Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bread Baking Buddies :_Assyrian Spinach Pies

After such a very very long time ..I'm still alive and baking but what I cannot actually believe is I'm writing a new post on this poor neglected blog. Anyway let's try !
The recipe I'm resuscitating my blog with is the '5th year celebration bread' that the Bread Baking Babes baked, it was chosen by Tanna from a book I own too, it's called A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes From America's Rich Immigrant Heritage by Greg Patent. 
The recipe it's quite easy and forgiving; I added some leftover lentils and substituted pine nuts for walnuts. I'm trying to go vegan so I really appreciated this recipe and intend to make it often also because both my kids enjoied these pies and this is a rare event in this house !
By the way in this lapse of time we've moved to a new apartment with a very big kitchen and one room for each kid. 

The recipe from Tanna's blog:

Assyran Spinach Pies
Recipe adapted from Greg Patent: A Baker’s Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes From America’s Rich Immigrant Heritage
1 tablespoon active dry yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons) = 1 package
2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
1/2 teaspoon ground mahlab, I’ll use 3/4 to a full teaspoon next time
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for kneading, use some white whole wheat next time
3 tablespoons ground flax (my signature addition so optional, you are free to leave it out)
1 tablespoons granulated sugar, I cut this back from 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to sauté onion, 3 tablespoons to filling mix
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 pound cleaned baby spinach, coarsely chopped
160 grams chopped walnuts, I increased this from 4 oz.
1 cup pomegranate seeds, increase these from 1/2 cup
2 cup crumbled feta cheese, increased from 1 cup
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 – 1 cup lentils, optional but this was nice
Olive oil cooking spray
Plain yogurt for serving
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients: yeast, flax, mahlab, flours, sugar, salt.
Mix together water (I usually “warm” it by microwaving it about 15 seconds, it’s just above room temp then) and olive oil.
2. Pour water, olive oil into dry ingredients and mix together until the dough gathers into a rough ball. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes letting the flour absorb some of the water.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured counter until the dough becomes smooth, elastic, soft and slightly sticky dough ball – mine took about 6 minutes.
3. WASH AND DRY THE BOWL – now aint that a kick in the pants, how many Babes are going to follow that directive. We know Elizabeth will. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! and rub it lightly with olive oil Elizabeth won’t do that part.
Place the dough ball into a rising container … I have a wonderful straight side clear 4 qt container with lid: I can easily see when the dough has doubled in volume. The lid means I don’t have to use plastic or even a shower cap.
Allow the dough to double in volume – mine took about 90 minutes: if you press a finger into the dough and relase it, a depression should remain and it’s ready for the next step.
4. If you follow the recipe directions and divide the dough into 24 pieces (about 2 oz each) you’ll get what I consider a reasonable portion size hand pie although we were all eating at least one and a half each. I actually weighted the balls and they ranged from 50 to 60 grams each. I might have enjoyed them more made slightly smaller say weighting closer to 40 grams … then I’d have had no quilt eating two and probably even three.
When the balls are formed, allow to rest so they will be easier to roll out.
If you’ve made the full recipe and don’t want to make them all at one go, my suggestion here would be to immediately cover however many you want to bake tomorrow or the next day and retard the balls in the fridge.
Allow the dough balls you plan on baking to rest for the 30 minutes before rolling them out.
5. Saute the onion in the olive oil, they should be nicely caramelized. Allow to cool.
6. Chop the spinach and mix with chopped walnuts, pomegranate seeds, feta, lemon juice – I used the lemon zest as well – and the olive oil. Mix all with the sautéed onions. I used a pinch of salt and some aleppo pepper.
Good ideas for alternatives and additions: pine nuts, dried cranberry, dried cherry, goat cheese, small cubes or large grating of any cheese you like, lentils I added one night to some of the filling was a real winner.
7. Pre-heat the oven to 375°.
My large cookie sheet held 6 of these at the most. I lined the cookie sheet with a Silpat but parchment paper would equally as well.
8. With a light to good dusting of flour on your counter, roll the dough ball into a thin 6-inch circle. I was generous with the dusting to prevent sticking. I tried to really fill these and used at least 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the filling for each one.
Check out this video for shaping or try the recipes directions: “Pile 1/2 cup of the filling, loosely measured, onto the center of the circle, leaving about 1 inch of dough exposed all around. Brush the exposed dough lightly with water. Imagining the circle to be a clock, lift up the edges of dough at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions to cover the top part of the filling and pinch firmly to seal, going all the way to 12 o’clock. Lift the 6 o’clock position of dough to meet in the center and pinch the two edges firmly to seal. The seams will look like an inverted Y. Set the pie on one of the prepared sheets. “
9. Before putting into the oven, rush the pies with olive oil before baking. I brushed mine with a mix of half olive oil and half melted butter 
10. Recipe suggested 375° I found I like them best at 380° (convection) and the full 30 minutes.
11. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 375° to 380° depending on your oven.