Monday, December 26, 2011

Daring Bakers, December: Russian Rye Bread

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food! I have experience with regular sourdough, but I love rye and have been wanting to try it out, especially because it's a whole grain food.

 I went for the humble sourdough rye loaf.

It had pretty nice innards! 

We ate most of the loaf with butter and honey!

And of course, the best way to eat rye: with corned beef!

Here's the starter at the end of day 1, just after the first feeding. I was a little skeptical because of our cold house.

Despite the cold house, the starter did grow after nightly feedings and occasional stints on a warm burner throughout the day. Basically, I'd heat one of the burners on our flattop stove, turned it off, then set the starter's bowl on it. It would remain foamy and yeasty-fruity smelling during the 5-day feeding process.

I added a little extra flour to give the dough some body, but it was still pretty liquid.

For the most part, it was a pourable batter as opposed to a kneadable dough, but I knew the dough would
be wet, so I just let it go.

Even though it was cold in the house, left in a sunny window for about 8 hours, it did poof up in its proofing bag.

It proofed to fill the loaf pan to the top.

Check out my fellow DBers' posts through our blogroll!
Read more!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daring Bakers, November: Filipino Desserts

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

I was looking forward to trying the Sans Rival cake for the first time, since I grew up eating bibingka in my Filipino household, but it's been such a busy month that the supplemental project became my primary project and I just made some simple yet delicious bibingka. Instead of making and using salted duck egg, I left the cakes empty and topped them with brown sugar and coconut for a simplified version.

Bare babingka, fresh out of the oven and before I lacquered them with butter.

A plain babingka--well, plain with a ton of butter melted into it.

Simple brown sugar.

Coconut, and with its skirt down (with butter, bare, skirt down--who knew babingka could be so naughty?!).

Such a beautiful golden color!

Moist, luscious innards. So very good . . . though still naughty!

And if you have two, the wrappers really start to flower up. =)

Check out my fellow DBers, most of who made the Sans Rival, by heading to our blogroll
Read more!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers, October: Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
Mysterious. Is it a giant cinnamon bun? A weird bread log? What?

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
And what’s busting out of the thin pastry shell?

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
I have to admit, it’s not the most appetizing-looking thing I’ve ever made. At least, not from the outside.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvitica

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
I didn’t think I’d get my polvitica made because October was so busy, and I was spending the last week before the challenge deadline out of town on vacation. A couple of days before I left, though, I was able to put it together after work—it came together quickly and easily. The full recipe was enough to make four loaves, but I really don’t need four loaves of dessert bread sitting around, so I used the single-loaf recipe that the fabulous Audax Artifex computed for us and gave a hunk of the loaf to our friend who’d be watching our cat and house while we were gone.

To be honest, the dough may have been a little easier to work with if I’d been a little more conservative with the flour. I kneaded flour in until it was soft, smooth, and not tacky to the touch. After I’d made the polvitica dough (of course it’s always after the fact), I read that it’s preferable to get the dough to a tacky (but not sticky) point, although some of the DBers stopped at the sticky.

It reminded me of one of my favorite things to bake—strudel! Just like with strudel, though, it took some mental prep to get ready to work the dough the way it needed to be, rolling, stretching, and pulling it into a fantastically thin pastry. It wasn’t as challenging as the stiff dough we turned into baklava, but it was harder than the luxuriously soft and supple strudel recipes I’ve used in the past. Luckily, it didn’t have to be stretched as large as my dining room table the way strudel dough does.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvitica
The recipe called for walnuts, but I didn’t have enough, so I added almonds to the mix. It was delicious! A lot of people compared it to bread pudding, and while I didn’t find that super moist and custardy combination I identify with bread pudding, it was tender and moist.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvitica
This beautiful recipe is a keeper for special occasions.


Daring Bakers, October: Polvitica
The dough rolled out as far as I comfortably could. Time to start stretching!

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
Use the backs of your hands to stretch the dough out; fingers might tear through. I tore it, anyway, but it would’ve been worse with fingers, I tell you!

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
And more knuckles!

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
And some knuckling over here for good measure.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
Thin enough to see the Corelle!

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
Holey heck. Luckily, the holes don’t matter because they’ll be rolled up into the povitica, and the only people who’ll ever know they were ever there are the people who’ll read this post. Yey!

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
Tuck and roll—you want to make sure there aren’t any big air bubbles inside the roll because they’ll expand during baking and produce a gap-toothed povitica.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
All rolled up and no place to go.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
You don’t have to just swirl the roll around in the pan like this. You can cut the length to fit and stack it into the pan.

Daring Bakers, October: Polvotica
Nut sausage? Ha, now I regret having written those two words together. *shudder* It's not the worst of the hilarious-but-unattractive thoughts that came through my head while making this, but I'm ridiculously immature some days. ;D

You can check out my fellow DBers’ polviticas by visiting our blogroll and clicking on the thousands of links to thousands of beautiful blogs!
Read more!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Daring Bakers, September: Croissants

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Daring Bakers September: Croissants
Thanks to the rare combination of an early bust of ambition and a 3-day weekend at the very beginning of the month, I charged right into this recipe! And therefore missed the corrected version of the recipe in which the original 3 and a quarter cups of flour was changed to the correct amount of 1 and three-quarter cups of flour. That said, my croissants look a bit anemic. Or I guess I could be kind and call them "fit and trim." Which is what I want to be some day when I grow up, which is why I didn’t want to remake the recipe again to make an entirely new batch of croissants in the house. So!

Daring Bakers September: Croissants

I will say that this is an instance where I should’ve trusted my instincts. The first cooking class I ever took was on laminated dough—puff pastry—and it included croissants. Since then, I’ve made all sorts of puff pastry, so I should’ve known when the initial dough came out stiff and shaggy instead of soft and pliable that something was amiss.

Daring Bakers September: Croissants

I like to give recipes a chance, though, instead of dismissing them right off the bat, so I soldiered on and carried the recipe through.

Daring Bakers September: Croissants
Although the resulting croissants were more like crescent rolls than croissants, they still had really good flavor, even if the texture wasn’t what I’d hoped. This recipe’s mechanics were pretty much the same.

Daring Bakers September: Croissants
This recipe had me pounding out the butter on a cutting board while it was still cold to keep it cold, but make it spreadable. Usually, I spread softened butter onto parchment into the size and shape I need, fold the parchment over it to protect it while it’s chilling, then, when I need it, I take the butter block out and put it out onto my rolled-out dough, then encase it as this recipe directs.

Daring Bakers September: Croissants

I’ve almost always had an oozing butter problem, no matter how cold I’ve kept the butter, and it would come out just like toothpaste.
Daring Bakers September: CroissantsThis was especially problematic with this dough, which was so stiff that I had to use my fist to manhandle it to form it into the starting rectangle.

On warm days, I’ve had to chill the dough in the fridge after each fold, but a smoosh of butter still usually manages to come out somewhere, usually around the ends. When that happens, I just dust out some flour over the oozing butter to at least keep my rolling pin a little tidier and to sort of "mat up" the butter a bit.

Daring Bakers September: Croissants
Any butter that does ooze, out, I just spread it back onto the dough and fold it in with the next fold. After about a handful of folds, the butter’s distributed throughout so thinly that there isn’t enough to ooze.

Daring Bakers September: Croissants
After folding and rolling several times so that you get a billion delicious alternating layers of dough and butter, you roll the dough out one last time and slice it into rectangles.

I learned that rolling and pulling the triangles out a bit will help the croissants keep their form and come together tightly (although that didn't quite work with the stiff dough, so each layer's still pretty separate).
Daring Bakers September: Croissants

Daring Bakers September: Croissants
Another hint that something was wrong with this dough was how difficult a time it had with each rise. usually, these risen croissants would've been three times the size, but they barely went anywhere.

I was hoping for giant air pockets, which signify an airy, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth crumb that lingered beneath the croissants crust. We ended up with some tasty snacky crescent rolls that went well with our smoked pork loin and garden-fresh zucchini, instead. ;)
Daring Bakers September: Croissants
With zucchini from the garden and a homemade crescent roll

Hey, I'll take it! Try the recipe with the corrected amount of flour, and you'll probably end up with an awesome croissant. Because this month's hostess isn't a blogger, I can't direct you to her blog where the recipe will be posted. While I don't typically post copyrighted material in my blog, I'll do so here, for you baking pleasure.


Note: The most difficult part of making croissants is that they take a veeeeery long time. About 12 hours total, with resting and rising periods. However, at certain points you can leave it overnight. I have done the recipe twice – once over three days, and once in 12 hours. Both worked out well.

Mandatory Items: You must make a batch of croissants according to the recipe below.

Variations allowed: I highly recommend trying the originals at least once, but you are free to be as creative as you want. Chocolate and almond croissants are popular . . . . let your imagination run wild!

Preparation time: In total, 12 hours.
Making dough, 10 mins
First rise, 3 hours
Kneading and folding, 5 mins
Second rise, 1.5 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Rolling in the butter (turns one and two), 15 mins
First rest, 2 hours
Turns three and four, 10 mins
Second rest, 2 hours (or overnight in the fridge)
Forming croissants, 30 mins
Final rise, 1 hour (or longer in the fridge)
Baking, 15 mins

Equipment required:
• Measuring cups
• Measuring spoons
• Mixing bowls of numerous sizes
• Rubber spatula
• Plastic bag
• Pastry scraper
• Counter space or board for rolling and kneading
• Rolling pin
• Plastic wrap
• Baking tray

Servings: 12 croissants

Note from Lis: Sarah took so many gorgeous and helpful step-by-step photos for this challenge, that I found the best way to display them is at the bottom of the recipe. Each photo is notated with what you are looking at. Smile

¼ oz (7 gm) of fresh yeast, or 1¼ teaspoon (6¼ ml/4 gm) of dry-active yeast (about ½ sachet)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) warm water (less than 100°F/38°C)
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 3/4 cups (225 gm/½ lb) of strong plain flour (I used Polish all-purpose flour, which is 13% protein)
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
1½ teaspoon (7½ ml/9 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml/¼ pint) milk (I am not sure if the fat content matters. I used 2%)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) tasteless oil (I used generic vegetable oil)
½ cup (120 ml/1 stick/115 gm/¼ lb) chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash


1. Mix the yeast, warm water, and first teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Leave aside for the yeast and sugar to dissolve and the yeast to foam up a little.
2. Measure out the other ingredients
3. Heat the milk until tepid (either in the microwave or a saucepan), and dissolve in the salt and remaining sugar
4. Place the flour in a large bowl.
5. Add the oil, yeast mixture, and milk mixture to the flour
6. Mix all the ingredients together using the rubber spatula, just until all the flour is incorporated
7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and let it rest a minute while you wash out the bowl
8. Knead the dough eight to ten times only. The best way is as Julia Child does it in the video (see below). It’s a little difficult to explain, but essentially involves smacking the dough on the counter (lots of fun if you are mad at someone) and removing it from the counter using the pastry scraper.
9. Place the dough back in the bowl, and place the bowl in the plastic bag
10. Leave the bowl at approximately 75°F/24°C for three hours, or until the dough has tripled in size.
11. After the dough has tripled in size, remove it gently from the bowl, pulling it away from the sides of the bowl with your fingertips.
12. Place the dough on a lightly floured board or countertop, and use your hands to press it out into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches (20cm by 30cm).
13. Fold the dough rectangle in three, like a letter (fold the top third down, and then the bottom third up)
14. Place the dough letter back in the bowl, and the bowl back in the plastic bag.
15. Leave the dough to rise for another 1.5 hours, or until it has doubled in size. This second rise can be done overnight in the fridge
16. Place the double-risen dough onto a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the plate in the fridge while you prepare the butter.
17. Once the dough has doubled, it’s time to incorporate the butter
18. Place the block of chilled butter on a chopping board.
19. Using the rolling pin, beat the butter down a little, till it is quite flat.
20. Use the heel of your hand to continue to spread the butter until it is smooth. You want the butter to stay cool, but spread easily.
21. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board or counter. Let it rest for a minute or two.
22. Spread the dough using your hands into a rectangle about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
23. Remove the butter from the board, and place it on the top half of the dough rectangle
24. Spread the butter all across the top two-thirds of the dough rectangle, but keep it ¼ inch (6 mm) across from all the edges.
25. Fold the top third of the dough down, and the bottom third of the dough up.
26. Turn the dough package 90 degrees, so that the top flap is to your right (like a book).
27. Roll out the dough package (gently, so you don’t push the butter out of the dough) until it is again about 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
28. Again, fold the top third down and the bottom third up.
29. Wrap the dough package in plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge for 2 hours. 30. After two hours have passed, take the dough out of the fridge and place it again on the lightly floured board or counter.
31. Tap the dough with the rolling pin, to deflate it a little
32. Let the dough rest for 8 to 10 minutes
33. Roll the dough package out till it is 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
34. Fold in three, as before
35. Turn 90 degrees, and roll out again to 14 by 8 inches (35 cm by 20 cm).
36. Fold in three for the last time, wrap in plastic, and return the dough package to the fridge for two more hours (or overnight, with something heavy on top to stop it from rising)
37. It’s now time to cut the dough and shape the croissants
38. First, lightly butter your baking sheet so that it is ready
39. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for ten minutes on te lightly floured board or counter
40. Roll the dough out into a 20 by 5 inch rectangle (51 cm by 12½ cm).
41. Cut the dough into two rectangles (each 10 by 5 inches (25½ cm by 12½ cm)) (Photo 24)
42. Place one of the rectangles in the fridge, to keep the butter cold
43. Roll the second rectangle out until it is 15 by 5 inches (38 cm by 12½ cm).
44. Cut the rectangle into three squares (each 5 by 5 inches (12½ cm by 12½ cm))
45. Place two of the squares in the fridge
46. The remaining square may have shrunk up a little bit in the meantime. Roll it out again till it is nearly square
47. Cut the square diagonally into two triangles.
48. Stretch the triangle out a little, so it is not a right-angle triangle, but more of an isosceles.
49. Starting at the wide end, roll the triangle up towards the point, and curve into a crescent shape.
50. Place the unbaked croissant on the baking sheet
51. Repeat the process with the remaining squares of dough, creating 12 croissants in total.
52. Leave the tray of croissants, covered lightly with plastic wrap, to rise for 1 hour
53. Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
54. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water
55. Spread the egg wash across the tops of the croissants.
56. Put the croissants in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned nicely
57. Take the croissants out of the oven, and place them on a rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
Croissants are best eaten the day they are made. They will survive till the next day in a sealed container. If they seem a little stale, they can be quickly re-freshed by warming them in the oven.(((Julie's Notes: Croissants, like most baked goods, do fine frozen and then reheated in the oven or even zapped in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. You could also freeze your dough before you roll it out for the final time and form it into croissants.)))

Additional Information:

Check out this video of Julia Child making her own croissants (note that the recipe she follows here is a little different from the one in the book, but it’s still fun and helpful to watch)

More on Julia’s croissants with gorgeous photos

Here is a recipe for vegan croissants – it looks like you can just substitute margarine and soy milk

Check out my fellow DBers' croissants through our blogroll!
Read more!