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

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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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Continue reading “Chocolate chip cookies!!”

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.

Continue reading “Bread boules!!”

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. Continue reading “Hot dog (hamburger) buns”

No knead sandwich bread

Last week for our work potluck I decided to bring bread since it was easy for me to do and something homemade.  I had already done a trial run on some honey wheat dinner rolls but also wanted a backup.  On my fb feed I saw a posting from King Arthur about how 2016 was the year of no-knead bread.  Now originally when I started my baking endeavors, I started with the no-knead variety just due to the ease of it.  The following link came up the weekend before the potluck.  I really like that you can make this ahead of time and toss it in the fridge for up to 7 days without doing any additional work.  My scale also was on the fritz – which I figured out appears to be due to low battery.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups AP flour
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • ~2.2 tsp active dry yeast

Basically I mixed up all the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  After covering it with some saran wrap, I let it sit out on the counter for about 2 hours before putting it into the fridge.

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After mixing, before letting it sit for 2 hours on counter
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After 2 hours on counter

I made up this mixture on Sunday and pulled it out of the fridge on Tuesday evening to make for a Wednesday lunch potluck.  I like how simple the recipe is because after removing it from the fridge, I layed the dough out on my well floured countertop and shaped the dough (no kneading, no stretch and fold, no additional manipulations).  Since my scale was not working, I eyeballed the size of each roll.

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Each roll was dusted with some flour.  I covered the rolls and let it sit at room temperature for about 1-1.5 hours to allow it to rise/proof.  After this time, I checked the roll by depressing a finger into the dough.  The dough sprung back about halfway.  During the proofing, I preheated the oven to 450 F.  The recipe calls for using a pan in the bottom of the oven to create steam.  Rather than fussing with this and tossing in water into a hot oven, I elected to just use my water bottle sprayer.

Once the dough was ready, I took a knife and made some slash marks on top of each roll.  I placed the parchment lined cookie sheet of dough into the oven and sprayed the inside with 5-6 spritzes of water before closing the oven door.  Initially I let the bread bake for 10 minutes, then opened the door and quickly spritzed some more water into it.  I then let it bake for an additional ~13-15 minutes.

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As you can see, there were some creases that opened up on the sides of the dough.  This was most likely due to my not tightly rolling the dough balls into a cohesive ball.  Nevertheless I think it gave them a more homemade feel.  My coworkers raved and said the bread rolls were good – I didn’t end up getting to try one.

I also attempted to re-create the honey wheat rolls.  However, as described above my scale wasn’t working properly, I had to eyeball the ingredients with volume (measuring cups) rather than weight.  I also tweaked it slightly and so when I had my wife pull it out and start the stretch and fold process (as I had previously done: here), the dough did not come together like I had hoped.  It remained a very moist gloopy mess that you could not form.  In an attempt to salvage it, I put the wet dough into my loaf pan to see if it would at least attempt a rise.  Luckily the dough actually did rise somewhat (maybe 1 inch in the pan) and I tossed it into the oven and hoped for the best.  Overall it didn’t get the oven spring that you’d normally see but it baked well and actually had decent crumb.  Wasn’t my best effort but was still good.

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I’m excited to see what I will continue to try doing in 2017!

-StewsCat