Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quick-Pickled Carrots

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've made Nigella Lawson's Quick-Pickled Carrots, recipe from her latest cookbook Simply Nigella. 

This is a really quick pickle to make, as it's name implies. The only "extra" work is to cut the carrots into matchsticks. Nigella's very own words "if I can summon the patience to cut carrots into julienne strips, then anyone can". 



The recipe states to use two large carrots equivalent to about 8 ounces total. I grabbed a pack of two large carrots from the organic store and each carrot already weigh 8 ounces each! So I use only one carrot, since the only pickle lover in my house is me! 

Slice the carrot into julienned strips, then place in a bowl. The pickling brine is made by boiling together apple cider vinegar, water, honey, salt, bay leaves, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and lightly crushed cardamom pods. Once the brine has come to a boil, pour it over the carrots, then leave for one hour or so to reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

There is no sugar used at all, but honey is used instead. I added an extra tablespoon of honey as the pickle is quite sour. The carrots are crunchy, a little sour and salty. This would be a lovely accompaniment for roasted meat, I was thinking of Chinese roasted pork! This is a sour pickle, you can add more honey to taste, if you prefer a sweeter pickle.


Quick-Pickled Carrots
(adapted from "Simply Nigella", by Nigella Lawson)
makes approx 2 cups
2 large carrots (approx 8 ounces total), peeled
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods
1 x 2-cup preserving jar or any resealable jar with vinegar-proof lid

Peel the carrots and cut them into matchsticks, and put them into a non-metallic bowl or large measuring cup while you get on with the pickling liquid.
Put the vinegar, water, honey, salt, bay leaves, mustard, and fennel seeds into a saucepan. Crush or crack the cardamom pods and put them in, too. Bring to a boil, then take the pan off the heat, and stir to make sure that the salt is dissolved. Pour this liquid over the carrots and leave for about 1 hour to reach room temperature, then stash in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before eating.



I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs, theme for this week
March IHCC Potluck



and 

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cheese Swirl Bread

A lovely soft white bread, swirled with Cheddar cheese. This fabulous bread comes from George Greenstein's book, Secrets Of A Jewish Baker. In the recipe, the cheese is mixed into the dough, but the author had also included the swirled version. Instead of mixing the cheese into the dough, the dough is rolled out, then scatter with the Cheddar cheese, and roll up, jelly-roll style. So that was what I made, his cheese swirl version.



Straightforward and easy bread to make. There's three methods given to make this bread ; by hand, using the food processor and the stand mixer. I opted for the stand mixer method. The recipe given for mixing in the stand mixer makes 3 loaves. I have scaled down to make only one loaf with further reduction of the salt. In the recipe, to make 3 loaves, a full tablespoon of salt is required, so to make one loaf, that would be 1/3 tablespoon which equals to 1 teaspoon, which I think would be too salty for such  a small loaf. So I have used only scant half teaspoon, which turns out perfect. 



This bread has lovely golden crust with soft crumbs. Makes a delicious sandwich bread, which we had with ham, eggs on a bed of lettuce green as the sandwich filling, spread with some of our favourite sauce ; mustard, cheesy mayo and chilli sauce. This is one fabulous bread!


Recipe has been scaled down to make only 1 loaf, with my changes listed in blue.
Cheese Swirl Bread
(adapted from Secrets Of A Jewish Baker, by George Greenstein)
makes 1 loaf (8-1/2" x 4-1/2" loaf pan)
Sponge :
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (I use 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)

Dough :
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or shortening (I use salted butter)
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup skim milk powder
1-1/2 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)
1/3 tablespoon salt (I use scant half teaspoon)
vegetable oil or melted butter for brushing loaves
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping (omitted)

Sponge : In the mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow to soften. Add the flour and mix at first speed until smooth. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (30 to 45 minutes). (Use the beater hook)

Dough : Stir down the sponge with one or two rotations of the beater, then add the sugar, butter, milk powder, 1-1/2 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Run the machine at first speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too soft, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Remove and scrape down the beater and insert the dough hook. Run at first speed until the dough forms up on the hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl (8 to 10 minutes). You can use second speed for the last few minutes to strengthen the gluten.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and allow to rise until puffy (15 to 20 minutes). (at this point, I allow the dough to rise until doubled in size)

Shaping : Flatten the dough, sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, and form up jelly-roll style. Place into a 8 or 9-inch loaf pan, seam down. Cover with a flour-dusted cloth (I use oiled cling wrap) and proof in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, or the loaves rise 1 inch above the tops of the pans (45 to 60 minutes). Brush the tops with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese (if using). Punch 3 holes in the top of each loaf with an ice pick or a skewer. 

Baking : Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake with steam* until the bread is golden brown and emits a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom with your fingertips (25 to 35 minutes).

*Bake with steam : Place an empty roasting pan or other heavy pan on the floor of the oven 5 to 10 minutes before baking, so it gets hot. When ready to bake, place the bread in the oven and carefully toss 6 to 8 ice cubes into the hot pan, and immediately close the oven door.


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 




Monday, March 20, 2017

Banana Loaf

This month, at The Cake Slice Bakers, the four recipes selected from the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, which we are currently baking from are ;

Thierry Busset's Ten Layer Coffee Chocolate Cake
Greek Coconut Cake
Banana Loaf
Mandarin, Polenta, and Macadamia Cake


Members can choose any of those cakes to bake, and my choice is Banana Loaf.


I did make a few changes to the recipe. The changes are :
  1. I used 2 medium ripe bananas for the batter, and one more for the topping. Recipe indicated two bananas, one each, for the batter and topping.
  2. I reduced the sugar to half cup, original recipe uses 1 cup. By reducing the sugar, the sweetness was just right, without being overly sweet.
  3. I've used only 1/3 cup of ground hazelnuts instead of 2/3 cup, replacing the other 1/3 cup with all-purpose flour (an addition to the 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour indicated in the recipe).
  4. Instead of sour cream, I've used yoghurt.
  5. I've added 2 tablespoons of rum to the batter.
Recipe indicated to use a small baking tin, size 7in x 3-1/4in x 3-1/4in, lined with parchment paper. However, when the batter was ready, it was just too much and from the looks of it, could not fit into the small pan. I then used a 8-1/2in x 4-1/2in loaf pan, and filled it with the batter. Even with this bigger sized pan, the batter fills up almost to the top level of the pan. I was keeping my fingers crossed that the batter would not spill over during baking! 

I baked the loaf at 350F for 57 minutes (the books says to bake at 325F for 45 to 50 minutes). It smells wonderful during baking, with the lovely aroma of the bananas and the rum. What a relief that the batter did not spill over. It rises a little, then it stopped rising, and continue on to bake to a lovely golden colour.



A delicious banana loaf. Moist, soft tender crumbs, not as dense as some banana loaves are, and the sweetness was just right. I am so glad to have reduced the sugar.



A slice (or two!) is wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee. We like this Banana Loaf and I will be making this again when I have some extra bananas.


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