“Bloomin’ Herb Bread” and a Bread Baking Binge Confession

Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread

 

I’ve really been trying to keep up with my goal of baking more bread.

But I may have gone a little over board last week. Over the course of 7 days, I had made the Simple Bread, Focaccia, Pizza Dough, Garlic Naan, and this Bloomin’ Herb Bread. I was on a Bread Baking Binge! Yeah, say that three times fast.

 

Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread

 

But the moment I saw this Bloomin’ Herb Bread on The Pioneer Woman’s site, I just HAD to make it. It looked so gorgeous with it’s golden bloom–I couldn’t resist!

 

Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread

 

And when I finally cut into it and took a bite—-it was H-E-A-V-E-N! I can’t even justly describe the flavor and texture of it. Crunchy, buttery-like crust with a soft but structured interior. SOOOOO GOOOD! I chose rosemary to flavor this bread but I think thyme or chives would be lovely as well!

I had intended to have it alongside with the Corn Chowder but the next thing I knew it, I had pulled out the Balsamic Vinegar and Premium EVOO and inhaled a good portion of it! I couldn’t stop myself! I’m a sick….sick, bread-lovin’ woman.

But in my gluttonous defense, I did share with Bella. That puggle loves bread as much as her Mama does.

 

Bella Loves Bread

 

I did, however, enjoy some the next day with the Corn Chowder and later on that week, grilled the last pieces to make a delicious Chicken Sandwich.

I’m not ashamed to say it….it was a DARN GOOD Sammy!

 

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

 

If I keep on going on like this, I may need a Bread Baking Intervention…

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Pastor Ryan’s Bloomin’ Herb Bread
From The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

20 ounces, weight Bread Flour (all Purpose Is Okay, Too) – About 4 Cups
8 ounces, fluid Water
4 ounces, fluid Melted Butter With Chopped Herbs Of Choice. We Like Chives, Rosemary Or Thyme.
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Active Or Instant Yeast (if Active, It Would Be Best To Sprinkle Yeast Over The Water To Let It Start To Work Before Mixing It In)

Combine all ingredients together in the KitchenAid stand mixer with the dough hook (it can be done by hand…it just takes longer).

I mixed them together for about 10 minutes or so until I could successfully achieve a windowpane with the dough. This is where you can pull off a small chunk of the dough you’re kneading and stretch it gently to see if it is somewhat translucent. If you can do this without it tearing, it’s ready. Once this elasticity has been achieved, the dough can sit out with plastic wrap over it for 1-4 hours to double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

After the dough starts rising, it should be kneaded for a minute or two so that the yeast can redistribute. Form it into a dome and place in a covered cast iron pan after coating it with olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Cut a large ‘X’ into the surface of the bread dough so it can bloom!

Bake on the center rack of your over for 30 minutes with the lid on, them remove the lid to finish it off for another 15 to 30 minutes.

Simple Gal….Simple Bread

Simple Bread

 

I love the smell of the Ocean, Clean Laundry, and Garlic cooking. I love the scent of Gardenias and Jasmines in bloom.

And I absolutely love the smell of Cookies and Fresh Bread baking.

I am a Simple Gal really.

That’s why this recipe stopped me in my tracks with only two words…..SIMPLE BREAD.



Simple Bread

 

And it truly is. There are only a few ingredients, has a short “proofing time”, and is not the least bit complicated. Just for a little special touch, I added some fresh thyme to the dough and a little sprinkle of sea salt before placing it in the oven. Delicious.



Simple Bread

 

Crusty, Warm Bread + No Fuss = Simply Happy Gal


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Simple Bread
Slightly adapted from Marcia Passos Duffy

Ingredients:

5-6 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Dry Yeast
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme (optional)
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Sea Salt (optional)
2 Cups Hot Water (120-130 degrees F.)
A cake pan of hot water

Mix 3 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar, thyme and salt.  Pour in the hot water and beat 100 strokes (or 3 minutes with a mixer).

Stir in the remaining flour until the dough loses its stickiness.  Turn onto a floured surface. Knead for 8 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a warm damp cloth.  Let rise for 15 minutes in a warm spot (away from drafts).

Punch down and divide the dough into two pieces.  Shape into round loaves and place on a greased baking sheet.  Cut an “X” one-half inch deep in each of the loaves with a wet sharp knife. Sprinkle the tops with sea salt.

Place baking sheet with loaves in the middle of a COLD oven.   Place a pan of hot water on the lowest shelf. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake 40-50 minutes until golden brown.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza–a Super Bowl Party Must!

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

 

It’s Super Bowl Weekend. And if you’re like many Americans, your local pizza joint will be making some deliveries to your house this Sunday.

Sure, it’s convenient and some are quite tasty. But why not make your own??

This Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza is super easy to make and ridiculously delicious. I’ve made my own pizza dough (courtesy of my tried and true Epicurious recipe) but if you’re short on time, you can definitely pick up some pre-made dough from your local pizzeria or grocery store. Trader Joe’s has a great one for under $2.

 

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

 

 

If you have a pizza stone, this is definitely the time to use it. The stone will add a crispier texture to your crust. But I found that I had pretty nice results using a baking sheet—just be sure to use corn meal on the bottom.

And if you’re a garlic lover, you will be smitten with the SUPER GARLICKY flavor from the roasted garlic. But let’s not forget how deliciously cheesy this pizza is–three types of cheeses will do that for you :)

This will definitely be a WIN for your Super Bowl Party.

 

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

 

I, myself, am boycotting the Super Bowl. As a lifelong Vikings fan, I just cannot watch the Packers!

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Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza
Serves 4

Pizza Dough (Adapted From Epicurious):
1½ Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Warm Water
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Toppings:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ Cup Roasted Garlic
1 Tablespoon Yellow Cornmeal
1 Cup Cooked Chicken Breast, diced
1 Cup Roma Tomatoes, diced
¼ Cup Sundried Tomatoes
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
¼ Cup Feta Cheese
2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
¼ Cup Scallions, diced
¼ Cup Fresh Italian Parsley, finely diced
Kosher Salt and Pepper
Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese and Red Chili Flakes

Prepare Dough. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water. Let stand 2-3 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups flour and the salt. Add the yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Flatten the dough with your fist. Cut the dough into 2 pieces and shape the pieces into balls. Flatten the dough slightly. Dust the tops with flour. Place the balls of dough on a floured surface and cover each with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let rise 60 minutes, or until doubled.

Place pizza stone or large baking sheet in the middle rack and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly dust your surface area with flour. Roll/toss/stretch the dough into your desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and brush with olive oil over top. Spread the roasted garlic all over the crust and add chicken, sundried tomatoes, and Roma tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the entire pizza with the cheeses and scallions. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Sprinkle the pizza with Italian parsley and serve with additional parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.

*Loosely inspired by Cooking Light


Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza

They’ll Fry Anything in Texas….

Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn

 

I think many folks are familiar with the steamed buns originating from Northern China. Depending on where you’re from, they are known as Baozi, Xiaolongbao, Mantou, Manapua—or Bánh Bao if you’re Vietnamese.

Growing up, I have very vivid memories of my mom making Bánh Bao. In fact, she had each of my siblings in an assembly line for her own little Bánh Bao Factory—each of us being responsible for a certain component of the Bánh Bao. Cutting up the boiled eggs, creating little meatballs of the pork mixture, slicing the Lap Xuong (Chinese sausage), rolling out the Bánh Bao dough, and my very tough job—cutting little squares of paper to place the Bánh Bao on. Hey, without me, the Bánh Bao would stick to the steamer! :)

Needless to say, I am quite familiar with Bánh Bao. That is, until a recent trip to Houston, Texas.

While hanging out with family in Bellaire (Houston’s version of Little Saigon), my cousin Bi wanted to pick up some Bánh Bao from T.P. Banh Bao in the Hong Kong City Mall. But not only did he want the traditional steamed buns, he wanted to try out T.P. Banh Bao’s specialty buns— Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn. Translation: Deep Fried Bánh Bao

EXCUSE ME?! Deep Fried Bánh Bao?! I was both grossed out and intrigued at the same time—and I love all things fried!

That was it, we needed to try them—despite being utterly stuffed from the Dim Sum we just inhaled.

 

Photo from Flavor Boulevard

 

Bi placed his order and a few minutes later, we had our little hands on a box of Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn that were fresh out of the fryer. After a few minutes of obligatory cooling down time, we cracked open a Bánh Bao and took a bite.

 

Bánh Bao Chiên Giòn

 

And you know what? They were really tasty! I was concerned that the dough would soak up all of the oil but it appeared that they used a different type of Bao dough that was both thinner and less dense. The dough had a nice crunch and was slightly sweet—like traditional Bao dough. The filling was quite flavorful and there was a lot of it.

I’m a convert now. Sure, this isn’t something you can eat all of the time but its uniqueness and taste is definitely worth eating again! And at $11 for a box of 9, it’s not too steep for a quick treat.

Those Texans…..What won’t they fry? :)

T.P. Banh Bao
11209 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77072
(281) 988-7667


Why Hello, Sopapillas….

Sopapillas with Honey

Hello Dear Friends! My sincere apologies with being MIA but I was out of town for several days. A part of my adventures included a quick road trip with my big brother from Houston to Orange County—that’s 1,600+ driving miles we clocked in! And although the drive was done in 2 quick days, we did stop for some great eats on the road back to California.

One such memorable pit stop occurred in Las Cruces, Mexico. Nopalito Restaurant is a family owned establishment that features New Mexican cuisine at its greatest. I, of course, inhaled my delicious lunch that included a cheese enchilada, crispy taco, and a flauta—all smothered with their yummy chile verde. It was DARN GOOD! But as tasty as our entrees were, it was our dessert that had me.

My brother had insisted that wherever we ate for lunch while in New Mexico, we needed to order Sopapillas. I had never heard of Sopapillas, let alone try them before. But when he said it was a flat bread that was fried, I was ALL over it. Our awesome server brought over a basket of our freshly fried Sopapillas with a bottle of honey. It was SOOOOO good! The bread was crispy but not greasy and the dough was slightly sweet and further enhanced by the floral notes of the honey. And I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I had polished off my entire Sopapilla before my brother even had his second bite. Heheheh…. it was good.

Headed to Las Cruces anytime soon? You must stop by Nopalito Restaurant. Delicious food, friendly service, great prices…and of course, Sopapillas.

Nopalito Restaurant
310 South Mesquite Street
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88001
(505) 524-0003

Cocktail Buns….Take 1

Cocktail Buns

 

For the past few years, I’ve been pretty obsessed with Cocktail Buns– a Chinese bread/pastry filled with a sweet and sugary coconut filling. I really blame it all on TC Pastry located in Daly City, California. Hands down, they have the BEST Cocktail Buns–EVER! Somehow, their rendition is always extra fluffy, extra buttery, and just extra GOOD. And at 60 cents a pop, you just can’t beat it!

Sadly, now that I’m no longer in the Bay Area, I miss my regular fix of Cocktail Buns and needed to take matters into my own hands. My sister recommended trying out the Corner Cafe’s version which used a good amount of milk powder in the recipe. What further intrigued me was the use of a “water roux” in the bread dough.

Like most yeast products, this recipe did take some time to come together and required a few proofings. The end results produced an OK product for me. Right out of the oven, the bread was pretty flavorful and had a nice texture. However, I found the filling to be too dry and not sweet enough. Perhaps next time I’ll add a tablespoon of condensed milk to assist with the moisture.

Sadly, my Cocktails Buns paled in comparison to TC Pastry…..they are after all, “dee best”. But until I can make a visit to the Bay again, I’ll just need to go back to the drawing board. :)

 

Cocktail Buns

 

So, if you’re in the area, you MUST go to TC Pastry and pick up a dozen or so Cocktail Buns. They also have some delicious and affordable Dim Sum. Ugh…I’ll be so jealous. :)

TC Pastry
67 Saint Francis Square
Daly City, California 94015
(650) 755-8612
Hours: Mon, Wed-Sun 8:30 am – 7:00 pm

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Cocktail Buns
From Corner Cafe

Ingredients:

Cocktail Buns:
1/2 portion Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough
1/2 egg, lightly beaten for eggwash
White sesame seeds

Cocktail Bun Filling:
100g softened butter
45g plain flour, sifted
50g milk powder, sifted
45g caster sugar, sifted
20g desiccated coconut

Mexican Topping:
30g softened butter
10g caster sugar, sifted
20g plain flour, sifted

Japanese-Style Sweet Bun Dough:
375g bread flour
100g plain flour
35g milk powder
75g caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 sachet (7g or 2 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary
40g butter, cubed

Water-Roux Paste:
25g (just under 2 tbsp) bread flour
125ml (1/2 cup) water

Prepare the Water Roux. Mix flour and water in a small saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65ºC. It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, that is when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a cling film over the paste and leave until lukewarm, or room temperature, before using. (Alternatively if you don’t have a thermometer, cook as before until it starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.) This water roux can be kept in an airtight container after cooling in the refrigerator for 1 day if not used immediately. However DO NOT USE if it turns grey in colour, that means it has gone bad.

For the Bun Dough: Sift bread flour, plain flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.)

Knead in butter until incorporated. (In many cookbooks, they mentioned that the dough at this stage should be able to be pulled and stretched into membrane, but it’s hard to achieve with hand kneading. I usually stop kneading when the dough sticks to the work surface and stretches like chewing gum when pulled!) Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). Optimum room temperature for this first prove is 28°C with a humidity of 75%. To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.

Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then divide into 16 equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Form each into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.

Prepare the Cocktail Bun Filling: Mix everything together. Divide into 8 equal portions.

Prepare the Mexican Topping: Cream softened butter and sugar until pale. Fold in flour. Transfer into a small freezer/snack bag with a tiny cut at one corner for piping (or use a piping bag fixed with a 1/2cm or smaller round nozzle).

Assemble. Take one of the 8 small divided balls and roll out with a rolling pin into a flat circle. Place one portion of the Cocktail Bun Filling in the centre of dough circle. Gather the outer edges of the dough circle and wrap up the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal in the filling. Roll the sealed dough with your palm on the work surface lightly up and down to shape the dough into a cylindrical shape. Repeat with the other 7 dough balls. Let rise, lightly covered, until double in size on a lightly greased tray. When ready, brush with eggwash. Then sprinkle a little sesame seeds onto the buns and pipe 2 lines of the Mexican Topping on top of each bun. Bake in preheated 190°C oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Potato Rosemary Rolls

Potato Rosemary Rolls

 

Ever since I saw these Potato Rosemary Rolls from Two Peas and Their Pod, I just had to have them.

The only reason I waited so long to make them was because I never had extra mashed potatoes on hand—and they are a key component to these whimsical little rolls. But as soon as I got my hands on some, I was all over it!

And although my rolls didn’t turn out half as pretty as theirs (how did they make their clovers so perfect?!) they were delicious! Soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet. The only note I would make was that it took 90 minutes for the dough to double in size during the first proofing—twice as long as the recipe stated. But that always seems to be an issue I have.  :)

 

Potato Rosemary Rolls

 

You’ll just love how your home will smell when these rolls are baking. Just heavenly! And they are just divine right out of the oven—-is there anything better than hot freshly baked bread?

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Potato Rosemary Rolls
From Two Peas and Their Pod

2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup shortening
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup scalded milk
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1. In a small bowl, put the yeast in the warm water and stir with a spoon. Let sit for about five minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble.  Scald the milk and let it cool for two minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, shortening, and salt. Add the milk and stir in one cup of the flour. Next, add the yeast mixture and the beaten eggs. Add the mashed potatoes and rosemary and stir. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough comes together.

3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and let rise in a warm spot for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Punch down the dough. To form the rolls, pinch off about a 1/2 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place three balls into a greased muffin tin. Continue forming rolls until dough is gone. Let the rolls rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Bake rolls at 375 degrees F for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Makes about 30 rolls