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.
We nearly ran out of bread today, can you believe it? I thought it might be fun to make a minor change in my technique, and I mean minor. Instead of using a Dutch oven for the 75% Hydration Honey Bread, I decided to make two small loaves and bake them in a steam oven.
It worked fine. The bread is an acceptable size for sandwiches or toast. The crust isn’t quite as firm, but again, acceptable. The texture of the bread was spot on. Overall, I am pleased with the results of the experiment.
INGREDIENTS • 600 g all-purpose flour (about 4 cups using ‘scoop and sweep’ method) • 450 g water (2 cups, room temperature) • 21 g honey (1 Tbsp) • 14 g kosher salt (1 level Tbsp) • 3 g SAF Gold instant yeast (1 tsp)
Add the water and honey to a large bowl and mix until the honey is dissolved.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand, until a sticky homogeneous mass is formed. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
After one hour, perform stretch and folds every 30 minutes over the next 1½ hours. Let the dough continue its fermentation for additional 1½ hours or until it doubles in size.
Shape the dough in a ball and transfer to a proofing basket dusted with a 50/50 mix of all-purpose and rice flour, seam side up.
Cover with a piece of paper towel (this will prevent sticking of the dough to the plastic wrap), then with a plastic wrap. Let proof for about 60 minutes or until the dough passes the finger test. (Poked with a finger the indentation will spring back very slowly.) The dough will increase in size about one a half times or so.
Place a baking stone and a steam pan in the oven. Place the Dutch Oven into the oven and preheat to(450) 500oF. An hour of preheating is recommended.
Turn the bread over on a piece of parchment paper. Score on top and lower the dough into the preheated Dutch Oven. Be careful opening the oven, it will be full of hot steam. Spray the walls of the oven with a bit of water (gentle mist) to re-create some of the lost steam and close the door.
Immediately drop the temperature to (400) 450oF and bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the water pan from the oven, turn the bread 180 degrees and leave the door cracked open. You can use a wooden spoon for that. Bake for another 25 minutes.
When the baking is done, remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool for 1 hour at room temperature before slicing.
It’s Wednesday and I don’t (usually) play golf on Wednesday. What will I do to occupy my time? What will I do? Well, I froze some choux pastry a couple of months ago, just to have some for an emergency. Choux freezes well but should be used within a few months. Plus I had some leftover chocolate glaze. All I needed was some creme patisserie (which I made before dawn today,) and I could have some eclairs! (I also made a loaf of bread later in the morning.) A very full day!!
I made four ET bagels for me and six plain bagels for Fran (and me). Notice how I cleverly worked the ET title into the text of the post?
Bagels from ChefSteps INGREDIENTS • 350 g Water, plus more for boiling • 650 g Bread flour, divided • 3 g Active dry yeast • 25 g Sugar, granulated, optional • 25 g Diastatic malt powder • 10 g Salt • Nonstick spray, as needed • 25 g Molasses • 10 g Baked baking soda OPTIONAL • 10 g Black sesame seed • 10 g Dried onion flakes • 10 g Salt, Maldon flake • 7 g Poppy seed • 5 g Sesame seed • 5 g Dried garlic flakes
In a stand mixer bowl, combine 350 g room temperature water, 250 g of the flour, and the active dry yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let the mixture proof at room temperature until it doubles in size and makes frothy bubbles that collapse when you tap the bowl on the countertop. This takes about two to three hours. (Look for a foam that resembles the one on a root beer float. If you don’t see this yet, just give the yeast a bit more time to work its magic.)
In a bowl, combine the remaining 400 g of bread flour with 25 g sugar, 25 g diastatic malt powder, and 10 g salt.
Reattach the bowl containing the sponge (from Step 1) to the stand mixer and fasten on the dough hook. Set the mixer to low. Gradually spoon in the dry ingredients and let the dough mix until it becomes stretchy and smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 15 to 20 minutes. (This will be rough work for your stand mixer.)
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Working quickly to keep the dough cool, divide it into 130 g portions and set them on a parchment paper lined pan. Keep the entire sheet covered with plastic wrap as you work, tucking each new portion underneath the plastic wrap to keep any crust from forming.
First, form a dome. Make a circle with one hand, place a piece of portioned dough halfway inside it, and use one finger of your other hand to turn the dough while gradually pushing it through the circle tightening the dough as you work around the outside. You want to end up with a nice, taut dome.
Next, turn that dome into a ball. Hold the dome with the concave underside facing up. Pinch the dough closed across the “bowl,” then roll the seam on the work surface until smooth. When you finish each piece, return it to its spot under the plastic wrap on the sheet pan.
Cool the dough balls in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Working with one ball at a time, use two fingers to pinch a hole through the center of the dough, turning it while you work. Once you break through the dough, turn it on its side (like a spinning wheel). Stick both of your index fingers through the hole from opposite directions, and spin them around each other, slowly stretching out the hole until you can fit three fingers through it. Return the shaped dough to its covered spot on the tray. (You might need a second tray.)
Allow to proof at room temperature until a dough ring floats when set in a bowl of water. This will take about 20–40 minutes. (If the test ring sinks, proof a bit longer.)
Make sure the tray(s) are wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, and let them cool in the refrigerator overnight to allow flavors to develop.
In a large pot over high heat, bring 5 L water, 25 g molasses, and 10 g baking soda to a boil.
Preheat the oven to 425 °F / 218 °C (Use convection if available)
Working in batches, drop the bagels into the water and boil for 60 seconds, then flip them with a spider strainer or fork and boil for another 60 seconds. Transfer them, smooth sides up, to a wire rack on a half-sheet pan.
(TRY AN EGG WASH ON SOME OF THE PLAIN BAGELS)
If you’re adding the seasoning mix—or your own choice of toppings—now’s the time to sprinkle it over the tops of the bagels.
Transfer the bagels to a parchment paper–lined half-sheet pan and move it to the center rack of the preheated oven.
Bake for seven minutes, spin the tray around to ensure even cooking, and continue baking until bagels have a nice, brown color—about seven more minutes.
I don’t know how I got by without one of these dough whisks. For everyone who does a significant amount of making dough for bread, pretzels, bagels, donuts etc, this is a must have took. It makes the initial mixing, prior to kneading or stretch and pull so much faster and easier. Do yourself a favor and buy one.
I am not sure there is much better than a fresh, warm, chocolate babka. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this bread/pastry/cake I strongly suggest you don’t wait but either make or buy a loaf. Warning, this recipe could ruin you for store bought.
I was going to take a few pictures to illustrate how to make and shape a babka, but the woman who posted this recipe did a great job of it. https://prettysimplesweet.com/shaping-babka. Copy and paste this link into your browser for details.
INGREDIENTS For the dough: • 3¾ cups (530 g) all-purpose flour , plus extra for dusting • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar • 1 tablespoon (10g) instant yeast • 3 large eggs • ½ cup (120 ml) water • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt • ⅔ cup (150 g) unsalted butter , at room temperature, cut into small cubes • Neutral oil (sunflower, canola) for dressing For the chocolate filling: • ½ cup (50 g) powdered sugar • ⅓ cup (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder • 130 g dark chocolate , melted* • ½ cup (120 g) unsalted butter , melted • ⅔ cup (120 g) chocolate chips or chunks OR 1 cup (100g/3.5oz) pecans, coarsely chopped (optional) For the sugar syrup: • ½ cup (120ml) water • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
METHOD Making the dough:
Place flour, sugar, and yeast in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed until combined. Add eggs and water, and mix on medium speed until dough comes together, 2-3 minutes. Add salt, then butter, adding a few cubes at a time, mixing until incorporated. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until dough is completely smooth, elastic, shiny, and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. During mixing, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Place dough in a large bowl brushed with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge for at least half a day or overnight.
Grease two loaf pans (9×4 inch) with oil and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Divide dough in half and keep one half covered in the fridge. Making the filling:
Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter until you have a spreadable paste.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle measuring 15×11 inches. Position dough so that a long side is closest to you. Using an offset spatula, spread half of the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ inch border all around. Sprinkle half of the pecans or chocolate chips on top of the chocolate. Shaping the dough:
Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade, then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.
Trim about ¾ inch off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Then use the knife to gently cut the roll in half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam, essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lifting the left half over the right, to create a simple two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into a loaf pan. Don’t worry if there are gaps in the pan since the cake will rise and will eventually look fine, even if you feel like it’s messy at this point. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. Repeat to make the second cake.
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure to allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the cakes have finished rising. Remove plastic wrap or tea towels, place cakes on middle rack of oven, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean with no dough attached.
While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and set aside to cool. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush the syrup over them. Use all of the syrup, even if it looks a lot. Let cakes cool until they are warm, then remove from pans and let cool completely before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Babka will stay fresh for 24 hours in an airtight container at room temperature. Don’t place in the fridge.
Babka freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on counter or overnight in the fridge.
To melt butter and chocolate, place them in a heat-proof bowl, and heat in the microwave in 20 second-intervals, stirring in between each interval, until melted and smooth (or alternatively, set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally).
I received a recipe from King Arthur Baking (formerly Flour) for Blueberry/Cream Cheese rolls topped with the aforementioned crumble topping.
I mostly followed the recipe with a few exceptions; I used apple cider instead of wine for the filling. I also added the juice of 1/2 lemon to activate the pectin. Also, I wasn’t impressed with the streusel crumble. I would have preferred one similar to what is found on a cinnamon muffin or a pie.
I only baked them for 40 minutes, when the internal temperature was 205 deg F. It may be my oven.
However, the taste was excellent and will definitely be making these again.
Dough • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1/4 cup granulated sugar • 1 large egg • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour Filling • 2 cups (425g) fresh or frozen blueberries • 1/4 cup fruit juice or red wine • 1/2 cup granulated sugar • 1 tablespoon pectin • pinch of salt Topping • 12 ounces (1 1/2 large packages) cream cheese, at room temperature • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour • 1/8 teaspoon salt Streusel • 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, slightly softened
To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or in a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and let it rise for about 60 minutes, until it’s nicely puffed.
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Place the berries and juice or wine in a medium-sized saucepan. Combine the sugar, pectin, and salt. Add the sugar/thickener to the berries/wine and cook over medium heat until the sauce is thick, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Gently deflate the risen dough, and roll/pat it into an 18″ x 20″ rectangle. Spread with the cooled blueberry filling, and roll up cinnamon-roll style.
Slice the roll into 12 equal portions. Place in a greased 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking dish, cut (spiral) side up. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, and let rise for 40 minutes.
As the dough is rising, prepare the topping. Combine the softened cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt. Stir until very smooth. Place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Cut off a generous piece of the corner of the bag, leaving an opening the size of a quarter.
Prepare the streusel by combining the flour, sugar, and butter with a fork or your fingers until it’s in large crumbles, similar to large granola clusters.
Uncover the rolls and pipe a large dollop of cream cheese filling on top of each. Use your wet fingers to spread the filling completely over the top of each bun.
Sprinkle the streusel over the tops of the rolls. Use all the streusel; don’t worry if it falls off the top of the rolls and settles between them. Everything will bake together just fine.
Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 to 55 minutes. They should be golden brown on the edges, and the streusel should be nicely browned, as well. A digital thermometer should read 200°F when inserted into the center of a roll.
Remove the rolls from the oven. Serve warm, or at room temperature. These large, rich buns make a very filling breakfast! Tips from our bakers
• For smaller buns, divide the dough into 24 equal portions and place in two well-greased 12-cup muffin pans. Reduce the baking time to 25 to 30 minutes.
Store these buns in the fridge for up to 3 days. A short warming in the microwave or toaster oven will take the chill off before eating.
I kept the Chrome tab open on my laptop for over two weeks before my Covid Stay At Home cravings overpowered my common sense. Plus my new ‘ratchet’ belt was delivered providing more…. options.
One problem with this recipe is you have to remember to make the dough and allow its initial proof the night before you want to make them. This much planning requires a significant CSAH craving, and I have it.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE DOUGHNUTS: • 2¼ Teaspoons instant yeast • ¾ Cup warm water • ⅓ Cup granulated sugar • ½ Teaspoon salt • ¼ Cup unsalted butter, at room temperature • 1 egg • 1 egg yolk • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract • 2½ to 3 Cups all-purpose flour • 3 to 4 Cups vegetable shortening, for frying FOR THE GLAZE: • 2 Cups powdered sugar • ¼ Cup water • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract METHOD:
Make the Doughnuts: Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Add the sugar, salt, butter, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and 2½ cups of the flour. Knead on low speed until a dough begins to form. If the dough is quite sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time until a soft, tacky dough forms. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but not the bottom.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot for 2 hours.
Gently press to deflate the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to a ½-inch thickness. Using a doughnut cutter (if you don’t have one, use one larger and one smaller round cutters) dipped in flour, cut out the doughnuts and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (You can roll any leftover dough scraps into balls for more doughnut holes.) Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rest for 1 hour.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and place a wire cooling rack on top.
When ready to fry, heat the vegetable shortening in a large cast iron skillet (or other wide, heavy-bottomed skillet or pot) to a maintained temperature of 360 to 370 degrees. Gently lower the doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (I cooked in three batches). Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Carefully remove the doughnuts from the oil and place on the cooling rack. Repeat until all of the doughnuts have been fried.
Make the Glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract until smooth. Working one at a time, dip each doughnut into the glaze, flip to coat the other side, and return to the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set for about 15 minutes, then serve.
I recently picked another quart of blackberries from my garden and decided some fresh blackberry muffins would be a nice treat. Actually, half of the QA department thought it was a good idea and why would I object?
I found this recipe from an Oregon blackberry grower—how could I go wrong? I actually saw the same ingredients, ratios and method on several websites. Well, they all got it right. These are easy, quick and delicious.
Although the blackberries were fresh from the garden I froze them for a couple of hours. This kept the blackberry juice from diffusing out into the muffin batter. I also cut them in half to help the dispersion throughout the batter.
BLACKBERRY MUFFINS INGREDIENTS
FOR THE BATTTER • ½ C all-purpose flour • ¾ C sugar • ½ t salt • 2 t baking powder • ⅓ C vegetable oil • 1 egg • 1 t vanilla extract • ⅓ – ½ C milk • 1 C fresh frozen blackberries or fresh (cut in half)
FOR THE STREUSEL TOPPING • ½ C sugar • ⅓ C all-purpose flour • ¼ C butter melted • 1 t ground cinnamon • Optional – ½ t ground cardamom METHOD
Preheat oven to 400°F .
Grease a muffin tin or line with muffin liners.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add oil to a 1 cup measuring cup. Add egg and enough milk (⅓ – ½ cup) to fill to 1-cup line. Add vanilla and almond extract (if using) and whisk to combine.
Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients until just combined, then fold in blackberries. To Make Streusel Topping:
Mix together sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon and cardamom with a fork until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle with streusel topping.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. When muffins are done, cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan before removing to cool on a wire rack.
I saw a recipe on Tasty.com for a Dutch Oven Jalapeño Cheese Bread and thought—that’s different and I wanted to try different. You see, I like things that change. I don’t like things that are always the same. Just ask the QA Department. She’ll tell you the truth.
I made the bread diligently following the recipe. No changes. I used the stretch and fold method rather than kneading. This method is good for any high hydration bread. This particular techniques uses a silicone spoon to stretch the dough then fold it over. With other stretch and fold techniques the dough it placed on a lightly floured surface and either a bench scraper or your wet hands stretch, then fold.
Once the dough has risen the second time use the bench stretch and fold technique to form, more or less, a ball. The following video is the first time I have tried recording any bread making technique.
INGREDIENTS • 3 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting • 2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided • 2 (70g) jalapeños, seeded and coarsely chopped • 1 jalapeño, sliced into rings, divided • 1 tablespoon kosher salt • 2 cups warm water • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast • 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, 2 cups (200 g) of cheddar cheese, the chopped jalapeños, and salt. Stir well.
In a separate large bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Pour the flour mixture on top of the water and use a silicone spatula to stir until the dough comes together.
With the spatula, fold the dough around the edges of the bowl toward the center, rotating the bowl each time and folding a total of 8 times. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for 60 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.
Using the spatula, fold the dough toward the center again 8 more times. Cover with the towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Add the Dutch oven and lid to the oven, and preheat to 450˚F (230˚C) for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and your hands. Carefully peel the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured surface. Flip over and carefully brush away excess flour. Fold the edges of the dough towards the center 8 times, then flip over the dough and transfer to a piece of parchment paper.
Brush the top of the dough with the olive oil, so the cheese will stick. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup (50 g) of cheese on top. Use a sharp knife to score the bread with an “X”, which will allow steam to escape. Arrange the jalapeño rings on top of the cheese.
Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and use the parchment to lift the bread into the pot. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for 20 more minutes, until the bread is golden brown.
Carefully slide the bread out of the pot and onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and let the bread cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.