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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bread Baking Babes Chinese flower steam buns

I am still waiting for my order from King Arthur Flour to slowly make its way across the country. I am anxious to get my clear rye flour so I can make the beautiful marbled rye which is the next bread in the BBA challenge. Unfortunately, the order is spending the weekend in the warehouse, scanned and ready to arrive on Monday.

Unfortunately, my major stakeholder has become addicted to fresh bread. I knew that I would have to bake something.

Karen, one of the Bread Baking Babes, at Bake My Day posted this month's challenge, flower steam buns. Apparently, everywhere you go in China you can see people eating steam buns. I have had some stuffed buns but never the double knot ones and never in China. It was a challenge.

The first ingredient is 300g of chinese flour. Now I know exactly where I could go and buy it, but do I really need another flour in my pantry? Karen suggested cake flour which worked wonderfully.

300 g chinese flour
15 g sugar
15 g butter
pinch of salt
1/4 t baking power
1/4 t active dry yeast
150 ml chilled water, I threw ice cubes in mine

oil for brushing on dough, I used Pam
40 G finely chopped scallions
25 g finely chopped red chilis, I used sweet chili sauce

Mix all the dough ingredients to form a firm dough mass. Don't add any additional water or the buns will be flat. Place the dough on a work surface and roll out to a thin strip, fold in half and roll again. Repeat this 10 -15 times with a 30 second rest in between each time. This was fun to do, and I ended up with a very smooth, elastic dough. Put it in a bowl, cover and let rest for 15 mins. Roll onto lightly floured surface into a 25cm square. Spray with pam add the chives, chili and sea salt. Fold in half and then cut into 2.5 cm strips so you end up with 10 folded strips. I was fine up to this point... Then stretch each strip and stating at the folding edge, twist the two pieces of each strip over each other to form a rope. Not quite sure what that meant, but I think it means make the strip into a twisted rope. Take the rope and tie into a double knot, tucking the lose ends underneath. Put on parchment paper and let proof for 30 to 45 mins.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Steam the buns to 10 - 20 mins. Until the buns are firm to touch.

These were delicious. I can't wait to try some of the variations. You never know what the Bread Baking Babes are coming up with. Here is a list of the fabulous members and what they have baked. Karen tried a couple variations on the recipe so check her post out for tips.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire BBA # 20

This weekend I was supposed to be baking the marbled rye bread. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate the white rye flour which is necessary for this bread. All rye flour was missing from Central Market's shelves. Interesting I thought. But none of the shelf markers were for white rye flour. I went to Sun Harvest and could find several types of rye flour, none of them the correct white flour. So I must place a King Arthur Flour order. Once I start an order, I find additional items in my basket. It is all so tempting. I imagine I will have to buy a lame. I have been using my exacto knife to score my breads, but once I am ordering, why not get the official french bread scoring knife. And then the brotforms call to me. Can I be a real bread baker without one? I have been able to resist their call so far.

So without the correct flour, I moved on the multigrain bread extraordinaire. From now on, I can say I made an extraordinaire bread, without bragging, just the facts. I have been waiting for this bread. I love multigrain bread. I have high hopes for the loaf.

Friday evening I made the soaker. I combined polenta, rolled oats, wheat bran with some water and left it on the counter for the evening. As my main stakeholder said, another science experiment on the counter.

Early in the morning, I made some brown rice in the oven. I think that making brown rice in the oven keeps it moist and requires little attention on the part of the cook. The flour, brown sugar, salt and and entire tablespoon of yeast went into the mixer. Then the soaker, brown rice, honey, buttermilk and water were added. We were supposed to sprinkle in some flour if we needed it to make a dough that was not sticky. I actually ladled in flour. Eventually I got a delightful soft and pliable ball. I really enjoyed kneading it and feeling the little pokey things in the dough. I think that the polenta may still have been a little hard. It was an interesting textural experience.

The dough was fermented at room temperature for 90 minutes. At this point, I realized that I would need to find some other ways to occupy my time this weekend.

I am the mother of two young adults on the other side of the country and one remaining teenager at home. I get snippets of information into their lives. I find the snippets sometimes annoy me, but I would rather have some information, than no information. I have four older brothers. There have not been so many years between the time when I was in college and now that I have completely forgotten how snippets are delivered. Snippets are almost always delivered in the least upsetting fashion, not misinformation, just partial information. This mornings snippet was from my rock climber. I'm on my way to a state park in WV to do a little climbing, I'm all caught up on my classes. The last time he did a little climbing, he posted pictures.

I had a few questions when I saw the picture. How high are you? Who put in the things that hold the rope? Did they get a good night's sleep? Had they been drinking? Did they eat a healthy breakfast? Why are you doing this? Why don't you have on a shirt? Do you need us to buy you a shirt?

It is fall in Pennsylvania. One of my brothers told me that he had put on a flannel shirt the other day. We don't wear flannel in Texas. The temperature has dipped into the 90s here. I miss fall in Pennsylvania. I miss frost and the changing tree colors. I might even miss scrapple . Scrapple is hog offal. I was eating offal before it was in. I miss blue hubbard squash. I saw squash in our local grocery store, they had the hubbards in the ornamental section. For $2/pound, for squash.

Back to the bread. My polenta was a coarse ground polenta. I could feel it when I kneaded it. You could see it when the bread was finished. Next time, I will use a finer polenta. And there will be a next time, this is indeed an extraordinaire bread. It may be my favorite bread so far.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Light Wheat Bread BBA #18

Some days it is just so much fun to wake up and know that you are going to be baking bread. We have finally had some rain. We have in the past couple of days had more rain than we have had for the entire year. Yesterday some areas of town had over five inches of rain. The temperature has dropped into the bearable nineties. It looks grey and cloudy outside. Fall must be on the way. A great day for baking bread.

This bread is made with 33% whole wheat flour. The majority of the flour is white flour. It came together easily, measure out the dry ingredients, add a little honey, butter and water and mix.

A pretty scary thing happened. My twenty-four year old Kitchenaid stand mixer made a funny noise. She didn't quite sound like herself. I already have weekend plans for the mixer, I am feeding 50 theatre kids dinner on Tuesday and need to make batches of cookies. I quickly switched to kneading by hand. The bread rose quicker than the time indicated in the book, but mine always do. And then when it was cooked, we once again skipped the appropriate cooling period. Almost half way through the book and we still have not developed will power.

But it was lunchtime, fresh bread was cooling on the counter. It seemed right. It makes a delicious sandwich bread. Maybe you can convince yourself that it is healthier, but I have high hopes for the multrigrain extraordinaire.

There are people who blog about how they make all their breads. I could see doing this except we would eat more bread. There hasn't been a recipe that I have tried that my local supermarket does better. But having fresh bread in the house would be our downfall.

Mags at the Other Side of Fifty made the bread into hamburger rolls. I think that I will have to try that, it is an easy dough to work with and would make a great bun.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Black Russian Rye

Gorel at Grain Doe posted an unusual recipe for the Bread Baking Buddies August Challenge. She spent some time looking for recipe for Black Russian Rye and made some modifications and and then posted her version. What an usual bread.

First you make a sourdough starter.
300 grams medium rye flour
350 ml water
2 Tablespoons of active sourdough culture

This was the first time that I gave my sourdough starter an opportunity to show her stuff and I was a little nervous. Mix it all together and cover with plastic and leave at room temperature for 12 - 14 hours.

At the same time, you make your soaker. One of the oddest mix of ingredients I have ever seen.
100 grams old toast bread, not over toasted
15 grams ground coffee
25 grams neutral oil
60ml molasses
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tablespoon minced shallots
400ml hot water

Mix it all together and let it sit on the counter as long as the sourdough starter sits, 12 - 14 hours. Here is where I made my mistake. I made the sourdough starter, misunderstood the directions and found myself 12 hours later trying to figure out what to do. The good news is that my sourdough starter worked. Even after a night in the refrigerator, while I caught up with the soaker.

For the final dough
300g medium rye flour
400g high gluten bread flour

Combine the flours

1 Tablespoon salt
1.5 tsp yeast

Combine the yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt in a bowl. Begin to add the flour until you have a firm but still quite sticky dough. Be sure to wait for all the flour to be incorporated before you add more. Let rise in greased bowl for 2 - 3 hours until doubled. Shape into two loaves, let rise for 60 mins. Bake on baking stone in 425 degree over for 10 mins, I misted the walls. Gorel used ice cubes in a metal container in the bottom of the over. Lower temp to 400 bake 30 mins until inner temp 205

Let loaves cool.

So, Tom and I are really enjoying this bread. I wonder if I would have had a better rise if I had made the soaker and starter at the same time. This is not the recipe for you if you gravitate toward soft white bread. I really enjoy the subtle shallot flavor. It would be a good loaf to have on hand if a burglar was sneaking through a window... Or if you had some great cheese and a chance to go on a picnic.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Indian Dosas

August's Daring Cook's challenge was a vegan, gluten free recipe for Indian Dosas. It had three parts, the filling, the sauce and the pancakes. I started with the filling and very quickly had the house filled with a wonderful aroma. I could not find medium hot banana chilis so I went with jalepenos. The garlic, onion, carrots, green peppers and jalepenos were sauteed. The spices instantly got everyone in the house excited. The ground chickpeas and tomato paste were added to make a thick filling.

The sauce started with onion and garlic, which were sauteed with some spices. It was thickened with spelt flour and then coconut milk, vegetable broth and chopped tomatoes were added.

The Dosa pancakes were the most challenging part. I have a crepe recipe that sits overnight and is very easy to work with. I expected the same from this recipe. The initial pancakes were challenging, but I got the feel of the batter.

It all came together to make a delicious appetizer. We are looking forward to finishing off the filling and sauce later in the week.

Lavash Crackers BBA #17

I didn't want to make these but I am glad that I did. I added finely chopped rosemary and cracked pepper to the dough. The dough was kneaded by hand for ten minutes. I had to get help from my major stakeholder. Ten minutes with a firm dough is a long time. I added almost all the water before I got the right consistency. 90 minutes later, I had a dough that was very easy to work with. After I rolled it out, I sprinkled the dough with seasalt, cut it into cracker and popped them in the over. The crackers have a nice taste, a little bite from the pepper, nice herbs. I'll make them again. I'm thinking Christmas gifts.

Kaiser Rolls

Another successful recipe. I have double ovens, which are narrower than the average oven. I think that when ever I spray the walls to get the hearth oven effect, my breads get some drops of water on them. They are not as pretty as the rolls in the book. I first observed this with my french loaves and tried to get as close to the wall while spraying as possible, but still splatter got on the rolls. I'm walking a fine line between staying safe and getting burnt for my crust. I know what side I will stay on.

It's been a busy week at work and I have been unable to do any baking. I will have to become a weekend baker for the school year. However, I have successfully been raising my starter on the counter. I think it is ready to go forth and graduate, to be put to use in a recipe. I have been following Paul's steps on his blog, The Yamarama Bread Blog to develop a starter from pineapple juice.

When I first told my brothers that I was blogging about baking bread, one of them asked if I was OK. I was thinking about Paul's blog when I replied to his question. Paul has a very scientific, very detailed blog. I tend to check his site out before I start baking, just in case he has some pointers. He has an understanding of starters that is amazing, and a little concerning. His care of his starters? lets just say his are not going to die neglected in the refrigerator.

I have had a great time with this challenge. I have made many recipes that I would never have tried and will never try again. But I have challenged myself. I know where to turn to with questions about starters, barbeque, herbs, it is an amazing blogging world.

The Washington Post wrote an article about the BBA challenge entitled Too Many Cooks. The only downfalls of the challenge are the potential to gain weight, but I think that is decreasing now we are out of the butter and egg sections, and the danger of third degree burns.

I have weekend plans. I'm going to try the starter in some Russian Rye Bread and make the Lavash crackers. The instructions include rolling out the dough paper thin. I have no desire to roll out any dough paper thin, but a challenge is a challenge...