By: Ilona Salim
Being home for the holidays means different things for different people – for me, it is a time where I get to share my love of food with those closest to me. Arriving home on a Sunday morning, I hear the phone ring and I know exactly who it is – oma. It’s safe to say that my grandma is bitesize’s number one fan, and my mom is a close second. Limited to only sending them pictures of our newest food creations (and fails haha) due to the distance, one of the things I am most looking forward to from being home this holiday is finally cooking with them.
I picked up the phone and was greeted with the warmest kind of love you only get from your grandparents. “Lon.. Na.. Welcome home!! When are we going to cook together?”. I can already hear her excited snickering through the phone. And just like that, we set a baking day with oma.
I decided to bring over two recipes that my mom and grandma were particularly excited about – the chocolate babka and the mozzarella garlic star bread. Since the babka takes a day to rise, we tackled down the mozzarella garlic star bread first.
My favorite thing about cooking with oma is actually the stories that get told while we prepare the food. Of course, kneading the dough together, getting the kitchen messy and experimenting with flavors are all great, but nothing beats the spontaneous storytelling that comes out during these sessions. Insisting to knead the dough herself, she began telling us about her days of bread making.
“When I was a teen, our family – your great grandparents and my siblings – had to pack up and move our whole life from Sukabumi to Jakarta. When we got to Jakarta, we literally had no income. While my dad left during the day to find work, ‘oma-co' – my mom and your great grandmother – started making and selling bread to the neighbors for some extra money. And that became our routine! My sister and I would wake up at 4am, run downstairs and help 'oma-co' knead the dough. It was so exciting.”
“What did you sell oma?”
“Oww! We sold all kinds of bread! I remember ‘oma-co’ made cheese filled bread and chocolate flavored ones that were braided – kind of like the babka we are planning to make tomorrow! Okay, enough chit chat, I need more flour, the dough is still too wet!”
Though these stories were never long, these little snippets of precious memories are truly irreplaceable. With that, we continued on and baked this mozzarella garlic star bread with a touch of pesto! Keep on reading to see the recipe behind our baking creation.
Mozzarella Garlic Star Bread - Recipe
3/4 cup lukewarm whole milk
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (270 grams)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup of pesto sauce (homemade or your favorite store-bought)
4-6 cloves of minced garlic
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heat up milk in the microwave for 15 seconds or until warm.
Add in ¼ teaspoon of sugar and instant yeast into the warm milk. Let bloom for 5-6 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix in flour and salt.
Once bloomed, add the yeast and milk mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.
Mix well until all incorporated. If using a stand mixer, mix on low for 3-4 minutes.
Once dough is formed, add in 1/4 cup of softened butter into the dough.
Knead until you have a smooth dough. This took us approximately 10 - 15 minutes of kneading by hand.
Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and leave to rise for about an hour.
While dough is resting, heat up 2 tbsp of butter in a pan and cook up the minced garlic.
When dough is rested, divide into 3 parts and roll into 3 identical circles.
Place your first dough circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Generously, spread a layer of pesto sauce. On top of your pesto sauce, add a layer of grated mozzarella and garlic butter.
Then, cover with your second dough circle. Repeat adding a layer of pesto, cheese and garlic butter before covering with your last dough circle.
To create the design, place a circular object on the center of the dough and press lightly to create a guide.
Using a sharp knife cut your dough into 16 equal parts, cutting only STARTING from the rim of the circular object you placed in the previous step towards the perimeter of your dough.
Take two adjacent parts and twist outwards twice before pinching at the end.
Repeat around the circle.
Preheat oven to 400F
Brush on a layer of egg wash before baking.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove out of oven and let cool slightly before enjoying!