CURRY SOURDOUGH WITH SESAME SEEDS

Vadouvan Curry once again joined our sourdough bread. This time I went a little crazy and tried two new things in the same loaf. Inspired by amazing stuff I see on Instagram, I decided to use a stencil, some luster powder, a razor blade, and a little edge decoration with sesame seeds.

PAINTED CURRY SOURDOUGH WITH SESAME SEEDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

385g white bread flour
16g spelt flour
1/2 tsp Vadouvan curry (or any curry you like)
8g salt
280g water
65g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

optional for decoration:
egg white + a little water (egg wash)
sesame seeds (I used a mixture of white and black)
luster powder + vodka

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, the curry and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, place your chosen stencil over it, and rub gently white flour on the design. Paint the details with a bright color using luster powder diluted with vodka. You need it to be a bit on the thick side, and don’t worry about precision, it will more or less mix with any flour bits around it. Do not worry. Paint a band around the perimeter of the bread with egg wash and gently press sesame seeds all over it. Slash quickly with a razor blade according to the design of your stencil, so that when it expands in the oven it won’t affect too much the design.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The trick about painting the surface of the bread is keeping in mind the color will considerably change during baking. If you start with a brown, soft red, or golden, chances are they will almost disappear once the bread bakes. So if you like some contrast, pick something that will be super bright to start with. I used a luster powder called Mexican Rose, and it is wild. But it did bake to a shade I liked and very visible in the bread. Water alone won’ t be enough to stick the sesame seeds in a defined pattern, so use egg white instead.

Next I want to try a simple design made with a razor blade and couple it with the luster powder. It was a little tricky to join the stencil (with the required extra amount of flour on the surface) with the paint. But I am still pretty happy with the way it turned out for a first time.

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THE MANY FACES OF BROWNIE CUPCAKES

One basic recipe, several ways to dress it up. I adapted the basic brownie and icing recipes from a version found in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. Clockwise from top left: Rose-Mint, Chai, Lavender and Orange-Ginger Brownie Cupcakes. I started making them in August last year and they’ve been a regular component of my weekly donations. Once iced and set, they stay good for a couple of days at room temperature.

BROWNIE CUPCAKE BASIC RECIPE
(modified from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

1 package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate (4oz)
1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 g) unsalted butter
265g sugar (1 + 1/3 cup)
2 room temperature eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Place 12 cupcake liners in a baking sheet, and heat the oven to 350F.

Chop the chocolate and butter in pieces, place them in a microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50% power just until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Finish melting by whisking gently until smooth. Allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Reserve.

To the melted chocolate, add the sugar and mix with a handheld mixer, when the sugar is incorporated (it won’t be smooth), add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, for a couple of minutes medium-speed. Gently sift the flour mixture on top, whisk just until the flour is incorporated and no dry bits can be found.

Fill each cupcake 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist. Cool completely before icing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ROSE AND MINT BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1 bag Bigelow Rose Mint Tea
1/8 tsp rose water (I used Nielsen-Massey)
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar

Infuse the milk with the bag of tea by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, adding the tea bag, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag. If you want a little more pink color, add a touch of food gel (I used fuchsia from Sugarflair, added with a toothpick).

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles, or flowers made from Royal icing or molded chocolate, as in the picture below.

CHAI BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1 bag Double Chai Stash Tea
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles (I used this one, a favorite)

Infuse the milk with the bag of tea by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, adding the tea bag, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag to release flavor and reserve the milk.

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles, Royal icing flowers, or molding chocolate details.

LAVENDER BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1/4 tsp dried lavender flowers
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles

Infuse the milk with the dried lavender by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Pass the milk mixture through a fine sieve to remove the lavender. Reserve the milk. If desired, add a tiny drop of purple food gel dye.

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles.

ORANGE-GINGER BROWNIE CUPCAKES

1/3 cup milk (you won’t use it all)
1 bag Orange-Ginger tea (I used this one from Republic of Tea)
180g (1 + 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles

Infuse the milk with the bag of tea by bringing it almost to a full-boil in a small saucepan, turning off the heat, adding the tea bag, closing the pan and leaving undisturbed for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bag to release flavor and reserve the milk. If desired, add a very tiny amount of orange food gel dye.

Place the powdered sugar on a large bowl and add half the amount of infused milk, whisking gently until fully dissolved. Adjust with enough additional milk to make a spreadable icing that will not pour freely from the sides of the cupcakes, but instead be thick enough to form a stable layer. Decorate with sprinkles.

ENJOY!

to print the basic recipe for icing, click here

Comments: My main modification of the recipe was to use the full package (4 oz) of the unsweetened chocolate, adjusting the flour and butter amounts, so that you are not left with a tiny bit of chocolate hanging around. The cupcakes bake without doming too much, perfect to have a flat layer of icing on top.

In this post I used tea to flavor most icings but you can also use orange or lemon zest, omit the decorations, or flavor the basic icing with any extract you like. They are super versatile. If you use molded chocolate to decorate and the room is too warm, the chocolate might get slightly soft, but it won’t lose its shape. To make decorations with molded chocolate I used mini silicone molds, and later painted them with luster powder + vodka.

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BAGHRIR: MOROCCAN SEMOLINA PANCAKES

If you don’t know Tara’s Multicultural Table, you are missing on a must-follow food blog. I am quite fond of bloggers who open my horizons, and Tara does that on a regular basis, with unusual recipes from all over the world. Indeed, a multicultural virtual experience. I have not hit these pancakes perfectly, but they were so delicious I could not wait to share. The batter needed to be slightly thinner, so that they would form a nicer looking circle as they fried. But I am calling them rustic semolina pancakes, and I hope Tara will forgive me.

BAGHRIR
(slightly modified from Tara’s Multicultural Table)

2 cups (470 milliliters) lukewarm water 105-115˚F
2 + 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
1 + 1/4 cups (210 grams) fine semolina flour
1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder

Vegetable oil for greasing the pan

Pour the warm water into a blender and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for a minute before stirring to dissolve. Allow to rest about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Add the semolina, flour, sugar, and salt to the blender with the water and yeast. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.Add the baking powder and blend again briefly until incorporated. Either leave in the blender or transfer to a large bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to rest for 30-45 minutes. Bubbles should begin to form on the surface.

Place a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Grease with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Once heated, pour about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of the puffed batter into the center of the pan in a circle. Cook just until no moisture remains on the top and little holes have developed throughout the pancake. Do not flip the baghrir. Adjust the heat higher or lower as needed to prevent the bottom from burning. Remove to a serving plate and repeat with remaining batter. If you feel the batter is too thick when you fry the first one, dilute with a little water.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Tara’s version is sweet. You enjoy it with honey and almonds, as a little dessert or breakfast item. I opted for a savory version to pair with a turkey chili that is always a regular appearance in our kitchen. In the first photo above you can see how bubbly things got in that measuring cup… try not to walk away and forget all about it, or better yet, use a bigger container… As I mentioned, the batter could have been thinned out a bit so that the pancakes would end up as delicate and lacy as the ones Tara showed in her site.

Before I forget, I made half the recipe, since it was just for the two of us. I am however publishing the full version, as most people cook for larger families. Don’t forget to stop by Tara’s site and be amazed at the diversity of recipes she shared over her many years of blogging.

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ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA

Impossible to ignore the Indian vibes in our kitchen lately. Of all cuisines, I believe that is the one bringing the most out of veggies. This recipe will blow your mind, and I am certain of it. The gunpowder masala is nutty, with the perfect level of heat and complex mixture of flavors. As my friend Joanne said in her blog post, it will be good on pretty much anything. I urge you to make it, even if finding curry leaves could be a bit tricky.

BLISTERED ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA
(from Joanne’s blog Eats well with Others)

for the Masala:
100 g raw cashews
35 g raw pepitas
30 g dried red chilies de arbol (or to taste)
20-25 fresh curry leaves (I used 10 dried leaves)
2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds (I used a mixture)
½ tsp asafetida

for the asparagus:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
sea salt flakes
1-2 tbsp gunpowder masala (or to taste)

Make the masala: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the cashews, pepitas, dried chilies, curry leaves, and sesame seeds. Toast them, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are starting to brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Once cool, grind in a food processor or blender along with the asafetida to a coarse powder. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Make the asparagus: Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl or on a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until blistered on at least 2 sides. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and gunpowder masala. Serve immediately, and swoon!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was part of a conversation about food blogging and how tiring it is the over-use of certain adjectives to describe a dish. Life-changing, fantastic, mind-blowing (guilty as charged)… So let’s stop going there. This is a great masala that I can see being paired with many veggies and even animal protein. I envision a beautiful piece of salmon, grilled to perfection and topped with this crunchy concoction, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. It does need a bit of moisture to shine, so that final drizzle of oil and citric juice is a must.

If you cannot find curry leaves, I’d say make it without. It does have enough going on, and it will still be mighty tasty. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, so keep it in the fridge and find new uses for it. Just yesterday I paired it with sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt sauce.

Joanne, thank you for yet another perfect recipe that will go into our regular rotation for sure!

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VICTORIA SPONGE MINI-CAKES

I made these cakes in November 2019, if you can believe it… Sometimes things take their sweet time to go from a folder with pictures to the blog post. Victoria Sponge is a true classic from the UK, named after Queen Victoria, because it was her favorite sweet to enjoy during afternoon tea. It is a sandwich type cake with strawberry jam, often whipped cream, and usually not iced, the top and sides left naked. Many variations exist, I am sharing a version that makes them in individual format. I find them irresistibly cute.

VICTORIA SPONGE MINI-CAKES
(adapted from this article)

175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
185g all-purpose flour
1 + 1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

whipped cream lightly sweetened
strawberry jam

Heat the oven to 350°F. Very lightly grease the molds of a mini-cake pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Reserve.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.

Add the flour mixture to the batter, mixing gently until smooth. Fill the mini-cake mold, each cavity 3/4 full, no more than that. You should have enough for 12 mini-cakes. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden, well risen and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.


Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then ease out onto a wire cooling rack and leave until completely cool. Cut each cake in half, and pipe the whipped cream onto the bases, in dots. Drizzle the jam over the buttercream dots, place the sponge tops on and lightly dust the cakes with icing sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I had to play around with the recipe a bit to get it right, adjusting the baking powder amount and not filling the mold to the top, so that the doming was just right. It was a huge hit with our departmental colleagues, I got several emails about it. The cake is tender and moist. The original recipe called for American buttercream for the filling, but I decided to go with whipped cream, stabilized with gelatin. Follow the recipe from this link. For the pan, I used this one. At the time I bought it on ebay, but could not find it available right now.

I think whipped cream is less sweet and makes the cake feel a bit lighter, but if you prefer to go with buttercream, follow the original recipe in the link I included.

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