Saturday, December 25, 2010

Six-Word Saturday: 18 Teves, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Less and less yeast each week…

I’ve been making the same challah for a couple of months now because it’s SOooo yummy.  My challenge (to myself) has been incorporating as much imagesourdough as possible, decreasing the commercial yeast a bit more each week.

I haven’t really said much about this challah recipe yet.  It’s based on this one, but I use sugar instead of honey, and I leave out the egg.  I found it when I was searching for a sponge-based challah, and it seems like the ideal way to incorporate a sourdough, because it gives the starter lots of time to get going overnight.

This week, I wanted to make exactly THREE challahs, so I multiplied the regular formula by 1.5…

I’ve set up a spreadsheet to let me figure out how much of my 60% starter I can substitute in a recipe that either calls for another type of starter – or no starter.

In the case of this challah recipe, the original calls for no starter, so I decrease the flour and water quantities relative to how much is in the quantity of starter I put in.  The spreadsheet figures this out automatically:  I just measure everything out the way it says.

This week, I ended up with about 165g of useable starter – that’s the only quantity that doesn’t change in the spreadsheet, because I have however much I have after resuscitating it from the fridge for a day or two.  If I was making a bigger batch of challah, I’d increase it more.

Here’s the formula the spreadsheet spit out this week, to make 1.5 loaves of challah (see all the 1.5’s?).  Every number here will change depending on the starter quantity and hydration.

MODIFIED RECIPE   165 g of 60% hydration starter
  plus 526.875 g flour
    673.125 g water
    75 g sugar or honey
    82.5 g oil
    1.5 Tbsp salt
  min 1.5 tsp yeast
  max 1.5 Tbsp yeast

Although this says 1.5 tsp yeast, I was feeling macho and took it down to one teaspoon.  Unfortunately, my starter wasn’t feeling as macho as I was, and with the wintry-cold house, the sponge took forever to start bubbling and being active.

On Friday morning, I add a few cups of bread and all-purpose flour – just enough to make a kneadable dough, and by kneadable, I mean that it’s still VERY wet, but I use the scraper to help bring it together without the whole thing adhering to the table. 

The dough was also quite sluggish on Friday – a bit of a challenge for an early Shabbos.  (Once Shabbos gets back to around 6ish, and the weather is a bit warmer, I’m going to try bumping the commercial yeast down to zero and the sourdough up as much as I can… perhaps with a backup challah in place just in case!)

Nevertheless, despite some initial concern that the loaves were too heavy and perhaps under-risen or under-baked – well, they were slightly under-risen, but baked to perfection, and delicious nevertheless. 

Instead of flour, I have started using oil when I portion it and roll out the “snakes.”  I think it helps keep the braids separate and lovely, and indeed, after tons of practice my Maggie-Glezer-style four-braid challahs are looking consistently decent. 

Pics next week!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Six-Word Saturday: 12 Teves, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Birthday’s a’comin’… my wish list here.

(yes, fo’sure “a’comin’” is one word!!!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Black Forest Birthday Cake for a Neighbour

Our neighbour’s birthday was on Wednesday.  She doesn’t have much family, and I figure everybody deserves cake, so I invited her for Shabbos dinner so I’d have an excuse to present her with THIS:

cake 001

It’s a black forest cake, made out of my basic chocolate cake recipe .  I sliced the layers and spread white icing and pie-filling cherries in between.  I toasted one layer and crumbled it in the food processor to make cake crumbs to press onto the outside, somewhat messily.

In fact, it is a very messy cake, and not entirely a beautiful one, despite my amateurish efforts with the star tip.  The initial looks more like a T than a J, but, hey, it’s the thought – and the taste – that counts, right???

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Today’s Project: Whole Lotta Bread!

prezzie 004This is the Pumpkin-Oatmeal No-Knead Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (which I still don’t own!). It’s a fun bread because it doesn’t taste like a “healthy” bread (being mostly white flour), but does contain token quantities of rye, whole-wheat and oat. It is a very easy bread to make, despite the sloppiness of the final dough.

I baked these seven loaves, along with gingerbread and shortbread cookies, to fill up holiday parcel boxes whicih we mailed to members of our extended families. (actually, the 7th was for our supper: shhh…)

I added cranberries and lightly toasted walnuts to make it into more of a “festive” bread.

Anyway, ours was delicious with tomato soup this evening; soft and fresh. Almost too soft, I hope, because, this being Thursday, the others won’t arrive at their new homes until perhaps Monday.

This particular loaf is one that would be delicious slightly stale and toasted, so I was hoping that even if the loaves aren’t completely fresh when they arrive, they will still be a nice treat.

But here, I must whisper a shameful, awful truth that may doom the whole exercise to failure: the loaves were not completely cool when we mailed them. It was 4:30, Ted was hanging around getting antsy, wanting to run to the post office, and I was also getting worried that we would miss out on shipping them today altogether.

So I wrapped them, quite well, in my opinion, and sent them out the door. For wrapping, I wrapped each loaf in a layer of paper bag (paper “sleeves” made from two huge paper bags), then a large-sized ziploc freezer bag.

But now I am worried that the loaves will be terrible as a result of not being fully cool. The outside was cool, but the insides were still a bit warm. I’m scared that they’ll turn moldy in transit. Ick, what a nightmare!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Six-Word Saturday: 5 Teves, 5771

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

“No knead” bread broke my mixer!

Forgot to blog about this one during the week.  I have some wonderful, local Red Fife whole-wheat flour my sister gave me that I wanted to try out, so I decided to do the No-Knead 100% Whole-Wheat Bread from King Arthur Flour again. 

I made it once before with spelt and it wasn’t fantastic.  This time around, it made a VERY dense loaf, but one that was eminently sliceable and eatable.

This is an unusual no-knead bread because you use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to mix the ingredients.  The finished “dough” is somewhere between a thick cake batter and a thin bread dough.  Definitely not kneadable.  And as the six words point out, really too heavy for what my cheapo hand mixer could take on, apparently.  (Luckily, I had a spare in the basement, albeit a tippy one I hate.)

Once mixed, you let the dough rise in the loaf pan (mine’s a bit big, which the King Arthur blog warns about – it really does affect the height of the finished loaf).

parsha 002 

My loaf pan is bigger than recommended, and the house was a bit cool for rising bread.  All in all, though, I think this turned out quite passably well!

parsha 025

This loaf actually reminded me of the delicious round Malt Bread I loved as a child.  I’ll probably try making it again with a bit of white flour AND some of the malt powder she gave me a LOoooong time ago that is still sitting in the freezer.  Lightened up a bit, with a touch of malt, this could be the perfect toasting loaf. 

In fact, perhaps I’ll mix some up now and bake it tonight for tomorrow’s breakfast…

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It’s PURPLE!!!

Elisheva made cimbuns again… but this time, she added just a few drops of food colouring to the icing.

2010-12-09 elipurpy

Mmm, purple!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The naked Sufganya (aka Jelly Donut!)

chanukah 006These are the same as Friday’s, made once again with the Balthazar’s Chocolate Bread dough.

They turned out great!  Much easier than I thought they would be, although the table is still a powdery, jammy mess.

The sourdough wasn’t quite ready from its overnight rest when I had to mix up the final dough (it was fridge-cold when I started it last night – I didn’t give it any time to warm up first), but because the recipe calls for added yeast, I didn’t worry about it too much, and the dough still rose fabulously well. 

It’s a moist dough, but far more workable (in my opinion) than the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day pain au chocolat.  If I was making it up as a loaf, I would definitely go with this recipe.

I used a plain round cookie cutter, let them rise a bit before frying, and filled the heavy pareve enamel pot with oil so as to ensure a perfect yummy sphere shape for each sufganya.

Et voila!  Here they are, fried up and naked, waiting for their powder…

chanukah 004

The jamming / jellying operation was pretty tricky, and there was quite a bit of jam goobering here and there.  I thought raspberry tasted much yummier than strawberry, but I ran out towards the end and hat to use strawberry on the last few.  The ones with strawberry just tasted like chocolatey toast, at least to me.

Here they are with a light sprinkling of icing sugar (unlike on Friday, when I overly drenched them):

 chanukah 005 

Definitely a hit at the Chanukah party!  Definitely one to make again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Six-Word Saturday: 28 Kislev, 5771 (Chanukah Edition)

Why the weird dates? Click here to find out! 

Chocolate beignets… a newfangled Chanukah treat!

I made chocolate-bread-dough donuts last year for Chanukah, but I think I used the Artisan Bread in Five recipe, which I remember as being on the potchke-dik side (long and involved process).

This year, I went with the Balthazar’s Chocolate Bread recipe.  Chocolate bread is ideal for donut-making in so many ways – it’s definitely chocolatey but not too sweet.  My family didn’t like the bread as BREAD because the chocolatey look of it really throws you off and you’re expecting cake. 

The Balthazar’s dough, based on a gentle sourdough or overnight starter, was VERY easy to mix up and to work with.  The trade-off seems to have been that the donuts were not very puffed-up; not very rich.

Here are the steps, without much commentary, because it’s late and I’m tired.

frying 009 frying 010 

I tried filling with jelly and folding over… ugh, what a mess.  I stopped after the first four.

frying 011 

Just cut the rest into nice rectangles.

frying 012 

Followed the advice of this King Arthur author and shallow-fried rather than wasting a huge pot of oil.  Worked well enough, I guess.  This is my new pareve 12” cast-iron pan, which I found at Superstore for $9 and finally toivelled this week. 

What a great way to break it in; It’s thoroughly seasoned now!

frying 014

I wish I had sprinkled the finished beignets with icing sugar.  Instead, I tossed them in icing sugar, which made the sugar look caked and unappealing.

This is a terrible picture:

cookies 003

They went fast, so they must have tasted good.  I know I had a few, and they stayed fresh and appealing well into Shabbos afternoon.  I am making this recipe again for my extended-family’s Chanukah party tomorrow afternoon.

Happy Chanukah from all of us:  the staff, volunteers, members, board and executive of Adventures in BreadLand!

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