Milk buns from Heaven

Milk buns from Heaven

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I found this recipe in the House & Home magazine, from chef Eric Vellend. I was planning to try the technique of baking bread with a steaming water tray in the bottom of the oven, to get the glossy brown crust for a while and had the opportunity to do so with this recipe.
Perfection! I couldn’t expect for a better result: moist, light, these buns melt in your mouth. As dinner rolls they stole all the attention from the main dish!

Milk buns
1 cup whole milk scalded and cooled
1 cup water at room temperature
3 tbs honey
3 tbs olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast ( 1 envelope 8 g)
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more if needed

1 large egg at room temperature, beaten

Place milk, honey , water and oil in large mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve honey. Add yeast and salt. Gradually stir flour with a wooden spoon, until dough forms.
Transfer to floured surface. Gently knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth, 5 minutes.
Oil bowl, large enough for the dough to double size and place dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in warm spot until doubled in size, 1 hour.
Transfer dough to floured surface and briefly knead to knock out gas. Return to bowl, cover again and let or sit for 45 minutes.
Transfer dough yo the floured surface again and divide into portion the size of a tangerine ( 45 gr). Form each portion into a tight ball. Place 1/2 ” apart on parchment lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F. Bring kettle of water to boil. Pour 1″ layer of water into a roasting pan and place pan on bottom shelf of oven.
Brush tops of buns with egg and bake in upper third of the oven until golden brown, 20 minutes.

The pan of hot water creates steam in the oven, which helps the buns rise better and form a glossy and brown crust.

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The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

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I finally did it! I’ve been waiting for a long time to try a “no knead” bread recipe. I mean, a long time, years actually. I waited until I made one of my most precious kitchen investments and purchased my Le Creuset – Round French oven pan . I was persistent and lucky enough to find the pan, in my choice of color, at Home Sense – Winners at half price! It is the one I use every day, cast iron spreading the heat beautifully and evenly making my cooking faster and easier. I leave it on the stove since it is so pretty and colorful! Other than one frying pan and one sauce pan, I hardly use anything else in the kitchen pans department.

I had seen Laura Calder making this bread and found the exact same recipe The miracle boule on line. Followed her directions and voilà!

The simplicity of the ingredients, flour, water, yeast and salt makes one appreciate the mystical symbolism that bread has always had in the history of civilization, as one of the basics foods for human beings for centuries.

The exchange is quite simple too, no need to knead but you do need to wait. Start to make the night before, 5 minutes of super easy preparation to put the dough together and then forget about it. Next morning or afternoon it will be ready for the next step, one more raise.
Patience does pay off. It is so beautiful to see the yeast working its magic, no intervention needed, as many times we should behave in life, waiting for things to go its own way…

I just loved the whole process and I am now with 2 more doughs gently sitting on my counter top. Forgot to mention how delicious and indulgent was to have the fresh and still warm bread with butter. Simple and irresistible.

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I followed Laura Calder recipe completely. The only thing I would add is to cover the dough bowl with a wet cloth to avoid the dough of being dry. I read many other recipes and tips on the “no knead” bread and apparently you can get the same result with pans that are not cast iron like mine. There are some more information about it here.

Now, to the recipe:

No knead bread

3 cups or 375 g all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cup water
Cornmeal, wheat bran or extra flour

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Stir in water to blend. What you’ll have is a wet, shaggy, sticky dough, but not so wet as to be batter. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest in a warm place for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. It’s ready for the next step when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Flour a work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Sprinkle over a little more flour and fold it once or twice. Cover with the tea towel and let rest 15 minutes.
Using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel with cornmeal, wheat bran or flour and lay the dough on it, seam-side down. Dust with more cornmeal, wheat bran or flour. (You need quite a lot because you want to be sure the dough doesn’t stick to the towel). Cover and let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, the dough will be more than double in size.
Half an hour before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Put a 2-liter cast-iron pot or Dutch oven (cocotte) inside to heat.
When the dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough into it, seam-side up. (It will look messy, but this is OK.) Shake the pot to settle the bread evenly. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is nicely browned, another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

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Cheesy puffs or better yet: “Pão de queijo”

Cheesy puffs or better yet: “Pão de queijo”

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This is my ultimate treat! I am so excited I finally got this recipe perfectly and I can share it now! I’ve been trying different recipes for a while and eventually found the perfect one here.

Pão de queijo (cheese buns) or cheesy puffs, as I am calling them, are the Brazilian equivalent of North American donuts or muffins, something fresh we can enjoy any time of the day. It is a cheesy and puffy type of bread made out of tapioca or sour cassava flour and Parmesan (or actually any other cheese you like). This type of starch makes the dough stretchy and a bit gooey but when baked, the puffs turn into this amazing cheesy, melt in your mouth consistency, with a crisp and crunchy top. Irresistible! In Brazil, pão de queijo is the treat to have with a small espresso any time of the day, or as a quick breakfast, a snack that can be found at any bakery (padaria) or cafes around the corner, always fresh and hot, out of the oven.

The original recipe goes back to the XIX century in Minas Gerais, a Brazilian state, famous for its home made culinary, reminiscent of the big farms where milk and eggs were abundant and women were always on a quest to feed generously their large families. To this day it is a feast to be invited to a dinner cooked by a Minas Gerais local! Their culinary hospitality goes beyond anything you have ever tasted!

Despite all the historical facts that are known in Brazil about these pães de queijo, and how they are so ingrained in the Brazilian fast food culture, this recipe can also be compared to the French version of cheese gougres.

It is a great option for your dinner rolls, specially if your main entrée is something lighter as sea food, for example. You can have it all ready to go, just pop them in the oven 25 minutes before you’re ready to serve them, and you will be ready to impress.
Or enjoy it with your coffee or tea, jam, cream cheese or even peanut butter on the side. It melts in your mouth, really to die for!
Also it is light enough to be used as an appetizer in which case you can make the balls a bit smaller.

If you can find sour cassava you will get the characteristic subtle tanginess of the real ones, but regular tapioca is a great substitute.

Cheesy puffs – Pão de queijo

2 dozen puffs

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour or sour cassava flour
2 eggs
1 – 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese or any other cheese you like

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking pan with parchment and set aside.

Combine milk, oil, and salt in the saucepan, and whisking occasionally, bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles coming through the milk.
Add all of the tapioca flour to the saucepan and stir until there is no more dry tapioca flour in the bowl. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous at this point.

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Transfer the dough to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (Or you can do the next few steps by hand but be ready for a work-out!). Beat the dough for a few minutes (3 or 4 min) at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled enough that you can hold your finger against the dough for several seconds.

With the mixer on medium, beat the eggs into the dough in two additions. Wait until the first addition has been fully incorporated into the dough before adding the second. Make sure the dough is well mixed.

With the mixer still on medium, beat in the cheese until fully incorporated. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cookie dough.

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Using an ice cream scoop, a tablespoon measure, scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Space the mounds an inch or two apart.

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Transfer the sheet with the puffs to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to color. Cool briefly and eat. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!