Scallion Star Bread is delicious bread with a crispy outer crust and soft fluffy layers with scallions inside. The bread has an amazing taste and flavour and makes a great accompaniment to hot soup.



Sunday is for catching up on the unfinished chores, some baking and a lot of relaxation. Baking is always calming and more so when you have ample time on hand, unlike on weekdays.

Our vegetable patch is beginning to show some green specks as we are heading towards spring. The first thing that has been coming up luxuriantly are the green shoots of onions. Fresh, vibrant and aromatic shoots have been popping out of the fields in abundance. And this gave us the idea of using them in our bread.

We baked two small Scallion star bread for dinner.

This is a vegan recipe and to make it a notch healthier, we used fine semolina flour for the dough.

The bread was delicious with the flavours of the green onion shoots. It pairs well with hot soup or just plain when served warm.



Shaping the bread is interesting. The dough is rolled out into 4 circles with the filling on top of each circle. This is then cut into sixteen parts. Two parts are then twisted away from each other. Press the ends to seal.

The collage on shaping Star Bread is from  Herb and Cheese Star Bread I baked a while ago.

Once the bread is shaped, cover it with a thick kitchen towel and keep it in a warm corner of the kitchen.




Brush the centre of the bread with water and sprinkle white sesame seeds.





Baked bread is a delicious amalgamation of yeasty aroma and the flavour of the scallions between the layers. Enjoy warm bread with soup or just plain.

 


Scallion Star Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups fine semolina
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

Scallion Mixture

  • 8-10 stalks of spring onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Pulse semolina twice or thrice in the dry grinder (do not skip this. It really helps).
  2. Take it in a large bowl. Add salt and oil and mix well.
  3. In another deep bowl, take warm water. Add sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add yeast. Stir and cover for 7-8 minutes or until frothy.
  4. Use this mixture to knead semolina. Initially, the dough will be tight and hard. Keep adding water little by little until you get a very soft and supple dough. Semolina will keep absorbing water and swell.
  5. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and keep in a warm spot for one hour or until double.
  6. While the dough is rising, chop spring onions finely.
  7. Heat oil in a wok. Add chopped onions and salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes. We just need to cook it lightly until the mixture becomes dry.
  8. To shape the dough, divide the dough into two pieces. Keep the second piece covered while working on the first piece.
  9. Divide the first piece into four equal parts.
  10. Roll out each piece of dough into an 8 inch round.
  11. Place the first round of dough onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Spread 1/3 of the scallion mixture over the round. Leaving 1-inch space around the edges.
  12. Place the second circle of dough on top of the filling. Repeat with scallion mixture. Top with the third circle of dough, repeat with filling, then top with the final round of dough.
  13. Make sure the edges are levelled. Else, trim the edges. Place a 2inch wide glass or a bowl in the centre of the top round of the dough. Press a little to get a round impression.
  14. Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut through the dough from the outer edge to the edge of the glass or bowl kept in the centre. Cut sixteen equal slices ( refer to the pictures).
  15. Take two slices of dough and twist them away from each other twice. Press the ends to seal. Repeat around the entire circle. Take each pair of twisted slices and press the ends together to seal.
  16. Cover loosely with a cling film or a kitchen towel and leave to rise for 20-25 minutes or until puffy. 
  17. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C during the last stages of rising.
  18. Brush the centre of the bread with water. Sprinkle sesame seeds.
  19. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown.
  20. Repeat the same with the other piece of dough.
  21. Remove from the oven. Serve warm.
Note: for a non-vegan version, replace oil with butter in the dough and use butter to cook green onions. You may use ½ cup grated cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top of the scallion mixture while shaping. Brush warm bread with butter. 

We made one-star bread with cheese for the kids. 
 

 

 

Making  sourdough starter at home is as easy as stirring together some flour and water and letting it rest. The key to sourdough starter is the wild yeast. 


To bake with sourdough, the most important ingredient is the starter. The starter is the heart and soul of sourdough baking. Making a fresh batch of starter is as easy as stirring together some flour and water and letting it sit. No mashed up grapes, no mysterious rituals. Just flour and water (we are keeping it simple).

The key to the sourdough starter is the wild yeast. Wild yeast is present everywhere. In the air, in the flour…everywhere.  Over the years, commercial yeast replaced wild yeast because commercial yeast is easier to mass-produce, easy to store and easier to use. Wild yeast on the other hand can be fussy. It needs a medium, a starter to be useful for baking. A starter has to be constantly maintained and monitored. A starter is known by different names in different parts of the world. Poolish, Biga, Levain, Mother, Sponge, Starter, Chef and Biga. These are all preferments.  Just a mixture of flour, water and yeast.

When you make a starter, do not use it until day  7. Because before that it has good bacteria, bad bacteria and yeast all fighting for the common food – flour. After day 7 bad bacteria die off, leaving behind a harmonious colony of good bacteria and yeast. A stable starter is a SCOOBYSymbiotic Colony of Good Bacteria and Yeast. The by-products of their activities bring complex flavours and aroma to the starter dough and the resultant loaves.



Sourdough Starter

Things Required

A large-mouthed glass bottle

An electronic weighing scale (with tare function)

Flour 

Water  

Day 1

25g all-purpose flour`

25g whole wheat flour

50g water.

Mix well so that no dry pockets of flour remain. Cover loosely with the lid so that the gases escape. Leave in a warm place for 24 hours.

Day 2

Add 50 g of all-purpose flour and 50 g of water. Mix well. Cover and keep in a warm place for 24 hours.

Day 3

Discard half of the starter (100 grams). Add 50 g of all-purpose flour and 50 g of water. Mix well. Cover and keep in a warm place for 24 hours.

By the end of Day3, there should be bubbles on the surface of the starter and it should look visibly larger in volume. It should feel batter like when you stir it. If you are in a warm climate, you might hear the bubbles popping when you stir it. It should smell a little sour.

Day  4

Same as Day 3. Discard half of the starter (100 grams). Add 50 g of all-purpose flour and 50 g of water. Mix well. Cover and keep in a warm place for 24 hours.

By the end of day 4, the starter should look very bubbly. It should have doubled in volume. It should smell quite sour and pungent.

Day 5 to Day 6

Same as day 3

Repeat this step 3 each day until day 6 or until the starter smells fruity, yeasty and is full of bubbles. You may test the starter. If you are in a warm place, the starter after feeding should double up in 6-8 hours.

If you feel that the starter is yet not active and ready, repeat the same feeding schedule (day 3) for day 7, day 8 and if required day 9.

A starter that is ready will become bulky, frothy, loose and will be full of bubbles. It will double in volume within 6-8 hours of feeding. It will smell sour and pungent. You can taste it too. It will taste sour and vinegary.

The feeding process works well when the ratio of starter-to-flour-to-water is 1:1:1 — equal parts, by weight, existing starter, added flour, and added water. Some bakers prefer different ratios, but this works well for me.




Storing and Feeding the Ripe Starter

Once the starter is ready, refrigerate it after fresh feeding. This is called Mother Culture. Now feed it weekly. Feeding ratios will remain the same.  1:1:1. The same quantity of starter by weight, add the same quantity of flour by weight, the same quantity of water by weight. Stir and refrigerate.

However, if you are busy and feel that for some reason you will not be able to feed the starter weekly, you may follow the fortnightly feeding schedule. In this case, the feeding ratio will be 1:4:4. That means one part of the starter, four parts of flour and four parts of water. Stir and refrigerate. 

If you are planning to bake bread, take the starter out of the fridge the night before. Then feed it every 24 hours twice or thrice until it becomes very vigorous and doubles up in 6-8 hours. Now you are ready to bake sourdough bread with your homemade starter.

An Important point here is that it is always a good practice to prepare LEVAIN to bake bread. Levain is the copy of the mother culture made specifically to bake bread. 

Take a fresh jar to prepare Levain. The ideal ratio to build levain is 1:2:2. That is one part of the mother starter, two parts of flour and two parts of water. Mix well. Levain should double up in 6-8 hours to be used for baking.




Some Tips:

Feeding the starter regularly is important to keep the culture healthy and active and to be able to leaven the dough. Weekly feeding is good practice. Set a weekly alarm for feeding.

Before baking bread, ensure that your mother culture is active and vigorous. For this take it out of the refrigerator and feed it twice or thrice once every 24 hours. Now prepare Levain. Use levain for baking bread.

 

Before going ahead with the starter recipe, weigh the bottle. Note it somewhere or with a marker, write the weight on the cap of the bottle.

After day 1 and onwards during feeding,  we will discard half of the starter keeping in mind the weight of the bottle. Let me explain. Suppose our bottle weighs 200 grams.

  Weight of the bottle - 200 grams

   Starter                        - 100 grams (after discarding 100 grams, that is half of the starter)

   Total                            - 200 +100 = 300 grams

  After discarding 100 grams starter, press tare and then add 50 grams flour. Press tare, add 50 grams of water.

Or, to simplify, discard all except 300 grams. Add 50 grams flour, 50 grams water, stir and refrigerate.

There are many variables in sourdough baking and there is no possibility to control all of them all the time. Initially, stick to a tried and tested recipe. Bake with the same recipe again and again. After you get it right and gain confidence, go ahead with your technique.

Sourdough Discard

If you are baking regularly with sourdough, you are likely to end up with a lot of discard. Sourdough discard is the portion of your starter that is removed and discarded before feeding. Keep storing discard in a large jar in the refrigerator. It can be used to make a lot of sweet and savoury bakes and pancakes.

You may check out some of my discard recipes.

Vegan Sourdough Discard Chocolate Cake

Sourdough Discard Whole Wheat Crackers

Sourdough Discard Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Sourdough Discard Naan


 

 

 

 

 

A soft and fluffy bun dough encases the lip-smacking potato, caramelised onion and cheese filling. The buns are fun to shape and delicious to eat.




On weekends we make kids spend some time in the kitchen,  involve them and try to initiate them into the wonderful world of cooking and baking. How a recipe can be made yours by adding ingredients and flavours of choice and how  in umpteen ways one can experiment with tastes and textures is all so exciting and enthralling.




This weekend was really interesting. We made caterpillar buns. Shaping the buns was an activity that everyone loved. The caterpillar bun recipe uses a clever cutting and rolling technique to create the stripes. Some caterpillars were fat while some thin as the filling was either on the higher side or on the lower side. Amongst all the fun and frolic, a tray of caterpillar buns went into the oven for baking.




The caterpillar buns are soft and fluffy, the filling hearty and delicious. A combination of potatoes, caramelized onions and cheese can never go wrong.

You may get creative with filling and add anything that you love- savoury or sweet.

 


Caterpillar Buns

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon oil
  • ¾ warm water
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • Some chocolate chips or black currants for eyes

Stuffing

  • 4 medium-size potatoes, boiled
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • ¼ cup broccoli florets
  • 3 cube cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Instructions

Instructions

  1. Whisk together first five ingredients.
  2. Add sugar to warm water and stir to dissolve. Add yeast. Stir. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. It should turn frothy.
  3. Add this to the dry mix and knead. Knead until the dough becomes smooth and soft.
  4. Transfer to an oiled bowl. Turn around once so that it is coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place for 1 hour or until double.
  5. In the meantime, prepare the stuffing. Boil cool and mash the potatoes. Heat oil in a wok and add chopped onions. After 5 minutes add broccoli florets. Add salt, cover and cook until broccoli florets are cooked. Turn off the heat. Add mashed potatoes. Mix well. Adjust salt. Add grated cheese.
  6. Punch the risen dough. Divide into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece into a ball. Cover.
  7. Work on one piece at a time. Roll out into an oval. Add  a tablespoon or more of the stuffing on one side of the rolled dough and fold the dough over the filling to enclose it.
  8. Cut strips on the other side of the rolled dough and roll all the way to the end.
  9. Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking tray. Cover and keep in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes or until the rolls turn a beautiful golden.
  11. Brush with melted butter once out of the oven. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tender flaky crust surrounding a hearty savoury stuffing of choice, Empanadas are pockets of                                                                                deliciousness. 



My favourite corner in the homestead is the small balcony tucked under the pear tree. It overlooks the orchard and the adjoining forest. We often spot White-throated laughing thrushes removing the dead leaves from the ground and feeding on the insects hidden underneath. Sometimes the majestic Blue Magpies perch on the branches of the trees letting out raucous calls.




 And to watch a pair of Yellow-throated Pine martens galloping in the fields and frolicking around is a feast for the eyes.

Sometimes, friendly talks are exchanged with the villagers returning from the forest with their cattle. And if someone passes by around tea time, sharing a cup of tea with some snacks is a ritual. Yesterday, we baked Pizza Empanadas.




Empanadas (which mean “to wrap in bread” in  Spanish ) are a Spanish or Latin –American savoury pastries filled with a variety of ingredients that are baked or fried. Empanadas are usually shaped in half-moons. Tender flaky crust with a delicious filling makes them a  delectable treat.

Empanada dough is pretty easy to make. Though the traditional recipe has egg, I made the dough without egg. The dough does not need to be overworked and requires minimal kneading. Empanadas have become our favourite snacks. They are so versatile and you can be as creative as you want with the fillings.

 I made two batches of empanadas. First with whole wheat flour. It was earthy, rustic and filling. It made a light meal with soup.

Second, with all-purpose flour. It was delicate and flaky, a pleasure to bite into.



Tangy pizza sauce, melted cheese, mushrooms and flaky crust, it is divine!





The homemade chunky pizza sauce was made beforehand and it was quick to assemble empanadas. In fact, if you may prepare the dough a day in advance and it becomes a breeze to assemble these. 





To seal the edges, I used all three techniques. Sealed the edges with a fork, cut the edges with a serrated edged cutter and also twisted the edges with hands.




Make sure that the circles that you roll are not very thin else it may burst open while baking. Do not add too much filling. Overstuffed empanadas may leak while baking. Leave enough space around the edges while sealing so that the edges don’t open up while baking.




Pizza Empanadas (Eggless) 

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or 1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 stick ( ½ cup ) cold butter cubed
  • ¾ -1 cup cold water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined sugar (powdered)

Stuffing

  • 1 cup chunky pizza sauce
  • 3-4 cubes grated cheddar cheese
  • 100 grams grated mozzarella cheese
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • 2-3 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Others

  • 2-3 tablespoons water to seal the edges
  • A fork to press the edges

Instructions

  1. Take flour in a deep bowl. Add salt and sugar and mix well. Add cubed butter and rub with your fingers until you get a sandy textured mixture.
  2. Add cold water bit by bit and knead lightly to get the mixture together into a dough. Do not knead the dough too much. Just get it together.
  3. Wrap dough in a cling film and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. While the dough is chilling, arrange all the ingredients for stuffing on the counter by placing the bowls of cheese, pizza sauce, sauteed mushrooms, seasoning, rolling pin, a fork and a bowl with some water.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Divide the dough into two parts. Wrap one half and keep it back into the fridge while working on the first half.
  7. Divide the first half into 7-8 small pieces.
  8. Dust your work surface with flour and put one of the eight pieces on it. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll out into a round of about 4 inches in diameter.
  9. Place about two heaping teaspoons of pizza sauce, two teaspoons of mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon of cheddar cheese, mushrooms and ¼ teaspoon of the spice mix. Use your finger to wet the bottom edge of the dough with water then carefully pull the top edge of the dough over the filling and down to the bottom edge, making sure that no cheese or filling gets in the seal of the edges. Press down to make the edges stick together.
  10. Use a fork to seal the edges or, use a serrated edged cutter wheel to cut the edges. Alternately, you can also fold the edges.
  11. Repeat until all the pieces are used. Arrange on a baking tray. Brush with an egg wash (optional). Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  12. Serve hot.

 

 

 Linking to #BreadBakers

Bread Bakers logo

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

This month, the Bread Bakers are baking all kinds of pizzas. Our host for the month Karen wanted us to get creative with pizzas. Remember to check out her blog Karen's Kitchen Stories for amazing bakes. 

Here are the pizza-themed bakes for the month


 

 

 Eggless Plum Cake has an amazing warm aroma of the spices. Marinating the dry fruits and nuts in rum adds a beautiful holiday flavour to the cake. Soft, fluffy, not too sweet and packed with fruits and nuts, the cake is delicious and addictive.



Shrill calls of  the Great Barbet shatters the silence of the cold winter evening. The wind whispers through the pine trees and wails through the valley. It is getting darker minute by minute as another cold day ends. The green hills begin to wear the shades of grey and then look almost dark silhouettes against the moonlit sky.




A pack of black raisins and golden raisins lying in the pantry need to be used. Along with nuts and homemade orange peels we soak them in rum. An Eggless Plum Cake is on the way.

The brightness of the morning erases all the dullness and drabness that winter inflicts. It’s a bright and beautiful morning with songs of a thousand birds rending the sky. The wild Cherry tree has been hosting birds and bees to feed on the nectar of its flowers. 



A Scimitar Babbler has been foraging on the ambrosial nectar all morning. 




It cranes its neck and pokes every flower

The fruit and nut mix drinks the rum overnight and plumps up. It smells divine. This version of the cake really suits baking in the cold weather. The butter cut into chunks needs to be rubbed into the flour. This makes mixing easier. The heavenly aroma of spices fills up nook and crannies of the home as the cake bakes.





This is a versatile recipe. One can add nuts and dry fruits of choice. One can use fresh orange juice in place of rum to soak dry fruits and nuts.

Let the cake rest overnight for the flavours to develop. Brush with rum twice when resting. It gives a rich taste.




Eggless Plum Cake

Ingredients

Fruit and Nut mix

  • 1/3 cup black raisins
  • 1/3 cup golden/green raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped figs or apricots
  • 1/3 cup glace cherries
  • 3-4 tablespoon chopped candied peels or 2 tablespoon orange zest
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup Orange juice or rum

Caramel

  • 4 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water

 

Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ¼ teaspoon clove powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
  • 1/8  teaspoon dry  ginger powder
  • ½ cup (100 grams) butter
  • ¾ cup warm milk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unrefined sugar

Instructions

  1. Grease and line one 8 inch cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, take all the dry fruits and nuts. Add orange juice or rum and soak overnight or for at least 4-5 hours, stirring in between. The dry fruits should plump up with very little or no liquid remaining.
  3. To make the caramel, take sugar in a thick bottom vessel. Cook on low heat. The sugar will start melting. Shake the vessel for even browning. Once the caramel turns golden, turn off the heat. Add water little by little. Keep stirring and cook on low heat until caramel dissolves and you get a nice, thick, golden syrup.
  4. In a glass, take milk. Add vinegar. Mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C
  6. In a large bowl, take all the dry ingredients except sugar. Whisk well. Add cubed butter and rub into the flour with your hands until well incorporated and you get a sandy texture. Add soaked dry fruit and nut mix. Reserve some to add on top of the cake. Mix well. Make a well in the centre. Add caramel, sugar and milk mixture into the well. With the help of a spatula mix everything well to get a thick homogenous batter. Add more milk only if the batter feels dry.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the reserved soaked dry fruit and nut mix on top.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the top turns golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in the oven for 5-6 minutes. Transfer to the cooling rack and slice the next day. You may brush the cake with rum once cold. If you can keep the cake for two days before slicing, brush with rum twice- morning and evening.

 

 

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