Tag Archives: bread

French Baguettes 2 Ways

ETA: The 2nd version, with sourdough, would be considered the ‘best’ of the bunch. I like the first version.

I’ve made ‘baguettes’ before using regular bread dough, and even sourdough, but the attempts didn’t really conform to the traditional recipe (no sugar, just yeast or starter, flour, water and salt) and shaping of the real thing. I wanted to join a recent sourdough French baguette event on a FB group I belong to but didn’t have any active starter as it’s been either frozen or dried.

An attempt to thaw and build up some of my first sourdough starter from the freezer was a failure as I rushed things and overfed the small amount of live yeast in the frozen starter. I ended up adding some of the failed starter to a regular yeast bread recipe because I didn’t want to waste the flour. I even made a “lame” with a razor blade (package of 5 for $4) and a bamboo skewer so I could I could do proper slashes. I rehydrated some dried starter for the second try.

Lame

Comparison between the two baguette trials … the baguette on the left of the picture (yeast one) was pulled from the freezer so it looks a bit shriveled.

French baguette Trial #1 – yeast (plus failed starter from the freezer so as not to waste the flour). I used Kat’s French bread recipe from FB as a base but omitted the Vital wheat gluten.

 

The slashes opened up during baking but the placement was a bit off.

French baguette Trail #2 – sourdough using the recipe here and referring to the YouTube video for shaping

Crumb of the yeast (left) and the sourdough (right) baguettes

  

Pork Crackling Yeast “Biscuits” Redux

It’s been almost a year since I last made these pork crackling biscuits and I’ve been wanting to make some for the last month or so. They’re not particularly pretty  (I still took a lot of pictures to make up for the bad ones posted before) but they’re fluffy and tender from the pork fat in the cracklings. Some recipes grind half the cracklings to a paste and leave the other half more granular, but I kept them all granular. Duck fat was used to help create the layers.

Chunks of ground pork cracklings give texture and flavour to the biscuits

Two Different Finishes to the Biscuits  – The cuts on top should have been only 1/4 inch apart but I got lazy. The top layer slid off so it wasn’t as photogenic as the ones I made a number of years ago.

Pork Cracklings – cut into chunks and then ground

Layering the Dough

Duck Fat Brioche, Oreo Fudge and Chicken Livers

Work is slow in January, after the return from the Christmas break, and as teachers gear up for the last few weeks before the end of the fall semester. So, when I was at home on the first day back, I decided to make another batch of the duck fat brioche dough that I’ve posted already. In the meantime, I’ve eaten several of the rolls I made and assembled sandwiches from the rest, which are all wrapped up and in the freezer. So, I need bread.

I decided to post the brioche recipe to make it more convenient for anyone who wants to give it a try and doesn’t want to have to deal with eliminating the sourdough starter from the recipe.

You can shape the dough in various ways, as seen in the previous post. I made 9 inch long hoagies and rolls using a couple of different braiding techniques, this time.

One strand braids, Easter wreaths and a mini hoagie

Duck Fat Brioche Dough – makes ~ 1 kg/2.2 lb dough, enough for about 16 buns or rolls

1 cup warm milk (or 1 cup water and 1 tbsp milk powder)
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/4-4 1/2 all purpose flour (or a combination of all purpose, bread and semolina flour), divided
1/4 cup melted duck fat (or bacon fat or butter, if you can’t get the duck fat )
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg and 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

Dissolve the sugar in the warm milk, then stir in the yeast. Let sit and proof until foamy, about 10-15 min depending on temperature in the room.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour and the salt and mix through. Make a well in the middle and add your eggs, melted fat and yeast mixture. Beat well with a large wooden or metal spoon until you get a sticky batter. Gradually stir in the remaining flour, 1/3-1/2 cup at a time until you can no longer stir it and a ball starts forming around the spoon. Turn the batter onto a lightly floured working surface and gradually knead in more flour until you get a soft but not sticky dough. It will take you about 7-10 minutes. You can take a break after 5 minutes. Cover the dough with the bowl that you made your bread in and after a few minutes continue kneading.

Oil a large bowl, place your ball of dough into the bowl and turn it around a bit so the ball gets lightly coated with oil as well. Cover the bowl with a large sheet of plastic food wrap and a clean towel and place in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, 1 – 1 1/2 hr depending on the temperature in the room.

Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 2 portions. Divide each half into 8 portions and shape as desired.

Cover with an oiled sheet of plastic food wrap (oil the one you used previously) and a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 min to 1 hr.

Preheat the oven to 425 deg F. (For the buns or rolls, you can preheat the oven to 375-400 deg F.)

Brush the buns or rolls with egg wash and bake until the top is golden brown and the bottom is firm, about 18-22 minutes. If you think you need to bake a bit longer, cover the tops with a sheet of aluminum foil and continue baking for several more minutes.

Hoagie buns – you can make about 8 6-8 inch long buns (113.5 g/ 1/4 lb each). When baked, you’ll end up with a 9 inch long hoagie or submarine bun. For 12 inch hoagies, you might want to use double the amount of dough (227 g/ 1/2 lb)

For the Oreo cookie fudge switch-up, I used the basic vanilla fudge recipe, added a couple of ounces of finely shaved white chocolate and 6 crumbled Oreo cookies.

I know not everyone likes chicken livers but I do. So I bought 2 pounds, cleaned them up and then fried them in a couple of tablespoons of canola oil with a finely chopped onion, a splash of French brandy and a bit of paprika for colour. Delicious over mashed potatoes or the creamy polenta below.

Brioche Dough … Kaiser Rolls and Hamburger Buns

A brioche dough is a type of enriched dough. Milk, butter and eggs give you a lovely tender crumb and, whether you shape it into a bread loaf or any of the many shapes of buns and rolls, you’ll be happy with the result.

Crumb of the rolls

I used a basic brioche recipe as I have in the past for my hybrid hamburger buns, sans sourdough starter. (Replace the starter with ~ 2/3 flour and 1/3 liquid.) I DID make one other important change. Instead of using butter, I used leftover duck fat, for an even richer flavour.

Half of my dough (~2 lbs total) ended up as kaiser rolls and the other half was portioned slightly larger into buns.

 

December 2016 Cooking Wrap-Up

Cooking wise, if not in other respects, 2016 has been a successful year.

I made a second sourdough starter with canned pineapple juice and whole wheat flour and then made some great breads with it. I thickened it up quite a bit compared to the one I made in 2105 and that may have accounted for some of the success. Experience helped as well, as I’m less hesitant about trying new sourdough recipes. I did revisit the old stand-by, regular yeast, and made a delicious honey challah just before Christmas. Definitely something I’ll be repeating next year.

Bacon, Cheddar Cheese and Cracked Black Pepper Sourdough loaf and round Honey Challah

Crumb of the challah

Cooking on an even stricter budget than ever before resulted in having to be creative with simple ingredients bought on sale, like chicken, pork and ground beef, or leftovers, and the results were mostly successful. You’ll have to scroll back through the posts to see them. I do miss fish, seafood and steak however. I’m also grocery shopping less often and there’s less wastage as I try to use up what’s most perishable first. I’m also going back to basics with the dishes I’ve been making such as cookies and fudge. I haven’t been buying as many jarred sauces as in the past, while using up the ones I already have in things like stir-fries.

The meat sauce I made recently with a simple spaghetti sauce base was delicious as well as economical.  One pound of ground beef was stretched to make eight cups of sauce.

I turned some leftover mashed sweet potato into muffins with raisins for added sweetness using a recipe found on Rachel Ray’s web site.

And because I missed seafood … I bought a package of mussels in garlic sauce on sale, and one of cooked shrimp, and made this pasta dish with the spaghetti sauce.

Sourdough Flour Tortillas

I have a package of flour tortillas in my freezer for when I want to make wraps or quesadillas but a recent post on a sourdough baking group on FB inspired me to make my own with discard sourdough starter.

The recipe below has been scaled down from the original and the directions have been rewritten with a bit more detail.

Samantha Sunshine’s Sourdough Flour Tortillas – makes 8 x  6-7 inch diameter tortillas

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp vegetable oil or melted lard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix all the ingredients above together in a large bowl and knead to form a soft dough. You may have to add a bit more flour so it’s not sticky.

Wrap the ball of dough in a sheet of plastic food wrap and rest on the counter for a few minutes.

Divide into 8 portions and roll into balls. Pat each ball down gently to flatten and then roll out to a diameter of 6-7 inches.

Heat a cast iron frying pan or grill pan to medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan, add the tortilla and cook for a few seconds on each side. If you’re concerned about burning, lower the heat a bit (to between medium and medium high) and cook the tortilla for 20-30 seconds on each side. You’ll find the tortilla puffs up in places and the bubbles may char.

NOTE: According to a comment on the FB group, if you let them rest 24 hours wrapped at room temperature, you’ll have a true fermented flour tortilla. I only waited about an hour.

Post Thanksgiving / Pre-Christmas Doldrums in Cooking

If it weren’t for bread and soups, I wouldn’t be doing much new cooking at all these days. I’m not counting the six kinds of fudge I’ve made since Thanksgiving.

These are no knead sourdough breads where gluten development comes about from letting flour, water and starter autolyse for a long time at room temperature. Unlike high hydration doughs, which develop their gluten through a series of stretches and folds, and produce artisanal loaves full of large holes, the crumb of these loaves is more dense and you get lovely sandwich type breads as a result.

SweetDried Cranberry, Honey and Orange Zest

You can use various fresh or dried fruit, nuts and zest to make each loaf different.

SavouryBacon, Old White Cheddar and Cracked Black Pepper

I decided to stick with just a few ingredients so as to let them stand out in this loaf but dried herbs, and inclusions like black olives, pickled or fresh peppers (jalapeno or serrano), seeds and grains and even caramelized onion can be added.

A basic soup includes a liquid like a stock or water, a flavourful vegetable mixture, a starch (potato, pasta or rice), a protein (meat or dried bean or lentil), herbs and seasonings.

Italian sausage tortellini in a marinara broth and Turkey and wild rice in a light chicken stock

Beef and pot barley soup and Creamy turkey, potato gnocchi and veggie soup

Odds and Ends

Breakfast of sunny side up eggs, bacon and toasted sourdough bread

Pan-fried pork chop, mashed potatoes and coleslaw and home made ricotta filled beet (root) pasta ravioli in browned butter, sage and pine nut sauce with garnish of grated Parmesan cheese

Eye of Round Roast – a bit overcooked but I made a lovely gravy with the drippings/au jus

Purchased mititei/mici (skinless Romanian sausages) as part of a quick meal including several dips … marinara sauce, tzatziki sauce and hummus

Sourdough Duo – Carole L’s Bread and Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia

ETA: A quick picture of a holiday loaf version of Carole’s bread … Dried Cranberry, Honey and Orange Zest.

Add-in: 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp orange zest.

I decided to combine two sourdough bread posts into one to reduce the post overload. I’m putting Carole L’s bread (two versions) first because I’m including the recipe with it (it’s only available on FB and I’m rewriting the instructions with more information). I’m also going to make it again while I’m unlikely to repeat the focaccia one. It was good but not amazing.

Carole L’s No Knead Sourdough Loaf

Trial 1 – plain, baked at temperatures and times given

I over proofed the bread before baking so my slashes weren’t very effective

Trial 2 – Parmesan, basil pesto and pine nuts, baked at higher temperatures, with time adjustments

Crust is nice and crunchy … a bit of pressure and it cracked

Parmesan, Pesto and Pine Nut Small Sourdough – makes one 1 1/2 pound/ 700 gm baked loaf

Dough 1

1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or bread flour)
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/2 cup sourdough starter

Dough 2

1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose or bread flour)
1/2 cup room temperature water
1 tsp salt

Optional add-ins:
For the 3P version above, I used 2 tbsp each of grated parmesan cheese, basil pesto and pine nuts. I’m thinking of doing a cranberry and orange version for Christmas.

In a large bowl with a lid or a container that you can seal well with saran wrap, mix together the ingredients for Dough 1 and form a ball. Cover the bowl and leave on the counter at room temperature (~70 deg F) for at least 12 hours. (Longer is fine. I left the first attempt for over 20 hrs which helped develop the ‘sour’ taste that gives sourdough its name.)

The next day, add the ingredients for Dough 2, including any add-ins you might like and knead for 2-3 minutes.

Shape into a boule (ball) or batard (torpedo shape) using a bit of flour and place into a banneton or a bowl lined with a flour dusted linen type towel. Make sure your bowl is large enough for the dough to double in size. If the bowl has a lid, use it, otherwise, place the bowl into a large plastic bag and tie it close. (Some heat is generated during the rising process. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s true. Keep it in if you can.) Place the bowl in a warm place for about 2 hours.

After an hour, preheat the oven with a dutch oven, including lid, to 500 deg F/260 deg C.

NOTE: Test the dough for rise (it may not double) after about 1 1/2 hrs to see if it’s risen enough by pressing lightly with your finger tip to about 1/2 an inch in depth. You want the dough to spring back a bit … not immediately, cause that means it’s not proofed long enough. If you press down on the dough, and the shape of your finger remains, you’ve over proofed it. Oh well.

Turn out your dough into your hot dutch oven. If you’re afraid to burn yourself, line a large baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper and turn it over onto your rising bowl. Then flip the bowl so your dough ends up on the parchment paper. Transfer the dough including the parchment paper sling into your dutch oven.

Place the dutch oven lid on top and bake for 30 minutes. You may want to throw a couple of ice cubes into the dutch oven before you add your bread, but that’s not essential.

Take the lid off the dutch oven, reduce the heat to 425 deg F/220 deg C and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.

Remove the dutch oven from the oven and cool the bread on a cooling rack for at least 2-3 hours before cutting.

* * *

I was going to bake another tartine loaf but then I saw an amazing focaccia on a FB sourdough group and gave it a shot. I still cut my breads too soon after baking but, as a new sourdough baker, I just can’t wait to see what that crumb looks like.

The recipe I used was found here. I steeped minced garlic and finely chopped fresh rosemary in warmed extra virgin olive oil and then basted the oil over the top of the dough before I baked it. I think I went a bit overboard on the rosemary for my taste but otherwise, it’s a tasty bread to split and use as a sandwich bread or for dipping into stew, marinara sauce or seasoned extra virgin olive oil. The texture of the bread is quite similar to a loaf of ciabatta bread, but shaped into a flat sheet so there’s no ‘wastage’ with the taller areas of a loaf.

Before and after baking

Cut into strips and dip into marinara sauce or split in half and toast for sandwiches.

Tartine Bakery Country Loaf … Sourdough (sigh)

You know me, and giving up.

I don’t.

I’ve  tried several ‘traditional’ sourdough recipes, since I decided to make my own sourdough starter in the summer of 2015, and met with nothing but failure. I blamed the starter, but then I had problems with the new one too … probably a case of using the starter before it was ready.

I’ve learned through the process, sacrificing a lot of flour (all purpose and bread) to the bakery gods. Until I finally got this baby. (SO so proud.)

I think this latest bake is pretty good. I used a recipe I found online, complete with step by step pictures of each stage. My pre-bake loaf was a bit slacker than the one in the picture. As you know, I don’t have a digital scale, just an old fashioned one that’s not very accurate so I’m sure my bread and flour amounts are off. Still, I was able to produce a decent loaf. Good colour, decent rise and I think the crumb is comparable to pictures I’ve seen online. So, I fed my starter (it’s over 2 weeks old now) and tossed it in the fridge to wait until I get inspired to bake with it again.

NOTE: Better pictures of the crumb have been posted from my second attempt. (12/11/2016)

I gots an ear on my loaf even with my crappy serrated knife to make the slashes

I MAY bake next weekend, I may not. I wish I could afford to buy a new scale. I should really invest in a lame or, the next best thing, a package of straight razor blades (10 for $16) but they’re luxuries at my current financial state. So, I’ll have to muddle along the best I can.

No bench scraper but my offset spatula works for shaping the bread into a boule.

Pineapple juice (canned NOT fresh) and whole wheat starter, after 2 weeks of feeding

Honey Whole Wheat Loaf – Sourdough Starter Version

Warning: PICTURE HEAVY POST – Please remember, the post is mostly to help me remember what I did so I can recreate or improve my efforts. Especially since often I don’t make the dishes again for a year or more. I’m happy if the research I did from various sources and synthesized here helps others too, of course.

The crumb looks a bit moist and the shaping isn’t as tight and even as I would have liked. In the interest of full disclosure, I under baked the loaf by 5 minutes compared to the yeast loaf. I just wanted it to be DONE! And I cut it after 35 minutes NOT an hour so it was still warm. On the whole though, I’m pleased with my results.

All Sourdough Starter

The Five Steps of Bread Baking

1. Mixing

I wasn’t sure if I had enough yeast in my starter to ‘lift’ the loaf so I fed 1/2 cup of active sourdough starter with 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup of warm water.

Pictures right after mixing and 1 hr later.

Two hours afterwards – I tried the float test, which failed. I’ve been advised that with such a thick/stiff starter, that bit of dough would never float.

At that point, I added the salt, the rest of the water, some honey and enough bread flour to get a soft supple dough. I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, let it rest for 5 minutes under a bowl and then kneaded it for another 5 minutes, as with the yeast version

2. First rise or Bulk proofing – It should double in size before being shaped … I think it did.

Time: 1/2 hr and 1 hr

Time: 1 1/2 hr and 2 hr

3. Shaping – I didn’t take my time with this and seal the roll so it’s a bit uneven.

4. Proofing or Second Rise – I estimated that it had doubled in size by eye. Didn’t even do the ‘finger poke’ test. Google it if you’re curious

5. Baking

After 30 minutes, the loaf was removed from the metal baking pan and baked directly on the shelf in the oven for an additional 10 minutes to brown the bottom and finish cooking. (Note that this loaf was ONLY baked for an additional 5 minutes, which probably accounted for the ‘moist’ and what was called ‘underdeveloped’ crumb on my FB sourdough baking group.)

The finished loaf brushed with melted butter and allowed to cool until room temperature.

Mini Honey Whole Wheat – makes one 400 gm loaf

Version 2 – Whole Wheat Pineapple Sourdough Starter

Step 1: Increasing the amount of starter

1/2 cup of active starter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup warm water

Mix well in a bowl and place into a warm place (microwave with a measuring cup with 2 cups of very hot water in it) for 2 hrs.

Step 2: Mixing the dough

3/4 cup bread flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt and honey in warm water.

Add the warm water, honey and salt mixture to the sourdough mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon until it’s well incorporated. Stir in about 1/4 cup of bread flour and beat gently. Keep adding the flour until the batter gets too thick to stir and forms a ball around the wooden spoon.

Transfer to a lightly floured working surface and knead using as much flour as you need to get a smooth and supple dough, about 10 minutes.

Let rest for 5 minutes covered with a large bowl then knead for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape into a loaf. Place on a prepared baking sheet or in a loaf pan and let rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Bake for 30 minutes, take out of pan, and bake directly on the oven shelf for another 5-10 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and when rapped, the loaf gives a hollow sound.

Spray top with water after placing in oven and a second time 5 minutes later.

Brush the top with melted butter after removing from the oven.

Let cool to room temperature before cutting.