Ricotta Loaf

I said just yesterday that I love making pies. Today, I’m saying that I love making bread. Maybe I just need to acknowledge the fact that I love baking, period. That being said, there’s not a whole lot of interesting pictures you can take of the bread making process, in my opinion. Maybe I’m just not overly creative, but with bread, you’re generally dealing with something white, something a bit off-white, something slightly brown, and some more white or clear stuff. This week, it was ricotta loaf. Something white (ricotta), mixed into some white things (flour, sugar, salt), and something brown (yeast), and something slightly off-white (butter). We go a little crazy this week, and throw in a splash of colour with something yellow (egg)!

There was some chatter about the yeast quantity in the “Bread Bible Bakers” Facebook group. Faithy questioned the 1/2 TBSP quantity, so she weighed and measured her yeast, and came up with 1/2 tsp = 5 g. So, she used 1/2 tsp, but she was disappointed with the resulting fairly dense loaf. I’m sure I went by volume for yeast, because my scale’s just not that precise with small quantities, but the volume that I remember using was 1/2 tsp. Now I look at my picture, and I see that the 500 g flour + 25 g sugar + ??? yeast = 527g. So… did I accidentally use 1/3 of what the recipe called for, for yeast, by mixing up my TBSP and TSP? Or does my yeast weigh a lot less than the US brands Rose recommends? Me accidentally using too little would explain why it took so long to rise.

Perplexed
Perplexed

Ah well, moving on… Mix the flour mixture, then add the softened butter (which got a little too soft in the microwave), ricotta cheese, egg, and salt.

Food processors are wonderful
Food processors are wonderful

I used the dough blade in the food processor for the first time to knead this dough.

Smooth but not sticky
Smooth but not sticky

Rose cautions against letting it go too long, lest the butter & cheese get too warm, resulting in a sticky dough.

Ready to rise
Ready to rise

Into the container I always use for bread dough, then after it’s doubled in size, which took 4-5 hours, shape it, proof it, and bake it. Aside from how long it took to rise & proof, I don’t think the yeast confusion did any serious harm.

Baked!
Baked!

Brush with melted butter, or just be lazy and take a pat of butter and rub the hot bread with it. As I mentioned in my last post, I had intended to take this to share with my Aunt & Uncle for Sunday dinner, but we didn’t make it to their place due to illness. Instead, while my husband rested and recovered, I did some yard work¬†and I managed to get my next warp onto my loom.

Warp ready for weaving
Warp ready for weaving

Now I wait for the battery to recharge on the bobbin winder that Jay jury-rigged for me out of an unused power drill. ūüėČ

Verdict on this loaf? The flavour is good, and the texture is fantastic,¬†warm. It made a great accompaniment to butternut squash soup on Sunday night. I’ve been eating a plain slice cold for breakfast the past few days, too. The crumb is a bit odd. Not fluffy stretchy like a bread with well-developed gluten, but it seems¬†a bit more like a quick bread in texture.

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Touch-of-Grace Biscuits

I’m really enjoying being part of the group baking through The Bread Bible. I initially thought I might be¬†nuts, signing up for 2 baking groups at once, but the once-a-month pace is perfect, and the results are generally things¬†that aren’t a problem to add to our regular meals. With The Baking Bible bake-through, I have to plan out where the results are going:¬†my work, Jay’s work, Gilad, or are we having people over? I don’t care where you go, but you can’t all stay here! This week, we had “touch of grace”¬†biscuits with turkey noodle “stoup” for Sunday dinner.

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Pita bread

I love baking with yeast. It’s like having little minions¬†that go to work to impart your baked goods with flavour and air. Chemical reactions, like baking powder, are fun, but baking with live ¬†organisms is way more interesting. We went to see Alton Brown Live on Friday night, and anyone who was a fan of Good Eats knows that he has these “yeast” sock puppets that burp and fart their way through the show, whenever he talks about yeast. He told us on Friday that The Powers That Be at Food Network insisted that he had to have 7 burps for every fart, for whatever reason. In the 15 or so minutes between the house opening and the show starting, he had a video running on a big screen on stage, where the yeast sock puppets entertained us. As he pointed out, the version running on stage had reversed the ratio, and had 7 farts to every burp, since he didn’t have sponsors to answer to, for¬†his tour. ūüôā

Test Pita
Test Pita 

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Rosemary Focaccia

Mmmmm....!
Mmmmm…!

My advisor from my master’s thesis (>8 years ago) ¬†got back in touch with me a few weeks ago, after noticing the links to my blog posts on my Twitter feed.¬†I remember one Friday afternoon, sitting in his office at UW, having our weekly chat about my progress, his research, teaching, life, the universe, and everything, when he mentioned that he typically made pizza for his family on Friday nights. I asked him if he had a favourite pizza dough recipe, because at the time, I think I was just using a recipe that came with the breadmaker my parents had. He suggested that I should check out The Bread Bible, by one Rose Levy Beranbaum, and if I couldn’t remember her¬†name, to go look up http://www.realbakingwithrose.com.¬†I did. Then I went to the nearest bookstore. And, even though I was a grad student, I found the money for The Bread Bible, which was quickly followed by The Cake Bible, and adding Rose’s blog to my RSS reader.

One day, a post popped up on Rose’s blog, which linked to this post on Marie Wolf’s blog. It talked about a bake through project. I’d never participated in anything like that, but I knew it would be a good way to force gently encourage myself to a) actually thoroughly explore a cookbook for once, and b) actually put content up on a blog. With cookbooks, I have a tendency to buy them, pick a few recipes that jump out at me, and make those same things over and over again. See the basic white, yellow, and chocolate butter cakes, and the neoclassic buttercream in The Cake Bible. Pizza dough, white sandwich bread (which I’ve converted to whole wheat sandwich bread), and (more recently) Rye Sourdough in The Bread Bible. Pie crust in The Pie & Pastry Bible.

The Heavenly Cakes bake-through had many lovely results. I ‘met’ a wonderful group of bakers from all over the world, and got to bake with them most weeks for a couple of years. Most of our blogs went somewhat quiet for a while between then and now, and¬†it’s been great to reconnect, recently. As one of the active participants in¬†that bake-through, I also given¬†the opportunity to help Rose and Woody with testing some of the recipes for The Baking Bible, which was a real insight into the amount of work that goes into a book¬†like this. We followed the recipes, measured and weighed the components¬†at every stage of the process, gave feedback on taste, texture, clarity of instructions, etc. Rose’s response to our feedback provided¬†another level of insight. When something got universally low ratings, she completely swapped out¬†a crust recipe. We struggled with a process or ran into crystallization issues on a sugar syrup, and something got tweaked. I mentioned the other week that my interest in baking is related to a love of watching simple ingredients turn into something completely different. It’s also deeply intertwined with¬†a love of science, and specifically, food science. I did a grade 7 science project on the different results¬†between using honey and sugar to sweeten cookies, and I thought that a career in food science was where I’d end up, until I discovered computer programming. Long story short, the level of detail and explanation in the way Rose authors her recipes really appeals to me, and satisfies my inner food science nerd.

I think I’m getting around to my point. A couple of weeks ago, someone in the Baking Bible bake-through group suggested that maybe we should bake our way through The Bread Bible as well. I thought “No way, I can’t manage that, with everything else I’ve got going on.” Then, I thought.. why not? I already bake bread for Jay and I every couple of weekends. Bread is also generally relatively forgiving, if you have to leave it at some stage. It takes a lot of clock time, but usually not a lot of active time. So, I’ve signed up for another bake-through! This time, it’s bread! We’re baking once a month, and it looks like posts are going to be “due” the first Wednesday of the month. We’re following the order laid out by Marie on her¬†Breadbasketcase blog, which is what started this whole journey!

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Rye Sourdough

A few commenters expressed interest in my flour mill, on my panettone¬†post, so I decided to write up my process for making my regular (every other)¬†weekend rye sourdough. I get my whole rye berries and wheat berries from Oak Manor Farms. They claim to be “Canada’s original organic flour mill.” All I know is that I can get 10kg of hard wheat berries there, for a little over $20. It may not be as cheap as flour, but it’s fresh and local (which are both far more important to me than organic, personally). It also makes beautiful bread.

Lovely bread
My lovely sourdough rye

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