Sunday, February 1, 2009

The non-baker bakes (and makes soup)!

As a self-proclaimed non-baker I have slowly become interested in baking things that do not require the use of my bread machine (which by the way is a fabulous substitute for actually baking)! Partly inspired by the successful making of the no-knead bread and partly due to the February 09 issue of Gourmet (check out the cover), I have been on a bread making baking spree!
So the first thing I attempted from this amazing looking cover were the Cracked Wheat Topknots...I paired them with my version of a delicious and Creamy Butternut Squash Soup.

Cracked Wheat Topknots
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 1/2 cup medium bulgur (also called cracked wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon table salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (a 1/4-ounce package)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon mild honey or sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
  • 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flaky sea salt (preferably Maldon)
Stir together boiling-hot water, bulgur, and 1/2 teaspoon table salt in a small bowl and let stand until bulgur is tender, about 40 minutes.

While bulgur soaks, heat milk with butter in a small saucepan over low heat just until butter is melted.

Stir together yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.) Add flours and remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt to yeast mixture.

Drain bulgur in a sieve, then mix bulgur and milk mixture into flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a sticky dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and almost smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.

Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cut half of dough into 12 equal pieces (keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Roll each piece into a 12-inch-long rope with floured hands (flour surface only if dough is sticky). Make a loop with each rope, wrapping it around fingers of one hand, then knot dough twice through loop, leaving 1 end in center on top and tucking bottom end under. Transfer to a baking sheet, arranging rolls 2 inches apart.

Make more rolls with remaining dough, transferring to second sheet. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake rolls, switching position of sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes total. Transfer rolls to a rack to cool at least 20 minutes.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
Cook bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towel to drain.

Add garlic and caraway seeds to fat in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add squash, thyme, bay leaves, broth, stock, water, 3/4 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pepper and boil uncovered until squash is tender (appx 15-20 minutes). Discard thyme and bay leaves.

Puree soup in small batches in blender, be careful not to over fill blender. Return to pot and season with added salt and pepper to taste and the vinegar. Sever topped with crumbled bacon.


Dee said...

This soup looks like heaven & I'm very envious of those top knot rolls. They look perfect. Of course you baked them perfectly, I would expect nothing more. Save me one:)

Hornsfan said...

Well the precision required of baking isn't really something I normally adhere too but I'm learning that it's well worth the reward of home-made bread! I'll save one for you!

Reeni♥ said...

They turned out great! Perfect with this deliciously comforting soup!!

Tangled Noodle said...

Wow! For a non-baker, these topknots look excellent! I'm dependent on my bread machine so perhaps I should take inspiration from you and wean myself from it. And nothing more need be said about butternut squash soup - one of my faves!

Hornsfan said...

Reeni - it was a delicious soup - definitely worth trying.

Tangled Noodle - Fear baking no more! At least not the minimal baking I've been doing :) my breadmachine is getting dusty in the pantry right now, I would totally encourage you to try these, they were well worth it!