Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Bread Bible - Carrot Bread

Where's the cream cheese icing? the ingrates at work whinged. 

It's Carrot BREAD, I retorted, NOT cake, so NO icing.

Well they're my rules anyway and I'm sticking to them. Rose does mention the possibility of icing in the recipe but really it doesn't need it. Even my workmates had to concede this is a highly moist and delicious bread

This quick bread has a lot of carrot in it which is my only complaint. Not the carrot itself (which I love) but the grating, which I did manually. Until you try it you don't realise how much carrot flings itself around when you grate it. I had it stuck to everything including the laptop - which makes a change from the usual liberal dusting of flour (the screen now has a very grainy feel to it). Not to mention the film of grease over the iPad screen from oil spray drift.

This recipe is definitely quick and easy. Basically you mix the wet and dry ingredients separately and then in together, then add the carrot and sultanas. I didn't have turbinado sugar (I never have turbinado) so I substituted light brown sugar. Then I didn't have enough of that so I substituted dark brown sugar as well. So you can see my cake is a bit darker than it might otherwise have been. 

I tried a piece at home with butter, because that's how you're meant to eat sweet quick breads, people. I took the rest to work because we were celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day*. Arrrrr

*I might not have taken it at all if I'd know those scurvy sea dogs were going to complain.

I've skipped the Potato Bread which is on the Bread Bible Bakers schedule (possibly for sometime back in July) but I'll be back to that in the next post.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

The Bread Bible - Alsatian Onion Pizza

The next offering for the Bread Bible Bakers (yes, I am behind schedule still) is the Alsatian Onion Pizza. Alsatian brings to mind the dog breed but I can assure you there are definitely no dogs in this pizza. 

In the recipe Rose states that the pizza dough recipe makes enough for two people. I don't know if she's feeding pigeon-sized people but I beg to differ on this point. Maybe I just know a lot of greedy, greedy people. Anyway the point is I suggest you double if not quadruple the dough recipe if you want to satisfy family and friends, and/or are shamelessly greedy yourself.

I doubled the dough recipe but not the topping. The onion* and gruyere cheese topping is quite sophisticated as pizzas go. While I do love the old favourite pizza toppings (hello ham and pineapple) it's perhaps good to have another topping up your sleeve to serve to your more discerning friends and family (if you have any). I felt positively cosmopolitan scarfing down multiple pieces standing over the kitchen bench.

*Still mulling over the Alsatian part of the pizza, am wondering if onions are particularly grown in that region? Although it's more likely the gruyere cheese? There's nothing like a blog to expose your ignorance.

The dough is very simple to make. If you're a bread baker you might describe it as quick, although I'm not sure a random street poll would agree. Having cooked through one of Rose's books I find my judgement on designations such as 'quick' and 'easy' is slightly skewed. The dough takes a bit of time because of the proving phases but really the initial mixing couldn't be simpler. You mix a few basic ingredients roughly together and leave it in the bowl in a good amount of olive oil for an hour, or overnight in the fridge. When you next see the dough it's more beautiful swan than the ugly duckling you left in the bowl and it's very easy to to shape and prove a couple of times until it's ready for baking.

The topping involves slowly cooking some onions down until they're caramelised. It thought it was a little bit (more) involved (than I have patience for) for caramelised onions but the result was lovely. The thyme and garlic added towards the end, nicely offset the sweetness of the onions.

Once I had my pizza bases and toppings lined up, I got out my miracle pizza cooker (not its official name). It was a present from my older brother and sister-in-law (thanks again J & M) and, like a lot of cooking equipment, is both a blessing and a curse (take the bench top deep fryer, for example, just how easy do you want it to be to deep fry something at a moments notice?). The 'blessing' part of the pizza maker is the high heat it can generate and the pizza stone base which cooks bases to perfection in double-quick time (my favourite type of time).

Rose has us cook the dough base for a short while before putting the toppings on and baking again. This worked well, particularly with the pizza maker, because I could cook the base on the tray and then once it was par-cooked I could finish it directly on the stone base of the pizza maker, with the toppings. The pizza was exactly how I like it - a thinnish, crispy and chewy base with just enough topping to flavour the base without drowning it.

Even though I doubled the dough but not the onion mixture, I found there was plenty to cover the two 25cm-ish pizzas. The sweetish onion mixture and the nutty gruyere cheese is a great combination.

This pizza is way too easy to make. It's a public holiday here in the Northern Territory as I write* and I'm very tempted to mix up some dough and treat myself. Perhaps a tomato sauce base this time.

The next recipe on the Bread Bible Baker schedule is Potato Buttermilk Bread.

*Actually by the time I got around to pressing the publish button on this blog post the holiday was long gone. But I did make some more pizzas that weekend and they were just as, if not more, delicious than my first attempt. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Bread Bible - Walnut Fougasse

I tried to make Walnut Fougasse and instead I modelled the face of a seven-eyed alien - potentially the next Dr Who nemesis (Evil Dr Fougasse, perhaps?). Apt since I wasn't overly taken with this bread. I'm not sure if I did something wrong but the dough had an odd texture when I first mixed it. It improved upon proving but the process was finicky and then I found the end result too rich and greasy for my taste. So, unfortunately not a success for me, which was a shame because it looked and sounded so exotic.

I ate some with pea and ham soup I had in the freezer (the soup was in the freezer because I wasn't overly taken with it when I made it...). While not the best meal I've ever had I did achieve that virtuous feeling you get when eating two homemade things you're not that fussed about.

I'm way behind the Bread Bakers schedule but I think I'm up to pizza next. Yay!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Bread Bible - Flaxseed Loaf

I spent absolutely aaaages searching on the internet for the pumpernickel flour which you need for this recipe. In the terrible, time-wasting way that the internet seems to inspire, I kept searching long after I had made the decision not to order it from overseas (which seemed to be my only option for true pumpernickel flour, although it's possible I could have sourced a freezer-busting 5 kg bag of dark rye within Australia). In the end I used the ordinary rye flour I had in the freezer from another Bread Bible project. 

The difference between the ryes, I seem to remember from my web travels, is that the rye is toasted or cooked in some way to make the pumpernickel which is what makes it the darkest, densest rye flour. Anyhow, after all the floury hoohaa, my loaf turned out really well and was particularly delicious toasted, as Rose points out in the recipe. It has a really lovely nutty flavour and is satisfyingly robust.

The flaxseed, which I don't remember having seen up close before, is a pretty, glossy brown seed. It wasn't immediately obvious in the recipe but it needs to be cracked before use for this loaf.

How many food processor attachments does it take to crack flaxseed? Hint: it's harder than it looks. The small food processing bowl didn't even make a dent on the flaxseed. The little grinding attachment was more successful.

There's also plain white bread flour and wholemeal flour in this, so this is another loaf which gives you that smug, healthy feeling. This was a very easy and quick loaf to make. I was too lazy to get the loaf tin out of the overstuffed drawer, so I made a boule shape which turned out very well. Another loaf to be (quietly) proud of. 

Next up is the Walnut Fougasse which is apparently a bit like focaccia with walnuts.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bread Bible - Olive Bread

I can't remember many of the details of making the olive bread, it was so long ago. I think it was pretty delicious from memory but not my most successful loaf. Not much oven spring and it looks a bit spongy in the photo below. Maybe the oven wasn't hot enough. I should try it again, and if I did I would double the dough because it makes a very small loaf.

I don't know what this photo was about - maybe the texture of the dough? It looks silky smooth.

A makeshift banneton using a tea towel.

The olive bread is the last of my catch-up posts. I have Flaxseed bread cooling on the bench right now so hopefully I'll post about that this week. Or at least within three months :)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Bread Bible - Levy's Real Jewish Rye Bread

My memory of baking this bread is hazy in the extreme, but judging by the number of photos I have of the finished product, I was pretty happy with it. I do remember Rose saying that this type of rye bread was a favourite when she was young. I was surprised by that because it's very strongly tasting of caraway, which is not a taste that children of my acquaintance are fond of (and one I wasn't keen on when young). Luckily I'm keen on it now and I made short work of eating my loaf. It's not at all heavy with rye, with just enough to leave you with a smug aura of healthiness (as you slather on the butter).

I'm pretty proud of my slashes and the oven spring I got with this loaf. If only I knew how I did it...

Still to come in my catch-up posts - Olive Bread.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Bread Bible - Ginger Scones

Late last year, with the maelstrom that is Christmas, the end of the work year* and the beginning of summer holidays, I missed a few of the monthly Bread Bible projects. I've caught up with some of them - including my current favourite, the Basic Hearth Bread. Next on my list is the November 2016 project of Creamy Ginger Scones. 

I made these a while ago now but with the demise of the weekly discipline of the Baking Bible bake-through, my blogging mojo (always pretty tardy) has almost completely faded away. I have two other Bread Bible posts lined up to finish, hopefully I can whip up a bit of enthusiasm and get them out before I forget all the details.

These scones are really delicious. I mean really delicious. I urge you to make them. Unless you don't like ginger, in which case, don't. I'm going to make them next time I visit my parents because my mother would absolutely love them. She's always been a devotee of those old fashioned Chinese vase-like containers of glace ginger. Something I wasn't keen on as a child but now appreciate.

As I remember these were easy to make. I used glace ginger in the scones instead of the recommended crystallised ginger. This is only because I read the back of the two packets (i.e. glace and crystallised), while standing at the supermarket shelf, and the glace one had a 'perfect for baking' label on it, and a recipe for scones on the back (not as good as this recipe). So glace it was.

I was waaaay too lazy to whip the cream before I mixed it into the dough. This is meant to make the scones airy-er. And it might do. I'll never know.

I'm thinking that next time I might try then with milk rather than cream because for me they were overly rich. However, providing yet another reminder that it's all in the beholding, my colleagues thought otherwise. One of them asked for the recipe and another told me he 'really liked the stodginess' (thanks Che).

I also loved these scones because it gave me an excuse to show off my new Christmas-present-teapot (thanks J & M).

*Or that's how I like to think of it even though, disappointingly and in actual fact, work keeps rolling on.

Next up I'll be posting about Jewish rye bread and olive bread.