Monday, 27 February 2017

Rosemary & Thyme Foccacia


Last weekend, I posted the recipe for German Poppyseed Crescent Rolls, which is a medium-difficulty level bread to bake. If you are new to making homemade bread, the easiest bread recipe is homemade foccacia. The dough is actually just a standard pizza dough recipe, but it's allowed to proof for a couple hours to achieve a light, fluffy bread dough. The pizza dough recipe is my dad's, who is a chef. We rarely ordered pizza when I was growing up, because he often made pizza from scratch.

People are always so impressed by a fresh baked loaf of foccacia, because most people have never attempted to bake bread, they think it must be quite challenging. This recipe is quite simple, and it doesn't include eggs or dairy like a lot of other bread doughs, so it's allergy friendly.

I top my foccacia with dried rosemary and thyme to match the flavours in my homemade chicken & rice soup (scroll down for the soup recipe here). If I don't have a turkey carcass with which to make soup, I just buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, we eat the breast meat for one meal, allow the chicken to cool, then I pick the dark meat off the bones and save some of the larger bones to make soup. It's a bit of a cheat, but it makes a great soup! The foccacia is a perfect pairing to a bowl of homemade chicken soup on a cold winter day.

1 dough=1 foccacia or 2 thin crust pizzas

Ingredients

8g packet of dry instant yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1.5 oz olive oil (measure in a shot glass)

To top bread:
1 tbsp olive oil
Dried rosemary
Dried thyme
Sea salt

Directions

In 1 cup of warm water, pour packet of dry instant yeast and add granulated sugar to the water and yeast. Allow yeast to sit for 5 minutes.

During that 5 minutes, measure out AP flour, salt and olive oil and add to stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl. Add water and yeast mixture to flour mixture and knead with stand mixer or by hand. If using a stand mixer, put on lowest setting with dough hook for 5-7 minutes. Dough should form into a smooth ball.

Place the dough ball into a medium sized bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place the covered bowl in a warm place (on sunny days, I place it on the windowsill) for one hour to proof.

After one hour, punch down dough and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil greased with canola oil spray. Using hands, press dough out into an even oval shape on the baking sheet. Cover the dough once more with the kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to proof for one more hour (if the kitchen is cold, turn the oven light on and place in the oven for 1 hour--the heat from the light will help the dough rise).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle olive oil on top and use the back of a spoon to spread oil evenly to coat the dough. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme and sea salt.

Bake for 16-17 minutes, until dough is lightly browned. Cut into squares and serve with olive oil and balsamic for dipping.

Note:  Fresh bread does not stay fresh for long, so if you are not planning to eat it the day it was baked, store in a tupperware container or an extra large freezer bag to maintain freshness.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Mohnhörnchen (German poppyseed crescent rolls)

Fresh, homemade bread is my favourite pairing alongside a pot of soup. This crescent roll recipe from the cookbook, Classic German Baking, is a little more involved than the usual Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia I make with chicken and rice soup, but easier than other bread recipes.

Anna *loved* the mohnhörnchen. I made them yesterday and I think there is only one left! If you have never baked bread from scratch before, be prepared for them to get stale very quickly. Prepackaged bread seems to last weeks in a plastic bag, but homemade bread is stale the second day. I recommend putting any bread left by the end of the day they were baked in a freezer bag and freezing them, even if you plan to eat it the next day.

Makes 10 crescent rolls

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup minus 1 tbsp whole milk
1 large egg (at room temperature)

For topping:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp whole milk
1 tbsp poppyseeds

Directions

Combine flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast in a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Set aside.

In a small pot, melt butter and add whole milk. Heat until lukewarm. Remove from heat, then whisk in egg.

Immediately pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Begin kneading, or use the bread hook attachment on your stand mixer for 5 to 7 minutes on low. The dough should look flakey. Knead by hand until the dough forms a ball.

Place the ball of dough in a clean, medium sized bowl and cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot for 1 hour to proof.

After 1 hour, punch down the dough and press into a circle. Use a rolling pin to achieve uniform thickness. When the dough is rolled into a 15 inch diameter circle, the correct thickness has been achieved.

Use a dough cutter to cut circle in half, then each half into five triangles, for a total of ten dough triangles.

Roll the dough, starting with the flat side (not the tip of the triangle). Tuck the tip under, to the bottom of the roll. Curl the sides slightly, into a crescent. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or aluminum foil sprayed with canola oil spray). Repeat with remaining triangles.

Place kitchen towel back over rolls, allow to proof for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F for convection ovens, 425°F for regular.

In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and milk to brush on top of crescent rolls. After brushing with yolk, sprinkle poppyseeds on top evenly.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from pan and place on cooling rack carefully. The rolls will be quite soft to the touch immediately out of the oven. Allow to cool.

Enjoy!