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Bread And Chocolate for Company

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GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Bread And Chocolate for Company

 

Cat and I don’t throw dinner parties very often, but when we do we are reminded that we are pretty dang good at it.  And now that I have become a semi-competent baker, the parties are even better.

There were several reasons for last night’s event: (1) a business associate (and friend) of Cat’s is visiting from New Zealand, (2) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s boss, whom we had never hosted in our home, (3) he’s also a good friend of Cat’s brother and brother-in-law, who are also friends of Cat’s boss and always entertaining, and (4) we had so much bread in the freezer that Cat and I would have been eating Panzanella for a month to whittle it down.  Oh, yeah, and (5) we like feeding and fermenting friends into a frenzy of frivolity.

I should mention that “having the boss and his wife over for dinner” may sound like a tense occasion (ala how many old movies).  But in Cat’s case, her boss recruited her years ago, already knowing her intelligence, skill and good nature, and his opinion of her has only grown higher over the years.  I suppose we could have messed up her work life by poisoning the boss, but I didn’t even think about that scary prospect until now.  I am conscious of the reversal of classic roles here: the wife, a manager in a big corporation, invites the boss and his wife over for a dinner prepared by the husband (whom she likes to keep in the kitchen). 

The menu included baguettes and cheeses and toasted Curry-Onion-Bacon-Cheese Bread (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22549/some-spice-breads-–-one-sweet-and-one-savory) to start, with a main course of charcoal-grilled butterflied leg of lamb (Julia Child marinade), bulgur pilaf, and Panzanella with heirloom tomatoes and herb fried Tartine BCB (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24230/continuing-italian-theme-panzanella).  Dessert was vanilla ice cream, awesome strawberries and Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies. 

Cat’s boss is a widely recognized gourmand and his wife was (before kids) a talented professional chef.   So I chose to prepare proven recipes (except the cookies, of which more below).  Having a Kiwi visitor was an opportunity to prove the superiority of California Lamb over the New Zealish variety (I don’t really mean that—the lamb in New Zealand is spectacular, much better than what they export to the U.S.).

Anyway, enough background.  I should say something about baking since this is still, to a large degree, a bread-oriented web site, pastrami and pickles to the contrary notwithstanding.

I have been experimenting with different baguette formulas lately, but the most reliable for me, and the one I like best, is proth5’s formula now known as “bear-guettes” (recipe below).   The dough is a dream to work with, and the result is crispy-crackly crust and tender creamy crumb…perfect as a cheese conveyance.  The formula makes 6 mini-baguettes.  I divided the dough after an hour of bulk fermentation and put half in the refrigerator for 90 minutes, so I could bake in two batches, the second after leaving enough time for the steaming skillet to get back up to temperature.  The results were quite satisfactory, with many oohs and ahs (attributable in part, I’m sure, to the creamy goat cheese the baguettes conveyed).

The main course was also very good.  Grilled lamb and bulgur pilaf are nicely enhanced by a puddle of tart vinaigrette from the salad.  Cat’s boss’s wife—the chef—commented appreciatively on how perfect the bread in the Panzanella was; she thought I’d gotten the bread from Tartine Bakery, and seemed impressed when she learned I’d baked it myself from the Tartine recipe.  As much as I treasure my wife’s favorable reaction to my bread, there’s nothing like unbiased third-party expert validation.  The feast was washed down with a pretty fair duo of 2001 pinot noirs, one from the Russian River Valley (Dehlinger) and one from Burgandy (a Gevrey-Chambertin).  

Then, the dessert.  I’ve toyed with chewy chocolate cookie recipes for years, my favorite being a Mocha cookie with bitter-sweet chocolate, fresh ground dark roast coffee and (I hate to admit) instant coffee crystals.  Somewhere recently I saw a formula for a chocolate bread with sour cherries and nuts, and thought that chocolate-cherry cookies would be pretty good.  So I modified my Mocha cookie recipe to replace the coffee with more chocolate and added dried tart cherries.  Awesome!  Very soft and chocolaty, with the extra chew and tartness of dried fruit. 

After some coffee and music, our guests waddled off into the late night and I’m confident Cat’s job is safe.

Here’re the recipes:

Proth5’s Bear-guettes

(adapted from dmsnyder’s report on proth5’s formula. See further notes at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21620/proth5039s-quotstarting-get-bearquot-baguettes)

 

 

Poolish

 

Ingredients

Wt (oz)

AP flour

3.7

Water

3.7

Instant yeast

“generous pinch”

 

Levain

 

Ingredients

Wt (oz)

AP flour

1.7

Water

1.7

Ripe sourdough

0.35

 

Final dough

 

Ingredients

Wt (oz)

AP flour

31.35

Water

19.2

Instant yeast

0.05

Salt

0.70

Poolish

All

Levain

All

 

Total dough

 

 

Ingredients

Wt (oz)

Baker's %

AP flour

37.1

100

Water

25

67.25

Instant yeast

0.1

0.25

Salt

0.70

1.9

Starter

0.35

9

Total

63.1

178

                   

                  Mix the poolish and the levain and let them ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

                  Mix all the ingredients except the salt to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

                  Add the salt and hand mix in a large bowl.

                  Bulk ferment for 4 hours with a stretch and fold at 2 hours. (I cold retarded half after the S&F for 90 minutes).

                  Divide into 10.5 oz pieces and pre-shape as logs. Rest the pieces, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

                  Shape as baguettes.

                  Proof en couche for 1.5 hours.

                  Pre-heat oven to 500ºF with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

                  Transfer loaves to peel. Score them and transfer them to the oven.

                  Reduce oven temperature top 460 F and bake with steam for 10 minutes, and bake dry for another 9-11 minutes.

                  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before eating.

                                     

                                    CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHERRY COOKIES

                                     

                                    INGREDIENTS:

 

                                     

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder    (Scharffenberger)

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

4 oz. Scharffenberger bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped or shaved

2 cups dried cherries

                                     

                                    DIRECTIONS:

                                     

1.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

 

2.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside.

3.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chopped baking chocolate and cherries by hand using a wooden spoon.

 

Refrigerate dough at least one hour.

 

Drop cookie dough (about ¾ of a 1/4 cup measure per piece) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be at least 1 ½  inches apart.  Flatten each cookie a bit.

 

4.

Bake for 12-13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Glenn

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Glenn,

You make it all sound so simple!  

Loaves look great and so do the cookies.

The evening sounds very inviting.....especially with the very local wine from the good old Russian River....how I loved jumping into that river on hot days like we are having here in CO now......

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks for the comment, Janet.

It's been a cool Summer in Sonoma County.  The grape harvest will be late this year.  And not ideal for a dip in the river.

As to making it sound simple, this dinner really wasn't that that much work.  Most of the prep was done in advance.

Glenn

 

 

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Glenn,

Those baked goods look wonderful, and thanks for the recipes.

(5) we like feeding and fermenting friends into a frenzy of frivolity.

#5 seems like a good recipe too (for a good time with friends!)
:^) from breadsong

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Always happy to share my recipes, including the one for fun.

Glenn

Syd's picture
Syd

Sounds like you had a wonderful evening, Glenn.  Lots of good reasons to throw a dinner party!  Probably the most important one is the last one, though.  I like having friends over for dinner because I love cooking and I enjoy the company. 

Syd

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Even if we'd served Ritz crackers with Cheese Whiz, it would have been fun.  But good food, good wine, and good company is a treasure.

Glenn 

TerryTB's picture
TerryTB

I drooled on my shirt when I saw the baguette crumb.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks, Terry.

Some like more holes than bread in their baguette crumb.  I like it like this...airy but substantial.  It melts in the mouth.  We made leftover lamb sandwiches on re-heated baguette yesterday.  This formula would be great shaped as hard sandwich rolls.

Glenn

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

You planned out everything so nicely.  I would have come over just for a cookie or two!  Oh yes, you could have talked me into a little lamb to take home for a sandwich..would it be to much to have some bread for the sandwich?  I'm sure you made plenty, it all sounded so delicious!

Sylvia

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks, Sylvia.  It would have been a delight to have you here.

As to having plenty, I know David has referred to our mother's particular talent for always serving more food than her company could possibly eat (and we had some seriously voracious friends and family).  What if everyone wants just lamb...or just pilaf...or just salad?  You can't run out!  So she prepared what she referred to as "enough too much" of everything.  And leftovers are always good.

There was enough leftover lamb for lamb sandwiches on baguette, plus a meal of the leftover Panzanella (a bit soggy but still tasty) with sliced lamb.

Today is an Italian cooking day: homemade ravioli stuffed with parsley, ricotta and parmagiano-reggiano, topped with Bolognese sauce and bit of our large batch of fresh pesto.  The kitchen smells great!!

Glenn
.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Glenn,

It's great to see homebaking being given such a central role in a whole meal like this.   I'm sure it was all delicious!

Just a thought about "bear-guettes".   If I am not wrong proth5 claims Geordie roots from Gateshead, just over the Tyne from where I have been teaching.

My wife's family all hail from Ashington, just a little further north into Northumberland.   It was a coal-mining town, and the local accent is quite distinct.   For instance "birds" would be pronounced as boards.   I can just imagine my brother-in-law Malcolm speaking the word baguette, and I'm sure it would come out as bear-guette!

All good wishes

Andy

proth5's picture
proth5

I've got no claim on any roots except the Swiss/Germans who came to the US before the War for Independence (popularly known as the Pennsylvania Dutch).

Although I've spent many happy times in the North of England - and even happier times in Scotland (where I enjoyed many a wee dram of the local whiskey...)

Of course, in the continuing cultural confusion that is my life - I never said the word "baguette" until it was taught to me by my native speaker French teacher - so I personally would never see "Bear" in that word at all :>)

Glenn,

Glad the formula worked out for you - although I usually manage a more open crumb.  After all - you've noone to please but yourself. Now if it ever gets cool enough for me to fire up the oven, again...

Pat

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I've gotten a more open crumb than this with your formula, too.  But never a crumb more delectable to eat.

Glenn

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I make up words all the time.  It's a hobby I've had way longer than bread baking (and I'm way better at it).

Glenn