Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bread Baking Day #85: Bread or buns with dried fruit

It seems forever that I baked for Bread Baking Day.  I missed #84 because I was still in transition from moving and hadn't yet found my baking equipment or my spices and key ingredients.

Luckily, Simone, of Aus der Lameng, gave everyone two months to complete the challenge, which was baking a bread containing dried fruit.  In that time, I was able to find everything I needed and managed to bake two (!) types of bread.

The first bread was a loaf filled with currants and dried cranberries. 

It turned out beautifully and made excellent toast.  It was also very simple because I used my bread machine to mix and knead the dough.  It is definitely a bread that will become a staple.  You can find the recipe here:   Golden Egg Bread with Dried Fruit

The second recipe makes a dozen braided rolls, also filled with currants and dried cranberries. 

These require a bit more work, to roll out the dough and make braids, but they are also delicious and very spectacular-looking.  One advantage is that the dough can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Once again, I will direct you to the recipe link:  Milk and Honey Braided Buns with Dried Fruit and Pearl Sugar.

This was a very enjoyable challenge.  I always look forward to each one, thanks to Zorra (the original Bread Baking Day hostess) and the Hostess of the Month.   In the next few days, stop by Simone's blog to see all the wonderful breads with dried fruit that she will share.

Now, it's back to unpacking.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Babes see Red

Best laid plans, as they say.

Last week, mid-work project, my laptop died.  I immediately rushed it over to my computer repair lady, who, after 24 hours, declared it unusable.  The next morning I went to a local store, purchased a new laptop, delivered it to my repair lady, then waited (impatiently) until all files could be transferred and I could resume work and life.

Meanwhile, with enforced free time, I thought of all the things I could do, like bake bread and sew. 

But, no. 

Everything I needed was -- wait for it -- on the computer. 

Such is life nowadays that every important file or access point is on the computer, and when it dies, life is interrupted.

For this month's bread, I knew I needed beets, which I actually had, so I went ahead and put them in the oven to roast and soften.  While doing that, a friend and I disappeared into the garage to move boxes and search for those still-elusive items.  Two-plus hours later, I remembered the beets, definitely roasted and soft.  After cooling, they went into the fridge.

I made a distress call to the group, and, thankfully, I once again had access (via my phone) to the recipe.  Tuesday was the big day, both for bread baking and computer access (yay).

Did I pay attention to the vitals of the beets?  No.  I peeled them, dropped them into the blender, added the milk, and pureed away.  (I should mention that my blender is vintage 1971, so it's beginning to be cranky on some of its settings.)

Using the alternate recipe, I made the dough and set it out to rise.  (Another mention here:  the dog is afraid of the furnace, so the inside house temperature is around 65 degrees.  Not conducive to proofing bread in this lifetime.)  While the bread was trying to rise, I ran over to the computer repair lady's house to pick up the computer (huzzah!).  It only took another 24 hours to find all the appropriate software, load it, and return to some semblance of normalcy. Sadly, all my browser bookmarks disappeared, so the task of remembering and recreating them will fill my weeks to come.

By now, the bread dough was risen.  I shaped three braided loaves, and when they were ready, popped them into the oven.  It is a finely-tuned dance -- waiting for the oven to come to temperature (20 min.) without over-proofing the dough.

The end result was near-perfect.  A lovely pinkish-red bread and a non-beet flavor.  One loaf went home with my friend, and one will go to work with me today.  Always good to share.

This bread is definitely Buddy-worthy, so check for details on Cathy's website, Bread Experience

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pain Bouillie: Babes Bake Rye Porridge Bread for November

Seems like it's been forever since I wrote a post or baked bread. Since the beginning of August I have sold my mother's house, moved her furniture, helped her with several ER visits and multiple doctor visits, bought my own house, moved my belongings, and continued to work two jobs.  After over six weeks, I still haven't found my dishes.  The movers successfully buried them in the midst of a mountain of heavy boxes, whose contents I don't need at the moment.  It took about four weeks to locate baking gear, six to find some glassware, and six to find my comforter, just in time for cool weather.

I did bake the coconut rolls featured in September, using the ancient oven in my rental place.  I probably won't post them, but I will share a photo.  They were very tasty and worth baking.

I missed October:  bagels.  But, I will fit them in before the end of the year.

In my new home, I inherited a large Wolf gas range.  Very pleased about that.  Although I'm not a fan of gas ovens, this one is performing beyond expectations.  For baking purposes, I will have to keep an eye on the temperature, since I believe it's running a little hot.  So, while I successfully baked the Pain Bouillie, and it looks nearly perfect, after 65 minutes in the oven, it still wasn't baked through inside.  Boo hiss.  I even covered the top with foil to keep it from turning too black.  

I would bake it again, but I need to replenish my supply of cracked rye.  With all the microbreweries in the area, it shouldn't be too difficult.

Back to the bread.  It is Kelly's first selection as a Babe.  It really is a bread worth baking -- just watch that oven temperature and baking time.  (Also, use an instant-read thermometer to check the bread. This one time I didn't.  I thought the 'thump' sounded ok, but I was sure wrong.)

So, if you want to be a Buddy this month, head over to Kelly's website to get the recipe, read her helpful tips, and see how delicious this bread looks.  Send your story and photos to her by November 30 to be included in the roundup.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Babes Head to New Orleans for Beignets

Well, this has been such a crazy summer:  doctors, hospitals, mortgage companies, moving companies, storage companies.  Whew!  And, it's not finished yet.  But, that's another story. 


In the next town over from mine, there's a little restaurant on Main Street.  My friends and I have dined there several times.  The restaurant is Rabalais', a Southern Cajun Bistro, and they specialize in New Orleans cuisine.  What do you think is also on the menu?  Why beignets, of course.  Smothered in powdered sugar.  We always finish our meal with a plate of beignets to share.

So, it was great fun this month to have Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms) challenge the Babes to bake their very own beignets.  Using a recipe from Martha Stewart, we had the choice of making plain beignets and/or ones stuffed with something delicious.  Given the state of my month, I decided to forego stuffing, but it's certainly something to do in the future.

What I did do was divide the dough in half and cook each half on successive days, and what I discovered was the dough that spent the night in the fridge had better puffiness in the fryer. 

So, here's my hardware, filled with peanut oil:

(This is a vintage Corning Ware electric skillet, that I swiped from my mother.  It's historic because I used it when I was in high school to make doughnuts once when my mother was away for the day.  I was a sneaky kid.  I knew she would never give me permission for fear of burning down the house.  But I showed her.  When she returned, there was a plate of doughnuts, a spotless kitchen, and her angelic kid.)

And here are the beignets:

No need to fear deep frying.  Patience is the key.  

And chopsticks.  I always use my 'cooking' chopsticks for frying.  They are longer than usual and the perfect utensil in combination with a slotted spoon.

During these hot summer days, deep frying is a great alternative to firing up the oven.

So, head over to Elle's kitchen to find the recipe and see how creative the other Babes were.  Share your best beignets with her by August 29 to be included in the roundup.

Now I need to brush the 'evidence' off my shirt.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Buddies Bake Bialys

Well, everyone must be taking a break for the summer, or else they don't want to fire up a hot oven.   

As the Kitchen of the Month for July, I challenged the Babes and Buddies to try their hand at bialys, a cousin of the bagel.

I had one taker:  Shirley, from Flourish.en Test Kitchen.  She was the only brave soul.  And, her bialys exploded just like mine!  Success!

Please stop by and read Shirley's account of her experience and see her gorgeous photos.

When the weather cools down, I hope you, dear reader, will also give bialys a try.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Babes Bake Bialys

As Kitchen of the Month for July, I challenged all the Babes to make bialys, a bagel-cousin from Bialystok, Poland.  This is only a one-step process – baking only – and instead of a hole, the bialy has a depression that can be filled with onions, cheese, or whatever you choose.
For an informative discussion on bialys, check out this link from King Arthur Flour:

Just for you, I auditioned two different recipes.  One uses a starter/poolish, 
the other uses a preferment.  I’ve also provided a few links to other recipes in case you want to try a different approach.  Some recipes don’t have any pre-baking step.

I did encounter a puzzling problem.   For my first batch of bialys, I put two baking sheets in the same oven.  The bialys on one sheet came out perfectly; however, the ones on the second sheet sort of exploded (or popped).   
They were all treated the same way beforehand, so it’s a mystery to me.  For the second batch, baked in two separate ovens, they all exploded.  ????   In doing some Internet research, I discovered this has happened to others, but there is no consensus on why.

Another thing:  the first recipe produces bialys that are chewy with a more bread-like texture, 
while the second recipe creates a bialy that is chewy with neat holes.  
 Both are delicious.  (And make great sandwiches.)
So, for the July challenge, choose your recipe, be creative if you like, and enjoy this easier-to-make cousin of the bagel.  (Other links featuring history and other recipes are listed at the end.)

Recipe #1 from Elizabeth Faulkner


  • Prep Time: 30 mins + 3 hours resting time
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Serving Size: 16 bialys


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 onion minced, per bialy
  • 17 ounces bread flour
  • 9 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ounces starter or poolish*
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 ounces warm water
  • 14 1/2 ounces cold water


*Make the starter or poolish the night before with 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast. Mix together and leave out at room temperature overnight.
  1. Combine 2 ounces of warm water with the yeast to dissolve. Combine all dough ingredients together except the salt.
  2. When dough comes together, knead for 6 minutes.
  3. Add salt and knead for another 2 minutes. Set aside to rise for 2 hours.
  4. Roll into a log on a flour dusted surface. Scale out dough at 3 ounces a ball (about 16 bialys total) 
  5. Press each out to shape without overworking and leaving 1" lip around edge.
  6. Proof dough balls (allow to rise again) in warm spot covered with a clean dish towel for an hour or until soft and airy.
  7. Sauté onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until light caramel in color but at higher heat. Make center depression in each one and fill with the filling.
  8. Sprinkle bialys lightly with poppy seeds and salt.
  9. Bake at 450 degree oven, preferably on a pizza stone, for about 12-15 minutes.

Recipe #2 adapted from Hot Bread Kitchen



Pâte Fermentée
120 g lukewarm water
2/3 teaspoon active dry yeast
180 g bread flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Mix all ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.   Refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours. 
320 g lukewarm water
464 g bread flour
150 g pâte fermentée (risen and deflated and cut into walnut-sized pieces)
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
(Prepare a filling while the dough rises)
Combine water and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix for 2 minutes.  Let rest for 20 minutes.
Add the pâte fermentée, yeast, and salt and mix on low speed until everything is completely combined.  Increase the speed to medium/medium-high, adjusting water and/or flour as necessary to get a smooth dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Place in a lightly greased and floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 90 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 12 equal pieces (about 80g each) and form each piece into a small bun.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.  Beginning with the first ball, flatten each one into an approximately 4” disk.
Place disks on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1” apart.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let proof until they are very soft and hold an indentation when touched, about 60 to 90 minutes.
Heat a baking stone in a 500° oven for at least 30 minutes.
Uncover the bialys and create a depression in the center of each disk.  Place filling in the depression.
Slide the parchment onto the baking stone, and bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool for a few minutes.
Serve immediately.  Leftovers can be stored in an airtight plastic bag for up to 2 days.
Note #1:  I did not use all the pâte fermentée for this recipe.  Possibly you can use it to make a second batch.  Perhaps one of the Babes did just that.  For my part, my neglected starter grew fuzzy bits on top and had to be discarded.  Next time, I will put the extra in the freezer if I don't get back to it.

Note #2:  there was a heated discussion about salt.  While both recipes use kosher salt, Hot Bread Kitchen specifies Diamond Crystal brand. There is a difference in the processing of each type of salt, so they each have a slightly different texture, which can effect the saltiness of the final product.   Usually, the baker makes an adjustment to the recipe depending on which brand of salt is used.  Well, I didn't, and, frankly, I didn't notice any negative effects to the final product.

Other links of interest:

(The inspiration for this month’s challenge comes from The Hot Bread Kitchen: Artisanal Baking from Around the World.)
Would you like to be a Bread Baking Buddy?  

Make some bialys and share your experience and photos by emailing me a link to your blog or, if you don't have a blog, email me a photo and a brief description.  Send to jahunt22 [at] gmail [dot] com by July 29.  Once you have posted, I will send you a Buddy Badge for baking along with us.  Expect a roundup of all of the BBBuddies posts a few days after the close of submissions.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Babes bake with bran

Southern California is home to a grocery warehouse store that is an excellent source for special items, Smart and Final.    This business originated in the 1870s as a restaurant supply company, and through a series of mergers, acquisitions, and expansions became the store SoCal knows today.  My grandfather drove restaurant delivery trucks during the 1920s and 30s, and did have a working relationship with Smart and Final.  And, just so you know, the company takes its name from two early owners -- Mr. Smart and Mr. Final.  No fooling.  You can read about the history here.  

The point of this is that when I needed a source of wheat bran for this month's challenge, I headed to my local Smart and Final, and discovered some in the bin section.  I only had to buy the amount I needed, which was great.  

Lien had the home kitchen this month, and she asked the Babes to bake a rustic, nut-filled loaf of wheat bran bread.  There was a real variety of finished loaves, using different nuts and dried fruits and different shapes.  It's delicious bread, probably most useful in a loaf shape rather than the boules I made.   

As I'm writing this, I realized that I only managed to photograph one picture of my bread!  It's a good thing I made it awhile back, because life has been super busy lately.  Assisting and relocating a 94 year old parent is challenging at best.  Both of us are still adjusting to a new routine.  I've been told this process takes about 90 days.  Hope we both survive!

I do have some of the wheat bran left over, and I'd really like to try playing with the recipe, making it into loaves and adding some dates or cranberries.

Check out Lien's website for the recipe and instructions on how to be a Buddy.  Not many days remaining!