Sunday, February 2, 2014

Superbowl Fail

I went home for the weekend to visit my parents. Today I made some bread and we had a picnic while watching the Superbowl game. There were a couple of issues.

  • First, it took ages and ages to grind the Kamut flour to make this bread.
  • Then, the gluten structure on the bread didn't develop, so I ended up with a huge bunch of useless dough that it had taken hours to prepare.
  • Finally, Time Warner Cable totally messed up at Fox stopped working. During the Superbowl. Seriously lame. 

However, things ended up improving.
  • I whipped up a heavily modified version of this bread.
  • We watched the Superbowl on Fox Deportes, the Spanish Fox Sports channel. None of us know Spanish, so it was pretty funny. And the commercials were way better when you have no idea what is going on.
  • The picnic was delicious.

Have a happy Superbowl Sunday, everyone. Except you, Time Warner Cable. Go boil your head.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Simple Things: Multigrain Scones

I really have been enjoying graduate school so far. The one thing that I miss is cooking for people. And the fact that I don't have people for whom I can cook means that I need to make things either (1) in small enough portions that they only feed me or (2) make things that can be easily saved for another time.

As such, I have really become fascinated by the simpler foods: things that can be made simply, but still taste delicious. So, here is my first post on the simple things that make me smile.

I loosely adapted these multigrain scones from my favorite white-flour scone recipe. I actually cannot find where the scone recipe originated-- but it might have been something like My First Baking Book. I didn't have any currants, and, in my view, white flour scones without currents are really boring. American scones-- those wedge-shaped frosted things you find in coffee shops-- tend to have all sorts of flavors added to them to combat this problem. I, however, wanted something simple, so I rummaged through my cupboard and tried something out. It worked and I really like them.

The following recipe has many different possible variations. Play around with it! I will put the variations in endnotes so the recipe is easier to follow.

Multigrain Scones (can make between 8 and 16 scones, depending upon the size)

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour [1]
  • 1/4 cup red whole wheat flour [2]
  • 1/4 cup grains (I used Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal) [3]
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar [4]
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold (1/2 of a stick, 4 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 cup milk [5]
  • 1/3 cup currants [6]
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Mix together the flours, grains, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl.
Dry Ingredients
  • Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the mixture. Use a large fork to mix the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is the consistency of bread crumbs.
  • Then add the milk (and optional currants).
  • Mix until a sticky dough forms. If it is not sticky, add more milk. Only mix until the dough forms and all the dry spots are gone. Do not overmix.
Sticky Dough
  •  Drop them onto a pan in chunks between the size of chestnuts (produces about 16) and the size of half a tennis ball (produces about 8). I do not tend to shape my scones. However, you can shape your scones like wedges, like Southern biscuits, or in various other ways.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F or until they are brown around the edges.
  • Eat within 24 hours. 
  • They can also be frozen to preserve freshness. Wait until they cool completely and then put sets in airtight containers and put in the freezer. You can warm them in a toaster oven directly from frozen (bake at around 325 until hot all the way through and brown on top-- usually 3-4 minutes in my toaster oven). Otherwise, you can thaw them for a few hours and eat them at room temperature.
I really love these scones. They are faster to make than bread and I can freeze a bunch of them and toast them fresh each day.

  1. By this, as per usual, I mean whole wheat flour from white wheat (as opposed to red wheat). You can use either hard or soft wheat for these scones. The harder the wheat, the more dense the texture will be. I tend to use hard wheat because it's what is available to me (as I am restricted to the grocery stores within walking distance). However, soft wheat is generally more flavorful. Beware though, if you use soft wheat, you must reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe. 
  2. If you like the richer nuttier flavor, switch amounts for the red wheat and the white wheat in the recipe, or just make the entire thing red wheat. If you do this, you will have to add a little bit more liquid. If you want lighter/whiter scones, replace this with white flour. 
  3. You can use any multigrain mix which appeals to you (or obviously mix your own). The important thing is the courseness of the grind. You need the pieces of grain to be about the size of an amaranth grain). If you've never seen amaranth, I highly recommend adding it to breads that you plan on toasting, but another reference might be about 1/2 the size of a piece of toasted wheat germ. If it's too big, it will be crunchy. 
  4. If you like sweeter scones, you can add more sugar either into the mix or on top. I sprinkled about half a teaspoon of cinnamon-sugar on the top of each of my apple scones when I made them (replacing the currants with chopped apple). You can also glaze them, if you so desire. Sue has some creative ideas about glazing in her various scone recipes.
  5. I use nonfat milk because I like my scones lighter (and also because it has less calories). However, you can also use any other kind of milk. I made the most recent set (the ones pictured with the currants) with lowfat buttermilk because Servia had some left over from Christmas. They were a little heavier and more tender than the ones that I make at school. If you like heavier scones, try with buttermilk or cream.
  6. Currants are optional. You can also substitute raisins, fresh chopped apple, chopped nuts, dried fruit (cranberries, etc), fresh blueberries, etc. I tried them with chopped apple once and I quite liked them. However, if you want a distinctly apple flavor, you may want to try adding more apple than 1/3 cup or substituting a small portion of the milk with apple juice or apple cider.

Friday, October 4, 2013

70+% Easy Sourdough

I could have also titled this post PhD bread, since it was the first bread that I made since I started my PhD program. It was somewhat difficult adjusting to my new stone (an 18x18" piece of slate) and my new oven). I think my oven runs quite hot, which means it will be good for pizza, but I burnt the bottom of the bread. Other than that, the bread was delicious. I also made a set of English muffins. On the first day, I divided the dough into two parts after the initial set of stretch-and-folds to make one part English muffins and the other part a loaf of bread.

70+% Whole Wheat Easy Sourdough 

  • 556 g whole wheat
  • 240 g Unbleached King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • 400 g whole wheat starter
  • 495 g water
  • 23g salt
For Bread
    Day 1
  • Mix the sourdough starter, flours, and water in a bowl. Mix until it forms a homogenous dough.
  • Let the bowl sit for a 30 minute autolyse period under plastic wrap or similar.
  • Then mix in the amarnath, salt, and water. Mix a little and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the water. 
  • Knead the bread for 2-3 minutes. Then do a stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold. (so 4 times total)
  • Cover the bowl for 45 minutes (at around 75 degrees F) and  do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Cover the bowl for 45 minutes (at around 75 degrees F) and  do a final stretch-and-fold (2 times total)
  • Cover the bowl for 20 minutes  (at around 75 degrees F) to finish the bulk fermentation.
  • Preshape the ball lightly into round.
  • Bench rest for 20 minutes. Cover them with something. If you live in a dry climate, make sure to cover them in an airtight fashion-- I usually turn large bowls over them. While they are resting, flour bannetons or similar shaping devices for the final proofing.
  • Then shape the loaves into your desired shape and place them into bannetons.
  • They need to proof for 1 hour and 45 minutes before they are placed in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Make sure they go into the refrigerator for 16 hours or less.
    Day 2
  • Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F about 30 minutes before you take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Take them out of the refrigerator, score them, and immediately place them into the oven under steam.
  • After 20-35 minutes under steam (depending upon how tightly the steam container closes. I would suggest trying about 25 minutes. It is done when it begins to be golden and the tips of the score marks are beginning to be brown.
  • Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a rich brown and the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees F.
  • Cool for 45 minutes before eating.
The crumb on the bread was tighter than I might have wished
but the crumb on the English muffins was perfect

For English Muffins
    Day 1
  • Mix the sourdough starter into the water and then add the flour.
  • Mix until the dough forms a homogenous ball. You can do this either with a stand mixer or by hand.
  • Cover the dough with plastic ad let it autolyse for half an hour
  • Then add in the salt and the last 25 of water
  • Knead until medium development (passes the windowpane test). Should take about 10 minutes by hand or about 3-4 minutes by machine.
  • I found this wasn't sufficient, so I turned it a couple of times by hand and then put it in the refrigerator overnight to let the gluten develop the rest of the way on its own. 
  • It sat in the refrigerator for 12 hours. I turned it 2-3 times in the refrigerator before I went to bed with an 45-60minutes in between each term.
    Day 2
  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator and turn onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Spread it out a little, then cover it and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Then roll the dough out to about 1" thick.
  • Sprinkle the dough with flour and spread the four over it gently with your hands
  • Transfer the dough onto a floured cookie sheet, lightly flour the surface of the dough, and cover it with plastic
  • Let it sit for about 2.5 hours at room temperature (around 76 degrees) under plastic wrap, bowls, or something else that will prevent a skin from forming.
  • Heat up a griddle or a cast iron frying pan, lightly oiled with spray oil to about medium-low heat
  • Cut muffins of the desired size. Squares, rectangles, or circles all work. If you don't mind ugly muffins, you can take the excess and push it lightly together. If you let it sit for about 5 minutes, this will make a delicious and perfectly adequate (although not aesthetically pleasing) muffin. Make sure that you dust a little flour on both sides of each muffin. Semolina is traditional, but you can use any flour.
  • When the griddle is hot, place the muffins on it and cover with a metal lid. You do not need to oil the griddle, but you may if you wish.
  • In about 3-9 minutes the muffins should be ready to flip over. They will puff up nicely and they will have a surface on top that is not crusty, but has a skin from the heat. Unfortunately, you have to judge this by your
  • Let them brown on the other side before cooling and eating. You can eat them hot, but they will have more flavor if you let them cool. You may also toast them or let them cool and freeze them.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Amazingly Delicious Cookies

In my last post, I mentioned that I had tasted some of Sue's food from her blog. It was these almond butter chocolate chip cookies. They are absolutely incredible. I recommend them most highly.

I will be posting more of my own food just as soon as I get back on my feet with my work.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


So classes recently started in my PhD program. The last little while has been a whirlwind of orientation, meeting new people, setting up all of the administrative things, and trying desperately to navigate a new public transportation system (which seems to me to make very little sense). In fact, things have been so crazy I missed 2 out of the three trains home on Friday due to inexperience and bad luck.

I did bake my first bread in my new oven as well as a set of English muffins with the same dough.  I will be posting that in the next few days. They were very simple but very delicious.

Also, I just wanted to say that I made some pumpernickel bread with Sue today (I will be posting that bread soon as well). It was a lot of fun and it tasted pretty good for a rye bread, although the loaves were really ugly. She brought over some of her baking for the blog for Servia and me to try. I won't spoil the surprise because she's posting it later this week, but I have to say that it was absolutely delicious. I will put up some sort of alert when she posts it.

However, it may be a few days before I post because I'm buried under all of the reading that I put off this weekend (oops). For now, check out Sue's microwavable chocolate cupcake recipe, which I'll probably succumb to making some night when I'm up late studying.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

And They Say Philosophy Isn't Relevant Anymore

Apparently, two Russian men got into an argument about a week ago. It became so heated that on man shot the other repeatedly. You can read the basic facts here, and there is a wider discussion here.

At graduate orientation, two of my friends and I were taken to the university pub by a philosophy PhD first year (in logic) who bought us all beer. Apparently, this guy recently won $1000 in Vegas betting on the particular part of Kant about which the argument took place. I didn't even know one could bet on things like that. Anyway, I guess philosophy can make money after all.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tartine, Revisited

This weekend, I was helping Egnatius move in to his new apartment. He's a lucky boy-- he's in a beautiful place with a great roommate, fabulous resources within walking distance (including a shop that sells locally-grown, organic, high-gluten, first clear flour in bulk for cheap-- I'm so jealous!), and has a magnificent coffee shop on campus.

Despite this, we dragged ourselves away from there to take a long journey to see some old friends of ours in SF. It was really nice to see them and they both have cool jobs in publishing. While we were there, we visited Tartine, which is the bakery that produced the book that made me a real bread baker and which I reviewed as a disappointment last time I visited.

Not so this time around.

The bread wasn't over-proofed (like it was last time), despite the heat of the day, so it was delicious. I don't have a picture of the loaves. We got a country loaf and a baguette, because that was all that was left when we arrived around 6:30pm. The bread didn't taste exactly like mine; the crust was slightly thinner (although it was still nice and crunchy) and the bread was fairly sour. I like the sourness, so I liked the country bread much better than the baguette, which I thought was a little too bland (although it had an even crunchier crust, which was nice).

If you haven't seen the video yet, the Tartine video is beautifully put together:
Now, I would, like they do in the video, recommend that everyone (who is not gluten-intolerant) try Tartine bread at least once. Even if you make it yourself. Actually, especially if you make it yourself.

Also, it looks as though Chad Robertson, founder of Tartine, has a new book coming out in November.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Lesson to Be Learned

Much of the time, I am communication-o-phobic: I hate calling people, I often don't carry my phone with me or neglect to answer it, I'm not great at replying to emails (and especially bad about sending them to people whom I have not met), and I just generally avoid dealing with things. I try to be sociable and reasonable about modern communications, but it's not one of my skills.

However, today I considered posting this status on facebook: "I called to talk to the head of an office that deals with 28,000 students at my new university and he instantly recognized my name. Lesson to be learned: If you don't confirm that my paperwork is received, I will keep harassing you until you do."

I realized that that was dumb, so I refrained. It just shows that, when I have the impetus (in this case, making sure the money from my fellowship was going to cover my tuition), I can move mountains. The best part was that the head of the office laughed when I called-- he didn't seem annoyed that I was worried about my information. So, as of today, I'm trying to turn over a new leaf.

I'll post some more bread in the next few days-- my family and I just finished off the wonderful SFBI loaves and so we'll be needing more bread.