Monday, July 20, 2009

At Long Last ... Bread!

Those of you who know me know that I have been somewhat obsessed with bread for the last couple of months. Week after week, I have been baking my bread for the week. Overall, the results have been good. I've enjoyed the process and even the worst loaf was much better than my previous attempts, let alone what you buy in a plastic wrapper at the store.

But still, not as good as what you buy from Acme or that is served in (some or, in San Francisco, most) restaurants. I couldn't seem to achieve the depth of flavor or the shattering crust that I aspired to. And I won't even talk about the scores that didn't burst open in the way that they should have in my mind. Until this weekend, when the stars finally aligned and I finally achieved the bread that I aspired to during this crazy crusade.

This weekend I set out to make a Prosciutto-Morbier Sourdough to add a little pizazz to breakfast. OK, I am easily amused, and then I had more dough left over and thought it would be fun to try an Epi de Ble (sorry, I have no idea how to add the accented characters). CRUNCH!!! It looked pathetic going in to the oven, but came out reasonably decent for a novice attempt. More importantly, the crispy, shattering crust. It's the same dough as the following recipe, just without the added toppings.
I am not going to go into the techniques of baking. Susan at does a fantastic job and there isn't anything I can say that I didn't learn from her. Go there. Read every post. You'll be glad you did. Even the base dough and sourdough recipes are hers. Only the toppings are my contribution, so I am sharing them back.

Sourdough with Prosciutto and Morbier

makes 2 500 gram loaves


388 g bread flour
90 g rye flour
280 g water
240 g mature, 100% hydration sourdough starter
12 g salt
160 g Morbier, cut in small cubes or chunks (you can substitute Taleggio or other cheese of your liking)
100 g prosciutto - about 8 very thin slices
    1. In a stand mixer, combine the flours, water and starter. Mix for about a minute until just combined.
    2. Let the dough rest 30 min.
    3. Add the salt, then mix 4-5 min. until the dough reaches a medium level of development. (if you don't know what this means, read the Wild Yeast Blog)
    4. Transfer to an oiled container and let ferment for 2.5 hours, with a fold at 75 min.
    5. Split the dough in 2 halves, each should weigh about 500 grams.
    6. Roll each half into a rectangle about 12x8 inches

    7. Cover each half with prosciutto slices, then cheese, keeping only a small margin for sealing. and then sprinkle evenly with cheese.

    8. From the long (12") end, roll like a jelly-roll. Seal the bottom seam and tuck the ends together.

    9. Proof, covered, for about 2 hours.

    10. Pre-heat the oven with a baking stone to 475F. Prepare also for steaming the loaves.

    11. Just before baking, slash the loaves. I cut just down to the first layer of filling - not cutting the prosciutto, just so I could feel it at the end of my razor.

    12. Once the loaves are in the oven, reduce the heat to 450F. Bake with steam for 8 min. and then another 22 min without steam.

    13. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm or lightly toasted.

    Submitted for YeastSpotting on Wild Yeast of course!

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Blueberry Galette

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    Perhaps my favorite part of summer is the fruit. I can't pick a favorite - berries, cherries, peaches, apricots all vie for first place. Each of these fruits is heavenly just eaten plain (and most do meet their fate in that manner), but when I want to put something a little more fancy-pants on the table, my first choice is to make a fruit galette.

    Last weekend we had the good fortune to pick 4.5 pounds (!) of blueberries from the 2 bushes in our tiny city backyard. Therefore, the recipe below focuses on these berries, but you can substitute just about any other fruit and find success. It also shares my technique for getting a good, flaky and tender crust. OK, perhaps I am a bit vain even about the crust, but after all my years of making crap pie crust, I am allowed a little pride.

    This recipe is sized to make one or 2 small tartlets - enough for 2 or 4 people and also reflects my aversion to things sweetened. And, unlike the other monkey, I tend to be pretty loosey-goosey about exact measurements, so please bear with me and adjust to suit your taste and what looks right.

    Blueberry Galette

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 tsp. salt
    8 oz. cold unsalted butter
    1 1/2 Tbsp. cold water

    2 cups blueberries
    2 tsp sugar

    1. Measure the flour and salt into a food processor bowl. Pulse just to mix. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Pulse in quick bursts to just break the butter into smaller bits - so that it looks maybe granola-ish in terms of chunky size. You don't want to process down as fine as breadcrumbs like most recipes say, let alone into a smooth paste like I used to do.
    2. Add the water and pulse again once or twice to incorporate.
    3. Turn out the whole crumbly mess onto a lightly floured board or counter. It should look like this:
    4. Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough, always working in one direction to flatten the butter chunks within the flour. Do this just enough to transform the pile of crumbs into a generally cohesive mass.
    5. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. (if you leave it longer, it gets harder to work with - you might let it warm up for 5 min or so if you find that you have a solid cube of butterflour on your hands).
    6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
    7. Roll out the dough into a circle, about 1/8" thick and trim the edges so that they're smooth
    8. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. you can skip the parchment paper, but it makes the pan much easier to wash in the case of a fruit juice spill... trust me, I know.
    9. Sprinkle the dough ever so lightly with sugar. I have a theory that this helps seal it, but, hey, I am known to make things up.
    10. Now that the dough is on the pan (ask me how I know this one), pile the berries evenly, leaving about 1 1/2 " margin all around. I generally go for a pile of fruit about 1" tall all around, unless it's an apple galette, in which case the thing is square, the apples are very thinly sliced and it is maybe 1/2" tall at best.
    11. Sprinkle again lightly with sugar, then fold in the edges of the dough, pleating it as needed.
    12. Bake for 28 min. or until your crust is browned the way you like it.


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    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Cranberry Pistachio Cardamom Biscotti

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    Welcome to Monkeyshines in the Kitchen! This inaugural recipe is based on a chocolate biscotti recipe from a Ghirardelli chocolate bar wrapper, adapted to include cranberries, pistachios and cardamom.


    2 c flour
    1/2 t ground cardamom*
    1 1/2 t baking powder
    1/2 t salt
    3/4 c light brown sugar
    4 oz butter, softened
    1 t vanilla essence
    2 large eggs
    3/4 c pistachio nuts (unsalted, shelled)
    3/4 c dried cranberries

    * Freshly ground cardamom is vastly superior to the pre-bottled stuff; grind the seeds from ~8-10 green cardamom pods using a mortar and pestle to yield 1/2 teaspoon.


    Preheat oven to 325º F

    (i) Sift the flour into a bowl and mix with the baking powder, ground cardamom and salt.
    (ii) Mix the butter and sugar using a hand mixer or a stand mixer until it's light and aerated.
    (iii) Lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla essence and gradually beat into the butter/sugar mixture.
    (iv) Add the flour mixture ~1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly. The resulting dough will be firm but still a bit sticky.
    (v) Mix in the cranberries and pistachios.
    (vi) Divide dough in two and, on a lightly floured surface, form into 2 roughly equal logs, each about 12" x 2" x 3/4". Place 6" apart on a nonstick cookie sheet and bake at 325º F for 30 minutes, or until light brown and starting to crack a bit on top.
    (vii) Remove from oven, transfer to a cutting board and slice diagonally into ~3/4" wide biscotti. Return to the cookie sheet (cut side down) and bake a further 10-15'.

    The above yields biscotti that are a bit softer than the traditional kind; to add crunch, increase oven temperature to 350º F and/or cook for 10 minutes more.

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