Monday, August 3, 2015

Buddies Power Up

Part of the fun of becoming a Bread Baking Babe is jumping head-first into Kitchen of the Month.  That's what I did in July, selecting Peter Reinhart's Power Bread for my challenge.  

There were four Buddies who were brave enough to play along, not letting summer heat or family vacations interfere with baking this powerful bread.  Here they are, in order of submission.

Harini, of Ladles and Whisks, added Power Bread to her push-ups and exercise routine, getting her day off to a healthy start.

Kelly, of A Messy Kitchen, condensed the three-day process down to one day to try and avoid Seattle's heat wave.  Did it work?  Check her blog to find out.

Carola, of Sweet and That's It, one of our faithful Buddies, came back from summer vacation to make some healthy sandwich rolls for her family.  I'm ready to reach out and grab one!

Rita also had to fit her Power Bread around a summer vacation, but she pulled it off just in time.  Stop by Rita's blog to see her lovely bread. 

Thanks to all the Buddies who joined us for the July challenge.  By all accounts, this is one delicious bread, even if it can take several days to prepare.  Please check out all the blogs of the bakers who played along, and, of course, try the bread yourself.

And, finally, keep your eye out for the August challenge.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bread Baking Day #76: Flatbreads

July's Bread Baking Day was hosted by its creator, Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte aka kochtopf.  Her theme for these hot summer months was flatbreads.  

Not wanting to make the traditional forms, pizza or foccacia, I searched for other possibilities, finding two candidates worth trying.

The first recipe was for a Sourdough Whole Wheat Flatbread.  Sourdough starter and whole wheat flour are combined and allowed to rest for about an hour.  Then the dough is divided into eight portions, rolled out, then cooked in a hot skillet.  To be honest, while delicious, these were more like flour tortillas.  

So, I happened upon another type of flatbread, also cooked in a skillet, but in the oven rather than on top of the stove.  This recipe is from Mark Bittman, and is definitely not a tortilla.  For the basic technique, you mix whole wheat flour and water and let it sit for at least an hour.  Then, you heat a skillet in a hot oven, adding olive oil, sliced onions, and chopped fresh rosemary.  When the skillet is hot, you pour in the flour mixture, and baked for 30-40 minutes.  This produces a very tasty flatbread with roasted onions.  

 Of the two recipes, the second was my favorite, and I will make it again, fine-tuning the baking time and temperature, and experimenting with other herbs.

Keep an eye on Zorra's website for the flatbread roundup, coming soon.

Sourdough Flatbread

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Add the starter, flour, salt, baking soda, and olive oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix using the paddle attachment until ingredients are combined. Switch to the dough hook and on low speed, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough ball forms. Knead for about 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area to rise/rest for one hour.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll out as thinly as possible on a floured surface with a rolling pin.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook flatbreads, one at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side, until cooked with brown spots.
Makes 8 flatbreads


Easy Whole Grain Flatbread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

  1. Put the flour into a bowl; add salt; then slowly add 1 1/2 cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Cover with a towel, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of thin pancake batter.
  2. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 425°F. Put the oil in a 12-inch rimmed pizza pan or skillet (along with the onion and rosemary if you’re using them) and put in the heated oven. Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot, but not smoking; the oil is ready when you just start to smell it. Carefully remove the pan (give the onions a stir); then pour in the batter, and return the skillet to the oven. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flatbread is well browned, firm, and crisp around the edges. (It will release easily from the pan when it’s done.) Let it rest for a couple minutes before cutting it into wedges or squares.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bread Baking Babes July Kitchen: Power Bread

As a brand-new Babe, I was excited to begin this wonderful adventure.  Before too long,  I was asked to jump right into the fire and become the July Kitchen of the Month.  That's always been an intimidating proposition.  How does one choose a challenging bread for this special group of bakers?

I perused my bread baking cookbook collection.  I've baked through Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, so I turned to his Whole Grain Breads.  I narrowed my choice to three breads, and, in the end, chose Power Bread because 1.  it sounded delicious; 2. most of the ingredients were already at hand because of previous bread challenges; and 3. it takes three days to make!  Now, there's a challenge.

Trust me, though.  It is an easy bread to make and very delicious.  One of my favorites now, and I've made it twice already.

For the first run-through, I varied slightly from the original recipe, using wheat germ instead of oat bran because that's what I had.  I also used golden raisins, buttermilk, and brown sugar.  Then, I shaped the bread into a loaf, thinking I would use it for toast and sandwiches.  Which I did.  

And, it was so good, that I decided to make it again.

The second time around, I used the wheat germ once again, and also substituted almond milk and coconut sugar.  Could I tell the difference?  Nope.  Clearly, playing with ingredients still results in a really tasty bread.  For shape, I turned the dough into 16 rolls.  These also made good sandwiches, and I could share them with friends as well.  

So, I encourage anyone who wants to join us to do so.  Power Bread is well worth the 3-day effort.

Would you like to be a Bread Baking Buddy?  

Make the Power Bread 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.

The Bread Baking Babes are:

Power bread (adapted from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads")

71 g (or 2.5 oz or 6.5 Tbsp) raisins
14 g (or 0.5 oz or 1.5 Tbsp) flaxseeds
170 g (or 6 oz or 3/4 cup) water
Mix all pre-soaker ingredients together in a small bowl, cover, and let sit at room temp for 8-24 hours.
All of pre-soaker
170 g (or 6 oz or 1 1/3 cups) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
14 g (or 0.5 oz or 2 Tbsp) oat bran
4 g (or 0.14 oz or 1/2 tsp) salt
Puree the pre-soaker in a blender (or use a hand-held blender), and mix with the remaining soaker ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir for about a minute, until everything is thoroughly combined and it forms a ball. Cover the bowl and leave at room temp for 12-24 hours (or, refrigerate it for up to 3 days, but let sit at room temp for 2 hours before mixing the final dough). Go ahead and make the biga now.
170 g (or 6 oz or 1 1/3 cups) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
1 g (or 0.03 oz or 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
142 g (or 5 oz or 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp) milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy milk, or rice milk, at room temp
Mix all of the biga ingredients together in a large bowl. Wet your hands, and knead for 2 min. Then let it rest for 5 min and knead again for 1 min. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 8 hours to 3 days. Two hours before you're ready to mix the final dough, let the biga sit at room temp for 2 hours.
Final dough
All of soaker (at room temp)
All of biga (at room temp)
56.5 g (or 2 oz or 6 Tbsp) sunflower seeds, ground into a flour
56.5 g (or 2 oz or 7 Tbsp) whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
28.5 g (or 1 oz or 3 Tbsp) sesame seeds, whole
4 g (or 0.14 oz or 1/2 tsp) salt
7 g (or 0.25 oz or 2.25 tsp) instant yeast
21 g (or 0.75 oz or 1.5 Tbsp) honey or agave nectar or sugar or brown sugar
Cut the soaker and the biga into 12 pieces each. Grind the sunflower seeds into flour in a blender, food processor, or spice grinder (gently pulse or it will turn into sunflower seed butter, not flour). Mix ground seeds with remaining ingredients, including the soaker and biga pieces. Knead the mixture with wet hands for 2 min, or until everything is thoroughly mixed. Dough should be slightly sticky; if it's very tacky, add more flour; if it's very dry and not sticky, add more water. 
If using a stand mixer, put the pre-dough pieces and all of the other ingredients except the extra flour into the mixer with the paddle attachment or dough hook.  Mix on slow speed for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl, for 2-3 minutes, until the pre-doughs become cohesive and combined.  Add more flour or water as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
Dust your counter (or whatever you're using) with flour, and roll the dough around in it. Knead it for 3-4 min. Let the dough rest for 5 min, and then knead for another minute. At this point your dough should pass the windowpane test. If not, knead more until it can pass the test. Then form your dough into a ball, place it into a lightly oiled bowl, roll it around in the oil, and let it sit covered at room temp for 45-60 min (until it's about 1.5 times its original size).
Lightly flour your counter again, and form your dough into either a loaf shape or rolls.  Put the loaf-shaped dough into a lightly oiled 8.5" x 4" loaf pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temp for 45-60 min (until it's 1.5 times its original size).  Or, if making rolls, place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
Preheat the oven and a steam pan (an empty metal pan on the bottom oven rack) to 425. Put bread in the oven, pour 1 cup hot water into steam pan, and reduce oven temp to 350. Bake for 20 min. Then remove steam pan, rotate bread 180 degrees, and bake for another 20-30 min, or until loaf or rolls are brown, have an internal temp of at least 195, and have a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely (at least 1 hour) before serving.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bread Baking Day #75: Favorite Weekend Breakfast Breads

This month's Bread Baking Day challenge is hosted by Immer wieder sonntags....  The theme is one of my favorites:  breakfast breads.   Immediately, this calls to mind two things -- sourdough and scones.  (No, it's not a yeast bread this time, but it is quick and really delicious.)   

My choice was Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Scones with Cinnamon Chips.  I made this recipe twice, fine-tuning it the second time around.   Adding toasted, chopped pecans would also be another tasty variation.  

For the first go-round, I made the basic recipe; the second time, I added the cinnamon chips, because I felt it needed something extra.  I also cut the dough into smaller squares, rather than eight large triangles.  One word of caution, the dough is really dry, so it might require a bit more starter or more than 2 tablespoons milk until the proper consistency is reached.

At any rate, the scones are well worth the effort.  You can even mix all the dry ingredients the night before to save a few minutes in the morning.

Hope you all give it a try and enjoy the delicious results.

Thanks, also, to Zorra for originating this wonderful event.

Sourdough Pumpkin Spice Scones with Cinnamon Chips

2 1/2 cups flour, either all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves (to taste)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cinnamon chips (or more, if desired)
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup 100% hydration sourdough starter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk (might need a bit extra)

Stir the dry ingredients together; cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the cinnamon chips.

Combine the wet ingredients.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture; mix until just combined.  Add the milk to achieve a soft biscuit-like dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 9-inch circle.  Cut into either 8 wedges, or smaller squares (about 9 pieces).  You can brush the tops with milk if you wish.

Place on a parchment-lined baking pan, about 1/2-inch apart. Place in the freezer while you heat the oven to 400° F.  

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.