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Six Word Saturday: November 28, 2009

Are we all tired of bread??? :-o

HEAD TO HEAD: Battle Margarine, Round 2

cookies 002Still hate margarine.  And I’m still playing around with Earth Balance margarine substitute.

This round, the cookies actually came out quite a bit better than last time.  Read all about it on my real blog, here.

(I’m keeping it over there because I want to keep this blog mostly for breads and cakes; every other kind of food product – soups, stews, couscous, cookies, tiramisu – can find a place over there somewhere.)

However.  Because Earth Balance is much healthier, it may end up being my bread-baking “solid fat of choice”… I haven’t tested it in a bread recipe yet, so that could be an interesting future battle when I’m done messing around with chocolate-chip cookies.

A less-successful Beer Bread

beerbread 004I had YM make this Beer Bread not just out of laziness, but also to show him how super-easy it is to make quick bread. 

(those are not his but Elisheva’s fingers around the beer can in the recipe – but this is indeed the beer we used tonight)

I have made this several times before, but this time, I forgot that several reviewers warned NOT to let this bake the entire one hour stated in the recipe.

Sure enough… I realized it just as I opened up the oven; overdone.  Ugh.

Also, it turned out when we bit into the overbrown bread – he forgot to put in the salt.  And was… well, how do I say it?  A little overgenerous with the baking soda.

So the bread was fizzy and sour and generally not as pleasant as the last time I made this recipe.  It’s a reliable recipe, but the moral here is that you can’t count on a 15-year-old boy to include ALL four ingredients!!!

Hey… I just looked at the recipe again and realized it calls for baking powder.  He definitely put in baking soda.  Sigh.  Moral #2:  Can’t count on a gifted 15-year-old to read the labels on the above-mentioned four ingredients.

However:  two lessons learned, even from an unsuccessful bread!

One – overbaking definitely brought out a nice maltiness from the beer in the bread.  Might be worth doing on purpose sometimes…

Two – in order to make this pareve, for a meat meal, I used canola oil instead of the butter on top of this bread.  I also cut down the quantity; I drizzled it on, probably less than 1/4 cup.  The texture was quite lovely and crispy:  very nice, even in pareve form!  Of course, the buttery flavour is nice when you do use butter, but if you want to leave it out, canola oil is more than acceptable.

So there!  I am so full from eating this yummy bread, even with its booboos… for once, I don’t want to think about making, baking or eating bread right about now!

Yermy Bergels… I mean Bagels!

Sorry, couldn’t talk, my mouth was full of yermy bergel.

My sister the baker gave me a biiiig bag of “professional” malt powder, and so the first thing that came to mind was:  bagels!  I have made them before several times, and actually quite like the soft pretzel recipe I used last time (I have made it as pretzels as well).  VERY easy.

But I wanted to try a “real” bagel recipe and, having already returned Bread:  A Bakers Book to the library, I had to rip one off from the Internet.  In this case, the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread (BBA), by Peter Reinhart, which can be found, slightly modified, at this site.

Here I am, ripping off  the recipe from the Internet!

bagels 001 

What I didn’t take pictures of:  sponge, main dough, kneading, ball phase, weighing (yay, my mother gave me a scale that works great and confirmed the fact that my portioning-by-feel is actually pretty accurate).

So here we are all the way at the rising-on-the-pan phase.  I think this was after they came out of the fridge.  I didn’t fridge-retard them overnight like the recipe says; I only did it about three hours – from about 10 a.m. ‘till maybe 1 p.m.

(I’m leery of recipes that tell you to do things “overnight!”  Think about it.  On a busy winter Thursday night when we do a lot of Shabbos prep and laundry, “overnight” for me can sometimes be as little as four hours; is that long enough?  I would much rather be told “six hours” or “ten hours” and then let me figure out when to fit the rise into my own schedule…I’m a grownup, I think I can handle it.)

Anyway, skip a bunch of steps and here they are, ready for boiling, in malty, soda-y water. 

bagels 002

The recipe isn’t too specific about how long to boil them for, so I just did about a minute and a half, flipping a couple of times along the way.

And then dipping in poppy seeds:  I used an entire package!  And even then, it wasn’t quite enough to cover every single one.

So, nu?  The bagels?  Judge for yourself:

 bagels 004 

Mmmmmm… oh; what, you can’t taste them?  Then you will have to trust me, and the members of my family who consider themselves bagel connoisseurs, that these are indeed some migh-T-fine bagels.

I was REALLY worried because from a couple of sites it sounded like the BBA bagels might be too much on the fluffy side.  They were not.  There was a perfect chewiness to the crust; just right.  The inside had some fluff to it but not nearly as much as the abominations that Toronto bakers and bakeries (even the Jewish ones) choose to pass off as a bagel.

I would like to say starting with a sponge gave these bagels more depth of flavour than the quickie-fakie bagels made with the Recipezaar pretzel recipe.  But to do so would be unwarrantedly pretentious.  They were yummy, but I couldn’t necessarily detect more flavour than the pretzels, which, incidentally, are sweetened with brown sugar, which gives a reasonably interesting note to their chewy sweetness.

Anyway, here’s the inside of the bagels:

bagels 012

It would be interesting to see how these age over the next couple fo days, but as with any fresh-baked product in this household, that particular experiment will have to wait a few years until the bread-starved kiddies are up and out.  With supper over, there are maybe four or five left.  By tomorrow, they will all be gone.

Every time I get a foodie impulse, like the time I made different soups every night for several weeks, the family starts to take it for granted.  Elisheva has lately started to say things like, “why do we always have to have bread?”

My answer:  “You don’t have to have any.”  But somehow, she always sneaks a piece.  Tonight’s bagels were no exception; she had one before drama class, and begged me to bring another one back for her when I came to pick her up.

This recipe is definitely one to make again… or maybe I’ll try the easy ones next time and see if any of these swine (aka my family) can tell which pearls are which.

Oh, and here’s my penance for ripping off the recipe, which I won’t reproduce here… a legitimate link where you can legitimately buy a genuine copy of the BBA book should you be moved to do so:

PERFECT Hybrid “Some-Knead” Challah!

erevshabbos 004Okay, so I have adapted the basic Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day no-knead sweet dough recipe, and I think I have it just about perfect.

The recipe has been tending to come out too sloppy to braid nicely, so I tried two fixes:

~ Cut the eggs from four to three (I could have cut the water, but the truth is, I don’t love really eggy challah anyway)

~ Fold the dough twice during the “bulk fermentation” (first rise) phase.

I also gave it a longer first rise than usual.  I mixed it up Thursday night (I wouldn’t call it kneading, but it did require some fairly vigourous stirring by hand) and let it sit at room temperature for two hours. 

On Friday morning, I took it out of the fridge early and let it sit for a couple of hours.  Then, I folded it several times, pressing it out very gently each time.  We had to go out for a couple of hours at that point.  When we came home, I folded it again and let it sit for about another hour.

So, in short:  it made a WORLD of difference!

The dough was amazing!  I barely needed flour on the table to roll out the snakes and start braiding.  It rolled out beautifully, just a touch on the “too-sticky” side.

And then, given past experience with no-knead breads that come out with a blob of raw in the middle, I baked it longer than I wanted to. 

I bake my usual challah recipe (which makes a smaller, dryer, loaf), about half an hour at 350°. 

So I was inclined to bake these for 40 minutes, BUT left them at least five minutes beyond when  the timer went off.  Finally, it was almost Shabbos, plus Ted had a pumpkin pie that needed to go in, so I reluctantly hauled out the challahs.  They were AMAZING!

 erevshabbos 005

(Yes, they look dark in the picture… but they were just right in person.  And I was confident enough to decorate them - with poppy seeds in this case - which I don’t do with a recipe I’m not committing to)

And inside?

challah 003

Well, here’s a piece that was left over.  It looks small and squishy, but that’s just because someone ripped off the top and ate it already.

Let’s just say I’m very, VERY pleased with the result of this particular experiment!  What a wonderful way to start another week in bread.

(p.s.  The chocolate-chip cookies in the top picture turned out delicious, as well…!)

Six Word Saturday: November 21, 2009

Only successful breads this week – please!

Roasted-Garlic Potato Bread…

Yes, further to my “Six Word Saturday” resolution, I am making the no-knead roasted-garlic potato bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for supper tonight.  Otherwise a completely lackluster supper, but hey, good bread…!


Post-script.  Or NOT.  :-(

Note to self:  This is a VERY wet dough.

Plopping the whole thing into one big pan is just wrong WRONG wrong. 

Next time, TWO loaf pans or TWO boule shapes, but NOT one pan.  Too big.  Too wet to cook through in under an hour, and more than that would burn the outside.

Yes, it was a soggy, disgusting mess in the middle… disappointing after so much eager anticipation of good bread.  I have just had to create a new blog category called “Disaster” so I will be able to track all these stunning failures over time…

Anyway, in the name of learning from experience, here it is, slashed and going into the oven:

soggy 001

And out again, 45 minutes later!  Looking yummy…soggy 002

Until we cut it open:

soggy 006  

Blah.  Soggy mess.

We did end up eating it, and yes, it was delicious, sweet from the roasted garlic and no question that it was nice and moist (ha ha ha). 

This is one of the few decent pieces we got out of it.

soggy 005

I will definitely make this again, in two pans.  Never again in one.  Like sourdough, I have resolved to conquer No-Knead Roasted-Garlic Potato Bread!!!

Unexpectedly delightful: Injerah

ethiopia1  Today was the Ethiopian Jewish festival of Sigd, so I made an Ethiopian-themed meal in its honour.

So, on a bread-related note, I made the traditional Injera flatbreads to go with the meal.

ears 005

Instead of the half-cup each of corn meal and whole-wheat flour that the recipe calls for, I substituted a full cup of rye flour, which one poster there pointed out is more closely related to the authentic Ethiopian “teff” grain.  The rye didn’t lend a distinctive flavour, but I believe its soft texture and fast fermentation definitely helped make these a success!

These are really just like extra-fluffy, yeasty pancakes – there was a decidedly “beery” aroma of fermentation, even after only a couple of hours, before I fried them up.

(I’d imagine this is a lot like what it’s like to eat pancakes made from straight poured-off sourdough with no add-ins, though those might be more sour… but I suspect the really authentic Ethiopian ones are a bit more sour as well)

After being daunted by other forms of flatbread (poori, naan), I was surprised by how dead simple it was to make these.  Mix, rest, pour, fry.  You only cook one side – the other is meant to have a “bubbly” texture and appearance. 

They really are just fermented pancakes!

ears 006 

(not a great picture… sorry!)

Here’s the whole stack of them – this recipe made too many, even for our family.  Looking at the recipe now, I can see why… 4 cups of flour!  I would probably halve the recipe if I make it again.

ears 007

(visit my real blog to find out else we ate with the Injerah!)

Mmm…now that’s some goooooood Ethiopian eatin’!

Six Word Saturday: November 13, 2009

More potato bread this week, please!

Sourdough in a Day!?! Yes!

Too busy and too tired to post yesterday, but here’s what I made!

From starter-in-fridge to loaf-on-table in… I dunno, maybe eight hours?

Considering I’ve never made a loaf of sourdough that took less than two DAYS, pretty darn good.  And the actual hands-on time was not much at all.

I actually set out to make a super-easy one-step bread, only to discover that we were – eek! – fresh out of yeast!!!  So the only yeasts in the house were the wild ones chilling in the fridge.

I used the “easy sourdough” instructions from Prepared Pantry (though I baked it at a much higher temperature, like 460 instead of 350).

First, the sponge.  This called for one cup of starter, and I didn’t have that much of either of my white (non-rye) starters, so I combined them.  Preparing sponge time:  10 minutes at 9 a.m..

shabbos does 001

Several hours later, mix & knead the dough.  Mixing & kneading time:  10 minutes, around 2:45 p.m.

 shabbos does 003 

An hour and a half later, it had puffed up a bit; not much.

shabbos does 004 

Poked a hole in it, just for fun!

shabbos does 005 

Form loaf, set on top of grits in oiled pan and left to rise, again for about an hour.  Loaf forming time:  2 minutes; lost track of what time I did it!

Left to rise for around another hour until it looked like this:

shabbos does 006 

Slashed a little too vigourously / deeply using the “scissors” method from Bread:  A Bakers’ Book.  Steamed the oven furiously with one pan of hot tap water, one pan of ice cubes.  Popped the loaf in and sprayed every two minutes for the first ten.

shabbos does 007 

45 minutes later at 460 degrees (the temperature recommended for most of the breads in Bread:  A Bakers Book, which seems to work well in my oven) … waah-la! 

Well, okay, it’s contorted and weird.  Looks a lot like Elisheva’s newly-dead guinea pig, actually, so we called it the Memorial Loaf.

shabbos does 009 

But look inside!  Yummy, delightful, holey bread.  Super-crispy on the outside (see the cracks in the crust from when it shrunk as it cooled?), nice and chewy inside.  Oh, and absolutely delicious flavour!  You could taste the sourdough, but it wasn’t too strong at all.  Even a bit of a “rye bread” taste, even though there wasn’t a grain of rye in it.  How odd.

shabbos does 012

Once again, sourdough success!  Yay!

And so, SO fast.  Nobody in my family seemed impressed, but I sure as heck was.  YM reported a “beer” smell and flavour, but not in a bad way.  Nobody else said anything, so I guess it was a success on the family-pleasing count as well.

Shabbos soon… must run!

Six Word Saturday

Decided I should do this here as well.  It's not quite Saturday anymore, but I'll try to do it, at least intermittently, from now on.
And anyway, here's what I was thinking, bread-wise, last night!
Delicious no-knead challah; forgot a snapshot!

Moi, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire

This is a "Friday Favorites" guest piece  about challah baking with my kids that I wrote for the wonderful "A Year in Bread" blog.  Full link here:

Last of the Sourdough

garlic 002

Not much of this left by the time I got to it (rest of the family had first dibs before my aerobics class!), but it was the Vermont Sourdough from B:ABB.

This was the second time I made it.  It was a beautiful loaf, but frankly, not a lot of sourdough taste for the days of effort that went into it.

Or maybe I’m just feeling harsh and jaded and critical and tired tonight.  It was definitely yummy bread.  More about the rest of the supper here.

A (chocolate) bread to blog by

Ahh, life is good!

Blogging here, my kids barely not screaming in the background, and relaxing with a cup of coffee and this pain au chocolat from the Artisan Bread in Five website, spread with plain butter:

lock lock 003

I forgot to put sugar on top of the pain before I baked it – probably because it was 6:45 in the morning.  I had dreams of breakfasting on this bread, which is made with lots of butter, cocoa, chocolate, chocolate chips and more yummy stuff.

I will warn you – though it looks like it (sorry for all the brown against the brown countertop in the photo!) this is a “sophisticated” grown-up chocolate bread; the little kiddies (2 and 4) didn’t like it much for their breakfast.

I actually ran out of eggs; I only had three in the house (three out of four that the recipe calls for) while mixing it (Ted came home a little while later, so I had more eggs to mix up tomorrow’s no-knead challah).  The recipe has a lot of moisture in it, however, and doesn’t seem to have suffered for the lack.

Would I make this again?

I don’t know.  I like this… a bit. 

The recipe is more potchkedik than most of the no-knead recipes, what with melting stuff for the ganache and the many different add-ins. 

I also felt it took way more mixing than a “no-knead” recipe legitimately should.  It was hard to stir, definitely on the stiff side, and I don’t think one more egg would have helped much.  And it needed quite a lot of forceful stirring, as I was trying to avoid having pockets of whiteness. 

(It would probably have saved time to mix the cocoa with the flour ahead of time, thus distributing the colours evenly from the start)

For next time?  While I’m taking out the butter, cocoa, and all the rest, I might just be tempted to make a coffee cake – not quite as sweet as full-on cake, but a couple of notches up from bread.

Then again (nibble, nibble… it really is quite a nice flavour), maybe I will give it another chance, using all the eggs, premixing the dry stuff, and adding a sweeter topping.


I am the only baking-type person who didn't know this, BUT... on the off chance that there is someone out there who doesn't:
When you're finished feeding your sourdough, use COLD WATER ONLY to clean up whatever utensils you've used!
Though you'd think it would be better for cleaning, hot water inevitably turns the mixture of flour and water into wallpaper paste.  And soap just makes the whole thing into a slippery soapy mess.  No amount of soaking in warm or hot water can accomplish what a hard spray of cold water can in seconds.
So there you go.  In case you didn't know!

Aborted criticism

Boy-boy, 15, upon biting into a piece of bread tonight:  "Apart from being easy to slice and tasting good, this bread..."
Me:  "What?"
He couldn't think of anything.
You know it's good bread when he can't think of anything to criticize!

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