Saturday, December 9, 2017

Smoke and Fire and.... Panettone?

09 December 2017

The Thomas Fire is raging to the south, causing Santa Barbara county residents high levels of anxiety for friends and loved ones. Currently the containment is only at 15% and the winds are still blowing.

Information sites:

The air quality is terrible, and particle masks are being distributed for free (for locations, click here).

So with all THAT going on, it's best to stay indoors. To pass the time, I decided to bake. It is the Christmas season, despite everything, and reminders of holiday foods are everywhere.

I am infatuated with panettone after tasting an Italian imported panettone from Galup which a coworker brought to share. Some panettone are dry, but this was soft and delicious, and just slightly sweet.

My first attempt at homemade panettone was using this recipe from the blog Savoring Italy: Bundt Panettone. I followed the recipe exactly, except for the type of dried fruits.

So far, so good. Photo taken just after pouring it into the pan, ready to begin the rising. I let it rise until doubled, just over an hour, before baking.
Here is the finished product. It looks beautiful, and the flavor is spot on, but the texture didn't turn out as I had hoped. The crumb is dense and dry, and it didn't rise further once in the oven.

After reading still more recipes, it seems the general consensus is that a proper panettone takes days to make and requires live yeast and so on and so forth... but I'm not giving up!


Monday, October 2, 2017

French Bread, take 3

02 October 2017

I'm trying the French bread recipe for the third time.

The first time, I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of substituting in some whole wheat flour. The bread was good and I thought the recipe a keeper, but it made so much that I ended up eating stale bread for days.

The second time, I halved the recipe, substituted the whole wheat flour as before, and incorporated the oat mash left over from making oat milk. I left out the oil, and brushed the loaves with olive oil before and after baking. It was even better than the first time, much more flavor to the bread and the texture was soft but not dense.

The third time, today, I tried to replicate the previous batch, but I made the mistake of writing the halved measurements right next to the original measurements on my piece of paper, resulting in me adding the original amount of liquid to the halved recipe. The dough seemed awfully sticky when I had incorporated all the flour and I realized my mistake. Oooops! So I added enough flour to get it out of the bowl and hoping I didn't ruin it. I guess it will be another large batch, maybe I'll freeze a loaf or two.

So far, the dough looks normal. Crossing my fingers! (Where does that expression come from?)

Stay tuned for an update later...


And it's out of the oven and looking like bread! Taste test once it's cooled down a bit.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Pinterest, Pickles, Oat Milk, Jamaica and French Bread

30 September, 2017

Confession: I am crazy about Pinterest. Years ago when I first heard about it, I was extremely skeptical, thinking it was just another social media site. However, a few months ago a co-worker showed me how it works, and now I use it to save everything. It's like bookmarks and a search engine, with pictures. Great web tool and I don't have to be "social" at all.

So this week I tried a few recipes I found there...

Sriracha Fridge Pickles
Spicy and sweet and tangy, what's not to like about this? I added a few cloves for extra flavor. The chard stems in the original recipe were too stringy textured for me, even though it was baby chard from the garden. so I ended up tossing them and reusing the brine with carrots instead.

Oat Milk
This is something I've been meaning to try, but making soymilk was such an ordeal (soak, drain, rinse, blend, strain, cook) that it took me a while to want to try plant based milk again. Oat milk was so quick and easy! Just blend and strain and it's done. Tasted good plain and also with vanilla and sweetener added. Compare the cost of plant based milks at the store with the cost of a cup of oats, and it's an obvious win.

For straining plant based milks, cheesecloth is hard to work with and not easily reused; I highly recommend investing in a nut milk bag. I use Ellie's Best Nut Milk Bag, it is strong enough to can handle the pressure of  squeezing it quite hard to get the liquid out (as I found out when making the soymilk!).

Agua de Jamaica / Hibiscus Punch
Whenever I eat at a Mexican restaurant, I always want this sweet, tart drink. I've seen the dried flowers in the local Mexican markets and finally bought some to try to make my own. Here's how it looked on the stove.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it's cost effective, as the resulting liquid is concentrated enough to make several pitchers. Shown here is one pitcher made up, plus 2 jars of concentrate left over.
And finally, time to sit down and drink an iced beverage! (Yes, that's the same pitcher I used for the oat milk, but that was 2 days ago and it's all gone now.)

Homemade French Bread
There's probably nothing French about it at all, but it is delicious, I just made it today for the second time in a week. The full recipe made 2 giant loaves, which took a long time to eat. Bread is really best when fresh from the oven, so this time I halved the recipe and it made 2 normal loaves. Next time I want to try freezing some of the dough.

Before baking:
The finished product:

Today's bread incorporated the leftover pulp from making the oat milk, now time to taste test it!