Paris Baguette and Back to bread (whole wheat sandwich bread)

Paris Baguette and Back to bread (whole wheat sandwich bread)

A few weeks ago I ventured out to try some new things after a doctor visit.  I had fasted overnight and before the appointment so I could get some blood pulled.  However that left me hungry after my visit.  I decided to try one of our local coffee roasters that has cold brew coffee on nitro.

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First impression was that it looked like a beer.  It had a nice foamy head and was nice and chilled.  I must say that when taps use nitro, it certainly makes for a much smoother mouth feel of the liquid.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first cold brew coffee on nitro.  I got the coffee at Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters.  It’s a quaint little coffee shop that is no frills.

With my coffee in hand, I headed over to the relatively new Paris Baguette.   This chain recently moved up here to northern California after I guess it grew big in southern California.  This bakery reminds me of a Taiwanese bakery called 85 Degrees.  You walk in and grab a tray and all the bread/pastry products are out on trays or in cubbies.  You pick what you want and then take your tray to the register to pay and order drinks as well.  I ended up getting a buttered croissant, chocolate croissant, and a croissant with an italian sausage in the middle.  They were all delicious.

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A few weekends ago the weather started cooperating with regards to baking.  I also had incentive to make some sandwich bread again.

The weather finally started cooperating again for me to do some baking.  This summer has been incredibly hot in Sacramento.  I saw a graphic from the news that in July, every single day was above average (and we had strings of 100+F days multiple times).  August is supposed to be the hottest time of the year too!  When you are in triple digits, the last thing you feel like doing is turning the oven on.

It has been a long time since I actually made bread that I had to go back and read through some old posts to remind myself of the process.  I followed the following for 50% whole wheat bread.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g whole wheat flour
  • 300 g bread flour
  • 150 g whole milk (had it on hand for a friend’s kid)
  • 300 g warm water
  • 18 g salt
  • 20 g honey
  • 10 g sugar (didn’t have enough sugar so added in some extra sugar)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 g active dry yeast (I purchased the Red Star brand recently to try)

I was feeling a bit lazy so I just combined all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Using a spatula, I mixed everything so that it was all incorporated.

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I then covered it and let it sit for about an hour.  I found that one of my large plates actually fits almost perfectly over the opening of the mixing bowl I most commonly use.  This is nice so I don’t have to waste some cling film (plus I hate dealing with cling film).

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I removed the dough onto my counter after an hour and proceeded to knead the dough using the slap and fold method.  I did this for about 15 minutes until the dough started to come together.

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I then let the dough rise for another 1.5 hours or so.

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I didn’t take pictures but after the dough doubled, I proceeded with 3 stretch and folds with about 30 minutes rest.  After the last one, the dough was shaped into a log and placed into a buttered loaf pan.

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This was the first time I used our new oven to bake some bread.  I elected not to use the convection function for this first time.

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I started the bake at 425 F for the first 10 minutes and then dropped to 375 F for an additional ~25 minutes.  The bake took a lot longer than before but I’m not sure if it was due to the dough or the oven.  The outside of the bread turned out much darker than most of my previous bakes but I went with the internal temperature (200 F) to assess doneness.

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I had a decent crumb and the bread overall came out good.  We used it for sandwiches for work for the week.

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-StewsCat

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Hot dog (hamburger) buns

Hot dog (hamburger) buns

For the 4th of July, we decided to do the ultra-traditional hamburgers and hot dogs.  I decided I’d like to try  my hand at making hot dog buns.  I had previously made some burger buns from a random recipe I found online.  I didn’t realize that you can use the same formula for both hot dog and hamburger buns.  This time I found another recipe on a random blog.  For the most part I followed the recipe that was laid out (since this was my first time making it).  I amended it due to the fact that I don’t have a stand mixer and therefore have to do all my mixing/kneading by hand.  The recipe called for letting the dough rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours so I made up the dough the night before July 4th.

Ingredients:

  • 500g All purpose flour
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp butter (can use butter as well)
  • extra oil to oil the bowl
  • 1 egg for the egg-wash

First I mixed up the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.

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In a separate container, I whisked together the milk, water, and egg to create a yellow liquid.

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I then combined the dry and wet ingredients and dumped it out onto the counter to do the slap and fold method of  kneading.  This was a fairly wet dough so the slap and fold method was probably my only shot at getting the dough kneaded to a proper stage.  After about 5 minutes of kneading, I then started to incorporate the butter in.  I had let cut the 2 Tbsp of butter into smaller pieces and let it come to room temperature.  This was a bit tricky as the butter would push out through the dough as I kneaded.  The butter started to warm up with my hands and the kneading causing the dough to become a bit oily but after about 10 minutes of kneading, the oiliness went away and the dough came together.  The dough ball was placed in a lightly oiled bowl and then refrigerated overnight.

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The morning of the 4th (after about 15-16 hours of rest) the dough had about doubled.

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I dumped this out onto a lightly floured countertop and rolled the dough out into about 16 inches by 7 inches.  I then split this up into 8 pieces (the recipe said to do 6 pieces if you were making hamburger buns).

I took each individual piece and folded it on itself and flattened it out into a rough rectangular shape.  I also made a few into round hamburger bun shapes.  Two of these I placed onto a small cookie sheet and put in the freezer.  You can take these out later and let them rise and then bake.  The remainder I placed onto a large parchment covered sheet pan to rise (around an hour).

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I set the oven to 350 F about 30 minutes prior to the end of the rise (1 hour).  Then I baked the hotdog buns for 25 minutes (the original recipe said 15-20 minutes but I think mine were a little bigger so took longer…also may be due to the difference in ovens).

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The inside turned out perfectly done.

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I grilled up some hot dogs for lunch.

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For dinner, we made some buffalo sliders with some corn.

Once it got dark, we walked over to a nearby park where you can watch a big fireworks display.  It was fairly crowded but we were still able to see fairly well.  The show lasted about 15 minutes.

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-StewsCat

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Marathon Training Week 10

I got back on track with my running in week 10.  I also changed up my training schedule to try to make it better with my new work schedule.  Rather than running Tuesday/Thursday, I switched it up to Monday/Wednesday.  This also allows me to have a rest day before my long run day (Friday).  This week was a drop-back week for my long run.  I again did a mixed effort run where I did the middle 4 miles of the 10 miler at a quicker pace.  Sadly my “quicker” pace these days is actually not all that fast.  I’m not sure if it is due to the high mileage I’ve been putting in causing me to be more fatigued and slower or if it is age-related (diet-related, weight-related, etc).  I definitely feel okay though know that with the increased days and miles, I’m putting a lot more stress on my body than I have before.  I certainly am quite cognizant of how my body is feeling because I have much experience with injuries in the past.  I definitely do NOT want to hurt myself before this marathon like I did with the last one (that was not a fun experience).   Wednesday’s treadmill run happened after I had dinner and surprisingly wasn’t too bad – considering I did it about 30 minutes after finishing my dinner.  Saturday’s 7 miler also was on the treadmill and I did some long incline walks/runs to try to build some hill mileage into my training.  I probably should be doing more hill type stuff but we’ll see what happens.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Monday – 4.5 (3)

Wednesday – 4.1 (6)

Friday – 10.03 (10)

Saturday – 7 (8)

Sunday –  4.25 (5)

Weekly Total – 29.88 miles (32)

We’ve not had any rain for a while so things have dried out a bit and all the previous wet weather has caused a lot of plants to blossom early.  It is quite pretty out although my allergies have been driving me nuts as of late.

 

 

My long run also took me through some interesting neighborhoods along with a small park that I like because they have an actual restroom (yes I do plan many runs around where I can make pit stops).

Other fun things that happened this week included making some bread for a work potluck.  One of my coworkers has some health issues so we were all trying to come up with low-fat recipes to bring.  I figured I could just make some bread since I already had some dough sitting in the fridge just waiting for me.  I had made the dough for sandwiches but decided to switch it up and use it for dinner rolls.

I really find it fascinating how yeast works.  I just love watching how bread rises and gets so big!

For this recipe, I did an egg wash on the dough and baked it for ~23 minutes (internal temp hit around 205F).  The small cast iron was a tester for my wife to make sure it tasted okay.

I got her approval and took it to work and it was a big hit.

This past week we also hit up one of the local Korean BBQ places, Blue House Restaurant.  We had been once not too long after they opened last year.  They have an “All-You-Can-Eat” option.  I noticed they added a lot more cuts of meat to their selection and as they started bringing meat out I realized they changed up how they were serving it.  When we first came, each meat order came as a large plate of meat.  This time they only brought out essentially a one to two person portion.  This is smart because it allows us as patrons to try more types of meats rather than getting full on just one type.  I definitely went to town and had the Kalbi, Bulgogi, octopus, pork bulgogi, shrimp, chicken.  It was all very good and we cooked it up right at the table.  I’m always a fan of Korean BBQ.  The banchan (“side dishes”) were only okay at this place and not as plentiful as it is at other Korean establishments we’ve visited.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we had stopped by a local micro brew, Sactown Union Brewery, for a few beers before dinner.  I had a Nitro Stout that they just released on that very day called Big Fella and then the Carpe Noctem (a coffee oatmeal stout).  At Blue House, we shared an OB (Korean beer) and a bottle of their Pomegranate soju.   The soju was a bit too sweet for our tastes.

Overall a pretty good week for both running and eating.

-StewsCat

Pita Bread

Pita Bread

So I’ve definitely struggled with what I can make to help us get through the week for lunches while at work.  In the past I’ve done tortillas, loaf bread, and sandwich bread rolls.  D suggested I could make pitas.  So I looked up some recipes and in true me fashion tweaked it to create my own version of things.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour

I started by adding the yeast and sugar into the water and letting it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then I proceeded to make a poolish with the water/yeast/sugar and whole wheat flour.  I mixed this up thoroughly and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.

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You can see that it is a pretty wet mixture. To the poolish I added the olive oil and the AP flour.  This dough is less water % than many of my breads so came together fairly easily and I hand kneaded for about 5-8 minutes.  I formed the dough into a ball and coated it with olive oil and let it rest for about 1.5 hours.

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Before rising

After the dough doubled in size, I punched down the dough and deflated it.  The dough was then divided into 8 balls.

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Each ball was then placed on a floured surface and a rolling-pin was used to roll out the dough into about a 6-8″ disc shape.  I had read that there are two different ways to cook pitas.  The oven method creates a great “puff” but the downside is that you don’t get the nice brown spots from the stove top method.  I elected to try both to see which one I felt was better.  I didn’t get the nice separation of the pita as I expected with the stove top method.  I used a cast iron pan for stovetop.  The oven I had at 450 F and a baking sheet (pre-heated).

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Rolled out dough

For the pita in the oven, I palmed the dough disc and flipped it onto the baking sheet.  These I cooked for about 3 minutes (sometimes a little more).

The stove top pita stayed flat but I cooked them for about 45 seconds on the first side and 1-2 minutes on the second side.

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Here’s a side-by-side comparison of stove top vs oven-baked.

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Stove top on the left, oven on the right

Overall they came out decent, though a little dry.  Not too bad and something that may go into the rotation for lunches.

-StewsCat

 

New (to me) pizza dough recipe

New (to me) pizza dough recipe

I tried a new pizza dough recipe this past weekend – mostly due to my lack of planning.  I oftentimes start putting the dough together the night before to allow the yeast to essentially knead the dough with a long fermentation.  However I forgot to do this so woke up on Sunday realizing I needed a quicker recipe.  I have done my usual same-day bread recipe for pizza dough but was wondering if there was another option.  After some google searching, I settled on a recipe that sounded fairly simple yet good.  This recipe is adapted from Roberta’s (a well-known pizzeria in Brooklyn, NY).  I didn’t have any 00 flour so just used AP flour for the entire recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 306 g AP flour
  • 8 g fine sea salt
  • 2 g active dry yeast
  • 4 g olive oil
  • 200 g warm tap water

I combined the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  In my measuring cup, I combined the warm water, olive oil and dry yeast.  I allowed the yeast to bloom for a few minutes before mixing it with the flour/salt mixture.  I kneaded/mixed the dough in the bowl for 3 minutes.

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I then covered the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 15 minutes.

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I proceeded to knead the dough again for 3 minutes within the bowl.  I was a bit surprised how much the dough had formed up into a cohesive ball.

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Earlier in the day I had made some pasta so had a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter that was floured.

So I just took the dough and placed it on the parchment paper, divided the dough in half, and formed two balls.

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I let the dough rest under a towel (I used my water bottle sprayer to mist the top to maintain moisture) for about 3 hours.   The dough continued to rise.

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After 3 hours of rest

I preheated my oven to 545F.  I took one ball of dough and on a well-floured countertop flattened the dough out into a pizza shape.  I then topped it with marinara, mozzarella, mushrooms, zucchini.

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About 1-2 minutes before the pizza was done, I removed it and topped it with some prosciutto.

Et voilà

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The above recipe makes 2 good-sized pizzas.  I did like this recipe because the dough seemed sturdier than ones I’ve made in the past.  It was easy to create the pizza shape and didn’t rip/tear like some of the ones I’ve created.  Overall I thought the taste was decent.

-StewsCat