Look at me, missing days left and right this year. Alas. Apologies, etc.
I made challah yesterday. I use Mollie Katzen’s recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, using the honey and butter options, and using half whole wheat flour and half white bread flour. I also added a half a cup of vital wheat gluten this time around and it made for a very, um, sturdy, dough.
It was harder than usual to knead because of the sturdiness but I think it was totally worth it.
I have taken to using a scale to insure that I have equal amounts of dough for my braid. Also, I start the braid in the middle and work towards each end. I find that I get a much more symmetrical loaf that way. Next up is learning to do a braid with more strands in both directions. I can only do a three-strand braid backwards for the moment.
These loaves are kind of enormous. They weigh about two pounds a piece. I gave half of one of the loaves to the owner of my favorite coffee vendor at our Farmer’s market. I follow their Instagram and they followed me back and she expressed dismay last week that she didn’t get to taste the bread I had posted on Instagram so this week I decided to make some for her. She sent me a photo of it with her dinner and said it was delicious! I am pleased that she liked it.
My family likes it too, of course. It’s not a low carb day when I make a batch of these but at least it is carbs made with love.
Sunday is Farmer’s Market day here. I love our Farmer’s Market. There’s the guy who sells the coffee I like, the place with the best apples, the cheese sticks my kids adore, the Russian lady with the artichoke cheese spread, and two different bread stands with many kids of bread that I like.
And there are persimmons that won’t get sassy when my back is turned.
One of the bread stands is, sadly, closing. They sell delicious cinnamon chip bread that my kids and I really like. It’s cinnamon bread without being crazy sweet like most cinnamon breads are. We are going to miss them when they go. I am curious to see what replaces them, though!
It’s only day 6 and I’ve already missed a day. Oops.
I haven’t really mentioned it but this was a crazy week. Monday was Halloween which meant staying up late and too much candy for everyone. Tuesday I had an evening commitment. Wednesday the kids had an early evening birthday party to attend. Thursday is usually knitting night but I was too tired. And Friday night I went up to San Francisco to see An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.
Half of those commitments were fun but they were still tiring. All of it on top of needing to cut the fabric for the quilts and pillows for Textiles (which kept me busy until almost midnight on Wednesday) and getting my homework done for one of my two courses this quarter.
So yesterday, I decided to bake bread. Part of it was procrastination and part of it was that our heater is on the fritz and I needed to bake to warm the house up. My bread dough took more than 24 hours to double in bulk! Finally in the early afternoon today I kneaded it and braided it and let it rise a bit more then it became a lovely challah.
The braids didn’t puff up, though. I don’t know if it was the (very) cool temperature in the house or the fact that instead of bread flour I used all-purpose flour and vital wheat gluten. It was tasty, though, thank goodness.
After my crazy week even sleeping in yesterday and getting that extra hour today didn’t make me feel caught up. I think I’m going to need 24 hours of slow rise to get back to my usual self too.
And I spent a bunch of time helping some friends of ours pack up their house and sell their stuff to move onto a boat. In the process I inherited many pounds (20?) of organic white flour, about half as much whole wheat pastry flour, some hard red whole wheat flour, oat flour, yeast and vital wheat gluten. My friend Victoria also loaned me her copies of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. One of the reasons she was giving the ingredients to me is that half of her family is gluten-free now. So on Monday when I had her daughter over to play instead of watching them pack I also mixed a batch of the olive oil dough so that Victoria could at least eat some. I then made it into a foccacia with onion and olives on top. I didn't get a picture of it but here is the less beautiful version I made the next day, with Stefan's help. (He was "patting" with all of his weight so it got a bit squished and lumpy.)
Niels liked the bread but not the stromboli. I'm going to try it with pizza sauce instead of diced tomato and cut up meatballs instead of sausages. Niels only likes chicken apple sausage and didn't approve of the sweet Italian sausage. The nice thing is, if I make two I can make one Niels-friendly and one for the rest of us.
There has been some knitting too. My Rill is ready for the sleeves to be attached, so I need to knit those. I want to block the body first and make sure it's not going to grow too much and that the edges will work out. I also knitted a quick baby blanket for Stefan's baby doll, which I tried to get him to name Saskia. (It's supposed to follow the layout of the Moderne Log Cabin blanket but I kind of messed up.)
Saskia is the girl's name I have had picked out since about 1999. I love that name but since I am not having any more babies I figured the babydoll could have it. It didn't stick, though, Stefan calls her Saskie (and another doll Saska) so I guess it's close.
I know this is not very helpful in terms of my NaNoSweMo goal but I made soup, spaghetti sauce and bread today and did not knit very much. Niels was sick over the weekend and was not fever free for 24 hours yet this morning so he stayed home from school. Every time I walked into the living room to sit on the couch and knit while they played there was some chaos in my way or something that needed attention. I got several loads of wash done (and folded!) and a lot done in the kitchen, most notably, the bread. I don't bake bread very often but I was looking in an old spiral notebook that has recipes I wrote down in the mid-90s, I think. My mom needed the recipe for Swedish meatballs that she gave me and that's where that one is. I was looking through it and found a recipe for Honey Whole Wheat bread which I say is from the bread book in Bon Appetit series of cookbook. I think that must mean it came from my mother's house so I am going to have to look at it again when we visit them because the recipe seemed woefully lacking to me.
There's no mention of kneading, just of beating the dough in the mixer. That made some sense to me until I got to the second "knead" and the bread was so incredibly sticky. I decided to knead it by hand instead. I had also substituted bread flour for the all-purpose and I think my whole wheat is pastry flour and I also added vital wheat gluten, so I wasn't exactly following the recipe anyway. I kneaded in a bunch more flour until it felt smooth, let it rest, and then shaped a loaf put it in the loaf pan rather than just beating it in the mixer and "turning it out" into the loaf pan. It was a success. (It's shiny because I had just brushed it with butter when I took this photo.)
The crust is very thick but the crumb is soft and sweet. I started to write that sentence in the past tense because I cut it and we all ate a couple of slices with dinner and it's almost gone! This is one of the reasons I don't bake bread that often, it takes all day and then is gone in an instant. I need to learn to make more than one at a time.
I think my next bread experiment will be the No Knead Bread Mark Bittman talked about on Good Food. (Oh, and those vegan twinkies, of course.)
But first, I need to figure out what kind of birthday cake Stefan will get this weekend. I was going to make little train cakes with my pan from Williams-Sonoma but I bought Curious George party favors and such so I feel like I shouldn't do a train. Not that he'll know the difference, of course.
I made the Honey Wheat Bread from the Knitting Cook podcast last night/this morning. I took a couple of the tips she mentioned in later episodes and incorporated them. Instead of putting a log of dough in the loaf pan, I cut it up into smaller balls and rolled them in cinnamon-sugar to make it Monkey Bread. I let that rise ovenight in the fridge so that I could just pop it in the oven this morning.
I had mixed results. First of all, I've never made Monkey Bread before so I didn't oil the pan enough and the sugar mixture made the dough stick pretty badly. Secondly, I made it in a loaf pan so some of the bits in the middle didn't get thoroughly cooked when the outside was done.
I did, however, think the flavor of the bread was wonderful. I used King Arthur bread flour, as Faith suggests. The whole wheat flour was the Whole Foods 365 store brand, though. I also used Earth Balance in place of the butter because of our dairy issues.
I am out of yeast but I want to try this bread recipe again without the Monkey Bread part. I think it will be wonderful!