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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes BBA bread #42

When I first looked through The Bread Bakers Apprentice, this was one of the breads that I wanted to make. At the end of the book, Peter Reinhart writes about some wonderful bread bakers, Tim and Crystal Decker. The Deckers opened a bakery called Bennett Valley Bread and Pastry. This is one of Bennett Valley Bread and Pastry's most popular breads.

8oz of potatoes were coarsely chopped and boiled in 3 cups of water until soft. The potato water and the potatoes were cooled. 10.5 oz of barm, some flour, yeast, the potatoes and 1/2 of potato water were blended together, then allowed to sit for 30 mins. More flour and salt were added. The dough was kneaded for 6 minutes, 1/4 of chives were added. Kneading continued for a few more minutes. The dough fermented for 90 minutes. It was formed into two rectangles, which were covered with cheddar cheese slices, rolled up and formed into logs with tapered ends. these were allowed to proof for 60 mins.

Some where around this point, I left and turned over the kitchen to my main stake holder. I left the book open on the counter, put the oven stone in the oven and took off. I thought I was in trouble when he called and asked if we were making the Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche, but after a moment of confusion, there was quick recovery. He did a superb job slicing to the cheese. The loaves were beautifully browned, he called me to tell me that they were more browned that other loaves that I have baked, but closely resembled the loaves in the book.

By the time I returned, they had cooled. They are a deeper brown than a lot of the loaves that I have baked. Maybe I should let the main stake holder handle all the baking? Good news for us, at Bennett Valley, they appear to have a shorter cooling time. As I had heard through the rumor mill, these breads are delicious. A great one day bread.

This is such a beautiful, delicious loaf of bread, I am sending it to Yeastspotting.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread BBA Challenge #41

I was not looking forward to this bread. I could find no reason too, it has been met with lukewarm reviews. Oggi thinks that this is her least favorite bread of the challenge. SallyBR found the dough unpleasant to work with, and made it into croutons. Phyl gave it a meh, not a positive endorsement.

First thing, I cut the recipe in half. Then for the soaker, I used coarsely ground oats and whole oats in water. I think that buttermilk would have been a better choice for liquids. For the whole wheat poolish, I left it out on the counter overnight, thinking it might add a depth of flavor, or kill us, who knows. Just kidding, one of my new favorite breads, the Mediteranean Country Bread spends three days fermenting on the counter.

Then I followed the recipe. It is an average loaf of bread. It lacks a strong flavor, perhaps one could call it bland. I won't be making it again, but we will eat it for sandwiches.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The Bread Baking Babes are entering their third year. Karen at Bake My Day chose Ensaimadas. They are a sweet, rolled dough maybe filled with a little surprise. Head over to her link for the recipe.

She posted a link to a you tube video on how to roll the ensaimdasas. I watched the video, once again wondering why I didn't study Spanish instead of French. At one point the baker is explaining what he is filling them with and listing some other options. I heard chocolate, really nice how you can understand that word in so many languages.

I filled half of them with Nutella and half with butter, cinnamon and sugar. They are light, delicious treat.

Kossar's Bialys

I ordered a new cookbook. I didn't need one, I wanted one. I am saddened that the end of the BBA challenge is around the corner and am wondering what to do next. I have found that I really enjoy baking bread on the weekends. I find it to be a calming, rhythmic, productive way to make the bread for my family.

I asked Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups about some of the books on her bookshelf, not of course one of the many that I already own. She recommended Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking. The New York Times calls it a landmark book. I'm trying to figure that one out..

I planned on skipping the wheat bread for now, only for this weekend. It would be the first one that I skipped. All the way to W and now I am skipping. I think that I have a good reason. My main stakeholder has been away on retreat with 100 teenagers. We all know he is bread lover. I thought that I would make sure that I had some waiting for him.

I could envision the reunion, hi honey, while you were away, I baked some whole wheat bread. Unfortunately, not a single person who has baked it thus far has enjoyed it. Hope you break the trend.

So, I was going to skip it and head for the cheddar chive bread which has received rave reviews. Unfortunately, my starter is a little slow, I needed a back up plan.

There was a recipe in the new cookbook that had caught my husband's eye, Kossar's Bialys. My husband grew up in New Jersey in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. There is a real bagel shop around the corner from his house and my inlaws will pick some up before they fly out to Texas. My husband's formative years were spent eating whitefish salad, lox and whatever else he could find.

A bialy is the short name for bialystoker kuchen. Bialystock is the second largest city in Poland. These delicious Jewish breads originated there and came to New York around the turn of the century.

Glezer's recipe recommends using a food processor to make the dough. You mix high-gluten flour, yeast, salt and water in the food processor. It becomes startlingly hot, you take it out, knead by hand to cool it down, and repeat a couple of time. I think it was a little stressful for my food processor. While the dough was fermenting, I went onto the web to see if anyone had tried the recipe and had any tips. Bread cetera proposes a double flour addition technique which I think I will try next time. This method allows you to use your stand mixer.

I made the onions, cooking them in the oven, they turned an odd pink tinged. Next time I will carmelize them on the stove top.

After about 2 hours, the dough was divided and formed into 12 pieces which were formed into balls. After 2.5 more hours, they were formed into pizza shapes with a narrow membrane of dough in the center. a smear of onions went into the center. They were then baked in a 475 degree oven for 6 mins. They are delicious.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mezze, The Daring Cooks Challenge

This month's daring cooks challenge was proposed by Michelle from Veggie Num Nums. The challenge was to prepare a mezze table, a collection of small dishes from the Mediterranean. What a fun challenge. I have a number of Mediterranean cookbooks and was looking forward to trying out some recipes. Michelle had one stipulation, we must use her hummus and pita recipe.

Her hummus recipe was delicious. The recipe calls for a little more lemon juice than I usually add, but we all enjoyed it. Apparently, pitas should puff when you cook them, like blowfish. Some of mine puffed, some didn't. I wasn't sure if the baking stone lost heat between patches or I needed to roll them out thinner.

Michelle had a couple of ideas for some dishes for the mezze table. She had a shot of a jar of preserved lemons. Preserved lemons are a condiment used commonly in Morrocan cooking. Most recipes take several weeks. I found a quick preserved lemon recipe on Cooking Light's web site.

I washed and quartered two meyers lemons and boiled them in 1 cup of water with two tablespoons of Kosher salt for 30 mins.

The lemons were a big hit. Unusual, tart and delicious.

I used the recipe that Michelle had posted for The Cucumber Raita

*Optional Recipe: Cucumber Raita – Recipe adapted from The Indian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm
Prep time: Approximately 15 minutes

1 medium cucumber, peeled and most of the seeds removed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (.1 ounce/3 grams) OR use a small pinch of dried cumin—to taste
2 cups plain whole milk or Greek yogurt (17 ounces/473ml)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
fresh coriander or mint, chopped, a couple pinches or more to taste
cayenne pepper or paprika, just a pinch to use as a garnish (optional)

1. Peel cucumber, de-seed, and dice. Blot off moisture with paper towels.
2. Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat.
3. In a bowl, stir yogurt until it is smooth.
4. Mix it with the cumin, garlic and coriander or mint leaves (I used some grated radish instead).
5. Stir in the cucumber and sprinkle with cayenne or paprika, and chill before serving.

I decided to try one of my newest cookbooks, The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook but Nancy Harmon Jenkins. All of the recipes that we tried we delicious. After pouring through the cookbook, I came up with a menu for my mezze table.

Going clockwise in the picture above, start with preserved lemons, seasoned olives, cucumber raita, humus, melitzanasalata (spicy grilled eggplant dip), grilled pork, feta, tunisian aijjah with spicy potatoes .

Tunisian Aijjah with Spicy Potatoes
Adapted from the New Mediteranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

1 lb small new potatoes, peeled and diced
3 T olive oil
½ t sea salt
½ t ground caraway
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 T tomato puree
1/2 c warm water
1T harissa
ground pepper
8 eggs

(harissa is a hot sauce made of a variety of dried chilies, coriander, cumin, caraway, cloves and olive oil. Available in some Middle Eastern stores, I used Sriracha hot sauce)

In a large skillet, med heat, sauté the potatoes in 2 T o.o, until softened and browning, about 15 mins.

While they are cooking, pound the salt and caraway to a powder in a mortar, then add the garlic and form a paste. Dilute the tom puree with the warm water, stir in the hot sauce, combine with the garlic paste. When the potatoes are done, at this to the pan, stir for 5 – 10 mins, until liquid is reduced to thick sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Beat the eggs with a fork, add to pan, lift to let eggs run under pan. When eggs are at desired consistency, remove from heat and serve.

Perhaps our favorite was the Melitzanasalata. We poked an eggplant with a fork a dozen times and then grilled it for about 20 mins. We blackened 2 poblanos. When they had cooled, we combined their flesh with 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 T olive oil, juice of half a lemon, clove of crushed garlic and salt. I used an immersion blender.

This was such a fun challenge.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

White Bread Olympics, BBA#40

The Olympics have started! I look forward to the Olympics. I knew that I would spend the day watching the Olympic coverage. What a great opportunity to have a bread challenge.

My husband loves a good loaf of white bread. Peter Reinhart presents three variations of white bread in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, but how would you know which one was better if you didn't try them all at the same time. There needed to be a contest for the gold, silver and bronze.

I started off with Variation One. All of the breads contain flour, salt, sugar, yeast, butter and eggs. They differ in how they get hydrated. Variation one has powdered milk and water. I used King Arthur Flour Baker's Special Dry Milk and that, I think, made all the difference. It produced the Gold Winner. I'm wondering if it is a banned substance, it made such a tasty difference.

Variation 2 had buttermilk. I thought that this would be my favorite, I enjoy buttermilk. I grew up rooting for her, the hometown favorite, but she was only the silver winner.

Variation 3 started with a sponge of bread flour, yeast and whole milk. The sponge seemed a little unnecessary. A bread with attitude. After an hour, more flour, salt, sugar, egg yolk and butter was added to the sponge. The 3rd place winner. I was glad it didn't win gold because I like my white breads to be straight forward. Why add a sponge to the process if it isn't necessary.

They all were very tasty breads, that made some tasty rolls. I'll be making Variation One again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vienna Bread for the Superbowl, BBA #39

Yesterday I made the pate fermentee, the pre ferment needed for this bread. The mixture of flour, bread four, salt, yeast and water spent some time on the counter developing its flavor and then was moved to the refrigerator to further mature. This morning, I took it out of the refrigerator, chopped it into pieces, assembled my mis en place, took a picture, covered the pieces and went to check out the reviews of this bread.

I was relieved to see that every one has enjoyed it. Oggi has the most impressive slash down her loaf. Sallybr apparently has a husband who is unable to follow the manditory cooling period. Paul's final picture with the jam has had me hungry all morning. Both he and Phyl made the dutch crumb. They had such success, I will have to try that variety.

But I have plans for this bread. Superbowl plans. I am making pistolets or torpedo rolls for steak sandwiches.

We are having too much food. I'm trying Dragon's Chicken Wings, , Pioneer Woman's Mexican Layer Dip, and a variation of her jalepenos, Ina Garten's roasted shrimp cocktail and steak sandwiches. Of course I need rolls.

We always have steak sandwiches for the Superbowl. It is a kid driven thing. My main stakeholder would be happier with some kind of a poboy but as long as their is fresh bread for the rolls, he'll be happy.

I enjoyed this bread. It had a lovely feel to it, and it had salt.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tuscan Bread, BBA challenge # 38

As we near the end of the challenge, perhaps we have reached one of the more challenging breads for our palates. The Tuscan bread has no salt. It is typically served with some more flavored foods. The New York Times just had an article on Tasty Tuscan Bread. Unfortunately, many of the BBA challenge members who have gone before me have not enjoyed the bread. None of them called it tasty. Oggi really tried a variety of toppings but she isn't heading out to buy any Tuscan bread any time soon. Sally made a beautiful loaf that I don't think that she will be making again. Phyl had a pretty similar conclusion.

So the New York Times likes it. Personally, I'll eat anything that you want to feed me in Tuscany. The recipe that they provide is not similar to Reinhart's. Peter's recipe starts with the formation of a flour paste, boiling water is dumped on flour which is allowed to sit out overnight. The next day, flour yeast, olive oil, the paste and enough water to form a soft supple ball are combined. The NYTimes recipe uses a sponge, no olive oil. But we are talking flour, water and yeast here. After the bread has doubled, I formed it into a boule. I had cut the recipe in half after I had read the reviews and was trying to figure how to enjoy the finished product.

The article suggests making the dried bread into a salad with tomatoes, onions and basil, panzenella. Sounded like a possible future if we didn't like the bread. But first I thought the I would make some Bagna Caoda/Cauda. It is a warm dip, from the Piedmont area of Italy. It is made by combinining olive oil, butter, garlic and anchioves. We normally dip raw vegetables in it. It is one of the saltier flavors that I know of. Slathered on the bread, it was quite tasty. The bread by itself is unusual. Not my favorite flavor, but my main stake holder finds it quite tasty. Apparently as long as there is no fruit in the bread, he will eat it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Limpa, Swedish Rye BBA # 37

Dear BBA friends, I have a confession, I have killed the bread. I don't know how. Things were going so well. I had some organic oranges and made dried orange peels some time ago. Last night, I crushed them in my mortar and pestle and made the intriguing sponge with the water, molasses and dried orange peel, aniseed, fennel seed and cardamon. I let it cool and added it to some very happy barm and white rye flour. I had a bubbly perky sponge.

This morning, I measured out some bread flour, the yeast (I do remember doing this) the salt, brown sugar and vegetable oil. And then, because I was out of my high gluten flour, I added some vital wheat gluten. Some where I have done something wrong. It didn't windowpane. Do you knead longer? Or avoid the death by gumminess. I avoid gumminess.

It may be the weather. It is wet and cold here. But have moved the loafs into the slightly warmed oven to rise. They are not rising.

It may that they sense my attitude. I am in a bad mood. I have an ill child and I cannot figure out what is wrong with her. I have been a school nurse for a long time. Generally, I have a clue. I am off today, to bake the bread that will not rise but smelled so good and go to the doctor. The stupid bread.

People have had great success. Oggi gave it all fives, and hers look so beautiful. Gaaarp thought it was amazing. Sally's looks delightful. She said that hers didn't rise much, but mine is in two loaf pans, a little effort on its part would be appreciated at this point.

I don't like rye flour. It is pasty. Not pleasant. Perhaps it senses it. It feels kind of alive...

Have I mentioned that my bread is not rising. How long do you think is too long a rise?

Scout doesn't understand it all. At the end of a long day, she is just looking for a place to rest her head.

Two hours later, there was some signs of life and in the oven, spring, just like Oggi had predicted. But no where near what I expected. Still they are delicious.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Best Crabcakes

My favorite fish cookbook is no longer in print. The Seafood Cookbook by Pierre Franey & Bryan Miller is one of the first cookbooks that my husband gave to me. We were living in Philadelphia at the time. I could walk to the Reading Terminal Market or the Italian Market and buy seafood that was so fresh it practically winked at you.

We cooked a lot of recipes in this cookbook. Everyone who ever ate the crab cakes raved about them.

This week at the grocery store lump crab meat was on sale. It wasn't from Maryland, which has some of the sweetest crab meat ever tasted, but it would do.

All-American Crab Cakes

1 lb crab meat, shell and cartilage removed
2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs
2 large eggs well beaten
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1 t old Bay Seasoning
salt and pepper
4 T oil

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs with eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, parsley scallions, and old bay. Season with salt and pepper, blend well and fold in the crab meat. Form into 12 patties and coat each portion with bread crumbs.

Heat 2 T of oil in a nonstick pan. Saute the patties 4 or 5 at a time, 2 mins a side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.