Thursday, September 6, 2018

Baker's Corner: Paneer Masala Buns

It is no secret that I love baking. Heck, having a dedicated segment on the blog called "Baker's Corner" makes it more than obvious, no?

I have this obsession of taking homemade baked goods as an edible gift when visiting family/friends/colleagues. I perceive it to be a thoughtful gesture (and it fulfills my ulterior motive of being an enjoyable pursuit!) so I do it all the time 😁 Although I go for sweet bakes more often than savoury bakes when gifting, I have baked stuffed buns, pesto rolls and focaccia many a time.

If you have been following my blog, you may know that I already have the Iyengar bakery-style potato buns and the Italian-inspired pizza buns in my blog archives. With these two buns, I used refined white flour with predictably good results. Subsequently, I posted a recipe for savoury whole wheat buns using, as the name suggests, only whole wheat flour which came together after some experimentation and was an unexpected success. Slightly denser, I would have to admit but with a more robust flavour.

So, you may know that unlike white flour, whole wheat contains germ and bran. These two components have minerals like zinc, magnesium and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. They also add a nutty array of flavors to a loaf of bread, as well as a fuller texture. The downside is, they also make life harder for bakers. For one thing, bran and germ soak up water, which can dry out a loaf and make it crumbly so largely, for this reason, bakers cannot simply substitute whole grain for white. Rather, recipes must be entirely recomposed. Thus, when working with whole wheat flour, it is necessary to use more water in your dough compared to using only white flour. Germ and bran also add weight to the dough, which can impede its capacity to rise, leading to loaves almost as dense as stone.


Blending whole wheat and white flour creates an easier to work with, lighter textured and tasting loaf that will produce decent volume. Blending is a great way to start out working with whole wheat flour and allows you to progressively increase your whole wheat with each successive loaf until you are baking with 100% whole wheat. While it is entirely possible to get soft and fluffy rolls/bread using whole wheat flour alone, it does take a wee bit of know-how and practice.

Although I have baked buns using only whole wheat in the past, for this particular recipe, I thought I'd combine both whole wheat and plain flour. I am no baking expert so I thought I'll err on the side of caution. Since, I had already done a spiced potato and a pizza filling, I was deliberating between a mushroom or paneer filling for my next bun-making attempt. The recipe for the filling was a very spur-of-the-moment thing where I just kept adding whatever I felt liked (and just hoped for the best!). The buns turned out good enough to make it to the blog. Soft and wholesome with a delicious paneer filling. These buns will make their way to a loved ones home of that  I'm sure! 

Check out the recipe and let me know how it goes. You can try the other bun recipes while you are it at too!

Paneer Masala Buns

Preparation time: ~ 90 mins (includes dough rising time)
Baking time: ~20 mins
Makes: 8 buns
Recipe Category: Breakfast or Snack/Indian
Recipe Level: Intermediate
Recipe Source: Various websites and blogs 

Ingredients:

For the buns:

2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 cup plain/all-purpose flour
6 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk + 2-4 tbsp additional, warmed
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1 egg
1 envelope of active dry yeast or 11/2 tsp instant yeast

Optional ingredients,
A whisked egg white or milk for brushing on top of the buns
2 tsp white sesame seeds for sprinkling over the buns
Melted butter for brushing the buns after they come out of the oevn

For the paneer masala filling:

1 cup paneer cubes (I used frozen and thawed it)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 medium ripe tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup capsicum, de-seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cooked peas (I used frozen and thawed it)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
3 pods of garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to spice preference)
1/2 tsp dry mango/amchur powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp kitchen king masala, optional but recommended
Salt to taste
1 bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil


Method:

1. Heat the milk until lukewarm and dissolve 1 tsp of sugar. Add in the yeast (swirl the cup gently to dissolve) and keep closed for 10 min until frothy. This step is done to proof the yeast and I strongly recommend that you don't skip it. 


2. Sift both kinds of flour with the baking powder in a large bowl. Add in the remaining 2 tsp sugar, salt and mix well. Make a dent in the middle, add the milk-yeast mixture, oil, a lightly whisked egg and gently knead for a few minutes until you get an elastic and non-sticky dough. You will need to add an additional 2-4 tbsp of warm milk to get a dough that comes together (the dough should not be crumbly). Wrap the bowl with cling wrap or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.





3. While the dough is rising, prepare all the ingredients for the paneer masala filling. 


4. heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow to sizzle. Add the onions and garlic and fry till onions are translucent. 



5. Add the tomato and cook till soft.


6. Add the capsicum and peas and fry for 2-4 min.


7. Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, anchor powder, kitchen king and fry for 1 more minute. 


8. Add in the salt, paneer cubes, fresh coriander leaves and cook for a few minutes giving the ingredients a good mix. 


9. Switch off the flame, mix well and keep aside to cool. 

10. At the end of the hour, you will notice that the dough has doubled in volume. Punch the dough down and knead it again.



11. Shape the dough into a log and cut into 8 even pieces. The pieces at the end might be a tad smaller so you can adjust with a little dough from the larger pieces.


12. Make the dough into balls, flatten with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin and add a heaped tbsp of the filling in the centre of it. Pinch the edges of the dough to cover the filling. Make sure there are no gaps otherwise the filling can ooze out. 



13. Place a sheet of parchment paper/aluminium foil over a baking tray. Place the buns on it leaving some distance between them. Leave to raise for another 20 min. While this is happening, preheat the oven to 190 deg C (375 deg F). Brush the buns with whisked egg white or milk and sprinkle white sesame seeds over the top if desired



14. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 min until the buns turn golden brown. Once done, immediately brush them with melted butter (if you are feeling indulgent!).


15. Serve hot with the sauce of your choice.


Notes:
  • When you heat the milk to proof the yeast, it should not not be scalding hot. When spooned over your wrist, it should feel warm.
  • I usually use Fleishmann's active dry yeast. One envelope amounts to roughly 2 1/2 tsp. But I also frequently use instant yeast and that works equally well if not better. If you are using instant yeast, reduce the quantity i.e. use 11/2 tsp for this recipe.
  • Don't thin out the dough ball too much when you are filling it otherwise the filling can escape. Also make sure that the rolled out dough is of uniform thickness. 
  • Brushing the buns with milk before baking makes them softer and brushing them with egg whites, gives them a glossy surface.  

Cheers,
Megha

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