Pumpkin, corn & chilli loaf

 

DSCF0291A  month or so ago, we had a series of minor domestic disasters that led to a flood until the kitchen wall into the back pantry. During the resulting rapid relocation of the pantry’s contents, I uncovered a dehydrator. I always sorta kinda knew it was there but had never been that inspired to pull it out and give it a whirl.

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Post-disaster, since it was already sitting out there on the pool table, I removed the labels – it had never been used – and downloaded the manual. My first victim was a pumpkin that was at risk of passing its best-by date. Three -quarters of it, peeled and diced into 1cm chunks, nicely filled the dehydrators five trays.

I found that the recommended drying time was out by a factor of two i.e. I had to dry the pumpkin chunks twice as long as recommended in the manual. It doesn’t draw much power but is fairly noisy so it’ll be relocated into the newly-dried pantry for future dehydrating missions.

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Three-quarters of a largish pumpkin shrank down to about three cups of pumpkin chips.

Initially this was just a bit of an experiment and a useful fate for a pumpkin that was overstaying its welcome in the fridge. I wasn’t actually too sure what I was going to do with the end product. Then I saw this recipe in the Sunbeam manual…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups dried pumpkin pieces
  • 2 x 125g cans creamed corn
  • ¾ cup extra light sour cream
  • ½ cup coarsely grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 80g butter, melted
  • 1 long fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Spray an 11 x 21cm loaf pan with cooking oil. Line the base and two long opposite sides with non-stick baking paper.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, corn, cream, cheese, eggs, butter and chilli. Stir the mix until just combined and spoon it into the pan, smoothing the surface.
  • Sprinkle the seeds over the top. Bake for about 1 hour 5 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
  • Transfer the loaf to a wire rack to cool slightly. Cut it into slices and serve warm.

Source: Sunbeam DT5600 Food dehydrator manual

It tastes great but is very heavy: a 1cm slice is a good light meal for me. I just drop it in the toaster til it’s nicely toasted and spread a thin layer of butter over the top. Tonight though, I used a very thin layer, maybe 1/2 a teaspoon, of chilli oil instead of butter…yeah, baby!! That rocked!!

In Seeing corn in a new light, I speculated whether heat  was the catalyst for the chilli effect in this oil.. After tonight’s experiment, I can confirm that this chilli oil is definitely self-initiating…

Insights

The pumpkin rehydrates nicely which is good. it is probably also too much pumpkin for a single loaf.I think it couple safely reduced by half especially if the chunks can be run through the grain mill (on a very coarse setting) into smaller bits.

The suggestion of a single chilli is ridiculous: this small amount is completely overwhelmed by the pumpkin and corn. 3-4 long chillies would be more effective.

Two cans of cream corm is overkill. I think that one can plus a cup of either coarse corn meal or drained corn kernels (or a half and half mix of both) might make this loaf less heavy (or more light).

The pumpkin and corn also beat up on the cheddar cheese. This might be better – in a smaller quantity – as topping added just before the loaf is removed from the oven i.e. just melted over the top…

Since I am now doing my own wheat grinding, the next version of this loaf may also use home-ground flour instead of store-bought flour. My goal is to ultimately only use home-ground wheat for all baking, reserving store-bought for mundane tasks like kneading surfaces…

Fresh bread

 

Bread baking 1 Jun 16

Jalapeño corn bread on the left, kumara bread on the right, each less an initial tasting slice….

Life is a little intense at the moment so I have been working quite hard to keep busy…idle hands and all that…

I tend to hoover up recipes that interest me and then have trouble find an opportunity to both cook and consume them…last week a flu-ey friend provided an excellent justification for a bake-athon…which proved unexpectedly therapeutic as well…I didn’t finish til after 1AM but was surprisingly refreshed when I emerged from under the covers into the brutal cold of Raurimu at 6AM…

I liked the concept of Jen Rice’s jalapeño cornbread and liked my first attempt at it but it didn’t rise very well. I’m not sure if that is just down to me, the use of beer as a yeast, or the specific beer that I used. It did have quite a good kick though, which is kinda the whole point of putting jalapeños into anything…

To address the rising issue, the next time, I just added the corn and jalapeños into my normal bread mix for the breadmaker. I didn’t reduce the water enough to compensate for the moisture in the corn and jalapeños but it still rose OK although the greater bulk meant that the jalapeño effect was a lot more subtle – it still got a thumbs up from the taste team though…

So, last week, I was keen to master breadmaking sans breadmaker – mechanical breadmaker, anyways – and I had this recipe from the Nadia Lim collection to try.

Ingredients

  • orange kumara (sweet potato) 300g (about 1 medium), peeled and chopped
  • active dried yeast 1 tablespoon
  • sugar 1 teaspoon
  • lukewarm water 1 cup
  • high-grade flour 1 cup + extra for kneading and dusting
  • wholemeal flour 2 cups
  • salt 1 ½ teaspoons
  • Rosemary 2 tablespoons finely chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons

Method

  • Cook the kumara in boiling salted water until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well and mash with a little salt to taste.

  • While the kumara is cooking, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl. Leave on the bench for about 10 minutes until frothy.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt and rosemary. Add the oil, mashed kumara and yeast mixture, and mix until well combined. If the dough is too wet, you may need to add a little more flour.

  • Knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a floured surface, adding a little extra flour as needed, until dough is soft and elastic.

  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel or clingfilm, and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes – it should have doubled in size.

  • Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the dough in half and shape into two loaves. Place the loaves on lined tray and cut a few 1cm-thick slashes on top of them with a knife.

  • Now would be a good time to preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius

  • Leave the dough to rise for a further 20 minutes or so.

  • Dust the loaves with a little flour. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a crust has developed and the base sounds firm and hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before slicing.

The only changes I made to the recipe were to zap the kumara in a microwave steamer instead of cooking it in a pan; using only high-grade four with a 1/4 cup of bran flakes to add the wholemeal content – this is how I do my wholemeal bread and it seems to work out OK; and I’m using black sea salt for all my salt contributions…

I had bought some active dry yeast last year for my pizza experiments – although I had done a few pizzas since, I hadn’t checked the ‘best by’ date which was some time in February. The yeasting issue was in doubt for a while – we can’t just pop down to the supermarket here: the closest one is 40km away, the closest 24 hours one a good two hours away – but everything eventually frothed up nicely after a half hour or so…it helped, I think, putting the bowl up in the mezzanine for a while in the warmer air from the fire…night-time temperatures here have been below zero the last couple of weeks…

Once the kumara bread was safely in the oven, I made up another batch of dough, waited another 30 minutes for the yeast to do its thing and swapped out the kumara and rosemary for a can of drained corn kernels and a half cup of drained pickled jalapeños – you simply cannot buy them fresh here, it would appear – and completed the recipe as above…

As you can see above, the finished loaves look pretty good and they taste pretty good too…I have been toasting 3-4 slices each night to dip into my dinner soup and lunch today will be toasted cheese (still trying to polish off the last kilo brick that I had in the freezer) on jalapeño bread…

This recipe seems to be a keeper for bread from scratch. It is very simple and painless and makes two loaves versus one from the original recipe I was using. The loaves will freeze well and so I may do a stock-up bake in the next couple of weeks: even with the cost of the can of corn and the jalapeños, it is way less expensive than buying speciality loaves from the supermarket…

Hot stuff

Plans for dinner last night didn’t start so well…I was a bit unsure about the meat that I had thawed out during the day so the dogs got a treat for dinner…

Jen Rice’s beer and jalapeño cornbread was already a contender and I had bought some jalapeños and chillies on my way back from the Rangipo Dune field on Monday evening…I had thought that I had bought a couple of cans of Guiness for cooking purposes previously but couldn’t find them anywhere so went with this instead…

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The recipe is quite simple, not much more than mix all the ingredients and bake in a greased pan, so I won’t repeat it here unless I end up changing it at all.

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Almost ready for the oven

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With the butter drizzled over the top before baking – not sure this was a good idea…

It was quite delish though and I was sorely stretched to wait for the recommended 30 minute cool down period before removing it from the pan and slicing the first slice off…the combined aroma of fresh bread and jalapeño wafting out of the kitchen was irresistible…

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Even small slices like these are very filling but I need to think some more on where this might fit on the health scale…probably about midway as there is nothing inherently unhealthy in it, i.e. no sugar but it is three cups of white flower (although I could have added some bran had I thought about it) plus the beer. I used bottled jalapeños and canned corn: I’d prefer fresh next time if I can find some…

The top crust is quite crumbly, possibly due to the butter drizzled over the top before baking. Next time, like, probably tonight, I may try this again but deleting the beer and just putting it through the breadmaker. I think this may give me a denser loaf and less wastage from crumbing – this is too good to waste one speck!!

Have created this, I was a bit lost as to what to have with it and took the lazy option of a can of soup from the pantry – there is probably a reason that it was on special: the only reason that I would buy soup…it wasn’t very nice: well, certainly not a shade on our home-made soups. I tried a spice of jalapeño bread toasted with butter this morning and that was very nice – only later did I remember that I have some dipping sauces in the pantry that I bought because I liked the containers…

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I can’t complain as I’ve had a really good break with the weather while I have been consuming some leave – having the truck (still) at the ‘doctors’ has been a bit of a limiting factor as the courtesy car they gave me is way thirsty than the mighty Ssangyong and it’s only intended for local running – but it is a bit of a crappy day today so there go my intentions to finish off the framing for the roof over the deck on the cottage…

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I made a good start yesterday…it’s not a particularly complex task but made all the more difficult because the design that I inherited in this thing isn’t the greatest and the original construction leaves a lot to be desired: almost nothing is square and the builders took a lot of shortcuts. The spacing on the original roof supports over the deck was only a few cm less than the 660mm width of the supplied roofing iron so my first attempt had to be taken down and redone at 400mmm spacing…

….so insidey jobs today…more cleaning…updating my paper model database and more progressing on this beast…

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It’s not really as chaotic as it looks…just want to get all the foam-reinforced parts ready for sanding (outside) once we get some nice weather again…

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…most of the larger sub-assemblies are done…

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Just debating whether the day deserves a fire or not…