Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Going Overbread!

Three days and three loaves. Oh I am a happy and very full girl!!

The newest loaf was foccacia. It didn't come out exactly how I planned and I may have fibbed a bit, but it tasted AWESOME. Feeling confident with my first two breads, I decided to not take the recipe too seriously and see what came of it. (I'll start posting my recipes at the bottom) Firstly, I added about 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (from my lovely mom's garden far away) and basil into the dough. Secondly, I let it rise twice instead of once. The dough became very elastic and wouldn't really roll out when it came time. So the dough was about 3/4 inch thick instead of the 1/2 inch the cookbook said to do. Finally, I got so excited when it came to imprint into the dough and I just kind of poked it to death rather than pat it down. *Sigh* I've been so patient in this process and I just got a bit... excessive in my excitement. Oh, and I didn't split the dough like the recipe says. It called for a half cup olive oil to dizzle on top. I found this to be WAY too much olive oil. I took off about a quarter cup and decided to leave it at that.

The end result, however. Was .so.delicious. :)

The dip was a perfect match!

I have always loved to bake, and now that I finally had my stand mixer, I wanted to make a simple cupcake. I decided on Martha Stewart's Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting. I didn't quite have two cups confectioners sugar, but it ended up being WAY better without it. Just the right amount of sweetness. It's like a carrot cake. Only better.

With a good bottle of pinor noir, some fresh veggies, and good company. Mmmm.

Foccacia Bread
1 packet active dry yeast with 1 1/3 c hot water (105*F). Soak for 5 minutes.
Add 3 1/2 c AP flour, 2 tbl olive oil, and 1 tbl salt.
Knead for about 10 minutes til it's elasticy. (Here I let it rise for an hour) Divide in half and roll to 1/2 inch thick round. Transfered to oiled pans, let rise covered in plastic wrap for 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400*F. Press the dough with your fingers.
Drizzle with (I thought this was way to much, I recommend 1/3 c) 1/2 c olive oil. Top with rosemary, dill, basil, thyme, herbs, salt, parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese. Bake til golden brown, about 25 min.
Next time, I'd like to make it thinner and more crisp.

Olive oil and Garlic Dip
I kind of just throw everything together, I don't really measure, but this is a rough guess.

1 c olive oil
5 cloves garlic, pressed (I REALLY love garlic, so I make it garlic heavy. I'm sure it's just fine with 3)
2 tsp salt, basil, oregano, fresh pepper, and sometimes I add a teaspoon of cumin.
The garlic gives you bad breathe, but its SO worth it. And it's good for your immune system, so hey. Whatev.

MS's Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes
I didn't end up making cupcakes, which resulted in having to cook them for an extra 15 minutes. It gave the loaf this gooey yet crispt crust that was one of the best parts.

Preheat oven to 350*F.
In a medium sized bowl, mix 3 c all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (Use fresh if you can! It's worth it!), 1/4 tsp ground cloves (I added extra), and 2 tsp cinnamon.
In another bowl, or your stand mixer bowl, whisk together 1 c vegetable oil, 2 eggs room temp, 1 tbl vanilla (I added a smidge more), 3/4 tsp grated lemon zest (again, used more) and 2 c brown sugar until creamy.
Once it's creamy, add 3 c (or 2 whole zucchini) grated zucchini (the regular sized cheese grater is perfect), then the flour mixture (I did this in three parts). You may like to add 1 cup walnuts (I urge you to do it!).
Cook for 20 minutes in cupcake tins, or 35 (or so) min in two baking loaf pans.

Cream Cheese Frosting
I'm so glad I no longer have to do this by hand!!! Also, I halved the amounts cause I hate having way too much frosting left over. Here is the amount I used.
1 stick room temp unsalted butter, and 6 oz cream cheese also at room temp, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 1/2 confectioners sugar. Whisk til creamy.  I honestly recommend using this amount of sugar or maybe even a little less. It compliments the cake better without being overtly sugary.

I will now be spending the next few days exercising, and eating salads.... maybe I could make the croutons.... :D


Monday, February 14, 2011

The Second Loaf

I didn't post pictures of my first loaf yet, so here it is! It was a simple white loaf that was quite delicious with honey and butter. I made the mistake of adding the flour too fast, but it turned out all right anyway.

After the relative success of my first loaf, I found I was unsure of my second one. We all want to succeed in our endeavors, and I felt like my second loaf would determine whether I can actually do this or not.

My second guy was a little bit of a step up. I'm still not trying to get ahead of myself and I'm still trying to understand how everything works individually and when combined with other ingredients. So my second bread was a simple whole wheat and honey bread.

To my surprise (I didn't really know what to expect) it very much resembled the bread that you buy at the store!! This was quite a bit different from my first loaf. The white bread calls for shortening and it didn't really seem to be kneaded much. The whole wheat loaf called for eggs and needed a bit more care. I think this time I may have added the flour a bit too slowly. I used my stand mixer and at a certain point it just wasn't really mixing anymore. So I layed it out on my floured counter and started kneading. After about ten minutes the dough was still sticking to my hands but the temp had reached 77 degrees (my cook book says that you should gage knead doneness by either an elastic smooth texture or temp) I would love love love some kneading tips. Should I look for temperature? Or is it more important to pay attention to texture? Also, whilst kneading, i needed to add quite a bit of extra flour for my hands and the surface. Is it possible to add too much flour? My loaf came out just fine either way!!

Tomorrow I'm going to a friend's for dinner. I think I shall try my hand at foccacia bread! I don't have a baking stone or a baking pan to use for water. But I do have a very nice Sur La Table baking sheet and a broiler pan that I think will suffice. Any homemade suggestions on what else can be done for humidifying the oven?

All in all, I'm still super excited to be baking bread. My coworkers laughed when I told them I had joined a bread site and had started a bread blog. But as a fellow manager pointed out, there are worse things to be this excited about. :) And with two successes under my belt, I'm feeling pretty optimistic on future loaves. Not to mention that I won't have to buy store made bread again!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Bread Beginning

The longer I have this blog, the more I realize that I have set some narrow sights on what I should blog about. Well no longer!! Music and retail are not the only things that happen in my life. Nor are they the only things I am enthusiastic about.


Last November I became determined to learn how to crochet better. I can now say with pride that I have learned how. I may not be the best crocheter ever, but I have learned the termanology and can successfully get around a hook and yarn. I still crochet things, but I'm getting a little antsy to learn something new. Strange how after I graduated college, I realized how much I didn't know. There are so many other things that I had no idea appealled to me.

So this enthusiasm about bread caught me quite off guard. If you had asked me two months ago if I wanted to start making my own bread, I probably wouldn't have paid much attention.

But things have quite changed. And it all pretty much started when I did my taxes. Much to my relief, my tax return was quite good (at least I got SOMETHING out of my schooling). And so upon receiving said tax return, I immediately purchased two things. One was a 70s vintage road bike in orange. The second, was a Breville stand mixer.

The idea of the stand mixer caught me off guard as well. I've always wanted one, but had read it off as way too expensive. Well, thanks to my employee discount at a kitchen store, it wasn't quite so expensive anymore.

I started my research. I pulled out my Joy of Cooking book to get the basics (I absolutely heart my joy of cooking!). After reading three pages, I realized I was hooked. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF BREADS!!

I want to make them ALL.

So I joined a website! where there are basic bread making lessons, suggestions, hits, info on different materials and different ingrediants. But above all, I discovered that there was a community out there of bread enthusiasts as well!! Who knew!?? There is even a Bread Baking World Cup!!!!!! I want to go to there!!!

Tonight I shall attempt my first loaf. I'm trying to start slow and not get ahead of myself (which I do wayyy to often). I'm trying to get into my head what each part of the bread does so that maybe one day I can start experimenting and making my own versions! So tonight is a simple white loaf. I'll take a picture and post it when I'm done!

So. Excited.