Wishing all the readers of The Novice Housewife a very happy New Year and lots and lots of good food like this stuffed mushroom and spinach braided bread.
2014 was not too great blogging wise. I did not post as often as I would have liked to. I wasn’t even able to visit my favorite blogs and see what my favorite bloggers were up to. I got 52 posts up which if you aggregate means one post per week, but in reality it was only the first half where I was active and the past few months hardly saw this space getting much action- maybe one post a month. In 2015, I want to change that.
A lot of new exciting things happened in 2014. It was a period of a lot of stress as well. A lot of decisions were taken, changed, re-taken and then stuck to, with a lot of apprehension. One of the biggest change was The Pink Cakebox (only after coming up with the name did I realize there was already a pretty famous pink cake box in US, which is pretty stupid on my part since being obsessed with cakes I should have known. But I went ahead with it nonetheless, since I couldn’t turn back- mine has THE and its in India so I am hoping nobody gets confused. Yikes!) More about TPC (The Pink Cakebox) in another post because I think it deserves a lot of of explaining to do. But yes 2014 was the year it came to existence (a dream five year in the making). You can keep up to date with that chapter by liking its facebook page or following me on TPC’s instagram.
That’s essentially was (and still is) what kept me busy most of 2014.
This new venture also introduced me to new people- and I realized complete strangers can be so helpful. The experience made me wiser, at the same time made me doubt myself on multiple occasions. But slowly I am gaining confidence and growing and learning with each order. The whole ordeal of the past few months has made me a much stronger individual. And I am very grateful to the people I have in my life- my family and friends who made me stick through it and picked me up when I was ready to give up. And I have needed to be picked up a lot of times.
I moved back to India also last year. Temporary for now. While V was busy with his MBA I needed to sort out my life and pursue my passions more seriously. 2015 will see how it all unfolds.
2015 is also the year I start using my speedlight flash for photography.
One of the major reasons why blog posts have been so sporadic is that all my baking/cooking has been happening at night. Till now most of the photographs (barring the ones I shot way way in the beginning) have been shot in natural light. But because of my schedule and eating habits of my family most of my hobby cooking/baking has been happening at night. And since I dont have a proper set up in place for artificial light photography I am not able to shoot for the blog. And as a result some seriously good recipes that should be shared get missed. This is my first food post which has been shot with flash and a very basic make do set up. Its not perfect but thats what 2015 is for. To get better at it.
And to post. To post recipes like these. I have made this bread two times now. I have made the filling 4-5 times and used it in different versions. The testimony to how good it is lies in the fact that two loaves of it were finished by three of us in an hour or so. The dough bakes to a soft pillowy bread. The mushroom, spinach and cream cheese filling makes the whole thing irresistible. The first time I made the dough with white flour and the next time I substituted a little of the flour called for with whole wheat flour. We did not notice any change in texture or taste.
This bread was hand kneaded for 10 minutes and no bread machine was used. The filling is what makes the bread so good and add a little salad and a small cup of soup for winter months and you have a very filling meal to enjoy.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 8-10 garlic cloves, minced (clearly I love the taste of garlic)
- 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
- 1 package mushroom, sliced
- 4 ounces (or ½ package) cream cheese
- ½ cup cheddar cheese (you could also use mozzarella, if that's what you have)
- 1 cup spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1 cup warm water, add more or less to make sure the flour is sufficiently hydrated
- 2½ cups bread flour ( you can substitute ½ to 1 cup bread flour with whole wheat flour)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- In ¼ cup warm water, dissolve the yeast with the sugar and let sit for 5-10 minutes till frothy.
- In a bowl, add the flour, mix in the salt and pour in the activated yeast and rest of the water and olive oil.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes either in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with the hook attachment or with hand. When I use my hands to knead the dough I use a stretch and fold motion. It helps activate the gluten.
- Once kneaded into a smooth pliable dough, let the dough rest covered for an hour or so in a warm place, until double in size. Make the filling while the dough is rising.
- In a pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the garlic and let sizzle till golden. Add in the onions, and a little salt and fry till onions are translucent.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes, till mushrooms are dry. Add in the chopped spinach and cook till dry. Season with salt, pepper and add the oregano and chilli flakes. Remove from flame.
- In a bowl beat the cream cheese and add it to the mushroom, spinach mixture. Mix well, add in cheese and let cool.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, remove and punch it down. Divide the dough in half and let rest covered 5 minutes.
- Take one half and on a slightly floured surface, roll the dough into an oval shape.
- Place half of the filling in the center of rolled dough, leave space around it for braiding.
- Using a knife, make inclined cuts of about an inch wide, making sure there is an equal number of cuts on each side.
- To braid, fold the bottom and top of the dough towards filling and begin folding the strips over the filling, lapping them alternately. Finish the folding and transfer the loaf into the prepared baking tray.
- Repeat the procedure for the other loaf.
- Cover the tray using cling wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour or till double in size.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Once the shaped dough is double in size, bake for about 25 minutes, till the top is golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool on cooling rack. Slice and serve. And enjoy!