Vanilla Button Wafer Cookies – Eggless, Simple and Irresistible

It was good to get a breather . Don’t remember the last time I had a weekend where I could actually have a cup of tea and sneak in a few moments that did not involve schedules and lists – of any kind . DH and yours truly are Yin and yang when it  comes to tea – a dash of sugar in one and absolutely none in the other one . Ginger shining through in one and no thanks on the other. Cardamom with a heavy hand on one and not so fast on the other hand. But for the 30 minutes, it was middle ground for tea and absolute serenity. Accompanied by absolutely ” melt in the mouth vanilla button wafer cookies”. Oh these were so good . Had to try this out because I wanted to make something for a dear old soul who would not eat anything with eggs in it.

These were buttery, crispy , absolutely melt in your mouth with vanilla not overpowering and keeping the flavor subtle but classy. I like those kind .  And I suppose now that these were such a hit , I would be experimenting a bit more – on the flavors .

INGREDIENTS:

  • Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup 
  • Fine All Purpose flour : 1 and  1/4 cups
  • Powdered / Confectioner’s sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Fine Granulated Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Salt: 1/4 tsp.
  • Milk : 1/4 cup
  • Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 Tbsp.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream the butter and sugar till you get a light fluffy mix. It should take about 4-5 minutes. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl so all is incorporated and you do not have butter stuck high on the paddle.
  4. Add the quarter cup of milk and vanilla extra extract and make sure it is whipped in well.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl sift the flour and salt together.
  6. Add the flour to the creamed mix and fold  gently. Only till incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX.
  7. Fit a pastry or piping bag with a large round piping tip. The dough is very very soft and pliable . Almost like very sturdy buttercream. So you should be able to pipe it out easily.
  8. Pipe about an inch diameter circles onto the baking sheets. These do not spread very much so an inch space between then should do.
  9. Bake for 16-18 minutes. You are looking for golden brown on the bottoms and around the edges. It is very easy to over bake, so keep an eye.
  10. Let it cool on the pan for about a couple of minutes (the cookies set further on the baking sheet ) and then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely and store it in air tight container.
  11. This makes about 60-65 one inch button cookies. Lasted about a couple of days  hours at my place.

NOTES:

  • Creaming is absolutely essential otherwise you will not get the desired consistency. If you think your white granulated sugar is a little big on the crystal size, pulverize it once before creaming. I would not use brown sugar here, because the molasses content in the brown sugar will make these soft.
  • Over mixing will produce tough cookies. The texture is crispy, absolutely melt in the mouth because of the high butter content. There is a fraction of caramelization as well and you can feel it in the taste.
  • Are these sweet? Yes. Overpowering? No. Could you reduce the sugar content? Possibly. I would probably experiment the next time by increasing the flour content and adding a couple of tablespoons of milk to ease out for the texture, keeping the butter and sugar content the same.
  • I honestly felt the vanilla extract was just perfect. You need the taste subtle not overpowering and this will make it a wonderful addition to a pudding or in ice cream. Would this work with wheat flour? Possibly but you will need fine milled whole wheat pastry flour for this. And definitely work on the ratios to get the texture.

 

 

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream – No churn, Eggless, Quick

Blazing away at 100 F, we are expecting thunderstorms in NC. And the wisdom tooth decides to show yours truly who the boss was. Flared up and enduring nagging pain was not how I thought I would be spending a Friday ! Nope definitely not fun and unplanned for.

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

And while A1 has a packed schedule , A3  learns to work on his team skills and to compete in the swim team. A winner by attitude  more than by numbers is what I would like for him to pick up this summer.

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

A2 weasels her way out of gym practice and her doe eyes plead for a summer treat as she fans herself to get some respite against the warm weather. And while we toss about if it would be a berry cheesecake ice-cream, or mango ice cream or cookies and cream one, she pounces on a Speculos butter in a jar and wants to know if we could make one with it.  

 

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

 

Creamy with crunchy bits, sweet and with a hint of cinnamon the Speculos cookie butter ( or Biscoff one) is for those indulgent days at home – weekends,  celebrations or pick me up. Pair it with fresh whipped cream  and some condensed milk and you have wonderful creamy, soft serve ice cream ready to drool for! Add in some  crunchy Heath toffee bits and its a perfect combination . Just 5 ingredients and you are on your way to create a fantastic and bowl licking summer treat. It’s quite irresistible as licked fingers hold a testament to this at home. Go on, enjoy !

Important Tip : Please make sure your whipping cream, the mixing bowl and whisk is quite chilled to begin with. I recommend leaving it in the refrigerator overnight .

Prep time : 15 min  

Freezer time : 6 hrs. – overnight  

Serves : 8-12

Ingredients:

  • Heavy whipping cream : 2 cups
  • Speculos / Biscoff cookie butter : 1 cup
  • Sweetened condensed milk : 7 oz. or  1/2 tin
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1 Tbsp.
  • Heath crunchy toffee bits : 1/2 cup

Method :

  • In your well chilled mixing bowl, add in the 2 cups of heavy cream ( chilled) and start by whisking on slow ( so you do not splatter your walls) and increase to high speed whisking to yield soft peaks.
  • Add in the condensed milk , vanilla extract and whisk it very well and then add in the cookie butter and whisk it well again so the final result has a soft peak consistency.
  • Add in the toffee bits, gently stir it in and pour it into freezer safe bowl. Make sure the container can be covered air tight and let it freeze for atleast 6 hrs to overnight.
  • Serve in dark chocolate dipped waffle bowls, cones , with or without sprinkles or eat it straight out of the container on a grueling day !

Cookie Butter &Toffee Bits Ice Cream

Happy Summer !!!

Creamy Peach Apricot Cardamom Ice Cream – Eggless, Quick and Fuss free

An impending trip to the farmer’s market  usually has me emptying the fridge and scurrying around creating more space in the veggie and fruit racks. And rarely am I disappointed . This visit too I was treated to gleaming rows of veggies and fruits. Peaches and more  peaches. Naturally I had to pick a basket. And then of course apricots. Bright yellow and of course beckoning to be taken home.

The peaches were so luscious and sweet . Just the right balance of tart in them. The gorgeous apricots though cut a zinger right through me. So tart that you can cut your  teeth with it! They sure looked and felt ripe. So my options were limited to making a tart chutney with it  or make an ice cream. The chutney was of course out of question as my fridge was loaded with greens and I would making a few chutneys out of it, so therefore Ice cream it was !

Creamy Peach Apricot Cardamom Ice Cream - Eggless, Quick and Fuss free

Taking off from my Guava Ice cream and Mango Ice cream , this too is quick fuss free and uses minimal ingredients and  is made in a jiffy.

Sizzling hot summer? Tons of fresh fruit ? Peaches? Apricots? Would you like some creamy dreamy no fuss and egg free Peach Apricot Ice Cream? Made in a jiffy and with just a hint of cardamom? Exotic, Mon Cher.. and not overtly sweet and such an indulgence on a hot day!

Chilling time of fruits and  mixing bowl : 4-6 hrs

Actual prep time : 20  minutes        Freezing time : 4-6 hours.

Serves : 10-12  people

Ingredients:

  • Heavy whipping cream : 1 pint / 16 oz
  • Sweetened Non fat Condensed milk : 14 oz can
  • Ripe peaches : 6-8, washed and sliced
  • Apricots : 10-12 , Washed and sliced
  • Cardamom powder : a generous pinch

Method:

Note : Pre Prep :

  • Before whipping the cream ensure the contents as well as the mixing bowl is well chilled . This will get you to whipped creamy stage faster and also hold it.
  • If using the KA stand mixer, ensure the wire whisk and the bowl is chilled well for a couple of hours.

Procedure :

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer if using ( or a regular hand mixer can be used ) attach the wire whisk and proceed to whip the heavy cream to nearly stiff creamy peaks. Start on slow speed and bring it to higher speed for about 4-7 minutes. By now you should have very creamy and stiff peaks formed. Take care not to harden it and create the sweet cream whipped butter from it . You do not want it.
  • Meanwhile slice the peaches and apricots and blend it smooth to a thick smoothie/ pulp like extract without adding any water. 
  • Add in the condensed milk and apricot – peach pulp .
  • Change to flat beater and mix it again for about 3 minutes until they are mixed well. You will see a thick creamy mass. 
  • Add in cardamom powder and mix it again.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowls and pour into a freezer safe bowl. Close tightly  to prevent any crystallization.
  • Should set in about 4-6 hrs.
  • Thick , luscious creamy peach –  apricot ice cream is ready to be indulged in !

Creamy Peach Apricot Cardamom Ice Cream - Eggless, Quick and Fuss free

Notes :

  • You can use whipped cream in place of the heavy whipping cream if you are pressed for time.
  • Saffron is an optional exotic spice which will also lend a unique flavor

Verdict : Very creamy , smooth and light  ice cream, with flecks of the fruit and cardamom.

 

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

I swear I do not know if baking is therapeutic. I seem to do these things when I have million other things going.. When I do seem to find a bit of time ,I usually reach for a book. Though the latter does not seem to be happening lately. I am falling behind on catching up with some great novels. I used to be a bibliophile? Notice the past tense? Sigh ! Maybe these will put me in the mood to catch up on some reading, movies and music.

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

 

A seemingly blah day can be perked up with these dainty Shortbread cookies or  Nankhatai made with wheat? Yes of course! Made with wheat and some goodies in it as well.

Improvised my old recipe on a lark and it seemed to work ..

These are some gorgeous melt in the mouth cookies. The only problem, they’re so melt in the mouth that you do need to hide the cookie tin away !

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachio, with just a hint of oranges and saffron!  Lovely!

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

The amazing bend of flavors works so much in their favor and these are truly met in the mouth. As a big plus, I used soft brown sugar . Now this provided the extra  dimension and some crunch. If you can only taste this, I tell you would be absolutley taken in ! And if you do plan on selling you house this is a great smell to entice your buyers ! Fresh baked cookies.. Can it get better than this?

This is a tweak from my other Nankhatai recipe

Prep time : 15 min  Dough resting time : 30 min

Bake time : 14-16 min  Yield : 20 cookies

Shelf life : Minimal with 3 tykes in the house ( 1 week)

Ingredients :

  • White whole wheat flour : 1/2 Cup
  • All purpose flour : 1/2 Cup
  • Unsalted Butter at room temperature : 1/2 Cup = 1 stick
  • Salt : A tiny pinch ( to enhance the flavor) ( 1/4 tsp.)
  • Baking Soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Fine soft brown sugar : 1/2 Cup
  • Saffron strands : a generous pinch, slight warmed and crushed well to be mixed
  • Chopped raw Pistachios : 1/8 cup
  • Chopped dried Cranberries ( craisins) : 1/8 cup
  • Pure orange extract : 1 tsp.
  • Zest of orange : 1 tsp. ( optional)

 Garnish: ( Optional)

Raw Pistachios : fine chopped, 2 Tbsp.

Method :

  • Cream the butter and  sugar in a big mixing bowl. Cream it well until the sugar granules are nice and invisible in it. The creaming is essential to get the texture and ensure proper baking too. In the case of brown sugar, you might still see tiny flecks of it.
  • In an another bowl, whisk together sifted whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, crushed saffron. Whisk it well to aerate it and to ensure even distribution of the soda and saffron.
  • Add the dry mix into the creamed mixture. Add the chopped nuts and cranberries as well mid way into binding the dough to ensure even distribution.
  • You should be able to form a soft pliable dough. Honestly you should not need any liquids to bind this dough and this will be  a super soft one. ( Yep, it’s loaded with butter)
  • Refrigerate it for say 30 min. ( I believe this would make crisper cookies)
  • Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Pinch out small globes from this and make  nice smooth cookie balls. Indent  with  the flat side of the fork to lend it your touch. Place it about 2 inches apart from each other to ensure good baking and breathing space.
  • Garnish with chopped nuts (Pistachios in my case ).
  • Pop it into oven and bake it for about 14-16 min
  • I baked  mine for 17 min, because we love the crispy-crunchy-melt-in-your mouth kind of cookies. These have a nice caramel color. Careful do not over bake them or burn them !
  • Let it cool on the wire rack .( And if you do not keep an eagle eye, a few of them would be sampled right away)
  • Store in an airtight container

Wheat shortbread cookies ( Nankhatai) with Cranberry and Pistachios

Enjoy!

( Now please excuse me – a cup of Ayurvedic tea  is calling my name!!! )

Eggless Cinnamon Braided Bread

My little tyke, or rather my littlest tyke is a Ninja who decimates sugar ! He loves sugar, cinnamon, bread and did I mention sugar again ! I have the whole spectrum covered at my place – from zilch sugar to feed me sugar! On the Sunday when I had a bit of baking bug in me, I made key lime muffins and this. The cinnamon roll version of this was awesome and I always wanted to try my hand at this.This is a pretty easy version and it was a cinch to make it. Looked a mighty fine sight and was so flaky too.

  Swirls of cinnamon running in tasteful little veins and tied up in a pretty little bread – On second thoughts though, on baking, the braid turned not so little but remained super flaky, moist and so so soft..

 It was so good that I did not bother to glaze it. Was perfect and reminds you of interlocking cinnamony flaky croissants.

Eggless Cinnamon Braided Bread

 Prep time : 30 min

Resting time total: 70 min or so 

Baking time : 35-40min

Ingredients

For the dough: 

  • Unbleached, Unbromated All purpose flour : 2.5 cups
  • Baking powder : 1/4 tsp
  • Baking soda : 1/4 tsp
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp
  • Warm milk : 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp.
  • Lemon Juice : 1 Tbsp.
  • Vegetable oil : 1/4 cup
  • Butter melted : 1 Tbsp.
  • Instant Dry yeast : 2.25 tsp. ( 1 sachet)
  • Sugar : 1/3 cup ( used soft brown Sugar)

Filling:  

  • Soft brown sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Fine ground cinnamon powder : 1.5 Tbsp.
  • Room temp or softened butter : 3-4 Tbsp. ( softened or at RT)

The glaze: Optional , I did not need this.

  • Powdered sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Milk : 2 Tbsp.
  • Pure Vanilla extract : 1 tsp.

Recommended: 

Brushing the dough with 2 Tbsp of milk before baking

Method:

Making the dough:

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer add the sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry instant yeast to this and mix thoroughly with a whisk or paddle mixer.
  • Add the dough hook attachment and on low mixing speed add the oil and butter mix, followed by the milk + sugar+ lemon juice mix.(In a small bowl, mix milk with sugar and add the lemon juice and add to the flour. It’s ok if the milk slightly curdles. It works good.)
  • Knead well until you get a nice smooth dough. Let the dough rest in warm dark place until it doubles in size. Depending on the temperature and weather conditions , it might take anywhere from 35 min to about an hour.
  • Once it has risen sufficiently, take out the dough on a greased counter top. Gently deflate it and roll it out to form a big rectangle. Mine was a good couple of feet in length.

Making the cinnamon sugar filling and baking:

  • Mix the softened butter +sugar + cinnamon to have a wet filling.
  • Spread the mix on the rectangle and make sure you get as much to the edges as possible. Pat gently so it sticks to the roll.
  • Now roll gently from the longest side and make a tight toll. Pinch the seams and ends. Slice it vertically in the center.
  • You will now have exposed veins of the cinnamon butter running through the dough.
  • Lay both of strands lengthwise and pinch one end of it together.
  • Braid it overlapping each other and exposing the cinnamon strands.
  • Loop it around and tuck the end under the dough to form a circular piece where you cannot see either of the ends.
  • Grease a baking sheet / parchment paper and lay it over  baking sheet.
  • Lay the braided roll gently over greased sheet on the baking tray. Cover with a greased saran wrap and let rise for another 20 min.
  • Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Brush the dough with 2Tbsp of milk using a pastry brush to give the nice glaze after baking.
  • Bake 35+/- 5 minutes. Keep an eye to just bake it  nice golden brown.
  • Take out from the oven and dive in when they are warm!

Eggless Cinnamon Braided Bread

Glaze/Topping:

If you do decide that you want the glaze, whisk the ingredients listed under the glaze or topping section and drizzle over your baked braided bread.

Quick and Easy, Eggless Cinnamon rolls !( with Icing / Glaze)

I had an itch to scratch! I happened to look at one of those shiny, glossy magazines which had a spring makeover done to a house and fell in love. Not with the labor , but with a near perfect shot of a gleaming white kitchen with huge SS appliances and bright green apples. And along with the apples was also placed a strategic shot of huge mug of Joe and an entire basket of cinnamon rolls. I could only imagine the fragrance of fresh baked rolls wafting through the kitchen! Now while I dragged my 3 A’s in the seemingly endless process of de cluttering and re-organizing, I had to scratch the itch. And so was born this need to bake fresh cinnamon rolls for the kids. Made fresh and more likely to bribe them to do the work 🙂

Jostling for space
Jostling for space

Absolutely wonderful and easy to make cinnamon rolls that are not very doughy and it’s a cinch to make. And also an upshot, they are not the extreme sweet kind and provide the right flakiness in the baked rolls. Go ahead take a big bite, you will reach for another one pretty soon.

 

Prep time : 30 min 

Total resting time: About 70 min or so

Baking time : 16-20 min

Makes 15-16 rolls

Ingredients

For the dough: 

  • Unbleached, Unbromated All purpose flour : 2.5 cups
  • Baking powder : 1/4 tsp
  • Baking soda : 1/4 tsp
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp
  • Warm milk : 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp.
  • Lemon Juice : 1 Tbsp.
  • Vegetable oil : 1/4 cup
  • Butter melted : 1 Tbsp.
  • Instant Dry yeast : 2.25 tsp. ( 1 sachet)
  • Sugar : 1/3 cup

Filling:  

  • Soft brown sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Fine ground cinnamon powder : 1.5 Tbsp.
  • Room temp or softened butter : 3 Tbsp.

Icing/glaze:

  • Powdered sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Milk : 2 Tbsp.
  • Pure Vanilla extract : 1 tsp.

Method:

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer add the sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry instant yeast to this and mix thoroughly with a whisk or paddle mixer.
  • Add the dough hook attachment and on low mixing speed add the oil and butter mix, followed by the milk + sugar+ lemon juice mix.(In a small bowl, mix milk with sugar and add the lemon juice and add to the flour. It’s ok if the milk slightly curdles. It works good.)
  • Knead well until you get a nice smooth dough. Let the dough rest in warm dark place until it doubles in size. Depending on the temperature and weather conditions , it might take anywhere from 35 min to about an hour.
  • Once it has risen sufficiently, take out the dough on a greased counter top. Gently deflate it and roll it out to form a big rectangle. Mine was a good couple of feet in length.
  • Take a pastry brush and spread the softened butter on the entire rectangle.
  • Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon and spread the mix on the entire area covered with softened butter. Pat gently so it sticks to the roll.
  • Now roll gently from the longest side and make a tight toll. Pinch the seams and ends. Slice it in the center. Now slice each log again into 7-8 wedges each and place on a greased baking pan.
  • Cover the rolls and let rise for about another 20 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 16 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye to just bake it golden brown.
  • Take out from the oven and dive in when they are warm!

Icing  / Glaze:

Mix all that is listed in the Icing/glaze prep section and pour over the rolls when they are warm.

Circles of cinnamon sugar
Circles of cinnamon sugar

These are near perfect! Dig in! Seriously, Just dig in !

Just before being gobbled up
Just before being gobbled up

Cinnamon and Chai Spice (masala) Eggless Mini Muffins

Most people tend to procrastinate. I tend to procrastibake ! Sheez, I had  a  pile of things to take care of and the weather gods finally smile on us to make way for a ray of sunshine. My list for spring cleaning was just getting into the groove when I realized, I tend to make too many lists ( I need a checklist for lists..) and felt I could use a Mary Poppins gene – maybe it’s hidden somewhere . I just know it is there, I need to find it .. That’s all, seek and you shall find!

 Well so begins the pantry cleaning which ends up in these moist bite perfect mini muffins. Don’t ask me for the connection, it just happened! These are absolutely delicious. Made in about 15 minutes – start to finish!  These mini sized super moist muffins are so so good,  I am  not kidding. These are perfect for the after school snack. Get  your kids a couple of these paired with fruits and milk and there you go, all is well now right? Cinnamon, Vanilla and chai spice – oh what more do you need – Maybe just a bit of cinnamon sugar sprinkle on the top. Life is perfect with a book, a steaming cuppa and a couple of these!

Spotlight!
Spotlight!

Recipe adapted from here.

 Prep time : 8-10 min   Baking time : 6-9 min   Yield : 36-42 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • Self rising flour : 2 cups
  • Sugar ( brown or white) : 2/3 of a cup
  • Melted butter : 1/3 cup
  • Room temperature milk : 1 cup
  • Baking soda : 1/2 tsp.
  • Cinnamon ground : 1 tsp.
  • Chai Masala  : 1 – 1.5  tsp.
  • Pure vanilla extract : 1/2 tsp.

 For the topping:

  • Fine sugar : 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon ground : 3/4 tsp.
  • Melted butter : 3 Tbsp.

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 deg F and spray a 36 mini muffin pan and keep aside.
  • In a mixing bowl add in the self rising flour, baking soda , chai spice mix, cinnamon powder and whisk it well.
  • Add in the melted butter and milk and stir it in well.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and stir it well too.
  • Scoop out about a tbsp. or so of the muffin batter and add it to the pans . Do not over fill . About half the well or so to be filled.
  • Bake it for about 6-8 minutes and do the skewer test so you know it’s completely baked.( the edges would turn a tad bit brown)
  • Remove from the oven and cool for about 5 min or so.

Topping:

  • In a bowl, whisk the fine sugar and cinnamon and keep aside.
  • Using a pastry brush , brush the tops of the muffins with melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the top. Alternatively, remove each muffin and gently dip in the melted butter and dip into the sugar cinnamon mix to coat the tops.
  • Want the entire muffin sugar sweet? just roll the whole muffins in the sugar mix to coat it well.

Cinnamon and Chai Spice (masala) Eggless Mini Muffins

Notes:

Chai Masala: ( you can use your spice mix or you can use this basic one too)

  • Black peppercorns : 1 Tbsp.
  • Whole green cardamom : 12 – 14 pods
  • Cinnamon bark : 2 inches
  • Dried ginger powder : 1 Tbsp.
  • Black cloves : 3- 4

Warm the spices  for a minute or two on a skillet . Cool and dry grind it in a spice grinder.

 Variation :

This would work will with thandai masala or as cinnamon banana mini muffins too or as in choco cinnamon mini muffins.

 

 

Quick and Easy White Sandwich Bread

What a day it tuned out to be! School was out again.. We had big fat snow flurries raining down on us, and school was out once again for the second week in a row. Three kids and a dog on a snow day at home.. This should read like a movie. Instead my kiddos acted as if they were handed the elixir to life and my furry went to play in the flurries and in the process got all covered with snow. Dug a nice trench in the backyard with all the  madcap running in it as well. I on the hand decided to cozy up on the recliner with a steaming hot cup of coffee and a book. The first part, I did get to, but since snoozies snuck up on me the book remained unread. Lunch called and there I was looking at the remains of a sad looking loaf of bread and decided to wolf down a semi – naked burger. You know, burger – the normal and all with a yummy patty sandwiched  between 2 slices of bread. Of course loaded with spinach and jalapenos and more. And then you go the carb less route, basically burger without the bun! So therefore by the power of interpretation, a semi naked burger would be when you run out of bread and have only one slice of it !

And thus was born the necessity to bake this afternoon, cause the other option would have been to run to the store . And that would happen only if you would have been able to bribe me with a million bucks and a steaming hot mug of latte. Since it did not, here we are baking bread!

So there you go, for one of the most easiest and most versatile sandwich bread that is pillowy soft and has a fantastic crust and crumb for such minimal effort. Have it plain or toast it and slather it with butter and jam . For the more adventurous, make thick slices of these and make fresh french toast. But make no bones about this, for this might be plain fare, but it appeals very well to all.

Slice think or thick - you choose
Slice think or thick – you choose

Ingredients:

  1. Unbromated and Unbleached  APF    :            3 +0.5 cups reserved as required
  2. Very warm water                                    :            1¼ cups
  3. Instant acting dry yeast                         :            2 ¼ tsp. or 1 sachet of it.
  4. Sugar / Honey/ Agave                           :            2 Tbsp.
  5. Oil                                                             :            ¼ cup
  6. Salt                                                            :            1½ tsp.
  7. Milk ( optional)                                       :            1 Tbsp.

Method:

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add in 3 cups of flour, sugar and salt and using a flat beater mix it well.
  2. Next add in the dry yeast and stir in well using the flat beater.
  3. Add in the oil and water simultaneously and using the flat beater mix it in thoroughly.
  4. Now switch to the dough hook and knead it for about 4-6 minutes until you get a nice smooth dough. Add in more flour from the reserved 1/2 cup if required.
  5. Rest it in the bowl for about 5 minutes or so.
  6. Take it out on a greased surface ( I typically spray the surface of my kitchen counter and dump the dough in it) and roll it out to form a rectangle and make a log. Pinch the ends of the seam and the sides and place it seam side down on a greased baking pan of 9 by 5 inches.
  7. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise in warm, draft free zone for about 25 minutes or until doubled in volume.
  8. Meanwhile pre heat the oven to 375 deg F.
  9. When dough has sufficiently risen, make a couple of gashes ¼ inches or so deep or make one slit down the center using a very sharp knife and place it in the oven after giving it a milk wash.
  10. Bake for about 25-28 minutes . Do the tap test – bread when tapped should sound hollow.
  11. Let it cool thoroughly before slicing.

 Substitution: Sub out 1 cup of  APF with one cup of white whole wheat flour. The remaining 2 cups would remain APF . It works very well.

Quick Herb Sandwich Bread – One hour bread!

When the going get’s tough, the tough get going!

When we run out of bread at 6 Am, we bake to have a fresh loaf by 7.30 AM … So espoused the sleep deprived brain of mine!

 Now most people do not claim to be sane at 6 AM on a Saturday morning, but hey I never claimed that part of my brain – you know the part when the saner actions originate from, that part was particularly alive and kicking generally.  My four legged addition to the family, a particularly feisty puppy of 5 months old decided 5.40 AM WAS THE PERFECT TIME TO CATCH UP ON THE BARKING OF AN ENTIRE DAY! YIPPE, YIPPE , YAY YAY! Let’s wake up the entire neighborhood ! Now before sleeping tykes get rudely roused ( though I have told them to just put a pillow on their heads and get back to sleep, training the puppy at work and all ) I was up in any case at 5.30 ( blame the body clock!), so keeping me company when I embarked on this madcap adventure  of a bit of this and bit of that , yielding in a successful kitchen experiment was M, my furry companion!  I so totally envy her, after all the rabble rousing bark and her business attended to, she was happily curled up near the vent of the heater, just occasionally raising her head to see to what’s happening and most of the time though happily content to be! Just be.

So here it is, my version of a quick sandwich loaf with minimal ingredients and really yum results.

This is a super quick and equally delicious sandwich bread made in about 60 minutes flat! Yep, that’s right 60 minutes including the rising time and you have it ready to make a thick delicious grilled sandwich or an equally  yum grilled cheese one or just a plain fare of toast with a dab of creamy salted butter!

Please do note, the use of Instant dry yeast is what leads to the quick rising of bread and thereby eliminating the need for a second rise.

Quick bread : check  

Easy loaf : check  

No eggs : check  

Not too much oil or sugar : check  

One rise : check  

Perfect : check   

 

1,2,3
1,2,3
Sliced to perfection!
Sliced to perfection!

Ingredients:

  • Bread flour : 2.5 cups + 0.5 cup as needed
  • Water : very warm, 1 cup
  • Sugar : 1 Tbsp.
  • Olive Oil : 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp to grease the bowl
  • Salt : 1 tsp.
  • Red chili flakes : 1/2 Tbsp. ( optional)
  • Fresh and died herbs  of choice: 1/4 cup
  • Instant Active dry yeast : 1 packet  ( 1/4 ounce)

Notes : Do not have Bread flour? Have only All purpose flour? works fine too. Want to try whole wheat? Try mixing the flours half and half and give it a shot! Please do try and use unbromated, unbleached flour. If you end up using unbromated flour, then do knead a bit more.

Method:

  • In a wide mixing bowl or you stand kneader’s bowl add in 2.5 cups of flour, the herbs mix, the salt, sugar  and the instant dry yeast and using a paddle attachment or a whisk make sure they are thoroughly stirred and distributed.
  • Add in the 2 Tbsp. of Olive oil and stir it well too.
  • Replace the paddle to the dough hook and add in the very warm water and knead it well. Once the dough gathers, decide if you need to add a bit more . If so because the dough is too shaggy and sticky, add the extra half cup of flour in stages of 2 tsp. or so and bring it all together and knead very well for about 4- 5 minutes. The end result would be a very soft pliable dough, but definitely not tearing apart. A bit sticky is fine. Not adding too much flour and kneading it very well for about 4 minutes will definitely help the texture of the bread by yielding a light loaf.
  • Grease the bowl with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and shape the dough in a ball and place it in it and cover with your kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm dark place for about 20 minutes or until the dough is doubled in volume so. Make sure you have nice warm dark place to let your bread rise. If you think you are unsure about where to put it ordinate have a free draft free zone, preheat your oven to about 100 F or so. And turn it off.  The  residual heat in the oven can serve as a nice environment to let your bread rise.
  • After about 20 minutes, gently punch the dough to deflate it and shape it into a free loaf or shape it in your 9 by 5 bread pan. I used the  bread pan and greased it before placing the dough in it and flat patted it. No log formation , nothing. Just a free ball rolled up and then deflated and patted gently to fit the base of the 9 by 5 pan evenly.
  • UPDATE: Slash the top layer of the dough , 1/4 of an inch – make about 2 -3 of these atleast. this will help the steam escape and prevent your bread from splitting on the top.

Baking:

  • In the lowermost rack of your baking oven, fill a baking tray with very very hot tap water and place it.
  • Place your bread pan in the middle rack of your oven.
  • Now set the oven temp to 400 deg F and cook time to 40 minutes and start. Yes, you start with a cold oven !
  • In about 40-42 minutes, you will have a beautiful golden brown loaf with perfect crust.
  • When you tap the sides of the bread and it sounds hollow – you are good  to take it out and cool it.

Remove , let it cool and slice it thick for perfect toast, sandwiches, grilled cheese and more!

Mango Banana Walnut Sweet Bread (Or dare I say Loaf cake?)

Mango Banana Walnut Sweet Bread (Or dare I say Loaf cake?)

 It was a very hectic day. To say the least! Juggling the wants and the needs and answering some thought provoking questions leaves one reaching for brain sharpening tools. While I pondered on the questions, the root of the questions and the answers – and needles to say the propensity to answer certain questions with alarming conventional replies, left me wondering if as a parent I am guilty of espousing certain staid rules in the house! Sigh!

While society molds and shapes you to a certain extent, who exactly molds the society? ( My cure -all, solution to many a problem, A cup of ginger chai did not seem to awaken the required neurons to deal with this ). Well a few upcoming events did put a cheer in an otherwise gray day. May be we can make one day of the week a mental flossing day or so ?

 In any case, a bit past the required cook time for dinner and me going through the blah phase of the day still, left me frantically scavenging in the refrigerator. There are times, I open the fridge and stare intensely at it, almost willfully wishing for things to appear. Kind of like at Hogwarts , except my house elves are in my imagination !

If only I can channel some of the much required genie powers. Sigh!  Well genie powers aside, what I did find was a pack of sprouts , a cucumber  and a strange assortments of veggies. And then I saw it. Tucked away in the corner of corner, in the back corner, (you get the idea) a bushelful of champagne mangoes. How in the  world did I let this slip by me? No clue, except I had atleast half a dozen mangoes with sweet firm, juicy flesh and a bit wrinkly skin (nope, this is not a metaphor for middle age. People ! Tsk ! Tsk!) 

Ah! Dinner, I know. Well, will make do with salad and sandwiches and left overs. But the mangoes had to be skinned and diced. And then inspiration struck. And I yielded to temptation ! So while we had dinner, fresh mango sweet loaf bread was baking in the oven !

Ingredients:

 Dry:

  • Self rising all-purpose flour : 1  and 3/4 cups
  • Baking soda : 3/4 Tsp.
  • Ground cardamom: 1 Tsp.
  • Saffron threads: A generous pinch
  • Chopped walnuts : 1/4 cup

Wet:

  • Mashed Banana : 2 large ripe bananas  ( approx. 1-1.25 cups) super speckled and very ripe is the best always.
  • Firm Mangoes 2-3  : 1.5 -2 cup, finely diced mango flesh
  • Brown Crystal sugar : 1/3 cup
  • Olive oil : 1/4 cup.
  • Egg : 1 ( or substitute with flax seed ratio equivalent to one egg.)
  • Plain yogurt : 1/3 cup

Topping :

  • Fine diced mangoes : 2 Tbsp.
  • Ground cardamom powder: 1/4 Tsp.
  • Brown Sugar : 1 Tbsp.
  • Chopped Walnuts : 2 Tbsp.

Method:

Prepping and Mixing:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  • Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. I used olive oil spray to grease it.
  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl – the self rising APF + baking soda+ cardamom powder + saffron threads and set aside.
  • Mash/ Puree the bananas. Add in the egg and whisk it very well. Add in the sugar and whisk it very well . Add in the yogurt and oil and whisk it very well again . Once again, this entire process of mine happened in one jar of  magic bullet. You can go the traditional way and use the hand mixer or stand mixer too.
  • Fold the flour mix into this very gently.
  • Fold in the chopped walnuts reserved in the dry mix section.
  • Add in the diced mangoes and fold it gently into the batter. Do not smush it please !
  • Spoon the batter into the prepped loaf pan.

Topping:

  • Gently toss the diced mangoes and sugar and cardamom powder together so as to coat the pieces very well.
  • Top it on the wet batter.
  • Add the reserved 2 Tbsp. of chopped walnuts so as to stud the entire top layer

Baking:

  • Bake at 350ºF for about 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes clean. Mine was done in 53 minutes.
  • Cool for about 10 minutes or so in the pan.
  • Transfer to a wire rack. Let it cool down well before cutting into nice thick wedges……

Want to make this Vegan?

  • Substitute the egg with flax seeds. One egg equivalent would be 1 Tbsp. of flax seeds ground well in a spice grinder initially. To this add the 3 Tbsp. of warm water and blend together to get a nice creamy mix. Use in place of 1 egg.
  • Swap the yogurt for applesauce. Though you might taste more of the apple  in the resulting loaf.

Result:

A very fragrant and moist loaf of mango bread ( I probably should say it’s more a sweet bread or morning cake bread consistency) The top layer of the mango was caramelized and the walnuts very toasted and crunchy.

Make no bones about it, this is a special occasion loaf!