Home-Baked Fette Biscottate Or Zwieback

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I’ve been thinking about this for so long, and always postponing, but yesterday it was too ugly to take my little one out (right baby?) so I felt like I finally could bake my favorite breakfast bread, fette biscottate which, I reckon, are the only way to save myself from the energy-dense breakfasts I’ve been having for a while.

Back in Italy, I used to have fette biscottate (or Zwieback, as they call them in US) with a cup of warm caffe-latte or tea in the morning, for as long as I can remember. They were filling and satisfying and light on the calorie-side. After moving abroad, breakfast became a problem. Local versions of fette biscottate, skorpor, were way too sugary and tasted like cinnamon. Not quite the same. The Italian version indeed was only vaguely sweet and had a fragrant but neutral taste that could accompany whatever I felt like spreading on them: honey, or butter, or jam or… nutella! And they were also great alone, preferably dipped into my extra-large cup of warm caffe-latte.

Anyway, not having fette biscottate available led me to switch toward salty types of breakfasts (I just can’t eat cereals), which in the end pumped up the amount of food I eat in a day. In fact, even after a rich American-style breakfast, I will still get hungry at lunch time and end up having three big meals in a day, while Italians only have two: a good lunch and a light dinner. If you want to know more about the Italian meal structure and maybe get some inspiration on how to change your food habits, I found this interesting link.

After some search, I decided this was the best recipe. And as usual I changed a few things here and there.

HOME-BAKED FETTE BISCOTTATE

You need: 500 g all-purpose flour, 75 g sugar, 1 egg, 1 tea-spoon malt extract (or honey), 12 g fresh yeast (or 5 g instant yeast), 210 g water, 4 table-spoon vegetable oil (I used cold-pressed canola), 5 g (1 tea-spoon) salt, 3 table-spoon milk. American measures coming soon.

How To: Step 1. Melt the yeast in the water with the malt extract (or honey) and let rest 5 minutes. Combine the flour with the sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg white (and put the egg yolk aside for later use), the oil, and the yeast mixture. Knead for 20 minutes by machine (or 15 by hand), adding the salt only before the last 5 minutes of kneading. Let rest for 30 minutes covered with plastic foil. Step 2. Form 3 balls and cover again with plastic foil. Let rest for 15 minutes. Step 3. Flatten each ball with a rolling-pin on a floured surface and shape 3 tight rolls. Seal the roll with your fingers and place seamed side down on 3 mini-loaf pans, covered with baking paper. Let rest, covered with plastic foil for 1 to 2 hours in a lightly warm place. Brush with the egg-yolk combined with the milk. Step 4. Bake for 30 minutes at 190 degrees (Celsius) and then lower the temperature to 160, take the loaves out of the forms, and bake for further 15 minutes (they have to look golden brown). Step 5. Let cool covered with a kitchen towel for at least 12 hours (and up to 24 hours, if you wish). Cut into 1 cm wide slices and bake at 160 for about 30 minutes.

CONSIDERATIONS: Don’t they look just like store-bought ones? I am so happy I resolved to do my own fette biscottate, not only because I could not find them in Sweden, but also because, as usual, I could control the ingredients: organic flour and eggs, a little organic sugar, and good quality oil. So when I eat my favo breakfast I can now feel like I am feeding my appetite together with my body. And since home-baked anything tastes oh sooo good, I can even say that I am feeding my… soul.

This is going to YeastSpotting.

Healthier Hamburger Buns

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And here is the promised recipe of the hamburger buns from my red lentils and celery root vegetarian burgers. Not suggesting you have to go for home-made all the time. But, if you ever have the time, I strongly recommend these buns. There is truly no comparison with store-bought ones and, healthwise, home-made gives the advantage of letting us play with different types of grains. I also added sourdough, more for the taste than for the rise.

MULTI-GRAIN HAMBURGER BUNS

very freely adapted from Volger’s “Veggie burgers every which way”

You need: 2 and 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose), 1 and 1/2 cups light rye flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, 1 cup milk (or rice milk), 1/2 cup water, 50 g fresh yeast (or 2 and 1/2 tea-spoon dry yeast-1 package), 2/3 cup (180 g) sourdough, 2 table-spoon olive oil, 1 table-spoon honey, 2 and 1/2 tea-spoon salt. If you do not have sourdough: omit 1 and 1/4 cup (ca 160 g) flour. Garnishing: 1 egg (or 3 table-spoon rice milk), sesame seeds, poppy seeds or flakes.

How to: dissolve the yeast in the luke-warm milk and water. Let’s stay for 5 minutes than add the sourdough (if you have it) and the honey. Add all remaining ingredients. Knead for 15 minutes by hand, or, 8-9 minutes by machine. Form the dough into a loose ball and let rest for 1-2 hours (until it doubles) in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic foil or with a wet kitchen towel. Remove from the bowl and shape into 12 rounds (I find this “buns shaping” video helpful). Place on parchment covered oven trays and let rest, loosely covered with plastic foil, for another 1-2 hours. Once they have risen again, brush with the egg mixed with a little water and sprinkle with your favorite cover. Bake at 356 degrees (Fahrenheit, 180 Celsius) for 18-20 minutes (check the bottom: ready when it’s golden-brown).

CONSIDERATIONS: I was very happy with these buns and I am sure I will use this method next time I make them. They rose wonderfully and were perfectly fluffy inside. The addition of sourdough gave depth to the flavor, but of course it can be omitted (adjusting the flour amount). Totally loved the light multi-grain feeling. I used light rye and a little whole-wheat but different combinations can also be great, and I personally look forward to experiment even more. Now my problem is: how will I, or will I ever, go back to store-bought hamburger buns? Yes, home-made bread is addictive. Just give it a try…

This is going to YeastSpotting.

Red Lentils And Celery Root Vegetarian Burger

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Last summer I tried to follow a very strict no carb diet. I could do that because at the time I had convinced myself that I was basically a carnivore. But after a couple of weeks I realized that, besides the fact that life style was simply unhealthy, vegetables and bread rather than meat have always been my thing. As a child, a sandwich with home-made pickled aubergine was my favorite treat and what wouldn’t I do to steal another of my mother’s fried zucchini flowers!

Italian cuisine is indeed basically… vegetarian. And I am not talking only of our wheat-based word-famous pastas and pizzas. We also eat (or used to eat) plenty of vegetables and we have an amazing tradition on how to prepare and cook any sort of products from the land. It is not surprising if you think of how mild Italian weather is and how incredibly available and varied vegetables were in Italy in the past. Yes, we also treasured our cured meats, our yummy salami and hams. Indeed, animals were slaughtered very seldom, and when that happened we needed to make the meat last for many months, to be eaten sparsely, as a vital supplement rather than a main course.

So… after many experiments with different styles of eating/living I feel compelled to go back to the food habits of my ancestors. Eat vegetables, raw, but also cooked in mouth-watering ways, and sometimes indulge in a high-quality piece of meat. Cured and Italian, if that is what you like (I do!).

RED LENTILS AND CELERY ROOT VEGGIE BURGER

adapted from Volger’s “Veggie burgers every which way”

You need: 1 celery root, 1 cup red lentils, 1 onion, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 cup red wine, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 2 cups freshly grated bread crumbs, olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, salt.

How to: peel and chop the celery root and cut in cubes. Cover with water and boil until tender (not mushy). Meanwhile, wash and boil the lentils in 2 cups (at least) of water until soft. In a medium-sized pan saute the sliced onion with olive oil and the thyme. When soft, deglaze with the red wine and cook until that is evaporated. While the onion cools off, grate a few slices of stale bread in a food processor. Preheat the oven to 380 degrees (Fahrenheit, 190 Celsius). Combine the lentils, celery root and onions in a large bowl. Mash only part of the celery root with a fork and add the remaining ingredients. Shape the mixture into burgers and fry until golden on both sides. Transfer onto an oven dish covered with baking paper and finish cooking for 10-15 minutes (checking frequently and reducing the temperature eventually).

CONSIDERATIONS: As a vegetarian who eats meat, I can tell that these burgers were truly scrumptious and that they were healthy without tasting just healthy. Like Italian cuisine at its best. It was an extra treat to have them on some freshly baked hamburger buns, find the recipe in my post healthier hamburger buns.