Archive for the ‘Breadmaking’ Category

Better Yet, Please Pass the Lemon Curd

March 16, 2010 @ 6:51 pm | Filed under:

We tried our first batch of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day today. I used the “Light Wheat Bread” recipe (a mix of whole wheat and unbleached white flours). It was supposed to make four loaves but we only got three out of it. This just means I get to try another recipe tomorrow.


—Very tasty bread, but a bit salty, we thought? I’ll reduce the salt in the next batch.

—Fabulous crust and a wonderful crumb. Very pleased with the texture. Just perfect.

—Would definitely double the recipe next time, since the point is to have enough in the fridge to bake a new loaf every day or so. A batch of dough should keep up to two weeks. I love the thought of the flavor intensifying over time, as the dough ages and develops sourdough notes.

The method was every bit as quick and easy as advertised. Took us all of ten minutes to mix up the big batch of dough (and half of that was ingredient-assembling—I need to restock my breadmaking supplies). You’re supposed to give it an initial rise of at least two hours, and then you can use the dough right away or put it in the fridge. We cut off enough for one loaf and enjoyed that with friends a couple of hours later. The rest went back into the fridge, and I sent a loaf’s worth of dough home with my friend and baked the second loaf for our dinner.

So good.

The dough was wet and sticky—deliberately; that’s part of the method—and I really thought the first loaf was going to be a flop because it spread out a lot during the short rising time. But then it baked up beautifully. Awesome oven spring. Quite thrilling, really.

I’m itching to try the peasant rye loaf and can see keeping batches of the “light wheat” (the whole wheat/white flour mix) and of rye in the fridge all week and alternating for each day’s baking. I’m also eager to try the whole wheat recipe and the brioche.

The possibilities for that brioche dough are intoxicating.

Oh, and I must say a bit of lemon curd countered the saltiness of today’s loaves quite nicely.

I may cross-post this at the old bread blog for easier reference (that blog used to be my breadmaking notebook, for collecting recipes and advice) but for now I’m going to post my bread notes here, too.


Please Pass the Butter
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day website (the videos are especially helpful)

Please Pass the Butter

March 15, 2010 @ 7:08 pm | Filed under:

1) Because he loves me;

2) Because he reads my Facebook page and saw that my old boss left a comment recommending it;

3) Because lately we seem to be going through three loaves a week…

my husband bought me a copy of, yes, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Looks like it might be time to dust off my old bread blog.

Thanks, honey. I’ll save you an extra-thick slice.

The Chicken Tikka Masala Post

January 14, 2010 @ 1:18 pm | Filed under: ,

Whenever I get the opportunity to go out for Indian food, I order chicken tikka masala and aloo gobi. From the very first bite, my whole self is suffused with the most incredible sense of well-being. Must be something in the combination of spices, or maybe it’s one spice in particular, who knows: whatever it is, I think it affects me sort of the way chocolate does. Massive endorphin rush? Scott laughs because I shovel in the food and say, “I’m so happy!” after every bite.

So last week I decided to try my own hand at these favorites. I found a video tutorial for chicken tikka masala, and a friend sent me an excellent recipe for naan. I do believe these dishes will become regulars in my kitchen. Today I want to give aloo gobi a try. I’ve googled a recipe, but if you have a favorite—or pointers—I’d welcome the advice.

My cookery notes (recording them here because this is the easiest place for me to find things later):

Chicken Tikka Masala

• I couldn’t find cardamom pods in the grocery store, so I omitted those from the first step. (You season the oil with the cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick—which I also omitted—and remove those things before sauteeing your onions.)

• I forgot to defrost the chicken the night before, so I just took it out in the morning and converted the recipe to a slow-cooker dish. After Step 5 (you have already sauteed the onions, added the spices, tomato, and water, and cooked the sauce for a few minutes), I transferred everything to the crock pot. The chicken had thawed enough for me to cut it into cubes—it’s actually easier to cut when it’s a little frozen—so I just plopped it into the sauce and set it on high for an hour, then low for about three hours. I added a little extra water to the sauce so it wouldn’t cook down too much. This worked fine, and freed me up to fry the naan at dinnertime.

• The recipe calls for adding plain yogurt (amount vague) or coconut milk just before serving. I used plain yogurt, about 3/4 cup—had no idea how much to add. We would like to try coconut milk next time, but the yogurt was fine.

Garam Masala question. I bought a jar at Henry’s: Spice Hunter brand salt-free garam masala blend. The final dish seemed a little heavy on cloves (to me; Scott didn’t think so) and the flavor wasn’t quite what I’ve experienced at Indian restaurants. I assume there is some variation among different garam masala blends, just like one jar of Cajun seasoning never tastes exactly like another. Anyone got a recommendation for a blend that isn’t quite so dominated by the cloves?

Despite the ubercloviness, the final dish was delectable. Definitely a shovel-in-the-mouth-I’m-so-happy meal.

UPDATED! How much do I love Twitter? I tweeted a request for a good aloo gobi recipe, and @KrisBordessa suggested I ask @mbhide, aka Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice. I added a second question about garam masala spice blends, and Monica replied with a link to this piece in the Washington Post about a garam masala taste test she took part in. (Scroll down a bit.) So very cool.


This recipe produced some of the best naan I have ever tasted—and that’s in spite of my rookie hamhandedness. So flavorful, slightly sweet. The recipe called for 1/4 cup sugar, but I was afraid it would be too sweet, so I cut that a bit—I used an 1/8 cup and then a little more (maybe a third of the 1/8th cup measure; I’ll let you work out the math on that). 😉

• I should have read the comments below the recipe before I started. There are some helpful tips there. Several people advised to cut the flour to 3 1/2 cups, and I wish I’d seen that earlier! I should have added it more gradually than I did. I didn’t need much more than 3 1/4 cups, I think.

• I did add the minced garlic—YUM.

• The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt. This seemed rather high, so I halved it.

• I cooked on my cast iron grill pan (thanks, Mom), the side with the grill lines. It worked a treat. I think I need to make my dough balls a bit bigger this time—my naan came out more the size of silver dollar pancakes than the dinner-plate size I’ve always seen. Then again, the smaller size was great for my kids. The little ones would rather have their ownty-downty pieces than half a big one.

• We started mixing up the dough around 2pm, which was plenty of time for two risings before 5pm when I was ready to start grilling it.

Which means it’s almost time to move kitchenward for today’s dough-mixing.

Pizza Dough Recipe Wanted

April 6, 2009 @ 10:14 am | Filed under: ,

I need to use up some mozzarella and was thinking about making a pizza tonight. A Google search for “pizza dough” turns up almost 900,000 hits. I want something tried and true—and EASY—so I thought I’d ask you lovely Bonny Glen readers. You’ve never steered me wrong before! Got a favorite recipe?


Saturday Snapshots

October 18, 2008 @ 10:48 am | Filed under: , ,

I promised to show a picture of the table runner I made. It’s not a great picture, but that’s okay because it’s not a great table runner. But I’m pretty pleased with it. The runner, I mean. The other side is the same green floral as the ends here. The checked fabric—which has green in it and isn’t as orange in real life as in this photo—was a long scrap from the curtains I made for the kids’ craft room.

I had fun with Flickr’s “add a note” feature if you want to click through for commentary on the photo. Well, actually, it’s another photo almost exactly like this one, revealing what happens when Scott walks into the room.

I’ve been in a very handcrafty mood lately, as my last couple weeks’ worth of posts probably make obvious. I tried my hand at the zipper pouch from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, inspired by Jenn’s lovely pink patchwork pouch. This was my first-ever attempt at putting in a zipper, and, well, it zips. Just don’t inspect the ends too closely…

And now that it’s finally feeling cool enough (in the mornings, at least—we’re melting by noon) to think of baking, I’ve been pining for my lost sourdough starter. We suffered a little fridge snafu a while back, and room temperature was way too hot for my starter, which had been living in the freezer through the hot months. It got moldy. Sob. Also, ick.

So I’ve been tempted to order a new one, but I thought first I’d try my hand at starting one from scratch. Some sites describe this as a ridiculously easy undertaking. Other sources say ominous things about poor success rates in arid climates, which we certainly have here in the decidely dry eastern half of San Diego County. But hey, a cup of flour and a cup of water is pretty low overhead for an experiment. So on Thursday morning I mixed up a batch and put it in a warm corner. By Friday it was already looking promisingly bubbly.

I fed it twice yesterday, and this morning it looks frothy and vigorous. (Blurry photo: snapped hastily in the midst of getting breakfast for my little people.)

Think I’ll give it one more day to get established and maybe try it in some biscuits tomorrow. Just about time to move it into the fridge, too.

And finally, a little backyard beautification project: the kids are decorating our side of the neighbor’s big ole wall with sidewalk chalk. It’ll last a long time here in did-I-mention-it’s-very-dry? San Diego County. I think we’ve only seen rain once in the last four months.

Bread and Butter

May 21, 2008 @ 6:54 pm | Filed under: , , , ,

We haven’t baked bread for a really long time (witness my neglected bread blog). Lately the reason is because it’s been too hot. Yesterday our heat wave broke and I had a breadish impulse, and I thought I’d better act on it because it’s bound to get hot again soon and who knows when I’ll feel like baking again. The girls mixed up a batch of dough (Wisteria’s recipe) and I read to them while they kneaded.

Later, after the rising and shaping and second rising, we put the bread in the oven and I had another impulse. Someone blogged recently about making butter—I can’t for the life of me remember who it was. Years ago, summers during college, I had a job as a tour guide at a prairie wildlife refuge where, in addition to 2,000 acres of open prairie full of pronghorn and owls and snakes and prairie dogs, there was a small sod village. Sometimes my job was to give tours to school groups, and in the sod house we always baked johnny cake on the iron stove and churned butter to go with it. We had a jar with a special hand-crank churn blade attached to the lid, and the kids would take turns cranking while I gave my talk and mixed up the johnny cake. When the butter was ready I’d turn it out into a wooden bowl and mash it with a wooden paddle, squeezing out the buttermilk. Even in hot Colorado July weather, the warm johnny cake and sweet, creamy butter was heart-stirringly delicious.

So you’d think with all that buttermaking experience under my belt, not to mention the whole Little House motif threaded through our lives, I’d have made butter with my kids a zillion times. Not so. I think I was spoiled by the fancy churning gadget; I always figured doing it the shake-it-in-a-jar way would take a really really long time and be one of those experiments with a spotty success rate.

But this blog entry I read (my apologies for forgetting where) described it as a simple and sure-fire process that took about 20 minutes. So when I put our bread in the oven to bake, I grabbed a clean spaghetti jar I’d save for rinsing paintbrushes and poured in some heavy cream. Filled it about half full. Called the girls. Commenced a-shaking.

We took turns and everyone was very giggly and excited. Of course we had to pull Little House in the Big Woods off the shelf and read the churning passage there:

At first the splashes of cream showed thick and smooth around the little hole. After a long time, they began to look grainy. Then Ma churned more slowly, and on the dash there began to appear tiny grains of yellow butter. When Ma took off the churn-cover, there was the butter in a golden lump, drowning in the buttermilk.

We couldn’t resist unscrewing the lid every little while to check our progress. At first the cream got very thick, just as Laura described. Our shaking had whipped it, and when we shook the jar we couldn’t hear or feel it sloshing around anymore. Then, about ten minutes later, it began to thin out again, and we felt the sloshing. We peeked inside and it really did look grainy. Another five or six minutes, and it looked lumpy. Right after that it happened to be my turn to shake the jar, and all of a sudden I felt a thunk inside from something solid smacking the lid. We had our butter.

The girls erupted in squeals. We opened the lid and there it was, not golden like Laura had described, but the faintest of pale yellows. I scooped it into a bowl, and Rose and Beanie took tastes of the buttermilk. They liked it. I mashed the soft butter to get out the rest of the liquid. Ma washed hers in cold water, but I didn’t bother doing that. I mixed in a little salt, and the timer beeped on our bread, and we couldn’t bear to wait for the bread to cool. Thick slices, slathered in butter; a blissful hush in the kitchen. Mmmm.

You are not to be impressed with my industrious domesticity on this day because 1) if such a state occurs in this house, it is a passing fluke; and 2) it turns out making butter is incredibly easy. Come to think of it, it was easier than, say, loading all the kids into the minivan and running to the grocery store to buy butter would have been. You know how those grocery-store runs can reduce me to a frazzled wreck.

I have since poked around a little online and it seems baby-food jars make excellent mini-churns. Just remember to only fill the jar half full, leaving plenty of sloshing room. And I wouldn’t give each kid his own jar because your arms do get really tired and it’s good to be able to pass off to the next shaker down the line. It sounds like it only takes ten or eleven minutes to go from cream to butter in a small jar like that. Ours took about 24 minutes, which I only know because the bread timer was set for 25. From (I’m guessing) 6 ounces of cream, we got about half a cup of butter, maybe 2/3 cup.

Oh, a last note about the bread—we did NOT use my fancy mixer with the dough hook because the children object to the way it usurps their favorite thing about breadmaking: kneading. In retrospect I realize that’s one reason we cooled off on breadmaking after our wildly enthusiastic beginning. My co-bakers drifted away because the machine killed the fun. So yesterday, I just set a mixing bowl and the six simple ingredients on the table, and the kids went to town. Yeast, water, flour, honey, salt, melted butter. They can mix this dough all by themselves. I gave each of them her own cutting board (nothing fancy; two of them were plastic, and one of those was quite small, but Beanie asked for it because she wanted to make a small loaf for herself) and divided the dough into three lumps. It’s better if they don’t have to take turns for the fun part. We stuck it all back together for the first rising. The kitchen table works better for kneading than the counters, because they can get above the dough and push down. This is stuff I figured out as we went yesterday, but it’s the kind of fiddly logistical stuff that can make or break an experience for us, and I share it under the assumption I’m not the only mom for whom that’s true.