Tuesday, May 22, 2012

BBB - Shepherd's Bread

This month, the BBBabes baked bread in a cloche.  I had to be a buddy for this one, I've had a cloche on my wish list for years.  They're usually quite expensive so I was thrilled to find a terracotta chicken baker for only $25 which I figured would fill the bill.  One of these days I'll splurge and get the big bell shaped one.  Now this one is glazed inside on the bottom half -  don't know if that affects the steaming for bread, but it worked well enough for me.  I'll have to try roasting a chicken in it some time too and hope it doesn't spoil it for bread.  The top sure was porous; I didn't have to worry about wiping any water drips after I dunked it, it just soaked them up like a sponge.  I wonder if, since this was my first use, I should have soaked it longer for better steaming.  Hmmm.  Well, if you want to see the original post and amazing results using a proper cloche and white flour, check out Bake My Day!  I used half whole spelt, so my loaf is a bit more dense.  It still turned out a nice fine crumb with surprisingly delicate texture.  Next time I get my hands on some white spelt I'll try a portion of that for whole spelt.

I made a half batch to fit my little baker and used much less sugar than called for.  This still makes a large loaf for a family of four.  Here is the recipe if you have a clay baker or cast iron dutch oven lying around and would like to try it out. I erred possibly too much on the slack side for this dough but whole spelt really likes to absorb moisture so I didn't want to go the other way.  These directions are taken from Bake My Day's post:

Shepherd's Bread
from Bread for All Seasons by Beth Hensperger
makes 1 (gargantuan) loaf (I'd recommend making two smaller boules or a half batch)

Sponge (takes 2 hours)
2 tsp active dry yeast or 3/4 oz fresh yeast (I used Instant Yeast)
2 cups tepid water
2 cups unbleached ap or bread flour (I used half whole spelt)
½ cup sugar (90 gr) (I used 2 tbsp coconut sugar for a half batch)

Dough (first rise 2-3 hours, second only 15 minutes)

1 tsp active dry yeast or 1/4 oz fresh yeast (I used instant yeast)
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs salt
½ cup olive oil (I used butter)
5½ to 6 cups unbleached ap flour or bread flour (I used half whole spelt)

¼ cup unbleached ap flour or bread flour

1. Prepare the sponge: In a large bowl sprinkle the dry yeast or crumble the fresh yeast over the tepid water, Using a large whisk add 1 cup of the flour and the sugar. Add remaining cup of flour and beat hard until very smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temp until soft, spongy and pleasantly fermented, 2 hours.

2. Prepare the dough: Using a wooden spoon, beat down the sponge. Alternatively, beat down the sponge in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a measuring cup, stir the yeast into the warm water to dissolve. Add the yeast, warm water, salt and olive oil to the sponge and beat well. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time, beating vigorously until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Will be firm yet springy and resilient. Adding only 1 tbs flour at a time to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a floured deep container, dust the top with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temp until tripled in bulk, 2½ - 3 hours.

4. Shaping: Again turn out the dough on a clean surface. It will be slightly sticky from the long rise. Knead in about ¼ cup more flour to make a firmer dough, about 1 minute. Shape into a tight round ball. Pull the ends tightly to the center of the loaf to form a smooth bottom and sides. Mist the surface with water. Using about 2 tbs of flour, heavily coat the top surface.

Using a serrated knife, slash the top surface decoratively, no more than ¼ inch deep to allow steam to escape and to allow room for the dough to expand.

Cloche instructions:

Sprinkle the dish with flour and place the dough ball in the center of the dish. Move the dough around to cover the bottom and up the sides a bit with flour. (Do you see that square of parchment on the bottom? That's a very good idea... the sides of the dry pot are so smooth that flour won't stick so to reduce the risk of having to use powertools to hack your bread out of the cloche I'd suggest use a piece of parchment)

Cover with the cloche dome/bell and let rest at room temp 15 minutes. Before placing in the oven, rinse the inside of the cloche bell -cover/lid- with water, draining off excess drips. Place back over the bread and place in the preheated 425F oven.  Bake 10 minutes.  Lower thermostat to 400F and bake a further 25-35 minutes. Remove the bell after 30 minutes of baking to allow the loaf to brown thoroughly.  Remove and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.  If you'd like to use your bread baking stone or tiles; let rise a second time for 35 minutes then use same oven setting but don't lower the temp. and bake until the bread is golden brown, crisp and sounds hollow when tapped.
(Use steam if baking on tiles.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dole Whip inspired Pineapple Freeze

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there!  It is a beautiful, sunny day here in Puget Sound and therefore I decided to make something cold.  This frosty treat is inspired by the Dole Whips you can get at Disney resorts.  Truth be told, it has been 20 some odd years since I have been to Disney, so I have not actually had one.  This is dairy free and could also be used as a base for a Pineapple Daiquiri or Piña Colada.  Just let it freeze hard, add a splash of rum and give it a whirl in the blender.  Or just enjoy this pineapple sherbet-like freeze as is.  Hubby liked it even with the slight coconut flavor.  ☺  And of course the kiddos loved it.  Now we'll have to head to Disney next summer and try out the "real" thing.  Although now that I've seen the ingredients, I know R can't have one.  So really, I will enjoy being able to make it without the extras:   

DOLE WHIP INGREDIENTS: Water*, Sugar, Dextrose, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Coconut Oil**, Stabilizers (Cellulose, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean, Karaya Gum, Pectin), Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking), Corn Syrup Solids, Citric Acid, Sodium Caseinate (A Milk Derivative), Artificial Flavor, Potassium & Sodium Phosphate, Mono & Diglycerides, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 & 6), Soy Lecithin.  **Adds a trivial amount of fat (Needed for Fat Free claim)

Now all that sugar and those additives gives it the smooth addictive flavor I'm sure it has.  So I will enjoy my version with a little bit of fat to slow down the absorption of the sugar.  Better for your body anyway.  If you really wanted to try a fat free version, I would say use coconut water or pineapple nectar instead of the coconut milk.  The reason I recommend organic citrus is because it is a highly sprayed crop.  So when I see a good deal on a bag or organic limes or lemons, I grab them to take home and zest and juice.  Both the zest and the juice freeze fabulously.  If you want to freeze in ice cube trays for pre-measured tablespoons, go for it.  I've been too lazy to do that, but I should.  This recipe can be halved or the mix refrigerated/frozen in batches if needed.

Pineapple Freeze (Sherbet)
makes 10 servings

2 (20 oz.) cans crushed or chunked pineapple, undrained (go ahead and get Dole for a hint of authenticity)
2 tbsp lime juice (fresh organic preferred)
2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh organic preferred)
½ cup evaporated cane sugar
1 (13.66 oz) can coconut milk (I love Thai Kitchen Organic)

Put all the ingredients in a blender or vitamix and puree on highest speed until very smooth.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to freeze.  (If you plan ahead and chill the canned items, it should be ready to go quickly.)  Freeze in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions.  When it is soft serve consistency, spoon into serving dishes or fill a bag with a very large star tip and pipe out soft serve style.  

If you do not have an ice cream freezer I would suggest filling some freezer Ziploc bags with the mix and freezing until fairly firm, squishing them on occasion.  Then whirl them in the blender until smooth and creamy using additional juice if needed to blend.

Serve in a glass of pineapple juice for a "Dole Whip float."

Now take it out and enjoy the sun!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's Mockarita time...

With the awesome help of R, I actually got the garden weeded this year!  Just finished.  Well, I still have the little end bed to do, but the main garden is done and partly planted even.  I love that she is taking some ownership of the garden this year and very excited not only to plant but to weed as well.  Because I hate weeding.  And looking at a garden completely overgrown just puts me back in the house.  So a couple sunny weekends ago, R went out one morning in her PJ's and garden gloves and attacked the weeds.  She got at least a third of the rows done.  That made it manageable enough for me to tackle as well.  The next sunny weekend we worked together and got it 3/4 of the way done.  And the past two days I have tackled the last, weediest bit that always seems worse than the rest.

So to reward myself, I decided to make a mockarita I have been eyeing for some time.  I made up some limeade concentrate of my own yesterday so it would be frozen and ready.  This is a great, refreshing drink and really is quite like a blended margarita.  I didn't rim my glass with salt, but you can always do that to make it more authentic looking.  ☺  It's not a sweet drink either, so I really enjoyed it without worrying that I was undoing all those calories I just burned in the garden!  S wanted to try and liked it at first but then decided it was mine after all.  I suspect the sweetness is definitely tailored to an adult palate looking for the margarita flavor.  I'm certainly enjoying it!  (And now that R is home from school, she is downing two servings worth from the freezer...)

makes 8 (4 oz.) servings

1 6 oz. can frozen limeade concentrate (I used the homemade stuff)
¾ cup orange juice
2/3 cup unsweetened grapefruit juice
25 - 30 small ice cubes
Lime slices for garnish

Rim your serving glasses with lime juice and dip in salt or sugar if desired.  Set aside.  In a blender mix together limeade and juices until smooth.  Start adding ice cubes through the top hole and blend until slushy.  (If you have a vitamix, just throw it all together and blend using the pusher to get a very smooth and thick frozen drink.)  Pour or spoon into your serving glasses (depending on how thick you made it.)  Garnish with a slice of lime.

Sit back and enjoy the sunshine!  (Because here in Seattle, it may be gone in a blink.)

Adapted from recipe.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Creamy Italian Pasta with Asparagus

I really like this pasta!  It's quick, it's easy, and it's tasty.  I've made it a few times already and when I saw the gorgeous thin asparagus spears at the market, I knew it was time to share.  Of course having little kids, I made this with some cute mini farfalle pasta, but you are welcome to make it with regular sized bow ties.  (Who says mini stuff is just for kids though!)  This is a springtime or summer bounty dish.  The colors are appealing and the dish itself, while nice and creamy, is not so heavy that it weighs you down.  R demolished her plate in a trice.  (Glad the kiddos like asparagus.)  We hope you try out and enjoy this recipe, it's a definite keeper for us.

Creamy Italian Pasta
Serves 4-6

8 oz. dried mini bow tie pasta
½ fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1" pieces
½ yellow onion, chopped into 1" pieces
8 oz. fresh asparagus spears
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp garlic olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
½-1 tsp fine grain sea salt (to taste)
½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley (flat-leaf)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.  Meanwhile in a large skillet, start sauteing the fennel and onion in the butter and oil over medium heat.  Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and break into 1" pieces.  Add to onion and fennel and cook for 5-7 minutes until crisp tender.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the cooked bow ties, mascarpone and reserved pasta water to the pan.  Stir together until mascapone is melted.  Add mozzarella, Parmesan and peas and toss to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley.  Garnish with extra parsley if desired or the fronds from your fennel bulb.

Adapted from recipe.com.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Apple Betty Bread

So my four year old dumped my whole recipe box out onto the sofa.  While I am, to say the least, displeased about it, I did take the opportunity to weed out another ¼" of recipes I will never use.  And, joy of joys, I found an old favorite that I've been wanting to make again for some time.  I think I was still in college the last time I made this and have suffered for its lack.  This was handwritten recipe card worthy.  Love this Apple Bread.  But it's more than that really, it's Apple Betty Bread.  The recipe box culprit tried a slice and said, "Mmmmm!"  She quickly finished it and continued, "More, please!"  I cut back the sugar on this recipe to suit our current palate, but if you want more of a dessert you can increase the sugar by ¼-½ cup.  I don't think it needs it though.  With the sweet tart apples and the sweet crunchy topping, it is a great not too sweet treat.  I suspect it would lend itself well to using part almond flour too for an even more healthful rendition.  I believe I originally clipped this out of a Penzey's spice catalog some time in the late 90's and the moist crumb, great flavor and cookie crisp topping instantly won us over.

Apple Betty Bread
makes 2 loaves

4 cups tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped to 1" chunks * (that's about 3 medium Granny Smith)
4 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour (I use a blend of all purpose, light and whole spelt flours)
2 scant tsp fine grain sea salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
½ cup light brown muscovado sugar

¾ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Butter two loaf pans.  (8x4" will be quite full but have a nice thick streusel topping, 9x5" will fit the topping easily.)  With a mixer, beat eggs until very light and foamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in oil, applesauce and extracts.  Beat in sugars until well blended and thick.  (Not quite ribbon forming but almost.)  In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, soda and cinnamon.  Mix slowly into batter in about three additions.  Scrape sides and beat on high for a few seconds to smooth it out.  Fold in the apples.  Spoon the batter evenly into the pans.  Make the topping by cutting the butter into the other topping ingredients until moist and crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over loaves.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Loaf should be firm in the middle.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.  Cool for easier slicing.

* Add a splash of lemon juice to apples and toss to prevent browning.  Drain before folding into batter.