Monday, December 10, 2012

Sourdough English Muffins


“Oh my God! It’s six already!”

I am sleep early impaired, therefore I am cursed with an occasional oversleeping problem. What happens when a mother wakes up late? No breakfast.. Father and child(ren) will start their morning with empty stomach. Boy, I sure am happy I don’t live anywhere near my mom morning walk distance or she’ll harass me saying that I still live my days like I was in my teen by sleeping late. Though on the other hand, I can always ask her to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner if she lives nearby. Oh mom, don’t think I didn't know how you devoured those crime novels and Hitchcock’s movies after you thought I was sleeping already. Can't you see I am slowly turning into you? It’s just that I am not a mother from her generation who still manage to wake super early even when they’re sleep deprived.

Anyhow, long before I have my sourdough starter and the emergence of 711 in every nooks and crannies in everyone’s neighborhood, the city was ruled by MacDonalds. Open 24/7, MacDonalds offers literally fast food and eating their food was a necessary evil  which we had to do to our body in order to not let us starve in the morning. I did pick a lesser evil in that case, though.

Whenever I overslept, we would go to MacDonalds drive thru and order Egg MacMuffin, a simple English muffin with sunny side egg and sliced cheese. Compared to the burger, hash browns, fried chickens, and Lord knows-what’s-inside their nuggets, that seemed like a more reasonable and less destructive choice of morning meal considering that we got it from that joint.

I have to admit that their Egg MacMuffin tastes good. But is that the only way to enjoy English Muffins? Of course not. Apart from the need to end our MacD morning visits, I dream of slathering English muffins with cream cheese and my strawberry jam. The only way to do it is to make my own English muffins because no one sells it plain and I have zero intention of having factory bread.

After almost ten recipes of English muffins, I declare that the recipe from wildyeastblog.com is the best. The taste isn't the only reason I love it. The fact that I put my starter to use in making it is actually the most appealing thing to me. I need not feed Bonnie just to have some good ol’English Muffins. Just mix it right away before bedtime. In the morning I'd have a beautiful sponge. As always, I reduce the salt and add some wheat bran for extra fiber. 

Let’s make it, shall we?

Recipe

Sponge Ingredients:
110 gr ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
150 gr all purpose flour
10 gr wheat bran
100 gr whole wheat flour
270 gr soy milk/low-fat milk

Final Dough Ingredients:
75 gr all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp honey
all of the sponge

Method:

-In a medium bowl, mix the sponge ingredients until just combined. Cover and let rest for 8 hours or overnight.

-Add the final dough ingredients and mix to roughly combine. Turn the dough out onto the counter and hand mix for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the surface becomes quite smooth. The dough will be very soft and sticky at first. Resist the urge to add more flour; it will become less sticky with mixing.

-Flour the counter and your hands well, and roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of about one-half inch. I use a quite large stainless steel mug to cut the dough since I don’t have a big cookie cutter. If you have a tuna can, I suggest you use it to cut the dough. It’ll make perfect sized muffins. Place the cut round dough onto wheat flour dusted parchment paper. Cover and let proof for 45 – 60 minutes.


-There are two ways of cooking it. First, you can pan fry it on medium heat about 7 or 8 minutes on each side until browned and the sides are firm. Second, this is how I prefer to cook it, bake it in a 210C oven for 8-10 minutes on each side depending on the size of your muffins.

Enjoy! 






See how huffed and puffed they are?


I giggled like a little child the first time I baked this. Why not? It was insanely good. Its clean, earthy taste is just so.. me. I love food that tastes 'clean'. Though it'll be hard to describe the clean taste, perhaps 'feel good for eating healthy food that tastes delicious' would suffice.

Why we're in love with English muffins?
Because the texture is firmer than burger buns, it doesn't take long to assemble, they're definitely lower in calories, and it's decadent. Not to mention uber fulfilling. Gotta heart the fiber, right! 

 Now let's assemble it MacD style



Oh, yeah.. That is one helluva messy looking sunny side. I  have never been patient enough to make a pretty sunny side. I said to mom that it's covered with the muffins anyway. Ha! Should we just call it 'Splattered Yolk'?


YUM!
It's so rewarding that my family enjoys this so much. I feel great that I provide them with something healthy. Another beauty of these muffins is that they freeze well. Just thaw it in the microwave and we're good to go. So with the freezer well-stocked with these muffins, I don't have to panic and shout a long echoing no (read: Noooooo..ooooo..oo..o..) everytime I wake up late.

Egg MacMuffin Momma Style;D


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sourdough Spiced Fruit Loaf


Meet Bonnie, my sourdough starter, my pet bacteria.

Her full name is Bonnie Boadicea.


Bonnie because she is to me a bonnie lass, Boadicea because she is strong and fierce. The name Boadicea itself is not a name I made up. When I was a kid, I got an Enya CD, Paint the Sky with Stars -one of my favorite albums of all time-, as a present from my mother. There was an instrumental song I loved so much which had the same title. I was a very curious mouse and of course there was no google at that time. But lucky me, my grandfather had a very extensive collection of books. So off I went to find what or who Boadicea was in the encyclopedia. How I was inspired! Boadicea, Buddug for the Welsh, was the British Iceni tribe’s queen who led an uprising against the Roman Empire. This is the wiki link  if you wish to know more about her great history.

After the death of my first starter long time ago, I didn't feel inclined to grow another one. It was a sad experience. But as a need that is urgent to be fulfilled, I started cultivating another one and told myself I gotta have a sourdough starter, or many call it mother, that is strong enough to be passed to my grandchildren and many generations after.  A dream too big? No such thing.

That was how I got my Bonnie. She’s barely a month old yet she flawlessly provides me with fluffy pancakes and awesome bread. Besides, a name is a silent prayer which holds high hopes and I'm a helplessly romantic person. So Bonnie Boadicea fits her.  She was made with whole wheat flour and fed alternately with rye and white flour.

I do have the step by step photo on how to grow your own starter but it’ll have to wait for a bit (oh, promises!). Meanwhile, if you happen to have your own sourdough starter, you better make this bread or you’ll lose the opportunity to taste one of the tastiest bread ever.

Bourke Street Bakery is one of the most sought after boulangerie in Sydney,  so I've been told. Either you come early or you phone them to place your order for the next day because every bread there is handmade. They have several cookbooks already. I do not own one but after just this recipe and reading so many praises about it, it’s on my next to buy list.

I do not do much alteration except cutting down the salt and half the recipe.  Oh, and added some wheat bran for extra fiber. Even with just a half recipe, it produces 2 medium sized batard. I did use a bit of less water because I live in a tropical country which has high humidity. 

Recipe
320 gr bread flour
48 gr whole wheat flour
14 gr wheat bran
220 gr water
5 gr salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼  tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
50 gr dried cranberries
50 gr rasins
50 gr golden raisins
200 gr starter (fed, 100% hydration)

Let's Mix It!







Mix only the flour and wheat bran, pour the starter in. Pour the water, mix and let it autolyse for 30 minutes.


After 30 minutes, sprinkle the salt and knead until it has a moderate gluten development. Now this is the fun bit, not mentioning messy; sprinkle the spice and the dried fruits and knead lightly until all is incorporated. Let it rest for 2-2,5 hours and do a stretch and fold just once after the first hour.

Divide the dough into two equal shape and round them neatly. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for an extra 30 minutes. It will relax the gluten a little bit before shaping it into whatever shape you wish.



Shape the dough into a batard. What is a batard? It is bastard in English. Well, basically a batard is sort of like an inferior baguette. it's shorter and burlier. Typical batard you'd picture chasing Tintin, Snowy, and Capt. Haddock in their marvelous adventures, eh? 
Anyhow, let this burly batard rest for 2 hours, score it, then bake with steam for 30 minutes in 225C oven.

Tadaaaa...


It is the 'ripped' effect that I love the most from any bread. Those little strands are like nature's painting. Like a spider web made in the oven.




Now let's see what it has in store for us..
AHAHA.. I'm filled with glee!

So many times I get disappointed by the lack of dried fruits in store bought fruited bread. I think I'll toss some walnuts in the next time I bake this to give it an extra dimension and some crunchy, nutty taste.



I am pleased with the end result, the crust is amazingly crunchy and the crumb is soft. This bread keeps well for three days. What I mean by three days is I don't have anymore left after day three. I'm already thinking how gorgeous to have it packed for picnic. Now if only I can think of someone who'd invite me for a nice spring picnic :p

Anyhow, picnic or not, take your starter out of the fridge, feed it, and let it work its magic!


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Baguette a la Bouabsa


Qu'est ce qu'une baguette? De la farine, de l'eau, du sel et un levain.... et beaucoup de technique.

What is a baguette? Flour, water, salt, and a levain... and lots of technique.

Meh.

When I was in college, my professor, who was a walking swearing machine, snob French woman who didn't seem to care about how she looked and dang she looked so effortlessly pretty, always talked about her home town. Well, of course I had to listen. My major was French literature and I needed to get a good mark on French history if I wanted to get my degree. Back when I was 20 years old, I couldn't care less about how she described the real French baguette and how she could never find something even remotely close in Jakarta; said that any long bread is called baguette here. But the present me remembers verbatim about the romance of that particular bread she raved about and by God I just have to nail a baguette!

I have been meaning to make this particular baguette since the first time I saw the name. Baguette a la Bouabsa. Who is this Bouabsa, why is everyone in the bread region of blogosphere talking about his baguette? Googled his name, and WHAM! Anis Bouabsa was the winner of Paris Best Baguette in 2008. What makes his baguette so famous?


Before I tell you why I got hooked on Bouabsa’s baguette, allow me to explain about the annual competition called Grand Prix de la Baguette de Paris. It is held annually in Paris and the winner will supply baguette and other bread for one whole year for Palais de l'Élysée. The baguette that can enter the competition has to be 55-65 cm long and weigh between 250-300 gr. It should use only white flour, water, salt, yeast, and no other ingredients. Is that it? Nope. The crust should be crispy with open crumbs. The technique will be judged also. 


Knowing the prize, who would just give away a golden recipe? Oh, who are we kidding? Best baguette in Paris? There are thousands of boulangeries scattered all over Paris and each one of them wants to have the title.

Picture this; that pretty singer Carla Bruni and her husband, you know.. he’s just THE French President at that time, that Nicolas Sarkozy, nibbled on his baguette.  They have presidential breakfast, lunch, dinner, party, and the bread served were the ones from his bakery. He could be quite cocky and had every right to be so. But nevertheless, this Bouabsa guy, you should definitely google him, opens his boulangerie for people who want to take a closer look and sometimes take pictures of his kitchen filled with apprentices baking bread.

How kind!

This is the post you should be checking out about a bread enthusiast who came to his boulangerie, Duc de la Chapelle, in Paris; www.thefreshloaf.com She tried his recipe and it was a success. It does seem easier than done.  Truth be told, I have been searching for a perfect baguette recipe and some just didn’t work according to my taste.

Anyhow, Bouabsa's baguette looks quite to almost very charred. Not like the ones we usually see. It is unusually appealing to me. It looks.. unbelievably rustic. Like from an old world, or something you'd find Gandalf munching on, or like the bread the travelers in the medieval times carry in their sack. If you know me well, then you know I'm hooked because of it.

For months I have been pondering, googling, reading, lacking sleep just thinking whether I have the guts to attempt his baguette or not. But since I like to think that I’m a mad scientist with an artistic flare, not mentioning a geeky home baker, I just have to get this over with and get to my lab, i.e: kitchen. Thanks to NCC Breadweek, I have an excuse to force myself to the limit. Give a task to a virgo and consider it done.

Recipe
500 gr all purpose flour
10 gr salt
¼ tsp instant yeast
375 gr water

Let's tackle this recipe!


-Mix all the dry ingredients, make a well in the middle and pour just 325 gr of the water. 
-Incorporate everything and let it rest for 30 minutes covered in plastic wrap.


-After 30 minutes, slap and fold the dough on your working table for a minimum 200 times. More if you can handle it. 
-Pour the rest of the water, 50 gr, into the bowl then stretch and fold the dough until all the water is incorporated into the dough. You will have a wet dough. Let rest for 1 hour with 6 to 8 times stretch and fold for an interval of 20 minutes. So that'd be 3 times doing the stretch and fold within an hour. Keep the dough in the fridge covered in plastic wrap for 21 hours.


-After 21 hours, take your dough and let it warm in room temperature for 1 hour. 
-Divide the dough into two and make an oval shape. Cover with plastic and let  them rest for 15 minutes. 
-Shape into baguettes.
-Rest them on a floured couche for 45 minutes.
-Transfer them to the baking pan.
-Bake for 20 minutes in a 250C oven. Don't forget the steam tray. 

Okay..Now this is the part that I get really shocked and frustrated I couldn't even managed to shed a tear. I foolishly tripped on my way to the kitchen. The pan fell abruptly, the baguettes scattered flat on the floor. They poofed already then just laid flat in front of my very own eyes. Fighting back the anger and tears, I took them and put them back on the pan, made just little slashes, afraid to degas them even more, and baked them.

Here's how they looked like.




Do you see the misshapen parts?

But to my surprise, they didn't let me down. They did spring in the oven, kept their gorgeous length. I proudly measured 50 cm, just a 5 cm short, and the color was nicely golden. I let them cool completely before cutting to see what the fall may caused to my baguettes. Would my crumbs be tight?


YAY!

I couldn't believe my eyes. The crumbs were looking good with big holes here and there. If this was what I got from fallen baguettes, imagine what I could have if I didn't trip!

Now let's take a look on the color...




Yes they look just how I wanted them, but I want them to be as dark and charred as Anis Bouabsa's. Look at the part I circled. I want THAT color!



So there I was, making another batch. Slap and fold, slap and fold, one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, stretch and fold, stretch and fold, and put in the fridge for 21 hours.


I am not a quitter. It's a perfectionist's curse.

I made three this time, one long and two medium sized. I was more confident this time and I allowed myself a little luxury of modifying the size. In fact, I was in such a great mood making it, knowing that luck was on my side.

VOILA! MES BAGUETTES!




Still shy on the slashes because of yesterday's nightmare.
But hey, the crumbs...



I think I don't have to tell you how crispy the crust is. But despite the crispy crust, the crumb is soft and slightly chewy. I Love the taste so very much even it occurred to me that I could perchance live on this baguette and water alone. So little yeast and no sugar but this bread is sweet. How lovely science is. I would stop myself from explaining further why it is sweet without any sugar because I might bore you to death.

Am I happy with this recipe? Very much indeed.
Have I found the perfect baguette recipe? No. I haven't.

But how can a mad scientist be happy to find perfection? I'll be out of experiments. This is why baking bread is more fun than baking cake or anything else. You won't find two identical bread much like you'd never find two identical zebras. 

I'd say let's never find a perfect recipe. So we can always continue the fun of seeking and experimenting.

Merci beaucoup Monsieur Bouabsa, vous me donnez beaucoup de bonheur!


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato & Feta Bread Rolls


So, yesterday was Lucky’s birthday.

Instead of making a cake I made a huge unforgettable danish. But this is not the post about the Danish, this is a post about a simple but classy bread rolls. I promise I will post the Danish recipe sometime soon because after all the sugary treats and the small party we had with our close friends last night at home, I just wanna have a real strong cup of joe and something light for breakfast.

It is such a blessing to be able to always wake up early even without an annoying buzzer. Though it is also feels like a curse when it is HOLIDAY and you need to have that extra sleep. So there I was at 4:30am wishing it was at least 7am. Dragging my aching body, I opened the fridge to collect my happy pills. They’re not actually pills, they’re actually 4 of my favorite ingredients ever and I am not taking about ingredients to make Bloody Mary, though I could use a tall glass of it.



I have made different kinds of bread using each of those ingredients. But since I was not in any mood to do any kneading, I decided to make a no knead bread which the original recipe can be found at sassandveracity.com

The original recipe requires spinach and I avoid it completely. One thing I remember the most when I did a research about spinach and amaranth for my book, which is the most important thing and many people neglect it, is that once you have cooked those leafy vegetables, you must consume them within 5 hours the most and you must never overcook them or cook them in extreme temperature. To explain it simply; the good iron called FERRO will turn into FERRI. FERRI is poisonous. That’s the bad guy. So to get the whole goodness of spinach, don’t abuse them in your cooking and make sure to consume them right away and NEVER reheat anything with spinach in it.

Now let’s get to the bread making. This is by far most aromatic bread rolls I have ever made. With all the modifications I made, you too, can have this dreamy and healthy rolls on your table without any extra efforts.

Makes 16 rolls

Ingredients
2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
1/3 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
3 tbs capers
2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 egg whites
Water up to 3 cups
1 1/4 tbs instant yeast
1/2 tbs kosher salt
1/2 tbs sugar
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 cups Ballastra/whole wheat flour
1/4 cups wheat bran
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano

Let’s NOT knead it!

-Prepare a container with a lid or a Tupperware.
-Put 3 egg whites in your measuring jug then fill it with water until the 3 cups line. Stir it.
- Mix all the ingredients in the container together then pour the egg whites-water mix and stir. DON’T knead.
-Cover it and let rise in room temperature for 2 hours


-Then just wait. I had my coffee and my share of morning news. You can do what pleases you.
-After 2 hours, prepare a pan with baking sheet sprinkled with whole wheat flour and a plate with some flours in it. We’re gonna shape little artisan boules now which will only take no more than 5 minutes.


-Let these lovely rolls rest for an hour then bake with steam for 20 minutes in 225C oven


-After 20 minutes, turn the oven off. Leave them inside for 5 minutes without opening he oven door and another 5 with the door open slightly ajar.

Here you go…
My lovely Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Rolls..


I have to say that the combination of sun-dried tomato-olives-capers-feta has never failed to lift up my mood. It’s just so.. rustically Italian. Each one of them has their own story and personality. To be savored alone will render us a complicated taste, but when combined, they are simply delicious.


It occurs to me the reason why I love to make bread. It channels my thoughts and feelings and gives me a quiet contemplating time. Bread is like a person. And this particular bread, I realized, describes me best. Complicated yet so simple.

After they were slightly cooled, I brought some up to our bed room and eat them there. But not after I wrapped 8 rolls and call the courier to pick them up and have them sent to my mother. I’m sending her me, my love, and my warm thoughts of her.


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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Apple Raisin Cinnamon Ring


Coincidence.

Even though there isn’t such thing as a coincidence, I love it when the stars are in a perfect alignment. Everything feels so right and whatever you’re looking for that day pops out of the blue.

I have been waiting for my dark rye flour to arrive. I actually just need a kilo or two. But since there is no way I can get my hands on that particular flour for such a puny amount, I mail ordered a sack of ten kilos. The seller even asked me whether I have a bakery. No, I do not own one, though it’s cute to have one but later there’d be no time for fooling around. I am just mad for bread.  When it came, I felt like I just got a Christmas present delivered by Santa himself!

Translation: bake the best from good

Then it’s the apples. I happen to have lots of apples in the fridge from my mom in law. So I made apple jams and bottled them up. While I was waiting for the apple jam to thicken, I was browsing for a fast and unique bread recipe because I was planning to get my hands on my rye. No way I’d be making pumpernickel in such a short time. So I found this apple raisin cinnamon recipe at ko-bo.blogspot.com. Looking at the ingredients list with some modification ideas dancing the jig in my head, I went straight to the kitchen and started gathering what’s needed.

makes 2 rings

Ingredients

For the apple filling:
4 apel granny smith, peeled, cored and diced
4 tbs sugar
1 tbs water
20 gr raisins
50 gr cheese, shredded

To Make The Filling:
Combine everything except the cheese in a small saucepan. Cook in low heat until the sugar dissolves and caramelized. Cool and reserve for later.

For the bread:
250 gr bread flour
80 gr dark rye flour
1tsp cinnamon
5 gr salt
4 gr instant yeast
180 ml lowfat milk
20 gr salted butter, melted

How To Make The Bread:
-Mix all the dry ingredients together. Combine the melted butter with milk and pour into the dry mixture.
-Knead until the gluten develops really well and you can easily feel its elasticity.
-proof until it is doubled in size. Depending on your environment and this particular dough, It’d be no less than an hour.

Now let's get to the fun part!

Pic1: After proofing, divide the dough into two and form a ball. Rest for 20 minutes while it's covered with lightly oiled cling film.
Pic2: Roll the dough into a rectangle. Mine up there isn't such a neat rectangle, eh?
Pic3: Make slashes on the top.
Pic4: Put the apple filling and the shredded cheese.
Pic5: Roll em up!
Pic6: Join the ends in a sweet communion *sigh*

-After you shape them, proof for another 40 minutes
-Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 170C oven


VOILA!


I do think it looks more like an over-sized bagel.

I should've waited for it to cool before slicing it. But who could resist such a  saliva-inducing temptation? I am just a mere human, a hungry one may I add.
So, expecting a chewy bagel I was, I sliced it.


Oh good God in heaven!

It melts in my mouth! This bread has fooled me. I did have some cream cheese to spread on it thinking it looked like a bagel, it must have tasted like one, too. But the texture and how the apples soften during baking time and burst in my mouth in every bite are simply astounding.

I might suggest you to not overcook the apples or you'll get a mushy middle. Use not sweet apples for they will turn sickeningly sweet when cooked with raisins and sugar. 

Overall, I'm happy with this one and it'll be a regular in my humble home.



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Monday, November 12, 2012

Vegan Wheat Sandwich Loaf

Even though I am not a vegan, I adore vegan food. I think making vegan food palatable is one of the hardest challenges for home cooks. My family is not vegan, but since we usually go out being such an adventurous little bunch in trying out new restaurants on weekends, I prefer we eat seriously healthy food during weekdays. Yin-yang, I believe, is the key to have everything in balanced order.

This Vegan Sandwich Loaf is a quickie to make and it’s so full of fiber because of the massive amount of wheat bran. I forgot where I originally saw this recipe. Perhaps it was on www.bobsredmill.com but it was a milk loaf and required some melted butter. So I fooled around with the recipe and make it my signature wheat sandwich loaf. Nowadays a single wheat sandwich loaf, which only God knows how little wheat contained in it, cost more than twenty thousand rupiah or more than $2 dollars. What insane price!

I said to myself, “Girl, think about how much money you’d save by making bread yourself. You can even buy newer and cooler gadgets!”

Oops :D

Actually there is a reason behind my fondness for healthy bread. And it wasn’t all health issue. When you have started your motherhood’s journey, you’d notice that each one of your children will have their own preference in food. No doubt you will try to provide them with what they love on your everyday meal. When Amiko was 3 yo, I started incorporating more fiber in her daily meals. She was hooked on the earthy, savory, somehow mellow taste of whole wheat bread. I still bought my bread back then and whenever I gave her a piece of white bread, unless she was extremely hungry, she’d complain like an old lady who lost her glasses only to find those on her head. So she IS the main reason.

Making our own bread is not only healthier; it tastes a whole lot better. Until this very moment I’m confused on why people would regularly buy over-priced bread, and other foods, with vegetable shortening, improver (what’s to improve?), and other chemical compounds written SO clearly on the list of ingredients. But then again, that’s just me, and Jamie Oliver, and millions of concerned moms around the planet called earth, that apparently have the habit of reading what is on the ingredients’ list.

Okay, let the kneading begin!

Makes 1 delicious loaf

Ingredients
180gr all purpose flour
40gr wheat bran
140gr whole wheat flour
½ cup soy milk, room temperature
5 tbs grapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
½ cup water, lukewarm
3 tbs sugar (If your soy milk is unsweetened, 2 tbs if sweetened)
1 ¼ tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast

How To 

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add the blend of soy milk and grape seed oil then mix the liquid and dry ingredients with a spoon. Transfer the lumpy dough on your work space, knead with your hand for 6-8 minutes adding a tablespoon or two of water if the dough is too dry.


Transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl and proof around 1 hour to one and a half hour until it's almost doubled in size. Do not overproof the dough.

Picture 1-6: Shape your loaf. Remember to oil your work space and to not PRESS the dough too hard as you will squeeze all the precious air bubbles. Deflating with tenderness, is how I call it, is crucial especially in step 2.

Step 7: Put your shaped loaf in an 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. I made a mistake here by accidentally oiled my 9 ½ x 5 ½ inch loaf pan and was too lazy to get the right sized one. But apart from that, all was swell. Lightly oil the cling wrap and cover the loaf pan.

Step 8: Proof about 1 hour until it rises almost 2-3 cm above the rim of the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes in a 175C oven.


Done! 

Do leave it alone until it cools because you really, really need to slice them nicely and neatly as this is meant to be used as sandwich bread and to achieve the 'clean' cut, you best let them cool first.

Now that it's cool, shall we hold our breath to neatly slice them and check how the crumbs look like?


*Exhale happily*


Nope, I do not own a bread slicer. It just happens that I recently bought a new serrated knife. It was a buy-one-get-one colorful stuffs sold in Informa. Yup, that knife and a lot of breath holding in practicing how to slice evenly.

Now get your calculator and start counting on how much money you'd save by making your own loaf. Not only you save money, but you save yourself and your family from consuming unnecessary preservatives and additives.

Oh, the joy of homemade loaf!

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Herbed Boule



Natural Cooking Club has a whole month of bread baking event. That just gives me an excuse to explore and bake more bread. Though the reason I make this bread is not just for that event. I had a mother-daughter time with mom yesterday. Since I knew already that I’d come over to her place, I had already prepared the dough in advance. I guess I got my love for bread from her. We know the best of flavors will only be achieved by a simple act of patience.

Her husband, my dearest step dad, recently got a heart attack. So it’s an all oatmeal health food diet for him. Since I already decided to bring them some bread, not the buttery, egg laden kind of bread, I concocted my 5 Minutes No Knead Bread. But with a twist. I just threw in different kinds of dried herbs available in my kitchen, cut the salt, all to make a loaf that is safe for him to eat, yet will satisfy my mother’s taste buds.

Now let’s get rolling with the recipe. I do not use my favorite Ballastra flour for this one, because I’m still unsure whether the different seeds and grains are already okay to be consumed by him. A simple whole wheat flour will do.

Makes four 1 pound loafs.

Ingredients
480gr all purpose flour
300gr whole wheat flour
1½ tbs instant yeast
3 ¼ cup water
1 tbs salt
¼ tsp rosemary, oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme (all dried)

To view the step by step photos on how to make it, please click here. 

Here are some more pics of my Herbed Boule.





I once saw a program in TLC. it was about Moroccan food. 

The local presenter said, "Cooking is the only art that makes sure you always have food on your table."

Indeed it is. 

And what good is art when you have no appreciation from the audience? 
In my case, my audience need not be the the world. But they are surely more important than the world itself to me. Seeing their happy faces when they take a bite of my bread and savor it is truly what makes these tired bones feel young eternally. 


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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Irish Soda Bread


Going back to college seems like a lot of fun. I mean, it is fun. I love the adrenaline rush of having mid and final tests. Is that weird? Nah.. That is completely normal if you were brought up in my family. Some people climb mountains, some go diving, some love travelling, and I simply love to be with lots of books. Yes. I love library. I love the smell of books and I love to have anything to do with reading.

The thing is; I feel like I've been hitting the wall for the last two weeks. This particular subject, Indonesian Morpho-Syntax, was taking up too much of my precious time. Evil, evil subject. If I was single, perhaps I’d go out, party with my friends, and just forget about it. I notice that the older you get, the more you fuss with silly-nilly, unimportant things. So before I fall to the well of desperation, I just promise myself that even if I flunked at that that subject, I just have to do better next semester.

Case closed. Need a romantic getaway.

I decided to read a Susanna Kearsley book. Yes, that is my romantic getaway; reading. I am not big a fan of romance genre, I have always preferred fantasy and thriller. But Susanna Kearsley writes a heck of historical fiction with a gothic flair and modest romance. Yes, modest is the word for her works and I love modesty, not a sappy, weepy, vulgar, cheap romance novel with shirtless Fabio on the cover. Though I hate to admit seeing those pictures of him rather gave me a funny bashful feeling when I was in junior high.

What I enjoy from reading her books, is that mostly the settings are in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Three countries that I hold very, very dear in my heart. It is imprinted in my soul. Susanna Kearsley carefully weaves a certain important event in history with shreds of stories about ordinary people who happened to be around the time of the event or somehow strangely connected with those people.

I decided to read Shadowy Horses. I was immersed in the book. Gorgeous story. After the relief sigh, came the hunger. Since it has been raining almost every day for the past two weeks, pray tell; what suits the rain and empty stomach better than a hearthy hot stew?

A pot of Irish Stout Stew with a big chunk of Irish Soda Bread.



Here is the recipe for the Irish Soda Bread adapted from www.allrecipes.com
Makes 2 big loafs, half the recipe for your convenience.

Ingredients
For the bread:
440gr all-purpose flour
40gr wheat bran
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
For the glaze:
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk

Directions
-Preheat oven to 190 C. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
-In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, wheat bran, and butter.
-Stir in 1 cup of buttermilk and egg. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly.
-Form dough into a round and place on prepared baking sheet.
-In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup buttermilk; brush loaf with this glaze mixture. Use a sharp knife to cut an 'X' into the top of the loaf.
-Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
-Take the loaf out every 10-15 minutes to brush it with the glaze.


Scrumptious.

I love the biscuit like crust of this bread. With the stew, Irish Soda Bread complete the meal without overpowering the flavor of the stew. Without the stew, it simply is a great snack.

There are many possibilities to modify this recipe according to whatever mood you are in. You can throw in some raisins, herbs, or like Amiko; she prefers to have some shredded old cheddar in it. It's quite a versatile bread. But what we all love about this bread most of all is that we don't have to wait hours and hours to have warm bread on our table. It doesn't need too much preparations. Throw everything in, mix, form a ball, slash, and pop it in hot oven. Genius.

Alright, time for me to get back to my books. I am not talking about the Indonesian Morpho-Syntax, more like my Susanna Kearsley's books. A girl's got to read what a girl's got to read, right J


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