Thursday, July 29, 2010

Greenstein's Pumpernickel Bread

Happy blogoversary! As I mentioned yesterday in my post, today is the birthday of this blog. It was only two years ago that I sat in my room in the dorms in Bar Ilan and decided to create this site, a place to share my love of all things baking. Many pounds of flour, sugar, margarine and eggs and a couple of hundred posts later, this blog is still going strong. To mark this anniversary, I thought it fitting to tell you about a bread that I made a bit ago but have not told you about. As the blog's name indicates, bread is the thing that I love to make most (dont worry, there is much love for everything else!) and the thing that I get most satisfaction from. So I bring to you this Pumpernickel Bread that I have adapted (out of necessity) from George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker. I had recently raised starter and acquired rye flour, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to make this. The changes I made were as follows: I omitted the altus, as I had no other rye bread laying around, I used 1 tbsp cocoa powder instead of the caramel color, omitted the caraway seeds, both because I didnt have any around and because I wanted the unadulterated rye flavor to come through. In addition, I used regular all purpose flour instead of the first clear flour and omitted the cornstarch glaze out of sheer laziness. The bread is probably unrecognizable from the original but it was no less enjoyed. I ended up making one loaf and two rolls. The dough was easy to make and rose beautifully. Perhaps because my starter wasnt mature enough, the sourdough flavor was not evident at all. Nice and chewy, it still made an excellent accompaniment to tuna fish and eggplant spread. This is definitely an easy recipe worth repeating once my starter has acquired more mature flavor. It just struck me to use the rest of this bread that is leftover in the freezer to use as altus for another experiment..... Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

French Pear Tart

I spent this past Shabbat in one of my favorite areas, Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood. I spent it with my friend A, who is getting married in less than a month. This was probably the last weekend spent with her individually before she's married, so I was really looking forward to it. It was really nice to get to spend Shabbat with her and some of our friends, I cant wait for the wedding! Anyway, as A was organizing lunch, she asked me to bring over challot and dessert. Challot were no big deal as I had three frozen already braided unbaked ones in the freezer, which while I was worried about how they would turn out, were a complete success! As for dessert, A had requested chocolate cookies but I was totally not into that idea. I again wanted to take advantage of the season and put together something light and fruity. And that is exactly what I did. I gave A three fruity choices of desserts and this is the one she chose. This is one of the recipes that I have long bookmarked from Dorie's Baking; there could not have been a better opportunity to make it. There are three components, all simple to put together- the crust, the pears and the almond cream. The crust pastry I prepared the night before and although pears are in season here in Israel, I took the shortcut of using canned. No one was the wiser. The almond cream came together in a couple of minutes with the help of the KA, and voila! The delicate French tart was assembled. And it is quite the looker. I brought the tart over and all of the guests were impressed with how it looked- it is definitely true that we eat with our eyes first. Happily, they enjoyed the tart itself, remarking on its simplicity and deliciousness while not being too sweet. A really enjoyed it as well, helping herself to small slices over the rest of the day. Success! And just in time for my two year blogoversary, which happens to be tomorrow! Here's to many more posts!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hamelman's Semolina Sourdough

I made this loaf a while back, one of the first after my starter reached maturity. I had been long wanting to make a semolina sourdough but something always came up- either I didnt have semolina, or I didnt have a starter, or a less time consuming semolina loaf came up.... But now that I had just lovingly cultivated a starter and had semolina flour to finish up, I couldn't put off making this levain loaf from Hamelman's epic Bread any longer. And I'm glad I didn't. With the help of my (sister's) trusty KA mixer (don't tell!) this bread came together in no time at all. After the bread cooled, I wrapped it and stashed it in the freezer and only took it out to have a taste before the ninth of Av fast that was just last week, as per my bread only on special occasions rule. I reheated the bread and was very impressed with it and I can only imagine how it would have been fresh. It's not that it tasted much of levain but it was one of the most delicious crusts I've had on a bread coupled with a nice, yellow, chewy crust that made this bread so yummy. If I had sliced it like a civilized person, one would be able to see a nice hole structure, but that obviously wasnt me. If I had more semolina accessible, (maybe the next time Im in Tel Aviv..) I just might try it again... this time with a sourdough starter that has even more character. I only made a half recipe because that's all the semolina I had but do make the full recipe! I also didnt add the sesame although Im sure it would have made it even better as semolina and sesame are a classically delicious combination. This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shabbat Dessert Roundup Part 2: Dimply Plum Cake

Plums are at their peak season now in Israel, lovely and purple, round and full with juice. That made using them for my second Shabbat dessert a natural decision. When baked, the heat softens them, caramelizes their sugars, thus heightening their sweetness. Yum! It seems that this cake has made its way around the blogosphere a couple of years ago- I seriously am always the last to know EVERYTHING! I suppose though that it's better late than never. This recipe comes from Dorie's Baking book- the widely adored book that I own but dont seem to use enough. This is my humble attempt to correct that. I made only a couple of minor changes. Firstly, I didn't need all of the plums called for, I guess mine were a bit large. That was no matter- I happily munched on the remaining ones. Also, I replaced the cardamom with cinnamon- cinnamon being my best friend, cardamom... not so much. I also went with fresh lemon zest instead of the orange that Dorie calls for. Overall, this cake was a hit. Light and fresh and summery.... my hostess loved it. Two for two. Score!

Dimply Plum Cake
slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
grated zest of one lemon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
8 plums, halved and pitted

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an eight inch baking pan. Set aside. Sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
Place the butter or margarine in the bowl of the mixer. Beat at medium speed for three minutes or until creamy.
Add the brown sugar,
and beat an additional three minutes or until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time,
beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla, oil and lemon zest,
and beat to blend.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth batter is formed.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it.
Place the fruit cut side up in the pan, slightly pushing down on them plum halves. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
Bake for about 40 minutes. The cake should be browned and a toothpick inserted into the cake parts should come out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for fifteen minutes. Depan the cake onto another rack. Invert and cool right side up. Ice cream would make a nice accompaniment especially in the hot summer months.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shabbat Dessert Round Up Part 1: Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake

When Sara asked me to bring desserts for our Shabbat together, I was really excited and immediately accepted. For one thing, it's been a really long time since I've really baked sweets, because I dont eat them and havent had occasion to bring them anywhere, so I considered this an a great opportunity to get back to doing what I love. As soon as I registered dessert, I knew they both were going to involve fruit. One of the best parts of living in Israel, and there are so many, is that their produce is always fresh and seasonal. That means that there are things you can't get all the time, but when it's their season, your know you're getting the best and the freshest. Summer here means plums, nectarines, cherries, grapes, pears and I decided to put to use the pears and plums. I also feel like fruit desserts give the impression of a more healthful choice, even though I know better, and generally a lighter feel. This Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake comes from a book called Rustic Fruit Desserts, it's title pretty much speaks for itself. I have mentioned it before and have been frustrated that it's fruit combinations dont match the Israeli seasons. This recipe was a great find though for me at this time and so I set off to make it. The hardest part of it was making the caramel. While the caramel making was successful, I didnt wash down the crystals which resulted in a hardened sugar surface on the cake which I ended up peeling off. No caramel there :( I think next time Ill stick to a classic brown sugar-butter caramel for the topping. The rest of the cake was easy to assemble and came together in no time. The resulting cake? Moist, dense and oh so fudgy and rich. Guess I was wrong about fruit lending a lighter feel. Sara nearly swooned over it. I think that means she missed my desserts ;)

Upside Down Pear Chocolate Cake
from Rustic Fruit Desserts

1 tbsp butter or margarine for the pan

Fruit Topping:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup flour
1/3 cup Dutched cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk or soy milk

Generously butter a nine inch cake pan. Set aside.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir to make sure all the sugar is moistened. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Cook until the sugar mixture becomes a light amber color. Take care to wash down the sides of the pan either with or water and a pastry brush or by covering the pan with its lid. Once the caramel is ready, pour it carefully into the greased cake pan. Allow the caramel to harden slightly. Carefully arrange the pear slices over the caramel. Preheat the oven to 350 while you make the cake batter.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan. Sift together the dry ingredients. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium for three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk beginning and ending with the flour. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake for 40-45 minutes, taking care not to overbake. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then invert the pan onto a plate. Leave the pan on for five minutes more before unmolding it. Serve warm. Vanilla ice cream would be lovely.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough

Shavua tov! It's the start of another summer week in the Gush- hopefully it will be a meaningful (we observe the fast of the ninth of Av this week) and productive (I have a final this week!) one. This past weekend was spent in Bar Ilan with my friend Sara, who graciously hosted me. Sara is one of the few fortunate students in the area with air conditioner. Let me just say, the luxury of it can not be overstated. It is inconceivably hot and humid and sticky over there and the air conditioner was a saving grace. And it was so nice to be spending the weekend with a friend I rarely get to see. (Sara, if you're reading this, thanks again and take the hint!) Anyway, in terms of the blog, Shabbat means that I've tried some of the breads I made and baked some desserts as well, so lots of good posts coming up. I had these sourdoughs in the freezer and knowing how Sara enjoys my crusty breads, I brought them over. I'm learning that nothing beats fresh and that the freezer doesn't do the breads much good. The original crunch of the crust is pretty much irretrievable. In any case, the flavor on them was sour, but not too sour at all and the crumb was creamy and even with a few large holes here and there. Nothing too glamorous. It tasted almost identical to the other Vermont Sourdough that I made a while back. The steaming went well; I heard some soft "singing" when they came out, which made me happy. I think that my slashing on these loaves were great and the oven spring was pretty impressive, too. I'm very pleased with the way they turned out overall. I used a mixer, now that I have one at my disposal!, and this bread could not have been easier to put together. This bread has been proudly Yeastspotted!

Vermont Sourdough
from Hamelman's Bread

1 cup bread or all purpose flour
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp mature liquid culture

Final Dough:
5 1/2 cups bread flour
7/8 cup rye flour
1 7/8 cups water
1 tbsp salt
all of levain minus 2 tbsp

The night before baking, place the levain in a container. Pour the water over it and stir to loosen and dissolve it. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cover and let sit over night.
The next day, place the levain and all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of a mixer.
Put the mixer on medium and mix until the dough comes together, about two minutes.
Allow the dough to ferment for two and half hours. Fold half way through.
Here's my folded dough.
Scale the dough into two portions. Round them and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Allow to proof for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Towards the end of proofing, preheat the oven to 460, preparing the oven for steam.
Slash the loaves.
Bake for forty minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Clayton's Oatmeal Sourdough

A new week, a new loaf. A couple of weeks ago, I began raising a sourdough starter. This is not my first starter, as I've had a couple in the past, but for one reason or another I always eventually get rid of it, whether for moving reasons, or Passover, etc. But now that I have finals and some time on my hands and a kitchen to experiment in, I figured why not give it a go again. The starter, whom I have not and will not name for fear of growing too close ;), took quite a while to show signs of life and strength but after lots of patience, love, flour, and water, began doing what it was born to do last week. And so, the sourdough baking began. Because I eat bread only on the weekends, I stashed all of the loaves in the freezer to be taken out as needed. So why make it all if I cant eat it all? Well, for the fun of it, of course! I NEED to bake! And better bread then cake and cookies. I'm sure you understand. Anyway, this Oatmeal Sourdough loaf bread comes from Bernard Clayton's New Book of Breads. It is the first recipe that I have made from it. I made it in to a loaf and shaped two rolls as well, the rolls being what I ate on Shabbat, the loaf still being in the freezer. The bread is made using a sponge, which builds off the sourdough, and instant yeast, making this a quick loaf to prepare. It was easy to knead and a good riser. The resulting bread had excellent texture and was quite nutty from the oats. That was the most dominant flavor profile, the sourdough having contributed little to its flavor. Which is totally fine. I used soy milk instead of the water and non fat miYlk and I also omitted the honey and replaced the one tbsp of sugar with two of brown sugar. After tasting, I realize that I would not do that again and I would leave the honey in because I think it would add a lot more to the final flavor of the bread. Honey adds a delightful flavor and I dont know why I thought to switch it up. Anyway, if I try this again, I will update this post. Here is the recipe as appears in the book. Sending this bread over to Susan's wonderful and inspiring weekly Yeastspotting.

Oatmeal Sourdough
from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

1 cup liquid sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour

1 cup water
1/2 cup milk powder (I used 1 cup soy milk)
2 tbsp honey
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 cup quick oatmeal
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2-4 cups all purpose flour, as needed

The night before baking, place the sponge ingredients in a bowl. Stir to make a smooth batter. Cover and let sit overnight.
The next day, add all of the ingredients to the starter, except for the flour.
Whisk to blend.
Add the flour a bit at a time, stirring to make a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a cohesive dough forms.
Here is my kneaded dough.
Place the dough in a bowl and set aside to rise until doubled in size. This recipe makes two eight by four inch loaves but I made a nine by five and two rolls. It's your call. Make sure to grease your pans.
Shape the dough as desired and set aside to proof once again. Towards the end of proofing, preheat the oven to 350.
Slash the loaf and place in the oven.
Bake until a dark golden brown, at least 30-40 minutes. I wish I had timed it!
Remove from the pans and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy with some jam or butter.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sullivan Street's Potato Pizza

It's that time of the week again....erev Shabbat and thank G-d because I dont think I could be more tired even if I tried. Yesterday had me up at six am for a bris in Jerusalem. I think I was in bed at ten thirty pm. See? I knew turning twenty three was the beginning of old ;) In any case, I'm ready for the weekend. Anyway.... The event was nice and a great opportunity to see and meet a lot of the family that I have here in Israel but have never been introduced to. And burning dumpsters. At eight in the morning. Go figure. Ok, back to baking. This Potato Pizza is Jim Lahey's (of no knead fame) recipe that is featured in Maggie Glezer's awesome Artisan Baking Across America. It is also the second recipe that I made for the break fast this week. I must say that even though I myself personally didn't try it, I am so excited about it. Why? Well, look how beautifully it turned out. It's quite the looker, isnt it? But more so than that because it was a really fun dough to work with and it turned out perfectly. The dough is more of a batter that is beaten into submission for twenty minutes (much like Rose's focaccia which I want to tackle too) in a mixer (LOVE KITCHEN AIDs!!) to form its gluten and then allowed to ferment for four hours before being poured into a pan allowed to rise again and topped with thinly sliced potatoes (I HEART mandolines!) onions and rosemary. The result was the crispiest pizza bottom, I know because you could just tell! and a lovely interior structure. And my friends loved it, too. I made it in one rectangular pan and it was more than enough. It was difficult to get it to spread all the way to the corners but I did my best and it turned out fine. Making two pizzas out of it would have just made my life more difficult than actually necessary. Don't forget lots of salt and a salad to serve on the side. Here's to the weekend! Oh and check out Yeastspotting!

Sullivan Street's Potato Pizza
as I made it from Artisan Baking Across America

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated sugar

1 or 2 large potatoes
fresh or dried rosemary
olive oil

Place the flour and yeast in the mixer bowl. Using the paddle beater, mix for a few minutes until evenly combined. With the mixer running on low speed, add the water. Mix for three minutes until completely combined and a batter forms.
Raise the mixer to medium speed and beat for twenty minutes or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. Fear not- it will.
Can you see that lovely gluten network that formed? Add the salt and the sugar and beat an additional two minutes.
Here's the finished batter/dough.
Allow to ferment for four hours or until puffy.
Pour the dough into a generously olive oil greased sheet pan. Spread as gently as you can to the edges, taking care not to pop any bubbles. If you are having difficulty, allow to rest at ten minute intervals as you need to stretch completely.
While the dough is proofing, mandoline the potatoes and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for fifteen minutes. Squeeze out all of the liquid. Slice the onions while they're sitting.
Combine the potatoes, onions, fresh or dried rosemary and salt. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Top the pizza by overlapping the potatoes onto the dough. Sprinkle on the onions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt.
Bake for forty minutes, rotating halfway through. This is what it should look like. I removed the pizza from the rack to cool completely without soggying up the bottom. Serve hot or at room temperature.