Friday, September 29, 2017

Irish Soda Bread in the Denver Area

Just came home from a visit to my brother who lives near Denver. You might know him from this blog as NoHandle. One of his requests for the visit was for me to bake Irish Soda Bread, which I was happy to do since it is a favorite of mine, too.

Denver airport

First I looked up what changes are necessary for baking at high altitudes, and made adjustments to the sugar, baking soda and liquid, plus preheated the oven to be hotter. Then I cut the cold non-dairy margarine (instead of butter) into the dry ingredients, measured out a combination of almond milk and soy creamer and added lemon juice (instead of the buttermilk - but it's better with buttermilk if you can tolerate dairy). Golden raisins were added to the dry mixture and tossed around to coat, then I made a well in the dry ingredients and added the wet mixture. Somehow the recipe I was using called for twice the liquid needed, so the mixture looked like pancake batter...not the look we were going for.

I added more flour...and more flour...and more flour until it looked right, then shaped it on a parchment lined baking sheet and cut the cross shape all the way through and baked it. Well, it took a LOT longer than it should have and the texture was much denser than normal. It did taste terrific, so not a waste of time or ingredients, but not the bread I was hoping for either. Went back and checked the recipe and found the mistype. Changed the amount of liquid in that post...which is many years old, so not too many have baked that recipe I'll bet. Below is the correct recipe, and some photos of the bread we ate. If you try this recipe as now written, your bread will likely be a bit lighter in texture and perhaps a bit more crumbly. You can, of course, use currants or regular raisins in place of the golden ones. Even plain with no added fruit is delicious.

Tea or coffee go really well with this. It's national coffee day or something, so treat yourself...bake some Irish Soda Bread and have it with some coffee and remember that life is good, even when there are parts of it that are heartbreaking.

Mini Golden Raisin Soda Bread Loaf
Makes one mini loaf

1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 cup tablespoons sugar
4 oz. (½ stick) cold butter, in thin slices
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup dried golden raisins, plumped with hot water, then drained

Mix the dry ingredients, in a bowl. Add the butter slices  and cut in well with a fork or pastry blender. Add the golden raisins. Add the buttermilk and mix just until mostly moist - don’t over-handle. Some dry stuff is OK but the dough should be sticky. Pat into a round on a parchment-lined or silpat lined cookie sheet. Cut a cross on top all the way through. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degree F. Tap bottom to make sure bread is cooked through. It will sound hollow. Cool a bit before slicing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cake Slice of Austria for September

The Cake Slice Bakers have four choices every month. This month I chose the Linzer Torte from World Class Cakes, but I chose to make it as small tarts instead of one big one.

 Because I'm avoiding so much egg yolk, I also used a dough recipe from another book.

My grandmother is from Linz, Austria. Her last name was Linz as well, so I always think of her when I make this delicious pastry. The ground almonds, cinnamon, lemon zest, and a touch of cloves are the dominate flavors in the crust, and they offset the sweetness of the raspberry jam. If you take the time to roll out some of the dough fairly thin and freeze it, it is pretty easy to work with and you can create a lattice top or pretty cut outs. I took these to a P.E.O. meeting today and everyone ooohed and aahhhed over how pretty they were. Delicious, pretty, and perfect with tea...what more can you ask?

These are fussy little pastries, but the finished product is well worth the effort and quite a few dirty bowls.

Linzer Torte
based on a recipe by Maida Heatter

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 pound (1 stick, 8 oz.) non-dairy margarine, cold
2 1/2 oz. almond flour
1 egg at room temperature
Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon - zest only
1 8 oz. jar raspberry preserves, best quality

Adjust the oven rack one-third up from the bottom and preheat to 375 degrees F. On a large baking sheet place a silicone mat or parchment paper, then put a 9 or 10-inch tart pan on top, or a selection of small tart pans.

Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, salt and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix with clean fingers, breaking up any lumps, until the mixture is well combined.

Add the ground almonds (almond flour) to the dry ingredients. Add the butter, cut into pieces, and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives, until butter is in tiny pieces mixed into the flour mixture.

In a small bowl stir the egg with a fork to break up, then add the lemon rind and stir to mix. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Removed 3/4 cup of the dough to another small bowl and reserve.

Add the three tablespoons of flour to the reserved dough and mix into the dough with the pastry blender or two knives, finishing with a fork. The mixture should be a dough when you are done.

With clean hands compress the dough and flatten it on a clean, floured work surface into a disc.
Place the disc between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Roll out with a rolling pin until dough is very thin. Remove the top sheet of paper, put the dough still on the paper onto a baking sheet and put into the freezer for a few minutes while preparing the bottom crust.

Prepare the bottom crust by pressing the original dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan(s). Try to make the bottom as even as possible. Remove any dough that sits above the tart sides.

In a small bowl, stir the preserves slightly to soften. Spread them evenly over the layer of dough in the pan(s).

Remove the chilled rolled dough from the freezer and quickly cut strips for lattice work or shapes with cookie cutters for a decorative topping. If the strips break you can press them lightly together, even over the jam. Once the bake you won't be able to tell the difference. If the dough softens too much, return to the freezer to firm up.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until the top is a rich golden brown. Smaller tarts will require less time, so check them after 20 minutes.

Cool completely in the pan(s). When completely cool, with a small,sharp knife, loosen the sides and remove the tart. If your pan has a removable bottom, loosen the sides, then push up on the bottom and the sides should fall away.

A light sprinkle of powdered sugar is a nice touch when serving the tart (see photo at top of recipe).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Squash and Maple Syrup - A Match Made for Roasting

Went to a wonderful birthday party yesterday. The birthday girl combines kindness, consideration, imagination, artistic talent, literary talent, high intelligence, beauty inside and out, with gratitude, love and grace in amounts unusual in an 18 year old. She is a winner in so many ways.

A nice aspect of the party was that Sweetie and I got to meet her neighbors and friends and adults who have been a wonderful part of her journey to adulthood. Thank you Natasha. Lots of fun discussions took place, including one about this blog. I mentioned a recipe I first made a few years ago, which has become a favorite. It includes Delicata squash, olive oil, spices and maple syrup. Often I make it with those and some yams. Today I used butternut squash, so it was very squashy and good. I like using Moroccan spices with it but today used Zatar, which includes sumac, thyme, white sesame seed and salt. It was delicious with the squash.

The seeds are easily removed from the halved squash with a melon ball tool.

Sometimes I leave the skin on the delicata squash as I did today, but that is usually when I grew it myself as I did this one. When I get it from the market, or just want all the squash to be soft (because the skin does get chewy and a bit crackly), I peel the thin skin off with a paring tool. I used that tool for peeling the butternut squash, which works very well.

This is a sweet/savory dish and is great when the weather starts to cool off enough to roast things in the oven. We served it with grilled chicken and a tomato/cucumber salad with a red wine vinaigrette.
The squash is soft and delicious, with bits that are browned and a little chewy and totally wonderful. Give it a try. You might become a squash convert.

Delicata and Butternut Squash with Olive Oil and Maple
Serve 4-6

2-3 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash, seeds, if any, removed
1 Delicata squash, seeds removed, peel removed if desired, cut in half and sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon zatar spice mix, or your favorite mix of spices that are warm (cardamom, curry, coriander, etc)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large plastic bag (I used clean produce bags from the market), combine the squash, olive oil, salt and pepper, maple syrup and zatar spices. Close bag tightly and shake to completely coat the squash with the wet ingredients and spices.

Pour coated mixture on the parchment lined sheet pan and use the bag to spread the squash out in the pan into a single layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Use a spatula to turn the squash pieces over, then roast an additional 10 - 15 minutes until edges are browned and squash is softened.

Serve while hot.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Swiss Rye Ring with the Bread Baking Babes

This month our lovely Babe Cathy from Bread Experience invites us all to gather around the kitchen table and bake a complex and delicious rye bread that is formed into a wreath shape. This one takes a bit of planning because you need to make a sourdough sponge with rye and a firmer poolish with wheat. It also requires an agile mind and attention to detail as you add flour, to know when the dough is stiff enough, but not too stiff.

Mine seemed very stiff when I made the dough, but when I shaped it and let it rise, it slumped down and spread out, so I had a wide, thin ring of delicious rye bread with a nice, tight crumb and a delightful crust and chewy texture. It's possible that I let it over proof, too. My days have been packed and I might have let it sit just a little too long before baking it. The docking didn't help, knocking some of the air that was left right out of it. Perhaps the docking should happen before rising??

Do try this bread. Your's will probably be higher and nicer than mine and even if it droops like mine, the taste and chew make it an adorable bread to eat. So far I've just cut a slice or two and buttered them to go with soup or salad, but I think I'll be trying slices with salami and with sardines, too.

To become a Buddy, bake the bread, take a photo, and email Cathy with a short description of your baking experience (couldn't resist) and the photo. She will send you a badge and include you in the round-up. Deadline to get it to her is Sept. 29th.

Be sure to check out the other Babes this month to see how their ring turned out!

Swiss Rye Ring/Brasciadela/Kantonsbrot Graubünden

Rye %:
Rye sponge, Wheat poolish, Final dough
Rye sour culture, Instant yeast
Start to Finish:
13-15 hours
Hands-on Time:
30-35 minutes
Two 1¼ lb. (575 g.) loaves

Graubünden is Switzerland’s largest canton, extending eastward between Austria to the north and Italy to the south. It’s also Switzerland’s most mountainous canton, home to several glaciers, as well as the 11,853-foot Tödi and 13,284 foot Piz Bernina. Not surprising, then, that its bread culture is based on rye. Like the circular breads of Scandinavia, Brasciadela’s ring shape made it easy to store the breads on poles hung from the ceiling during the long Alpine winter.
I adapted this bread from a recipe I found in the wonderful blog Bernd’s Bakery, which is written by a Bavarian baker who lives in northern Switzerland and who generously has shared his collection of traditional Swiss breads. The original recipe calls for Type 1150 rye, a medium-light grade that’s unavailable in the US; instead, I used a blend of white and medium rye that produces a virtually identical composition.
Like many Alpine breads, this one is built on two sponges – a low-hydration sour rye sponge that favors acetic acid formation and a high-extraction wheat flour poolish that’s refrigerated overnight to bring out the wheat’s nutty sweetness. The preparation and baking are straightforward and the result is a smooth, tight crumbed loaf that combines the tang of its sour, the spiciness of rye, and the mellowness of a well-matured wheat sponge. This is a tasty and basic all-around rye-wheat mischbrot, as good with butter and fruit preserves as with strong-flavored cured meats and fish.
Rye Sponge:
Warm (105°F/41°C) water
Rye sour culture

Combine the sponge ingredients by hand into a stiff dough, cover and ferment at room temperature (70°F/21°C) until doubled in volume 10-12 hours or overnight.

Wheat Poolish:
Cold water

Mix the poolish ingredients by hand, cover and refrigerate 10-12 hours or overnight.
Final Dough:
Rye sponge
Wheat poolish
Warm (105°F/41°C) water

In the mixer, combine the final dough ingredients and use the dough hook at low (KA2) speed to mix into a stiff, slightly sticky dough that leaves the sides of the bowl and gathers around the hook, 6-8 minutes. Cover the dough and bulk ferment at room temperature until doubled in volume, 60-75 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two pieces weighing about 26 oz./750 g each. Form each piece into an oblong about 18 inches/45 cm long and 2 inches/5 cm in diameter. Shape each into a ring, wetting the ends to seal, and place on a well-floured peel, if using a baking stone, or parchment-lined sheet pan.
Cover and proof at room temperature until the breads have visibly expanded and surface shows cracks or broken bubbles.
Preheat the oven to 480°F/250°C with the baking surface in the middle and a steam pan on a lower shelf. Dock the surface of each loaf thoroughly and evenly to a depth of at least ¼”/0.6 cm. with a fork, chopstick or docking wheel.
Bake with steam 15 minutes, then remove the steam pan, reduce the temperature to 410°F/210°C and bake until the loaves thump when tapped with a finger and the internal temperature is at least 198°F/92°C, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

 Baker’s Percentages:
   Medium rye flour
   First clear flour
   White rye flour
Instant yeast
Rye sour culture
% total flour prefermented
% rye flour prefermented
% wheat flour prefermented

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Finally Tomatoes

We had a cool, rainy spring. Night temperatures stayed low on into June, so the tomatoes went in late. As a consequence they are ripening late, too. Finally had our first plate of sliced Marvel Stripe tomatoes. These were also on the small side, but juicy, sweet, and delicious.

I prepared them as a composed salad. The plate included thick slices of our Kirby cucumbers, pepper, sea salt, and a splash of balsamic vinegar and drizzle of olive oil. Sweetie also had some cute little mozzarella balls with his salad.

Not an actual recipe, but I'll bet you can improve upon my fairly simple salad.

Bonus: Yellow roses and sunflowers dancing with purple and magenta morning glories. High summer!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Chocolate and Zucchini and Apple

The heat did its work and sped up the harvest. This morning there were extra zucchini, ripe tomatoes, and lots more beans and cucumbers than usual. There were even enough zucchini to make the seasonal favorite, zucchini bread.

I like to make a chocolate version. Sometimes I add nuts, sometime not. Today I decided to add some ripe Gravenstein apple from our trees. It seemed to make the loaves even moister. I say loaves because I made four small loaves instead of one or two large ones. Makes it easier to gift them. Wouldn't you like to receive a gift like this?

Zucchini at the farmer's market and in the grocery stores is plentiful and inexpensive now, so consider making this yourself. If you have a food processor for shredding the zucchini and apple, it goes together very quickly.

I used melted margarine with no dairy, but did use plain doesn't seem to bother me. Adding the chocolate chips is also optional, but fun. If you cut a slice when the bread is still warm, you get a nice gooey chocolate hit with almost every bite.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Apple
based on:

brought to you via Robin Brande & Jama Rattigan & Tanita Davis

3 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
½ cup melted butter, cooled a bit
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1-2 medium zucchini)(measured after being squeezed dry)
1/2 cup shredded apple (about 1 small apple), core and stem and blossom end removed before shredding
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5" loaf pans with canola spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, beat eggs (or egg substitute) with the sugar until well combined. Add melted butter, yogurt and vanilla. Beat to combine, then stir in zucchini and apple shreds. Add wet bowl to dry bowl and stir until just moistened. Stir chocolate chips.

Spoon evenly into pans. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then turn onto racks. This bread is yummy when eaten still warm...the chips are melty and the fragrance is full chocolate!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Had To Share Coast Photos

I know that I haven't been posting very many recipes, but it's been too hot. I did make my favorite cole slaw yesterday, but the day before was just a salad with the most recently posted salad dressing and I haven't baked for quite a while. Hope to soon.

We did, however, go out to the Sonoma coast two days in a row, so I have some photos. Hope that is a reasonable hot weather substitute.

brown pelicans and one seagull

looking South
looking North

Friday, September 01, 2017

September Salad Dressing

I've been following the temperature of Paducah, KY for much of the summer. I'm planning a trip near there and wanted to know how hot it gets in the summer. Well, most of the time their temperatures were at least 15 degrees hotter than mine, and often up to 25 degrees they have high humidity. Today I looked and their temperature was about 25 degrees cooler. Took me by surprise.

We are currently having record setting heat, plus a haze from smoke being drawn down from Trinity County and Lake County from wildfires they are fighting there. At dinner time our temperature was 103 degrees. The usual at 6 pm? About 67 or so...quite a difference.

Fortunately we have an air conditioner for cooling the living room and it also filters out the smoke. Still, any kind of high heat saps my energy. I just want to nap or sit and read. Dinner has to be easy...last night it was corn on the cob, grilled lamb chops and our hot weather favorite.

undressed salad - naughty!

So what is a favorite when the weather is hot? Salad! Mixed field greens, some chopped romaine, shredded red cabbage, and a bunch of veggies from the garden - lemon cucumbers, freshly picked green beans, Marvel stripe tomato -  make it easy and delicious. What puts it over the top is my favorite homemade dressing. I use a mixture of dried shallots (Penzy's), grainy mustard, balsamic vinegar, good olive oil and a few herbs. I find that the dried shallots are mellower than fresh garlic, but still give some onion family flavor. Sometimes I throw in some lemon juice as I did this time. I just put everything into a pint jar, close the lid tightly, and shake! Easy and fun. Just let the dressing sit for 1/2 hour or so to let the shallots hydrate and flavor the dressing. Shake well again right before using.

Balsamic Mustard Dressing for Salads

1/2 teaspoon freeze-dried chopped shallots (or about 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped shallots)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon grainy mustard (or more if you like mustard...and you can sub your favorite mustard, too)
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
salt to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced Italian parsley (flat leaf parsley)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
2 tablespoons water

Place all ingredients into a pint jar with a tightly fitting lid. Tighten lid on jar, then shake vigorously until all ingredients are well mixed. Let sit at least 1/2 hour. Shake again right before use, taste, and adjust salt and pepper. Use sparingly at first, adding more as needed. Store leftovers, if any, in the fridge.