Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 2009- Vol au Vents

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Before we get to the recipe, let us return to the Land of St. Honore’ to see what they are up to this month.

Once upon a time in the Land of St. Honore’, the Princess of Hearts was bored. Her father was off playing cards, her mother was baking tarts and her brother was up to some mischief or other. She looked through the toys on the shelf and had an idea.

Years ago she had been given a solid gold apple by a visiting dignitary. Now she was much too old to enjoy such a plaything, so she would offer it as a prize. The heralds were sent far and wide announcing that a prize would be given to the person who could make the princess laugh.

Many tried and the princess grew tired of those who made funny faces, juggled melons, and tried with Punch and Judy antics to make her laugh. At length a squire approached with a plate he had been asked to deliver to her. On the plate were small rounds of flaky pastry, filled with whipped cream and topped with berries.

She was so annoyed with the man telling jokes that she barely looked at the pastries.

The squire, hoping to catch her attention, in a rounded voice asked her. “Would you like a vol au vent?”

The princess turned toward him and giggled a bit. “Put one of those in your mouth and then ask me” she said. He did just that and this time it came out sounding like ‘wowel awe went” and his cheeks were distended like a chipmunks as he tried to talk and not show the food in his mouth, all the while enjoying the full buttery flavor of the pastry, complimented by the sweet cream and juicy berries.

The princess couldn’t help herself…she laughed out loud, and then continued to laugh as tears streamed down her cheeks. Once she stopped laughing she popped one of the vol au vents into her own mouth and the squire was rewarded with a charming smile as she enjoyed the treat and the fact that she was no longer bored.

She presented the squire with the golden apple and then asked, “Do you know any more strange and funny words?”

Find all the charming vol au vents around the blogosphere today as the Daring Bakers make these cunning puff pastry cases and fill them with all sorts of delicious things. The Blogroll is here and the recipe is here at Steph's blog. Thank you Steph for a great challenge!

I enjoyed making these little morsels of butter and was surprised at how much my puff pastry puffed. I guess all that rolling and turning and rolling and turning works! Fortunately the day I made the pastry it was cold in the kitchen so I was able to do four turns before chilling the dough for the last turns. The day I baked the vol au vents was much warmer and that may have led to the somewhat wobbly sides on some of them…the dough may have been too warm.
These vol au vents were enjoyed with whipped cream and late harvest blackberries. The photos just below are of the ones that sort of slumped over. I'm filling the pretty ones today to eat after Sunday dinner, so the pretty photos will be added (have been added - see top and below). The ones we ate, misshapen though they were, were a hit at my house and likely would be enjoyed at yours, too. Straight Shooter liked that they weren't too sweet.
It is worth the effort and life is always good when you have an excuse to beat some dough with a rolling pin! The little circles that you cut out of the pieces that become the sides can also be baked and become these cute pastries:

They make a fun snack as Sweetie will be happy to tell you.

Speaking of Sweetie, he has been working for quite a while now on ship models, most of them from the World War II era. He recently made a beautiful display case so that we can better admire them and all the detail work. I promised my Mom that I would include a photo of that on the blog. Here it is, Mom. As you can see it really did come out beautifully. The lower two sections have plexiglas over the opening to keep the ships from being hit by the baker's dog's tail. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Greek Omelet for Breakfast

This morning seemed like a good one to try out a recipe that I had been thinking about. I wanted to see if i could combine some Greek flavors in an omelet.

First I toasted a tablespoon of pine nuts in a small dry cast iron skillet. A few sprigs of fresh oregano from the garden were washed and minced. A couple of tablespoons of feta cheese were crumbled. About 1/4 cup of spinach was chopped, steamed and then squeezed dry in paper towels. Some of that delicious Stonyfield farms plain Oikos Greek style yogurt was ready for topping the omelet. I used three eggs worth of egg substitute, but three eggs, lightly scrambled in a bowl would work, too.

This made an absolutely delicious breakfast omelet! It was light and fluffy and full of savory goodness. the yogurt tied it all together.

This also made the perfect dish to enter into the "O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness" event and contest. Since I lost a dear niece to ovarian cancer a few years ago I know how terrible this disease is. There are no obvious warning signs so it is often not diagnosed until very late. We miss J so much!

Be sure to visit Michelle at Bleeding Espresso to learn more about this event, but you can also go to the bottom of this post. Even if you are not interested in entering the event, remember that this is a silent killer. The end of the post also has the symptoms and a way to support Ovarian Cancer Research.

Greek Omelet
serves 1

1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon butter or olive oil
3 eggs, lightly scrambled, or equivalent amount of egg substitute
1/4 cup chopped, steamed spinach, squeezed dry in a towel or paper towels
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced, or 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
Stonyfield Farms plain Greek style Oikos yogurt

In a dry small cast iron skillet over high heat, toast the pine nuts until lightly browned in places, stirring often. Set aside.

In hot skillet, melt the butter or heat the oil. Add the eggs and let sit for a half minute, then with a fork move the cooked eggs into the center of the pan, letting the uncooked eggs flow to the outer edges. Add the spinach, oregano and feta cheese to the pan, salt and pepper to taste, then cover and cook for another 20 seconds. Uncover, use fork to fold omelet in half and slide it onto a plate. The eggs should be golden brown.

Garnish with a couple of tablespoons of the Oikos yogurt and then sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve at once while hot.

O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.

There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:

ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

PRIZES for recipe posts:

1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;
2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);
3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).


TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

Awareness posts PRIZE:
One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.
From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).

There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.

In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.

When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our page through FirstGiving!

Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was growing up I like to make desserts. When I was really young that meant helping with making Jello pudding or boxed cake mixes. It didn't take long before I was making cookies. Dad's favorite was sugar cookies, either plain or with lemon extract. My favorite was chocolate chip cookies. We used the recipe right off the bag of chips, the one from the Toll House. There is a special place in my heart for whomever created that recipe and for the warm from the oven melty chocolate goodness of them.

I used to like them soft and almost gooey in the center, but now I prefer the dough part to be more crispy-crunchy.

For some reason I’ve been longing for a chocolate chip cookie lately. A crisp, buttery cookie with a generous dose of semisweet chocolate chips is so classic and delicious if made right. A glass of milk and one of these cookies is the perfect snack when you get that yen.

King Arthur Flour has a Classic Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that meets that desire for a good chocolate chip cookie. There are two interesting ingredients in this recipe that you won’t find in the Toll House recipe: barley flour and apple cider vinegar.

Give these a try if you are looking for a cookie that is both light and crisp, thin but not too thin, and absolutely loaded with chocolate pieces. There were comments by those who had made them without the barley flour that it was fine to skip it, but try it with the barley flour first if you can find some. I suspect that the crispness and mellow flavor owe more than a little to that lovely barley flour.

Classic Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies
King Arthur Flour website Makes about 33 cookies

¼ cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) unsalted butter
½ cup vegetable oil
Note: I used a full stick of soft butter and ¼ cup safflower oil instead
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
3//4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole barley flour (If no barley flour available, substitute unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat flour
2 2/3 cups (16 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line with parchment or a silicon baking mat) two baking sheets.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugars, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt until smooth.

Beat in the egg to combine. Beat in the baking soda and baking powder and as soon as they are beaten in add the barley flour and whole wheat flour, combine thoroughly, then add the chocolate chips. It looks like too many chips, but don’t worry.

Drop the dough, by tablespoonfuls, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until the cookies are an even golden brown, without any hint of softness in the center. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Eat cookies.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Recipe Links - All in One Place

Haven't posted this week, partly because of a busy life, but partly because I've been putting links to ALL the recipes posted to Feeding My Enthusiasm so far into a list. With almost 250 recipes, that took a lot of doing to create.

You may think that I did this to make it easier for you, my dear readers, to access the recipes and cook and bake the ones that appeal to you...and you would be right.

I also did it for the selfish reason that I wanted to be able to easily find recipes that I'd like to cook or bake. Although the headings to my posts may have amused me at the time, most don't give you a clue as to what recipe will be in the post. Probably should have done this a long time ago, but procrastination and I are best friends.

I'm going to include a link on the side bar, but if you are in a hurry, here is the link. Hope you have as much fun looking through the recipes as I did!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Very Tasty Yogurt Cake for Fall

Mea culpa! In the spring, before my trip to Ireland, the lovely Kristina at Stonyfield Farms sent me some coupons for their organic Greek style yogurt, called Oikos. I had every intention of getting some and using it for recipes and blogging about it because I love yogurt, but somehow the coupons stayed in my old purse and everything else, just about, went into the new one for the trip, so they were never with me when I was at a store that carried the yogurt.

It has taken waaaaay too long, but finally I found the coupons, carried them with me, used them, and made a very tasty yogurt cake using the rich, creamy, tangy plain Oikos yogurt and the recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Baking, pg 224. Although this isn't the best photo, you can see how rich and creamy the texture of this yogurt is.

Because we have fresh Gravenstein apples and because it really feels like fall is coming (we even had rain this weekend) it seemed like a good idea to make a fall themed cake.

Apples and maple syrup are two flavors that remind me of crisp fall days and rich fall colors. The caramel for the apples is made with maple syrup, butter and some cream. When I was cooking some sliced apples one night this week to go with dinner, I started by sauteing them in a little butter, then pouring on some maple syrup and letting them simmer while I cooked other things. By the time I paid attention to the apples, the syrup had caramelized and I could spin caramel threads with a fork dipped in the syrup. The problem was that I didn't know how long that had taken.

Ever the explorer, when it was time to make the filling and topping for the cake, I tried to re-enact caramelizing the maple syrup. First I steamed the apple slices a bit so that I wouldn't over cook the syrup while trying to cook the apples. Using a slotted spoon I transferred the partially cooked apples to a frying pan full of melted butter. After sauteing the apples for a couple of minutes, I poured on a cup of maple syrup, stirred it all together, then let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Later I decided that it should have been longer since I ended up with a pretty soupy sauce. Again using a slotted spoon, I removed the apples and then 1/4 cup of whipping cream was whisked in. After more simmering I decided that it wasn't really going to thicken up, so the apples went back into the sauce, were coated with it, and then half the apple slices were removed...again....with a slotted spoon and placed on the bottom half of the yogurt cake (which I had sliced in half earlier). Because I wanted the maple flavor to sink into the cake, I drizzled a little of the sauce over those apples. I put the top cake layer over them, wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. The rest of the syrup and apples were stored in the fridge.

The next evening I carefully removed apple slices (the slotted spoon was getting a workout) from the sauce and arranged them on the top of the unwrapped cake. The cake had been set on a rimmed plate. Once the caramelized apple slices were in position on top of the cake, I spooned the rest of the sauce over them and over the top of the cake. Lots of sauce spilled down the sides and collected at the plate rim. A gooey, but very, very tasty mess.

I took the cake to a dinner party, but left the camera at home, so the plated cake photo was taken almost a day later and without benefit of the ice cream garnish we had at night.

The Oikos yogurt gives this cake a wonderful tang, very much appreciated as a foil for the very sweet maple-apple sauce. The cake is moist from the yogurt and from the syrup and apple juices, but holds together very nicely for slicing. It really does taste like fall to me. The last slice was even better this afternoon with a cup of tea.

This yogurt cake is super easy to make and goes together quickly. If not dolled up with maple-caramel-apple sauce, it would also taste great plain with a fruit compote and I suspect it would make a great base for strawberry shortcake, too. Go ahead, make a yogurt cake yourself and see. If you can find Stonyfield Farm organic Oikos yogurt in your store, by all means use that for the cake's yogurt. Plain generic yogurt just doesn't have the texture or tang that Oikos has, but if that is what you have available, go for it because this cake is worth making.

Need the recipe? E-mail me and I'll send it to you.

Tomato and Bread Finger Food

Now that the tomatoes have decided to all ripen at once…at least it feels that way these days..I’m preparing them in all sorts of ways.

Chopped tomatoes are added to salads of course, but also to soup. Slices of ripe tomato are a natural on sandwiches, especially my annual BLT with the first of the larger tomatoes. This year that’s an heirloom variety called Black Krim. It is large and juicy and meaty and has the most intense and wonderful tomato flavor. It looks a bit unusual because it isn’t red, or even burgundy. The top tends to be green, ranging from a dark forest green to chartreuse. Lower down the globe you get reddish-brownish flesh with bits of pink here and there. It also makes quite a statement on a platter of variously hued heirloom tomatoes.

The other tomato, and the one that has been the most prolific, is called Costelutto and it is bright red when ripe and has deeply lobed fruits. It seems to me to have more seeds than the Krim, but it makes a lovely classic tomato soup or pasta sauce.

Last night friends were joining us on our deck for a glass of wine before going to dinner at Della Fattoria in Petaluma. Even though I knew the restaurant was featuring tomatoes, I just had to make crostini pomodoro to go with the wine.

My good friend H is one of the most accomplished hostesses I know, so I wanted to make something worthy of her entertaining style. I knew she loved bread and olive oil, and I had all of these tomatoes and even fresh basil from the garden, so this seemed like the perfect finger food …and it was. This is very simple food, so I’m writing out the recipe as a narrative. Pretend that it’s in my own handwriting on a piece of scratch paper…friends exchange recipes that way sometimes.

Roughly ½ inch slices of a good baguette (I used Village Bakery Seeded Sourdough) are laid out flat and lightly brushed on both sides with olive oil. After quick toasting on the grill, they get rubbed with the cut end of a clove of garlic. This is the crostini part.

Earlier in the day I had peeled, seeded (mostly…those seeds are so small and some get into the dish despite my best attempts), and chopped. The chopped tomatoes and collected juices go into a medium bowl. A tablespoon of olive oil. a half teaspoon of salt, and 5 or 6 basil leaves (finely chopped) are added, a few grinds of black pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar finish off the pomodoro part. If you can let this mixture sit to meld the flavors for an hour or so that’s a good thing.

When it is time to serve, each crostini is topped with about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture, then a small basil leaf goes on top of that. I served them at room temperature and none were left by the time we left for dinner.

This appetizer counts on good, simple ingredients. Use flavorful bread, good quality olive oil, ripe and juicy tomatoes and fresh basil. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mocha Cookies with Nibs

A while back I made the Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread cookies found in Dorie Greenspan's wonderful baking book called Baking: from my home to yours. They were delicious but I wanted to make them with some Scharferberger chocolate (called Nibby on the package) that has little cocoa nibs in it to see if that added some extra texture and flavor.

Finally got around to baking the recipe that way and it was good, although not as nibby as I had expected. I added some cocoa to the dough and that part was great...made it more mocha than espresso.

The great thing about this recipe is that you put the dough into a gallon zip close bag and flatten it out, then chill it. Once you cut the bag away from the chilled dough, it is a snap to cut the dough into squares (well if you can actually cut squares it is a snap...mine varied from squares to strangely shaped rectangles) and bake 'em up for a great cookie to enjoy with tea or coffee or ice cream...or by themselves. I shipped some off to friends and my daughter to share the treats. Sweetie is trying to "be good" so we didn't want too much temptation around, plus I enjoy sharing goodies.

Make sure you allow time to chill the dough when you make these. Beyond that they are easy and very tasty, although not very sweet (which is sometimes just right). These are also great if you want to make the dough a day or two in advance of the day you bake them. I bet the dough would freeze unbaked, too, but haven't tried that.

Nibby Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread (Mocha) Cookies
a variation on a recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from my home to yours

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate with nibs, finely chopped, or ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa together in a small bowl.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar-cocoa mixture together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough.

Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped nibby chocolate with a sturdy rubber or silicone spatula.

Using the spatula, transfer the dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. The dough will be soft and sticky. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a roughly 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that is about ¼ inch thick. Turn the bag occasionally as you roll and lift the plastic from the dough. When the dough has been rolled to the correct size (about the size of the bag! ) and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out extra air. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or with silicone mats.

Put the plastic bag with the chilled dough inside on a cutting board. Slit the bag open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board & discard the bag. Using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 ½ inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When baked, transfer the cookies to a rack.

Cool to room temperature before serving. Makes 32 cookies

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Getting Kreative

Although I've been visiting other blogs to comment, in fits and starts, finding time to post seems to elude me. In August Marjoke of Company in My Kitchen, another bread baker, was kind enough to award me the Kreative Blog award. Thank you Marjoke! Sorry it took me so long to continue the awarding. It's difficult to have a true sense about one's blog and how it is perceived. Nice that you see me as creative.

One of the best thing about blogging is finding other bloggers who have similar interests, who make you think, who challenge you to try something new or make something a different way, or look at the world in a whole new light. This kind of award give one a chance to recognize a few of those wonderful bloggers who are virtual friends.

Choosing other bloggers to give the award to takes even more time than writing about it. There are a whole lot of wonderful blogs and since I only read food blogs those are the ones I choose.

Before we get to the awardees there are some rules and I'm supposed to tell you a bit about myself.


1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award (indeed!)

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog (look at the right side of my blog).

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award (check).

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting (below).

5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers (this is the part that took time).

6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate (see below...and do click on them to see why they are so creative).

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated (love this part).

Seven Things About Myself:
Since this is a Kreative award, creativity is the theme:

1 - I had a wholesale muffin business when I was 20 some years younger.
2 - I put all my photos into Photoshop before I post them, if only to size them but often to make other changes.
3 - I know how to turn wooden bowls and spindles and things on a wood lathe.
4 - Color mixing is one of my favorite parts of watercolor painting.
5 - I don't actually like decorating cut out cookies, even though each are the perfect canvas for creativity.
6 - I have a collection of unusual patterned socks to put on some mornings when I need to feel extra creative.
7 - I wrote, directed, costumed, produced and acted in a play about St. Nicholas when I was in 5th grade. Our whole grade (about 75 students) saw the play. It was the last time I acted in a play, even though I loved it.

Now that you are wondering why you have read this far comes the good part:

7 awardees:

1 - Wish I were Baking - written by two super creative souls, DaviMack and Tanita, this blog combines food, photography, philosophy and literature in an eclectic and delightful way.

2 - Dad - Baker & Chef - written by a wonderfully creative and loving dad and husband, Dharm, you only have to read his take on James Bond when the Daring Bakers post to understand why he is receiving this award...humor, wit, style and baking combined with the cutest children.

3 - Cookie Baker Lynn - written by Lynn, combines an enthusiasm for baking and sweets with clear & enjoyable writing. great photos, and just enough about her life and family to charm you.

4 - A Food Lover's Journey - by Anh, whose posts are often a hauntingly beautiful photo whose creativity is profound and lovely.

5 - Culinary Concoctions by Peabody - by Peabody, is still one of my all time favorite food porn blogs, plus she writes in a totally engaging way, full of personal insights and appeal.

6 - Delta Kitchen - written by Andreas is low key but honest and I love his dry sense of humor, a hallmark of creativity. He is another crazy bread maker, too.

7 - Wild Yeast - Susan not only hosts a weekly yeast marathon, but she is amazingly creative, too. One has only to look at her apricot stuffed fritters...or are they see just how delightfully creative.

I could name a bunch more, and not every one of these will necessarily want to play along and keep the award going, but they are all worth a visit...or two...or three!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Russian Black Bread Babes Buddy

It's September. The leaves are starting to get the first bits of fall color and the grapes I pass on the way to work are deep, deep purple and golden green since they are just about ready to be picked and turned into wine.

Even though the temperatures have been pretty warm...right around 100 degrees today, fall always makes me want to bake, so today I baked bread and some cookies. I'll post on the cookies another day.

When I saw that the Bread Baking Babes, the dozen of intrepid bread bakers who bake quite interesting bread, were making Black Bread this time, I had to try it.

Some of them referred to it as Dump Bread, probably because there are some peculiar ingredients, including toasted bread. I used some leftover sourdough baguette for the toast. Sweetie was also surprised to see me add ground coffee to the soaker. If you look at the first rise, you can see some small chunks of the toasted bread that have still maintained their own shape, but no coffee grounds. Since the soaker sat about an hour longer than specified in the recipe, I decided that having bits of the toast still in the dough must be how it is supposed to be and just kept going.

This is sticky dough my friends. The bench scraper got a real workout as I kneaded in the last of the flour on the board. The stand mixer just wasn't doing the job. It was still sticky when I shaped it into loaves, which probably explains why only one of the two is well formed...the other one kept sticking to my hands when I tried to create a nice skin.

There is plenty of flavor and a nice texture in this rye bread. I call it rye because, including the flour used for the board, it took almost a whole pound of rye flour. It is great toasted and will probably make awesome sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.

If you want to be a Buddy, too, go to Gorel's blog for the recipe (or look below). Bake the Black Bread before September 7th, blog about it, and send a link to Gorel, and she'll give you a lovely Baking Buddy badge for your website plus you can then really relate to the experiences of the Bread Baking Babes...links for their websites can be found at Gorel's Grain Doe blog too. It was interesting to find that Gorel combined two very different recipes to create this delicious bread.

I'm also entering this in the Yeastspotting event for this weekover at Susan's Wild Yeast. Each week there are wonderful yeasted breads, rolls and more to be inspired by.

Görel's Russian Black Bread


300 g (10.6 oz) medium rye flour
350 ml (1.5 cup) water
2 Tbsp active sourdough culture*


100 g (3.5 oz) old bread, toasted
15 g (0.5 oz) coffee, ground
25 g (0.9 oz) vegetable oil – I used safflower oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) molasses
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp minced shallots
400 ml (1-2/3 cup) Water, hot


300 g (10.6 oz) medium rye flour
400 g (14.1 oz) high gluten bread flour
20 g (appr. 1 Tbsp) salt
Fresh: 15 g (0.5 oz) OR
Instant dry: 1.5 tsp
Soaker- All of the above
Sourdough- All of the above

* If you don’t have any active starter at hand, you can cheat by using a small amount (say 5 g fresh or 0.5 tsp instant dry yeast) instead.

Mix the ingredients to the sourdough, cover the container with plastic and leave for 12–14 hours at room temperature.

Toast the old bread in a toaster or in the oven. The bread should be browned, but absolutely not blackened. Dice the bread or just tear it in pieces and put it in a bowl. Add the rest of the soaker ingredients except the water. Heat the water to near boiling and pour over the soaker ingredients. Cover and leave for the same duration as the sourdough.

Final dough
Mix the two flours in a separate bowl.
If using fresh yeast: Take a small amount of the soaker liquid and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the yeast mixture OR the instant dry yeast, soaker, sourdough and salt to a mixing bowl.
Add half of the flour mixture and work the dough by hand or in machine. Continue to add about 100 ml or ½ cup of the flour mixture at a time and work until the flour is completely absorbed before you add the next round. The dough shall be firm but still quite sticky. You might not use all the flour, or you might need to add more flour, all depending on the flour used.
Place the dough in an oiled container, cover with plastic and leave for 2–3 hours or until doubled in size.

Shaping and proofing
Drizzle some rye flour on the table top and place the dough on top. If the dough is very sticky, pour just enough rye flour on top of it to make it possible to handle.

Divide the dough in two and shape the parts into oblong loaves. (I placed them on parchment paper to make it possible to just slide the loaves into the oven.) Stretch the surface using both hands to get a tight loaf. Use more rye if the dough is too sticky to handle.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 60 minutes. Don’t over-proof! (Fire up the oven after 30 minutes to have it ready.)

Place an empty metal container in the bottom of the oven. Put in your baking stone or an empty baking sheet. Heat the oven to 225 °C/435 °F.
Put 3–4 ice cubes in the metal container.
Move the loaves to the hot stone or sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
Open the oven door to vent out some moist. At the same time, lower the temp. to 200 °C/400 °F. Bake another 30-40 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped underneath, or when the inner temperature has reached appr. 97 °C/207 °F.

Let the loaves cool down before you slice them.