Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

A while ago I saw a bread recipe that intrigued me. Not only had it a lot of grains, but, also, three different kinds of sprouts: wheat, lentils and quinoa.

To make a sprouted grain bread you have to plan ahead, because it takes about 2-3 days until the first little white tips show up on the soaked grains.

Wheat, lentils and quinoa are beginning to sprout

Once sprouted, the grains are pureed into a smooth paste that, together with toasted sunflower-, pumpkin- and sesame seeds, gives this interesting bread its unique taste.

I changed the original recipe, created by "America's Test Kitchen", quite a bit. Though I don't mind a hint of sweetness, I don't like "falling into the honey jar" (as the Germans say), and 1/3 cup of honey in the dough seems a lot, even with the potentially bitter bran and fibers of the whole grains.

Pumpkin-, sunflower- and sesame seeds (I used black sesame)
Instead of long kneading I prefer stretching and folding the dough, combined with an overnight rest in the fridge.

This slow fermentation ensures good digestibility, and the aroma of the bread has more time to develop.

And, as an additional benefit, you need less yeast.

I was a bit leery whether you would taste the lentils (as I had experienced with some gluten free pastry made with bean meal.)

The bread looked so appetizing, when it came out of the oven, that we could hardly wait until it had cooled down enough to be cut.

Fortunately my fears proved to be unfounded, my sprouted grain bread was as tasty as it looked. No harsh legume aroma met our taste buds, the lentils blended harmoniously with the other ingredients.

The bread was also good for toasting, and we liked it especially with butter and honey.

SPROUTED GRAIN BREAD   (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

Sprouted Grains
140 g/4.9 oz wheat berries     (3/4 cup)
  43 g/1.5 oz quinoa                (1/4 cup)
  41 g/1.4 oz brown lentils      (1/4 cup)
    2 cups cold water

 ½ cup warm water                 (110ºF/43ºC)
 42 g/1.5 oz honey                  (2 tbsp)
 36 g/1.3 oz sunflower seeds  (1/4 cup)
 20 g/0.7 oz pumpkin seeds    (2 tbsp)
 17 g/0.6 oz sesame seeds       (2 tbsp)
274 g/9.7 oz bread flour
    4 g/0.14 oz instant yeast
    7 g/0.25 oz salt                    (1 1/2 tsp)
1 egg white, mixed with 1 tsp. water, for brushing

DAY 1:
For the sprouted grains, combine wheat berries, quinoa, lentils and water in large bowl, cover, and let soak at room temperature for at least 12 hours (and up to 24 hours.)

DAY 2-3:
Drain grains through fine-mesh strainer (caution: if the mesh is not fine enough the quinoa seeds will fall through), then return them to the bowl.

Cover, and leave at room temperature, rinsing and draining grains daily, until small sprouts appear on each type of grain. (At this point, they can be patted dry and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

  Puree sprouted grains in food processor to a sticky paste

DAY 3-4:
Process sprouted grains in food processor to a smooth, sticky paste, 2-3 minutes.

Combine seeds in small bowl. Toast 45 g/6 tbsp. of the seeds (reserve remaining seeds for topping.) Whisk water and honey together in measuring cup. 

Combine sprouted grains, bread flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of stand mixer with dough hook. Add water/honey mixture, while mixing on low speed for 1-2 minutes, until dough comes together and all flour is hydrated. Let it rest for 5 minutes.

Knead dough on medium-low speed for 6 minutes, slowly adding toasted seeds until dough is smooth, elastic, but still a bit sticky (dough should clear sides of bowl, but stick a bit to bottom.)

Transfer dough to lightly oiled or wet counter. With oiled or wet hands, stretch into a rough square, and fold from top and bottom in thirds, like business letter. Then fold from both sides. Gather dough into a ball, and place, seam side down, into lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

After the last fold refrigerate the dough overnight

Repeat this stretching and folding 3 times in 10 minute intervals. After the last fold, place dough in refrigerator for a slow overnight rise.

DAY 4-5:
Remove dough from refrigerator, and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size.

Over night the dough has almost doubled

Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape dough into a round, and place it, seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Brush bread with egg wash and sprinkle with reserved seeds. (No slashing needed.)

Sprinkled with seeds the bread looks pretty good already

Cover, and let bread rise for about 45 - 60 minutes, until nearly grown to double its original size (finger probe: a dimple made with a finger should not close again).

Bake bread at 350ºF/175ºC for 20 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, until it is golden brown, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and registers 210ºF/99ºC on an instant read thermometer.

Let bread cool on wire rack.

Tastes good as BLT-sandwich, too!

Submitted to YeastSpotting
Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                            

Monday, September 9, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

As a psychiatrist I'm used to prescribe antidepressants. Dark chocolate is my recommended mood enhancer number one.

It also provides protection from the dangers of starvation, a fact my mother recognized early (Dark Chocolate with Orange Bits), and then shared with me (Dark Chocolate with Hazelnuts).

And every physician and every mother knows: veggies are good for you! Therefore, Hanaâ's
ABC pick of the month, Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, had to be healthy and wholesome. DOUBLE chocolate!!! Vitamin C and fibers!

Shredded zucchini - the secret to very moist muffins

Instead of baking one large coffee cake, I prefer, like several other Avid Bakers, smaller, individual portions, and, since we are only two, halved the recipe to make six square muffins.

Though I usually reduce the amount of sweetener, I'm cautious when a recipe contains cocoa, and only rounded honey and sugar a bit down. Following some reviewers' advice, I cut down on the salt.

The (optional) espresso powder is, in my opinion, a must, since coffee deepens chocolate flavor (and vice versa!) And I substituted a quarter of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

While watching the baking muffins, I was a bit anxious about all that juice bubbling out on top. The recipe didn't mention draining the shredded zucchini, or patting it dry, and I wasn't quite sure whether enough liquid would evaporate.

But after 30 minutes baking time, the needle drew only a smear of molten chocolate from the tested muffin, and the top was nice and springy when gently pressed.

The muffins taste best when still a bit warm, and the chocolate melted

The muffins were very moist, thanks to their veggie add-in, and had a deep, rich chocolate flavor. They could still have been a little less sweet in my opinion, but Richard, the best of all husbands, proclaimed them to be "just right".

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS  (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
(12 muffins)

    2 large eggs
100 g/3.5 oz honey  
  99 g/3.5 oz vegetable oil  (1/2 cup)
  90 g/3.18 oz brown sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp espresso powder 
  28 g/1 oz Dutch-process cocoa
150 g/5.3 oz all-purpose flour
  52 g/1.83 oz whole wheat pastry flour
340 g/12 oz shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 2 medium-small zucchini)
170 g/6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)

Mixing dry into wet ingredients

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cups of muffin pan with baking spray.

In large bowl, beat eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

In second bowl, whisk together salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso, cocoa, and flours, until well combined. Add dry to wet ingredients and mix, until just combined. 

Folding zucchini and chocolate chips into the batter

Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared cups of muffin pan (up to 3/4).

Filling the muffin cups

Bake muffins for 20-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean (save for smear of melted chocolate chips).

Let muffins cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, before turning them out onto wire rack.

Fresh out of the oven

The muffins taste best when still a bit warm, and the chocolate melted. Pairing them with vanilla ice cream definitely enhances their antidepressant properties (psychiatrist recommended!)

Keep them at room temperature. If you can't eat the muffins within 2 days, freeze them.

If you would like to join us ABC bakers, check out Hanaâ's Avid Baker's Challenge. We bake one sweet or savory bread or pastry every month (this year from King Arthur Flour website.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

Nuts are my favorite snack, when I'm starting to get hungry, and try to stay away from our little hoard of German chocolate bars (no, not that kind, I mean the real thing: Ritter Sport!)

I remember my mother coming home from her gynecologist's office, always grabbing some chocolate, before she started cooking our dinner. I must have inherited that from her, same as her gene for high dessert priority.

Both combined are a sure recipe for waistline disaster, but I have my first aid in the kitchen drawer, almonds or walnuts: good fat plus high fiber.

Being an optimist, I even planted hazelnuts in our garden, hoping for a harvest some year soon.

My precious little hazelnut

I'm very fond of baking with nuts, too, whether in cakes (Hazelnut Chocolate Cake) or breads. But when I started baking breads for sale, I was confronted me with a dilemma.

In Europe, hazelnuts are abundant, they grow wild, are easy to cultivate, and very tasty. And cheap! But here in the US, they cost a fortune and are often hard to find. So I had to use a different kind of nut for my breads in order to keep them affordable for my customers.

For this recipe, adapted from "Brot aus Südtirol", pecans are a great alternative. The rolls taste a little different, but equally good. (Much as I like walnuts, here there are not a good choice).

Pecan Rolls

Meanwhile, thanks to Trader Joe's, I can get hazelnuts for a reasonable price and good quality. With Aldi, the popular German chain for cheap skates, as parent company, they offer a lot of European goods.

Whenever we are in Portland, Maine, we stock up on Irish butter, German beer, Italian truffle cheese, and, of course, HAZELNUTS!

Toasted hazelnuts or pecans - you cant go wrong with either
(12 rolls)

340 g/12 oz water (at 95ºF/35ºC)
    5 g/0.18 oz instant yeast
150 g/5.3 oz hazelnuts or pecans, toasted
350 g/12.4 oz Italian 00 flour*)
100 g/3.5 oz rye flour
  50 g/1.8 oz spelt flour
  10 g/0.35 oz salt
    5 g/0.18 oz light brown sugar
1 egg, mixed with 2 tsp. water, for egg wash
hazelnuts or pecans, whole or chopped, for decoration

*) can be substituted with pastry flour, but NOT with all-purpose flour!

Stir yeast in warm water to dissolve.

Place toasted nuts in food processor, and  ground to a coarse meal with some larger pieces remaining. (If you prefer a finer meal, add some of the flour to the nuts to prevent them from turning into nut butter!).

Add all dough ingredients to mixing bowl. Mix at low speed (or with a large wooden spoon) for 1 - 2 minutes, until all flour is hydrated. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Resume kneading at medium-low speed (or by hand), adjusting with a little more water if needed (dough should be a bit sticky). Knead for 6 more minutes (dough should still be more sticky than tacky)

Transfer dough to an oiled (or lightly wet) work surface, and, with wet or oiled hands, pat and stretch it into a rough rectangle. Then fold it from top and bottom in thirds like a business letter and repeat this folding from both sides. Gather dough into a ball, and place, seamside down, in a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover, and let dough rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the stretching and folding process 3 times, at 10 minute intervals. After the last fold, place dough in oiled container and refrigerate overnight.

Shape cold dough first into 12 rolls, then roll them with your hands into strands. Place rolls on perforated or parchment lined baking sheet. Using a metal spatula (or back of a knife), press a deep crease lengthwise in each roll (don't cut through bottom!). Brush rolls with egg wash, and decorate with nuts.

Mist rolls with spray oil, cover, and let rise for 45 - 60 minutes at room temperature, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size, and stay dimpled when poked. In the meantime, preheat oven to 410ºF/210ºC.

Re-press the crease, if necessary. Bake rolls for 12 minutes, rotate baking sheet 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 12 minutes, or until they are rich golden brown.

Let rolls cool on wire rack.

(Based on Richard Ploner's Haselnussbrot from "Brot aus Südtirol") 

Hazelnut Rolls, lighter in color than Pecan Rolls

Completely updated and re-written post (from June 2011)

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena                                            

Monday, September 2, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

I'm baking a lot, but, since it's summer, mostly for sale.

And then there are other time consuming projects like painting windows (with some tireless mosquitoes for company), massaging my husband's cramped neck (after installing aforementioned windows), and hunting for those friggin' Japanese beetles that turn my raspberry leaves into lace.

Beetle "lace"!

My list of "Equal Opportunity Breads" still waits for more items to be checked off - I did some more, but got a bit listless after a few stubborn loaves just didn't turn out the way I liked.

But in a recent weekend edition of "The Guardian", master baker Dan Lepard published an interesting bread made with whey instead of water. From my last batch of Greek yogurt I had a lot of whey left over, sitting in my fridge, while I wondered what to do with it.

Pumpkin Whey Bread was just what I was looking for!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Whey Bread: pumpkin puree, seeds, and whey

Dan Lepard cooked fresh butternut pumpkin for his puree, but here in the US good quality canned pumpkin is readily available, and preparing and draining pumpkin puree a time consuming process.

I always have a supply of pumpkin puree in my pantry (to satisfy a sudden craving for pumpkin pancakes or pumpkin chocolate chip muffins). But for those who don't (or prefer making their own), I'll include a link to the procedure.

What I like about Lepard's loaves is his minimalistic approach to kneading. Much as I admire Richard Bertinet's breads: compare his 30-minute-complete-upper-arm-workout to Lepards 10 seconds of gentle handling.

Normally I would use a stand mixer, but this soft dough can be easily (and less fussy) made by hand.

Preferring longer fermentation (with less yeast!) I mixed the dough the day before, and let it slowly rise overnight in the fridge. And, (for the good conscience,) substituted some white flour with whole wheat.

The crumb has a beautiful golden color

My Pumpkin Whey Bread turned out really nice. It had a delicate crisp crust, and a rich, dark golden crumb. Very flavorful, it is a true multi-purpose bread, and can be enjoyed with ham as well as jam. It is also good for toasting.

Stored in a brown paper bag, it keeps fresh for several days.

Wet ingredients for Pumpkin Whey Bread plus yeast and seeds

PUMPKIN WHEY BREAD  (adapted from Dan Lepard/The Guardian)
(2 loaves or 24 rolls)

450 g good quality canned pumpkin (like Libby's or 1-Pie) (for homemade: click here)
450 g whey, lukewarm
    5 g instant yeast (down from the 7 g of the original recipe)
200 g pumpkin seeds, toasted and cooled
  40 g olive oil (50 ml)
900 g bread flour
100 g white whole wheat flour
  18 g salt (4 tsp)

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin puree, whey and yeast until well combined. Stir in pumpkin seeds and oil, then add flour and salt. Using your hands, mix until all flour is hydrated, and you have a soft, sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

The dough will be soft and sticky

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and, with oiled hands, knead briefly (10 seconds), then place it in lightly oiled container, turn around to coat with oil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

Mighty overnight rise means the yeast can be safely reduced

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces (or 24 pieces for rolls, about 90 g each). Shape 2 oval or round loaves (or rolls), place loaves, seam side up, in floured rising baskets (rolls seam side down on parchment lined or perforated baking sheets).

Place shaped loaf, seam side up, in floured banneton

Sprinkle breads with flour, and cover with plastic foil or a clean kitchen towel. Let loaves (or rolls) rise for 45 - 60 minutes, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size (finger poke test: a dimple poked in the dough should not fill again, only come back a little bit.)

Preheat oven to 425ºF/210ºC, including steam pan. For the loaves, line baking sheet with parchment paper.

The bread is sufficiently proofed when it has risen by half

Turn breads out onto prepared baking sheet. Using a lamé or sharp knife, score in desired pattern. (Rolls: re-flour, if necessary, and slash across the middle).

Ready for the oven!

Place breads in the middle of the oven, (bake rolls on 2 tiers, using convection mode*), or keep second sheet in a cool place, until the first batch is done), steaming with 1 cup boiling water.

After 20 minutes, remove steam pan, rotate breads 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes (rolls: 15-20 minutes), or until they are golden brown, sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and register 195ºF/90ºC (instant thermometer).

Let breads cool on wire rack.

*)I bake breads usually with convection mode, my oven reduces the temperature automatically.

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena