Rusks; masa harina, cumin, pressure cooked

I’m doing another test of masa harina, pressure cooked, with cumin seed. I’m going to dry it at 115 and see if that preserves the cumin flavor. I’ve also added 2 teaspoons of dried chili powder to add some heat.

1 cup masa harina
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons instant potato
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon dried California chili powder
1 teaspoon dried New Mexico chili powder
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup (approximately) water

I ground the cumin seeds in a mortar and added some of the powdered milk and potato flakes while grinding them; the powdered milk and potato flakes pick up the essential oils and turn brown, rather than the essential oils sticking to the mortar and pestle. After grinding and pounding it I dump it in the mixing bowl and put some more powdered milk and potato flakes in the mortar and grind it to pick up any essential oils that might be in the mortar.

The water quantity is an approximation. I add the water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts sticking together in clumps I let it mix longer before I add each additional tablespoon. Towards the end the dough will clump together and stick to the mixer’s paddle. In the beginning the mixer is on low; once the dough starts clumping together I put the spatter shield on the bowl and turn up the mixer’s speed. At this point, after each tablespoon of water it needs to mix for a minute or more before I add another tablespoon. Suddenly it will start sticking to the inside of the bowl instead of clumping together, becoming a very stiff batter. At this point I don’t add any more water since I’ll be cooking it in the pressure cooker in a steamy environment.

Then I put it in a greased plastic bowl with a snap on lid, but before putting its lid on it I press some plastic food wrap down onto the dough. Even with plastic on it the top darkens. I let it rest for at least an hour before I transfer it to the loaf pan and cook it.

The dough is resting.

The reason I let the dough rest is that I read that whole grain flours don’t absorb fluids as quickly as white wheat flour does. And that the bran needs extra time to soak up its fluids. Additionally, there is enzyme activity going on that adds complexity to the flavor of the bread, but that probably requires a longer rest (for example, a day).

After its rest I put it in the little loaf pan, covered it with aluminum foil, and cooked it at high pressure for 35 minutes, then let the pressure go down naturally.

I set up my pressure cooker by putting the pressure cooker’s trivet in it then I put the folding steaming basket on top of it (with its center handle removed). I wanted the loaf pan up away from the water and I wanted to put in several cups of water.

The cooked loaf is chilling in the fridge. I’ll slice it in the morning.

Later, just after drying: The flavor is good. I like the little bit of heat that the chili pepper gives them. I can’t tell yet how the texture is going turn out though.

Later, a day after drying: The flavor is a bit strong; I’m thinking that 2 1/4 or 2 teaspoons might be better than 2 1/2 teaspoons. And this proves that drying them at a lower temperature, 115, is better at preserving the spice flavors.

The texture is slightly too tough; perhaps slicing them at the 2 setting instead of halfway between 2 and 3 would fix that. This raises the question as to why the rusks with masa harina and sesame seeds weren’t as tough; I think it’s because there are a lot of sesame seeds in them and the sesame seeds provide breaking points whereas with the ground cumin it’s a smooth consistent texture. And they’re both tougher than the nigella seed crackers made with sorghum and wheat bran.


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