Posted in baking, dry heat

Hydration Levels in Bread: An Exploratory Study

Introduction

As is widely noted in the literature, the hydration level of a dough affects several properties of the resulting bread, most notably hole size. However, preferred hydration levels for certain types of bread are not agreed upon with much precision. One reason for this uncertainty in the field is that hydration level affects different flours differently (see for instance http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2008/02/10/qa-flour-and-water). Having recently been burned by this imprecision, the author undertook the following study to offer concrete data on the affects of a variety of hydration levels on King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour.

Method

This study manipulated one factor, water content, which was measured in baker’s percentage, the ratio of the ingredient (water) to flour, by weight. The factor had four levels: 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90%.

The water was brought to 100F and mixed with 3/4 tsp (approximately 1 baker’s percent) of active dry yeast in a non-metal bowl. This mixture was left for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to become active. Then 200g of flour was mixed in until none of it was dry, to the extent that this was possible. The 60% dough was unable to incorporate all of the flour with the mixing method utilized; this was likely due to experimenter error as even drier doughs have been recorded in the literature. The results of this step are shown in Figure 1. All doughs had an internal temperature upon mixing of approximately 75F in a 62F room.

mix_collage
Figure 1. Doughs upon mixing. From upper right, clockwise: 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%.

The resulting mixture was left to autolyze for approximately 20 minutes. During this time, the flour absorbs water, which then allows enzymes in the flour to break down some of the starches into sugars. The yeast feed on these sugars and multiply before the addition of the salt, which limits their growth. The absorption of water by the flour also makes the dough feel drier, which is helpful for working with higher hydration doughs. After this pause, 3/4 tsp (approximately 2 baker’s percent) was incorporated into the dough. The results of this step are shown in Figure 2.

autolysis
Figure 2. The doughs after autolysis. Clockwise from upper left: 80%, 60%, 90%, 70%.

The dough was then left to ferment for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size. Approximately every half hour, the dough was stretched and folded as described in Robertson and Wolfinger (2010).

An exception was made to this method for the 60% dough, which would be less likely than the others to develop and organize its gluten in the later stages (as the method used here was developed for higher hydration doughs). It was kneaded for a few minutes, short of fully developing the gluten. In contrast, the 80% and 90% doughs developed gluten to the point of showing translucent windows with only these occasional folds.

gluten_windows
Figure 3. Translucent “windows” show effective gluten development in the 80% and 90% doughs. These took little to no effort to stretch (the 80% one was created by accident when a the dough stuck to the author’s finger) and no kneading.

When doubled, the dough was preshaped into a boule, with focus on creating some surface tension on the top of the boule. During all steps, the dough was covered with plastic wrap, but from preshaping on a layer of olive oil was added between the dough and the plastic wrap to prevent rupture of this top layer upon removal of the covering.

The dough was then rested for 30 minutes and shaped again. This began the phase of proofing, which varied in time. When available, the proofing dough was inverted into a floured banneton to support the boule’s shape. Proofing was considered to be finished when the dough slowly recovered from being poked; unfortunately, successful proofing did not guarantee an available oven and the 90% dough may have been overproofed while waiting for space.

When ready to bake, the oven, containing a tagine, was preheated to 500F. The dough was inverted again into the tagine, scored in a square pattern with a lame, and put into the oven covered with the tagine lid. The oven temperature was reduced to 450F (see for example Lahey, 2009) and the bread was baked for 20 minutes. Then the cover was removed but left in the oven to remain preheated for following bakes (see Appendix A), and the bread was baked uncovered for an additional 20 minutes. An exception to this was the 60% bread, which was done after the first 20 minutes and removed. All loaves were cooked to an internal temperature of at least 210F.

The loaf was then removed from the oven and left to cool completely on a wire rack.

Results

We present here the raw, baked data.

60percentprofile
Crust of 60% dough.
60percentcrumb
Crumb of 60% dough.
70percent_profile
Crust of 70% dough.
70percentcrumb
Crumb of 70% dough.
70percentprofile
Crust of 80% dough.
80percentcrumb
Crumb of 80% dough, complete with actual crumbs.
90percentprofile
Crust of 90% dough.
90percentcrumb
Crumb of 90% dough.

Figure 4 shows the relative size of the loaves in ascending order of hydration. Figure 5 gives a bar chart of hydration level by loaf height. As predicted, higher hydration correlated with larger loaves containing larger holes and thus softer crumbs. The hole size did not reach levels found by others with high hydration doughs, which may be due to such factors as fermentation duration and expertise in the techniques of stretch-and-fold, shaping, and scoring.

crusts
Figure 4. Effect of hydration level on loaf size.
barchart
Figure 5. Barchart showing the height of loaves as hydration increases.

Additional differences are observed among the loaves. The 60% bread browned much faster than the others, and its crust failed to develop shine and crackle. This is likely due to the fact that the tagine cooking method, a local variant of the well-known Dutch oven cooking method, relies on the bread’s own steam being released inside the cooking vessel. The low hydration dough would have released less steam than the others, failing to regulate the temperature inside the vessel, so that browning was possible even while it was covered. The lack of steam failed to make the crust glossy, an effect of starch gelating in the presence of water. However, there was still too much moisture to allow the crust to fully dehydrate, so it did not get crisp or make the characteristic crackling noises upon cooling that signal a superior crust.

Grigne width increased as hydration increased, while ear height (never especially high) decreased. Loaf height increased and then decreased as hydration level increased. However, we found that a confound was introduced during experimentation. Doughs were mixed in ascending order of hydration, and despite being spaced out in time to some degree, they were often ready to be baked before their predecessor had left the oven. Meanwhile, the room was heating up, accelerating the rate of yeast activity and thus proofing. The last loaf was therefore likely overproofed. Its reddish crust corroborates this, a sign that much of its starch had been converted to sugar, which is used in a browning reaction. This overproofing would contribute to a lack of height and ear development, so we cannot conclude that its hydration level is to blame.

Discussion

The crust of the 60% dough suggests that for lower hydration doughs, an additional source of steam is needed. Its crumb, however, was excellent for a dense bread, indicating that the difficulty of developing the gluten was not a barrier to good bread. This surprised us, as we were completely ready to sacrifice the 60% dough to the compost bin gods.

Nor was the high hydration level of the 80% and 90% doughs a barrier to working with them, contra some accounts in the literature. Higher protein flours, like King Arthur Bread Flour, absorb more water than lower protein flours such as all-purpose flour, so reports that 90% hydration dough is a pain in the ass may be due to poor flour choice. The 80% dough in particular was reported to be “a fucking delight” by one lab technician, who is also the PI and sole author.

The primary contribution of this work is to show concretely the textures of both dough and final product that can be expected at these landmarks in hydration space when working with King Arthur Bread Flour. However, these findings are not comprehensive, as these doughs were subject to short fermentation times relative to current trends in artisan baking, and were executed by an experimenter who has not actually read the books on which this recipe was based. Regardless, the predicted trends were supported by the data: higher hydration appears to cause greater oven spring and more open crumb structure.

Conclusions

We conclude that 80% hydration is an excellent ballpark for those desiring oven spring and open structure in breads made with King Arthur Bread Flour. We cannot generalize from these findings to other flours, as their different protein and ash contents would make the hydration levels map onto different outcomes.

Additional research is needed to further improve oven spring. We suspect that a large factor is the difficulty of scoring soft doughs, but additional factors are of great interest. Similarly, a followup study on proofing levels of high hydration doughs (see https://forums.egullet.org/topic/82234-demo-proving-bread/) would be useful to determine what heights the 90% dough is actually capable of.

Appendix: Importance of Lid

In a pilot study, we found that when the lid of the cooking vessel is removed from the oven during the uncovered phase of baking, it cools down, raising the concern that it might crack if replaced into a 500 degree oven for the next loaf. Thus, the second loaf was baked uncovered. As both loaves were from the same batch (of a different recipe than that given here), this provided a controlled study of the effect of covering the dough while baking it. The results were quite pronounced, as shown in Figure 6. Not only oven spring, but also crust texture and color, were affected. Note that flour coverage varies due to unrelated factors. Covered initial baking was found to be a far superior method for wet doughs.

tagine_study
Figure 6. Left, bread baked covered for the first half of baking. Right, bread baked uncovered for the entire duration of baking.
Posted in custard, dry heat

Coconut Chocolate Pie

Image

 

 

For my second birthday party (yes, I had two birthday parties), I made this pie. 

The crust is based on this recipe, made of only shredded coconut (which people brought to my first birthday party, making that really simple!) and butter. You could get away with less butter than is in the recipe. I don’t have any qualms with butter but I didn’t end up using all that was called for. Be careful about burning the edges – I covered them with foil and they still browned, so they turned out fine in the end but I wouldn’t want to push it.

The filling looks like it’s from the same recipe, but it’s not! That recipe has a ganache filling that you chill. Mine is my trusty recipe for flourless chocolate cake:

  • 200g dark chocolate (I use 60-70%; two nice bars of chocolate is usually exactly the right amount)
  • 200g eggs (4 eggs)
  • 200g butter (1 stick, 6 tablespoons, and a little smidge more)
  • 200g sugar (1 cup sugar)

You just melt the chocolate and butter together, and then mix in the eggs and sugar, making sure the mixture isn’t too hot for the eggs. If the chocolate separates, as it sometimes does, 1) don’t panic, 2) stir it over the heat until it comes back together, which it will.

Then bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.

It’s done when it doesn’t really jiggle, at 170F.

I can’t believe I hadn’t blogged that recipe yet. It’s easy to remember, easy to execute, and always makes friends.

So I blind baked the crust and then poured this inside – I didn’t have any problems with it leaking through the crust, just use enough coconut – and then baked again, still with foil around the edges. 

It was a hit! I was kind of sad that there weren’t any leftovers. 

Posted in baking, candy, dry heat, wet heat

Pear Frangipane Tart

pear tart

I used this recipe to make a Christmas Eve dessert.

I adapted it slightly. I definitely poached my own pears. I’m not snobby about all ingredients, but the difference between fresh and canned pears is huge. I followed David Lebovitz’s recipe for that, and added ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and whole cloves (maybe a tablespoon of each? I didn’t measure) to the syrup, which I made double the amount of.

Double the pear poaching syrup might have been more than I needed, especially since you don’t actually need 4 pears to do this recipe. Only two quartered pears will fit on the top of my tart, although I squeezed in one more quarter.

I also don’t have baking beans or parchment paper handy, so I blind baked the crust without anything on top of it for 15 minutes and that seemed fine. It didn’t brown.

I haven’t tasted the finished product yet but I think the crust might turn out too floury tasting. It’s somewhere in between a cookie crust and a flaky buttery crust. You might want to try a pate sucree recipe instead. But I’ll report back after tonight. Edit: The crust was tender but a little too floury tasting for me. It wasn’t bad but I’d just as soon eat the filling and the pears without the crust. Making it either more buttery or sweeter would probably be better. The almond meal in the crust probably helped keep it tender but I don’t think it added much flavor-wise.

I also added some vanilla to the frangipane, and right now I’m boiling down the syrup I poached the pears in to make a sauce for the tart, especially important if it turns out to be not sweet enough. I also thought a caramel sauce would go well with it, but since I already have this syrup I’ll try that first. Edit: the frangipane was delicious. My sister doesn’t like pears so I just made her try a bite of the frangipane and she said “It’s like a little angel!” She then apologized for not being good at talking about food but I thought that was pretty great! I do think adding spices to it would be good, though. The syrup didn’t pack the punch I had hoped, but the tart didn’t really need it, either.

The whole thing took me two hours. I made the crust, let it rest while I prepped the pears, blind baked, poached, and made frangipane simultaneously, and now I’m baking and boiling down the syrup. You could do the crust ahead of time, of course.

One thing I learned from doing it is that you want to grab the pears out of the syrup either without piercing them, or piercing them from the bottom! When they dry up in the oven the fork marks really show!

Cinnamon and cloves are my obsession this winter since I tried a cocktail with Fernet Branco (but it didn’t taste bitter at all!). I’m thinking about using the syrup in a cocktail, too.

Posted in baking, dry heat, wet heat

Dinner for 28 Linguists

Yesterday, I was in charge of cooking dinner after a colloquium we had in the department.  I shopped on Wednesday, as did one of my co-cooks.  I cooked from 2:45pm on Thursday until 3:45…am.  And then a little more Friday morning.  And then more Friday night.  The great thing was that, even though I’m a really bad judge of what’s enough food, I ended up with basically the perfect amount.  Just a little left over of everything.  So I want to keep track of how much I made this time, in case I’m ever crazy enough to do it again.  My theme was French food.

Thanks to everyone who helped!  I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

Creme du Barry

This is a leek and cauliflower soup.  I referred to these four recipes: Group Recipes, Global Gourmet, Recettes et Terroirs, Delices de France.  I basically made the first recipe, multiplied by four, with half of the water replaced with whole milk and no extra milk (it was plenty liquid), and for herbs and spices I used white pepper and fresh thyme, flat parsley, and curly parsley.  I blended it in batches in a blender and served it cold.  If I did it again, I think I’d go for a creamier texture – less water, some cream for some of the milk, maybe more creme fraiche – and maybe a different combination of herbs.  I loved the white pepper in it, though.  I had more left over of the soup than anything else, even though I made an amount that’s supposed to serve 16, while I made 24 servings of everything else.  I don’t know if that’s because people were less enthusiastic about it, or because people eat less soup than other things.

We also had (thanks to a couple of helpful linguists) 3 baguettes, of which two got eaten.

Ratatouille

I used this recipe for the amounts of the ingredients, except I used half yellow bell peppers and half red.  I doubled the recipe, so I made 24 servings.  Here’s how I did it:

  • Cut the ends of a head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, and roast at 400F for 15 minutes.  Squeeze cloves out and mince them.  (I would have pressed them if I had a garlic press.)
  • Sweat onions; put in a big pot.  Add the garlic.
  • Saute zucchini on high heat in a little olive oil until it gets a little brown; put it in the pot.
  • Put chopped bell peppers under the broiler for 5-10 minutes; in the pot with them.
  • Chop eggplant; pot it up.
  • Dump canned diced tomatoes into the pot.
  • Cover the pot and cook on medium low heat until the veggies are the consistency you like.  I don’t like mine mushy, and I’m proud to say that despite having to be reheated at the dinner, the zucchini kept a nice firmness in the middle.  I chopped everything into cubes or an approximation thereof, rather than slices, and I think that helped.
  • Season with fresh basil and thyme.  I also added some dried oregano, which is not usually done, but I love oregano and I’m the cook.

My only complaint was that there was a lot of liquid that I couldn’t cook off without overcooking my vegetables, so I just discarded some of it.  The veggies absorbed the rest, which may be a really good thing.  But still, next time I would cook the tomatoes separately for a while to get rid of some of that liquid.

I had maybe one side dish sized portion of ratatouille left by the end of the night.

Coq au vin

I used Julia Child’s recipe, multiplied by four (so 24 servings), except I didn’t pay a lot of attention to her instructions on the onions and mushrooms; I just caramelized the onions and sauteed the mushrooms and called it a day.  I also cooked in crockpots, so I reduced the wine and chicken stock by half before cooking.  I probably should have reduced it even more.  I cooked it on low for just shy of 8 hours, and it was perfectly falling off the bone.  Unfortunately, when I went to reduce the sauce, I didn’t think to strain out the bits of stuff, and then I neglected the pot because I was doing other things, and as a result the bits of stuff burned.  At that point I just gave up on the sauce, because I had enough to deal with.  But I think it would have added a lot.

There was nothing left of the coq au vin but a pile of bones.  It was a beautiful, if slightly scary, sight.

I served this with one package of couscous, of which about one serving remained.  I had another package but it didn’t seem necessary.

Pithiviers

I used this recipe and made three pithiviers.  I made four pies last time I cooked for a colloq and had a whole extra, and sure enough three seemed to be the right amount this time.  I had about two small slices or one big slice left over.

I used cognac instead of rum, and I didn’t decorate the pithiviers in the traditional way – I just rolled the puff pastry into two circles, put the filling on top of one with maybe and inch border,  which I put egg wash on.  Then the second circle went on top and I gently pressed it against the egg wash.  I learned that pinching the two circles together inhibited the rising of the puff pastry, so it’s important to be gentle and trust the egg wash to do its job, which it did.  The filling turned out really well, I think; before baking it was a little light on sugar and a little heavy on booze, but when served it tasted just right.  I topped it with whipped cream and a dusting of powdered sugar.

These are supposed to be served right out of the oven, but I couldn’t under the circumstances.  It turns out they taste great at room temperature, but the puff pastry doesn’t stay as amazingly puffed, and when some of the layers fall back together it gets a little hard to cut through.  So serving them right away is optimal, but serving them the next day is still perfectly fine.

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 candy, dry heat, foam

Meringue cookies, or as much sugar as I could fit in two square inches

Plan A for this endeavor was to make itty bitty meringue shells with cranberry curd, a curd I had never thought of until I saw this on Supper in Stereo.  But if this went exactly as planned it wouldn’t be much of an adventure, now would it?

I have a terrible history with meringue shells, but I figured if I planned ahead for lots of drying time and made them really small for minimal potentially sticky inner area, I might be able to pull them off.  I also decided to try Swiss meringue, which is supposed to end up drier than the French meringue I usually make.  Here’s a typology of meringue:

  1. French meringue: the one I’m used to, in which you beat the egg whites a little bit, then add sugar, and just keep beating.
  2. Swiss meringue: Whisk the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler until they get hot – I’ve seen 120F, 130F, and 160F as target temperatures.  Use 160F if you’re not going to bake it later, but otherwise I’d stay lower to avoid any risk of coagulation.  Then remove from the heat and keep beating until they’re the right stiffness.  This takes more sugar than the French way, is more stable, and is said to make a harder product.  Among those who know all three ways, it appears to be a favorite.
  3. Italian meringue: Heat sugar and water to the firm ball stage, drizzle the hot syrup into egg whites that have been whipped to soft peaks.  This is widely regarded as an unnecessarily difficult way to make meringue.  I secretly think this is the method that’s actually French.

Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate says that the ratio of sugar to egg whites for Swiss meringue is 2:1 by weight.  (By volume, several websites say 4 Tbsp per egg white.)   A little acid, in the form of cream of tartar or white vinegar, is good for French meringue; I don’t know if Swiss meringue makes that obsolete, but I have some so I’ll give it a shot.  I also think cornstarch is a good idea because it absorbs moisture so the meringues don’t come out too sticky.  So my recipe ended up like this:

  1. about 4 egg whites
  2. twice that weight in sugar (around 240g)
  3. about 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (they say 1/8 tsp per egg white, so I could have used 1 tsp, but…I didn’t)
  4. about 2 tsp cornstarch

Whip to…

…well, my whites never got past the soft peak stage.  I was shooting for stiff.  I was using a handheld electric mixer and the poor motor was hot and I was so tired of mixing that I moved the bowl to where I could sit down and then finally I decided, this just isn’t going to happen.  I don’t know if my whites suffered from being frozen (something weird did happen to them that I haven’t seen anyone talk about before, my guess is freezer burn, but I threw that part away) or if I did something else wrong, but that was that.  So I piped them from a zip-top bag with a tip cut off onto two parchment-paper lined baking sheets, sprinkled a little powdered sugar on them for extra moisture-insurance (it contains cornstarch) and put them into a 200F oven for two hours.

Although the soft peaks meant they wouldn’t really hold a shape besides flattish blob, they baked beautifully.

Snowy Backyard
View outside the kitchen
Unbaked meringues
View inside the kitchen

They stayed quite white, and they have a completely dry, crispy outside with an inside not unlike marshmallow creme.  I baked them a little longer than I would like for myself so that no one would think I was going to get them sick with the soft center, though.  Next time I’ll bring them to a safe 160F when I’m heating them in the beginning and then I’ll take them out when they’re still marshmallowy on the inside.

The sight of these was especially cool because this was the day that we got our first heavy snow, and for a Florida girl like me, it was amazing.

Sad attempt at pomegranate curd
I'll have to try again with whole pomegranate...I know it's possible!

Then it was time to make the curd.  I was planning on using cranberry juice (I don’t have a food mill so I thought whole ones would be too much trouble), and then on a whim I bought pomegranate juice instead.  I substituted that in for lemon juice in my my trusty lemon curd recipe, which I’ll post soon – promise.  I held back half the sugar so I could adjust according to how much the pomegranate juice needed.  I failed to remember that when you mix eggs, butter, and red liquid (like when I made zabaione one time), you get brown.  This brown was so ugly, I couldn’t even squint and see it as burgundy (like I could with the zabaione).  Nor did it taste particularly great.  So I tossed it.  Very sad.

I still wanted some kind of topping, though, so I thought about what could give me a pretty color.  Fondant is both yummy and white.  So I decided to make cranberry flavored fondant (I went back to cranberry because I was not impressed with the flavor of the pomegranate juice I bought, and I figured cranberry juice would be redder, anyway).

I used Joe Pastry’s recipe for poured fondant:

  1. 496, so about 500g sugar
  2. 113 g water
  3. 85g corn syrup

Heat to soft ball stage (238F). Cool, stir.  Mix with 2:1 sugar: water syrup to pour.

Joe Pastry didn’t say whether he meant 2:1 by weight or by volume, and when he wrote about cake syrup (not the same thing, but I was hoping to find out if he tended to use one or the other) he mentioned the same ratio with “by weight” one time and “by volume” another time.  Maybe because it doesn’t make that much of a difference.  So I chose volume – out of character for me, but I cringe a little whenever I have to put my pot on my scale, even though I know my scale can handle it.  He said he used about half a cup of the syrup, so I used half a cup of cranberry juice and a cup of sugar.  Assuming I didn’t make a mistake in measuring my cranberry juice, this yielded about a cup of syrup.  I poured half a cup into a bowl and let it cool to 110F, then added the fondant.  There was no dissolving going on, so I put it on a pot of boiling water.  After a few minutes, the part of it that was liquid got above 110F, and I took it off the heat and stirred like crazy.  It was harder than making the fondant in the first place!  But eventually I got almost all of it “dissolved”.  Some little pieces stayed hard, though; I’m guessing those are the little pieces that got the hardest when I was originally making the fondant.  Maybe they shouldn’t be saved.

Glazed Meringues
You can see the puddles of syrup that dripped off...

My ruby syrup mixed with the white fondant to make the perfect color for an Easter egg. I knew I’d end up with pink, but I didn’t realize it would be so pink.  I hope the male speaker in whose honor I’m making these won’t mind.  I dipped the meringues into the fondant, which worked just fine.  Then I realized that I had some cranberry syrup left over, and I dipped the already dipped meringues into the syrup to see if I could liven up the flavor and color.  It mostly dripped off of the shiny surface of the fondant, though.

I think the color and flavor would have come through better if I had used more cranberry juice – I should have used it in the fondant and in the syrup I mixed with the fondant instead of just in the syrup.  But I was so frazzled after going through Plans A through C that I’m just glad I ended up with something edible!  They went over well, but my original plan to have a curd would have balanced the sweetness of the meringue better.

Posted in dry heat

Pan-fried cauliflower

CauliflowerSo we got some cauliflower from the farmshare and I almost never eat the stuff.  I had an amaaaazing cauliflower soup at my friend’s parent’s restaurant on Anna Maria Island one time, and that’s the only memory I have of ever eating cauliflower.  I don’t know how to recreate the soup, nor do I feel like working that hard, so I googled cauliflower recipes and I found that, to my surprise, people seem to prefer dry heat to wet heat.  (I was just working on analogy to broccoli, which probably isn’t the best idea).  Since I like pan-frying, I decided to try that, following 101 Cookbooks.  Well, sort of following it.  I’m using whatever I have on hand rather than what she calls for.  What I have on hand happens to be garlic and leeks from, you guessed it, the farm.  We’ll call it a white dish.  I keep some lemon juice ice cubes around and everyone seems to like lemon with their cauliflower, so I threw in some lemon juice, too.

It turned out pretty good, but I give most of the credit to the lemon juice.  Somehow nothing else seemed that flavorful. But sure, I’ll add cauliflower to the list of vegetables I eat.