Friday, January 14, 2011

Potato and Canadian Bacon Slow Cooker Chowder

I had such high hopes for this recipe (partly from my mother's comment of "This is so good I'd make it for company") I started writing this blog before I even tasted the soup.

This is easy to make and very satisfying on a 25 degree day with snow blowing everywhere. It's really thick and comforting. And of course you must eat this with bread.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crusty Hard Dinner Rolls

Crusty Hard Dinner Rolls. This title could be construed two ways: crusty and hard like break your teeth off crusty and hard, or crusty and hard as in it's is useful for mopping soup out of bowl. Fortunately for us, the latter definition describes these rolls, which have a great crust (although it actually isn't that hard). I've made this recipe two times, and its becoming one of my favorites for a few reasons:

  1. It's easy. Water, flour, yeast, salt. Mix 'em together and let 'em do their thing.
  2. You can bake the rolls on your schedule. It takes me three days to make them, but there's minimal effort required and you aren't constantly timing them.
  3. They're forgiving and still come out looking beautiful. Sure, you can take the time to measure each piece of dough when you divide it to make the rolls so all or uniform, but if you're a little rushed you can always eyeball the amount. Also, the slash and egg glaze you add right before baking result in a nicely browned crust that makes for a wow factor at the table. These rolls really look like they came from a bakery.
  4. They taste good. Since the recipe calls for a starter and an extended stay in the fridge, the rolls develop a nice flavor. It's  not as complex as a sourdough, but not flavorless, either.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lessons in Baking and Flaxseed Sandwich Loaf

Holiday time = baking time. Not necessarily cookies and cakes—I consider my time off during the holidays a great time to stock pile the freezer with homemade bread. I baked four loaves in three days, and a I gleamed a bit of knowledge I would like to share:

No-knead oatmeal bread: Be sure to set the time when you put the bread in the oven. Or else you’ll have to guess and you’ll have a very golden brown, crusty loaf of bread. (I’m sure at least it will be good for toast, but it went in the freezer right away).

White sandwich bread recipe that makes 2 loaves: Do be careful to NOT let the second loaf pan slip, and crash sideways into the first loaf pan which is already in the oven. The mishandled loaf was actually fine, but in my haste I placed it too close to the other loaf, and the two baked together. After they baked, I had to pull them apart to get them out of the pan, which results in two far from perfect loaves. However ,they will be delicious despite their cosmetic flaws.

Flaxseed loaf: Easy and simple recipe that makes great toast. I avoided the problems faced with the two previous loaves by a) setting the timer and b) being very careful when I put said loaf in the oven.

This recipe comes from The Bread Bible. The only thing I wasn’t completely satisfied with was the shape of the finished loaf. The error is all mine since I need to practice shaping bread (I’m getting a lot better) and I think I let it rise too high. At the end of the day, it is a pretty sturdy bread that you can slice thin for sandwiches and toast.

Again, I used my kitchen scale to measure the ingredients rather than measuring them with cups.

Flaxseed Loaf from The Bread Bible
13 oz. all-purpose flour
5 oz. whole wheat flour
2.5 oz. pumpernickel flour
2 oz. flaxseed, coarsley ground
1 ¼ tsp. instant yeast
2 Tbsp. honey
14.6 oz. water
2 tsp. salt

Finally a reason to try out that pumpernickel flour!
 In a bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, and yeast. Form a well and pour in the honey. Mix on low speed with a dough hook while gradually adding the water. Mix until all the dry ingredients are moist and have come together to form a rough dough (takes about 1 minute). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

The autolyse.

Sprinkle the salt on the dough and then knead it for 7 minutes on medium speed.

Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for about one hour, or until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a loaf.

I need to work on getting the dough as long as the pan-this loaf is just a bit too short.

Place the loaf into a greased loaf pan and allow it to rise until it is 1 inch above the rim of the pan (about one hour).

Bake the loaf until golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Once baked, turn the bread out onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Happy Belated New Year!