Friday, May 06, 2016

Note To Self: Bake This For Mother's Day

I'll be going to a friend's house for Mother's Day, and it's my habit to take along something for desert. I'm thinking this Sourdough Chocolate Cake might be the ticket.

I'm just wondering if I have it in me to follow the recipe AS WRITTEN, though. This is a clear sign of my mother's influence, as she always views recipes as merely "suggestions," just like boxed cake mixes are a "suggested use," though she always uses boxed mixes for half-homemade things. They are great time savers.  

And now I am having a brilliant idea of morphing a boxed cake mix into a sourdough permutation. 

Do I have the willpower to just follow this recipe? The photos look so enticing! 

Maybe I'll allow myself ONE tweak? Perhaps two? Mocha frosting, and I'll use yogurt as I have that on hand (and need to use it up) instead of the sour cream.

I just wish there were a way to totally HACK the frosting. I bristle at the idea of all that confectioner's sugar. Isn't there a way to bulk up a frosting and use Splenda to sweeten? (Also that frosting needs a pinch of salt, IMHO.)

Stay tuned, for Saturday evening we make cake!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Rhapsody in Rye: The Post Before THE Post

As I alluded to in a previous blog post, this is the recipe I want to make my next attempt at rye bread.

Full Disclosure:

I already made it (with a few tweaks, to be itemized later on); however, I tried to get fancy at a mid point in the baking.

I bake my rye in a bowl, specifically, the top of a double-boiler, so I get a boule kind of effect, as I am lazy and cheap and neither want to spend money to get a proofing basket or a couche. 

So my failure came in the form of dislodging the loaf at the halfway point (much like I did with my baguettes); however, I did not take into consideration that the boule was considerably more dense, thus the surface tension of the crust didn't have the structural integrity to sustain being dislodged and inverted (the intent was to place the boule directly on the rack in the oven, so all the surface of the crust got nice and... well... CRUSTY). 

As you might imagine, it started to implode, and I quickly tried to salvage the loaf, tried to place it back in the bowl and bake it off.

Note to self: Next time, just bake the fucker off in the pan. End. Of. Story.

Taste-wise the bread was CRAZY GOOD. Nice, assertive flavor, not too top heavy with tang, and everything else about it was great--except for the appearance, and I'll take the blame for that (ipso facto, NO PHOTO TAKEN).

Now, the itemization of my tweaks:
  • Einkorn flour, not a "generic" type of APF.
  • Buckwheat honey, one ounce
  • What flour to be used for dusting and kneading was buckwheat flour (I used approximately 4T) 
  • 2T hemp seeds
Bulk proofing, I lost track of time, to be honest. And I did not pop it into the fridge, either. So, let's say, 24 hours, with 12 hours bulk proof, and 12 hours of it in the pan it was going to bake in. 

So, I'm two days away from my next "Saturday loaf," and I've got my game plan in place.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Not Soured on Sourdough Yet: Introducing My Kombucha Sourdough Hybrid

I'm a n00b about baking and bread and sourdough; but I knew I was onto something when I decided to splash some kombucha into my starter a few months back!

This morning I fed my starter, as I wanted to build up just a bit more of it before I use it in some recipes (my norm is to measure out my "discard" and use THAT for the levain for whatever recipe I'm about to use--THEN feed the starter and put the scoby back on top), namely YET ANOTHER attempt at rye bread, as well as a possible batch of naan dough and tortilla dough. I just have to give some thought about what food I plan to make this week. Naan dough does nicely as pizza dough, so I find it to be a great multi-tasker of the bread world. :)

Anyway, for those curious about the sequencing of my feed, for a friend, I created a Vine for her so she could see how simple it is.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Because I'm Fancy

These have been procured. No particular recipes in mind, yet. Though, I thought both could potentially be great for naans and pizza dough.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Recommended Viewing: "Cooked"

I'm usually so behind the curve with things, so I noticed this was mentioned in a sourdough group I am in on FB, and thought I'd share for the few folks that visit my blog here.

Apparently Netflix has a documentary called "Cooked." I loved all the episodes, but in particular, I liked the 4th episode a lot, regarding "Air," which is devoted to bread making. I found it fascinating, and now of course, I want to see if Netflix has any other content to stream devoted to bread making.

Not Sour on Sourdough: Brooklyn Sourdough

I've tried several recipes from Sarah Owens' book, and have been quite happy with everything; the only minor exception is the Brooklyn Sourdough, so far. I made a batch yesterday and while I was happy enough with the result, the Maharajah was not. I guess he expected a more pronounced sour aspect to it? I don't know. But the bread proofed up like a trouper! Nice oven spring, too.  I have grown to love the book, and am considering working my way through the entire book one recipe at a time.

That being said, I am thinking ahead to next week's loaf, and am considering something a bit more assertive for the Maharajah. I'm thinking a beer rye sourdough. Of course, this necessitates another trip to get rye flour as I've got whole wheat, spelt, einkorn, bread flour and Antimo "00" at home, but no rye. I even have buckwheat and barley, but no rye. Plenty of time for that errand though. And this is the recipe I am considering using for this week's sourdough rye experiment. 

Not Sour on Sourdough: The Baguette Post

As I alluded to in my previous post, I decided to branch out and make baguettes. I found this recipe online, and figured I'd give it a go. 

Then one day last week, I went to Williams-Sonoma for a baguette pan (I went to Sur La Table a few days prior for a lame). Online the pan retails at a little more than $23.  When I arrived at the store, the tag said $19.99; and at the register it rung up at $15.99. Such a bargain, right?

I rushed home, washed the pan, and given its claims of being non-stick, I didn't spritz it with Pam. I put the loaves in the pan, and popped in the oven and baked according to the directions in the above-mentioned recipe. 

Let's just say it was a total failure. There wasn't enough of a crusty exterior, and I cannot comment upon the crumb/interior, because the baguettes failed to dislodge from the pan. AT ALL.  I tweeted about it, and Williams-Sonoma was great to reply and emailed me and suggested I return the pan to the store. I thought given it was a sale item and of course there's the issue that the bread was stuck to the pan! Nope, return it to the store. The next day I did, and the return/exchange went smoothly.

Lesson learned! But this is why I have trust issues! Rarely is anything as they purport themselves to be.

And rather than try the above-mentioned baguette recipe again, I decided to try something else entirely and went back to that book by Sarah Owens. This time I mixed up a batch of the Fougasse, and rather than use it as a fougasse, I used it as baguettes. I filled the dough with dried cranberries, blue cheese and candied pecans. 

I placed the proofed loaves on strips of parchment before putting them in the pan. In the oven I had a roasting pan of water steaming away. I set the timer to go off halfway through the baking cycle, at which point, I removed the water pan, and removed the baguettes from the pan, and placed them directly on the rack back in the oven to finish baking.

What I pulled out of the oven was nothing short of stunning. The exterior was as crunchy as I would have wanted, though I need to improve my scoring skills as my "ears" were not pronounced. And after waiting a sufficient amount of time, I cut a heel off so as to inspect the interior and of course, to taste test the end product. 
The intended meal for these will be sandwiches containing grilled lemon chicken, greens, sliced pear, and of course, fresh made aioli--the latter of which will be made up a la minute when I get home tonight.

Not Sour On Sourdough: Happy Loaves

Wanting to branch out from the sourdough oat bread recipe I had been using for a while, I went to Kitchen Arts & Letters in March (following yet another thyroid sono--no biopsy! Yay! No change in the nodules!), to treat myself. At first I was thinking of getting the sourdough book put out by Tartine Bakery, and then I settled upon this one. 

I felt a bit rushed while in the store, as I was rushing from one appointment to yet another, and talked myself out of the Tartine book in favor of the one above. Only did I realize once I got home, that the book might be more suited for someone more experienced with sourdough (and using a varieties of flours), as well as someone a bit more "hipster" than I am. I thumbed through all the recipes, and the first ones I made were:
Coconut Tahini Bars
(My god, you just want to nose-dive right into that, don't you?)
Nigella Naan
Pizza Dough
(sorry, no photo:))

All three of those recipes turned out very well, so I progressed to an actual LOAF of bread, settling on the Spelt Oat Levain (the results are pictured below):
I wish I snapped a photo of the crumb/interior, as it was truly fluffy and lovely. The recipe makes two loaves, so I kept the one on the left (as it fits the container for the fridge) and gave the second loaf to my physical therapist, who was appreciative.

Then there's a baguette saga, which warrants its own post! 

Monday, March 07, 2016

Picture Perfect Lunch: Salad Days Are Here Again

Last week, I had packed a lunch that just did not hit me right anymore. My standard go-to salad is arugala, red onion, cuke, avocado, blue cheese, bacon bits and diced chicken--so I guess it's a modified cobb (no hard boiled egg, and arugala instead of iceberg). I took two bites and was full of regret. Perhaps it was the fact I've hit my limit on straight balsamic as a dressing, perhaps everything else was OFF because, HEY it is March, nothing is local and in season here in this hemisphere. Perhaps. I ended up tossing that lunch out and thought I need to really revamp my salads. 

Today (and tomorrow's) salad is what  I'm referring to it as a Sashimi Salad Bowl; however, I'm waiting for a ruling on this whether this actually is a bibimbap, minus the rice.

While, no, I did not COOK this, I did manage to assemble the hell out of it:)

Salmon, tuna, and I believe fluke, mixed in with store bought seaweed salad, store bought daikon kimchi, diced jicama, cuke, and avocado. Festooned with daikon sprouts, sweetfish roe, and those crunchy bits usually garnish for okonomiyaki. Rice wine vinegar, salt and sushi ginger minced. 

I was actually nervous this morning packing the lunch, as the kimchi is quite potent, so I kept the bin in the fridge at work until I was ready to eat it--rather than having it in my insulated tote. I didn't want to run the risk of the kimchi over-taking everything with its farty top note.

Delicious. Glad I went to the effort to pack it. 

Wednesday I will have a different salad on display. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Rhapsody in Rye: Photo Array of Failure, Trial & Error

As I neglected to share the photos of the SECOND failed sourdough rye experiment before shifting my focus to a sourdough oat, I figure I might as well do a photographic timeline of sorts from the second failed loaf, to the oat, and finally to my first ever babka.

Here are before/after photos of the second batch of sourdough rye, the recipe of which I linked to a few posts back. In hindsight I didn't get a sufficient rise--likewise with the first batch of the sourdough oat. Anyway. Before and after photos:

The first loaf of failure, using this recipe:
The second loaf full of fail: 
See that crack? I was hoping to see some happy bubbles in the crumb.
So not only did the dough not achieve a sufficient rise after 
18 hours at room temp, I also managed to remove
it from the oven, prematurely (which was really
disappointing, as the aroma was amazing--I put
Montreal Steak Seasoning on top for an 
"Everything Bagel" kind of effect).
Sadly, I did not photograph the process of the first loaf of the Sourdough Oat. 

This next loaf of dough is the second attempt at the sourdough oat using this recipe. Yesterday I was home, and I got it in my head to try to make another loaf, and this time, I was destined for success.

As I was tooling about my kitchen cooking and cleaning, while my eggs were doing their 2 minute low pressure cook, I got this brilliant idea to use my Nesco as a proofing box. 

The moment I retrieved my eggs, I kept the trivet in there, and placed my loaf pan on the trivet, replaced the cover and hoped for the best. After roughly three hours, this is what the result was:

 Sweet, poofy proofing! SUCCESS!!

I baked it according to the recipe. Turned off the heat and let it sit in the oven
an additional five minutes just to be sure the interior was done. 
I removed it from the oven, and bolted out the door to an appointment.
(I think next week's loaf, I'll spritz the oven with water to get some nice steam.)
The big reveal! Look at that interior!
(Note: See the bite mark? I couldn't wait!)
Since I failed to photograph the first loaf (full of failure),
I figure the next best thing is a side by side comparison 
of the cross section.
Loaf on left, full of success, poof and a bit of flax meal;
Loaf on right, full of failure, sunflower seeds and chia.

I figured it would slice best while fresh, so I sliced it up,
keeping the heels for myself (the best part!), and putting
it in the fridge for the husband's breakfasts this week.

Now about that babka...
I mixed up the dough on Sunday, and let it rest overnight as
this recipe indicates.

Being this was my first ever babka I've made on my own,
I think it's a goodish result.
I think next time, more butter, perhaps streusel topping,
I'll let it proof a bit before baking, and I've been watching all
manner of videos on youtube regarding decorative twisting.
The one on the left I like the flavor best, as it's full of Speculoos
Cookie Butter from Trader Joes; the one on the right is chocolate coconut.