Sunday, February 23, 2014

Black Russian Rye Bread

I came to realize making this recipe, that I am not a "eat a slice of rye" type of girl. It must have something on it that isn't just melted butter.

I was really excited to make it, I got it all baked, cut a slice, and well...kinda choked it down. It's got a pretty intense flavor to it...

Well the next day, as I'm trying to figure out what to do with all this bread (I have never been able to bring myself to throw anything out) my husband suggested I gather the items for a delicious Reuben sandwich. WOW, it was SOOO good! It was perfect with this bread!!!

This is how I make my Reuben, take 3-4 slices of corned beef (or pastrami) put it in the microwave for 1 minute with a couple spoonfuls of sauerkraut, drizzle some thousand island dressing, and top with a slice of swiss cheese. Meanwhile, toast your rye bread, then when the sandwich comes out of the microwave place the gooey deliciousness on the toast. It was amazing!

And now for the bread...

Start the yeast: 1/2 a cup of warm water, sprinkle over the top 2 tablespoons (2 packets) of active dry yeast and a pinch of sugar.

In a saucepan: 2 cups of water,  1/2 a cup molasses, 1/4 a cup apple cider vinegar, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, and one ounce unsweetened chocolate (If you don't have the bar you can convert baking cocoa). Heat to 105-115 F. The butter and chocolate will melt. Set aside.

In a large bowl: Mix 1/2 a cup whole wheat flour, 3 cups medium rye, and 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour.
You can play around with this combination, if you want a more mild flavor decrease the rye. I had dark rye flour so I reduced it to 2 cups and added 4 cups of unbleached all purpose...
In another bowl:  2 cups mixed flours, 1 cup wheat bran, 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, 1/2 a teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (You can also use Pero or Cafix to replace the coffee), then 1 tablespoon minced shallot.
Add the yeast and chocolate mixtures, then beat until smooth. About 3 minutes. Add the remaining mixed flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. I saved a little of the mixed flour to use during kneading.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead 2-3 minutes, until dough is springy. If you need extra flour just add a tablespoon at a time. Let raise in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap for 1 1/2-2 hours.

In a small bowl mix 1/4 a cup yellow cornmeal, 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. I sprinkled my cookie sheet with the mixture and rolled the two free form loaves in it. Cover again with plastic wrap and let raise about 45 minutes to an hour.

Twenty minutes before baking heat oven to 350 F. If you want a shiny crust prepare cornstarch glaze; 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 a cup of water whisked on the stovetop  until boiling, reduce heat and cook until clear. Spread over the top of the bread.
Using a serrated knife or kitchen scissors cut an x about 1/4 an inch deep. (We did one x, then the other in honor of the superbowl!)
Bake for 30 minutes, pull out and reheat the glaze and do another layer, then bake another 15-20 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Buckwheat Pancakes

Tasty, and healthy too!! I wasn't sure how I would feel about these, I haven't been a buckwheat fan in the past. But it had a nice balance between the flours, so you got the taste of buckwheat, but it wasn't overwhelming. I thought the batter was pretty as well :)

First, in a large bowl mix together 1 3/4 a cup unbleached all purpose flour, 1/4 a cup dark buckwheat flour, and 2 tablespoons rolled oats.
Then add 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, grated zest of an orange (I would say about a tablespoon) and 1/4 a teaspoon of salt.
In another bowl use a whisk to mix 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 4 large eggs, and 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry. Whisk until moistened, I usually do about 12 seconds.
I always think about Alton Brown when I make pancakes, because in one particular episode (it was actually about waffles, but the rules apply here) he said "walk away, just walk away" :) Here is the clip from Good Eats for you to enjoy...WALK AWAY
Then let it sit for 15 minutes, this will take care of any lumps/flour pockets, etc.
Heat the griddle, or heavy skillet. I like my trusty red skillet that I got from the discount section at Target...hehe. Lightly grease, then use 1/4-1/3 measuring cup. This batter is pretty thick, so you can roll the batter in the pan (like you do with crepes) if you want to thin them out. Cook two minutes, flip, then another minute.
Serve immediately, or keep in a 200 F oven.
You can also cool them, then freeze in a large bag for a quick breakfast another morning.
Yum! I love pancakes!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spiced Brown Sugar-Pecan Coffee Cake

As much as I loved all the ingredients in this recipe it still didn't come out quite as good as I hoped. It wasn't bad, just a little...lacking... But it did undergo a transformation overnight and was so much better the next day. It does mention that this cake will stay nice for up to four days. So I will recommend it, but keep in mind that it does have a serious amount of pecans. If you aren't a pecan fan, or can't bring yourself to pay for them then I think walnuts would be delicious!

First of all, get an 8 inch springform (or 9, that's what I used) then line the bottom with some parchment paper, and grease the sides. Then turn on the oven to 350 F.

Chop up 1 1/2 to 2 cups of pecans (or nuts of your choice)
Crumb Topping: 1/4 a cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 a cup unbleached all purpose flour, 1/2 a teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon  and a teaspoon of mace.
Take 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and cut into small pieces.
Add to the sugar mixture, you can do a couple of quick pulses in a food processor, or by hand. You want course crumbs. Add the nuts and set aside.
Wet ingredients: Cream 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, 1/2 a cup (packed) brown sugar, 1/2 a cup granulated sugar. Then add 2 large eggs, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Dry ingredients: 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 a teaspoon of salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet alternately with one cup of buttermilk. Don't over stir, or the cake will be tough.
Spoon half the batter into the pan, sprinkle with half the crumb topping, then the other half of batter and remaining crumb.
Bake at 350 F 40-45 minutes, or until cake tester (or butter knife) comes out clean. Let cool completely, then let sit at least 12 hours (or overnight) before eating.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Now keep in mind that this bread requires a cold rise, so it takes FOREVER!!! The amount of time it took was quite a bit longer then stated in the recipe. But I think I may have had it a little colder then necessary. But it was all worth it because it is SO good! I'm one of those people that makes a lot of sound effects when I'm eating something that is just amazing, and there were a lot of sound effects this morning while I was eating my toast with an egg on top.

Note that the recipe wants you to use a mixer, but there are also directions if you are doing it by hand and I will include those. Also be sure to pull out 6 eggs and 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter in advance, they need to be at room temperature. The butter needs to be cut into small pieces and then softened.

So to begin: 1 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon (1 packet) active dry yeast, 1/4 a cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add 1/2 a cup of hot water (120 F) and beat until smooth. About 2 minutes.
Add the six eggs, one at a time, beating after adding each one. Then add two more cups of flour, half a cup at a time.
Add the pieces of butter several pieces at a time.
Beat until smooth. With my hand mixer and little dough hooks it took 2-3 minutes. If you are using a stand mixer it should take around 30 seconds.

Then add another 1 1/2 cups of flour, a little at a time. Beating on low speed while doing this. The dough will be a lot like batter not like your traditional bread dough.
Scrape the dough with a spatula into a well greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let raise in a cool room until doubled. About three hours.
Now this is where it was different for me. I put the bowl down in the basement and I think it may have been colder then necessary because four hours went by and it wasn't anywhere near double. I think it may have been about a third of the way there, but it was after midnight and I was about the turn into a pumpkin (bahahaha) so I went ahead and just put it in the fridge for the 12 hour raise there.
So yes, place in the fridge overnight (or for 12 hours)
The next day sprinkle flour over your work surface, take the dough and cut it in half. (Work quickly because if it starts to soften it will be impossible to work with, if it does start to get soft put it back in the fridge until cold again!) I used a rolling pin to roll each piece into a rectangle. Then roll up tightly, kinda like cinnamon rolls without all the fillings. (Oh and by the way, this type of dough is highly recommended for cinnamon rolls!!). Place in two greased 9x5 inch pans. Raise until double, once again in a cool room. I put them in my bedroom closet, haha, the things you do to keep them from little fingers! I covered them with the same plastic wrap I used from the bowl.
The recipe says it takes 1 1/2-2 hours to double. Mine took a record breaking 6 hours...yeah. Next time I will definitely re figure the cool room concept! I think if I did the raising a little better it would have had a much nicer shape.
Bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes. Immediately place on a cooling rack.
Mmmm, I was completely amazed at how soft this bread was, even the crust! It was super easy to slice and tastes amazing. I can't wait to try it again!

Monday February 17th
Oopsie! I was just looking through this post and realized I didn't include directions for making this by hand. So here goes:
Put all but a half a cup of the flour in a pile on your work surface and make a well in the center. That would be four cups of flour.
Into the well place the yeast (1 packet or 1 tablespoon active dry), 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 a cup of warm water. Stir carefully to dissolve the yeast, then let sit until foamy.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of salt around the rim of the well.
 Add the 6 eggs (at room temp) into the yeast mixture and blend well with your fingers. Then gradually bring all the flour, etc. into the mixture as well, also using your fingertips.  The dough will be very sticky, but elastic.
Lifting a little at a time slap the dough onto the work surface to knead the dough. Knead quickly like this for 8-10 minutes. Gradually adding the remaining 1/2 a cup of flour as needed.
To incorporate the butter: divide the softened butter into four equal amounts.  Place each portion on one corner of the dough. Hold four fingers stiff and slap the butter until malleable (able to be hammered or pressed permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking)  Quickly ( the butter MUST stay cold!If it starts to melt put the dough in the fridge for a few minutes) smear the butter into the mass of dough, then knead quickly to incorporate into the dough. Don't slap or crash anymore after the butter is added. This process shouldn't take more then 5 minutes. 
Then follow the instructions for raising and baking for the original recipe.