MyKitchenInHalfCups

Once Upon a time: Cooking … Baking … Traveling … Laughing …

BBB logo january 2014


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BBB … no kitchen

What a time to be on the road and no bread baking kitchen really available and to top that putting my 97 year old Dad in the hospital for several days.

The BBB time of the month is always a highlight for me and I’m really disappointed to be missing this one on every level imaginable. It’s hard for me to fully communicate what a special little group this is to me.  I love that we come from many places and histories and find so much commonality within ourselves. I love that our glue is our shared passion for baking bread and sharing all the glorious mysteries of it’s coming out of the oven. We had one of our wonderful wild exchanges with this month’s bread and it really made me long to be baking. But try as I might, I simply couldn’t carry it off.

Our most gracious Kitchen of the Month is Jamie from Life’s a Feast. Life’s a Feast is such a wonderful title for her and the way I feel about her bread this month even though I can’t be baking it. No matter the ups and downs of life, no matter that I can’t bake this one Life is a Feast and I’m happy to be in it.

The bread Jamie has brought us this month is from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (revised & updated edition) by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François. They have a wonderful web site, Artisan Bread in 5 I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

The bread: Chocolate Prune Bread. Everything shared on our blog makes me sure you really want to try this bread … I know I really really want to.

Hope you enjoy this one and join our Bread Baking Buddy group and bake with us. January’s Bread Baking Babes recipe is Chocolate Prune Bread from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (revised & updated edition) by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë François. You too can bake along with us and be a Bread Baking Buddy. Simply bake this Chocolate Prune Bread, blog it – don’t forget to mention being a Bread Baking Buddy and link back to this blog post! Then send Jamie the link (please include your name and your blog’s name) by January 26th to jamieannschler AT gmail DOT com with January Bread Baking Buddy in the subject line and I will add you to the roundup at the end of the month.

I’ll do my very best to bake next month when I may well be trying from Florida!

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BBB Modern Lardy Cake Bread – can cake be bread?

Lien at Notitie Van Lien our lovely Kitchen of the Month has brought Babes and Buddies just a wonderful new but old bread: Modern Lardy Cake … not don’t get up in arms, this is really not cake, it is bread. I will tell you it is a delight as a sweet dessert like bread (or cake if you like) after dinner and it is equally delightful at breakfast! Call it bread or call it cake or call it cake bread but I can tell you it’s so good. The bonus is it is Christmas Holiday perfect.

Thank you Lien in so many ways.

Thank you Lien in so many ways.

Among the Babes, we talked wildly and I think radically about lard, butter, goose fat, duck fat: as possibilities for use in this recipe. If I’d been in a full kitchen and been able to find fresh lard (not hydrogenated like the grocer tried to sell me) and duck fat, I’d be baking this with each. As things worked out all I could come up with for the fat was salted butter from my local dairy. I used all the salt called for in the recipe and the salted butter as Lien and several others thought it needed more. And I’d seek out a special dried cherry mix that Gorn really enjoys. Pick a dried fruit or dried fruit combo that you enjoy and this bread will be spectacular. I might even go really crazy and put in a few walnuts. You know I really enjoy savory but this is just the right sweet. We loved it.

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Check out all the Babes, you’ll find all sorts of variety but I think you’ll find we all enjoyed this bread and you’ll want to get in the kitchen and bake!

Lien found this recipe in “Warm Bread and Honey Cake” by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra. I have the book and it is everything you want in a warm baking kitchen.

Lardy Cake: Modern

Recipe By: Lien from “Warm Bread and Honey Cake” by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
Yield: 9 inch round springform

Lardy Bread Cake

Dough
375 grams strong white flour – bread flour, I used half white whole wheat/whole grain
20 grams flax seed meal
1 ½  teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
35 grams butter, melted and cooled
200 milliliters milk, warmed

I love this container. It's so easy to tell when a dough has doubled in volume.

I love this container. It’s so easy to tell when a dough has doubled in volume.

Filling
100 grams butter, softened
75 grams soft dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, I used 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
50-75 gram currants or raisins (or a mix), I’ll try closer to 100 grams next time
beaten egg, to glaze

 

1. Put all the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead  (preferably with a dough hook in a heavy duty mixer) until smooth and supple. Bring the dough together in a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  That heavy duty mixer … oops it’s still in it’s box. So I’m here to tell you “Don’t give a worry, you can do this without a mixer.” I did need to add a little more water than recipe called for. Toward the end of kneading I would dip my hands in a little water until I got a supple dough.

2. To make the filling, mix butter, sugar and spices together until creamy.

An easy mix when the butter is room temp.

An easy mix when the butter is room temp.

3. Knock the risen dough back and re-knead it briefly. Roll it out to a rectangle  about 50 x 25 cm (20 x 10 in). Spread the filling evenly over two-thirds of the dough sheet, leaving one outer third empty and about 4 cm (1 ½ inch) on all sides. If using, sprinkle the dried fruit over this and press down to embed. Fold the empty third over the middle third and the remaining third over this. Pinch all the edges well to seal the filling in. Cover with a sheet of clingfilm and leave to rest for about 5 minutes to relax.

4. Give the parcel a quarter turn and roll it into a rectangle about 30 x 15 cm (12 x 6 in). Fold into thirds again and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Repet this procedure three more times, turning the dough by a quarter turn and rolling and folding. If you find you are losing too much filling, omit the final turn.

5. This is a delicate, difficult and messy work as the filling oozes out in weak spots. You might want to read that again: This is a delicate, difficult and messy work as the filling oozes out in weak spots. Don’t get too caught up in leaks, just go with it.

Patch them up as good as you can and continue to work. All the oozing bits will caramelize nicely as the cake bakes. Oh my did we ever get some smart remarks on our bottoms! But you don’t want to lose too much filling as the laminating effect. Grease the tin and put the dough packet in it, then flatten it with your hand to fit it in as well as possible. Cover with clingfilm and leave it to rise until almost doubled.

6. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).

Who knows where the springform was, into the oven it goes.

Who knows where the springform was, into the oven it goes.

7. Brush the dough with beaten egg, then lightly score a cross-hatched pattern onto the surface. Don’t cut into the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutesj or until brown. Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin for about 5 minutes. Carefully release the clip and turn the cake upside down on a wire rack. Remove the bottom of the tin, which will probably still be attached to it, and leave to cool further. Eat lukewarm or cold, cut into wedges or slices.

Bottoms up and out of the oven.

Bottoms up and out of the oven.

Don’t be shy … I know your busy but really this was very friendly dough and would make a treat for anyone special on your list at any time but probably most especially now.  Tell us what your experiences were with this bread and send Lien (notitievanlien(at)gmail(dot)come) your details so she can include you in a round up. Deadline 29th of December.

Does it make good toast? Oh my heavens yes! Good for breakfast, afternoon snack and dinner treat! Now BAKE!

Does it make good toast? Oh my heavens yes! Good for breakfast, afternoon snack and dinner treat! Now BAKE!

 

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Pecan Pie Cake … now please sit down!

Right I am being WILD!!

So sit down and don’t let this unbalance you.

This is not about bread or yeast or the BBB. No this is an honest to goodness … and trust me there is goodness here … an honest to goodness post about CAKE that was once a pie and has some idea of still being sort of pie on your taste buds.  If your favorite pie like mine is pecan pie, then this might just make your heart sing in harmony with mine.

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I saw a post for pecan pie muffins. Since I really think the only pie worth eating … ok along with mince meat pie … is pecan that sounded really fun to me.  So I googled pecan pie cake/muffins and discovered a multitude of recipes for the same.  Most were very similar. I took what I liked that sounded good to me and put together the following.  I was really pleased and my man was pleased as well.

In my present make shift kitchen with no cabinet space, the odd tables used for counters, any thing that I really need/use everyday sits out  with a randomness that defies every cell in my body. I’m not really an excessively organized person and not normally anal either … except in my kitchen. I’ve invested too much money in my tools to not take care of them properly and I’ve learned through the hard knocks that kitchen disasters are much more frequent when you don’t have what you need at hand.  So yes, over time I have brought a fair amount of order to things in my kitchen. Now however order is relative and general chaos prevails. It’s the kind of chaos of clutter that would normally render me senseless and immobilize me. I make do as best I can. It takes a real meditation exercise for me to tackle anything of any account especially a new recipe. Like the new recipe for the BBB’s for December; this recipe is giving me the shakes. There’s no room for my lovely KitchenAid mixer on any of this faux counter surfaces, the mixer sits out on the porch in it’s box awaiting the day when a carpenter has designed and installed the cabinets that float in my dreams for the time being. All that is to say: I’m not about to unpack the KitchenAid for ANYTHING not even Thanksgiving.
Still it was going to be Thanksgiving and I really can not imagine not doing something a little holiday like for the table. I did these with my trusty wooden spoon and my own arm muscles. Don’t feel like you must have a mixer for these; you do not.

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Pecan Pie Cake/Muffins

Yield: 8 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins or4 4-inch springform rounds

150 grams butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar + 1 or 2 tablespoons
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
60 grams all-purpose flour – I used white whole wheat
20 grams flax seed meal
1 cup chopped pecans, upto 1 3/4 cups before chopping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 8 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. To a medium bowl, add the softened butter and brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
If your butter is soft, doing it by hand is easy.

3. Add beaten eggs, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined.

4. Mix flour and chopped pecans then mix with wet ingredients until combined.

5. Spoon batter into 8 lined muffin cups about 2/3 full. With no baking powder or baking soda, these do not have much rise.
One whole pecan could be placed in middle and push in part way. Actually I think one on the bottom and one left on the top gives the closest look and feel to pecan pie.

6. Bake muffins at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes in muffin pan and serve warm or room temp.

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My first try with these used 1 cup whole pecans measured before chopping. The flavor certainly brought pecan pie to mind. My guess is the more pecans used will get closer to pecan pie but I’m sure there’s a point that too much would alter not just the taste but the texture/dry/moist aspect and it wouldn’t get better then. I will try increasing the amount of pecans to find the best flavor and moistness. More pecans, I will try upping the butter and sugar by a little each time.

With all the molds for muffins and little cakes, this can be an incredibly versatile little bite … and then there’s that scoop of ice cream.

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With no baking powder or baking soda, these do not rise much in the oven.
And because there is no baking powder or baking soda, when I started to bake these, I thought I would try refrigerating half the dough and bake the second half the next day. WOW, worked like a charm!

Now, is it pecan pie? No, there’s none of that custard lovely goo that I truly love. Is it pie? No again, there’s no crust. Do your taste buds get happy? Oh yeah! Do you think pecan pie? A little bit. There is a gorgeously heavy pecan flavor and a little crisp around the edges not really crust but all together it’s just very divine!

Now take a deep breath and stand up, head to the kitchen and bake some Pecan Pie Cake and don’t ponder to hard on the oddity of the cake here. My next post will be back to regular BBB ;-)


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BBB Aloo Partha

Let me tell you, satellite internet is not wonderful. Well, at least the one we have here in the north woods isn’t.  When the wind blows, it rains, it snows, and sometimes it’s just  beautiful outside … our satellite doesn’t really care … it just randomly takes a rest. That’s what is’s done for the last three days and that’s my excuse for being so late. The only thing I miss about the big city is the high speed internet.

Karen is our Kitchen of the Month. Thank You Karen for the BBB’s very first bread recipe without yeast!  Aloo Paratha has long been on my list for baking and we loved these. Shamelessly easy to make.  Filling them is only limited by your imagination. Serve as a little bite with wine. Serve as a light lunch.  Serve with the evening soup. Be traditional, serve with a warming curry.

BBB Aloo Paratha

Recipe By: Karen of BakeMyDay from how to cook everything by Mark Bittman”

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup sprouted wheat flour
salt
1 teaspoon ajwain* dried thyme, or ground cumin
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, like grapeseed or corn, plus more for brushing the breads
1.1/2 lb. starchy potatoes, peeled and cut in half
1 jalapeño or other fresh hot chile, seeded and minced or more to taste
2 teaspoons ground coriander
freshly ground pepper
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 clove garlic pressed
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
melted butter
*ajwain comes from carom seeds which look like celery but taste like very strong, slightly coarse thyme

They look like the real Aloo Paratha! done in a skillet.

They look like the real Aloo Paratha! done in a skillet.

1. Combine the flours with 1 teaspoon salt and the thyme in a food processor.  OK, let’s stop right there. I have a food processor, yes I do. I even gave in and went to the friend’s hanger where he’s kindly allowing us to store a lot of boxes while we try to put in a kitchen and get a storage shed built. Gorn even located said food processor and I unpacked it … or most of it. It seems the critical piece that makes the electrical contact was left out … hopefully packed in another box that will one day be unpacked … but that was not yesterday nor today. I’m reasoning that even today there are a huge number of cooks in India making paratha and even today a huge number are making paratha without the aid of a food processor … SOOOOOOOO like a good Daring Baker (thank you Lisa) and good Bread Baking Babe that I am I forged ahead mixing the dough by hand and even though it took slightly longer than 30-45 seconds (5 minutes actually) I did end up with a dough slightly sticky to the touch and continued on.

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Turn the machine on and add the oil and 3/4 cup water through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough and, using flour as necessary, shape into a ball; wrap in plastic and let rest while you make the potato mixture. (At this point, you may wrap the dough tightly in plastic and refrigerate for up to a day or freeze for up to a week; bring back to room temperature before proceeding.)
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2. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover and a large pinch of salt.  Sorry, we have to stop right here again … I don’t have a stove top upstairs in our “kitchen” yet and I just wasn’t willing to run outside in the rain to use the stove downstairs … so I baked the potato, I suppose I could have steamed them in the microwave but I baked them. Oh, and all that green … I added a nice handful of spinach.  Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily; cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then drain. Mash the potatoes along with half (all) the chile, the coriander, a large pinch of salt, some pepper, and the lemon juice; taste and adjust the seasoning (you may prefer more chile; sometimes aloo paratha are quite hot).

Divide

Divide

3. When the dough has rested, set out a bowl of all-purpose flour and a small bowl of oil, with a spoon or brush, on your work surface. Lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin. Break off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Toss it in the bowl of flour and then roll it in your hands to make a ball. Flatten it into a 2-inch disk, then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a thin round, about 5 inches in diameter, dusting with flour as necessary.
Pull up the sides to make a purse and then flatten, roll thin.

Pull up the sides to make a purse and then flatten, roll thin.

4. Mound about 2 tablespoons (that was too much for the size I made, adjust accordingly)  of the filling into the center of one of the rounds of dough. Bring the edges of the round up over the top of the filling and press them together to make a pouch. Press down on the “neck” of the pouch with the palm of one hand to make a slightly rounded disk. Turn the disk in the bowl of flour and roll it out again into a round 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Pat it between your hands to brush off the excess flour. Put the paratha on a plate and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Continue to roll all of the remaining dough into parathas and stack them on the plate with a sheet of plastic wrap between them. You can keep the paratha stacked like this for an hour or two in the refrigerator before cooking them if necessary.
Keep them stacked for two hours … perfect! The rain had stopped and I used the stove top downstairs to cook two of them.
5. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two, then put on a paratha (or two, if they’ll fit) and cook until it darkens slightly, usually less than a minute. Flip the paratha with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds on the second side. Use the back of a spoon or a brush to coat the top of the paratha with oil. Flip and coat the other side with oil. Continue cooking the paratha until the bottom of the bread has browned, flip, and repeat.
Panni Aloo Paratha India + Italy

Panni Aloo Paratha
India + Italy

I did do two in this traditional stove top manner but … on two occasions I used the panni grill. While that doesn’t give the traditional look to the paratha, it produces a nice paratha.
Do this a few times until both sides of the paratha are golden brown and very crisp, 2 to 3 minutes total for each paratha. As the paratha finish, remove them from the pan and brush with melted butter if you’re going to serve hot; otherwise wait until you’ve reheated them.6.  variations: cauliflower, sweet potato …
Yep, we enjoyed these immensely with our wine in the evening. These are shamelessly easy to make. The dough can be held over in the fridge a day or two so it’s a delight when there is just the two of us to make these for several days in a row. They make wonderful little bites for a light lunch or a little bite with a glass of wine in the evening.
Now the only question remaining here is: Are you going to join in and become a Bread Baking Buddy?If you’d like to join in, simply bake this Aloo Paratha (yes, you may adapt) – and then send Karen a link to your post via email (bake my day at gmail dot com).  Submissions are due by November 29th.  Once you’ve posted, Karen will send you a fabulous Buddy Badge designed by our own Babe Lien for baking along and you’ll appear in the Buddy post.  I hope you’ll join us this month!
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Rainbows and Carrot Bread for BBB

No parsley, rice flour that was there on Monday and disappeared on Wednesday … what maybe has some relation to a grain of rice … maybe barley … maybe not … try it anyway.

You do know that a second baking provides a golden opportunity to try it a different way aiming for better … or disaster.

Blessed by the Rainbow

Heather, our colorful Kitchen of the Month at Girl Chef, has brought Babes and Buddies an awesome Fall bread.  The orange of carrots is a gorgeous fall color and really gives vibrancy to this loaf.

Carrot Bread

Recipe from: Heather:  adapted from Artisan Breads: Practical Recipes & Detailed Instructions for Baking the World’s Finest Loaves by Jan Hed
Yield: 4 loaves

for the Poolish:
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water + more as needed, I must have used at least 2 cups total
364 grams stone ground rye flour

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for the Dough:
2/3 cup toasted sesame seeds, used pepita’s (pumpkin)
1.5 cup toasted sunflower seeds
60 grams ground flax seed
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup carrot juice or orange juice, lukewarm
2-1/4 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped parsley, omitted as I had none
824 grams bread flour, I used a mix of flours, about 450 bread flour, then a mix of white whole wheat and spelt
2 tablespoons  honey, maple syrup or agave, used agave
1/4 cup sunflower oil – I used grapeseed oil
4 teaspoons sea salt

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for the Crackle Glaze:
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
132 grams rice flour, rice flour lost used barley flour
2 teaspoons agave, cut to 1 teaspoon
1-3/4 teaspoons sunflower oil
3/4 teaspoons sea salt

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1. Day 1: Make the Poolish Dissolve the yeast in the water, and let sit a few minutes to bloom. Whisk in the flour until smooth – if it is very thick, continue whisking in more water until it is the consistency of a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours; at this point it should be a bit bubbly.

2. Day 2: Baking Day In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment), dissolve the yeast in the carrot juice, let sit a few minutes until it looks creamy (bloomed). Add the grated carrot, parsley, the lesser amount of bread flour, and the poolish to the bowl. Knead on low spead for 3 minutes. If the dough doesn’t seem too sticky, then don’t add any more of the flour; it will firm up as it is kneaded (plus you have more to add to it).

3. Add the oil to the bowl and knead for another 8 minutes. Add the salt, increase the speed, and knead until elastic, about 7 more minutes. At this point, the dough will not be sticky any longer. Use the extra flour, a tiny bit at a time, to remedy the dough if it is. Add the toasted seeds, and gently mix in.

4. Place the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl or container and cover. Let sit for 60-90 minutes, knocking the dough back halfway through. To knock the dough back, remove it from the bowl and set it on a work surface. Use your hands to knock the air out of it. Fold the edges towards the center to form a cushion. Replace in the container, seam side down.

5. make the Crackle Glaze: While the dough is rising, dissolve the yeast in the water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. It should be spreadable, but not runny. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before using.

6. shaping and baking: Turn the dough out onto a lighty floured work surface and divide into 3 equal parts (approximately 78 ounces of dough to equal three 26 ounce portions).

7. Form the portions into three round balls, and cover them with a clean tea towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.

8. Shape each circle of dough into an oblong loaf, by gently pressing ball down into a circle and then tucking/rolling into shape. Set loaves, seam side down, onto a lightly floured bread peel or thin cutting board. Glaze the loaves generously with the crackling glaze (you’ll have a lot of leftover glaze), and leave to rise at room temperature for 60-75 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size and the the surface is crackled.

9. Place a baking stone into the oven, and preheat to 475° F during last 20 minutes or so of rise time.
My first two loaves where done in a small Breville convection oven. The highest temperature possible in that oven is 450° and since it’s so small and the elements very exposed, I’m a little leary of misting.  Sill we were very happy with the bread.
Since I divided the dough in half and immediately refrigerated one half, I baked the second two loaves after that refrigeration time the next day.  I allowed the dough to warm up about an hour and a half and then continued with the directions and baked it in the downstairs regular electric oven.  This time the bread baked initially at 475° and was misted but it was not convection.  I did follow the instructions below in number 10 for opening the oven door every 10 minutes.  Some of the photos look very dark but there was no burning.
Neither baking got much oven spring and the loaves came out color and time wise pretty much the same.

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10. Slide the loaves onto the stone (let them rise directly on a baking sheet or two if you don’t have a stone – slide that into preheated oven) and spray generously with water. Close oven door. Lower the temperature to 400° F after 5 minutes. After another 10 minutes, open the oven door to let in a little air. Repeat two more times (every 10 minutes). Total baking time will be 45 minutes.

11. Remove bread from oven and cool on a wire rack.  What you think my cooling rack looks odd … well it’s really a grill basket for little burgers but it works!
I hope your soup is ready.

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Notes:
I doubled the carrots, used orange juice not carrot juice, no sesame seeds, used pumpkin seeds; doubled the amounts of both seeds; replaced 100 grams of bread flour with Spelt: used agave for sweetener.
Really like Pat’s idea of diluting a jar or two of baby food carrot andand perhaps I should check to see if there’s baby carrot juice.
This makes excellent toast, great grilled cheese and tomorrow I’m using the last loaf to make stuffing for roast chicken dinner.

This is a fairly dense bread, allow it to cool or it will be gummy on the inside when you’re re

The Bread Baking Buddies are: YOU!

With Heather at Girl Chef the hosting Babe kitchen of the month, if you’d like to join in, simply bake this Carrot Bread (yes, you may adapt) – and then send her a link to your post via email (girlichef at yahoo dot com).  Submissions are due by October 29th.  Once you’ve posted, Heather will send you a Buddy badge for baking along and you’ll appear in the Buddy post.  I hope you’ll join us this month!

The weather is chilling down, bake this bread and have the soup hot!

BBB logo October 2013

 

Wonderful bread Heather, many thanks!

BBBuddies september 2013


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Our Buddies are Crackers! Great Crackers! Oh yeah …

Buddies … I can’t fully explain what bread baking means to me/us.  I know it’s all mixed together with the feelings of touching the physical dough, connecting with a long history of bread bakers through the centuries, befriending those around my kitchen table and that strange creative process of relaxing kneading.  It’s always fascinating to me that bread is such simple ingredients and is always different, glorious but always different.

Buddies … I can’t fully explain what our Bread Baking Buddies mean to me/Babes.  I know it’s partly all the above of baking bread but it’s something above that and extraordinarily special.  Strangers come into my kitchen, take a recipe, are willing to put time, effort and good ingredients into that recipe, make it their own and bake with us.

This time around I especially enjoyed Louise Persson’s words:

I’m pleased to have been able to bake this unusual recipe with the BBBs. I saw it posted at KAF sometime ago and thought I would never attempt crackers. Yet baking as a Buddy, I’ve stretched myself and added some new experiences, and happily, this was one of them.

I really can’t remember how I found the BBB while browsing through blogs one day, but I’m very glad I did! I look forward to each new bread, sometimes, like this month, thinking, “Oh, I can’t. I don’t have the time or skill.” But it’s amazing what we can accomplish, isn’t it?

Louise’s experience is typical of so many of us.  Perhaps I should be less emphatic, I do know Louise expresses what I experienced when I started blogging and it continues to this day even though I do recognize I have more confidence when I approach a new recipe.  Yes Louise it is amazing what we can accomplish when we give it a go.

On top of that empathy, what perhaps thrills me/Babes even more is to think that we have somehow influenced a few others to take up this BreadHead Cause and enjoy, experience, learn and share these experiences.

Bread Baking makes my heart happy.  Bread Baking Buddies make my heart happier.  I am so glad that you each give of yourselves and take time to bake with us.  You are truly very special people.  Thank you. Each one of you.

Our Cracker Buddies are (in no particular order):

Louise BreadHead without blog

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Corrine at Yogi Latte

Corrine

Karen at Karen’s Kitchen Stories

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Claartje at Claire’s Baking

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Cathy at Bread Experience

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Carola at Sweet and That’s It

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Renee at Kudos Kitchen

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Kelly at A Messy Kitchen

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Anita (Soepkipje) at Ipernity   

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Aparna at MyDiverseKitchen

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Now do you see what I mean when I say these are are really special bunch of bakers!

Hope you can excuse me being late (but it did allow some extra Buddies to sneak in!) between company and that great mystery of the internet gobbling up my post requiring it to be redone … I was late.

If you baked as a Buddy and I missed you please send me an e-mail with your link and a photo so that I may include you!

You’ll excuse me now while I go bake these crackers again AND see if I can get baking on the Babes October bread.

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BBB ~ Crunchy Crackers

When you find a trusted source, you kept going back don’t you?  Shoes you like, you’re likely to look for the brand again?  A food blog you try a recipe from, you like, you’ll look to try another?  For me there’s at least one site whose products I love and even order repeatedly from and use their recipes.  For a bread lover, who do you think that might be?  King Arthur Flour has proven itself over and over for me and these crackers are just another proof.  This is a beautifully easy recipe to mix and bake but for me at least it’s glory lies in the topping possibilities and yes the use of a variety of flours.

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Probably the most often spread we enjoy with these crackers is my spinach and artichoke, made with double spinach and given it’s own crunch with water chestnuts.

Crunchy Crackers

Recipe By: KAF
Yield: 2 cookie sheets

Summary from KAF:

This recipe mimics an extra-crunchy, seed-topped whole-gain cracker you may find at your supermarket. These are great for spreads and dips of all kinds.

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198 to 227g lukewarm water
170 g King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
120 g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons non-diastatic malt powder or sugar – I used agave
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
14 g whole milled flax or whole flax seed ground
14 g sesame seeds or whole flax seeds
*Substitute 28g golden flax seeds for the flax and sesame, if desired.
topping
71 g sunflower seeds, midget preferred*
28 g sesame seeds*
28 g whole flax seeds

sea salt or your favorite flavored salt, if desired
*Substitute 3/4 cup artisan bread topping + 1/4 cup whole flax seeds for the sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds, if desired.

 

1.  Mix and knead together all of the cracker ingredients (except the seeds) to a smooth, fairly stiff dough. Add 1-2 more tablespoons of water if the dough is dry.

I used the larger 227 ml of water and regardless of the flour type used, I have found this to be a sticky wet dough.  I’ve played very loose with the white whole wheat flour called for in the recipe: on different occasions I’ve replaced part of it with barley flour, buckwheat flour, spelt and rye flours.  Perhaps we enjoyed the buckwheat flour the most but all were terrific.  Each time I’ve baked these I’ve added chopped walnuts but my Babes have show me I must expand my nut choices ~ think pecans, pine nuts …

2.  Knead in the seeds.

You may do as I’ve done at this point and refrigerate the dough: if you do that, allow the dough 90 to 120 minutes to re-warm to room temp and expand slightly as in step 3 below.

3. Let the dough rise, covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s expanded a bit.

Don’t expect a large rise here.  “Expand a bit” did not translate into doubling as you often expect with doughs.

4. Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a rectangle approximately 14″ x 9″, a generous 1/8″ thick. This will probably require you to roll the dough until it fights back; give it a 10-minute rest, then come back and roll some more. It may need two rest periods to allow you to roll it thin enough.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve always played around using different flours or maybe it’s because I’ve always had that rest period in the refrigerator but I’ve never had this dough fight back, it’s always been easy to roll out.

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I also use special rubber bands on my rolling pin to take the guess work out of how thick the dough rolls out.  I’ve used the yellow bands in the past for the 1/8 inch but this time I went with the red 1/16.  It worked just fine and gave me very thin crackers, crunchy!

5. For easiest handling, turn the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Spritz the dough with water. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the topping seeds, lay a piece of parchment on top, and press the seeds in with a rolling pin. Turn the dough over, peel off the parchment, and repeat. Set the seeded crackers on a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining piece of dough.

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Play: these seeds are suggestions, what’s in your pantry, what do you like, what wildness can you come up with?  Seeds are great but consider using your favorite nut here.  I chopped seeds and nuts.  Because there are only two of us on most occasions, I generally divide this dough into half or thirds and bake over several days.
6. If you don’t have parchment, roll on a rolling mat or on a very lightly floured or lightly greased work surface; and transfer the seeded crackers to a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle each sheet of crackers with some sea salt or flavored salt, if desired. Crush the sea salt between your fingers or grind it in a salt mill if it’s very coarse.
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7. Prick the dough over with a fork or one of these.  I ruined many a cookie sheet using forks to prick cracker dough until I found one of these rollers …

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and cut it into rectangles, whatever size you like.  This seemed like an insane gadget to buy at the time but after using it repeatedly for crackers and biscuits, I’ve really come to wonder why I put off paying the $20 for so long.  It expands to cut any width you like and locks in place.  Initially I thought this would be a bugger to wash but I just open it up wide and give each roller blade a wipe, close it up and swish it in the water: clean!

Pull the crackers apart just a bit; you don’t need to separate them completely. Let the crackers rise for 30 to 45 minutes. while you preheat your oven to 350°F; they’ll get just a bit puffy.

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8. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crackers are a medium brown. Turn off the heat, wait 15 minutes, then open the oven door a couple of inches and let the crackers cool completely in the turned-off oven. When they’re completely cool, break apart, if necessary, and store airtight.

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Once again I am KOM … Kitchen of the Month!  The Babes have really gone crackers with this one so be sure to check them all out.  They’re on the side bar there.  If you’d like to be a buddy with us this month, I will be delighted to have you in the Cracker round up to be posed on the 29th September.  To be a Bread Baking Buddy, just make the crackers, take some photos, write up your post – tell us your experience with the dough – and send an email to ~ comments my kitchen at mac dot com ~ you know to take out all those spaces ~ PLEASE PUT “Cracker Buddy” as your subject line and get those mails to me by no later than the 28th.  I’ll send you the buddy badge and get you in the round up.

BBB logo september 13

See those fire crackers in our badge, thank you Lien!  Now get cracken and BAKE!

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