Monday, January 12, 2015

Pesto Bread

All set for our India Trip, preparing to get drenched in the nostalgic memories of family and friends.
One among the few  wishes I have when I get home, is to see the rain in Kerala.
 Love the smell of Earth the first day when it rains after a long time.
 Am not sure if I'll be able to see rain as Monsoon there starts only by June
Longing to taste some Seafood which is one another wish that I have when I get home, hopefully I can enjoy the same as its available all year round.Mussels , Crabs and fresh Sardines are among the top most priority in the list that I have asked my Mom to prepare the day that I reach home :)

This Bread is something that I love to make, have made it a couple of times and each time I make it, I take a picture intending to post it here, but haven't posted it because of some reason.
Today in the midst of packing, I was thinking of things that I'll miss here and my Blog was the first most among the same,so thought to post something here before I go for vacation.

Found these pics in my drafts,so decided to post this recipe here today.
The reason why I love to make bread is that nice aroma of fresh baked bread which fills the home
also because bread is one of the most preferred food in my family.
Make any filling as you like, a mint chutney would be good too if you don't prefer making Pesto.


For Bread

All purpose Flour -  2 and 1/2 cup (May substitute less than half with whole wheat flour)
Active Dry Yeast - 2 and 1/2 tsp
Warm Water - 1 cup to 1 and 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Olive oil or Vegetable Oil- 1 to 2 Tbsp
Parmesan cheese Powder - For sprinkling after baking (Optional - I didn't use)

For Mint Basil Pesto

Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Basil - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 2 cloves
Olive Oil - 2 to 4 Tbsp
Almonds or Pine-nuts - hand full (more or less)
Salt and Pepper Powder to taste


Prepare dough for the Bread

* Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water  (Shouldn't be hot) , add yeast and allow yeast to rise and get active. (Takes about 5 to 7 Minutes if everything is well)

* Slowly Pour water (with activated yeast) to the flour, add salt and mix using your hands or using a stand mixer with fitted dough attachment, Until the dough comes together to a ball.

* Coat the dough ball with some Olive oil or Vegetable Oil , Cover the bowl with a towel / paper towel or plastic wrap, and keep in a warm place to rise at least for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.

 (During winter, its better to keep the dough to rise in a preheated to warm Oven switch off the temperature before keeping the bowl in the oven to rise, check the oven wrack- if too hot , let it cool before you place the dough to rise)

 Meanwhile prepare the pesto.

   * Grind all ingredients given under Mint Basil Pesto - above to a smooth paste. Keep aside.

* Roll and spread the dough (sprinkle the surface with flour before working with the dough),
   I rolled it to 1/4 to half and inch thickness (roughly)

* Spread the pesto over and tightly roll up the dough.

For the Braided Bread : Use a sharp knife to slice through the dough completely from end to end and braid the dough. Place this braided shaped dough in to a round pan and allow to rise for another 30 Minutes.

For the Loaf - Cut the rolled dough in to 1 inch size circular pieces , arrange these pieces in to a loaf tightly. Allow to rise for another 30 Minutes.

You can braid it or make it to any shapes as you wish (Simply cut the rolled dough in to 1 inch size pieces and arrange these flat in to any round baking tray, to get a cinnamon bread like shape)

*Sprinkle Parmesan cheese (If using) over the top before baking.

* Preheat the Oven to 350 Degree F and Bake for 40 minutes, Cover the bread with a foil loosely when the bread is half done/baked (after 30 minutes).This keeps it from burning the top part.

Its ready!

Store in air tight containers.

Enjoy the goodness of fresh baked soft bread at home :)

          : Make sure the yeast is active , that's when you mix it with lukewarm milk/water , after 5 minutes it should slowly start to rise / should show some changes, I think this is the key step during the making of bread.
        :  Also give the dough enough time to rise , it usually happens if the yeast is active , keep it in the warm place, only if it rises can we be sure  that the bread is going to be soft and good in texture. 

        : During winter, its better to keep the dough to rise in a preheated to warm Oven switch off the temperature before keeping the bowl in the oven to rise, check the oven wrack- if too hot , let it cool before you place the dough to rise

         :  Cover the bread with a foil loosely when the bread is half baked (after 30 minutes).This keeps it from burning the top part.

  Happy Baking !

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Baklava - Middle Eastern Sweet Pastry Recipe

A fresh beginning of 2015, hoping happiness and peace in our life this coming year.
Taking each experiences good or bad as a stepping stone for a better "We" in future.

Made this sweet for New Year , a sweet beginning for this coming year no matter what.
"Baklava"originated in Turkey as said in Wikipedia. Basically a Middle Eastern sweet pastry, made with several layers of Phyllo sheets and nuts.
I felt that Baklava - is  not a dessert for which we'll fall, the first time we taste it,
Its taste and flavor slowly makes our taste buds addicted to it overtime.
That's how my family got addicted to it.

Here's a movie I made - Presenting the making of Baklava

Its not difficult as you see it, 
if you are a fan of these , do give it a try. 
Am sure you'll like it :) 


Phyllo Dough - 1 Packet  (In room temperature)
Butter - I stick / 1 cup , melted ( May use more or May substitute half of it with Canola Oil)
Walnuts & Almonds - 2 to 3 cups chopped (May use Pistachios or Pecans ) 
Cinnamon Powder - 1 tsp ( Approx)

For the Syrup 

Butter - 2 to 4 Tbsp 
Sugar - 1 cup 
Honey - 1/2 ( may use more honey and less sugar - adjust as per your preference)
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp 
Water - 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup 


Prepare the Syrup 

* Heat all ingredients given under Syrup , bring to a boil, switch off the heat when its little thick. Keep aside to cool.

Bake the Baklava 

* Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.Line a flat baking dish/Jelly role pan, with a parchment paper or foil then grease it thoroughly with butter.

(Compare the size of your Phyllo sheets with the pan in which you intend to bake, if the sheets are bigger in size, may trip its sides to make it fit to the baking tray.)

* Chop 2 to 3 cups (Approx) of Walnuts and Almonds (Taken together) Toss these with Cinnamon Powder.Keep aside. 

* Using a brush, spread some melted butter over the top most layer of the Phyllo sheets, then place it on to the greased baking tray.Repeat spreading the butter and layering the sheets twice or more time. 

* Once the base layering is done, spread half portion of the total nuts mixture on to the top of the arranged phyllo sheets, spread evenly. Cover this again with the sheets and butter the same for 2 to 6 layers, spread again the chopped nuts and then cover it again with the rest of the phyllo sheets, butter each sheets as you layer it. 

* Using a sharp knife, cut these Baklava to make desired shapes. (I cut'em diagonally starting from middle then from the opposite side to diamond shapes)

*  Bake in 350 Degree preheated Oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the top part turns golden brown in color.

* Pour the syrup over the warm Baklava pieces, thoroughly soaking the same with the syrup.Let sit for several hours to absorb the syrup and to get nice and sticky ;) 

* Serve as a dessert or with Coffee :) 

Notes :
             May make the base Phyllo layer thick with more than 6 layers, I kept only 3 sheets as the base and it couldn't hold the thick upper part, hence place more sheets for the base.May use more or less sheets to make it thick and rich as per your preference.  

            Its good to sprinkle few drops of water over the "Baklava" pieces before baking'em as then it prevents the top part Phyllo sheets from getting curled while baked.

You know what ? Its very much sticky 
But Stickiness is what you'll enjoy in Baklava.
Wishing you all a blessed 2015 

Happy New Year.