Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! This has been a holiday I've enjoyed for a while but have lost some interest in it over time. I've always like Ireland: the music, the history, the culture, the beauty. So when one likes something, why not find out about some the most famous things of that place. I remember when I was in college I did a report for church history on Saint Patrick - learning much never taught in schools (at least public schools). Over time, life set in and St. Patrick's Day became a day to remember lest one of my darling children pinch me if I forgot to wear green! Just for the record, I am wearing green today -- I'm thankful for 7 year olds who don't forget such things. Also for 16 year olds whose favorite color is green and loves any excuse to make it a part of her day!

In a sort of celebration for St. Patrick's Day, Michelle at Big Black Dog placed on the schedule for HBin5 two types of bread that had green in them. I had been forewarned by reading others’ posts in the group that the bread doesn't turn out green. But having green ingredients is festive enough. One type is the Avocado-Guacamole Bread and the other is the Pesto Pine Nut Bread. The pesto bread intrigued me because basil is my favorite of herbs. Yet, I did not want to go out and buy enough fresh basil to make pesto. I also did not want to buy jarred pesto because I've always wanted to make my own, but never had a purpose to. So I decided this summer to make it when we have fresh basil in our garden. I had also debated for a while about the avocado bread. Guacamole is not my favorite thing in the world. I tend to take guacamole off of whatever I may order that it comes with. Do you know how disturbing guacamole looks hidden underneath a napkin at a restaurant? I do pity one waitress long ago who had to encounter that. Still, I hadn't given up all thoughts of making the bread. After reading posts in the group that said the avocado flavor didn't come through at all, and since avocados don't cost much, I decided to go for it. I was slow in getting it made, but I did do it! We had it for supper last night. I was happy with the texture and flavor. I probably won't make it again just for the fact alone...why? I like other breads in the book so much, why go to the effort? But I am glad that I did make it! All the kids ate their piece of bread at supper last night, but didn't ask for more. I didn't tell them what was in it until they had tried it. I am thankful they all ate what they had, but I didn't expect much more. I have picky kids... Anyway, here are the pictures of this loaf:

My mom and I are cooking for church tonight and we have a green dessert and lemon/limeade to celebrate the day. I am sure that Saint Patrick would be honored to be remembered for generations past his life, but I am not so sure he would like to think of people pinching in his name or wearing green because of him or eating corned beef and cabbage (which I don't like anyway...). But it is fun to have a reason to do something a little out of the ordinary.

We had our bread baking day at church about 2 weeks ago. It was so much fun! We had 12 people show up to learn to bake bread. I brought my camera to take pictures, but forgot to use it! There is talk of doing this another time. I think next they would like to learn to make something special like pizza or other types of bread rather than just the boule. But for starters they did great and we had so much fun together!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring is coming!

The kids are starting to get cabin fever and I in turn am getting the same way! THe snow on the ground for the most of 2 months is now becoming exhausting. The Olympics have provided a nice diversion have new bread experiments. This braid for the HBin5 group was to make a batch of the Whole Wheat Olive Oil dough. This is the first dough I had made out of the HBin5 book when I got it. I know I made pizza, but cannot remember what else I did with it! But I do remember liking it. When people in the group starting baking with it and reporting, they were talking that they weren't enjoying it as much as other breads they had made. I was interested in trying again to see if my memory served me right. And my memory didn't fail me (although it is more and more the further along I get in this pregnancy!). I did not accomplish all that this braid required, but I did play a little. We were supposed to make a loaf of bread. Instead of a loaf, I made baguettes for our supper one night. I had recieved my new baguette pan in the mail a week earlier and hadn't had a chance to try it out. I was excited at the opportunity as well as happy with the outcome.

For supper on Friday, I was trying to figure out how to incorporate the focaccia into the meal. I had just enough dough left for one focaccia. We were supposed to make the Southwest Focaccia. I didn't not have anything on hand that that recipe required, so I scoured my pantry and freezer and came up with this: a rosemary/olive oil/salt focaccia that I cut in half put cut up chicken and Italian cheese mix that I had left over from the pizza earlier that week in the middle. I toasted it again to melt the cheese. I made Sicilian Butter and Homemade Pizza Sauce to dip it in. Along with the focaccia, I made Bocso sticks with a batch of the soft whole wheat in the ABin5 book. For the bosco sticks, I cut motzerella cheese sticks in half lengthwise, placed them in the middle of the dough I had lengthened, flattened, folded over and sealed again. After letting them rest, I brushed the Sicilian Butter on top and baked them according to the Garlic Parmesan knots in the HBin5 book.

For free, here is a picture of the pizza I had made ealier with the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Dough from HBin5. Amber, our oldest, wanted alfredo chicken pizza. I had made something before for her, but was looking for a new way. I was very happy with my outcome. The flavor was great. I used the alfredo sauce from here, and chopped chicken to the top and topped that with Italian cheeses.

To view what the rest of the group did with this challange visit Big Black Dog and read through their posts. It is amazing how creative people can be with just one type of dough!

This Saturday, we are having a bread baking day at our church. There have been a number of people interested in making the breads my mom and I are making (with the AB/HBin5 method). So we thought it would be a fun day to do a demostration and let them bake a loaf and take home a bucket of dough. I am excited and looking forward to introducing more people to this fun way of bread baking! We are just making the boule from ABin5 (but modified slightly) to keep things simiple.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Little Late

The Bread Braid for February 1 was to make the Soft Wheat Sandwich Bread from the HBin5 book. I finally got my book in the mail recently and have been able to get busy! The first thing I made with this dough was hamburger buns. They poofed up a little more than I wanted them to. They flavor was good, but they ended up being too dense for a hamburger bun. We had them with shredded beef.

Next I made a loaf of bread. I was very excited about this one. Others had reported how happy they were with how theirs turned out. My loaf didn't rise as much as I had hoped and when I cut into it, it was denser than I wanted also. The flavor was good as I cut a couple of slices and ate them for breakfast. I was going to make grilled cheese for lunch and as I continued to slice, I found that my loaf wasn't done baking! I had a whole in the middle where the raw dough had collapsed. UGH! Here is a picture of the loaf, though.

Lastly, the objective was to make Apple Strudel Bread. I had just a little dough left and not enough to do a loaf of bread. We were having breakfast for supper that night and I usually fix muffins. So I decided to do little apple strudel rolls. This was one thing I was very happy with. They kids would have preferred muffins that night, but I enjoyed them!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More Fun!

I have been trying various breads and doughs this last week. I have finished up the light whole wheat by making it into a loaf. I made the brioche dough in the Artisan Bread book. With that dough I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday (we had guests or else I probably wouldn't have gone to that much trouble for breakfast!). I baked a loaf of bread for a potluck on Sunday. Then Sunday afternoon, I made the potato and garlic bread for my father-in-law's birthday party to have with lasagna my mother-in-law was making. I think everything turned out great as far as I am concerned.

When I grocery shopped last week, I was trying to stay within my budget and keeping it narrowed down to only necessities, but I did splurge and little with the addition of dried cranberries. I've been wanting so much to make the cranberry and orange zest challah. Today, I made up the dough thinking I would make up a loaf tomorrow....well, I couldn't wait! I made up a loaf tonight. On the Healthy Bread in Five forum I am a part of has been talking about how to do a traditional 2 strand braid for challah. I watched a video and thought it looked pretty simple, so I tried it! It was quite fun. Here are the results of my playing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Experiments

Yesterday, I did get the pitas made for lunch. It took a bit of work with a 10 month old who isn't used to me or my house! :-) Plus all of our big baby toys are in storage....for a few more months at least! They turned out pretty well. I used the light whole wheat dough. I had problems with one puffing like it is supposed to. Half of it had a pocket and the other half didn't develop the pocket. We ate them for lunch stuffed with tuna.

For the kids afterschool snack, I used the rest of the bagel dough to make pretzals. McKenna helped with rolling out the snakes. They weren't too bad. I think they had more of a bagel flavor than a pretzal flavor and feel, but maybe I need more pratice.

I don't think I will make any bread today. I have pleanty of cooking to do without that! I hope to make a loaf of bread from the whole wheat dough in a loaf pan. I also want to try to make the carmel sticky buns that are found in the Aristan Bread book. I haven't decided what dough I want to use for that though. My father-in-law's birthday party is Sunday, so I am going to try something for that. I was thining about garlic potato bread. We are having lasagna. I thought maybe that would go well. We'll see what the rest of this week brings.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A "Victory"

Yesterday, I tried a freeform loaf again and it was a success as far as keeping the shape. I made the loaf in the morning and the 3 of us at home ate it for lunch.

For supper I had planned on making a Pain d'Epi. I used the rest of the dough that I had from my first batch. It was a little more than a pound. Needless to say, it was not a success. It was awkward to shape, it was too wide to make the cuts and wouldn't lay right. Then when I went to slide it onto the stone in the oven, it didn't slide, it smooshed together. While it was baking, I began another loaf to make the another Epi with dough I had made earlier in the day. This was the bagel dough without the bread flour because I do not have bread flour! :-) I realized that I wouldn't be able to bake it before supper because I needed to get my meatloaf and potatoes in the oven. So I set it on the front porch to keep cool since I had not room in the fridge. When I took my first loaf out of the oven, it was pretty sad looking, but we used it for support and of course it tasted as good as my first two free form loaves. Most of the kids were happy. After supper I brought in the loaf from outside, let it come mostly to room temperature and tried again. This time, I was much happier with the results of cutting the dough. And I worked very hard to slide it onto the stone in the oven without misshaping it. I checked on it a couple of times while it baked and voila! It turned out. Not like the picture in the book, but much better! Here is my victory.

I am hoping to make soft pretzals with the bagel dough. And I made up a batch of light whole wheat dough with an extra cup of whole wheat and one less of all-purpose flour. I was hoping to make pitas with that for lunch today, but I have a friend dropping off her 10 month old for a few hours. Plus I need to get my yoga done, and McKenna started on her school work. We'll see how it all plays together. All in all I am happy with my sucesses!

Monday, January 25, 2010

My First Attempt

I did my first attempt to make a loaf of bread out of the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. The actual challange is to use the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Since at this point in time, I am borrowing books from the library, I have to use what is available. The Healthy Bread book is being catalogued right now, so I have it on hold. In the mean time, I have read the Artisan Bread book and have made the master dough recipe. I made my first loaf of bread last night. After I had sliced it and covered it with butter and apricot jam (sadly enough, not homemade), I realized that I forgot to take a picture. Maybe next time! I had a few problems with my bread in the technical shaping and resting stage, but it tasted great! Later that evening I tried the Lavash in the book with the master dough recipe. I learned a couple of things from that. I don't have to roll it as thinly and I need to come up with a better way to get it onto the hot stone in the oven. My first on foled. My second one, my husband helped me. Today, I am going to use the rest of my dough. My goal is for supper tonight, but it might get eaten earlier since I told McKenna and Aaron we would have some today. I am going to try a new shape - we'll see how that works!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Beginning....

This is an experiment I have been thinking about for a while. I don't know if I will keep it up or if it will work, but it sounds like a good idea!

I have a few motivating factors in doing this, but one is to join a breadmaking group. I can do it without the blog, but I figured I'd be more motivated with the blog! Maybe another part of my motivation is to escape reality. My husband works all day and has a hobby that keeps him from the house a few days a month. We live in a small town, so I don't get out of the house much and if I do, it costs money! Maybe this is my escape from the house without leaving the house. I don't know if it will work, but it is cheap! :-)

I don't have expectations of people reading this, but at least I am doing something!