Friday, October 21, 2016

It's Been a While Since My Last Loaf

It's been a while since I've baked a loaf. Considering that my stoneware baker is so long, the loaf that it produces is quite big, and I managed to slice it and freeze half. So pretty much it's big enough for nearly 3 weeks worth of bread.

Last night I fed my starter/mother with some APF, so that'll make her nice and happy and active. Tonight I'll mix up a batch of the oatmeal bread I've used in previous attempts (some of which I've blogged about), and instead, this time, of the three cups of flour, I've used only two cups of KAF Bread Flour and one cup of teff (to add some interest/taste).

I'm going to mix up the batch, and do stretch and folds every 30 minutes for about two hours, and then dump it into my prepared banneton, and shove it in the fridge overnight. Then tomorrow a.m., before I head off to physical therapy, I'll take it out of the fridge, and put it on a heating pad to proof up. Granted this post was for "room temp," to be honest, my room temp isn't all that conducive to bread proofing. My kitchen always it more than a bit cool (unless we're in the dead of July and August, and even then it's still a dodgey affair). So I'll put the heating pad on low, and hope for the best.

I'm hoping the banneton helps me get the crust I want to achieve. 

I'll put some other add-ins into it like maybe a bit of hemp hearts, and meusli and dried cran for interest. 

I'm really hoping the crumb and crust cooperate.

Time will only tell.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Plenty Going On

Sometimes to go without blogging can be an indication of either too much going on or too little. For some people, it's a matter of perspective, I guess.

I'm forever tinkering, trying to come up with the best pizza dough, as well as fine tuning the perfect amount of time FOR ME to bake my pizza. I think I recently landed upon a pretty goodish recipe, my issue of course comes down to rack position for the pizza stone, as well as temp and time to bake it.

The 2nd permutation of my personal pizza dough is as follows:

Yet Another Sourdough Pizza Dough To Try (2nd permutation--still working on this!)
Makes 1 pie


40 gm Warm Water
40 gm  Olive Oil
220 gm Active, fed starter
2 gm Sugar
3 gm Yeast
150 gm APF
8 gm Salt

Semolina flour for dusting


1.    Mix wet stuff first, then gradually incorporate dry, with salt being the last item. Mix until it comes together, shaggy, but together. Set aside for 24 hours.
2.    Place rack (with stone) on 2nd tier from top.
3.    Pre-heat oven to 550. (My oven goes up to 525--beggars can't be choosers!
4.    After 24 hours, do a few stretch and folds, then separate into two floured bowls (covered) for 45 minutes as oven pre-heats.
5.    Form into disk and start “pizza-man” stretch over hands, letting gravity do its thing, stretching out the dough.
6.    Place on parchment and get it as roundish as possible. Prep pie.
7.    Bake 12-15 minutes.
8.    BOOM! PIZZA!

As my continued interest in sourdough bread baking ensues, so too, does my interest in ingredients and tools to help improve the quality of my output. My most recent acquisition is this:
Pictured above is the Sassafrass brand Super Stone Covered Bread Baker. I have not used it yet; however, I am contemplating what my maiden loaf will be. Perhaps a sourdough challah (which I have been day dreaming about using apple cider for the water), or perhaps another recipe from Sarah Owens' book, perhaps the loaf that requires beet puree? Either one will be lovely, no doubt. The Maharajah's bread box is down to his last three slices, so I need to pull my starter out of the fridge tonight, give it a feeding tomorrow, and start planning! Two more days, two more slices, and Rosh Hashana is nearly here--and while we aren't Jewish, it would be lovely to bake a challah (albeit not a ROUND ONE) for the Jewish New Year.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Given my love of sourdough as of late, this screen cap from AV Club  really spoke to me.
H/T to my friend "Gerg" who shared this w/me!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Rhapsody in Rye: Unintentional Detour, Part Deux

I'm realizing I never posted an interior shot of my loaf of Sourdough Rye Beer Bread. I've made this loaf thrice, and I'm always thinking of ways to improve it.

If you're playing along at home, this will be the second permutation of my version of Sourdough Rye Beer Bread. I used the recipe in the post I linked to above as my jumping off point, and I tweaked it, and the recipe I have presented below is the second tweak.

What I have fleshed out here is going to be my second permutation of this recipe. I tinkered with the ratios, by doubling the sourdough starter (and thereby lowered the volume of beer and bread flour, each by approximately 56 gm), and I'm hoping for the best.

Maven’s Sourdough Beer Rye (2nd Permutation)
Makes one large loaf, approx.. 2 pounds (It's not rocket science--give or take, 2 lbs)

224 gm       Sourdough starter, unfed
280 gm       Beer of your choosing, room temperature
28 gm         Honey (Buckwheat honey, tho; tho molasses plays nice with others)
196 gm       King Arthur Bread flour  (plus extra as needed during kneading)
140 gm       Rye flour (light or pumpernickel)
84 gm         Buckwheat flour
15 gm         Sea salt  (I use Himalayan pink, because it’s what I have on hand)

1.    Approximately 12 noon the day before you want to bake: Set Up Levain:
Mix the first four ingredients up together, and set aside until you can see plenty of bubbles and activity. (3-6 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is)

2.    Mix In Remaining Flours:
Add remaining flours (I do this all by hand). Cover the bowl tightly and let autolyze/rest autolyze/rest 30 minutes.

3.    Add Salt.

4.    Knead:
Knead dough in bowl for approximately 5 minutes, adding more bread flour 1 tablespoon at a time within the first 5 minutes until the dough comes isn’t so sticky (point of reference: Not more than 4 T of flour—tho YMMV).

The dough should be somewhat smoother, but still tacky to the touch. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately another five minutes few minutes by hand, adding as little flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands and the counter. It should still be a bit sticky, but should feel smooth and clay-like.

5.    Warm/Room Temp Bulk Proofing:
When you’re done kneading, place the dough in a large, lightly oiled ceramic bowl or a large plastic container at least twice the size of the dough. Ignore it overnight--ignore it like a lover who forgot your birthday.

Note 1:  I use a Silpat mat to help with clean up.
Note 2:  If you have disposable, nitrile gloves, use them  (if you’re like me and can’t handle the sticky dough sticking to the hands).
Note 3: The warmer the spot you place your bowl of dough, the faster it will rise. (DOH!)
6.    Next Morning:  Stretch & Fold Cold Proofing:
In the morning, stretch and fold the dough about 3 times, and put in a loaf pan (sprayed with a bit of PAM) or a floured proofing basket, cover with a cloth or Saran Wrap and put in fridge. Ignore it all day in the fridge--give that fucker the cold shoulder like a lover you know is sexting someone else. IGNORE IT. ALL DAY.

7.    Prepare the oven and bake the bread:
2-3 hours before you want to bake the bread, remove from the refrigerator.  When ready to bake, put baking stone in oven (middle rack) and crank oven to 450º, and at bottom of oven or very bottom-most rack put a shitty old roasting pan to heat up.
Note: If using a proofing basket, gently turn it out onto a wooden peel dusted with flour or cornmeal.
8.    Lame/Slash The Top:
Holding a lame or sharp knife at a 45º angle to the loaf, draw the blade, about 1
deep, across the top of the loaf, beginning and ending 2 from the bottoms of the boule. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes.  Make fancy assed designed slashes, if that's your bag:)

9.    Ready The Implements For Steam:
(A)  Fill a 1 cup measure with ice cubes.
Have spray bottle of water at hand.

10.Baking The Loaf:
Quickly slip the boule off the peel and onto the stone, and toss the cubes into the hot pan on the floor of the oven. This will steam the outside of the loaf, allowing it to expand as it bakes.  Give the loaf and the walls of the oven a few (2-3) spritzes of water right before closing, so to increase steam.

11. Baking Time:
For 20 minutes: Bake the loaf without opening the oven, then reduce oven temp to 375
For 35 minutes: Bake the loaf at 375
º, then turn oven off.
For 5 minutes: Leave loaf in hot oven (without opening door).
Remove from oven, and let cool in loaf pan 5 minutes.

Note: If you’re the scientific sort, an instant read thermometer inserted into the middle should read around 200º, the temperature at which the starches in the dough are set. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Birthday Cake For Maharajah

Somehow I've been remiss in sharing all the deets for the cake I baked for the Maharajah a few weeks back...

Somehow we managed not to indulge in a Sacher torte while in Vienna. And by "somehow," I mean, thanks to too much walking and being agitated and the line was very long at Cafe Sacher, I didn't feel like standing (in pain) to wait to sample this cake, at the very place where it was created/conceptualized.

And somehow when we traipsed over to Cafe Demel, we STILL managed not to indulge. So it seemed only fitting that when it was the Maharajah's birthday, THIS WAS the cake I would make.  

I checked out all possible recipes online, and Wolfgang Puck's Sachertorte recipe seemed the most straightforward, so that is the recipe I used. With one minor tweak: I used five whole eggs. I can't bring myself to waste that spare yolk! Oh, and I decided rather than have Maharajah and I fight over the very last of the tasty chocolate I brought back from Budapest, I'd melt it up (as well as a bunch of other chocolate which has been languishing--hilarious, no?) for the ganache.

I decided rather than bake it in a round pan and possibly fuck up cutting the cake into two layers, I'd bake it on a half a sheet pan, to make a loaf shaped cake, with four cake layers.

I lined the pan with parchment (as I do have trust issues with cakes NOT releasing!), and this is what I discovered upon inverting it after cooling: apparently I did not incorporate everything sufficiently. Oh well, it'll get obscured by the layers and the ganache, so whatever...

I employed a trick I saw online to cut the cake and then snip the parchment with scissors, to make transitioning the layers. BRILLIANT IDEA!
I then took the apricot preserves and jacked them up with a bit of the Mount Gay Rum I brought back from Barbados in January, and the layers very quickly assembled!  Photo NOT shared: OCD Baking = Measuring the cake with a T-square to make sure each layer is the same size--despite the perspective of this photo, all four slices are identically sized.

I have heard that many people complain about sachertorte being dry. Perhaps whomever baked the cake was a bit skimpy with the jam/rum? Perhaps? This sucker was moist!

I then transitioned the tray to the freezer to set up for about 1-2 hours before I totally enrobed the whole shebang in bittersweet ganache, and half assed decorating it with white chocolate ganache and non-pareils. Okay, the decorating is a bit on the humble side, and looks a bit bukkake-ish, but whatever bitches, it was tasty. Very tasty.
 "The Money Shot"

Stay tuned as in a couple weeks I'll be posting my own birthday cake--something different, but a white Sacher (and that will pretty much be the only thing in common with this cake, the filling/s, etc, will all be entirely different), but the sponge will be a white chocolate sacher.

Onto Happier Things To Report: My Crepes This Sunday

Sunday I made the most glorious sourdough crepes. I had a hankerin' for them, so I whipped up the batter, then ate dinner.

Did I say glorious?  
Assembled with Speculoos Cookie Butter (Thank you, Trader Joes!), chocolate chips, and sliced bananas. This was what I ate for dinner on Sunday evening. And I loved every damned bite.

Anti-Social Media

Subtitled: This is why I'm not a joiner.
Subtitled: Get over yourself.
Subtitled: Reading is fundamental.
Subtitled: It's not that deep--It's just fucking bread.

Elsewhere on the internet, this took place today. And I'm irritated to report that it actually got my blood pressure a-pumpin'! Ridiculously so.

So within one of the other comments (see Evelyn Lee replied 3 replies), she shares the link to her recipe, of which, here is a nice crop of the ingredients, which is what prompted my question.
Perhaps it was an issue of semantics, of word use, and I just needed a clarification, however, WHOAH-WHAT-THE-FUCK? I was unprepared for someone to respond to a direct question, asked out of curiosity, to be just so utterly negative.  Fortunately, I was not the only one who read the reply, as anything but what it was:
Perhaps it was an issue of me jumping right to the question at hand rather than softening her up with the ego stroke, and complimenting her on her lovely baked goods. And they ARE truly stunning (look at the photos of the crumb of that bread! That's definitely not a crumb I am familiar with as sourdough), which is of course, what prompted me to check out her recipe, which is what prompted the question.  

Perhaps it was a language barrier thing, given the author in the OP appears to be from/in Malaysia.

So, my take-away here is, no matter how direct, or seemingly innocuous my questions or contributions ARE (intended) within groups (or even amongst people I know IRL), there is absolutely no accounting or predicting how the receiver will CHOOSE to process my questions or contributions. None. And while I view her reply as speaking more about HER as a person, I cannot help but feel as if I were attacked (albeit, verbally) by a stranger. 

In the meantime, I've blocked the person, so I won't have to be subjected to what she thinks is polite communication. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Procurement: Pizza Stone

I should be embarrassed, I guess, that in all the times I've made pizza (at least since I've started in on sourdough bread making), all those pizzas were made on a Silpat lined cookie sheet, as I broke my pizza stone years ago, and never got around to replacing it.

This weekend, I remedied that laziness.

And unlike the stone I used 15 years ago, I actually managed to read the instructions on this one. And initially, I'm going to continue to roll my slack sourdough pizza dough onto the silpat and do the cookie sheet routine for 2/3 of the cooking time, and will then transfer it to the stone to crisp up the crust--as I have trust issues with my sourdough's stickiness (see also: the baguette pan disaster).

I bought this at BB&B and not on Amazon; though checking out the reviews there, they are a mixed bag. I am hoping that the issue with the cracking was a result of a wet stone. I washed my stone Saturday, and I have it in my oven hanging out (not on, obviously) waiting until possibly Weds or Thurs for pizza night. Here's hoping it doesn't crack. 

So, I read the instructions and washed it (no soap), and will be making a pizza this week, and hope for the best!

This is the second pizza I've made on the stone. And I cheated, I rolled out the dough onto parchment paper and baked the pizza on the parchment ON THE STONE, and then scooted it off to finish off and crisp up on the stone directly.

This is a middle-eastern inspired pie, wherein I used turluh and a very small amount of harissa in place of tomato sauce, and I bought some kibbe which I sliced up and baked on the pie with a flurry of mozz on my half, and a tiny sprinkling of parm on his half. I was informed out of all the pizzas I've made thus far, this one was THE BEST. 
TBH, I like my crust firm and crunchy, not soft enough to fold, and I like my cheese to be well done (almost toasty).  

Sourdough: Are You Teff Eneff?

In my head, when I say "Teff Eneff..." I'm thinking of this song:

Anyway, I started branching out to using teff flour, just to keep things interesting for me; and I found a Teff Poolish Sourdough Recipe I have been tweaking the hell out of, making it a sourdough recipe, with a tiny yeast boost in the second hydration stage.

This is what my boochy sourdough starter looked like within a half hour after setting up the levain. This sat and fermented 12 hours before advancing to the next stage.

Again, I made too much bread and decided to do one loaf (the "weekly" loaf) and a couple baguettes for other purposes. The next permutation of this recipe will be halved, as this is too much bread, and again, I have no room in my freezer to put any excess.
 I'm trying to get better about my scoring on the tops...

 Now the "Money Shot," what the interior looks like! Glorious!  I think next time I will put less dough in the loaf pan, and let it rise a bit longer to see if it improves the interior.

Chicken & Waffles: An Asian Permutation

This was our dinner last night (and possibly tonight, too): Fried chicken (brined w/Thai aromatics), green papaya salad, and instead of scallion pancake, I made scallion waffles.  (And instead of maple syrup, I did a drizzle of sweet chili dipping sauce.)

I hope that the chicken will crisp back up in the toaster oven tonight. It truly was a thing of beauty.

I was so fortunate to see that Viet World Kitchen had linked to this recipe for Ruhlman’s Twenty Leads to Kaffir Lime Fried Chicken Recipe, which I used as my guide, and my only variations on the aromatics was to use garlic scape paste, gojuchang, lime juice, galangal and lemongrass. Truly, the brine was essentially the broth for tom yum goong, minus the shrimp and mushrooms.  

I pressure cooked the aromatics in a bit of chicken broth, cooled it completely and put my chicken in that, and let it sit for two whole days, before draining, drying off, and leaving in fridge uncovered most of the day to air chill/dry off a bit more before frying.

My green papaya salad was a MacGuyvered affair, using some of the garlic scape/cilantro pesto I made, using up some left over fresh made pico de gallo, nam pla, mung sprouts, cuke, shred carrot, green papaya shredded up a la minute, canned diced pineapple, lime juice, and peanuts. 

The scallion waffles were made with a pancake mix I bought from the Korean market, which I augmented with an egg, some buttermilk, and scallions. 

And of course, I made too much of everything! 

Related to the frying, this was the third time using the same batch of oil I have been using this month. And thanks to this tutorial on how to clarify my oil, it has made a HUGE difference in the quality of my deep frying.    
  • The first fry was vegetable oil straight from the bottle. I fried up some haloumi, then clarified;
  • The second fry was deep frying chiccarones, so it's not 100% vegetable oil at that point. I clarified that, no problem, it left the oil/fat crystal clear (though, in the fridge there was an obvious indication where the fat/lard layer was vs the oil, and the lard layer was not solid, but obviously a different weight/viscosity than the vegetable oil); 
  • The third fry is the fried chicken from last night. I set up the gelatin routine for the clarification, and I wonder how well this will work, given there was so much carbonized flour in the oil. Only time will tell!