Showing posts with label yeast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yeast. Show all posts

Friday, March 7, 2014

CTB 2014 - The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Sorry I've been AWOL for the past week or so. I've been crazy busy with my new job and haven't had the energy to do any more computer work once I get home. I'm so excited to share that I just passed my three month anniversary at my new job and I am officially a regular, full-time employee!  I have all those regular employee perks, like paid time off, snow hours and holidays.  Though I don't think I'll be using my time off anytime soon.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Apple-Cinnamon Dulce de Leche Sweet Rolls

The holiday season is sneaking up on us so quickly! I think it's time to transition to regular everyday recipes and into holiday ones! I'm ready to make snowman cookies, peppermint-chocolate everything and maybe a savory recipe or two. The next two weeks I'm dedicating to Thanksgiving recipes and today we start with breakfast!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Sandwich Bread (Part 2)

I have been eating whole wheat bread since I was a little Wilde one.  Our freezer was always stocked with loaves and loaves of bread.  Sandwiches were always a part of my daily school lunches. 


These days I rarely make myself a sandwich for lunch, but I do like a slice of toasted wheat bread, topped with a thin layer of peanut butter. 


The recipe that I went with for my whole wheat experiment came out just like the bread from my childhood days.  With a hint of sweetness and a whole lot of whole grains, this bread may tempt me to head to the deli and make a sandwich.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Sandwich Bread (Part 1)

I really enjoy making bread dough.  I love kneading the dough and the final texture of it.  It's so much fun to play with!  Then there's the science of the yeast and the rising dough.  Making bread is just like a little science experiment in your kitchen.  Just ask any biologist, yeast is very important to science!

The only problem with making bread, I have to find someone to eat it!  I just don't eat that much bread these days.  Since I moved to New Jersey (over a year ago), I have bought one loaf of bread.  Since I got my braces put on (six months ago), I haven't bought a single loaf.  I decided it was too much work to eat sandwiches with the hardware on my teeth.

When it finally came time to the Why Bother? sandwich bread challenge, I decided I had to try something a little different.  You can buy so many different varieties of bread at the local grocery store, farmers market, local bakery or Panera.  I even live equidistant to all four of those places!  I had to make a bread that I would want to eat.


After looking through my five bread-making cookbooks, I settled on two very different loaves.  Today I present to you a pesto swirl bread!  Swirls of freshly made pesto in between airy layers of white bread.  While it came out delicious, I wouldn't suggest using it as a sandwich bread.  The swirls of pesto made the swirls of the bread pop out when the bread was sliced.  Each piece of bread was like a little slinky.


The slinky effect was the exact reason I decided to make a cheese sandwich out of my bread.  The idea came to me in the mid afternoon and I was thinking about it all through my long train ride home.  Two slices of pesto bread, filled with fresh, homemade mozzarella cheese, grilled and melty.  There was no way it couldn't be amazing.  And I was right.

Come back on Sunday for part two of sandwich bread!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Hot Dog & Hamburger Buns

As the majority of the northern hemisphere begins to shake of the last winter chill, we start to think of one thing – being outside. Summer evokes thoughts of times spent in my parents backyard. The backyard would serve many a purpose… Dog-training arena, where I would try to get our golden retriever to play fetch. Operative word being try, she was more of a watcher… Campground, where in the hot nights of the summer my brother and I would camp out in tents, with the dog watching guard… Slip’n’slide/water-soaked wasteland, where we would set up the slip’n’slide at the top of the hill and hurl ourselves to the bottom. We would inevitably wind up sliding off the end and becoming covered in grass…


Most importantly, our backyard was Grill Town. While the grill was never packed away for the winter, it saw its prime use during the days of warmth and sunshine. Grilled chicken, shish kabobs, hot dogs and hamburgers. The grill would see lobster tails and freshly caught fish, Polish sausage and corn on the cob.

Let it be known here and now, I was never in charge of the grill. In fact, to this day I have not cooked anything on a real outdoor grill. The reason? I scared myself half to death while trying to light the grill in the summer of 1993. The simple lesson I learned, do not let the grill fill up with propane before clicking the ignition switch. KA-BOOM! I’d like to eradicate this fear, but currently I don’t have a backyard. I think it’s safer for all of us.


While I might not have a grill, or a place to grill, or the courage to buy/ignite a grill, I do have a grill pan. I have also had it long enough that it has a nice seasoned coat on it. I know it’s not the same, but it’s all this apartment-dwelling, grill-exploding woman has! Luckily this Why Bother? Challenge isn’t about grilling. The month of May is dedicated to all things hot dog!

We start the month with hot dog and hamburger buns! In two weeks we’ll perfect our ketchup and mustard-making skills. We’ll finish out the month by making pickles and you’ll be ready for all of your summer BBQs!


Why are we bothering to make our own hot dog buns? It’s because the store-bought variety consist of 99.3% air. Seriously. Go to your local grocery store and grab a bag of buns. Now squeeze them and squish them down as hard as you can. You’re left with a ball of bread that is about the size of a golf ball. Now carefully put the buns back on the shelf and walk away, quickly.

Air-filled buns are generally flavor-free. These buns should only see the plate when there are fifteen of them piled high and you’re in a competition to eat the most hot dogs in two minutes. Personally, if I’m going to eat it, I want it to have a little flavor! These buns that I made last weekend totally delivered.


These aren’t your average weakling hot dog/hamburger bun. They are sturdy, have great texture and have flavor for days. They were best the day they were baked, but sprung back to life with a few minutes on the grill. These guys are simple white bread bun and I have major plans to make a whole-wheat version before the summer is up.

The lesson from this challenge – Make your own buns, save the store-bought ones for hosting an eating contest.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cherry-coconut bagels

Since it's Saturday, I'll keep this one short!  I want you to go outside and do something fun.  Or stay inside and do something fun, if it's cold/rainy/snowing/gross outside today.

The second installment of bagels involves cherries and coconut!  You might be wondering why I chose to make sweet bagels, rather than something savory or cheesey.  There is a simple reason, I never get sweet bagels! 


Let me say first, that I work for an awesome company.  Each and every Thursday morning we come into work and there is a big basket of bagels and muffins waiting for us.  People mill about in the lunchroom, toasting bagels, pouring juice and brewing coffee.  We chat about our lives and say hello to the people in other departments.  The bagels are slathered in cream cheese, butter or jam and people are jealous of that one person that got the cinnamon-raisin bagel.

I don't know who puts together the delivery bag of bagels for us, but they refuse to give us more than one or two cinnamon-raisin bagel!  It's not that there isn't a plethora of other delicious bagels, but sometimes I'd like the choice!  Savory or sweet?  Last weekend I decided to fulfill my desire for sweet!


If you are more of a savory bagel kind of person it's simple to adapt the base recipe to suit your needs!  Simply omit the dried fruits and stir in some cheese, hot peppers, bacon, whatever you want!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Bagels

Monday morning I walked into work with three bags full of fresh, homemade bagels.  I sent around an e-mail to my coworkers and they came by for breakfast.  People limiting themselves to a half bagel soon came back for the second half.  Some showed up later in the day for a second bagel, wanting to try each of the flavors that I brought in.  I don't know whether it was the draw of a homemade treat or that never-dying grad student mentality.



For those of you that don't understand the "grad student mentality," let me explain.  Grad students live on a small income and love free stuff.  Any free stuff.  By the time you hear that there is free food in the building, it's already gone.  Grad students are like little piranhas.  After five years of perfecting this skill, it never goes away.  Former grad students will always find the best free stuff, make friends with them!


Of course I'd like to think that it was the bagels that brought people back for seconds.  This past weekend I spent half a day prepping, kneading, rising, boiling and baking two batches of bagels.  I decided upon two different recipes, one requiring oil and one a simple dough.  Both recipes required quite a bit of hands on time and a lot of flour! 



Today I'm sharing the recipe for my blueberry-oatmeal bagels with you (tomorrow we'll have some cherry-coconut beauties).  These were the favorite of my two weekend endeavours.  Beginning with a traditional bagel recipe, I swapped out some of the bread flour with oat flour.  Once the dough came together I poured in a pouch of dried blueberries, they turned the dough a beautiful color. 


After a short rise period, the bagels were boiled for a short time in slightly sugared water.  A nice egg-wash and sprinkling of rolled oats and the bagels went into the oven.  Within a few minutes, the apartment was filled with the sweet smells of yeasty bread.  The first batch of bagels wasn't ready until around noon, but that didn't stop me from having one for lunch!


Now the big question, was all the time invested worth the final product?  No doubt about it, yes.  Store-bought bagels, even some deli-bought bagels, tend to be too tough on the outside and too huge for a normal person.  Making your own bagels at home gives you the option to change the flavor, size and texture of the bagels.  And really, nothing beats a house that smells like freshly baked bread.  It's a bonus.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Bother??? 2012 - Soft Pretzels

Shopping malls.  Sporting arenas.  A street corner in New York City.  An odd collection of places, but they are some of the only places that you can find a soft pretzel.  Sweet and salty, yeasty and warm, soft pretzels are one of the food items that you would rarely think to make on your own.  These huge pretzels are among the only reasons that I like going to sporting events.  Especially baseball games.  I have many memories of sharing a box of soft preztel bites with my mom and these memories also have to do with sporting events too.


Back in the days of the early nineties, the Buffalo Bills were a football team to be reckoned with.  In those years, we had Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Steve Tasker, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed, all under the direction of Marv Levy.  You'll remember that I am indifferent to football these days, which means that these guys were a big deal, because I remember their names to this day.  The dream team went to the super bowl four times in four years.  They also had one devoted fan, my dad.


He would hunker down every Sunday in front of the big screen (or the radio) and watch his team fight their way to victory.  In the years of the dream team, wins outnumbered losses and it was a happy time.  Unfortunately, the dream eventually faded and we were left with a team that was recovering from the retirement of many of its stars.  The win-loss record suffered and so did their fans.


In the years of awakening, those sad years after 1995, the Buffalo fans held out hope that their team could rebuild and return to their old glory.  Those of you who follow football know this, Buffalo has yet to return to those dream win-loss records.  Sundays of those post-1995 years were spent escaping the house, running from the game and hiding from the darkness it brought over the house.  Football meant sadness and depression (and yelling and the TV). 


To escape the football fog, my mom and I would head out Sunday afternoons.  We would hit the mall and shop to our hearts content.  Trying on clothes, looking at sparkly jewelry, but mostly just enjoying some time together.  At the end of each shopping trip, we would head to the pretzel stand and get a pack of pretzel bites.  I'd get the nacho cheese and mom would get the cheddar.  These buttery little bites of bread would be the prefect end to our escape day. 


The decision to make soft pretzels at this time of the year was motivated by the upcoming Super Bowl.  Of the two recipes I tried out, I preferred the buttery mall pretzels.  The boiled pretzels just didn't turn out like I wanted them.  My verdict on this challenge?  It was totally worth it to make these guys.  They didn't take nearly as long as I thought they would and were completely delicious.  I think that I can skip the mall pretzels now, because these were just as good. 

I was unable to replicate the stadium pretzel.  This just means that 1. I'll have to keep trying and 2. I'll have to keep going to sporting events until I get it right!  Let's go BUFFALO!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Povitica

On a recent Friday at work, we had ourselves a party.  It was a party that is probably right up your alley.  It was called Bake-toberfest and it was for charity.


For Bake-toberfest, the kitchen-saavy members of my company took to their ovens (and a couple to their cars and the grocery store) and produced some seriously delicious treats.  I wish I had pictures of the tables.  There were pies, cookies, cakes, bars, cupcakes, tarts and even a jell-o dish, lining over fifteen feet of table.  The bakers had really outdone themselves.

You might be asking what we did with all of these treats?  Were we baking and sharing just to pig out and drink all of the milk in the lunchroom fridge?  No, it was all for charity.  For a mere $5, you were allowed to come in the room and enjoy the buffet of sugar.  For a scant $10, you could not only enjoy the treats at work, but you could bring as much home and you could carry.  It was a brilliant idea, because once someone glanced over the table of treats, there was no way that $10 wasn't making its way into the till.

The Daring Baker's October 2011 challenge was Pivitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered-Whisk.  Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!  I decided that it was the perfect item to bring in for Bake-toberfest.  It was totally different from anything else on the table and quickly disappeared.  Even a coworker who tried to stay away from the buffet, couldn't help herself from trying a piece.  When I asked her why, she responded "We have this at home, it's a treat we eat during the holidays!"  My coworker is originally from Romania, and was very happy with this recipe.  She suggests you eat the end pieces, because they are the best!

In the end, Bake-toberfest was able to raise almost $800!  Quite the feat for a table full of goodies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring Bakers : FRESH, FLUFFY, FRENCH!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!



I don't know why these little beauties weren't on my Culinary Goals list.  I love croissants!  While in France last year I ate them every morning for breakfast with my chocolate chaud!  Perhaps I realized that if I knew how to make them, or was successful at making them, that I would be in trouble. 



The problem being, if twelve light and fluffy croissants come out of the oven and there are only two people around to eat them, how many croissants does each person eat?  The inevitable answer is, too many!  While the croissants are cooking in the oven, the house begins to smell warm and delicious.  A sweet, yeasty fragrance starts to tempt you into the kitchen.  You peek into the oven and see those crispy, golden layers and can't wait until the timer rings.


This is exactly how it played out the morning that I made these little darlings.  I woke up at 6:00 to give the dough the final few turns and went back to bed for another two hours.  Around 8:00, I got out of bed to cut and shape the croissants.  They spent a little time rising and warming up, starting to fill the kitchen with their sweet smell.  After a quick egg wash and short time in the oven I was ready to scarf down a few of these French treats.  I held myself back and only ate two, then took the rest to work the next day to avoid any temptation!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Light Wheat Bread

I know, it's Monday, beginning of the work week.  It is also the end of my first weekend as a non-student!  And let me tell you, I enjoyed every non-lab filled minute of it.  I slept in, I baked, I made dinner.  It was fabulous.  Let us compare a student weekend to my first non-student weekend.

Student weekend - Wake up at 6:30 and bake something quick, like zucchini bread.
 This weekend - Wake up at 7:45 and read my book for a half hour (what can I say, I'm an early riser)


Student weekend - Shower quickly and throw on some jeans and a t-shirt.
This weekend - Put off taking a shower and watch some HGTV with boyfriend.

Student weekend - Eat some cereal and a banana
This weekend - Eat a banana while making boyfriend and I some French toast with my homemade bread.


Student weekend - Walk to the lab, enjoy twenty minutes of sunshine (although it is most likely through a cloudy sky).
This weekend - Walk to D Do's and get coffee for boyfriend.

Student weekend - Spend the next several hours working in my hood, staring sadly out the window.
This weekend - Run some errands with boyfriend, spend lots of time outside and get a little suntan.

Ahhh, I'm liking weekends.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Buffalo Cheesey Bread

Things have been so crazy here in Connecticut!  I'm so sad that I won't be able to head home to Buffalo at all this summer.  Major changes are happening (stay tuned) and I'm going to be busy here on the coast for the next few months.  This is good and sad at the same time.


The best time of the year to go to Buffalo is the summertime!  Fall always comes to town with rain and cloudy skies.  Winter barges in with layer upon layer of snow that doesn't completely disappear until March.  Spring slowly melts away and you find yourself in June.  The sun finally welcomes you in the morning and the nights are warm and starry.

Summertime also brings with it some of my favorite Western New York events.  You must head out to the Taste of Buffalo, but be aware, don't go with a large group.  There are so many people at the TOB that it's hard to make your way from one end of Main street to the other.  The food makes the trip totally worth it! 


I'm also a huge fan of Canalfest.  Held in the Tonawandas, it celebrates the Erie canal!  Or, what's left of it, I guess.  Whatever it celebrates, I try to plan my trips home around this event.  It all starts with a huge craft fair weekend, where you can buy everything from coasters to sheds.  There's a Miss Canalfest competition (which I totally wanted to be in when I was little, too bad I wasn't a resident...) and there is food galore!  Ribbon fries with vinegar, funnel cakes with powdered sugar and sausage with peppers and onions.  I always weigh a good five pounds more by the end of the day.

I also am missing my family this summer.  Boat rides on the Niagara river with my parents.  Long walks by the creek with Zoe, my happy, fluffy, red, golden retriever puppy.  Discussing fruit trees and computers with my brother (granted, that computer talk is usually one sided, not my side).  Soon I'll have the time to come home, just not in the next few months.


To cheer myself up and remind myself of home, I made some bread.  It's packed to the top with Buffalo flavor, the only thing that would have made it even more amazing was if I had some blue cheese in the house.  Next time!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Casatiello

I’m a big fan of the two-in-one. As a kid I had a massive collection of skorts. You know, skirts with shorts sewn into them? Actually I have a ton of them still, but I wear them when I teach Bodystep classes… Skorts are awesome.



I know we’re all big fans of the printer/scanner/copier! I mean, what did we do before we had them? Walk to several different machines to do our printing, scanning and copying? Crazy talk. That’s like having multiple remote controls for all of your TV attachments, silly.

Now who has a cell phone that is just a phone? Even my not-so-fancy Palm Centro (it’s blue!) is a phone, computer and lets me play solitaire. Love the multi-tasker. Someday I’ll have a fancy phone that lets me start my car from another state, maybe I’ll have to get a fancy car first. One step at a time!


The bread that I made this weekend from the Bread Bakers Apprentice is just that, a multi-tasker. It’s also a time saver! It’s bread, cheese and meat, all in one! No need to make a sandwich, just slice a piece off and you’ve got it made!

Friday, April 29, 2011

French Baguettes

I want to be one of those people who knows everything about something totally useless. Like knowing all the vice presidents of the United States, in order. Or maybe being able to name all the fish living in the Gulf of Mexico. Or I could know how to count to ten in fifty different languages. Wait, I like that last one, maybe I’ll be one of those people. So far I can count to ten in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian & German), I’ve got some learning to do. If you speak other languages leave me your one through ten in the comments! I’d be forever grateful.



I’m sure you know people who are bastions of useless information. I’m sure that you have an immense amount of information in your head about one topic or another. Boyfriend knows lots about string theory, he could go on for hours about it. Why is this strange? He’s a businessman, not a physicist. My brother could go on and on about fruit trees and bushes, he’s an IT professional. I could retell the entire series of Gilmore Girls for you, right down to my favorite quotes.


In working toward the goal of knowing too much about something, I’m about halfway through my Bread Bakers Apprentice challenge. Today I present you with French bread! I put off making this bread for a while because I thought it was tricky. The dough itself is so soft and the instructions are so long I kept flipping past it in the cookbook. Rather than put it off anymore I decided to dive right in and I was not disappointed.


I wouldn’t recommend taking on French bread as your first yeasted bread. It takes a little understanding of yeast and you need to have a feel for dough. So, if you have been putting off French bread, don’t wait any longer. And don’t leave it under the broiler for ten minutes, unless you like smoke.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rosemary Foccacia

Are you one of those people that likes to sing along to the radio? Are you driving along the road, blasting some “Life is a Highway,” and singing at the top of your lungs? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an automobile vocal superstar. People driving by me either think I’m a crazy person, or that I’m having a very animated conversation with someone on my Bluetooth. (hint hint people, I don’t have a Bluetooth, I’m a crazy person)



Boyfriend also likes to sing along to the radio, although he is more of a creative soul. He will not be constrained by lyrics or rhymes. You know all the words to California Gurls? So does boyfriend, but sorry Katy Perry, those are boring lyrics. Boyfriends songs are so much better, because they are about delicious sandwiches.


Seriously, no joke. Boyfriends songs are all on the same topic – Sandwiches, and how delicious they are. Cee-Lo Green wants to forget someone? That’s fine, boyfriend wants a ham sandwich. U2 thinks it’s a beautiful day? Great, boyfriend is going to spend that beautiful day making a pastrami on rye. Even Elvis gets in on the sandwich goodness in his blue suede shoes. I think it’s a whole new genre of music – sandwich.


With the seriousness of boyfriends sandwich serenading, you would think that his main food group consisted of something between two pieces of bread. You would be wrong. Boyfriends main food group consists of foods sold at Dunkin’ Donuts. Extra-large double doubles, vanilla sprinkle donuts, Big’n’Toasty sandwiches. Oh wait! That last one was a sandwich! I was wrong, he loves sandwiches!


Anyways, this all has a point! Monday I wooed you with a tortellini soup and I teased you with glimpses of foccacia. Today I make good on my promise of bread! Some things take forever and are totally not worth the wait. Standing in line for Space Mountain, only to go on a roller coaster in the dark, lame-o. Anticipating the movie release of your favorite book, just to discover they totally ruined the plotline (I’m looking at you Bourne Identity!). Spending hours on a recipe and being disappointed in the outcome? Not this recipe! This foccacia was amazing! Airy, herby, delicious. Go make this, but be warned that it will be a full day before you have bread.

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