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Wheat Flour: One Ingredient, Four Clutures

Wheat Flour: One Ingredient, Four Clutures

Whether it’s light and flaky, dense and chewy or flat and crunchy, one thing is certain: there isn’t a cuisine in the world that doesn’t rely on flour. Australian Baking Business looks at the king of them all, wheat flour, and it’s application in four regional recipes.

SYRIA

Minced lamb Manoushi
Manoushi bread is the number one snack food in Syria and Lebanon and, with the spread of Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s gaining notoriety in the multicultural west. Affectionately dubbed “Syrian mountain bread” by locals, manoushi resembles a pizza, although it’s softer and chewier than the Italian version.

It can be served with almost any filling, from crushed mild chillies, spring onions and cumin, to goat’s cheese, taboulleh or fattoush. Manoushi bread with simple fillings, for example za’atar (a generic name for Middle Eastern herbs from the oregano, basil and thyme families) is also a popular breakfast recipe. After all, it’s not difficult to make. It only takes a couple of minutes to mix the dough and, once the dough is risen, it can be baked in minutes.

Having tested numerous bread doughs in all sorts of ovens, Lebanese-Australian chef and author Greg Malouf says this style of flat bread is drastically improved by baking on a hot stone.

MAKES 10-12 manoushi
355g bakers’ flour
1 tsp dried yeast
½ tsp salt
¾ teaspoon sugar
175-200ml warm water
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Your choice of topping

STEP 1
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast and salt. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and dribble it into the dry ingredients until they absorb enough to make a sticky dough. How much water is required will entirely depend upon your flour. Mix in the olive oil and use your hands – or the dough hook on your electric mixer – to knead the dough until it is smooth and silky. It will take about 10 minutes.

STEP 2
Lightly oil the ball of dough, put it in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, by which time it should have at least doubled in size. Knock back the dough then tip it out onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 12 portions, then lightly flour each one and put them on a tray, covered, for another 10 minutes.

STEP 3
When ready to cook, roll each portion out to the desired size and 3-4mm thick, then cover with topping and bake on a preheated pizza stone.

STEP 4
Ask the butcher for leg lamb with some fat, but no sinews. Place 250g minced lamb on a large chopping board and on top put 1 seeded and finely diced tomato, 1 finely diced small purple onion, 1/3 cup finely shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 1 seeded and finely diced red bullet chili and 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses.

STEP 5
Use a large knife to chop and mix everything together until well combined. It should be the consistency of a fine paste. Season with salt and pepper. Roll the manoushi dough out into rounds 10 cm in diameter and brush with olive oil.

STEP 6
Smear the lamb topping thinly over the rounds and bake for 3 minutes.

Recipe and image extracted from Malouf: The New Middle Eastern, published by Hardie Grant

 

ARGENTINA

Dulche De Leche
Chocolate chip banana cake

Traditionally, South Americans have favoured corn over wheat for flour. Bread of maize predates the arrival of Europeans to the Americas, with cornmeal still a popular base for tortillas. A combination of colonisation, tourism and a dynamic local food scene, however, has led to the evolution of a buoyant cross-cultural cuisine in Argentina.

This cake recipe is the perfect fusion of South American staples – bananas and the fudge-meets-caramel spread dulce de leche – with a traditional European cake recipe.

Don’t underestimate this cake’s humble appearance: cut into the crumb and you’ll find a bite that is deliciously moist and proportionally flavoured.

Ingredients
2 bananas blitzed in a blender to give you 1 2 bananas blitzed in a blender to give you 1
1 cup dark brown sugar
115g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
170ml dulce de leche*
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups cake flour
1 cup mini milk chocolate buttons
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
50g milk chocolate, melted for drizzling

STEP 1
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm round cake pan and line the base with baking paper.

STEP 2
Put the sour cream and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk. Set aside.

STEP 3
In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt, stir to combine and set aside.

STEP 4
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat again. Meanwhile, add the banana purée and dulce de leche to the sour cream mixture and whisk to combine.

STEP 5
Add one-third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix to combine. Add half of the sour cream mixture to the butter mixture and mix to combine. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining half of the sour cream mixture and the final third of the dry ingredients and mix to just combine. Do not over mix. Stir in the mini chocolate buttons.

STEP 6
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-55 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Recipe adapted from: Milk and Honey, and Baker’s Royale. Images by Milk and Honey

 

INDIA

Atta laddu with pistachios

MAKES: 12 -15 medium-sized laddus | PREPARING LADDU MOULDS: 15 minutes | COOKING 15-20 minutes

Laddu, or laddoo, is a ball-shaped sweet popular in the Indian subcontinent, often served at festive or religions occasions. Although ingredients can be added as desired, a basic laddu recipe includes flour, minced dough, sugar and ghee for cooking.

Rava (wheat semolina) is commonly used for laddu, although besan (chickpea flour) and ground coconut is not unheard of. Outside India, particularly in the US, laddu flour is a coarsely ground whole wheat flour used as a key ingredient for a range of Indian and Pakistani dishes.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat-flour (atta)
½ cup ghee/clarified butter (or as needed), melted and warm
½ cup sugar
2 green cardamoms (or a pinch of ground cardamom powder)
¼ cup mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios), coarsely ground

STEP 1
Grind together the sugar and cardamom to a fine powder and set aside.

STEP 2
Roast the wheat flour on medium heat, stirring continuously to prevent the bottom from burning, until it’s a pale brown colour. Set aside. Note: The laddus turn darker when ghee is added to bind them, so the flour only has to be lightly coloured.

STEP 3
Clean out the same pan and heat 2 tbsp ghee in it, add the ground mixture of nuts and sauté for a minute or so until lightly toasted.

STEP 4
Add the toasted nuts and powdered sugar to the roasted flour and mix well to combine. Note: When the mixture has cooled just enough to be able to handle with your bare palms, start adding ghee to the flour.

STEP 5
Add ghee, 1 or 2 tbsp at a time, and mix together with your fingers.

STEP 6
Keep adding ghee and mixing until the flour mixture is wet enough to handle and roll into balls/ ladoos. Note: Check by taking some flour and forming a mould with a tight fist – if it holds together well you should be able to make the laddus. It may not need the whole quantity of ghee, but will need most of it for the best taste and texture.

STEP 7
Mould into balls using your hands, to make well-packed laddus with all the flour mixture. Note: Use a drop or two of some ghee if you need some moisture to bind the laddus towards the end.

STEP 8
Garnish with some finely chopped nuts and serve immediately or store in cool, dry place for a week or two. It packs well for sharing with friends and family as well.

Recipe and image by: Aish Cooks

 

CANADA

Maritime Brown Bread
Flour is one of the first and greatest Canadian success stories. The vast, rolling planes and cool climate of Canadian wheat country produces some of the finest-quality wheat varieties in the world – and many top shelf grocery flours proudly advertise their Canadian origins.

Canadian all-purpose flour handless bread, cake and pastry tasks effortlessly, affording bakers much diversity with respect to end-product applicability.

“Canadian flour is well-known throughout the world for its consistency and high absorption capability, which also makes it easier for the bakers to enhance end-product yield and quality,” Canadian International Grains Institute baking technology head Yvonne Supeene says.

“Breads produced with Canadian flour will have very good resulting characteristics, which will include good loaf volume. Good loaf volume is achieved through not only the quantity of protein present in the flour but also the quality of that protein.”

Ingredients:
½ cup stone-ground cornmeal
½ cup rye flour
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup unsulfured molasses
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Butter, for greasing and serving

STEP 1
Heat oven to 150°C. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, rye, whole-wheat and all-purpose flours, salt, and baking powder and soda. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together molasses, buttermilk and egg until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until just combined.
STEP 2

Transfer to a cleaned and greased 370g metal coffee can and cover with a piece of foil. Place in the centre of a saucepan. Pour 6 cups water into pot around can and bring to a boil over high heat. Transfer pan to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean (usually 2½-3 hours).

STEP 3
Remove can from water bath and let cool for 20 minutes. Uncover and unmould bread from can, letting it cool completely. Slice into thick rounds and spread with butter.

Recipe adapted from: Saveur


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