Thursday, December 31, 2009

Well, I started the HBin5 master recipe for the first Braid.  It doesn't really look like much.

Here is a side view.  Time to let it rest at room temperature for a couple of hours.  The yeast will come alive and work its magic.

Check this out!  After two hours it has tripled.  I should have caught it sooner to put it in the refrigerator.  Hopefully it will be OK.  Lood at the all the air holes.  I will bake tomorrow.  Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Loaf

I first made this KAF bread recipe the Friday after Thanksgiving.  I was looking for a way to use up some leftover fresh cranberries but I did not want to make a sweet bread.  This recipe looked like it fit the bill.  It was my first experience using a sponge.  Previous forays into yeast breads were the simple make the dough let it rise shape the dough let it rise and bake it.  I had seen lots of recipes on line using preferments but had not attempted them.  I am the type that has to do a lot of research before attempting something - aka "analysis paralysis" lol.  The sponge looked more like a lump of dough when I made it.  Not like the pictures of others I had seen on line.  I covered the bowl and went to bed stuffed from all the turkey and fixins from the day.  The next morning I peeked at the bowl and it still looked like a lump of dough though puffy.  I lifted the plastic wrap and it smelled so wonderful.  I made the dough and let it do its thing.  It was quite puffy but it did not double.  Next I had to work the cranberries and nuts into the risen dough.  This was a bit of a challenge.  I felt I was making no progress at all and then suddenly, after about four minutes, the dough "opened up" and took the fruit and nuts.  After shaping the loaf and letting it rest, it was time to bake.  Boy did the house smell good.  It was so hard to wait for the bread to cool before cutting into it.  It was so yummy.  I have to tell you, it made the most incredible turkey sandwich.  The nuttiness of the whole wheat and the tartness of the fresh cranberries was a winning combination.  I made it again today for leftover ham sandwiches.  Another tasty treat.  This recipe is a keeper. I encourage you to try it.

Cinnamon Pecans

This is one of my favorite holiday snacks.  It is so easy to make but it does require constant stirring.  These are actually great to snack on all year long!  I was excited to try this new widget that allows me to paste recipe cards.  Let me know what you think!

Cinnamon Pecans

Very tasty. Unlike those that use the egg white wash ...

See Cinnamon Pecans on Key Ingredient.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm In!

I am an official participant in the HBin5 challenge.  We start on January 15th with the Master recipe.  From the Master we'll bake a loaf - should be able to handle that, an epi or wreath shaped loaf - this will be a first and finally spicy whole grain crackers - YUM I'm thinking soup to go along with this.  I see challenges for me in the first week but that's why I signed up for this!  Good thing there is a holiday weekend for me to have a little extra time:)  Please follow me as I bake my way through Jeff and Zoe's book.

How the Obsession Began

I have always enjoyed cooking and baking especially during the holidays.  I have a collection of tried and true family recipes that I have always made to give as gifts to friends and neighbors.  I have added a few of my own over the years to add some variety.  My friends seem genuinely excited to receive their gifts each Christmas.  I didn't want folks to tire of the same old thing year after year.  The obsession started innocently this year when I mentioned to my friend KB that I wanted to expand my offerings.  She told me about a recipe she saw on the King Arthur Flour website that sounded like it would be a perfect addition to my repertoire.  She even brought me ingredient stained copies of their old catalogs (they include recipes in the catalog) to share.  We all know that is the true sign of a great recipe!  One visit to the site and I was hooked.  Since Thanksgiving, I have prepared over a dozen of the recipes I found on the website.  Candies, cookies, yeast breads, scones - you name it I tried it.  All of them looked wonderful and tasted even better! 

From there, I went to their online community Baking Circle where I found more inspiration.  I wanted to expand my bread recipes so I took the advice of the seasoned bakers there and bought four (I don't do anything on a small scale lol) books to help me on my journey.  I have not been disappointed in the least.  I got "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoё François, "The Bread Bakers Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart and "Bread A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" by Jeffrey Hamelman.  What great reading, though I must confess that reading cookbooks is my favorite thing to do.  There are others that I want to add to my collection but this is a great start.

I didn't think to photograph this holiday baking journey. I thought it was a quick trip - boy was I wrong. I will keep the camera handy going forward.

When I started baking this holiday season, I had no idea the path it would take me down or the passion it would unleash.  My friends and neighbors received the gift of good food but I received an even greater gift - the gift of joy.

I hope that I can ignite the passion within you.  Come bake with me!