Thursday, September 28, 2006


Peabody tagged me for this. Thanks!

I am thinking about: what I'm going to have for dinner
I said: "I'll have a scoop of cookies n cream in a waffle cone" early this afternoon
I want to: make fancy cookies with my cool new leaf cookie cutters
I wish: I had more get up and go these days
I regret: working at that dreadful bakery this past spring
I hear: my sister-in-law decluttering the house
I am: feeling kinda cranky these days
I dance: never; I've always hated dancing
I sing: along frequently to whatever I'm listening too
I cry: more than I admit
I am not: patient
I am: a great bread-baker!
I write: frequently
I confuse: myself (sometimes)
I need: to practice piping techniques

I tag: tshsmom and Nancy Drew

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

I got this recipe from Peabody. It's absolutely fabulous! Pumpkin is one of my favourite things to bake with because it's so versatile and you can combine it with a lot of flavours. Careful with your oven temperature here; white chocolate burns at a lower temperature than milk or dark chocolate.

The recipe can be found here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pizza Time

Aaaah...the power of advertising!

I saw an add for something having to do with Philly Cheesesteak on the TV. I can't remember if it was a pizza ad from Panago or a Subway ad or what, but all it did was induce a craving for Philly Cheesesteak. In that regard the ad was successful; unfortunatly, I was more compelled to make my own version than go out and purchase whatever was being advertised.

I knew we had a spare striploin kicking around, as well as onions and peppers. I went out and bought a second steak, cheese, and pizza sauce. I made my own crust. This was a very hearty pizza that fed four of us. And it was superb. Please take the time to caramelize the onions - it's worth the extra effort, trust me!

For the crust:

2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups bread flour (or all purpose, if that's all you have on hand)
1 package quick yeast (or 2 1/2 tsp)
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup very warm water
2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine the flour yeast and salt. Add the water and oil, and stir to form a soft dough. Develop until smooth and elastic. Cover and let it rise until double in size - about 1 - 2 hours depending on room temperature.

Meanwhile, start the caramelization of the onions.

4 large onions, thinly sliced (I used a food processor)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Put the onions in large frying pan and sprinkle on the sugar and salt. Cover and turn the stove on to medium high. You want to sweat out the liquid from the onions, and the salt aids in that. Once there is a lot of liquid in the pan and the onions look like they're about to drown, take off the cover and reduce the heat to medium. You now are waiting for the water to evaporate, and this will take several mintues. After the water has evaporated, stir the onions frequently, not letting them sit too long in one place. Eventually, they'll turn a lovely caramel colour which should be uniform. This entire process took about half an hour, and I used a non-stick saute pan which worked wonderfully.

Meanwhile, slice very thinly one green pepper, and once the onions are done and removed to cool, start sauteing the pepper in the same pan.

As the peppers saute, you'll need to prep the steak. I used two steaks, one striploin and one sirloin tip that weighed approximately 600g. Slice thinly and put in a bowl with 2 tsp vegetable oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning and garlic powder to taste (I used a couple of tsp of Montreal Steak Spice and 1/2 tsp garlic powder). Or you can marinate your steak any way you want to, but at the very least make sure it's seasoned well with salt and pepper.

Saute the steak to medium in the same pan you did the onions and peppers in, once you've removed the peppers to let them cool. Don't overcook the steak since it's going in the oven soon.

Back to the dough now. Punch it down and roll out to a rectangle approximately 9x13" (alternately, the Fleischmann's recipe book from whence this recipe came says you will get two 12" rounds from this recipe). Place it onto a large sheetpan (12x18" is best and what I used) that has been lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal. Spread with pizza sauce and top with the onions, peppers, steak, and a mixture of grated mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, or a blend of your choice equalling about 3 cups.

Bake in a hot oven - 450F or so - for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden on top and the crust is browned underneath (use a spatula to gently lift the pizza to check its underside for doneness).

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Basic Hearth Loaf

Basic Hearth Loaf
Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.

A couple of years ago, before I left Crapters and went off to culinary school, I purchased Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. I am ashamed to say, that until very recently, I've never made a single recipe from it, though I did refer to it quite a bit in school because it contains a lot of very valuable information on breadbaking.

The recipes are far more sophisitcated that what's generally found in my trusty Fleischmann's recipe book, and most of the breads involve a starter of some sort, or a sponge or predough. For this reason, I've avoided using this cookbook because sponges, predoughs, starters of various kinds always struck me as far too finicky and time consuming. Though the recipes are well-written and very easy to follow, each bread recipe involves several pages, and for some reason, this didn't seem worth it to me. I just want to get baking a loaf of bread, crying out loud!

What a fool I was. This basic loaf is absolutely the most fantastic homemade bread I've ever encountered - in terms of both flavour and texture, and interestingly enough, longevity. It's worth the extra time and effort, and there's no going back.

Basic Hearth Loaf

Step One
for the sponge:

1 cup bread flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour or kamut flour
3/8 tsp quick or instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp honey
about 1 1/3 cups water, at room temperature (70-90F)

In a mixer bowl or other large bowl, combine these ingredients and whisk them for a couple of minutes to incorporate some air. It will be the consistency of a thick batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap.

Step Two
Flour mixture

1 3/4 cups + 2tbsp bread flour
1/2 tsp quick or instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine these ingredients (the original recipe says to omit the salt until the kneading stage, but I haven't done this and it still works out) and gently scoop them over the sponge mixture, covering the sponge mixture completely. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to ferment for 1 - 4 hours at room temperature. The sponge will eventually bubble up through the flour and this is fine.

Step Three
Mix the dough. This is where the original recipe says to add the salt, so if you're doing that way, this is the time. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this because the dough is sticky. You're looking to mix all the ingredients well and form a homogenous ball of dough. Again, here I depart again from the original recipe and start the kneading process here, whearas Beranbaum instructs you to let it rest for 20 minutes, then knead it. I don't know why, but I've had no problems doing it my way.

Step Four
Knead the dough. I do this on speed 4 of my mixer for about 5 - 8 minutes, depending. You can do it by hand, too. The dough should be very elastic and slightly sticky to the touch. If it's sticking to the bottom of the mixer bowl and gooey still, add more bread flour, a tablespoon at a time. If it's too dry, add water a few drops at a time.

Step Five
Allow the dough to rise. Place it in a bowl that has been greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Grease the top of the loaf and cover it with plastic wrap. Proof it till it's doubled in volume - anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending.

Step Six
Shape the dough, and let it rise again. Once more, you're looking for double the volume. Preheat the oven at this time to 450F.

Step Seven
Score and bake. I use a small serrated knife to score this but you can also use razor blades or any other sharp knife. I sprinkled some flour on top, and I baked this on a baking sheet lined with parchement that had some cormeal spread on it. Immediately after putting the bread in the oven, turn the heat down to 425F. The baking process should take about 25-30 minutes; be sure to turn the bread once for even browning. Beranbaum advises you to bake the bread with some ice cubes sizzling away in a pan beneath the loaf; you can do this but I find putting a pan underneath my bread blocks the heat and it tends not to brown on the bottom. If you have a spray bottle that has a fine mist, you can spray the bread as you put it in the oven; the steam created produces crunch, shine, and helps with colour.

Step Eight
Remove from the oven and cool. Transfer to a wire rack immediately.

So, this process took me about 3.5 - 4 hours total. A lot depends on what your room temperature is like, the humidity in the air and other factors, but most of the steps involve just leaving it for a time, so you can go and do other things. Trust me, if you can pull this loaf off, people will adore you and compliment you by saying your loaf looks like it's been purchased at an artisan bakery.

Questions? Comments? You know what to do.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I Am a Winner (of sorts)

Go here to see my winning Rossland Fall Fair entries and read about the competition (such as it was).

The bread recipe will follow shortly. The carrot cake recipe can be found here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

More Breads

Yesterday I baked two loaves of bread. My dad had purchased breadmaking ingredients for me so I can make him homemade bread on request. He prefers bread with no white flour in it, though I have told him you get a nicer loaf with at least some white bread flour in it becasue whole wheat and other whole grain flours contain less gluten, which gives you a taller loaf. But, I aim to please. This first loaf is adapted from a Canadian Living recipe I clipped out a while ago.

Healthy Heart Bread

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/4 cup ground flax meal
1/4 cup wheat germ
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp (or 1 package) quick yeast
2 cups very warm water
2 tbsp olive oil

Essentially, follow the breadbaking tutorial instructions. This makes a large loaf so it may not fit well into a regular-sized loaf pan, which is why I free-formed it instead. To do this, pound the dough, after it's rested, into a rectangle and roll it up jelly-roll style, tightly pinching the seam. Gently roll it back and forth to smooth it out and make it loaf-shaped. Score with a sharp knife after it's risen. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.

It'll look something like this, give or take. I know this looks slightly like a torpedo, but really, that's artisan bread-making at home for you.

You can substitute the brown sugar for honey, if you wish. You can also add whole flaxseeds in addition to or instead of the meal. If using meal, however, make sure it's ground fresh or has been stored in the fridge after grinding. It has a short shelf-life after being ground, so don't use anything that looks or smells off, or hasn't been stored properly.

I also made this buttermilk bread recipe from my trusty Fleischmann's recipe book. My dad is also sponsoring my entering several categories of the local fall fair, which happens next week, so I used this recipe as a practice run. I was so pleased with how this loaf turned out! It's gorgeous, and it tastes fantastic!

Buttermilk Bread (makes two loaves; halving works well...I do it all the time)

5 - 5 1/2 cups bread flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 packages quick yeast
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (or milk soured with 2 tsp lemon juice)
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter, cut into small pieces

Buttermilk Bread

Again, directions in the breadbaking tutorial. I think I'll for sure make this for the fall fair. I also plan to enter carrot cake with cream cheese icing, truffles, and possibly some cookies. There are categories for pies, muffins, loaves, and cakes, but I'll have to see what kind of time and energy I have. Also, you can only enter one item per category, so I can't enter more than one loaf of bread. There isn't an artisan bread category, otherwise I'd enter it, but I am going to suggest there be one next year.

Anyhow, wish me luck and enjoy the breads!


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