Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin and Bacon Samosas

I am having a bit of writer's block. I could talk about the strange error message on my phone that has kept me cut off from the world for the last 11 days. But I just wrote up another post on my other blog with that whine. I could talk about these pumpkin samosas but they are just simple and delicious samosas - there's isn't much to say.

I could also talk about all the other ideas I had for this month's Crazy Ingredient Challenge. Oh, they were several. Candied bacon in a pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkin ice cream with candied bacon. A braid with a pumpkin and cream cheese mixture with bacon (candying optional). Stuffed French toast. Soup. Pasta. Cupcakes. The ideas were flowing. Ultimately, time was not my friend so it was then easiest to make these samosas. This is a really simple and tasty dough that I have made several times. It's slightly adapted from one I saw on Aarti Paarti. So if pumpkin and bacon isn't you thing, you can certainly fill the dough with whatever you love. I almost added shredded chicken to these but decide against it. I still have the cooked chicken and some pumpkin so chicken and pumpkin samosas may still happen.

Pumpkin and Bacon Samosas

4 strips of bacon
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

11 oz pumpkin diced
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt

In a skillet, fry the bacon until crispy. Drain all but a tablespoon of oil from the pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened. Add the spices and stir to coat the onion and garlic. Next add the diced pumpkin and stir to coat with the spices. Add about quarter - half cup of water to the pan to keep it from sticking. Cover and cook until tender - about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Allow to cool.

Knead the dough ingredients for 5 minutes by hand. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

After resting, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 7 inch circle. Cut each circle into half.

Crumble the bacon over the  pumpkin mixture and stir in.

With the straight side of a semi-circle of dough facing away from you, spoon a tablespoon of pumpkin into the center of the dough. Dip a finger in water and run your finger along the edges of the dough. Fold over the left side and then the right. Now you have a triangle.Fold over the bottom edge to seal. Stretch and squeeze the top point to seal. Repeat with remaining semi-circles.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 F. Lower heat to 375, flip the samosas and bake for 10 more minutes.

(Dough adapted from Aarti Paarti)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oat and Raisin Hokkaido Loaf - #BreadBakers

A few weeks ago, I saw Stacy tweet about a bread baking group. I practically pounced on Stacy and asked (read: begged) her to let me in. You see, I really really really love baking bread. It still amazes me how much I love it. Before I started baking bread, I rarely ate bread. I'd buy a loaf and it would inevitably get stale or end up in the freezer. Bread just didn't float my boat. I always loved very buttery (this is important) Jamaican coco bread and freshly made, still warm from the oven, Jamaican hard dough bread. But once the hard dough bread cooled, I'd forget about it.

So what possessed me one morning in March 2011 to grab a jar and some flour and start a sourdough starter? I did not even like kneading dough. Clearly, I had lost my mind. It's been quite a journey. Great loaves and so-so loaves. I actually didn't use commercial yeast until last year - it's been all sourdough/wild yeast. I am looking forward to baking with this group and learning about new techniques and ways to improve my loaves.

For my first loaf, I am making a Hokkaido-style loaf. I have seen other names - milk bread and shokupan. This is essentially a very soft and fluffy Japanese bread. The key to the texture is the long kneading - 10 to 15 minutes in a stand mixer. However, many also attribute it to a roux called tangzhong. I am inclined to believe that it's the kneading that does the trick. I've seen a sourdough version with no tangzhong look even more soft and fluffy than commercial yeast versions using tangzhong.. If you have ever baked with wild yeast, you know that is not an easy feat.Perhaps the tangzhong works in absence of long kneading? One day I will test this theory. But not today. Today I am using the tangzhong, kneading for ten minutes, rolling out my dough, and adding soaked raisins.

Let me back up to the rolling for a bit. Typically, I see that bakers usually divide the dough into at least three pieces, fill them if necessary, roll up each piece and place them into the loaf pan. I did not do that here. I think that style looks best when using a high sided Pullman tin. In regular loaf pans, one seems to  run the risk of the bread exploding a bit. It's not a big deal really. I just prefer the Pullman look and since I don't have one, I did not do the separate section.

This picture does not do justice to the texture of the crumb. It's so soft that slicing is impossible.

Oat and Raisin Hokkaido Loaf

113 grams water
23 grams flour
280 grams flour
48 grams rolled oat
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
24 grams sugar
3 grams salt
1 large egg
15 grams melted butter
113 grams warm milk
80 grams raisins


In a small sauce pan, combine the tangzhong ingredients over  medium heat until it forms a thick pudding. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

After dough has cooled, combine all the dough ingredients except the raisins in a stand mixer. The milk should be warmed to the temperature stated by your yeast's manufacturer. Knead 10-15 minutes until dough is smooth.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled.

While dough is rising, pour hot water over the raisins and allow them to sit until plump.

When dough has risen, drain raisins and a grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan. Roll the dough out to a 8" x 14" rectangle. Spread the raisins evenly across the dough then starting at an 8 inch edge, roll tightly. Place into loaf pan. The dough will take about 45 minutes to double depending on your room temperature.

Twenty minutes into this second rising, preheat the oven to 350 F.

When dough has doubled, brush with milk, sprinkle the top with oats, if wanted, and bake 35-40 minutes.

Cool before slicing.


The Bread Bakers are baking with grapes today. Here's a list of all our breads. Thanks to Stacy, our host!
How to join #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sourdough Pretzels - #FoodieExtravaganza

Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza!  

October is National Pretzel Month and #FoodieEztravangza is celebrating. This was great for me because I follow Alton Brown on Twitter and almost everyday he retweets pictures of homemade pretzels. I needed a reason to push pretzels further up on my To-Bake list.  Pretzels are relatively easy to make. The dough is great to work with. The baking soda bath is simple enough and they bake fairly quickly. I decided to use my sourdough starter because I think it gives me dirty looks whenever I reach for commercial yeast. My starter does not have a strong tang. If yours is like mine, and you really want a strong sourdough flavour, feel free to proof overnight or make an overnight sponge with the starter and some of the flour and water.

Not having a strong tang does mean that I am free to play with flavours without them being overpowered by the sourdough flavour. However,  I couldn't decide what flavour pretzels I wanted so I kept them plain and then dipped in various things as I ate throughout the days. I cut some of the dough into smaller pieces and dunked those in butter and cinnamon-sugar. That was an excellent decision. I also had cheese, a spicy sauce and even hummus. 

Next, I think I will try stuffing my pretzels. Peanut butter seems fairly common. Chocolate? My favourite guava paste? Caramel is also celebrated in October and that was an option for us too. I really wanted to stuff my pretzels with caramel. But I was fairly certain that I would make a huge mess. I'll come back to it though. I think I will freeze (or harden) long strips caramel. Put the strips in the dough rope and proceed as usual. Do you think that would work?

Sourdough Pretzels

8 oz 166% mature sourdough starter 
6 oz water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 oz melted butter
18 oz flour
2 teaspoons salt 

Baking Soda Bath 
5 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda

Egg Wash
1 egg
2 tablespoon water 

pretzel salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon


Combine all the dough ingredients except salt with a stand mixer until just combined. Let it rest for 20 minutes then add salt. Knead until it forms a smooth dough - approximately 4 - 5 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled. The amount of time this takes depends on the ambient temperature and the strength of your starter. This took about 4 hours for me. You can also do an overnight bulk ferment in the fridge. 

When the dough has risen, divide into 3 oz pieces. I had 11 pieces. Roll each out to a 22 to 24 inch rope. Shape into the classic pretzel shape or cut into 2 inch pieces. 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a sheet of parchment or a baking mat on a half sheet pan. Bring the 5 cups of water to a boil and then add the baking soda. Place full sized pretzels one to two at a time (depending on the size of your pot) into the water. Use a spoon to spoon water over the top so that the entire pretzel is exposed to the solution. After 30 seconds, use a slotted spoon to remove the pretzel and place on the baking sheet. Beat the egg and the two tablespoons of water and brush over each pretzel. Sprinkle with pretzel salt, if using. 

Bake 15-16 minutes until golden brown. Pretzel bites will take 10-12 minutes.

For cinnamon sugar pretzels, dip the pretzels in melted butter. Add sugar and cinnamon to a zip top bag and shake each buttered pretzel in the mixture. 


15 Pretzel Recipes via Foodie Extravaganza 600x600.jpg

We are a group of bloggers who love to blog about food!  Each month we will decide on an all-famous National Monthly Food Holiday in which we will base our recipes around. This month the ingredient is pretzels with an optional ingredient of caramel.  Yes, October is National Pretzel Month along with a whole array of other delightful things!! Get excited!! We hope you all enjoy our delicious pretzel treats this month and come back to see what we bring for you next month.  If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE