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.

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 dry heat

Kale chips

Kale Chips
Green and purple baked kale.

A long time ago I randomly found a recipe for kale chips and I thought it was a cool idea.  I get kale from my farm share, so I decided to try it.  I took three leaves and ripped them into little pieces and put olive oil and fleur de sel (schmancy salt) on them.  I added some parmesan cheese after they were cooked.  I was looking at this recipe, which suggests 15 minutes at 375°F.  I put the kale in when my oven had gotten to 300°F and checked on it at 10 minutes, knowing that my oven is a little overzealous.  I still thought it was overdone!  Maybe I should have used more oil.

Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with the kale chips, although maybe if I had gotten them out earlier they would have been tastier.  They just didn’t have a good flavor, except for the big stems.  They tasted really good but weren’t quite cooked enough to be easy to eat.  So either the bad taste was from being burnt, and the recipe is salvageable, or chips are not how I like my kale.

Posted in dry heat, wet heat

Aglio, olio e peperoncino

This is one Italian pasta sauce that I was completely unfamiliar with.  Which is ridiculous.  But I happen to have aglio (garlic) and peperoncino (peppers) from the farm.  So I gave it a whirl.

I got contradictory advice from an Italian website and an Italian person.  The website said you just use the aglio e peperoncino to flavor the oil, and then you take them out.  The person said to leave them in.  My loyalty lies with real people. So the trick to this sauce is not to burn the garlic.  I left most of it in big pieces so I could take it out if I didn’t like it, because I’m not one of those people who are obsessed with garlic.  But I got the big pieces to cook just right – soft, slightly golden, but not brown – and I actually liked them.  The problem, rather, was with the peperoncini.  I used three little red ones that had been dried, and three was too many.  But I washed my hands very carefully immediately after handling them to try to avoid what happened last time I cut a bunch of peppers – apparently the oils stayed on my hands long enough that washing them didn’t help, and they were stinging for the next 24 hours no matter what I tried.  Alton Brown says washing your hands with baking soda works, too.  What I really need to do is just get some gloves.  The website said fresh peppers are better and I think I would have appreciated the extra flavor.

I think I used too much oil – I tried to cover the bottom of my cast iron pan, which I think is 12 inches, and my little single serving of pasta (I go with 80g per person, a tip from the same Italian person) was swimming in it. I used extra virgin olive oil, although the website said it couldn’t take the heat.  I found it fine in terms of the heat (as my Italian consultant said “Funziona lo stessoooo” it works the saaaame), but perhaps it isn’t necessary to use the expensive stuff?  I don’t know, since it’s such a simple sauce, it seems like extra virgin would be the way to go.  The pasta came out a little tough, and I think it had to do with all the sizzling that went on when I put the pasta into the hot pan with the oil.  So next time: try the peppers first, don’t overdo the oil, and add the sauce to the pasta rather than the other way around.  I’ll report back when I perfect it.

Posted in dry heat

Farmshare saute

Farmshare sauteI picked up this week’s vegetables from our farmshare today, and I was feeling guilty about not having eaten much of last week’s yet, so I decided to make a veggie dinner tonight.  I knew I wanted to use the bok choy I got, but I didn’t know what to do with it.  The internet wasn’t too helpful, because most of the recipes I found required ingredients I don’t have and effort I didn’t want to expend.  So I decided to just saute the darn things.  We have carrots for days, and they are aromatics, so in they go too.  I’ve been wanting to try kohlrabi, so after googling it to see that yes, you can saute it, and no, it doesn’t have some bizarre taste that would throw off the dish, I added that too.  I was going to use olive oil but I thought the flavor from the butter might be nice, so I went with that, and then ended up adding some olive oil because I was afraid of the butter burning.

I tried a little bit of kohlrabi before cooking it, and it tasted like broccoli plus some kind of flavor I hadn’t had before.  Not bad, but not my favorite, for sure.  But it was delicious cooked! Overall the dish was a lot better than it should have been considering the amount of thought that went into it.  And now I know what kohlrabi tastes like.

Incidentally, the farm also taught me that I like ripe tomatillos.  I haven’t brought any home to cook with, but I did take a bite out of one there at the farm to see what it tasted like, and when they are yellow, they are delicious.  I would eat them like apples!  I always thought they were some weird vegetable that was only good in small amounts cooked into other things or something, so I had never used them, but now I’ll be looking out for them at the store.  Unfortunately at the farm most of them aren’t ripe.