Posted in baking

Fresh From the Oven Challenge: Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

whole wheat walnut bread
The nuts make it lumpy.

This month’s FFTO challenge was clearly chosen with health in mind, which is great, since I’m trying to eat better in between Daring Baker challenges ;).  Sarah from Simply Cooked chose this bread from Jill Van Cleave’s book The Neighborhood Bake Shop.

Here’s the recipe after going through my baker’s percentage calculator, with my (as always, shortened) version of the instructions:

62.7 B%        383.3 g        3 c bread flour, divided
37.3 B%        227.7 g        1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
0.5 B%        3.2 g        1 t active dry yeast, divided
77.4 B%        473.2 g        2 c lukewarm water (95 – 110F, 35 – 45C), divided
3.4 B%        20.7 g        1 T honey
2.2 B%        13.6 g        1 T olive or walnut oil
0.8 B%        5.0 g        1 t sea salt
175 g, 1 1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Mix 1/2 t yeast in 1 c (250 ml) lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Let proof until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 c (190 g) bread flour. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Use or refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before using.

Mix remaining 1/2 t yeast with 1 c (250 ml) lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let proof for about 5 minutes.
Mix with starter, honey, oil, whole wheat flour, and salt.
Add 1 1/4 c (160 g) of the remaining bread flour gradually to form a stiff dough.
Add the walnuts.
Knead for ten minutes until smooth and elastic, adding as much of the reserved flour as needed to keep it from being too sticky.
Grease, cover, and allow to rise until it is doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into two pieces and form into loaves. Place on a baking pan and let rise about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 F/205 C for 30 to 40 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack.

slices
It turned out soft, if not very tall.

The original had the option of using part semolina flour, but I didn’t have that on hand so I took it out of my recipe.  I also used agave syrup instead of honey, and I chose olive oil as the oil.  I didn’t add the reserved flour; after letting the flour absorb the water, it was a little sticky, but really just about how I think dough should be.  I think I used less walnuts than called for, too, because when I started adding them it just seemed like enough.  I left them in big chunks, mostly out of laziness, and they were breaking up the dough a lot so I didn’t want to overload it.

I actually tried to make half of the recipe since it says it makes two loaves and I have trouble going through one before it gets stale (then again, some of the best things you can make call for stale bread), but as I feared, I forgot that I was halving the measurements somewhere along the way, so I ended up making the full amount except with half the starter.

Lately I’ve had trouble where I have a great first rise and a bad second rise, so I thought that maybe I’ve been overrising my dough – it is higher than normal room temperature in my un-air conditioned apartment.  So I stopped the first rise after 1 1/2 hours, when it was clearly doubled in size.  I hoped this would help, but I’m not sure that it did.  The bread wasn’t dense at all, but it had no height.  Maybe I needed to shape it differently.  I also had no luck at slashing the top.  I’ll blame it on my dull knife.

Posted in baking, foam, freezing, infusion, thickening

Daring Baker Challenge: Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

A slice
My guests thought it was just chocolate and vanilla, but you know me better than that.

The recipe is available here.
I’ll be honest, I thought this dessert was going to be too much.  I had to pick flavors for four components, plus have a fudge sauce.  But I tried to pick things that wouldn’t clash, and I think it turned out really well.  The subtleties probably didn’t come through, because you tend to eat it all together, but it tasted good together, and that’s what matters, right?

So, this dessert had five parts.

1. Sponge cake – I tried making it first by whipping the egg yolks and egg whites separately, folding the flour and water into the yolks, folding part of the whites into the yolks, and then adding all of the yolk mixture to the whites.  This worked well and it worked FAST, especially because my eggs were pretty old.  Then I tried it with brand new eggs, whipping whole eggs.  I can’t say whether it was the fact that they were whole or the fact that they were new or both, but they definitely took a lot longer to whip.  Eventually, though, they did, and although I had the impression they didn’t end up as airy as the first batch, the cakes were basically identical in the end.  It is important to grease your parchment paper – something I’ve never had to do before – because this cake will stick to everything, and it’s too thin (thin enough to bake in a jellyroll pan, that’s the kind with short sides) to afford losing a layer to the parchment. Because it’s so thin, it cooks fast.  In my overzealous oven, I consistently cooked them for 8 minutes each.

I flavored my cake by using brown sugar instead of white (actually I kept a little white sugar in there, but I doubt it matters).  When it came out of the oven, it smelled like French toast.  Yummmm.  I substituted cake flour for the cocoa powder in the recipe – all the flour I used was cake flour.

By the way, does anyone know why the recipe says to have the water boiling?  I don’t see why that matters, but I did it just to be safe.

2. Filling – I made whipped cream with brown sugar instead of white, and added some ground cassia/Saigon cinnamon.  I once impatiently put the filling on the cake before letting the cake cool, and the cake soaked it all up.  You really do have to let the cake cool first.  I don’t know how important it is to roll the cake while it’s warm to make it roll without breaking later, but I always did.  I didn’t use a towel, since my kitchen towels are of questionable cleanliness. I never had any trouble with the cake breaking from rolling or unrolling it, but I did have trouble getting the cake to roll tightly enough to be pretty but not so tightly as to squeeze out the filling.  I ended up rolling as best I could, slicing, and then unrolling and rerolling each slice.  Messy, annoying, but got the job done.  I think the trick, if there is one, has to do with getting an even layer of the filling on the cake.  Mine seemed to have more towards the middle, which made my outer slices badly shaped.

The slices of the resulting Swiss roll were pressed into a bowl (which was covered in plastic wrap) to line the sides, and this was put in the freezer.

Cake and Ice Cream #1
About halfway there.

3. Ice Cream #1 – I made Mexican Hot Chocolate ice cream, loosely based on David Lebovitz’s Aztec Hot Chocolate recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  I believe in making dairy-based ice creams with light cream, around 18% fat (I calculated that this makes an ice cream with the same fat, solid, and water content as a formula I found for premium ice cream), so I did that, and the recipe went like this:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

3 cups light cream

5 Tbsp cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

2 oz chile flavored chocolate, chocolate

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

1 Tbsp cognac

1 small dried red chile pepper, chopped and with seeds removed (I got this from my farmshare and don’t know what it should be called, but it is HOT)

Heat cream, sugar, pepper, and cocoa powder until boiling.  Remove from heat and add everything else.  Strain.  Chill.  Churn.  Freeze.

I didn’t know if it would be too hot or not hot enough, but I think it turned out just right if you like it mild.  You could tell something interesting was going on, but it wasn’t at all bothersome.  People who like spicy food would want more heat, though.  I think having it cold and with all that dairy definitely tones it down – I got more spice out of it when I tasted it pre-churning.I thought it was delicious.  In any case, I think it’s one of my new favorite flavors.

Out of the bowl
If I were more into crafty baking, I would totally make one of these to look like a turtle.

4. Ice Cream #2 – I chose hazelnut for this one.  I bought some hazelnuts, skinned them – I found out through on OChef that boiling them in a quart of water with 4 Tbsp of baking powder for about 3 minutes makes this really easy, I was so thankful – baked them at about 200F for about 10 minutes or 15 minutes, and then tried to grind them into butter.  That failed, so I infused my light cream (actually, this time I used half heavy cream and half whole milk, which is approximately the same) with the ground hazelnuts (and sugar) and then strained it.  This time, since I wasn’t adding alcohol, which makes ice cream softer, I added gelatin, which also keeps ice cream from freezing too solid, though in its own, gelatiny way.  In the past I’ve used a whole packet of gelatin for this much ice cream, and half a packet for 2/3 this much ice cream, and both times thought it was a little much.  So I tried half a packet, but I forgot to bloom it in some of the liquid kept cold, so I just stirred it into the hot liquid, and I don’t know if that keeps it from working, but it didn’t seem to have any effect.  The texture of the ice cream was great, but gelatin keeps ice cream from melting into a puddle and this ice cream melted like crazy, so I’m skeptical that it was really doing its job. I also used a little more sugar because my lower-gelatin batch before seemed not quite soft enough and perhaps not quite sweet enough.  I looked at Lebovitz’s Gianduja Gelato recipe to see about infusing the cream with the nuts, but other than that this is my own recipe.  If I can figure out how to make hazelnut butter I’ll have an even more original one for you – I’ve done the math to match that premium ice cream formula again, but alas, my grinders just aren’t cooperating.

Hazelnut Ice Cream

3 cups light cream

7/8 cup sugar (that’s 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp)

150 g ground hazelnuts

1 pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 envelope of gelatin (about 4g)

Bloom gelatin in some of the cream.  Heat the rest of the cream, sugar, salt, and hazelnuts.  Remove from heat and add gelatin and vanilla, whisking well.  Strain.  Chill.  Churn.  Freeze.

These ice creams were poured into the bowl on top of the frozen Swiss rolls.  I let the first freeze before churning and adding the second.

Complete
At first I was just drizzling the sauce on top, but then I said what the hell.

5. Fudge Sauce – I cheated.  I’m sorry.  Please let me stay in the club.  I was supposed to put the fudge sauce in between the layers of ice cream, but I’m sorry, that is not the purpose of fudge sauce.  Fudge sauce it to be added hot on top of cold ice cream.  So that’s what I did.  I poured it on top of the whole ice cream cake.

I also wasn’t very excited about a fudge sauce based on water thickened with cornstarch.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes that was simply sweetened condensed milk and unsweetened chocolate, with a little salt and vanilla.  (It also had water, but I omitted that – I wanted it nice and thick.)  That sounded more like it me, so that’s what I made.  It was thoroughly enjoyed.

Posted in dry heat

I’m now that person who makes her own granola

homemade granola
After I threw away the burnt part and ate a bowl of it, this much was left.

I never thought I’d make my own granola.  I’m a cereal for breakfast except on special occasions kind of person, and I didn’t want to have to do any work for breakfast.  But lately I’ve been paying more attention to eating healthy, and I found myself wanting to decide what was in my granola.  Or maybe it’s just the hippieness of Western Massachusetts rubbing off on me.  I’m going to a yoga class this weekend, too.

I estimated that I eat 3/4 cup of cereal in the morning.  So, per bowl, the recipe (made up by yours truly) is:

1/2 cup oats

2 Tbsp flaxseeds, ground

2 Tbsp almonds, blanched and chopped

2 Tbsp sweetener (I used a ratio of half honey, one fourth agave maple syrup blend, and one fourth sugar, simply because that was how much I had left of the honey and the syrup)

1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch salt

to be added after baking:

1 tsp candied ginger

Mix the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix them in, spread onto a baking sheet in a thin layer, and bake for 20 minutes at 325F, moving stuff around halfway through.  Cool and add the ginger.

I made four bowls’ worth, which seemed like the perfect amount for one baking sheet.  I did have one snag: it got a little too brown.  One edge got downright burnt, so I threw a little of it away, but the rest is ok…but just barely.  I don’t know if this is because 20 minutes at 325F is too much, or because my oven wasn’t really at 325F, but I suspect the latter.  I use an oven thermometer, but lately it says that the oven is at a lower temperature than it’s supposed to be at.  Maybe both my oven and my oven thermometer are off.  Alas.  I’ll check it again at 15 minutes next time.

Posted in freezing

Summer of Ice Cream I: Lemon Lavender Sorbet

I have big plans for my ice cream maker this summer.  I gave my friends a list of flavors I wanted to make and they told me what they’d help me eat.  My first opportunity came at a barbecue.  Everyone brought fresh, summery food, so I tried to match the dinner with a lemon lavender sorbet.  I wanted to try the same in an ice cream, but my friend is allergic to dairy, and sorbet is certainly fresh and summery.

I adapted a recipe from Art is the Handmaid of the Human Good, and that recipe was adapted from Cuisinart.  It’s a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar by volume, in this case, 2 cups) plus a cup and a half of lemon juice.

straining out the zest and lavender
Yellow and purple are complementary colors, y'know.

I flavored the simple syrup by putting a tablespoon of lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of dried lavender in the syrup while I was heating it.  I didn’t let it boil, because high heat kills volatile flavors, and the sugar dissolved before it boiled.  I let the syrup cool with the zest and lavender still in it, and then strained it before adding a combination of frozen lemon juice (from the last time I made limoncello) and fresh lemon juice.

Then you just put it in the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes, and then put it in the freezer.

the syrup in the ice cream maker
Just starting to churn it.

It was good, but a little too sweet.  I love lemon, but the flavor seems different when it’s combined with too much sugar.  Like a lemon drop.  That was one of my issues with limoncello for a while.  I think the recipe could stand a decrease in the amount of sugar; you have to be careful doing that because the same recipe with less sugar will freeze harder, but this sorbet was quite soft and melted really fast, so I think it would be fine.  I also didn’t pick up too much lavender flavor.  Maybe there’s a better way to extract the flavor.  Marianne at the blog I got the recipe from used lavender sugar, but I imagine it takes a while for the sugar to pick up the flavor.  I do think this recipe has just the right amount of lemon flavor in it, assuming you are a big fan of lemon.

By the way: I juiced four lemons for this recipe, but I only used the zest from two.  So, on the advice of America’s Test Kitchen, I zested the other two lemons (before juicing them) and put the zest in a baggie in the freezer.  They said it will keep its flavor when frozen, but not when refrigerated.

finished sorbet