Banana Bread

Banana Bread

This is something I started making (really this is only the 2nd time I’ve made it) out of necessity.  Typically we buy bananas every week so I can take to work.  Occasionally I’m just too busy at work and don’t end up eating all the bananas.  When they start to get very ripe or over ripe, they’re not great to eat (the dog would beg to differ).  The first time I did it I didn’t even think about documenting it.  And then today when I wanted to make it again I had to google recipes.  I had started documenting my baking/cooking here so I had one place to go back to for recipes so I figured I should document today’s endeavor.  Banana bread is a lot easier to put together than making regular bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 ripened bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  1.  Combine dry ingrediets (flour, baking soda, salt) in one bowl.
  2.  Cream butter and brown sugar together.  Then add in mashed bananas, vanilla, and eggs.  Combine
  3. Most recipes say to add the wet ingredients slowly to the dry.  (I used a larger bowl for the wet ingredients so I did the opposite and slowly added the dry to the wet).
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F, butter a loaf pan (or can use parchment paper as well – we ran out so I didn’t use it and it has been hard to come by due to COVID-19).
  5. Pour mixture into loaf pan and put in oven for 60-75 minutes (until toothpick inserted comes out clean).
  6. (Optional)  Add in 1/4-1/2 chocolate chips +/- walnuts (we didn’t have any and I don’t really care for it).  Add to mixture after combining above.

IMG_20200530_091008

IMG_20200530_091102
Ripe bananas
IMG_20200530_091217
Mashed bananas
IMG_20200530_091456
Creaming the butter
IMG_20200530_092238
Thoroughly creamed
IMG_20200530_092500
Add in the bananas and mix
IMG_20200530_092720
Slowly adding in the flour
IMG_20200530_093102
Optional: Chocolate chips!!

IMG_20200530_093129

IMG_20200530_093420
Greased loaf pan 
IMG_20200530_093548
Started with an hour, ended up taking 75 minutes
IMG_20200530_105259
Finished product
IMG_20200530_105306
Foil as a spacer (it did sneak under the foil the give it an irregular shape
IMG_20200530_112244
et voilà

IMG_20200530_112347

-StewsCat

Sourdough bread (fresh starter!)

Sourdough bread (fresh starter!)

D found this recipe from the King Arthur flour web site about a no-knead sourdough.  Since I just made a starter again (see this post), I figured this would be a good first try.  I followed this site’s directions relatively closely and will put my slight alteration.

Ingredients

  • 225 g fresh sourdough starter (it wasn’t exactly fresh as I had fed it around 7 am and didn’t make the dough until about 7 pm…most things I read said you should start your recipe about 4 hours after feeding your starter)
  • 395 g luke warm water
  • 598 g bread flour
  • 15 g salt
  1.  I took all the ingredients and mixed them in a large metal bowl (I typically use a metal bowl for my baking…I know a lot of places say you should use wooden or plastic but I haven’t had any issues with rising).  I made it into a cohesive moist dough, covered it with my plate (that fits almost perfectly as a lid) and let it sit for 1 hour.
  2. Next I lifted the dough and then folded it over on itself (I just grab a piece from the edge and fold it to the center and then go around the edge of it to fold on itself).  I covered it again and let it rest another 1 hour.
  3. I repeated step 2 another 2 times (total of 3 hours) and folded it one more time after the last hour wait.  I then covered it and put it in the fridge.
  4. The King Arthur site says you can let it sit in the fridge for as little as 8 hours and up to 48 hours.  Since I started it on one of my work days, I was going to wait until my day off to bake.  I ended up letting it sit in the fridge for about 36 hours.
  5. On a well floured counter, I poured out the dough, formed a rough ball and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  6. I then shaped it into a boule and with seam side up put it in a well greased bowl.  The dough ball didn’t really rise much (which is what it said from the original recipe) but did spread out and relax.  I let it come up to temperature for about 3 hours (again it depends on warmth of your house…2.5 to 3 hours)
  7. About 1 hour before baking I preheated the oven to 500 F.  I put in my dutch over with the lid partially ajar to preheat as well (as this is my baking container).
  8. After 3 hours, I dumped the dough into the dutch oven, floured the top and made 4  cuts on top with a sharp knife.
  9. I replaced the dutch oven cover, put it in the oven and reduced the temperature to 450 F.  I baked it for 45 minutes covered.
  10. After 45 minutes, I removed the cover and allowed it to bake another 10 min (~10-15 min until internal temp is at least 205 F).
IMG_20200513_183056
Starter in the top left
IMG_20200513_184029
Wet dough ball after mixing everything
IMG_20200513_194233
After 1 hour resting
IMG_20200513_204420
Before 2nd folding
IMG_20200513_214757
After 2nd folding and rest
IMG_20200513_214933
After final folding
IMG_20200513_214950
Container that went into the fridge
IMG_20200515_071501
After 36 hours in the fridge
IMG_20200515_071655
Turned out on counter and resting
IMG_20200515_100241
After resting and coming to room temperature for about 2 hours
IMG_20200515_112330
Removed lid after 45 minutes of baking
IMG_20200515_112332
Prior to last 10 minutes of finishing baking without lid
IMG_20200515_113502
Final product
IMG_20200515_113509
Nice blistering on side of bread
IMG_20200515_153508
Rested for 4 hours before cutting
IMG_20200515_153516
Crumb.  Overall was pleased to see the air pocket development (wasn’t sure how it would do with just the starter)

Overall I’m pleased with the outcome of my first attempt at sourdough bread using just starter and no active dry yeast.  I really had no idea how it was going to turn out given my yeast wasn’t super freshly fed.

-StewsCat

Sourdough starter

With COVID-19 going on, a TON of people have decided to take up baking.  I’m glad that I got into it a few years ago so at least I’m already familiar with the process and had started building up supplies prior to the lockdown.  I have heard a lot of people who have started making bread starters because it is difficult/impossible to get active dry yeast at this time (side note: my wife mentioned part of the reason for the shortage is that it is hard for the yeast companies to obtain the packaging for the yeast and normally their “busy season” is int he fall so they weren’t prepared for the high demand).  I had made a starter a few years back and kept it going for a few months but then neglected it and eventually tossed it.  For the last year or two I’ve been meaning to re-start one.  It happened to be unseasonably warmer this week and since I have a little extra time (I’m considered essential so still working but not as much as before) decided to start a new sourdough starter.

Surprisingly you can make a sourdough starter pretty easily and with few ingredients.  All you really need is flour and water.  There are some particulars to each that you have to pay attention to.  For the flour you can actually use different types (as evidenced below).  The water you ideally should be using something that doesn’t have chlorine or chloramine in it as that can retard the growth of the starter (either using filtered water or bottled water).

I decided to try two different types to see which would create a better yeast starter.  I made one out of whole wheat flour and one with AP flour.

And….

Both those failed to produce.

I waited a week and then decided to try once more (what’s that saying “try and try again”).  This time I kept it very simple.

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup water (used the Brita since that water has sat and if there is extra chlorine, hopefully it will have evaporated out).
  • Food safe plastic container
  • I mixed everything up thoroughly and then used cheesecloth to cover (and partially covered with the lid but didn’t seal it). I put this on top of the fridge because it’s supposed to be a little warmer there.

Then I just let it sit for about 24 hours.  Our house is relatively cool so I left it an additional 12 hours.  By now I could see a little bit of bubbles.  I removed 1/2 of the mixture and then added in another 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mixed it thoroughly.

IMG_20200426_145958

I kept repeating the process (waiting 24 hours between feedings).  It took almost 2 weeks (most web sites say you can have it ready in 5-7 days) probably because it is cooler in our house (normally they want it in 80-85 F temps).

IMG_20200427_193135

IMG_20200427_193145
A few bubbles…it’s ALIVE!
IMG_20200429_072552
Got some expansion and more bubbles

IMG_20200429_072618

If left too long a crust can form, just discard it and underneath is fine and toss 1/2 and re-feed

IMG_20200429_072655
After removing crust
IMG_20200515_111508
Healthy starter – notice the bubbles
IMG_20200515_111514
Those bubbles are what you want to see

 

-StewsCat

Flour Tortillas

Flour Tortillas

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I can’t believe I haven’t made a post about this before.  Quite a many years ago I decided to try my hand at making flour tortillas.  I had heard they were more difficult than corn.  It took me a couple of tries before I became more comfortable with it.  I then took a few years off where I didn’t make them so had to re-teach myself.  I figured I should actually document it so I have something to reference.  I made some easy fajita/tacos tonight using these tortillas.  I generally will re-heat the tortilla on an open flame of my oven for ~15 seconds on each side.

00000IMG_00000_BURST20200405182034056_COVER

Ingredients

  • 3 cups AP flour (you can also incorporate a % of wheat flour to make it “healthier”)
  • 1 cup hot water (almost boiling)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/3 c oil (instead of lard)

Most original recipes call for the use of lard.  I have never had lard in the house and read about using oil as a substitute so that’s what I’ve been using (either canola or vegetable oil).  For the pictures below I actually made a smaller batch (2 cups flour, 2/3 c water, etc).

  1.  Mix up the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Add in the oil and incorporate it with the dry mixture.  Heat water til near boiling.  Add water and mix/knead for about 3 minutes.  Exact water may depend on environmental conditions – dough should come together into smooth ball without being too dry.
  2. Cover in a damp towel/cloth for about 20 minutes.
  3. Separate dough ball into individual smaller balls and roll into slightly than larger golf ball size balls
  4. Cover again with damp towel/cloth and let sit for 30-50 minutes.
  5. Take each ball and flatten into disk/hockey puck shape.  Place small amount of flour on each side of puck.  On a well floured counter using a rolling pin to roll out doughball into tortilla shape.  Can roll out into 1/8″-1/16″ thickness depending on preference.  Rolling can be tricky.  I’ve found that I’ll roll it out North to South, then pick it up and turn it 45 degrees and continue to attempt to make it round.  It’s okay if it isn’t fully round.  Still tastes great!
  6. In a hot cast iron pan (or comal if you have one), place tortilla down and let sit for 40-50 seconds (depending on temperature of pan).  Using flat spatula, flip and cook another 30-45 seconds.  Can look for small brown spots to give an indication of doneness.

Continue reading “Flour Tortillas”

NOLA baby!

NOLA baby!

Back in December my wife had a work conference in New Orleans.  She had previously visited for work and had a great time.  I had never been so figured this would be a fun little trip for us.  I flew down a few days after she did and arrived in the late afternoon after making a connecting flight through Salt Lake City.

I caught a cab into the French Quarter to our hotel, Hyatt Centric French Quarter.  After getting squared away in the hotel room, we met up with my wife’s coworker for some drinks and grub

Continue reading “NOLA baby!”