A B(r)unch of Leftovers… Cheesy Foccacia Bites and a Rotizza

I should have posted this a while ago but I was away travelling and access to the internet was quite iffy… but well, but late than…

So here they are, a 2-in-1 recipe bonanza on… Leftovers!

Yes, apparently leftovers can make really tasty meals. Or so someone once told me many years ago and I yawned and said boo hoo and bah humbug or something to that effect.

I’ve got to come clean though you’ve probably guessed it by now. I’m not big on leftovers. I simply worked on perfecting the small meal mantra till I got it down to a pat. Or I would pray that a friend would call and say they were coming over and then I’d tell them to stay to dinner, which could be construed as deviousness on my part except that the meals were generally good and went down well with my guests 🙂

But what do you do when it comes to something like bread which you’ve baked and couldn’t quite finish and it’s been a couple of days heading into being a week old and it’s still sitting in your fridge with a look that says “You made me and enjoyed me but now that I’m old and not quite finished you’re going to throw me away…” … (gulp!)

Now if you’ve been following this space you’ll know that I baked a Feta and Olive Herb Foccacia  recently, and it was really delicious. So I squirrelled away a bit and hid it away in the fridge thinking that I would eat it the next day and forgot all about it until 3 days had passed and I was foraging around looking for something to whip up real quick for brunch… and then I saw it and voilà my ‘Cheesy Foccacia Bites‘ look shape.

This was a super simple, easy to whip up dish which brought out all the flavour and goodness of the lovely foccacia I had baked earlier and took it up a notch into a realm all its own.

All you need is –

approx 2 cups of cubed leftover foccacia

bulb of one spring onion (minced)

green stalks of 2 small spring onions (minced)

2 small green chillies (de-seeded and chopped fine)

1 tomato (blanched, de-seeded and chopped fine)

6 button mushrooms (sliced fine)

1 tablespoon EVOO

1/4 cup shredded mozarella

squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Start by sautéing the chopped up spring onion bulb, green chillies and tomato in the olive oil till softened (3 – 4 mins). Add the sliced mushrooms and the spring onion greens (reserve some for garnishing) and cook them down till the mushrooms are soft. Add a pinch of salt at this point (you don’t need more than just an itsy-bitsy pinch). Now add the cubed foccacia and toss well.

Finish by adding the shredded mozarella. Cover and turn off the flame. The mozarella should melt into the bread. 

Serve the Cheesy Foccacia Bites hot, garnished with spring onion greens and a squeeze of lime juice (optional). 

P.s. This recipe also works well with any other left over bread (except for fruit or sweet bread varieties). Just add in some zataar, or if you don’t have any zataar some mixed dried herbs with a squeeze of lemon and some freshly pounded cumin should work quite well.

And now to the 2nd part of the double leftover brunch bonanza and the… ‘Rotizza’.

I sometimes find myself stuck with a few leftover rotis/chapatis (Indian flat bread) from an Indian meal made the previous day and try and use them in different ways to freshen them up and excite my palate. Now if you’ve been following this space for a while you’ll probably know that eggs are one of my all time favourite foods and I can eat them at breakfast, lunch (that includes brunch) and dinner… and yeah, as part of dessert as well. So it really didn’t take too much for me to come up with this Egg-Roti recipe… in fact I went to town with it and came up with a pizza of sorts and decided to name it just that… a Rotizza. My version of an Indian style pan fried pizza using leftover or even fresh roti/chapati.

For a single serving you’ll need –

2 rotis

3 eggs

6 – 7″ piece of leek (sliced fine)

1 cup of thinly sliced zucchini

1 large bell pepper (thinly sliced)

salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil (1 tablespoon per roti)

2 tomatoes (for grilling)

Sauté half the leek in a tablespoon of olive oil, spreading it out evenly across the pan as it cooks down and softens. Layer half the zucchini over the cooked leeks and top with half the thinly sliced rounds of bell pepper. I only had the green variety (aka capsicum) on hand but a combination of green, yellow and red works even better visually. Sprinkle over a little salt and allow the veggies to cook down a bit.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs, adding a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. You could add a splash of cream if you like into the egg mix (I didn’t) and pour half the egg over the veggies. Let the eggs cook for about 2 minutes on low. Do not cover the eggs… so the top remains a bit runny. Place the roti over the egg and gently press it down with a spatula. Cook for about a minute, then flip the rotizza over and fry it on the other side (roti side down) for a minute.

Remove the rotizza from the pan and repeat the procedure for the second roti. Plate up and serve garnished with grilled tomatoes and bell peppers.

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Saturday Night Treats (Part 2 of 3)… Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia

… to continue where I left off from my previous post (Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli) I’ll move on to part 2 of my dinner…

A Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia

The baker’s wage… a mini focaccia… all to myself.

I spread out the dough a bit thinner than I normally would (do take a look at my earlier post on Cheesy Herbed Focaccia with Sun-dried Tomatoes) and I spritzed the oven with water just to get that crusty finish to the top and sides of the bread.

Look at these plump olives… delicious!

Here’s a list of ingredients for the focaccia –

3 cups A.P. Flour

12gms fresh yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup + 2 tablespoons tepid water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (+ extra for sprinkling over the focaccia b4 baking) dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 cup olive oil (+ extra for lining the bowl and brushing over the top of the focaccia)

3/4 cup chopped olives

3/4 cup feta (cubed)

pinch of sea salt (for sprinkling over the focaccia… not too much as the olives and feta are both salty… you can omit the salt too coz it’s not necessary in this recipe. But I love salt… and I have low blood pressure, so salt is often my best friend.)

Prepare the yeast the usual way (I used fresh yeast) … water, sugar and leave it for 15 minutes till it gets nice n foamy.

In a separate bowl sift the flour and add salt and the dried herbs. Mix it with the yeast, adding the 1/4 cup of olive oil and knead to form a soft dough. Leave the dough to prove for about 2 hours then knock back and knead again, dividing the dough into half. Using your hands shape the focaccia into the basic shape you like before transferring it onto a parchment lined baking tray. I made one oblong, one rectangular focaccia and a mini focaccia (I call it the baker’s wage :-)). Then using your fingertips punch and jab the dough to give it its dimpled look.

Generously sprinkle on the olives and dot the focaccia with feta, before leaving it to prove for another 1 1/2 hour, covered with a towel. Once the focaccia has risen, brush the top with olive oil, and sprinkle on some dried parsley and whole sea salt (optional).

Bake the bread in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for about 20 – 25 minutes…

Allow the focaccia to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into it. I used a pizza cutter and we ate almost an entire focaccia right then and there… dipping it into some extra virgin olive oil mixed with a combination of zataar, parsley, oregano and whole salt. I should send this over to YeastSpotting

And served the rest with my platter of skewered prawns and potato salad…

The Ultimate Brunch Bread

What do you call bread that’s packed with veggies, cheese and ham?

And no the answer I’m looking for isn’t… ‘A Sandwich’ 😉

It’s the ‘Ultimate Brunch Bread’

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but unless I’m at a meditation centre on one of those silent meditation courses where you get breakfast at 6, lunch at 11am and lemon water at 5 in the evening, I’m not too much of a breakfast person. For me, that distinction goes to brunch especially on days when I’m at home and can pace my mornings out the way I’d like them to be. Breakfast is then just a mugful of coffee or perhaps two, and on occasion a fruit or some muesli with yoghurt. Just a little… But come 11am and I’m seriously hungry. It’s become such a pattern now that even when I do eat a proper breakfast, I start craving brunch at 11 and end up overeating.

So I’ve been dreaming up this loaf, bread rolls really, that would give me that feeling of a complete meal in a couple of bites. The Ultimate Brunch Bread which is what I decided to name it, with everything in it. What’s amazing about this bread is that it doesn’t just taste delicious, it’s such a feast for the eyes and the aroma is so intoxicating while it bakes and especially once it’s out of the oven, that you really don’t need an alarm clock or a gong to announce that it’s brunch time. With all those assorted vegetables, the Gouda and the smoked ham doing its thing, I was dancing around my kitchen in such glee you’d think I won the grand lottery. 

I went two ways with the ingredients, making two kinds of bread. A stuffed ‘Daisy Pull-apart Loaf‘ and ‘Mini Muffins Bread Rolls‘ with all those veggies and ham mixed in with the dough and baked in muffin trays.

Daisy Pull-apart Loaf

Mini Muffin Bread Rolls

It’s also a great way to get kids to eat their veggies. Do eliminate the lone chilli that I’ve used if you’re baking this for the kids, or simply remove the seeds and membranes so that the chilli loses its punch but retains all its flavour and goodness.

Here are the ingredients –

(This is for the dough)

3 cups A.P. flour

11gms fresh yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 to a cup of warm water

1/3 cup grated Gouda

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1/4 cup EVOO (extra to oil bowl etc)

 (For the filling)

1/2 red onion (minced)

 10 curry leaves (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 green chilli (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Large pinch of black pepper

1 tablespoon EVOO

1 cup carrots (blanched and diced)

3/4 cup corn niblets (canned)

1/2 cup red bell peppers (diced)

1/2 cup french beans (parboiled for 30 – 40 seconds and dice)

3/4 cup smoked ham (chopped – reserve the fat of the ham separately – you’ll need about 2 tablespoons)

(And finally the toppings)  –

I egg + 1 tablespoon milk for the eggwash

1 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds (for the pull-apart loaf)

1 tablespoon each of white and black sesame seeds for the mini muffins

And now we come to the two-pronged method for two deliciously similar and yet different shapes of bread –

Prepare the dough the usual way, activating the yeast, then adding the flour and salt, before sprinkling over the dried parsley and the cheese and kneading it well. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and leave to prove for a minimum of 2 hours.

In the meantime prepare the filling, by melting the fat from the ham in a tablespoon of EVOO on medium heat till the fat rends and crisps up (but does not burn). Sauté the garlic, onions, chilli and curry leaves in the fat and EVOO, then add in the pepper and the salt and immediately add in the ham and the veggies, tossing them on high for 15 – 20 seconds. Keep the filling aside to cool (Do not cover the pan or the veggies will overcook and lose their crispness and colour).

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and give it a good, quick knead before dividing it into two halves. Prepare the loaf tin (I used a round sandwich tin) and the muffin tray.

For the mini muffin rolls –

Mix in about 1 1/4 cup of the filling to one half of the dough, adding it a little at a time until it’s evenly distributed throughout the dough.Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them. Place them into the muffin trays, cover and leave the dough to prove.

For the Daisy pull-apart bread –

Meanwhile divide the other half of the dough into 9 equal portions. Roll them into spheres before flattening them out with your fingertips. You can use a rolling pin if you like. Fill each disc with about 1 heaped tablespoon of the filling and pinch the dough shut. Shape it and place it into the round loaf pan so that it looks like a daisy. Leave the dough to prove once the entire pan is filled.

Brush the tops with an egg-wash and sprinkle on any seeds of your choice. I used toasted poppy seeds for the daisy pull-apart bread and white and black sesame seeds for the mini muffins.

Bake the Daisy Pull-apart Bread for 35 minutes @ 210° C and the Mini Muffin Rolls @ 220° C for about 25 minutes.

The ‘Daisy pull-apart bread’ looked so pretty I almost didn’t want to take it apart, but then the aroma of the bread was so intoxicating I just had to try it out. And it was delicious. Just that perfect amount of bread to encase the colourful and tasty filling inside. It needs nothing more than your appetite.

I honestly thought the filling would be too much when I saw it in the pan, but in the end there was just a ½ cup left over.

As for the Mini Muffin Rolls, all you need is to slice them down the middle and slather on some butter.

I poured myself a mugful of coffee, sliced into one of those muffins while it was still warm, added a pat of butter, watched it melt into the bread… and took a bite.

Heavenly!

I think I should call them the Meal-in-a-bite Daisy and Mini Muffin Bread Rolls but it’s quite a mouthful, so I’ll stay with the Ultimate Brunch Bread and send it off to Susan at YeastSpotting.

I had the mini muffins with my coffee, and with some fried chicken at dinner. And I had some of the Pull apart stuffed bread at brunch this morning. And I’m Content 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Sunday and a Red Chilli and Sweet Caramelised Onion Loaf

My dad’s sitting across from me as I type out this post, fashioning crosses out of the palms he collected at church yesterday. Palm Sunday signals the start of Holy Week and I try and make it to the services at the parish I grew up in. One of the most beautiful churches in the suburb of Bandra in Mumbai, St. Peter’s Church still conducts the best Holy Week services in this part of the city dotted with Catholic Churches in an otherwise predominantly Hindu country with a growing but relatively smaller Muslim population.

Bandra used to be a quaint little suburb when I was growing up, with tiny cottages and a few 3 storey buildings. Where weekends meant friends, games, parties and deserted streets. Where everyone knew everyone, at least on a head-nodding basis, and where it was safe to stay out late. But now the streets are lined with hawkers selling knock-offs of branded goods and imitation jewellery, and cheap Chinese imports, making an evening walk down the street impossible and a drive down to the seafront a nightmare. With the patronage of persons in high political office these hawkers have multiplied over the years and any attempt to relocate them to a designated hawking zone are met with threats. For most of the old timers with their children scattered around the globe this is a terrible situation, and it’s often easier for them to just turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the goings-on.  They prefer to live in peace, or just live, even if it’s no longer that peaceful anymore.

So I’ve come to visit my parents. God and home were how we were raised. Morning prayers and night prayers and grace before and after meals and the rosary prayed together as a family during the months of May and October. And the Lenten Season with the Stations of the Cross leading up to Holy Week with its church services which culminated in Easter with all its glory.

I wanted to bake something for Mum and Dad since I’m visiting, and because breaking bread with the family is specially significant at this time of year, it was my first choice. My dad had just picked up a vibrant lot of red chillies from the market. Available only around this time, these chillies are plump and have a strange combination of sweet and hot spiciness trapped in every fibre. Not wanting to take a chance with the chillies since my mum cannot handle too much heat, I made sure I removed all the seeds and the membranes and sliced them thin, sprinkling over some granulated brown sugar and a good squeeze of lime and refrigerating the lot till it was time to use.

Here are the Ingredients –

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

11 – 12gms fresh yeast (I didn’t measure… just used the good ol’ eye measuring method)

2 teaspoons granulated brown sugar

1/3 cup sliced red chillies

1 large or 2 small onions

3 tablespoons EVOO

3/4 to a cup of warm water

After the chillies have been prepared and are chilling out in the fridge, chop/mince the onions and caramelise them with a tablespoon of olive oil and a heaped teaspoon of granulated brown sugar.

Once the onions have caramelised keep them aside to cool and activate the yeast. Add in the flour which has been mixed with a teaspoonful of salt and extra water as may be required, kneading lightly.

Sprinkle over the onions and the sliced chillies (do not add the water that has leached out of the chillies as it contains all the heat from the chillies) and knead well. Add extra water as required and a tablespoon or so of the oil.

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and drizzle over a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Leave the dough to prove for about 2 hours till it more than doubles in size.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, punch it back and knead for a couple of minutes before transferring the dough into a loaf pan for its 2nd prove (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours). I worked the loaf with my fingertips after transferring it into the pan to give it that uneven, bumpy, rustic, artisan bread look (which it is!)

Once the loaf has risen, score the loaf with a sharp knife and you can either use an eggwash or brush with olive oil (like I did) and sprinkle on a few poppy seeds.

My parents have a large gas oven so I baked the loaf for about 50 – 55 minutes at 210°C. But if you have an electric oven (like the one I usually use) 40 minutes at 200°C should be good.

The loaf developed a lovely crust with a nice bite to it and the inside remained soft, with the onions melting into the bread, leaving its heady sweetness in every mouthful.

Delicious even on its own, this loaf is best eaten warm with a liberal helping of butter.

Time for a trip to Yeastspotting I suppose.

Wishing you all a reflective and peace-filled Holy Week.

Corn, Ricotta and Fenugreek Samosas with a Peanut, Mint and Coriander Chutney

Why isn’t it the weekend yet?

We all love weekends, don’t we? Except possibly…. and quite understandably so, harried mothers of quadruplets with ADHD or workaholics for whom the work week never ends anyway. For me, weekends usually mean that I can sit and watch a bunch of films on my laptop because the TV stations air crap, and who watches the news on weekends. Frankly I stopped watching the news a while back, even on weekdays. ‘Breaking News’ is only so for the first 15 minutes, after 2 hours it sort of moves into the ‘Stale News’ segment. Someone should educate our news channels about that… yeah, imagine the running bar saying, ‘Stale News… we broke it an hour ago, but we’ve got nothing else to run with. Sorry.’

I love weekends anyway. Perhaps this weekend I’ll watch ‘The Help’ yet again, though I’m really not so much of a chocolate pie person ;-). Thank heavens! And I’ll rest my back which I put out trying to dismantle a three-door cupboard. Almost done with the cupboard, but had to stop because after taking off the doors and the drawers and the drawer rails and lugging all of it about, my poor back yelled ENOUGH. So that was that.

But weekends also mean good food and cooking and/or baking and I can’t wait anymore for the food fiesta to start. So here’s my lead up to the weekend… Samosas.

Like every Indian worth her or his salt, I’m a sucker for a good samosa. Meat filled or vegetarian, there are so many different fillings you can put into them. They are truly the most versatile snack especially when eaten with a nice chutney. But then I caught a glimpse or my burgeoning hips and almost decided not to make them, when the penny dropped.

I could bake ’em instead of using the dreaded deep fryer.

So these are my delicious little baked triangles of corn, ricotta and fenugreek (aka Methi) served with a peanut, mint and coriander chutney (sort of like an Indian pesto without the olive oil).

I’ll admit I slacked up a bit here, because I didn’t make the pastry dough, and I won’t blame it on the bad back. Al-right, who am I kidding, I shall… there! The bad back meant using samosa wrappers that you’ll find in the freezer section of most supermarkets. So that cut out a huge chunk of the work on these because all you’ve got to do is boil the corn till just done (al dente for corn) and drain it before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.

Here’s a list of the ingredients –

I cup corn kernels

2 cups fenugreek (methi) leaves

3/4 cup ricotta

1/2 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds

1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds

1/2 red onion (minced)

2 green chillies

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil (for the filling) + 1 tablespoon (with 2 tablespoons melted butter) for brushing the samosas

Samosa wrappers (as required)

2 tablespoons flour and little water to make a paste to seal the samosas

Sauté the onion with the chillies and cumin in the olive oil, and add in the washed and drained fenugreek leaves. Use a salad spinner if you like to get all that water out of the leaves before you put them into the pan. Cover and cook for a minute till the leaves wilt, then add the pre-boiled corn, and the salt. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes, then remove the lid and cook till all the water in the pan (if any) has evaporated. Leave the veggie mix aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile get started on your chutney, for which you’ll need –

1/2 cup peanuts toasted and skinned

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/4 cup coriander

juice of 1/2 lime

1 green chilli

4 – 5 large pods of garlic ( I had really teensy weensy ones so I used about 10)

1/2″ piece of ginger

3 – 4 tablespoons of water (more if you want it thinner)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Pulse the ingredients in a food processor until you get the consistency you desire, adjusting the water content accordingly. Add an additional squeeze of lime juice over the chutney once done, mix and transfer into a bowl. Cover with cling wrap until required.

Back to the samosas –

You’ll need to thaw the pack of samosa wrappers completely and separate them. Meanwhile add the ricotta and sunflower seeds to the cooled corn and fenugreek and mix well. Take one wrapper and fold over one end to make a triangle, and fold that end again so that you get a cone pocket. Spoon in your filling being careful not to overfill. Then fold over so the pocket shuts and fold again. Finally for the last fold over you may need to put in some sort of edible adhesive like an egg wash or flour mixed with water which works really well for these. And voilà, your samosa is almost ready to be baked.

But wait, before you get all excited you’ve still got a whole lot of filling and the samosa wrappers to go through. So back to work.

(Some of the photos here are a bit blurred. I thought about leaving them out, but then they chronicle the process. So here they are, I suppose it was difficult multi-tasking or was it the darn painkillers…hmmmm???)

Clear at last! I suppose the painkiller wore off

And then there was a plateful…

Brush these beauties with a mix of butter and olive oil, and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 220° C for about 15 – 20 minutes or till they are nice and golden brown.

You may need to turn them once to ensure that you get even browning on both sides, but keep an eye on these babies coz you dont want them burning.

Get that chutney out, plate up, and what are you waiting for? … Dig in!

The doctor did say that I was supposed to eat with those painkillers. So, here’s my plateful.

All mine!...errr... Doctor's orders.

Oh n before I forget… have a great pre-weekend!

That’s the sun from my window this evening.

Now isn’t nature a beaut?… Damn! It’s them meds talkin’ again.

Portabella n Colby Buns with Birdseye Chillies

It’s been way too long since my last post, and even longer since I baked, so naturally I was raring to go and recover lost ground. Besides there”s only that much commercially produced bread a girl can eat before her stomach begins to talk back, and I wasn’t going to wait for that to happen. But special occasions call for special treats and my bakers brain went into high-gear… hmmmm… what could I do that I hadn’t done before.

Using fresh ingredients is always a priority so I was thrilled when I saw this pack of little Portabellas sitting on the shelf in the grocery section of the supermarket.

That did it, I knew I had a recipe brewing in there somewhere. And then I spotted Colby Cheese. Now Colby is sort of like Cheddar, just more elastic and with a more neutral taste. Kind of like a mild Cheddar on a Trampoline. Perfect for pairing with my Portabellas, since I wanted those little beauties to shine through, with the cheese providing an accent, just that subtle bit of flavouring and mild richness to the bread that I finally decided on baking.

Birds-eye chillies completed the trinity and that was it. A recipe was born…

So back to the Portabellas, and do remember to wipe them clean of any grit with a wet towel, then pat them dry and slice’ em as thin as you can.

The reason… you don’t want any extra moisture retention. Mushrooms have a way with moisture, so you want to slice ’em as thin as you can and fry them on high heat with a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil with a teaspoonful of butter. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, so that any water hiding in those babies leaches out and catches the heat. Sizzle….. sssss…

But wait… before you add in the mushrooms to the oil n butter, fry the de-seeded and sliced birds-eye chillies. I used 4 chillies, but you can reduce the quantity if you like it milder.

WARNING: Wash, Re-wash and re-re-wash your hands after you handle the chillies. I washed my hands twice but then ended up touching my chin, and woah! So yeah, scrub your hands well, very, very well after handling those little critters. They’re tiny, but they’re dynamite.

Fry the mushrooms on high, stirring constantly, before sprinkling on the salt and a teaspoonful of freshly milled pepper. I used a melange of peppercorns; pink, green, white and black…

Once the mushrooms are fried and browned, take ’em off the flame and keep them aside to cool. Meanwhile activate the yeast, about 10 -11gms of fresh yeast in 1/2 cup of tepid water, with a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar just to get things moving. In a separate bowl, sift 2 cups of flour and add it to the activated yeast, with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Knead the flour to a dough, then add in the mushrooms and cheese. You may need to add another 1/4 cup of flour and knead for about 10 minutes to a lovely soft dough.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl and drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the dough. Then cover with cling wrap and leave to prove for about 2 hours till the dough more than doubles in size.

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and turn it out onto a floured surface for a second quick knead before rolling it out into a log.

Because I wanted larger buns I portioned the log into just 7 pieces and shaped them into rounds. Covered them with muslin and left them to prove for another 45 – 50 minutes, brushing them with eggwash, dusting them with paprika and grating some extra Colby on top just before baking.Bake them in a 230° C preheated oven for 20 minutes. (Btw… I sprayed the inside of the oven a couple of times with water while the buns were baking for that crunchy crusty top I love. But that’s a matter of choice.)

Transfer the buns onto a wire rack to cool completely. Or better still, do what I did. Slice into one while it’s still warm, slather on some butter and enjoy. before dispatching the buns straight to YeastSpotting.

It has been a while.

Black Olive and Marjoram Semolina Bread

I must confess. I had never eaten semolina bread up until now, and didn’t know it was so hearty. Had just one buttered slice at brunch today, with my alfalfa omelet, and it was quite enough to take me through to dinner.

But it makes a darn tasty loaf and quite a good looking one too. The only problem was that I didn’t have any fine semolina flour. In fact, I’ve yet to see it in the supermarkets or at any of the stores here, though semolina itself in its more grainy form is used in many dishes, both sweet and savoury.

So I improvised, and ground 1 1/4 cups semolina in the food processor, to as fine a consistency as I could. Adding in the 12gms of fresh yeast I  had activated in about a 1/2 cup of warm water, along with another cup or so of the water, till the mixture resembled scrambled eggs. It’s important to allow the semolina-yeast mixture to sit for at least 15 – 20 minutes before adding the all purpose flour (2 cups), so that the semolina absorbs the water. Then add in the rest of the yeast mix, more warm water (if required) and a teaspoon of coarse salt, before folding in the chopped and pitted black olives (1/3rd cup), 4 – 5 tablespoons of fresh sweet marjoram and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil… my little additions to the loaf.

All speckled with green and black

Given that I had never even tasted semolina bread before embarking on this venture, and to compound matters, had neither the bread flour nor the fine semolina flour suggested by most recipes, I decided to follow the three-prove method suggested by Macheesmo

3 hours for the first proving… After the dough has more than doubled, press it down or knock it back if you like… Go on! Get all that anger out! Bread making‘s a great anger management tool. All you therapists and psychologists out there take note. So yeah… knock it back, knead it lightly and return it to the re-oiled bowl for the second proving of 45 minutes to an hour.Once the dough has risen, press it down and roll it out with a light touch of the rolling pin, before folding the dough back in and shaping it into a loaf. You can also use a pat down motion with the palms of your hands, but the rolling pin is quite good.

The dough for this bread was really soft, so I sandwiched it between two towels while it sat its third prove (about 30 minutes or so, till it got nice and puffy). I’m glad I used the towels. I probably would have had Semolina Flat Bread if I hadn’t.

Finished by brushing the loaf with egg wash, sprinkling on some sesame seeds and slashing the top (diagonal cuts) with a very sharp knife, while the oven was preheating.

I removed the towel supports just before baking the loaf for 35 – 40 minutes at 190 degrees C… and this is it.

My Black Olive and Marjoram Semolina Bread… ready for that trip to YeastSpotting.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 20 minutes then transfer the loaf on to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 – 40 minutes before slicing into it.

Now slather on some butter and take a bite…

For my first attempt at Semolina Bread I was quite pleased, though I may tweak a few things here and there when I try another variation… starting with a finer grain semolina perhaps.

The bread is quite hearty, even on its own, so I haven’t been eating more than a slice at a time. The olives in the bread were quite lovely to bite into. But the marjoram is what made this loaf special for me… a delightful addition.

Quite similar to oregano, marjoram has such a distinct sweetness of its own, I’m thinking up a zillion ways in which to use it…

Perhaps in something sweet the next time.