Monday, March 23, 2020

Novel Food #38

Because I essentially read books for a living, finding time for pleasure reading is challenging.  I’m lucky to get in 15 minutes a day.  In between projects, I have a bit more time, and light books are best, so I don’t have to think too hard!

The latest book I chose was The Second-Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith.  It’s the second in the Paul Stuart Series, the first being My Italian Bulldozer.  Needing time to work on his current book on the philosophy of food, and thinking that a stay in a sleepy French village would be perfect, Paul is being constantly pulled into little dramas and adventures. After a bought of food poisoning, he finds himself drawn into the challenge of turning the restaurant into the Second-Best restaurant in France.   One new dish that goes on the menu is Griotte Cherry Clafoutis.  Griotte cherries are simply canned/jarred sour morello cherries, available at Trader Joe’s.  

It doesn’t take much time or effort to create this delicious dessert, and having the jar of cherries in the pantry means it can be put together and baked in no time at all.  I searched for different versions among my cookbooks, and they were all very similar, so I ended up using a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Simona is hosting this 38th event.  Take a look at the other entries at Novel Food, where you will find a wonderful selection of books and recipes.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Potato, Thyme and Gouda Pavé

This month, our Kitchen of the Month, was Kelly of A Messy Kitchen.   We all baked Potato, Thyme and Goat Cheese Pavé.  

In theory.  

The Babes can be a contrary bunch.  Personally, I can’t stand goat cheese.  Oh, I have tried to like it.  I’ve eaten the continuum from soft to hard; tried it in nearly every country in Europe that I have visited and in the US, but it’s no use.  It reminds me of a less than wonderful odor from my childhood. (I’ll gladly eat blue cheese or feta any day.)  Instead, I substituted regular gouda, which was just perfect.

Also, I wasn’t quite sure how to shape it, and, apparently, I missed the part about a criss-cross cut.  I did a Google search for shaping – using the term “pain pave.”  There were several different slashing techniques, and I approximated the shape as close as possible.

The dough itself was easy to make, and the bread was tasty.  

In these days of self-isolation, giving this bread a try is worth it, assuming you can find flour and yeast.  (Empty shelves here, so bread baking with yeast is on hold until stores are resupplied.)

Take a look at what the other Babes baked, and be sure to visit Kelly’sblog for the recipe.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Tale of Many Loaves

At first, I wasn’t planning on participating for this bake, since I didn’t have any sourdough starter at hand.  (Being the infamous starter killer that I am, my previous starter met its demise last August from the dreaded pink slime.)  However, I concluded that I had the time to start again, and I wanted to prove my critics wrong, so a new starter was born.  It was a success, and is still viable even as I write this.

Once the starter was ready, I studied the recipe for Pain Tordu, did a bit of research, then plunged in.  My first thought was that a 10 hour proving time must have been a mistake!  Surely, it would be overproofed!  None of the recipes I found suggested a 10-hour time frame. 

So, Pain Tordu #1 had about a 2-hour proof.  It baked up nicely, although the crumb/texture was tiny.

Since I still had plenty of time before the reveal day, I decided to experiment. 
By the way, this dough is just lovely to handle, and is worth using no matter how it is shaped.

Pain Tordu #2 and Pain Tordu #3 were next.  

For #2, I did an overnight rise in the refrigerator; for #3, the overnight rise was in my new proofing room.  

(I discovered that my main/guest bathroom gets nice and toasty when the door is closed.  My starter lives in there, and it has become my go-to spot for rising bread.  The room is rarely used, so it’s a safe place.)

To continue, #2 kept its shape, and had an improved texture. 

 #3, however, had spread a lot (confinement is suggested), but did have a more open, porous crumb.  Perhaps that was purpose of a 10-hour proof.

As a last experiment, I purchased a baguette pan, and Pain Tordu #4 was created.  Instead of the twist, I put the 4 baguette-like loaves in the new pan, then placed it in the proving room for 10 hours.  The loaves still spread, and they were definitely overproofed because they collapsed when I moved them.  I ended up with four flattish loaves that had great texture, but were still disappointing.

There must be some compromise rising time between 2 and 10 hours.  It’s a great dough with good flavor, but 10 hours just results in a disappointing loaf.

For the dough alone, I would certainly suggest giving this month’s bread a try.  The Kitchen of the Month is Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms.  If you decide to join us, please send Elle your photos and link by the end of the month.