There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whole Wheat Brioche or Pumpkin Pie Brioche (18 of 42)

OK.  Michelle, our fearless leader does a great job.  She is the best.  We all love her to bits.  And I know it is after Labor Day, so for many, but not all of us (e.g. Carolyn in Australia), Speedo/bikini season is behind us and our white shoes and belts (known locally as the "full Cleveland") are put away for the winter.  But......DAMN!  She put a Pear Tart, Sweet Rolls, AND Doughnuts all in the same assignment!  That just hurts the team--to say nothing of our figures.  Well, mine is not to reason why, mine is but to do and die[t].

We could make either Whole Wheat Brioche or Pumpkin Pie Brioche.  I made both.  I made the Whole Wheat Brioche because I had not yet made it and I wanted to try it.  I made the Pumpkin Pie Brioche because I HAD made it, in our first pre-season bake, and wanted to make it again.  Also, I thought the regular Brioche might work better with the pear tart[e] than the Pumpkin Brioche, which I thought would be particularly good with the sweet rolls and doughnuts.

Before I get to the cooking, I would like to share a new initiative related to that subject: The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.  According to their website, the Alliance "is a public-private initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions."  The Alliance notes that
Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires—the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world—causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually, with women and young children the most affected. Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating forces women and children to spend many hours each week collecting wood. Women face severe personal security risks as they forage for fuel, especially from refugee camps and in conflict zones. Cookstoves also increase pressures on local environmental resources (e.g., forests, habitat) and contribute to climate change at the regional and global levels.

For the  Pear Tarte Tatin with Brioche I made half a recipe of the Whole Wheat Brioche, using egg substitute and Land of Lakes Light Butter.  I used 1/2 pound for the  Pear Tarte Tatin.  I cooked the pears (I could only fit 4 pears in my 10" cast iron skillet) in butter and brown sugar with some star anise and cinnamon sticks.  I eschewed the optional cardamom rather than risk using to much, which I find off-putting.  Then I  topped the pears with rolled out brioche, and baked it.

It came out well.  I managed to hit the plate rather than the counter or the floor while  inverting it, and it was good with a scoop of vanilla fro-yo.  

I think that some ground cinnamon in the caramel, to give it a little more spice, might be worth trying.

With the rest of the dough I christened my new brioche pan.  This bread was outstanding.

Next, I made a full batch of the Pumpkin Pie Brioche, again using egg substitute and light butter.  Also, using  trick I saw on America's Test Kitchen for a more pumpkiny pumpkin pie, I used some drained candied yams along with the pumpkin.  (Both from cans not from scratch.)   ATK suggests 1 cup of drained yams to 1 can of pumpkin, but I did half and half, a can of each, and then used 15 ounces in the bread.  I also doubled the spices, which most of us who made this dough before thought was a good idea.  Once risen and rested I commenced to make the Honey Caramel Sticky Nut Buns.

I wanted to have them pretty early in the morning, so  made these the night before.  I rolled the dough, stretching the corners gently to make more of a rectangle.  For the gooey stuff, I reduced the honey, butter and brown sugar each from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup.  I think I still had plenty.  I kept the amount of nuts and raisins the same, but used craisins to go with the pumpkin.  I rolled it up, cut it into 12 slices and smooshed them into the pan. 

 I do not think that letting them rise the whole time in the fridge gives as good a rise, so I let them rise for an hour and then put them in the fridge.  They deflated some in the cold, wouldn't you, but not much.  Then I took them out and let them sit while the oven pre-heated.  They baked up fine, but I gave them an extra 5 minutes.  I did not want to overbake, but another 5 might not have been a bad idea,  perhaps because the dough had been in the fridge overnight. 
I baked them on a foil lined sheet to catch ooze.

My saintly wife and I each had one, then, for self preservation, we sent the rest to work with one of our daughters who is not only prefect but has red hair.   She stops on her way to work to drop off her Miniature Irish Wolfhound Chloe.   

Zoe(y) and I provide daycare.

The final diet-buster was Indian Spiced Whole Grain Doughnuts.  I made 6 instead of 12, thereby cutting the calories in half!  I rolled out the dough, cut the doughnuts with biscuit cutters, and then deep fried them.

I combined the sugar and spices in a paper bag, dropped in the warm doughnuts, and shook gently.  Viola!

 I put the leftover sugar/spice mixture into a shaker bottle to sprinkle on toast.

Since I had made a whole batch of dough I decided to do something a bit special with the rest, in honor of my sister-in-law Susan's 60th (yes, Sixtieth) Birthday. 
(Not a recent picture.) 

 I made a Brioche à Tête.

I was concerned that the "tête" would just sink into the brioche during the long rise, so I put it into a silicone egg poacher sprayed with cooking spray to rise separately.  Then, when I turned on the oven to preheat I plopped the tête onto the top of the loaf.  I let them get acquainted for about half an hour, then baked it.  

With the onset of fall (at least here in the northern hemisphere) I thought I would close with a couple of garden tips.  I went to an herb seminar by Jim Long, of Long Creek Herbs, and he had a guy's way of drying herbs.  Take a couple of handfuls and stick them in a brown paper bag.  Clip the bag closed (or use duct tape).  Then, throw the bag in the trunk of your car, or in the back seat.  Every couple of days, shake the bag.   When the herbs are dry and crisp (maybe a week, more or less) they are done.  (The bag absorbs moisture and keeps the herbs dark, the car is warm, at least if it is sitting outside in the sun.) 

Also, I grew a variety of cilantro called Caribe that I got from Pinetree Garden Seeds.  It was touted as being slow to bolt.  Some of  mine have not bolted yet, and those that did stood a long time before doing so.  (Your results may vary.) 

Well, that's it for this time.  Be sure to check out Big Black Dog to see what everyone else did with these breads.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Maple Oatmeal Bread and Quinoa Bread (17 of 42)

Tip du jour:  If you have too many cookbooks, or at least too many to keep track of, you may want to check out Eat Your Books.  You can enter your cookbooks and it will let you search them for ingredients and provide you with a list of recipes (but not the recipes themselves) in the books you own.  It is a search engine for your personal cookbook collection.  Both 5 Minute Bread books are available and indexed.  There is a 30 day free trial, so you might want to play around with this.

Do you ever get really excited to see a movie, have high expectations for it, can't wait for it to come out, and then feel slightly disappointed after you have seen it.  That is the way I felt about the Maple Oatmeal Bread.   I thought I would really, really like this, so I made a full batch instead of a half.

I made a loaf

and I made English Muffins. 

The bread baked up fine, my saintly wife liked it, but there was just something about the flavor profile that I did not care for.  Perhaps I expected it to be sweeter or maybe it had to do with the buttermilk.   Anyway, it just did not live up to my expectations. But now I know.

On a related oatmeal bread note, we love oatmeal made with steel cut oats.  I do it in the rice cooker.  Some time ago I adapted a no-knead steel cut oat bread recipe to the AB in 5 format:

5 Minute Steel Cut Oats No Knead Bread
Makes 2 1-pound loaves, keeps 14 days
1/2 cup whole wheat flour         65g
1/2 cup steel cut oats                 80g
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour         315g
1 1/2 cups water                            338g
3/4 TBS instant yeast                         
  2 tsp salt                                                

Follow usual AB in 5 protocol--form and let rise 40 minutes, slash top, bake at
450 for 30 minutes using water for steam. 

The next loaf was Quinoa bread.  According to Wikipedia Quinoa is  "a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium)" that is "a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds."  It is not a true cereal or grain "as it is not a member of the grass family." It is "closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds."   The article notes that "Quinoa originated in the Andean region of South America, where it has been an important food for 6,000 years. Its name is the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name.  The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or mother of all grains, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements.'" For our purposes--healthy baking--"[u]nlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights."

Gee, how could we ever eat anything else.  

I formed the dough into a boule, and put it into my Duct Tape Couche to rise. Then I baked it in my flame orange pot. 

It came out right purty.

With a nice crumb.

My saintly wife and I both liked this bread a lot.

Since Quinoa is from the Andes I decided to run with the"indigenous to the Americas" theme, and to go with our Quinoa Bread I made a Chili Verde with tomatillos (from Becca's and Marissa's garden), poblano peppers (from my garden) and turkey (from the freezer).

With some of the dough I had left I made flatbreads on the grill to hold some chicken sausages.

They worked and tasted great, especially with some Ben's Sweet and Hot Mustard.   

I used the rest of the dough to make a pizza.

Tha-tha-tha-that's all folks.  Tune in next time and be sure to check out what everyone else did with these breads at Big Black Dog.