Thursday, October 14, 2010


Sushi is good stuff. A lot of people may eat it just cuz of the fad, trying to seem exotic and eat something that is very expensive for what you get. For those who really appreciate good food, particularly Japanese food, however, it is very good stuff. The high prices at restaurants are justified however, as sushi chefs spend years training. However, it is not all that hard to make pretty passable sushi on your own. It will probably never match up but that doesn't mean it can't be decent, and a heck of a lot cheaper. Being a vegetarian, it is very cheap and easy to make. For those seeking fish it will be a bit more expensive, and I wouldn't recommend trying any raw fish unless you know a really reputable supplier-sushi grade fish isn't something you get out the supermarket. But for vegetarian sushi, it is quite simple.

-1 (rice) cup short grain "sushi" rice
-1 (rice) cup water
-1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
-2 sheets toasted nori
-vegetables of choice (in this instance I used carrots and green onions)
-Optional:sesame seeds
-Optional:wasabi paste

-Cook the rice as per instructions, in a rice cooker or on the stove top.
-As the rice cooks, cook vegetables as you prefer (if you are using a rice cooker, most lets you steam items while the rice cooks)
-When the rice is done, pour 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar over it and cut through the rice to distribute it.
-Fan rice, or wait, until the rice is at room temperature, cool enough to handle.
-Place one sheet of nori, shiny side down, on a makisu.
-Place half the rice on nori, spreading it out in a thin layer-the nori should still be visible-leaving about 2 cm on one end.
-Optional: sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice.
-Optional: Place a bead of wasabi paste on one end of the rice and spread it across.
-On the opposite end, place rows of your desired vegetables.
-From the vegetable end, fold over the makisu and nori, into a rectangular shape. Press firmly so that it holds its shape. Repeat until the end, creating a rounder rather than square shape.
-Moisten the end of the nori (where you left 2 cm) so that it seals and complete the final roll.
-With a clean, wet, very sharp knife, cut pieces off the roll, cleaning and wetting the knife after every cut.
-Serve with shoyu for dipping, pickled ginger for cleansing the palate, and if you desire, wasabi paste for a kick.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


When I spent a month in Friday Harbor, one of the owners of the farm, Elaine, baked some really good bread. A lot better than what I do. She taught me the recipe she uses, which is surprisingly simple. I believe it is from the book, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day", I have never read it so can't say, I just refer to it as "Elaine's Bread". I just made it in the shape of a turtle (kame) for kicks.

-12.75 oz Bread Flour
-12 oz Water
-1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
-0.75 Tbsp Salt

-Bloom the yeast in warm water, and then mix all ingredients together. Kneading is not necessary, just stir until they form a ball.
-Cover and ferment for 2-3 hours.
-Shape the dough, working in enough flour so that it holds its structure.
-Proof for 45-60 minutes.
-Bake at 425 for 35 minutes.

The simplicity of this recipe is apparent, I guess that's the tenet of the book from which it comes. It is a little too simple for my taste, honestly. Kneading is necessary for good gluten development, instead of just working in lots of flour. It uses a lot of yeast in place of extended fermentation and proof, and those are necessary to develop flavor. Don't get me wrong, the bread is good, even with the same recipe, Elaine's is still a lot better than mine, but I guess from my experience, I know too much about the science of it for it to really work for me. However, for beginning bread bakers it is a great start, and also for someone who wants to bake a pretty good loaf without a lot of time investment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


It isn't something new, but it is something that I haven't made for quite a while. That item is onigiri, or rice balls. I think the last time I made them was when I still ate fish, using tuna as a filling. Vegetables can also be used but I never did. Another common filling however is umeboshi, pickled plums, which I could never get until I moved here. It is certainly an interesting taste, one I can't really describe. Next time however I just need to take the seeds pits out before using them as a filling.


1 cup short grain sushi rice (that's 1 rice cup, about 180 ml, not the US cup measurement of 8 oz/240 ml, it's special for rice)
1 cup water (that's again 1 rice cup)
1-2 Tbsp, rice wine vinegar
6 pc. umeboshi or any other filling you like
1/2 sheet nori, cut into strips

-Cook rice however you normally do, I use a rice cooker. If you cook it on the stove, do it normally.
-Rice is done when all the water is absorbed but it is sticky. Let it cook too long and it will dry and brown in clumps.
-Remove the rice from the cooker or pan into another bowl. Pour the vinegar over the rice and cut through the rice with the rice spatula to disperse the vinegar and cool the rice. Ideally you should fan the rice to cool it as fast as possible but I never have. It is ready to work when it is about at room temperature.
-If your umeboshi has pits in them, remove them.
-Wet your hands and dust some salt on them. Take a good handful of rice. Make a dimple and put in two pieces of umeboshi, or one if it didn't have pits (or any other filling you're using). Shape it into a triangular shape by cupping it in your hands and rotating. It takes practice.
-Slightly moisten the edges of one strip of nori and wrap it around the rice ball.

It makes three decent size rice balls, enough for a good meal.

I have always eaten them right then, but they are also good refrigerated and served cold at a later time, just wrap them after they are made. If you are doing this you may want to keep the nori separate and attach it when eating so it doesn't get soggy.

These are pretty simple but very tasty, at least for me. They are very common snack or lunch foods in Japan but I always make a few and have them as a dinner. I had never used rice vinegar when preparing rice prior to moving here, and it adds some good flavor to it. Its taste was unexpected, something I can't really explain, but it doesn't taste like you'd think when thinking of vinegar.

You can really make these any way you like. Most things are good for filling, they are commonly filled with umeboshi or some kind of fish, but any vegetable works well too. Shaping and wrapping can vary too. Triangles and one strip of nori is the common variety, but it can be shaped any way you like and you can wrap more or little nori, in different designs, completely containing the rice, or not having any at all. It is also common to put sesame seeds on onigiri as well, but I don't like them so I have never used them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hummus and Pita

My new location has allowed me to get a lot of ingredients that I never could before, but there are still plenty of classic recipes that I love and dominate my menu. One recipe is simple hummus and pita. I had only first tried hummus maybe a year ago, when I got a sandwich from Cosi in Virginia. I quickly found that I really liked it and when I found out how simple it is, I began making it myself. I generally keep it pretty simple, using a basic recipe and then mixing in any vegetable I feel like. I sometimes do onions, peppers, zucchini, spinach, I'd imagine pretty much anything is good.


-15 oz (1 can) Chickpeas
-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
-2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
-2 Tbsp Tahini
-1 Tbsp Olive Oil
-Salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you feel like to taste
-Any vegetable you like (cooked or raw)

-Drain chickpeas. Chop them up in a food processor. Add a little bit of water while chopping to make a thinner consistency, similar to the end product.
-Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, oil, and seasonings and continue blending it in the food processor. It should be thick but viscous. Add a little water if it is too chunky still.
-Mix in chopped vegetables, either raw or cooked, depending on your preference.
-Chill for a little while to thicken it.

Simple and delicious. It goes great as a dip or on slices of bread but I think it's best with pita. They can be tricky to make so if you can buy them pretty cheap it may be a consideration, but most places I find them, they charge pretty stupid prices. With a little practice though they are pretty easy to make yourself.


-15 oz Bread Flour (or substitute some or all Whole Wheat Flour, I use all Whole Wheat)
-10 oz Warm Water
-2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
-1.5 Tbsp Olive Oil
-1 Tbsp Honey
-1.5 tsp salt

-Bloom the yeast in the water, about 5 minutes.
-Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix on low for 1 minute, scrape down the bowl, and mix on medium for another 4-5 min. It should come into a slightly tacky (but not sticky) ball. If it is too dry, add a little more water during mixing.
-Ferment 90 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 500.
-Divide dough into 8 parts, preshape into balls, and rest 20 minutes.
-Roll out each ball into a thin circle. It should be about as thin as possible. Too thick and it will rise into a regular disc of bread with no pocket. Place on baking sheets or directly onto a stone. Bake 2-3 min, until it balloons. Don't leave it in to brown or it will become crusty; it should be soft.

It takes some practice working the dough. You need to get a good thickness but avoid overworking it. Too much rolling or mishandling when transferring to the oven can lead to no pocket at all. If that happens it isn't the end of the world though, just cut it into wedges and use them for scooping instead.

Equipment-Oven Stone

One perk that I really like about my new apartment is my kitchen. The apartment I had in Virginia was very nice in most regards, except that it only had a little kitchenette which really sucked for cooking. Being a baker, one of the biggest boons of this large kitchen is a full sized oven. I have no problem doing anything in there, even big loaves of bread, or a couple trays of items at one.

One piece of equipment that I came to appreciate but had never owned was an oven stone. When in school, we did most of our bread in deck ovens, which is similar in that you are baking directly on a hot surface. I think it was in Friday Harbor, seeing Elaine's bread baked on an oven stone that I appreciated the functionality of the item and its use in one's home. When I was in Virginia, I did most of my baking in loaf pans, which provided nice shaped bread, but it wasn't rustic, wasn't artisan, wasn't very pretty. The other alternative was baking on a cookie sheet but I never had the best luck doing that, I guess it's just not enough heat.

So with a full sized oven I sought a proper oven stone. Well I shouldn't say proper. Commercial oven stones are nice, but they are usually a good $15 or so. And I'm cheap. They are pretty and professional looking, but at the end of the day, they are stones (or some kinda composite). After doing a little research on materials and what works for an oven stone, I decided to just get my own makeshift one. There are a number of materials you can use-granite, marble, terra cotta, brick, volcano stone, probably more. Just gotta make sure they aren't glazed or else you're asking for toxic fumes.

Lucky for me, about 2 blocks from where I live, there is a place called the Re-Store, which is like a thrift shop for construction materials. People drop stuff off and so you can get stuff cheap. This is where I found my oven stone. Well two oven stones. My first one I kinda ruined with melted plastic due to my own idiocy. The second was just as good though. A 20" square piece of granite, about 1/2" thick, and it cost me about $1.25. Not bad. I was a little worried about circulation since it takes up almost my entire oven but I have had no problems. My first one was 16" square but this seems just as good. I usually still bake on a reusable baking sheet-kinda like parchment, because it makes transfer easy, and I'm too cheap to buy a peel which I think would be a bit of a waste for its one use.

When properly treated, oven stones can last a good while. You have to be careful though because they can be pretty easy to break. If they get wet or are put on a cold surface (like a countertop) when they are hot, they are likely to crack or break. Even if that happens, however, it is still good. They still work fine in pieces, if they can be put pretty much back together, and if you bake on a sheet like I do, then any cracks aren't even an issue. They work pretty much fine unless it breaks into too many small pieces but unless you drop it or continually mishandle it, I don't see that being very likely to happen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What I've Been Up To

While I haven't been doing a whole lot of new baking since I finished school, there is one fairly significant project that I took part in. That is being the baker for my sister's wedding. I was "commissioned" back in December, unsure if I would have the skills necessary to prepare a wedding cake. Even after culinary school, I don't think I really would be able to prepare a presentable wedding cake, but luckily for me, my sister instead desired cupcakes. Something I can manage.

So, since I was spending a month in Washington anyway, I was already there and able to prepare the cupcakes for her wedding. She had requested two flavors: chocolate with vanilla frosting and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. I had gone through a good deal of preparation beforehand, including taste testing for several recipes before I was able to decide on the right ones, balancing flavor, texture, moistness, and practicality of preparation.

And so, two days prior to her wedding, I was involved in a lot of baking. I had made twelve dozen or 144 cupcakes total, 6 dozen of each. The day of the wedding, I had prepared sufficient frosting for all those cupcakes during the morning and did the final piping and finishing an hour prior to dessert. It was a lot of work overall, I certainly underestimated the time required for every step. Regardless, I did what I set out to do, and while I wasn't crazy about the finished product (I was quite out of practice piping), it seemed to go over well enough.

In addition to the 12 dozen cupcakes for the wedding, I also prepared a special dessert. This was a giant cupcake, which I saw as representative of a wedding cake top, for the bride and groom to freeze and save for their first anniversary. I prepared the base with red velvet and the top with chocolate, and frosted it with the vanilla frosting. It was then finished with edible flowers, a little more extravagant than the single blossom each cupcake received. It was certainly an interesting experience overall and I guess I was moderately satisfied, but like in everything I do, I feel like I could have done a lot better.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rising Up From The Ashes

When I had completed culinary school in June, I stopped updating this blog. Without classes I was no longer making new and interesting things. Sure I baked, a lot. I bake every few days. However, it's the same old stuff for the most part. Quickbreads, leavened breads, a little variation, but nothing interesting. I had considered posting again when I got a snazzy baking job and had new and interesting things, but that certainly hasn't worked out. Three months out of school, I'm still not working. Not the best situation.

However, I am in a new location. Bellingham, Washington. While I am still not baking much new, I now have an opportunity to widely broaden my cooking options. The lifestyle here in Washington has bred several opportunities to find foods that I couldn't find otherwise. Bellingham has a great farmer's market every week. It has a co-op that offers access to lots of local and organic foods and ingredients that I couldn't get back east. I live a few blocks away from two Asian markets, offering even more ingredients that I could never get before.

I am only cooking for one, so it only offers a couple opportunities a week to cook, but regardless, I am trying new things as much as I can with the new options that have presented themselves to me. And so, I am resurrecting the blog, to further enhance my portfolio and expand into regular cooking with the new options that I have available. I plan to post recipes of everything I make in addition to pictures, descriptions, and opinions. I will probably go back and repost all the old staples that I commonly make just to include the recipe. While I probably have no readers and so nobody actually interested in my recipes, I want to use this blog to create my own cook book of sorts. With the blog format, searching, things like that, it will make it easy to always find recipes I want and it seems like it will be easy to make a quick search on the site to pull up a recipe as opposed to any other format. So hopefully this place will get a little more interesting as I post once again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

06/11/10 - Class - Bread Decoration

Here's the final for my breads class. This is something I was pretty apprehensive going into, but after having done it, it was really fun. We did bread decorations, showpieces made out of bread. Being non-artistic I was apprehensive, but luckily my partner was pretty creative so I was able to help him make something pretty good. It was based on a template, not something original, but we ran with it and changed it some to create something nice. My partner was going to a wedding in a couple days so we personalized it to make it a pretty nice gift. I did most the details-the rose, the grapes and leaves, stuff like that and helped out with the bigger parts. I was really surprised how how well it turned out and I'm pretty proud of it.

So that, as they say, is that. No more school. Since this is a portfolio of my work, there probably won't be many more posts, at least for a while. I only want to post new stuff, and unless I get a job and have new stuff to show, there isn't going to be much new. Perhaps it'll pick up again in the future, but till then, we shall see.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

06/07-8/10 - Class - Torte Final

This was our last week of my cake and torte class, and so we had our final. For it, we were charged with creating an original torte recipe that included complementary flavors, various textures, and quality presentation.

I called the torte that I prepared a Chanoyu torte, named after the Japanese tea ceremony. Its base is a green tea meringue disk, the wall a green tea roulade with green pate a decor on the outside. Inside is blueberry mousse with fresh blueberries folded in, a pomegranate insert, and pomegranate glaze on top. It was then decorated with a few fresh blueberries, a dusting of matcha powder, and sugar decorations, representing the three flavors of the torte.

I chose the three flavors because I know that green tea goes well with both blueberry and pomegranate flavors, and that blueberry and pomegranate go well together, so I assumed that the three would make a good mix. I wish my presentation could have been better. The glaze on top was too thick and a little messy and there was supposed to be designs on the pate a decor but I made that toot hick as well so it did not show. I am however satisfied with the result.

Friday, June 4, 2010

06/03-4/10 - Class - Bread

Our last week of making regular bread recipes, this week we focused mostly on rolls.

On Thursday we finished two recipes and prepared one more to bake the next day. The two that we did bake were soft dinner rolls and onion poppy seed rolls. Both turned out pretty nicely I think. The onion poppy seed rolls tasted better than I'd expect.

The first bread on Friday was the one that we prepared the prior day, sourdough cheese bread. I think that it turned out pretty well. It didn't get a whole lot of rise however. Every bread that we have had to retard overnight in this class didn't bake especially well the next day, which is unfortunate. There just isn't enough time in one class period to give the bread proper time for quality product. Regardless, I guess it turned out really well; Everyone else seemed to think it was really good. I'm not into cheesy stuff myself so I'll take their word on it.

Two more rolls that we made were carrot rolls and potato dill rolls. Both turned out okay but I don't think either are quality products. The carrot roll dough was so wet that it was really hard to work with. We had to add a lot of flour to make it manageable at all and even then it couldn't be shaped. I guess they turned out okay but I wasn't impressed. They didn't really taste like anything, not carrots, didn't even have much of a bread flavor. I didn't try the potato dill rolls cuz I don't like dill much so I'm not sure how they turned out. We didn't have potato flour so had to use potato starch. As such the dough was pretty tough, I'm not sure if it adversely affected the flavor as well. They look pretty good though so hopefully they turned out well.

The next recipe was pretty interesting. It was called Filoncini Burro y Nocci, little sticks with butter and walnuts in Italian. I didn't really know what to think of them at first. The name led me to think that they'd be pretty crisp bread but in fact they were very soft. Though I guess I should have guessed that from the recipe; the majority of the liquid is milk and also contains eggs and butter, so I guess it is on the line of being a sweetbread. It also contained walnuts. However I was surprised how good it tasted. Really one of the best tasting breads in my opinion this quarter. Unfortunately, being nearly a sweetbread, it's pretty unhealthy for a bread.

Last, and certainly least... more country bread. I didn't bother with the special shaping but did try to be a little creative, and just like every other time baking it, it doesn't hold its shape, making it a stupid choice to practice shapes with. At least this is the last time I'm making it in class, and probably ever.

06/01/10 - Class - Tortes

Our last class of regular tortes. Next week is the final. We did these tortes between Monday of last week and Tuesday of this week since school was closed one day of each week.

The first torte was called a Diva torte, which another group member of mine made. It was a pistachio sponge with apricot mousse, topped with Italian buttercream. Certainly doesn't sound very appetizing in my opinion. Plus she ruined the presentation by hitting it on the freezer rack or something.

My other group member made a lemon raspberry basil cake. Pretty intricate, with a lemon white chocolate sables for the base, filled with lemon mousse, a basil cremeaux insert, and a lemon chiffon sponge. I dunno, basil in a cake doesn't sound very tasty either.

I piece that I made was called an Empress torte. At least this one sounds like it would taste pretty decent. It had a dacquoise base, almond genoise round, lime curd, and raspberry mousseline. It was then topped with raspberry glaze and along the sides are shingled pieces of white chocolate that I made a marble design on by mixing plain white chocolate and dyed white chocolate. I'm pretty happy with my torte at least.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

05/27/10 - Class - Breads

Only one day of class this week so fewer recipes than normal, but we still were able to churn out 5 breads in that one day.

First, since we can't get enough, is more country bread. This time it was a "Tabatiere" shape, like a bowtie, and like most in the past, the dough was very soft and didn't really hold the shape. A tighter dough recipe should be used for learning the various shapes.

Next we made pretzels. I've made these before at home, though they turned out a little better here. We opted to not dip our pretzel in a baking soda/salt solution, which is supposed to give it a salty taste and I think develop a chewy texture. Instead of shaping them as pretzels, I made mini batards. Perhaps because we didn't dip them, they were very soft. Since mine were so big they weren't really much like pretzels but rather rolls, but still tasted good.

Our third recipe was honey wheat pan bread. It sounds like a very good recipe. Being pressed for time, we had to cut down on proofing, and I think that affected it as it didn't get very large. Though it was a wheat bread so that had some effect as well. Even if it is dense, it will still likely taste pretty good.

Next we made English muffins. I thought these were considered a quick bread, but it uses yeast and ferments and rests, albeit very shortly, so I guess it is actually a bread. However I have seen other recipes where it is more a batter than a dough, so dunno. Regardless, they were kinda interesting. The dough was rolled out and cut into rounds and then cooked on a griddle (or frying pans in my case). I made them a bit too thick though so the outsides were browning with he insides still a little underdone. In retrospect I should have finished them in an oven but oh well. Since they are meant to be toasted, they get fully finished during the toasting process so they still turned out good.

Finally we also made hamburger buns. They turned out really beautifully, perfect shape, size, and a great color. All the more pity that I forgot to take a picture of them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

05/20-1/10 - Class - Sweet Breads

This week we did mainly sweet breads in class. These aren't my kind of thing, as I am fanatic about health, and generally just eat bread for sandwiches and bread pudding. They were interesting, however. Some pretty unique things.

The first bread we made was called corona dulce. It was a basic sweet bread. No frills, just bread with sugar and butter and that kinda stuff. It came out extremely light and soft. I didn't taste it but it probably would make a pretty good sandwich or bun even if it is a bit sweet.

Next was Hawaiian pineapple sweet bread. A pretty intersting one. It was flavored with pineapple juice and also had ginger. I tried a little bit and thought it was pretty good, even though I'm not much of a pineapple fan. Though being a sweet bread it isn't something I'd have more than a try of. This too was very light and soft, probably pretty good. Ours got a tad overdone unfortunately.

Next came a non-sweet bread, sourdough multigrain bread. This was very good, at least for my tastes. It tasted a tad dry, perhaps because of all the seeds and stuff, but I really liked the flavor and texture. I'm also surprised how much rise it got during proofing, so it wasn't as dense as I thought it would be.

The next bread was a particularly unique one: pan de cioccolate, or chocolate bread. Certainly not something for my tastes. When it finished mixing, the dough looked like a big mound of cookies dough as opposed to bread. It had almost no rise at all either. It was an interesting flavor to say the least. Not quite cookie and not quite bread, I don't think it would appeal to the masses, but to a big chocolate fan I'm sure it's really good.

The next bread was a buckwheat bread. It was supposed to be a pear buckwheat bread but the chef forgot to order pears, so it was just plain buckwheat. It had walnuts in it though so that added something. It's a shame that there weren't pears, I was looking forward to seeing how it tasted. Though as a plain buckwheat bread, it was still nice.

Another interesting recipe came in caramelized hazelnut squares. I guess it's a sweet bread, sorta. It isn't a sweetbread in that it doesn't have sugar or eggs or fat in the recipe, but it includes caramelized hazelnuts, which are hazelnuts coated with sugar. Despite that, I enjoyed it. You didn't really taste the sweetness much at all so it was a pretty good plain bread with nuts. It was pretty dense though, I'm not really sure why.

The last recipe was interesting as well. Corn bread. A bit misleading in the name as it isn't the cornbread that I'm familiar with, the quickbread. Rather it is bread made with corn flour and corn meal. Pretty unique, it tastes like bread, not the quickbread. I thought it was pretty good. but kinda dry. Possibly because of the cornmeal, I don't think it absorbs much moisture. The dough itself was very dry, a solid mass, not even tacky. I guess that carried over to the finished product.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

05/17-18/10 - Class - Tortes

Three new tortes this week. Nothing very new or interesting, seems like the class is going to be more of the same for the rest of the quarter.

Our first cake was a white chocolate mousse cake with raspberry. It came out pretty well. A decorated jaconde filled with white chocolate mousse, a raspberry insert, and raspberry glaze on top. These tortes are all becoming rather similar.

Next was an eros torte. Again, decorated jaconde filled with caramel mousse and caramelized walnuts and pecans.

The third cake was the one that I worked on, a chocolate mint mousse cake. It's a chocolate genoise base, filled with chocolate mousse and a mint creme brulee insert. It was then sprayed with chocolate to finish. I'm actually pretty proud of it. It came out really well and my cakes are usually average at best.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

05/13-14/10 - Class - Bread Midterm

Same as the cake class, we had our bread midterm this week. Similar to the cake class, we did breads that we had done previously. Specifically, the breads that we made the first week of class: baguettes, ciabatta, and focaccia. They went a lot better this time, not that they were bad the first time, but still better.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

05/10-11/10 - Class - Cakes Midterm

This week was our midterm in the cakes class. It consisted of making three cakes that we had made in the past. It was supposed to be four but the chef didn't order an ingredient for it so it couldn't be made. The cakes that we made were a tiramisu (center), concord cake (right) and lemon mousse cake with blackberry (left). I think they all turned out pretty well and I think we did decently.

Friday, May 7, 2010

05/06-09/10 - Class - Breads Week 4

Another week, more breads.

On Thursday we only baked off one bread which was more country bread. This week was a Tordu shape, a long batard with a twist. I forgot to take a picture but it's the same as the last 3 country breads, not very interesting.

We also prepared doughs for sourdough rye bread and roasted potato bread. These were both left to ferment overnight and then baked off on Friday. Both turned out fine. I thought that the potato bread was pretty interesting. I've had potato bread before made with potato flour, but this recipe used roasted potatoes which we then mashed up and added to the dough. It made a very light, soft loaf, though I didn't really taste potato at all in it.

Besides baking those two breads, we also made a number of flatbreads on Friday. The first was corn tortillas. They didn't really work out the best. We used a tortilla press to shape them then cooked them in a skillet. I didn't think the press worked out very well-we had to stretch out the tortillas by hand before putting them in the skillet. Plus cooking them in general didn't turn out the best, they got rather irregular. They tasted okay I guess though. My past experience making tortillas at home were more successful I think though.

Next we made pita. These turned out very well, pretty much perfect. Quite the opposite as the tortillas, as my previous attempts at making pita at home didn't turn out that great. I think that's probably mostly due to my lack of practical facilities in my tiny apartment.

Additionally we made naan and lavash. They were both sorta similar in process, but ultimately quite different. Naan was made in larger loaves and given a three hour fermentation and 60 minute proof, while lavash also had a 3 hour ferment but only a 10 minute proof. Lavash was was also rolled a lot thinner than the naan and meant to be like a big crispy cracker. Ours wasn't rolled thin enough so it puffed up some but was still good. Our naan turned out quite well too. When it baked, it puffed a lot so I got a little worried but it deflated after removing it from the oven so it was pretty good. My only concern is that it seemed like a pretty bland recipe. When I've had naan in restaurants, it had many unique varieties, while the one we made was plain.

Friday, April 30, 2010

04/29-30/10 - Class - Breads Week 3

Lots of bread this week. The was we do our breads was rearranged a little so that we'd have enough time to get everything done correctly, after last week's issues. On Thursday we fully baked two breads, prepared two breads through shaping and proofed overnight, and then just prepared the ingredients for three more breads to fully prepare on Friday.

On Thursday we made two breads. The first was country bread. It is the same as last week, only this time we made it in a different shape. This time it was a fleur shape. We'll be making it several more times to try various shapes, since it is a simple recipe.
The second bread that we made was Fougasse, a flatbread from Provence. It was kinda interesting. It was made with rosemary and olive oil so it's slightly reminiscent of focaccia. After fermenting, it is rolled into a fairly large rectangle and then cut into various shapes. It is classically cut like a sheaf of wheat with one cut down the center then more on either side. I made mine a little more unique.

On Friday we baked a lot of breads, six total with the new class layout. The first bread that we baked was 100% whole grain bread. This was the bread that we prepared last week but ran out of time to bake and so froze. I'm not sure how the freezing affected the final dough, but I liked it (though I don't think it was all that popular overall, since people don't want something even moderately healthy). It was rather dense though so perhaps the freezing affected proofing and rise.
The second bread was prepared on Thursday up to proofing and then retarded overnight in the refrigerator. This was a sesame semolina bread. I think it turned out really nicely, it looked very good. The only thing is that the chef forgot about the sesame seeds so it's really just a semolina bread, but that's fine with me, I don't really like sesame seeds.
The second dough that we retarded overnight was a sourdough whole wheat bread. It's kinda similar to what I usually make at home, but it's 50/50 flour like how I first started making it as opposed to 100%. Unfortunately this one didn't turn out the best. It got overproofed and so when we transferred it to bake, we tried to deflate it a little. It rose okay but was pretty small and dense, nothing too great. Probably okay for toast or something.
The first of the breads that we completely made on Friday was called Francese. It is like an Italian style of a French baguette. Instead of shaping it like a baguette, instead it is spread into a rectangle and cut into strip and then baked like a baguette. It makes it a little more rough and rustic looking. They had to be baked in the conventional oven due to time so there was no steam, hence the pale color.
Next was a Rustic Filone. This was pretty simple, I can't recall what really makes it unique at all. It used both a poolish and a levain, I guess that is what is special about it, though I do not know how using both would affect the bread. It baked very nicely though, it was pretty light and came out very well.
Finally we made a New York Rye, pretty basic rye bread. I personally am not a huge fan of rye bread but this came out really well. It had a great rye aroma. What surprised me is how light and soft it felt, since I tend to associate rye with being a fairly dense bread like whole wheat. It came out really nicely though.