Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bread - the substance of a happy family

I baked this morning.  I wasn't actually on task.  My goal walking into the kitchen was to empty and load the dishwasher.  It's 5pm, and I still haven't quite finished the kitchen.  Of course the kitchen is now 90 degrees and I wanted out of there!

New canisters.  That meant that I could restart my sourdough starters.  Both wheat and regular, and while I was at it I thought that I should feed the Friendship starter.  It was too full, and it a state to bake!  OK.  Baking time.

I have beautiful mini baking pans.  I love them.  The children are much more likely to grab a mini-loaf rather than cut a slice.  They are closer to adults than children.  While I was at it, I randomly wondered why you need to grease and flour a pan.  Isn't greasing a pan enough?  I did some research, with the help of Quora.

You need grease and flour for two reasons.  Grease is part of the "non-stick."  but what use is the flour?  It turns out that flour is there for two reasons.  One- it lets the dough mixture rise higher.  I don't really understand this, but it gives the dough something to "climb."  Two - the flour prevents more of the shortening / grease from absorbing into the dough.  That will lead to more fat, and possible a richer cake, but it also changes the baking time and texture.  (One thought was that it will be a harder bread or cake.)  Cookies with more fat spread more and bake faster.  They usually end up crisper.

I tested it with my mini-loafs.  Same quantity, but 7  of the 8 rose far more than I really wanted.  One looked like a dwarf or runt, but I measured the bread mix.  Interesting.  (I won't be eating those, so taste comparisons are out.)

Crazy enough not to be completely done.  I went for a packaged bread mix.  The real goal was to understand what shaping bread was like.  Split into little balls, rolled into snakes and braided.  (One thing to remember, braiding  braid is a two strand process, not three like most braids.)  Then I rolled each small braid into a circle and tucked the ends under.  The bread was delicious, but it met the real goal.  Mini bread loaves- easily broken into bite sized pieces or taken as a snack sized whole.  It's my first attempt at shaping bread, but I might do it again. I'm pretty happy with the results, and this was simple.

I think storage for starters, dry mixes, and mini loaves is a bigger issue for me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thoughts about Pizza

I'm allergic to tomatoes, so I experiment a lot with pizza- without tomatoes.  I've found some great pizza dough recipes.  They are far better than prepared pizza crusts, but honestly not worth it unless you have the time and want to invest the effort.  Some of the absolute best ones involve letting the dough sit from 12 to 24 hours.

Home made pizza dough is drop dead easy to make, but it usually requires factoring some planning into your night.  I like to make it on a night when other things that I'm cooking take time, but not too much attention.  Or I'm likely to be tired the next night.

With home made dough, you can make mini-pizzas that are different for each individual in the family.  This is a great way to prepare a simple cheese pizza for a child, or a more complicated version for an adult.  It also means that you can add meat or vegetables for those that prefer one or the other.  As a cooking note, though- plain cheese will cook faster and brown faster.  Mustn't over bake the pizza for the children!

There are many different white sauces to put on a pizza.  Olive oil and garlic, alfredo sauce, white bean hummus.  The favorite for the children seems to be  Alfredo sauce.

As an extra bonus and planning tip, for homemade pizza make use of leftovers from other dinners.  Leftover chicken is always a win on pizza.  Grilled peppers and onions from another dinner are perfect vegetables!

Tonight was less than 30 minutes, 3 different dinners and lunch for another day.