Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sourdoughs, buckwheat bread, and cold stuff

Last week I made a bunch of bread, plus some frozen goodies. All the bread turned out well, though not without incident. The ginger ice cream was delicious, like before, the waffle cones were fine, and the mocha sherbet was... well let's just say it was great in a shake.


First, let's cover the breads. I made the usual adjustments to the recipes, generally reducing the salt and yeast (if any) by half.

Sourdough #1

I made the first sourdough Friday from dough that had been in the refrigerator since Sunday. By the time I was ready to bake, the dough smelled slightly alcoholic. This would be one sour loaf of bread! But in a good way.

The temperature in the kitchen was mild

I shaped the bread around 9:30 a.m. I smooshed it flattish (it had risen fairly high), folded it in thirds, and then started moving the edges under, to create a tight surface.

After shaping

By 11:20 it had risen quite a bit.

During the final rise

I put it in the oven around noon.

Scored and ready to bake

I forgot to put a pan over the bread, so it cooked faster than usual, but otherwise I couldn't tell any difference. It's possible that the crust was harder than usual, which is not a bad thing for me. The inside was still moist.

The crust sang again!

By Saturday night the bread was all gone.

Sourdough #2

Sunday morning I mixed the dough for a loaf of sourdough with poppy seeds and toasted sesame seeds (both of which I'd soaked in hot water the night before). I'd tried making this bread before, when I was just getting started with Josey Baker sourdough, but I'd accidentally omitted the salt, and the result was inedible.

Unfortunately, when I happened to notice that the cookbook's definition of the weight of the required amount of dough (375 g) conflicted with the flour bag's definition for the same volume (300 g), I chose the flour bag's definition. So this was one very wet loaf. I couldn't really slash it.

Just after "shaping"

Shaping was a messy affair, but we managed to roll it in seeds and plop it into a basket. This was at about 12:40, just before I left for a baseball game.

When I returned, at about 4:30 (A's won!), the bread had risen above the basket. Yikes! It wasn't that warm out (maybe 68 degrees), but this new sourdough starter is very enthusiastic. I put the dough in the refrigerator while waiting for the oven to finish preheating.

The end result was very tasty and had a nice texture, but it was very flat. I'll make it again with the full amount of flour.

Buckwheat bread with cinnamon and pecans

I made some buckwheat bread using a Hensperger recipe, but not from the usual cookbook. This recipe was from p. 38 of The Pleasure of Whole-Grain Breads.

Buckwheat bread with cinnamon and pecans

The bread was tasty and good, although everyone had been eating the sourdoughs so much that they rather ignored this bread.

Three-seed whole wheat bread

This half-whole-wheat bread from p. 116 of Hensperger's bread machine cookbook was supposed to have sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. I couldn't find the poppy seeds, so I substituted black sesame seeds.

1 T sesame seeds, .5 T black sesame seeds

Other adjustments I made:
  • Used light sesame oil instead of sunflower seed oil
  • Reduced the salt from 1 t to 3/4 t
  • Reduced the yeast to a scant 2 t
It was a tasty bread, and I ate way too much of it.

Tasty warm, with a crunchy crust that'll no doubt go soft

Cold stuff

To help celebrate three birthdays, we made ginger ice cream, mocha sherbet, and waffle cones, all from recipes in The Perfect Scoop. I'd made the ginger ice cream before, but the other two recipes were new to me.

Ginger ice cream

This was delicious, just like before. It's so creamy and subtle that my son initially mistook it for coconut, but then the ginger bite comes on.

Mocha sherbet

This tasted kind of weird, possibly because I used King Arthur's espresso powder instead of real coffee. Or maybe the Dutch cocoa wasn't great. Whatever the cause, we didn't like it as an ice cream-type treat. It smelled and tasted like frappuccino mix instead like delicious mocha.

However... it made great milk shakes! We blended it with milk (no additional sugar) and topped it with whipped cream and a few candied cherries in syrup. Delicious!

Waffle cones

This was the first time we broke out the cone maker I'd gotten a year or so ago. Somehow, I'd thought it would make sugar cones, but it doesn't. It makes waffle cones. I don't really like waffle cones. They're too big, for one thing. If I'm going to have a cone, a sugar cone is the only kind I've ever liked.

Still, the machine and the recipe (from The Perfect Scoop) made reasonably good waffle cones, though it took us a while to figure out how to shape them without burning fingers or leaving a big hole at the bottom.

I'm going to see if I can find a sugar cone shaper and recipe.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Toasted almond ice cream and a lost sourdough starter

A week ago, in a minor frenzy of sourdough baking, I forgot to save some of the starter I'd been using for all my sourdough. It was a whole wheat starter using a Josey Baker recipe, which I'd converted from a Peter Reinhart starter I'd gotten from my bus buddy Andrew.


Fortunately, I also had a white sourdough starter from Lee. I hadn't been using it much, but I'd been waking it up and feeding it regularly, thank goodness. I used it to inoculate a new batch of whole wheat starter. Interestingly, the new starter was (at least initially) much more active than the starter I'd been using. Within a few hours of feeding, the starter would rise tremendously. It didn't hurt that the weather was quite warm (for here) the two days I was feeding it; the kitchen was 75-79 degrees much of the time.

I made a double batch of sourdough Saturday. It almost raised out of the bowl that I'd used before for a double batch.

Saturday night I shaped one loaf (rather badly). Sunday morning I baked it. By Sunday night that loaf was gone.

The crust sang again!

Other baking I did in the past few days:
  • Coconut flour brownies (again)
  • Almond cake with apricot jam and browned butter frosting
    • I used the magically moist almond cake recipe on the back of Bob's Red Mill almond flour, which also calls for coconut flour
    • The coconut flavor overwhelmed the almond flavor, but fortunately we all love coconut
    • To make the almond flavor more pronounced, I made browned butter frosting (from Better Homes & Gardens New Baking Book) but used almond extract (a little over half a teaspoon, I think) instead of vanilla. The color was a bit gray; I would've added a little coloring—a drop of yellow food dye? coffee powder?—if I'd had more time.
    • I used two 9-inch round pans to bake the cakes. They came out well, but it would've been better if the cake had been thicker—the frosting dominated the cake. (Even my frosting loving husband said so.) I don't usually like frosting, but this was pretty good.
  • C.R.O.W.W. bread
    • It came out very dark, probably because I (taking a shortcut) soaked some raisins in hot water before putting them in.
    • It tasted good but seemed dry.
I also made two ice creams (from one batch of the base) from David Lebovitz's toasted almond with sour cherry recipe. They were very good but not great.

Toasted almond stracciatella

Here's what they both have in common:
  • A delicious toasted almond base. No complaints there.
  • Too much chopped almond mixed in. A few minutes before I finished churning, I add 1 cup of coarsely chopped almonds, as directed. Even for me, this was too much. Half a cup would probably be better.
  • Stracciatella. Just before the end of churning, I added a stream of melted chocolate to make little chocolate chips. I thought this was kind of lost, but others disagreed and said they could taste it. I'd rather have larger chunks of chocolate or a river of soft fudge.
The first ice cream was just the above. It was good, but had too many almonds. The creaminess of the ice cream was overwhelmed by the crunch of the almonds (and chocolate).

While dishing out the second ice cream, I added candied cherries (as directed by the recipe). I made these from the Lebovitz's Sour Cherries in Syrup recipe, using Trader Joe's dark morello cherries.

Making sour cherries in syrup

People liked the cherries but felt that they overwhelmed the almond ice cream—that the ice cream might as well have been vanilla. (Not that there's anything wrong with vanilla; it's just easier to make than toasted almond.)

With candied cherries

I'll certainly make toasted almond ice cream again, using this recipe, but I'll skip the cherries and mix in half the amount of chopped almonds. I probably won't add the chocolate, either.

The next time I make cherry-chocolate whiskey ice cream, I might well use the sour cherries in syrup instead of booze-soaked cherries.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Sourdough onion rolls and pocket breads

Our friend Johnny brought over movies and food, and he put me in charge of bread for hot links (and, for me, chicken). I decided to make onion sourdough buns. They came out really well!

Onions on the inside and outside of this sourdough roll

I made the usual Josey Baker sourdough recipe, but I when I combined all the ingredients, I added 2/3 cup of chopped, cooked yellow onion. (Nathan had chopped a big onion for me and cooked it in some olive oil until it was soft. The onion cooked way down; that 2/3 cup might have been as much as 1-1/2 cups.) The remainder of the onion went into the refrigerator, waiting to go on top of the buns.

Sourdough with cooked onions, just after mixing
  • Started waking up the sourdough Thursday night. The last refresh was Friday night. Saturday at 2:45 pm I mixed the dough.
  • I stretched the dough at 3:34, 4, 4:20, and 4:40.
  • By 6:10 the dough looked like it had grown by almost 50%, so I put it in the refrigerator.
  • At 6:30 I read that you should punch down the dough when it's first refrigerated, so I took it back out and gently tried to squeeze out the bubbles. Afterward, it appeared to be just a bit bigger than when it started out.
Sunday morning I took out the dough, cut it into 6 pieces, and shaped it like half-length baguettes. Here are some of the sites I looked at for inspiration.
At 11:45 I finished shaping the buns. The first and last (top right and bottom left) were different. The first I shaped poorly. The last I brushed with water instead of olive oil before putting the onions on it.

Ready to rise

At 2:10 I put the buns in the oven, on parchment paper on the pre-heated baking stone. I put a pan of hot water beneath them, and nothing over them (I didn't have pans that would fit on top of them). At 2:35 Nathan spun the buns 180 degrees and removed the parchment paper. At 2:40 they were suddenly looking very baked, so we took them out.

Fresh out of the oven

They might not look like much, but they were good! Tasty, just the right size and consistency to stand up to hot links without being hard to chew. The amount of onion, the degree to which it was cooked, and the taste were great. Yay!

Hot link in a bun

I couldn't tell any difference between the oil-brushed buns and the water-brushed one, or the "well-shaped" buns and the one I thought I'd bungled. I did realize that with 1 teaspoon of salt, each of the 6 buns had as much as 400 mg sodium, which is very high for me. So next time:
  • I'll just use water to attach the onions. 
  • I won't stress about shaping the buns perfectly.
  • I'll make a couple of smaller buns.
Next, I tried making pocket bread, Josey Baker's name for muffin-sized pieces of sourdough bread with add-ins. Meh.

Pocket breads filling up the bread box

I used great ingredients—Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, plus some Belgian chocolate wafers to add up to over 1 cup. We just weren't crazy about the results.
  • Sourdough plus chocolate are just OK together. I'd rather have chocolate with a less flavorful bread. Sourdough goes with savory ingredients, as far as I'm concerned—or perhaps with lots more sweet ingredients.
  • 1 cup of chocolate pieces was not enough to get a piece of chocolate in every bite.
  • The peanut butter got lost.
The resulting dough was supposed to be 12 muffins' worth, but it filled 12 muffin cups plus a little loaf pan. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cherry-chocolate whiskey ice cream and a bunch of breads

Last week was busy, due to choral concerts, so I never managed to blog about the ice cream and breads I made two weekends ago. I tried making baguettes for the first time, to meh results. I also made a white whole wheat bread and a yeasted cornbread; both worked out well.

This weekend I made my first bread with instant potatoes (but mostly with whole wheat flour): Irish potato brown bread. It also was a winner, but it didn't stay fresh for long, so soon afterward I baked a loaf of Swedish rye.

More excitingly, I unvented a new ice cream flavor: cherry-chocolate whiskey. It's like Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, but with a better recipe and added rye. I also made a yummy chocolate peanut butter ice cream, with peanut butter chunks.

Ice cream

I started out wanting to make a fruit ice cream, to go along with a peanut butter chocolate ice cream I was already planning to make. Strawberries looked great, but the birthday boy wanted cherries, so I figured I'd make Ben & Jerry's recipe for Cherry Garcia ice cream.

This was the first time I'd tried Ben & Jerry's recipe book, and although it was good for inspiration, it seemed lacking in implementation. It called for shaved Hershey's dark chocolate, when I expected chunks of better chocolate. It didn't give any hint as to how to avoid having the cherries freeze solid. And it used whole eggs (not egg yolks) and didn't cook them—an interesting approach, but one I'm leery of. It's not even close to their own recipe, I suspect. So I decided to adapt a recipe from The Perfect Scoop.

Since the occasion was an adult's birthday where whiskey would be consumed, I got the idea of adding some sort of booze to the chocolate-cherry ice cream. My daughter informed me that bourbon and cherries go together, and I found some Bulleit in the cupboard. It was rye, not bourbon, but I figured it'd work.

Cherries and whiskey go together

I pitted maybe half a pound of cherries, cut them in half, poured rye over them, and put them (covered) in the fridge.

Then I got some good dark chocolate disks (from Berkeley Bowl), chopped them, and refrigerated them, too.

I made the rum-raisin ice cream base from The Perfect Scoop, minus the salt, and refrigerated it.

The next day, I churned the ice cream, substituting the cherry-infused rye for the rum. When it seemed to be close to done, I added the cherries (which I'd chopped a bit more because they were very alcoholic) and chocolate. The alcohol in the cherries seemed to unfreeze the ice cream, so I had to churn it another 10 minutes or so.

If you like whiskey and boozy ice cream, this is delicious! The cherries were perhaps overly boozy; I might try soaking them less next time. And there will be a next time.

An added bonus was that the alcohol made this ice cream stay scoopable, even after a couple of days in the freezer.

The peanut butter chocolate ice cream, on the other hand, did not stay scoopable, but it was delicious. I added little peanut butter disks to it. I might do that again, but I'd make them much smaller.

The only other difference from before was that I made the ice cream using Skippy "natural peanut butter spread" (no stirring needed) instead of TJ's unsalted peanut butter. I don't know if the difference was noticeable, but I tried the Skippy because David Lebovitz recommends against peanut butters that separate.


I tried to make baguettes, but they were disappointing—they didn't rise well. Apparently, they tasted good, though. I used the usual Josey Baker sourdough recipe, mixing the dough at 4 pm or so, and "kneading" it at 4:50, 5:15, 5:40, and 6:20. I expected the dough to be risen at 8:20, since it was warm, but by 7:30 it looked dangerously big, so I put it in the fridge.

The next day at 2 pm I took it out, and divided the 820 g of dough into 3 parts that I pre-shaped. At 2:15 I shaped it into baguettes, which I supported using rolled-up placements that were covered with parchment paper. I covered the baguettes with plastic. I scored 2 of the loaves and tried cutting the third into an epi, but my scissors were too short to do that well. Still, the epi disappeared first. People like bread that they can grab a chunk of.

I used rolled-up placemats to support the rising baguettes

The white whole wheat bread was a Hensperger bread machine recipe (p. 127). I might have used a delay timer. I used light sesame oil, which is currently my favorite oil for baking. The maple syrup was half grade A and half grade B, because that's what I had. I reduced the salt and yeast by one half. I don't remember much about the bread, except that I liked it, and it didn't seem very different from a regular whole wheat bread.

The yeasted cornbread was a Josey Baker recipe (p. 208). I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of Kamut flour, and sodium-free baking powder and soda. I don't recall whether I added any of the salt the recipe called for. People liked it, but I think I like regular cornbread better.

Yeasted cornbread

I'd been wanting to make a bread with instant potatoes, so I made Irish potato brown bread (Hensperger p. 117). It was nice but delicate, and it turned stale quickly. Like all breads with potato flakes, it can't be made using the delay timer.

Sunday's Irish potato brown bread was great for French toast Wednesday night

Tuesday night I set up some Swedish rye to be baked by 7 a.m. Wednesday. With fennel, honey, and citrus zest, that bread is a heavenly smell to wake up to!

Swedish rye, baked on the delay timer

The recipe (Hensperger p. 136) calls for orange zest, but we were low on that, so I used mostly lemon zest. This bread is delicious, whether on its own, in French toast, or as the basis for a tuna sandwich.

Swedish rye, the inside