Odds and ends
In the month since our trip to Scotland and Ireland, baking around here has been rather hit or miss. No, scratch that, baking around here has been hit and miss. Consequently, this post is sort of a catch-all for the this's and that's going on in my kitchen.
One bake was the honey oatmeal loaf from the KAF Whole Grains Cookbook. I love that stuff; it's hearty and moist and hefty and just a little bit sweet. Makes a great sandwich, too.
For the 4th of July weekend, I baked a batch of Mark Sinclair's Portugese Sweet Bread as hamburger rolls. While soft, they are sturdy enough to stand up to a big burger with all the toppings, instead of dissolving as the store-bought buns do. My wife also made Dilly Bread, also shaped as hamburger rolls, so we had our choice of sweet and mild, or dilly and oniony to go with the burgers. Both worked wonderfully. And some happy guests went home with the extras of each.
I'm in the process of tuning up a recipe to use for a Swedish Cardamom Bread class that I will be teaching at the Culinary Center of Kansas City in September. It's such a lovely dough to work with, luxurious with milk and butter and redolent of cardamom. There's just the tiniest hit of sweetness, which makes it a perfect foil for coffee (says my coffee-drinking spouse) or tea (says me). I've found that blooming the cardamom in the warm milk really helps distribute the flavor through every bite. It should be a fun class, with lots and lots of shaping options.
Not all has been sweetness and light, however. In the spirit of full disclosure, I present you with an epic fail:
That is a sprouted wheat bread. As in: no flour whatsoever, just ground up sprouted wheat. (I did cheat and add approximately half a cup of bread flour because I could see that it was going to be far too wet without.) As you can see from the knife, it is very sticky; this nearly a week after it was baked. You should have seen how wet and gummy the core was the first day! And the crust! I might have been able to interest the Pentagon in a new body armor material if any of their buyers had been around that day. I suspect that the sprouts were a few hours past their prime for this style bread. There is supposed to be no more than a little white nub at one end of the kernel; mine were also starting to push out rootlets. So, probably way too much enzyme activity and starch degradation. But I persevered. The next problem was that I allowed it to over proof, not being exactly sure what I should be looking for. Then the sucker just would not bake out. It was in the oven for at least half an hour longer than the recommended bake time and the core temperature was only grudgingly getting toward 190F. I even took it out of the pan for the last 15 minutes or so, hoping that might hasten the finish.
And the reward for all of this effort? Meh. The bread wasn't bad. It just wasn't especially good. I can make a good whole-wheat loaf for a lot less fuss and more reliably. The recipe was reputed to have come from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. I don't know whether to take that as a slander, or as a caution. Maybe heavy bricks were really groovy bread back in the day. It would certainly stick to your ribs. And your bread knife. And your teeth. And...
This weekend I will bake Eric's Fave Rye, Rustic Pumpernickle from ITJB, and a Vort Limpa. All of those are the subjects of an all-day rye breads class that I will teach at CCKC next Friday. There are still 5 openings, if any KC-area Loafers (or your friends) are interested. The loaves will serve as a preview for the students' own finished breads and as the foundation for our lunch. Also in preparation for next week's class:
Yep, that's 100 pounds of flour sitting in my kitchen; 50 each of Great River's stoneground whole rye and unbleached wheat flour. I'm particularly interested in seeing how the latter performs. It's described as having 80% of the bran removed, while retaining all of the germ. Plus it has 14% protein. That's not a first clear flour by any means but I hope that it may work in a similar way with the rye.
So, things are happening around here, even if my postings are sporadic.