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, May 15, 2011

Anadama Corn Bread and Whole Grain Brown Rice Bread (33 of 42)

First things first.  Congratulations to Becca, who is now a college graduate--with Honors!
That is three and out for us, which in the context of college educations, as opposed to football,  is a good thing.  
Next, some unfinished business.  When I baked the 10-Grain Bread for the last assignment I thought it was too dense, but vowed to try it again.  So I did, paying more attention to the dough.  It seemed fine when I mixed it, but after sitting in the fridge for a day or two it was VERY dry.  So dry and heavy that it seemed unlikely the little yeasties could get it to rise.  I had made a half recipe, which I cut in half to make two loaves.  I baked one loaf as was, as a control, and got the same dense result.
I worked some extra water into the second half of the dough and put it back in the fridge to rest.  When I got back to it it was much more supple, and it rose much better.  As a result, the loaf was much lighter.

I am not sure the extent to which the hydration issue was the result of using freshly milled flour, or just the cereal.  Clarice at Hearth Arts had the same problem with this bread, but I am not sure what type of flour she used.  With the right hydration this bread is definitely worth making, so maybe you just need to see how the dough feels after it has rested, and adjust accordingly.

Now, on to this assignment.  First up is Anadama Corn Bread.   According to the source of all truth and wisdom, Wikipedia (The Long Tail; Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, a fascinating book which I highly recommend, has an interesting discussion on the relative merits of the Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia), "Anadama bread is a traditional bread of New England made with white flour, cornmeal, molasses and sometimes rye flour."  The article notes that 
It is also not readily agreed exactly when or where the bread originated, except that it exists before 1850 in Rockport, MA. It is thought it came from the local fishing community but it may have come through the Finnish Community of local stonecutters. During the turn of the century around 1900 it was baked by a man named Baker Knowlton on King Street in Rockport, MA and delivered in a horse-drawn cart to households in Rockport by men in blue smocks. In the 1940s a Rockport restaurant owned by Bill and Melissa Smith called The Blacksmith Shop on Mt. Pleasant St. started baking the bread for their restaurant in a small bakery on Main St. They baked about 80 loaves a day until 1956 when they built a modern $250,000 bakery on Pooles Lane. They had 70 employees and 40 trucks which delivered Anadama Bread all over New England. * * * the Anadama Bread Bakery on Pooles Lane in Rockport, MA closed [in 1970] due to Bill Smith's death.
 As for the name, Wikipedia offers
There are several popular myths about the origin of the name, which mostly take this form:"A fisherman, angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeast to his porridge and eats the resultant bread, while cursing, "Anna, damn her." The neighbors baked it because it was so delicious and coined it Anadama or Anadamy.
The loaves baked up nicely.

As a matter of purely personal taste, however, I was not a big fan of the molasses flavor.  It was a bit too strong for me, though toasting seemed to mellow it out.  Personally, I prefer the Broa from AB in 5. I adapted the AB in 5 recipe to make a version using more corn meal:
 Cornier 5 Minute Broa
Keeps for 10 days
Full Recipe                                             Half Recipe
375g            2.5 cup Corn meal             188g
560g                4 cups flour                    280g
675g                3 cups water                  338g
15g       1 1/2 TBS instant yeast            8g
15g                    1 TBS salt                       8g
20g                  2 TBS gluten                10g
Mix, let rise and refrigerate as for any AB in 5 dough
Remove a 1 pound portion, form into a ball, flatten slightly, let rest to rise for 40 min.
Bake at 450 for 30 min.

The second assignment this time was Whole Grain Brown Rice Bread.  The dough was pretty wet, and I baked it in my covered pot.  It rose well, due to the hydration, but the resulting loaf was still pretty "damp."  It may be I did not cook it long enough, or maybe baking it in the covered pot for the first 2/3 of the time kept in too much moisture.   

So I tried a second loaf.  As I formed it I worked in a bit more flour, and I baked it in my perforated loaf pan and I used the convection bake on my oven.  This loaf baked up better, or at least drier.
 Both loaves tasted good, however, so next time you have leftover brown rice you might give this a try. 

And so with this assignment we are in our final countdown.  This was 10, and we now only have 9 to go--unless of course we have a green-white-checker. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Braided Challah with Whole Wheat and Wheat Germ

I wanted to make a Challah to take to some friends,  and in looking through the HB in 5 index I found this one.  I had not made it before, so I looked on our baking schedule to see when it was on the docket, so I could save my notes for that post.  I did not find it on the schedule, though I could have missed it.  Either way, in the interest of fully completing our appointed rounds, here it is. 

As is my wont, I used egg substitute and canola oil.  In addition to the usual suspects this dough also called for a teaspoon of vanilla.  The dough mixed up nicely, and rose well.  After its STINT in the fridge, I braided using a two strand braid.  The dough was easy to work with.  As I rolled the strands I sprinkled some poppy seeds on the counter so that they got rolled into each strand.  I find this more satisfactory that sprinkling them on top at the end of the rise.   After a 90 minute rise I brushed the loaf with an egg substitute wash, and into the oven it went, at 350 for 35 minutes.
 At that point I thought it could use a few minutes more, so I slid it off the cookie sheet and directly onto the baking stone for 5 more minutes.  And Viola!
 We both thought this Challah was very good, and would recommend it.

Since I have four (counting Marissa) wonderful, brilliant and beautiful daughters I have on occasion meditated in these posting on variations of the theme that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Here is yet another  variation on that theme from DR. MARDY'S QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  "That which doesn't kill us may make us stronger, but never forget that it also leaves a scar." 

Or if not a scar, at least a mark. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Buckwheat Bread and 10-Grain Bread

Hooray hooray, it's the First of May--and we ALL know what that means.  LAW DAY!!!!!!  Brought to you by the people who brought you the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 

I for one am glad to see the back of April.  I know April Showers bring May Flowers, which in turn bring Pilgrims, but--DAMN!  Enough rain already.  I have DUCKS in the garden.

The first assignment this time was for Buckwheat Bread.  Despite its name, buckwheat is not a wheat.  And buckwheat contains no gluten.  According to Wikipedia,"[t]he name 'buckwheat' or 'beech wheat' comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree, and the fact that it is used like wheat."  Common buckwheat is the usual crop variety, but there are a couple of relatives as well.  
It is well known that the companion planting of buckwheat and radishes has the salutatory effect of keeping wolverines off your land, as the following clip demonstrates
We planted radishes in our first garden.  In our enthusiasm we planted a 20 foot row.  That is a lot of radishes.  We would put them into paper grocery bags, paper was the only kind back in the olden days, leave them on neighbors' doorsteps, ring the bell, and run.  We also discovered that radishes are good cooked.  They can be sauteed, and they are good roasted with carrots

The Buckwheat Bread recipe uses not only buckwheat flour, but also buckwheat groats.  According to Wikipedia, "[g]roats are the hulled grains of various cereals."  Wheat groats are also known as bulgur, and buckwheat groats are also known as kasha or kashiBecause groats are usually hard to chew buckwheat groats are typically eaten as a porridge.  According to Wikipedia, "Groats were the most widely used form of buckwheat worldwide during the 20th century, eaten primarily in Russia, Ukraine and Poland," and they are "often considered the definitive peasant dish."
I have made this bread before, and was looking forward to making it again.  I like it a lot.  The dough this time seemed a bit wet, but it turned out pretty well.  I used my perforated bread pan, and the wet dough oozed through the perforations.  When I pried the loaf out of the pan it left behind all these little bread granules.  
 Not to waste them I sprinkled them on our salads.  This did three important things: (1) it made use of the granules; (2) it added a bit of crunch to the salad; and (3) since I was using lettuce fresh from our garden (overwintered in cold frames), it camouflaged any bits of grit that might have escaped my rinsing.
The bread was great, although of a somewhat funky shape due to its wetness.  But as a result of the wetness it also had a nice crumb.

I also used some of the dough to make a pita.  It did not puff, which did not surprise me given the groats, but it was easy to open up and made a very serviceable vehicle for some ham salad made with leftover Easter ham. 

 Since I was on a buckwheat roll  (technically a buckwheat pita, but that does not have the same ring to it) I decided to make sourdough buckwheat waffles.  I came up with a whole wheat sourdough waffle recipe that I think is pretty great.  It is patterned after a recipe from SOURDOUGH JACK'S COOKERY And Other Things by Sourdough Jack Mabee.  (I have the 1972 version.) 

To 1 cup of starter add 70g of AP flour, 100g WW flour and 190g water (1/2 c AP flour, 3/4 c WW flour, and 7oz water).   Next morning take out your cup of starter to save and add 3 TBS eggbeaters (1 egg), 2 tsp canola, and 1 Tbs skim milk.  Mix 1 tsp sugar with 1/2 tsp baking soda and sprinkle on top of the batter, then stir in gently.  This makes 3 waffles, which is good for the two of us, and of course the batter can also be used for pancakes.  (I have a scaled up version of this recipe if anyone is interested.)  For waffles in my iron, I use a 7 inch Belgian Waffle iron, I use 2/3 cup batter and for cook for 6 minutes.
You may have noticed that many of your finer hotels, Sleep Inn, for example, have do-it-yourself waffles for breakfast.  They use waffle irons that rotate, so you fill the iron then flip it over, which makes for a more even distribution of the batter.  To accomplish the same thing I put my heated waffle iron top down on a cutting board, open it, pour the batter onto the top, close it, and flip it over.   

For buckwheat waffles I subbed buckwheat flour for the whole wheat flour (90 grams of buckwheat flour, it being 120 grams to the cup).  I expanded my starter the day before, so I could have a separate batch of starter to use with the buckwheat flour.
Not to brag (which is of course exactly what I am doing), but the waffles were so light you could see through them when you held them up to the light. 

Next up--10 Grain Bread.   The Neat Cheat here is to use Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal.  Bob makes his 10 Grain Cereal from "stone ground high protein hard red wheat, rye, triticale, oat bran, oats, corn, barley, soy beans, brown rice, millet, and flaxseed."

I confess I am not quite sure what I thought about this bread.  I had high hopes, which can be the kiss of death.  In contrast to the Buckwheat Bread this dough was on the drier, and heavier, side, and did not get as good a rise.  As a result, the loaf looked good, but it was pretty dense.  Also, at first bite it had a distinctive flavor that I was not sure I liked, but that grew on me. 
All in all, I think I need to try this bread again.  

So that is that.  We are into May.  And we all know the adage about May nights: "many are cold, but few are frozen."