Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adventures in Baking: Sourdough Buns & No-Knead Bread

I have to wonder at what point one's partner becomes concerned that a new interest may have gone too far. I'm not sure exactly where that line is in knitting, or on which side of it I sit (though my husband may have something to say about that). However, I think I came close to that line on Monday with regards to the renewed sourdough baking interest.

So far I've been focused on bread, with brief forays into pizza dough to use up the discarded starter. But Monday I decided to try making hamburger buns. To the non-baker I'm sure this sounds similar to how the idea of making socks sounds to a non-knitter ("You know, you can buy a pack of those at WalMart for a few bucks?"). But, just like socks, the handmade ones are worth the effort (and the effort was a lot less than socks. And, unlike socks, these were very close to the same price as the ones you'd get at the store, but much better.

I used this recipe with a few slight modifications: I used whole wheat flour for about 1 cup, I used 1 cup starter and 1 cup discarded starter (because I didn't have enough fresh starter) and I used vegetable oil instead of butter (because it was there, but the butter probably would have given better flavor). I also brushed them with an egg wash and sprinkled sesame seeds on most of them before baking. Here are a few photos of the process:

Ready to Bake
I used a small springform pan to cut out the rings, this is just after I cut them, but before they rose. I thought I got pictures after the rise but before the oven, but I guess not.

Fresh from the Oven
I probably crowded this pan a bit (this is not the one above), and then as they rose they smooshed together a bit as they rose, but still good.

The final product, Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki (with the Greek salad hiding in the back)

Lamb Burger with Tzatziki

Lamb Burger with Tzatziki

I also made a loaf of no-knead sourdough bread that day and it wasn't a total success. I followed a recipe that had me do the last rise in the dutch oven, and it spread out a lot so I ended up with a flat disk of bread instead of a beautiful boule.

No Knead Sourdough

No Knead Sourdough

No Knead Sourdough
I also burnt it a bit around the edges (I think the oven was too hot). Both of these things made it very hard to get out, luckily I'd put parchment of the bottom, but the sides were stuck very well and I didn't want to scrape the pot so i had to use a plastic bowl scraper. But the flavor was good (very sour) and the crumb was good, just need to revise the prooving/shaping methods.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Still Tinkering

I've been trying to make to columns here wider (which one would think blogger would make easy). Luckily I've managed to find good instructions here, but it will take a while to work out the kinks so bear with me as things may be a little messy for a bit.

Cupcakes for the Grown-up Set

My blogging MO seems to be a spurt of posts and then silence. Really I have no excuses other than laziness. And I've even had a decent amount to blog about in terms of both knitting and cooking.

On the cooking front the big one is that I'm getting back into more baking including recently sourdough bread (which will hopefully get its own post). The first up was an attempt to use a ton of limes I had (from a semi-failed attempt to make Cochinita Pibil, which I'll blog about if I ever make a version that is worth writing home about). I had the limes, and felt like baking something sweet, so my mind drifted to the good things I'd heard about the Margarita Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Now, I'm not vegan, and I'm not even a huge fan of tequila, but the idea of vegan margarita cupcakes just warms my heart. So, after a quick google search I found the recipe here.

I ended up making a double recipe, because there were supposed to be 11 people at the dinner and 12 cupcakes for 11 people just seemed wrong. I thought about making 1 1/2 of the recipe (and because there were no eggs, it would have been really easy to do so), but figured that more cupcakes was better than more math. I'm very happy with the decision to double the recipe.

The cupcakes were a big success, the perfect grown-up cupcake. The flavor of the lime and tequila came through so well, but it wasn't overpowering at all. While the cupcakes were a little dense, it was more that they were just very moist (which is a good thing in my book), not dense in a bad way.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the greatest pictures, but here are a few. I tried to do the rimming with green sugar, but it was really messy. I think it would be better with a coarser sugar instead of the sprinkles I had.

Margarita Cupcakes

Margarita Cupcakes

I wanted to find little lime candies, but wasn't able to find them last minute (and on Easter Sunday), so I decided to candy some limes for a little extra decoration. They didn't turn out as pretty (or tasty) as I hoped, but they were a cute addition.

Candied Limes

I followed the recipe, but used butter for the frosting. I'm not sure if it was because of that, or something else, but the frosting was not as thick as I would have liked, even after adding more sugar than called for (and it was getting rather sweet). Next time (and there will be a next time, these were so good) I'll try to do something to make the frosting a bit thicker.

Really, all I have to say about these is yum. They were just so good. But, if you are looking for other excuses to bake with booze, I also recommend this recipe for Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake which I made last year into a pirate cake pan for my FIL's 60th birthday. The picture is not the greatest, I forgot my camera and and to rely on others.

pirate cake