Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Artisan Bread Series: Peasant Loaf

Here it is, what you {should} have been waiting for- the Peasant Loaf recipe.  With a crisp, crusty exterior and soft, nutty crumb, you are going to unbutton your jeans or break out the elastic waste-band pants in eager anticipation while it bakes.  It's great smothered in butter or sliced thinly for sandwiches.  Oh, the possibilities.
If you haven't read any other posts in this series, please do- it will give you some background information and tips (such as what and where to buy!) to bake this gluten goody successfully.
Equipment and Ingredient Needs
Terms and Techniques
Now, let's approach this throne of carb-lovin...
Artisan Peasant Loaf

  • 3 Cups lukewarm water
  • 4 1/2 tsp granulated yeast (not rapid rise-just plain yeast!)
  • 4 1/2 tsp coarse salt (kosher or sea) or 3 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 5 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • ½ Cups rye flour
  • ½ Cups whole-wheat flour
  • Corn meal or extra flour for dusting
  • Container to store dough
  • Fork, Hands, or Mixer+Dough Hook
  • Pizza peel, "floppy" cutting board, or flat surface for dough proofing
  • broiling pan and 2 cups water  
  •  Pour water into large mixing bowl and add yeast.  Stir until mostly dissolved.
  • Add all other ingredients and mix with hands, fork, or dough hook (which is what I use!) until thoroughly mixed.  Do not knead.  The dough will be very wet.

  • Keep in this container or transfer to the container you will eventually store it in.  Cover with plastic wrap or the container lid, but do not snap the lid on!  The gases from the yeast need to escape!  Let it sit and double in size for 2 hours at room temperature.  The top of the dough will flatten and some yeast gas pockets will looked to have "popped".

  • At this point, you can either use the dough or refrigerate and use any time in the next 2 weeks.  It is-beyond words-easier to work with the dough after it has chilled.
  • Once chilled, the dough will look to have "collapsed".  This is fine!
  • Once you are ready to bake, dust the top of the dough (and your hands) with flour.  Pull and slice off a one-pound section to make one loaf (if you don't have a kitchen scale, it should be the size of a grapefruit).  If making more loaves, separate out into grapefruit sized sections.
  • Dust corn meal (or flour) on a flat surface.  I usually use a floppy plastic cutting board from the dollar store so that I can easily slide off the loaves onto my baking stone.
  • Take each section of dough and gently pull each opposite side with your hands, pulling the sides down to the bottom of the dough ball.  Keep turning the dough and repeating this process until you have a nicely rounded dough ball (with a nasty looking bottom!  You won't see it.  Ever.  And anyway, when have you ever heard, "wow, the bottom of your bread loaf looks a little flawed"?  Really?)

  • Place each dough loaf on the dusted surface.  Let rise 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 425 degrees- your baking stone and broiler pan should be insides while preheating.
  • Let dough rise another 20 minutes.  Yes, you read that correct.  Your dough will rise a total of 40 minutes.

  • Take baking stone from the oven and slide you loaves on top.  Dust and slash the top of the loaves.  Place in the oven.
  • Pour 2 cups of water into the broiler pan (this pan cannot be glass!!  A normal metal pan will work!) and place on the oven rack above or below your bread loaves.
  • Shut the oven door, pray the next 35 minutes go by quickly!
  • Bake 35 minutes.  For parbaking instructions, see Terms and Techniques.
  • Let cook completely before slicing.  Enjoy!

Skip To My Lou

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Artisan Bread Series: Terms and Techniques

 Back to that pesky bread series....

There are a few terms and techniques you will need to know in order to successfully make the Artisan Breads.  Not that you didn't know or think of these on your own, but I thought I would share.

  • Warming Your Water.  I'm too lazy to grab a thermometer.  As a good rule of thumb, your water should be slightly warmer than body temp.  I always think to make it a little warmer than room temp.  Too hot of water will kill your yeast.
  • Adding Yeast.  You don't need to let it sit or add sugar.  Just stir until most of it is dissolved.
  • Mixing in the Flour.  Mix all of the flours in at one time.  You can use your hands, but I use my KitchenAid and dough hook attachment.  Mix until it's a uniform mixture.  Do not knead
  • Let your Dough Rise.  Yes, it's bread in 5 minutes, but that reflects the time you have to actively invest on baking days.  When you prep the dough, it takes a few minutes to mix and then it will need to proof.  Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for at least 2 hours at room temperature.  You can let it rise for up to 5 hours.  Once done, you can use the dough right away, but it's really hard to work with.  Put it in the refrigerator, covered but not airtight, until chilled and then it will be much easier! 
  • Prepping for Baking.  When you are ready to bake, you will need to separate the dough into "loaves" (as described specifically in each recipe).  Many loaves should be 1 pound of dough, or the shape of a grapefruit.  Only take out what you want to bake that day.  Stretch the dough a little and pull the ends down to the bottom center to make a "ball".  Do this, turning the dough clockwise each time you "pull".  It will make a perfect little ball (with a hot-mess of a bottom.  It's okay!)- this is called the "gluten cloak".  The cloaking action should only take 30-60 seconds.  Let it rise for 40 minutes before baking on a corn-meal dusted plate (the book calls for a pizza peel, I use a floppy cutting board from the dollar store.  Either way, it works best to be able to slide the dough off onto your stone when ready to bake).    
  • Oven Preheating.  Preheat your oven, stone and broiler pan inside, 20 minutes before baking so that both are hot when the dough is baked.  The dough needs 40 minutes to proof, so I always set a timer for 20, preheat the oven, set another 20, then bake.
  • Dust and Slash.  Before the loaf goes into the oven, dust liberally with flour and, using a serrated knife, slash a scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern 1/4 inch deep.   
  • Steam.  Pour warm water in to the broiler pan that was preheated below your stone.  Set the dough on the stone, and hurry up and get that door shut! 
  • Bake.  Times will vary with recipe.  Let the bread cool completely before cutting, or you will smoosh the crumb and have gummy bread.  Store in a brown paper bag.
  • Parbaking.  You can parbake loaves of bread by baking it until the center is set, about 90% of the baking time.  Let cool completely, then freeze.  To reheat, let defrost completely at room temp, then bake at 450 for another 10-15 minutes. 
  • Yield.  Yield indicates how much the recipe will make.  Each recipe has a different yield.  The breads that are intended to actually be a part of your daily meals yield more, where as the dessert recipes yield less.  These doughs are awesome.  Because they can be stored for so long in the refrigerator (and you will be fighting the urge to bake it all at once), prepare enough dough to bake fresh bread for your family for at least one week.  The first time I baked this recipe, I made one full recipe.  It lasts about a week and a half, but it's mostly used for my husband's sandwiches (and my picking fingers!).  If you have more people in your family, try one full recipe, then adjust as needed.  Keep in mind- it's called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  You aren't supposed to be making the dough every other day, just preparing and baking!
Now that you are familiar with some of the basic baking steps, you are ready for some Artisan Bread!  I promise  I will post the recipe tomorrow.  You will not regret it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chicken Shiitake and Wild Rice Soup

Not that anyone noticed or cared (except my mom), but I haven't been on my blog since March 26.  That was almost 3 weeks ago.  It feel like it's been longer.  To be honest, I haven't had the desire to do anything related to it, even contemplated deleting it.
Maybe it's the nicer weather.   Maybe it's the end of the school year and I am tired.  Maybe it's getting darker later and we, like so many other people, have managed to pack even more things into the day.  It's been an emotional season of life for us, so maybe that it.  Maybe it's just a combination of everything.
I know I started a series with the hopes it would force me to be more consistent with blogging, but it didn't.  I'm going to commit a blogging sin and ditch the bread series.  I will still post the main bread recipe (because it is, but I won't be making the rest. Sorry.  If I ever bake the rest, I will post them.

My thoughts are everywhere, on so many things, with no real rhyme, reason, or organization.  Okay, within reason, but they are just all jumbled up.  I'm not even going to start to try and write them out.  One day soon.

In the meantime, here is a recipe for ya.  We loved it, it's healthy, and it cost very little to make.  Story of my life.
Shiitake has two i's.  I made the mistake of putting in one and then saved it wrong and couldn't go back and change it.  I pasted in another I.  Can you tell?  Deal with it.

You can use any pre-cooked chicken and broth you like, but I put a whole chicken in the crock pot while I was at work and took the meat off when I got home.  I love to use whole chickens for soups or meals with shredded meat.  For some reason, it pains me to use whole skinless, boneless breasts that are so pretty when whole.  I always discard any fat or skin.  I used the chicken stock I made and froze a few weeks ago as my broth (those bones from this chicken are making more stock as we speak!).  Instead of wild rice, I used regular brown rice I had on hand.

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 8 cups (64 oz) fat free low sodium chicken broth (stock)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 cups chicken
  • 1.5 cups Wild Rice Blend (I used Brown!)
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I used button.  You won't know the diff)
  • 2 tbsp light sour cream
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • Melt butter in a large pot on medium heat, add onion and saute until soft nut not browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add flour and saute another minute.
  • Add chicken broth, water, carrots, garlic, celery, and chicken, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add rice, mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste and simmer on low, covered 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add sour cream and more water if too thick, adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Yum.  We dipped some whole-wheat multi grain Pita bread in it and devoured.  Perfect on a rainy spring night. 
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