Dried Turkish fig jam with sesame seeds

And I present you my first ever fig jam’s recipe 🙂

One of my friends gifted me with 2-pounds of dried Turkish fig a couple of months ago – yum yum yum 🙂 I have been meaning to make jam with it and today was that day, my friends!

I have been inspired by many recipes on the internet, this one and this one particularly. I combined the general recipe of the first one (without the vanilla stuff) and the sesame seeds of the other, and voila here is my first ever dried fig jam!

Recipe

  • Wash briefly 2 pounds of dried Turkish figs (64 big sized and moist figs – one fig was eaten as per quality control(!) before the jamming process. I needed to do that, right? 🙂 )
  • Remove the stalks, boil water, and soak the figs in water for 40 min, close the lid of the container to keep the heat in
  • Strain and drain the excess water (this is a delicious liquid, which I have drank without any reservation 🙂 ) 
  • Dice thinly – around 8 diced figs make up a cup
  • Toast 1/8 cups of sesame seeds, put aside
  • Put the diced figs in a pot; add 3 cups water, 3 cups white sugar, 1 tsp salt, juice of 1.5 lemon (around 10 tbs), and the sesame seeds
  • Bring to a vigorous boil, close the lid and simmer at low heat for 12 minutes
  • Cool for 10 min with pot’s lid open (to prevent moisture from the lid going into the jam) and put in cleaned jars (wash with soap and hot water; then transfer them into an oven at 220F for 30 min – rings included, except the lids which were air dried and patted down with paper towel)
  • Pour into jars , clean the rims of the jars, close the lids and rings
  • cool down and refrigerate. I believe it is supposed to be consumed in a month or so Alternatively water or pressure can it for longer duration. Jam can also be processed in a blender for a smoother jam. You can add less or more lemon juice – this was slightly sour and it complemented the sweet taste so well 🙂
  • This jam fit into four x 500 ml mason jar
  • Bon appetite!

 

 

 

sometimes trying something hopeless pays off

Yesterday I have prepared two sourdough; one can be found here; it was prepared by a starter that was rigorous and with a long rise (around 16 hours at room temp) with 4 hours of proving, following my regular recipe. It turned out to be a lovely loaf with a great oven spring.

That loaf will be given to my friends that I have seen yesterday night. So upon returning home at around 11 pm, I decided I needed a loaf for myself so I prepared a small dough using the left overs from my starter that I resurrected this past week. These left overs are those that needed to be removed and replaced with fresh flour and water while feeding the starter. I did not want to put it in garbage, so I thought I could find a use for them (like tortilla), so had kept around 3/4 cups of them in my fridge. They were not necessarily the best starter, but I took my chances with my second loaf.

The second loaf had 9 hours of first rise with limited stretch and fold (1 only) at room temperature and 5 hours of proofing. Honestly it did not look good when I put it on parchment paper (it did not keep its shape). Anyways, in the oven there was some kind of spring. So I was still not very hopeful. But when I cut it, I was very surprised; it has the largest air pockets I have seen in my sourdough! It is soft and the sesame seeds give it an incredibly nutty flavor 🙂 Although its rise was short, I think dough being slightly sticky helped it to turn into this beautiful loaf.

I think sometimes keeping the faith and trying something that does not look much hopeful pays off 🙂

 

 

The Queen of all bread; sourdough with kefir

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but…but… but… can you see what I see? Is that not GORGEOUS!? 🙂 🙂

I am hooked to this combination and I suspect that I will always bake sourdough with kefir from now on.

I have not tasted anything quite like this, nor eaten a softer sourdough that I have baked. The slight salty taste, the crumb (the best so far), and the smell of this sourdough will fill my dreams – I can tell you that with confidence.

The recipe is quite basic like any other sourdough I have baked;

1. I added to 1 cup of whole wheat starter fed twice (Friday night and Saturday morning), 2tbs of sugar and 1 cup of kefir – mixed well with a spoon until it become somehow frothy (it does become frothy quite easily). Then added 2 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt. Mixed and formed a shaggy dough.

This dough formed quite fast without needing to mix too much – I give it to kefir.       Somehow it helped bond the dough and voila! I had that healthy looking and soft             dough. As it was my practice the last few weeks, I made sure the dough was slightly           sticky while adding the flour.

2. I then left it at room temperature covered with a clean towel and stretched and folded 4-5 times time to time. The next day, I shaped it, and left for proving in a bowl covered with a clean cloth and sprinkled with generous amount of sesame and poppy seeds. It proved for 6.5 hours at room temperature in a plastic bag.

3. I baked it in non-preheated oven; 375 F for 15 min first, then 25 min at 350 F (the seeds burn pretty quick if the temperature is high), and then left in a turned off oven for an additional 5 min.

Give it a try and let me know whether you also agree that this is the best sourdough ever! 🙂

 

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mother of sourdough – the happy and active starter
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kefir – I am hesitant to add it but I read that others tried baking bread with kefir, so here comes a fresh batch of kefir
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the initial shaggy dough – do not worry – it will form just fine
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at the end of stretch and folds; ready to rest overnight
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and the next morning it has risen all nice and fluffy 🙂
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shaped and left for proving
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6.5 hours later, it seems to have proven quite a bit – exciting 🙂
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the seeds look great! sadly I also deflated it a little bit while taking it from the bowl onto the parchment paper.. feeling nervous….
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i deflated the dough a little bit more while scoring…. not my best day – next time I will have to handle this dough with a little bit more care
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but…but… but… can you see what I see? Is that not GORGEOUS!? 🙂 🙂
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and the crumb is my finest so far – kefir and sourdough have formed a great collaboration. This bread will be a classic at my house from now on

the third and the fourth day of the staycation

Today and yesterday were kind of busy and high-speed days; but they were both good 🙂

I have done great in terms of cleaning my home; except the storage area, entrance deck, and the kitchen I am done cleaning; window sills, every corner, behind the furniture, and most importantly the laminate floors are wiped! Yay! I so dislike cleaning the floors, but it is done until further notice (heh he! 🙂 ) I also lightly wiped the rugs, except the one on the stairs and started my decluttering activity.

I am so into decluttering. I so far threw away quite a bit of clutter and am trying to sale some other minor stuff. Ones that will not be sold will be donated next week. This feels good. I still have a long way to complete my decluttering, but at least I have started and am enjoying it. I cannot wait to remove the clothes from my home – some of them have not been worn for some time and it is time to donate them. Old socks are always fun to throw away, and finding new treasures hidden here and there is a surprisingly delightful activity 🙂

Cleaning, if you do not like it, is a huge burden. One of my colleagues suggested I hire someone to do it; while I like the idea I think as long as I am capable of doing it, I will keep doing it.

I have baked this beauty for a social yesterday 🙂 does it not look awesome? It was an overnight dough prepared by milk (add 1 cup of warm skim milk, 1/2 tbs of dry yeast, 1tbs of sugar together; activate the yeast for 10 min with the container covered by a towel; add 2.5 cups of bread flour and knead; stretch and fold 4-5 times when you have time; rest at the fridge overnight; take it out in the morning and bring to room temperature (takes around 2 hours); shape; proof for an hour; and bake at 350F for 30 min (not pre-heated; it helps with the raise of this dough, which has a small amount of yeast) after applying whole egg wash and generous amount of sesame seeds on top).

Everybody loved it! I am baking a similar one for another social tomorrow, together with my sourdough 🙂 we will see how they will turn out tomorrow.

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Bon appetite! 🙂

how to bake the perfect bread?

Well; the best way to learn how to bake the perfect loaf is learning through trial and error.

This is the best way for me. No matter how many books or blogs I read, my own experiences with baking bread are the best teachers for me.

More than that, I am an experimenter. I would love to follow recipes, but to tell you the truth, I like improvising better; observing the thickness of the dough, the rise of the dough, the oven-spring of the loaf, the crust, taste, and crumb, and all the conditions (warmth while rising/proofing, minutes/hours of waits/rise/baking, amount of ingredients, etc.). And then coming up with conclusions to bake a better bread next time. That is priceless 🙂

So, last week I decided to try an over-night dough recipe – I have got the idea from internet (there are many useful sites out there). They say that while the fridge will slow down the activity of the yeast, the long fermentation (in the fridge) does enrich the taste of the bread. Intrigued, I decided to go for it 🙂

I must say it has been a great learning experience:

  • Now I know how to handle a very sticky/batter like dough better
  • Now I know that over-night fermentation of the dough is okay and, as they said, may even be better for the texture of the bread
  • Now I know that the sticky/high-hydration dough should not be proofed/baked on cookie sheets – loaf pans/oven dishes that support the dough are a lot better (they support the dough and prevent from spreading/expanding to the sides to form a rather flat-type of loaf that I observed with my trial today.)
  • Now I know that proofing may be extended to 1.5 hours (rather than 1 hour), which yielded a better rise for this dough today
  • Now I know that I will try some other varieties (e.g. with olives) using this dough some other time. The most bubbles I have ever seen in a dough 🙂

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Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

This dough could have been a great flat bread or a pizza dough; crunchy outside, soft and crumby inside – highly recommended 🙂

1. warm 100 ml water and mix with 1 dessert spoon of sugar; mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of yeast – let stand for 15 min. Yeast will start smelling but not necessarily form a foam (only because its quantity is less than regular yeast mixtures. For a same-day bread, I would have used a full dessert spoon of dry yeast)

2. add 2 cups of flour, 75 ml of water, and the yeast mixture – make a very sticky dough (almost like a batter).

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3. let rest for 35 min at room temperature (cover the bowl with a kitchen towel)

4. use a dough cutter (or your hands) and stretch and fold it onto itself (repeat for 3-4 min – the dough will be still sticky). This is supposed to help the gluten form and give a structure to the dough. Note the absence of kneading in this recipe.

5. grease a large pot/bowl (with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil) and put the dough in. Stretch and fold again to make sure it gets oil all over. Close the lid of the pot or cover it with cling film.

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6. keep it in the fridge overnight.

7. the next morning (after 19 hours in the fridge): the dough/batter looks healthy and flattened itself out. It smells great:) There are noticeable bubbles in it.

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8. add 1 table spoon of salt and stretch and fold 7-8 times. Transfer into a clean pot sprinkled with flour. The dough is coherent and sticky, and prior to the stretch and fold there were large bubbles in it:) (they are removed during the stretch and fold procedure). Sprinkle flour on top, close the lid of the pot, place over a kitchen towel and rest at room temperature for 1.5 hours (to help it reach the room temperature)

9. transfer the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour, stretch and fold a couple of times, and form a baton shaped loaf. You may flour the hands and the surface as required, but do not be tempted to add too much flour.

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bubbles 🙂

10. bench rest for 10 min (covered)

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after 10 min of bench rest – the loaf certainly does not keep its shape and has a tendency to flatten…

11. Place the dough in an oven dish sprinkled with a generous amount of cornmeal, [if using cookie sheet like myself; support the loaf on both sides by stretch film-covered long boxes (stretch films better be greased). I would rather recommend using a deep oven dish for this dough if you are aiming for a tall bread…], place everything in a big shopping bag, loosely tie the bag, and put it in a warm oven (warmed to 100 F with lights on), and proof for 1.5 hour.

 

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this is how the dough looked like after 1 hour of proofing

12. Apply whole egg wash gently without deflating the dough, sprinkle with generous amount of sesame seeds, and score the surface. Remove the supports from the sheet

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this is how it looked right before I put it in the oven. when the supports on both sides are removed, naturally it expanded to the sides. I guess this will be one nice flat bread! 🙂

13. Place 2 cups of boiling water in an oven-safe dish and place in the lower shelf. Bake for 35 min (375F the first 15 min, and then 400 F)

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the best crumb ever!

 

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

easy red cabbage stir fry

I love red cabbage in salad. My regular stores do not have it all the time, so when I find it, I buy multiple heads. Unfortunately that also means that sometime I have them in the fridge for too long and almost gone bad.

Today I decided to make use of two heads of red cabbage before they get bad. With one of them I am trying red cabbage sauerkraut (maybe I will post it another time). I made an easy stir-fry with the other one.

here is the recipe for this easy stir-fry:

  1. remove the outer layers, wash-pat dry, and cut one small head of red cabbage
  2. in a frying pot, add 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil, let heat up a little bit (add and fry garlic for a minute or so, if you wish – I just did not feel like eating it today)
  3. add the cabbage and mix time to time for 10-15 min
  4. add 2 table spoon of soya sauce and 2 table spoons of black bean sauce
  5. stir for another 2 minutes
  6. add sesame seeds and take off the stove

Enjoy!

Is there an easier way to consume this delicious and healthy veggie?

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final product 🙂

whole wheat bread with sesame seeds

Here is the first ever bread I have baked!

Is it not awesome! :)IMG_8319

I am excited as I am getting awed by yeast. This little organisms can do so much in such a short time. i am also excited as I am a big bread-lover and this experience tells me that I can try many different recipes in the future. Why should I pay for the additives and chemicals while I can do my own bread as I want it?

Here is the recipe for this hearty bread:

1. Add 2 cups of warm water, 1 table spoon of sugar, and one pack of dry yeast in a bowl. Mix and let stand for 20 – 25 min. I waited longer only because I had to take care of some other stuff. Otherwise, the yeast package says 10 min is enough. Make sure the water is warm but not too hot or cold; it is required by the yeast to start working.

2. Add two eggs, salt, one table spoon of sugar, and just enough whole wheat flour to the yeast mix. Mix well and knead as required. Cover with a wet towel for 45 min. I kneaded twice in between to make sure consistency.

3. Spread 2 table spoon of vegetable oil in an oven pan. Shape the bread as you would like it and place in the pan. I made 4 vertical cuts on top to give the bread some character.

4. Mix 2 table spoon on vegetable oil with one egg. Mix well and apply on the surface of the bread. Top up with a generous amount of sesame seeds.

5. Place the bread in an oven and bake 45 min or until done at 375 F. I moisturized the surface of the bread 3 times during the process, by applying little amounts of water.

 

Enjoy 🙂

 

added after the post: I am sure I put too much water (and way diluted the sugar needed by the yeast)  at the beginning. I would have been better if I had used a much less amount of water (check the directions on the dry yeast package) and then add water after that while preparing the dough.

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