Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Excaliburger buns, coconut castle pudding, and King Arthur's long covered baker

Inspired by the possibility of watching Excalibur with a bunch of friends, we decided to make Excaliburgers and a castle-shaped pudding.

We found this silicone castle mold while visiting family in France.
Find it at your neighborhood Eurodif.

We ended up watching Vampire in Brooklyn instead—I'm not sure why, but it probably came down to what people felt more like mocking. That didn't stop us from making hamburgers and pudding.

I also used a covered clay baker for the first time, making walnut sourdough. I love the form factor but need to work on the technique a bit.

Walnut sourdough baked in a long covered pan

For the pudding, we used the Tembleque Puerto Rican Coconut Pudding recipe, minus the salt. It's very simple: just coconut milk, sugar, and corn starch, plus a dusting of cinnamon. And it held the mold's shape beautifully, with great detail. One recipe wasn't quite enough to fill up the castle mold, so if we make it again, we might make a 150% batch so our castle isn't stubby.

Tembleque: Puerto Rican coconut pudding with cinnamon.
Very nice when served with cut mango
Another pudding that should work great with the mold would be mango pudding, if I can find a tasty enough recipe. I love the mango pudding from Ton Kiang in San Francisco; every other version I've had has been disappointing.

Hensperger's delicious hamburger—pardon me, Excaliburger—bun

The burger bun was a Hensperger recipe (p. 92) featuring egg, butter, milk powder, and potato flakes, all of which make for a moist and tender—yet not wimpy—bun. I ran out of bread flour, so I used a tiny amount of whole wheat flour. Very tiny.

Mia's burger (thanks for the picture, Mia!)

The buns worked really well with the massive (almost half pound), juicy hamburgers we grilled.

A dozen burger buns (picture by Mia)

I thought about stenciling the buns, either with flour or with seeds in a cross or sword shape. Maybe next time. I'm dying to try bread stenciling, and with two artists in the house who love bread, it shouldn't be too hard to get stencils. I just have to get the materials and figure out what I want the stencil to be.

On to sourdough. One of my birthday gifts arrived, a little late, and I had to try it out. It's King Arthur Flour's long covered baker.

A just-shaped loaf in the long covered baker

I tried baking a loaf of sourdough in it, but had to delegate the actual baking. The bread turned out pretty well, despite being a bit overproofed and overbaked. I can't wait to try it again.

Overproofed and overbaked, but still good

By the way, we had no problem at all with the bread sticking. I'd read that, early on before the baker is fully seasoned, the dough can stick, but I don't think that's a likely problem with a simple sourdough. I used ghee as an anti-stick coating for the pan, and nothing for the top.

Boring details about making this bread:

  • Sunday afternoon:
    • 12:30 finished mixing, and put it in the fridge because I had to leave the house.
    • 15:40 took it out
    • 16:40 first fold (still cold)
    • 17:00 second fold (still cool)
    • 17:20 third fold (still cool)
    • 17:45 added walnuts, mixing the dough as well as I could by hand
    • 17:55 left it to rise
    • 19:40 it looked pretty high, so I put it into the refrigerator
  • Monday morning:
    • 5:30 started shaping; the dough had risen to about 1" from the top of the 2-gallon container
    • 5:55 shaped and in the baker (see picture above)
    • 8:15 called home and asked someone to start baking, starting it in a cold oven 
    • 9:05 called and it still wasn't baking! Nagged.
    • As requested, the top was deeply slashed, then it went into a cold oven, which was then turned up to 425. I'd asked for the top to be removed after 30 minutes, but instead the whole thing was removed and the lid left on. Someone later realized that the bread hadn't been browned, so they put it back in the oven without the lid for a little while, and then took it out to cool. So. Rather overdone. This is a very forgiving bread. Note the use of passive voice to avoid assigning blame to people who were doing me favors so I can't complain.

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