Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Rosemary For Remembrance - Again

Five years ago I baked a lovely rosemary bread, Panmarino, for the July Bread Baking Babes challenge and this month I made it again (photo above), but made only 1/4 of the recipe and shaped it as a baguette. Our challenge this month (with no Kitchen of the Month to choose something new) is to choose one of the July breads from years past and bake it. Since both Sweetie and I are eating less bread these days for our health, a fraction of the recipe seemed like a good idea. As is often the case, my timing was flawed, so we had our first bites at a little after 10 p.m. I decided that I like this bread best with a small amount of olive oil on top of the slice and a few grains of sea salt added.

July is always a month for remembrance for me and Sweetie, and rosemary is the traditional herb for remembrance...at least according to Shakespeare. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of our son's fatal accident. In 20 years we have learned how to live without him and how to live with each other and with what the days bring, but a day doesn't go by without our remembering him in some way...no rosemary needed.

Still, with a huge rosemary shrub on the property, it's easy to enjoy recipes using fresh rosemary and this bread is a winner. I used some sourdough starter in addition to the pinch of yeast in the biga. I let it sit longer than the recipe called for (overnight and then some), so I used 40 grams of the flour and the water, mixed together, to add to the biga for an additional hour and then I followed the recipe to make the dough and then the bread. I think that the added time, plus the sourdough starter, gave the finished bread a wonderful depth of flavor.

Use good quality olive oil for the dough and be generous with the fresh rosemary. Your kitchen is going to smell wonderful while this bread bakes!

Be sure to visit the other Babes to see which July bread they've made. If you want to be a Buddy, I guess you send an email to the Babe whose bread you make. If it's mine, send me an email at elle dot lachman at gmail dot com and include a photo of your bread and a short description of your baking experience. You have until the 29th of July and I'll try and send you a Buddy Badge, if there is one.

We have quite a few Babes who are sitting out the bread baking right now, for various reasons. We do have a Kitchen of the Month for next month and I know that the Babes who are baking right now are enthusiastic about it, so join in if you like. You might discover a recipe that becomes a standard for you!

Panmarino (Note: I made 1/4 of this recipe for one loaf)
Makes: 4 Loaves  Original Panmarino created in Ferrara near Venice

Biga (which I made exactly as described):
Bread flour 143 grams/  5 ounces
Water 122 grams/  4 1/4 ounces
Pinch of instant yeast

Final Dough:
Bread flour 884 grams/  1 pound 15 ounces
Water 487 grams/  2 cups
Milk 2 ounces/ 1/4 cup
Biga 265 grams/  9 1/3 ounces
Salt 1/2 ounce/ 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon instant yeast
Olive oil 88 grams/  3 ounces
Chopped fresh rosemary 9 grams/  1/3 ounce

Preparing the Biga:
Combine the bread flour, water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.  Scrape down the edge of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at 75 degrees F. for 14 to 16 hours.

Making the Final Dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, milk, and biga. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until blended.

Add the salt and yeast to the bread flour in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add bread flour mixture a cup at a time and mix on low speed until incorporated, then add more. When about half the flour is added, add the olive oil, mix with the dough hook to combine, then continue to add the flour mixture. You may need to add by tablespoonfuls at the end. Mix with dough hook on low for 5 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for about 7 more minutes, or until the dough is smooth.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Scrape the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment for 45 minutes.

Remove the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and knead in the fresh rosemary. Divide the dough into four 450-gram /16-ounce pieces (or divide into three pieces to shape as desired, as I did). Shape the dough pieces into rounds. Cover with plastic wrap and let them bench rest for 15 minutes.

Place two couches on a separate work surface or bread board and dust them with flour.

Uncover the dough and, if necessary, lightly flour the work surface. Gently press on the dough to degas and carefully shape each piece into a tight and neat rounds (or into rolls or loaves, as I did. I also shaped my round loaf in a heavily floured brotform).  Place one loaf on one side of the couche, fold the couche up to make a double layer of cloth to serve as a divider between the loaves, and place a second loaf next to the fold.  Repeat the process with the remaining two loaves and the second couche.  Cover with plastic wrap and proof for 1 hour.

About an hour before you plan to bake the loaves, place a baking stone (or tiles) into the oven along with a steam pan (underneath) or iron skillet (on the top rack) and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Uncover the dough and score the top of each loaf in a star pattern using a lame or sharp knife. This particular formula doesn't say to do this, but you can sprinkle sea salt into the crevices as the original baker did to make it "sparkle with diamonds."

Carefully transfer the loaves to the preheated baking stone using a peel or the back of a baking sheet. To make the steam, add 1 cup of ice to the iron skillet or steam pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the crust is light brown and crisp and the loaves make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

July Doings

A wise and wonderful friend told me a few days ago that she keeps up with what I'm up to through this blog. I know that Sweetie's sister does the same and worries when no posts go up for a while. I always think of this as a food blog, but I guess it's also a log of current happenings in my life, so today I'll do some updating. Sorry that it's been over a week.

The garden gladdens my heart, which is important because July is probably my least favorite month of the whole year. The zucchini and yellow squash are finally producing. We had yellow squash cooked in a cast iron skillet with caramelized onions a few nights ago with our dinner. Delicious! No photo because Sweetie finished them off before I could take a photo. I had the first green bean this morning, right off the vine. More are coming. The first tomato has set up, but it will be late August before we eat any of the tomatoes.

The flowers are amazing...I have lilies and roses and similar long term flowers, but also wildflowers and morning glories and nasturtiums that will be gone come winter. The mix of colors is wild and wonderful. Deadheading every morning is a goal that sometimes is met, but not always. Watering happens each morning and I get in some weeding when I can.

I have been painting. I finished a painting of a bird of paradise flower, with an interesting composition of leaves behind it and I'm working on another painting with flowers now.

The downstairs bathroom in our home was updated in the spring with new wall and trim paint, but I never painted the trim around the door. Now that Sweetie is working at the farmhouse I've been able to remove the door and paint that trim so now it all is an intense deep turquoise with sandy colored walls. Soon there will be trim and walls to paint in the farmhouse, too. The sitting area also has a turquoise theme...guess I like that color.

We installed new blinds on two of the windows in the farmhouse the other day. The seating area has a sort of tropical vibe and the tatami mat style blinds tie right into that, while providing a bit of room darkening and privacy. Mostly I leave them up so that we can enjoy the sunshine and the fuchsia blooming right outside.

Sweetie continues to amaze with his Tetris skills as he repairs a window wall without removing the window. He is also very involved with a parcel tax measure that will be coming up for a vote in November.

We took a ride on the SMART train from Cotati to San Rafael, had lunch and a look around, then took the train back. It's a great ride and as seniors our fare is very reasonable. In San Rafael we found the most interesting Electronics store and a great bookstore which is about ten or so blocks from the train station. Had some great Thai food for lunch and bought crusty sourdough rolls from a bakery that has been baking for over 100 years in San Rafael. The photo is of the wetlands that the train passes after it leaves Petaluma, heading south.

My older brother is between trials and doing pretty well, but not as well as he hoped. I'll be visiting him and the family late this month for some fun times! My own surgery for gall bladder removal will be late August. The gall bladder is mostly non-functioning and I might even have more energy once it's gone.

Our darling daughter is doing well both with her career and with a kind man in her life. We hope to meet him soon.

Pi is as sweet and wonderful as ever and really appreciates his walks at the Laguna de Santa Rosa.

That's probably all the news for now. Sounding too much like a Christmas letter! Hope y'all had a great 4th of July!

XO, Elle

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Out Of The Oven

Father's Day seems like a long time ago. Since then I've had a couple of weeks of very low energy and have taken some medication to help with an infection that was part of the cause. Feeling much more like my usual self the last few days, enough so that I baked a cake...and enjoyed doing it. Prior to that, for a while, I'd do some stuff, but it was a struggle to get my brain working on whatever it was and, truly, all I wanted to do was sleep. Scary feeling. Glad that it seems to be in the past now. Sweetie is glad, too...he was pretty worried.

The cake, out of the oven just long enough to cool before being iced with ganache, was a 6-inch version of the Queen Mother flourless chocolate cake that Maida Heatter made famous quite a few years ago. If you know how to fold beaten egg whites into a thicker batter and still retain most of the air in the egg whites, this cake will become a favorite! If you don't know how, just be patient and give it a try. Even if you knock some of the air out the first try, you will still have an awesome, delicious chocolate cake that will impress your family and friends.

The chocolate is a really big part of this cake and icing, so be sure to use chocolate that you would enjoy eating by itself. Save your small change if necessary until you have enough to purchase good chocolate. I used Scharffenberger for the cake and a combination of Scharffenberger and Lindt for the ganache. The sprinkles on the birthday cake are just for fun...and color. I also substituted 6 oz. of Bob's Red Mill almond flour for the whole almonds, using the 1/4 cup sugar for the butter mixture (along with the 1/4 cup called for) instead of using it to grind up the almonds. Otherwise I followed the recipe for the cake. I used butter for the cake and soy creamer instead of whipping cream for the ganache...I never have whipping cream in the house these days. Here is a good tip: Separate your eggs while cold, then allow them to come to room temperature.

This is most easily made in a 9-inch springform pan. I used two 6-inch springform pans (one with tall sides) because I was making a small cake, by request, for our friend AM. The second one was for Sweetie, but he ended up taking 3/4 of it to our friends and sharing it with them...and they still had the birthday cake to enjoy the next day. They claimed it would be breakfast, and why not? There are plenty of eggs in it!

Queen Mother's Cake - serves 12
From Maida Heatter's Cakes

6 oz. (scant 1 1/2 cups) blanched or unblanched almonds
6 oz. Semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Toast the almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan in a 350 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the almonds are lightly colored and smell deliciously of toasted almonds. Set aside to cool.

Adjust a rack on-third up in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 3-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of baking-pan liner paper cut to fit (I used parchment). Butter the paper. Dust the pan all over with fine, dry plain bread crumbs, inver over paper, tap lightly to shake out excess. Set prepared pan aside.

Place the chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over warm water on moderate heat. Cover until partially melted, then uncover and stir until just melted and smooth. (I find that using a silicone spatula works well for stirring the melting chocolate.) Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside until tepid or room temperature.

Place the cooled almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal chopping blade. Process very well until the nuts are fine and powdery. Scrape down the sides at least twice. Process for at least a full minute. The finer the nuts are, the better the cake will be. (Or use almond flour that is finely ground already.) Set aside the ground nuts.

If at all possible, have two clean large stand mixer bowls and a stand mixer, plus a regular beater and a whisk beater ready.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer eat the butter until soft. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar (or 1/2 cup if using pre-ground nuts), reserving the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Beat to mix. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary until smooth. On low speed add the chocolate and beat until mixed. Then add the processed almonds (almond flour) and beat, scraping the bowl, until incorporated. You will have a thick batter.

Now beat the whites in the large bowl of a mixer. If you only have one bowl, transfer the chocolate batter to any other large bowl. Wash the bowl and beaters carefully.

In a large bowl of the mixer, with clean beaters (preferably a whisk beater), beat the egg whites with the salt and lemon  juice, starting on low speed and increasing it gradually. When the whites barely hold a soft shape, reduce the speed a bit and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Then, on HIGH speed, continue to beat until the whites hold a straight point when the beaters are slowly raised. Don't overbeat.

Stir a large spoonful of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture to soften the batter a bit.

Then, in three (3) additions, fold in the remaining whites. Do not fold thoroughly until the last addition & don't handle the batter any more than necessary. (Streaks are fine until the very end...the goal is to keep as much air as possible in the egg whites).

Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Rotate the pan briskly from left to right in order to level the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F, then REDUCE the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for an additional 50 minutes (total baking time is 1 hour and 10 minutes). Don't overbake...cake will remain soft and moist in the center...and the top might crack a bit...that's OK.

Let cake rest on a wire rack for 50 - 60 minutes, then undo the spring catch to release the sides. Let the cake stand until completely cool, or longer if you wish. The cake will sink a little in the middle with slightly higher sides...that is OK. You can trim the top level if you like (I left mind as is), and brush away loose crumbs.

Invert the cake onto a board or cake plate and remove the bottom and baking paper. Place strips of waxed paper or parchment paper under the edges of the cake. Ice with the ganache icing.

1/2 cup whipping cream (I used Silk soy creamer)
2 teaspoons powdered espresso coffee (Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso powder works well)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (I used part Scharfenberger semi-sweet and part Lindt salted bittersweet dark)

Heat the cream and espresso powder in a small saucepan over moderate heat until small bubbles form around the edges. Add the chocolate and stir occasionally over heat for 1 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir until the chocolate is all melted and the mixture is smooth.

Let the icing stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes, until the icing starts to thicken.

Stir then pour slowly over the top of the cake, pouring over the middle. Use a long, narrow metal spatula to smooth the top and spread so that a little of the icing runs down the sides. With a small narrow metal spatula, smooth the sides.

Let the icing set for 10 minutes. Remove the papers by pulling each one out toward a narrow end. Decorate as you see fit...or not at all.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fathers Day Weekend

Sweetie has the nicest friends! A dear friend who has known him since they were both in high school visited this weekend with her lovely granddaughter. We had a marvelous time with them and they were the first to try out the renovated farmhouse for a few nights. Looks like we have a winner. Our daughter will be coming to stay there in about a month.

One of the fun things about having guests is that you can spoil them with good local food. Sweetie grilled some awesome local salmon one night. We had local grass-fed lamb shoulder braise another night. I marinated the lamb for 24 hours in fresh rosemary from our garden, fresh garlic and red wine. The day I served it I first sauteed carrots, onions and celery and then cooked the shoulder just like I do lamb shanks. It makes an awesome dish with lots of yummy juices which adorned the mashed potatoes that shared the bowl. I didn't take any photos, but it was delicious.

I did take photos of the pie I made. Sweetie really likes pies and I like using our farm grown fruits when I can. I used white peaches from the market and the ollieberries that grow at the bottom of our driveway. The crust was Pillsbury ReadyCrust. The secret to its deliciousness (other than perfectly ripe fruit) was that I put a mixture of plain dry breadcrumbs, brown sugar and freshly grated nutmeg on the bottom of the pie. It helps absorb the juices and also flavors the pie. If you have other fruit the recipe will work well for that, too. Peaches and blueberries are a great combo, so are rhubarb and strawberries, nectarines and plums...you get the idea! One of the nice things about this pie is that there is no top crust, nor do you need to flute the edges, so it goes together really quickly.

I did bake it briefly at a high temperature to help the crust crisp up some, and finished at a reduced heat. Check it to make sure the top isn't browning too much. If it is, tent with some aluminum foil.

White Peach and Olallieberry Pie
serves 8

1 roll Pillsbury ReadCrust pie crust, rolled into a 12-inch circle
2-3 ripe white peaches, peeled, sliced, pit discarded
1 pint olallieberries or blackberries, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
sanding sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Fit rolled out pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan, leaving edges hanging over edge of pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use your hands to gently mix the peach slices, berries and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the dry bread crumbs, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Spread this mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pie pan. Top with the fruit mixture and mound slightly in the center of the pie pan.

A little at a time, lift the edges of the crust onto the filling, pleating the edges as needed until all the crust has covered the outer edge of the pie. Use clean fingers moistened in water, as needed, to seal the pleats and to lightly moisten the overlapping crust, then sprinkle with a small amount of sanding sugar, if using. If not using the sanding sugar, no water is needed once the pleats are secure.

Place filled pie pan in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake another 25-30 minutes, or until juices are bubbly and crust is browned.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve slices either barely warm or cooled to room temperature.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sourdough and Rosemary and Raisins...oh my!

This is the first bread I've baked since the last Bread Baking Babes effort in May. Totally unusual for me, but it's been pretty hot around here for the last few days. Sweetie has now lost over 65 pounds and I've lost some, too, although far from that amount. Still, I miss bread baking and so I'm grateful to the Babes for giving me an excuse every month to bake bread. During the last month time was well spent painting and refurbishing the front room of the farmhouse so that it can be a beautiful bedroom this weekend. Sweetie and I have a lovely friend and her granddaughter here for a visit. They've been camping, so a nice, soft bed and good shower was very much appreciated.

Back to the bread...brought to us by our Kitchen of the Month Judy of Judy's Gross Eats.  THis fantastic bread is Rosemary Raisin Sourdough. I used the sourdough starter that I started up last month. This was an easy bread to work with. I chose to make half the recipe so we wouldn't have too much bread (I know, it sounds strange to even think that, but these days Sweetie isn't the only one who is losing weight and too much bread puts the pounds back on). I also substituted molasses for the honey and used some white whole wheat flour instead of part of the bread flour. My sourdough starter from last month came through the month just fine with a few feedings and it really adds great flavor to this delicious bread. I think the part I like best is the combination of the sweet golden raisins and the zingy fresh rosemary. It's a good bread by itself, but it's also a good sandwich bread. We served the last of it tonight to go with our braised lamb shoulder dinner...it went perfectly with it!

Because I do like to change things around and I've been baking bread long enough to feel comfortable with variations, I put all the wet ingredients into the bowl, put all the dry ingredients into another bowl (and mixed them well) and then stirred about a cup of the dry ingredients into the wet, then used the dough hook to mix in the rest of the dry ingredients and to knead the dough (so no 10 minute rest for the dough before kneading), and it worked really well. The bread had a great oven spring and a good crumb. I did burn the top a little bit...should have tented it with foil for the last 7 minutes or so.

Do try this bread. You can probably shape it any way you like to shape bread because it has great body and is easy to work with. Give it a try and take a photo or two and send an email to Judy with your baking experience so that you become a Buddy and she'll send you a Buddy Badge. Her email is on her site.

Be sure to visit the other Babes's blogs to see how this bread worked out for them, too. Bet someone used another grain like spelt...it's the perfect recipe for that kind of substitution!

Thanks for viewing this blog. I'll probably be posting more often now. Berry season has arrived, which always inspires me.

XO, Elle

Rosemary Raisin Sourdough Bread

(Recipe can be halved or doubled)
28 oz bread flour
8 oz whole grain flour
1 oz Kosher salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 oz honey
4 oz olive oil
4 oz raisins
1/8 cup chopped fresh rosemary
16 oz sourdough starter (100% hydration)
16 oz room-temperature water

Blend dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined into a shaggy dough.  Cover with a towel and let mixture rest for 10 minutes.  

Using a dough hook, knead dough for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until doubled.

Remove risen dough from bowl, shape as desired, place on baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

About 20 minutes before baking, heat oven to 500˚F.  Bake at 500˚F for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 425˚F and continue baking until top is brown and the internal temperature is between 190-200˚F, about 15-20 minutes.  Watch the bread carefully so it doesn’t get too dark (adjust oven temperature accordingly).

Remove from oven; let cool on rack.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Food Blogging Is Taking Back Seat

Just checking in...Time for you to start wandering through old posts I guess. Between the burgeoning garden...the soil is finally warming up and so are the days...and the room painting going on in the living room (see photo above), there just isn't much time or energy left for food blogging. Today I finished painting the crown molding at the ceiling and my neck is sore since it is only a bit different than painting the ceiling...one of the worst painting jobs in my opinion.

 Of course we are eating, but it's not the most exciting stuff. Today I made Cobb salad and yesterday we had turkey sausages and an onion/mushroom/red pepper relish that I love with the sausages, plus hot sugar snap peas and garlic. Mostly I don't think to take photos and I'm not baking these days either. I'm sure I will be soon, so hang in there and keep checking back, OK?

Hope that your spring is a good one.

XO, Elle

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Playing With No-Knead

I finally was able to play with the dough mixing tool that my dear friend Pam S gave me for my birthday. I'd seen them before but wasn't sure that I needed one. Have to say, it is a great tool for mixing flour into a wet mixture to make dough. Easy to clean, too. Thank you Pam!

Jessica Snead wrote for myrecipes blog about how to make No-knead French Rolls. She used a recipe from Sunset magazine from April 1997. It's a pretty simple and easy recipe with only six ingredients (if you include the water) and it makes great rolls. I decided to use it as a starting point for some bread today. It is mixed up in a bowl and you don't need a stand mixer, you don't have to know how to knead bread, and you end up with something that smells divine, tastes great, and gives you the satisfaction and pleasure of knowing you made it yourself.

You will probably have everything in your pantry with, perhaps, the exception of active dry yeast. You can purchase that at the market. Usually it comes in three packets attached to each other - you use one packet for this recipe.

The only tip that I feel impelled to give you about baking yeast bread is to remember that too much heat will kill the yeast. This recipe calls for melted butter. Melt it and let it cool before using. It also calls for warm water. The water should be barely above skin temperature. All of the other ingredients should be at room temperature. Today our room temperature was about 67 degrees F. Some days it's cooler and some warmer, but today was the perfect day for making bread. The only other tip is to allow time. Sometimes the dough takes longer to rise.

The original recipe uses active dry yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, salt and bread flour. I played around with it some by using a half cup bread flour, a cup of Irish style whole wheat flour, and the rest unbleached all-purpose flour. The dough was a little sticky at first, but the whole wheat flour absorbed some of the moisture during the first rise. It still was what I think of as a slack dough...it tends to slump when shaped. If you are making rolls as the recipe calls for that isn't a problem...they will rise more in the oven (which is called oven spring) and make lovely rolls.

I decided to divide the dough in half and make two logs. Since I was baking them in the toaster/convection oven which is 12" deep, I ended up curving the logs to fit the pans. By doing this instead of rolls, we could slice off as little or as much bread as we wanted.

Sweetie really enjoyed his slice of bread and had it for dinner with hamburger. I made mine into a veggie & chicken sandwich and had it with some veggie soup for dinner. Really delicious and easy enough to do the first parts (mixing and rise and shaping and rise) in between painting trim at the farmhouse and running errands. Give it a try and tell me what you think. Summer cookouts are coming and homemade rolls for burgers or sausage really raise the level of your BBQ game!

No-Knead French Rolls
makes 16 rolls

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine, cooled
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose or bread flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F - barely warm to the touch),  sugar, butter and salt; let stand about 5 minutes. Stir in flour until well blended. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean shower cap and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 45 minutes - an hour.

Punch down dough. On a heavily floured board, cut dough into 16 equal pieced. (If you have a bench scraper, this is a good time to use it.) Roll or gather each piece into a ball' place 2 - 3 inches  apart on greased baking sheets, baking sheets with silicone baking mats, or lined with parchment. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 10 - 20 minutes.

Uncover and bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven  until golden brown, 1 - 18 minutes. Serve warm or cool. If making ahead, store airtight at room temperature up to the next day. Reheat, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven until warm, about 5 minutes.

Playing Around:
You can mix up the kinds of flour as long as you have approximately 4 cups. Add the last 1/2 cup slowly so that you can see if the dough needs all the flour.
If you shape your dough into two logs as I did, they will take about 25 minutes to bake.
Freshly baked bread smells so good that you just want to slice it right from the oven! Resist. Let the bread cool 10-15 minutes at least. Even better is to let it cool completely and then reheat as described at the bottom of the recipe.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

It's The Berries

I want it to feel like spring, but Mother Nature is not cooperating. We are having February weather...rain, chill, more rain, gray skies, chilly breezes, more rain.

Still, our local strawberry farm had berries on Wednesday so yesterday we had strawberries, some raspberries that are not local and some olallieberries from the freezer, saved there from last summer. Just what is needed to make a spring feeling galette (free form pie) for Sweetie.

Put the berries together (strawberries were diced since they were large, frozen berries were left frozen), add a tiny bit of sugar and a lot of cornstarch (for they WILL be juicy!), some lemon zest and orange zest and we have a spring-like filling. Total amount of filling was about 4.5 - 5 cups. Sugar was 1/4 cup and you have to estimate the cornstarch depending on how juicy your fruit is. Zest is 1/2 teaspoon each kind.

Roll out some pie dough to about 12 inches diameter, put it on a foil-lined pizza pan (because of those juices the foil is essential), mound the fruit mixture in the center and pat it down, then fold the edges of the pie dough over the berry mixture (about 4-5 inches for my galette), brush dough with some half and half or soy creamer (about 1 tablespoon) and sprinkle on some sanding sugar (optional) and you have the makings of a delicious dessert that is almost a pie, but easier and rustic looking.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake until golden brown and cooked through...and look at those beautiful ruby juices!

Cool long enough that you don't burn your tongue on the hot fruit and then cut a slice and enjoy! Think spring!!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread for the Babes

Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, our awesome Kitchen of the Month challenged us to make a sandwich loaf with multigrains AND sourdough. Since my sourdough starter was abandoned when Sweetie started losing weight, I had to begin another one, but it was worth it because this was an absolutely wonderful bread. It makes especially good toast! Just follow the recipe...and allow a few days to make the starter before you begin the actual bread dough. I did add 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast to the bread flour because this is a hearty bread with the grains and my sourdough was still pretty young when I baked.

If you bake this bread and would like to be a Buddy, take a photo and send an email to Karen (email address on her blog) with the photo and a short description of your bake and your URL. She'll send the lovely Buddy Badge that the very talented Elizabeth made.

Be sure to check out the other Bread Baking Babes blogs to see the creative ways they have come up with to make this recipe personal for themselves. I only took one photo. Thought I had taken others, but now the bread is gone...will have to make more!!

Happy baking!

If you don't have a sourdough starter, start with a 50/50 by weight mixture of water and flour and a pinch of yeast and let it ferment for 12 to 24 hours. This may affect the timing.

The sourdough starter in this bread is 100 percent hydration.

Suggested timeline (plus or minus depending on the weather):

Day one:
Feed your starter and let it sit, covered, at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
Day two:
8 a.m. mix your dough and let it rise.
4 p.m. Shape the dough and let it rise
5 or 6 p.m. bake your loaf.

Alternative timeline (plus or minus depending on the weather):
Day one:
Feed your starter and let it sit, covered, at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.
Day two:
8 p.m. mix your dough and let it rise
6 a.m. shape the dough and let it rise
7 or 8 a.m. bake your loaf.

This bread is very flavorful and an easy way to incorporate sourdough.

Here's the recipe:

Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread
by Karen Kerr   Makes 1 loaf

For the Dough
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) bubbly 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 300 grams (1 1/4 cups) warm water
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 45 grams (3 tablespoons) melted coconut oil
  • 50 grams (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) whole wheat flour
  • 450 grams (3 3/4 cups) bread flour
  • 9 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
For the Multigrain Soaker
  • 70 grams (1/2 cup) King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend or Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal, or another mixture of grains and seeds
  • 240 grams (1 cup) hot water
  • Rolled oats for topping the loaf (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, mix the starter, water, honey, and oil with a dough whisk or fork. Add the flours and salt. 
  2. Mix the dough by hand in the bowl to form a shaggy dough. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  3. While the dough is resting, mix the multigrains and hot water in a separate bowl and let rest. Drain thoroughly before using. 
  4. Add the multigrains to the dough and knead to incorporate. The dough will be pretty wet at first but will begin to come together. Don't add more flour. 
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled, about 6 to 8 hours. 
  6. Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and press it out to a rectangle. Roll the dough into a log and place it into an oiled 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, seam side down. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rest until the dough has crested one inch above the rim of the pan, 1 to 2 hours. 
  7. Heat your oven to 450 degrees F. 
  8. If you want to top the bread with rolled oats, brush the loaf with water and press in some oats. 
  9. Place the loaf on the center rack and reduce the temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 190 to 195 degrees F. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn it out to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Karen's Kitchen Stories

Friday, May 10, 2019

Little Lemon Cake

Fortune smiled on one of my sisters many moons ago when she met and later married her Sweetie. He is a good man and they love each other dearly and he takes such good and gentle care of her. He looks kind of like a Roman emperor and gets better looking with age. He says that is because of going bald. We just returned from a visit to their beautiful home. It was a great visit, especially meeting their new cat Foxy. We enjoyed the cake and tea. Those beautiful plates and cups are part of a set from his mom. It's a breakfast set and includes egg cups, but makes a great tea set, too.

One of the things I like to do when I visit this family is to bring something baked to go with tea. My sister's Sweetie really appreciates these goodies and I like making something different each time to see if he enjoys it. I know that Natashya enjoys the treats, too, but I often don't know how to let her hubby know how much I appreciate him and how happy he makes her, so this is one way.

This time I brought a small lemon Bundt cake, flavored with Meyer lemons from my own bush. It had an intense yellow color from the farm eggs brilliant egg yolks. One of our neighbors gave me the eggs and they really do taste better than eggs from the store.

This is a simple to make cake that can be stirred together with a wooden spoon. It is a variation on one in the Great British Baking Show cookbook I received for Christmas. They baked theirs in a loaf pan and iced it with a confectioner's sugar icing. I baked mine in that small Bundt pan, used melted margarine instead of olive oil, and did a poke cake style topping, using zest and lemon juice and sugar and spooning it over the top of the skewered cake until it was absorbed. That kept the cake fairly moist and certainly elevated the lemon flavor.

This cake is somewhat moist with a looser crumb than a pound cake. The cake itself isn't too sweet, but with either icing or topping it is sweeter...you can choose to serve it without those if you prefer a less sweet cake. The recipe said that the flavor is better after 24 hours. We had it about 20 hours after it was made and it really was flavorful and delicious! Do try it yourself. I hope you have a kitchen scale for weighing the dry ingredients...I don't know the substitutions to make it cups. The glaze is my own, so I used cups there. Hope it isn't too confusing.

Lemon-Yogurt Small Bundt Cake
A variation of the Greek Lemon-Yoghurt Loaf Cake in
The Great British Bake Off - Great Cakes and Bakes to Make at Home 
Serves 8

150g All-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
50g ground almonds
200g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of one large lemon
3 eggs, room temperature
125 ml yogurt (I used Russian style, they call for Greek style)
125 ml non-dairy margarine or butter, melted & cooled (or use mild olive oil)

Lemon Glaze
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F after you have gathered and measured your ingredients and the butter or margarine has cooled.

Grease and flour a small Bundt cake pan. Set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Put the sugar and the lemon zest into a bowl and use clean fingers to rub the zest into the sugar. The mixture will resemble damp sand when you are done. Stir into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center.

Re-use the lemon-sugar bowl to whisk the eggs, then add the yogurt and mix, then the melted butter or margarine or olive oil and whisk to thoroughly combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients, then stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.

Scrape the mixture with a spatula into the prepared pan and spread to even the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, then check every 5 minutes until well risen and a deep golden brown; a skewer inserted into the widest part should come out clean.

Towards the end of the baking time make the lemon glaze so it's ready when the cake is done. In a small bowl mix the lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and set on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto the wire rack. Place a plate under the rack to catch any drips. Use a skewer to poke the cake all over, then use a teaspoon to slowly drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake into the skewer holes. Keep going around the cake and drizzling until the glaze is used up. Leave the cake until it is cool and the glaze has set.

To store, wrap well in foil or plastic wrap or store in an airtight container. Eat within 4 days. The flavor and aroma will be even more lemony a day or so after baking.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Fresh Strawberry Quick Tartines

In ancient days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Sunset Magazine had a recipe that I immediately took to and make to this day...many years later. This was long before the term 'tartine' was heard anywhere outside of France. They called it something else, but that name has been lost in the mists of time.

When fresh strawberries finally make their spring appearance, I always have this delightful snack, either as a light breakfast or at tea time. It goes together quickly if you have the ingredients on hand. I recently discovered Kite Hill brand 'cream cheese' which is made from almond milk and is delicious and dairy free. You can, of course, use regular cream cheese or any of the other burgeoning selections of non-dairy and vegan 'cream cheeses'.

Be sure to use the best strawberries you can find because that is the dominant flavor. We have just started getting local strawberries so that's what I used.

Fresh Strawberry Tartines

For each of two tartines:
1 english muffin, split and toasted
1-2 tablespoons cream cheese, either dairy or non-dairy...use the one you like best
3-4 fresh strawberries, washed, dried, hulled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange juice or 1 tablespoon orange marmalade

Take each warm, toasted muffin half and spread each with half the cream cheese. Arrange the strawberries in a single layer on top of the cream cheese. Then either sprinkle each with half the orange juice, or spread half the marmalade on each, over the sliced berries.

Eat at once!

Simple and delicious...and now you can make this treat whenever the strawberries are ripe.

BTW, Sweetie and I are fine. I've been hearing the siren song of the spring garden every day, so time has been spent weeding and planting and working on the irrigation system (and enjoying the blooms and fragrances) instead of sitting at the computer. Happens every year. *Happy sigh* I've also been sneezing and sniffling and fighting weeping, itchy eyes and runny nose as the grass allergies have kicked in from all the time spent outdoors. Have done a lot of weed-eating work, too, so serves me right I guess.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Tropical Pancakes

Does your family have a day on the weekend for making special breakfasts? Maybe you do brunch instead? Well, think about making these delightful pancakes and you'll enjoy the weekend even more.

I took two fairly basic recipes for pancakes from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, mixed them together, added some yogurt, substituted non-dairy soy creamer and non-dairy margarine for milk and butter, used white whole wheat and Irish Whole Meal flours (King Arthur Flour carries both) for part of the flour, added chopped pecans, finely chopped fresh pineapple, finely chopped banana, and chopped, pitted dates. What I ended up with were some of the best pancakes ever if you like tropical flavors.

It takes a few minutes to chop up the fruit and nuts, a few more to mix together the milk or soy milk and the yogurt, a few more to measure out the dry ingredients, more to melt the margarine or butter and mix it with the eggs and then the milk mixture. Hardly any time is needed to add the dry ingredients to the wet and barely mix them.

Cooking the pancakes probably takes the most time and that may just seem that way since you are standing at the stove with a pancake turner, watching the tiny bubbles form at the edges of the pancake and smelling the warming pineapple and banana fragrances. Then when you turn the pancake over, you see the golden brown sheen of the cooked side and you see the pancake rise and you know this is going to be soooo delicious! And it is!

I topped mine with some applesauce, but you can just as easily slather on some butter and syrup or mix up a syrup of sugar, water and orange juice, letting it bubble and thicken while you cook the pancakes. However you top them, enjoy the flavors of the islands.

Tropical Pancakes
based on Plain Pancakes and Buttermilk Pancakes by Marion Cunningham
in The Breakfast Book

2 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup milk or soy milk or soy creamer, at room temperature
1/4 cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons butter, or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or use regular whole wheat)
1/4 cup Irish Whole Meal Flour (or use regular whole wheat)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped
3/4 cup fresh ripe banana, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons finely chopped pitted dates

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are fully blended. Add the plain yogurt to the milk or soy milk and beat until combined. Let sit a few minutes, then beat into the eggs. Add the melted butter or margarine and beat until filly blended.

On a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper or in another bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the wet ingredients and stir just until blended. Immediately gently stir in the pineapple, banana, pecans and dates.

Cook the pancakes on a lightly greased preheated skillet or griddle: scoop 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake onto the griddle, using the cup to slightly spread the batter if necessary. Let pancook cook over medium heat until bottom is golden brown and the edges have rapidly breaking small bubbles. After flipping the pancake over, let cook until bottom is golden brown. Serve at once with toppings of your choice.

Makes enough pancakes for 4 people (usually).