Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baking Again

How about some pretzel bread?! Jonathan made the dough. I helped him roll it into balls. After it boiled very very briefly in water that has had baking soda added...he dipped them out onto a baking sheet and with a knife I scored an X in each. Then he sprinkled them liberally with kosher salt.Then they were baked until pretty and brown. Jonathan said you have to have a German beer to drink while eating pretzel rolls. I had unsweet iced tea.

The recipe...
Pretzel Bread

2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
2 tablespoons room temperature milk
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour

4 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda

Kosher salt to taste
2 tablespoons melted butter

Add yeast, water, milk, brown sugar, and butter into a large bowl, whisking until all ingredients are combined. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes for yeast to activate. Mix in kosher salt. Start by adding two cups of flour to the bowl, combining it with other ingredients. Add more flour as it is needed, reserving just a bit for kneading later.

The dough should form a slightly tacky, but firm ball. Oil the bowl, place the dough ball in the bowl, and cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, knead the dough by hand or machine for at least 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic and satiny. Place dough back in the bowl and cover for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and gently de-gas it. Form two separate balls of dough, forming them into the shape you want. Drop one of the balls into the baking soda bath for no longer than 30 seconds, turning it once to guarantee both sides covered. Drain the excess water from the dough and place it on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with second ball of dough.

Sprinkle the kosher salt over the bread to your specific tastes and make sure to use a knife to cut a small incision on the top of the bread so the dough has somewhere to expand.

Cook the bread for 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once.

Once removed from the oven, immediately brush with melted butter if you want a soft crust.

***What Jonathan did...he combined all dough ingredients in my stand mixer with a dough hook.

As you can see, he used a pastry knife and cut the dough into 16 wedges then rolled them into balls.

He did not brush butter on the rolls to soften the crust.

He DID drink his German beer with supper!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Son is Visiting!

Of course I'm working, but we are enjoying our visit anyway. I've come home to some nice surprises!

He called one day and asked about ingredients for bread. When I told him what I had in the pantry...he set about working in the kitchen. My one caveat...CLEAN MY KITCHEN when you get through. He did. And we had two loaves of this:
Heart of Winter Loaf from the King Arthur Flour website...recipe at the bottom. The recipe makes two loaves. He sent one with me to work for Da Judge. When Jonathan got to town Tuesday afternoon, he stopped by the office. I introduced him to Da Judge...and vice versa. He sent a loaf to her. She was very pleased and saved it to serve to her weekend company.

Thursday evening, I made another strawberry pie.
Isn't it pretty?! Alas. I substituted cornstarch for thickening...instead of flour...and I even added an extra tablespoon of cornstarch. Failed miserably. The cornstarch was less effective than the flour. Next try will be tapioca. If that fails, I have a stovetop recipe that you cook then fill a prebaked pie crust.

It still tasted delicious!

Jonathan rolled out the remaining crust...

...and I showed him how to make these:
I think they were the best I've ever made!

What?! You ask? Wine with ice?
Nope. Sassafras tea! I haven't had any in forever! Sam and Jonathan walked the property and dug some roots. The best time is in the spring when the sap is rising. But there was nothing wrong with this!
Heart of Winter Loaf

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oat flour or ground oatmeal
1/3 cup flax flour or an additional 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dry milk
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 3/4 cups water

1 egg white, lightly beaten
seeds of your choice or a teaspoon or so of old fashioned oats

To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth, sticky dough. Cover the dough and let it rise for about an hour; it should become puffy.

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 10-inch oval loaf. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the pan and allow the loaves to rise for about 90 minutes or until they've increased in size by about one-third. Just before baking, brush with a lightly beaten egg white, then sprinkle with seeds or old fashioned oatmeal Slash each loaf diagonally three times.

Bake the loaves in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until the interior registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

And Then There was None

We had a colorful sunset at my house a few nights ago.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Mama has two big oak trees east of her house. They are 50+ years old. A previous occupant of the house planted the trees and charged one of his sons with the task of toting water from the well to make sure the trees survived the hot, dry summer.

A limb fell. As you can see, it just missed one of her storage buildings.
The trees dwarf her house. She is having both of them removed so that she can sleep at night. If either of the trees fell due west, it would engulf her house...most likely with her in it. At a minimum, if a large limb fell, it would still do substantial damage.MMmmmm... Looks like the beginnings of homemade pimento cheese!

Pimento Cheese

8 ounces of cheese, shredded
1 small jar (2 ounces) of pimentos
pimento stuffed olives
sprinkle or 2 garlic powder
sprinkle or 2 paprika
dollop Hellman's mayonnaise
dollop sour cream

My mother used American cheese. I use cheddar. Today I used sharp cheddar OH MY SO GOOD!

Shred the cheese. Drain the pimentos in a small colander. Fill the jar with olives and drain them in the colander. Add a few more olives because they are too good not to add more. Mince the pimentos and olives.

I use a Salad Shooter. Shred half the cheese, dump in the pimentos and olives and shove another chunk or two of cheese through the shooter to push out the pimento and olives.

Garlic powder and paprika to taste.

Equal dollops (not too big) of mayonnaise and sour cream. Stir everything together. If it's not moist enough, add equal amounts of mayonnaise and sour cream until it suits you.

Taste test on a Triscuit and add whatever else you think it might need.