November 2008 - Posts
Nothing smells as good as bread baking. It fills your kitchen with yeasty aromas and your soul with warmth. The golden shine it has when you take it out of the oven makes ya feel like you've really accomplished something. Well, at least it does that to me. So once a month or so I try to dig out a bread recipe and give it a go. Usually it turns out ok, most of the time actually. Which I am grateful for. I would feel oh so inadequate if it flopped. But that is my inner youngest child syndrome working it's way out again, just let me tuck that back in there......almost, just a little more, ok. I got it. Now, where was I? Oh, yea. BREAD! Well you can eat this bread fresh from the oven with butter, jelly or jam, cinnamon and sugar or toast it and add the previous suggestions. Better yet, make french toast. Dense artisan breads are wonderful for making french toast. They hold up well to the egg soaking and the frying process without falling apart like regular sandwich bread. Let me show you the process.
Here are the two most important ingredients. Why didn't I take a picture of all of them? Well......because I forgot to that's why! Seriously I don't know why ya'll read this blog. I have no idea what I'm doing around here.
So after mixing the warm water, yeast and honey together I gave them a little privacy so they could.....uh.....bloom. Yea, that's it. After about 10 min it was all bubbly and yeasty smelling. So I started adding the other ingredients and mixing by hand. Once I couldn't mix in the flour anymore, I dumped it on my kitchen counter dusted with the rest of the flour and started kneading it by hand.
Till it was smooth and elastic. I rubbed it with a little oil to keep it from sticking and then into a clean bowl. Where I covered it with plastic wrap and a dish towel and stuck it on top of the stove under the light where it was warm. There it sat for about an hour and a half till ......
.....it looked like this. All swollen and puffy. Like me after chinese food! Don't tell anybody I said that, ok? K!
So I got angry, yea, yea, I got real angry and I punched it. I took both my fist and just punched the heck out of it. What? You don't believe me? Well, it's mostly true. I did punch it down, but I wasn't angry. It's part of the rising and proofing process. After punching it down I took it out of the bowl, formed it back into a ball and put in on the counter covered by the bowl for about 10 min.
When the timer went off I cut the big ball into 3 equal (more or less) portions, then each portion into 3 more sections. Then working with only three sections at a time, while keeping the others covered, I rolled them on the counter to form a 14 inch snake. After I had all three done, I braided them. Then I rolled and braided the next three. I sprayed the first braid with water and flipped the second braid over on top of it to attach them together. I did all of the portions to form three loaves of double braids. Ya with me? Good. After letting them rise another 30 minutes I popped them in the oven to bake off till they were golden and sounded hollow on the bottom. And you know what? I always wondered how you were supposed to figure out if it sounded hollow on the bottom if the loaves were pipping hot? I wanted to wait till they were cool before I was going near the bottom of those suckers. I just looked at the color of them and if I still wasn't sure then I stuck it with a thermometer to take it's temperature. Although, I have been known to hold them in an oven mit and tap them with a knife on the bottom to hear that hollow sound. But after baking many loaves of bread I finally realized that once they turned a golden brown and were in for at least the time specified then they were probably done. I have yet to be wrong. But you never know, it could happen. Possibly.
This was an incredibly easy bread, as far as breads go, and was delicious too. If you've never given baking your own bread a chance, try it. I hope you find it as a rewarding experience as I do. Good luck!
If you want to take the bread and make french toast, well that would be a great idea, please invite me over! Here is one I found from Ina Garten that I will be using this week. Probably along with some bacon (awwwww pork fat) and lots of butter. Eh, who needs to be a size 4 when there is pork fat, butter and cheese out there waiting to be devoured?
from Home and Gardens holiday baking issue
Makes 3 double loaves (approx 16 servings per loaf)
2 pkgs active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey
1 3/4 cup warm water (105- 110 degrees)
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbls salt
7 1/2 - 8 cups bread flour or 8- 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbls water
1. Combine the yeast, honey and water in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve yeast then let sit for about 10 min till foamy. Stir in the eggs, 1/2 cup melted butter and salt.
Gradually add in as much of the flour as you can.
2. Then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead in the rest of the flour to make a soft dough that is smooth and elastic (about 7-9 min).
3. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease all sides of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm area till it doubles in size, (approx 1- 1
4. Uncover dough and punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and cover with bowl for about 10 min.
5. Begin to shape loaves, divide the dough into 6 portions. Then divide those six portions into thirds (18 portions total). Take 3 portions at a time, cover the rest, and
begin rolling the 3 into 14-16 inch long ropes. Place all 3 ropes on the counter and connect the top1 inch and fold under, then begin braiding. Take another 3 and
braid. Then spritz one with water and place the other on top and gently push them together to form a double braid. Repeat with other braids. Cover and let rise in a
warm place for about 30 min, till double in size.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine 1 egg and 1 Tbls water; brush over loaves. Bake for 30-35 min or until loaves are browned and sound hollow
7. Remove loaves from oven and baking pans and cool on wire racks.
I found these on David Lebovitz' website. And as far as I'm concerned anything with carmel in it has to be good! So I pulled out everything, not surprisingly I already had all of it in my pantry/fridge, and got busy. There was nothing standing between me and these gooey delights. Except three children, one cat and a sink full of dishes. So after I kicked the kids outside, fed the cat and put the dishes in the dishwasher, I was finally able to get down to business.
The ingredients are Butter, flour, sugar, eggs, dulce de leche, vanilla, semi-sweet chocolate chips and dutch process cocoa. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
First ya melt the butter, awwwww buttterrrrr, in a sauce pan. Then add the chocolate and stir till it is melted and smooth.
Then I added the cocoa powder. So you may be asking whats the dif? Well let me enlighten you, and myself. Dutch cocoa (such as Valrhona) has been alkalized to make it neutral (which means a more delicate flavor) and it does not react with baking soda. Regular cocoa (such as Hersheys) is non-alkalized, and mildly acidic. Ya with me now? Good there will be a quiz tomorrow! Stir the cocoa powder in till it is incorporated.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the eggs one at a time whisking after each one to incorporate it well. Add the vanilla.
In a large bowl measure out the flour and sugar, pour the chocolate mix into the bowl and stir.
That's it, keep stirring. You could add the nuts now if you like, I personally don't like nuts in my brownies, so I left them out.
You went ahead and prepared your pan(s), right? UGH, ok, well go do it now. I'll wait. Go on, hurry up! READY? I used two pans, just because my larger pan was still in the dishwasher which wasn't finished running yet. So I put foil in the bottom and then coated it with non-stick spray. Now pour 3/4 of the mixture in the bottom. Then top with dollops of the dulce de leche. I used store bought dulce, but you can make your own.......if you dare. Personally, it scares the geewillikers out of me. So as long as Foodlion sells it that's where I'll be getting it from. Then swirl the dulce with a knife and top with dollops of the other 1/4 leftover batter.
Then you pop'em in the oven for about 35-40 min till they are set on the edges, and just lightly firm in the center. They will have a little carryover cooking time, so it will finish setting up as they cool. And as tempting as they are now, let them cool. Not only do they cut easier, but they are even better the second day, if you can hold out that long. Give em a try and let me know what you think.
Dulce de Leche Brownies
15-25 brownies (I doubled it)
8 tablespoons (115 g) salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140 g) flour
optional: 1 cup (100 g) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup Dulce de leche (or Cajeta)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
Line a 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. If it doesn't reach all the way up and over all four sides, cross another sheet of foil over it, making a large cross with edges that overhang the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Twas the week before Halloween and all through the land not a creature (or monster) was stirring, not even a zombie. Except this zombie, me! I was baking and icing and preparing for the pre-halloween party at my kids school. There is a haunted village for those in grade 3 and under (nothing scary), a larger, scarier haunted house for those older and usually there are bounce houses outside, but because it rained this year that was out. So I was tasked with making 4 dozen cupcakes for the "cake walk" in the village. I made 2 dozen that were just orange Buttercream (also and heretofore known as BC) and 2 dozen were BC and hand-painted fondant. Using a round cutter the size of the cupcake top I cut them out a and lined them all up then started painting them with the school colors and mascot - a falcon. I thought they turned out pretty well and the girls giving away the cakes at the walk were saving mine till the very last so everyone could see them, bless their little hearts!
But alas halloween has come and gone here and what a great time we had. It was all very exhausting, but the whole town came alive and everyone enjoyed themsevles. At the private school they attend they were allowed to wear their costumes to school. I knew they would get uncomfortable and possibly tear them up, but they just had to do it. Then there was the 2 hour party (yes, I said 2 hrs) in Stevie's class. I made the cake! Big surprise, right? This is what I came up with. A pumpkin patch! The kids loved it. It was time consuming frosting all those individual cakes and it wasn't as polished as I would have liked, but I think it came out ok. By the end of the day there were only crumbs left!
There was a costume parade in town for all the children. The merchants came out to the sidewalks in front of their business' and gave out candy to all of the darth vaders, princess', pirates, baby lion's, and lady bugs....among others.
There had to have been about 200 or more children there. It got crowded pretty quickly. So we hit one street then got outta dodge. At the kids school there was a small trick or trunk party so we headed there for a little while.
Then we headed off to a kickin' party at a local church. There was free food and drinks. Everything was free - the bounce houses, the games, and more trick or trunkin'. It was so nice to take the kids somewhere we didn't have to pay out the nose for! So after dragging them away from the last bounce, lugging home 3 bags (loaded with candy they don't need), hosing off the sticky mess and dirt, and tucking them into bed I was finally able to sit down and crash while they sleep SOUNDLY in their beds. What a peaceful sound that is.....silence. Second only to their laughter and "I love you's". While they were sleeping I started this blog.....then I fell asleep. So, after another busy day at karate and dance and cleaning and laundry and playing outside, I finally sat down to finish it.
This was a pumpkin my hubby carved. He took the image from the picture of us next to that. By the way that picture is a printed canvas I had made for hubby on our anniversary. It was taken from a picture that we took of ourselves back during out early dating phase. Look how sappy we are!
This is my big man working hard on his skeleton picture during a craft session of the party. He is sitting next to ONE of his girlfriends, Elizabeth. See how hard he is working to impress her? See how hard she is working to ignore him? Ah....young love!
Well, I hope you had a really good Halloween and that you are stuffed full of twizzlers, snickers, and dots! Cause now it is time to get back to business, the business of planning and preparing for Thanksgiving and the shopping day after Thanksgiving and then it all starts over again for Christmas. Oh don't we LOVE this time of year!