Sunday, August 29, 2010

Watching The Goodbye Girl with Mr. S...have you seen it?

We had Beer Friday #2 at our apt., which is pretty self-explanatory.   ^_^   I prepared turkey burgers with feta (recipe here:  I used everything but the parsley, olives, and Italian seasoning (don't care for the former, didn't have the latter).  Our friend M. was the grillmaster for the night, and did an awesome job.  We also bought turkey cheddar, white, and hot beef bratwurst.

Mr. S. made French onion dip, bacon & dehydrated tomato dip, queso, and bean dip.  I liked everything except for the bacon/tomato dip.  
Then on Saturday, we went canoeing, peach picking*, and wine tasting*, followed by eating bbq ribs.  (*Girls only afternoon out.  I had a great time.)
I'd never helped with peach cobbler before...much less with peaches we'd picked less than an hour before.  :)
T's jalapeno poppers---filled with cream cheese, other cheeses, and bacon....and deep fried....*sigh*
This 9"x13" pan was nearly demolished by all of us (along with a nice portion of vanilla ice cream).

Coming up this week: more bread through September (I am going to bake my way through this book!), an anniversary, and a new banner featuring Spiffy McGee, the world's laziest panda.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I don't like English muffins.

I was curious to see if I could do this, that's all.  *sigh*  They don't taste bad, but they got a little burnt....note to self: don't ever reach for the spray oil out of convenience....because it's olive oil at my apt.  *face palm* 

Recipe (again, from The Bread Baker's Apprentice):
2 1/4 c unbleached bread flour
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (Since I was near the end of a bottle, I may have been too lax w/ this ingredient...hence the puffiness.)
1 tbsp shortening/unsalted butter (I used the latter.)
3/4- 1 c milk/buttermilk at room temp.  (I ended up using ~7/8 c skim milk...not enough buttermilk in the house.)
cornmeal for dusting

1. Stir the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together in a bowl.  Add butter and 3/4 c milk until the dough forms a ball.  If there's excess flour, add the rest of the milk.  The dough should be soft.

2. Knead dough on floured surface for 10 min.  Spray oil into a bowl and roll the ball of dough around in it.  Cover with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment for 60-90 min, or until dough doubles in size.  (I did 60 min.)

4. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, 3 oz each.  (This is where a scale comes in handy.  I weighed them all, but did not feel like making all of them perfectly equal.)  Shape pieces into boules.

5. Prepare baking pan by lining with parchment paper.  Spray the parchment paper with oil and sprinkle cornmeal on it.  Place boules on parchment paper, sprinkle cornmeal over them, and cover with plastic wrap.

6. Proof for 60-90 min, or until boules double in size.

7. Heat skillet/flat griddle to 350 degrees, or medium heat.  (Hint: on my electric stove, this turned out to be WAY too hot.  And the olive oil spray did it no favors.)  Fry balls of dough, 5-8 min. per side.  The dough is supposed to flatten out, but it never did for me.  (Keep uncooked balls covered w/ plastic wrap.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

8. Bake muffins for 5-8 minutes on sheet pan.  (The recipe states to bake muffins as you cook them---in other words, don't wait for all of them to be fried.  I ignored this and made the entire batch at once.)

9. Separate muffins with a fork; supposedly this creates the nice air pockets that are characteristic of English muffins.  I didn't see that at all.  :(

On a much happier note, I am friends with a baker at the Seelbach Hotel, and he's promised to give me tips on baking!  I will pass them on to you all once I see him again.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I just got more yeast and parchment paper, so I'm going to bake something tomorrow.  :D

Maybe some English muffins?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


With a diopter kit like this, who needs a macro lens?  :D  (Pics are at 2x and 4x respectively, and are of my lazy store-bought sauce, fiori, elbow macaroni, homemade meatball, and mushroom dinner.)  

(Oh, and I haven't baked a loaf of bread this week yet....too busy.  ^_^ )

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cinnamon rolls!

Something was off with the dough today...I think it's because I took the lazy route and kneaded it with the KitchenAid.  This dough is SO sticky!

I was hoping to get 16 rolls, but 10 will do.
Before priming...honestly, they didn't change size much when priming so I cut the time short to ~45 min.

I don't think I'll ever get one of these out again.  The texture was marvelous and I like being able to control how much fondant glaze I can put over these.  This was well worth the 3-4 hours of work.  :)

Recipe (from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice):
6 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbsp shortening/unsalted butter/margarine (I used the butter.)
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon extract/zest of 1 lemon (I left this out.)
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour (I used regular AP flour.  Next time I'll use King Arthur.)
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8- 1 1/4 cups whole milk/buttermilk at room temp.  OR 1 cup and 3 tbsp of water and powdered milk respectively (I used buttermilk.)
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tbsp sugar + 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon)
White Fondant Glaze (will follow)

1. Cream sugar, salt, and butter together.  Add egg, then flour, yeast, and milk.  Mix on low speed/stir by hand until it all forms a ball.  Knead with machine for 10 minutes, or by hand for 12-15 min, until the dough is tacky but not sticky.  Oil a large bowl, toss the dough ball lightly in the oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Ferment for 2 hours.

2. Mist counter with spray oil.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Roll out the dough on the counter into a rectangle, ~ 12" wide x 14" long x 2/3" high.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over dough, and roll into a log.  Slice the log (seam side down) into desired number of pieces.  Put rolls on parchment paper, ~1/2 inch apart.

4. Proof at room temp. for 75-90 min.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.


-I had a LOT of cinnamon sugar leftover.  Personally, the amt. required was overkill.
-I didn't roll up the log of dough tightly enough.  Also, I did not spray my counter with oil and so it was difficult handling the dough.
-This blog taught me the difference between "tacky" vs. "sticky."

White Fondant Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla* OR lemon extract OR orange extract
3 tbsp- 1/4 cup warm milk (I used 3 tbsp)

Whisk until dissolved.  Add the milk as needed for a thick and smooth glaze.
Use a fork or whisk to apply glaze to slightly cooled rolls.  (Or else, as I discovered the hard way, the sugar will melt completely into your roll and it won't be quite as pretty.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just some pictures.

The lazy girl's favorite meal (grilled cheese and tomato sandwich).
Mr. S.'s hearty beef stew

Store-bought cha chien with orange pepper, tomato, and mushroom atop a bed of rice vermicelli
Mr. S's homemade beef jerky (too crispy, but w/ a good flavor)
Chicken with tomato and yellow pepper, marinated in Veri Veri Island Teriyaki sauce

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I have always admired challah, but have never tried it until today. This is from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, and it is the third bread of his that I've tried.  (The white and light wheat came out quite well despite cutting some corners on proofing.)  This is a fabulous book, and I highly recommend it.  He goes into great detail about the science of baking, if you're into that sort of thing.  :D

I decided to make 2 small loaves, so hence, 6 balls to roll out into strands.
Braiding bread is much like braiding hair.  You begin in the middle, then tuck and fold the ends underneath.  Then you flip the half-braided loaf around to face you and tuck the two outer strands underneath the middle one repeatedly, then pinch them together as a seal. 
I applied the egg wash, sprayed with olive oil, and then let them sit for an hour.

4 cups unbleached bread flour (I use King Arthur flour; it really is the best.)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt (I used 4 pinches---I don't like things too salty.)
1 1/3 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola.)
2 large eggs, slightly beaten*
2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten*
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water, at room temp.
2 egg whites, whisked until frothy, for egg wash
sesame seeds (I didn't use these, but you can...)

*I didn't beat the eggs before combining with the other wet ingredients---why bother?

1.) Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a bowl.  Then, mix the veg. oil, eggs, egg yolks, and water together.  Combine all ingredients until mixture forms a ball.
2.) Knead for 10 min.
3.) Oil a large bowl, put your dough in it, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for one hour.
4.) Remove ball of dough and knead for 2 minutes (for degassing).
5.) Return ball of dough to bowl and ferment for another hour.
6.) Divide dough into 3 pieces for a large loaf, or 6 for two loaves.  Form the dough pieces into boules and let sit for 10 min.
7.) Braid the pieces together.  Place the formed loaves onto a pan with parchment paper, brush with egg wash, spray loaves with oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Proof for 1 hr to 1 hr. 15 min (or when the dough reaches 1.5x its original size).
8.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then, bake for 20 min., rotate the pan, and bake again for 20-45 min.  (size dependent).
9.) Let the bread cool down for one hour before slicing and eating (yeah right!).  Enjoy.  :D

This is after proofing.  They got huge.  :-O

A little dark (I would put aluminum foil on the bread about midway through the process next time.)  But the bread tastes good.  :)