Monday, November 24, 2008

Pain al’Ancienne

To me, there is nothing better than fresh bread, or even better baguettes. After eating out at places like Panaras, and such bread shops, I thought that it would be impossible to make the amazing bread that they serve. But I was wrong, and this bread is amazing. It has that crisp crust, and soft interior, risen perfectly. Not only is itamazing, but also easy- probably one of the most simple breads that you can make. The original recipe makes six baguettes, but they are basically only good for a little over a day. I always cut the recipe in half, so it is more managable, plus three is usuallygood enough... haha rightt.

So for thanksgiving I have been put in charge of dessert. Im kinda excited because that my favorite thing to make. Im planning on baking a pecan pie, and a pumpkin pie, all the night before of course. Probably really really late at night... lol. Happy early thanksgiving!!
Pain al’Ancienne
The bread bakers apprentice
6 cups (27 ounces) flour
2 1/4 tsp (.56 ounce) salt
1 3/4 tsp (.19 ounce) instant yeast
2 1/4 cups plus 2 T to 3 cups (19 to 24 ounces) water, ice cold
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and 19 ounces of water in the bowl of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix for 2 minutes on low speed. Switch to the dough hook and mix for 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl but it should release from the sides of the bowl. If not, sprinkle in a small amount of flour until this occurs (or dribble in water if the dough seems to stiff and clears the bottom as well as the sides of the bowl). Lightly oil a large bowl and immediately transfer the dough with a spatula or bowl scraper dipped in water into the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Immediately place the bowl in the refrigerator and retard overnight.
The next day, check the dough to see if it has risen. It will probably be partially risen but not doubled in size. Leave the bowl of dough out at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours (or longer if necessary) to allow the dough to wake up, lose its chill, and continue fermenting.
When the dough has doubled from its original prerefrigerated size, liberally sprinkle the counter with bread flour (about 1/2 cup). Gently transfer the dough to the floured counter with a plastic dough scraper that has been dipped in cold water, dipping your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking to you. Try to degas the dough as little as possible as you transfer it. If the dough is very wet, sprinkle more flour over the top as well as under it. Dry your hand thoroughly and then dip them in flour. Roll the dough gently in the sprinkled flour to coat it thoroughly, simultaneously stretching it into an oblong about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. If it is too sticky to handle, continue sprinkling flour over it. Dip a metal pastry scraper into cool water to keep it from sticking to the dough, and cut the dough in half widthwise with teh pastry scraper by pressing it down through the dough until it severs its, then dipping it again in the water and repeating this action until you have cut down the full length of the dough. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.
Now, place a baking stone in the bottom of your oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F. Also, place a baking pan or a cast iron skillet on the top rack of your oven. Cover the backs of two half sheet pans with parchment paper and dust with semolina or cornmeal.
Cut the dough into 6 roughly equal strips using the dough cutter. Using floured hands, gently transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheets (3 to a pan). Be careful to space them as you do not want them to touch. Using a very sharp knife or kitchen scissors, make three incisions on the top of each loaf. Spray with oil and then cover with plastic wrap and let them rest until the oven is ready, roughly an hour.
Heat about 3 cups of water to a simmer. Measure out 1 cup of it. Have a spray bottle full of room temperature water at the ready. Open the oven and slide the parchment paper (with the bread, of course) directly onto the baking stone. Then pour in the 1 cup of water into the baking pan or cast iron skillet. Close the oven door and wait 30 seconds. Then spray the walls of the oven with water. Repeat two more times. Then reduce the heat to 475 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating midway through the baking time if the loaves are baking unevenly. When golden brown and the internal temperature is at least 205 degrees, transfer the loaves directly to a cooling rack. Repeat the baking process with the remaining loaves, remembering to increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wheat bread and a tag!

So I have this delima, I'm incapable of taking decent pictures. Im not sure what it is, but they just never turn out good. But anyways, this bread was really easy to make, and it was semi-healthy being whole wheat and everything. I think that I replaced some of the wheat flour with bread flour, because I didn't want the bread to be extremely dense. This bread was easy in the fact that, time wasn't very specific, you could let the dough rise, and do your own thing.
Ok, so now on to the fun stuff, a tag from Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen : )

You can take five items and are allowed one sentence in which to justify your decision. Tag whoever you like and link back! You are on a desert island so assume a plentiful supply of exotic fish, coconuts and sea salt. Ignore any issues regarding storage. There happens to be a very large solar powered refrigerator washed up on the shore as well. Now, on to the list...

1. Ok hmm, first off, I would need a very large chef knife, ya know, for preparing my fish, and defending myself against pirates.

2. Then I would need a bag of flour, because I need my bread... also a weapon incognito ; )

3. I would need a dutch oven, because you can cook anything in a dutch oven haha.

4. Then I would definitly need my mp3 player, ya know, I have to listen to my music when I cook : )

5. Then I would either need my cell phone for texting, or I would have to take my boyfriend hostage. Sacrifice him to the island gods and everything. You know how those natives can get. . . ; )

Now I tag... The Kittalog, Noble Pig, Mochachocolata-Rita, Three forks, and Elle's New England Kitchen.

Wheat bread without a timetable
Smitten Kitchen
1. Into a large bread bowl, put 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, 1 1/2 cups stone-ground wheat flour and 3/4 cups coarse ground whole wheat flour (if you can’t find coarse ground, simply add regular whole wheat flour. I used buckwheat flour, because I’ve been feeling guilty about buying it eons ago and never using it.). Add one heaping teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of sugar (my addition, I think bread benefits from a little sweetness) and one tablespoon of wheat or corn germ. (I’m pretty sure I used bran instead, because that’s what I had on hand. Really, you can’t break this bread.)
2. Mix 1/2 scant teaspoon of yeast (active dry is just fine) with 1 1/2 cups of liquid–half milk, half water, or more water than milk–whatever you have on hand. (If you’re going to leave it overnight, use 1/4 teaspoon of yeast.)
3. Pour the liquid into the flour and stir it up. (If you have a KitchenAid, you can use the paddle attachement for this, then switch to the kneading hook when you’re done.) The dough should be neither dry nor sticky, but should tend more toward to the stick than the dry. If too sticky, add a little more flour.
4. Knead the dough well, roll it in flour, put it in a warm bowl (although I have put it in a regular old bowl right off the shelf, says Colwin, as did I) . I covered mine with plastic wrap at this time–a towel works as well–but realize it might not be neccessary. Leave it in a cool, draft-free place and go about your business. (We decided to check out the 8th Annual New York Pickle Festival, not that you asked.)
5. Whenever you happen to get home, punch down the dough, knead it well and forget about it until convenient.
6. Sometime later (with a long first rise, a short second rise is fine, but a long one is fine, too) punch the dough down, give it a final kneading, shape into a baguette* (see my notes below), slash the top with four diagonal cuts, brush wtih water and let proof for a few minutes (it was 30 minutes, in our case). However, if you haven’t the time, it can go straight into the oven.
7. You can preheat the oven or put it in a cold oven, it matters not a bit. Bake at 450° fr half an hour. Turn the oven to 425 ° and bake for another five to twenty minutes. (This range is long because I found my bread was done–sounded hollow when I tapped the bottom, quite brown on the outside and registered 200 or so on a thermometer, all different techiniques to check for doneness–after just 5 more minutes, but Colwin suggests 20. It will vary based on the density of your bread, the size of your baguette, etc. etc. so just check in with it every five minutes or so.)