The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Tried my hand at baking gluten-free bread, and it was indeed a learning experience for me. Having met a number of folks who are celiacs or who have given up wheat, I was compelled to start baking gluten-free goods. For background to my endeavor, an acquaintance of mine highly recommended that I try a gluten-free bread baked by a small Denver company called Udi's Handcrafted Foods. And I will say that this stuff is fantastic, despite the fact that it came out of the freezer aisle of a health food store. No disappointment here - just more inspiration for me to bake wheat-free.  After the summer months whizzed by, I noticed that my pantry boasted a gluten-free cache of sorghum, millet, chestnut, almond, sweet rice, quinoa, flax, corn, tapioca, arrowroot, potato and oat flours/starches (can't forget the xanthan gum or guar gum!!!).  That's all in addition to my usual glut of flours: unbleached or bleached all-purpose, cake, pastry, semolina, and the almighty bread. (Technically, it is not considered hoarding if you keep everything organized and eventually use it all.)


 


Continuing with this gluten-free bread story, I finally met up online with what I thought was an impressive recipe. I have only a simple understanding of why gluten-free breads are so dense and do not rise: without the gluten a "real" rise cannot occur. Well, in my bleary-eyed efforts the bread did not turn out like how I had hoped. Not that my hopes were completely dashed. It certainly was a special kind of bread - dense beyond recognition. No open crumb here. A cross between Irish brown bread and hard tack. Crude, I'll say. On the other hand, think captivating desert topography with its striking crackle of a crust and rich nut-brown color. As for another redeeming quality, it had an unusually wholesome and pleasantly nutty flavor. 


 


While the taste of this bread grows on you, unfortunately, it can weigh you down. Density was the culprit and may have gotten the better of this loaf. My friend, Eileen, calls this bread "gluten-free lead." I have to agree!


 


I still have my gluten-free stockpile and welcome any suggestions or recipes.


 


evth


 



 

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Yes, this is one adaptable pastry dough: genesis - empanadas, second form -  apple pie,  fin - quiche. I have worked this modified version of Cafe Azul's Pastry Dough (see my apple pie blog for the recipe) into so many baked goods. Versatility is the key to a good recipe in my baking heart. It is no wonder that this pastry dough and I were just meant to be.

Since this is a high-yield dough (it is enough for two double crust pies or singles), you can freeze what you don't use. After making the apple pie, I froze two mounds of dough that were left over. The night before I was ready to make the quiche, I thawed the mounds in the fridge and in the morning was able to quickly roll them out for my tart pans with relative ease. I sing praises to thee, my dough of wonder!

As for the quiche, it is a fairly simple recipe. Here is my own adapted set of instructions for the filling, but you can make it your own according to what you have on hand. For example, you can include bacon or ham, drained and chopped cooked spinach, sauteed peppers or onions, etc. Don't get carried away, though. Less is more, in my book.

1) Saute a package of sliced mushrooms (I use baby portabellos)
2) Chop a handful of green onions (3 or so stalks) 
3) 1/2 cup of shredded cheese - use more or less depending upon your fondness for fromage (I use Gruyere) 

For the custard, I like to use Michael Ruhlman's ratio of 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of cream and 1 cup of milk per tart. In a mixing bowl, whisk these together until smooth, salt and pepper to taste, and add a small grating of nutmeg.

After you roll out your dough, arrange the dough in a shallow tart pan. Scatter onto the crust the green onions, cheese and half of the mushrooms. Pour in half the custard, and layer the last of the mushrooms and green onions on top. Then add the rest of the custard, filling the pan up to about 3/4. Then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Carefully, place the pan on a baking sheet, and bake in a preheated oven of 400°F for 45-60 minutes, depending on your oven's temperature. When I made my quiche I forgot to use my trusty baking stone, and so the bottom crust came out a bit soft. I recommend that if you've got a stone, place it under your tart pan and baking sheet to ensure a crispy bottom crust. A golden and puffy quiche means that it's finished baking.



Voila!

evth

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paindemie


Ode to pain de mie




Won't wear anyone down with a poem here, but I will extol the virtues of just simple, pure white bread.  True, that this is a distant cry from any of the many handsome, crusty artisanal loaves of TFL.  There's nothing ordinary about this square and honest loaf.  What does it yield? A tender, buttery, soft crumb.  This is serious comfort food.


The mark of a civilized society may be said to have the crusts cut off.  Not here.  As thin as the crusts are, there is no need for trimming in the company I keep.  Great for sandwiches (think grilled cheese) and just as great with a nice spread of butter.


This bread is also known as a pullman loaf and was inspired by thepauperedchef.com where the recipe can be found:


http://thepauperedchef.com/2009/08/part-one-of-my-cucumber-sandwich-revenge-pan-de-mie.html


Pip pip or better yet, au revoir,


evth


Next post: the quiche crust that won't quit!

 

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evth



A modified version of Cafe Azul's Pastry Dough makes a terrific pie crust. This recipe will yield enough dough for two 9-inch double crusts or four single crusts. Yes, it is a lot of dough so make a few pies or freeze the extra. Use four sticks of butter as the original recipe states for an insanely rich - think puff pastry - pie crust. Or knock the butter down like I did to two and half or three sticks (this is my only change to the crust recipe). Divide the dough into four mounds and wrap them individually before putting them into the refrigerator. Let it rest for at least 1+1/2 hours. Be prepared to be amazed with how easy it is to roll out beautiful pie crust that is flaky, tender and buttery. Click below for the dough recipe:


http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cafe-Azuls-Pastry-Dough-107241


Now let's turn to the main part of the apple pie recipe (i.e. filling, baking times, etc.). I followed Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from the Joyofbaking.com except that I substituted her pate brisee (short crust pastry) for a modified version of Cafe Azul's Pastry Dough. Click below for the apple pie recipe: 


http://www.joyofbaking.com/ApplePie.html


To briefly sum it up (click on above link for the entire recipe), Rose's way is to first, let the seasoned apple slices sit in their juices. Next, drain them and keep the juice, cooking it down with butter. Finally, mix it all in with the slices and pour the filling into the pie shell. After you top it with the other half of the crust, crimp the edges. *Here's a variation I made to the recipe: brush the top crust with a lightly beaten egg (egg wash) and give it a sprinkling of raw sugar (e.g. Washed Raw, Turbinado or Demerara). Place the pie in the refrigerator for about twenty minutes before baking it in the pre-heated oven (425°F) for 45-55 minutes - baking time will depend upon your oven's temperature and any hot spots. Good tip from Rose: bake the pie using a pizza or bread stone on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking pan/sheet between the pie and the stone to guard against filling overflow. The stone ensures that the bottom crust is baked through – crispy and golden! *If you are using a glass or ceramic pie pan, and you are worried about it cracking or breaking after placing it on the hot stone, make sure the baking pan/sheet is at room temperature before placing it underneath the pie pan, or you can just forego chilling the pie altogether. Keep a foil ring handy in case the pie edges brown too quickly. 


As for apple varieties, I used a mixture of Fuji and Granny Smith apples. The filling was a tad runnier than I cared for (even after the pie rested) but made up for it with lots of nice concentrated apple and caramel flavors. Next time around I will use a greater assortment of apples in the pie. I will try cooking the apple slices and then cooling the mixture before adding it to the pie shell. 


Here's to a bountiful autumn harvest and more apple pies on the table!


Next post: Pain de mie

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Finally the first blog entry:



I made these empanadas for a potluck over the weekend and they are well worth the effort. Easy to follow directions and the recipe was flexible enough to be modified. Substituted sweet potatoes, regular 'ol button mushrooms and poblano peppers for the filling and left out the broth. Added some Latin spices too, e.g. oregano, cumin and cinnamon. I made extra filling to use up all the dough. Speaking of, I reduced the butter amount down to 3 sticks which still produced an unbelievably flaky, buttery and tender crust. This dough is fantastic--one of the most stress-free times I've ever endured while rolling out pie dough. Love this dough because it will definitely love being rolled out!!! Makes a great fruit pie too--just tried this, blog entry to come. Lightly brush the dough before baking with a beaten egg wash for a nice golden hue.


As they say in Spanish, Delicioso!


Here's the web address for the recipe:


http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mushroom-and-Butternut-Squash-Empanadas-107182


Bake well TFLers,


evth


 

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