Tuesday, November 24, 2009

rye bread - chapter 1

i've never figured out rye bread. whether i followed my instincts or Nancy Silverton's recipe (the one with cider), the results were dense, hard, and not particularly delicious. so i went back to wheat, telling myself that some day i would spend some time with rye, get to know each other, learn the new set of instincts i would need to bake the chewy, flavorful rye bread i was imagining. and of the things i must urgently do in the last 6ish weeks before parenthood, finding a pediatrician may be somewhat more vital, but so is bread.
Hodgson Mills is the only rye flour at any of my 3 local grocery stores, but it is a very coarse stone ground whole grain flour, in which the bran is barely pulverized, leaving large pieces of what be better described as rye meal. some in blogoland suggest sifting this flour, using the fine stuff in bread and the rough stuff as bird food. i've ordered some white and medium rye flours from King Arthur, but until they get here, i'm playing with the whole grain stuff.
as i converted the starter, the decrease in gluten level was clearly visible. the ripe starter lost its stickiness, so instead of glooping up as i mixed, i could divide it and see a cross-section of the spongy interior of the starter. i fed it twice a day, at around 100% hydration, though i haven't been weighing things, perhaps i should.
i just mixed a dough, using
  • 2 c. rye starter, fed 18 hours earlier
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c. wheat gluten
after mixing in those flours, the dough seemed about as wet as i wanted it. i think this is a moderate proportion of rye to wheat, enough so that i don't really know what i'm doing, but hey, it's not a huge loaf and how else am i going to learn.
going to knead now, and add a couple tablespoons of salt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

fruit pie

since pie isn't so much one food as a class of foods, this isn't so much a recipe as a template. so consider, once you have a pastry blender, everything you need to make some sort of pie is probably in your kitchen already.


for two (2) layers of pie crust, sift together
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose and/or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp salt (reduce by 1/4 tsp for each stick of salted butter used)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (powdered is preferable)
cut in with a pastry blender
  • 1 c. total of butter and/or shortening and/or vegetable oil
when the mixture looks dry and granular, with no clumps larger than peas, pour in
  • 1/3 c. ice water
and pastry-blend it up until it comes together. divide into two balls, wrap each in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or as long as a few days.
when fixin to bake your pie, preheat oven to 425F, and make the

combine in a large bowl
  • 6-8 c. fruit. better to err on the side of too much and have to eat pieces of raw fruit covered in sugar that didn't fit than to have a skimpily filled pie, in my humble opinion. for my fairly deep, 9.5" diameter pyrex pie plate i used 6 small to medium sized apples and a 12 oz. bag of frozen blackberries. or, try a combination of fresh and reconstituted dried fruit.
  • 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar, optional. mix in while slicing apples to prevent oxidation. brightens the fruit's flavor. being out of lemons, i used several shakes of umeboshi vinegar.
  • 1/4 - 1 c. sweetener. how sweet is your fruit, and how sweet do you want the pie to be? i used 6 Tbsp (3/8 c.) of white sugar, and someone eating the pie commented that it was not very sweet. it wasn't but that's ok by me.
  • spices, optional. 1-2 tsp cinnamon is classic in apple pie, but i'd like to try cardamom, maybe with plums.
  • 1-6 Tbsp corn starch or flour. this is the thickening agent. flour is about half as effective as corn starch, so use twice as much. use more with a high-moisture fruit like ripe peaches or berries, or if you're using a liquid sweetener (honey, maple syurp, ...). I used 3 Tbsp of corn starch in the apple-blackberry pie.
set fruit aside. if you want to top your pie with

crumble, optional
now is the time to combine, with the pastry blender
  • 1/2 c. total, rolled oats and/or flour
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • handful walnuts, chopped
refrigerate crumble, place cold dough between 2 sheet of plastic wrap and roll into circle slightly larger than pie pan. peel of top layer of plastic, and flip crust into pan, dump the filling in, top with 2nd crust or crumble or don't, trim and crimp the edge of the crust. place in oven, with cookie tray beneath, and bake 15 minutes at 425 F. lower temp. to 350F and bake another 40-50 minutes or until juices are bubbling.
now, seriously, let it cool for at least an hour so the corn starch can set the juice and it's not a giant fruit soup dumpling. or, frivilously, enjoy the fruit soup dumpling. with ice cream.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


another CoOp standard, also from Joy '97.  multiply by 1.5 for a 9x13-inch or two 8- or 9-inch round pans.
and, please, zest the lemons before juicing them.
preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour a 9x9-inch cake pan.
sift together:
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit if butter is salted)
in stand mixer, beat until creamy:
  • 1/2 c. butter
add gradually and beat 3-5 minutes:
  • 1 c. sugar
beat in one at a time, and add:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
stir in flour until just smooth, pour into pan and, optionally, top with:
  • 1/3 c. sliced almonds or other nuts
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
bake 30-35 minutes, until just the edges turn brown.

ginger cake

This recipe, from the Joy of Cooking 1997, was one of my favorites to make for CoOp dessert, tripling these quantities for a half-sheet pan.  Presumably, 1.5x would yield enough for a 9x13-inch, bundt, or 2-layer cake.
a food processor is really helpful to grate the ginger, or chop it finely.

preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour a 9x9 cake pan.
sift together:
  • 1 1/2 wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
mix in another, large bowl:
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. corn syrup, agave, honey, or molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. minced fresh ginger
combine and melt in a saucepan
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. water
whisk hot butter-water into molasses mixture, stir in flour just until smooth, pour into prepared cake pan and bake until done, 25-30 minutes.

banana bread

I got a new mini-moleskine and since the old one includes the recipe of nearly every cake I baked in the past year, i'm copying them up here.  this one is sourced from some website.

preheat oven to 350F, butter and flour a loaf pan.
  • 3-4 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/3 c. melted butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar (try 2/3?)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 c. flour (try part or all whole wheat)
mix dry into wet, pour into prepared loaf pan, bake ~60 min until done, remove from pan and cool.

cranberry apple walnut cake

from one of the Moosewood cookbooks, I'm not sure which.

preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan or bundt pan.
cream together in a large bowl:
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
add and beat well:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
sift together:
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
add dry ingredients to wet, combine thoroughly.  stir in:
  • 2 c. sliced or grated apples
  • 1/2 lb. cranberries
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
bake until done, 45-50 minutes for sheet cake, or 55-65 min for bundt.

sourdough pancakes

yield: 3 7-inch pancakes, or 9 4-inch pancakes

mix well:
  • 1 c. starter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar, honey, agave, or cider
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. extras (optional; berries, fruit, nuts, choc chips)
this can be mixed as early as the night before, and refrigerated, or kept on the counter if you wait to add the egg.
when ready to cook pancakes, combine
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp warm water
dissolve, and mix into batter.
heat skillet, melt butter onto it, and fry pancakes, flipping them when popping bubbles leave craters that don't fill back in.

this recipe, from http://whatscookingamerica.net/Bread/SourdoughPancakes.htm, is deservedly the first response to google search "sourdough pancakes".