desperance: (Default)
They're too big, but I did kind of like how these came out - fresh yesterday, toasted today - so I thought I'd just record here what I actually did, as it was a bit of a hybrid:


1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup water
A pinch of dried yeast

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wholewheat flour
1/2 cup water
3 tbs olive oil
2 tsps salt
1 - 2 tsps yeast

Make a biga yesterday night, by mixing the first three ingredients in a bowl and leaving it out, covered but not refrigerated. (Note: if your yeast is instant, just mix it all in together; if it’s dry active yeast, dissolve it in the warmish water and give it ten minutes to wake up before mixing in the flour.)

Today, mix the biga with all the other ingredients. If your yeast is instant, you probably only need one teaspoonful; if it’s dry active, use two and dissolve it in the water first. If you have an electric mixer, use the mixing blade and give it eight or ten minutes, until you have a softish, slightly sticky dough. If not, knead together by hand for ten minutes ditto ditto. Then dribble another teaspoonful of oil into the bowl, turn the dough over in that until it’s coated, and leave it covered for an hour or so, until it’s very puffy.

Flour a baking tray and a work surface. Turn out the dough, deflate it and shape it into a flat rectangle. Cut into eight or a dozen squarish rolls and space them out (floury side up) on the tray. Cover, and leave for an hour or so.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, till golden. Cool on a rack.
desperance: (Default)
No, dear diary: I am not making plum duff. I am making a pune, or play on words. "Duff" is indeed the same word as "dough", and "plum" is an old Englishism for top-notch, first-rate, finest kind.

Actually what I'm doing is using my new-to-me vintage KitchenAid for the first time, to make a batch of sesame seed buns for the yogi tonight. It's a recipe I'm very familiar with as a hand-kneaded dough; I wasn't at all sure at first whether what came out of the mixer would be up to snuff. But I added a little more buttermilk, left it grinding away, and went back to look when the note changed - and lo! A perfect-looking dough!

We'll see how it comes up, how it bakes, how it tastes. So far, though, I'm pleased (and interested: is the need for a little more liquid common, I wonder, with machine-mixed doughs? And if so, why?).

Now I must hie me to Lucky's, to find out what else is for dinner. Yogi shall not live by buns alone. Tho' they will happily leap on the chance to make many a mighty pune* about my buns and the quality thereof. Hey-ho.

*or play on words
desperance: (Default)
The thing about big sacks of lumpwood charcoal, which I infinitely prefer over briquettes, is that all the small pieces that I want to fill the chimney and start the blaze inevitably - because of science! - fall to the bottom. There may be a fix for this that does not involve groping up to the elbow in carbonised wood, but if there is I do not know it.

Filthy was I, ere I saw fire.

But I have a big hunk of pork, which will shortly be smoking over slow mesquite. I may well repeat the Moroccan potatoes to go with, because they were good; and I want to make a salsa of hotness, just because.

There may also be bread; it's in the oven, but more in the interests of science than appetite. I was wrong before, overconfident in that way I can be before I am blasted back into a proper sense of inferiority: my sourdough can be left too long, worked too often, kept too warm. Something. I shoulda baked it when we got in last night, or else fridged it till this morning. I don't like chill doughs, though; it's such a poor conductor, they take forever to come back up to a working temperature.

However: when I came to give it one last knead this morning before I shaped it for its final rise, it collapsed on me altogether. Went from the firm coherent dough it had been last night to a sticky mess with no structure and no resilience. I floured the cloth and set it to rise in a basket anyway, and I am baking it anyway, and we shall see what we shall see - but it may be beyond hope. I'll let you know.

EtA: as I foretold thee, really. It hath no sense of structure. Oven spread, rather than oven spring; it didn't so much rise as broaden. It's not heavy and it doesn't taste awful, but that's ... not really enough, y'know? I hope we all learned something today; I know I did.

EtA2: M'wife has called me a loafist. That may be a first.
desperance: (Default)
Being interesting and innovative at lunchtime is much more of a challenge to me than dinner ever is. Few of my fallbacks are Karen-friendly, and if I've been working all morning then my mind is kinda numb to new ideas. Still: when Karen suggested gently that I might stop fondling my new-to-me vintage mixer and think about actually, y'know, preparing food, I found half a red cabbage sitting on the board, like an open invitation. And the weather is hot, and salads are approved - and I have never been much for salads, so they're inherently interesting and challenging both - so I poked around among m'new vegetarian cookbooks, and oh look. A warm red cabbage salad, with apples and walnuts and cheese! Sounds yummy! All it lacks is something meaty...

So lunch today was one of those well-it-started-as-a-recipe meals, a chicken and red cabbage salad, with the veggie elements fried as it were in the dressing. I'm not sure I've ever quite done that before, with oil and vinegar both in the pan. Works very nicely, I am here to tell you - tho' I did splash a little fresh balsamic into the finished dish, just to brighten it up a bit.

So that was lunch. Dinner is a mystery; I guess we'll be eating in the city. Meantime, though, I've started a loaf of bread. With no fixed notion of when I'll be baking it, let alone when we'll be eating it. I do love my sourdough recipe: you can work it all day and bake it in the evening, or leave it overnight and let it work itself and bake it in the morning, or hold it back a day or two and it'll just keep getting more and more sour and flavourful.

And now I have the mixer, a whole new range of doughs falls available to my repertoire: not the stiff hard-work ones, so much as the soft & slimy. A few years back I invented/developed/adapted a sourdough ciabatta recipe, which was quite the most revolting dough I had ever wanted not to handle at all, thank you very much. But all was well, because I had my old Kenwood Chef to do the handling for me. I haven't made it since, but I do very much want to recover it, because I love ciabatta and haven't found a source here for the good stuff. (There's this smart cafe in Newcastle that sells fabulous artisanal bread from a solo baker - no bread on Mondays, he gets to sleep in - which was always my fallback, and his ciabatta was my default. Also his chocolate-and-sour-cherry loaf was to die for - oh, the bread-and-butter puddings, my humanity! - but only on Saturdays. That is the kind of baker I would be, if I could be a baker.)
desperance: (Default)
Probably one way or another everything we note, everything that comes to our attention is a coincidence, one way or another. Like this:

On Monday I was feeding half a dozen people - "the yogi", hereafter - and Jeannie had sent me a recipe for whole tandoori cauliflower, so I was cooking Indian. I made a beef pilao which I was really pleased with (I have decided to stop being nervous about baked-rice dishes, although I do hate not having the perfect moment of the rice's doneness under my immediate control*), and a creamy buttery urad dal which I just plain adored (and everybody else ate entirely, so), and the cauliflower.

Which I thought it could have used another ten minutes' roasting, but hey. It was nice regardless. And there was about half of it left; and I wasn't quite sure what to do with half a tandoori cauliflower, but so happens that our friend [ profile] aberwyn had sent me a boxful of cookery books she no longer wanted; and one of those is "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni, and I was flicking through that and lo: among the breads-and-pastries was a recipe for stuffed paratha, requiring cauliflower.

And it so happens that my old house in Newcastle was just around the corner from my favourite Indian restaurant, the Komal - which caters mostly for students, and although it's working its way upmarket it started as very cheap-and-cheerful with shared tables and formica and so forth, and it still has that kind of feel about it - no liquor licence, eg, you bring your own and every waiter carries a corkscrew. So you wouldn't expect it to attract national notice, is what I'm saying - but as it happens, it is widely regarded as having the best stuffed parathas in England.

So there we are with the coincidence, cauliflower plus recipe plus standard; and Dave and Katherine were going to be here for lunch, so.

I've owned food processors for, oh, thirty years or so; and this was the first time ever that I've used a grating disk. I grated down that cauliflower, and spiced it up; and mixed and kneaded the dough (and Indian kneading-technique is weird, compared to the Western tradition I know) and stuffed and bakey-fried my parathas, and y'know what?

They are not as good as the Komal's. Not by a distance.

Yes, it is true: in my first attempt, I have failed to reach my established standard. Internet, I am disappoint.

People did eat them, which was very sweet, but meh. Filling was fine, I just wasn't impressed with the actual bread. Karen suggests that I may need to practise some.

I do still love my lemon-and-lime pickle, though. That would be a keeper, except that it's vanishing more every time I bring out the jar.

And dinner tonight is still a mystery. I've no idea.

*This is why I don't have a rice cooker, and I don't cook rice by the absorption method. I've seen too many friends go from "It always comes out perfect!" to "I don't understand why it hasn't worked, it always works!" in the span of half an hour.


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November 2017

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