Friday, April 17, 2009

THE NEED TO KNEAD


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For the past month I have been trying to make the perfect “Johnny Cake” and “Tortilla”. Each time I try, I always get a different texture or consistency.

I do not rely on bread machines or stand mixers for my kneading. I figured at some point you’ll have to handle the raw dough yourself, so why not do it from the beginning.
Kneading bread is a practice that goes back thousands of years. Remember the Israelites, rushing to prepare their bread in anticipation of their freedom from the Egyptians over 5000 years ago, or our mothers making bread every Saturday in their kitchens? Talk about getting in touch with your roots!!

The technique for kneading is easy to learn and very easy on the hands. The first thing you do is to make sure your hands are clean whenever you are going to work with dough.
Kneading is simply a repetition of mix, fold, press and rotate. Why then, do my “Johnny Cakes” and “Tortillas” not come out like my niece’s, Pamela’s; “Perfect and Delicious”!
Here are the steps that I take: Make sure the bowl and/or counter top is clean.

Ingredients: 2 cups flour
                        2 teaspoon baking powder
                        2 tablespoon shortening (Crisco butter flavor)
                        ¾ cup warm water
                       ½ teaspoon salt

Mix all the ingredients together until the flour is hydrated and all the ingredients are uniformly distributed. Knead by hand for 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth.

Form dough balls, flatten with the heel of one hand on top and press down and forward to desired flatness.

Place the flattened dough on a baking sheet and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven until golden brown, 20- 25 minutes.

OH! One more thing; remember I said earlier that the method is easy on the hands? Here is what I also do to get that delicious taste: as I stand in front of the counter, I place one foot forward and the other back. While I knead, I rock gently and rhythmically back and forth between my front and back feet. I mix, rotate and fold while humming and rocking. By doing this, I build up energy to continue kneading.

After all this, my Johnny Cake is still not perfect; sometimes brittle, sometimes hard or puffed-up! Let me know what I’m doing wrong!!

7 comments:

Cheryl Tillett said...

Linda, I hope you are doing well.I saw your post about Tortilla and Johnnie Cake,but for Johnnie Cake you need coconut milk, and if you put too much shortening in the Johnnie Cake it's going to come out like biscuits.

Also,I would like to thank you for all the information you are posting about our people,you are doing such a great job,I am proud of you and you should be so proud of yourself!!

Cheryl

Kim Hernandez said...

Hi Linda,

Hope all is well with you.
I've been trying for the past couple months to make johnny cakes myself. For the most part, they come out alright.
2 1/2 cup of flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
Coconut milk not H2O
I use the butter flavor crisco also, 3 teaspoon.
Give it a try, let me know.
You have been doing a wonderful job with the posts.

Appreciative,

Kim

Louise said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Louise said...

Hi Linda, my johnny cake, bread and tortillas come out good all the time! I am sorry, I don't measure anything just throw stuff in like the old folks back home. I too use coconut milk and butter flavor crisco shortening. My problem area is the creole bun (Hot Cross Bun) that we are familar with at Easter time. I get some hit and misses with those. I need a good recipe for those.

If Kim's johnny cake recipe works for you, let it be known, since a lot of these Belizean/American girls can get into our culture.

Have fun with that!!

Louisefrombelize

Erena said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erena said...

Linda,

You need to use coconut milk, not water. Just mix all ingredients until all are incorporated, then knead slightly. DON'T OVER KNEAD.
Our Granny Evie taught me how to make Johnny Cakes, and I must say, mine comes out perfect every time.

cuh fi som noh.

Erena

Carol said...

I really want to say thank you for the Johnny Cake recipe, I have been trying to make some for the longest but don't know how. Anyway, I really think it is great that you have a website set up for Belizeans to come together online. I have thought about doing something like this for the longest but didn't know how to go about it. I read your bio and thought that it is funny, but we are both Capricorns and have some of the same hobbies and ideas. I just had to let you know this because I really find it facinating when people think like me. You take care, and keep sending the updates of what's going on in the L.A. area.

Sincerely,
Carol Smith