for some time with a pan of boiling water inside before adding the baguettes. The object was to create steam in the oven before even adding the breads.

Unfortunately, I think my oven is simply not tight enough, being a gas oven there are big holes in the bottom. My idea might work with an electric oven (oh, how I miss you electric oven) but this seemed to not make that much difference.

I heard numerous other suggestions from leaving wet tea towels in the oven to throwing ice cubes in the bread pan – how do you create steam?

Next time I might try the ice cubes or just sprinkle water in at the beginning.

Most recipes for baguettes I saw uses some sort of old dough – pre-fermented dough you add to the real dough later. The recipe I used in the end was from On Baking, but funnily enough most of the recipes I saw was pretty similar down to the amounts and methods.

The old dough needs to be made 5 hours to 4 days before you start

Ingredients – old dough

  • 5 oz bread flour (150g)
  • 1/2 -3/4 tsp instant yeast (2.25g)
  • 3.25 fl oz water, 70F (100 ml)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3.75 g)

Method

1. Mix the ingredients together and knead for about 15-20 minutes, until very supple and elastic.

Tiny bit of old dough

Tiny bit of old dough

2. Leave to dough to rise for about 5 hours, until doubled

The old dough after fermentation

The old dough after fermentation

3. Use right away or store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Take the dough out of the fridge about 2 hours before it is needed so it will come to room temperature

Ingredients – Baguettes

  • 1 portion old dough (see above)
  • 1 lb, 8 oz bread flour (720g)
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (6 g)
  • 15.25 fl. oz water (460 ml)
  • 1/2 oz salt (15g)

Method

1. Mix everything together and knead until rather elastic

2. add the old dough in small pieces and knead well to mix

Adding pieces of old dough

Adding pieces of old dough

3. Knead until the dough feels very elastic

4. leave the dough to rise for 1-2 hours, until almost doubled

Ready to rise

Ready to rise

5. Punch down the dough and split in 4 pieces. Leave them to rest for 10 min.

6. Roll each piece into a 10 inch (25 cm) roll and let rest for 5 min

First part of the two step process, the short rolls

First part of the two step process, the short rolls

7. Elongate each roll until it is as long as fit on your baking sheet, ideally 24 inches (60 cm).

8. place the baguettes on a baking sheet and let them rise for 30-45 min

9. Pre heat oven to 500 F. Add a pan of boiling water or generate steam in some other way if you can

My steaming pan of water

My steaming pan of water

10. score the baguettes with a very sharp knife and slather on lots of water

Ready for the oven. The scoring could be a little deeper here

Ready for the oven. The scoring could be a little deeper here

11. Place the baguettes in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 450 F. Bake for 20 to 22 min until golden and crusty. Let cool slightly on a wire rack – the fresher they are the better they taste.

Awesome Nutella cookies

I love Nutella. For some reason growing up my family never brought it in Denmark, but whenever we was on vacation in Germany – it must have been cheaper there. It was a special treat, usually reserved for weekend breakfasts.

Of course, as an adult, I can eat it whenever I want, but despite their commercials trying to tell you otherwise, I don’t think it is particularly healthy. But oh, so good.

I definitely want to try and make my own hazelnut-chocolate spread, like the recipe on this great blog, but for for turning it into cookies the commercial stuff works just fine.

Ever since I saw this recipe for Nutella cookies on Simplyrecipes.com, I have been wanting to try them. This Sunday we went to a potluck party, so I decided to bring them.

They turned out really well, and were pretty easy to make. The fact that you add cocoa powder as well as the Nutella make it a very rich cookie, which in my opinion is a good thing.

I did end up using roasted hazelnuts, as those were the only I could get – I find it very hard to get hazelnuts here, my local Safeway only carries tiny little bags. Luckily a local Indian grocer has big bags of delicious roasted ones. They work fine with the recipe, as I am sure fresh ones would.

Also note that 1 cup of Nutella is about 330g, I prefer weighing something that dense to measuring as it is was hard to get it in and out of the cup measurer.

I baked them for 12 minutes, and they turned out a little chewy for me, I could probably have given them a minute longer for a little more crisp.

Yum!

Raspberry Brownies

I had a craving for chocolate and found this excellent and quick recipe on Joy of Baking.com (a great recipe resource): Raspberry Brownies.

There is no need for me to repeat the recipe here, the only thing I did differently was to melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave as I usually do. That worked fine, but note that you should use very short 15-30 sec intervals and stir to ensure you don’t overheat it.

Dotting the jam on

Dotting the jam on

swirled and ready to go in the oven

swirled and ready to go in the oven

The recipe was easy to follow, super fast and the result was really delicious. The only thing I would change next was to use a little less sugar when using commercial jam (at least my homemade jams have much less sugar than the one you buy), I found it a tad too sweet.

It would also be great if you either got seedless jam or took the time to melt the jam and press it through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds – they ended up sticking to my teeth a bit. That will increase the effort for this brownie quite a bit though!