Babka

I sent an email to my teams this morning, telling them that there was Babka at my desk, and my friend Sergey came over to tell me that “Babka” is kind of a rude way to refer to one’s grandmother in Russian. Oops. There go my cultural sensitivity points for the day. For this week’s “Rose’s Alpha Bakers” recipe, there were 3 filling variations offered, and I went for the third: a tart apricot spread with a layer of slightly sweetened cream cheese.

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Cranberry Christmas Bread

More bread, and more stuff I wouldn’t have picked out on my own, but I’m glad to have baked. I haven’t actually tasted this one yet, but I’m thinking it will probably make a nice breakfast tomorrow. This week’s selection for the Baking Bible bake-through is cranberry walnut Christmas bread. Timely, eh?

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Banana Feather Loaf

I’m really having a hard time figuring out what to say about this one. I make Rose’s white sandwich bread so often that I’ve pretty much got the quantities memorized, and this one is basically the same technique. A little less butter here, add some banana, and probably change some of the other ratios (like you might not need as much honey with banana for the yeast to feed on)… but it’s basically the same bread. This is another of those cases where I probably wouldn’t have tried it if not for the bake through, but I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to bake it again, unless I want something interesting to use as the basis for french toast for a really special breakfast. I just can’t figure out what else to use this for. Other than snacks. And it’s definitely good for snacks. But it’s got a sweetness to it that (I think) makes it less appropriate for things like grilled cheese, tuna melts, or garlic bread, which is really what bread’s used for, around here.

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Beer Bread

Sometimes, I just can’t get myself excited to blog about something I’ve baked. I think that’s likely going to be the struggle with The Bread Bible bake along. Bread’s generally pretty easy, in my opinion, and none of the steps are all that exciting. It’s typically a long, slow process, with not a lot of visual interest. The one interesting thing I have to say about this bread: Rose says she makes it all the time, but because her husband doesn’t like beer, she makes it with water instead! She called it “beer-less beer bread.”

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Whole Wheat Walnut Loaf

As I mentioned in my prosciutto ring post, bread can be made using a variety of techniques. This week’s “Alpha Baking” project was a whole wheat loaf based on the sponge technique. This is where the liquid is mixed with some of the flour and some of the yeast, then the remaining flour, yeast, salt, and any extras are sprinkled over top.  I made this up on Friday, to take as part of my contribution to meals at our friends’ cottage this past weekend. Since it was a holiday weekend, I’m a bit behind on writing this up. Oh well!

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Prosciutto Ring

I’m a little behind in blogging about the latest round in the Bread Bible bake-through, but it looks like I’m not the only one. 🙂 We all came to an agreement in the Facebook group that this would be a no-pressure baking & blogging project, and that people could join or not join for any given month, with no strings attached. I like it. We’re supposed to post on the first Wednesday of the month, and it is now the last one, so, I like to think I’m just embracing the no-pressure thing! The most recent recipe on the schedule was the prosciutto ring. This is another one of those recipes that I would never try making if it weren’t for a bake-through project like this, so I’m glad I signed up for this group.

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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. 😉

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.

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. 🙂

Test Pita
Test Pita 

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