I am a bad punster using the same source material twice, but I couldn’t resist. I’m also going to warn that this post is going to be light on pictures, so I’ll try to make the next one prettier.
Since last you saw your intrepid baker, a lot new has happened. The biggest change, however, is in elevation. The fam damily packed up and moved from the lovely, if scarily humid, Appalachians to the lovely and much more arid Rockies. There are a lot of challenges in relocating four adults, three cars, one cat, and twelve years of accumulated stuff halfway across a continent. I’m not going to go into most of them here because the one challenge I really worried about was baking at altitude. OK, maybe not the only one, but it was a concern. The other concern is that half of the household is gluten-free now due to various medical issues, so I get to tweak some things in the future. Continue reading Challah Back!
People seem to love homemade bread. Period. Full stop. I’ve got several theories as to why. Some of them have to do with knowing what’s going into your body. Some of them have to do with the sheer bliss that smelling bread baking seems to bring to people. Still others have to do with people thinking it’s hard and feeling touched that you’d make it for them. I used to be in that latter school of thought myself. Then I started baking and was amazed at how simple most breads are.
This is another week for sweet treats. Muffins and blondies, specifically.
My original intention was to do some blueberry muffins, but the last batch were not met with as much enthusiasm as I would like. Plus, Courtney can’t have the blueberries. Her gastroparesis means no skins on the fruits and GERD means no citric acid. However, pumpkin is considered as super-food for people with GP and the Basement Elf suggested pumpkin chocolate chip when I was musing on cinnamon chocolate chip muffins.
Cinnamon rolls are one of those things that I didn’t think I’d ever have the chops to make. Those and croissants, and I’ve made both now. The first time I made them, it was a complete spur-of-the-moment thing. I had brioche dough. I had sugar and cinnamon. And, the main ingredient in this kind of experiment, I was bored and had time on my hands. I cobbled together the filling and frosting from several different recipes that I used to figure out the method before doing it my way.
After that first experiment, I was asked to please only make these for special occasions. Since that first batch disappeared in about a day and a half with four people eating them, I can see why that request was made. We really are trying to eat more healthily, even if I have a carb-making addiction.
This week is going to be another compare-and-contrast. I’ve got a pair of recipes for this bread, one that I’ve made pretty successfully a couple of times and one that this will be the maiden voyage for. The first method is one from Facebook and the other is from BBA.
Hawaiian sweet bread is, well, sweet. And bread. And soft. And pillowy. And gorgeous. It is also a favorite of my ‘other momma.’ My mom and her older sister live together, being ‘two old widder women’ as my aunt says. The two of them shamelessly mother the entire combined brood of kids and grandkids. I try to make yummy things for them to take over when I’m able to go visit.
Most of the work in bagels turns out to be in the first day. Once everything is all risen, the boiling and baking goes like gangbusters.
On day two, I got all the stuff together for toppings. Feedback on those has been that everything is yummy, but since one housemate has some serious restrictions on seeds, there should be less seed-based bagels next time and about three times as many Asiago cheese bagels. To the right we have, clockwise from upper right: kosher salt, blue poppy seeds, grated Asiago cheese, sesame seeds, Artisan Bread Topping , and rehydrated dried minced onion. The bread topping, onion and salt were combined to make my version of an everything bagel. Those came out the prettiest of the bunch.
I don’t remember eating bagels until I was at least a teenager.
They weren’t a big thing around my East Tennessee hometown. White bread? Yes. Cornbread? Hell yes. Biscuits? With every meal if possible. But bagels? Not so much.
The first time I had a bagel, I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought of it and my very first question was “How do they make it shiny and chewy like that?” It was a while longer before I found out that the answer was “They’re boiled.” At the time, that seemed a little weird to me, but I wasn’t going to complain.
Baking is chemistry and biology and math all rolled up into one and it produces yummy things to eat. What more could a nerdy girl want?
Sourdough is wonderful stuff. It seems sort of magical to me. You take water and flour and stick them together. And then you add more water and flour. And more water and flour and before you know it, you’ve got this stuff that will make bread rise. This is fascinating to me. But, then, so is most of baking.
When I decided to do sourdough, I looked at about a million and a half ways to make a starter. Some of them had half a dozen or more ingredients to get started and they seemed like they were just a little too fussy. The simplest ones had just two ingredients (flour and water) and a couple had just three or, at most, four. I ended up using a hybrid of a couple different starter methods.
Before I go into what I did and why, I’m going to give a quick rundown on why sourdough actually works.
Most yeast-risen breads use some sort of commercial, storebought yeast. It comes in little packets or jars (or if you’re like me in one-or-two-pound bricks), it’s pretty inexpensive, and it’s generally foolproof if you pay attention to the dates on the container. Sourdough, on the other hand, relies on wee beasties that are living naturally on flour and in the air. They’re just about everywhere and they just need a little care and feeding before you can harness them to do your bidding.