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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stollen, BBA # 36

Being involved with the Bread Baker's Aprentice challenge, I find that I always have bread on my mind. I am aware of where the regulars are with the challenge with their bread. I know what is coming up, because I am about two or three breads behind from the most regular baker.

I had brought a loaf of bread to work and was thinking about the Stollen. By now, everyone who reads my blog is aware that the people of my house do not like fruits in their breads. Me, not so picky, I like cranberries and pears, maybe the occasional apricot. But whatever I make that has fruit, I have to be prepared to eat the entire loaf.

I was pretty sure that I couldn't eat an entire stollen. The question was what should I do with it? About the time this was weighing heavy on my mind, one of my student's parent walked in. She is German, and can pronounce and enjoy Stollen. She was willing to assess mine. Indeed, she said that she works with a lot of women who are German and they would try it,

Maybe this was more than I bargained for. What are the odds that whatever I make compares with their childhood Christmas memories? Not very likely. When I was researching the stollen, trying to figure out how to fold it, it became apparent that there are a number of variations on the recipe. Unlike Peter Reinhart, who mistakenly told a roomful of chefs from different nations that all their holiday breads were very similar, I doubt that I will be making anyone's childhood favorite. The nuances of our memories are very strong.

I have noticed that if you grew up eating a specific bread, like bagels, challah or portugese sweet breads, frequently you have a little different flavor profile in mind for the bread. So will the women like this bread?

I started by soaking the dried fruit in brandy for about three days. The fruit were nice and puffed and full of liquid.

This morning, I made the starter by mixing yeast, flour and milk and letting sit on the counter until bubbly. I assembled my ingredients, the dry, flour, salt, cinnamon (which is not in all the recipes), the wet, eggs, butter and the soaker and the fruit.

They were all put together to make a delightful dough. I had to add a little more flour after I put the wet fruit into the mix.

The dough doubled and was then folded into a swaddling baby shape. It can also be formed into a crescent. How it is really done, eludes me. I have read a few blogs, puzzled about the used of a broomstick, and come up with a plan. A number of recipes add marzipan in the fold. I added slivered almonds. When the loaf came out of the oven, I brushed them with melted butter. I know that Peter says oil, but I prefer the flavor of butter. Sprinkled with confectioners sugar, they cooled and were wrapped off and sent off for their evaluation.

I delivered them in the morning and before noon I had received the verdict; delicious!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sunflower Seed Rye BBA #35

The last of the sourdough breads. It has been interesting journey, some delights, one 100% inedible.

The day before I made the bread, I soaked some whole rye in water. The next day, I added some starter to bread flour, salt, yeast and toasted sunflower seeds. with enough water to make a tacky but not sticky dough. I work hard to not overmix the rye, to avoid the gumminess that can happen.

The dough doubled in 90 minutes and was shaped into one couronne, which was similar to a huge bagel. I put the dowel marks on the bread, but I was not aggressive enough and they disappeared during the final rise. Half of the dough I formed into tiny boule for dinner.

Again, I prepared my oven for hearth baking and cooked the bread.

This was not my favorite of the sourdoughs. It was a very hearty loaf. Maybe even a little too hearty.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mediteranean Country Style Bread

I need a few back up loaves for the freezer, so I thought I'd try a new recipe. Nancy Harmon Jenkins The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook has a recipe for Mediterranean Country Style Bread. It is a very slow rising bread, three days, but is supposed to be delicious. You start by putting 1 t of yeast in 2 cups of very warm water, you add 2 cups of white flour and let it rise overnight.

On the next day, you add one cup of tepid water, 2 T of sea salt and 2 cups of your choice of flour. I added wheat. Leave it on the counter for 24 more hours. Another simply stunning photo.

It is not a labor intensive bread. On the third day, you add 7 cups of flour, I used a mixture of whole wheat and white, some more water. The challenging part is you end up with a massive amount of dough that must be kneaded for ten minutes. It is a bit of a workout, but the dough had a lovely feel. It takes 2 - 3 hours for it to increase in size by 2.5 times. Then I shaped it into two boules and one large loaf. They took about an hour to double. Then I prepared my oven for hearth baking because I am a creature of habit and gave them 20 mins at 500 and then lowered the temp to 350. I baked until they were 200 degrees.

The recipe made three large loaves. I gave one of them away to a friend of mine who was raised in Holland. She is unimpressed with the majority of supermarket breads and has been following my BBA challenge adventures. She thinks that this may be my finest loaf. I will definitely be making this again.

Mediterranean Country-Style Bread
2 cups very warm, almost hot water
1 t active dry yeast
9 to 11 cups unbleached all purpose white flour (I used a mixture of bread flour and whole wheat flour)
2 T sea salt
2 1/2 cup tepid water
2 cups barley, rye or whole wheat flour
2 - 3 T corn meal as needed.

Put the warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Add 2 cps of the white flour, stir to mix and cover with plastic wrap and set in cool place ( 50 - 70 degrees) for 24 hours

The next day add a cup of tepid water, the barley, rye or whole wheat flour, stir Cover at return to cool place for 24 hours.

On the third day, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups tepid water and about seven cups of flour. Continue adding flour, kneading until you have a smooth elastic dough. It was almost too much for my stand mixer and took about 7 mins.

Rinse out he bowl, I sprayed it with cooking spray, put the dough in it and cover and let rise to 2.5 times the size, until it has more than doubled. About 2 - 3 hours.

Turn it out onto floured counter and shape. I made two boules and one large sandwich loaf. Let rise in a warm place (70 degrees) until doubled, about one hour.

Put your baking stone in the cold over and preheat to 500 degrees. Slash the top of the loaves, slide onto hot stone, bake for 15 mins and turn heat down to 350 and bake for 25 - 30 mins. I baked until they were 200 degrees in the center.

This is one of my all time favorites.

Black Beans

I like a good side of black beans. I have perhaps too many Southwestern and vegetarian cookbooks. I have tried a lot of recipes and have a new favorite. They are from The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook by Susan Curtis. Apparently the recipe was developed by Todd Sanson as part of the Southwest Vegetarian class. I've made a few changes.

I don't soak my beans, Cooks Illustrated did a test on soaking, not soaking and it doesn't seem to make that much of a difference. Works for me, I don't necessarily know the night before what I am eating the next day. So start by picking over a pound of black beans. My main stakeholder helped me out here, he was flipped out to learn that there were rocks in black beans. He probably pulled out eight. I imagine, he could easily picture cracked teeth.

The original recipe had epazote, which is a Mexican herb with a strong odor, sometimes described as gasoliney. It is hard to find, I omitted it. It also had Amontillado Sherry, which I also omitted. Chipotle chiles are smoked red jalepenos. The flavor is amazing in these beans. After the chiles had rehydrated by simmering in the water, I slit them open so some of their spice would be sure to get into the beans.

Black Beans with Garlic and Chipotle Chiles
Adapted from Santa Fe School of Cooking

1 lb black beans, picked over
1 T olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 t minced garlic
4 bay leaves
2 t oregano
3 dried chipotle chiles
4 to 5 quarts water
2 T cider vinegar
1.5 t salt

Heat the oil in at least a 4 quart pot, saute the onion for three mins, add the garlic, saute for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves, oregano, and chiles, saute for 1 minute. Add the beans and 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 hours, until the beans are soft. You may need to add more water, depending on how fast your simmer is.

Add the vinegar and salt and cook slowly for 30 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mango Salsa

There is a pot of black beans on the stove, some roasted pork loin ready for the tacos. This calls for mango salsa. I first fell in love with mango salsa at a fusion restaurant that served it as a side with fried wontons. It seems to pop up at different restaurants, on fish, with pork. I don't care what it is served with, I really enjoy the taste of mangos.

It is a make your own recipe, add what you have. For me the must have ingredients are mangos and cilantro. Typically I dice up a mango, add some cilantro, red onion if I have it, a little diced ginger always adds a nice flavor. You'll need something for some heat. Diced jalepeno, crushed red pepper, today I happened to have a serrano pepper. Dice them all up. Put them in a bowl and add a little lime juice and maybe some rice wine vinegar. Give it a taste and adjust as needed.

Don't like cilantro? By all means leave it out. But aren't there some foods that you used to dislike that you like now that you are older?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pumpernickel Bread BBA#34

This is a delicious rye loaf. According to Mr. Reinhart a rye loaf is a bread made with coarsely ground whole grain rye flour. So, maybe my bread is not really a rye loaf. I used Arrow Mills organic rye flour to make the starter. I know nothing about the grind. I know that if I were truly dedicated I could purchase my own grain and flour mill. I'm not at that level of dedication. Maybe I'll put that on my bucket list.

Anyway, the rye starter was made by mixing my faithful barm, some rye flour and water which fermented until it became bubbly. The next day, I added some clear flour, and some bread flour, the brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, yeast, some bread crumbs, vegetable oil and water. Working quickly because rye bread will become gummy, I made a smooth pliable dough.

The dough fermented at room temperature for 2 hours. After 2 hours, I formed it into two batards which took about two hours to come to a nice size. Would you be surprised to learn that I prepared my oven for hearth baking and baked them until they were done?

I'm getting the hang of this....

I'm am sad that we are coming close to the end of the book. I have learned a lot and have definitely made some breads that I would never have tried if not for the challenge. I bake pretty much every weekend, and I find that I look forward to it. If I miss a week, my main stakeholder, will stand in the middle of the kitchen and ask if we have any real bread in the house. I have decided to join the crazy bakers at Bake Your Own Bread, BYOB. Sandy of At the Baker's Bench, is on the BBA challenge blogroll. I have enjoyed following her blog. I think will push me to try some new recipes. I have never made pita, we love pita. I've made hamburger rolls, never hotdog rolls. It should be an interesting year. Apparently, no one from the BYOB group stops by your house and checks your pantry.

The whole working full time, sandwich generation should make this an interesting challenge. I plan on taking advantage of the three day weekend and making some bread for the freezer. One of the pumpernickel loaves will be heading there.

I'm trying a new recipe that takes three days to ferment, but is not very hard.

Which gives me the opportunity to enjoy a toasted slice of pumpernickel.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daring Cooks Satays

Cuppy, of Cuppylicious chose a recipe for satays for this month's challenge. She wanted us to focus on the marinade. Options were presented, opportunities existed to marinade and cook just about anything you could put on a stick.

Her first example was a pork satay, which I have never made. I have made chicken, beef and shrimp satays. I actually think that the flavor of most foods improve when they are served on a stick.

The pork was cut into strips, placed in a ziploc bag with all the ingredients that had been quickly processed in the food processor.

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Thai dragon (bird’s eye) chili pepper
2 T ginger root, chopped (4 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 T fish sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)

I wasn't sure what a Thai dragon was, but I had some dried red peppers that worked. I let it marinate over night and then grilled them.

I served them with the
Thai pepper dip

4 Tbsp soy sauce (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

and some peanut noodles. I am very tempted to try some of the tofu that I see presented.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rainbow Cheap Eats

I enjoy listening to The Splendid Table on Public Radio. On their web site, they have a collection of affordable entrees, splendid cheap eats. The Rainbow Peanut Noodles recipe seemed like the perfect recipe for my family. The Chinese peanut dressing can be assembled before hand, then stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. The recipe is taken from Asian Noodles: Mouthwatering Dishes to Twirl, Slurp and Savor, by Nina Simonds

Chinese Peanut Dressing

one inch of peeled fresh ginger (recipe called for 1/2")
8 gloves peeled garlic
one teaspoon hot chile paste
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 c soy sauce
3.5 T sugar
3.5 T black vinegar (or Worcestershire suace)
3T sesame oil
5 T chicken broth

In a food processor, pulse ginger and garlic, add the remaining ingredients. If too thick, add more broth.

Cook .5 lb noodles, I used linguine. Rinse under cold water. Add sauce, I used half the container and vegetables.

5 carrots Julienned
2 cucumbers, julienned
2 cups bean sprouts (skipped these)
1 red bell pepper, in thin strips
2 cups sliced cooked chicken
2.5 T scallions

This one is a keeper. I have half of the sauce in the refrigerator for later. I always have some kind of noodles and some kind of vegetables. My local monopoly grocery store make a cooked fajita chicken breast strip that worked very well in this quick meal.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Poilane-Style Miche BBA #33

We have finally reached the cover loaf!

I was worried about this loaf. We are having record low temperatures, so I wasn't sure about proofing the dough. However, the sourdoughs are a little more time intensive. They become weekend breads. But I didn't want to wait for another weekend to try this one.

Yesterday evening I made the firm starter. I used half wheat flour half bread flour because I do not have access to medium grain whole wheat flour. I added the barm to the flour and some water and let it ferment until doubled. I actually put it on top of the refrigerator, went to bed and this morning, it had just doubled.

I then added the 7 cups of flour, salt and water to the starter. I divided the dough in half and mixed and kneaded it. I am having difficulty with the arthritis in my hands in this cold weather. They don't wake up happy and perky and looking forward to kneading for 15 minutes to form a supple, tacky, but sticky dough. Usually I can talk my main stake holder into kneading, but he retains the ability to sleep past 0600 on the weekend. The mixer did a lovely job.

The dough took about 5 hours to double. The temperature in the kitchen varied with the number of time the dog went outside. Eventually, I made my oven into a proofing box. I formed the dough into a large boule and put it into my largest bowl. I was once again coveting a banneton. But the bowl lined with my linen worked fine.

After two hours, I turned the dough onto a pan and prepared the oven for hearth baking.

We are enjoying this bread. Peter says that it is good for 5 to 7 days. Good soup bread.