Broa – Portuguese Corn Bread

soup

I wanted to find another bread to make to go with some soup, and found a recipe for a corn bread in Wenche Frolichs Brod, my go-to recipe book.

I love corn, and all sorts of corn breads. American ones are great (I have yet to try and make that, sugar or no sugar?) but corn is used in a number of different types of bread. Our baker in Copenhagen had a basic white bread with some added corn flour, it had a great sweet taste.

This bread is a little more hearty, and has quite a bit of corn in it. It doesn’t require a lot of kneading and is simple to do.

Ingredients:

  • 225 g corn meal (8 oz)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250 ml boiling water (1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + extra
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant dried yeast (15 g yeast cake)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 50 ml warm water (scant 1/4 cup)
  • 250-300g all purpose flour (9-10.5 oz)

Method:

1. Mix half the corn meal with the salt and pour over the boiling water. Mix well, add the olive oil and let stand until lukewarm.

Pouring the boiling water over the corn meal

Pouring the boiling water over the corn meal

2. Mix the yeast with the warm water and add the sugar. Let stand until doubled in volume.

Yeast, water and sugar just mixed

Yeast, water and sugar just mixed

Yeast mixture after 10 min

Yeast mixture after 10 min

3. Combine the yeast mixture with the corn/water mix and add the rest of the corn meal while stirring. Add about half the all purpose flour like that as well.

Initial mixed dough

Initial mixed dough

4. Let the dough rise until doubled, about 30 min.

Risen dough

Risen dough

5. Turn the dough out on your work surface and knead well, adding as much all purpose flour as needed to make it come together and not be sticky.

6. Form a round bread and let it rest under a tea towel for 30 min. Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C.

corn bread-6

7. Score the bread with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern and brush with olive oil. Bake for 40 min, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Ready

Ready

All done!

All done!

It turned out a little heavier than I expected, maybe next time I will leave it to rise longer, or use a higher percentage of wheat flour to make it lighter. It might also be a good idea to use bread flour instead of regular all purpose flour. It tasted great though, and went well with the cauliflower soup my husband had made.

Crackers

Crackers & Cheese

A friend of mine (who runs Your Child’s Food) mentioned that her mom made homemade crackers when she was little. I admit I hadn’t really thought about making my own crackers, but given that my son often gets fruit and crackers as a snack it made sense to try. Even the nicest crackers I can find in the supermarkets has quite a bit of sodium (salt), and I am trying to not get him addicted to salt too early (the more salt you eat, the less you taste it, causing you to want more salty food). I myself is a fan of salty foods, but even I sometimes feels food is too salty in restaurants – in my opinion there is too much salt in prepared foods.

I ended up browsing around a bit for cracker recipes, and then decided to make 2 different kinds loosely based on some recipes. I made a more day to day whole grain cracker, and a more ‘adult’ cheese & wine type cracker.

Sundried Tomatoes and Thyme Crackers

These crackers are interesting since they are made with yeast – most crackers are made with baking powder. They contain a good deal of oil, not making them super healthy, but they are great with cheese and probably dips too.

Inspiration: Food & Wine Magazine Sunflower Seed and Rosemary Crackers.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (475 ml)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, finely chopped (60 ml)
  • 1/2-1 tsp thyme, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water (120 ml)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil (60 ml + 2 tbsp)

Method

1. Finely chop the sundried tomatoes and the thyme, then mix with flour, salt and yeast.

Tomato Crackers-1

2. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil, and gradually add the water until a dough forms. Knead the dough about 5 min, until smooth.

Tomato Crackers-2

3. Leave the dough to rest in a plastic film covered bowl for about 2 hours. It will not rise much.

Ready to rest

4. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C. Divide the dough in half. Cut off a piece of parchment paper so it fits your cookie sheet, and place one piece of dough on it, formed as a small rectangle.

Tomato Crackers-5

5. Roll our the dough to about 9 x 13 inches (23 x 33 cm), about 1/8 of an inch  (2-3 mm) thick. Try to make the dough as square as possible, you can cut off pieces to add to other places and ‘massage’ it into the sheet of dough. They more even thickness you get, the easier the crackers are to bake.

Tomato Crackers-4

6. Cut the dough into strips about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide on the short side, and cut once across the long side. Brush the dough with a bit of the remaining olive oil.

Tomato Crackers-6

7. Bake for about 24-38 minutes, until golden and crisp. Cool on a wire rack, and store in an airtight container.

Tomato Crackers-7

Whole Grain Rye Crackers

This is a more traditional cracker made with baking powder, there are many similar recipes with different flavoring if you search for cracker recipe. I wanted to make something whole grain, and I didn’t feel like adding any seeds, so I decided to add some rye flour to give them a more interesting taste.

Inspiration: Alton Brown’s Seedy Crisps.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz whole wheat flour (60 g)
  • 2 oz all purpose flour (60g)
  • 1 oz dark rye whole grain flour (30g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cups water (75 ml)

Method

1. Mix together the 3 flours, the salt and baking powder. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Rye Crackers-1

2. Add the water gradually until a dough forms, then turn out the dough on a work surface and knead a few times.

Dough before kneading

Dough before kneading

3. Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Divide the dough into 4 parts, and let rest of 15 minutes.

Rye Crackers-3

4. Roll out one piece of dough very thinly, about 1/16 of an inch (2 mm or so) to a small rectangle. The more evenly you roll out the dough, the more evenly they bake, and the thinner you roll the more important this is.

Rye Crackers-4

5. Transfer the piece to a parchment lined cookie sheet, and add another piece of rolled out dough if there is room.

Rye Crackers-5

6. Bake the cracker ‘sheets’ in the oven for 3 1/2 minutes, then turn then over and bake for an addition 3-4 minutes until golden and crisp.

7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Rye Crackers-6

8. Break into the cracker sizes you want. I found it easiest to mark where I wanted them to break with a sharp knife, carefully cutting about 1/3 of the way through the sheet, then breaking the cracker decisively holding both sides of the cut firmly, but gently.

Rye Crackers-7

9. Store in an airtight container.

With both of these you can definitely add some salt on top before you bake if you want a more salty cracker, I found they both tasted salty enough, but with room for more.

Pear Tart

pear tart

I have been having craving for a great fruit tart for a while, and the March issue of Food & Wine magazine had a recipe Plum Galette from Jacques Pepin that looked great (this was an anniversary edition with all time best recipes, this one is from 1994. I am happy they re-printed it!).

Since it said that I could make it with any seasonal fruit, in Washington winter that means apples or pears, I choose pears. The original recipe is linked above, this is what I ended up doing

Pate Brisee (tart dough)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (350 ml)
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, in small (1/2 inch/1.5 cm) pieces (170 g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water (80 ml)
  • Note: To help keep the butter cold, I usually cut it, and then freeze it for 5 min, as cutting will melt it a bit.

Method:

1. Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor. Pulse for about 5 seconds. The butter will still be in pieces, they might be fairly large. This helps create a super flakey crust.

Dumping it all in the food processor

Dumping it all in the food processor

Pulsing for just a short time

Pulsing for just a short time

2. Add the ice water and pulse for 5 seconds more. The dough should just come together, with pieces of butter still visible. Gather the dough into a ball on your work surface

3. Roll out the dough to 16-18 inch circle, about 1/16 to 1/8 inch thick (40-45 cm diameter, 1.5 -3 mm thick. Fold the dough over, then over again to transfer to a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20 min.

Rolled out dough

Rolled out dough

Filling and tart

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar (60 ml)
  • 3-4 tbsp ground raw almonds or almond meal
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2-4 pears, cut into thin wedges
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter in small bits
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar (additional)
  • 2-3 tbsp apricot jam

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 204 C while you wait for the dough to chill and cut the pears.

2. Mix the 1/4 cup sugar, the flour and the ground almonds in a small bowl. Take your chilled dough our of the refrigerator and spread the mixture over dough to about 2 inches/5 cm from the edge

3. Add the pear wedges on top in a pretty pattern, starting from the inside make this easier.

Adding the pears

Adding the pears

4. Dot the pears with butter, and sprinkle a bit of the remaining sugar on top. Use more or less depending on how sweet you like it (I used a lot less than the original recipe called for).

5. Fold the edge of the dough over the fruit and fillings, and sprinkle the edge with a bit more sugar.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

6. Bake for about 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown and the pears are soft. Heat the apricot jam in microwave a for 15-30 seconds to melt it. Brush the jam over the pears and the edge when the tart comes out of the oven.

7. Remove the tart from the baking sheet using a spatula, and let cool on rack.

The recipe promised that the pate brisee was the easiest ever, and it was. It was also super, super flakey and crisp. In other recipes I often see instructions to keep pulsing the dough until in resembles coarse bread crumbs, I think leaving bigger pieces of butter is actually a better idea.

Both me and my husband thought the tart was better the day after it was made, so the juices of the fruit have had time to settle into the filling the dough was a little less crunchy. I can definitely see trying this with different fruits as they are in season.

Musings on commercial bread

I recently tried out getting milk and more from Smith Brothers Farms, a local product and delivery service here in the Seattle area. The milk is a little more expensive, and I still need to figure out if I really can taste the difference, but I like the idea of buying locally sourced milk (in addition, if I am wearing my pretentious Pacific Northwest Consumer hat, the organic milk is certified from Oregon Tilth in addition to USDA organic).

Their introductionary offer gave me $10 to spend so I decided to try some of their other products as well, including some bagels from a Seattle bakery.

I was looking over the ingredients list, and here is what is in them

  • high gluten wheat flour
  • water
  • salt
  • wheat gluten
  • brown sugar
  • yeast
  • cornmeal

these are all expected bagel ingredients (most bagels are left to rest on cornmeal covered surfaces, for instance)

  • malt

as far as I know, malt is often used for sweetness and flavor enhancing in breads, so no surprise to see some malt in here, though I haven’t seen it in home bagel recipes.

  • soy flour
  • soy oil

I wonder about these. Is the oil in the poaching liquid, or to add fat to the dough? Why the soy flour, does it help with the texture? There is nothing bad with soy as such, but I am seeing it in a lot of commercially produced goods, and I am wondering if it really is necessary.

  • dextrose
  • calcium propionate
  • guar gum
  • enzymes

so now we have reached the strange stuff. Dextrose is another form of sugar, and I wonder why it is added in addition to the brown sugar and the malt? Calcium propionate is a common preservative. Guar gum I can only assume is added for texture, and who knows what ‘enzymes’ covers? Enzymes is a class of chemical substances used to catalyze chemical processes – you will find it in anything from dairy (rennin, for instance) to washing powder to the rubber industry. Enzymes in baking break down the starch in flour to product sugar for the yeast to interact with. As far as I know you end up with a bunch of naturally occurring ones when you bake, but it looks like they are additionally added?

These are locally produced bagels, so I wonder about the need for the preservatives too – I wouldn’t mind a shorter expiration date and it is not like they are shipping them all over the country. All of this stuff (and more) wouldn’t surprise me in commercial bagels I would pick up in Safeway, for instance, but it is interesting that even local ‘artisan’ bagels had all these additives too.

Another reason to bake yourself :). I have tried making bagels, but they didn’t rise as uniform as I liked, and the poaching liquid had them taste too much like pretzels. I guess I need another try. The texture was good though (no guar gum needed!).

Do you have a great bagel recipe?

Walnut bread

walnut

This delicious bread is adapted from Wenche Frølich’s Brød (yep, another one). It is great with dinner, or with lunch meats or cheeses.

The original recipe calls for rye flour, I have made it both with that and with whole grain (wheat) flour, both ways turn out delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 500 ml water (2 cups and a bit)
  • 50 ml oil, preferably walnut oil (0.2 cups)
  • 25 g yeast cake or 1 dried yeast envelope
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 225 g dark rye or whole wheat flour (8 oz)
  • 500g all purpose flour (17.5 oz)
  • 75g chopped walnuts (2.5 oz)

Method:

1. Heat the oil 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).

Heating oil and water.

Heating oil and water.

2. Add the salt and the flours. Mix the dough well and knead for a short while.

3. Let the dough rise under a towel for 45 min.

Risen dough

Risen dough

4. Knead the dough well, until elastic. Add a bit more all purpose flour if necessary. Add the walnuts and knead them in until well mixed.

Adding the walnuts

Adding the walnuts

5. Spilt the dough into 2 parts and shape each to a round bread. Place the bread on sheets and score the breads in crosswise pattern.

shaped breads

Shaped breads

6. Let rise under a towel for 30 min. Preheat the oven to 200 C/390 F

7. Brush the breads with water and bake for about 30-40 min, until the sound hollow. Cool on a rack.

All done!

All done!

I made these to eat with some soups we made this week, I made a great artichoke soup and my husband made carrot soup – modernist cuisine style. The recipe makes 2 breads, and 1 bread feed about 4 adults as a side to a dinner – probably 6 people if you have more sides.

Mom’s quiche

quiche-1

I love this simple quiche recipe from my mom. I don’t know where she got it from originally, but it is easy and delicious. I really like the whole grain in the crust, it gives it such a nice crunch.

It might not be a traditional quiche filling, as those are a little more custard like, and I heap cheese on the top too – but I am not sure what else to call it. Savory tart maybe?

You can fill it with your choice of fillings, most viggies should be either pre boiled/steamed (broccoli, carrots, spinach) or sautéed (mushroom, leeks, onions). Meat needs to be fully cooked.

I love the broccoli and tomato combination but I also make it with spinach and mushrooms from time to time.

Ingredients, dough:

  • 150 g all purpose flour (5.25 oz)
  • 50 g whole wheat flour (1.75 oz)
  • 65 g butter (2.30 oz)
  • 60 g yogurt or sour cream (2.10 oz)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75 ml cold water (or a little less) (1/3 cups)
  • 1 tbsp chopped pine nuts or sesame seeds

Ingredients, filling:

  • 4-6 eggs
  • 4-6 tbsp milk or sour cream
  • salt, pepper and paprika (optional) to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Veggie or meat/veggie filling, such as broccoli and tomato
  • 2-4 slices of (thin) bacon in 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces (optional)
  • Grated cheese, such as cheddar or mozarella

Method:

1. Mix the flours & salt on a work surface, and knead in the butter and sour cream.

Mixing the dough

Mixing the dough

2. Add the water until the dough comes together.

3. Add the pine nuts/sesame seeds and mix well.

4. Roll out the dough in a disc a little larger than your pie/tart dish. Fold in half, then half again to transfer to your dish. Cut off anything hanging over the edges, and move extra pieces around if you need to. Make sure it sits on top of the top edge.

Rolling out - be patient

Rolling out – be patient

5. Cool in the freezer for 10 min or refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Preheat the oven to 390 F/200 C.

6. Use a fork to gently prick the shell, this so steam can escape from the bottom when you bake it.

Holes to let steam escape

Holes to let steam escape

7. Bake for 15 min

8. While the shell is being pre baked, cook you veggies as needed

Pre baked shell

Pre baked shell

9. Mix the eggs, milk and spices well.

10. Once the shell is done, add your veggies the shell, then pour over the egg mix. Scatter cheese on top, and then the bacon on top of that, if using

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

11. Bake at 390 F/200 C until egg is set and cheese is golden.  

I usually don’t make it with bacon, though my mom does. My husband is not a big bacon fan, so I don’t want to buy a whole package if I don’t know what to use it for (and I usually only baconate half the quiche). Remember when you season the eggs that both the cheese and bacon adds salt to the dish.