Mountains and Advanced Breads

It’s been far too long. With a kitchen renovation, important birthday milestones and planning for parties, I just haven’t been in the right headspace to bake (or blog) and/or I haven’t had the actual space since I was without a kitchen for two weeks. I did manage to put together a fun Holi-inspired cake using a box mix cake and my tried and true buttercream recipe but I don’t consider box mixes baking. It is but it isn’t.

This weekend I am jumping back in. I’ve decided to skip the last recipe in chapter 1 (jelly donuts) for now and start chapter 2, Advanced Yeast Breads and Rolls. The first recipe is for a multigrain bread which uses a soaker AND something called a pâte fermenteé. A soaker as far as I can tell is simply some grains and seeds in a liquid that are left to soak and expand for a period of hours or sometimes days. The reason to do this is that some grains are very dense and can suck the moisture out of your bread so this ensures the grains have soaked in the moisture and will help not hinder gluten development. A pâte fermenteé (“old dough”) is pretty much leftover dough that has fermented for at least 6-8 hours if not more in the fridge that is then added into the fresh dough mixture. I think it’s done to add flavor and richness. I aim to find out. To complicate things, I’m going to try this recipe at high altitude – 8200 feet – in a kitchen that isn’t mine and I’m going to knead it by hand. Girls weekend. Stay tuned. I hope I’ve figured out the correct measurements.

Recipe 17. Raisin Bread

I made this bread exactly two months ago. I remember it. It was right before my husband went on an ice fishing trip with the men folk. It was my Friday baking day and he was packing up his stuff to go. I decided if the bread came out, I’d send him with some. How domestic of me.

I also remember that I did not adjust the measurements correctly as far as quantity so I ended up with more bread than I wanted. Thankfully bread can be easily frozen. And this bread was delicious.

Anyway, the bread came together quite easily. Beautiful rise. Tons of raisins. All the glutens. I’m including pictures here of the raisins and of the bread after first rise. The video is a bonus. It shows me playing with the dough. Sometimes it is necessary to finish the kneading outside of the mixer so you can get a feel for the dough plus it’s fun to play with.

I had enough for two rounds AND a large Pullman loaf (see below).

I had to guess on baking time for that, but it was a beautiful loaf when it was done. I’d definitely make it again. I ended up sending the large loaf with my husband. It was a hit. I froze another round which I thawed last week. It’s a delicious bread toasted with a little butter. Definitely a keeper. If you’d like the recipe, let me know and I’ll try my hand at rewriting it so it’s not infringing on any copyright laws.

“Every box of raisins is a tragic tale of grapes that could have been wine.” -Unknown

Forgive Me For Not Posting …

But here’s some cake to start.

Yesterday, I made my daughter this cake and some cupcakes for her birthday. It’s a yellow cake box mix. I’d made a dry lemon cake and not very sweet Italian buttercream the week before and my heart couldn’t take another failure. I only had half of the oil amount required so I ended up substituting applesauce for the remaining half. The result was a moist and delicious cake. The frosting is standard American buttercream that I whipped together and my daughter’s favorite I wrapped the sides of the cake in fondant just to see how it would go since I’m not really familiar with using it so I considered it practice, plus it was just fun. I had no design ideas other than I knew I wanted to make her a little cake to support that huge candle. Not too bad I have to say. (I should buy smaller rounds for under the cake, but that’s all I had.)

I’ll work on my blog posts this week. I’m something like five recipes behind and feeling incredibly guilty, but meh, life gets in the way. I still have the jelly donut recipe to go to complete the first chapter of my book. It might be complicated due to the fact that my kitchen is set for demo and renovation starting Friday. Luckily it’s a quick project – 9-10 days – and when done should be a dream for me to work in. I might need to use a neighbor’s kitchen to complete the donut recipe, but that might be weird. I’ll figure it out.

Oh, here’s what the cupcakes looked like. She wanted purple and these cute mermaid toppers. Poor kid caught the flu and we had to cancel her party, but I still made her some cupcakes. Later.

Recipe 16. Challah

Oy the guilt. I’m so far behind on these posts. While I’ve been bad about blogging, I’ve actually been keeping up the baking at least once a week although it’s not always from The Book. I’m probably five recipes behind, but I’m going to try my best to get caught up before the next bake.

This bread frightened me because I just was having trouble figuring out how I was going to braid it. Was it like braiding hair (sort of, not really)? Could I get it tight enough? Would I be able to crack the plait? The short answer – nope.

I decided to focus on the three-braid challah rather than the six braid. The book had cryptic instructions for both so I just didn’t have a good feeling. I can’t tell you how many videos I watched trying to psych myself up for this bake. They made it look so easy. I could do this.

After the initial rise, I cut the dough into 160 gram chunks as instructed. Each loaf would require three of these to create the braid. Fairly obvious. Here’s one where I actually got it on the nose. It feels amazing when you get it right. Like I was elated because my dough ball was spot on in weight.

After weighing, each dough ball was shaped into a batard which is a bread roll shape that is oblong and oval in shape. The dough then rests for a bit before you start to roll out the strands for the braids. Notice that I made enough dough to make two loaves plus two extra to do something with.

Once the dough had rested, I shaped each bastard into a long piece and then attached each “strand” to each other at the top to create a starting point for the braid as shown below. It was tricky to get the dough in that shape, mainly making sure the dough was evenly shaped. It was quite a strong and tight, stretchy dough which tended to shrink up as it got longer.

Now I was ready to braid. I don’t think I did it right or got it tight enough, but here’s what they looked like when I was done. The little guy was made from the two extra batards. (True story. When you type “batards”, autocorrect puts “bastards.”)

A little egg wash and in the oven they went. Here’s what came out. Not too shabby though I was hoping there would be less expansion between the braids. I still think they look cool.

We recently had some new folks move in to the neighborhood and they had invited us to their place for a little get together. I brought the bread and it was well received which always makes me feel elated. Truly a sense of accomplishment and feelings of major pride. It’s like being high but not. (Hey. This is Colorado. You have to specify.) Anyway, bread and baking are proving to be quite pleasurable to me. I knew I loved eating bread – duh – but just never thought I’d enjoy making it, too. It’s very satisfying.

Yummy bread. I’d make it again even if I never master the braid.

Recipe 15. Pizza durum dough

I can’t believe I am blogging about this recipe so late. It’s been a month since my last post and I’m pretty sure I used the last dough I froze from this particular baking adventure maybe three weeks ago, but a promise to myself was to see this blog through. I will post but I don’t promise timeliness.

This pizza dough was great. Chewy where you want AND extra crispy where you also want – like a cracker depending how thinly you roll it. It’s a dough that doesn’t overwhelm the pizza but is sturdy enough for heavy toppings. I ended up making about five pizza dough balls. Each dough ball produced more of a personal pizza size at 10 inches. I kept two and froze the other three.

I won’t go too crazy with the review. The recipe was spot on. I was pleased with how easy the dough came together. I’d definitely make it again. I do have one recommendation if you’re going to make pizza on the regular. Get a pizza peel which is really a huge spatula to put a pizza into and out of the oven and can serve double duty as a cheese/charcuterie board. (I love those things with fancy red wine). I struggled without one because once I got the dough ready with toppings, I couldn’t get it off the counter or cookie sheet. By the fifth pizza, and with the bamboo pizza peel I bought off of Amazon, I got a rounder, more uniform look and bake. It was a pretty good feeling.

Here are some pics I took along the way.

Pizza dough balls wrapped for freezer
First pizza with stuff I found in the fridge
This one had some spinach in there.
Not too bad. Looks round-ish. “Half” cheese

Overall success! If you want the recipe or to try something similar, let me know. (Note to self: I must make another round and freeze them!)

Recipe 14. Pita

So this should be the Lavash recipe, but I decided to skip it. I am totally unfamiliar with it, it required overnight work, I still hadn’t gotten over my failed naan bread, and… it’s my blog and I’ll skip if I want to. I decided I can go back at any time. I’m taking a pass, kinda like in that one game show from years and years ago where if you couldn’t figure a word that would make the other person guess the clue, then you could say “pass.” I’m blanking on the name of that show. Match Game? Anyway, yeah…I’m taking a pass.

Pita seemed challenging. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I went into it with an open mind. The recipe was fairly straightforward – 50/50 bread flour and whole wheat flour, oil, yeast, salt, sugar, water. Simple enough. The dough was a bit heavy though and a funny thing happened to my KitchenAid.

Wasn’t that awesome? That derailed me a bit. I wasn’t expecting the mixer to struggle let alone smoke. I called them later to talk about it. I hadn’t registered it, but seeing as how I’d purchased it in October 2018 and it was only December 2018, I was concerned. I still had some of the materials (not the registration card, of course…no idea where it is) and it clearly said if there was something wrong with it within the first year that they would replace it. After finally figuring out how to talk to a person — because their automated system insisted I type in a phone number on the registration and I hadn’t registered it – I finally got to a person. Felt like I was on hold for what seemed like forever. He suggested I let the machine cool off and then trying it again to see if it still smoked. He said that sometimes you can overheat them if you have them on too long. I had it on four minutes on the lowest setting (Stir) and an additional four minutes on the next setting (2). The documentation on the mixer indicates that you should never knead above a 2. So eight minutes is too much on a professional mixer with a bad ass motor? Okay then. I let it cool off and tried it out and it works just fine.  What a relief. I think going forward I will probably just make sure it doesn’t get too hot and maybe not go above the stir speed for dough.

Back to the pita. Everything went according to how the recipe said it would. It doubled great. I weighed and preshaped the rolls. I let them rise again and then rolled them out. This time, I decided to try and make a video using my iPhone because I don’t have a video camera. Maybe I’ll get one. And some white lights because my kitchen lights are too yellow and everything looks more yellow than it is. This is the second video. In the first video, I did not like the way I looked without makeup so while the bread was resting before rolling, I legit went and put on makeup and did something with my hair. I still am not pleased with how I look on camera, but you know what? That’s me and what you see is what you get. Not that first video though. Nope.

Here’s what the final pitas looked like. I was quite pleased with them!  I even calculated correctly to make one dozen. I finished them up and made a quick turkey salad (I had just roasted a turkey the day before) and brought that along with the pita for a catch up night with a friend. We met at one of those brew pubs where they sell their beer and then you can bring in your own food, play games, chill. Those pita sandwiches were so good. I will definitely be making them again.



Recipe 13. Naan

Hello anyone still reading my blog. Thanks for hanging in. Happy New Year! It’s been a flurry of activity over the holidays and while I was busy with shopping, decorating, traveling, celebrating, and all that good stuff, I was a bit lazy in keeping up with my blog. I managed to bake, but not much from the book I’m following that is the inspiration for this blog. I’ve managed to make naan, which I will talk about here, pita, and pizza dough which I will post about  shortly. I ended up skipping the lavash recipe; I decided I can always come back to it another time. It’s not like I’ll be penalized for going out of order. Besides, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

I had high hopes for the naan bread. It is so delicious. I just love going to this fast food Indian restaurant near my work and getting some chicken tikka masala with fresh naan. I tell them to give me double bread and skip the rice. I don’t have time for the rice. I want to dip my bread in that delicious sauce. I was thinking how awesome it would be to be able to make it at home whenever I want. I especially love it with onion. Just yum. But things did not turn out as I had planned.

First, the recipe called for baking the bread in the oven. I didn’t think traditional naan was made in the oven, but I have committed to following the recipes in this Culinary Institute text book and so I just did what the recipe said to do. The dough came together quite wonderfully. It proofed beautifully. I mean, perfect rise. (I absolutely love the newly discovered Standard Proofing option my oven offers. The bread goes in, I set the time, and it comes out perfectly doubled.) I created the rounds (preshape) that would then be rolled out to make the bread. Here’s how that looked:

risen dough rounds
Naan rounds after rise and before rolling out

Then comes the rolling out and baking. I did precisely what it said and baked. I had high hopes but in the end was disappointed with how they turned out. Not how they tasted because the bread tasted good – it wasn’t naan like my fave fast food Indian place – but how they looked. To me, this was more pita than naan though soft bread. I added onion to some of the dough and it was good. I think maybe next time I would pan fry them using a cast iron skillet because I think that’s how you’d get the browned crispy bits on the bread. Traditionally, naan is made in a tandoori oven (clay oven).

So there you go. Not every recipe is a winner. I did like the flavor though so maybe if I were to make it again, I would just play with it to make it what I want. I did enjoy the onion flavor so maybe next time I’ll roll them more like tortillas and add more stuff to it. Or roll it out and use it as a pizza dough. If I do, I’ll write up a post about the experience.



Must write more but in the meantime…

I’ve been really bad about blogging my baking adventures. I’ve made naan bread (not so great), a gingerbread house, cookies for Santa, pita bread, and today’s creation, a chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday. I will write more about each project soon, but in the interest of getting out a post, I’m doing a quickie collage.

Happy New Year!

Recipe 12. Cheddar and Onion Rye Rolls

‘Tis the season to do a lot of baking.  I wish I could be baking more, but things like family, and holiday cards, and oh yeah WORK get in the way. Life really. Still, I have been doing my fair share of baking. I made gingerbread cookies and then I made a gingerbread house (had never done that before) and extra cookies because there was that much leftover dough. The gingerbread house deserves its own bonus blog post so I will do that at some point. I just ordered some new cookie cutters and a fancy tool so I can practice fancy decorations. Some people paint. Maybe I will paint – on cookies!

I was all about these rolls. Savory rolls! Cheese and onions? What could go wrong? Thankfully, nothing much. Sorry to disappoint. Other than taking too much time to calculate my quantities – I even dragged my husband into it – the recipe was fairly straightforward. I really wanted to make sure I made just enough rolls and not a ton like I did with the sesame seed rolls. There was bread flour and rye flour and instant yeast in one bowl. Mix. Then the wet ingredients go in the mixer (including molasses and vegetable oil though I used canola oil) to which you add the dry and let the mixer do its thing. I did throw in the cheese and onions too soon. I was supposed to mix on low for four minutes and then one tick up on the speed for four minutes more before adding the cheese and onions and then mix for two more minutes, but I did it one step earlier. Oops. I don’t think this messed anything up too much. I just added a little bit more time to compensate. Here’s a quick video of me walking you through the addition of the cheese and onions.

After the mixing in of the deliciousness, I let the dough rest and rise before I started the preshape (a round), and then the final shaping and proofing before the rolls hit the oven to steam for a few seconds and then bake. I swear, it sounds complicated, but it really wasn’t. My neighbor told me that people always say that something is easy and not complicated, but that just because it’s not complicated to me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be to her. I think really though if someone showed you how easy it was you might consider doing it. At least entertain the idea. But then, I realize the real issue is time and more importantly desire. If you WANTED to make these rolls and were willing to be patient and take the time to make them, then it isn’t really all that complicated; HOWEVER, if measuring and weighing and doing the prep work and shaping and reshaping and sitting around waiting for everything to poof up, then well, yeah I suppose it is complicated. I find lots of things complicated – like changing the light bulb under the vented microwave though I’m sure it’s easy. Thankfully I can ask my husband to do it and he will eventually get to it. And he’ll do it in like three seconds and I will feel dumb and inadequate. Maybe I do get it now.  (Honey, can you replace the bulb? Please and thank you.)

Anyway – here’s the obligatory shaping and final look see at how these rolls turned out. And I got to use my special razor lame tool. I wish you could have smelled them – they smelled so delicious even my daughter asked me what that yummy smell was. She does love her cheese but she is not a fan of onions so she refused to try it. I took some of the rolls to dance class so the regulars could have a taste and then the rest we took to a cocktail party afterwards where they were enjoyed by all. I’m not kidding. I got a lot of compliments on this one. Speaking of compliments, one of my favorite ones is always “YOU MADE those?!” Yes, I did. I get such a honey glow in my cheeks when I get those compliments. (Fix it Felix from Wreck-it-Ralph is my cartoon boyfriend.)

Take a look at the inside, Perfect! 🙂


Next bread blog post is Naan bread. I’m looking forward to it mostly because I love naan bread AND it looks to be more of a quick turnaround time. Faster into my tummy. I should probably make a butter chicken or something to go with it. Doesn’t that sound good? Until next time. Toodles.





Recipe 11. Whole Wheat Pullman Loaves

Pullman loaf pan

This recipe is similar to the other loaf recipes I’d done before. Nothing new here so I wasn’t ultra thrilled about it. Sure I was looking forward to yummy bread and using the Pullman pan again, but there wasn’t a new technique to master or new flour to work with. While I was gathering all the ingredients, I noticed something and could hardly believe my eyes. My oven has a Proofing option. It was there ALL ALONG! Kaboom. Mind blown. I’d seen the bakers on The Great British Baking Show use the proofing drawer, but I had no idea I had one. I decided to use it since it was a cold day. It was simple. Press the option then press Start. It reads “standard proofing” on the display. It barely generates any heat at all but it’s there. I worked through my weighing and measuring, being sure to allow for more dough this time since previous tries were not filling the pan, and then I mixed it all up. Love that stand mixer! I put the dough in the oiled bowl and then loaded her up in the warm oven. I couldn’t believe how much of a rise I got out of it! It was huge. Here it is after I pulled it out of the bowl. I’ve also included a video of me shaping the dough into an oblong. Once it is shaped, it rests for about 20 minutes before it gets loaded into the oiled Pullman loaf pan.

Bread dough after initial rise
Look at how puffy the dough got after the first rise.

I didn’t get a picture of the dough in the Pullman pan, but I actually made too much dough. I was trying to make sure I had a full loaf of bread this time, but it was obvious when I first attempted to fill the pan that there was just too much. The recipe said to ensure that the dough had space for the final rise, but it was already almost two thirds full. So, I just eyeballed a chunk and removed it from the total. I made a large knot with that and was pleased with what was there. After the final rise – such lovely dough – I plopped on the lid and put the pan in the oven. It took about 35-40 minutes to bake (if my memory is working since I made it almost two weeks ago). When I went to check on it, I couldn’t get the lid to budge. Oops! I guess it was full. Luckily I was able to jimmy it out and wow was it just perfect. I must have stared at it for five minutes. Here’s what it looked like.

The whole wheat flour to bread flour ratio was just perfect. Not too earthy, soft, and the perfect chew. I cut off a chunk and sent it with my hubby to bring to our kid’s dance class. They loved it. I cut off a chunk and brought it to a friend’s house (mama had a night out) and she was mad I didn’t bring her an entire loaf. She enjoyed it though. The next day, I made my daughter her first PB&J with the bread and she LOVED it. This is a child who steers clear of bread ordinarily but is starting to like it. I love that I made it for her. Hands down the recipe was a keeper and I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe I’d adjust my measurements a little.

Loaf of bread with cut out slice
Look at that texture (and extra but from being full in the pan)