Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whole-Wheat Bread with Multigrain Soaker (Mellow Bakers-February)

On Thursday of this past week it started to feel kind of like a bakery around here, at least to me it did.  There are 9 more loaves scattered around the rest of the kitchen.  Just kidding!!!!

I decided to make all of the Whole Wheat Bread's on the list for Mellow Bakers for February.  I try to make the breads as written the first time, and then if I don't like something about them, I change them the next time.  I don't like the crunchies too much in my breads, but I thought I'd give the millet a try since I had some in my pantry anyway.  I poured the boiling water over my grains the night before and let them sit all night on the counter just to give them maximum soaking time:)

 On baking day I measured my flours and salt into my stand mixer bowl, gave them a good stir with my dough whisk, added the soaker, and gave it another really good stirring with my dough whisk to make sure everything was well incorporated.  Then I added the rest of the ingredients and started with the paddle attachment of my stand mixer for a few minutes before switching to the dough hook.

After mixing for 4 minutes or so with the dough hook, I turned the dough out onto my rolling mat and also kneaded it by hand for a couple minutes before I put it into a bowl for the bulk fermentation.  This was the most dough I had ever worked with in one baking session before- 4lb, 1oz.  I had to go buy a third pan so I would have enough to bake these.  Here are the breads before rising ( in the warmed oven with the light on) 

and then after an hour when they were ready for loading into the pre-steamed oven.  I ground a few tablespoons of golden flax seed in my spice grinder, spritzed the top of the loaves with water and sprinkled with the ground flax right after placing the dough logs into their pans. 

I baked these at 375 for about 30 minutes and after several burns to the fingers, I managed to get the loaves out of their pans and onto a cooling rack:

Even though I was stuffed and felt about to pop (we went out to dinner after the bread came out of the oven), I had a slice with jam before I went to bed.  I couldn't wait until the next day to taste it.
This bread is really quite good.  It's a little crunchy from the millet, but not overwhelmingly so.  I did not even notice a texture from the cracked wheat as I ate the bread, so it must have softened quite abit.  I placed two of the loaves in paper bags and put those into gallon, plastic zip-lock bags that I left partially open.  This did a nice job of keeping the crust firm and chewy instead of soft, so that the next day this bread made wonderful sandwiches for our lunch.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please visit Mellow Bakers if you'd like to see what others made for February!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Honey Wheat Dinner Rolls

When I think of dinner rolls I think of big family get-togethers, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We didn't usually have dinner rolls for an everyday meal at our house when I was growing up.  To me though, homemade rolls are comfort food and are meant for anytime you want to make a meal kinda special.  When I saw a recipe for honey wheat rolls in one of my King Arthur Flour catalogs, I thought how good homemade rolls would be and started hunting for potato flour, since that was the only ingredient I didn't have.

The recipe, which you can find here, makes 16 rolls, but I only wanted to make a pan of 8 so I cut the recipe in half.  I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat for my wheat flour, 1/8 cup of potato flour (1/4 cup for a full recipe) instead of the mashed potato flakes, and I subbed 1 Tbsp Baker's Special Dry Milk (2 Tbsp for full recipe) for the nonfat dry milk.  I mixed my ingredients in my bread machine and let it complete the dough cycle.  Then I made my 8 balls and placed them in a 9 in. cake pan like so:

I  like taking a before and after picture of rolls.  I think it's so cool the way they kind of magically expand until they're touching and pushing to burst their way out of the pan.  After only 45 minutes the rolls had puffed up and spread until they were touching, so I pre-heated the oven and popped them in.  I baked for 15 min., covered loosely with a piece of foil, and baked another 10.  They were nice and brown, a mahogany-brown, and boy did they smell good!
These were the best rolls I've ever made!!! Actually, I've only made homemade rolls one other time.  I made them at Thanksgiving this past year for my husband and I.  This batch, though, turned out much nicer and very pretty.  My husband and I couldn't really discern much honey flavor, but I'm sure if the honey hadn't been there we would have noticed a difference.  I will definitely be making these again!

BYOB is a group committed to a year long adventure of baking our own 
 bread and other baked goods instead of buying them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Incredibly Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

I didn't need much of an excuse to try this chocolate cupcake recipe from Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker, and Valentine's Day was the perfect time to make them.  Also, since I just happened to have 1/2 of a 4 oz bar of Ghirardelli Unsweetened Chocolate in my cupboard, these cupcakes were meant to be.

I don't make cupcakes very often, because it's hard to find a good recipe that will make a moist cupcake.  Usually, when you're eating them, you feel like you need a glass of milk just to push the cake down your throat.  However, when I saw that sour cream was an ingredient in these cupcakes, I had a feeling this recipe might be a winner.  Shirley Corriher, author of Cookwise, includes sour cream in alot of her baked goods to add moistness and I had remembered that when I saw Nick's recipe.

Since it's just my husband and I, I cut the recipe in half, which is why I only needed 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate.  This recipe was so simple to make.  

First, preheat the oven to 350.  Then put your 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, cut into 1/4 in. pieces, into a mixing bowl.  (For my own secret ingredient I decided to sprinkle 1/4 tsp espresso powder over the chocolate pieces before adding the water.)  Next, pour 1/2 cup boiling water over the chocolate and let it stand for 2 minutes.  Then whisk until smooth.  Whisk in 4 Tbsp of melted, unsalted butter, then whisk in 1 large egg, then 3/4 tsp of vanilla extract and finally 1/4 cup sour cream (not the lowfat kind). 

In a separate bowl, stir or whisk together 1 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of flour, 1/4 +1/8 tsp of baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt.  Now take this flour/sugar mixture and add it in 3 additions to the chocolate mixture, whisking until smooth after each addition.  Then you divide the batter evenly among 9 cupcake-paper lined cavities of a muffin tin and bake them until they are well risen and feel firm when pressed in the center with a fingertip, about 20 minutes.  I baked mine almost exactly 20 minutes, maybe a few seconds less.  I also tested mine by putting a toothpick into the center of one to make sure they were done, since they didn't seem very firm to me when I pressed the tops.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold, turn right side up, and cool completely on the rack. 

For my frosting, I made a simple buttercream with 4 Tbsp softened, unsalted butter, 2 cups of sifted confectioners' sugar, 2 1/2 Tbsp of milk, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract.  These cupcakes were so good, though, I think they would be wonderful without any frosting at all. 

This recipe did indeed make the most moist, chocolate cupcake that I've ever had!!!  I think my husband was pleased with them too.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread with Hazelnuts & Currants (Mellow Bakers:February)

Since hazelnuts are my husband's favorite nut to crack open and eat at Christmas time, I knew I had to try the Whole Wheat Bread with Hazelnuts and Currants.  I also love currants and use them alot in making biscotti, which I love with my morning coffee:)

I had never roasted hazelnuts before, which is odd since we love them so much and they are readily available in bulk bins at two stores where I shop.  I think I had my oven set between 350 and 375 to roast the nuts and I took them out at 9 minutes.  They were plenty brown, smelled wonderful, and there was smoke coming up from the pan. Yikes!!  The skins just began to fall off as they were roasting which was cool, making it easier for me to get the rest off.  Here's my roasted hazelnuts:
I decided to cut the recipe in half, which was a good thing, because I hadn't grabbed enough hazelnuts to make a full batch of dough!  Jeffrey said that this dough makes very nice rolls, so I wanted to make a couple with the extra dough I knew I'd have.  I shaped my loaf into a batard with 1.5 pounds of the dough, and with the remaining 8 ounces I made two rolls.  The first thing my husband said when he walked into the kitchen was, "Ahh, aren't they cute", when he saw the rolls.  I used kitchen shears to snip an X on the top of each roll before baking.

This bread is very, very good!!!  My husband is sad now that it is Friday and our loaf is almost gone.  The roasted hazelnuts go really  well with the sweet little currants dispersed throughout the loaf.  We have thoroughly enjoyed this bread with our meals this week and I'll definitely make again!

Here is a picture of the interior of the batard:

Thank you for visiting my blog and be sure to go to mellow to see what others have made for February!

Mellow Bakers is a group of bread baking enthusiasts looking to bake a particular bread or breads together each month, with the recipes being chosen from Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Whole-Wheat Bread (Mellow Bakers: February)

This past week I made my first bread from Jeffrey Hamelman's book "Bread-A Baker's Book of Techiniques and Recipes".  I'm joining Mellow Bakers a little late, seeing as how they started the book in March 2010, but better late than never!  I received the book for Christmas and really wanted to start in January, but since I have neither a starter or a Pullman Pan, I decided to wait till February.

I know it's a simple bread without any fancy nuances, but I really liked the whole-wheat bread recipe found on page 122 of this book.  Since it was a very simple recipe, it gave me a chance to become familiar with JH's various techiniques, such as folding and preshaping.  Here are my two preshaped pieces of dough resting comfortably before they become loaf shapes:
The dough was really easy to work with and the only problem I had was mixing up the final dough in my stand mixer.  The dough wanted to constantly be climbing the dough hook.  I would stop the mixer, push the dough off the hook and within 20 seconds after turning the mixer back on, the dough was all the way up the hook again.  It was kind of frustrating.  I was wondering if any kneading was getting done at all, with me constantly stopping the mixer to push the dough down into the bowl.  Oh well,  we're still learning :)

For the final fermentation I shaped both pieces of dough into logs and put them into my 9X5 loaf pans.  This was to be our sandwich bread for the week.  I was puzzled that JH didn't give a lower temperature to bake at if you were using pans to bake in.  In every recipe I've made so far this year and in Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice", bread baked in a loaf pan is baked at 350, but JH said to bake this bread at 450 and that it would take 40 minutes.  Well,  I just couldn't bring myself to set the oven at 450, because I thought it was too high.  So I kept it at 425 to start with and remained squatted there in front of the oven peering in at the bread the whole time it was baking.  I turned the pans around 180 degrees after 20 minutes and the tops looked really brown!!!  I decided to put my probe thermometer into one of the loaves to check the temperature.  After 25 minutes in the oven at 425, the temperature was at 192 and climbing, so I took them out.  After depanning the loaves and putting them on a wire rack, I took a stick of butter and rubbed it across the top of both loaves to keep the crust tender.  Here they are:

I was really pleased with their shape.  These were the most symmetrical, nicely shaped loaves I've made so far.  I think I waited roughly an hour and fifteen minutes before I couldn't wait any longer to try the bread.
We had slices for dinner with butter/canola oil spread on them.  Mmmmmmmm!!

I agree with some that whole-wheat bread isn't the best title for this recipe, but I still liked the taste of the bread for what it was and when I want a 100% whole wheat bread I'll look for another recipe, but when I want something a little lighter and softer I'll go to this recipe!! 

Here is a nice close up of the crumb and texture of this bread:
Thank you for visiting my blog and hop on over to Mellow Bakers if you would like to see what others made for February!