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 . . .
Depending on to whom you listen, however, our standard of living, may, or may not, be threatened by climate change--global warming. Though scary, it is hard to sift through all the shouting and conflicting information to figure out who is right on this issue.
One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tabbouleh Bread with Parsley, Garlic and Bulgar and Pear Coffee Bread (20 of 42)

As some of you may have gleaned from previous posts, I like Ben's Hot and Sweet Mustard. A lot. Well, apparently the feeling is mutual. Ben's ran a contest this summer, and I won! I won a trip for 2 to be the guests of Morgan Shepherd Racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway. My daughter Katie and I got all access pit and garage passes.  (On the way we stopped at Cabo Fish Taco for lunch, a Triple D destination.  It was great.  Be sure to stop if you are ever in the area.) 

Morgan and the team were gracious hosts and it was really neat to get a "behind the scenes" look at a Nationwide race.

We even got to hang with Danica.

As anyone who knows NASCAR knows,  sponsorship drives the sport, and this was one of my favorite sponsors, Boudreaux's Butt Paste.

Which it's a Diaper Rash Ointment and Skin Protectant.

Once we got home from the race it was time to get baking.  The assignment for this time involved making Tabbouleh Bread with Parsley, Garlic and Bulgar and Pear Coffee Bread.  We really enjoyed both these breads.

The  Tabbouleh Bread includes lemon zest, in addition to the parsley, garlic and butter, and I was surprised at how much that hint of lemon shone through in the bread.  But then I thought back to the ingredients--there was almost no whole wheat flour in this bread--only 1/2 cup for the half batch I made.  (In fact, that is my only quibble with the recipe, the lack of whole wheat flour, though there was the bulgur, which for most intents and purposes is whole wheat, though up to 5% of the bran is removed in polishing.)  I baked a (rather free-form) boule, which we thought was wonderful.

With the rest of the dough I made pitas.  With all the stuff in the dough these did not puff, but they made great flatbread to go with grilled lamb. 

When I saw that we were to make Pear Coffee Bread I thought it was a bread to have with coffee, like a coffee cake.  But the bread has coffee in it!  This dough had even less whole wheat flour, and with the addition of the pureed pears made a very tender loaf.  I made both an oval loaf and a boule.

We thought this bread was was particularly good toasted. 

For my 'speriment this time, I decided to try Michelle's version of Volkornbrot with sauerkraut.  I am not quite sure why.  I do not like sauerkraut (except in rubens).   That is one of my (many) character flaws.  Pretty women can talk me into anything.  (I suspect I am not alone in this.)  That is how I ended up married.  With four  children (counting Marissa).  I got lured.  Anyway, this loaf did not turn out too well, and so I thought I would pass on my experience.  

Michelle drained her sauerkraut, but then bemoaned not using the liquid in the bread.  So I did use the liquid.  I treated the sauerkraut itself as liquid, since it is so wet, and for a half batch of bread dumped an 8 ounce can of sauerkraut with its liquid into a measuring cup and added water to get the total amount of liquid I needed.  I mixed the dough up.  Let it rise.  And---nothing.  I thought maybe it was a bit dry, so I added more liquid, and let it rise again.  I got some rise, but not much.  My suspicion is that the brine from the sauerkraut retarded the yeast growth.  I baked it anyway.  It was pretty dense, but tasted it good.  If you like sauerkraut.  Which I don't. 

And now it's time for Trick or Treat.  In honor of my Ben's Mustard junket, I am giving away a jar of  Morgan Shepherd Special Edition Ben's Mustard.  The trick is, that to get the treat you must be hanging in and still reading my post to know about the contest. (This may be a big mistake.  I may learn something I do not want to know about my readership.)  If you are still reading, and you want to enter, just post a comment and mention Ben's Mustard in it.  I can only ship to the US and if you turn up at my house for dinner fairly often you don't get to enter.  The winner will be selected based on my whim,  and in the complete discretion of the author duplicate prizes may, or may not, be awarded. 

So that is it for this time.  Check back on the ides of November for Pumpkin Pie Brioche Redux.   

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread (19 of 42)

This time around were were tasked with making Grissini, Pizza and Baguettes.  A nasty job, but somebody has got to do it.  As the basis for these breadstuffs Michelle gave us some options for the whole wheat dough we could use.  I chose the Master.   I did vary the recipe slightly, following a tip from Danielle at Cooking for My Peace of Mind who wrote about using Barley Malt Syrup.  Following her lead, I added 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour.  For those of you keeping score at home, Barley Malt Syrup weighs 7 grams per teaspoon, 21 grams per tablespoon.  The bread rose well, but I did not notice a huge flavor difference, no doubt in part because the end products here were, themselves, fairly strongly flavored.  I will continue to use it.  Also, Carlyn at Baked With Luv suggested doubling the amount of vital gluten when using home milled flour.  I plan to try that too. 

I first made the Grissini (Olive Oil Bread Sticks).  I rolled the dough out to about an eighth of an inch, cut it into strips with my pizza cutter, sprayed them with olive oil spray, sprinkled them with salt and rosemary, and baked them for about 15 minutes.  They were great. 

Then it was on to Whole Grain Pizza on the Gas Grill (right on the grates).  I love cooking pizza this way.  We had quite a discussion in our Discussion Group about the best way to get the pizza onto the grill, with many good ideas.  I roll the crust out on parchment paper, using some flour so it does not stick too much.
I did not roll it quite as thin as I sometimes do, which makes it a bit easier to handle on the grill.  Then I trim closely around the crust, and flip it onto the grates paper side up.  The paper helps stabilize the dough. 

 Some folks do it paper side down, which is what I do in the oven, but it seems to me to be less likely to catch fire with the paper up.

After a few minutes I remove the crust from the grill, peel off the paper, flip it, top it, and slide it back onto the grates.  A few more minutes and its PIZZA. 

For this pizza, instead of using crushed tomatoes I used some of Michelle's Tomato  Jam. It went really well with the grilled crust.  I also added some sliced mushrooms and, of course, some mozzarella cheese.

The pizza is sitting on my RSVP 10" Oven Spatula, which is a really great size for getting loaves of bread into and out of the oven (or on and off the grill).  It is smaller and much handier than my large pizza peel.

The final assignment was 2 small loaves of Garlic Studded Baguette.  I formed my baguettes, let them rise in my 1x2 couche, and studded them with garlic from the garden. 

I used my Garlic Peeler gizmo to remove the peels, it is pretty handy when you have a lot of cloves to peel and you do not want to crush them. 

 I kept the loaves on the parchment paper when I put them in the oven, so I pulled them out 2/3 of the way through the cooking time to take them off the paper.  I noticed that some of the cloves had popped out, so I took the opportunity to tuck them back in,  it seemed to work pretty well. 

The roasted garlic was great, and we ate the bread without butter, just the garlic.  According to Garlic Central garlic has "a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the Plague!  Raw garlic is used by some to treat the symptoms of acne and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels. It can even be effective as a natural mosquito repellent."   Of course, eaten to excess it can also be a means of birth control.  Did you know that the most effective birth control for lawyers is their personalities?

I still had some dough left, and when we made doughnuts last time Michelle baked hers in a mini-doughnut pan.   Sounded like a great idea, so I got one, but I got the one that makes 6 regular size doughnuts, rather than 12 mini doughnuts.  I mean, who are we kidding?  Who is going to eat just 1 mini doughnut?   I rolled out the dough and used my biscuit cutters just as I had to make the fried doughnuts.  I sprayed the pan and let the doughnuts rise about half an hour.

Then I baked them at 325 for about 20 minutes.  As soon as they came out I shook them in a paper bag with some sugar and pumpkin pie spice.  Although this was not an enriched dough, they were pretty darn good.

In my spare time, I decided to do a 'speriment I had been considering all summer--zucchini bread.  I used the Carrot Bread recipe from HB in 5, but substituted zucchini.  Since zucchini is so wet, I shredded it, tossed it with a little sugar to draw out the moisture, and let it drain in a colander.  Then I squeezed more moisture out using my potato ricer.  I saved the zucchini liquid and used it as some of the water in the dough.  Also, I meant to double the spices, which is what I did, for the full recipe, but since I only made a half recipe . . . .

Despite all my efforts  and good intentions the dough was still a bit wet, but that meant the result was a little more dense, more like a typical zucchini quick bread.  I am not sure I would change it. 

I used my smaller loaf pan, but a half recipe of the HB in 5 doughs is a bit larger than in AB in 5, and a regular loaf pan would have worked better, avoiding the overflow.

The result?  I think it was pretty good.  My old Zucchini Bread recipe had 3 eggs, 2 cups of sugar and a cup of oil in it.  In contrast, the half recipe of this bread I made had no eggs,  1/4 cup of brown sugar, and no oil. This version was way healthier, though obviously not as sweet or rich.  But that is a good thing in our healthy bread paradigm.  (Just keep saying that to yourself--over and over and over.) 

So that is it for this time.  Be sure to see what everyone else did at the Big Black Dog, and check back next time.