Friday, April 9, 2021

Buttered chapati (whole wheat flatbread)


Achromatic food rarely beckons my attention.  It's not as fun to photograph, which is big considering the space here is screaming for attention. Likewise, as opposed to brightly decorated ensembles, the desire to grab a few pieces, in shoot, is clearly not as strong.

There's also the uninspirational element that comes from attempting an iconic recipe repeated on the web countless times.. How could I chat with you on how exciting heated griddles and blistering doughs are when the contents of the matter has been discussed in the matrix of Google searches over 13000 times?

Moreover, my experiments with Indian flatbread are limited. At one point of my life, when I had the luxury to take a few fails, the work seemed to result in little dividend. Not counting the times I painted it though.

Today's story could end on a similar spiel. But, I urge you, read on to check if it resolves the above and turns out to be the exception

The bread on topic is chappati. In greater parts of India, it is known as roti, slight, puffy middled, griddle toasted and often the commoner's answer to gratifying sustenance. The couple of rolls dunked in a tiffin gravy provides a satisfying lunch. However, in a paramount desi meal, it occupies a grand spot, folded and tucked to the corner of a myriad of sides.

As a result, taking a look at these flattened pieces of durum most of a subcontinent passes off as dinner, you tread lightly on amending such an heirloom blueprint.

But, what if I tell you I made an adjustment that purists and flatbread theorists would nod their heads to? What if I said I found a way to create an on par to the curry it's meant to be soaked up with? 

What sets apart the thing I have for you from the original is the addition of two extra ingredients  Broken wheat and garlic powder are not ideally a part of chapati infrastructure, but they pave the way from ho hum to high praise. 

Subsequently, I need a moment to extol on the virtues of cracked wheat. It makes a solid difference, literally and figuratively. Fragments are nutty, lend chew, and give roti an artisanal look/feel/ flavor.

The dashes of garlic make it sufficient to eat, unpaired. But a saucy masala flanking it could do no wrong.

As simple as one, two, three, but as five star as you can imagine nourishment to be.

I believe that once you've tried what I've told you today, it will be impossible to make it any other way.


Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour ( I use King Arthur's white whole wheat flour)
  • ¼ cup cracked wheat
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp( for covering dough) olive oil
  • ¾ -1 cup water, more if needed
Directions:
  • Whisk the together flour, cracked wheat, garlic powder, salt and sugar. Alternatively, you could use the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed.
  • Stir in the oil and water, slowly incorporating and kneading, either by hand or using the dough hook and mixing on medium, until dough is soft and pliant.
  • Roll into a ball and smear oil to cover it. Set aside tented with a tea towel, about 10 minutes.
  • When ready, divide the dough into 8-10 equal pieces, depending how large you want your breads to be.
  • Lightly flour the surface and press down a dough ball until lightly flattened. 
  • Roll out each small disk using a rolling pin, to a diameter of 6-8 inches. Dough should have an even thickness. Repeat with each ball.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.
  • Place one chapati on the skillet. Move it around and press edges with a spatula until heat bubbles form and puffs the middle.  Quickly flip it over and brown the other side. It should not take more than 30-35 seconds per side.
  • Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Spread pats of butter between and over warm chapatis. 
  • Place them warm in a clean tea towel, covered in foil.
  • Serve with curry.
Notes~
I lightly spritz the tops of the dough with a bit of water while cooking. Helps in making chapatis soft and puffy.
Spread the rolled dough discs out onto a a lightly greased or floured surface- you would need to clear some counter space for this.  Do not stack them between parchment or any other paper- they will stick together.

Atta, milled whole wheat flour is found in Indian grocery stores and is what's preferred. However, King Arthur's white wheat flour is a good alternative.
 Chapati comes together in no time and with a little extra effort you could whip up one of these to plate it with:


April~
2013: palappam


******

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:3

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Swiss meringue buttercream and the soccer cake



The cake began and ended in a total of 6 hours, a minimal allotment, for something of this size, on any cake maker's timeline. Btw, strategically placing a baked item bigger than your face, onto another one is not an easy task. Although, logistical planning (which I abundantly lack), prep work and having all things ready to execute, make it quite doable. 

Granted, when working with something of this magnitude in such a short frame, you kind of anticipate a fair amount of drama. 

My hefty project was for the Second Child's 17th birthday. Soccer themed because he's played the sport since his feet have been walking, and big enough to feed a battalion of boys. Additionally, it's not the first time, I've played ball on cake.

Generally speaking, these undertakings require large amounts of frosting, to gild, structure and flavor what befits true homemade cake. The icing is the vehicle to hold adornments in place and remain in, its exposed appearance, as slick as ice. Thus, really, the medium you use for such sizable molding must hold its way in weight( figuratively and literally).

What would liquid velvet taste like? It's the key question and I think I've found the answer. Consequently, the need is dire that I share the information with you.

Swiss meringue buttercream is in the higher echelon of European style creams. One where the whites of eggs transform to a stilled meringue; butter, cut in, yields S.M's characteristic satin finish. It's pleasing to tongue's touch and a dream for the home baker who, in turn, realizes that you don't need to frost in perpetuum and wait for kingdom come in order to achieve flawless sides.

Here, eggs and sugar have a mutual understanding. Eggs assist sugar by dissolving granules in a stable atmosphere. Similarly, sugar keeps egg whites in a comfortably liquid state. However, it's a bit of an enterprise( read-tough work) to achieve this favorable end, i.e., 100% grain free syrup.

The sugared whites further beat into an ethereally smooth gloss. You almost want to kiss your stand mixer for doing the labor while you glimpse several at your Netflix in cue. A hand mixer can be used instead, though, in fair warning, you might need an arm prop to finish up the process.

Needless to say, I've had previous issues regarding this particular form of buttercream. First and foremost, the sugar melting process that everyone so easily tosses into instructions is really not that easy. You stand and stir for eons until you get the desired emulsion. The chemical process of dissolving solids in liquids made me want to cry. You see, I majored in Arts.

As opposed to American buttercream, Swiss M bears a much lighter texture and is a tad lower in sweetness, the latter  part might slightly be my only other quibble. Then again, some may call it fussing over the world's most cooperative frosting.

In effect, two things helped in creating a meringue suited to my workflow and catering to my ideal flavor balance. First,  I had the microwave do all the syrup making. Second, I lessened the butter by about half a cup. This, I believe still gives you the ample gloss and other icing prospects that swiss meringue is best known for.

Tying in to what I said previously about butter, may I take a second to harp on its glories ?!  Not only is it  on point in doing the emulsification work, it contributes greatly to the aforementioned liquid velvet conclusion.

No doubt, Swiss meringue is one of the best additions to my decorating repertoire.
I'm certain it will help you too, in creating structures sleek and pretty enough they'd be welcome in a museum exhibit.

Tall cakes are all the vibe. Plus, I needed to sit the kiddo's silhouette against a high backdrop.

I frosted the bottom cake frosted with the s. meringue. For the soccer ball, I needed a firmer undercoat for fondant, so white chocolate ganache was used.

My method of microwaving may not be for you. It saves me a pool of time and consistently melts my sugar without cooking the eggs in half the time it would take a double boiler/bain marie to do the job. Be sure to stir and mix at 30 second intervals. Even a single undissolved rebel sugar crystal can recrystallize the batch, and you'll be stirring it till no end!
Catch!
Ingredients:
  • egg whites from 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ⅛ tsp pinch salt
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, and cut into tbsp size pieces (you could use up to 2 cups butter)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Directions:
  • Whisk egg whites, sugar, salt  together in a microwave-safe bowl until thoroughly combined so the sugar can protect the eggs from cooking. 
  • Heat the mixture in the microwave for 2-4 minutes on high at 30 second intervals whisking well after each 30 second heating. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture reaches 160ᵒ. (Alternatively you can double boil mixture over simmering water). 
  • Immediately place mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium- high using the whisk attachment until frosting has become thick and glossy, forming a stiff peaks. Continue to whip frosting until the bowl feels room temperature to the touch, a total of about 10 minutes.
  • Once bowl is no longer warm to the touch, switch out whisk attachment for paddle attachment. Turn mixer to medium speed and add butter one tablespoon at a time, allowing the previous butter to  incorporate into the meringue. 
  • Switch speed to medium-low, and beat buttercream is smooth.
  • Mix in vanilla extract.
  • Your Swiss meringue frosting should be thick, creamy, easily spreadable and ready to to use

Notes~You can store s.m. buttercream at room temperature for 2 days, in the refrigerator tightly sealed for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 2 months.
From top to bottom: almond, vanilla, chocolate.


Take a peek: my weekend trip to the Grand Canyon. 
******
"As I sing Your praise
Let worry fade and
All my hopes restored
Let my memories
Remind me of
What You did before"
- Keep on Coming Through/Jonathan Traylor

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday." Psalm 37:5-6