Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some Things I Have Been Making Lately

I have been quite busy lately; mostly with baking. When my sister-in-law, Sherri brought me all those cookbooks, mostly on breads, I sort of parked myself in one of them, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: by Peter Reinhart. I have been so enchanted with the recipes and all the instruction, explanation, theory, chemistry, all the why's and wherefores of bread making. I wrote about this a bit in my blogs of May 1st, and May 2nd, and sporadically since then. 

Caraway Deli Onion Rye
I started out making a "seed starter", meaning I mixed flour and water and let the wild yeasts that live in everything around us just come calling and ferment the starter with no help from commercial yeast. Once the starter was ready after 4 days, I proceeded to make the "barm" which is just a step further, making the starter usable for many of the recipes in the book. The first bread I tried after making the barm was a Caraway Deli Onion Rye. This bread was a fantastic success, doing everything it was supposed to do and the flavors were most amazing. I felt this was an auspicious start, so I proceeded to plan what else to make. One kind of bread I like is the really dense 100% rye. Rye does have some gluten in it, but not as much as wheat, so making anything completely from rye with no help from any wheat flour makes it a far more dense bread. Some groceries carry this kind of bread and I was buying it locally here for a while. 

Once I had finished with the starter, the barm and that first rye bread, and learning the barm could be frozen, I divided up the remaining barm and froze it to have ready at a day's notice and just took a break from the mess all over the kitchen for a few days. I then proceeded to read about more of the rye breads, as I had just bought a pound of rye berries. I decided on making the 100% Sourdough Rye. I got one of the frozen barm starters out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight, then divided that up, using one half to make the rye starter for that bread, and mixing more regular flour and water with the remainder to keep the barm going while I decided what else to make with it. 

100% Sourdough Rye: yesterday, loaves formed; today after 5 hours; loaves after baking
I will say, I am not having quite the "quick" response times as the book indicates when it comes to the rye. I mixed up the rye flour starter, and the book said it should take about 4 hours to double in size. I had the starter out the entire day long and it never really rose at all. It sort of relaxed and settled in the container but that was it. Finally late that night I put it in the fridge regardless, along with the refreshed barm. I mixed up the bread recipe yesterday, which indicated another 4 or so hours and the dough should have doubled or possibly gone to 1 1/2 times its size  - NOT - Just wasn't happening. It grew a little. 

100% Sourdough Rye
After 6 hours I just formed the loaves and gave it another night refrigerated. At 6:00 AM this morning I got it out to come to room temperature and grow prior to baking; in a perfect world, 4 hours to double in size. That didn't happen either. Oh well. I left it out today for 5 hours and then baked just as indicated, using a very hot oven to start, with a pan of water for steam, opening the oven door after 30 seconds to spray the walls of the oven with more water, then after another 30 seconds, and after another 30 seconds. Then lowering the temperature, the loaves baked just as indicated, rising a bit, but remaining very heavy and dense. I expected heavy and dense, but it seemed the book indicated more growth than took place. Regardless, it is delicious.

Beautiful Challah loaves
While watching the 100% Sourdough Rye not doing anything all day yesterday, I decided to try making Challah. I have been making my Mom's (and Grandma's) bread recipe for more than 20 years. It is quite similar, in that it is a rich bread, using a fair amount of sugar, butter and eggs. Though I might have done things differently (as used to my Mom's bread as I am), but I followed the instructions for the Challah in the book to the letter; the dough came together just as stated. After kneading it stretched beautifully to create the "windowpane effect", meaning the dough stretched to a thin membrane without snapping. It grew just as stated, I formed one loaf into a braid and one in a loaf pan. They baked so beautifully I was in awe. They were the prettiest, lightest, most perfect loaves. I was in heaven. And, it tasted fantastic too. My husband said he could live on that bread just fine!

Today I made a batch of dough for pizza. I have been making my pizza dough from the same recipe for just ever. The Bread Baker's Apprentice has you making the dough up using ice water and then forming into individual balls and refrigerating for 1 to 3 days before using. Tomorrow, I am planning to make pizzas. My husband has a way of making his pizza that is certainly any Italian's nightmare. Tomorrow, he's going to have to put up with my idea of what a pizza should be, because with this dough I want to do my best to create a proper pizza. In a couple of days, with more of the dough, he can do his own thing.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.