Monday, September 20, 2010

Braided Challah Bread

I love baking my own bread and I don't mind kneading it myself, but I usually just let the stand mixer do the heavy work. About 10 years ago I decided I needed to own an automatic bread machine.  You can't beat it if you only have five minutes to spare for prep work but want fresh bread a few hours later.  As it turned out though, I really missed the hands-on part of bread baking.  Eventually it took a backseat to my stand mixer and then was completely lost in the storage area of the garage that I like to think of as the Appliance Graveyard.  While I realize that anything in an area called a graveyard is probably due to be donated or thrown out, I can't seem to do that.  Just as soon as I donate it I'll want to use it.  I know this because once I donated my 20 year old ice cream maker, that had been in the Appliance Graveyard for 10, I found a new ice cream recipe I wanted to make that used a machine.  I'm still mourning the loss of my food dehydrator as well.
Last year my hoarding of the bread machine went from an annoying habit that my husband simply accepts in me to something possibly akin to opening King Tut's tomb, without the curse.  I found a bread recipe that used the bread machine to make the dough and then the shaping and final rising is done by hand.  I remembered that my model has a dough setting on it, but I'd never tried it.  We promptly began excavating for the bread machine. 

I made Bread Machine Honey Whole Wheat Challah bread, posted to by Rachel Leah D, that uses the machine to mix, knead and rise the dough, then I shape, rise and bake the loaves.  The resulting bread was tender, soft and had a hint of sweetness that compliments both a sweet or savory dish.  While I had intended to make the recipe as directed, I found there were some bumps in the road on the way to my success.  I only had 2 cups of whole wheat flour left, so I had to substitute with some white flour and I learned that my machine is not capable of holding the amount of dough this recipe made.  However, after an exhaustive online search I was able to locate a copy of my machine's long-lost manual and I now know that it makes one 2-pound loaf.

After adding all the ingredients to the machine I pushed the dough cycle button and let it go.  Just under two hours later, I happened to be in the kitchen, preparing my rolling mats for braiding the dough, when the machine showed that it had under 5 minutes left to go.  All of a sudden I heard a muted, yet still loud, "POP!".  Startled, I looked over at the bread machine and saw that the dough had expanded enough to unlatch and push up the lid on it's own! I had dough stuck to every inch of the interior, including the element below the bread container.  At this point I started to reconsider the curse aspect of unearthing my machine. 

The following recipe is my altered version because, as it turns out, we like it best with a combination of white and whole wheat flour and there were no braiding instructions in the original recipe.  I still use the bread machine but have also made the dough in my stand mixer.

Braided Challah Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 egg
1 egg white
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups cracked wheat flour
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4 oz. packet)

For bread machine:
Add the first 8 ingredients to the bread machine in the order listed above.  Using a spatula, gently spread the flour out to cover all the liquid and then make a small well in the center.  Sprinkle the salt around the well and then add the yeast to the well.  Set the bread machine on the dough cycle and let it do it's magic. When the cycle is finished, remove the dough to a lightly floured surface.  Knead a bit of flour into the dough to make it workable, divided it into 3 equal pieces.  Divide the first piece into 3 equal pieces and roll them into 10-12 inch long ropes.  Gently squeeze the tops of each rope together and then braid them together.  Repeat with the other two pieces of dough to create three loaves.  Place the braided loaves on parchment lined (or greased) cookie sheets, cover them with a tea towel or foil and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Then bake the loaves at 325 F for 30-40 minutes.  Makes 3 large loaves.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tomato, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Quiche

I've been trying out and creating several new quiche recipes over the last few months.   My main inspiration is a friend, and her three children, who were diagnosed with Celiac disease almost 2 years ago.  Anyone who has ever tried a low-carb diet will attest to the fact that cutting out breads and other baked goods is very difficult.  Celiac sufferers can't eat the wheat gluten, which is not only found in baked goods, but also items that do not contain flour.  Common kitchen ingredients, like ketchup, barbecue sauce, peanut butter, mayonnaise, salad dressings, syrup, taco seasoning, pasta sauce or wine can contain gluten.  But it's not just found in foods.  Hair products, cosmetics, sun-block, lotions and soaps can contain gluten as well.  After seeing the life changes my friend has had to make in order to keep her family healthy, and how costly it is to purchase gluten-free breads, cake and pancake mixes, it became my mission to develop gluten-free recipes that would satisfy their craving for baked goods, without sacrificing their health.

There are many gluten free products on the market and there are a couple major brands that produce gluten free baking mixes.  While I continue to play with rice flours and starches to produce breads and cakes that resemble those made with gluten, I am also trying out store-bought items that are gluten free.  Gluten free pie crust mixes are available, as well as pre-made, frozen pie crusts.  Another delicious option is to make a crust using crushed up gluten free cookies.  The recipe below is written with gluten free products in mind, but is just as easily made with your favorite brand or homemade recipe.

Tomato, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Quiche
1 frozen, gluten-free, 9-inch pie shell
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
5 slices gluten-free turkey bacon, chopped
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (can substitute Parmesan, smoked Swiss or Cheddar)
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (can use dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (can use dried)
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake uncovered pie crust for 10 minutes.  In large frying pan, cook the turkey bacon and red onion, over medium heat, until caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, herbs and seasonings.  Add the caramelized onion and bacon mixture; combine and pour all into the prebaked pie crust.  Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Serves 4
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TinksTreats by Lorilyn Tenney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License