Baking In Kona
We’re back from our trip to the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Since we spent a lot of time in the ocean, and another large part out enjoying the sights and flavors of the islands, there were not a lot of occasions for baking. Plus, though our friends’ house where we stayed has a well-equipped kitchen, it isn’t well equipped for baking.
The good news is that I had a chance to try baking some typical Hawaiian breads, which don’t require much specialized equipment. I took along a thermometer, some parchment and my favorite rubber spatula, and I bought our friends a nice big glass mixing bowl and a large rolling mat. It all worked out.
I’m not sure why a Middle Eastern flat bread is so ubiquitous in Hawai’I, but it is very common to see Lavosh included in bread baskets there. And we have enjoyed it. So I found a simple formula in Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and tried it out. The dough is somewhat like a pizza dough. After kneading, it had a nice silky feel.
The containers by the bowl are not ingredients, just indicators of the proper means of fueling an Island baker.
To attain the proper crispiness of the Lavosh, it must be rolled very thin. This may require letting the dough rest for periods during the rolling. I found that a millimeter can make the difference between a cracker and a bready texture.
The results were satisfactory. Next time I’ll use at least half whole wheat flour and maybe some wheat germ.
Portuguese Sweet Bread Rolls
I do know why Portuguese Sweet Bread is so common in Hawai’i. In fact many refer to it as “Hawaiian Sweet Bread”. The Portuguese influence in Hawaiian life is everywhere. I found a promising formula here on The Fresh Loaf (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21175/hawaiian-portugese-sweet-bread). This is a highly enriched, buttery, yeast bread. I have had this kind of bread many times, and had a definite idea of what I was going for. It is soft, tender, semi-sweet, best for breakfast. I had Txfarmer’s “shreddable” crumb texture in mind, and with extensive kneading I achieved it.
I should mention that the bread had to bake almost twice as long as the recipe calls for (and the oven did have a thermometer showing the temperature was accurate).
The rolls made good sandwiches with spicy island chicken and Passion Fruit-Jalapeno jam, and the loaf was excellent toasted with jelly. Here’s the chicken cooking (with soy, sherry, scallion, ginger, star anise, hot peppers and sesame oil).
After a thoroughly relaxing trip, it’s good to be home with my baking supplies and equipment and my kitty cat. Sea turtles may be more unusual, but they’re nowhere near as fuzzy.