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Monday, August 25, 2014

Focaccia with Roasted Vegetables - Avid Baker's Challenge

August 24, 2014

I've been very lax lately about baking, and I thought I was going to miss this baking challenge too, as it was mid-month and I hadn't done anything about baking bread.  Then I saw that others, including Hanaa herself, the Queen of ABC, were posting their focaccia adventures late, so I decided that I could too--as long as I got it done before September 1.

I've never made--or tasted, for that matter--a better focaccia than Rose's rosemary focaccia in The Bread Bible.  But you have to try new recipes, right?  This one was pretty good, and easy, but it didn't have the big holes, the perfect crust, or the flavor of Rose's.  One trick that this recipe - from King Arthur - had was to drizzle olive oil on the baking pan so that it was absorbed by the bottom of the crust.  I liked that.  And I will say that it was a very well-behaved dough.  After just one 15-minute rest, it stretched out to the sides of the pan quite nicely.

I used zucchini, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and garlic as the roasted vegetables.  Unfortunately, I sliced the garlic instead of leaving the cloves whole.  The result was slices of burned garlic, so I had to spend as much time fishing out those charred pieces as I did peeling and slicing them in the first place.  But the garlic still added some flavor to the oil.
I should have made thicker slices of zucchini.  By the time they were roasted, they were almost translucently thin.

Rose's recipe tells you to dimple the dough with your fingertips.  That technique really helps the dough's texture and makes it thin and crispy in some places.  It's a simple technique, and I would have used it here had I remembered it before now.

Do you know what makes a good, although unorthodox, breakfast?  A big slice of roasted vegetable focaccia and a fresh Colorado peach.  It's enough to make you forget that winter exists.

If you want to make this focaccia, click here for the recipe.  To see the other bakers' versions, go to Avid Baker's Challenge.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread: Avid Baker's Challenge

This bread, another King Arthur recipe, is easy enough to make, but it does require you to make a starter the night before you want to bake the bread.  Rose Levy Beranbaum uses this technique frequently in The Bread Bible, so it wasn't new to me.  I like the technique because, besides adding flavor--the obvious reason to like it--it also has the advantage of committing you to baking bread the next day, so you don't get out of bed and decide to take a walk instead.  Or, more realistically, go back to bed.  

I'll confess that I didn't use all whole wheat flour.  The recipe calls for a mix of whole wheat and white whole wheat flours, and I used about half whole wheat and half AP white, for no reason other than that I didn't have the white whole wheat flour that I thought I had.  The flours are mixed with half milk and half orange juice--the orange juice supposedly eliminating any bitter taste that you might get from whole wheat flour.  It wasn't bitter at all, so the OJ trick must have worked.

After the dough has risen, you pat it out into a more or less rectangular shape.  I suspect that most of the other avid bakers will have a tidier rectangle than mine, but I believe that tidiness is overrated.  

It's then rolled up like a jelly roll, shaped, and tucked into a loaf pan.

I had some errands to run, so I put it into the refrigerator for a few hours so it wouldn't overproof, and took it out when I came home.  It was ready to put into the oven about an hour later.

I love a loaf of bread just out of the oven!  The recipe tells you to tent the bread with foil for most of the baking time, but I took the tent off for the last 15 minutes of baking because I like a browner loaf.

This bread got a very enthusiastic reception from my tasters, especially from my 19-month-old grandson, who devoured two whole slices, a quarter-slice at a time, and calling for, "more, more" after each piece.  I thought it was good, but a little too moist.  It was moist even when toasted.  It reminded me of the kind of bread that you might have, when you were a child, squished into a bread ball and thrown at your younger brother.  If you were that kind of person.  

But I will definitely make it again.  What kind of grandmother would I be if I didn't?  Next time, I'll be a little more parsimonious with the liquid ingredients.  

Thanks for the recipe, Hanaa!  Other renditions can be seen at the Avid Bakers' Challenge blog.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mushroom Cheddar Tarts: Avid Baker's Challenge

This is my first foray into the Avid Bakers Challenge (ABC) group.  Thanks, Hanaa!

I'm having my book club at my house next week, and I thought that I'd use these as an appetizer if I liked the way they turned out, but I'm still undecided.

They're pretty good, but I wouldn't say they're amazing.  Easier to make than I thought, but they need some adjustments.

First, I think the proportions of dough to filling are way off.  I made a half-recipe of dough, and I had a lot left over, but didn't have nearly enough filling to use it all.  If I made them again, I'd make the same amount of dough, and the full recipe for the filling.

I rolled out the dough to a larger rectangle than the recipe recommends, but the dough was still much too thick for my taste.  When you eat a bite, you get a big hit of crust and just a bit of filling. And the filling needed something else--onion, garlic, herbs, olives?  Something.

Also, the crust (which I made in a food processor) needed a lot more water to be malleable.  I like recipes that hit the measurements right on the noggin.

They're much cuter made in individual tart pans than in mini muffin cups, and the flavor is better too (better filling to crust ratio).  I may call it a quiche and have one for breakfast.