Friday, January 16, 2015

NeujahrsPretzel - New Years Pretzel | Baking Partners Jan 2015

New Year is celebrated across the world in different ways. Each country has its own traditions or otherwise People even add their own twist which inturn becomes a new ritual/tradition. The idea of celebration is bring together people or family and friends. Celebrating with family and friends definitely enhances our moods and then makes us positive as the the new year dawns. This definitely brings good luck and happiness throughout the year. 

Different traditions are associated with New Year and each one is supposed to bring good luck to our lives. This includes even in some food items consumed during the beginning of the new year or rather even as the clock strikes 12. One of them is New Year Pretzels.These are a speciality in Germany and are supposed to bring goodluck and prosperity if consumed at midnight or before breakfast on New Years' Day. 

In Germany or other German speaking and even other pretzel baking areas, on Jan 1st lightly sweetened yeasted pretzel is gifted among friends and family for good fortune. Sometimes young kids visits grandparents to get their share of pretzels. In fact pretzel is supposed to have got the shape from the German monks who used to pray for peace and prosperity. Whatever the story behind the bread, the New Years pretzels are the perfect option to snack on when you come tired after the celebrations and even during the celebrations

This time around for Baking Partners yours truly got the chance to choose the recipe thanks to Swathy. And yup the breads came wonderful and perfect. I went for one fourth (quarter) of the recipe adapted from  Pittsburgh Magazine given below. 

Ingredients:

Warm Milk: 1 ½ cups

Sugar: ½ cup

Butter: ½ cup


Warm Water: ½ cup

Yeast: 1 tbsp yeast (along with 1 tsp of sugar)


Bread Flour/ Apf: 6-7 cups

(You can make your own bread flour by adding 1 tsp of vital wheat gluten to 1 cup of all purpose flour.)


Salt: 1 tbsp


Egg: 2 OR Ener G Egg = 1 tbsp EnerG + 6-8  tbsp of water


Icing:

Confectioners Sugar: 2.5 cups

Almond/Vanilla extract: 1 tsp

Water : as much as needed


Garnishing:

Toasted Sliced Almonds

Candied cherrries


Confectioners/Powdered Sugar


Preparation:

In a bowl mix together warm milk, sugar and butter and stir until the butter and sugar are dissolved.


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In another bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with few sugar grains. and let it sit until foamy.



I didn’t have bread flour and added vital wheat gluten to my all purpose flour. In the small steel plate in the pic is vital wheat gluten ready to be mixed in.



To the milk bowl, add in the 5 cups of flour, salt, yeast mix and egg .


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Mix until you get a soft batter. Add in more flour ½ cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Continue knead until the  dough leaves the sides of the bowl.


Take the dough onto a floured counter and knead it to form a smooth ball.

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Put it into a greased bowl and let it rise until doubled in size.


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Turn onto the counter, divide into half.


Roll each half into a long rope and shape into a pretzel.



You can refer this video for shaping the pretzel.


Lay the pretzel into a parchment lined baking sheet and let it rise for another hour,


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I made one big pretzel with one half of the dough. Other half I divided into smaller pieces and made smaller pretzels.


Bake in a preheated oven at 375F/175C for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

The bigger pretzel came out like this


The smaller one ..

Garnish with powdered sugar.



Else mix together the confectioners sugar with vanilla/almond extract with as much water as needed to get a spreadable icing. Pour the icing over the bread and decorate with toasted almonds and candied cherries.



The bread is soft and light right out of the oven. It is similar to any soft sandwich bread that we make or buy. But once you decorate then it looks regal.. Its all the love and hope and positive that makes the simple pretzel superb centre piece in the New Year menu and gives a p
erfect start for the New Year



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

California Walnuts | For a Healthy 2015 & a Fitter You

Its the season for resolutions. After the festive season and especially on New Year it has become a trend to make resolutions and break them as the year goes by. Most of  the times it will be related to good health and nutritious food especially after the rich, calorie loaded festive food. But sticking to the plan and leading a healthy life looks dicey as the year moves forward.

Now if you are one of those trendy people who has promised themselves a healthy body and active mind by following a nutritious diet then this article is for you. 

You must have also heard of nuts being good for health.You must have also wondered how much nutrition is stored in the tiny nuts and also must have been put off by some nuts as well. Before you think its all bullshit and go nuts on me read ahead.

Its definitely true that nuts play an important role in providing protein, fibre and essential fats. Especially the king of nuts - Walnuts. 


Walnuts are known to be heart friendly as they help in reducing cholestrol. 

They are richer than any other dry fruit in folic acid and Vitamin E. So they help your skin too.

They are known to raise melatonin levels about 3 times and thus help reduce sleeplessness or insomnia.

This makes the walnuts the ultimate superfood 

Look onto the walnut closely and you can see it resembles a brain. 

Its also called "brain food" or the King of nuts


I was invited to attend the California Walnut Italian MasterClass conducted at Hilton Bangalore courtesy BBCGoodFood Magazine in association with FBAI & Hilton. The event which was well attended also included expert nutritionist Geetu Amarnani  who enlightened the audience about the health benefits of walnuts and also helped clear doubts on diets, cholestrols and nutrition in general.


The masterclass by Chef Roshan Mendonsa saw dishes like Ajo Blanco with walnut and Anchovies Tostada, tagliatelle with walnut pesto and also scrumptious walnut & cranberry torte.

The chef also gave helpul hints on cooking- especially with nuts- while he whipped up the excellent food.

Did you know 

a)Walnut on sitting exposed to air can turn bitter?

  In other words, the fat in walnut are oxidised when exposed to air. This makes it bitter or rancid. 

b)A walnut can be shelled/ peeled like an almond?!.

 Its a tedious work but thats what the chefs do in restaurant while turning it into soups especially.This gives final dish a lighter colour or "less brownish". The ajo blanco or the Spanish white (almond ) soup made with shelled walnuts looked and tasted superb.


Studies have shown that around 1.5 oz of walnuts a day help in reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases.

An ounce of walnut provides 18g of total fat including the 2.5g of alpha linolenic acid common known as omega3. 

Omega3: Omega 3 fatty acids are needed for the brain to continue functioning normally. Low omega3 can lead to depression and cognitive degeneration.

The brain shaped nuts which originated in Persia have the strongest anti oxidant properties  among dry fruits.

They are naturally sodium, cholestrol and gluten free

They provide around 11% of daily needed magnesium and phosphorus 

What are you waiting for?

Grab a handful of California Walnuts as a snack or  add them to your oatmeals and salad or turn them into scrumptious desserts.You can get more information in California Walnuts. You can also check out the Indian recipes that are walnut -ised. 

Now you can definitely stick to your plan for a healthy 2015 and be a fitter you at the end. 


Thanks for visiting my Blog

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