Baking with friends

Baking with friends, Part 1:

I made a huge mistake. Around a year ago, I made some wonderful buns. They were absolutely the most delicious buns ever. I found these scrumptious little bits of cheesy goodness on a blog. They were supposed to be made with Cambozola which is a mixture of triple cream cheese and Gorgonzola. I set out to make them with what I hand on hand which was Blue cheese. When I ran short on Blue cheese, I made up the difference with Parmesano Reggiano. I was going to write a blog post about these wonderful buns and then I somehow forgot.

These buns, rich and delicious were so good, I never stopped thinking about them. Every time I had blue cheese I thought about these buns but the problem is Point Reyes Blue cheese. It is the most amazing cheese. Ever. When I have some in the house, I have a specific use for it and then any leftovers usually find their way onto several crackers and the cheese just disappears. The disappearance of this cheese is sorely to blame for why it has taken me so very long to make these buns again. Really, it’s true.

How did I get so incredibly lucky to find myself with a nice size wedge of Point Reyes blue just waiting for me to bake with it?  Wind. It’s the new weather pattern here in Santa Barbara.  We stop getting precipitation, then we get wind and for the past couple of unlucky years, fire. I was going to barbeque some blue cheese chicken burgers last week, but I waited until after 6 o’clock which is about when the wind starts. I didn’t dare strike a match. To me wind equals fire now, and I don’t want to have to evacuate a fourth time in three years. So I decided I was going to broil my burgers. I grabbed the ingredients and found out the hamburger buns got moldy. I just gave up. Which is good because we forgot to break out the crackers and gobble up that cheese.

Now, I had a problem. I never made notes about the buns. I didn’t even remember whose blog I got them from. I just remembered it was on YeastSpotting. So what did I do?  I went to the YeastSpotting archive and began to painfully look at each week until… I found it!! And whose blog was it? My friend Tanna’s blog (My Kitchen in Half Cups)! I had to laugh! I should have remembered.

Please make these buns and then go to YeastSpotting to see what else was baked by all of the talented bakers this week. And… keep reading after the recipe…

Blue cheese and parmesan buns

Adapted from Maytag buns found on My Kitchen in Half Cups

130 g whole wheat flour

136 g unbleached white flour

2 g salt

28 g honey

140 g sourdough starter

66 g low fat milk

66 g water

1 large egg, lightly beaten

58 g shredded parmesano reggiano

86 g crumbled blue cheese (good quality such as Point Reyes)

40 g softened butter

Olive oil cooking spray

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, white flour and salt.

In another bowl, mix together honey, sourdough starter, milk, water, egg, parmesan and blue cheese.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Add softened butter. Mix in. Transfer dough to a floured board. Knead lightly until the butter is well combined and you don’t see bits of it in the dough. Form a ball and transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let sit for a half hour.

Using cooking spray, generously oil two six cup muffin tins. Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces. Form into balls and place balls in muffin cups. Let the dough rise until puffy and it fills the cups most of the way. Since I only used starter, no yeast, this took about four hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, F. Bake the buns for 16 – 18 minutes or until browned. Cool in pans on a wire rack for about fifteen minutes. Remove buns from pans and allow to cool most of the way on wire racks. These buns are wonderful when they are still a bit warm from the oven.

Baking with Friends, Part 2:

 

There is a bread baking formula that is making the rounds on the Fresh Loaf. A lady named Flo Makanai figured out that you could make pretty great bread using the toss out from your starter.  Her formula is a 1, 2, 3 ratio of starter, liquid and flour. My friend John of the Lost World of DrFugawe made this bread over and over, getting fabulous results. Other folks on the fresh loaf are making it and getting fabulous results. I made it and I created a mutant loaf, deformed and tasting of wonder bread with a streak of raw dough in the middle and giant holes near the surface that caused the crust to burn. Horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!

I complained to my friend John, and instead of allowing me to cry on his virtual shoulder, he challenges me to bake ten loaves in a row until I get it right!!!! The nerve of my virtual friend! To be fair, he gave me instructions on how he has been turning out loaf after loaf of wonderful bread.

I started yesterday (this is a two day bread). My results were better this time, but still not good. My problem is that I hate, hate, hate the raw dough. It is sticky! I think I lost a third of the dough to the bowl, my hands, anything my hands touched and then the dough had the audacity to stick to the banneton, deflating itself before it made it to the oven.

But despite deflating itself, it did miraculously spring up in the oven. The outside crust was gorgeous. I got some big holes but they were on the surface again. I think I under salted the dough, it lacked flavor. But the worst part is it lacked flavor and texture. The crumb was springy like sandwich bread again, and there was no flavor at all. Just like sandwich bread.

I have to admit to a couple of shortcuts because this bread pisses me off, so I had no patience for it. I am going to list John’s instructions and then write down where I strayed. I know John will be back to mentor me. If anyone else wants to jump in with suggestions, please do so in the comments.

do a new loaf every day for at least 10 days – make improvements daily.

Loaf #1 down – 9 more to go!

use 100 g of starter – that’ll give you a 600 g loaf

I used 100 g of starter, 200 g water, 300 grams unbleached white flour for this loaf. I am thinking I need to use something besides water next time. Maybe sub out a little water for olive oil? Use milk instead of water? This should improve the flavor. Here is my problem. I remembered the salt, but after looking back at the kitchen mess, I could only find a ½ tsp. measuring spoon, I think I used ½ tsp of salt which is obviously too little. How much should I use??

use a tiny pinch of yeast too (tiny, tiny, tiny)

I don’t use commercial yeast. Other breads, no problem. This bread…

use minimal mixing – do fold and stretch in your mixing bowl – every 15 mins for 2 hours, then hourly.

I definitely have a short attention span. I did the stretch and fold every 15 minutes for about an hour.  Then I ate lunch.  Then I watched “The Next Food Network Star”, which I interrupted to stretch and fold at the two hour mark, I decided to keep doing the folds hourly but got bored three hours later, so I refrigerated the dough after around 5 hours at room temp.

you’ll need to heavily oil your bowl, and let it proof for 6/7 hours at room temp

The dough probably got some oil in it because I had to heavily oil the bowl each time I got the dough hermetically sealed to my hand.

Now form loaf, cover in plastic, and put in fridge, or I use BBQ grill on patio (works great!)

I formed it into as much of a ball as possible and put it in my banneton. Covered it in plastic and put it in the fridge for 16 hours.

in morn, heat oven to 475F for an hour

I heated the oven for as long as it would take to get my stone to 475F. My oven actually freaked out and got to more like 500F.

when oven is ready, pull cold but risen loaf from fridge or BBQ, score and bake immed. After 15 mins, lower temp to 450F, and bake for 20-30 mins more.

I baked even though the oven temp was 500F. The bread puffed up from it’s flattened state after I had to peel it off of the banneton. I actually put a pan with water in the oven for steam, which helped the crust formation. I lowered the heat after 15 minutes but only needed another 16 minutes before the internal temperature was way over 210F.

Now that I completed the exercise, here are my questions:

How much salt to use?

What sort of liquid should I use?

Should I use just white flour or add some whole grains?

How do I keep the dough from sticking to everything??

How do I shape this bread, the banneton is fighting with the dough!

So… At this point, I’m still not loving this bread but it seems to have potential so I’ll try it again. I’ll wait to see if anyone has any good ideas and then I’ll try your suggestions out next time. Thanks in advance everyone, and thank you John for making me get out of my comfort zone.

The beer bread wars

Beer bread is now my enemy and needs to be conquered!

Sadly, I have no recipe for you today. I just need to vent about a bread idea that won’t seem to turn from a good idea into a great loaf. I had bookmarked this recipe for beer bread awhile ago. Last week I decided to bake the bread, but I wanted it to be multigrain so I swapped out some of the white flour for whole wheat, semolina, spelt and rye. I used a dark San Miguel beer for the beer component. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

Last week’s failure was the first hint that this bread might be my Achilles heel. I failed to allow the bread to rise long enough and I insisted on baking it as one big loaf instead of two smaller ones. I ended up with a compact loaf that had a really good flavor, delicious really…on either end. From about three inches into the loaf on either side, I had a raw spot in the middle of the loaf. I was so sad because the part that was cooked was sweet and had a delicious malted flavor.

The recipe seemed worth saving so I mixed up the dough yesterday and let it rise three and a half hours. It didn’t seem long enough, but I flattened it and then formed it into a loaf and let it rise a second time… all day. Around 8:30PM the dough still didn’t look proofed enough, so I put it in the fridge and gave up for the night. I brought the dough out this morning and let it warm and rise for… another 5 hours! I finally got it into the oven. I didn’t think the temperature was correct the previous week, so I raised it by 25 degrees. Big mistake. Forty minutes into baking it, I had an over browned crust and according to my thermometer a long way to go before the middle was cooked. I covered the crust with foil and gave the bread another 40 minutes in the oven. Impaling the bread with a thermometer every ten minutes or so (war is not pretty, I tell ya!), I was able to get the interior baked all the way, but now I have an ugly bread that has a tough crust and tastes…like…beer. The long proofing time just succeeded in making the yeast eat up all of the honey I used as sweetener. Ugh. I guess I’ll be making beery flavored sandwiches this week. Or maybe beer flavored croutons?

So much for my bread baking adventures. Tune in next week for something tastier than beer bread.

Here is a brief tour of the carnage:


The crust is dark and tough!

The bread had good lift off as you can tell since it is peaking over the pan…

….But that’s because it had a big ugly crack in it!!! Grrrr!!!!

Meet the next 5 pounds you will add to your hips

I have to dedicate this blog post to my boyfriend. He telecommutes most of the week and goes in to work a couple of days. On his telecommuting days, he is less stressed out and he is really happy. On the commuting days…he usually somehow seems to run out of time getting ready for work. The most awful things happen to delay him (and they are never his fault!) and he gets crabby as he realizes he is going to show up late and have to work well into the evening. Today was one of those days.

When I used to work, I had mornings like that too. Now I don’t. So when I see his morning spinning out of control, I just try to stay out of the way and hope for the best. This morning I had to be a little in the way because I was on a mission to make a sourdough knockoff of the Gruyere-Stuffed Crusty Loaves from the King Arthur site. I didn’t mean to help delay him, but I may have gotten in the way enough to get a little bit of the stink eye. Well, I’ll make it up to him with what I am about to show him and you. I stumbled onto this recipe the other day and when I saw that they were little loaves packed with cups and cups of cheese until they burst in the oven like little volcanoes of cheesy goodness, I had to say “sign me up!”

So this blog post is dedicated to F. who will see an email on his blackberry when I post to my blog. I am hoping it will make him giddy with anticipation over coming home to eat this bread with some lamb stew. I’m hoping he will smile and not care that I ate half a loaf already (in the interest of testing these breads for the good of the blog, of course!).

I started the dough last night. I decided that a half cup of starter would give the sponge just enough umph to power this dough. The next day when I didn’t see the bubbly mass that the site said I should, I added more starter to the dough itself. It worked out well. I stored the dough in the oven with a touch of heat and the light on and the dough puffed up really high.

These work like cinnamon rolls but you fill them with cheese! Three cups worth. Yes you heard that right!!

These are melty good loaves! In went a mixture of aged sharp provolone and aged sharp white cheddar. I also decided to add a lot of garlic and a mixture of fresh herbs which included rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage and fennel fronds. I wanted the cheese to ooze herbs and garlic. Oh yeah!

Make sure you line your cookie sheets with parchment.

When you bake the loaves, they will ooze and ooze. But they come out of the oven so brown and pretty!

Here is the glamour shot where you get to see the flavor, the fat and the calories just oozing and glopping out of the bread. It was so delicious that I had to have three slices. Good thing my lamb stew is a WeightWatchers recipe, lol!!

These remarkable eruptive loaves are going out to YeastSpotting where you will find a variety of other interesting yeasty items.

Provolone-Cheddar Stuffed Garlic Herb Loaves

Starter:

1 ¼ cups unbleached white flour

1 tsp salt

½ cup active sourdough starter

½ cup water

Dough:

All of the starter

1 ¼ cups water

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cups stone ground whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached white flour

½ cup active sourdough starter

Filling:

2 cups shredded aged provolone cheese

1 cup shredded aged white cheddar

5 – 6 cloves garlic, minced

3 – 4 tbsp mixed fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, fennel fronds

To make starter: The night before you want to bake, mix together all of the starter ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter at least 12 hours. The mixture starts out as a dry lump but should expand into a puffy dough lump.

To make dough: Combine starter, water, salt, whole wheat and white flours and sourdough starter. Mix well and then turn out onto a floured board and knead for up to ten minutes until the dough is soft and stops being really sticky. You should be able to stretch the dough without breaking it (window pane test). Grease a large bowl. Set the dough into the bowl and cover with a damp clean towel. If your home is cool, turn your oven on to 350 degrees F. for exactly one minute. Turn off the oven and store the dough in the oven for up to 5 hours or until it has doubled in bulk.

Line your workspace with parchment because this dough is wet and sticky! Turn the dough out onto the parchment, and gently flatten and stretch the dough into a 9” x 12” rectangle. Cover the dough with cheese, garlic and herbs. Roll up cinnamon roll style, beginning from the long end toward you. Cover the dough with the damp towel and allow to rise until extremely puffy but not exactly doubled. Another 2 hours or so.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and arrange two pieces cut side up on each sheet. Note: you will have two loaves that are cut on top and bottom. I pinched the bottom seam closed on those two to prevent bottom cheese leakage. Also, you may need to shape the loaves a bit so that they are a bit open on the top, cutting the dough may squish the loaves and you want them to be pretty on top.  Let the dough rest for up to 20 minutes while the oven heats up.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown. Transfer loaves to wire racks to cool. Enjoy while they are still a bit warm so that the cheese will still be soft.

Left over brown rice becomes amazing dinner rolls

I’m sitting here munching on the subject of my photo, thinking about how happy I am that I took on the challenge of nurturing a sourdough starter and subsequently learning enough about baking with it that I can pretty much be as creative as I want to be with my bread.

I avidly read about bread and one thing I notice is that many bakers like to drop some cooked or soaked whole grains into their bread. Lately, we’ve had plenty of brown rice in the house. Oatmeal has never agreed with my boyfriend and recently, he discovered that he can have hot cereal in the morning if he cooks up a pot of short grain brown rice. He adds raisins, walnuts and rice dream to it and he loves it. He makes a big pot at a time and I’ve been quite the opportunist, grabbing some for snacks or a side dish… and now for my sourdough.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing with this recipe. The person who posted it, said it was full-proof, but following his instructions, I ended up with a brick! (A very tasty brick, however so I knew I just needed to try it again). This week, I added extra water and starter. The dough was way too dry last time and it is so much harder to hydrate a dry dough than dry up a wet dough.  I decided to err on the side of moisture. Since the dough was really wet, I just added more flour a little at a time until I liked the consistency of the dough. I also added a lot of brown rice and some sesame seeds for extra flavor. The result was terrific! I ended up making rolls instead of a loaf this time and the rolls baked up with a crisp crust, a dense soft crumb and a wonderful chewy texture thanks to the rice. The only problem I had was that I forgot to slash the rolls and they exploded. I took a picture of their photogenic side.  😉

These yummy rolls will be on YeastSpotting this week. Please click the link to see other wonderful yeasty concoctions!

Whole Wheat and Brown Rice Rolls

1 cup water

1 cup active 100% hydration sourdough starter

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp honey

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour + a little over 1/3 more as needed

1 ½ cups cooked short grain brown rice

2 tbsp raw sesame seeds

Cornmeal for dusting your peel

In a large bowl, mix together water, starter, olive oil, honey and salt. Add 2 2/3 cups flour, rice and sesame seeds. Mix until well combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin to knead. The dough will be wet. Start adding the additional 1/3 cup flour a little at a time, kneading well after each addition. You may have to add a little more than a third of a cup until you have a dough that is still moist but not sticky. Knead for 15 minutes until you can stretch the dough without breaking it (windowpane test). Form the dough into a tight ball and transfer it to a large greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in bulk, 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours.

Flatten the dough gently and fold it. Form it into a ball again and place it back in the bowl. Allow it to rise again, covered, for up to 2 ½ hours until it is doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 13 equal pieces and form into little balls. Arrange on a cornmeal covered peel. Cover with a dish towel and allow the dough to rise until puffy, up to another 2 hours.

When you are getting ready to bake, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat your oven to 375 degrees, F. Slash the rolls and then transfer them to the hot oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees, F. and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely before serving unless you can’t help yourself. If you can’t help yourself, make sure you are armed with butter.