Monday, May 24, 2010

#10: Corn Bread

This recipe reminded me of the Sesame Street song "One of these things is not like the other things".  The corn bread recipe is the only recipe in the book that does not involve yeast (the sour dough breads may not call for yeast but they utilize natural yeast as the leavening agent).  Corn bread is strictly a quick bread, using baking powder and soda along with buttermilk to get the rise it needs.  So why include it in this book? I don't know.  Maybe Peter has a soft spot in his heart for cornbread?

Peter attempts to spice up the cornbread by adding bacon crumbled on top.  While this does spice it up a bit, I'm not sold on it being an improvement.  It put the bread on the "heavy" side.  However the crumb was good but I wouldn't put it light years ahead of other corn bread recipes I've tried.

The kids did like the cornbread, however they weren't excited for the bacon on top which I thought was a little unusual since they typically like bacon.   While I can't say that I'll never make this recipe again, I can say that I'm glad I'm past it in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

#18: Light Wheat Bread

In addition to Lavish crackers, I decided to make Peter's Light Wheat Bread recipe. And since the kiddies were clamoring for hot dogs, I decided to make them a little more healthy by making whole wheat buns.

This bread is "light" in that only 1/3rd of the flour is wheat. The recipe called for either high gluten flour or bread flour and since I had both I decided to go with the high gluten flour. I also cheated and doubled the amount of yeast so I could get a quicker rise time.

I was very pleased in the rise I got with the loaf and the hot dog buns were pretty good. The timing was a bit of an issue with the hot dogs since the buns came out of the oven several minutes after the hot dogs had finished on the grill. But the kids loved the hot dogs especially since it was paired with root beer and tater tots.

#17: Lavash Crackers

I have to admit that I wasn't too excited about making crackers. Having spent the previous evening entertaining guests followed by a trip to the ER, I was unable to do any recipe that took overnight preparation. Lavish crackers happily fit my need for a one-day dough.

Making the crackers was pretty simple. A little dough goes a long way and I probably could have made the dough stretch onto a second baking sheet. I'm still working on timing my doughs so I ended up being unable to use the oven when I needed and the crackers had to sit for a bit and might have risen a little more than necessary. From the picture you can probably see that I was a little heavy on the Kosher salt so my crackers are more like saltines. A secondary effect of the delayed baking was that the salt bonded with the bread which made it a little easier to eat without making a mess.

The children liked the crackers (a testimony to Peter's quip about even a baker's mistakes being well received) and so did my wife. I think I'll try this recipe again and maybe even try making pita's as Peter's side note suggests.

Mother's Day

Last weekend was action packed. My mom was in town so I took a couple days off and enjoyed the gorgeous weather! We made it over to the Golden Gardens and Carkeek parks were we enjoyed watching the turtles sun themselves (they were so still that my mom suspected they were just plastic figures) and geocaching a bit. We also made it to the Pacific Science Center, missing the Mars exhibit by one day--oops! Luckily a kind museum worker took pity on us and took us through the exhibit since they hadn't started taking it apart.

One of the recipes I remember from my childhood is French breakfast muffins. There's nothing quite like having a delicious muffin coated with cinnamon sugar. Yum! I made a batch on Sunday morning and everyone loved them.

Because of my busy Mother's Day weekend, I wasn't able to get a post up. But that doesn't mean I wasn't cooking! In addition to the French breakfast muffins, I made another batch of Cranberry Pecan Celebration Bread and another batch of Casatiello. Both were hits, the second making an easy lunch at the Science Center.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

#14: French Bread

The recipe I use when making French bread in the past has usually been the one from Peter's Crust and Crumb. That recipe requires making the dough the night before and retarding it in the refrigerator over night. Because of the retarding, the final crust is covered with little bubbles where carbon dioxide bubbles formed during the retardation.

This recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice uses a different technique of making part of the dough the night before (called a pâte fermentée or "pre-ferment") and making the final dough the day of. The final loaves don't have the same little CO2 bubbles but are more in the line of traditional French bread.

I also applied what I learned during my class with Peter by both refraining from spritzing the actual bread in the oven and removing the extra water from the steam pan at the 5 minute mark. The crust of the bread, while still crisp, lacked the excessive chewiness that my French bread typically has. The crumb was soft and tender and I'm proud of my scoring which left a delicious pattern along the surface of the loaves.

I look forward to turning one of these loaves into French toast this week.

#11: Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

This is my second attempt. I made this loaf last week but it didn't turn out exactly like I wanted it to. I made two loaves instead of one but forgot to adjust the bake time until they were an over-baked brown. Oops. The bread wasn't horrible--it was still gone in short order--but just a little more "done" than I wanted.

So I made it again this week. I still made two loaves but reduced the baking time and the loaves were perfectly toasty. I substituted pecans for the walnuts and I think the substitution was great. The tangy flavor of the cranberries complement the citrus-ey orange oil and the pecans provided a nice crunch to the bread. However, because I gave one loaf to my uncle for his birthday and the family has all but devoured the second loaf, I'm forced to take some less-than-exciting French bread to work tomorrow for my coworkers.

The recipe is a keeper. The family loved it and the double egg-wash was beautiful.