I know I said I’m not one for resolutions but if there’s one thing I need to get better at is blogging more often. I need a challenge. Cooking up new and interesting dishes is never an issue – it’s the compilation of the pictures (and I may need to do a post on just the pictures that never made it to the blog), the story behind the post, the flow, the recipe – you get the gist. And when I see inspiring blogs like Panfusine, My Diverse Kitchen, What’s for Lunch, honey? – creative bloggers with jaw-dropping food porn on their blogs, I get that steely resolve to get better at this self-induced hobby of mine. Only the resolve gets blurry as soon as I sit down to blog. It’s a block.
Until I got this prompt from my son’s example, literally. My 5th grader, Nikhil started to blog about a year and a half ago over the summer and sure enough, after the school year began, the blog lay on the wayside. The move to Singapore and the new school was the perfect antidote – and I would tell him to capture his memories and travels on his long forgotten blog, which he momentarily did.
Interestingly his new school’s syllabus added an introduction to blogging as a part of their writing and language art curriculum. Every child would get to start a new blog and write about anything that fancies him/her. They regularly got what were called “picture prompts” to help them get out of a writer’s block and stay on track. Great idea – not only to spark some creative writing juices among kids but also to engage the classmates to read each other’s blog and comment and critique. Pretty soon, my son was on a blogging roll and it’s now almost second nature (well, of course its homework so its mandatory but enough to start a habit;) for him to write even if a few lines every other day. He does take the critiquing quite seriously as he did with my blog posts recently:)
Here was my answer. I needed a “picture prompt” to get me on track.
And so when I chanced upon the “We Knead to Bake” project it was my antidote. Aparna Balasubramanian, the author of My Diverse Kitchen just started this group for culinary enthusiasts with the idea of getting like minded bloggers together to bake one bread a month for 2013. January’s theme was Herb and Cheese Pull Apart Bread which was my prompt for the month.
I joined the group at the end of January, and made it to the group by the skin of my teeth – so it has taken me an additional week to bake and post this recipe, what should have been done by the 24th. I guess I also need to work on meeting baking deadlines:). I’m linking this post to Aparna’s blog post on the theme.
I followed the recipe for the most part except for the mix-ins. I used Amul cheese and a green-chili, mint paste or chutney as the spread for the bread. (my favorite combination for making grilled toast – Chili Cheese toast)
II haven’t had great luck baking breads before but this recipe was perfect in terms of the consistency and texture.
Note: I would add more of the mix-ins as I couldn’t really taste much of the chutney or green chilies in the bread with the original measures for the ingredients so would double the measures (which is what I have noted here in the ingredients).
Also I’m still in the process of updating all the pictures from my camera so look out for another update to this post shortly.
For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp butter, soft at room temperature
3/4 to 1 tsp garlic paste
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)
For the Filling:
3 tbsp melted butter or a mix of olive oil (EVO) and butter
1/4 cup green chutney (thick and not watery) – 1/2 cup cilantro+1/4 cup mint leaves+1/4-1/2 tsp black salt. Blend together with very little water to a smooth paste.
2 tbsp crushed green chilies (you may use longer chilies or jalapenos for less spice. I used thai chilies that are extra spicy:)
3/4 cup grated Amul cheese
1. In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Set this mixture aside for about 5 minutes till it starts to froth and rise up.
2. Mix the flour, salt, softened butter, and garlic paste in a stand mixer with a hook attachment. Now add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliable dough which is not sticky. Add a little extra flour if your dough is sticking, but only just as much as is necessary.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until almost double in volume.
4. Prepare the work surface by dusting it lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, divide it into 2. Return one of the portions back to the bowl and cover. Take the other portion and shape it into a large square or rectangle.
5. Brush the rectangle liberally with the melted butter/EVO. Spread the green mint,cilantro, green chili mixture on the rectangle.
Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 8 long and even strips – they do not have to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facing upwards, until you have a stack of the strips.
You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividing it into 6 equal pieces (8 square stacks).
6. Now take the other dough portion and shape it into another large rectangle. Brush with EVO or butter, add the grated Amul cheese on to the surface of the rectangle. Use a cutter and make another 8 square stacks.
7. Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Layer the square slices, alternating the chutney slices with the amul cheese slices.
8. Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. Lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf.