Friday, October 26, 2007

Beth: Holiday Rolls - Rosemary Fans

Due to a recent move, I have found myself without my usual bounteous herb garden, which is a truly sad thing. While the place we are renting in theOtherCity has a couple of tiny beds with a few herbs in them, it is pretty thin pickin's around here at the moment.

This, as you might imagine, throws a huge wrench in all of my plans for recipes that I was going to write about:
  • Lovage? Nope.

  • Thyme? Not really.

  • Sage? Yes! But sadly, while aromatic, it's got thick leaves and isn't so tasty. (infusions perhaps...?)

  • Basil? Laughter echoes from a back room.

  • Bay? Amusingly enough, yes. There is a sweet bay 'tree' that has a dozen leaves on it. Maybe I can use one this winter.

  • Mint? How can there be no mint?

  • Rosemary? As I have said elsewhere, the three small rosemary plants are a saving grace.

Luckily for me (and Kevin and Susan who don't have to fill in my spot this week), my chosen recipe for this week uses rosemary, which available pretty much year round here - even in my tiny little herb garden. The bread dough is simple, another derivation of Peter Reinhart's polish baguettes from Bread Baker's Apprentice, and shaping the rolls is quick, easy and (as you can see in the photos) not an exact science. Grab the kids and let them help.

Click to enlarge

kitchenMage's Rosemary Fans
Ingredients | US volume | Metric volume | US weight | metric weight
water 1/2 cup | 115 ml | 4 ounces | 112 grams
bread flour 7/8 cup | 205 ml | 3 3/4 ounces | 105 grams
whole wheat flour 1/2 cup | 112 ml | 2 1/4 ounces | 62 grams
instant yeast 1/8 teaspoon | <1 ml | a pinch | seriously
water 1 cup | 235 ml | 8 ounces | 224 grams
whole wheat flour 1/2 cup | 115 ml | 2 1/4 ounces | 63 grams
bread flour 3 1/4 cup |765 ml | 14 1/2 ounces | 466 grams
instant yeast 1 teaspoon | 5 ml | 1/8 ounce | ~3 grams
olive oil 1/8 cup | 30 ml | 1 ounces | 28 grams
salt 1 tablespoon | 15 ml | 1/2 ounce | 15 grams
olive oil 3 tablespoons | 45 ml | 1 1/2 ounces | 42 grams
rosemary fresh, chopped 1 tablespoon | 15 ml

Notes: You can substitute almost any other savory herb for rosemary, although fresh herbs really do work best for this.

Mixing the starter
In mixing bowl, combine starter ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover and let rest on the counter for about two hours until it is very bubbly. (You can shorten this to ~20 minutes or wait as long as 4-5 hours. You can also refrigerate the starter for 24-48 hours after it bubbles.)

Mixing the dough
Add the water and whole wheat flour to the starter and stir to combine. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes so the flour can hydrate. Add the rest the dough ingredients except the salt and mix until everything is integrated. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Click to enlarge

Sprinkle the salt on the dough and continue mixing (or kneading) until it is firm yet supple and smooth. (about 6-8 minutes by mixer, 10-12 by hand) As always, remember that you may need to add a bit more flour.

Same recipes, different bread

I think every baker needs a few never-fail recipes in their back pocket. Recipes that they can play with endlessly with a fair degree of certainty of success. This recipe is a variation of one of my standby recipes: a polish baguette from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. If I had to pick just a few breads to bake all the time, this would be one of them. In its original form, it makes wonderful baguettes and is well suited to being shaped for specialty breads like epis. and I have been able to corrupt... err, vary it pretty endlessly over the years.

I have had success with up to ~60 percent whole wheat flour; I haven't tried more but my guess is that, with a bit of extra yeast and a pinch of gluten, this would work with almost (or entirely) whole wheat. 75 percent white whole wheat should be a breeze — and if I could find mine in the boxes stacked in the pantry, I'd have tried it. (Someone should do it and report back.)

If I want my bread to have a slightly more open crumb, I add a bit of additional water, but just a few teaspoons. The dough is forgiving and, once you have made it a few times, you can easily feel when its tolerances are being stretched.

In fact — confession time — I once made a double batch of this bread. Except I didn't double the yeast. And I tripled the oil. (don't ask, it was late, I was rushed and had no business driving a KitchenAid...) As I kneaded the dough, stumbling my way through a series of "this feels all wrong" corrections, I slowly figured out how badly I had screwed up. Ever the good food writer, I trudged on, determined to take photos for an article titled "How to waste two pounds of flour" that I would write someday. Except for one problem: the bread was fine. It wasn't great, but it was good. This recipe earned its place in my back pocket that day.

Roll the dough in flour and place it in a clean bowl. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

When the dough has doubled, turn it out on a lightly floured counter and flatten into a rectangle with your hands. Let the dough relax for a minute while you prepare a muffin tin by lightly rubbing each cup with olive oil.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x18 rectangle. If the dough starts resisting and springing back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then finish rolling.

Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with chopped rosemary.

Cut dough in half and lay one piece of dough on top of the other. Repeat this process once so that you have a single four-layer stack that's about 6x9 inches in size.

The shape of the stack of dough determines exactly how you cut the individual rolls. I usually cut the stack into thirds and then each of those pieces into four rolls. Like this. (It doesn't matters if one side is all uneven, like these outside edges, as long as you put a cut edge facing up in the muffin tin, this will work just fine.)

Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Bake in a preheated 425F/220C. Bake bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown (~195F/90C internal temperature). Cool rolls in pans for 10 minutes and then place on rack to finish cooling.
Flickr set with additional pictures of shaping.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bribery, Blackmail, and Physical Threats

Let me begin with an apology for the delay in posting the winners of the essay/rap/poetry/short story/memoir contest for a copy of Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers. Susan kept saying, "Tell them how hard it was, tell them it was really tough." Pshaw! None of us had any problem picking a winner. Picking a single winner, though… Most of our compromises in this blog are a matter of allowing the other two to do any stupid thing they want and then explaining, when it's our turn, how wrong the others are. The United Nations it's not — or, on second thought, maybe it is. Consequently our negotiations with each other regarding the winner threatened to devolve into blackmail, bribery, and threats of physical violence. (Fortunately the contestants were much better behaved.)

At any rate we lucked out. We ended up with two extra copies of the book, giving us a total of three copies, so we're sending a copy to each of our winners. Still not easy though, only one of the copies is autographed and so we had to decide who got that. I'm happy to report, though, that we chose that singularly lucky individual with a minimum of bribery, blackmail, and outright threats of physical violence. And so, below, are the winners of essay/rap/poetry/short story/memoir.

Zach's entry was originally captured and held captive in the Google Mail version of Guantanomo Bay (the spam filter). Zach, however, hired a good lawyer (named, oddly enough, "Beth") and had habeus corpus invoked and got a hearing, uh, reading. Smart move, he won the autographed copy:

Two weeks before my wedding, I made sourdough starter — my second attempt ever. I wanted to bake communion bread for the wedding service to be held on my family’s farm. My fiancée, Kira, and I were excited about using wild yeast as leaven — some of it from the very air of the farm on which we would marry, but I was nervous that it wouldn’t be ready in time.

I mixed water and flour, and refreshed it daily, putting the starter in the basement of the farmhouse to keep it safe from the July heat. I made frequent trips down the worn, wooden steps to check on it, hoping the yeast were happy with what I had given them. After about a week, it was bubbling with life and ready to make bread!

Two days before my wedding, I made a firm starter. The next day, I mixed up the dough, fermented it, shaped it into boules, and put it in the refrigerator. I woke up on my wedding day with two thoughts in my head: Today I will marry the woman I love and I need to get the bread in the oven! The sourdough baked into some of the best loaves I've ever made. It was so special to carry it down the aisle alongside some homemade wine from Kira’s grandfather. I know I will often think of that feeling as I am baking bread, and the smell fills up the kitchen like it did on my wedding day.
Zach won the autographed copy, because women are romantic and Susan and Beth ganged up on me (I think I mentioned physical threats above). But I certainly can't argue he didn't deserve to win, it's a nice story.

But Susan, in particular, fell in love with Darby's Rap song. This may be because she's going to turn 40 next year and so is attempting to recapture the youth she lost to drugs, bread, rock n roll, and raising sheep. Well, bread and sheep, anyway.

Making Bread, A Rap: "Rollin' (In the Dough)"

YO! I make bread cuz I like to knead
The dough in my hands doesn’t make them bleed
I got a bunch of active yeast in the freezer
I got a bin of flour, a real crowd pleaser

Don’t got much money, just a wad of tens
Don’t need a Cadillac don’t need a Benz
I got a secret weapon to make my endz

I be rollin’ (rollin’) Rollin’ (rollin) Rollin’ in the dough…
It be risin’ in my kitchen mighty high and mighty slow
Don’t need no BLING to reprezent
Just my bowl, my hands and ingredienz

YO My husband likes to call me honey
But he’d rather squeeze it on his bun-ies
My kids reprezent making little dough snakes
The bread they eat, the crust they hate

I prefer my slice with jam and butter
My serrated knife is a superior cutter
Adding too much wheat germ will make you sputter

I be rollin’ (rollin’) Rollin’ (rollin) Rollin’ in the dough…
It be risin’ in my kitchen mighty high and mighty slow
Don’t need no BLING to reprezent
Just my bowl, my hands and ingredienz

PROOF OUT, Homies!
Ya gotta admit, it's clever. I even found my toes tapping and fingers snapping — albeit not at the same time — but I suspect that's my lack as an old, cranky, white male with a fondness for Bach and Diana Krall. Darby gets an honorable mention and a copy of the book sans autograph. Which leads us to the other honorable mention and book.

Speaking as an old, cranky, white male with a fondness for Bach and Diana Krall, cute is not something I have much use for. So, although this story may seem cute, it's not. Instead it is my favorite because there's nothing I admire more than a four-year old boy with both gumption and bread-making ability. Carla posted this story on her blog and garnered the last book:

My brother and his wife live in an Amish community, and have largely adopted a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. Not long ago both parents and several older siblings were called away from the farm for the day, and their youngest son was left in the care of his elder brother. Four-year-old M. was his big brother’s right hand man for a few hours, but eventually he lost interest in the shop work and wandered back up to the house where he decided to make bread. He tried to call his sisters for some advice, but finding their cell phones out of range, he launched in on his own. He had watched the process many times, and was sure he could do it by himself. (Click here to read the rest of the story and a photo.)
So, despite the delays, we have our winners. And Susan, Beth, and I had a great time reading all the entries. And each, in it's own way, was a treat as special and particular to the baker as a loaf of bread. Thank all of you so much. And would Zach, Darby, and Carla please e-mail us their addresses.

Click on the links below to see the rest of the stories:
We Have One Winner
The Lost Stories
Breadtime Stories
Being the Heartland
Tales & Travails
Prizes! Awards! Gimmicks!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kevin: Prosciutto Bread Ring Recipe

Republished from Seriously Good.
I read recently that the most popular sandwich in the US (discounting hamburgers, I assume) is ham. Although I presume most people eat of some sort of processed ham on some sort of commercial bread in their sandwiches, even some of those products aren't bad. And when you branch out into less common hams and handcrafted breads you can create some really spectacular sandwiches.

Such sandwiches can be as simple as a couple of slices of Prosciutto or Serrano ham on a single crust of country bread — perhaps with a slice of Manchego or Fontina. This is best enjoyed standing in a tavern in Spain or Italy, but it's good at home too. Grilled country ham on a biscuit is a breakfast mainstay in the South. Fresh baked ham on a good sour rye with German mustard and sliced dill pickles is wonderful on a picnic. And I think my favorite ham sandwich is a Black Forest ham Panini with Bierkase on my own sourdough bread. A light brush of olive oil on the bread before grilling really sets it off.

The last bread book I bought was The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum has a recipe in it for a Prosciutto Ring. Right off the bat I liked the sound of it. Reading further I discovered that it's brushed with bacon fat before baking. Ham and bacon and fresh baked bread? Sounds like a ham sandwich lover's dream!

Prosciutto Ring

2 cups + 3 tbsp bread flour
1 tbsp malt powder (or 1 tbsp sugar)
3/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 c water (70F -90F)
3 oz Prosciutto, 1/8" thick -- cut into 1/2" pieces
4 tsp bacon fat, lard, or butter -- melted

Using the whisk attachment, thoroughly combine flour, malt, and yeast. Add salt and mix. (Note: the salt is added after mixing to avoid it coming into direct contact with the yeast.)

Swapping to the dough hook, add water to bowl and combine with flour at low speed (#2 on a Kitchen Aid) until moistened. Increase speed to medium (#4 on a KA) and knead for seven minutes. Add Prosciutto and mix in on low. Dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. If it is too sticky add a bit more flour and knead in, if too dry, spray with a bit of water and knead in.

Dump dough onto a lightly floured counter, shape into a ball, dust lightly with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.

Place baking stone or a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven and a baking sheet on the bottom of the oven. Heat oven to 450F.

Roll dough into an 18" rope, form into a ring, overlapping ends by two inches on a sheet of parchment paper or Silpain sheet. Cover with a large bowl or oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in bulk -- about one hour. Brush with melted bacon grease.

Transfer bread on Silpan or parchment to stone or baking sheet. (Use a peel if bread is on parchment.) Toss half a dozen ice cubes into the pan on the bottom of the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove Silpan or parchment, and rotate bread 180 degrees. Bake another five minutes and reduce heat to 400F. Cook another 10 to 15 minutes. Turn oven off, prop open door, and leave the bread in the oven for five minutes.

Remove bread from oven, brush again with bacon fat or butter, and allow to cool completely.

Note: I ended up adding almost an additional half cup of flour to the dough to get the texture right.
If ever, in a moment of aimless wondering, pondered what heaven might smell like, I know. It smells like a combination of bacon cooking and bread baking. And if you could eat heaven, it just might taste like this bread.


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