Italian Bread

Italian Bread

I realize that I haven’t posted in quite a while.  Life has just been going on.  I haven’t been all that inspired to create a post.  This weekend I decided to get back into the baking game.  Perusing through The Fresh Loaf, I came upon this recipe.  Rather than create 2 large loaves, I cut the recipe in half.  I also recently purchased some non-fat dry milk to test out since it is easier to keep than fresh milk.  Since there are only 2 of us eating the bread, I also elected to divide what I did make into 2 smaller boules.

Ingredients:

Preferment

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup bread flour (or AP flour) – I used bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Dough

  • Preferment
  • 2.5 cups bread flour (or AP flour) – I used 1 cup bread and 1.5 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup dry (non-fat) milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp (1.5 tsp) sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp (1.5 tsp) salt
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 Tbsp (1.5 tsp) olive oil
  • 1 cup water

I made the preferment the night before my combining all the ingredients listed into a bowl and covering it and leaving it at room temperature.

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The next day I mixed all the ingredients of the above Dough together into a large mixing bowl.  I dumped this onto my counter and proceeded to knead it.  I don’t know if it was due to the recent rains we’ve had making the house more humid but this dough was way too sticky.

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I ended up adding in about an additional 1/4 cup of flour to make the dough more easily handle-able and knead-able.  After kneading for around 12-14 minutes I placed the formed dough into an oiled bowl.

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I let this sit covered at room temperature for about 2 hours to allow it to double in size.

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After doubling I did a stretch and fold (within the bowl) to get some air out and then let it rest an additional 30 minutes.

I then dumped the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop surface and divided it in half.  These were each formed into a ball shape and covered and let to rest an additional 20 minutes.

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Following the rest, I formed each one into a boule, creating a tight seal on the bottom of the dough.  One of these boules I placed into a bowl with a lightly floured cloth and put in the fridge since I was only going to bake one at a time (couldn’t fit them both in my oven).  The other one I also formed into a boule and put in a floured cloth bowl at room temperature for 1 hour.

I pre-heated the oven to 425 with a dutch oven (with the lid slightly ajar…I had read about dutch ovens cracking in the oven if they were empty and covered).

Once the dough had doubled (or close to it), I placed it on parchment paper and created an “X” over the surface and placed this in the dutch oven covered.  I did spray the bread with water just before covering it.  I baked this at 10 minutes and then removed the lid.

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I then baked it an additional 20 minutes.  It had a nice crust.

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Midway through baking the above boule I removed the other one from the fridge to let it come to temperature.  I waited until I had a partial spring back of the dough when you pressed it with your finger.  I put this boule on parchment paper and created some cuts on top and then placed this directly on a baking steel (instead of a baking stone).  I also sprayed this with water and baked for ~28 minutes.  This one was a little over-baked.

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The taste and crumb came out great for both of the boules.  I was happy with this first-time Italian bread experiment.  Will definitely make again in the future.

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-StewsCat

Chocolate chip cookies!!

Chocolate chip cookies!!

Ever since I started baking, I focused moreso on bread and didn’t really do much dessert type baking.  I wanted to make some chocolate chip cookies for work so looked up some recipes online.  I found a few and then picked one.  I am not exactly sure where I got it from now (oops!).  I also wanted to try making puffier cookies vs the really thin flat ones.  In the end I think they turned out pretty good.  It’s a really easy recipe too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup room temperature butter (preferably pull it out in the morning and make cookies later that evening)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (or whatever chips you like…peanut butter, butterscotch, etc)
  1.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  2.  Cream the butter with the two types of sugar
  3.  Beat eggs and vanilla into the butter/sugar mixture
  4. Mix dry ingredients with butter/sugar mix.
  5. Add chocolate chips and incorporate

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Parker House rolls (my variation)

Parker House rolls (my variation)

I learned about the famous Parker House rolls sometime ago while watching one of the many food shows that I use to waste my time.  This morning since I was up at 4 AM due to jet lag, I decided to try my hand at them (also because I didn’t think we had anything in the house for breakfast except for eggs and I figured that some bread would go well with eggs).

I ended up loosely following a recipe from King Arthur Flour, but made some changes based on what I had in my pantry.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (I used a mixture of bread and AP)
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk (I used rice drink as that is all we have in the house)
  • 1 large egg (mine was more of a medium sized egg)
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter

The overall recipe was fairly easy.  Mix all of the above ingredients save for the last 3 Tbsp of melted butter – that was for later.  I did slightly warm up the rice drink with the egg whisked in to get it closer to room temperature.  Initially (maybe due to lack  of sleep), I only used 2 cups of flour and couldn’t figure out why the dough was so wet and seemed to be more consistent with a cake mixture.  I eventually realized my mistake and added the extra cup of flour and it still came together okay though was a very wet dough (I suspect from the all the butter).

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Forgot to add the 3rd cup of flour so it was a mushy mess.
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Much better with the 3rd cup of flour

I popped the dough into a lightly greased bowl and placed it in my oven’s proof setting for 80 minutes (originally it was set at 90 minutes but I took it out a little early).  The dough rose quite nicely.

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The King Arthur recipe calls to shape the dough into the orginial recipe shape  (as seen here).  I decided to do my own thing.

I spread the dough out into a roughly 8″ x 12″ rectangle.  I took some of the melted butter and generously brushed it over the entire dough rectangle.

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I then divided the dough into 16 pieces.  Each piece was then individually rolled into more or less a ball like shape and placed in some cast iron pans.

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I then let it rise for abour 40 minutes (the recipe says to let them puff up and not double at about 45-60 minutes).

In a 350  F pre-heated oven I popped both the cast iron pans into the center of the oven.  The original recipe called to bake for 20-25 minutes until brown but mine ended up taking closer to 30 minutes (maybe like 29 minutes).  I then brushed the top of the bread with the remaining melted butter.

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Overall I was impressed with how they came out.  The inside dough structure was soft and pillowy and there was a bit of crunch from the outside of the bread.  This is definitely something I can do again in the future.

-StewsCat

 

Bread boules!!

Bread boules!!

A few weeks ago I decided to make some bread for my lunch (I’d bring the bread with some deli meat and sliced cheese – very European I know).  I decided to just make two boules and bring one for a co-worker who has asked for me to bring some bread for her previously (little did I know that she’d be out sick).  I went back and found an old recipe and tweaked it slightly.

Ingredients:

Preferment:

  • 350 g bread flour
  • 364 g water
  • 3 g yeast

Remaining ingredients

  • 350 g bread flour
  • 266 g water
  • 14 g salt

I mixed up the preferment and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  I then added that to the remaining ingredients above.  I mixed these up thoroughly and then let it sit for the water to absorb before I kneaded it.

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I then proceeded to knead it for approximately 15 minutes until it was relatively smooth and I could do the “window” test – not perfectly but close enough.  I then set it in a bowl, covered it and used the proof setting on the oven to allow it to rise (double in size).

I pulled the dough out, did the knead and fold method a few times with 30 minutes in between before dividing the dough into 2.

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Whole wheat burger buns

We forgot to buy some bread for the week for lunches and such so I decided I’d give my hand at making a burger bun to use for sandwiches.  I perused a few different recipes online and cobbled together my own version as below.

Ingredients:

  • Warm milk – 1.5 cups
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Melted butter – 4 Tbsp
  • Sugar – 2 Tbsp
  • Active Dry Yeast – 1 Tbsp
  • Salt – 1.5 tsp
  • Whole wheat flour – 3 cups
  • All-purpose flour – 1.5 cups
  1.  Mix warm milk, egg, melted butter, sugar, and yeast in a bowl and incorporate  until frothy.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  2.  In a separate bowl, mix the 2 types of flours and the salt.
  3.  Add wet to dry and mix.
  4.  Dump mixture onto countertop and knead for 5-7 minutes.
  5.  Form into ball and place in oiled bowl and allow to rise (double in size) – ~45 min to 2 hours.
  6.  Punch down, pour onto countertop and separate into 8-10 pieces.
  7.  Let rest for 10 minutes before forming into balls.
  8.  Form each piece into a ball and then flattened to get more hamburger bun shape.
  9.  Allow to rise (mine didn’t rise as much as I’d like).
  10.  Apply egg wash to each bun.
  11.  Pre-heat oven to 380 F
  12.  Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes (I did 19 minutes).
  13.  Cover with kitchen towel for 15 minutes – I read this is supposed to help keep the bread rolls soft.

Continue reading “Whole wheat burger buns”