Pascale's Kitchen: Rising to the occasion

Not-so-complex carbohydrates: Two options for everyday easy baking

Baker and breads  (photo credit: EDUARD KORNIYENKO)
Baker and breads
(photo credit: EDUARD KORNIYENKO)
Although there are plenty of bakeries around that sell an assortment of breads, there’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your home.
Not to mention that preparing bread with your kids is a great way to pass the time on a hot summer day.
I love preparing different shapes of bread and using a variety of flours. There’s always a new technique that I’ve been planning to try out I’ve managed to keep fresh sourdough starter in my fridge for three years now by maintaining it every week. Bread is a basic, nutritious and simple staple whose ingredients are basic, too: flour, water, salt and raising agents. From these few, simple ingredients, it’s possible to create a variety of breads with different textures.
During the summer vacation when the kids are not in school, using sourdough starter is a great way to avoid having to buy yeast, expend lots of energy kneading dough, and then letting the dough rise.
You can have your children prepare long rolls, and if they want to add toppings, they can sprinkle some dried herbs on top.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
You can add ¼ or ½ cup of olives, dried tomatoes, dried fruits or nuts to flour.
You can add spices such as paprika or herbs to flour.
You can use a rolling pin to roll out the pieces of dough, spread pesto sauce on top and then roll it back up.
Homemade bread
Makes 8 to 10 rolls Ingredients: 1 kg. wheat or spelt flour, sifted 2 Tbsp. dry yeast granules 4 Tbsp. oil 1 Tbsp. sugar 1 tsp. salt 2½ to 3 cups lukewarm water Oil wash and toppings: 1 tsp. oil + 2 Tbsp. water 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds 1 Tbsp. nigella seeds 1 tsp. za’atar – optional In the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook, put the flour and form a well in the middle. Pour the yeast granules, oil and sugar in the middle. Sprinkle the salt around on the flour. Mix on medium-low speed and then gradually add the water while mixing. Keep mixing until dough falls away from the side of the bowl. Continue kneading dough for seven minutes on low speed. Cover bowl with a thick towel and set in a warm spot for 30 minutes until dough doubles in volume. Knead dough again, cover and let rise another 30 minutes.
Separate the dough into eight or 10 sections and prepare long rolls. Place them on a tray lined with baking paper with ample space between each one. Using a sharp knife, cut three diagonal slits on each roll.
Place tray in a warm place for another 20 minutes.
Magic mushroom muffins
Do you love cooking with lots of spices and herbs? Then you should think about preparing savory pastries and your creative side will come shining through. Not only that, but your neighbors will come running over to see what all the hullabaloo is about.
When I smell tantalizing spicy and savory pastries, I feel like so much creativity and love of food went into preparing them. Savory pastries can be served with any meal and they are a great opportunity to combine unique flavors and new textures to our standard menus.
The first thing you need to do is pick what type of pastry dough you want to use, and then decide what kind of filling to add. Then you brush on the egg wash and bake until it’s golden brown. The magic happens at some point during the baking process, when all these ingredients you’ve brought together turn into a gorgeous creation.
Below is a recipe for mushroom muffins, which look like gourmet appetizers, but actually are quite simple to prepare. The wonderful aroma will attract everyone in the neighborhood, so be ready for all the attention!
Mushroom muffins
Makes 12 pieces 70 gr. butter, melted 100 gr. cottage cheese, 5% fat 1 container sour cream 2 cups self-rising flour, sifted Pinch salt 1 Tbsp. sugar ¼ tsp. baking soda 2 eggs Salt and pepper to taste Filling: 2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 red onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 small basket of Yarden mushrooms, sliced Salt and pepper to taste Eggwash and toppings: 1 egg, beaten, with 1 Tbsp. water ½ cup sesame and nigella seeds mixed together In a wide bowl, mix all the dough ingredients. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and fry onion until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and stir-fry for two to three minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper, stir and let cool.
Place one tablespoon of dough into a greased muffin tin or cupcake holders. Take one teaspoon of the filling and place it gently in the middle of the batter and push down so that the dough covers it. Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds.
Bake in an oven that was preheated to 180° for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry and clean. Let cool and remove muffins from pan.
This recipe is dairy, but you can substitute other ingredients for the dairy ones. You can also prepare it in a loaf pan instead of a muffin tin. You can also substitute roasted peppers or olives for the mushrooms.
Brush rolls with oil wash. If desired, you can sprinkle some sesame or nigella seeds or za’atar on top. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 30-35 minutes. Remove and let cool.