Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reinhart's Light Whole Wheat

For a while, I had been experimenting with bread making using random recipes from different recipe sites, other blogs, or miscellaneous books. I was beginning to feel like I was getting the hang of this whole kneading, rising, shaping, baking thing, but I felt like something was missing. So, I coughed up the money and bought my first bread book - Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice." Let me tell you, I am extremely impressed. Reinhart "deconstructs" the whole process, from the ingredients used to the different categories of bread (other than just quick or yeasted) to the actual baking of the bread. Of the few recipes I've tried, each has been outstanding. Many of the recipes require an overnight preferment, but some, like this Light Whole Wheat, can be made in one day. I altered Reinhart's recipe a bit, substituting the dry milk powder for soy milk and adding a little water, so that this bread fits my vegan diet. It is the perfect sandwich bread - a nice soft crust, a creamy crumb, and a slight honey flavor. I'll definitely be making this more often!

8 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
3.25 oz bread flour
6.75 oz whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp yeast
8 oz warm soy milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1.5 tbsp honey, melted
3-4 oz water

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the remaining ingredients except 1 oz (2 tablespoons) of the water, and mix to form a rough ball. Add more water if it seems too dry.
  2. Transfer to a lightly floured or oiled counter and knead for 10 minutes (if using a machine, knead using the dough hook for about 6 minutes). **My dough seemed very stiff and was not very stretchy, but turned out great**
  3. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise at room temperature for 90-100 minutes, until it has risen to twice its size.
  4. Gently turn the dough out onto the counter and shape into a log. 
  5. Place in an oiled loaf pan and let rise again for 75 minutes, or until it has crested over the rim of the pan.
  6. About 10 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, rotate, and bake for another 15-30 minutes. The bread should be a nice golden brown and register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  8. Let cool at least 1 hour before slicing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Basic Sourdough

I'm not really sure what it is about having more time to get things done that makes you do less. I think the excitement of being busy keeps you going strong. I blame this for my recent lack in posting. I haven't been a total waste, though. I've been experimenting with a few things, like scales and sourdough. First things first, let's talk about scales.

There are a few websites that post their ingredients by weight, not volume. For a while I steered clear of these recipes. I was either too scared to try something that seemed so advanced, or I just really didn't want to go out and buy a scale. However, I wasted more & more time on the internet and found a few pages that convinced me that having a scale was necessary. One of them was a post by Susan at Wild Yeast Blog, The Right Weigh. Here she really explains why scales are important and how they can be used for things such as Baker's Percentages (another one of her great posts, or four, the first of which is found here). She really knows what she is doing, so listen up and go buy yourself a scale! I got myself the Salter MaxView scale from BB&B for about $50, and it was well worth the money.

The next topic is sourdough. While it seems very daunting, it really isn't that difficult. It just takes some time. The thing that makes sourdough different is the fact that it uses an aged, fermented starter, which is composed simply of flour, water, and yeast. You can make your own starter at home (Another Wild Yeast post, very in depth tutorial by Heavenly Homemakers, etc. I will post on that in the future), or buy some commercially (from King Arthur Flour, for example). After that's done you can make some sourdough bread!

So here we go. This recipe is adapted from one I found at King Arthur Flour. 

1 cup / 8 oz active sourdough starter
1 1/2 cup / 12 oz lukewarm water
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp / 1/2 oz sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups / 15 1/4 oz all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups / 6 oz whole wheat flour

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Knead to form a smooth dough.
  2. Allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl until doubled in size, about a 75-90 minutes. 
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into two 10" logs or two round boules.
  4. Cover with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size again, about 60 minutes.
  5. Near the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F.
  6. Wet a sharp knife and make two to four cuts in each loaf in either an X, a cross hatch, or diagonal slashes. 
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Let cool 1 hour before slicing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stuffed Peppers with Avocado Sauce

I was at the grocery store the other day and saw red peppers on sale for $0.89! Eighty nine cents!!! For those of you who don't pay attention to how much each item you buy at the grocery store costs (I have to - I'm a starving college kid), red bell peppers get expensive. The green one's aren't bad - they usually go for about $1 a piece or so. But the red ones can be as much as $3 for one! Which is usually enough incentive to just buy the green ones, even though the red taste sooo good. So anyway, I seized the opportunity and grabbed a few... and then had to think up ways to cook them. So here's one of them - Stuffed Peppers. These are very easy to make and the recipe is very flexible. No matter what you do, they're almost guaranteed to be good!