Korean Egg Bread (Gyeran Bbang)

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I don't think I ever would have discovered this wonderful Korean street food—egg bread or Gyeran Bbang—had it not been for my grandmother. Not that she was a particularly adventurous cook who delighted in serving us up exotic foods from around the world. Quite the contrary, actually. There are really only two things I ever remember her making. Turkey and brisket. Every. Single. Time. Turkey and brisket. No surprises at Nan's house, that's for sure. No, the reason my grandmother is responsible for my discovery of Gyeran Bbang is because, throughout her long life, as far back as I can remember, she was a world traveler. And after she died in 2009, two months shy of her 100th birthday, I found her last passport while we were going through her things. I've never seen a passport like it, stuffed with extra pages so that all of her visas would fit. She was a pretty amazing person, my grandmother, and I miss her every day, so I decided I wanted to celebrate her life by going through that passport and baking something that represented each country she had visited (and tell you a little bit about her while I'm at it). Travels with Sylvia.

It's a pretty extensive list of countries—and keep in mind this is just from her last passport—I couldn't even begin to guess how many other countries she visited in her lifetime: Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pitcairn Island, Poland, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe, most of which she visited more than once. My original idea was to bake a bread from each country, but I'm not sure if some of them actually have a representative bread, so it'll be some national dish at least, if not a bread. (Some countries do have me worried though. Pitcairn Island? Breadfruit? Something left over from the Bounty mutineers maybe? Help!)

So. First stop (I'm going in no particular order here): Korea. The one bread that came up over and over again in my searches was this. Egg bread, or gyeran bbang. Which means…drumroll please…egg bread. And which is to Korea, apparently, what soft pretzels are to New York, the quintessential street snack. I can definitely see why. It fits easily in the hand, it hits all the right hunger-quelling notes, and it tastes gosh-darn good. At its most basic, it's batter with an egg on top baked in a muffin-ish tin (oval tins seem to be the go-to but I don't have one…yet), resulting in a bread that's light and fluffy, almost like a pancake, and slightly sweet. Sometimes you'll see this as a kind of sandwich—batter on top and bottom, egg in the middle—but most of the gyeran bbang I stumbled on were like this on, batter on bottom, egg on top. And the possibilities for add-ins are endless, with ham and cheese being especially popular. That's what I went for because, well…ham. And cheese and I are likethis.

Simply put, I. Love. Korean egg bread. It's so quick and easy to make, it could easily be something you can whip up on the spur of the moment, especially since you most likely have all of the ingredients on hand. It was fantastic warm from the oven, but leftovers reheated very nicely (25 seconds in the microwave) and made for a very satisfying and sustaining day starter that kept me happy until it was time for a late lunch. I can definitely see why it's the ubiquitous Korean street snack. Pocket food!

Good start on our travels, don't you think? Nan would approve and like the good Jewish grandmother she was, she'd tell you to "Eat! Have another! Are you sure you don't want one more? You're looking a little weak from hunger…" 

So where to next? I'd love to hear your suggestions, especially if you've visited any of the countries on the list. And I'd love to hear your amazing and funny grandma stories, too, because cynical, snarky me gets all warm and fuzzy thinking about grandmas. Here, have an egg bread. You look hungry…

Korean Egg Bread (Gyeran Bbang)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg (for batter)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup (75g) melted butter 
  • 1/4 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs (to top each bread) *see Notes

Options

  • Diced ham
  • Bacon
  • Grated cheese
  • Minced parsley
  • Hot sauce (that's for you, Chris)
  • Whatever your imagination desires

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Use oil spray or butter to lightly coat the cups of a jumbo (6 hole) muffin pan.
  2. Add the flour, sugar and salt to a large bowl and mix together.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract and whisk together.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until well mixed.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the 6 wells of the muffin pan. 
  6. Gently break an egg on top of the batter in each well. 
  7. Season and top as desired (I used flaked sea salt, diced Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese and minced parsley).
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the batter comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. The egg breads are best eaten the same day, warm from the oven, but can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container and reheated the next day. 

Recipe source: My Korean Kitchen

Notes

I'm going to sing the praises of pasture-raised eggs. A few months ago, I was listening to the audiobook of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's a wonderfully entertaining and informative book all around but I was particularly fascinated by the section on Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms and even more particularly, by the description of Salatin's pasture-raised eggs. I normally buy only organic, cage-free eggs (although Pollan's book is pretty eye-opening about what this means) but I was very interested in trying pasture-raised, although not having any farms nearby (to my knowledge) I didn't hold out much hope of obtaining any. Then suddenly, they started appearing in some local stores and I grabbed a carton. The difference, to put it mildly, is amazing and it's obvious even in the crappy iPhone pic I snapped one morning. Visually, the white is yellowish and much more viscous, not pale and watery like the organic egg. And the yolk! Oh that yolk. Standing proud and tall and glowing like a mini orange sun. As for taste, well, they just taste…eggier. Like an egg is supposed to taste. There's a definite difference and I'm sold. Now, I'll be honest here. They're more expensive as organic eggs and nearly twice as much as standard eggs. There are two brands that I've found locally, Carol's Eggs and Vital Farms, and I try to buy them when they're on sale. I don't use them for any old thing, not for egg washes or binders or things like that, but when eggs are front-and-center, as they are in EGG BREAD, then yeah. Why not the best? 

As always, I only mention or link to products and/or companies that I use and recommend. I'm not compensated or sponsored in any way and none of my links are affiliates.

 

 

Apple Shortbread Cookies with Apple Cider Mascarpone Frosting #CreativeCookieExchange

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Word association time! I say "Summer" and you say…? Beach? Vacation? Sunshine? Happiness? Of course you do, because you're a normal person. But say summer to me and my response would probably be something like…Crabby. Cranky. Miserable. Sweaty. Sticky. IS IT OVER YET? (Okay, that's more than one word.) Yes, I'm whinging and moaning again because, if you've ever read one of my summertime posts you know that summer and I are not on speaking terms. So when the Creative Cookie Exchangers chose "Celebrate the End of Summer" as this month's theme, I jumped for joy. I'm celebrating the end of summer, all right. End being the operative word here. The end of summer means fall is just around the corner and, barring any apocalyptic global warming disaster in the next month or so, that means—among other things—that cooler temps are a comin'. No more baking when it's 88° in my kitchen BEFORE I turn on the oven! I shall be a happy camper once more. (I'm sure I'll still be crabbing about something though. It's in my blood. They don't call me Mona Complainowitz at work for nothing.)

I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the end of the summer and the coming of fall than by baking with apples, a quintessential fall fruit. A little premature, perhaps, since it's not quite prime season, but why nitpick? I used to love going apple picking in Vermont with the fam, coming home with overloaded bags of fruit and jugs of freshly pressed cider. And these cookies are a whole bunch of fun memories in one tiny, tasty package. 

Once again, despite having what amounts to an Amazon warehouse full of cookbooks in my house, I hit the internet and found these cookies on usapple.org, "a non-profit, member-based association comprised of and supported by individuals, companies, and state/regional associations within the apple industry." Surely, if they didn't have the goods on apples goodies, no one would. This one was a winner. I mean, apple SHORTBREAD? Yes, please. (Top Chef fans take note: This recipe was developed by Dave Martin, a Season One finalist.)

These cookies are a delight in every way. They're slightly soft and sweet, with a touch of shortbread's signature sugary crunch. Plus, they're not only chockfull of apple bits, but the apple-y flavor permeates every bite. And the apple cider mascarpone frosting is the icing on the, er…cookie. I know bloggers tend to say that every recipe is the Best! One! Ever! but out of all the cookies I've baked over the years, these are honestly one of my favorites. A classic made even better. So who needs summer when you've got these beauties to look forward to? 

I'm celebrating the end of summer with a look ahead to fall but I'm also looking forward to seeing what the other Creative Cookie Exchangers came up with for their celebrations. Don't forget to check the links below. The CCE-ers are always amazing.

Apple Shortbread Cookies with Apple Cider Mascarpone Frosting

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-1/3 cups apples, skin on, 1/4" dice

Frosting

  • 8 oz of mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 6-8 oz confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 4 oz unsalted butter softened
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp apple cider
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream until light yellow and somewhat fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla, sifted flour, salt and apple bits and mix on low speed until just combined.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a log about 22–24" long. Wrap the log in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, until the dough is firm.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.
  5. Once the dough is firm, slice into discs about 3/8" thick and place on the prepared cookie sheets, spaced about an inch or so apart. (They don't spread much.)
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden, rotating the sheets if needed for even baking.
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. The cookies firm up a bit as they cool.
  8. To make the frosting, beat the mascarpone, sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until fully combined.
  9. Continue to beat on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  10. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to beat, scraping the bowl as needed.
  11. Transfer to a bowl and chill for about 1 hour, until somewhat firm and spreadable.

Recipe Source: usapple.org

Notes

The recipe recommends Empire apples but I couldn't find any so I used a combination of Gala and Fuji. Basically, any good baking apple will do.

I always try to buy organic apples but I'd especially recommend going organic here because the recipe calls for the apples to be unpeeled. 

You may notice that not a lot of these cookies are actually frosted with the apple cider mascarpone frosting. And that's because it was too damned hot. Like I nearly fainted while trying to take the photos. No matter how much I tried to cool the frosting, it broke and melted almost immediately. I actually had to use a stunt cookie while setting up my shots, before I got the hero out of the freezer, all to no avail. Take my word for it—the frosting is awesome. It just needs temperatures lower than a blast furnace. (To make up for a lack of frosting, I sprinkled some of the cookies with turbinado sugar.)

Let me introduce you to my favorite tool for slicing cookies—the Sculpey Super Slicer. It's razor-sharp and actually meant to be used with polymer clay but I figured if it could make clean cuts through clay without distorting the shape, why wouldn't it work on cookie dough? And work it does, slicing right through dough like a hot knife through butter. It comes with removable handles and four blades and I love it.

#CreativeCookieExchange Celebrates the End of Summer

Summer is almost over, and we have cookies to remember it by! Hint: a lot of these cookies could be made and frozen, to pull out a slice of summer in February!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Roasted Red Pepper Bread #BreadBakers

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Hello, Gorgeous! This roasted red pepper bread ranks right up there as one of the prettiest breads I’ve ever made. I mean, that color alone is to die for. I’ve definitely got a thing for oddly colored breads—black, purple(ish) and so on—but this one takes the cake. Or more accurately, the loaf. The orangey-red is so bright it practically glows.

But beauty, in this case, is not only skin (or crust) deep. It's true that we eat with our eyes first, but the Big Question is always, “How does it taste?” And the answer is, “Damned fine. Damned fine, indeed.” Both color and flavor come from a roasted red pepper puree that makes up the majority of the liquid in this bread. With an added boost from grated parmesan (go for the good stuff—parmigiano reggiano—if you can) and spicy nuggets of coarsely ground black pepper, this is rich, complex, soft, velvety textured bread that can stand on its own, no extras required. That being said, it does make a killer grilled cheese sandwich. And fantastic croutons. And it’s great with hummus, cheeses, butter, red pepper jelly… And it makes killer grilled cheese sandwiches. Did I mention grilled cheese sandwiches?

It’s a fairly fast and easy bread to make, especially if you use jarred peppers rather than roasting your own. The original recipe calls for shaping two 3-strand braided loaves, but you could easily shape it any way you like (rolls!) or bake in a loaf pan. I decided to make one large braided loaf and for inspiration, turned to one of my favorite e-books, The Art of Braiding Bread by Roberto von Krammer, and chose the 6-strand Alpha braid. (If you have any interest at all in moving beyond simple braids, this is THE go-to book, with dozens of variations and clearly illustrated instructions.) 

Everything about this bread is a showstopper. The color, the aroma, the taste… It was definitely a hit with the Official Shaggy Dough Taste Testing Team. I brought it in three times and there were no "What? Again?" complaints and it always disappeared in record time. If you're a fan of red peppers, this is definitely for you. And if you're not a fan of red peppers, well… It just may win you over. Especially if you go for a red pepper grilled cheese sandwich. Did I mention it makes a killer grilled cheese?

Roasted Red Pepper Bread is my contribution to this month's #BreadBakers theme: Breads with Peppers, hosted by Sue at Palatable Pastime.  Thanks, Sue. Love this theme! Be sure to check out the links below to see more great breads from this talented group.

Roasted Red Pepper Bread

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups roasted sweet red peppers (drain if using jarred peppers)*
  • 2-1/4 tsp. (1/4 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (use the good stuff)
  • 1/3 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Puree the roasted peppers in a blender until smooth. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the red peppers, 1 cup cheese, milk, butter, salt, yeast and 1-1/2 cups flour. With the paddle attachment, beat until combined. Add in more flour until you have a somewhat cohesive dough.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently de-gas. Divide dough into six pieces, pre-shape into balls, cover and let rest for about 5 minutes. Shape each ball into a rope about 16-18" long. Braid as desired, pinching ends to seal and tucking them under braided loaf. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  5. Towards the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  6. Combine the egg and water in a small bowl and blend thoroughly. Brush the egg wash over the braid, then sprinkle with pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.
  7. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until brown on top.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Notes

The first time I made this, I used jarred roasted peppers. The second and third time, I roasted my own. The consensus was that the freshly roasted peppers did have a richer, more "peppery" taste so I'd suggest giving it a try. Making your own is very easy to do. Place your oven rack about 8" below the broiler and turn the broiler to high. Put the whole peppers onto a foil covered baking pan and broil for about 15 minutes, turning the peppers a quarter turn every five minutes. The peppers should be blackened and blistered on all sides, so adjust the timing as needed. Once the peppers are done, place them in a bowl, cover immediately and let them steam until they're cool enough to handle. You should be able to easily remove stems, seeds and blackened skin. Gently scrape off any stubborn bits but don't run the peppers under water or you'll lose a lot of flavor. And if there's any leftover liquid—it's usually not much—add it in to the mix. I started with 3 medium-size peppers and after processing the 1-1/2 cups of roasted pepper, I ended up with about 1-1/4 cups of puree.

The original recipe states that you should have a firm dough at the end of the kneading, but each time I made this, I would have had to add a lot more flour in order to achieve that firmness. As it was, I added about 1/4 cup more flour than called for but I still had a somewhat soft dough and it worked out just fine. 

Rather than starting off with the dough hook, I like to use the paddle to incorporate the ingredients. Once there's very little flour left at the bottom of the bowl and the dough is starting to come together, I switch to the dough hook.

I find it helpful to LIGHTLY dust the strands with flour before I start to braid, just enough so that the strands don't stick to each other, making the braiding process easier. I used a pastry brush to brush away any remaining flour, although there wasn't much.

#BreadBakers for August: Breads with Peppers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

BreadBakers