October 20, 2014

Gavurdaği Salatasi (Turkish Tomato Salad With Pomegranate Molasses & Sumac)

I
was recently introduced to a cookbook group, and as the name obviously suggests, it involves exploring cookbooks and cooking from them. Every month there’s a new cookbook to cook from and most of us just post photographs of our efforts within the group page on Facebook.
The group has been in existence for about a year and one of the books chosen previously was Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. I avoid buying cookbooks where non-vegetarian dishes are the main feature because such cookbooks aren’t of much use to a vegetarian like me. I am also short of shelf space for my cookbooks so I don’t generally buy them anymore unless there’s a book I’m sure I really want. Yet, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Persian flavours always attract me, because they’re similar to a lot of flavours that go into Indian cooking because of the Persian influence on Mughlai cuisine.




So while I was still wondering whether I should cave in to temptation and buy the book, I came across some recipes from the book on the net. Two recipes caught my eye, and one was this salad Sabrina Ghayour’s Tomato Salad with Pomegranate Molasses and the other a Pistachio & Almond Cake which I shall try out once my oven gets back from the service centre.
You might know that I am not a salad lover in general, but I don’t mind them so long as they feature less of green leaves and have something going for them in terms of taste and texture. This Turkish tomato salad, known locally as Gavurdaği Salatasi, is a popular fresh and piquant salad made with easily available ingredients and local flavours.
The salad hails from Gaziantep, and is supposedly named after the Gavur Mountains in South-eastern Turkey. The main ingredient is tomatoes with some onion and peppers, slightly sweet and tart pomegranate molasses, sumac and crunchy walnuts.  
This salad can be found as part of the Turkish meze spread (a selection of small dishes served as appetizers before the main meal) and is usually served with the Turkish pide bread, butter and the crumbly Turkish white cheese. Otherwise it is served with kebabs and meat.
Gavurdaği Salatasi is usually made with large tomatoes cut into smaller chunks, but you can use cherry tomatoes if you prefer. Turkish long peppers are supposedly slightly hot and you can substitute any green long pepper of your choice. You could also use chilli flakes for the heat but it the salad would taste different.
I get the Bhavnagari variety of long chillies here which are used to make stuffed and fried fritters. They’re supposed to be on the milder side, but I’m not open to risking having my mouth on fire, so I always deseed the chillies before using them.



 
There’s no real substitute for Pomegranate molasses but I’m told that a good balsamic vinegar should work well. It’s very easy to make some of your own though so I would rather go to that little extra effort of making my own molasses, especially as I do not like vinegar especially Balsamic.
The other hallmark of this salad is Sumac. Sumac is a seasoning of Mediterranean origin that has a tangy, lemony kind of flavour and lemon zest with a few drops of lemon juice or even a very light sprinkle of aamchur (dehydrated and powdered dried raw mango) might a close substitute. I have a small, closely guarded stash of Sumac thanks to my good friends Harini and Niv so I got to use the real thing here which makes all the difference.
I couldn’t find flat leaf parsley, so I used fresh coriander instead since I know it goes well with tomatoes in salads.
The Gavurdaği Salatasi isn’t anything exotic and just another fresh, light and summery tomato salad but it’s the flavours of the Pomegranate molasses and the Sumac that give it a unique flavour. This is a salad that would go very well with Indian flavours as well, especially served with chappathis, naan or other flatbreads or even on the side with a pulao or biryani. You can also try it with some cheese and bread for a light meal.

Gavurdağı Salatası (Turkish Tomato Salad With Pomegranate Molasses & Sumac)
 

Ingredients: 

6 to 8 large tomatoes*
2 Turkish long peppers, cut into thin rings**
1 large red onion
1 1/2 tsp sumac, plus a little extra to garnish
2 to 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Salt to taste
Some extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup walnut pieces, toasted lightly
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley (fresh coriander is good too)
 

Method:

*Use regular tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, depending on what you can find. Traditionally, this salad is made with regular tomatoes.
**If you cannot find Turkish long peppers, use any long green pepper that is mildly spicy. You can also use green bell peppers, cut into strips, if you like them. 

Chop the tomatoes (or halve the cherry tomatoes), slice the onion into thin strips, and the peppers in to rings or strips. Arrange them on a flat plate (or in a salad bowl).
In another bowl, mix together the Sumac, Pomegranate molasses, salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Drizzle this evenly over the salad, then garnish with toasted walnuts bits, and chopped fresh parsley or coriander. Finish off by sprinkling a little Sumac.
Serve. This recipe should serve 4 to 6 as a side dish.
 
 
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October 14, 2014

Make It At Home : Pomegranate Syrup/ Molasses

I
was recently going through some Persian recipes and I came across a couple that I wanted to try out. While I had most of the ingredients on hand, there was one ingredient mentioned, Pomegrante molasses, that I had never seen or used before. This is an ingredient that is obviously specific to certain cuisines, and not something I was likely to find in the stores in my part of the world.
So I decided to a little research into Pomegranate molasses. It turns out that it is a barely sweet, slightly tart, thick and sticky syrup used to flavour Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is known as "Nar Ekşisi" in Turkish,"Rob-e-Anar" in Iran,"Nasrahab" in Georgian and "Rebb el-Rumman" in Arabic.
One thing I have discovered is that many exotic or cuisine specific ingredients are quite easy to make at home, and this Pomegranate syrup is no different and can be made by reducing Pomegranate juice and a little sugar.



 
So that’s what I did, made my own batch of Pomegranate syrup and believe me when I say that it takes very little effort. Pomegranates are available almost the year round at my local market, and it’s also a fruit I love. Apart from being beautiful and jewel like in appearance, Pomegranate arils add a lovely crunch and burst of sweetness to any dish.

A lot of people will suggest that one Pomegranate will give you one cup of juice, but this is not a rule that’s written in stone. It really depends on the size of the Pomegranates and how juicy they are. Then there a few different methods of supposedly the "right way" to cutting open and removing the arils. As far as I am concerned the way that works best for you is the right one.





I find it easy to remove the arils from the Pomegranate, make sure there are no bits of membrane or peel in it, and then run them in the chutney jar (smallest jar) of my blender on low speed in a couple of bursts. This ensures that the flesh loosens up without breaking the seeds. If the seeds break they will add a very unattractive bitterness to your syrup. Then press the pulp through a sieve and you have Pomegranate juice ready to be cooked into syrup. Look for the deep red variety of Pomegranates if you can find them to make this syrup, although I understand that traditionally, the syrup is made from a variety of very sour Pomegranates.

The 4 cups of pomegrante juice mentioned in the recipe is just an indication, and I would suggest that it would a good idea to double the quantity as you will end up with about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of Pomegranate syrup. This should keep in the fridge for a couple of months. Pomegranate syrup isn’t meant to be particularly sweet so adjust the sugar to taste, especially if you’re lucky to find really sweet Pomegranates in your local market.



 
So what can use your Pomegranate Syrup in? Apart from using to flavour Middle Eastern dishes, you can use it in salad dressings, as pancake syrup, in drinks, to flavour dips, as glaze for baked/ roasted/ grilled vegetables like carrots, or serve with desserts like cheesecake, panna cotta or ice-cream.

I shall be posting the salad that I used this Pomegranate molasses in, the next time.

Pomegranate Syrup/ Molasses
 

Ingredients: 

4 cups freshly pressed Pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
 

Method: 

Put the juice and the sugar in a thick walled or non-stick pot/ pan and stir well. Bring to a boil, and turn down the heat to medium low. The juice will keep forming a pinkish froth. Simmer and let this cook, uncovered, until the juice has reduced to about 1/4th in volume (about 1 cup).
The juice should be a little thick now. Do not cook further because this syrup thickens further when it cools down and solidify when refrigerated and will become difficult to pour. What you want is a very thin honey-like consistency which will become like thick honey when cool and refrigerated.
Transfer to a sterilized jar and store in the refrigerator where it should keep for 2 to 3 months. This recipe makes approximately 1 cup of Pomegranate syrup/ molasses.
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October 10, 2014

An Apple & Cucumber Salad With A Minty Dressing

I
 haven't lost my love for writing this blog, but I never quite realised how difficult it would be to get back to it after a long break! My wrist is healing well and with my doctor telling me that using the computer is good physiotherapy for it, I really don’t have any excuses not to publish a post. Yet every time I sit down to get down to it, I seem to get stuck with writing my “come back” post.
I’ve done very little cooking these past two months, and given that I wasn’t able to use my right hand much, the camera has also been on vacation. So I thought I would ease into blogging with something simple – a salad.



 
We’re vegetarian by tradition, by upbringing and by choice. Though our traditional cuisine has a hundreds of recipes to cook a large variety of vegetables, I really cannot think of any traditional recipe that involves eating raw vegetables.
The concept of a salad does not exist, and those many of us make these days are an adaptation from a Western style of eating. Perhaps this is because vegetables are digested much better once they are cooked. I know that salads are supposed to provide nutrition and fibre in diet but that’s a moot point in a vegetarian diet.
My husband enjoys salads, but I don’t particularly like them though I would not go as far as echoing my then 5 year old daughter’s response of “But I am not a cow!” when she was served salad at a restaurant. I still haven’t grown to particularly like leafy salads, and cannot understand the enjoyment with which people fork in large amounts of leaves that I see on the various food programmes on television. I probably never will.
However, I do enjoy certain kinds of salads. I like cooked salads, pasta salads (that fix of carbs is irresistible) and salads that have a variety of vegetable and fruit and are served with light and citrusy, creamy or yogurt dressings. I don’t particularly like vinegars ( a little is fine) in my dressings and I still haven’t developed a liking for Balsamic vinegar.



 
This salad happened on one of those days when all I had in the vegetable bin in the fridge was a cucumber, a couple of bell peppers, some limes and some apples in the fruit basket. So what’s so special about this salad that I blogged it? Nothing really, except that I liked it and wanted to share it. I’m sure all of you have made a salad out of apples and cucumbers over and again and here’s one more version of the same. The use of the sesame seeds is optional, but adding them gives the salad a nutty flavour. 

Apple & Cucumber Salad With A Minty Dressing
 

Ingredients:
 

For the salad:

1 large cucumber
2 medium sized apples
A little finely shredded green cabbage
1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds(optional) 

For the dressing:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp unsweetened apple juice
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp lime/ lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped/ minced mint
Salt and pepper to taste
 

Method:

Peel and deseed (optional, and depends on the variety of cucumber) and dice or slice the cucumber. Core and chop the apple into chunks or slices. Do the same with the bell pepper. Make sure the vegetables are cut into more or less the same size. Put everything together into a salad bowl.
Put together all the ingredients for the dressing into a small jar and mix well. Pour over the salad and toss lightly. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the top.
Serve immediately. This recipe should serve 2 to 4 people as a side dish.
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September 21, 2014

When We Met – The First Ever Indian Food Bloggers Meet 2014!

T
his blog has been silent for almost 2 month now, and I left it after my last post without any mention of when I would be back here.  A lot has been happening but the two things that took up most of my time was settling our daughter in college and all the behind-the-scenes work for the first ever Indian Food Bloggers Meet at Bangalore. A week after I got back from the Meet, I broke my right wrist! Its out of the cast now, and the doctor tells me using the computer (within reason) is good physiothrapy for my wrist so here I am once again.
The daughter has now settled down to life at college, and the Meet which happened on the 1st and 2nd of August 2014, is long over! The memories are still fresh in my mind, and I knew I had to post about it before I got onto my usual food posts.
Four food bloggers living in three different Indian cities, thinking, planning, talking and organizing a Food Bloggers Meet without coming face to face in over the five months it took to get this event off the ground seems like an almost impossible task. Yet Arundati, Nandita, Revati and I managed to pull it off, and I’d like to think we did it quite well.
 
 
(Image courtesy : Aloft Hotels Cessna Business Park, Bangalore)


What we wanted to achieve with a Food Bloggers Meet of this kind was to provide a platform where food bloggers from across the country could meet each other, get a sense of being part of a community, have a good time over 2 days and also take back something in terms of knowledge relating to how to take one’s food blog beyond where it was.
What started as a dream, a small one at that, turned into something so big and of a size and shape that I had never imagined. The Meet was a two day affair of meeting fellow bloggers some of whom were old friends while others became new ones, sitting in on sessions that ranged from good food writing, food styling and photography, social media networking and SEO tips for food blogs, to talks on self-publishing cookbooks, wine appreciation and the transition from food blogs to business.



 
All this wouldn’t have happened without our resource persons who took the time from their schedules to share their knowledge with us. Deeba Rajpal, Rushina Ghildayal, Kalyan Karmalkar, Nandita Iyer, Aparna Jain, Ashish Verma,  Aneesh Bhasin, Ruchira Ramanujam & Ranjini Rao, Sanjeeta Kumar, and Harini Prakash – thank you for joining us.
There were many things to take away in terms of learning lessons from organizing something like this. No, I don’t mean all those goodie bags, a lot of which I had to leave behind because I didn’t think to take a suitcase big enough! The Meet proved that I had organizing skills I never knew I had, that I do have decent negotiating skills, that there are so many good, helpful and giving people out there and that dreams can come true if you work hard enough at it.  
Most of all, there was the confirmation that the food blogging community in India (and those Indian bloggers who live outside India and joined us) is passionate about food, colourful and very alive. The biggest takeaway from the whole experience for me was the 50 happy and smiling faces at the end of the two day Meet. I don’t think anything else can equal that feeling for me.



 
(Image courtesy : Jayashree Mudaliar)

Before I go any further with this post, I must mention that Aloft Hotels at Cessna Park in Bangalore, who were our venue and F&B partner for the Meet, were one of the best things that happened to us. Not only was the venue beautifully designed and well supported by infrastructure and friendly and approachable staff, we couldn’t have asked for a better and more supportive team than them.
They also very pleasantly surprised with the themed meals Chef Sameer and his team designed for us and served at lunch, morning and evening tea on both days. The only complaint we had for them was that we couldn’t do real good justice to all the food (but we sure tried) because we were stuffed!
This post will probably end up sounding like a “Thank You” speech and you will have to bear with me because I cannot but mention those who helped us make the Meet the success it was. My apologies if I have inadvertently left anyone out.
This Meet wouldn’t have happened without the IFBMeet team, the three girls who were with me through everything, especially all that went on behind the scenes.
We also had a whole lot of sponsors who joined us including Aloft Hotels as our venue and F&B sponsor, Himalaya Sparkling Water who were our principal sponsors, Burrp! our online sponsor, HarperCollins Publishers India KitchenAid India, Cremica, MyPref, UrbanDazzle, Indian Food Network, Tupperware, Paper boat, Freedom Tree, Foodhall,  Vegit, FoodT ribe, Cookie Man India, Bite Me Cupcakes, The Baking Company, SoulFull, Blue Tokai Coffee, PicGravy and Hip Cask Wines. They all ensured that all the participants at the Meet went home with bags which were bursting (I mean this literally and not just figuratively) with goodies.



 
(Image courtesy : Jayashree Mudaliar)
 
A special shout out and thanks to Anand Prahlad, a fellow food blogger who generously desighned the logo for the Meet as well as the banners we used on the IFBMeet blog, Facebook page And Twitter.
And last but not least, cheers and thanks to all the food bloggers who signed up for the Meet and joined us to make it a huge success. A very special thanks to Sanjeeta for all the work she put in behind the scenes.
With all the positive response we’ve had for this Meet and demands to continue this as an annual affair, you might just find the four of us putting our heads together again to plan another one. Please follow the Indian Food Blogger Meet on the blog and social media for further updates.

Please see the Indian Food Bloggers Meet on Facebook for more photographs. You can also take a look at what some of the food bloggers who attended the Meet had to say about their experience.
IFBM - The First Indian Bloggers Meet by Harini Prakash

Thoughts on Food Blogging Sparked Off by the IFBM 2014 by Kalyan Karmalkar

Look I was at IFBM by Siri Pulipaka


Finally, here are the links to some Press mentions about the Meet -

The Blog Is Not Enough in Mint Lounge
The Food Connection in The Hindu.
Meeting Outside the Virtual Space in the New Indian Express.
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July 24, 2014

We Knead To Bake #19 : Gibassier (A French Anise & Orange Flavored Loaf)

I
t is another sweet bread again, this month, at the We Knead To Bake group. This month I chose a French breakfast pastry/ bread called Gibassier (pronounced zee-bah-see-ay) from the Provence region, for the group to bake. Incidentally, Gibassier is also the name for large cookie from Lourmarin in particular that’s about a foot long, is made with olive oil and oval shaped like a leaf.
So what is a Gibassier?
The Gibassier is a buttery textured French breakfast bread that is flavoured with candied orange peel, orange blossom water and aniseed, and topped with a sprinkling of plain or vanilla sugar. It is shaped somewhat the way one shapes a fougasse and delightfully soft and delicious. Gibassier can be shaped and made as one big round loaf, or larger or smaller single serve breads. Whatever size they come in, they are slashed/ snipped decoratively before they’re baked and this makes them even more irresistible.



 
It is thought that the Gibassier is named after a mountain peak in the Luberon Mountains, called Le Gibas. Others suggest that the name comes from the “gibacier” which referred to a flat bag that was used to carry game, somewhat similar to the shape of the pastry.

Gibassier is one of the 13 traditional French Christmas desserts that are traditionally served after Midnight Mass to signify Christ and his 12 aposltels at the Last Supper. Many people refer to the Gibassier as Pompe à Huile (French olive oil bread) while others insist the two are not the same. The Gibassier is somewhat like an Italian Panettone, and it is believed that it must apparently be torn apart with the hands when served to bring good luck in the New Year.



 
Making Gibassier is not very difficult but it takes a little time as the process involves starting with a “Biga” or pre-ferment which is made the previous night of the baking of this bread. There are recipes which do away with the use of the pre-ferment and the bread is made all on the same day. But I personally find that where there is traditionally the use of a pre-ferment for a bread, that it is better to use it because this adds to the flavour and texture of the finished bread. 
There are some aspects of the Gibassier which are important because they define this bread.
The use of Orange Blossom Water is important as it gives the Gibassier a distinct flavour that is difficult to replicate with any substitute. So leave it out if you can’t find Orange Blossom Water, or maybe try one of the substitutes mentioned in the recipe section of this post.


 


The other important part of this bread is the candied orange peel. You can make it at home, or if candied peel is not your thing (we’re not fans of it particularly, and my daughter will not touch anything with peel in it unless it something she likes when she will patiently pick out all the peel!) then you can substitute it with chopped dried apricots soaked in some orange juice. The orange flecked Gibassier has a lot of aesthetic appeal.

After baking the Gibassier, brushing them with clarified butter (ghee)while still warm not only gives them a lovely nutty flavour and taste but also helps the dusted sugar to stick well to the bread. Clarified butter is easy enough to make, as all it requires is to melt some butter and cook it till it turns golden.



 
To make the decorative cuts in the Gibassier, don’t use a knife (however sharp it may be) or anything that drags through the dough. What you need is something that you can push down into the down to make a clean cut. I used the end of a piece of plastic strip to make cuts in my dough.
And here’s the recipe!

Gibassier (A French Anise & Orange Flavored Loaf)
 
 

Ingredients:

For the Pre-ferment (Biga):

1 1/2 cups bread flour          
1/2 cup milk
 
1/16 tsp instant yeast

For the Dough:

2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup orange blossom water*
1/8 cup warm water (or orange juice) **
3 1/4 cups bread flour
All the pre-ferment/ Biga from above
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp instant yeast
75 gm butter, slightly soft***
1 1/2 to 2 tsp anise seeds
1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel (I used dried apricots) ****
1 tsp orange zest (use 2 tsp if using dried apricot)

For Glazing and Dusting the Gibassier

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup clarified butter (ghee) *****
Vanilla sugar or castor sugar
 

Method:

Notes:
*What gives this bread its signature aroma is the orange flavour and orange blossom water makes all the difference. It is difficult to replicate with substitutions, so if you cannot find it, you may leave it out altogether. In this recipe since orange is an important flavour, you can can use 1/2 tsp orange extract instead, if you have it. Otherwise you can substitute the 1/8 cup water with unsweetened orange juice.
**If you are using apricots instead of candies orange peel, replace the 1/8 cup water with warm unsweetened orange juice.
***It is important to use butter that is just beginning to soften. The butter should be somewhat cold but just soft enough for you to press down with your finger. If your butter is too soft you might have greasy Gibassier.
If you don’t like candied peel, you can substitute it with chopped dried apricots. But then remember to use warm orange juice instead of warm water for a stronger orange flavour.
*****If you don’t have ghee, you can make your own clarified butter. Just put unsalted butter in a pan and melt it. Let it boil and bubble on medium heat until it turns golden. Strain out the solids and you have clarified butter/ ghee. Store in a glass jar.
You can use melted butter instead of clarified butter but you will not get the same flavour.
You can make your own vanilla sugar at home, by steeping slit vanilla pods (whole or those from which you have removed the seeds) in a jar of granulated or castor sugar. Let it sit for about a week or two and your vanilla sugar is ready for use.

The Process:

The pre-ferment has to be made the night before the Gibassier are baked. So the previous night, mix together the ingredients for the pre-ferment into a slightly stiff but smooth dough. Add a little more milk if your dough is too stiff.
Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and cover loosely. Let it stand, at room temperature, for about 14 to 16 hours. At the end of this time, the dough would have risen and have a fermented look.
 

 
The next morning, make the dough for the Gibassier. You can do this by hand, but it will require some effort as the dough can get a bit sticky. Using a kitchen machine or a food processor will make things easier.
Put the eggs, olive oil and Orange Blossom Water in the processor bowl and run a couple of times to mix well. Then add the warm water and mix. If the water is too hot, the mixture will curdle because of the eggs!
Now add the pre-ferment (tear it up into chunks first so it will mix easily), bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and knead until the dough is smooth. Now add the butter in chunks (3 or four times) and knead until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding the next chunk. Knead well until the dough is soft and supple.
Add the chopped candied orange (or apricots), aniseed and the zest and knead till incorporated. Shape the dough into a round and place in a well-oiled bowl turning it to coat well. Cover loosely and allow the dough to double in volume. This should take about 2 hours.
 

 
When done, turn the dough out onto your working surface. Divide it into 12 equal portions, shape each into a round and let the dough rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then shape and flatten each round into a semi-circle or oval.  Make three cuts in the semi-circle, one in the centre and two on either side of this cut from the straight edge to the arch of the semi-circle (see photographs), by pushing your implement straight into the dough. Making sure the cuts open up into neat slits. Then using scissors, make 4 snips along the arched side at equal distance.
 
Lift the Gibassier dough and transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet making sure to stretch it a little so the cuts open up well and the slits also spread a bit. Repeat with all the balls of dough, and let the shaped dough rise for about 30 to 45 minutes till a little puffy.
 
 
Then bake them at 180C (350F) for about 10 to 15 minutes till they turn a golden brown on top.
 
Take the Gibassier out of the oven and brush them while still hot, with clarified butter/ ghee. Immediately press the brushed side down lightly (or sprinkle with sugar instead) into vanilla sugar or castor sugar. Then let them cool on a rack.
Serve them slightly warm or at room temperature with coffee or tea. This recipe makes 12 large Gibassier.

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July 18, 2014

Panmarino (Italian Rosemary Bread)

I
t’s been a crazy couple of months here with so much going on that I’m running like mad just to stay where I am and get everything done. And now with the daughter leaving for college this weekend and the Indian Bloggers Meet happening in less than two weeks from now I only wish there were a few more hours than 24 in each day!

I was just on Facebook when I stared seeing a couple of posts from fellow Bread Baking Babes when I realised that today was the posting deadline for this month’s bread. For a change, I actually baked my bread  over a week back but then the photographs I took were still in the camera till a couple of hours back.



 
Given that I don’t have too much time on my hands, this post is going to be very short and to the point, mostly. This month’s BBB bread, chosen for us by Cathy from BreadExperience, is the Panmarino.
The Panmarino is an Italian bread that is generously flavoured with fresh rosemary and olive oil. This golden coloured rustic loaf is known for its light crumb and crisp crust with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. 
As the story goes, the recipe for the Panmarino as it is known today, was developed a baker named Luciano Pancalde who lived in Ferrara near Venice. Luciano Panclade apparently was once reading the biography of the d'Este family who were the rulers of Ferrara, and came across descriptions of their grand court banquets. Some of these banquets also served a rosemary bread that had a sea salt sprinkled crust that “sparkled with diamonds”.
 So Lucioano Panclade  experimented with dough to reproduce a similar rosemary bread and the result was the dome shaped, star patterned and sea salt crusted Panmarino that is perfumed with the fragrance of rosemary.



 
The Panmarino takes some time and little planning ahead, but most of the 18 to 20 hours it takes to make is spent on the overnight Biga or pre-ferment. Kneading the bread, shaping it, letting it rise and baking it just takes as much time as a regular loaf of bread would. There are recipes for Panmarino which take just a couple of hours to make, but the traditional version involves the use of a pre-ferment which gives the bread its texture and flavour.
I halved the original recipe and chose to bake the dough as one large boule instead of two smaller ones. Even that was a little on the larger side for our family of three. I didn’t have anything like a couche that would ensure that my boule would have a bit of height, and it did spread a wee bit even though I shaped it hoping the gluten cloak would hold it in (which it mostly did). I decided against slashing the boule because I was worried that might cause my boule to flatten out a bit more. I’ll be honest and confess that my bread dough slashing skills aren’t the finest especially when dealing with the more hydrated sourdough kind of stuff.



 
All in all, my Panmarino turned out pretty good even though there were no "sparkling diamonds" on mine, serve with roasted bell pepper and tomato soup. Though I must advice you that if you’re not a fan of rosemary, then you might think this bread’s a big deal. So leave out the rosemary and still bake this bread because it is a good one.

Panmarino  (Italian Rosemary Bread)
 

Ingredients: 

For the Biga:

1/2 cup bread flour
1/3 cup water
A pinch of instant yeast  

For the Final Dough:

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup 2 slightly warm water
1 1/2 tbsp milk
All the Biga from above
3/4 tbsp salt
A pinch of instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
 

Method:

Start with preparing the Biga or pre-ferment. Do this the night previous to the day you’re planning to bake the Panmarino. Combine the flour, water and yeast in a bowl and mix together with a spoon or fork. You should have a somewhat viscous semi-liquid dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight, or for about 12 to 16 hours, at room temperature. 

Making the Final Dough.Put the bread flour, water, milk, and biga in the processor bowl. Using a machine makes kneading easier but you can do this by hand too. Knead till blended. Then add the salt and the yeast and knead well till smooth. When the gluten is well developed add the olive oil and the rosemary. Knead well until oil is absorbed into the dough. The dough should be smooth, well kneaded and a little loose.
Scrape the dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover loosely. Let it rise till almost double. This should take about 1 hour or so.

 
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two equal portions (if making 2 smaller boules). Shape the portions of dough into rounds. Let them rest for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you have couches then use that. Do see the original recipe on how to work with that.
Otherwise, shape each round of dough making sure the that you don’t tear the gluten cloak. Place them on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Loosely cover them and let them rise for about an hour.

 
Just before baking, pre-heat your oven to 230C (450F) with a baking stone or an over turned baking sheet on the rack and an empty baking pan under it.
Uncover the dough and score the top of each loaf in a star pattern using a lame or sharp knife. You can, if you like, sprinkle sea salt into the crevices as the original baker did to make it "sparkle with diamonds."
Carefully place your loaves in the oven.  To make the steam (this will give you a good crust), add 1 cup of ice to the empty baking tray under the rack. Bake the loaves for about 35 to 40 minutes or until they are crisp and golden brown on top and the loaves make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. 


 
Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) are a closed group, you can still bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy and here’s how it works.
The Kitchen of the Month this month is Cathy's and the recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the eaujolais Bread according to that recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post.
Then e-mail Cathy with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will then do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and also send you a BBB badge for this bread that you can then add to your post on your blog. 



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