Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baking Day: Part Two

So, the rest of baking day was so-so; meaning there was one good recipe and one not so good recipe.  Good news first:

The zucchini carrot nut bread is very tasty.  It is a quick bread recipe from my professional baking course.  I attempted this at home a couple of weeks ago to less than stellar results.  The reason is because the book says to make them into muffins and I wanted to make them into loaves.  This is normally not a problem if I had been thinking and changed the temperature of the oven and the cook time.  Instead I had loaves that were done on the outside and still dough on the inside.  Not good.

The results this time were perfect.  I froze one loaf and cut into the second and will share part of it with family.  The difference with this recipe is it is a mix method of preparation instead of a creaming method.  Thus, the result is less like what we Americans are used to in the texture department.  The quick bread/ muffins end up being very hearty...less like eating cake for breakfast (a practice I highly recommend due to my mother indulging my A.M. sweet tooth...carmel sundaes and lemon pound cake for breakfast, anyone?).  The heartier texture goes well with a warm beverage in my book!

Then, I made the not so good recipe.  No offense to the recipe creator - it just wasn't my bag.  The recipe from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenburg for Banana Ginger Chocolate chip Bread (sounds great doesn't it?) was too gingery for me.  The small chunks of crystallized ginger were a taste sensation I was not feeling.  In fact, I don't think I really liked the chocolate chips in there either.  I guess I will have to stick with the old-fashioned Banana Nut bread.   I made these into muffins instead of loaves with the proper temperature and time adjustments.  I think these will be given away to unsuspecting thankful friends and family.

All in all, not a bad baking day, except for the clean up.  What to do?  Leave the dishes for the A.M., after the coffee and zucchini carrot nut bread!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Baking Day: Part One

Since I am taking a Professional baking course right now, I have convinced myself I need to practice what I learn.  But fitting baking into your schedule is pretty difficult.  Especially when you would rather hold down the couch with the latest good read.  But I extracted myself from the couch today with the intent of making 3 different recipes.  I thought this would not take all day.  I thought wrong!

On the list for the day:
Weekly Batch of French Bread (seeking perfection, starting at zero)
Batch of Zuchinni Carrot Nut Bread
Batch of Banana Ginger Chocolate Chip muffins

So, I got started on the French bread first thing this morning.  This is a formula that calls for the sponge method of bread making.  Basically this is a process whereby, you make prepare a small amount of the flour and water necessary for the bread with the yeast required and let that ferment together for a period of time before making the rest of the dough.  (For those of you who were paying attention to the last post, this sponge process is pre-12 step program)  The sponge gives the French bread a ton more flavor than a traditional formula - it is basically yeasty goodness with butter on top!

Once the sponge was put together and had fermented for it's required time, I got started on adding the rest of the ingredients.  Then I got all excited because this was to be my stand mixer's innagural dough mix (it was a big day for the mixer!).  My excitement soon melted away when I discovered my stand mixer does not have the power (insert poor Robin Williams impression of Scottie from Star Trek here) to knead dough properly.  Basically, what happened was a whole lot of shaking and very little combining.  So, I got a crash course in hand kneading.  Thankfully, I had the benefit of watching a guy from my class on Sunday do this very thing because our dough was too big for the mixer at class.  Sadly, this also means that I had no idea what my hands were supposed to be feeling. 

Somehow, I made it through all this unscathed (not so sure about the dough) and got to the benching process.  Then the waiting game began.  Once both my lumps of dough were ready, I formed them into rather pretty French loaves and waited for them to rise. After a quick water wash and some cuts, they spent time in the oven and came out beautiful.

We cut into one and had some with dinner and Drew declared that they "taste like French bread."  Success! 
Sorry, I didn't get any pictures of the results, but there are pictures of the other recipes in the future posts about my baking day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back in the Swing

It's been quite some time since I posted an actual meal on here.  I have been slacking in the proper meal making department, as well as the proper picture taking department.  Sometimes I guess you just need to take a break!

Break over...Here's the latest dinner from our house...

drum roll please!  Taco Salad.

Can you tell I have been slacking lately?  So, this recipe is not inspired by any recipe rather a reminder I got from my email letting me know how much I like taco salad (Don't you get those types of emails all the time?).  So I ran out and got a couple ingredients and used some of what we had on hand to make up the rest.  "What goes on my taco salad?"  I hear you ask.  

Here is the rundown of ingredients:
Sharp Cheddar cheese
red onions (organic from our CSA!)
taco meat
green salsa
black olives
cucumbers (organic from our CSA!)
creamy cilantro dressing

This is a sad salad indeed.  But because Drew does not like much more on his salad than lettuce and cheese, this was stepping out there.  If the avocados from our CSA were ready, they would have made the cut.  Overall, it was a nice summer meal. 

Drew's contribution to our dinner was a cocktail of his imagining.  It all started a couple days ago when we found a liquer on sale for $4.00/bottle...crazy, right?  So, we snatched up a bottle and Drew started brainstorming what we could do with it.  He came up with a rasberry-lime concoction that was pretty tasty.  The recipe still needs a little tweaking, but it looks pretty, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Baking School: Week 4

Hello, my name is Leah and I am a breadmaker. 

For the last week, I have been working on a 12 step program.  No, not that one.  The one that results in warm kitchens, yummy smells, and yeasty goodness of a whole other sort: the 12 step program for baking bread. 

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for this year to learn how to make bread.  But ,I have to be honest, I was pretty intimidated by my goal.  I had never attempted anything beyond banana bread and I had never used yeast in my life.  So, imagine my terror when I opened my textbook and found out the process of making bread was even more involved than I had ever imagined!  

Thankfully, our teacher is helpful in guiding us through the program, defining terminology, and encouraging us to go for it.  Over the last week, we made: focaccia, sweet rolls, danish, brioche, french loaves, and whole wheat dinner rolls.  Whew!  That is a lot of bread and a lot of patience!  If there is one thing I am learning about baking in general each week, it is patience.  The process of baking is not something you can just speed up because you are running short on time, or you just want to get it over with.  Attention to each of the 12 steps is necessary in order to acheive the best possible results. 

So, my teacher suggests that we select one type of bread and make it until we know it fully.  I think I am going to choose french bread.  My goal is to make it at least once a week for a while.  That means lots of bread to give away!  That also means I will be well on my way to fulfilling my New Year's resolution.