Forget about the Eggs

I knew there was a holiday around, but yesterday my news feed confirmed that this was Easter weekend. More than that, it presented me with recipes of breads from around the world to celebrate Easter.

When I saw Paraguayan chipa among them, which I did not know was Paraguayan or Eastery, I remembered lazy afternoons in Brazil when I would get some freshly baked chipas at the supermarket and take them home to go with a nice a cup of coffee and cream cheese. There was no doubt Hot Cross Buns and Bread with Prosciutto and Olives would be left for another occasion. I made a few adaptations to the recipe, such as removing anise. The recipe comes right below the picture.

According to some research I did, Paraguayans will usually have this small bread “all day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. By Friday it is usually so hard that it needs to be dipped in coffee or cocido (hot tea made with mate) to be edible.” (source, source 2 for more info on chipas). And indeed, they were super soft fresh out of the oven, but about 12 hours after being baked they were already a bit hard. Luckily (not for weight management) they were so good that not many lasted a second round of eating.

A table is set for two people. In each of the plates there lies two chipas.
Easter breakfast is ready!

Chipa

Ingredients

400 grams of tapioca starch (I don’t endorse brands, but this is too funny for the 12-year-old in me to let it pass – mildly NSFW, depending on where you work)

150 grams of cornmeal

400 grams of cheese (I used cheddar)

4 eggs

1/2 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 cup of milk

100 grams of butter

Directions

1. Mix the tapioca starch, cornmeal, baking powder and butter. Add milk, cheese and eggs and mix until well integrated.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celsius). Shape the dough into small balls or donuts. Place them on parchment paper on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Eat while hot!

One chipa is resting on a small plate with a cup of coffee in front of it. A cat is sitting across, resting his head on the table and staring at the chipa.
“All your foods are belong to me.” Even cats want to eat delicious chipas.
Forget about the Eggs

Cheese and onion loaf

This week a colleague is leaving the company and because we like to eat, a potluck was organized for today. I could’ve cooked something, but then I would feel a bit bad posting it here if it didn’t involve an oven.

I figured a simple bread would be unbearably simple. Muffins would be a bit weird for lunch. Then I opted for a cheese and onion loaf adapted straight from my favourite bread book. To avoid any trouble at home, I also baked one to keep, which is the one photographed for the purposes of this post. This loaf is now almost over, about 24 hours after it was first sliced.

The main difference between loaves was the cheese. While for the personal loaf took a nice chunk of raw milk Gruyère, to take to work I went for a milder cheddar aged 18 months. Also, I decided to leave scotch out of the onions in the communal loaf.

A loaf of bread is resting on a cutting board
The loaf waiting to be sliced.

Cheese and onion loaf

Ingredients

450 grams of flour
175 grams of cheese (meltable, strong, like aged cheddar or Gruyère – preferably anything made with raw milk)
Caramelised onions (recipe on previous post)
Melted butter
20 grams of fresh yeast
Powered mustard
Salt and pepper
150 ml of warm water
150 ml of warm milk

Directions

1. In a bowl, add the flour, 130 grams of cheese, caramelised onion, mustard, salt and pepper. Make a well in the middle.

2. Dissolve yeast in water.

3. Add water with yeast and milk to flour mix. Integrate all ingredients and knead for about 10-15 minutes. Cover with a towel and leave it to rest for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

4. Divide it into 20 equal pieces and make them into small balls. Put it in the bread pan in two rows of five balls each. Use a brush to spread butter on top of them. Put the remaining balls on top of the ones already aligned. Spread butter on them, cover and leave it to rest for 45 minutes.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 190° Celsius (374° Fahrenheit). Grate the remaining cheese on top of the loaf. Bake it for 40 minutes.

6. Eat it by itself or with anything you want on top.

A loaf is resting on an improvised cooling rack with two slices cut out of it
And ready to be eaten
Cheese and onion loaf

You get up, you get down and you try it again

Little by little, I am completing the 100 bread recipes on Pains du Monde à Faire Soi-Même, which I bought at a really good price about six months ago. So far 93% of the recipes I tried worked fine -so much so that I keep repeating them (Split Tin, small milk loaves and Anadama are my favourite so far).

But about a month ago I tried something more challenging: a rustic country bread, which involves preparing my own sourdough. I started one day and fed the leaven (homemade yeast) frequently as recommended in the recipe. It didn’t seem active at all, but I kept going, after all, I was expecting it to behave differently than bread made with dry yeast. The result was a total failure. Of all the loaves I baked so far, this was the only one we didn’t finish eating. It was as dense as lead, somewhat raw in the middle and very sour.

Shortly after this failed attempt, I received an offer from Amazon to get the Kindle edition of Tartine Bread for a dollar or so. I prefer my cook books in that vintage media called paper, but I decided to give it a go to have a reference. Upon reading it and seeing how detailed the instructions for a homemade leaven were, I took advantage of the holidays to try making my leaven again.

From the beginning, I could see the difference between recipes. After the first feeding, the starter was already bubbly. When it came time to work the dough it looked very much like the pictures on the book (or as much as I could make out from the 5-inch screen); and this morning, I baked it.

A recently baked bread resting on a cutting board
The final bread, before the world fell apart

It still looked a bit like the pictures from the book, except that I did not bake it using a Dutch oven, but rather a pizza stone (I know the instructions mention the Dutch oven, but I want to make sure I get the leaven right before investing in new gadgets). I put it to rest then snapped the picture above.

Right after that, I went to turn it around and knock on it to check for the hollow sound to make sure it was ready, but one of my fingers went right through the crust into a huge air bubble. I started looking for more big bubbles and found three more. I knew this was not good, even though the bread had risen.

When I cut it open, again the dough seemed very dense and raw in some parts. Moreover, the flour did not seem to be fully integrated to the dough, so besides huge air bubbles, I had flour bubbles.

I did not want to waste all this work, so I tried the bread, but it was awful. The previous one was bad, but we ate good part of it. Looking back I appreciate the effort we made to eat it; although this time, I accepted defeat and threw it out. Luckily, there is a new artisan baker just around the corner from my house and yesterday I had bought a delicious Khorasan bread. New Year’s breakfast was saved!

To wrap up, I still have the leaven and I’ll keep feeding it daily and see how it goes. I guess it will take a lot more practice before I nail a bread made with it.

You get up, you get down and you try it again

I ran out of bread

The title is a half-truth.
I make two to three types/loaves of bread per weekend so they will last for the whole week (or most of it). This weekend, though, I was worried about completed my first loaf using 100% homemade sourdough starter -there will be a post on it -which means that Monday 8:something, after I arrived from work and had dinner, there was just a piece of Pain de Campagne and I decided to make more bread.
Going through the book I use the most for bread recipes, Pains du Monde a faire Soi-même, I decided on Scottish Morning Rolls, which are simple, do not require a long time fermenting and I had done before.
The recipe requires only 400 grams of white flour, 150 ml of water, 150 ml of milk, 20 grams of fresh yeast (or 7 grams of the dry) and 10 grams of salt. Leave flour and salt on a bowl, mix the water, milk and yeast, and add the liquid to flour. Integrate them well, leave it to grow for 1 hour.

The raw ready to be baked
The raw dough ready to be baked

Once it grows, cut it into 10 parts, roll each of them and open with a rolling pin. Put the 10 small loaves on one (or two) baking trays, cover and leave them for 30 extra minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200 Celsius (that’s 395 Fahrenheit). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes and your small and delicious bread is ready.
This is a great bread for breakfast (as the name suggests), but also with a slice of your favourite type of cold cut with a little bit of cheese. However, nothing beats getting the bread freshly out of the oven, open in two with just some butter on it.
Bread and butter time!
Bread and butter time!

I ran out of bread