Monday, November 30, 2009

Bread Baking Day #24-Tyrolean Ten-Grain Bread

Idania of El Aroma de Idania chose this month BBD's theme (for details on how to participate click here). I haven't participated for a while to this event started by Zorra, and I probably did only twice, but I really wanted to bake some bread with lots of grains, so this is the perfect recipe for this month's theme, mixed breads. This bread is perfect for cold weather, I can see it tossed into a French onion soup or the Italian ribollita, or just toasted with some butter. It would make perfect sandwiches too if baked into a loaf pan.

Idania chose mixed breads as this month's theme and choose a bread made with at least two types of flour to reflect her mixed heritage. I wanted to try an Italian recipe but I couldn't find anything that looked too interesting in my books so I chose this bread that I had made before and comes from Tyrol, a region that spans across Austria and part of northern Italy. The recipe comes from The Bread Bible, written by the super talented and wonderful Rose Levy Beranbaum. The recipe calls for one type of flour but I decided to substitute part of the bread flour with spelt, which is an ancient grain cultivated by the Romans. I also doubled the original recipe since the first time I made this bread I wished I had made more since it was so good. The photos are really bad, they don't give the bread justice, it looks so much better and it tastes grainy and delicious.

Notes: The ten grain mixture needs to be soaked 8 hours to overnight, and the sponge is also made 8 to 24 hours before the bread is mixed. Plan accordingly.

Tyrolean Ten-Grain Bread
adapted from the Bread Bible

1 1/3 cup bread flour (7 oz./200 gr.)
1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast (0.8 gr.)
1/2 tablespoon malt syrup, honey or sugar
1 3/4 cup water at room temperature (375 gr)

Flour mixture:
1 1/4 cups plus 1/2 tablespoon bread flour (7 oz./ 200 gr.)
1 1/4 cups plus 1/2 tablespoon spelt flour (7 oz./ 200 gr.)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (5 gr.)
3 tablespoons wheat germ (24 gr.)
2 1/2 teaspoon salt (16 gr.)

Mix all the sponge ingredients together, cover with the flour mixture and let ferment 1 hour at room temperature, refrigerate 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. The sponge will bubble through the flour mixture.

Grain mixture*:
1 cup ten-grain mixture (200 gr.)
1 cup hot water (225 gr.)
Cover the grains with the hot water, let cool and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Make the dough:
Mix the sponge and the flour mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer adapted with a hook attachment. Mix at low speed for 10 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes. Add the grain mixture and knead for about 3 to 5 minutes until well incorporated. The dough will be tacky, barely sticky, adjust the water or the flour content to achieve the right consistency. Let the dough double in a warm place for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Give the dough 1 or 2 business letter folds and let rise a second time, 45 minutes to an hour. Shape as desired, let double (40-50 minutes), slash as desired, and bake at 450F, spraying the oven well with water. After 15 minutes, rotate the bread, and bake until nicely brown and the internal temperature reaches 200F.

*Ten-grain/seed mixture:
Mix equal volumes of the following:
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
soy nugget granules, toasted
barley flakes
steel-cut oats
craked wheat

Don't stress too much about this, I used a different mixture, and I believed it had 8 grains and cereals instead of 10.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gingersnap Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches

Gelato is ever present in Italy, everywhere you go there is a gelateria where you can find the most amazing flavors of ice cream (malaga, bacio and melone are some of my favorites). Just two blocks from my house there was a wonderful ice cream shop, Gelateria Causin, owned by a nice couple whose son worked there, and was/is the cousin of one of my classmates, whom I had a crush on. They weren't too bold with experimenting, their flavors were classic, but the ice cream was delicious. After many years in business the couple retired and the son sold the business, which has never been the same after they left. I wish I had known back then that I was going to make ice cream as a living, I would have asked them to apprentice at the shop, to learn their craft and maybe get a chance at romance with my former classmate.

Mr. Causin, like I remembered him, waiting for his costumers*

I have learned how to make a simple ice cream base with eggs, milk, cream and sugar. I change the flavors depending on the season, cardamom, ginger, vanilla, lemon thyme, lemon verbena, you name it, but this time I turned to two of my favorite Pastry Chefs, cookbook author extraordinaire, Emily Luchetti and David Lebovitz. While David left the Bay Area some time ago (did it do it for the French macaroons?), Emily still lives in the Bay Area, and works as the Executive Pastry Chef at Farallon Restaurant. Years ago I casually bought David's first book Room for Dessert not quite knowing who he was, but it was love at first sight when I read that he doesn't like chocolate and raspberries together, and that he is crazy for cardamom. I met Emily Luchetti when I bought her book Passion for Dessert, and had it signed at a Bakers' Dozen function. She was part of a panel of authors presenting their just released books and she answered a question that made me realize how down to earth she was despite her success. Emily is someone I would love to work with one day (not that I haven't tried, twice as a matter of fact). Her books have been the source of many recipes, her taste is impeccable and I love reading the little stories she writes on how every recipes came to being. David and Emily came out with an ice cream book almost at the same time but they are very different, hers more feminine and light, his bolder. I decided to join the two authors in an ice cream sandwich so I used Emily's recipe for ginger snaps and David's for the ice cream. I consider ice cream sandwiches something every grown up should have once in a while, to feel like a kid again.

Ginger Snaps

adapted from A Passion for Ice Cream

1 cup a/p flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 oz. butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 TBS molasses

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and the brown sugar together until smooth. Stir in the egg, mix, then stir in the molasses and scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl well. Stir in the rest of the dry, pre-sifted ingredient in two additions. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 3 hours. Divide the dough in half, and roll in two 9-inch-long-logs and refrigerate or freeze until solid (I actually scooped the dough with an ice cream scooper). Cut the logs into 1/2" slices (there should be 24 cookies), roll them in the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, arrange them on a baking pan (they expand quite a lot), and bake in a pre-heated 350F oven. Bake until set and still puffy, they will sink as they cool.

Lemon Ice Cream

adapted from The Perfect Scoop

Zest of 2 organic meyer lemons
1/2 cup sugar (100 gr)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, approximately 3 lemons (125 ml)
2 cups half-and-half (500 ml)
Pinch of salt

Process the zest with the sugar in a food processor until fine, and the sugar is nicely colored and the lemon oil has been released. Add the juice and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Mix in the half-and-half and the salt until smooth. Chill for an hour, then freeze the mixture according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

*Photo courtesy of unknown photographer, I can't find the site anymore. If I do I will give proper credit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ricotta Fig Tart

More figs you say? But if you have followed me for a while, you would know that I am a big fan of this versatile fruit (see here, here, here, and here). I could eat figs every day, and now that the season of fresh figs is over I can still get my daily fix with dry figs if I need to. A neighbor has a fig tree she doesn't pick (what's wrong with her?), and I mean to contact her to see if I can do pick it for her and share the bounty, I think there are still a few on the branches. Figs and I go way back, and one of the favorite things to eat as a child where these huge, soft, drenched in corn start, figs my dad used to bring home. I owe my dad a lot of things, my love for eating is one of them.

I haven't made this tart in ages, not sure why since it is one of my favorites. I was trying to think of something new to try with ricotta, my favorite cheese to bake with, to increase my chances of winning the cheese guide and cookbook Sweet Charity is giving away. After a little search in my ever growing stack of cookbooks, I realized that many ricotta recipes were either for Easter cakes, or where kind of boring. I also remembered I still had some extra pasta frolla in the fridge so I opted to make this tart, which you have to give it a try, it is delicious! I suppose that if you are not a fan of figs (how is that even possible?), you could substitute other dried fruit, like plums, or cherries for the figs.

This recipe comes originally from my first ever cookbook I bought in the States, Spago Desserts, which I purchased shortly after moving from Venice to Santa Monica, and is one that has given me few wonderful recipes. I haven't changed the filling of this tart since I think it is perfect the way it is, but I don't use a brioche dough as the base like the book calls for. The brioche didn't work so well the first time I tried it (probably due to my inexperience with yeast doughs), and I think the tart is better and more elegant with a buttery pate sucree. This recipe introduced me to one of my favorite spices, cardamom, a spice I had never used or seen in Italy. After smelling it and tasting it in this wonderful tart I have become a total cardamom addict, I use it a lot, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it is as an ice cream flavor, in Cardamom Ice Cream.

Make ahead notes:

*When making this tart, plan ahead, since the figs need to be reconstituted in liquor, and the tart is best served chilled. Don't skip the orange zest as it is a match made in heaven with the cardamom and it add a great dimension to the tart.

*If you can't stand the blandness of store bought ricotta, try making it at home with this recipe, it is easy and really superior to the store variety. I would also use whole milk ricotta, not the low fat or fat free versions, the end result will not be the same.

Ricotta Fig Tart
adapted from Spago Desserts

pasta frolla or pate sucree

3/4 pound dark dry figs (I use black mission)
3/4 rum or armagnac
3/4 pound whole milk ricotta
3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
3 table spoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of salt

2 TBS almond meal
1 TBS sugar

Roll the dough to a 1/4" thickness, and transfer it into a 10" tart shell. Cut the dry figs in half, and marinate them in rum or Armagnac, until needed. In a large bowl mix the cheeses until smooth, add the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the whole eggs and the yolk, one at a time. Add the lemon juice, orange zest, extract, cardamom and the salt. Mix just until combined. Poured the filling into the tart shell. Drain the figs and arrange onto the filling, without letting them sink. Bake in a 350F pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, then add the almond meal mixed with the sugar. Keep baking until the filling is firm to the touch and lightly golden, another 20 minutes or so. Cool on a wire rack and then chill until ready to serve.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

La crostata di mele e mandorle e' di Adriano Continisio

I apologize to my English readers but I have no choice but to join this protest against plagiarism. A well known Italian TV personality "stole" the following tart recipe from Adriano's blog, Profumo di Lievito, and passed it for hers during a TV appearance. Apparently the same woman did the exact thing back in 2003 to Lydia of Tzatziki a colazione. Many Italian food bloggers are publishing Adriano's original recipe today, giving him the credit, and the amazing thing is that nobody is writing the plagiarist's name as everyone knows who she is (except me since I live in the USA and I am clearly not following Italian TV). Don't you love the Internet? Power to the masses! This recipes looked amazing, and I had heard about it from other bloggers so I was happy to try it with or without the protest. The title means "The Apple and Almond Tart is by Adriano Continisio". Adriano wrote about the experience here, and Lydia here.

Pasta Frolla is an Italian version of tart dough, made by mixing the butter with the flour until sandy and then adding the liquids. I had been meaning to try Adriano's recipe anyway since many blogs complimented on it, so here you go, try it too.

The original recipe appeared here, and I am going to reproduce it to the letter, and you can find a translated version at the bottom of the post.

Oggi partecipo a questa protesta, organizzata da Rosy of Rosemarie & Thyme, copiando la ricetta di Adriano pari passo, e il testo seguente da Rosy.

Perchè oggi 8 novembre 2009 molti food bloggers e forumisti pubblicano in contemporanea questa ricetta?

Per solidarietà con Adriano Continisio che l'ha inventata e pubblicata sul suo blog già nel 2007.

Riassumendolo in pochissime parole, questa manifestazione vuole porre l'attenzione prima di tutto sulla necessità di un comportamento corretto per chi usa la rete nei confronti di chi pubblica materiale. Spesso si sceglie di mettere a disposizione il proprio materiale o lavoro con una licenza che permette di usarlo a condizione che se ne citi la fonte e questo è già un dono, a mio avviso. Si dice a chi legge: puoi gratuitamente utilizzare il materiale, puoi prenderlo, ma devi specificare che è mio e dire dove l'hai preso. Non è chiedere molto!

Altra importante condizione è che il materiale non venga usato a scopo di lucro.
Quando tutte e due le condizioni non vengono rispettate è evidente che la cosa è ancor più grave.

Questa volta è capitato ad Adriano, ma nel tempo è già capitato ad altri. Creare un tam tam è forse il primo di tanti passi per avversare il fenomeno, perciò ci siamo uniti e oggi pubblichiamo con il nome del suo autore la ricetta e la foto della crostata che ognuno di noi ha preparato.

E' ora che tutti sappiano di chi è la farina e pure il sacco!!!!! Crostata di Mele e Mandorle ricetta di Adriano, di Profumo di Lievito Ingredienti 400 gr pasta frolla*
4 mele grandi (ca. 600gr al netto degli scarti) 80 gr di zucchero 4 cucchiai di amaretto di saronno succo di mezzo limone poca cannella in polvere massa di mandorle 120 gr uova intere 60 gr zucchero 50 gr farina di mandorle 15 gr farina di mais fioretto 15 gr di fecola un pizzico di sale estratto di mandorle una manciata di mandorle a lamelle sciroppo di zucchero, marmellata di albicocche.
Saltare a fiamma alta le mele sbucciate e tagliate a cubetti, miscelate con il succo di limone e lo zucchero, fino a che non risultino asciutte ma non spappolate. Incorporare il liquore e la cannella e lasciare raffreddare.
Foderare uno stampo da 26cm e cuocere in bianco per 15 minuti (i primi 10 con carta da forno e riso). Nel frattempo montare le uova con lo zucchero ed il sale, incorporare delicatamente le polveri e poche gocce di estratto. Pennellare la frolla con poca marmellata, versare le mele, coprire con la massa e cospargere con le mandorle a filetti. In forno a 170° per ca. 20 minuti. All'uscita dal forno lucidare con sciroppo a 30°be.

Per chi non conosce l'antefatto la storia è su Profumo di Lievito, il blog di Adriano

Dal post di Adriano i seguenti chiarimenti sul dolce:

Quanto conservare la crostata
Adriano: la marmellata fa da parziale barriera, ma la frolla tende ed assorbire l'umido delle mele. Una giornata regge. La farcia è morbida e la copertura inizialmente croccante, poi si ammorbidisce.

Come ottenere lo sciroppo a 30° be per lucidare la torta
Adriano: per lo sciroppo: versare 100 gr di acqua in un pentolino, aggiungere 135 gr di zucchero semolato, portare ad ebollizione, poi lascia reffreddare.

Le uova come sono pesate?
Adriano: le uova vanno pesate senza guscio.

*Per la pasta frolla
la mia ricetta è questa, dividete per 4 o 5
1000 gr farina 0 biscotto (in alternativa 900 gr 00 e 100 gr fecola di patate)
500 gr burro appena morbido
250 gr zucchero a velo (200 se utilizziamo il miele)
200 gr uova intere (oppure 150 gr uova e 50 gr di miele d’acacia se vogliamo una frolla morbida)
6 gr di sale sciolto in 20 gr di succo di limone
6 gr di lievito istantaneo (se utilizziamo farina normale)
zeste grattugiate di un limone
1 cucchiaino di essenza di vaniglia.

Per ulteriori spiegazioni cliccare su La pasta frolla perfetta di Adriano.

For English readers

Apple and Almond Tart

400 gr of Pasta Frolla*

4 big apples (600 gr after cleaning them), cut in cubes
80 gr sugar
4 TBS Amaretto di Saronno liquor
juice of 1/2 lemon

Cook the apples with the sugar and the lemon juice until dry but not too soft. Add the liquor and the cinnamon. Let cool.

Almond Paste
120 gr eggs
60 gr sugar
50 gr almond meal
15 corn flour
15 corn starch
Pinch of salt
almond extract

1/2 cup of sliced almonds
apricot jam

Pre-heat the oven at 350F. Line a 9"-10" tart mold with the pasta frolla. Blind bake the tart crust with pie weights for 15 minutes, removing the weight for the last 5 minutes. While the tart is baking, beat the whole eggs with the sugar and the salt, gently incorporate the dry ingredients and few drops of almond extract. Brush some apricot jam on the crust, add the cooked apples, cover with the almond paste, spread the sliced almonds on top and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F for about 20 minutes. Brush the top with some sugar syrup (100 gr water and 135 gr sugar, brought to a boil and cooled).

*Pasta Frolla

1000 gr pastry flour
500 gr butter, softened
250 gr powder sugar
200 gr eggs (about 3 large eggs)
6 gr salt
20 gr lemon juice
6 gr baking powder (if using a/p flour)
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Slightly beat the eggs until the salt is dissolved. Mix the flour and the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until sandy. Add the sifter powder sugar and mix fore few seconds. Add the eggs to the flour/butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together. Wrap tightly and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Divide it in portions, wrap tightly and freeze it.

Laura's notes:

*I used more like 200 gr of pasta frolla for my 9" tart, maybe I rolled it too thin. The pasta frolla was nice and soft, easy to roll and not sticky at all.

*This recipe lends to many variations, so it is surprising that the above mentioned TV personality didn't try to change it and make it her own. I can picture the apples cooked with brown sugar and star anise, and other liquors added to the almond paste. The crust can also be modified with the addition of nuts for example.

*The tart took much longer to cook, it was really pale for a long time. I also over beat the eggs so the filling is more spongy than creamy.

* The apple filling was too sweet in my opinion, next time I will use less sugar.

* The cake was really good, the crust nice and soft, the flavors went well together, definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sourdough Cinnamon Bread

There are many advantages of speaking more than one language obviously, but one became clear relatively recently when I started discovering a great deal of wonderful Italian food bloogers. I love to read in my native language, learn about restaurants and food trends, rediscover dishes, and feel a little nostalgia (ok, a lot!). One of the Italian blogs in my ever growing reading list is Profumo di mamma, a blog that Gaia only started this past August, but that in a very short time has become a great source of inspiration. When I saw these little sour dough panini I knew immediately that I had to try them. See, I have been keeping a starter in my fridge for almost a year now, but I rarely use it.

I started this mother culture when I was testing some recipes for bread guru Peter Reinhart's new book, which I can't wait to get my hands on, and I was sent the full instructions to start a mother dough. I had tried making a starter before, with various degrees of success, but this last one was a very powerful one, super active, not too sour, and I can leave it in the fridge abandoned for a month and it comes to life beautifully. Because of laziness I haven't used it much, but Gaia's recipe couldn't be passed.

Since cinnamon bread is really popular in my house, I decided to change the recipe a little to add cinnamon, which is used rarely in Italy, but it is something I grew to love after leaving in the States for few years, except when it is added to cappuccino. I slightly decreased the amount of sugar in the dough since I wanted to roll the dough in cinnamon sugar. Last change was the addition of honey, since I didn't have any malt in the house. I wanted to make little crescent rolls like Gaia, but in my notes I explain why it didn't work. The bread turned out very delicious, soft and full of cinnamon flavor, and the dough was not sour at all. Thank you Gaia for inspiring me to try this recipe. Now I have to keep the starter well fed so I can make these more often.

I know I am weird, but can you see a face on this roll like I do? A little deformed, but it is there.

I am submitting this recipe to yeast spotting, a fun weekly event organized by the talented Susan of Wild Yeast.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Profumo di Mamma

350 gr mother starter
150 ml milk
1oo gr sugar
1 large egg
1 tbs honey
400/450 gr all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
50 gr butter, softened
cinnamon sugar (5o gr sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon)
1 large egg for egg wash

Add all the ingredients, except the butter and the cinnamon sugar, to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Mix the dough at low speed for 5 minutes to develop the gluten. Add the softened butter and mix for few more minutes until incorporated. Adjust the amount of flour to have a soft and tacky dough. Remove the dough onto a well floured counter top. Let rest for 5 minutes, then proceed with pulling and folding the dough like an envelope, which will develop the gluten. Let rest for 30 minutes and repeat the pulling and folding two more times. Allow the dough to double in size. Roll the dough to 1/2" thickness, brush with the egg wash, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar (leaving one long edge free of sugar). Roll tight and cut into pieces 1' to 1 1/2" thick. Distribute the rolls onto a 10" well buttered cake pan. Let rise in a warm place until double (1h to 1h30m). Bake at 350F until nicely brown.

*I normally leave my doughs sticky because the folding is done with extra flour so by the time I am done with the second folding the dough has the right consistency, and is still wet, which works so much better in my opinion.

*I had to fold the dough a third time because it didn't look ready after two folds, I wonder if it had to do with the milk or the fact that it was a mother dough.

*Because of the wild yeast, the dough took a while to rise, next time I will let it rise in the fridge overnight to save time and so it will be cold and easier to handle.

*I initially planned to make all the dough into little crescents, but the dough was too soft, so I decided to try two crescents and the rest was turned into a cross between Monkey Bread and Cinnamon Rolls.


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