Friday, March 20, 2020

Stress Baking: Giant Japanese Style Pancake in an Instant Pot with Nielsen-Massey Vanillas

I was sent product free of charge by Nielsen-Massey for us in the writing of this blog post.

So... stress baking. I talked about it in my last post, but whooooo boy, have things taken a turn since then. Currently, I am still going into my day job daily, which is not ideal, but at least it helps to keep my mind from wandering into darker places. However, last weekend, I was able to put some of my nervous energy to good use in the form of some good old fashioned recipe experimentation.

A while ago, I took a stab at Japanese style souffle pancakes, which I made on my stove top with the help of a ring mold. While they looked lovely for pictures and tasted just a good, they ended up being a little more labor intensive than I would like, so I set out to see if there was another method I could use that would simplify matters some. After some research, I discovered a lot of people were making giant souffle pancakes in their instant pots! "Well, I've got one of those," I thought, "Let's give it a shot!'

As in my original recipe, for the most part I used a pretty standard pancake batter, but I did a few significant things to give my pancake a lovely, fluffy texture and a really good flavor. Firstly, I used cake flour, which is basically more finely milled all purpose flour (think the difference between granulated sugar and powdered sugar). This ensures the batter remains light weight. Secondly, unlike a lot of instant pot pancake recipes I saw in which the batter was pored directly into the bottom of the insert, I decided to use a spring form pan propped up on the trivet insert. This allowed me to put a little water into the bottom of the insert, which injected lots of moisture into the pancake, and also ensured the bottom of the pancake didn't burn. Lastly, I separated my yolks and whites and whipped the whites to soft peaks as if I was making an actual souffle. As part of their "Better Your Bakes" campaign, my friends at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas have produced a really good video on how to do this properly: https://nielsenmassey.com/betteryourbake/ I also used their Ugandan Vanilla Extract, which has a really unique creamy, almost chocolaty flavor to it that takes this pancake to the next level.



The one draw back to doing things this way is that even though the batter is very easy to put together, it does take a bit of time to cook. My suggestion is to get everything put together first thing in the morning, then wash the dishes, make some coffee, take a shower, etc., and when you're done, your delicious giant pancake will be ready for you! I also experimented with making this pancake ahead of time and refrigerating it, and while that does make the pancake a bit more dense, it's still pretty delicious and it reheats very well. In fact, on the second day, I actually took the second pancake and heated it in a skillet with a little butter, which gave it an awesome crunchy top!

Let me know in the comments below how you're taking care of yourself through this crazy time in our collective lives. Are you stress baking too? If so, share with me and Nielsen-Massey by posting a picture of your baking creations to social media with the hashtag #BetterYourBake Hope you and yours are all keeping safe and healthy!

Giant Japanese Style Instant Pot Pancake

1 large egg, yolk and white separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey pure Vanilla Extract
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a medium sized bowl, add sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the yolk and whisk to combine, then add the milk and stir until a uniform pale yellow color has been achieved. Slowly add in the flour and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and mostly free of lumps.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg white using a whisk or a hand mixer until stiff peaks have formed. Slowly add the yolk batter into the whipped whites a little at a time and fold gently to incorporate until everything is combined.

Use butter or cooking spray to line the inside of a small spring form pan. Place the trivet into the bottom of the Instant Pot insert and add 1/2 cup of water, or just enough to cover the bottom of the insert. Pour the batter into the spring form pan and place on the trivet. Set the instant pot to cook at low pressure for 45 minutes and close the valve. Once the time is up, briefly vent, remove the spring form pan, unmold the pancake onto a plate, and serve with butter, syrup, fresh berries, powdered sugar, or anything you like.

Optional: for a crunchy top, heat about 1/2 a tablespoon of butter in a skillet, then brown each side of the pancake in the pan for about a minute on each side.






Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Jam and Almond Cream Stuffed Vanilla Brioche with Nielsen- Massey Vanillas

I was sent product free of charge by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas in order to facilitate the writing of this post. All opinions are my own.

Last year, I learned to make my own pasta. This year's culinary goal? Bread. Because I need to be able to produce carbs on demand. So when Nielsen-Massey recently challenged me to come up with a great recipe in honor of a Galentine's celebration of self care for me and my single besties, I figured there was no time like the present to start learning.

Like many people, I have a healthy obsession with the Great British Bake Off, which is probably what put the idea of learning to bake bread into my mind. Who hasn't fantasized about getting a Hollywood Handshake, am I right? The thing is that the show is so gentile and lovely and everyone is so nice to each other, that I think I have been begun associating baking with everything good and warm and fuzzy. Now if only there could be a show that made me feel that way about vegetables!

As I set out on my first bread making adventure, I kept thinking about the episode of Bake Off where the contestants had to make Chelsea Buns, which are traditionally a sort of sticky bun filled with currants and spices. I liked the concept of making more of a pastry-like bread than just a regular old loaf (because I always have to make things more difficult than they have to be). I also loved the idea of being able to pull off chunks of the bread, making it easily sharable. After all, I wanted to be able to share the carby love with all of my fellow single ladies.

I decided to do a brioche style bread because... well, because brioche is freaking delicious, but also because I wanted to lean slightly sweet. In an ode to Chelsea buns, I decided to do a filling with red currant jam and some almond paste, but instead of doing a swirl, I decided to do little round buns that one could pull off a larger loaf. Much to my delight, this recipe worked so perfectly that I called my mother in total elation, shouting, "I made bread!" while covering my phone in sugar glaze and crumbs in the process. The buns come away easily and are sturdy, yet fluffy and soft as a pillow, with the perfect little surprise pocket of filling in the center of each one. If snuggling into a fuzzy blanket with a good cup of tea, a good Netflix series, and this whole loaf of bread in front of me isn't self care, I don't know what is.



The beauty of this recipe is that it can literally be customized to any flavor combination. Peanut butter and grape jelly? Sure! Orange marmalade and pistachio? Why not! I can imagine a thousand different filling that would work equally as well as the one I used, and the subtle vanilla flavor of the bread itself would work well with any of them. And seeing as how a layperson like me was able to make this so easily, I'm gonna go ahead and say this recipe is super beginner friendly! The main thing to remember is this: you have to take care of that yeast. Keep it warm and cozy. No cold eggs, no cold milk, no cold butter. And if your kitchen isn't over 70 degrees, I suggest heating your oven to its lowest setting, turning it off, and putting your dough in there to proof.

Let me know in the comments below what you think! Have you every baked bread from scratch? What flavors would you fill yours with?

Pull Apart Stuffed Vanilla Brioche

1/2 tablespoon of instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1/4 cup sugar
3-4 cups bread flour
1 cup warmed whole milk
2 large room temperature eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste
Any flavor or jelly, jam, or marmalade
7 ounce tube of almond paste (or homemade)

For Egg Wash:

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
milk until desired consistency

Combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar and whisk together using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Add in the milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract and continue to whisk with the paddle attachment until the mixture is completely smooth (remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything has been incorporated). Start adding in the remaining flour 1/3 a cup at a time. About half way through, you will need to switch out the paddle attachment for a dough hook. Keep adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed it until everything is the same smooth texture and the dough springs back when poked. Put into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put someplace warm for proof for about 2 hours.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down the risen dough and divide it into palm sized rounds. Flatten each round and spread a teaspoon of jelly and a teaspoon of almond paste onto the center of the dough, leaving the edges clean. Fold the edges over the filing and pinch them together to seal the dough, then shape into a ball and place into a non stick bunt pan. You should be able to get at least 2 layers of buns. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside somewhere warm to proof for about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Combine the egg yolk, vanilla, and sugar in a small bowl and whisk together. Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the top of the proofed buns. Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are lightly golden brown. Let cool.

Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk in a small bowl. After the bread is completely cool, remove it from the pan and place on a plate. Drizzle the glaze over the top and serve.