Breakfast on the island: Pan de Mallorca

 
 
I’ve been bitten by the bread making bug. I mean a BIG bite. I’ve always shied away from bread making because I’ve not been successful at it. I either killed the yeast, used too much of it, added too much flour, forced the dough to bloom. Issues. I just faced a million issues when I tried making bread. I was sure my mom hadn’t shared that particular gene with me, because she’s an AWESOME baker.
 
 
Then I came across instructions for ciabatta and realized that I just had to try again. I’ve been stalking the guys over¬†at the BBA for months now, and though I’m not participating in their challenge, I¬†am baking as a result of it. I must admit I’m loving Reinhart’s approach to baking and may have found a¬†new passion in my life. But I digress.
There is another challenge I’ve been trying¬†to participate in, but kept missing the deadlines. Joan over at Foodalogue has a Culinary World Tour challenge. This round¬†was all about Latin America and the Caribbean. Yep, right up my alley. And yes, I missed it every week except for the last one. Hence, this post.¬†
This week they’re visiting Puerto¬†Rico and enjoying its wonderful cuisine. As luck would have it, I have the inside track on Puerto Rico. You see, I’ve been there a couple of times, my bestie’s¬†hubby is a¬†native and Puertorrican food is pretty similar to Panamanian food. Yeah, I’m in.
 
Originally I was thinking about pastel√≥n¬†or something along those lines, but with my new baking infatuation, I opted for Pan de Mallorca. A slightly sweet, creamy, egg-based bread that is traditionally served for breakfast¬†on the island. If you go to La Bombonera, they will slice, butter and toast it for you, and serve it¬†alongside a caf√© con leche. Or you can have it as a sandwich stuffed with cheese, ham, eggs, bacon, anything you love. So here’s my submission for Puerto¬†Rico:
 
Pan de Mallorca
 
Because I’m so into Reinhart’s poolish method, I decided to implement it for this recipe as well.¬†To get that poolish going you will need:
 
1 tsp dry yeast
1 cp warm water
1 cp bread flour
 
Dissolve the yeast in the water–I’ve been using warm water straight from the tap, it’s barely tepid. Add the flour to your mixer’s bowl, then add the yeast/water and mix until the batter looks smooth. About 3-4 minutes. Scrape the sides, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to sit on the counter for about an hour before you put it in the fridge overnight.
 
 
Next day, when you’re ready to finish the dough, remove the poolish from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before mixing the rest of the ingredients.
 
1-1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 cp whole milk, warm
¬ĺ cp sugar
4 cps flour
3/4 tsp sea salt
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 stick butter, melted to brush on top
Powdered sugar
 
First, warm the milk, just enough to take the chill off it and dissolve the yeast into it; set aside. Into the bowl with the poolish, add the sugar, salt, yolks, milk and 1 cup of the flour and mix it until well incorporated. Then add 1 stick of the melted butter and mix evenly. Now you can start adding the rest of the flour.
 
Make sure you mix it well and that the dough looks smooth. It will probably need to be mixed for 4-5 minutes, the dough will begin to separate from the sides, but it will still be a very moist dough.  Set aside and allow the dough to rise for about an hour or so.
Lightly dust the countertop where you will work the dough. Make sure the second stick of butter is ready to go, you will also need a pastry brush. Turn the dough onto the countertop and divide it into 15 portions.

Roll each¬†portion under your hands making it into long strip–channel your inner kindergartener and have some fun. Once you have a long strip, brush it with butter and roll into a coil.

I found that the best method is to roll in one end, then pick up the length of the strip and roll it around the center. This kept the coils nice and flat. Make sure you tuck the end under the coiled dough and transfer to a greased baking sheet or one lined with silpat/parchment paper. Brush the tops with more butter and continue rolling the rest of the dough.

Set the tray aside and allow them to rise again until they have doubled in size. It took about 30-40 minutes for that to happen.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375¬į. Bake them for 8 minutes and¬†rotate the¬†tray, then bake for another 8-10¬†minutes.

When they come out of the oven, brush the tops with a bit more butter before transferring them to a cooling rack. Dust them with powdered sugar before eating.

Now, for your personal edification, I will toast one and serve it as it is served at La Bombonera. I must admit to you, this is NOT skinny toasty bread. It IS all about the butter. Lots of it. What they do in Puerto Rico is slice ’em in half, slather¬†them with butter, put them together again and press them on a giant Panini¬†press type thing. Since I don’t have a Panini, I use a more… rustic method.

After slicing¬† and buttering ’em I put them in a skillet that already has MORE butter melted and ready for ’em. I keep the heat on medium low to avoid toasting it too much. Also, place the Mallorca¬†in the butter, then flip it right away, this way you pick up butter on both sides of it. Then¬†cover it with piece of foil and put a heavy pan over it. Press down to flatten the Mallorca.

 The foil creates a bit of steam in there and this allows the butter to melt through the dough. The result is almost like a cake, the bready dough gets soft and goey and oh so yummy. Make sure you flip it halfway through cooking.
Remove from the skillet and GENEROUSLY dust it with powdered sugar. But wait, there’s more! You didn’t think I would leave it at that, now did ya? This bread makes awesome sandwiches. I didn’t have the traditional ham & cheese, but I made do with:
Queso Oaxaca:¬†Mexico’s take on a melty¬†mozzarella
and… bacon!!!
Just make a grilled cheese sandwich: slice the mallorca in half, butter each side. Be generous, now. Layer your filling, I laid down a slice of cheese, then bacon, then more cheese. Top it with the other half of the mallorca. Into the skillet with melted butter, cover with foil, press down and toast. Listo!
And it comes out looking like this:
I know it sounds weird, but top it with powdered sugar. I don’t know what it is, but it makes it really really REALLY YUM!

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

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Tart, tart, limey tart

There I was, mid-Saturday morning and I was watching Ina Garten on the Food Network. She was making desserts. She was making me hungry. As luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend a little get-together that evening and I don’t like showing up empty-handed. The perfect excuse to make that yummy looking lime tart. Yeah, because I needed an excuse.

I think I was drawn to it because it reminded me of a lemon pie my sis would make when we were growing up. Much like Ina’s, my sister’s pie was topped¬†with meringue. I still don’t love meringue. I don’t enjoy the consistency of it. Or the fact that the sugar starts sweating syrupy beads after you put it in the fridge.

The other similarity was a pie crust, except Ina used a sweet pastry. I saw her mix and knead and refrigerate and roll the dough. It wasn’t happening. More work than I wanted to do on a lazy¬†Saturday mid-morning. So, I tweaked and it was a hit. Instead of Ina’s involved pastry, I used the recipe for my favorite sweet crust. I suggest making the filling first, that will allow it to cool before filling the tart shell.

Lime Tart

Crust:
1 stick butter
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup flour

If your butter is soft enough, you can mix this by hand, I ended up putting all of it in the mixer. Combine the butter with confectioners’ sugar, then add flour; mix well. Pat out on tart pan, it may be kind of thin, but don’t worry, it will work out.

Once you’ve spread the dough all the way¬†up the sides of the pan, cut out a piece of foil paper and rub with butter or a bit of oil. Press the greased foil onto¬†the crust, then fill it with baking beads or beans. This is called blind baking; it will prevent the crust from bubbling up because¬†there isn’t filling in it. ¬†Bake at 350¬į for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the foil, prick with a fork a few times and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Lime filling:
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks
2 tbsp finely grated lime zest (4-6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp cornstarch

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it binds together–about 3-4 minutes (I used the egg beater of my Kitchen Aid). Slowly add the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then add the lime zest, lime juice, salt, almond extract and cornstarch. Don’t worry, if it looks curdled, but make sure you’re using a spatula to release any bits that are not picked up by the mixer’s beater.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until thick, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When it begins to thicken, switch to a wire whisk and cook over low heat for a minute or two, whisking constantly. Don’t allow it to boil!¬† Pour into a bowl, place plastic wrap directly over the filling¬†and cool to room temperature.

Yield: 3 cups

Once the shell and filling have cooled, pour the filling into the tart shell. Top with whipped cream and strawberry coulis, if desired.

For whipped cream: Add 3/4 cp of chilled¬†heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to your mixer’s bowl. Whip at medium high speed and slowly add 3 tbsp white sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread this whipped cream over the top of the filling.

After I covered it with cream, poured about 3/4 cp of strawberry coulis into a baggie, snipped the tip and piped it over the cream in a circular pattern.

Then I used a toothpick to drag the coulis through the cream. I realized I should’ve stayed closer to the surface, I seem to have pushed the toothpick a bit too deep.

It was still pretty. See?