Thursday, December 27, 2012

Foszlós kalács - challah



This is not the Jewish challah. This is an egg-free, much more white, more fluffy version my Grandma used to bake for every Xmas and New Year. I wasn't sure whether I really liked it so much, or was it just the memories that made it so good.
Anyway, in our region this kalács, and not the "bejgli", is the typical Xmas treat, and I was looking for that particular taste..
In our village everybody makes "kalács" kinda the same way I cook: "I had this much milk for the purpose, so I added the required amount of yeast, and added as much flour as it took to make a soft dough".. But DON't ask for the recipe.. *Sigh*...
Noh, yeah, but my fingers are trained for the bread, "pulla" and "aranygaluska", so I was quite skeptic I'm gonna make any good kalács without some guidelines.
And I found some at Szellem a fazékban blog. Not so useful ones, after all, but it gave me courage to start :). In the recipe says 200 ml milk, but there is no way you can work that amount of flour together in a soft dough with that little amount of milk.. You can of course try, but when I saw that about 1/3 of my flour didn't even cling together with the rest, I just added another 100 ml milk, and a bit later another 50 ml, 'cause I didn't find the dough very soft. At the end of the day, it was still my fingers I used for measurement :) and forgot about the recipe, but I made it at least the same shape as in the recipe because it looked soooo great (isn't it?), regardless that this is not the traditional shape for a "kalács".

Ingredients
600 g flour (~1 liter or ~4 cups)
30 g fresh yeast, or 10 g dry yeast, about 2 heaped tsp
1/2 tsp salt
100 g icing sugar (3.5 ounce)
125 g butter (1cup)
350-400 ml hand warm milk, (1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups) depends how much the flour takes in to make an easy to work with dough, not sticky but not to hard either. 

I used a bit more then 350 ml milk, and though it looked OK, it was hard to roll it out after 45 minutes raising. So, next time I will for sure use 400ml to make a bit softer dough.

Work it together in a smooth, easy to kneed dough (needs quite a bit of kneading to get enough air in it), and let it rise for 30-45 minutes, until the dough grows to about double size.
Divide the dough into 3 parts, roll it out in about 20x40 cm sheet, spread the filling, roll it on the longer edge and try to keep the length. If it shortens just roll it a bit thinner and longer.
Do the same with all three portions and make a nice braid to fit your tray.
Let it rise for another 20 minutes, spread some egg on top, or if you want to leave the eggs out completely then just a bit of water. Let it dry for a minute, or two.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F) and bake it for 30 minutes on the upper racks. When ready wrap it into kitchen towels and let it cool for about 1 hour. Ready to be served with chocolate milk in the morning.

For the original shape just divide the dough into two, roll it out in a 20x25 cm rectangle, roll it up on the longer edge and place them in two 10x25 cm (preferably 10cm high) trays. Bake for 30 (20? I shell try) min.

Filling
100 g icing sugar (3.5 ounce)
100 g ground poppy seeds or walnut (3.5 ounce)
milk, enough to boil it in a soft cream

The filling is for 1 roll, you will need 3, adjust the amount based on whether you want 2 nut and 1 poppy seed, or 2 poppy seed and 1 nut, or all of them the same.
Boil them together for couple of minutes until they blend nicely in an easy to spread, creamy texture.
 
And one last thing!! If you have leftovers that are dry and you don't feel like eating them as such, beat one egg, (add two tablespoons of milk), dip the kalács slices in the egg and fry them in hot oil, for just couple of minutes, ~1/2 min a side. It is a sort of french toast. Sprinkle it with icing sugar, and tadam, you have a new, fresh breakfast/dessert reusing the leftovers.. It is yumi.

PS. In the pic you see the "kalács" with cocoa powder and cinnamon filling, something you can try as well.
And one secret :). To make the nice cocoa swirl like in the pic don't add cocoa powder straight to the whole amount of dough you want to be with cocoa. Take a large pinch of dough, add a tsp cocoa, work it together well. When the small pinch of dough is smooth, add it to the whole amount of though you wanna be dark, and kneed it together.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cocktail biscuits


It was time to bake the spicy bunch of assorted biscuits that I'm planning to serve at New Year Eve, to soothe the hangover khhmm or something ;).
Spicy here really means spicy, if you prefer them milder (or want to serve it for children as well) reduce the amount of cayenne pepper and leave the black pepper out of the tomato pure.

Ingredients
375 g (3 cups) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
200 g - 225 g butter, (3/4 - 1 cup), depending what cheese you use, with Cheddar both work fine
125 g (1cup) grated Cheddar cheese
sour cream, 0-3 spoons, depends how many it takes for the dough to cling together
Optional: 1 egg yolk or 1 whole egg (beaten), for harder biscuits.

Makes the dough easier to work with, a bit harder the biscuits, though.. If you are baking with kids and want a less fragile dough add the whole egg.

Flavorings
1 tsp sesame seeds (white or black)
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp curry paste
2 tsp tomato pure (add pinch of minced black pepper or chilly of you like them spicy)

In a bowl mix flour, salt, cayenne and mustard, and rub in finely the butter.
Stir the cheese until clings together mixing with a fork, and kneed to form a soft dough. If it is too crumbly add sour cream
Cut the pastry into 4 pieces, each will get a different seasoning.

Add the sesame seeds to one part, poppy seeds to another, and make about 15 cm (6 in) rolls. Wrap them into plastic wrap not to dry, put them in the fridge.
Next roll the remaining 2 pieces of pastry into 20x15 cm rectangles. Spread on one piece the curry paste and the tomato puree on the other.
Roll up each from the short edge to form firm rolls (you can actually roll them whichever edge you want, I chose the short one because I like to have more layers in my roll).
You can use a clear plastic wrap to roll if you find it difficult to roll the dough on its own. Wrap them in plastic bag and chill all rolls until firm, about 1 hour in the fridge (20 min in freezer if you are in a hurry). You can even leave them overnight, so it helps you prepare for the party in advance.

Preheat oven to 180 C (360 F).
Cut each roll into thin slices and bake for 10-14 minutes on trays lined with baking parchment.
You can easily store them in airtight containers for 2 weeks.

I made another batch with Guyere cheese, which is much dryer than the Cheddar. If you are using other, not so sticky, cheese as well, add the egg yolk, it will make your life easier when rolling out, cutting, etc. And add a bit less butter, I felt that with the Guyere 200 butter would have worked better, the reason why I slightly adjusted the recipe.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Aranygaluska


Nah, finally one of the things our family likes the most, yeast based goodies.
I'm cheating a bit with my aranygaluska recipe, traditionally a yeast based, spongy, walnuty Hungarian cake, and here are the reasons...
First of all, I fell in love with the cardamom in the Finnish "pulla" dough, so I add cardamom in my Hungarian aranygaluska, which is very untypical. You can omit it, if you want something more original..
Second, my kids don't like walnuts in cakes, so I replace it with almonds. You can stick to the walnuts.. (Or, if you are allergic to nuts, you can omit both the almonds and walnuts, and just triple the cinnamon portion for stronger taste.)
Third, I add a bit of cinnamon.. Just 'cause I like it :).

Ingredients
25 g icing sugar
250 g all purpose flour 

25 g butter
20 g fresh yeast or 1 tsp dry yeast 

pinch of salt
1 egg
120 ml whole milk

1/2 tsp minced cardamom (optional)
1 lemon peel grated (small lemon, if you have a large one half will be enough)

For rolling
100 g ground almonds or walnuts
70 g sugar
1 tsp cinnamon, flat (optional)
100 g butter

Vanilla cream
500 ml whole milk
1 vanilla bean (seeds)
4 egg yolks (if you like it less"eggy" you can add 3) 
70 g sugar
1 tsp flour 

rum aroma

Let the yeast rise for couple of minutes in the hand-warm milk with a large pinch of sugar.
Add the pinch of salt to the flour and crumble with the butter. Add the remaining sugar, egg, yeast and the remaining milk, and work them nicely together in a soft dough.
Let it rise for 30 min.
Pinch from the dough balls of about 2.5 cm (1 inch) diameter, roll them into the melted butter and then in the sugar/almond/cinnamon mix.
Place them evenly in a buttered and floured 26 cm cake form (not too tight, they will grow still..) and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
In many Hungarian recipes the dough portion is double and there are several layers of dough-balls placed on top of each other. I prefer it this way, and rather bake two portions if needed, as I find the final result more fluffy and light.
Before putting them in the oven, sprinkle on top of the dough-balls some additional butter and almond-sugar mixture.

In a 170C (350 F) preheated oven bake them for 30-35 minutes, on the top rack of the oven.
Serve still warm with the cold vanilla cream.

If you prepare your own vanilla cream, while the dough balls are rising in the baking form you can make the cream.
Whisk the flour evenly in 200 ml milk, bring them to slowly boil and cook until it thickens a bit, ~5 min, stirring constantly. Add the remaining milk and bring to boil, for additional 3 min.
Mix well the egg yolks with the icing sugar, and pour it into the boiling milk, and let it thicken for additional ~3 min but DON'T boil it anymore or the egg will cook and it will have a terrible eggy taste, again stirring continuously.
Remove from heat and let it cool.
Serve with the aranygaluska.

Choco - cocomint cake


My hubby likes coconut very much and I wanted to make a coconut cake for him but unfortunately coconut is too sweet for me, and baking something I wouldn't like at all was just too big of a compromise. 
So I decided to get creative and was looking for add-ins with a fresh flavor. I thought I would give a try to mint, inspired by last night's mojito. 
This recipe shows how creative cocktails can make you :D.

Ingredients
175 g butter (3/4 cup)
2,5 dl  sugar (1 cup)
3 eggs
1 dl cream (half-half) or coconut milk (bit less then 1/2 cup)
250 g pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp coconut powder/flour (~15 g)
5 tbsp oil (never had coconut oil, but I might give a try)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
150 g semisweet chocolate chips or grated 40%-60% chocolate

Beat butter with sugar. Add the eggs one by one, beating continuously. Mix in the mint extract, oil, and coconut flour/shred.
Add the flour mixed with the baking powder and last with a spoon mix in the chocolate chips.
In a 26 cm kuglof form (or I guess a 20 cm cake form) spread the butter evenly and bake at 175  C for ~1 hour, but keep an eye on it after 50 minutes.
Decorate with white chocolate wiggles and sugar pearls.

It was a "give it a try" cake, but became everybody's new favorite in the "easy cake" category. 

I have a 20 cm kuglof form which I found suitable size for neighbors (baked additional 4 cakes of smaller size..), and I adjusted quickly the recipe to:
100 g butter
80 g sugar
2 eggs
0.5 dl cream + 2 spoons of coconut milk
150 g pastry flour
3 tbsp oil
1/2 mocha spoon peppermint extract
70 g semisweet chocolate chip, baked it for 30 min at 170 C (350F)

PS. I had only coconut shred and I wanted it smoother(to hide the coconut bits from the kids :D), so I used the coffee grinder. If you wanna do the same, use a bit of sugar when grinding, or the coconut oil will make your flour sticking together and messing up your coffee grinder

Saturday, December 22, 2012

White glögi - white Finnish spicy Xmas drink



The white version of the glögi is not so common, but delicious, and I like it very much as a diversity, especially served with tähtitorttu, the Finnish puff pastry, baked preferably with apricot jam and vanilla cream instead of plum marmalade. Tonight I had only piparkakku, but it was great nevertheless..

Ingredients
1 l (4 cups) apple juice
500 ml water
~30 cloves
1 star anise (if you don't have, or like, anise, you can just leave it out or replace it with cloves)
small piece of raw ginger (can be replaced with additional pinch of cloves, or left out)
2 tsp whole cardamom seeds
1 lemon peel, grated
300 ml white grape juice

for ADULTS replace the grape juice with 300 ml white wine (or just add it) and add 50 ml sugar if needed
If you like life spicy, you can add one small chilly as well :) - I added a small pinch of black pepper to my glass

Serving tips
yellow raisins
sliced almond


First of all, the kitchen is not the pharmacy. Use your eye and taste buds to be your guide when measuring the ingredients. If you have small leftovers when mixing the juices don't let them orphaned in the fridge, add them to the mix. :)
Boil on very low heat the water with the spices for 15 min. Add the non-alcoholic ingredients and bring to boil. Add the white wine and chilly.
Serve with raisins and almond. Great accompaniment for puff pastry or ginger bread.

Melegbor - Hungarian soul warming Xmas wine

Ehhem... It's Saturday night. And cold (OK, I know my dear Finnish friends, it is "relatively" cold). We had some frost in the morning, and about 3 C, so I believe that will do as winter ;). Or at least it will do as a good excuse to drink some Hungarian hot wine.
Even as kids we were allowed some sips of soul warming wine before Xmas on the day when the pure piggy ended up being cut and processed to be served on our Xmas and New Year table.

The recipe is for two portions of spice base (two bottles of wine), but I found it difficult to boil half of it, and anyway, at a party you don't make only 1 bottle, and for yourself is always better to have one portion ready to enjoy ;).

Ingredients:
~ 400 ml water (2 cups)
100-140 g sugar, depends on what kind of wine you add and how sweet you like it
4 cinnamon sticks (about 5cm, 2 in long)
~20 cloves, whole, roughly 2 large pinch
about 10 pieces of black pepper, whole or 1/2 tsp coarsely minced (add less if you don't want the wine chilly)
2 lemon's peel grated (optional)

Additional spices that can be considered to experience with:
small piece of fresh ginger
1 tsp cardamom seed, whole
1 star anise

Serving
1 bottle dry wine
1 lemon cut into slices for serving, optional

Bring the spices to boil in the water, and boil them slowly for minimum 15, preferably 30 minutes.
Some of the water will evaporate, and that's OK, you should still have ~200 ml. Filter it to remove the spices.
Bring the wine to as high temperature as you like it, WITHOUT boiling it however, as it will spoil the wine's taste and quality. Add ~100 ml (half of the portion prepared above) of hot spice base per bottle of wine, and adjust the sweetness with extra sugar (it is always better to have it less sweet first..)

Serve it in hot-cold glasses with lemon slices added, if you want.

I like it without the lemon juice squeezed in as the lemon zest makes the wine muddy, bit it looks nice on the side of the bottle, and some people like it, so try..

Grandma did it much simpler, just warming up the wine and adding sugar, minced cinnamon, cloves and minced black pepper, but over the years I prefer it with the spice more soaked in and the wine clear. However if you have unexpected visitors, just heat up the wine with the spices and serve it. Minced spices make the wine more tasty in shorter time, however you can't wait until it settles to filter it, or the wine cools down too, but the taste is good anyway.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Icing

The icing used for decoration will most likely pop up here and there, so I thought I will just dedicate a whole post to it..

Icing
1 egg white
200 g icing sugar
1 tsp vinegar - optional, makes the icing more shiny
food coloring
2 flat tbsp of food starch - needed only if you want more professional looking cookies, of course healthier without

Beat the egg whites with the sugar and vinegar, adding the sugar gradually. When you have a nice and pure white texture add the food coloring and food starch.
If you use it for decorating with thin lines, it is going to dry in a matter of hours. If you decide to coat a surface with the icing, let it dry overnight before adding further decorations on top or packing it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Piparkakku - Finnish gingerbread houses



Our family's all time favorite is the Finnish gingerbread.
We usually make small gingerbread houses, (one per capita ends up to grow in a whole village), churches and small cookies for Xmas. The cookies taste best undecorated, IMHO.
The houses get eaten during the New Year Eve party when the house is full of curious children, and the kids had been sharing it with love and pride so far.. Something to plan for this year as well.
In Finland there is no need to look for gingerbread recipe, there are plenty of choices (and quantities) to buy.  Here we don't have that luxury, so I was in heavy search for recipes.
This is the best I've got, from a friend :). I replaced 1/4th of the maple syrup with molasses, for a stronger taste. You can try it both ways..

Ingredients:
250 g butter
1.5 dl dark maple syrup (a bit more than a 1/2 cups)
2 dl sugar (a bit less than a cup)

2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger (I always add a bit less as it is a very strong taste, so play with it as you wish)
2 tsp cloves, ground
2 tsp pomerange peel (I replaced it with about one small lemon's grated peel)
2 small eggs
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking soda
(flat), next time I'm going to try them with baking powder

8 dl wheat flour,  450 - 500g depending on your flour (a bit more than 3 cups)

In a pot add the butter, syrup, sugar and spices. Heat it up, mixing all the time, let it just start to boil and remove from heat. Let it cool down a bit and mix in the eggs. Add the flour & baking soda + salt. Let it stand in the fridge over night. If the pastry is soft, no worries, just add a bit of flour next day to make it workable.
With some flour below and on top roll it into thin sheets (~3 mm) and with a cookie cutter cut out some nice cookies. Bake them in 200 C (400F) for about 10 minutes, so that they get a bit of color. Makes about 60-70 cookies.
You can decorate them with icing if you like. We decorated about 60 of them for classmates, I'm gonna post a pic tomorrow..

House:
If you decide to make houses and not cookies, design your house, cut it out from paper, cut the dough, bake the pieces. If it bakes in more irregular shapes than you like, and it looks like it is going to be hard to put together, adjust them with a knife until warm. Melt some sugar (~60 g, 1/2 cup)  until golden, dip the wall edges into the sugar and use it as glue. It dries VERY quickly, but be careful, this is not something to do with kids. It burns your skin really badly..
Quick instructions about size if you don't want anything special: cut four 6x12 cm rectangles for side walls and roof, two 6x6 cm squares for back and front, cut a 2x4 cm piece out of the front wall as door, and bake an irregular ~20x35 cm oval(ish) base. One portion of dough makes 3 houses with some additional pine trees and angels :).
Decorate as you like, (icing recipe) and sift some icing sugar on top.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vanilla/almond crescent shaped cookies or Vaníliás-mandulás kifli


I have a favorite Xmas and New Year coffee cookie, a kinda linzer if you want to give them some names.
They are VERY easy to make, trust me, don't bother with the ones in the shop which are full of E-s :).

Ingredients:
250 g pastry flour (you can use half whole grain as well)
200 g butter
80 g icing sugar
100 g almond flour (ground almond)
1 tsp vanilla aroma (optional)
Vanilla sugar for rolling the croissants

Mix the butter with sugar until creamy (and vanilla, if you add any), add the almond and the normal flour and work it well together in a soft dough. Form small, about 5-6 cm long and 1 cm thick croissants. Not too big ones, though the dough doesn't have baking powder it will grow pretty big, and don't make them very pointed at the ends either, it will burn too early.
Place them on trays covered with parchment paper. Bake them for 10-15 minutes at 175 C - 350 F(my oven is not heating up very well, so I baked them at 180 C), depends how golden you want them.
While still hot roll them in the vanilla sugar if you like them sweet, if you prefer them moderately sweet is enough if you just sprinkle them a little bit.
Be careful, for the first half a minute/minute they are the most fragile cookies I've ever baked, but eventually they harden enough to be able to manipulate them.

If you want to play with the shapes, you can also roll the dough, about 3-4 mm thick, and cut it with your cookie cutters, and even glue two of them together with jam, like raspberry or blueberry jam.
The dough is not easy to work with in this case, so better use two sheets of baking paper, one below and one on top when rolling, and you'll need some spatula to place the cookies in the trays.

PS. If you live in the US, like I do at the moment, and are struggling finding vanilla sugar, don't panic. Buy a small bottle with two vanilla beans like Simply Organic, cut them, take the small black seeds out and mix it with sugar, kinda filling the original bottle back till almost full, about 100g sugar. You can squeeze even the whole leftover of the beans in the bottle, it will intensify the flavor.
Close the cork and let it soak in the aroma for a week at least for best results. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mézeskalács - Hungarian gingerbread



Today I was inspired by the Hungarian gingerbread making at the House of Hungary in Balboa park, so I decorated our home made gingerbread cookie after our arrival home with a different technique then I usually do...
It is easy to be made with kids for Xmas.
The recipe came from a Hungarian site as I didn't find my cook book yet.. Messy me :).
You can find the original at A büfé, for those who read Hungarian it might be more enjoyable.
For those who don't, here is the English version.

Ingredients 
300 g pastry flour
50 g whole wheat flour
150 g acacia honey, I actually used ginger honey, but use any type of not so thick honey

100 g icing (castor) sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder – optional, only for color, you can make different shades of gingerbread
1
tsp baking soda (flat)
60 g butter
1 egg + 1 egg yolk (save the white for the icing/decoration on top)
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon (depends how spicy you like the gingerbread)
1/2 - 1 tsp clove, minced
(depends how spicy you like the gingerbread) 
pinch of minced ginger – optional

Icing
1 egg white
200 g icing sugar
1 small tsp vinegar - optional, makes the icing more shiny
food coloring
2 tbsp of food starch - needed only if you want more professional looking cookies, of course healthier without

Preheat the oven to 180 C, 355 F. Mix the dry ingredients like flour, icing sugar, spices, baking soda.
Add the room temperature butter and crumble it in the flour mix.
Heat the honey to a bit higher temperature then the body temperature (approx 50-60 C, 120-140 F) and add it to the mixture.
Last, but not least, add the egg and the egg yolk, mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
Wrap it with cling wrap and let it cool for at least 15 minutes in the fridge. I forgot it for about 4 hours and it was still good :), so I suppose you can leave it for overnight if time is tight.
Divide it into three 3 parts (roughly, it is only for convenience) and roll it out 2-3 mm thick. You can add a little flour at the bottom and top if the dough is too sticky.
Cut it with your favorite shapes and place them onto trays covered with baking paper. Put approximately same size cookies in the same tray as the smaller ones need less, the bigger ones more baking.
Bake it for 8-10 minutes (8 min softer texture, 10 min easier to handle), and let them cool on a flat surface.
You can store them in airtight containers for weeks, with the honey they will only get softer :).
Enjoy.

PS. My suggestion would be NOT to add any cocoa powder at the beginning but rather mix all the other ingredients, divide the dough into three parts, leave one part as it is, add one half a teaspoon of cocoa powder to the second, and one teaspoon of cocoa powder to the third part.
You will right away have a nice variety of shades, and they look great on the plate.

Tomorrow we will bake the Finnish style Xmas gingerbread called Piparkakku, which has a bit different spices, more butter, and maple sirup instead of honey. If interested come back a bit later for the recipe, I can't promise though that it will come right tomorrow :).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The bread experiment results



And now it's time to announce the winner :D.

First here it comes each bread analyzed thoroughly.
The bread:
OMG..
One bread was better then the other, with a bit different structure, almost unobservable difference in taste.
The bread from Costco and Red Mill grew higher, the others were more flat, but just a tiny bit.
It didn't affect though the crumb or the crust.
The crust was crunchy for all of them, and the crumb had the lovely big holes and spongy texture.
As I expected, there is a rule of thumb though:
- the stickier (more wet) the dough the more flat the bread, and vice versa, the "harder" the dough, the more round and high the bread.

The differences
The tiny differences we observed were referring to texture or taste.
- Costco had a pale color, great texture, OK taste
- Red Mill had thicker crust (can mean that the flour is "strong" and more water would have been better for crunchier crust..), white color, great texture and taste
- Gold Medal had yellowish color, softer than the others but great texture and taste
- Sprouts flour bread was OK, but not so great, more flat than the others, color between the white and the yellow, taste good
- King Arthur, (tasted only by me later) had a not so white color, great texture and great taste.

Overall whichever you choose, you can not go wrong. The bread will be good, the taste and texture good.
You better measure the flour though instead of relying on the 700 ml, as I mentioned earlier from some flours the 450 gr made 750 ml not 700 ml, if you put 700 ml flour the dough will be more watery and the bread more flat.
If I would bake them next time (and I obviously will as I have plenty left from each flour) I would experiment with adding or taking away from the amount of flour to get the perfect crumb, crust and shape.

The winner:
The Gold Medal was the favorite of the hubby and the boys, the Red Mill was the favorite of my daughter, followed by the King Arthur, Costco and last the Sprouts..
And, to my biggest surprise, my winner is the King Arthur, followed by the Red Mill, Gold medal, Costco and last the Sprouts.

At least we all agreed that the Sprouts unbleached white was this time the worst, even if it was overall an absolutely good bread.
My winner was a surprise because the King Arthur had the most wet dough, the most difficult to put it in the pot and I've given up on it.

Now, all of them are wrapped and placed in plastic bags, and is to be seen which one keeps its texture and freshness longer, so tomorrow we will repeat the feast (binge?) on bread.

Conclusion - if you want the bread that looks more like mines, go with any of the following:
- use 450 g instead of 400 g given in the original recipe, as I wrote even with 450 g the dough was so wet that I could hardly work with it and it gave a too flat bread for my liking.. 
- put 750 ml flour from SOME of the flours, *sigh*, you have to figure out which ones if you use different types then the ones from my list, but from my list I would use 750 from King Arthur, Sprouts white and Gold Medal.
- measure it at least ones when you try a new flour
- just simply trust your fingers when you have more experience :).

Bread experiment



I was told by my friends that their bread is not necessarily rising so well, the crumb's structure is different, etc.. Anyway, all in all is not as nice as mine.

OK, I'm perfectionist when it comes to my cooking, even more when it comes to my recipes.
If I give a recipe it needs to be perfect :D.

So, I decided to start an experiment with my lovely bread, and about 5 types of flour, 'cause that was obvious to me from experience that the difference must come from the flour, and from the pot used.

I'm using two types of pots: the perfect one is the one meant for induction, has a thick bottom but lighter sidewall, the other is an Iittala Tools pot, perfect bottom, a bit thicker walls, makes good bread, but I prefer the other.. And now the flour..

I used the following flours:
- Red Mill organic unbleached white flour -
- Costo bread flour, bleached (unfortunately) the 25 lb package
- Sprouts unbleached white flour - from the bulk department
- Gold medal unbleached all purpose flour - I bough it from Target, but I found somewhere that Walmart carries it as well (feel free to try other types as well)
- King Arthur unbleached bread flour - from Sprouts, but other shops might carry it

We made a big tasting evening, baked all five breads at a time, and eat from all four breads except the King Arthur, as it was the last to go to the oven and it wasn't ready to cut before we started dinner.

Now, what I did and I learned..

The process:
First, I measured the 700 ml of each flour.
More precisely I started with the Costco.
I put it on the scale, and it wasn't 400 g as stated in the recipe, but 450 g. Whether is good or bad, you decide. I knew my bread is very good with the Costco 700 ml, turned to be 450 g, so I decided to go with the 450 g instead of the 400 g.
Next I measured the Red Mill, followed by the Sprouts and Gold medal, and last the King Arthur.
To my surprise, from the Sprouts and Gold medal 450 g wasn't 700 ml, but rather 750 ml. So, there you go.. And the dough was still more watery then from the Costco and Red Mill. I don't know how it was with the King Arthur, I lost patience to pour it back to the ml measurement bowl. 
I let them ferment overnight, about 20 hours.
Next day I started to dump the dough on the table (with two at a time as two of them fit in my oven) and let them rise for two more hours under a cloth.

The dough at mixing time:
- Costco and Red Mill organic flour behaved about the same
- all other three, Sprouts, Golden Medal and King Arthur (especially the last) were more sticky then I like my dough, but I resisted to add a bit extra flour, just for the sake of the experiment.

The dough after 20 and the +2 hours time:
They looked all nice and bubbly, with the fermented smell
- Costco and Red Mill organic flour behaved about the same, being able to form a kinda nice round loaf
- the Gold medal was OK-ish, with a bit more flour needed to make not to stick to the mat
- from the other three I didn't manage to make a roundish loaf at all, they were all deliquescent somethings, let's call the still loafs :D.
Same applies to the result after the two extra hours rising, or I would say the were even more deliquescent.
My biggest challenge was getting the loafs off from the pastry board, as they were so sticky the silicon slab was coming with them :).
I heated the oven to 440 F (435 is enough, mine is not working perfectly..).
I put the bread in the preheated oven AND pot for 30 minutes. Make sure the pot is VERY hot or the bread will stick to the bottom and it will be impossible to get it out.
Then I took off the lid, made the temperature to 550 and let it for another 20 minutes.
I took them out in 2 cloths / bread, and let the cool for at least 1.5 hour each.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Home made, country style bread




This is a must to start with.. You know why..
Well, mostly because it is just gorgeous, second because it is the most sought after recipe among the local Hungarian community.
Though the fame of the bread and the recipes goes under my name, I have to roll the ball to the one who really deserves it, New York baker Jim Lahey, the father of this gorgeous recipe.

To all my bread enthusiasts who asked for it, I found the very original bread recipe, with exact measurements. So, there is nothing left but to enjoy.

I started baking this bread in July, shortly after our arrival to Dan Diego, for the very simple reason that I didn't find any bread that we really liked.
I have since experimented with flours..
I would recommend bleached bread (all purpose) flour to get the best whiteness and rise, or if you are against it like me, buy the unbleached pastry flour for best Hungarian type “white bread” results. With these two flours the bread will be white, with sponge like crust, and big holes thanks to fermentation.

Other flours work well, too, with a bit of change in texture: the crumb is more heavy, but the taste might be preferred even by some, as it has “more flavor”. We like the version with one unbleached flour combined even with 1/3rd whole wheat flour, but I advice you to experiment..

If you use 1/3 rd whole wheat or rye flour, keep the lid ON a bit longer, as the bread will rise slower.
Anyway, a good rule of thumb: the lower the protein the lighter the bread crumb.
If you like the fresh crust, my ABSOLUTE favorite, and its difficult to measure precisely the 350 ml of water, the advice would be that you use more water than less, the bread might not rise as high but the crumb is more “spongeous” and keeps its freshness longer..

If you haven't visited Jim's web site, here you have the recipe:

No-kneed bread ingredients
700 ml flour
1 teaspoon salt (without iodine)
1/4 teaspoon yeast
350 ml water

Mix the dry ingredients, add the water until the dough absorbs all the flour, but do not work on it too much, the dough is (and should be) very sticky!
Let it stay overnight, at least 12 hours, or better 16-18 hours covered with a cloth.
Then dump it to a floured surface, fold it couple of times like you fold an envelope, and let it rise for two hours, under a cloth.
At the end of the two hours, heat the oven to 225-230 C (435-440 F) with a pot & lid in it.
When the oven & pot are both very hot gently place the dough in the pot, cover it with the lid, and let it bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid, and let it bake for additional 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Wrap the bread in two table cloths, and let it cool for at least one hour.
Enjoy!