Happy New Year!! First bread of the year turned out handsome, if I dare say so myself — I choose to think this is an auspicious sign for the year!
….And Immi learned to crochet. She learned it quickly too — good for her! Right now she is making a scarf. But I know Immi, she’ll make several scarfs (or some such thing) and then one day she’ll have a ginormous and ingenious idea and make it happen. Anyhow I’m excited, if there’s two of us that enjoy crafting with yarn, surely it justifies stash expansion expedition.
Grilling for Dinner, I like it. Because I don’t have to do it, and makes minimal mess is the kitchen for clean up. And best of all, everything is more delicious grilled!
Bread and dipping oil with sage and rosemary from the herb garden.
…And sweet sparkling cloudy sake for me.
I wondered if bread sticks can be made from regular bread dough…and it totally worked!
I know that it’s not autumn for few more weeks according to the calendar but, it totally feels like it’s just around the corner. …So I baked some bread! This one is roasted garlic and green olives.
I wondered if I’d forgotten how to bake bread from few months break, but I’m right where I left off. This autumn, I’m hoping to learn more about bread baking — trying out different methods and finding/tinkering with recipes.
I’m still baking lots and lots of bread. Because it gets eaten! Admittedly, it’s really nice to have bread in middle of grocery week — something that was difficult to make happen before I started baking.
Because I bake basically everyday, the important thing is that it only takes little effort and very little time. These issues have been my primary area of investigation in baking. The most popular method of easy baking uses dutch oven, but sometimes I don’t want to have to lift such heavy item out of really hot oven or have to wash it after it cools or the bowl the shaped dough was rising in (I’m laaaazy!). So I have gone back to shape and bake. I throw in a cup of water into the broiler pan on the lower rack after I put in the shaped dough on the rack above. This seems to be the popular alternate method for generating steam (in dutch oven, the bread steams itself because it’s baked in small lidded container) and I think that it works just as well. One extra thing I like about no-dutch-oven method is that I can shape it however way I want, and slash it for different ridges (you get what you get in dutch oven — though usually rustic and pretty — because the hot vessel won’t let you slash after you dump the dough in it).
BUT, the easiest and most laziest bread I bake uses loaf pan. Mine is made of very thin aluminum (I haven’t tried anything else, this is all I happen to have!). I don’t even have to grease it because it doesn’t stick (probably because the bread shrinks a wee bit as it finishes baking?). I’m not sure why this isn’t like the most popular easy-method, because seriously, you can just lazily shape it (it doesn’t really matter what it looks like as long as it’s sort of loaf pan shaped) and dump it in the loaf tin. Let it rise again, in the tin, while oven is preheating, and then throw it in the oven. Because only the top part of the bread is exposed, the bread stays moist during baking. It produces least amount of “things to be washed” in the end. AND the bread is more conveniently shaped for making sandwiches.
Last thing I made in 2011, is a rice krispies treats (made with all natural marshmallows, not jet puffs)! We haven’t made this in forever because Wholefoods don’t have rice cereal that are similar enough to Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, and Trader Joe’s don’t have natural marshmallows. This means that it requires nothing short of divine miracle for the two necessary ingredients to ever meet in our kitchen.
Todd has been obsessed with little sandwiches made with freshly baked dinner rolls. Luckily for both of us, I really like making little breads.
First bread of 2012! It turned out nicely, I’ll take it as auspicious sign for the new year 😀
…And what you don’t see is the batch I screwed up few days ago (first bread FAIL since the first try!). I think that it had to do with overly happy yeast which pouffed up the bread uncontrollably in the oven making it look scary, AND I forgot to set a timer, so it was completely under cooked.
And reflection on 2011?? Well, part of it, I’m sure glad is over. The not-so-fun bits started moving along once we met the right lawyer, a business accountant, and health insurance broker (when did our life get so complicated?). So much paper work and frustrating process! Doing things the “right way” takes a lot of time and effort. But a lot of 2011 was wonderful. Living in Portland. Learning new things like baking and practicing hand-sewing. Contemplating and working towards life we want to live it, and remembering to enjoy the process. And Lucian. I know he was born at the end of 2010 technically, but with him, our not-so-little-anymore family feels complete. I think that Immi, Ashland and Lucian enjoy each others’ company a whole lot and from my perspective, balances each other out. There wasn’t a day in 2011 that I didn’t have something to smile or laugh about. …So with that, 2012, here we come! My new year resolution? Same as every year — work hard, play a lot, eat well, stay healthy, enjoy life. Addition of “sleep more” would be nice, but that’s a wish, not a resolution…
I have been baking bread a lot lately. Because how great is a relaxing hobby that saves us $ in grocery? After looking up ways to make milk enriched bread, I decided to just substitute milk for water in the recipe I have been working on developing…and it worked! I baked it in a vintage loaf pan ($0.50!) that was a drawer organizer until…I washed it to bake this bread in.
…And Kaiser Rolls. Making the knot in the dough was easier than I thought but baking the quite slack dough made it a very subtle effect. I think improvements can be made, visually. But, it had great texture.
And here’s regular dinner rolls. Spherical dough with design made with a knife pre-baking.
The reason why I’ve been a little quiet here (and everywhere else really) is that we’ve all been sick! Todd brought home a cold 2 weeks ago and then Ashland, then I, and then Immi and then even Lucian got it. It’s been over a week since the rest of us got it, but we still have yucky cough and general lack of appetite and tiredness. This is the first time we’ve all been sick (even counting years before Lucian!).
Anyhow. I have been experimenting with easy bread baking. I have adjusted the method and recipe this time around to cut the rest time of dough to 2 hours (followed by refrigeration so that the dough can be used anytime in the following week). I know that 15 – 18 hour rest time is not an inconvenience to many people, but speaking for myself, I have no idea what I will be doing much beyond next hour so option to refrigerate gives me much better flexibility.
Amusingly, the resulting bread tasted exactly the same as the one I made from the original recipe. Though it looks somewhat better this time. I have some more experiments to conduct, I’ll let you know when I come to any kind of conclusive conclusion!
This is the antique (…as in old, very used and then neglected!) dutch oven I got for cheap and restored recently to bake bread in. The pot is fabulous now, I love the hammered texture. The slow slow cooked beef stew I made with it recently turned out quite well too.