Friday, May 30, 2008

Semolina-Sourdough English Muffins for BBD #10

After my croissant catastrophe yesterday I regrouped, decided to make English Muffins for the first time, and then spent a food-filled afternoon in Ottawa, our nearest city. Before leaving though I fed my new Semolina Levain to try a different take on Susan's Sourdough English Muffins. I did make a couple of changes to her recipe, using the aforementioned Semolina Levain, substituting Semolina in place of the Whole Wheat Flour, and substituting my homemade Maple Syrup for Honey/Agave Nectar. I kept the amounts of each the same though. I also translated her measurements in teaspoons to:

7g Baking Soda
5g Sea Salt
6g Maple Syrup/Honey/Agave Nectar

since I've become hooked on the success that precise gram measurements seem to guarantee. Never having made English Muffins before, they seemed to behave as I expected they would in all steps of the process. I'm giving my last one 1 more minute on the griddle as I write, cooling the rest, and trying to decide whether to go with butter or Douanier, a Morbier-like cheese I got in Ottawa made by Fritz Kaiser in Quebec. I'm leaning toward the Douanier. By the way, if anyone out there needs a restaurant recommendation in Ottawa, we ate at Domus yesterday and it was a great lunch! Very seasonal/regional. The chef even used Cold Pressed Canola Oil in place of the ubiquitous EVOO as a nod to favoring Canadian ingredients over non-. I was not a fan of the flavor, slightly nutty & bitter, but I respect the motivation.

Anyway, back to the English Muffins. They're done, fork-split, toasted, and very nice with the Douanier. The crumb is a tiny bit tighter than I expected, probably due to the Semolina. They taste great though & next time I'll try them with the Whole Wheat Flour just for the sake of comparison.

Ahhhh. I feel much better than I did after baking yesterday. Thanks for the great topic!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Croissants are a Bust

I love Croissants! I've loved them since my one and only trip to Paris during which I was served Croissants and lovely french coffee upon waking each day in my hotel. The croissants that I just made were an insult to the noble form. I followed the directions and don't think I got anything wrong really. I might have made the rolls tighter when shaping them, but other than that I don't know...My oven is somewhat erratic and unpredictable, but I thought I had gotten used to its eccentricities. They took so long to brown on top at the temperature recommended in Local Breads that the bottoms were tough and over-cooked. The interior was not really satisfactory. The flavor was ok, but not superior. I've had trouble with the time and temperature of the last 2 recipes from Local Breads after having much uniform success before with Leaders book. I'm going to go ahead and blame myself and my slightly wacky oven for this one though. It was an unfamiliar dough and process and I assume I just missed some minute but crucial detail. I'm going to go back to the drawing board and try another option for BBD#10, and save Croissants for another day. Disappointed!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Croissants are under way

After 4 graduations, 2 on each of 2 back to back weekends, giving notice at my job so I can open a restaurant, and a vicious stomach bug that made its way through all the kitchen staff and me and the kids and Amy, I've settled on Croissants for my entry in the latest Bread Baking Day challenge. They are being retarded overnight after having their 3 triple folds this afternoon. Oh yeah, to do this formula I also had to produce a Liquid Levain to conform to the recipe I'm using. Fortunately, I'm taking a week off between jobs and I've had a chance to try some more of Dan Leaders recipes from Local Breads. Just for fun, I also cultivated a yogurt semolina levain so that I was able to make the 100% Semolina Altamura Bread from Local Breads. I set my expectations low since it's been a while since I've done a hearth bread and I've never tried baking with Semolina. It turned out great! Unfortunately it somehow was eaten before I could photograph it. Oh well, I'll be making another soon. I'm also trying out some breads that I might use at the new restaurant if I can find time to develop a bread schedule in the middle of everything else. Well, time to go to sleep so I can get up early to shape/proof/bake those Croissants in time for breakfast. Better remember to take pictures!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

BBD #10, Breakfast Breads

This months Bread Baking Day challenge, hosted at Baking a Sweet Life is Breakfast Breads. Excellent, I just got up early this morning to bake my second round of Bagels for breakfast, so I'm already in the right frame of mind! I'll have to figure out a variation if I do go with Bagels so that I'll learn something new while I'm doing the challenge. That's the whole point, right? Maybe it's time to try a laminated dough, like Croissants. Amy would be very pleased to eat some Croissants, I know. We'll see...I've got my busiest two weeks of the year at work right now, with 4 colleges graduating and Mother's Day in the middle of it all. I just spent over $6k of my employers money bringing in a little food for this weekend. My usual buy for a week is more like $2500-$3000. Plus our Sysco Drivers are on strike and deliveries will be an issue, complete with picketers if we end up using replacement drivers. Nothing like a little challenge to make a busy time even more interesting, yay!

Enjoy the challenge! Sounds like another fun one, with lots of possibilities.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Diastatic Malt Powder from Barry Farms so that I can make water bagels. It finally came over the weekend and I got the dough together after work last night to make the bagels first thing this morning. I'm using the formula from Susan at Wild Yeast Blog. One thing I would mention about the dough if anyone wants to make it is that it is the stiffest dough I've ever made and unless you have a more heavy duty mixer than my KitchenAid I would recommend bringing the dough together in the mixer and then kneading by hand. My mixer sounded very unhappy trying to bat that dough around and I stopped it after about 30 seconds and continued by hand. The only change that I made to Susan's formula is that I used Diastatic Malt Powder instead of Non-Diastatic which means that the enzymes in mine were still active and able to work on the flour to break out more sugars during the overnight fermentation. After doing some reading about bagel-making, I also chose to add some of the DMP to the water while boiling the bagels. This seems to be one of the secrets to getting the "authentic New York" water bagel flavor and look.

Right now the bagels are in the oven, almost at the end of their baking time and should be ready to eat by the time Amy gets down here ready for breakfast. Having just turned them one more time, I think next time I'll try egg-washing them to get the toppings to adhere better. So, is it an obsession if I dream about making them for the 2 nights before I make them and then get up at 4:43 to do it? They're out of the oven now, and look great, smell great and are nearly ready to be eaten. I took pictures, but they don't really do them justice. Oh well. I bet they'll still taste good.