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Cinnamon Apple FlatbreadBreakfast this morning was this Cinnamon-Apple Flatbread, which is both on the King Arthur Flour blog and recipe collection. It was very good despite being re-heated after being baked yesterday afternoon. The recipe calls for 3 hour-long risings--this is not a recipe I'm going to get baked before breakfast. Or brunch, even. I'm not a fan of maple syrup (heresy to those of you who are, I know) so I used golden syrup instead with the boiled cider, and about half the amount under the assumption that I'm going to want things less sweet than most printed recipes. It's definitely a keeper. One big attraction of this recipe is that it can use unfed sourdough starter. I'm in the club that hates to throw away that cup of starter at each feeding, and will add this to my options for using it instead.

In the blog comments someone suggested trying this with cheese on top instead of the cinnamon-syrup mixture. That sounds very promising, and may be my next experiment. I was also thinking of trying it as a pizza base (also a KA suggestion) but got sidetracked by another sourdough pizza dough recipe for unfed starter (OK, mine got fed yesterday, but I'll used unfed *next* time) and the dough is rising for dinner.
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I have a sourdough starter, which doesn't get used much as the process for making real (no added yeast) sourdough bread is so lengthy, I rarely plan far enough ahead to do it. So every now and then the starter must be fed, hopefully before it gets that blackish stuff on top. The feeding procedure is to throw away a cup of starter, then add more flour and water (fresh food!) and stir it up, then let it get bubbly again before you use it.

But throwing away the old starter seems like such a waste, and not just to me. Hunting around on the King Arthur Flour site I uncovered a few recipes to use the unfed starter, and tried 3 of them. One is sourdough waffles, which I've now made a couple of times in both plain and blueberry versions. Very good indeed, and not too sweet, which we all prefer. This recipe does require mixing up part of the ingredients the night before to let the sourdough flavor develop, but I can usually handle that. (Recipe, but the next time I may try this slightly simpler one)

Next up was sourdough popovers. (Recipe) These also work extremely well, though there's very little sourdough flavor. That's OK--hot crispy popovers are fine just as they come. I used several as a base for creamed chicken.

Last attempt was a crumpet recipe buried in a set of instructions for reviving a mostly dead starter. This was much less successful, at least if you wanted crumpets. While baking they never got the very bubbly texture of crumpets, and sure enough, the finished product was more like a pancake than a crumpet. Not a bad pancake if you like 'em thick, but not a crumpet.

Next time the starter needs feeding, I may tackle the sourdough chocolate cake, though that one needs a fed starter...
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Last weekend was the first time I delved into Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos, purchased in July. (Don't think I start using most of my cookbook purchases so promptly....some of them have been on the shelf for years and never yet been cooked from. One of these days I'll go purge the collection again.)

The concept behind Small Batch Baking is recipes that make only 2 or 3 servings. Ideal for me if I didn't often share with the folks next door, but even then it looks like the 2-3 servings can be stretched to 4 easily (me plus the 3 kids), and to 5 (include my brother) or even 5 plus a taste (for sugar and carb sensitive sister-in-law) for some recipes. Or we could always double a recipe if it was particularly good.

Experiments with pictures behind the cut )
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I've been baking a challah every Friday (when we're all in town) for sister-in-law's Shabbat for quite a while now--I guess since I blogged about the decline in quality of the frozen-dough ones she'd been using. After a couple of experiments, I settled on a recipe I found on the 'Net, called Grandma Rosie's Fabulous Challah, and made it several times after modifying it to use instant yeast, be kneaded in my KitchenAid (I'm not one who finds hand-kneading soothing or stress-relieving), and cut in half. The original made 3 challahs, so this gave me one large challah. After that recipe and technique felt solid, I experimented with adding whole-wheat flour, and then cut the recipe in half again to get to the size loaf we want for 6 people some of whom try to restrict their bread intake.

I'm enjoying this regular bread baking--it gives me a much better feel for how the dough should look, and a better appreciation for the natural variations that humidity, room temperature, and such cause. And we're getting a pretty good challah, in my biased opinion.

The standard is now a mostly whole-wheat challah, braided with 6 strands. I was using 2 3-strand braids, one smaller and stuck on top of the other, but that seems to be a method to make the 3-strand braid look more complex, which is to say, more like a 6-strand braid. And given that my smaller braid would sometimes slide sideways as the loaf was rising, and given that I can now do the 6-strand braid without referring to my notes, 6 strands it is. Next week I guess I'll get to try my hand at a round challah for Rosh Hashanah.

The recipe )

My habit now is to make the dough first thing Friday morning (I don't work on Fridays), around 8 or 9 AM. I may let it sit on the counter a while to start rising, but it soon gets stuffed into the fridge for the day. Around 4 PM I take the doubled dough out, braid the loaf, let it rise, and bake it so it's ready before our usual 6:30 dinner time.

Week's end

Feb. 9th, 2008 10:21 pm
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Today has been...blah. Perhaps I'm coming down with a cold, perhaps it's just an allergy attack, but the nose has been dripping steadily, ignoring the antihistamine I've thrown at it. I slept too little last night (got caught up in Chima's YA The Wizard Heir), dragged out of bed in time to make breakfast and get to the 9:30 Jazzercise class, then came home, showered, finished the book, ate some soup for lunch, and took a nap. Until about 4 PM. So much for Saturday.

Yesterday was better, with the usual errand-running, Weight Watchers, and stuff. I again baked a challah (missed last week due to the Denver trip, though my nephew asked if I'd baked one when I went over for supper less than an hour after getting home) this time with part whole-wheat flour. Traditionalists may shudder, but I like both the benefit of some whole grain, and the extra flavor. I cooked the entree for the usual Friday night joint dinner next door, a Cooks Illustrated recipe called Glazed Pork Chops with Asian Flavors. Came out very well-flavored and moist, though it did require fairly careful attention for the 30-40 minute preparation time. I will try their other flavor variations on this recipe, too.

I was supposed to get a perm yesterday, but my hair stylist called to say her husband and 2 sons had the flu--despite getting the shot. It seems the strain going around Atlanta was not in this year's vaccine. We've postponed the perm a week, and the cut-and-color another week beyond that, and I will try to eke out the last of the curl with mousse and hair spray.
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The goal was to make a challah for this evening's dinner next door, as sister-in-law tries to do something toward observing Shabbat. She had been using Kineret frozen challah dough to have a freshly baked loaf, but the last few she's baked have been tasteless--none of the eggy nature of a good challah. We concluded Kineret has changed their recipe.

I experimented with a couple of challah recipes a few months ago (well, maybe it was last winter), but this time went to Beranbaum's The Bread Bible since I've been using it lately. So maybe this bread-baking wasn't the smoothest I've ever done... )

In my Web searching this morning, I also spotted a revised challah recipe that Beranbaum had posted, using a sourdough starter and a simpler mixing technique. Maybe I'll do that one next week. Moral: go read Real Baking with Rose before starting to bake from her books. There might be an improved version on the blog...


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