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Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

In Appetizers / Starters, Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings On April 22, 2017 0 Comments

I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed Italian breadsticks, aka grissini. Some grissini are soft, while others are drier. But no matter where you’ve had grissini, the homemade ones are best. Here’s our favorite family recipe!

Active prep time: 8 minutes (dough mixing) and 25 minutes (shaping breadsticks)
Inactive prep time: 15 minutes (yeast rising) and 40 minutes (dough rising)
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes

Ingredients:
7/8 cup warm water (110°F)
1 teaspoon Rapid Rise® Yeast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached white flour

Prepare the Dough:
1. In a small sauce pot, heat the water.

2. While water is heating, place the yeast in a 2-cup metal or wood bowl (do not use glass or porcelain, as these cold elements will halt the rising process of the yeast).

3. When water is barely warm, pour it slowly into the bowl with yeast; gently swirl the bowl around.

4. Cover the yeast-water mixture with aluminum foil; set it aside on a wood surface or trivet; let it rise for 15 minutes. Do not set the yeast on marble, granite or tile surface, as the cold surface will halt the rising process.

5. After 15 minutes, transfer the water-yeast mixture to a 2-quart metal, wood or plastic mixing bowl (no porcelain or glass).

6. Gently stir in the olive oil, salt, black pepper and fennel seeds.

7. Gradually (a little at a time) and with a wooden spoon, add the flour until a sticky dough has formed.

8. Transfer the sticky dough onto a lightly-floured wood surface.

9. Gently knead the dough until it is uniform and soft.

10. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil.

11. Set bowl with dough aside on a wood surface (do not set it on marble, granite or tile surface) away from draft.

12. Let dough rise for 40 minutes.

Shape the Breadsticks or Grissini:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.

2. Lightly flour a flat work surface.

3. Transfer dough onto floured work surface.

4. Shape the dough by gently stretching and patting it outwards until it forms a 12 X 8-inch rectangle.

5. Using a pizza cutting wheel or a sharp knife, cut 3/4-inch wide strips (crosswise) to measure 8 inches in length.

6. Without using too much flour (the dough should grasp your fingers and not slide away), gently roll the dough into a 14 to 16-inch long piece.

7. Fold the dough in half, forming a loop at one end – place the shaped breadstick dough on a parchment-lined 18 X 12-inch baking sheet.

8. Repeat the rolling process for remaining dough strips and transfer them onto the baking sheet spaced 3/4-inch apart.
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9. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper – continue shaping and placing looped dough pieces on baking sheet.

Bake the Breadsticks:
1. Place one baking sheet on top oven rack and the other on the bottom oven rack.

2. Bake the breadsticks for 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, invert the top baking sheet with the bottom baking sheet; bake for an additional 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes, if breadsticks still look white on top, turn them over.

5. Bake the breadsticks for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

6. Serve the breadsticks warm or cold with cheese, olives and a variety of appetizers, together with your favorite wine.

TO REFRIGERATE BREADSTICKS: Place breadsticks in a food storage bag, sealed, or in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
TO FREEZE BREADSTICKS: Place breadsticks in double freezer food storage bags for up to 2 months.
At serving time, transfer breadsticks to a serving platter or basket and let thaw at room temperature for 1 hour.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Day of the Dead Bread (Mexico)

In Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings, Holidays On October 16, 2016 0 Comments

Every year in central and southern Mexico, the Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2. Although this holiday coincides with the Roman Catholic Church’s All Souls Day and All Saints Day, indigenous cultures have fused the Church’s celebration with the ancient custom of honoring their departed ones.

Memorial altars are erected with photographs of the dead and what used to be their favorite foods. Local bakeries sell Pan de Muertos or Day of the Dead Bread. This sweet bread is made with eggs, anise seeds, flour, sugar and yeast. The loaf is usually round, adorned with dough that is shaped to resemble bones. Although the ingredients are basic, the flavors and texture of this bread literally melt in your mouth!

Ingredients for Bread:
3/4 cup milk (low fat or whole milk)
1/4 cup water
1 package active-dry yeast (Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Instant Yeast®
2 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons anise seeds
3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour.

Ingredients for Glaze:
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Prepare the Yeast:
1. In a small saucepot, combine the milk and water; heat until mixture is lukewarm.

2. Place the yeast and lukewarm liquid in a metal bowl or a small, separate metal saucepot; cover and set aside (on a wood or plastic surface) for 13 minutes.

Mix the Dough:
1. After 13 minutes, the yeast mixture will look puffy – transfer it to a 2-quart mixing bowl or a stand mixer fitted with a bowl.

2. Stir in the eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and anise seeds. Beat on low until mixture is barely uniform.

3. With electric beaters on low, stir in 1 cup flour at a time, until a sticky dough has formed.

4. At this point, clean off the beaters. Using a wooden spoon, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour until the dough amalgamates and becomes a little firmer (not hard).

5. Flour your hands and the dough (lightly).

6. Transfer dough onto a lightly-floured board. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic.

Set Dough to Rise:
1. Oil a clean, 1-1/2 to 2-cup mixing bowl with vegetable oil.

2. Transfer dough to the oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil and set dough to rise on a wood surface or in a cold oven with door closed. Let dough rise for 20 minutes.

3. After 20 minutes, transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface and punch it down.

4. Remove a 5-inch piece of dough from the dough ball.

5. Shape the largest dough ball into a flat round form and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet measuring 16 inches by 11 inches.

6. Take the smaller dough ball and pull off 4 to 5 walnut-sized pieces. Roll each piece out to about 4 to 5 inches.

7. Place one rolled dough piece going from the top center and down the sides of dough round on parchment-lined baking sheet.

8. Add the remaining rolled dough pieces in a similar way and evenly spaced all around the dough round.

9. Shape a round knob on top center of the dough round. The rolled dough pieces will look like long bones on the bread.

10. Set dough to rise for 30 minutes on a wood surface or cold oven with door closed.

Bake the Bread:
1. After 30 minutes, transfer the baking sheet with dough to a wood surface; set aside while preheating oven.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F.

3. When oven is preheated, place the baking sheet with risen dough on a rack positioned in center of oven.

4. Bake the bread for 10 minutes.

5. After 10 minutes, lower oven temperature to 350°F; bake the bread for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until it looks golden brown. To test doneness: insert a pointed knife in center of bread. If knife comes out clean, the bread is done. If not, bake for an additional 5 minutes and test once more.

6. Transfer baking sheet with bread to a counter to cool.

Make the Glaze:
1. When bread is completely cool, place 1/4 cup sugar and the orange juice in a small saucepot and heat until the sugar melts.

2. Let the orange juice-sugar glaze cool completely.

3. Using a basting brush, glaze the bread. Sprinkle the bread with remaining sugar.

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Enjoy Day of the Dead Bread with the best Mexican coffee on the market -Jaguar Forest® Organic Coffee, sold at Erewhon supermarkets in Los Angeles, Venice and Calbasas, California; and also at Vicente Foods, Los Angeles; Rainbow Acres, Culver City and Marina del Rey, California.

Jaguar Forest® Organic Coffee can also be found online: http://jaguarforest.com

Text and Day of the Dead Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real
Jaguar Forest® Coffee Photograph ©2016 Jaguar Forest® Coffee Company

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Fruit & Greek Yogurt Blintzes

In Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings, Fun Foods On December 4, 2015 0 Comments

Blintzes are also known as blin or blintchik (Russian names for crêpes). They are thin pancakes that can be filled with sweet or savory ingredients.

For this recipe, I made mini-blintzes, topped them with fresh Greek yogurt and added a fresh fruit compote. Enjoy these blintzes at breakfast or brunch. They’re fun to eat with Mimosa or coffee.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes for the blintzes
Prep time: 10 minutes for the fruit compote
Makes: 12 three-inch blintzes

Ingredients For the Fruit Compote:
3/4 cup chopped, fresh peach, nectarine or strawberries (you can combine 2 or more fruits together)
1/2 cup chopped, fresh pineapple
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup water mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch or unbleached, white flour

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart saucepot.

2. Bring ingredients to a boil; boil and stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes, or until fruit mixture thickens.

3. If a creamier texture is desired, mash the fruit with a potato masher.

4. When fruit is tender and liquid has thickened, transfer the mixture to a glass or porcelain bowl to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the blintzes.

Ingredients for the Blintzes:
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (whole, low fat or 1% milk fat)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup unbleached, organic, all-purpose white flour
1-1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup Greek yogurt (whole, low fat or nonfat)
1/3 cup honey, for drizzling
3 springs of fresh mint

Directions to Prepare the Blintzes:
1. In a 1-quart mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, 1 tablespoon of the oil, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2. Using a whisk, blend the ingredients together until a smooth batter has formed.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to a 12-inch, nonstick skillet set on high heat.

4. As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), reduce heat to low.

5. Using a ladle, gently pour the batter onto the center of the skillet to form a 3-inch blintz (pancake).

6. Continue forming the blintzes, spaced 1 to 2 inches apart. You will not use all the batter for the first batch.

7. After cooking for 1 minute or until the batter starts bubbling, using a spatula, gently turn the blintzes over.

8. Cook the other side of the blintzes for another 30 seconds or a little longer, taking care not to burn the underside.

9. Transfer the blintzes to a serving platter; set aside while preparing the remaining blintzes.

To Serve the Blintzes:
1. Transfer the yogurt to a small bowl and give it a stir.

2. Top each blintz with yogurt, some fruit and garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Flaxseed Bread with Honey & Sesame Seeds

In Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings On October 9, 2015 0 Comments

This bread gets its sweet, nutty texture from the honey, sesame seeds and flaxseed meal. If you guessed that it’s healthy, you’re right. Since you make your own bread, you know exactly what wholesome ingredients you put into it. Enjoy this bread with any meal. Alternatively, slice the bread, toast it and serve it with butter and preserves at breakfast.

Active prep time: 30 minutes (mixing and assembling dough)
Inactive prep time: 50 to 60 minutes (two dough risings)
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes: 2 loaves

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon or 1 packet Rapid Rise Yeast® dissolved in 3/4 cup warm water and set aside to rise for 10 minutes
5 cups organic, unbleached, all-purpose, white flour
¾ cup flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons untoasted sesame seeds

Directions:

1. Combine 4 cups of the flour with the flaxseed meal and salt in a large, shallow bowl, forming a well in the center.

2. Pour in the risen yeast and water mixture, olive oil, honey, sesame seeds and the water.

3. Using a fork, mix wet ingredients until combined.

4. With a fork, gently begin mixing in flour from the sides of the well, a little at a time.

5. Each time you mix in some flour, make sure to blend it well into the wet ingredients.

6. Keep incorporating flour from the sides of well in small amounts, until you have formed a soft dough.

7. If dough is too wet and sticky, add flour in small amounts until the dough is uniform and you can grab it. It should be soft and smooth.

8. With lightly floured hands, gently knead the dough inside the bowl, adding small amounts of flour, until it is smooth and elastic.

9. Set dough aside on floured surface while you oil the bowl. Return dough to the oiled bowl and cover it with aluminum foil or a clean kitchen towel. Set the dough aside for 30 minutes to rise.

10. After 30 minutes, punch down the dough in center.

11. Lift dough out of bowl and, with an oiled knife, cut it into two equal pieces.

12. Shape each piece into an oval loaf.

13. Place loaves, crosswise and spaced apart by 4 inches, on an oiled 18 x 12-inch baking sheet.

14. Sprinkle each loaf with 1 teaspoon untoasted sesame seeds.

15. Cover the dough with an oiled sheet of aluminum foil and let it rise for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

Bake the Bread Loaves:
1. After 20 to 30 minutes, preheat oven to 400°F.

2. When oven is preheated, place the baking sheet with bread dough on rack and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

4. After baking for 25 minutes, test the doneness of bread loaves by lifting the bottom with a spatula. If bottoms are golden brown, the loaves are done. If not, bake for 5 more minutes.

5. Serve bread warm. Alternatively, this bread can be stored in plastic food bags in refrigerator for up to two weeks. It can be sliced and toasted.

6. Optional: When bread has cooled completely, one or two loaves may be frozen up to one month in double freezer plastic bags.

7. To Thaw Frozen Bread: Remove bread from freezer bags; set on a wood board or cutting board to thaw at room temperature for 3 hours.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Oat-Spelt Bread

In Breads, Crêpes, Pancakes & Puddings On July 28, 2015 0 Comments

Ever wonder where our rustic breads made with oat and spelt flour originated? The ancient Greeks and Romans made a variety of breads with white and dark flours. However, ancient Gaul (modern-day France) is the rock star for delicious recipes made with grains. Spelt was high on their foods’ list. Here’s a recipe for oat-spelt bread from my July 23 & 24 historic culinary course, Feasts & Opulence in Roman Gaul, at the Getty Villa, Los Angeles. Check out my KCET interview for this course here-

http://www.kcet.org/living/food/the-public-kitchen/recipe-homemade-cheese-ancient-rome.html

Due to organic spelt and oat flours, this bread is not only healthy but also light in texture. Once you taste this grainy, honey-sweetened bread, you won’t want the ready-made stuff anymore.

Active prep time: 30 minutes (mixing and assembling dough)
Inactive prep time: 60 minutes (two 30-minute dough risings)
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon (1 envelope) Rapid Rise Yeast®, dissolved in 3/4 cup warm water and set aside to rise for 10 minutes
1 cup organic oat flour
2 cups organic sprouted spelt flour
1-1/2 to 2 cups organic, all-purpose, unbleached white flour 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 to 2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw oatmeal (for garnish)

Directions for Preparing the Dough:

1. Combine the oat, spelt and all-purpose flour in a large, shallow mixing bowl.

2. Stir in the salt

3. Make a well in center of dry ingredients.

4. Pour in the risen yeast-water mixture, 1 more cup of water, honey and olive oil into the well.

5. Using a fork, mix the wet ingredients until combined.

6. Gently mix in, a little at a time, flour from the inner sides of the well.

7. Each time you mix in some flour, make sure to blend it well into the wet ingredients.

8. Gather flour from sides of well in small amounts until a soft dough has formed. If dough is too
dry, add water in 1/4 cup increments until it amalgamates and becomes soft.

9. If dough is too wet and sticky, add flour in small amounts until the dough is uniform and you
can gather it. The dough should be soft and smooth.

10. With lightly-floured hands, gently knead the dough inside bowl, adding small amounts of
flour, until it is smooth and elastic.

11. Set dough aside on a floured surface while you oil the bowl.

12. Return dough to the oiled bowl and cover it with aluminum foil or a clean kitchen towel.

13. Set the dough aside for 30 minutes to rise.

Directions for Shaping & Baking the Bread:

1. After 30 minutes, punch down the dough in center.

2. Lift dough out of bowl and place dough on a parchment-lined 18 X 12-inch baking sheet.

3. Gently flatten and stretch out the dough to a 10-inch circle.

4. Cover the dough again and let it rise for an additional 20 to 30 minutes.

5. After 20 to 30 minutes, preheat oven to 400°F.

6. Meanwhile, oil a sharp knife and score the dough into eight wedges.

7. Sprinkle the bread dough with the raw oatmeal.

8. When oven is preheated, place baking sheet with bread dough on rack positioned in center of oven.

9. Bake the bread for 25 minutes (ovens vary in baking time).

10. After 25 minutes, test doneness of bread by lifting the bottom with a spatula. It should look golden brown. If bottom of bread is not golden brown, bake it for 5 more minutes.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real