Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Banana Pancakes

My sister, R, awoke this morning with the words "french toast" coming out of her mouth. And then she went back to sleep. I didn't think much of it until I heard her later say, "pancakes...waffles". I thought, this girl definitely has breakfast on the brain. When she was fully awake, I asked her where on earth it came from. All she could say was, I don't know. But then, on a "let's spoil R this morning and treat her to something nice and nourishing" whim, I offered to satisfy her craving by making pancakes for breakfast-- or rather brunch, as it was heading toward lunchtime already. We had some ripening bananas lying around so I just figured I'd make banana pancakes. Sometimes, cooking a nice, wholesome for someone you love is a great way to show them your love and to help kickstart their day right. They were quite tasty I must say and simple to whip together. This recipe is adapted from some site on the internet. Run a google search... if this one doesn't suit you, there are plenty of recipes to be had. Serve with real maple syrup, no imitations, or enjoy like I do.. plain!

Banana Pancakes

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
small squirt vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 tsbp vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas

Place the bananas in a large bowl,

and mash well.
Add the milk, egg, oil and vanilla,
and stir well to combine.

Add the dry ingredients,
and combine thoroughly, without overmixing.

Cook as you would regular pancakes,

and enjoy breakfast!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mommy's Olive Levain

I think I'm getting lazy. I know. It's terrible of me. I have been baking and photographing... but it seems that things keep getting in the way of organizing and posting. Things like holidays, weekends, hospital visits and delicious nieces that keep finding their way to this side of New York. Wonderful distractions really... well, except for the hospital visit to my grandmother who recently broke her hip. Anyway, after many days, I'm finally posting about this wonderful olive bread that I made in honor of my mother, hence the title, who in recent weeks has been pestering me about making a bread with green olives in it. Let me tell you, she was not disappointed. She absoconded with the entire loaf the day after it was baked and returned with but a small piece. When she initially tasted, she couldn't stop gushing about it. I'm so glad I finally satisfied her craving. Unfortunately... I don't think this olive kick is going to stop. In any case, this is a recipe from Daniel Leader's Local Breads. It's the Pain au Levain with the green olive variation. A long but really uncomplicated recipe, I began the night before using my own sourdough starter to make his levain, which worked out wonderfully. I mixed the final dough by machine (laziness...) using whole wheat flour to compensate for the rye flour that I did not have, and I'm glad I did because the dough turned out so smooth and silky and shiny. I love that look.. I feel like I rarely achieve that consistency by hand. Instead of forming batards as instructed, I made a small boule and baked it the no-knead way, in a preheated, covered Le Creuset. Don't worry, next time I'll do it the normal way. The resulting bread was light brown and had some give but the inside was nicely crumbed and tinted from the olives. The bottom crust was substantial and so offered the bread a pleasing bite. The flavor was pleasingly olivey, but not sour at all, which continually surprises me. I was also very impressed with its rise from start to finish. I guess that's the miracle of sourdough. This bread can be enjoyed plain or with olive spread, if you are a true olive connoisseur.

My sourdough starter,

with some water...
and dissolved.
Add the flours,

and stir to form a rough dough.

Here's the resulting starter, ready to rise.

Here, it is nicely risen.

Most of the remaining ingredients are added to the bowl of my mixer.

They are left to hydrate for around twenty minutes.

I've added the salt and the levain to the mix.

The dough is almost finished being kneaded,

at which point I added a cup of green olives,

and finished kneading. I then left the dough to rise for an hour.

Here is the dough ready for a fold. Here's the dough after its fold.

This is the nicely puffy dough after 3 hours of rising.

I turned it out onto floured parchment,

and haphazardly shaped it. I know, not my strong suit.

This was the resulting loaf.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Georgian Challah

Dear Blog! Sorry I've neglected you so long! I've been away with the kiddies without a computer! But I'm back with my most recent challah bake and will have more to update as I bake for the holidays in the coming days. This recipe is Joan Nathan's Georgian Challah which I found on the epicurious website. It is a water challah and as such includes no eggs, except for the glaze. Contrary to popular belief, challah doesn't have to contain eggs to be considered challah. There are many traditions for challah depending on the area from where the specific recipe comes. I liked this recipe alot. It came together beautifully after a long autolyse and the crumb was pretty open for a challah as well. The flavor was nice and it was as close to a water challah that I could get. From here on out though, I'm going to work on creating my own recipe. So stay tuned for my own experiments. I'm determined to make a challah I can count on, week after week. (Sorry there is no picture of the end result. The challot ended up quite blonde as there are no eggs or sugar in the bread, which would both contribute to browning.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Banana Bread...

But not just any banana bread! It's sourdough banana bread! Ever since I made the Sourdough Chocolate Cake, I've been looking for other places to incorporate my leftover starter and this seemed like the next place to start. I tell you, putting starter in and having no one know the difference is for me akin to mothers hiding vegetables in their children's food and actually getting them to eat it! This banana bread was actually really good. Really moist and fragrant.. I'm still not so sure what the starter actually added because I personally didn't taste enough to be able to discern the heightened flavor or texture although my mother loved it and couldn't stop nibbling. I decided to freeze the loaf in individual portions in freezer bags so they're available to just pull out and defrost for a yummy snack. Because I didn't use butter or margarine, this recipe comes together in no time. As always, be sure to check out this week's Yeastspotting!

Sourdough Banana Bread
adapted from A Passion for Baking

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup refreshed sourdough starter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9x5" loafpan.

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients,

stir to combine.

In another large bowl, place all the wet ingredients,

and stir really well to ensure that all the sourdough starter has dissolved.

Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and stir well, but not too much.

Pan up!

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing and serving!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Scali Bread

Ever attempt to recreate a childhood favorite and fail to hit the nail right on the head? So do I. But this time.... I got it so right. I remember so clearly my father bringing home a loaf of sesame seed coated Italian bread every Sunday on his way home from work which we would opt to eat either which cream cheese or with his famous tuna fish. Yu-uhm! Since I have this perpetual need to show my father that all my books and equipment was not mere wasteful spending, I decided to make this bread for him, as I know he adores it as well and hasn't enjoyed it lately. Finding the recipe wasn't too hard as I had my eye on this Scali Bread since it showed up on the King Arthur blog, which can be seen here. It sounded like it should do the trick. Although it requires an overnight starter, this is a very easy bread to whip up especially if you use the KitchenAid as your mixing method. The only change I made was to omit the dry milk to keep the bread nondairy. Truthfully, it made no discernible difference as the bread was so crusty yet soft in the middle and deliciously sesame flavored. I'm keeping a close eye on this recipe. (I didn't completely follow her method-- I braided the dough, let it rise, and then egged and seeded the bread- this was totally unintentional-- I just wasn't paying attention.)

The risen overnight starter.

All the ingredients in the mixing bowl.

Mixed to a smooth but slightly tacky dough. You might need to adjust the consistency slightly with a drop of water as I did.
Ready to rise!

Nicely risen,

and turned out.

Divided into three..

and stranded!

Braided and ready for proofing.

Proofed, seeded and ready to bake.


Looks and tastes the part. Gonna savor this one!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Puccia- Black Olive Cheeks

Alright. There's a problem here. It's 4:06 in the morning as I write this and I just can't sleep. I guess I should chalk it up to napping this afternoon but.... that doesn't solve my problem. Neither does watching episode after episode of the very entertaining medical drama, House. Ahhh!! I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow! I figured, while I have the time, why not just post about this bread that I made last week and if that doesn't work, I'll just start straightening up my room. This black olive bread, or rolls rather, comes from Daniel Leader's Local Breads. It is an Italian bread made using a biga fermented overnight and built from there. The dough is kneaded in a mixer and at the end of kneading black olives are mixed in. The dough turns our rather wet and sticky, I found much like a ciabatta. Scaling the dough into rolls was quite a messy job. My rolls never got the same height and color as shown in his photograph, go figure, but everyone here seemed to love them. The olives were not too overwhelming for the none olive lovers. I think I could stand to leave bigger pieces next time. Although... my mother, for whom I made this bread as a surprise, requested next time the use of the more assertively flavorful green olives. I guess you can't win 'em all. These rolls are good though the next day even. If you want to prolong their shelf lives, freeze them for best results. Otherwise, enjoy with cream cheese or better yet, olive spread. And don't forget to say the name, puccia, a bunch of times. It's rather fun, don't you think?

The dry ingredients for the biga.

With water, and coming together in a ball.

The biga on my surface, about to be kneaded.

All kneaded,

and placed in a sealed container to rise overnight.
And rise pretty nicely it did.

Here's the biga floating in the rest of the recipe's water.


Adding yeast..And adding the rest of the flour and salt.

The dough has just come let the kneading begin!

And end... the dough is completely smooth and waiting for the black olives.

There they are!

They too are slowly being incorporated.

Here is the final dough set to rise.

And rise it did!

I turned the dough out onto my counter to scale... too sticky a process for pictures.

Proofing on a pan.
Dusted with flour and ready for the oven,

All done.

Good night!!!!