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Friday, October 30, 2009

Panettone BBA #24

There was no escaping it, I knew I'd have to make the Panettone. No more excuses. This is a two day bread. On day one the candied fruit mixture had to be prepared, mixed with alcohol and extracts. I couldn't bring myself to purchase candied fruit, so a mixture of dried cranberries, cherries and golden raisins were added to brandy, vanilla and orange extract. Several options for liquors were suggested to flavor the fruit. I actually have a wide variety of alcohol left over from our wedding. My young adults inform me that all the labels have changed from when we were married. So Tom and I got married before there were ipods, cd players, or google. I am hoping that the alcohol doesn't care how old it is and has aged nicely. I added vanilla to the mixture. Peter prefers the Fiori di Sicilia, a blend of extracts and floral oils. However, I was fairly certain that I would not enjoy the bread, so I couldn't see spending additional money when vanilla would work just fine. This was part of my problem with the bread. I'm not found of fruits in bread and I'm not that fond of alcohol unless it is in a margarita or dry wine. When I started with the panettone, I was afraid that I was making cough syrup. Medicinal, fruity. Pleasantly getting drunk on my counter. I added the orange flavor. I bought the tiniest amount I could, two 2ml vials from Dr. Oetker. The mixture sat on the counter overnight.

A mixture of milk, barm and flour was allowed to ferment at room temperature for four hours and then spend the night in the refrigerator. In the morning, it sat on the counter to take the chill off.

With the ingredients ready, the bread was easy to assemble. The starter and fruit were added to flour, sugar, salt, yeast, almonds, eggs and butter. The dough was allowed to rise and then shaped and allowed to rise again.

It took less time for the loaves to reach the 185 recommended internal temperature. The final results met with mixed reviews. The teenager wanted to know what all the stuff was in them. She won't eat raisins in cinnamon buns, what did I expect. The main stakeholder said that they weren't as bad as he expected. Me, it is a nice loaf. Tastes like alcohol and fruit, unfortunately.

There is one family member who thinks that the house is filled with a wonderful aroma, sure to be an enjoyable bread...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pizza Napoletana BBA#25

So, I went on a retreat last weekend. A peaceful, calm experience, until one of my friends broke my reflection and asked if I was going to fall behind with my bread baking! But I had a plan. The Panettone looks like it needs a little attention, in my mind it is an uptight bread, despite the addition of a large amount of alcohol. It needs coddling. But pizza dough generally is quite forgiving.

Yesterday I had a few minutes in the morning. I was dressed for work but thought that I could get the pizza dough in the refrigerator. I cannot bake without covering myself or my kitchen with a certain amount of flour.I put on my beautiful apron. One of my friends brought it back from Holland. It reminds me of the traditional clothing that her grandmothers wore. The bodice of their clothing is called a kraplap. This apron is made from material that would be used in the kraplap. Not that I long for traditional clothing, but I love the idea of grandma's teaching their daughters or sons recipes which get passed down from generation to generation.

Protected from the flour, I made the dough. It was quite quick and easy. High-gluten flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and ice cold water. The dough was definitely springy, elastic and sticky. I had to resist the urge to add more flour. I divided it into six pieces and put them in the refrigerator.

Last night, when I told the main stakeholder that there was pizza dough in the refrigerator, getting ready for tomorrow night's dinner, he could barely hide his delight. He was quite insistent that we make the classic pizza, the pizza margarita, sauce, tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and basil. But with six pieces of dough, why limit ourselves to one flavor?

An hour before dinner, I put the pizza stone in the oven and cranked it up. I am wondering how many home cooks will be able to hit the 800 degrees that Peter suggests...I called the alarm company to disconnect the fire alarm from the fire department and we set up our assembly. The dough was easy to shape, but transferring from the back of a cookie sheet to the stone was challenging. I found myself wishing for yet another kitchen tool, the peel.

It was a very soft dough, much like the ciabatta. I never got a pizza to transfer into a shape that remained round on the stone although the family thinks that I made a fair replica of Africa. I am recovering from a nasty burn, that accompanied "prepare your oven for hearth baking." So I was a little more cautious with my dough transfer. Pizza number four folded on itself, spilling some of it's sauce and cheese onto the pizza stone. When I opened the oven to put in the fifth pizza I finally did it, I set off the fire alarm. The dog could not decide if she should be begging for pizza or howling with the alarm. The good news is, the firemen did not show up, we did not have to share our pizza.

I have made doughs that were easier to handle, but this was delicious. The main stakeholder has quite a flair at pizza design.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pane Siciliano BBA #23

This is a three day bread. It starts with the familiar pate fermentee. On day two, the dough is formed by adding bread flour and semolina flour, salt, yeast olive oil, honey and water. It is formed into a dough that is supple and smooth. Left to rise for two hours and then formed into 24" baguettes. The baguettes are then rolled into an S shape. I really enjoy shaping breads. I had fun last week with the epis and curving the S shapes and watching them rise was satisfying. The breads were put in the refrigerator over night.

The next day, the oven is prepared for hearth baking and then breads are baked until they are golden brown. I happened to have a room full of teenagers who had heard about my unusual obsession with bread baking. They were completely bewildered as to why anyone would bake their way through a bread book. They feigned polite interest at my beautiful S shapes and said that they thought that you could buy my bread at Central Market. Central Market is our upscale grocery store. I think that the BBA breads have a deeper flavor than what you could find there, but I took it as the compliment that they intended.

This is a very tasty bread and I am happy to start the week with three loaves. This is the perfect slice of bread for nutella.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

World Bread Day October 16th

October 16th is world bread day. It was an easy event to enter. Bake a bread for the event, blog about it and submit it by October 17th. The bread has to be a bread baked just for world bread day.

The confusion was in my mind. What bread to choose? The latest edition of Bon Appetit has several bread recipes that look very intriguing. There are a couple of recipes that I have on my to do list. But I was looking for something easy, that every one liked.

King Arthur's blog posted an article about chicken goditas. I have never made the gorditas or tried the one's at Taco Bell. Living in Texas, we enjoy being able to run into our favorite Mexican restaurants. We are spoiled. But the flat bread recipe is one of our all time favorites.

It makes a soft sandwich wrap that you can fill with any number of fillings. I make them at the beginning of the week and store them in a plastic bag to use for sandwiches throughout the week.

It is an unusual recipe in that you dump boiling water on some of the flour, cooking some of the starch and making a soft dough. The recipe calls for potato flour or buds, which adds an interesting flavor. An easy recipe, with lots of uses.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vietnamese Chicken Pho

October's Daring Cook's challenge was suggested by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. Cooks could chose between a chicken or beef pho. In her cookbook, she has a recipe for quick Vietnamese Pho that uses store bought chicken stock, but I decided to make the stock from scratch. She provided a link to her Pho Ga for the daring cooks who wanted to try their hand at making stock.

Jaden says that the stock has two important steps, parboiling the chicken and roasting the ginger and garlic. Parboiling the chicken for five minutes, dumping the water, cleaning the chicken and then getting rid of the scum seemed to remove a large amount of the stuff that floats to the top during the normal broth making process. Roasting the onion and ginger filled the house with an amazing aroma. I had never roasted ginger and was impressed with the intensity of flavor that it produced.

Once the chicken was parboiled, the roasted onion, ginger and coriander, cloves, anise, fish sauce, sugar and cilantro were added to the broth. The broth was simmered for 2.5 hours and skimmed of impurities every 15 minutes. The chicken breasts were removed after 15 minutes and served with the finished product.

The broth was brought to the table with rice noodles, bean sprouts, chicken broth, shredded red onion, cilantro, and lime. It was enjoyed by all.

Jaden also posted a dessert challenge; wonton wrappers any shape, any filling. We experimented with a variety of fillings and decided the nutella, banana combination was our favorite. We did not rise to the challenge of unusual shapes or fillings, its a challenge alone for us to make dessert!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy 16th Birthday Emily!

If you were one of my kids you wouldn't like birthday cake. I don't think that it is a genetic trait, certainly not a dominant gene since both my husband and I enjoy cake. I guess it could be a recessive trait, but it would be unusual for all three kids to share it.

I blame it all on Matthew. When Matthew was a toddler, he had very definite opinions about what he would eat. He wouldn't eat chicken fingers, he'd eat the grilled sword fish from his parents' plates. He wouldn't eat boxed macaroni and cheese, he'd eat stuffed shells. He loved melons and ice cream. Which is what he ate for his birthday. By the time his brother came around, Matt had dissed many delicious cakes. I believe that he forced his obsession with ice cream onto Joe. Emily didn't have a chance to develop a normal birthday cake routine. However, if there was birthday pie, my kids would be all over it.

So for Emily's 16th birthday we had delicious brownies, ice cream, fudge sauce, strawberries and whipped cream. It worked for her.

Dinner was Ina Garten's chicken pot pie . I thought that I made good chicken pot pie, until I tried this recipe. Some times we look for recipes that say you are special, I celebrate you. This is one of those recipes. Well worth the effort.

Pain de Campagne

I have been looking forward to making this bread. It is, like many of the breads in the Bread Baking Apprentice, a two day bread. You start with the pate fermentee, a mixture of flour, salt, yeast and water, which is refrigerated for a day.

Early in the morning, I got up, cut it into ten pieces and let it sit on the counter to take the chill off.

Then you add the pate fermentee to flour, whole wheat flour, salt, yeast and water. Forming another dough, which ferments for two hours. When the dough has doubled in size, about two hours, the fun begins. This dough is easy to shape and Reinhart has beautiful pictures of several possible shapes.

The epi is shaped like a wheat sheaf. Here is where I made my mistake. The dough should have been shaped into a baguette, allowed to proof and right before it went into the oven, cut with scissors. Somehow I failed to follow the precise directions and cut the baguette and then let it proof. I lost some of the definition of the cuts.

I will need to try this again. I will cut down on the amount of salt. Between the pate fermentee and the pain, it has 1.5 teaspoons of salt, which is a little too much for me. Next time, I will forewarn the fire department and preheat the oven a little higher. I got a nicer brown on the pain a l'ancienne. I do wonder what the alarm company thinks. Does there conversation go.... she called again, every weekend when she cooks, she calls us to shut off the fire alarm, when will she learn?

We devoured one of the loaves and have two waiting for dinner.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pain a l"Ancienne BBA #21

There are 43 recipes in the Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. Why am I baking my way through this book? Late at night, when I can't sleep, I would look through food blogs. I have several favorites and some of them blogged that they had signed up for the challenge to bake their way through the book. Way ahead of me technologically, they were alerted by twitter and formed the original 200 blogroll. Nicole of Pinch My Salt posted the challenge, I found it appealing. And if I was going to bake my way through the book, I was going to document my trip. Someone posted a list of suggested dates, and you know that I am drawn to a list like a moth to a flame. So here I am.

With the majority of the egg enriched breads behind us, I have been looking forward to this part of the book. The write ups of the breads draw me in and make me want me to try the recipe. Except for the Panettone, who wants to eat a bread filled with golden raisins and candied fruits?

So Peter Reinhart writes that the cold mixing and fermentation cycles evokes a fullness of flavor from the wheat. This new technique opens a new frontier in bread baking. He says that 'this is an exciting place to find oneself, like standing at the end of the world, facing the words, as so often showed up on ancient maps, "Unknown Kingdoms Be Here"' He lives in an interesting world.

Like the majority of his breads, this bread takes two days to make. On Friday, I came home from work, threw my clothes in the washer, took a shower and then started baking. Germ phobic or a sensible school nurse in flu season...
Ice cold water, flour, salt and yeast are combined and mixed in the bowl. It is a wet dough, which ferments in the refrigerator over night. Then I moved on to make the mocha fudge cake from The Frog/Commissary Cookbook. It has to chill overnight or up to one week. I'll have to write that up later.

Saturday was a crazy day. I had read that the dough may take more like 4 hours to double once you took it out of the refrigerator, so I timed the doubling around errands. When it had doubled, I prepared my oven for hearth baking, which we all know seems like an invitation for disaster. To prepare the oven for hearth baking first I call the alarm company and turn off the connection to the fire department. My fire alarm is a little sensitive and once it goes off, there are firemen in the front yard. Next you put the pan in the oven for the steam. Then Peter invited us to heat our oven to 550, if they go that high. Do you ever look at your speedometer and wonder if your car goes as fast as the numbers on the dial. There is a 550 on my oven...

I dumped the bread on the counter and divided it into four with a bread scraper. Paul, at the Yumarama Artisan Bread blog, referred to the dough as worms and it stuck in my head. They had little shape. The pieces barely had form, transferring them from the sheetpan to the baking stone by way of the parchment in the 550 degree oven was challenging. The loaves stretched and their tales baked on the racks.

I poured the water in the steam pan, sprayed the walls and turned the temp down. after 8 mins I rotated the breads and set the timer for 10 mins. The breads were almost over browned. 207 degrees internally, but next time I will only preheat to 500. And just out of curiosity, at what temperature to you think parchment paper catches on fire?

These breads only have a 20 minute cooling time. You would think that we could wait that long, but we couldn't. We had to break a piece off, they were delicious. Filled with holes, nice crust. We got home late Saturday, had some bread, cheese and wine waiting for us.

Throughout the BBA blogroll, this bread has met with mixed reviews. Here are some links to check out.

The Yumarama Bread Blog

I Can Do That!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Marbled Rye Bread

Well, the shipment of assorted flours and unusual tools finally made its way across the country. I decided not to wait for the weekend to start baking. I knew if I hurried home from work and started the dough I would have enough time to finish. The dough was straight forward. You make two batches of dough that differ only in their coloring. I bought the caramel coloring from KA. It is an incredibly dark, cornstarch like powder. It has a bitter taste straight from the container, but I couldn't taste it in the loaf. I used two tablespoons.

Once the dough has fermented, I used the alternating layers method from the BBA book to form the bulls eyes. I have two large loaf pans that were perfect for the loaves. They rose to a nice shape, baked up in the oven. They were almost finished. We were force to go to bed without sampling the finished product.

My main stakeholder is enjoying this rye bread. We reviewed the breads up to this point and although we could find a few that we won't be baking again, we cannot determine a clear winner. The multigrain extraordinaire, the foccacio, the italian bread are in the running for favorite. My husband would add this rye bread to the list.