Sunday, December 25, 2011

Test-Driving the Pyrex Bake-a-Round

I have taken one giant step forward in my Ongoing Quest to create the perfect round and malty bread, which will sustain me through the winter!  And I also got to test-drive the newly-toivelled Pyrex Bake-a-Round baking “pan.”  (which is really just a tube in a rack)

Here’s the Bake-a-Round, all greased up (with shortening, per the instructions, NOT Pam, though I don’t know why) and ready for action.

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I decided to use this British Malt Loaf Recipe, for authenticity.  I figured it’s from the Flour Advisory Bureau.  Even their name is FAB; how bad could the bread be?  I liked the fact that most of the ingredients were scaled, and quickly switched my scale to pounds and ounces so I wouldn’t have to convert.  I also appreciate its use of the word “whilst.”

(I doubled everything, because it didn’t sound like very much.)

Ingredients for Malt Loaf

(bastardizations of the original, for necessity or preference, shown with strikeout below)

75ml (2 1/2 fl oz) hand-hot water
200g (7oz) brown flour or 100g (3 1/2 oz) wholemeal flour and 100g (3 1/2 oz) strong white flour – I don’t have whole wheat, so I subbed 3oz spelt, 4oz bread, then doubled these to get 6oz spelt, 8oz bread flour.
2.5ml spoon 1/2 tsp) salt
2 x 15ml spoons (2 tbsp) malt extract – YES!!!  I have this!
2 x 15ml spoon (2 tbsp) black treacle dunno what treacle is, but I suspect it’s molasses; I used molasses.
25g (1oz) margarine we’re out of margarine, so I used oil, but ran out halfway, so I only ended up with 1.5oz instead of 2oz of oil.
30g (1oz) dark soft brown sugar we’re out of brown, so I used white and a bit of extra molasses
100g (3 1/2 oz) sultanas  sultanas is British for raisins; I omitted these!
Honey or golden syrup to glaze because I baked this in the Bake a Round, I didn’t glaze it.

Yeast:
2 x 5ml spoons (2 tsp) conventional dried yeast + 5ml spoon (1 tsp) sugar
or 15g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast

or 1 x 5ml spoon (1 tsp) fast action easy blend yeast – YUP, I used regular instant yeast.

How to make Malt Loaf

  1. Stir the dried yeast and sugar into the water and leave until frothy, or blend the fresh yeast with water, or mix the easy blend yeast with the flour.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a bowl, add the sultanas.
  3. Warm the malt, treacle, margarine and sugar until just melted and the sugar dissolved, and stir into the flour with the yeast liquid. (Note: if using instant yeast add to dry flour and warm the water with the malt mixture).
  4. Mix to a soft dough.
  5. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until no longer sticky (about four minutes), adding more flour if necessary.
  6. Shape and place the malt loaf in a greased 500g (1lb) loaf tin. Cover the dough and leave to prove in a warm place until doubled in size - about one and a quarter hours.
  7. Bake at 220°C, Gas Mark 7, for 30 minutes until browned and the malt loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  8. Cool the Malt Loaf on a wire rack. Whilst the loaf is still hot brush the top with honey or syrup.

Actually, I just dumped the wet stuff, yeast, salt, sugar, etc., into the bucket and stirred in the flours until it was kneadable.  I might warm the wet things a bit more first next time.

Makes 1 Malt Loaf

Flour Advisory Bureau
www.fabflour.co.uk

Once mixed, the dough just kind of sat there in the bucket.

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After a LONG wait, I blobbed it into a ball and rolled it up, then jammed it into the tube.  It was easy enough to insert, but didn’t keep its shape – the whole loaf sagged down to the bottom more than I’d expected.

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Oops – forgot to cover the ends with tinfoil, so I did that after a bit.

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Time for baking (still not very risen, but a bit bubbly, at least!

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Popped it into a 425° oven, which turned out to be too hot for a loaf this big and sweet.  After a while, it got very dark, but it still wasn’t done.  After another long while, it got BLACK on the bottom, and was as done as it was going to be, so I pulled it out.

I thought getting the loaf out of the Bake A Round was going to be tricky, but it turned out the loaf wasn’t coming out because I still had the tube in the rack.  Once I lifted it slightly out of the rack, the loaf pretty much slid out, with the help of a silicone splatula.  (splatula = more like a bowl scraper than the pancake turning thing most people call a spatula)

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Looks like a disaster, I know, but – cooled and sliced, it actually ended up tasting delicious.  My mother said, “tastes like it should have raisins in it!”  Thanks for that vote of confidence.  Everybody thought it was very sweet indeed – probably too sweet to serve at supper alongside potato-corn soup, which I did.

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Also, the loaf had a weird “split” down the centre, which you can kind of see here, probably due to the overly high baking temperature.  I would bring it down next time, probably to 400 or maybe even 375, to give it time to rise and bake through without excessive browning.

It didn’t slice particularly well, and I did wait until it was only warm, not hot.  The crust crumbled tremendously.  I think perhaps a bit more kneading next time will give it less cakey crumbliness and more bready strength.  And less sugar, because it really doesn’t need all that treacle/molasses, plus sugar, on top of the malt, unless you want a really festive or breakfasty loaf.

So, to sum up, for the future:

  • no added sugar
  • all white flour to maximize rise / gluten until the recipe is perfected
  • use the full amount of oil
  • knead more
  • longer rise time before forming loaf?
  • lower bake temperature

Nevertheless, I feel good about this recipe.  I really feel like I’m on my way!

(filing this under barley because that’s what malt really is!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Baking Toy!

imageActually, this is more than a New Baking Toy – it’s Step 1 in a however-many step plan to bake the perfect Malt Bread, exactly as I remember it from childhood, or as near as makes no nevermind.

Here’s the toy…

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Bought new in box on etsy for not too much money, and shipped BEAUTIFULLY packed – I’m very impressed.

The actual malt bread I’m thinking of is NOT the “malt loaf” popularly known by the name Soreen in the U.K.  That looks icky; it’s full of fruits and whatnot.  What I’m searching for is authentic Canadian malt bread, such as that turned out every day in the Dempster’s factory and sold without a hechsher in supermarkets very near my home.

The bread itself is sweet, but not too sweet.  It has a definite malt taste, and – I’m thinking now – perhaps some molasses as well.  It has a dark colour, but that could easily just be caramel colour… which I don’t have.  Definitely no fruit, no puréed dates or raisins or whatever else British people think belongs in a malt loaf.

As for the Bake A Round, this cool pyrex pan creates perfectly round breads, apparently with a lovely, crisp, artisan-style (shudder) crust. 

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It’s a fascinating shape, although the true malt bread is more like this round, bumpy shape:

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In the U.K., where – again – everybody knows about such things, this is known as “milk loaf.”  And it is baked into those beautiful swirly round lines in a “milk loaf tin.”  Here’s one I found on eBay – at $40, actually not all that expensive.

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But for now, I’m happy with my Bake A Round.  Ted’s off work tomorrow, so I hope I can go toivel it and get started baking delightful, crispy, eventually malty loaves.

(oh, just remembered – Step 1 was actually buying the malt syrup; that’s probably an important one…!)

I should be going to bed…

But isn’t this a beautiful braiding pattern for a round loaf??? image

Definitely something to try next Rosh Hashanah!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sharing the dough!

image Yay!  You may remember this photo from my Rosh Hashanah sourdough Pan de Calabazas this past year.

Well, I sold my editor at the Canadian Jewish News on an article about “kosher sourdough baking” – in which I reveal the stunning truth that “kosher sourdough baking” is pretty much the same as any other sourdough baking.

Read it here.

Scottish Shortbread – so awesome, I had to blog it!!!

DSC01868Forgive me, I know it’s not bread, but it’s that time of year again, when I bake up a storm for the sake of in-laws far and wide – hopefully wide, once they’ve tasted my yummy bakies!

So last year’s shortbreads were GOOD, but I wanted to kick them up a notch.

And, at the recommendation of Shoshana at Couldn’t be Pareve, I invested last week in a little bottle of LorAnn’s Buttery Sweet Dough bakery emulsion

(What a cute store, by the way; they’re on the Internet, but they’re right here in Mississauga, only about 25 minutes away when it’s not rush hour.  I wouldn’t say this is the best baking store in the GTA, but I had a great time browsing when I went in to pick up my emulsions.  Oh, yeah… I also bought some of this Princess Cake & Cookie bakery emulsion.  Oh, and on an impulse, a bottle of this Red Velvet emulsion, which includes the deepest, darkest red food colouring you could possibly imagine, with which I baked the most wonderful pure-buttermilk Red Velvet cake and… oh, never mind; on with my tale.)

So I had the right stuff, with the emulsion, but I wanted a killer recipe to go along with it.

I know REAL shortbread has corn starch.  The corn starch package used to come with this recipe, but that’s what I made last year and it lacked – oomph.  Plus, in cups and I’m a scale snob, so… fuggedaboudit

Found this maple-pecan shortbread bars recipe, thought about it for a second, then thought – nope; I’m looking for authentic.

A pretty obvious Google search yielded this Scotch Shortbread (by weight) recipe from Cooks.com.  But honestly, I don’t trust that site, or any other site that doesn’t have reviews.  Plus, this recipe uses regular sugar, and I really like the sandy, fine, almost melty consistency when I use icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar, to you in the U.S.A.).

At the other end of the spectrum, in terms of reliability, I found this basic shortbread recipe that was very well-reviewed at King Arthur Flour’s website.  If this site was that trust exercise you’re supposed to do when you’re team-building, I would fall backwards into its arms any day. 

But no corn starch!  Waah!  What’s a girl with a craving, I mean, parcels to fill, supposed to do???  Well, duh:  you MERGE the recipes.

I stuck the King Arthur recipe into a spreadsheet and tweeked the Scotch recipe from Cooks.com up and tweeked the King Arthur recipe down until I had a recipe that calls for the same amount of butter as the King Arthur and the same amount of sugar and cornstarch as the Cooks.com recipe. 

Betcha you’re worried I’m not going to share it with you now!  But I am…

AWESOME INTERFAITH IN-LAWS SHORTBREAD (by weight)

227g butter (8oz, 2 sticks, 1 cup) – salted works well for this
113.5g confectioner's sugar (4oz, about 1 cup)
salt, a light sprinkling, if butter is unsalted
85g cornstarch (3oz, about 1 cup)
2 tsp Butter Sweet Dough emulsion (or vanilla extract, or almond, or whatever you like)
170g cake & pastry flour (= 6oz, about 2 cups)
small amount of regular granulated sugar, for sprinkling

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F
  2. Spray a 9” x 13” x 2” (33cm x 22.9cm x 5cm) baking pan with spray oil.  (I used aluminum pans, that’s how I know exactly what size it is!)
  3. Cream butter with sugar in a large bowl until well-mixed.  If using unsalted butter, sprinkle a bit of salt on top while mixing and ensure that it’s well-blended.  The King Arthur folks say, “with no liquid in the recipe, it's impossible for added salt to disperse itself fully through the shortbread dough; you end up with unpleasantly gritty bits of salt in each bite.”  So be it.*
  4. Add cornstarch and emulsion/extract and mix well.
  5. Add flour and mix well.  You should NOT need to add water, but it may take a minute or more for everything to come together.  This is a very stiff, “cookie-dough” type dough.
  6. With slightly damp hands OR plastic wrap over the top, press into prepared baking pan.  My favourite way, once it’s spread out a bit in the pan, is to take another pan exactly the same size (it’s easy if you use aluminum!) and press it on top.  Then, I run my fingers around the inside of the SECOND pan, ensuring that the dough is spread evenly throughout the FIRST pan.  For some reason, you can feel how even it is really well through another pan.  I do this trick for press-in quiche and piecrusts, too.  Peel the second pan off carefully so it doesn’t stick.
  7. Poke the pan full of cookie with a fork in pretty, even rows so it doesn’t blow up like a balloon – or something.
  8. Bake at 300°F for 35-40 minutes.  Don’t let it get brown, but you do want to make sure it’s set properly in the middle, so a degree of golden at the edges is perfect.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  10. Allow to cool slightly, but remember to cut it after about 10 minutes, or at least, while it’s still quite warm.  If you wait too long sitting writing a blog post about how amazing it is, and the thing cools off, it will crumble when you cut it.

* I like how they describe the salt I’m throwing in as “unpleasantly gritty” but one person leaving a 5-star rating for this recipe mentions how they love to “add 1 TB chopped fresh rosemary and then sprinkle with a light dusting of sea salt before baking. I love the mix of sweet and savory.”  My salt is unpleasant – hers is somehow artistic because she tosses in a few pine needles?!?

Whatever you do… remember:  baker gets dibs on the less-desirable end pieces!  Save the pretty middle bits for holiday gift-giving.  Or, what the heck, bake up another batch for them… it’s pearls before swine, anyway!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Pass the Pita, Please!

DSC01693Not pita exactly, since this is basically the same way I make any flatbread.  Roll it, pat it, and toast it in my wonderful cast-iron skillet.   Dry – no grease or anything on the pan beyond the olive oil we apply to store the pan.

I used the basic “50% spelt” recipe from Artisan Pizza & Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day.  Not sure I love the cookbook, since there seem to be many many sauces and dips and not so many actual bread formulas, but I have it out from the library for a while longer, so I will keep exploring.

The reason I wanted spelt – other than the fact that my mother and sister picked me up a big bag of nice, fresh spelt a couple of weeks ago – is that I was preparing these “pita” for an “Egyptian feast” to tie in with our ancient history studies. 

Spelt may not be Emmer and Einkorn, but it’s a bit more authentic, and it adds whole grain without weighing down the taste and texture of the bread.  As far as I’m concerned, the words “delicious” and “whole grain” don’t usually belong in the same sentence… but spelt is where I (sometimes) make an exception.

If there’s one thing my current challah technique has gotten me REALLY good at, it’s rolling out millions of little circles.

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Here, I stretched one out on my special suede flatbread pillow (anyone know what this thing is called???): DSC01690 

Only to realize that the skillet was smaller than the pillow diameter.  Doh!
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Puff!  So beautiful…

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Ted suggested, because we always run out, that I should make 16, instead of 12 like I usually do.  Here they are!

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(For the first time ever, we had leftovers…)

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Mmmm…. the falafel themselves were from a mix, by the way.  Delicious, easy; I have made them from scratch, but the mix is just as good, and foolproof.

DSC01699For more about the feast, including the special “ancient” Egyptian dessert that Naomi helped me make,  click here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Six Word Saturday: 1 Cheshvan, 5772

image Why the weird dates? Click here to find out!

Hate to brag – but delicious challah!

Only my second time succeeding with Maggie Glezer’s “My Sourdough Challah”… but BOY did it turn out well!  Hate to brag, but this was delicious challah – and beautiful.

doughs 001 doughs 002

I still have no idea why my sourdough challahs were losing their braids last year.  But now, they are totally fine.

I even got to pass along some starter to a friend – along with the lower middle challah (a 1-lb’er; I had to keep the two big ones and the “baby” for our own Shabbos)!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why, oh, why???

Is it October and the fruit flies are still #$^! everywhere???

plants 001

Luckily, I have a tent!

Here, it’s sheltering two sourdough breads I made yesterday – one for our family, one for a friend who had a baby.  (I sent the bread with a lasagna… one cannot live on bread alone!)

I used Peter Reinhart’s basic Pain au Levain from p. 61 of Artisan Breads Every Day.  Indeed, it turned out so well, crusty outside, tender and moist with HUGE openings inside, that we could DEFINITELY eat bread like this every day.

I had almost forgotten. 

I don’t own this book, despite drooling over it countless times from the library, so I used my becoming-standard trick of perusing the book using Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature.  I took a quick screenshot of the recipe so I wouldn’t have to print it out.

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And, of course, I used my amazing Sourdough Spreadsheet again. 

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It was helpful, because the recipe called for 458g of 60% starter, and I only had 352g, so it told me exactly how much extra flour and water I needed to add to the recipe to compensate.  I wish the spreadsheet were easier to work with, and then I would definitely make it available…

But it really isn’t, and because I’m usually in a hurry when I’m tossing new recipes into it, I probably won’t develop it into a real Thing.  So there it is, rough edges and all.

And the bread was delicious!  I only have one dutch oven, so I baked my friend’s in there (I use the instructions from Artisan Bread in Five, which work out perfectly every time) and ours on my regular double-thick cookie sheet… now that I have no baking stone.

Waah.  No baking stone!?  One got broken, one got fleishiked (meatball fat dripped down onto it)… well, there it is.  And still – the bread was delicious. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Whole lotta Sourdough Pumpkin Challah / Pan de Calabaza

Nothing goes together at Sukkos time like fresh-picked PUMPKIN and challah dough!

We didn’t actually pick the pumpkins ourselves, but did pick them UP (and pick them OUT) at the place we went for apple picking.  So it’s sort of the same thing…

I have vowed never to peel another raw squash again, because it’s so blissfully EASY to just cut them in half, pop them in an oiled pan face-down, and roast them at 300° until it’s soft enough to poke.  You can actually roast them at almost any temperature.  400° works just as well but quicker… but just look what this Australian baking blog says about LOWER temperatures:

We roast the pumpkin in our wood-fired oven at a low heat (50C to 100C) for 24 - 36 hours. At the low temperatures the pumpkin malts, which firms and helps keep the pumpkin from falling apart in the dough.

Yummy!  (one of the kids said they thought the pumpkin would MUMMIFY in the heat, which it sort of sounds like it does… “malting” being another word for the mummification process)

Anyway, with my sourdough being up and about for the first time since January (gasp!), I decided to risk everything and toss that amazing fresh-roasted pumpkin into a sourdough challah.  I used Maggie Glezer’s Pan de Calabazas recipe from A Blessing of Bread, but I substituted 180g of my firm starter for all the yeast and some of the flour and water – using my sourdough spreadsheet to do all those tricky calculations, of course!

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Here we go, step by step…

The night before, mixing it all together.  Forgot to slurry it like she does in the recipe, but it all seemed to come together okay anyway, once I had compensated for a criminally evil version of the recipe that I found online (the book went  missing) which listed the wrong quantity of flour… and I was so tired that I didn’t realize and thought 7 oz might just equal 3.5 cups.  (nope!) 

Anyway, it worked out fine once we found the recipe (thanks Amazon Look Inside - p. 178 in case you’re peeking!) and got the right quantity of flour from there… at which point, Ted came upstairs with the actual book, which he’d found stuffed backwards onto a basement bookshelf.

So here’s the dough:

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(whoops – forgot the egg… but it only calls for one, and I don’t like eggy challah, so I wasn’t all that worried)

Fast-forward to mid-day the next day (erev Yom Tov), when I rolled it out.  I wanted to make the sourdough Calabaza loaves look special both so I could tell them apart and because – hey, they really ARE special.

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Braid the super-long snakes into a super-long braid.

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And coil up the braids to make a round challah!

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I also made three “plain” pumpkin challahs.  I used the rest of the fresh-roasted pumpkin, but stuck it into my regular Reliable Challah recipe.  Sadly, I also cut back on the sugar in that recipe, thinking the pumpkin would make it sweet – it kind of didn’t.

I made the “plain” loaves into regular snail challahs:

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All the challahs were smaller than I like to make them, which is a nice even 675g (1.5lb).  I knew I needed six loaves for all the meals that were coming, and couldn’t whip up another batch of challah at the last minutes. 

I seem to recall that the braided round sourdough loaves were around 610g, and the regular ones were even smaller – maybe 575g?  TOO small –almost everybody passing through over yom tov commented that they would have liked more challah.  Blah… I hate when that happens.

I baked the regular, yeast-risen challahs first and then, perhaps an hour later, baked the sourdough.  They really rose very quickly and had just exactly the right amount of puffiness. 

The flavour was nice:   not noticeably sourdough, but I was NOT disappointed.  We stuck the ones for Shabbos into the freezer, so I couldn’t check the keeping power of the sourdough vs the regular over their 3-day lifetime.  Every scrap of challah was gone by the time we made havdalah.

Oh - for once in my life, I actually managed to take a picture of the finished challahs before yom tov started!  You can see that I painted the sourdough challahs with extra egg – they were super-glossy.  Elisheva and Naomi begged me not to streusel the challahs – Naomi because she doesn’t like streusel and Elisheva, apparently, because it obscures the beauty of the challah… or maybe she just doesn’t like it.  I was in a hurry, so for once, I listened to them.

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On the right in the picture, you can see two more of the yom tov desserts – S’mores Cookie Bars and Almond Biscotti (aka Mandelbroit).

Mmm again… this was GOOD eatin’!

Apple Galette for the Last Days of Sukkos

I love the IDEA of galette, though I still couldn’t overcome my distrust of fruit desserts enough to actually TASTE this one.  But still, I made it and it turned out great – if I say so myself – with delicious Spy apples that Ted picked himself and set aside specifically for this purpose.

I like galette because it’s freeform and forgiving; I have never attempted the fancy two-crust pies my mother makes, or even Ted’s, which apparently taste fantastic but are slightly more homemade-looking.  It’s not that I couldn’t do it – I believe I could.  I just lack the patience.

No recipe for this one – a basic Crisco (gasp!) single pie crust, with some leftover graham crackers sprinkled on it.  I peeled and sliced WAY too many apples, and tossed them with a bit of sugar (a compromise; Ted likes almost none and most of us here like a ton) and lots of cinnamon and left them to sit in a bowl while the crust dough chilled.  Rolled it out, added the apples, sprinkled with more graham crackers, then folded the crust dough over and….

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NO, it did NOT burn!!!  The camera did that, I swear.  Okay, some of the sugar on top sprinkled all around and got – um – overly brown.  But I promise, it was not burnt looking in person!

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Interviewing Ted, who was looking over my shoulder as I typed this:  “how was the galette?”

Ted:  “It was very yum, for sure, very yummy… crust was slightly dry.  It wasn’t very moist.  I would have made it thicker so it wouldn’t cook so much and dry out.”

So there you have it!  “Not cook so much” should not be taken to imply that it was BURNT.  Really!  I’m just sitting here puzzling over how to reconcile the idea of a pie crust with the idea of MOISTness… maybe that’s why I don’t eat pie.  Too many contradictions!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Large-ish Quantity of Dough

 

Besides a bunch of Auntie Sally’s challah which I whipped up before Rosh Hashanah and still had in the freezer, this is the main “overnight sponge challah” I’ve been playing around with this yom tov season.

Because the base recipe doesn’t make very much, I thought I’d quadruple it for the first days of Sukkos, when we were expecting lots of guests.  With the help of my trusty sourdough spreadsheet (which works even with NO sourdough, just by filling in “0g” of starter), here’s what I came up with for the sponge:

1620 g flour (mix of ap and bread)
1960 g water
200 g sugar
220 g oil
4 tbsp salt
4 tsp yeast

Here’s the wet stuff going into the bucket first.  With its happy new batteries, my scale held it all,  even though officially it only holds up to 2kg.  I was so happy I’d finally gotten around to marking the bucket weight on the side, just in case.  That way, if the scale goes out (or goes to sleep) while I’m measuring, I can weigh the thing, then subtract the bucket weight with a calculator. 

(on previous occasions, prior to labelling the bucket, the process had involved screaming, then estimating based on the last number I’d glimpsed on the screen)

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Now, in goes all the dry stuff.  I mix the flours together carefully, so I don’t have patches of one or the other – even if they’re similar, like all-purpose and bread.

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Not too many kneads later, the sponge:

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And now it sits and rises overnight:

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In the morning – easy!  No math!  Just mix in flour until you have a workable, soft dough.  Ted took this picture of me doing it a couple of weeks ago.  YES, I do it by hand.  It’s gloppy at first, but you know you’re nearly done when your hand comes out cleaner and cleaner and cleaner…

erev rosh 011

Finally, the whole blob comes out onto the table for some real kneading, about 10 minutes’ worth, depending on the size.

And then it rests in the bucket again – or buckets, as the case may be… this one used the bucket and a big bowl, and both opened themselves up after a couple of hours.

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Take the thing out and fold it gently once or twice while it’s rising, if you’re so inclined.  (I was.)

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Here’s the finished dough.  Waah!  Too much!  But actually, it would turn out to be not enough; I was grateful for those “extra” two challahs in the freezer, because we used both of them up with all our guests over yom tov.

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Divided it up into my standard 675-gram portions.  I had enough to make 8 p0rtions and a very generous 9th which I left in the bucket.  Fried in a cast-iron pan, the leftovers became 12 nice-sized “naan” flatbreads for our second day’s lunch. 

Oh, also I made a bracha and separated a piece of challah.  I usually do it without a bracha, but for this quantity of flour, there was no doubt it needed one.

As usual, I rolled the blobs flat first, then rolled them up into these fat “grub” shapes.  (kind of like an open-ended bâtard, in classic French baking)  This is a Maggie Glezer technique that I think is supposed to make the dough “stronger.”  Dunno… but I like to do it before I roll them out, so I do.

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Roll each grub out to the length of the table.  I’m sure this is the REAL reason we have the custom of eating round challahs at this time of year – can you imagine braiding challahs for so many days of yom tov???  Round is easy!

(and for some reason, people are JUST as impressed by a super- easy snail challah as they are with a fancy braid – go figure)

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(like how everything on the table, mayonnaise, colouring supplies, spray oil, tinfoil pans, lapbook, etc., has been shoved to the other side to make room for the snake…?)

This year, I have learned that the secret to good round challahs is:  hold the loose end and wrap it around!!!  If you hold the centre and twist it around, though it may be easier, the challah will get too “high” and bunchy, like a turban, instead of a nice flat snail-shape.  Hard to describe, but if yours are coming out too high, try holding the other end as you wrap.

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And here they are – if not perfect, very, very yummy indeed.  And true to form, not a single picture of a finished challah.  They were finished literally the minute before yom tov started.  And now they’re gone… so no pictures!

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