Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Busy Bakery and Cheesy Bread

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last posted! Sorry for all of those who anxiously await updates! I know most of you also follow me on Facebook, so you know I’m still alive! HA!

We finally opened the store on August 4. We were originally going to open on August 1, but that got delayed and then in the afternoon of August 3 we were told we’d be opening the next day! What a flurry of activity that created…talk about a bit of stress! But, we survived (barely!) and are now starting to find our footing and get into a routine. Of course, since it has been Ramadan, we have only been open in the evenings. I’m sure once Ramadan is over and we’re open all day we’ll have a bit more adjusting to do again.

The cupcakes have been well received and my staff is adorable. We have lots to learn together about the changes in concept, adjusting to that as well as serving Arabic customers along with the customers that are from all over the world. I’m still adjusting to the structure within the company at large, but also trying to focus on what is best for the store and getting the job done the best way possible. Not always easy, but I’m hoping in the end it will all be worth the personal and professional struggles.

Personally, not much has been going on since I feel like I am either at the store or sleeping…the life of a manager at a new store right?! I did get my temporary license, so I am renting a car a white Nissan Sunny!). That has been such a life-changing event…for the better. Being able to go wherever I want whenever I want without paying for and waiting for a taxi has been great. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ve ventured too far. The malls/grocery stores still seem to be the places I find myself most often, but I’ve also ventured to the Souq as well. The Souq is an open-air market of sorts. It has a ton of local merchants that sell everything…candy, pets, fabric, jewelry, etc. It also has several restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines.
Camel at the top, Mixed Grill Kebabs and Rice on my plate
One night, a few of us went to dinner at Tajine…the Moroccan restaurant. Most of the food seemed to be standard fare, what you would expect at a Moroccan restaurant such as kebabs, rice and chicken. Much to our surprise, there was also baby camel listed on the menu. We were all intrigued, yet no one wanted to commit to eating it as their main entrée…so we decided to share it and each get our own other entrée as well. I must say, it was a lot better than expected. It was a bit stringy, in a pork or beef roast cooked in a crock-pot kind of way, and it had a gamey or unusual taste to it. No, it didn’t taste like chicken…HA! It was good, but not something I would probably eat often. It had a bit of fat to it as well, which seemed out of place in this land of kebabs. I ended up sticking to my mixed grill entrée mostly and sharing some of the fat from the camel with a stray cat that we named Scavi (short for scavenger). Scavi was my best friend for most of the meal after I fed it just a little bit! This made me miss my boy, Marvin.
Scavi, the Scavenger Cat
After dinner we wandered around the Souq and discovered that if anyone thinks there is a shortage of fabric in the world, we’ve found the hidden stash. Fabrics of all colors and textures seemed to flow from every store in one section of the market. (My mom’s fabric dreams come true…really!) As we wandered further we found the “pet” section and were immediately greeted by these chicks that had been dyed…so sad...we noted that PETA would go crazy in this area. The colored chicks were only a precursor to the dyed birds and bunnies. Luckily, they don’t dye the dogs and cats. We also found the jewelry section of the Souq and the candy section…all good things for this girl though I didn’t actually buy much.
Poor baby chicks :(

They really don't know when to stop dying their pets. :(
One thing I have noticed here is the lack of bread as we know it in the US. Sure they have their naan and rolls seem to be served with dinner a lot, but traditional bread doesn’t seem to be a big staple here as it is in the US. I’m wondering if once we move accommodations (exciting news, I hope!), and we have a stove/oven that really works properly, if I’ll be able to make some of the breads I’ve made in the past. With that thought, I started thinking of one of the breads that mom and I made when I was in California: Chunky Cheesy Bread.
Chunky Cheesy Bread Loaf 
Anyone who knows my eating habits well will tell you that I adore cheese….of just about any kind. I also really enjoy fresh breads, so this recipe was a must try. It was also fairly easy. Mom and I each made a loaf out of the dough and both used slightly different techniques, but both turned out great. It certainly was best warm, but it made for good sandwich bread with salami the next day as well. The recipe comes from the same cookbook I blogged about last post, A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. I’m telling you again, it’s a great book! Give this a try if you want to have cheesy bread goodness in your home!

See how the cheese goes all through the bread...Yumm!
The Recipe: Chunky Cheesy Bread
Source: A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

1 1/2 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 tablespoons rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 to 6 cups bread flour

Chunky Cheese Part
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 scant cups cubed Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon seasoned salt or garlic salt
Sesame seeds

Generously grease two 8x4-inch or two 9x5-inch loaf pans. (This is important to prevent bread from sticking to pan.)

In a mixer bowl, hand-whisk water and yeast together and let stand 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve yeast. Briskly whisk in sugar, salt, mustard, eggs, oil, butter, and half of bread flour and mix. Begin kneading with dough hook on lowest speed 5 to 8 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to make a soft, elastic dough. Form into a ball in mixing bowl, spray lightly with a large clear plastic bag. Let dough rise 30 minutes.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Divide dough in half. Press each half into an oval and distribute 1 cup shredded cheese over each. Press in cheese and roll up each section into a jellyroll.

Using a dough cutter or sharp knife, cut each jellyroll into thick slices and then in half—basically odd-sized chunks of dough. Arrange chunks of dough in loafpans. Scatter cubed Cheddar cheese over chunks of dough, drizzle with oil or butter, and scatter on seasoned salt or garlic salt (any gourmet herb mix will also do) and sesame seeds.

Place loaves on a baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise 30-45 minutes until quite puffy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until well browned and sizzling and cheese is melted, about 30-45 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing and serving. Serve warm or as a sandwich base.

With Love,