Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cheddary Scones for Breakfast!

DSC08380Yum! 

These are the “double-cheddar” scones from Marcy Goldman’s Best of BetterBaking.com – I had some butter and some cheddar and could not resist these.  (not quite enough cheddar, so I skimped a bit, but they are still cheesy and delish!)

Super-easy… the only hard part was waiting for them to cool before eating!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Six Word Saturday: 23 Cheshvan, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

Unveiling My New Super Wonder Challah!

My mother invited us for Shabbos dinner because she was also having my aunt (who just returned from shiva in Vancouver earlier this week) and she asked if I was bringing challah, so I said sure.

Having messed up a couple of breads in a row, I promised myself I’d stick to the standard recipe, but couldn’t help myself… I wanted to do a preferment.

I found this recipe online, which is very similar to my Reliable Challah except that it preferments  half the flour overnight.  Perfect! 

I don’t have cubes of fresh yeast, so I used half of the regular yeast from the Reliable Challah recipe, about 1/2 tbsp, subbed 1/4 cup of sugar instead of honey, and left out the egg entirely.  I used 3 cups of bread flour, measured by volume, because I figured it didn’t have to be exact.  After a short room-temperature rise, I let it sit in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, after bringing it to room temperature, I stirred in about three more cups of flour, until it was just this side of kneadable, and then kneaded it for a while before setting aside.

After an hour or so (time flies when kiddies are running around screaming!), I did a quick stretch-and-fold and returned it to the bucket for another hour or so.

The dough was definitely on the sloppy side, but with a bit of oil, rolled up nicely into two of the most gorgeous braids.  Wow!  They were impressively unveiled to a crowd of twelve or thirteen people – not just my aunt after all! 

So many that we had to sacrifice the second loaf, even though it meant eating matzah for Shabbos lunch.

This challah was “just” everything:  just sweet, chewy, dense, fluffy, silky… enough to satisfy absolutely everybody around the table.

I am calling it Jennifer’s Super Wonder Challah, and I will try to refine it into recipe form, or at least take a few pictures, next Friday. 

Meanwhile, I am VERY impressed.  Just when it seems like I am making no progress here in BreadLand, along comes a challah I absolutely know I could not have produced two years or even one year ago.

Most bakers say that challah doesn’t need a preferment, sourdough, or anything else, because as a “rich” bread, it doesn’t need those things to have good flavour (in most challahs, you’re not tasting the flour so much as the eggs, oil and sugar). 

Well, it may not NEED them, but especially given that I like my challah on the eggless side (though still sweet), it certainly seems to benefit.

Yum!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(Mis)adventures in SPELT…

It’s my disasters that keep me humble… that’s for sure. 
(Speaking of disasters, have you entered my Kitchen Disaster contest yet???)

Then again, I bet you don’t get so many disasters with all those other marginally competent bread blogs out there!!!  I bet that’s how I earned my fifteen loyal followers in the first place, by being human, just like them!

So.  If you recall, I decided to make a delicious sprouty, wheaty bread for our supper tonight!  I started sprouting the wheat berries on Monday, and mixed up a couple of components of this bread last night.

Here’s what I started with when I picked it up this afternoon:  “soaker”, preferment, exactly 11g of sprouted wheat berries.

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Ground the wheat berries to “kneadable” consistency.

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Holds together when smooshed into a ball in your hand:

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Tossed in the rest of the flour, touch of honey, touch more yeast and kneaded the whole mess together.  Should have torn up the various starter pieces to ensure evenness, but I didn’t.  That didn’t make a huge difference.

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The dough was actually incredibly clean and kneadable.  Once mixed, it didn’t shed any flour or moisture or even leave a trace on the table as I kneaded.

Slip it in a bowl and allow to rest 2-3 hours, folding once.

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End of the rise time – nicely risen, though I accidentally knocked it down a bit before I remembered to take a picture.

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Spread into a rectangle, and without degassing much, roll tightly into a sandwich loaf.  This is actually the best one I’ve ever done!

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Oil & let rise 1 hour inside a bag.

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Ooh, nicely risen, it was just about at the top of the pan.

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Bake half an hour – and then an extra 5-10 minutes for good n’ doneness.  And here’s where I need a thermometer, because it looked fine to me, and I pulled it out!!!

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Took its picture, turned it out, tapped it – it sounded FINE; what do I know?

Let it cool – hey, I was sooo proud of myself!

Slice, take a picture… first few slices were okay, and then…

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Kaboom!  The whole loaf basically disintegrated. It was at once powdery and gummy in the centre.

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Apologized, almost cried, handed everybody their bready fragment as we all tucked into our sandwiches of homemade falafel patty and veggies on gummy, crumpled-up bread bits.

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The silver lining:  it really WAS the most delicious bread.  The sprouts made it taste exactly like the commercial malt bread I grew up loving – and have been missing these past, ooh, twenty years.  The spelt added a touch of sweetness and lightness, as I expected,   Although hearty, it was delicious bread that everybody enjoyed… if only it wasn’t a gooey crumbly mess.

My brain is nagging, trying to telling me something – a message eking its way through the white noise.  Listen!  Can you hear it; whispering, hissing? 

“Slash it!!!”

Yup.  Did you notice I forgot to slash the loaf?  I didn’t!

I don’t know if that would have made ALL the difference, but it surely would have helped with the crumb – ie allowed it to expand beyond the confines of a fairly low top crust. 

Indeed, if you look at the photo of the whole loaf, it looks suspiciously like it was trying to grow higher and got calcified in place instead. 

I didn’t exactly FORGET to slash it.  Just, well, you don’t always have to with a sandwich loaf like this.  But I guess with this one, you do.  Next time, I’ll know.

Will I make it again?  Well, I’m all out of spelt, so I may try it with the whole wheat it originally called for, or I may beg my sister for another bag of spelt!  It’s a lot of planning ahead, to start sprouting wheat berries on Monday for bread on Thursday.  And I just remembered that I’m out of wheat berries.

None of which are insurmountable difficulties, and considering it’s hard to find a whole-grain loaf that I really love, I’m definitely going to have to add this to my list of Breads for the Future.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now what???

I’ve been sprouting these wheat berries for a few days now… they’re ready.  Now what should I do with them??  I have some rye flour I’ve been wanting to play around with… any thoughts?

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(the sprouts are in the fridge now, awaiting their fate – they should keep for a bit while I decide!)

Postscript:  I’ve found the solution (I hope!):  Sprouty Spelty Wheat Bread.

Original recipe, speltless, is here, apparently adapted from Peter Reinhardt’s Whole Grain Breads, which I haven’t read.    (from Kath Eats, a blog where I borrowed another recipe a while back, for making Ciabatta and Focaccia from the same batch of dough.

(I also just discovered that the lovely Kath and her husband Matt – who bread-blogs at her food blog – are opening their own Great Harvest Bread franchise this fall!)

I have no whole wheat flour in the house, but some leftover whole-grain spelt, a gift from my sister a long, LONG time ago.  I decided to use it up with this recipe. 

I used King Arthur Flour’s chart, here, to make the substitutions.  They list a 4oz cup for whole wheat, and a 3.5oz cup for spelt.

The preferment calls for 109g WW flour (3.8oz, or .95 of a cup), so I subbed .95 of a “spelt cup” with 94g of spelt (3.3oz, also .95 of a cup).

The soaker calls for 175g WW flour (around 6 oz, or 1.5 cups, as listed in the recipe), so I subbed 149g of spelt (5.25 oz, also 1.5 cups).  However, the mix was far softer and not really kneadable, so I added 30g of spelt to make it approach what I guessed was the right consistency.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll crush up the sprouted wheat berries and turn the whole mess into a lovely wheaty spelty bread for our supper!  (I hope)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Online Window Shopping Wish List

As the weather gets colder, and we approach my winter birthday, my thoughts invariably turn to… what I want!!!  This is my Bread Wish List, to be updated as I spot things that catch my eye.

Thought I’d do better blogging my wishes for a change, rather than clicking the BUY button!


Kevlar Oven Glove from Breadtopia

 

 

 

Loaf Pan - 4½ × 8½
from Golda’s Kitchen

Nothing fancy… but I’d like a couple of pareve ones, bread size and perhaps some others – like all-purpose cookie sheets.  From last year’s wish list:  “I am SO sickened by the quantity of tinfoil bakeware we go through around here. (still true – still going through the tinfoil like crazy) Plus, whenever I go to cook something, I have to test all the washed tinfoil to see if it leaks (usually, it does). 

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Bread Thermometer from Breadtopia

This one says six seconds and apparently, they mean it.  I’d settle for any other model, from anywhere, as long as it works fast and doesn’t make a huge hole in my bread.

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Measuring Spoons from Golda’s Kitchen (or anywhere)

I have measuring spoons, lots of them.  My two criteria are:  I want a SET that stays together, and I want the numbers to stay on, unlike the dollar-store ones.  Without the numbers, they’re kind of useless.

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NO!!!!  Not this terrible thing!  Made by Anchor Hocking, I bought one at Superstore, thrilled that I was getting a real Glass Measuring Cup at last (Dollarama ones crack on contact with liquid). 

But it pours terribly, and why the heck do you need THREE spouts – in case you’re too lazy to twist your wrist 45 degrees?  When you begin to pour, the liquid trickles down the side and then gushes everywhere except where you’re aiming.  Plus, it doesn’t have a quarter-cup line.  So I (still) want a real measuring cup, or two, that are glass for durability, that have all the lines marked on, and that pour reasonably well.

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Cast-iron or enameled cast-iron pot.  For baking bread in, but I’m sure it will have other uses as well.  Inexpensive is fine, but it should be entirely oven-safe to temps as high as 500°.

Here’s last year’s wish list, in case you’re interested.  Interesting how many of the items have come my way magically or with very little effort… like the laptop.  :-o

Amazing.  I guess I should spend more time being grateful and less time being wanty.

Six Word Saturday in Bread: 16 Cheshvan, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Oy, vey… that was BAD challah.

Not BAD, bad, exactly.  The taste was nondescript, not terrible.  Sourdough was completely undetectable, which is fine with me either way.

But what killed it for me was that this was absolutely the driest challah I have ever, ever tasted.

It was like chewing a mouthful of sawdust.  I couldn’t eat more than half a slice.

What happened????  What could have made this bread so, so, utterly, unspeakably dry?  Too much oil (huh)?  Too long baking?  (note to self:  add bread thermometer to “wanty” list so I am not always overbaking stuff)

I am getting back on this sourdough pony one more time.  I feel I am very close to a breakthrough, aka delicious sourdough challah.  For next week:  “Rose Levy Beranbaum’s New Favourite Traditional Challah.” 

I have her Bread Bible out of the library right now, but she says the online recipe is way better than the one she’s got in there.  She describes it as “the best challah I’ve ever tasted.”

Oh, just remembered:  the part of this that is SO terrible is that we had a challah last night that was store-bought from a bakery up north and it was not only SO good, and not only did it have an intriguing orangey streusel sprinkled on top… but I could have sworn there was a distinctive sourdough tang to the bread.  I want to make challah like THAT, and this week, I  have utterly failed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Out of the primordial ooze…

DSC08291This week’s Maggie Glezer Sourdough Challah is looking pretty good despite the debacle that went into their creation.

There is definitely double the oil in these loaves; the dough was super-shiny and almost translucent.  (however, the exterior shine in the picture is from my oiling the strands as I rolled them)

I am really worried about how these loaves will perform.  For one thing, the dough really wants to spread.  The snakes got a little bit “wide and flat” just sitting on the table waiting for me to roll them out.  :-o

Here’s what I have done to salvage them:  stuck them in loaf pans so they will rise up, not out; oiled the strands so they’ll retain their definition better; pop them in the fridge to retard overnight.

Actually, this last may be a disaster in itself, because there’s a chance they could overproof during the night and be flaccid, liquid-toady blobs by morning.

Meanwhile, they’re looking good – despite my amateurish and distracted efforts, I suppose.

Postscript!

Rose a bit overnight, but not a ton.  For sure, the braids lost some definition.  Left on the table for 2 hours while we went out, baked at 350° when we got home (I left plenty of time for the stone to preheat – indeed, I baked lunch bourekas at 425° first before turning down the temperature!).

Here they are, brushed with egg, ready to go in (not sprinkled yet; I used poppy).

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I baked them long, because loaf pan loaves take longer.  Maybe 45 minutes?  They rose okay in the oven, though I would have liked to see more spring after such a lackluster second fermentation.

DSC08296 

Underside looks nice!

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Will report back tomorrow on how they tasted… after all those mishaps, maybe they will be delicious after all. 

Good Shabbos!

(post-Shabbos postscript:  oy vey, this was SO bad.  See my 6ws for details)

The slightly sour sicilian!

DSC08288Mmm, good! 

At last, against all odds, and after several disastrous and/or ho-hum attempts, I have accomplished the seemingly impossible:  a perfectly-risen, perfectly-baked, perfectly delightful loaf of Sicilian No-Knead Bread (the sourdough variation).

It rose overnight and then some, stretch-and-fold maybe around 12:30, and around 2 pm, I formed the loaf.  The combination of sesame and semolina on the crispy crust backdrop is utterly delightful.

The only major flaw in this bread was too little oven/stone preheating.  I suspect that led to the stone being too cool for the initial jolt on the bottom crust.  It was ever-so-slightly soft, and I think a longer preheat would have taken care of that.  However, the bread was getting mushy and starting to spread.  Since sourdough loses definition so easily, I chose to bake it right away rather than wait for a super-hot stone.  I think it was the right decision.

The recipe calls for a 475° oven.  Mine was only set at 450°, but even at that temperature, the crust couldn’t make it all the way through a 40 minute bake time without getting much too dark.  I tented it with tinfoil around 35 minutes and gave it another 15 minutes to bake in the tent.

Yummy!  I feel so proud, but nobody else here could really care less… so I suppose I am an unsung genius.

Disaster Strikes the Sourdough Challah!

DSC08281I bet my sister the amazing smart professional artisan sourdough baker never EVER ever has to deal with the sound of fifty screaming kids in the background while she bakes…

It wasn’t REALLY fifty kids, you understand:  just the SOUND of fifty kids, coming from my FOUR kids.  I think, actually, only THREE of them were home at the time.  It doesn’t really matter except to say:  it was a lot of noise.

And so as I threw together the challah (recipe here), I set the bowl on the scale and tossed in ingredients willy-nilly, here and there, glancing at the open recipe book which lay under a layer of crud and homeschool detritus on the table.

BUSY MAMA’S TIP FOR SUCCESS:  Clear the WHOLE table first, even if you think you’re only going to need half!

I was rushing a bit as I threw stuff in because my wonderful scale does have this way of turning off if it’s inactive for too long.  So you have to keep the ingredients coming, or at least, finish up one ingredient before it shuts down.  (cuz then you can let it turn off and it zeroes when it comes back on - just like taring it would do)

So I tossed in the water, oil, eggs, sugar, salt, and mixed them up with the lovely risen starter.  Such a lovely, nice, swishy mixture.  Then I dumped in all the flour… and ended up with SOUP.  Creamy, sloshy soup.  Huh?

This wasn’t even a situation where I could add another half-cup of flour or so to make it into a kneadable dough.  It was utterly and completely SOUP.  Bread soup.

I checked the flour quantity again on the scale;  exactly right, 400 grams.  Why did that number sound so familiar???

Oh, bloody hell.  That was exactly the amount of water I had added a few minutes earlier.

Scanning upwards in the recipe, I saw that the actual quantity of water I was supposed to have added was 60 grams… not 400.  I had added almost seven times more water than the recipe needed.  :-o

Which would have meant, if I wanted to salvage the dough, adding a bunch more eggs, sugar, salt, starter… not to mention 2400 more grams of bread flour.  I barely had another 400 in the bag.

Oh, and did I mention I used up almost all the starter in the first batch?

LUCKILY… (well, we’ll see), I have been reluctant to throw away the excess starter as I revived it this week, so I had a bunch sitting chilling in the fridge.

So I did the only thing possible, short of buying a Lenchner challah:  I started over.

Just before adding the flour, for the second time, I looked down at the swirly mess in the bowl and asked myself out loud:  “Did I put the oil in yet?”

Of course, I didn’t remember.  No clue.  There were dots of oil on top of the mixture, but that could have been from the previous batch.  And I had stirred it really well, so there wasn’t a single large pocket of oil, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t in there already; the yellow from the eggs made everything look yellowish and oily.

Sigh… LUCKILY (well, we’ll see), the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of oil, which is less than many others (kind of).  So I dumped in (another?) 1/4 cup of oil.

I think that was the wrong move, because the dough was quite moist, but at least it WAS dough, not soup.  I dumped it out and added another cup of flour during kneading to achieve the “clay” consistency Glezer calls for.

It’s resting now.  I’m giving it longer than the recipe’s 2 hours of bulk fermentation because the starter was cold when I added it, so I’ll probably form the challahs in an hour or so, and then stash them overnight in the fridge.

(at which point, they may fall apart due to sourdough overproofing… or something, but what else is new?)

I may really, really regret doing it this way, but for now, the dough is holding together and looking good.

…like hotcakes?

DSC08277These using-up-the sourdough hotcakes got mixed reviews.  Kids didn’t eat them, and Ted said it “tasted like pancakes a hundred years ago.”  Great. 

My reaction?  Different.  Interesting.  Tangy.  The texture is good – a tad rubbery, in a good way.  Quite nice with brown sugar sprinkled on top (as suggested).  Perhaps an acquired taste.

I mixed in blueberries to sweeten it, but next time, I’d probably make some significant changes:

  • Less starter
  • Use at least some milk, not all water
  • Add some sugar to the batter

While they were frying, I started thinking this batter might make nice crumpets, but I couldn’t find metal rings to go in the cast-iron skillet to test my theory.  But who knows… maybe I’ll try sourdough crumpets next time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sourdough on the go…

Yup, not one, not two, but THREE sourdough projects on the go at the moment!

  1. Firm starter being fed and groomed for sourdough challah
  2. Breadtopia’s No-Knead Sicilian bread, sourdough style (yes, I realize we ate semolina bread on Monday, but I really didn’t like it, and I’d like to try something different…).  I hope to either bake this in the dutch oven or use the dutch oven as a cloche over it while it bakes so as to fulfill my “bake-in-pot” promise!
  3. Finally, what to do with all that poured-off un-needed sourdough?  Sourdough hotcakes fermenting in a bowl for breakfast tomorrow!  I plan to mix in blueberries to make them a bit more exciting.  I realized only after mixing the overnight portion of this batter that there’s no dairy, so these are totally pareve.  I picked the recipe because it was eggless, but yes, I’m tired, and didn’t realize they were also dairy-free (though I will fry them in butter to compensate!).  They look a bit like the injera I made a while ago, only with bread flour.  We shall see how they turn out…

Yummy!

Win Kosher by Design in my own COOKING DISASTER contest!

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Even if you’re not a teen or twenty-something (anymore – or yet!), here’s another chance to WIN a copy of Susie Fishbein’s Kosher by Design:  Teens and 20-Somethings.

I’ll be posting a review and announcing my contest winner on my regular blog on November 10th (3 Kislev).  You can check out other blogger reviews, recipes, etc., in the meantime here.

In honour of this slick new cookbook (I love the “fun” side of Artscroll!), I am announcing my very own… COOKING DISASTER CONTEST.

Leave a comment after THE CONTEST POST (NOT here!) to tell me (in as much hilarious detail as you want) about your most disastrous kitchen disaster – EVER.  Read more rules here… bread- and cake-related disasters are most welcome!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guess I sometimes meet a bread I don’t like…

DSC08262This is the Semolina (Durum) Bread from Bread:  A Baker’s Book, which I wanted to try as an alternative to the semolina bread I have been attemping (and failing) so far.

(I forgot to put sesame seeds on top and just floured before slashing.  And once again, the slashes were not deep enough!)

It’s made with a “flying” sponge – which apparently means that all the yeast is in it and makes for a faster bulk fermentation.  It is faster than the other semolina breads I’ve tried, but I guess faster isn’t always better.

I really think I did everything right with this one!  Okay, ALMOST everything. 

I admit:  I was scared of another raw-in-the-middle disaster, so I baked this a bit longer than I was supposed to.  I was planning to give it 40 minutes at 460°.  After 30 minutes, it was alarmingly dark, so I tented it and turned the temp down to 450°.

I don’t think overbaking was solely responsible for the ultimate dryness of this bread, though I will take about 20% responsibility.

The outside looked good, and we even made a good-faith effort to wait for some cooling to take place before slicing it… and waah!  The crumb is SO fine!  And the flavour, so dry!

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Luckily, I was serving it with fall stew, so nobody noticed the dryness… :-)

Did I overmix it?  I used the food processor, probably for about 30 seconds.  The dough was still quite moist, though it had more structure than a no-knead dough.  I dunno…

So I’m still wondering whether I went wrong, or whether it’s just not a fantastic recipe. 

I was surprised to see it amid all of Hamelman’s slow-rise, extensively pre-fermented formulas.  If this is his nod to faster bread, the book is fine without it, in my opinion.

Here:  you can have the rest of the piece…

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Hey, here’s a recipe for semolina rolls – made with gritty semolina, NOT durum flour – that look like hedgehogs.  Maybe I should add those to the list of future bake projects…

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What to do with a Leftover Challah

Marcy Goldman’s Best of BetterBaking.com Bread Pudding Muffins!!! 

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Yummy… and utterly decadent…

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Six Word Saturday: 9 Cheshvan, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

This week’s goal:  bake in pot!

I posted a really long 6ws on my regular blog, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet. 

I have a fairly new small (3 quart?) enameled cast-iron dutch oven and I intend to use it for bread-baking.

I tried it out for the first time last week for my second attempt at Sicilian No-Knead Bread

But then I had to go out while the bread was baking.  I told Ted to remove the cover after 30 minutes and bake it 10-15 minutes longer, which he faithfully did… and in the end, the bread was woefully underdone.

But he did say I really must make the bread again.  Indeed, what there was of it that was edible was simply amazing:  gritty and moist and robust and flavourful, with the most crunchy crust.

But I may not make this recipe.  I may see what Jim Lahey, the master of no-knead-dutch-oven-baking has to say about semolina.  Or, I took out Bread:  A Baker’s Book from the library again, and I may use that to look for formulas instead.

In any event, there it is, in six words, my intention for This Week in Bread:  bake in pot.  Oh, and revive my sourdough, but then, that would be more than six words…

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Well, I made the Baby…

…But I called it BIG PANCAKE!  (also known as a “Dutch Baby”, apparently… because in Holland, the babies are born big, floury and sizzling hot)

See, that way I have an edge.  Ted may make ORDINARY pancakes, but I can (now) make BIIIIIIIG pancake.

Utterly, utterly easy.  Simple, and delicious.  Served for lunch with powdered sugar, but YM had his with cottage cheese.

Whir the batter in the blender – 2 eggs, half a cup of flour, a couple more things (I halved the recipe).  So simple.

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Leave it to sit for half an hour. 

Pour into cast-iron pan in which I’ve melted about 1/4 of a stick of butter.

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Bake 10 minutes on bottom rack; 10 more minutes on top rack.

Boy, did it puff!

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Slid out like a dream…

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… and right out onto the plate!

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Yummy!  As close as you can get to a no-effort kid-pleasing lunch…

p.s.  So this officially ends my dithering over the genre of my cast-iron pan:  it is now a DAIRY pan.  But I still have the small enameled cast-iron dutch oven, which is pareve.  However, it slightly failed to do its job of baking a loaf of bread tonight, so I will blog about it another day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mmm… is it BREAD? And a call to readers!

Actually, who cares!  Whether or not it’s bread, I’ll be using it to inaugurate my new cast-iron skillet:  BIG PANCAKE (aka Dutch Baby). 

Well… if I decide that the pan is going to be for dairy, that is.  I think so.  Though it strikes me as the perfect thing for bacon, we’re not really eating much of that around here.

Okay, here’s where you, my loyal reader(s), can help me out!  (Google tells me I have followers now!) 

Here’s what I need to know:

What can I make with a 10” cast-iron pan?  Should I use it for dairy?  Or keep it pareve and use it for breads somehow?  (keeping in mind I do have a small pareve cast-iron pot that already intend to use for breads)

By the way, lest anyone think that I’ve gone all splurgy, what with my new whisk and now a new cast-iron pan, rest assured, it’s not exactly BRAND new.  (gasp!)  I bought it at Value Village for under $7.

Years ago, somebody told me you shouldn’t buy used dishes and cookware with the intent to kasher them.  But recently, I started thinking this was silly and/or needlessly burdensome because many things are a) relatively easy to kasher, and b) relatively expensive (not to mention wasteful) to buy brand-new.

Amazon.com tells me that Lodge cast-iron skillets are $12-15 brand-new, but I have not been able to find prices like that here – any that I have seen start at maybe $20 (Cayne’s).

I kashered this one in the oven on the self-clean cycle; zero effort.  Now it’s just a hunk of bare metal, which I will toivel, then wash well, then season before its first use… in Dutch Baby land!!!

Seriously – I need your input here.  Should it stay pareve, or are there a million wonderful dairy delectables that I will use this pan for in feeding my family???

It’s here! The WHISK is here!

stroll 001My whisk!  My Danish Dough Whisk! 

(heretofore:  DDW)

I was slightly afraid it would be all hype and that the thing would do perhaps a slightly better job than, say, a SPOON. 

But no, it is a whole other world of mixing.  This dough took seconds to mix extremely well.

Up until now, my one qualm about mixing up really big batches (double or triple) in my big bucket has been this:  a spoon or silicone spatula do a great job of incorporating all the flour, but can’t really reach the CENTRE of the blob. 

I know this because I can sometimes feel lumpy bits in the middle of a huge batch of no-knead dough.  I have never had actual flour in the middle of challah or a boule, but I do sometimes notice an uneven texture – areas that are slightly denser and poorly mixed.

So:  it turns out that CENTRE OF THE BLOB is what the DDW is all about.

I used it right away yesterday (once I’d toiveled it) to stir up a batch of the Sicilian No-Knead Bread that made me cave and buy the whisk in the first place. 

Naomi wanted a piece of the DDW action, and I don’t blame her. 

I let her use it to stir the dry ingredients, and then she kept stirring as I added the wet ingredients.  Well, she is not a super-strong 5-year-old, but by the time I finished pouring and told her it was my turn with the whisk, the flour was pretty much incorporated.  A couple more stirs and it was done.  This recipe calls for a brief mix, then continuing the mix 10  minutes later, which the DDW also handled very quickly and efficiently. 

Cleanup is great, too:  so little dough stuck to the whisk that it hardly looked like it had been used at all.  Like many good bread accessories, I suspect that you could just leave the whisk for few hours, then just brush off any dried dough and it would be good to go again.

I can’t believe this only cost $8, and this may easily end up being the best $8 I ever spent on my kitchen…

$8!  (okay, plus shipping)

I love when there is something cheap and easily available that just makes your life GOOD.  I haven’t had a chance to try out the bowl scraper that I got with the whisk, but I have no doubt that it will be similarly fun and easy to use.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And in case you need a BIG yummy chocolate cake recipe…

My friend Dini always has this cake on  hand – she even gave it out for Purim one year.  It’s very fast and very easy – her kids usually make it for her.  And it makes a BIG cake – or it can be divided into many pans, or any combination of pans and cupcakes – just adjust the baking time accordingly. 

I had to phone her for the recipe three times (the kids gave it to me, so I didn’t have to disturb her), and finally recorded it on the computer so I would never lose it.

It’s fabulous plain – nice and moist – or sprinkled with icing sugar, or you could go all out and make a pareve chocolate "cream-cheese" frosting with Tofutti cream cheese.

Elisheva made this yesterday – she wanted to bring cupcakes to a friend’s house for Shabbos.  It made 12 smallish cupcakes plus two generous loaf-pan sized cakes.  Freezes well if you’re baking ahead for Yom Tov!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat eggs and oil together in large bowl with electric mixer.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until well-mixed.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cocoa together.
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients to large bowl with liquids, scraping down occasionally, until evenly moistened.
  6. Slowly add coffee, pouring over the mixture. It may splash / splatter initially - that's why you're using a big bowl - but will gradually take on a nice, smooth consistency.
  7. Pour mixture into a greased, 9 x 13 pan.
  8. Bake 1 hour at 350° until cake tests clean with skewer or knife.  Adjust baking time down for smaller pans!  Cupcakes should only take about 15-20 minutes; loaf pans, 30-40 minutes.

Six Word Saturday: 2 Cheshvan, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

The classic… my own reliable Challah!

Tearing off that first piece last night was like coming home.  I can’t believe what an incredible, happy feeling it was, to dive into the my very own reliable challah.

This recipe is fairly fast:  slightly sweet and completely eggless (except for the egg brushed on top).  It doesn’t age that well, but is amazing on Friday night – and doesn’t do too badly, especially with butter, on Shabbos day. 

For the first time, this week, I left it to rise at room temperature overnight, and I think that had a good effect on the taste.  Working with no-knead doughs and sourdough has made me more confident that unless it’s full of dairy and eggs, dough really won’t spoil too quickly at room temperature.

I have been working on tweaking the recipe to include reliable scaled measurements.  For a printable PDF of the results, which I think are very good indeed, click here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pareve Pumpkin Pie for Shabbos

pie 007 Ted had no idea it was Thanksgiving this weekend, but I swear, there is something primally Canadian in him that I have never had… he’s just innately tuned in to the seasons here.  So I wasn’t surprised when he announced last night, out of the blue, that he was making pumpkin pie this Shabbos.

Since it’s our second time enjoying this recipe, which I found on Chowhound, I thought I’d repost it here.   The original poster aptly described this recipe as “light, more like custard than the dense, rubbery texture I associate with pumpkin pie.”  Indeed, I’d even call it fluffy – along the lines of a good cheesecake.

This “can’t believe it’s not dairy” recipe uses coconut milk instead of the standard cream or evaporated milk.  You can taste the coconut slightly, but it is a gentle taste that, in my opinion, complements the pumpkin really nicely (it originally just said “nicely,” but I added really after I had tasted the pie!).

Ted is using one of the little pie pumpkins we bought at the pick-your-own apple place.  We didn’t pick it, but we feel like we know where it came from, which is nice.  ;-)

Ted’s Yummy Canadian Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie (Pareve)

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh sugar pie pumpkin, steamed or roasted, pureed and drained to yield ~ 2 cups pumpkin. Good-quality/ organic canned pumpkin would likely give the same results.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk (we mostly use the Jewish brands these days though before it was commonly available I relied on a heter I found permitting any Thai brand of coconut milk)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 packed brown sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Spices:
    • 1/2 heaping t cinnamon
    • 1/2 t fresh nutmeg
    • 1/4 t allspice
    • 14 t cardamom
  • OR, Ted’s shortcut (and sometimes mine):
    • 3 tsp or so of tinned “Pumpkin Pie Spice” – we used more than the original quantity of seasonings because a) he likes a more intense flavour (I usually double the spice in spice cake, gingerbread and pumpkin pie just for him), and b) we make so little pumpkin pie that the tin is a few years old by now – so we use more to compensate for its reduced potency.
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Mix the pumpkin and the eggs.
  3. Add the other ingredients and mix well (we used the Pulse setting on the food processor).
  4. Pour filling into prepared pie shell (your own or frozen – I won’t tell!).
  5. Bake 15 minutes at 425°F, then approximately 50 minutes more at 350°F.  Check at 45 minutes and every 5 minutes after until the pie’s centre no longer wobbles when shaken gently (original instruction is great:  “until the insides are no longer super-shaky” – I just thought I’d quantify this slightly better!)
  6. Cool for a couple hours before eating.
  7. Enjoy on its own or with REAL whipped cream!  (just cuz it’s pareve doesn’t mean it’s not good enough to eat at a dairy meal)

Post-Shabbos p.s.  The only thing I didn’t love is that it was not the world’s best pumpkin despite knowing its provenance.  The flesh was too stringy, which added a slightly unpleasant “fibre” element to the pie.  I recommend using a very smooth-textured pumpkin and mashing it well – or using 2 cups of organic tinned pumpkin (NOT tinned pumpkin pie filling!).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Baking Workshop

So this Tuesday is the first of a six-part baking workshop that I have volunteered to teach / lead at Elisheva’s school – to Elisheva’s great mortification.

The catch is that I have from 1:45 to 2:25 to get the girls in, settled down, working and then out the door, preferably with a “baked good” in hand. 

Elisheva said sometimes the teachers stay longer to shut off the oven and leave the baked goods in the office for the girls to pick up later, but I don’t have that luxury.  My mother is a reluctant babysitter at best so I will have to leave immediately afterwards.  Maybe there’s somebody else in the school who I can deputize to turn off the oven and take out whatever-it-is at the end of the bake time???

Anyway, here are my thoughts for what we’re going to do.  Elisheva has cautioned me that it is NOT a forum to do major bread-baking.  Fair enough, but I do want to do ONE bread thing.  Like a pizza thing, which doesn’t take too long, would be reasonable, and definitely falls within the realm of baking.  Maybe alternating sweet and savoury?

Week 1:  Rice Krispie Squares (this was Sara’s suggestion – basic, pareve, a universal favourite)

Week 2:  Soft Pretzels.  Elisheva’s friend claims to have a quickie recipe (faster than mine), and at a high oven temp, short bake time, it could work…

Week 3:  Chocolate-chip cookies.  Basic, classic.

Week 4:  No-knead super-EASY pizza.  Make dough ahead, but while the pizzas bake, have the girls mix their own to take home?

Week 5:  Gingerbread cookies or some other easy pareve rolled & stamped cookie.

Week 6:  Challah, or at least challah braiding.  I’ve got to; I really, really must.  Prepare dough ahead of time so it’s ready for rolling & braiding.  At the beginning of the class, prepare cinnamon buns with “leftover” dough.  While it bakes, girls can braid challahs to take & bake at home.  Later, they get fresh cinnamon buns to eat!

I wonder if there’s a budget for this thing?  Or if I’m supposed to pay for it all out of my pocket…?

The person organizing the “activity periods” (baking is just one of many options the girls can select for this brief spare period) said she’d get in touch and arrange for me to see the space ahead of time. 

Well, it’s Sunday night and the class is on Tuesday.  And so far, I have no idea where I’m going to be working or anything… stay tuned!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Six Word Saturday: 25 Tishrei, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

My life will be so good!

Yup, as mentioned in passing last week, I broke down and bought a Danish Dough Whisk.  When, oh, when will  get here????

I also bought a dough scraper – I couldn’t help myself; I was sucked in by the words “This is a Really Nice Dough Scraper!”.

So just picture me… whisking and scraping away (maybe with less hairy arms, though):  my life will indeed be wonderful at last!!!

image image

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