SamanthaMenzies.com » Flour Girl http://samanthamenzies.com/home Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:35:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The French Baker Cookbook Review http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2014/02/the-french-baker-cookbook-review/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2014/02/the-french-baker-cookbook-review/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 01:35:58 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=9943 SamanthaMenzies.com
The French Baker Cookbook Review

The French Baker: Authentic Recipes for Traditional Breads, Desserts, and Dinners by Sebastien Boudet I was really excited to review this book because I the only thing I love more than baking cookies is baking bread. And the only things I love more than baking bread is eating it. What I Didn’t Like About the […]

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The French Baker Cookbook Review

The French Baker Cookbook (2)

The French Baker: Authentic Recipes for Traditional Breads, Desserts, and Dinners by Sebastien Boudet

I was really excited to review this book because I the only thing I love more than baking cookies is baking bread. And the only things I love more than baking bread is eating it.

What I Didn’t Like About the Book

There was a lot of detail that was left out of the recipes. It wasn’t challenging for me to put the pieces together because I have years of experience with baking a variety of breads, but someone new to baking would surely be confused. Even I had questions regarding re-feeding sourdough, shaping loaves, and kneading.

Bottom Line: when it comes to baking, this may not be the best book for beginners.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (2)

What I Liked About the Book

The book itself is gorgeous. The pillowy hardcover, the matte pages, the beautiful photos of rustic French food, markets, garden, and towns. The writing is romantic, describing the baking process passionately and painting an idealistic picture of French food culture. The author tells a story rather than just providing recipes; I like that.

I was expecting a tome on how to perfect sourdough, but the book contains more than that, more than just baked goods even. It is broken up into sections including sourdough bread, sweet bread, cookies, desserts, and hearty baker’s meals.

The French Baker Cookbook (1)

The recipes that I made came out awesome. I was skeptical about the baguette recipe while I was putting the starter together, but it came through and ended up being one of the best baguettes I’ve made.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (3)

La Baguette

The baguette is France’s most popular and most purchased bread- and it’s the worst f their selection of fine breads! The baguette you normally find in stores and bakeries is a fluffy white bread without crust or colour. But with the help of the poolish method you can create beautiful and tasty baguettes. The Polish people brought this leavening method to France at the end of the 1800s and it is based around letting three-fifths of the bread go through prolonged autolysis of 12 hours. The small amount of yeast creates a snowball effect which begins the whole leavening process and produces airy bread with simple but clear sourdough flavour. The method is perfect for making baguettes.

Makes 5 Baguettes

8 cups (1kg) wheat flour + 5 cups (600g) wheat flour
1g fresh yeast
4 cups (1kg) water
45g coarse sea salt

Day 1

Prepare the poolish by whisking the 8 cups of wheat flour, yeast, and water in a large bowl until you have the consistency of pancake batter.

Cover the bowl with a baking towel and let leaven at room temperature for 12-16 hours.

Day 2

After 12-16 hours of leavening the dough should be doubled in size and will smell really nice.

Pour the 5 cups of wheat flour onto a baking table. Create a dent in the middle and pour the poolish from the previous day into the dent along with the sea salt. Mix and knead the dough (there is no need for autolysis since 3/5 of the dough has already rested for 12 hours with the water) until it releases from the table. Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest under a baking towel for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into five equal parts and shape each one into a small ball. Let rest for a couple of minutes under a baking towel.

Carefully shape the balls into baguettes. If you notice that the dough begins to tear, you can let it rest a little bit longer so it can recover.

Sprinkle flour liberally on the baking towel and place the first baguette on it. Create a fold in the towel as a barrier and place the next baguette alongside the fold.Alternate between fold and baguette until the towel is covered, that way the baguettes won’t touch each other but will support each other.

Sprinkle flour on top of the baguettes and cover them with another baking towel. Let the baguettes leaven at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 500F with a baking stone if you have one.

If you have a baking stone, roll the baguettes from the baking towel onto a floured pizza peel (or to the back of a baking sheet that has been floured). Otherwise, you can place the baguettes carefully onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Score the flour dusted baguettes lengthwise (carefully and not too quickly as they can lose their structure). Note: never score baguettes straight across.

Bake the baguettes in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Let the baguettes cool down on a rack for at least 45 minutes.

The French Baker -Baguette Recipe (1)

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Finnish Oat and Rye Rieska http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2013/05/finnish-oat-and-rye-rieska/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2013/05/finnish-oat-and-rye-rieska/#comments Thu, 09 May 2013 12:12:27 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=9095 SamanthaMenzies.com
Finnish Oat and Rye Rieska

I love me some soda bread. Finnish Rieska is a flat quickbread (ie. leavened chemically with baking soda and powder instead of yeast) made in Finland that can be similar to soda bread, depending on how you make it. Though Rieska is a traditional Finnish flatbread, its preparation varies across the country. Often it’s made […]

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Finnish Oat and Rye Rieska

I love me some soda bread.

Finnish Rieska

Finnish Rieska is a flat quickbread (ie. leavened chemically with baking soda and powder instead of yeast) made in Finland that can be similar to soda bread, depending on how you make it.

Though Rieska is a traditional Finnish flatbread, its preparation varies across the country. Often it’s made with barley flour, sometimes it’s oat or rye, and even potato is popular. The thickness of rieska can vary too from cracker-thin to thick-and-bready.

I’ve never been all that interested in making it until I saw a version containing oats on the King Arthur Flour website. I love oats! Their flavour imparts a nutty quality that I absolutely adore in pretty much anything.

Finnish Rieska

Finnish Oat and Rye Rieska

From King Arthur Flour

This was my first rieska attempt and it turned out awesome! Instead of spreading my rieska batter thinly out over an entire baking sheet, I piled it up in a 9″ round cake pan to garner the “thick-and-bready” texture that reminded me of a muffin. This bread tastes fantastic with a robust cheese and if I sandwiched a fried egg in there too it made the perfect breakfast.

Ingredients

35g (1/2 c) rolled oats
113g (1 c) rye flour
128g (1 c.) all-purpose Flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
25g (2 T) sugar
57g (1/4 c) butter
1 1/2 c buttermilk (or 1 1/2 c milk with 1 1/2 T vinegar)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500°F (high temperature is good for a wet dough like this).

Grease a baking pan or baking sheet. The original recipe calls for a 9×13″ baking pan which would make a thinner bread than the 9″ round pan that I used. I’ve seen some recipes where the dough is spread very thinly on a whole baking sheet too, so the choice is yours. Just remember that the thinner the dough the quicker it will bake.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.

Crumble the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands until it is thoroughly distributed. Stir in the milk or buttermilk to get a very sticky batter.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and, using wet hands, pat it out so it fills the pan.

Bake the bread for 15 to 17 minutes (for a 9×13″ bread), until the top is light golden brown and springs back when gently touched.

Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack before slicing.

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BAGELS! http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2013/04/bagels/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2013/04/bagels/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 01:50:12 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=8962 SamanthaMenzies.com
BAGELS!

Who doesn’t love Bagels, amiright? I don’t love traditional bagels though. I’m too young to have lived through the time when bagels were at their prime so I don’t experience nostalgia from a handmade, very chewy yet slightly crispy bagel. Some traditionalists might say that all I know are the bastardized version of ‘bagels’ that […]

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BAGELS!

Who doesn’t love Bagels, amiright?

Bagels! Heck, yeah!

I don’t love traditional bagels though. I’m too young to have lived through the time when bagels were at their prime so I don’t experience nostalgia from a handmade, very chewy yet slightly crispy bagel.

Some traditionalists might say that all I know are the bastardized version of ‘bagels’ that came about after industrialization of bakeries. . . but that’s what I like.

Bagels! Heck, yeah!

This is the recipe that I like. It doesn’t use high gluten bread flour or barley malt and it has a relatively high water content (by bagel standards), but it’s good. I’m willing to experiment with some bagel variations in the future, but right now this version hits the spot.

These are my bagels with a slight crisp to the crust, a bready crumb, and a hint of sweetness.

Bagels! Heck, yeah!

I made some this week for my friends who came over on Saturday morning for an Easter breakfast get-together. I think they were a hit!

Oh, and Happy Easter!

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How to Shape Kaiser Buns http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/11/how-to-shape-kaiser-buns/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/11/how-to-shape-kaiser-buns/#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2012 02:36:27 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=8097 SamanthaMenzies.com
How to Shape Kaiser Buns

It’s time for this month’s Baking Partners Challenge. The theme for November is Shaped Dinner Rolls. I’m happy that it was a bread challenge this month because I really don’t need any more desserts around here (except, maybe a few more of those Food for the Gods bars, those were delightful) and because I already […]

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How to Shape Kaiser Buns

It’s time for this month’s Baking Partners Challenge. The theme for November is Shaped Dinner Rolls. I’m happy that it was a bread challenge this month because I really don’t need any more desserts around here (except, maybe a few more of those Food for the Gods bars, those were delightful) and because I already make bread all the time.

I decided to do a Kaiser Bun for this challenge. Matt was bugging me to make burgers for dinner one night this week so I figured Kaisers would be a good burger bun.

Kaiser Buns

For this dough itself I actually used a Vienna Bread recipe which has a basis of a baguette dough but includes extra enrichments of a little butter, egg, and sugar making it more tender with a denser crumb and softer crust, kinda like American white bread.

Typically Kaiser Buns are stamped with a press that looks like this:

Kaiser Stamp

I don’t have one of those and I suspect that not many people do, so you can go the “knotted roll” route instead. It’s actually not that hard. Coming from me (ie. the girl who bakes bread for the sole fact that it doesn’t have to look nice, and who has no skills to make anything look attractive) that’s saying something.

The look will be a little less uniform that you’ll get from a stamp, more rustic, but still really “kaiserish” looking. Here it goes. . .

How to Shape Kaiser Buns

For burger-sized buns, divide the dough into 85-115g (3-4 oz) pieces with a pastry cutter.

Roll each piece into a dough snake about 45cm (18”) in length.

Roll each piece into a log about 45cm (18”) in length.

Tie the snake into a regular ‘ol knot.

Tie the snake into a regular ‘ol knot.

Take the “over” end and loop it under and through the centre to make a nub in the middle of the hole.

Loop the “over” end, under and through the centre to make a nub in the middle of the whole.

Then take the “under” end and loop it over and squeeze it down into the whole to make a nub coming out of the bottom.

Then take the “under” end and loop it over and squeeze it down into the whole to make a nub coming out of the bottom.

And voila! Kaiser Buns.

Pre-proofing

Proof the buns until they are double in size (1-1.5h). To finish them off, just brush with water, milk, or egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.

Proofed Buns

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 400F and bake 15 – 30 minutes more (until medium golden brown)

Kaiser Buns


How to Shape Kaiser Buns – photoless directions

For burger-sized buns, divide the dough into 85-115g (3-4 oz) pieces with a pastry cutter.

Roll each piece into a dough snake about 45cm (18”) in length.

Tie the snake into a regular ‘ol knot.

Take the “over” end and loop it under and through the centre to make a nub in the middle of the hole.

Then take the “under” end and loop it over and squeeze it down into the whole to make a nub coming out of the bottom.

Proof the buns until they are double in size (1-1.5h). To finish them off, just brush with water, milk, or egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 400F and bake 15 – 30 minutes more (until medium golden brown)

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Baking for the Harrow Fair http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/08/baking-for-the-harrow-fair/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/08/baking-for-the-harrow-fair/#comments Thu, 30 Aug 2012 14:09:16 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=7640 SamanthaMenzies.com
Baking for the Harrow Fair

The past few years I’ve been wanting to submit some of my baking in the Harrow Fair, which is like the Olympics for farm folk. It happens to take place on Labour Day weekend and I always seem to be busy or out of town. But this year I was finally available to enter the […]

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Baking for the Harrow Fair

The past few years I’ve been wanting to submit some of my baking in the Harrow Fair, which is like the Olympics for farm folk. It happens to take place on Labour Day weekend and I always seem to be busy or out of town. But this year I was finally available to enter the hundred-some-odd-year-old competition that pits grannys against each other in all things domestic arts (. . .and farming too, but unfortunately my childhood dreams of raising sheep haven’t yet come to fruition, so I’m sticking to baked goods).

To enter something into the fair you have to buy a membership to the agricultural society which costs $7. If you win the prize is $6. Ummm…? I guess it’s about the bragging rights? I don’t know.

Matt insisted I should enter a pie into the competition because I do make a mean pie. But the last time I made one I brought it to my friend’s for dinner and it was a disaster (lucky for me I had enough glasses of wine not to care…all that much). So, yeah, no pie.

I went with bread instead because I love baking bread and I’m pretty good at it. The competition categories for the breads are pretty slim– you mean there isn’t a category for best pain a l’ancienne?– so I decided to enter 3 breads: white bread, crusty rolls, and whole wheat buns (which were a bonus since I used a recipe that I never tested before).

The entries had to be submitted last night by 9 and there is no way that I’d be able to bake 3 different types of bread after work and have them ready by 9 o’clock so I baked the crusty rolls and whole wheat buns on the weekend and froze them and I saved the white bread for baking fresh last night.

As I was preparing the dough I kept looking back at the clock, counting back the time that I would need to get my bread ready on time and it wasn’t adding up. Shit. I performed some baker’s magic tricks to speed up the proofing/rising processes and I managed to get the bread into the oven at exactly 7:25pm.
Somewhere between 7:25 and 8:10 was the end of the world. The loaves started to get way to dark way too quickly. And by dark I mean burnt. I was pissed because I knew the crumb would taste good but I didn’t want to associate my name with a loaf of bread that had burn spots on it.

&^%&^!! @#$S%!!! $#%&#^! @#*&$!!!

I spent about 5 minutes swearing and throwing things around the kitchen in frustration and disappointment. My best bread was ruined. Ruined!

In a huff and a hurry I pulled myself together and grabbed my other breads out of the freezer and sped all the way out to Harrow and made it on time to the fairgrounds. On the drive home Matt said, “Next year you should just take the day off work to do all your baking”.

An entire day off to bake just so I can win $6? Umm yeah, that sounds kinda awesome.

. . . Want to know what happens with my bread? Read all about it here

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Kamut Brioche http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/07/what-is-kamut/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/07/what-is-kamut/#comments Sun, 15 Jul 2012 06:00:17 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=7177 SamanthaMenzies.com
Kamut Brioche

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet. So far I’ve done: (A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta (C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite) (E or F): Homemade Fig […]

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Kamut Brioche

Kamut Brioche

It’s time for another Eating the Alphabet recipe link-up where each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, legume, or whole grain from a different set of letters of the alphabet.

So far I’ve done:

(A or B): Buttercup Squash and Artichoke Pasta
(C or D): Grenadian Oil Down with Cassava (Favourite)
(E or F): Homemade Fig Newtons (Favourite)
(G or H): White Chicken Chili with Hominy
(I or J): Juniper Berry Bechamel

This month we look at K or L. My ingredient of choice: Kamut.

WTF is Kamut?

What is Kamut? Khorasan Wheat is more commonly referred to as Kamut which is actually it’s trademark name. It’s a bit odd that a strain of wheat has been trademarked, but according to Kamut International, this is to ensure that customers are always getting 100% organic khorasan wheat that has not been combined with standard wheat or genetically modified. So if you’re buying Kamut and not plain old Khorasan wheat, you can rest easy my friends.

Kamut is a hardy strain of wheat that originated in Egypt. It grows relatively easily with less water than standard wheat requires to produce the same yield. It can often be grown without pesticides since the low moisture requirement naturally deters insects.

Kamut is high in protein (12-18%) making it a good substitute for bread flour in bread making. (Learn more about protein content of flours here). It can also be used in cereals, other baked goods, and pastas.

A serving of Kamut contains more than your daily required intake of selenium, the antioxidant that boosts immunity and prevents cancer.

Kamut tastes much nuttier than plain ol’ white flour or even whole wheat flour. I found it’s depth of flavour to be really very enjoyable.

(Sources: 1, 2)

How the hell do I use Kamut?

You can use Kamut either as a whole grain, cooking it like you would rice, or as a flour, baking with it in place of regular wheat flours.

- eat whole grain kamut it instead of oatmeal for breakfast
- use kamut flour for making pancakes, waffles, muffins, cookies, or bread
- use kamut pastas in place of regular pasta (or make fresh pasta with kamut flour)
- eat whole grain kamut instead of rice as a side dish at dinner

I decided to use Kamut flour in bread for its high protein content. I thought that its nutty flavour would be really good in a rich bread, so I baked the richest bread I could think of: brioche! But I kept the butter content on the lower end so that the flavour of the Kamut wouldn’t be overpowered bythe butter flavour of a richer brioche.

I think the nuttiness of Kamut would be phenomenal in a panettone, stollen, colomba di pasqua, raisin bread, or any other sweet or rich bread. I’m going to try that next time for sure!

Kamut Brioche

Kamut Brioche

makes 12 brioche a tete

Ingredients

Sponge
1/2 c. kamut flour
2 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. warm milk

Dough
4 large eggs (or 3 XL), lightly beaten
3 1/4 c. kamut flour
2 T. granulated sugar
1-1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter at room temperature

1 egg whisked for an egg wash.

Directions

Combine the sponge ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or until it bubbles and rises.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt to the sponge until smooth. Add in the flour and stir by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time while stirring.

Once the butter is incorporated transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until smooth and supple but not sticky, adding in more flour if needed.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 90 minutes or doubled in size.

To shape the brioche, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a large log and cut into 12 equal pieces with a pastry cutter. Shape each piece into a ball, flouring your hands and the dough as needed. Then shape each ball into a tapered oblong shape, sort of like a snowman, with a head and body. Use your finger to poke a hole through the centre of the larger “body” of the brioche and poke the smaller ball through it. Place the brioches in an oiled muffin tin. Cover with a towel and let rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the tops of the brioche with the egg wash; place the tins on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, until an even rich brown colour. Cool the brioche for 5 minutes, then turn the brioche out of the tins to cool completely.



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flour girl: Irish Soda Bread http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/03/irish-soda-bread/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/03/irish-soda-bread/#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2012 23:57:25 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=6587 SamanthaMenzies.com
flour girl: Irish Soda Bread

I spoke to my sister on the phone yesterday and told her that I made Irish soda bread that afternoon. I thought that she didn’t like soda bread, but she said that she was “pretty sure she did”. Pretty sure? That wasn’t very convincing, so I didn’t believe her. Tonight at dinner Matt grabbed some […]

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flour girl: Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread (2)

I spoke to my sister on the phone yesterday and told her that I made Irish soda bread that afternoon. I thought that she didn’t like soda bread, but she said that she was “pretty sure she did”. Pretty sure? That wasn’t very convincing, so I didn’t believe her.

Tonight at dinner Matt grabbed some panini out of the freezer. Didn’t he want my soda bread? I asked him. “Umm yeah, I don’t like soda bread.” Well, I knew someone didn’t like soda bread.

In any case, Matt said that this was the best soda bread he’s had, even though he didn’t like it. And didn’t want to eat it. Not exactly a raving review, but I’ll take it I suppose.

So, I’m talking about baking soda, yet again, but this time about it’s leavening properties.

Most breads rise because of yeast, which is an organic leavener, but some, like cornbread or Irish soda bread use baking soda for leavening. As an alkali, baking soda reacts with the acidic components of the dough to release carbon dioxide; this reaction makes the dough rise.

Normally Irish Soda Bread includes buttermilk, but since I didn’t have any on hand I subbed in some plain yoghurt instead. Yoghurt, like buttermilk, is acidic so it reacts with the baking soda to help the bread rise.

Irish Soda Bread

What I really like about this recipe is the inclusion of oats. I absolutely love the taste of oats and any time I can include it in my multigrain breads or crackers or cookies I will.

This bread is really good for breakfast with a smear of butter.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

250g all purpose flour (~2 cups)
250g whole wheat flour (~2 cups)
100g oats (~1 cup)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
25g butter, cut in pieces (~2 Tbsp)
1 c milk
1 c plain yoghurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F and spray a lined baking sheet with pan spray.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingers.

Mix in the milk and yogurt mix by hand, being gentle as you handle it (you don’t want to over knead it). Turn it onto a floured surfaced and shape it into a flat, round loaf about 1-1/2″ thick.

Transfer to the baking sheet and score a deep cross in the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until browned and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool on a rack before serving.

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting

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flour girl–Best Homemade Soft Pretzels http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/03/best-soft-pretzel-recipe/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/03/best-soft-pretzel-recipe/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2012 02:30:06 +0000 http://samanthamenzies.com/home/?p=6506 SamanthaMenzies.com
flour girl–Best Homemade Soft Pretzels

I’ve been eating a lot of white carbs lately. I just finished baking up a batch of Italian bread which I’m already 1/4 of the way through eating. I also may have devoured the equivalent of 8 servings of bread at my Nonna’s this evening. It’s this sugar free Lent business. I’m craving sugar in […]

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flour girl–Best Homemade Soft Pretzels

Pretzels (4)

I’ve been eating a lot of white carbs lately. I just finished baking up a batch of Italian bread which I’m already 1/4 of the way through eating. I also may have devoured the equivalent of 8 servings of bread at my Nonna’s this evening.

It’s this sugar free Lent business. I’m craving sugar in all its forms. I can’t even tell you how many dates I’ve eaten since Ash Wednesday.

Or maybe it’s not Lent at all. A few weeks before Lent began I had been itching for some pretzels. I had one when I was in Orlando and had been craving it since.

The Key to Killer Pretzels:

I had made pretzels before, but this recipe from Good Eats is by far the best one that I’ve tried. It had the perfect colour, flavour, and texture.

The key to making soft pretzels with a chewy interior and a crispy, deep brown crust is an alkaline bath.

By putting the pretzels in a boiling solution with a ratio of 15 parts water : 1 part baking soda, the starches on the outside of the pretzel will gelatinize and break proteins in the dough down into smaller chains that will be able to create that deep brown colour once they are baked without overcooking the interior of the pretzel.

To get an even deeper brown colour, brush an egg yolk onto the pretzels before baking.

Pretzels (2)

Side Note: In the episode, Alton Brown mentions that he uses this alkaline bath for making bagels. But, please don’t. Bagels are much better when they have a bit of sweetness to them.  For a sweet chewy bagel then you want to use a sugar-water bath instead (like in this recipe)

The Recipe

Pretzels (3)

Homemade Soft Pretzels

from Good Eats
Makes 8 large pretzels (ie. not nearly enough)

Ingredients

1-1/2 c warm water
1 T sugar
2 t salt
2-1/4 t instant yeast
22 oz all-purpose flour, (4-1/2 c)
2 oz butter, melted

10 c water
2/3 c baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 T water
Pretzel salt

Directions

Combine the water, sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. (If not using instant yeast, allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam)

Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with pan spray.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water two at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt (I didn’t have pretzel salt or coarse salt so sprinkled lightly with sea salt, but for the most part they were nude)

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting

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Moist and Tasty Cornbread http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/02/moist-and-tasty-cornbread/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2012/02/moist-and-tasty-cornbread/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 01:34:15 +0000 http://gamereviewwiki.com/bikinibirthday/?p=5592 SamanthaMenzies.com
Moist and Tasty Cornbread

It’s been a couple of weeks since I baked up any bread so I decided to dig into the depth of my fridge for the sourdough starter that I’ve neglected for months. When I took the plastic wrap off the bowl I was blown away by the intense alcohol smell. I considered trying to refresh […]

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SamanthaMenzies.com
Moist and Tasty Cornbread

It’s been a couple of weeks since I baked up any bread so I decided to dig into the depth of my fridge for the sourdough starter that I’ve neglected for months. When I took the plastic wrap off the bowl I was blown away by the intense alcohol smell. I considered trying to refresh a small portion of the starter, which I can usually do even if it’s been dormant in the fridge for a while, but from its pungency (yes, I made the mistake of tasting it) and soupy consistency I wasn’t confident that it would come back to life.

So I pitched the whole thing.

I’m contemplating making a new starter this weekend, but I’m uncertain of my abilities to keep it alive. Living things always seem to be at risk on my watch– my sourdough starter, the succulent planter I bought for my desk when I first started my job, the geraniums my mother-in-law planted at my house. Funny how all those things– sourdough, succulents, geraniums– have a reputation for heartiness. They’re not easy to kill. And yet through neglect and mistreatment and disregard I’ve managed to kill them all.

Luckily my dog is still alive; though I probably deserve little credit for this. It’s entirely because of my husband’s care and attention. He notices when she wants food and when she’s scratching too much and when she seems sad and when she needs to take her flea medication while I sit back and watch her thinking that she’s entirely normal. “No Sam,” he’ll disagree, “I think she needs to go to the vet.” And she usually does.

I can’t keep anything alive.

So after pitching my sourdough starter I decided to make a ciabatta bread but realized that I had no yeast. So that idea was scrapped too and since I didn’t have bananas I couldn’t make a banana bread either. So I ended up making cornbread the only other chemically leavened bread that I could think. I didn’t really want it but I was bored and wanted to bake. In the end it turned out so moist and delicious that I couldn’t stop eating it.

This would be really good to make on Super Bowl Sunday with some whisky baked beans.

Moist and Tasty Cornbread

makes one 10″ round loaf

Ingredients

1 cup (6 ounces) coarse cornmeal or polenta
2 cups milk (I used soy)
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

Soak the cornmeal in the milk. Cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugars.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the molasses and melted butter. Add the egg mixture and soaked cornmeal mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth to the consistency of pancake batter.

Line a 10-inch round cake pan with parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the cornbread batter. Bake the cornbread for about 35-40 minutes, or until the bread is firm and springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be a deep golden brown.

Allow the cornbread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares or wedges.

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flour girl: homemade croissants for the win! http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2011/10/fg-homemade-croissants/ http://samanthamenzies.com/home/2011/10/fg-homemade-croissants/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 15:39:54 +0000 http://gamereviewwiki.com/bikinibirthday/?p=4999 SamanthaMenzies.com
flour girl: homemade croissants for the win!

I’ve been baking yeast bread on a weekly basis for at least three years now and yet I hadn’t even thought of making croissants before. It’s not because Matt doesn’t like croissants (a fact that I didn’t discover until after I made them). It’s not because they’re loaded with butter either (that never stopped me […]

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SamanthaMenzies.com
flour girl: homemade croissants for the win!

I’ve been baking yeast bread on a weekly basis for at least three years now and yet I hadn’t even thought of making croissants before.

It’s not because Matt doesn’t like croissants (a fact that I didn’t discover until after I made them). It’s not because they’re loaded with butter either (that never stopped me from making pie crust or a million different types of cookies).

I think it’s because they’re so hard to make. Or at least that’s the widespread belief. But there’s also widespread belief that artisan breads are hard to make, and I make them all the time.

Who is spreading this propaganda anyway? I should start my own “Breadmaking is Easy!” campaign. I’ll design wartime propaganda-style art deco posters and they’ll be famous. People the world over will frame them and put them in their kitchens. They’ll be like the “keep calm and carry on” posters but obviously cooler and more upbeat because we’re talking about bread here.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes, “Breadmaking is Easy!” and you should try making your own croissants.

I spent Saturday morning watching this old time The French Chef video, giggling at Julia Child’s loveable awkwardness, and following her process for making croissants. (side note: Julia Child would have totally put a “Breadmaking is Easy!” poster in her kitchen.)

It’s quite a bit easier than you might expect. It takes a long time to make the croissants and they require a bit more hands-on work than regular yeast bread but they’re doable and definitely worth making. I started the inital dough on Friday night, proofed it in the fridge overnight, and by Saturday afternoon I had fresh delicious croissants.

I liked Julia’s recipe because the croissants:

-weren’t too flaky. I like flaky, but it’s still bread, not pastry and I want to be able to eat it without a huge crumbly mess all around me

-weren’t too buttery. The butter adds great flavour and of course creates the flakiness, but I find a lot of croissants are greasy and way too buttery for my preference.

-were a reasonable size. They’re about 5″ in length which is perfect for breakfast or a light snack. Think Pilsbury Crescent Roll sized, not Costco sized.

I’m not going to write out the whole recipe and the process. I think it’s easier to get the idea of what to do by just watching the video.

But I will give you some tips that I learned in the process:

-roll out your dough on floured parchment instead of the counter. It’s less messy and sticky that way. When the dough required refrigerating I just wrapped it in the parchment that I rolled it on and put it in the fridge. I used the same parchment to roll it out on the next time around.

-do this on a cold day in a cold house. The butter will stay cold and you don’t have to worry about overworking the dough with your warm hands. And it’s always fun to be able to see your breath indoors, isn’t it?

-let the dough rest. When the dough feels elastic and shrinks back as you try to roll it out, walk away for 10 minutes and let it relax on the counter. It’s not ready for you to roll it, why you gotta pressure it like that?

- don’t put chocolate chips in it. If you want a pain au chocolat, fill the croissant with shavings of baker’s chocolate instead. Chocolate chips won’t get hot enough to melt inside the croissant. You’ll just end up biting into the thing and having a bunch of whole chocolate chips tumble out and you’ll be like, “…the fuck?”

Anyway, chances are good that you are saying to yourself “Oooh I should make these croissants!” or maybe you’re actually saying “Who the fuck makes their own croissants?”. Either way, you probably won’t end up baking them because you still think they’re too hard/too time consuming/too insert-excuse-here.

But if you do happen to be inspired by a half-pound of butter, a desire to nibble like a French woman, and a poster that says “Breadmaking is easy!” then let me know how your baking experience goes. These croissants do not disappoint.

P.S. My husband, the self-proclaimed croissant hater, actually liked these. Homemade Croissants for the WIN!

This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.

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