Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Buttermilk Bread (BBD #38)

This month for Bread Baking Day we are celebrating a no-knead festival with fellow bakers at Cindystar.  This more recent entrant into the culinary craft of making bread gives the baker an easier way to create the delicious loaves that grace our tables.  It is relaxing and refreshing to bake a loaf of no-knead bread occasionally, and some, like myself, actually started out by learning to make no-knead breads and then graduated on to more difficult things. 

The first no-knead bread I ever made was a honey wheat bread taken from the book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes A Day. However, I had never baked anything from their book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day and having heard mentioned by other bloggers that the buttermilk bread was a good one, I decided to check the book out from the library.  It took a couple weeks for me to receive a copy, since there is a waiting list at the library for this book.  I was originally thinking I wanted to do some sweet, ooey-gooey, enriched bread for this project, but then I saw that there was a cinnamon raisin bread that used the buttermilk bread dough.  That sounded good!

I have a nice big 6 qt bucket that I purchased at a local restaurant supply store that I always mix my no-knead doughs up in.  It's just easier to see how high the dough has risen with a clear, straight-sided bucket.
The beauty of making a no-knead bread, is the 
simplicity of the whole process.  On Sunday evening I simply mixed:
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp sugar with
1 cup lukewarm water (~100°F or 38°C) &
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used low-fat)
 I sloshed this around a bit with a wooden spoon and then added:

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purposed flour (KAF brand)

and with my large dough whisk I stirred until all the flour was incorporated.  I usually find
these no-knead doughs to be pretty wet, but this one
actually needed a couple extra teaspoons of buttermilk
to make the dough moist enough to mix in the last
bit of flour.  After a 2 1/2 hour rise on the counter, into the fridge it went to develop flavor and gluten over the next couple days.

On Wednesday I took my bucket out of the fridge, dusted the surface of the dough with a little flour and cut off and piece I thought looked like 1 1/2 lbs.  It was odd that I was expecting to have ~ 2 1/4 lbs of dough, but found that I only had ~ 1 3/4 lbs of dough, so I didn't have any extra dough to play with later. Oh, well.

I quickly shaped my dough, with floured hands, into a ball and set it on my rolling mat while I gathered my mise en place.
Using a floured rolling pin, I tried to roll the dough out into an 8 X 16
inch rectangle, but the darned dough kept springing back and refused to stretch any further than ~ 12 in.  I let the dough rest several times and kept trying to roll it out.  It wasn't quite as thin as it was supposed to be, but then maybe that ensured against any tears or holes.  I brushed the dough with a little egg wash and sprinkled on my cinnamon sugar (~4 Tbsp sugar + 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon) and my raisins.  I only used ~1/2 cup of raisins, but it could actually have taken more.  I also sprinkled on some Hershey's Cinnamon Chips.
I rolled up the dough from the short end, tried to pinch the seams together on the end and sides the best I could, and tucked the ends under.  It was tricky, but I picked up the whole log and placed it seam side down in the lightly greased 9 X 5 loaf pan.  I covered it with plastic wrap and it rested for 1 hr 45 min. on the counter.  Here it is before and after resting:
As you can see it didn't rise a whole lot, but it did definitely puff up and fill out the pan nicely.

I brushed the top of the loaf with a little of the leftover egg wash and sprinkled on some course sparkling sugar.  It was baked at 375°F for 35 minutes.  I took it out of the oven when it was firm and golden brown.  A little of the cinnamon and sugar had seeped out during baking, but that just made the whole kitchen smell that much better!!!  I immediately turned the loaf out of the pan onto a rack to cool:
This loaf had quite a nice oven spring and produced a very attractive, fragrant loaf.  I wish I could insert a cinnamon smell here or a scratch 'n' sniff icon.  My wheat and rye flours and various grains were feeling a bit neglected that day, but my husband and I were perfectly pleased with our Cinnamon-Raisin Buttermilk Bread!
                                       Thank you for visiting my blog for BBD#38, and make sure to stop by Cindystar to see what others made for this no-knead festival roundup!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Whole-Wheat Multigrain (Mellow Bakers: March)

Determined to strengthen and give Lucky (my sourdough culture) more practice, I wanted to try one more of the mellow bakers March breads before March ended.  The very next recipe in Hamelman's Bread, on page 169, is the recipe for Whole-Wheat Multigrain.  One of my husband's favorite breads is Peter Reinhart's, Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire from Bread Baker's Apprentice, so this Hamelman recipe looked promising.

I cut the recipe in half this time and the night before the bake, I prepared my liquid levain build with 1 1/2 Tbsp of culture, 1.9 oz of bread flour and 2.4 oz of water.  At the same time I also made the soaker.  Hamleman doesn't tell exactly what grains to use, but gives the weight as 2.9 oz or 82 g for half the recipe.  I chose to use 20 g of cracked wheat, 42 g of rolled oats, and 20 g of coarse cornmeal (Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits).  I like to use the coarse cornmeal in breads because of the teeny golden nuggets deposited throughout the crumb, and the subtle sweetness it lends to the bread.  Since I used the cracked wheat (a harder grain), I used boiling water to cover the grains as opposed to room temp water.

After ~ 14 1/2 hours my liquid levain appeared to be ready.  Definitely showed more signs of activity than the levain from last week.  These looked like the tiny soap bubbles, described by Hamelman, that should cover most of the surface:
and my soaker was ready to go
I added all of the ingredients to my mixing bowl, remembering to put 1 1/2 Tbps of the levain back into my original sourdough culture, and mixed on first speed for 3 minutes.  I added at least several more tablespoons of water to the dough as it seemed dry and the dough kept soaking it up.  I finally stopped though, and called it good.  I mixed the dough on second speed maybe 4 minutes.  I had to keep stopping the mixer to push the dough down off the hook, so it's kind of hard to keep track of the actual mixing time when doing that. 

As usual my sous chef, Tucker, was plopped on the rug right behind me in case he was needed for tasting or to catch some stray bit of ingredient that happened to fall his way.
I put my dough into a lightly greased bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and off to the store I went in search of a sharp tomato knife or a straight razor blade.  I was back in an hour to fold the dough.  I figured since the house was cool (outside temps back into the mid 40's) another hour of fermentation would be beneficial.

I shaped the dough into a batard, thinking I might use this bread for sandwiches and here it is ready to go into the oven:

Once again, I wasn't happy with how the scoring went.  I imagine this is an area that baker's struggle with all the time, trying to get this right.  I was only able to find an inexpensive tomato knife at the store, and as I didn't think it was very sharp, its going to be returned.  I wish I could find just a plain old-fashioned straight razor blade, but henceforth my search hasn't turned one up.

I had no gaping holes open up from the bottom of the loaf and my interior crumb structure didn't look too bad this time.  There's an occasional "bite" from a bit of cracked wheat in the bread, you can see golden cornmeal flecks in the slices and it tastes smooth and tangy.

Overall I was very pleased with my second attempt at sourdough bread.  Hopefully warmer weather will be back soon and April will bring lots more bread!!!

Thank you for visiting my blog this time 'round and stop by Mellow Bakers to see what others have made!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whole-Wheat Levain (Mellow Bakers: March)

Monday was a beautiful spring day here, a perfect day for baking bread.  It was in the mid-70's, the birds were chirping and all kinds of blooms were bursting forth.  I gathered a couple pictures:

The Whole-Wheat Levain that was on the schedule for mellow bakers for March looked to be a very simple bread.  No cheese, no raisins, no nuts, nothing.  This looked like a good bread though, to try out lucky with.  The recipe for whole-wheat levain, found on page 168 of Hamelman's Bread, was for 2 large loaves, and I only wanted to make one, so I cut the recipe in half.

To start this bread, I weighed out 1 oz of lucky on Sunday evening, and mixed him with 2.4 oz of water, and 2.4 oz of whole-wheat flour.  This is called the levain build and is the process of building the culture necessary for the production of this particular bread.  Jeffrey said to start this process 12-14 hours before mixing the final dough, but also that ripeness is indicated by a mildly acidic aroma and a subtle sweetness, as well as by numerous small bubbles, kinda like soap bubbles, that partially cover the surface.  My levain culture did not smell nearly as acidic/sweet as during the day Sunday after I gave lucky a Sunday AM feeding.  Also, there weren't very many small bubbles on the surface of my levain after 14 hours, so I waited another hour and just decided to go ahead.  I was worried it would be bad to wait past a certain point.

I put 4.8 oz of liquid levain build (2 T went back into my original sourdough seed culture) + 5.6 oz of whole-wheat flour, 8 oz of bread flour, ~ 8 oz of water, and 1 1/2 tsp of salt into the bowl of my stand mixer.  I mixed on first speed ~ 3 minutes and then on second speed for ~ 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  This dough seemed very heavy to me and didn't seem to have much extensibility (not sure if that's the right word).  I tranferred the dough to a bowl, covered, and let it ferment for 2 1/2 hours, folding twice, at 50-minute intervals.  I decided to shape mine into a boule, and then I let it ferment for another 2 1/2 hours at 76 degrees. 

After baking for 36 minutes at ~ 450 here's my boule:

I used what I'm calling a "sand-dollar" scoring pattern for this boule.  I was reading some articles regarding scoring and how it affects the baking of the loaf, at The Fresh Loaf, when I saw an example of this scoring pattern.  It immediately reminded me of sand dollars and so I went and grabbed one of my sand dollars off of my dresser and sure enough it was the same pattern.  When I was a teenager I used to love to dive down to the sandy bottom of the ocean along the Florida coast and search in the sand for these critters.  They are tricky to catch.

One problem I had with my boule was that it was not level/flat at all on the bottom because the bottom kind of split open :(  Has anyone else had this happen or anyone know what caused this?  Was it something I did wrong?

My husband is the slicer of bread in our house, because being an engineer and all, he's very precise and articulate and cuts very even slices:
I was disappointed at how the interior of the loaf looked, but at least my first sourdough loaf didn't burn and it tasted pretty good (although it did come very close to sliding off the back of my stone when I slid the parchment and boule into the oven). 

My husband said he could taste the tanginess from the sourdough element, but I'm not sure I could, but then my taste buds weren't working perfectly due to my cold. 

I think this first test of lucky wasn't too bad and I'm looking forward to learning more about sourdough and hopefully my culture will develop a more distinct taste and get a little more active as the weather warms up.

Thank you for visiting my blog this time around for mellow bakers!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Introducing -- Lucky

I know that no one else is as excited about this as I am, but I decided to post this anyway.  It is day 4 in the life of my new seed culture, from which I'm going to begin my sourdough starter.  I was thrilled when I went to retrieve Lucky this morning and this is what he looked like at 9am:

So if you've been hesitant to try this process, you needn't be.  I'm still quite inexperienced at this bread baking thing and I was able to do this in the middle of March.  I thought that I would have difficulties, being that it's still rather chilly outside and in.  I'm following the guidelines in Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads" book in case anyone is interested.  Also, you can go to the Yumarama bread blog  for a very interesting step by step, sourdough starter comparison intro.

Stay tuned for more sourdough adventure.

Thank you for visiting my blog!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Aloo Paratha (Mellow Bakers: March) & Cream of Wild Rice Soup

Aloo Paratha is a type of Indian flatbread, which is stuffed with a spicy boiled potato and onion mixture.  This was one of the breads that we could choose to make in March for Mellow Bakers, and since I'm still working on my starter for one of the other breads, I chose to try this one first. 

First of all was to gather all of my ingredients.  I needed some ghee and decided it'd be fun to learn how to make it.  After consulting several online videos/articles I made ghee during lunch one day.  I melted a stick of unsalted butter over low heat, hovering over it for ~ 45 minutes.  After the first 10 minutes, I began skimming off the foamy stuff floating on the surface and did this for about 5 minutes.  One article said the process takes ~ 35-45 minutes and one of the videos I watched said the ghee was done when you started to perceive a toffee smell.  I turned off the heat when it smelled toffeeish, and poured my ghee into a pint glass jar with a coffee filter affixed on top, to catch any impurities still left in the clear, golden ghee.  I left the ghee to sit on the counter a couple days while I gathered everything else.

One of my favorite blogs is Aparna's at My Diverse Kitchen.  She is a vegetarian cook living in Northern India so I knew she would surely have something on her blog regarding paratha.  Sure enough she had a video, which I'm including here,

and a recipe for her version of aloo paratha.  Since the recipe in the video was for making 8 parathas, I went ahead and used their ingredient list for making the dough.  However, I neglected to look back at our Bread book to read that the dough should be made w/ 2 parts whole wheat flour to 1 part unbleached bread flour.  Oooops!!  I made my dough with all whole wheat flour, but it tasted fine and was easy to work with.  For my potato filling I kind of looked to Aparna's recipe for the spices and I decided to use a couple Yukon Gold potatoes (a larger potato with yellow skin and golden, waxy flesh) and red onion.   The spices I used were:

chili powder (1/8 tsp + pinch)
coriander (1/8 tsp + pinch)
cumin (1/2 tsp)
garam masala (1/4 tsp)-this is one of my favorite spice blends consisting mainly of coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon.

I forgot to add salt to my potato filling and I really wanted to include finely chopped fresh chilies in there too, but it is not the season for them at the farmer's market and local groceries only have tasteless, shriveled orbs that they call hot peppers.  Oh, I also included a clove of minced garlic and ~ 1 Tbsp minced cilantro in the filling.  After boiling, cooling, and peeling potatoes and sauteing my onions, garlic and spices, I mixed everything together in the skillet, then dumped into a bowl to cool.  Here are my formed potato balls ready to go:

and here we are ready to fill our rolled out disks of dough with potato:

I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to pull all the dough up over the potato so I cheated and probably used less potato than I should have.  I will make bigger balls of potato next time.  I had no trouble bringing the dough together around the balls of potato and pinching the tops closed.  I then rolled the balls to ~ 1/4 inch thickness and tossed them into my preheated cast-iron skillet, which I had to reseason for this project.

I put a thin coating of olive oil in the skillet just in case I had sticking issues.  After cooking 2 minutes on each side, I brushed each side with some ghee I had heated on low, and cooked a minute or so more on each side.  They got puffy as they were cooking and the last couple even puffed up like pita breads do when baked in the oven.

We didn't eat until almost 7:30, but the adventure was worth the wait and we had some wonderful, piping hot cream of wild rice soup (thickened w/ potato flour) to go with our aloo paratha.

We definitely want to up the spicyness of these next time, including some fresh, hot chili peppers, from the farmers market, but this was excellent for our first Indian cuisine.  I will have to work on learning to make some chutney variations to go with this.  Tucker, my sous chef, approved of these too, judging by the amount of drool on my husband's pant leg, but unfortunately for him he wasn't allowed to taste test these because of the spices.
Thank you for visiting my blog and stop by mellow bakers online to see what the rest of us were up to in March!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies (w/Spelt Flour)

Our first "spelt cookie"

Whenever I go to the library I always end up browsing in the cookbook section.  Recently I came across a book called Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass.  I am always looking for recipes that will incorporate healthier foods into our meals and snacks and I was particularly drawn to the back part of this book where there were recipes for muffins, cookies, scones and biscotti.  These are some of my favorite things to make and none of these recipes used refined white flour.  Wooohooooo!!  The first cookie recipe that caught my eye was the one for Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies.  My husband and I love hazelnuts and even more so when they are roasted in the oven.  The cookie recipes in this book use whole grain spelt flour.  I had used spelt before in the roasted garlic bread I made, and we liked the nutty quality it gave to the bread, although that recipe was not made with 100% spelt flour.

So on Friday I labored over making my first spelt cookies.  These cookies turned out to be probably one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had.  I think the roasted, chopped hazelnuts and the use of spelt flour put these chocolate chip cookies over the top.  We think these are awesome cookies and I feel better about eating them and putting them in my husband's lunch knowing that they aren't made with all purpose flour. 

I hope you will try these too!

Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies
adapted from Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass

2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 baking powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, then coursely
1 large egg
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted
    butter, melted and cooled to room
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugars, salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder and cinnamon.  Stir in the chocolate chips and the chopped toasted hazelnuts.  (My hazelnuts came from Whole Foods Market bulk bins and still had the skins/paper on them.  I put the nuts in a shallow pan and roasted them for 10 minutes at about 365-370.  Then I was able to peel the skins off before I chopped them up.)

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Whisk in the melted butter and the vanilla.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until a soft dough has formed. 

I used my tablespoon cookie scoop that I got for Christmas to place 9  mounds of dough onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Just make sure to leave a generous 1 inch between each mound of cookie dough.  Gently flatten each ball slightly.  I did this with the palm of my hand.

Bake 1 sheet of cookies at a time for about 10 to 12 minutes for soft cookies and 13 to 15 minutes for crisper cookies.  I rotated my cookie sheets about every 4 minutes, especially towards the end of baking,  to get even browning.  When the cookies are done, slide the parchment (with cookies and all) onto a cooling rack.  Cool cookies to room temp.  Store in an airtight container for 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Makes approximately 3 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies.