Friday, April 29, 2011

BBA Kaiser like rolls....

I spent the morning finishing up my Kaiser Rolls for the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge.  The Italian Baguettes were skipped, but I plan on trying to do them soon.  It's hard to get similar results when using 100% Whole Wheat flour, so this time I tried something different and I think it worked quite well.  I was able to follow the baker's percentages in the recipe, and didn't have to change anything!  Here is what I did....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Starters for Pain au Levain with mixed starters

While making this bread, I realized that temperature might matter a lot more with my sourdough's than I thought before. I have always simply waited for my starter, Arnold, to raise the dough in his own time. This does create problems though, and unpredictability. Mr. Hamelman has a section in his book Bread about this.  He goes quite in depth about why you should be concerned about temperature, and exactly how to give your dough the exact temperature you need.  He has at least converted my thinking to the possibility that it would be nice to have the sour dough ready to bake when I planned to!

Now I am not as sold on having the exact temp correct, but I have been thinking of using my Excalibur dehydrator which has a dough setting on it.  We can be rather cold here during the winter, and even though it's April we had snow just yesterday.  This might help me to have consistent proofing temps for those times it is cold.

The trouble is that it is rather large, in my small kitchen.  I do use it for other things though, and so last night I pulled it in from storage (translation Andy lugged it in for me, he is so awesome!) and cleaned it up.  I did notice that it has heat settings from 85* F to 145* F.  It is equipped with a fan, and the directions say to use the 110* setting with a bowl of water for moisture inside the unit.  This seems to high to me, so I will have to research that a little bit more.  Thinking the 85*F setting would make more sense.

This is a slideshow of my second attempt at this bread, from Hamelman's book...  Click the link to continue reading!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April showers... wait SNOW?? Again?

OK, it really isn't a lot of snow, just what the old timers call a skiff, but geez it is almost May!  That grass should be green, not white!  Ritter agrees and was real excited about going into the barn to get out of the muddy cold.  Well, technically Ritter is excited whenever we talk to him, but especially when he gets to go see the goats, chickens, and barn kitties (ok, there IS a barn kitty behind that door).  Nothing makes him happier then seeing a barn kitty in the middle of the field that he can chase, even if he does get into trouble for it.  Most times the kitties simply rub up against him and give him lots of love though. 

Managed to take a picture of one of the wildflowers growing on the hillside...  Click link to read more!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hamelman's Pain au Levain with mixed starters

I was introduced to rye breads when I was very young, not sure if it was due to my Norwegian heritage or simply that my family just loves rye bread.  I love the taste of caraway seeds in my rye bread, and was a little bit disappointed when I noticed this bread didn't have them in it.  I fixed this pretty quickly though, by simply adding them to the dough!  I know it wasn't in the recipe, but I do have to eat it.  The other reason I did this was because I had just threw together a loaf of my sourdough bread, made with 75% Winter White Wheat and 25% rye flour.  This sourdough loaf did a bulk rise of 4 1/2 hours, and the same time to proof.  My husband and I both enjoyed it very much and hoped that this recipe would come out with such great flavor too.  Here's a picture of my version of sourdough rye...

I started Hamelman's recipe, from "Bread".  Pain au Levain with mixed starters the day I made the loave above.

First I will share with you my starters...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Dinner

I try to keep it simple when there will only be my husband and I for a holiday dinner.  When the kids were young there were always colored eggs, chocolate Easter bunnies, jelly beans and so many wonderful treats.  This would be followed many times by an egg hunt, and breakfast always combined with lunch buffet style, grab something while you go affair, deviled eggs, green & black olives, celery with peanut butter or cream cheese, crackers, chips, ranch dip, green olive dip, and we would snack all day long.  Then would come ham with all the trimmings, pineapple, maraschino cherries, candied yams, lima beans, broccoli w/cheese sauce, fresh rolls, all the things that filled your tummy and made you want to overindulge.  This would be followed by a pie, and by the end of the day we were filled to the brim and wanting a nap!

Yesterday I made a pan full of 100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns, with raisins and pecans.  They were a nice treat and were sugar free totally.  I had fresh eggs that I made into a corn beef hash for breakfast.  Rather a large breakfast for Easter morning, but there were no candy Easter Bunnies, jelly beans, or any other kind of confection.  As usual I built a buffet style snack plate, with celery stuffed with peanut butter and cream cheese, carrots, green & black olives, rye mini baguettes cut into slices with cream cheese, and others with salmon/onion/mayo on them. 

Not bad for two people, and tasted pretty good as I cooked the ham and relaxed all day.  The salmon of course went quickly, while the rest lasted through the day, and has been reduced down to one plate now. 

We had a mid afternoon meal, which I also reduced down to a few things.  This year we chose a spiral cut ham, glazed in a honey glaze (the only sugar we had today); yams with splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter; lima beans cooked with butter, milk, and chicken broth; and a rye caraway mini baguette cut in half and covered in butter.  It made a really nice meal for just the two of us!

Andy seemed to be looking forward to the ham, yams, lima beans, and rolls.  Overall a wonderful day, even though we missed the kids, the extended family, and good fellowship with those that we love. 

What a happy Easter!  Christ has risen, and He died for my sins and for your sins, because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!  How extremely awesome!  God loves us more than we can imagine.  Bless you all on such a glorious day!.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Feeding sourdough

If you position your mouse pointer over the bottom of the picture you can control the slide show and move through it a little bit slower. You can also click on the center of the slideshow and it will take you to picasa web albums where you can cycle through them one at a time.

Hamelman's Pain au Levain

I think that spring has finally started to peak out from behind the clouds, rain, and snow.  The bare trees are starting to have a tinge of green, from buds popping out of barren limbs.  There are even tulip leaves emerging from the ground and the Glory of the Snow blooms are dying back.  (who names these flowers anyway?)  The grass is growing, and hillsides are looking more green than brown.  It's still really muddy, windy, and cold, but it's not the biting cold of winter and I'm excited at the thought of putting away the snow boots and heavy coats.  My tulips have pushed up through the ground and have no flower stalks yet, and the Lilac bush is sprouting buds.  Couldn't resist a couple photos today!

We drove to the big city the other day, although most would call it a small town.  It's a 3 hour drive through the mountains, high plains, and crossing many streams.  The tamarack's have a faint yellow tinge to them as their needles start to emerge, from what appears to be dead evergreen's.  Yes, I believe spring is here.  The horses with their foals, the cows with their calves, and the goats with their kids, were everywhere we looked.  The birds are singing, the frogs are everywhere, and we have quite a chorus at night!

You wonder why I am talking about spring, when my post is called Hamelman's Pain au Levain?  First off, for those who don't know, Pain means bread in French.  Levain refers to a natural yeast starter, most people call this sourdough bread, at least in the USA.  You might be surprised to know that sourdough doesn't always have to actually taste sour.  Many sourdough breads are actually sweet tasting, but they do have a depth of flavor to them that standard breads don't.  In fact, any bread that has a preferment (a dough portion that has aged) will develop flavor from the wheat, but sourdough adds another element due to different chemical activities that take place.  No science lesson today on exactly what happens inside the dough as it rises and ages.  Let's just note that the French really had it right when they called it a "pain"!  Not ALL the time, but occasionally it can be.  Here is a picture of some french bread I made today.  It really looks nice, as do the baguettes that are on the right.

Hmmm, I changed the subject again didn't I?  It is just not as fun to talk about a bread that turned out like this:

Now I could go through what went wrong with this loaf, but lets just leave this one to it is really messed up and go feed it to the chickens, goats, and dog.  Whoever doesn't turn their nose up and walk away can have some, cuz it's rubbery and just plain bad.  This is not the fault of the recipe, rather it was the baker who tried to do to much and just didn't have time to finish it properly.

Hmmm, the chickens, goats, and dog seemed to think it was pretty awesome!  Did you see the happy faces in the pictures above?  That was in the middle of feeding them.  Glad the dog didn't go and bury his!

Blueberry Cheesecake Braids & French bread

Just a peak at what I made yesterday and today!  Yummy....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Professional modeling sessions

Sylvester, Smoky and Thump each had a professional modeling session the other day and I thought I would share the results of all their hard work.  I think that Sylvester took it much more seriously than Thump did and really put a lot of hard work into these photo's.  Smoky seemed to not be interested at all, so the others tried to encourage him and give him some new modeling poses.

Thump however did bring some props into the session and used them quite effectively.

Smoky finally settled in and the photographer did manage to get a couple decent shots, but his might have to be redone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chicken and Goat Dog

Ritter has an important job that he takes very seriously.  Chickens do not know how to behave, so he has to watch them constantly.  Here one is behind an old satellite dish, and another is still in the yard.

Yes, Mom, I see you taking my picture.  I am doing my job, but these chickens just don't listen.  

Chicken don't you know it's time to go to bed?  I hear dad coming, better get you guys moving towards the barn.

BBA French Bread 2

This one turned out so much better than the last loaf.  I let the pate fermente dough age in the fridge for 3 days, and the flavor was so much better.  I am making this one for a meeting Tuesday, for making into sandwiches.  I will definitely make it again, and allow it to age a few days rather than just overnight.

Monday, April 11, 2011

BBA French Bread and Life!

Well, they turned out ok, but there were many things I did wrong with these.  It's surprising they turned out as good as they did.  Crust & Crumb is ok, but not like what it could have been if only..... 

Ok, you are wondering about the CH47 Chinook Helicopter flying through in the middle of my bread post.  That comes later, I will just say it was taken from my front porch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Looking back at food

 Looking back over the last week of meals I served my family, and certain foods jumped out at me making my mouth water.  The first I thought of was the Portabella mushrooms that I stuffed several nights, in particular the Albacore Tuna one that I didn't think I would like.  It really turned out well, and it was made the same way as the crab ones I talked about earlier.

 Garlic bread, this stands out because of the fact that it looks so funny, but tastes so good.  When I slashed it, instead of it bursting out and rising higher, it sort of pushed out and just made some funny shaped bread.  Really though, good bread has nothing to do with the shape and everything to do with the crust, the crumb, and the taste. 
Just love the look of butter melted into the bread.  This is Flax Seed 100% Whole Wheat bread.  It is really good for mopping up the extra sauce from......
 Chicken and spaghetti noodles, covered with homemade spaghetti sauce, with fresh crimini mushrooms and onions.  Topped with parmesan cheese and ready for dinner the other day.
Here is another wonderful chicken dinner.  I marinated the chicken with olive oil, white wine, herb oil, salt,  and pepper.  I fried it in a nonstick skillet, so that I didn't have to use much oil.  Then I added onions and fresh crimini mushrooms.  I haven't cooked with wine for many years, mostly because I don't drink, so very rarely have any around.  The other day though I saw a dish made with wine and thought, that sounds so very good!
I partnered it up with pasta with a parmesan white sauce topped with shredded parmesan.  It tasted just as good as it sounded!  I am so glad that cooking wine makes it non-alcoholic.  I just love the taste of this... 

Maybe this week it will be boxed mac & cheese and hamburgers! 

Kitty with no name....

From Kitties

I am nameless and would really like to be known by a real name. Can you help me?  I'm a girl, and I was born October 2010.  My family fell in love with me, even though I was supposed to go live somewhere else.  When my new owner decided he didn't want me, they decided to keep me because I am so sweet!  I always greet them and sometimes even want cuddles from them. They want to name me a boring name like Cali, can anyone do better than that?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Portabella mushrooms stuffed with crab

A favorite late night snack...

Portabella mushrooms stuffed with a mixture of crab, bread crumbs,celery, sharp cheese or parmesan cheese, onion, mayo, basil, parsley, and oregano. I saute the onions and celery in some olive oil, and a little balsamic vinegar (you can use white wine), then put them into a food processor with a slice of bread and the cheese and mix well. Then I put this into a bowl with the crab and mayo and stir till everything is mixed well, but still has crab chunks in it.

I scrape the gills out of the mushroom cap, to make room for all that wonderful filling and stuff them. Then I bake them at 450* for 1/2 an hour. Don't forget!


Living in the mountains

From Fish

A few days ago I woke up to about 6 inches of snow everywhere I could see. You just never know what to expect living in the mountains. The first year we lived here we went to watch fireworks on the 4th of July, and it snowed on us! We hadn't been here even 2 weeks, so it was an interesting introduction to Eastern Oregon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BBA Focaccia bread

I literally could end this blog right here, with pictures of this truly awesome bread/pizza. The crust was flaky, almost like a pastry, and the inside was soft, tender, filled with holes, and so very good. It wrapped itself around my inner yum, and I found myself eating two pieces. I just couldn't help it. It was that good. My son told me it's now one of the things he will ask me to make when he comes home from college to visit.  A new favorite for him, impressive!

 Then there was Andy, who drooled over it and finally took a single bite. Bread flour is something he cannot eat without getting REALLY sick. This bread is so filled with olive oil, it is NOT a diet food that is for sure! Normally I do not like things that are dripping with oil, but this was different. I couldn't eat it all the time, but it is definitely something I will make again in the future.

Here's a slideshow of how I made this bread, and if you click in the middle of the picture it will take you to my picasa album for this bread.

Just a couple notes on how to make this. I made the poolish two days ago and used unbleached AP flour, to develop the flavor of the wheat. I knew that the bread flour from costco was a bleached flour, so the chances of it developing any flavor were nil. When I bought it I thought is was unbleached, guess I really need to read labels better!

I got busy and left the poolish out long enough to bubble up, then put it into the fridge and only had time to pull it out today to make the focaccia. I did not do an overnight aging of the entire dough, because I knew that it wouldn't increase the flavor of bleached flour so it really made no sense.

Besides, my fridge is full of extra stuff for my son's visit home. Yes, he is spoiled, but I love him and want to give him some meals he loved growing up. Mom's do that sort of thing for their favorite boy child! They do it also for their favorite girl child, just she doesn't come home as often. I love to watch them grow to be such awesome people, but it means that they sometimes are so very far away. I really miss them when they are gone.

I mixed the dough in the mixer, after doing a hand stir of it for a couple minutes. My mixer does not like small amounts of dough, so I have to help it and watch it carefully. It kneaded the dough for 7 minutes, and developed a nice feel to it. I had to use my plastic dough tool to scoop it from the bowl, along with a silicone spatula. This helped get the dough onto my dough mat into the flour I had spread out. I followed the 4 stretch and folds, and put the oil onto the pan and then dimpled the dough and poured more herb oil on top. I thought I had messed up, to much oil, and to many herbs on top.

After this I waited half an hour, redimpled the dough, and put the toppings on it. I used about a cup of cheese, and some pepperoni, because my son loves pepperoni pizza. He usually piles his pizza with a TON of cheese, but I only put a light coating on top and he seemed happy with it when it was done. The herbs I used in the olive oil were oregano, basil, parsley, kosher salt, pepper. Gave it really nice flavor, even if they were dried rather than fresh. I then preheated the oven to 500* and turned it down to 450* when I put the pizza pan into the oven. I baked it for 20 minutes, and then allowed it to cool for about 10 minutes before using a pizza cutter to cut it, figuring my son would simply eat it like pizza. I can't believe the crumb came out so good, when I cut it with a Pizza cutter! Well, time to put crab stuffed mushroom caps into the oven for my husband's snack!
BBA Focaccia

Links to my fellow baker's in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, 2011!  Here are links to their versions of this bread.  They are all very talented baker's, who have gotten together to share their results from baking the Bread's in Peter Reinhart's book Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Our host Chris at A Ku Indeed! 
Coz at ScratchBaker 
Jim at OvenMinded
NancyB at Bread&Cake&More 
I will post others as they finish theirs!