Last week's experiment with Doppelbock came out so well that I decided to graduate to Porter, which my friend's website (http://www.lightningbrewery.com/) describes as having, "intensely rich malt aromas with strong notes of chocolate and coffee," the result of his using 9 different malts and a generous portion of hops. This is beer that you can almost chew.
I recently did a post, here http://jeremyskitchen.wordpress.com/2008/02/24/practice-practice-practice/ , on the importance of practicing a recipe over and over until it becomes second nature. I'm putting it in the pastry section because that's what the post is about, however I believe the same applies for breads, cakes, cookies and savoury dishes. Only by repitition can you get to know the intricacies of a recipe.
My sweet bread-loving best friend suffered a heart attack last year, and since then I've been searching for and experimenting with lower-fat, healthy versions of his favourite recipes. This incredibly easy moist, delicious loaf, adapted from Bonnie Stern's Best of HeartSmart Cooking is not only lower in fat, but what fat it contains is mono or polyunsaturated, which boosts HDL (good) cholesterol.
A professional baker acquaintance of mine recommended that I work with more 100% white flour doughs for practicing my hand-shaping skills. White bread always reminds me a little bit of candy, and I happened to have on the counter some cacao nibs from garnishing the previous night's hot chocolate: hence, Cacao Nib Sourdough Bread.
Preferment: 140g KA white AP flour; 84g water. Target 60% hydration
Soaker: 15g roasted cacao nibs (Scharffen Berger brand), crushed lightly in a mortar; 20g water
Here's a tried and true recipe I've used for at least fifteen years. I got it from a magazine or newspaper, I think. You can add fruit, nuts, chocolate, or just bake them plain. Not overly sweet, and with some nutritious ingredients. They come together quickly. You can decide to make them and be taking them out of the oven no more than 30 minutes later. Yields about 2 dozen minis or 1 dozen large, though I rarely get more than 10 big ones.
Heat oven to 375F.