Category Archives: bread

KA Italian Bread 101 “Review” (Picture Heavy)

The national recipes for ‘French’ and ‘Italian’ breads are limited in terms of what CAN and CAN’T be used in them in order to be able to legally use those terms. I decided to make a loaf of “Italian” bread using the recipe posted on the King Arthur website.

ETA: The recipe uses four ingredients for the bread: flour, water, salt and yeast.

I followed the recipe and instructions exactly, only adjusting the timing of the steps based on the action of my yeast, as I didn’t want to over proof the dough while maximizing oven spring.

Pillowy crumb … the slice was taken from one end of the braid but the height wasn’t much greater further in from the end.

The ‘starter’ was mixed up, covered with plastic food wrap and a towel and allowed to ferment for 12 hrs at room temperature (77 deg F). The next morning, the rest of the ingredients were added, the dough was kneaded by hand (10 min, 5 min rest, additional 5 min) and let rise for 45 minutes, covered, in an oiled bowl. Then the dough was deflated, reshaped into a ball and allowed to rest/rise for an additional 25 minutes.

   
   

The risen dough was divided into three equal portions, shaped into 18″ long ropes, braided and allowed to rise, covered, on parchment paper until it was ‘very puffy’. Then it was brushed with a wash of egg white and water and sprinkled with about 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds.

   

My straight braid developed a distinctive ‘curve’ during proofing … perhaps due to uneven braiding or tension.

 

Baked for 30 minutes at 425 deg Fahrenheit.

Conclusion: Nice crunchy crust. Taste was very good even though I was afraid that it would be a bit too salty and was tempted to reduce the salt, from 1 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp. Watch your dough for the timing of the proofing times.

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Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust and Herbs Inside and Out

Last year I was feeling a bit adventurous so, along with my usual purchase of a 20 kg bag of Canadian all purpose flour ($19.99 including tax), I came home with a 1 kg bag of imported Italian Tipo 00 flour (Camino brand, $2.99). This is a very finely milled wheat flour often used for pizza dough and pasta, in Italy. This particular bag is listed as being made from soft wheat flour, though that’s not necessarily the case with all Tipo 00 flours.

I decided that, at that price, it better make some pretty amazing pizza dough.

And I kept putting off trying it out.

Until NOW … mostly because I want pizza and I’ve got less than a cup of all purpose flour in the house, and no intention of replacing my stash until some time in August.

NOTE: I calculated the protein content (5 gm per 42 gm of flour) at 11.9% confirming, that in this case, it IS a low protein flour.

Tipo 00 Flour Pizza Crust – makes enough dough for one 12 inch pizza

250 gm Tipo 00 flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant/bread machine yeast
140 gm room temperature water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

In a medium sized bowl, add the flour and salt. Stir to mix through. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast, water and olive oil. Mix through with your finger tips until all the flour has been moistened and then gather together into a ball.

Transfer the ball of dough to a clean working surface and knead, without adding any additional flour, for 5 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Knead for another 3-5 minutes until the ball of dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled medium sized bowl, turning the ball in the oil to lightly cover. Cover tightly with a sheet of food wrap and drape a towel over the bowl. Put the bowl of dough into a warm place and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Degas the dough and round up into a ball, cover with the food wrap and then the towel and let the dough rest for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450-500 deg F about an hour before you want to bake your pizza.

Prepare your pizza baking sheet by sprinkling ground cornmeal lightly over the top. Stretch the dough onto your baking sheet. Top and place into the preheated oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the ingredients are cooked, the cheese is nice and bubbly and the underside and crust is golden brown. Remove the pizza to a cooling rack and let rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting so that the cheese has a chance to set.

Trial 1: The dough weighed 403 gm and it took 13 1/2 minutes to bake the pizza. I estimate that the oven had only been at temp (500 deg F) for about 15-20 minutes. The next time, I’ll start preheating the oven as soon as the pizza dough is ready for its hour of rest instead of waiting half an hour.

Review: There were only a few big bubbles in the pizza crust but they WERE there. I have a couple ideas of ways in which to get more of those bubbles. The underside of the crust was crisp, relatively thin and golden brown and the pizza crust itself was nice and chewy. It’s a good pizza, similar in taste and texture to one available from a popular local pizza restaurant and delivery place. And a lot cheaper. I’d buy the flour again if it was a good price.

And, on a side note: I like using fresh herbs in my cooking but nurturing them is a chore.

Cause … I get bored.

And distracted … so I don’t use them at their peak. In any case, this is my current inventory of culinary herbs.

Inside

Italian Basil

Japanese shiso/ perilla (3 overcrowded pots) and a sad lavender plant

Outside

Mint and Thyme – with a couple of green onion bulbs that I transplanted after harvesting the tops a few times

Thai Basil and Sage

Sweet Potato Buns (and Looking at the Dough NOT the Clock)

I recently saw a post on one of my bread making FB groups about making potato bread/buns … and I was intrigued.

So, this past long weekend, I went down into the basement for the last six Yukon gold potatoes that I had …

… only to have a second thought based on the presence of a LARGE sweet potato in the shoe caddy hanging at the top of the stairs into the basement.

The result was eight HUGE moist and tender buns. (I used “Chef John’s” Sweet Potato Bun recipe from the All-recipes website.)

Crumb of the sweet potato buns

NOTE: On line recipes are sometimes a crap shoot when it comes to the detail of the instructions given, or lack thereof. In this particular case, the proofing times were way off. It took my dough one hour to rise to the top of the bowl NOT the two hours that the recipe claimed. Only the dinner plate covering the top of the bowl prevented a spill over. And my kitchen wasn’t even particularly warm … barely 72 deg F.

Based on that, I watched the final proofing time carefully. It took half an hour for the buns to have doubled in size. Since I had something else in the oven already, I threw the baking tray with the buns into the fridge until I was ready to bake them.

Looks like ‘someone’ was nibbling on that warm buttered bun. 🙂

REVIEW: Soft and tender buns with a bit of sweetness. Beautiful golden colour. The size though … well, when they said LARGE, they meant large. I used 115-120 gm of dough per bun. I’d scale that back to 95-100 gm next time which should give me ten buns and not the eight I ended up with. And I’d definitely make this recipe again.

Here’s another case of a recipe that didn’t QUITE work as expected.

Mocha cookies sounded pretty amazing when I ran across them on a recent web search. And the pictures made my mouth water. I followed the instructions carefully. Butter at room temperature. I even weighed it. Egg at room temperature. And I have a light and consistent hand when measuring flour. My oven is calibrated properly and it was preheated long enough that I knew it was accurate. I was surprised that the recipe said it only made FOURTEEN cookies but used a soup spoon to measure out the dough. The resulting balls were about two inches in diameter so I decided to scale them back to one inch in diameter, made the fourteen cookie balls and prepared to watch the timing so they wouldn’t burn.

SURPRISE

I ended up with little marbles.

They didn’t spread AT ALL even after I gave them an extra couple of minutes of baking time.

I still had a bit over half the cookie dough left so I weighed it, and divided the dough into EIGHT (46 gm) portions. The first batch of cookie balls had all sorts of cracks and imperfections after they baked so I made sure that these cookied balls were perfectly smooth, pre-baking. I took a good look at the dough balls before I put them in the oven and they looked HUGE. Since I didn’t want GIANT marbles, I decided to dip the base of a coffee mug into granulated sugar and flatten the dough balls.

NOTE: For some reason I didn’t think to increase the baking temperature from the 350 deg Fahrenheit in the recipe to 375 deg for this second batch.

The cookies still didn’t spread but the resulting cookies were more ‘cookie-like’ in shape. And like the first batch, they were soft.

REVIEW: The cookies were tasty though I think they were missing … something … taste-wise. I don’t think I’d make this recipe again.

Enriched Duck Fat Dough … Hamburger/Slider Buns and Sticky Salted Caramel Walnut Rolls

Last weekend I did a lot of cooking so this weekend was baking time. Between the buns, rolls and pizzas, I’m going to be burning through a bunch of yeast and flour. Instead of using butter, I made a batch of enriched dough using duck fat, eggs and milk. You can use the same enriched ‘brioche style’ dough for various bakes, sweet or savoury.

Half of the dough (~ 2 lbs/ 900 gm) was shaped into eight 60 gm hamburger buns while the rest was rolled out into a rectangle, filled with a home made caramel sauce and chopped walnuts (use pecans if you have them) and sliced into rolls. The only change I made to my basic duck fat dough was to double the sugar content to two tablespoons.

Hamburger/Slider Buns

Each hamburger was made using 125 gm of extra lean ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper and a bit of onion powder. Nothing else … no bread, no milk, no eggs, no Worchestershire sauce. The plastic sour cream lid under the bun in the front left of the picture below was used to shape the raw burger patty. The sliders I made are a bit smaller than the commercial hamburger buns. Next time, I may use a bit more dough for my sliders … maybe up to 75-80 gm. I haven’t decided yet.

Sticky Salted Caramel Walnut Rolls

Dough rolled out to a 16″ by 10″ rectangle, spread with 1/4 cup of salted caramel sauce and about a cup of chopped walnuts, rolled up and cut into 2 inch wide rolls. (I’d probably cut back the nuts to 1/2 cup next time.) Baked at 350 deg F for 30-35 min. Once baked, more caramel sauce was poured over each roll.

While my camera battery was recharging, I couldn’t resist snacking on one of the rolls.

Gozleme or Turkish Flat-bread

Lately, I’ve taken to experimenting with various breads of the world … tortillas, fatayer, khachapuri. Not only are they tasty, but they’re filling and inexpensive and, by switching up the fillings, they’re rarely boring.

Gozleme are Turkish flat-breads, rolled very thinly, like burek or strudel dough, and then folded over or around greens (spinach or beet tops) and cheese (feta, cheddar or other hard melting cheeses), seasoned meat mixtures, sauteed mushrooms or even seasoned potatoes and then brushed with olive oil or clarified butter and sauteed in a pan.

The dough may be unleavened or leavened (yeast or baking powder) and the liquid used may be water, milk or yogurt.

For my first attempt, I decided on a simple recipe in which the dough is made with self-raising/rising flour, yogurt and a bit of salt. For the filling, I just used some grated cheddar.

The dough was a bit wetter than I expected but I resisted adding additional flour and used as little flour as possible to do the kneading. The results were successful … a smooth, silky dough that was fairly easy to roll out to the size called for (20-25 cm/8-10 inches).

The only problem was the cooking temperature. Knowing my stove, I was leery about cooking the flatbread over medium-high heat, so I turned the heat down to medium. Even after only one minute, in my cast iron frying pan, the flat-bread was almost charred black, so I decided to cook the rest of the flat-breads over medium-LOW heat, for 1-2 minutes per side, until they were golden.

I also played around with the shaping and found that the simplest method, a circle of dough half covered with the filling and folded over into a half moon was the most successful as the more elaborate folded rectangle or square packets ended up with the thicker (multi-layered) side not frying in the time expected and resulted in an underdone/gummy flatbread.

February Wrap-Up

ANOTHER PICTURE HEAVY POST WARNING:

February’s been a month of snow and rain and cooking.

I’ve already posted a number of things but there have been meals and dishes produced to nourish the body even if they were not post-worthy on their own or repeats of previous posts.

No-knead sourdough with a bit of ground rolled oats added to make for a taste boost. Toasted and spread with peanut butter … a delicious breakfast addition or snack.

I also made another loaf of sourdough quinoa for sandwiches.

I tried out a recipe for Chipotle Yum Yum Sauce posted on “The Frugal Housewifeblog and used it on pork roast and on poached eggs served on toasted sourdough bread … a sort of Tex-Mex eggs Benedict. Fast and easy to make and delicious.  I’m sure I’ll think of other ways to use it in the future.

Devilled eggs made with the Yum Yum sauce in place of the mayonnaise … so good

Meals and stuff

Creamy beef tortellini soup

Teriyaki baked salmon

Japanese chicken and tofu curry (using prepared roux) over rice

Chinese sausage rice bowl

Sliced bread/baguette pizza

Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup … I added a couple of strips of cooked bacon to the sandwich as well.

Fried eggs, Polish sausage, cream cheese breakfast or lunch

Puff pastry filled with sweetened whipped cream and fresh blackberries

Blackberry lemonade

 

Vietnamese Baguettes (Banh Mi)

PICTURE HEAVY POST:

These tasty breads are a product of the French colonization of Vietnam and similar to the French baguette. They’re usually filled with sweet and tangy pickled vegetables and an assortment of cold cuts or warm grilled meats.

I made a trio of baguettes using the recipe posted on “Danang Cuisine” website. Though I weighed the all purpose flour and water carefully, my dough ended up much wetter than in the pictures posted or on the accompanying video so I added another 1/2 cup (~60 gm) in order to get a dough that was no longer sticky and firm enough to  shape easily.

Pictorial Recipe

Creating the sponge … just mixed, two hours later, and after addition of the reserved flour

Additional flour/kneading, after doubling and shaping

Baguettes ready for proofing, proofed, slashed and ready for baking

Baked baguettes with a shot of the underside

Interior of the baguette

 

Banh Mi filled with flaked Sriracha mayonnaise, basted and baked, salmon, romaine and extra mayo (actually Miracle Whip)

Cross-section and crumb of the baguette

Buttermilk Duo (Biscuits and Honey Bread) and Pot Roast Leftovers

I was tempted by a liter of half price buttermilk (even if the best before date was a few days later) and made a couple of new recipes I had found on FB and the internet.

Buttermilk Biscuits – tasty enough but a bit too much butter for my taste and a fussy technique with results that didn’t make me want to repeat the recipe.

Buttermilk Honey Bread – a 2 loaf bread recipe found on the Spruce web site. No eggs were used in the bread itself, but I used one for a glaze. Instead of using all the dough to make two loaves, I reduced the amount so that I only used 500 gms of dough for each loaf and divided the rest (~640 gms) among four hoagies

Grilled cheese sandwich

Pot roast hoagie with mushroom gravy and Brie cheese – a Philly cheese steak inspired sandwich using leftovers from my Christmas dinner. All it was missing was some french fries and a pint of cold beer. Prior planning would have helped.

As you can tell … I LIKE Brie … a lot.

Wrapped in foil and baked in a hot (400 deg F) oven for about 10-15 minutes until the pot roast has warmed through and the cheese is melted. Messy as the mushroom gravy seeps out, but SO delicious.

Home Made Bagels and Lox

I got a craving for bagels and lox when I saw smoked salmon on sale in this week’s grocery flyer.

There’s nothing like fresh, home made bagels so I made a batch. But, since it had been about five years since I last made them, I forgot a few things. Like DON’T make a larger size than this particular recipe calls for. Don’t crowd the bagels when boiling cause they grow and deform each other. And use the ball/poke method for shaping. The sealed rope method has a tendency to come undone while you’re boiling your bagels … no matter how well you think you sealed the two ends.

Large sized (75-80 gm) bagels using the sealed rope method (8 inch long rope)

   

 

Small size (50-55 gm) bagels, poke your floured index finger into the center of the ball of dough and then stretch the hole in the middle to create a hole that’s about 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter. The holes will close up a bit while boiling.

 

The results were worth the effort.

I let the larger bagels bake a bit too long, I think.

Re-post of Old Standbys

PICSPAM BELOW:

Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to research/cook/post new recipes. So I dig out the tried and true recipes of the past. Pork is featured in some form in almost everything below, except for the chili.

Like pork crackling biscuits.

I use bacon fat instead of lard or butter for the lamination.

You don’t need to cross-hatch the top of the dough before cutting out the biscuits, but it does make them pretty.

Ham and bean (pinto) soup flavoured with bay leaves and thyme

Chili topped tostadas

Debrecener (Hungarian style pork) smoked sausages served over sauteed coleslaw flavoured with balsamic vinegar

Sometimes I just fry the sliced sausage rings and serve them with fried eggs and cottage cheese for breakfast.

Pizzas made with Greek flatbread

… or with my regular white bread/pizza dough. Half of the dough was used to make a 12 inch diameter pepperoni, mozzarella and fresh basil pizza and the rest was shaped into buns for work lunches.

Nice fluffy crumb in the pizza crust

Underside of the buns – baked for 20 minutes at 400 deg F then basted with melted butter