A few days ago I went to the Mill to collect some flour to develop new recipes and asked Alessandro if he had any new interesting products. Happens that I just arrived on a lucky day while freshly ground wheat germ was available. Wheat germ is no more than 3% of the entire grain kernel, and is generally discarded because of its more intense flavour and the presence of moisture which can reduce shelf life of the flour. A product rich in vitamins, starches, proteins and lipids, wheat germ is really good for our health. Presence of Omega 3, Omega 6, vitamins A and D, make it a very valid aid for skin, hair and helps fighting free radicals too. To best preserve all its nutritional qualities the advice is to eat it raw (in this way all its properties, especially vitamin E and B and fatty acids are kept intact) in addition to milk, yogurt or soups but without exceeding a daily dose of 50 g. Being a highly perishable product in order to keep more than a few days you can toast it lightly to remove the moisture which encourages rancidity and mould formation.
It has been hanging around for a long time, this thought. Unfortunately having many things to do and little time to stop and think and do something about it…but I couldn’t stop thinking this blog was born thanks to my passion for sourdough but lately my recipes have been increasingly lacking this ingredient. What happened? Nothing serious, some of it is to blame on the discovery of long fermentation which can make yeasted bread more digestible and fresh for longer time, just like sourdough bread. A little blame is on “Cuochi d’artificio” for which I decided to restrain myself to the use of yeast, being sourdough leavening too complex. And last but not least lately time to plan refreshments and dough rising has failed me big time.
At the first occasion I knew I had to do something about it. I threw a quick loving glance to the jar of my dear Hannibal Dolores Frank, my liquid sourdough culture, and rolled up my sleeves. In a jiffy I found the right ingredients and I started to put down, off the cuff, the recipe for these mock panettoncini fo Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook. Mock because mind you, panettone is a serious matter. The recipe is regulated by a disciplinary from which you can not escape, and the commitment needed to come up with a good homemade panettone is remarkable. This recipe in a way is no exception and I don’t recommend it to the faint of heart, or better faint of hand. Unless you are familiar with very hydrated or high in fat doughs, if you’re not quite skilled with handling and shaping breads I warn you nervous breakdown is around the corner waiting for you. But if you are experienced or daring enough go all the way and this recipe will not disappoint you. These little panettoni are perfect for a special, and why not romantic, breakfast. Soft as a pillow and sweet, I tell you. Bake them on a Saturday afternoon for Sunday morning. Pop them for a while in the oven before you tasting them while cocooning in the warmth comfort of your bed, wide smile under your cappuccino foam moustache. That’s amore!
The first meal of the day is the most important, needless for me to say it for the nth time. May it be breakfast on working days or a rich Sunday brunch spent in the company of family and friends it doesn’t really matter, it’s carbohydrates that make the difference. A proper source of energy, carbohydrates are better to be consumed during the first part of the day mainly because by approaching the night hours our capacity to burn down calories is reduced and this may lead, if carbs are consumed in excess, to an important weight gain. Today’s recipe for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook is a twist on zwieback, a great classic of Swiss breakfasts. I admit I do prefer them much to their Italian cousins, rusks, which always seem to be inconsistent and unwilling to be properly dunk in tea. For while dunking a rusk in tea it is important not to exceed those five seconds soaking time separating a properly soaked slice from an impalpable slurry which irredeemably splashes in the cup resulting in Pollock splatters all around, staining clothing, tablecloth and newspaper. Zwieback on the other hand are more compact and can be dunk twice. Italy 0 – Switzerland 1. And why not…lets be dragged by a little national pride, roll up our sleeves and accomplices our faithful and reliable Maroggia’s Mill flours let’s bake together these crispy delights! I added whole wheat flour and a pinch of cinnamon to the mixture to differentiate our zwieback from those available on the market, but you can try to make the classic version using only white wheat flour or pick any other combinations of sweet and savoury ingredients to flavour them. For the record this recipe has been subjected to a brunch tests and got top marks from all of my five enthusiastic guinea pigs. What are you waiting for? Ready, steady, bake!
Bagels. If I’m not mistaken this is the second recipe I tried after discovering my passion for bread baking. The first one was the Cottage Loaf, a bread which has been the staple of my baking when sixteen. Around that time my father used to travel a lot to the United States, something which I guess summed up with my passion for american tv series and MTV played a role into feeding my interest for this bread. I then did a 10 day holiday in N.Y. where I religiously followed my plan to eat a typical american breakfast every single morning, with the rule of changing both menu and place every single day. Amongst the breakfast I had there where bagels too, of course. I would opt for a classic philadelpia cheese and smoked salmon bagel, straight from the oven and still warm. No doubt one of my favourite breakfasts during my american holiday. I haven’t been baking bagels since, for no reason really. This time a pretty weird idea to use Maroggia’s Mill flour came to my mind. Liquorice flavoured bagels! Take a look into Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook with me and let’s see how these beauties can be baked at home.
Breakfast, you already know how much I love this moment of the day and I won’t go on stressing how important it is for me to start the day with a rich meal. I have already experimented with a bread recipe using Maroggia’s Mill pasta and pizza flour (which is a mixture of wheat flour and very finely ground semolina flour) and I was pleasantly surprised. The result was very good, with an aromatic flavour and a good texture regarding the crumb.
Easter is around the corner and this year instead of the traditional colomba I decided to venture into new shores and try a recipe of which my friend Rita told me so much about last year. Rita has been a good friend for many years and over the time I also had the chance to meet all of her family. Back in the days they used to run the most famous pastry shop in Chiasso. Her father often told me about the pastries that they sold and also lent me several books (although pastry is not really my field, even though I always promise myself to sooner or later and bake some of the delicacies illustrated in these magnificent volumes). In short, they know their pastries. So, last year speaking of colomba and various Easter cakes and breads Rita asked me whether I knew this sweet bread which is traditionally baked and eaten in Como, la resta. Characteristic of this sweet loaf is the insertion of a branch of olive tree in its centre. I was immediately fascinated by this traditional bread and promised myself to try this recipe sooner or later. Luckily this year Easter falls shortly after my column of recipes for Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook.
I simply love breakfast. Sweet or savoury it makes no difference at all, it’s just one of my favourite meals by virtue of its versatility. I discovered kanelbullar while “bakery hunting” for my morning breakfasts in Copenhagen. Not that i didn’t know well it’s british-american counterpart, the cinnamon bun, but what intrigued me the most was its shape. Braided breads of all sorts have always an effect on me, it must be my aesthetic and artistic inclinations playing a big part in this fascination.
Nothing makes me happy as inviting friends over to have breakfast, lunch or dinner. To prepare a lavish feast with all of the best foods, and pick the favourites according to my friend’s taste, to embellish the table with red mats and placing a nice bowl of fresh fruit on the table. To knead and wait patiently, to shape the dough and wait for another while, the nose stuck to the oven glass in contemplation of the soft dough rising, glossy, giving off an amazing scent throughout the house. I especially love breakfasts. Sweet, savoury…nothing is missing from my table (well, nothing missed…now with macro dieting I cut out all dairy and goodbye to my beloved cheese and yogurt). Usually I bake ciabattas and baguettes, but a little leftover of ricotta inspired me to bake these sandwiches. I never imagined they would turn out so perfect on the first try…but yes they truly are perfect. A well-leavened, soft and light dough. Another recipe which is ideal for a snack and for breakfast, or even for a sandwich to have on the fly on a lunch break. This is my gift to Maroggia’s Mill Cookbook and to all of you. Enjoy!
Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
Sunday morning, 6 o’ clock, Chiasso. I must be crazy but I have a mission, a very complicated recipe I have been wanting to bake for many years. Breathe in, breathe out. I reach to the bag of special flour I purchased a few months ago fr the purpose…only to find out it is full of flour bugs! I have no alternative but a change of plans and must decide what to bake quickly. Luckily I had refreshed some liquid starter just the night before, but what could I come up with in order no to waste too much time and be able to take pictures while the sun was still out? Continue reading / Continua a leggere…
This month I will be throwing the gauntlet for September’s MTChallenge having won the previous challenge with my Horse Meat Hamburger with Eggplant, Beetroot crisps, Pepper Ketchup in a Liquorice Bun. It has been a hard task, picking the recipe and working on it to achieve a sort of kind of perfect version. Not to mention I have been working through July and August’s heat wave, handling butter and laminating dough. What is waiting for me is a lot of work, reading recipes, commenting, trying to to pick the best one of the bunch. I have the feeling I’ll get a proper headache… If you feel brave enough, if the temperatures are lowering and don’t exceed 20° C you might as well give it a shot. Check out my previous post on croissants to read more about techniques, tips and tricks.