Tag Archives: yeast

Recipe: Chocolate Rye Zucchini Bread

I’ve been wanting to make chocolate bread for a while, but the ganglion cyst on my wrist makes kneading dough very painful, so it’s all been on the back burner.  But having made Pizza Serafina last week for the Great Bake Off at work (which I really must write about at some point, because it was absolutely bonkers and beyond my wildest imaginings), sore wrists and all, I found myself with leftover fresh yeast – and when I was talking to my aunt about the pizza afterward, she reminded me that my Nonna also used to make a dough that was so wet that one couldn’t really knead it anyway – one just pushed it around a bit in the bowl.

Of course, I don’t have that recipe, and it’s probably madness to make up a recipe for bread, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I didn’t want that yeast to go to waste (apparently, I had no qualms about potentially wasting a lot of flour and cocoa and chocolate in my attempt to salvage the yeast…).

One of my scientists recently gave me a medium-sized marrow, with the comment that I was the only person he knew under the age of 60 who might know what to do with it.  If one is going to be the Under-60 Marrow Champion, one must be prepared to take some risks, so I decided that what this chocolate bread really needed was some grated zucchini, to keep it moist.

And maybe some rye flour, to underline the dark, almost bitter, nuttiness of the chocolate and zucchini.

The result?  Well, the dough was downright weird, but it did rise, and I have to say, the flavour isn’t half bad.  This recipe made two loaves of a nice, slightly sweet, chocolatey bread, studded with chocolate, that kind of begs for a little apricot jam, if you ask me.  It’s quite lovely and soft, and perhaps a little on the heavy side, with the rye and chocolate flavours both very much present.  It’s the sort of thing you could have when you felt like eating chocolate for breakfast, without feeling too bad about it afterward.

And hey – it used up a significant portion of that marrow!

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35 g fresh yeast (about 10-12g dried yeast)
500 ml lukewarm water
100 g brown sugar
300 g grated zucchini or marrow (about 2-3 small zucchini)1 tsp salt
400 g bread flour
75 g cocoa powder
325 g rye flour
3 tbsp olive oil
200 g chopped dark chocolate

Cinnamon sugar or a little brown sugar to top, optional but very good!

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Recipe: Vegan Choc-Cross Buns with Tahini and Apricots

I take Easter, and particularly Good Friday, very seriously.  It’s not just because of the sheer number of professional commitments I have around Easter (and Good Friday is pretty much the peak of these, as I tend to have a late service on Thursday evening, then help lead the Way of the Cross procession through the city all morning on the Friday, before settling in for an afternoon service somewhere – Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are relaxing by comparison!), or even just about the religious aspect, though this is important to me, too. 

In fact, these days I have a personal Good Friday ritual that involves fish and chips and a re-watching of the really good 1971 Jesus Christ Superstar film – because I spend so much of Easter feverishly keeping track of how many more rounds of chant I need to do, or where in the pew sheet I am, or how to make that hymn scan in Italian, or concentrating feverishly on using my voice efficiently so that it actually lasts through four days of epic singing, that there really isn’t much room for personal religious observance.  I’m too busy concentrating on doing my job right!  And that’s totally fine, but I then need something that will let me stop and contemplate the season, and it turns out that JCSS is great for that.  Especially this year, when I’ve spent so much time living in Passion land, between St Matthew, and the readings this week, and listening to the St John Passion sent to me by my pen-friend’s mother.

I just got totally distracted from what I was going to say, which is that for me, Good Friday is also sort of a birthday.  I was born on Good Friday in 1976, so I tend to view the entire Easter Weekend as fair game for birthday gatherings, if there is no time on the day itself.  And the first thing my mother ate after I was born was a hot cross bun, so I am undoubtedly pre-disposed by the conditions of my birth to take hot cross buns seriously, too!

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Anyway, after doing the Hot Cross Bun class at Gewürzhaus, I was consumed with the need to make hot cross buns, repeatedly.  And when I saw the recipe for the choc-chip kind (which I actually view as Not Proper Hot Cross Buns, but never mind that), I was immediately seized by the conviction that these needed to be veganised.  Of course, I then got totally overwhelmed by singing commitments, but yesterday’s afternoon service, in addition to being long, was also fairly inaudible from the organ loft, and so I found my brain turning to recipe design.  As one does.  In particular, I could not help thinking that chocolate tahini would make an amazing substitute for all the butter and eggs that one normally finds in hot cross buns.  Oh yes, indeed.  And since there is at least one vegan in the choir I’m singing with tonight, this is clearly exactly the right time to unleash vegan chocolate hot cross buns on the world!  

Happy Easter to you, if you celebrate it.  As for me, I’ll be singing…

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Recipe: Banana Buns (da DA, da-da-da!)

It’s not actually possible to say the phrase ‘banana buns’ without developing an attack of the Muppets, really.  Seriously, try it.  You’ll be humming the Muppet theme before you know it.

Anyway.  This recipe, like so many banana recipes, came out of the discovery of a couple of very daggy-looking bananas on my fruit stand.  But I wasn’t really in the mood for making banana bread this week – I feel like I’ve been doing cakes all week, when what I really want to play with right now is yeast and sticky buns.  And then I was considering my failure to come up with a good vegan variant on my sticky cinnamon scroll recipe a couple of weeks back, which is when I started wondering if you could enrich bread dough with bananas instead of eggs.

It turns out you can.  These are quite wholesome buns, sweet (though not excessively so) from the fruit,  faintly banana flavoured, but with a reasonable amount of heft from the rolled oats (which melt into the dough, incidentally, but are still very present in terms of texture).  They have what I think of as a ‘squidgy’ texture – not fluffy, not dense and heavy, but soft and a bit chewy.  The kind of bread that has a bit of substance to it, without being hard work to eat.

Exactly right for breakfast.

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1 1/4 cups sultanas that are taking a walk on the dry side
1/2 cup sherry, marsala, rum, or anything along those lines
275 milk or almond milk or a mixture of both if that is what you happen to have on hand
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
7 g yeast
2 daggy bananas
550 g flour
1 tbsp maple sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
75 g rolled oats
50 g butter, ghee, or canola oil
sunflower or canola oil for your hands (you will need this)
maple syrup to glaze
 

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Recipe: Sticky Apricot Cardamom Scrolls

After I made those cinnamon scrolls last week and bragged about them to the internet, I had a few requests for the recipe.  Well, I can’t give you the recipe, because for once in my life, I was actually following a recipe properly, and that recipe came from The Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook.  Incidentally, I hope some of you saw the bake off when it was on, because it was enormously fun – like someone took all the interesting parts of Masterchef, condensed them into one hour a week, got rid of the endless repetition and commentary, and added amusing musical stings and a very cute, playschool-like pastel coloured kitchen for everyone to work in, in the gardens of Werribee Mansion.  Oh, and it was all baking, no annoying savoury dishes with everyone nattering on about protein, where protein must always and only mean meat.

Anyway, much to my surprise, this cookbook turns out to actually have all the recipes from the show that *I* wanted to try, which is very clever of them.  Clearly whoever put this together shares my tastes to a remarkable degree.  I want to bake everything in the book. 

Hello, digression!  Getting back to the point, rather than share a recipe that wasn’t mine, I decided yesterday to modify the recipe to something I could share with you.  So instead of coffee scrolls, we have these sticky apricot and cardamom buns which are absolutely gorgeous, if I say so myself.  They do have quite a strong cardamom flavour, so if you like your spices subtle, you might want to halve the quantity. 

The dough, incidentally, is absolutely beautiful to work with – so soft and tender to the touch, just delicious.  And I love the method, which is spread out over a lazy few hours… or a frenetic few hours as you run into the study between kneads in order to write endless political posts (only six left now, hooray!) and food blog wrap-ups.  It’s strangely relaxing to make.

And the results are glorious.

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275 ml milk (low fat milk or a non-dairy milk are both fine here)
7 g dry yeast
1 egg
450 g bread flour
25 g caster sugar + 1/4 cup for the syrup
1 tsp salt
50 g unsalted butter, plus another 50 g for the filling
1 1/4 cups chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cardamom
50 ml blood orange juice – from about half an orange
2 cups icing sugar

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Recipe: Golden Snake Bread for Chinese New Year

bakedIt’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Apparently, the first week of work was rather more overwhelming than I expected, because while I felt totally fine at work, I was remarkably disinclined to cook when I got home each night this week.  This is particularly sad, because I’m yet to even make something for my own Vegetarian Lunchbox Challenge (fortunately, lots of other people have, so the page is  very much worth a visit).

Anyway, I’ve been invited to a Vegan pot-luck for Chinese New Year this evening by Steph (Edited to add: and it was awesome!), which requires suitable baking.  My initial plan was to make crysanthemum biscuits with red bean paste, but I was unable to find red bean paste, so I tried to make my own, and that turned out to be a big mistake, so I finally decided that instead of doing something that might be authentically Chinese (difficult, since I never cook Chinese food at all), I might as well go with the red and gold and Year of the Snake as my themes.  And how better to achieve gold than with the gorgeousness that is saffron?

I actually have several recipes for saffron bread.  Mostly, they are full of eggs and butter and milk, because this is the sort of bread people make for festivals, and nothing says ‘festive’ like enriched bread dough.  But eggs and butter and milk are not notably vegan, which is OK, because I also have a book of vegan and gluten-free breads with a saffron bread recipe in it.  The trouble with *that* is that it calls for a variety of gluten-free flours that I have not yet been able to find (largely because I was so tired after my first week back at work that I slept until midday and thus missed the various little shops that are only open on Saturday mornings).

So I decided to cross the recipes.  This bread is enriched with almond milk and olive oil, with chia seeds standing in for the eggs in some weird way that I do not fully comprehend but am willing to take on faith for now.  I’ve replaced the currants that are traditional to Saint Lucia buns with cranberries, which are much more red, and instead of the classic braided loaf, this bread is shaped into a rather fat serpent shape.

It tastes like honey, and has a texture like a moister, softer version of pannetone – very soft and tearable and delightful.  I thought at first it would need butter or honey, but it really doesn’t – it’s perfect just as it is, gorgeous and golden and vegan and full of happiness.  What more could you ask of bread?

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1 1/3 cups almond milk
1 tsp saffron
2 tbsp chia seeds (white is better, aesthetically speaking, for this bread)
2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups of bread flour
3/4 cup cranberries, preferably unsweetened, or barberries
A couple of tablespoons of almond milk and a couple of raw sugar, optional

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Recipe: Pizza Serafina (Sultana pizza)

Sultana pizza

I work in a Medical Research Institute, and the nature of research is that people travel a lot for their careers.  My current Divisions include scientists and students from France, Germany, Switzerland, Algeria, China, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, The Cook Islands, Afghanistan, Japan, Brazil, England, the USA, Serbia, Spain, Iran, India, Scotland… oh yes, and a few Australians. (I’m sure I’ve missed a country or five in there, actually).  And of course, at least half of the Australians  – myself included – in the lab have parents who were born overseas.

So tomorrow we are celebrating Australia Day a day early by having a lunch for our two Divisions, with everyone bringing a dish from home.  Wherever home is for the person in question.  (I wish I could say this was my idea, because I think it is absolutely wonderful, but one of the RAs came up with it, and more power to her.)

As it happens, I’m one of the few people in the lab who is of Italian extraction, and since food from home often means food of one’s childhood, I’ve decided to have another go at making my Nonna’s pizza recipe.  So far tonight, it’s been a case study in why you should add the water gradually, but we’ll let that pass for now. 

Nonna, as I believe I’ve mentioned before, had two traditional pizzas she made  for us when we visited – one topped simply with oregano (green pizza), and another topped with tomato passata (red pizza), and maybe the odd olive or anchovy or pepper.  (It’s the cuisine of poverty – you don’t have many ingredients, but you make the best of the ones you do have.)  But she was also very fond of spoiling her sweet-toothed grand-daughter, so when I was quite little, she invented a sultana pizza which she would make at the same time.  I’ve never really grown out of it.  I’ve also never made it successfully, largely because until recently, the only recipe I had for Nonna’s pizza was extremely vague – Nonna knew all the quantities by feel and cooks pizza ‘until it is done’, which is not very helpful to the novice cook!  The recipe I have now (via my aunts) has actual quantities for everything except the water, and, as I will explain later, I’ve learned this evening just why the water measurement is as vague as it is – so I’m hoping I’ll get it to work (I’m writing this while I wait for it to rise the second time).  I’m also going to make oregano pizza, of course, but what I’m truly hoping to feed my colleagues tomorrow is my Nonna’s sultana pizza – pizza Serafina!

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2 small potatoes (about 165g)
1 kg bread flour
1 tbsp salt
35 g fresh yeast (the kind that is a beige, spongey block, not the powdered kind)
100 ml olive oil, plus more for your hands.  Oh yes, definitely more for your hands.
‘Enough water to make a sticky dough’.  This is somewhere between 450 and 550 ml.  Which is to say, it was 550 ml a couple of weeks ago, but tonight that turned out to be way too much and my dough is impossibly sticky and I couldn’t knead it properly at all.
2 tbsp oregano, or 175 g sultanas and 2 tbsps raw sugar, or about 500 ml passata, or pick two of these options and use half of the quantity.

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