December 4, 2013
Subtitle: Winter Kitchen + Rich Dough = Late Blog Post
This week's recipe is Challah. I was excited about this because my family loves soft, squishy bread. They'll eat whole grains and crisp crusts and sourdoughs, but give them a soft dinner roll or a pillowy loaf and they're in heaven.
I've made Challah before and I should've known better. I started the recipe at 1:00pm on Monday, planning to have a loaf to eat with dinner (or, worse case scenario, toast for the next morning). Two hours into the first rise, it became clear to me that not much was happening. My cold kitchen, combined with the amount of eggs and butter in the recipe, kept the yeast working at a slow pace. It was 8:00pm by the time I shaped the loaf.
I'm glad I read the directions, since they said to braid the loaf from the center out. I think this technique ended up with a more even loaf. I wonder why my braid looks nothing like the picture in the Baking With Julia book. You can tell I do not braid anyone's hair on a regular basis. It's probably good that I had a boy.
So, it's 10:00pm. I have to get up for work tomorrow at 4:30am. My loaf still looks exactly the same as it did two hours ago. What to do? I stuck it in the refrigerator and baked it when I got home from work on Tuesday. The fancy baking term for this is retarding the dough. It is a technique that is supposed to give the yeast more time to create flavor compounds that improve the taste of the final bread. I don't know if it made a big difference, but I do know that I had some pretty good bread on Tuesday night. Sometimes good things DO come to those who wait.
Was your loaf good? How does your family feel about soft, squishy bread?
November 19, 2013
My thoughts while reading this recipe: a pound of chocolate, a stick of butter, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, plus vanilla and espresso powder? These are going to be good! Thank goodness the PTB (Powers That Be) over at Tuesdays With Dorie Central chose an easy recipe for this week's fix. I'm already stressing over my Thanksgiving menu (and I'm only responsible for a couple of things!)
If you can melt chocolate and butter, and turn on the mixer, you can make these cookies. I actually whipped these up Sunday evening. You really can turn on the mixer and walk away. I watched the end of Green Lantern on TV while the eggs, sugar and vanilla were whipping. Terrible movie, BTW, despite the presence of Ryan Reynolds. A giant evil Cloud attacked the Earth. Really.
Back to the cookies... after mixing in the melted chocolate mixture and the flour and chocolate chips, it really does look "marshmallow-y". It is also VERY sticky. Luckily, a rest in the refrigerator solves that problem. The next day I scooped out portions and baked them. A spring-loaded scoop is perfect for this. If you don't have one of these yet, you owe it to yourself to buy one. They make life easier. The recipe promised that the batter would spread, but mine really didn't. I'll be interested to see what happened to other TWDers.
How did they taste? Fudgy. Intense. A brownie/cookie for grownups. We loved them. What did you guys think?
November 5, 2013
Hi everyone! I'm back after a break. Fall is always really busy for us. What did you guys think of the bread? My husband and I loved it, but my picky son didn't like it. On the plus side, he did give it a fair try AND he's getting more polite about expressing his feelings. Instead of "YUCK!" I heard, "I don't care for this bread, Mommy." That's a win in my book.
I made the full recipe. I did leave out the caraway seeds (we're caraway-haters at my house) and I used apple butter instead of prune lekvar. I don't think my bread tasted "apple-y". I started the bread in my mixer, but it kept crawling up the dough hook. I had to finish kneading it by hand.
The dough was easy to handle, probably because there was butter and shortening in it. Thanks to 5.5 teaspoons of yeast, it was a fast riser. I didn't bother with the sling. It looked like an interesting way to proof the dough, but I had visions of the towels giving way and dumping my half-risen loaves on the floor!
They baked up plump and dark and shiny. It's good with just butter, but I've been thinking of Rueben Sandwiches. We're getting corned beef for tonight. What did you guys think of the bread?