{Baking} FINNISH CHAI SPICE PULLA … Bread With a Twist for BBD!

“Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread; there may be.”
David Grayson
This month’s Bread Baking Day theme is Breads with a Twist! It’s been a while since I posted a bread, and when I saw Natashya’s call on FB, I said YES, count me in!! Ever since of course, the twist has been haunting me and coaxing me into baking bread. Power cuts galore held me back. Its been days of incessantly hot weather and long hours of power outage … global warming, power mismanagement, 46C+ … with the mercury rising & the situation worsening, the baker in me weeps!
Suddenly day before yesterday was a better day than others. We actually celebrated that the outage was just for 4 hours and not 8!! Yes, we truly bend backwards and count the small blessings in life, even if it means not getting power for 4 hours. So with things looking up, I got up early to get this bread dough going. It was what I wanted to bake for Natashya. It was a braid, it was pretty, it was sweet and it was from Julia’s gorgeous blog Melanger in Melbourne. A lady very talented, who got married recently. Now we happily have Mr Melanger who adds fine recommendations to her recipes as well. It takes 2 to tango, and in Melbourne they are doing a pretty good job!
Enough said, it was time for bread. I used to love doing braids, as in ‘plaiting tresses’! Am a bit out of practice as I haven’t been near braiding for a good 4 years. Until the daughter wasn’t a teen, she had lovely long locks which I used to French braid in a matter of minutes every morning before she left for school. Even her friends used to line up for me to braid their hair at times. Her braids were the talk of school, until the dreaded teenage years hit her! Braids were now history, and we faced Medusa’s locks! We now have untidy locks of unkempt looking hair, in her eyes all the time… so you can imagine how nostalgic it was for me to braid bread! Always a twist to fate and I set off very confident-ally to give the dough a French twist. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, ended in Greek tragedy, and I ate humble pie. The dough didn’t like my attempt, so it was kneaded right back, into dough, and divided into 3 ropes.
A simple braid was rising soon enough, got some conditioning from an egg white wash, got dressed up with some almonds, and rose to the occasion for Natashya @ Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. I used chai spice flavouring to spice the dough, a spice concentrate that I got from our trip to Mahabaleshwar. It lent mild spice flavour to the dough… cinnamon, cloves, cardamom; all subtle but like a gentle hint of goodness. I accentuated the chai spice flavours by adding a few drops to the icing on top, and it tied up the loaf nicely. I love the way it rose and baked gorgeously.
Bread Baking Day is a monthly celebration of bread baking all over the world, created by Zorra of Kochtopf . Read more about Bread Baking Day and access the previous roundups on her blog. This month’s Bread Baking Day theme is Breads with a Twist hosted by Natashya.
This bread is off to Susan @ Wild Yeast and has been ‘Yeastspotted’.

FINNISH PULLA
Adapted minimally from Julia @ Melangor
{I made half the recipe below, 1 biggish braid}
1 cup milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
10 gms fresh yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 drops chai spice
2 eggs, beaten
4-5 cups plain flour
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
Almond slices, toasted

Method:
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add one teaspoon of sugar and let stand for 5 minutes until yeast foams.
To the yeast, stir in the lukewarm milk, sugar, salt, chai spice, eggs, and enough flour to make a batter (approximately 2 cups).
Beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add 3 more cups of the flour and beat well. Add the melted butter and stir well. Beat again until the dough looks glossy. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is stiff (you may not need all 5 cups).
Turn out of bowl onto a floured surface, cover with an inverted mixing bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Knead the dough until smooth and satiny. Place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Punch down, and let rise again until almost doubled. About 1 hour.
Turn out again on to a floured surface, and divide into 3 parts. Divide each third into 3 again. Roll each piece into a 30 cm strand. Braid 3 strands into a loaf. Lift the loaves onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Brush each loaf with egg white and sprinkle with almond slices along the centre of the braids.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes. Check occasionally because the bottom can brown easily.
When cooled, drizzle with icing.
Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3tbsps hot water
2-3 drops chai spice
Mix till you get a thick and pourable icing. Adjust with extra sugar or water as required. Drizzle over the bread once baked.
 ♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This post featured on Post-Tribune {Member of Sun Times Media}

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

NUTELLA, WALNUT & ORANGE ROLLS … ‘Chocolat et pain … what else?’

“There’s nothing better than a good friend – except a good friend with chocolate!”
Linda Grayson

Bonjour. Welcome February, the month of love. And when there’s World Nutella Day (5th Feb) just around the corner, there can be nothing better than chocolate. At the end of the day, it’s all about chocolate! I got a mail the other day from a sweet lady by the name of Amy telling me that she had added my blog to this list – 80 Great sites for those who love to bake… I was elated! So I went across to take a look, and found a huge treasure of baking resources. Found some of my favourites, and there were still many more I hadn’t discovered. That took care of the rest of the evening… I explored voraciously.
I stopped by this lovely blog called The Baking Pan…and chanced by breads. At the same time I was tweeting with Jamie who yelled out that she was hosting the months Monthly Mingle…and I said ‘What’s your call for MM Jamie ? She said ‘Chocolate and bread…what else? Just like Jamie, the first two foodie loves of her life, chocolate and bread!
Visit her blog Lifes A Feast and you will see the yeastly love spilling out from a blog smothered in delicious chocolate! This lovely bread baking chic has mastered every yeastly devil in breads, and her head is full of breaded tips! I was discussing my rolls with her, and she said I‘ve heard cutting these with dental floss gives them a great neat edge“. How cool is that!! Great tip and one I shall definitely use in future.
Should have guessed that it would be something chocolate et pain!! I went into the sweet breads section of Baking Pan and found these rolls. Something I’ve always dreamt of making but never quite gotten there. I am actually a bit challenged when it comes to following roll instructions. The trouble begins when I have to begin rolling from the long length? Which way should I go?? Along the long length, or across it? Once again it was the same dilemma and I couldn’t figure out which way to roll, so just followed my common sense…If I rolled the dough thin then I would get many smaller rolls…
Which is what I did and got plenty of little rolls. Really should have read the recipe to the very end  to see that they needed only 12 in the end. Oh well…I got lots of smaller ones, but they rose beautifully and fitted the tin right through. At this time there was a power outage, so I wrapped the tin in clingwrap and allowed it to rest in the fridge overnight. I popped it into a preheated oven the next morning, and they were as good as gold!
The original recipe had no chocolate, hence it was time to adapt. I used a slathering of Nutella to get eligible for the Mingle, and loads of orange zest because it’s orange season here these days. The bazaars are bursting with oranges, and well, chocolate and orange make for a fine marriage. Because three’s company, I had to use walnuts too. I love the added texture that nuts lend to yeasted breads. NICE!!

This delicious sweet bread is off for the Monthly Mingle to Lifes A Feast, a monthly event which is brain child of fabulous Meeta @ What’s For Lunch Honey. Jamie says, ‘So join us, won’t you, and bring along something from your kitchen, create something homey, something elegant or something exotic’. There you go Jamie, chocolat et pain, pour vous!

Nutella Orange Walnut Rolls
Adapted from Baking Pan
Ingredients:
Dough:
¾ cup warm orange juice (110 to 115 degrees)
2 tbsps fresh yeast (or 1 package active dry yeast)
1/3 cup granulated orange sugar
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3 to 3½ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
1 vanilla bean, scraped (optional)

Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated orange sugar
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Nutella
Orange Icing: 
1/2 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar (original recipe has 1 cup)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice

Tip: Use a citrus zester and citrus juicer for fresh zest and freshly squeezed juice.

Method:
Dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine warm orange juice and yeast; stir and let sit until yeast is dissolved, about 10 minutes.
Add sugar, egg, melted butter, salt, and orange zest; beat until mixture is smooth. Add 2 cups flour and 1/4 chup finely chopped walnuts; stir until well mixed. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is too sticky.
Place dough in a well greased bowl; turn dough over once to grease the top. Cover bowl with a small kitchen towel and let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Prepare one 13x9x2 inch oblong pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening (I lined it with wax paper too).
Punch dough down then turn onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough briefly, 4 to 5 times. Roll the dough into an 18 inch by 9 inch rectangle
Filling:
Using an offset spatual or flat knife, gently but firmly spread Nutella all over leaving a 1/2 inch border. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the Nutella with melted butter.
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and walnuts. Sprinkle sugar walnut mixture evenly over buttered dough to within ½ inch of the edges. Roll-up dough jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch the seams together to seal. Slice dough into 1½ inch pieces and place about ½ inch apart in baking pan.
Cover and let rolls rise is a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Bake:
Preheat oven to 190C.
Bake rolls 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove rolls from oven. Place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool.

Orange Icing:

In a small bowl, combine confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, orange zest, and enough orange juice to make a good spreading consistency. Spread icing onto still warm rolls.
Should make 12 rolls
Note: I made them upto the second rise, cut them, put them into the tin, and clingwrapped the whole baking tin and left it in the fridge overnight. Baked straight from the fridge into the oven the next morning.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This bread is off to  Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

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DRIED CRANBERRY & WALNUT BREAD from Ottolenghi for BBD, with Roasted Bell Pepper Pasta

“Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words. Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name.”
…from a café sign

Yay…finally managed to bake bread. No mean task these days. We live in the so called millennium city, but have suffered unannounced power outages this winter from 4 hours to 6 hours daily, sometimes even more. It’s bad enough for a daily routine, but spells desperate times for the baker in me.
But bread I had to bake for Jamie who is hosting Zorra of Kochtopf’s Bread Baking Day #26. Bake something special for Jamie’s special BBD theme -“Baking Bread for a Birthday Party”! How could I go to her birthday empty handed? So began the search for a suitable bread!

Didn’t have to look far because my current obsession made me reach out for Ottolenghi… a book that is possibly the best & most used one that I own. The fact that Jamie also has the same book, adds to the connect. {Add Hilda & Meeta to this explosive package, & you have the Ottelenghi sistah’s!! YAY}.

My attention was held by the Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick. I just had to make this. The pictures in the book are moreish. Bread that called my name because it looked so artisanal. Fitted in with my ‘Ten in 10′ resolution too… as it had healthy flours in it! Of course we have very limited flour varieities available here, so I substituted a bit here & there. Was thrilled to see buckwheat flour in the ingredients. I had buckwheat!! Yippee…
The Ottolenghi bread is much darker in the picture cause they use country brown flour. I used a combination of all purpose, whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Didn’t have sour cherries so used dried cranberries instead. The bread was wonderful. I made it over a 2 day period. Did the first rise & kept it in the fridge overnight to get a quick start the next morning. Worked fine, though I think warmer weather will give me a lighter, more airier crumb & texture. Can’t wait to try it again!
It tasted like an artisanal bread, full of deep wonderful flavours, the sweetness of the cranberries coming out beautifully with the nutty walnut. Also tasted quite like the artisan bread Jamie & I had with our sweet potato soup at The Natural Kitchen in London. I knew she was going to love this bread…so here it is for her, with flowers!! Happy Birthday twin sistah!

Dried Cranberry & Walnut Stick
adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick, Ottolenghi – The Cookbook
160ml lukewarm water (not more than 30C; I used a little extra)
2 1/4 tsp tightly packed fresh yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
40ml orange juice (from about 1 large orange)
200gm plain flour
50gm whole wheat flour
65g buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
50g dried cranberries (or sour cherries)
50 gms walnuts, roughly broken up into pieces
Oil to oil bowl

Method:

Put the yeast into the warm water & stand for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice, olive oil & salt. Stir to mix well.
Mix the flours together in a big bowl, and knead with yeast mixture for 8-10 minutes into a smooth and silky dough, adding a little more water if required. Knead in the cranberries & walnuts. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap & leave in a warm place to double.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Trying not to beat too much risen air out, pull the edges so that they all met in the centre to form a puffed round cushion shape.Using a long object, divide the dough into 2 equal spheres.Press down a little & fold one half over he other. Crimp the edges with your fingers like you were making Cornish pastry. Now roll this on th floured surface to create a torpedo like baguette shape. Lay it gently on a floured tea towel, cover loosely with cling film, and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C, place a bowl of hot water on the base. Roll the bread off the tea towl onto the baking sheet gently so as not to lose air. Use a sharp serated knife to give it 3 diagonal slashes, 1cm deep.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. (I baked for about 30-35 minutes). Leave to cool on a wire rack.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This bread is off to  Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

The Ottolenghi cookbook is a celebration of tastes, texture, flavours, complexity, simplicity… so much. The glossy colourful pictures have the food leaping out of the pages, the presentation droolworthy. It is comforting, rustic and tantalizing! A book I have an instant connect with. Just my kind of book. Never have I baked/cooked so much out of a single book! Thank you Hilda.

We just had the bread for lunch…with this flavourful roasted bell pepper sauce pasta from Muneeba’s blog An Edible Symphony. I connect to Muneeba, her taste, her blogging style and her food, like I do to Ottolenghi. I know that whenever I stop by, she’ll tempt me to make something. That was the case with these Apple & Brown Butter Tartlets, and so too with this pasta. She said it was the fastest pasta ever…how true. I made the sauce while the pasta was boiling, and LOVED it. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I used walnuts instead. Worked fine!
Also used some garlic greens which I currently tend to use in all my savoury dishes as I really love the flavour this imparts to food. Lunch came full circle with Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli made for the nth time on Mr PABs request. Never has broccoli been so popular in our home. (I made 3 heads of broccoli, all disappeared… & he’s asked when I’m making it again. YES!!)

The kids loved the pasta to bits, nuts and all. The flavours really come out deep and strong thanks to the roasted bell peppers. The sauce would have been redder, but I had 2 red & 1 yellow bell pepper, which explains the orangish hue! The recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here. In Muneeba’s words, ” The Pioneer Woman, Ree, being a cowgirl who is also usually short on time and needs to take a break from her typical man-pleasing food, had the perfect recipe for me. A pasta dish that came together in almost no time flat.”

Pasta With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
adapted from An Edible Symphony
based on Ree’s original recipe
Serves 2-4
Ingredients:
3 roasted bell peppers(charred on the stove, skins removed, then deseeded)
3 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic greens with stems, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream
fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
fresh parsley OR cilantro OR basil
1/2 lb penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Lightly toast walnuts in a skillet and set aside.
Puree peppers with walnuts with a stick blender and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
In a pot over medium heat, drizzle in the olive oil, and saute the garlic and garlic greens till soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt and pepper – for some reason this sauce needs it.
Pour in cream and stir over low heat to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir again. Taste for additional seasoning if needed. Place pasta in a comfortingly large bowl and sprinkle your fresh herb of choice over the top, as well as lots of shaved Parmesan.
…Then smile as you dig in to this bright, cheerful and super-quick pasta… in true ‘edible symphony’ style!!

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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