It all started with a post-wedding cake in aBatteredOldSuitcase. Daniel and Frances were married in Sacramento, then honeymooned in Egypt. Upon returning to the States they stopped by South Florida for a second reception for our friends and family who couldn’t travel to California. I made my first “wedding” cake for the party.
Once safely ensconced in retirement I expanded both my baking and short story writing. I recently joined an online forum which provides writing help for amateurs like me and am currently revising everything I wrote over the past few years, including my first book “Ruth,” several short-stories basked on our rescued Havanese/Poodle, Rosalita. I also wrote a political thriller, ”The Star Alliance”, and science fiction with “The Quantum Butterfly Effect,” all of which should be considered proofs until they have been revised—ToAHotelSomeplace.
GhostsThatSell Memories is my sporadically updated travel blog. I wrote it primarily for friends and family we visited during our 2018 cross country road trip.
Header photo of my hometown, Middlebury, Vermont by my life long friend David Griggs. Please visit his website www.djgriggsphoto.com.
If you have time on your hands, as many of us do during shelter in place, pugliese is an amazing bread to try. The recipe I used is an 83% hydration. (Think wet sticky, sticky, how-can-this-dough-ever-be-bread?) The technique was so difficult and messy I was unable to take any pictures other than the final product.
Recently I have been baking breads that require a poolish (French) or biga (Italian) pre-ferment. This is fine, as long as you remember to make it the day prior to actually baking. This recipe uses an hour long autolyse, which happens to be just long enough to go to the golf driving range and work on hitting my drive with a draw. I can do a fade but to draw the ball is still beyond me.
Pugliese exhibits a soft, open crumb with a marvelously chewy crust. If we stay SIP much longer, I can see this on the table often. This bread may have the biggest holes of any bread I have ever made.
The recipe below is almost identical to the reference posted, although I made a few edits. I also made one round loaf and two small, think personalized, loaves. Next time I will try two nice elongated loaves. I do not have a baking stone large enough for two large, plus one round loaf. I used a French bread pan for the elongated loaves and a heavy cast iron skillet for the round loaf. They all worked beautifully.
I don’t have any duram flour, but did happen to have some of the soft wheat flour Tito “00.” It’s a super refined flour I bought it to make crackers and is a good substitute for duram flour.
This is approx 84% total hydration dough. The recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum ‘the bread bible’
225 g – All purpose flour
3/16th tsp – 0.6 g instant yeast
177 g – water, at room temperature (70F to 90F) Dough • 213 g – All Purpose flour • 213 g – Duram Flour – or Soft Wheat Flour Tipo “00” • 1 ½ tsp – 4.8 g Instant Yeast • 15 g – salt • 354 g – water, at room temperature (70F to 90F) about 12 oz METHOD 6 hours or up to 3 days ahead, make the biga. Use the “Ultimate Flavor” method (let the biga to ferment for 12-24 hours at 55-65 deg, then store in the fridge.)
Combine all the biga ingredients in a large bowl and stir the mixture until smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl…3 to 5 minutes. Should be sticky or tacky enough to cling to your fingers. Cover the bowl, with oiled plastic or lid and set aside until tripled and filled with bubbles..about 6 hours. Stir it down and use it, or refrigerate it up to 3 days.
In a large bowl, dissolve the biga in the water… a few little undissolved pieces are ok.
Whisk together flours, yeast. Add salt and whisk again.
Add the flour mixture to the biga and water and mix until wet and combined.
Autolyse (self digest) for approx 50 minutes
Stretch and fold 3 times on a lightly floured surface. (Stretch the dough away from you then fold like a letter towards you. Repeat for left, right and towards you.)
Repeat stretch and fold 3 or 4 times -30 minutes apart,
After dough forms good gluten strands, form a ball, and cover, letting it rise in a (ideally 75F to 80F) until tripled…about 2 hours.
Preheat oven and stone 500F.
1 hour before baking pour the dough out of the bowl onto lightly floured surface…cut it in half.. and with very few gentle motions pull it over itself into a rough ball. Gently pick it up and drop it seam side up into the floured banneton. Sprinkle top lightly with flour, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Allow to rise until it has increased by about 1 1/2 times, to 1 1/2 hours. It will just start to push up the plastic.
Bake with steam turning down the oven after the first five minutes and then continue baking with steam for 12 minutes total at 450F or adjusting your ovens temperature to bake the loaves for approx another 20 minutes, until deep golden brown….leave loaves in off oven with door ajar for 5 to 10 minutes
Eventually we will no longer be sheltering in place. It will be exciting to roll out of the garage door, as the front door will no longer be large enough for me to fit through. I may need a bigger car, or maybe a flat-bed. Enough whining, this is about a new bread recipe.
KAF does it again. This is a crusty, chewy white bread that is delicious. My go to white sandwich bread has been Gold Medals recipe, but this may be the new standard. Even with the lower gluten AP flour this bread is chewy and soft. I had my quality assurance slice for dessert tonight and can only imagine my PB&J sandwich with it tomorrow.
It’s an easy recipe and can be made in a about 3 hours and as today is Monday, which is not a golf day, what else is there to do? Try it. It’s worth it.
Crusty Cloche White Bread
• 1 ¼ cups (283g) lukewarm water • 2 teaspoons instant yeast • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt • 2 tablespoons (25g) olive oil • 3 ½ cups (421g) AP Flour
Mix and knead everything together to make a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until almost doubled.
Gently deflate the dough, shape it into a ball, place in a cloche baker, and cover with the lid.
Let the dough rise for 30 to 45 minutes, until it’s almost doubled in size.
Slash the top of the loaf several times, cover with the lid, and place the cloche in a cold oven.
Set the oven temperature to 400°F; bake the bread for 35 minutes, covered.
Remove the lid, and bake the bread until it’s golden brown, another 5 to 10 minutes. The internal temperature should be 205-210 degrees.
Take it out of the oven, and transfer the bread to a rack to cool.
I neglected to post this recipe for then deep pan pizza I made last week. This is another KAF recipe which is one of my favorite sources for all things baked.
Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it can be made up to 72 hours before baking. The other major part of this recipe is that it makes an outstanding pizza!
Crust • 2 cups (240g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour • 3/4 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast or active dry yeast • 3/4 cup (170g) lukewarm water • 1 tablespoon (13g) olive oil + 1 1/2 tablespoons (18g) olive oil for the pan Topping • 6 ounces (170g) mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/4 cups, loosely packed)* • 1/3 to 1/2 cup (74g to 113g) tomato sauce or pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought • freshly grated hard cheese and fresh herbs for sprinkling on top after baking, optional
Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
Place the flour, salt, yeast, water, and 1 tablespoon (13g) of the olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer or other medium-large mixing bowl.
Stir everything together to make a shaggy, sticky mass of dough with no dry patches of flour. This should take 30 to 45 seconds in a mixer using the beater paddle; or about 1 minute by hand, using a spoon or spatula. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to gather the dough into a rough ball; cover the bowl.
After 5 minutes, uncover the bowl and reach a bowl scraper or your wet hand down between the side of the bowl and the dough, as though you were going to lift the dough out. Instead of lifting, stretch the bottom of the dough up and over its top. Repeat three more times, turning the bowl 90° each time. This process of four stretches, which takes the place of kneading, is called a fold.
Re-cover the bowl, and after 5 minutes do another fold. Wait 5 minutes and repeat; then another 5 minutes, and do a fourth and final fold. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest, undisturbed, for 40 minutes. Then refrigerate it for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to 72 hours. It’ll rise slowly as it chills, developing flavor; this long rise will also add flexibility to your schedule.
About 3 hours before you want to serve your pizza, prepare your pan. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons (18g) olive oil into a well-seasoned cast iron skillet that’s 10” to 11” diameter across the top, and about 9” across the bottom. Heavy, dark cast iron will give you a superb crust; but if you don’t have it, use another oven-safe heavy-bottomed skillet of similar size, or a 10” round cake pan or 9” square pan. Tilt the pan to spread the oil across the bottom, and use your fingers or a paper towel to spread some oil up the edges, as well.
Transfer the dough to the pan and turn it once to coat both sides with the oil. After coating the dough in oil, press the dough to the edges of the pan, dimpling it using the tips of your fingers in the process. The dough may start to resist and shrink back; that’s OK, just cover it and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then repeat the dimpling/pressing. At this point the dough should reach the edges of the pan; if it doesn’t, give it one more 15-minute rest before dimpling/pressing a third and final time.
Cover the crust and let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature. The fully risen dough will look soft and pillowy and will jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
About 30 minutes before baking, place one rack at the bottom of the oven and one toward the top (about 4″ to 5″ from the top heating element). Preheat the oven to 450°F.
When you’re ready to bake the pizza, sprinkle about three-quarters of the mozzarella (a scant 1 cup) evenly over the crust. Cover the entire crust, no bare dough showing; this will yield caramelized edges. Dollop small spoonfuls of the sauce over the cheese; laying the cheese down first like this will prevent the sauce from seeping into the crust and making it soggy. Sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella.
Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the bottom and edges of the crust are a rich golden brown (use a spatula to check the bottom). If the bottom is brown but the top still seems pale, transfer the pizza to the top rack and bake for 2 to 4 minutes longer. On the other hand, if the top seems fine but the bottom’s not browned to your liking, leave the pizza on the bottom rack for another 2 to 4 minutes. Home ovens can vary a lot, so use the visual cues and your own preferences to gauge when you’ve achieved the perfect bake.
Remove the pizza from the oven and place the pan on a heatproof surface. Carefully run a table knife or spatula between the edge of the pizza and side of the pan to prevent the cheese from sticking as it cools. Let the pizza cool very briefly; as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, carefully transfer it from the pan to a cooling rack or cutting surface. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
Serve the pizza anywhere from medium-hot to warm. Kitchen shears or a large pair of household scissors are both good tools for cutting this thick pizza into wedges.
Boiled orange and almond cake. Whodathunk it? One of our neighbors was giving away some oranges at about the same time I saw this recipe and thought “why not?” The result was a very orangey, dense, moist cake—nearly a tart. Maybe that was because I used a tart dish to make it. Actually, there was enough batter to make two 10” tarts.
Using the entire orange (minus the seeds) yielded an interesting, intense taste. The peel’s bitter flavor, offset by the sweetness of the pulp and added sugar, was not unpleasant.
Next time I make this I think I will beat the eggs and sugar to add some air before folding in the orange and almond flour. The texture was ok, but I think with a little work it could be lighter which would improve the overall appeal (a-peel, get it?) of the cake.
Original recipe at HelloFresh.au
Boiled Orange Almond Cake
• 1 large orange weighing approximately 350 g (or 2 smaller ones) • 6 free range eggs • 250 g ground almonds • 250 g granulated sugar • 1 heaped tsp (10 g) baking powder • butter and flour/breadcrumbs or matzo meal for the tin
Wash the orange(s), put it in a pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for an hour and a half or until it is extremely soft when pricked with a fork. Remove the orange from the pan, let it cool, then cut it open and remove any pips.
Turn the orange into a pulp by pressing it through a sieve or by using an immersion blender.
Prepare a cake tin – ideally with a loose base – by rubbing it with butter and then dusting it with flour. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the pulped orange, beat again, then add the almonds, sugar and baking powder and beat again until you have a thick, even batter.
Pour the batter into the tin and bake for between 30 – 60 minutes. Have a look at the cake after 30 minutes it should be golden and set firm. Try testing with a wooden skewer- it should come out almost clean, as opposed to very sticky with a clingy batter. If the cake does need another 10 mins, pop some aluminum foil over the top of it so it doesn’t get too brown.
Let it cool in the tin before turning it onto a plate and dusting with a little icing sugar.
Ever hear the third times a charm? Well, believe it—it’s true. This was my third attempt at this bread. The first two were disasters due to simple, stupid mistakes. In the first one I used 2 Tbl of salt instead of 2 tsp. I proofed the second one too warm. I tossed the first one. Not only did it take forever to rise due to the salt retarding the yeast, the salt taste was overwhelming. Plus I forgot the egg wash so the crust was dull and unappealing. The second was proofed in the proofing oven and rose too fast causing splits along the sides and when scored with the lame it flattened but was still ok to use for garlic bread.
The third and successful bake was proofed at room temperature for 15 minutes shorter than the recipe called for, but still doubling the size of the dough. I also activated the yeast for 10 min prior to adding the rest of the ingredients. (Step 1 below.)
Italian Supermarket Bread KAF
INGREDIENTS Dough • 4 cups (482g) AP Flour • 2 tablespoons (21g) potato flour or 1/4 cup (21g) dried potato flakes • 1/4 cup (35g) nonfat dry milk • 2 teaspoons salt • 2 teaspoons sugar • 2 teaspoons instant yeast • 1 1/3 cups (301g) lukewarm water • 3 tablespoons (35g) olive oil Topping • 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, or substitute Quick Shine • sesame seeds METHOD
In your stand mixer bowl combine the yeast, sugar and water and allow to rest for 10 minutes
Add half of the flour and all of the rest of the dough ingredients till cohesive. Add the rest of the flour mixing between each addition
Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and supple, adding more water or flour as needed.
Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until it’s doubled in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth 16″ log. Place the logs into the two wells of a lightly greased Italian bread pan, cover, and let the loaves rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.
Brush the loaves with the egg wash (or spray them with Quick Shine), then sprinkle heavily with sesame seeds. Slash the loaves diagonally, making 3 slashes in each, and immediately put them in the oven. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. For the crispiest crust, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and allow the bread to cool in the oven
My friend, Maggie, and I have been trading recipes, tips and techniques for a while now. A couple of weeks ago she sent me this recipe for her biscuits, and it is outstanding. Making the batter takes 10-15 minutes, then 15 minutes in the oven and they are ready.
I followed her method exactly, except I cut the biscuits out with a 2” circular cutter. I then bunched the leftovers into a ball, patted them out and re-cut, twice. This provide a good sample for our Quality Assurance Department, who graded them A+
Maggie’s Six Biscuits
INGREDIENTS • 1 tsp Baking Soda • 1 tsp Salt • 1 tsp Sugar • 1⁄2 tsp Baking Powder • 1 1/2 c AP Flour • 1 stick Cold Butter • 3/4 Sour Milk or Buttermilk (I soured whole milk with a bit o’lemon juice)
Mix the dry ingredients.
Cut in the butter (fingers or pastry thingie, your choice) til it’s a shaggy mess … remembering that the less it’s messed with the flakier it’ll be.
Once it’s at the shaggy mess stage begin adding the liquid a bit at a time until it’s a soft dough … keeping in mind then”remembering” bit notes above.
Knead it a tiny bit.
Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into a rectangle about 1/2” high, spread some melted butter on it,
Fold in half, pat it into a rectangle about 1” high, spread some melted butter on it.
Cut into 6 pieces, place on parchment papered baking sheet, bake at 425 for about 15 minutes.
So, I made a margarita this afternoon and was sitting out on the deck enjoying the view. I don’t have salt for the rim of the glass, so decided a nice salty cracker would be a good substitute. I have an untried recipe for “Cheese-Nibs” and decided to make them to accompany my drink. (The margarita was full when I started baking.)
They take very little time and are easy to make. You can adjust the amount of dusting salt to suit your taste. I rolled the dough out on the same parchment paper I used to bake them—less mess, more efficient. I also left a few of them un-separated on the baking sheet and they seemed to be fine. Next time I will just cut them and leave them all attached. They seem to shrink slightly and pull away from their neighbors. As you are working on one of the chilled disks of dough keep the other in the fridge. After each step return the dough to the fridge to set up a bit. It makes cutting etc much easier.
INGREDIENTS • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated • 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature • 1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening* • ½ teaspoon salt • 1 cup flour • 2 Tablespoons ice water • Coarse salt for sprinkling
Combine cheese, butter, shortening, and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The mixture will be crumbly.
Slowly add flour and then the ice water. You may add a few more drops of water to help it come together but be careful not to add too much. You don’t want a wet dough.
Pat the dough into 2 discs and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (or longer).
Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
Using parchment paper or a silicone mat roll each disc to 1/8 inch or less and sprinkle with coarse salt
Cut into 1 inch squares (a pastry wheel or pizza wheel is easiest). Use a toothpick to punch a hole into the center of each square.
If you have difficulty separating and transferring the crackers onto the baking sheet return the parchment paper/mat to the refrigerator for 10 minutes (while you roll out the 2nd dough disc).
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges. If you pull them out too soon and the crackers don’t have the desired crispiness you want then simply return them to the oven for 2-3 more minutes.
Move crackers to a cooling rack. Makes about 7 dozen crackers.