Monday, May 14, 2007

Cinnamon Raisin Loaf

I've been wanting to bake something to bring into work, and decided to make the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf from The Bread Bible (minus the raisins). It struck me as something that would be nice to have early on a Monday morning as we're getting ready for another week of lost library cards and weird altercations in the parking lot.

And if you can't tell, yes, I'm more-or-less baking my way through this book. "More or less" because I'm allergic to nuts, and there are a few nut-heavy recipes in there.

This bread, again, starts out with a dough sponge. Even though yesterday wasn't especially humid, I ended up needing to add a CUP more flour than the recipe calls for just to get it from "thick batter" to "kneadable dough" status. This isn't one of the recipes with listed errors, but 1 3/4 cups of water plus about 4 cups of flour seems off to me. However, seeing that I was supposed to have a "soft dough", I just added flour 1/4 cup at a time until I had something that felt like the right texture.

Once the dough has risen, it goes into the refrigerator to firm up so that it can be flattened into a rectangle. The dough is then coated with an egg wash and a cinnamon-sugar mixture, rolled up, left to rise again, and then baked.

Finished loaf cooling:
Cinnamon Raisin Loaf (minus the raisins)

Yes, that's some cinnamon leakage on the side:
Minor cinnamon leakage

Sliced, showing actual SPIRALS!
Cinnamon Raisin loaf slices

The finished bread is moist and dense; I can't wait to try toasting up a slice or two. It's not too sweet, and makes a perfect breakfast treat.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread

Today was the day, folks. It was finally time to branch out beyond wheat-based flours. I am enough of a dork that I'm excited by that. :)

I decided to finally make use of some of the rye flour that I got a few weeks ago. This called for rye bread. Specifically, a loaf of "Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread out of The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

My initial impression after reading the recipe? "Wow... that's all the rye flour that's used?" I naively had been expecting a rye bread to be mostly rye flour, but this particular one is mostly bread flour, with just 3/4 cup of rye flour.

This book hasn't let me down yet, so I went with it. I gathered up my ingredients: Arrowhead Mills Organic Rye Flour, Pillsbury bread flour, bulk instant yeast from the natural market, generic honey, sugar, and salt. The recipes calls for caraway seeds, which I didn't have, so I used sesame seeds instead. "Sesame Rye" had a nice ring to it.

Like many of the recipes in TBB, this bread starts with a sponge that ferments from 1 to 4 hours. I usually jump on my sponges after barely an hour, out of sheer impatience. This one, though, I allowed to sit for almost the full 4 hours. It was very perky by the end of the 4 hours, ready to be mixed and kneaded and left to proof.

Rye bread rising

I was very pleasantly surprised to see a tan dough, with lots of rye speckles... so much for my worries that there wasn't enough rye flour. The dough doubled in about 1.5 hours, got a gentle punching down via the "letter fold" method, and then doubled again.

Shaping time. I wanted this bread for sandwiches, so I eschewed the freeform loaf called for in the recipe in favor of a loaf pan. One last 45 minute rising, and then into the oven with some ice cubes for a nice chewy crust. It baked for 45 minutes, and came out like so:

Loaf of Rye Bread

And I know bakers want to get a gander at the inside:
Rye Bread

slice of homemade rye bread

The crumb is dense, moist, chewy... I love this bread. It's absolutely going into my standard rotation. And since rye flour is a whole grain flour, it has all of those whole grain health benefits--excellent! :)

Friday, May 04, 2007

Lemon Vinaigrette Roasted Chicken with Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes

So, every month when I get the mailing from the cookbook club I'm in, there's a recipe printed inside the envelope. Usually, I forget about this entirely and throw it out. Luckily, I grabbed this one for Lemon Vinaigrette Roasted Chicken with Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes, which is from No-Fuss Dinners by Caroline Marson.

Lemon Vinaigrette Roasted Chicken

It wasn't exactly "no-fuss", I'll admit. However, it was an acceptable amount of fuss, especially considering the rather tasty result. The lemon and Gorgonzola complement each other very nicely.

Lemon Vinaigrette Roasted Chicken with Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
2 unwaxed lemons
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, halved
6 boneless chicken breasts, with skin (about 6 oz. each)
handful fresh thyme sprigs
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. cider or sherry vinegar
4 tbsp. honey
2/3 cup olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
wilted spinach and steamed or sautéed green beans, to serve

Gorgonzola mash:
3 lb. baking potatoes, peeled & cut into 8 pieces
3 fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)
1 cup milk, warmed
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, cubed
sea salt

small roasting pan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Grate zest and squeeze juice from 1 lemon and set aside. Thinly slice remaining lemon. Scatter lemon slices, onion, and garlic over the base of the roasting pan. Place chicken on slices. Season well with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with thyme sprigs.

Whisk together the reserved lemon zest and juice, vinegars, honey, and olive oil in a bowl. Pour vinaigrette over chicken and cook in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile make the Gorgonzola mash. Rinse potatoes and cook in a large pan of boiling salted water with rosemary (if using) for 12-15 minutes. Drain and mash. Put potatoes back into the pan, and stir briefly over low heat to remove excess moisture.

Beat in warm milk and butter and season well. Stir thoroughly until you have a smooth paste and a peaking consistency—add extra milk if necessary. Gently fold in the Gorgonzola just before you’re about to serve.

Remove chicken from the oven and then from the pan; set aside in a warm place. Place pan over a medium heat and bubble juices until syrupy.

To serve, place a large spoonful of mashed potatoes on each warmed plate and put a chicken breast on the top. Spoon over the lemon juices and accompany with wilted spinach and green beans. Serves 6.