Posts Tagged ‘BAKING’

PRETZEL BREAD

Posted: January 16, 2018 in Food, Recipes, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I haven’t found a great gluten-free pretzel bread recipe yet, so I don’t make this recipe as often as I used to. (My wife needs to be on a gluten-free diet, so we tend to focus our meals to that end for everyone in the family.) But sometimes, you just can’t resist…

Making pretzel bread at home had one major stumbling block for me: the need for lye,  which has nasty corrosive qualities that I don’t want to deal with in my kitchen. Even special baker’s lye was not an option. So when I found a pretzel bread recipe that used baking soda, a much milder and safer alkaline ingredient that I could simply pour down my drain after using, I knew it was time to bake.

 

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½ cup water
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, separated
Cooking spray
¾ cup baking soda
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Combine the water, milk and butter in a glass container and microwave about 45 seconds to melt the butter and warm the milk. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt and egg yolk. Slowly add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add small amounts of water. Knead the dough until it is smooth and springy, about 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Flip it over so all sides get oiled, and then wrap the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Turn out the risen dough on a floured surface and divide it into equal pieces. You can make 15 small slider-sized buns, 8 burger buns, 8 hot dog buns or any other shape you like. Once all the pieces have been rolled, cover them with a clean dish towel and set them aside to rest.

While the dough is resting, heat about 12 cups of water in a large pot. When it comes to a gentle boil, carefully pour the baking soda into it. It will foam and bubble vigorously.

Add the rested pieces of dough to the simmering water and poach them for about 30 seconds and then flip them over for another 30 seconds. You may need to do this in batches.

With a slotted spoon or spatula, lift the poached buns onto a Silpat baking sheet (or a baking sheet sprayed with oil, then sprinkled with cornmeal.)

Froth the egg white with a fork, then brush each bun with the egg white.

Using a sharp knife, make a few slits on the top of the buns, about ¼-inch deep. Sprinkle them with Kosher salt, then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

My original banana bread recipe blog is featured directly below. It’s awesome. But my wife’s dietary needs required that I make some changes. My gluten-free version of the recipe, at the bottom of the page, is so good, you won’t miss the wheat!

 

A gluten-free batch.

 

The original recipe…

What makes this banana bread special is that it uses whole wheat flour…less sugar…and no artificial extracts that make most banana breads taste like crap. It relies on very ripe bananas to give it its wonderful natural flavor.

It’s not always easy to get bananas to ripen exactly when you’re trying to make your banana bread recipe. So I by a large bunch of bananas and let them get very ripe at room temperature. I then take 5 at a time (for this recipe), peel them, and place the bananas in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When it’s time to make banana bread, I just pull one of those Ziplocs out of the freezer, let it thaw, and mash with a potato masher.

 

Nana bread blog

 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
5 medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed
2 tsp real vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. (I use the whisk attachment.) Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat until the mixture is light and lemon colored.

With the mixer running at low-speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the bananas, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and blend some more to mix.

Pour the batter into 2 loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the loaf pan on a wire rack.

Remove from the pan and let it cool completely on the wire rack before slicing.

image

 

The gluten-free recipe…

My go-to gluten-free flour is the brand called Cup 4 Cup. You can find it in most supermarkets. But this time I tried the gluten-free baking flour by Bob’s Red Mill. Both flours gave excellent–and tasty–results.

 

 

 

If you want a slightly more “rustic” flavor, you can substitute 1/2 a cup of corn meal for 1/2 a cup of the flour. I use organic cane sugar instead of regular sugar when I have it. I don’t use vegetable oils, especially not canola, so I use healthier avocado oil or olive oil. Eggs are pastured when I can get ’em. Bananas are organic. And I rub the pans with coconut oil or I use an olive oil cooking spray.

 

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4 cups gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup avocado or olive oil
2 eggs
5 medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
coconut oil

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. (I use the whisk attachment.) Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat until the mixture is light and lemon colored.

With the mixer running at low-speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the bananas, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and blend some more to mix.

Pour the batter into 2 loaf pans or one large bundt pan that have been rubbed with the coconut oil. Bake for 45–60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Remove from the pan and let it cool completely on the wire rack before slicing.

 

“WE NEED PIE”

Posted: December 9, 2015 in Food, Recipes
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Back in my younger days, when I could consume mass quantities of carbs without gaining a pound, I baked a wicked good apple pie, and I baked it often. While most apple pie bakers argued over which was better, a crust made with shortening or or one made with butter, my pie crust recipe used both.

These days, I don’t bake apple pies very often. I might bake a galette on occasion, but that’s about it. Besides dealing with the calories, I live in a house where I need to cook gluten-free because of my wife’s allergies, so things like pie were 86-ed off the menu.

Although I can find really good gluten-free flour (the brand I use is called “Cup 4 Cup”), it has its limitations. It’s great for dusting shrimp or fish before frying, or coating a pork chop before cooking, but the dough lacks elasticity, and never holds up well for pizza or pie crusts.

Brands of pre-made gluten-free products, however, are getting better. What once was only found in a gourmet store at a ridiculous price, is now found at the local supermarket at a reasonable price. Freschetta, the frozen pizza company, makes a gluten-free 4-cheese pizza that is absolutely delicious.

And the other day, I found a 2-pack of frozen GF pie crusts at Whole Foods. No way I couldn’t give that a try. I used one pie crust to hold the pie filling, and I sliced up the second one to decorate the top of the pie. Worked great.

Looks like apple pie is back on the menu!

 

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pie dough
2 1/2 pounds apples: peeled, cored and sliced about 1/4″ thick (I like Gala)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour (I use GF)
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Place the apple slices in a large bowl and add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and flour. Mix well.

Pour the apple mixture into the pie plate that already has the pie crust in it. Dot the top of the apples with the butter and either seal the top with more dough, or decorate with whatever pattern of dough makes you happy. If you’re sealing the top with a full layer of dough, make sure you poke a few holes for steam to escape while cooking.

Place the pie on a cookie sheet (to catch any spills) and bake for 30 minutes, with foil wrapped around the edges of the crust to keep it from burning. Then remove the foil and bake about 30 minutes more, until the crust is golden.

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My original banana bread recipe blog is featured directly below. It’s awesome. But my wife’s dietary needs required that I make some changes. My gluten-free version of the recipe, at the bottom of the page, is so good, you won’t miss the wheat!

 

The original recipe…

What makes this banana bread special is that it uses whole wheat flour…less sugar…and no artificial extracts that make most banana breads taste like crap. It relies on very ripe bananas to give it its wonderful natural flavor.
It’s not always easy to get bananas to ripen exactly when you’re trying to make your banana bread recipe. So here’s what I do: I by a large bunch of bananas and let them get very ripe at room temperature. I then take 5 at a time (for this recipe), peel them, and place the bananas in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When it’s time to make banana bread, I just pull one of those Ziplocs out of the freezer, let it thaw, and mash with a potato masher.

 

Nana bread blog

 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
5 medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed
2 tsp real vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. (I use the whisk attachment.) Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat until the mixture is light and lemon colored.
With the mixer running at low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the bananas, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and blend some more to mix.
Pour the batter into 2 loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the loaf pan on a wire rack.
Remove from the pan and let it cool completely on the wire rack before slicing.

image

 

The gluten-free recipe…

Wow…things have changed since I made the original recipe!  First, the flour: My go-to gluten-free flour is the brand called Cup 4 Cup. You can find it in most supermarkets. I only use this flour in this recipe.

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If you want a slightly more “rustic” flavor, you can substitute 1/2 a cup of corn meal for 1/2 a cup of the flour. I now use organic cane sugar instead of regular sugar. I no longer use vegetable oil, especially not canola, so I use healthier avocado oil. Eggs are pastured when I can get ’em. Bananas are organic. And I rub the pans with coconut oil instead of using cooking spray.

image

4 cups gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup avocado oil
2 eggs
5 medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
coconut oil

 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. (I use the whisk attachment.) Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat until the mixture is light and lemon colored.
With the mixer running at low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the bananas, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and blend some more to mix.
Pour the batter into 2 loaf pans that have been rubbed with the coconut oil. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the loaf pan on a wire rack.
Remove from the pan and let it cool completely on the wire rack before slicing.

Julia Child was my first guide for many of the go-to dishes that I still make today. My Mom and I would watch “The French Chef” on WNET, Channel 13, our PBS station back home in New York.  Later, I’d start buying Julia’s cookbooks, and I was lucky enough to not only interview her, but meet her just a few years before she passed away. She was a lovely, down-to-earth lady, and someone I’ll never forget.

The classic rustic galette was the first dessert I learned how to bake, straight from the pages of “Baking with Julia.” I generally stayed away from desserts because cooking them required a lot of exact measurements, and that just wasn’t my style of cooking. So when I saw that this rustic galette required none of those things, and yet tasted absolutely delicious, I realized I had found my dessert! And the galette was versatile: I could use whatever ripe fruit I could get my hands on, so it became a dessert that changed with the seasons.

With my wife’s dietary needs changing, I decided I’d attempt a gluten-free version of the classic galette. The original recipe for the galette dough was one that I could make a couple of days ahead of time, wrap in plastic and keep in the fridge. Then it was simply a matter of bringing the dough back to room temperature before I rolled it out, added the filling, and put it in the oven.

Gluten-free doughs, however, are a bit more high-maintenance. I found that making the dough ahead of time was not an option. I’d remove the dough from the fridge, only to have it fall apart in my hands, with the consistency of Play-Doh. I was still able to form it into a round shape, but it had no elasticity and it just crumbled in my hands.

I used apples, and couldn't even fold the dough over the sides because it kept crumbling. Despite the fact that it wasn't too pretty, it tasted great!

I used apples, and couldn’t even fold the dough over the sides because it kept crumbling. Despite the fact that it wasn’t too pretty, it tasted great!

So now I make the dough right before I want to use it. You can make the dough by hand, but I use a food processor.

 

 

For the dough:

3 tablespoons sour cream

1/3 cup ice water

1 cup all-purpose flour (I use gluten-free)

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces

 

Everything looks better when you cover it with whipped cream!

Everything looks better when you cover it with whipped cream!

For the berries: (per galette)

1 1/2 cups mixed fresh berries or cut-up peeled fruit (I used apples)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter

 

Stir the sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water together in a bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse to combine.

Drop the butter pieces into the processor and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter about the size of a pea. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms soft, moist curds. Don’t overdo it!

Remove the dough from the processor, divide it in half, and press each half into a disk. If you’re not using gluten-free flour, wrap the discs in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

If you’re  going gluten-free, line a baking sheet with parchment paper for each disc of dough. Put the dough on a lightly (GF) floured work surface and roll it into an 11-inch circle that’s about 1/8″ thick. Carefully transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. If it falls apart, just press it back together on the parchment. (It’ll still taste great!)

 

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and pre-heat to 400.

 

Spread the berries over the dough, leaving a 2 to 3-inch border. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over the fruit. Cut the butter into slivers and scatter it onto the fruit. Fold the uncovered border of the dough over the filling, allowing it to fold naturally onto itself as you lift it and work around the galette. It’s supposed to look rustic, so don’t sweat it. Dip a pastry brush in water, lightly brush the edge of the crust with it, then sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar onto the crust.

Bake the galette for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden and crisp. Move the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp. Use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut into slices.

 

A little whipped cream never hurts!

 

 

PRETZEL BREAD

Posted: November 10, 2014 in Food, Recipes, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Pretzel bread has become a foodie phenomenon in a very short period: not just the bun of choice at your favorite fast-food burger joint or the crust on your pizza, but the go-to bread in any upscale restaurant.

Making pretzel bread at home had one major stumbling block for me: the need for lye,  which has nasty corrosive qualities that I don’t want to deal with in my kitchen. Even special baker’s lye was not an option. So when I found a pretzel bread recipe that used baking soda, a much milder and safer alkaline ingredient that I could simply pour down my drain after using, I knew it was time to bake.

 

image

Ingredients:

½ cup water

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg, separated

Cooking spray

¾ baking soda

Kosher salt for sprinkling

Combine the water, milk and butter in a glass container and microwave about 45 seconds to melt the butter and warm the milk. Set aside.

I a mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt and egg yolk. Slowly add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add small amounts of water. Knead the dough until it is smooth and springy, about 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Flip it over so all sides get oiled, and then wrap the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Turn out risen dough on a floured surface and divide into equal pieces. You can make 15 small slider-sized buns, 8 burger buns, 8 hot dog buns or any other shape you like. Once all the pieces have been rolled, cover them with a clean dish towel and set aside to rest.

While the dough is resting heat about 12 cups of water in a large pot. When it comes to a gentle boil, carefully pour the baking soda into it. It will foam and bubble vigorously.

Add the rested pieces of dough to the simmering water and poach them for about 30 seconds and then flipping them over for another 30 seconds. You may need to do this in batches.

With a slotted spoon or spatula, lift the poached buns onto a Silpat baking sheet (or a baking sheet sprayed with oil, then sprinkled with cornmeal.)  Froth egg white with a fork, then brush each bun with egg white. Using a sharp knife, make a few slits on the top of the buns, about ¼-inch deep. Sprinkle with Kosher salt, then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

PRETZEL BREAD

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Food, Recipes, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Pretzel bread has become a foodie phenomenon in a very short period: not just the bun of choice at your favorite fast-food burger joint, but the go-to bread in any upscale restaurant.

Making pretzel bread at home had one major stumbling block for me: the need for lye,  which has nasty corrosive qualities that I don’t want to deal with in my kitchen. Even special baker’s lye was not an option. So when I found a pretzel bread recipe that used baking soda, a much milder and safer alkaline ingredient that I could simply pour down my drain after using, I knew it was time to bake.

pretzel bread

Ingredients:

½ cup water

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, softened

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 egg, separated

Cooking spray

¾ baking soda

Kosher salt for sprinkling

Combine the water, milk and butter in a glass container and microwave about 45 seconds to melt the butter and warm the milk. Set aside.

I a mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, yeast, salt and egg yolk. Slowly add the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together. If it seems too dry, add small amounts of water. Knead the dough until it is smooth and springy, about 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Flip it over so all sides get oiled, and then wrap the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Turn out risen dough on a floured surface and divide into equal pieces. You can make 15 small slider-sized buns, 8 burger buns, 8 hot dog buns or any other shape you like. Once all the pieces have been rolled, cover them with a clean dish towel and set aside to rest.

While the dough is resting heat about 12 cups of water in a large pot. When it comes to a gentle boil, carefully pour the baking soda into it. It will foam and bubble vigorously.

Add the rested pieces of dough to the simmering water and poach them for about 30 seconds and then flipping them over for another 30 seconds. You may need to do this in batches.

With a slotted spoon or spatula, lift the poached buns onto a Silpat baking sheet (or a baking sheet sprayed with oil, then sprinkled with cornmeal.)  Froth egg white with a fork, then brush each bun with egg white. Using a sharp knife, make a few slits on the top of the buns, about ¼-inch deep. Sprinkle with Kosher salt, then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

 

There are a million banana bread recipes out there, so let’s just get this over with and call mine a million-and-one! What makes this banana bread special is that it’s got loads of flavor. It uses whole wheat flour…less sugar…and no artificial extracts that make most banana breads taste like crap. This one relies on very ripe bananas to give it its wonderful natural flavor.
It’s not always easy to get bananas to ripen exactly when you’re trying to make your banana bread recipe. So here’s what I do: I by a large bunch of bananas and let them get very ripe at room temperature. I then take 5 at a time (for this recipe), peel them, and place the bananas in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When it’s time to make banana bread, I just pull one of those Ziplocs out of the freezer and let it thaw. This also works really well when you need bananas for smoothies.

 

Nana bread blog

ALZ BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
5 medium-sized bananas, peeled and mashed
2 tsp real vanilla extract

Cooking spray

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine sugar and oil in mixing bowl and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat until mixture is light and lemon colored.
With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture alternately with bananas, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Blend well after each addition. Add vanilla and blend some more to mix.
Pour batter into 2 loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in loaf pan on wire rack.
Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.