11 December 2014

Sourdough Sandwich Bread - Wild Yeast Bread

Sourdough Loaf Sliced / www.delightfulrepast.com

This sourdough sandwich bread is a classic sourdough bread, meaning it is made without the addition of commercial yeast. Baked in a loaf pan, it has the chewy texture of an artisan loaf but in a shape handy to slice for sandwiches or toast. Ohhh, the toast!

You don't need a heavy-duty stand mixer or strong arms for kneading. You don't need a pizza stone or a cast-iron Dutch oven, just a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; I use this equivalent 9x4x4-inch pullman loaf pan (without its lid). 

Sourdough Sandwich Bread in Pan / www.delightfulrepast.com

I'll be posting about making your own starter soon. It's really simple. All it takes is unbleached all-purpose flour (preferably organic), filtered or bottled water (not distilled or chlorinated tap) and lots of patience. 

Sourdough without added yeast is definitely as much art as science, so prepare to adjust to its timetable; it's not going to adjust to yours! It can take as long as 34 to 42 hours, but that's mostly time it's sitting around doing its thing while you're going about your business. 

Sourdough Toast / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sourdough Sandwich Bread 

(Makes one 26-ounce loaf)

1 1/2 cups fed 100% hydration sourdough starter
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided 

1 Feed up your starter to 1 1/2 cups: Take 2 tablespoons starter out of refrigerated storage container. Put it in a 2-cup glass measure (It actually holds 3 cups, so shouldn't overflow when it doubles). Stir in 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir vigorously, cover loosely and let stand at room temperature for 8 or 12 hours. 

Tip: See schedule below to plan your bake. 

2 Stir down starter and add 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Proceed as in previous step. 

Sourdough Starter / www.delightfulrepast.com

3 Stir down fed starter and measure 1 1/2 cups of of it into 2-quart glass measure. With a dough whisk or large spoon, stir in water, salt and 1 cup flour. When all the flour is incorporated, stir in 1 1/2 cups of flour a half cup at a time. Stir until dough just comes together into a shaggy dough (fairly stiff, but still sticky). Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap or lid and let stand at room temperature overnight. 

Tip: Any leftover fed starter can be added to your stored starter in the refrigerator or just kept on the counter if you're making more bread in a day or two.

4 Grease bread pan. I use a 9x4x4-inch (1.5-pound) pullman pan (without its lid). It's about the same capacity as a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. 

5 Using no more than 1/8 cup altogether, sprinkle countertop with some flour. Gently scrape the dough onto the floured countertop. Sprinkle with flour. Press gently into a roughly 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Using a bench scraper, fold one third of the rectangle toward the center, then fold the other end to the center, like a letter. With the bench scraper, place folded dough in the pan, pressing it into the corners. Brush on a little water. Cover it loosely with an oiled or cooking-sprayed piece of plastic wrap. 

6 Let rise until doubled. If using 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, it should rise an inch or two above the rim of the pan. If using 9x4x4 pullman pan without its lid, the dough should rise to below or just even with the top of pan. This can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours. The dough needs to rise until the dough doesn't quickly spring back when poked with a floured finger or knuckle. 

Tip: Check on the dough's progress regularly. After making it a few times, you'll have a better idea of how long it will take. And that will change as the weather changes. I keep my house rather cool in winter, so sourdough bread takes much longer to rise now than it does in summer.

7 Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Just before baking, brush the loaf with a little water. Using a lame (pronounced lahm), razor blade or very sharp knife, score the top of the loaf with two or three diagonal lines. Holding the blade straight, make each cut quickly and about 1/4-inch deep. You might have to make the cuts twice. If the blade seems to be dragging, wet it before each cut.

Note: Actually, you don't have to slash the top. I've done it both ways, and it's simply not necessary with this loaf.

8 Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf registers 210 degrees on instant-read thermometer

Tip: For reasons I won't go into (something about lactobacilli and yeast and ...), sourdough bread sometimes doesn't brown as well as other breads. If you're into the well-browned crust, take the loaf from the oven about 5 minutes early and brush the top with a little olive oil and put it back in.

9 Remove from pan and let cool on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours before slicing.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sample Baking Plans

Schedule with two 8-hour feedings
Day 1
6:00 am First feeding
2:00 pm Second feeding
10:00 pm Make dough
Day 2
10:00 am Shape loaf

Schedule with two 12-hour feedings
Day 1
9:00 pm First feeding
Day 2
9:00 am Second feeding
9:00 pm Make dough
Day 3
9:00 am Shape loaf

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thank you!

04 December 2014

Magical Coconut Pie

I've been cooking way too much lately. I needed a break, but I also needed a dessert. Something quick and easy, but "from scratch." So I'm going retro, baby! With Magical Coconut Pie. 

Anyone who grew up, or cooked, in the 1970s might remember Impossible Pies, so called because they formed their own crust (not really) while baking. They were made with Bisquick, which we never had in our house because my mother never used mixes of any kind. I still don't. 

So when I had some extra organic coconut on my hands and decided to whip one of these up, I needed to come up with a formula that did not contain the popular baking mix. No offense to the Bisquick people, but until they come up with an organic "whole" version, I'll just do my own thing.  

We were out of regular milk, so I used rice milk with a little heavy cream mixed in for a better approximation of milk. I seem to recall people used to mix up their Impossible Pies in a blender, but I go low-tech whenever possible so just used a whisk. 

This "pie" puffs way up while it's cooking and then shrinks down as it cools. If I wanted to end up with larger pieces, I would increase the quantities; but I like having it end up about 8 inches in diameter for daintier serving sizes.

What is your favorite quick and easy from-scratch dessert to make when you just don't have the time or energy to get too carried away?

Magical Coconut Pie 

(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings) 

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (1.66 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. 

2 In medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and coconut. Add eggs, butter, milk and vanilla; whisk until thoroughly combined (I whisked vigorously for about 30 seconds). 

3 Pour into prepared pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees about 50 minutes, until golden brown and set. I actually cooked this one for 55 minutes; maybe the rice milk is more watery than milk. 

4 Let cool to room temperature before cutting and serving or refrigerating. 
Serve with some barely sweetened whipped cream.

27 November 2014

10 Favorite Kitchen Essentials

If you're reading this now, your cooking is probably done for the next few days. If it hasn't happened yet, within the next several days your thoughts will likely turn to shopping and yet more cooking. 

So this is the perfect time for us to talk about kitchen must-haves. It's been three years since I posted my 10 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets, something I thought I would do annually. Oh well ... so much for my briskly efficient editorial calendar! 

Of course, those 10 favorites are still favorites; and here are 10 more. The items on my list range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars each and are all, with one exception, things I use nearly every day in my own kitchen.

What kitchen tools and gadgets do you find indispensable? What's on your wish list? 

10 Favorite Kitchen Essentials

1 Cuisinart 5.5-quart stand mixer There is also a 7-quart model, but I haven't made anything yet that made me regret choosing the 5.5-quart (pictured above). It has proven more than adequate for my purposes. Like my decades-old Cuisinart food processor, this heavy-duty workhorse will live forever! 

2 Thermapen I wish I could buy all of you a Thermapen super-fast instant-read thermometer. I use it all the time to take the temperature of meats, doughs, breads, custards. It's the secret to my perfect eggnog!

3 French rolling pin I have all kinds of rolling pins, but this is my personal favorite. I reach for it more frequently than my straight rolling pin or the big one with handles or the one with ball bearings. 

4 Cuisinart food processor I have the Prep Plus now. Before that I had the no-longer-made DLC 10-E, the predecessor of the Cuisinart DLC 10-S 7-cup. It still works beautifully, so I passed it along to a friend when I got the bigger one. 

5 OXO Good Grips bench scraper This is great for scooping up chopped vegetables, trimming puff pastry, dividing dough, scraping dough residue from cutting board or counter. 

6 Lodge Pro-Logic 14-inch cast iron pizza pan I use it like a pizza stone. Great for artisan breads as well as pizza. When baking a pie, I put a square of foil on the pan and set the pie plate on it. Keeps the oven clean and aids with browning the bottom crust. 

7 GIR spatulas Love these unibody silicone tools! One piece of molded food-grade silicone with reinforced interiors, heat-proof to 464 degrees, eco-friendly material, BPA-free, easy to clean and dishwasher safe. Four sizes: mini, skinny, ultimate and pro.

8 OXO Good Grips 11-pound digital scale I still use measuring cups for some things, but weighing flours of all kinds is the only way to go! You can go from weighing pounds and ounces to metric units with the push of a button. Helps in making my rolls the same size and getting equal amounts of batter in layer cake pans. 

9 Wusthof Classic 6-inch extra wide cook's knife A really good chef's knife is the most important knife to have, and it needs to have the right blade size for the task and the right handle for your hand. This 6-inch extra wide is shorter than, but just as wide as, the regular 8-inch; and it feels "right" in my hand.

Number 10 is something I don't actually have yet, so it's really Number 1 on my wish list! 

10 All-Clad stainless steel 2-quart saucier Anyone who makes custards and sauces as often as I do needs this pan. Its sloped bottom allows a whisk or spoon to do a thorough job. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thank you!

20 November 2014

Chocolate Cream Pie for Two

Chocolate Cream Pie is something I rarely have because a whole pie is too much for two or three people. Fruit pie I'll eat for breakfast, so no problem there. But chocolate, well, I can't justify having that for breakfast. Then I thought, Why not just make a small one?

I had some leftover buttermilk recently, and you know how I hate to waste food. Happened to be making a pie one day and decided to use buttermilk instead of water. Loved it. And here I am again with buttermilk on hand, so I made buttermilk pastry for this pie.

Thing is, I'm not sure I even like regular pie crust for chocolate cream pie any more. I'm thinking I might like some sort of crumb crust or maybe the nut crust I use on my Chocolate Creamy Dreamy.

The Whipped Cream Fiasco
Subtitle: Some days it just doesn't pay to even go into the kitchen!

Then there's the whipped cream. I'm thinking I might actually prefer meringue. But that might just be because I had such an ordeal with the whipped cream. Yes, an ordeal! The store was out of my favorite organic heavy whipping cream, so I got a different brand. It would not whip!

I've never had that happen before. The heavy whipping cream was cold. The bowl was cold. The wire whip beater was cold. I made it just the way I always do. It would not whip! I always use number 5 on my mixer for whipped cream. After 10 minutes on number 5, the cream was barely thicker than when it came out of the carton.

So I cranked it up to 8 for a few minutes. No change. I turned it all the way up to 12 for a few minutes. No change. I gave it 20 minutes total before deciding there was something wrong with the cream. My husband made an emergency run to the nearest grocery store and bought another pint of heavy whipping cream, and I started over.

No problem, as you can see from the photo. Question: Ever happen to you? Or: What is your latest kitchen fiasco? 

Chocolate Cream Pie

(Makes one 6- to 7-inch pie, 4 servings)

The Buttermilk Pastry for one 6- or 7-inch pie shell

3/4 dip-and-sweep cup (3.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, well chilled, cut into thin pats
3 to 4 tablespoons buttermilk

The Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon triple-strength coffee,* optional
2 large egg yolks (save whites for the meringue)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

The Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* For triple-strength coffee, I put a tablespoon of ground coffee in a one-cup paper filter and pour over 1/4 cup boiled water, then keep it in the refrigerator for a few days to use in various things. (I don't really know if that's precisely "triple-strength," but that's what I decided to call it!)

1 In 1.5-quart bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With pastry cutter or fingertips, cut butter into flour, leaving some larger pieces. With a dinner fork, stir in buttermilk a little at a time, using only as much as necessary to form a shaggy dough. Wrap the dough in a square of plastic wrap, forming the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. Save the piece of plastic, you'll be using it again.

2 Roll out pastry to an 11-inch circle and transfer dough to pie plate, pressing dough (but not stretching it) to fit pie plate with about a one-inch overhang (trim with knife or scissors), crimp edge, cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes, dock (poke holes all over bottom and sides with a fork). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until well browned. Cool on wire rack. 

3 When pie shell is just about cooled, start making filling. In heavy-bottomed 1.5-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, coffee and, gradually, milk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until you see bubbles forming at the edge and the mixture thickening, about 5 minutes or so. 

4 Strain through fine-mesh sieve, and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into cooled crust and smooth top. Cover with reserved piece of plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature for one hour; place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.  

5 In bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer with wire whisk attached, beat cold cream, sugar and vanilla on medium speed. After about 4 or 5 minutes of thinking nothing is happening, you'll start to see the cream thickening. Continue to beat at medium speed, watching for the soft peaks stage, then the firm peaks stage. If you're just spreading the whipped cream on the pie, stop there. If you want to pipe the whipped cream, beat until whites hold stiff peaks. Pay close attention at every stage; it can turn to butter before you know it!

6 With a pastry bag fitted with a 2D tip or 1M tip, pipe rosettes of whipped cream onto pie.

13 November 2014

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies / www.delightfulrepast.com

Pumpkin pecan cookies are an autumn favorite. I just love the spicy scents wafting around the kitchen as they bake. Funny, but I rarely make anything with pumpkin during spring or summer. Funny because I prefer to use canned pumpkin, which is available year round.

I buy organic pumpkin in 15-ounce cans, which hold 1 3/4 cups. I absolutely hate waste (My Grandma would be so proud!), so if a recipe calls for anything less than the whole can I have to have two recipes lined up to use it all. So when I make my Steamed Pumpkin Pudding that calls for 3/4 cup, I also make this cookie recipe that calls for the remaining cup.

Granted, these may not be the most photogenic cookies, but they are "healthy" cookies, having less sugar and fat than typical cookies. The raisins are naturally sweet and the spices add an illusion of sweetness, so you won't feel deprived that each large cookie has just a teaspoon of sugar.

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

(Makes 3 dozen cookies)

2 dip-and-sweep cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped pecans
1 cup (5.6 ounces) raisins

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees (375 if using insulated cookie sheet). In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. 

2 In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar; add egg, then pumpkin puree, then dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and raisins. 

3 Drop by #40 scoopfuls (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) onto cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Flatten scoops of dough a bit unless you like a spherical cookie. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
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