Almost everyone I talk to that’s trying to diet right now says their biggest weakness isn’t what they eat, but what they drink: soda. It’s not just one can, either. I understand how hard it is to stop drinking soda. … Continue reading
I’ve been making bread for about three years now. I should really say that that I’ve been making real bread for about a year and floury hunks of rock for about two, but that’s an entirely different story.
So, a few weeks back, I decided that my bread making could really improve. I had just bought a stand mixer and figured investing in a machine meant I should probably kick my bread making attempts up a notch. I’d been doing this long enough that I shouldn’t have flying crusts or collapsed loafs anymore, right?
After a lot of reading and many visits to the website TheFreshLoaf.com, I realized there was this amazing thing called baker’s percentages. It has completely changed the way I make bread. Recipes that used to elude me now work because I know exactly how to modify them instead of trying to guess what I added too much or too little of. With this knowledge, I could also attempt to do something I had NEVER EVER EVER wanted to try before: making my own bread recipe.
With much fear, I tried something small. My husband said he wanted a wheat bread with a grain. Okay, that sounds easy. I decided on a sunflower seed wheat bread. My recipe went as follows (if you don’t have a scale, just look at the bags of flour you buy and see how many grams are in a cup):
184g milk, about 115°
Mix together and let sit while you put everything else together. If your yeast doesn’t bubble (ie proof) after five minutes or so, something is wrong and you should try again.
100g white bread flour (King Arthur Flour is very good)
200g wheat flour
2 t wheat gluten
6 g salt
30g olive oil
30g sunflower seeds
Add all these ingredients to a bowl. If you’re doing it by hand, reserve 1/4 of the wheat flour or so for hand kneading. Add the proofed yeast and mix until a sticky dough forms. Flour your kneading surface and knead until you can make a bread windowpane. One thing to keep in mind is that wheat takes a pretty long time to knead by hand. I’d really recommend using a stand mixer to knead it or just use all white flour, especially if this is your first time making bread. Wheat is evil. I could make beautiful white bread within a few weeks, but wheat eluded me for years.
So, now that it’s kneaded, put the dough in a bowl or some other container and cover it with cling wrap, a lid, or a damp towel. Let it sit for about an hour or so until it’s doubled. Then, take it out of the container and roll it out until it’s about the size of a piece of paper. Roll it up like you would a map and pinch the seams together. Put your bread log into a greased bread pan to double again.
I baked it at 375 for 35 minutes and it worked really well. I crisco’d my pans cause I’ve been having a tough time getting bread out of them recently, so I have no idea how much it will stick with plain oil and flour.
After baking it, I decided I could have used a bit more sweetener for eating it plain, but it makes a darn tasty sandwich. For the wheat gluten, all I do is add 1 t per 100g wheat flour. I put it in BEFORE measuring the wheat and take that out of my wheat flour total. So I guess I don’t really have 200g wheat. 😉
Enjoy! If you would like to learn how to make bread, just email me and I’ll be more than happy to give you more info or tell you a few things that really helped ME right when I started.
A few weeks ago when I reread CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY by Karen Cushman, I decided to try making some infused oils. The main character in the book was making violet oil, but, lacking violets and having an abundance of cilantro and basil in my herb garden, I decided to give the herbs a whirl.
I imagined using beautiful oil cruets and displaying them on my windowsill, but a quick Amazon search told me that cruets are rather expensive. I had a few mason jars lying around and decided to use those instead.
Really, the process was pretty simple. All I needed was some oil, a few herbs, and maybe an hour or so of time.
Here are some instructions if you want to give it a whirl:
- Sanitize the jars and lids in a pot of boiling water for at least five minutes.
- Remove the jars and let them air dry. Lower the heat on the water to where the water is hot, but not simmering. While you’re waiting for the jars to dry, carefully scoop some of the hot water out of your pot so you can put the jars back in without water getting in the jars.
- Fill the jars with oil, leaving an inch or so of room at the top. (I used an okay olive oil I bought from the grocery store.)
- Add herbs to the oil filled jars and place in the hot water. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure the herbs are completely submerged in the oil or they won’t get disinfected from the heat of the oil. One of mine had mold on the top because a part of the herb was sticking out. (I used basil and cilantro, with crushed red pepper in both. I read that rosemary is pretty good in oils too, but mine isn’t large enough to harvest yet. I put seven large basil leaves in one pint-sized jar and eight or so sprigs of cilantro in another. I
likelove spicy things, so I put a tablespoon of red pepper flakes in all the jars.)
- Heat the herb-infused oil until it reaches 175 and let it sit (still heated) for about five to ten minutes (the longer it sits, the more flavor you will immediately have in your oil). You have to let the oil sit at 175 for at least a minute or two so that the herbs are sanitized.
- Remove the oil filled jars from the water and cover with a sterile lid.
A quick Google search told me that I should let them sit for at least a week before using. I used them for the first time two weeks after infusing and I could really taste the herbs.
The next time I get the random urge to do this, I might try using clear beer bottles. My husband has a capping system for his home beer brewing, so I could choose to cap or cork them. I’ll also be keeping my eyes peeled for a few discounted cruets!
Are there any recipes that you’ve wanted to try from books? Was it the description of the dish or the idea of the dish that lured you in?