Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Visiting Herrington Harbor North, Deale MD

It was our one chance to enjoy good weather for the week.  Bright sunshine that actually exuded warmth!  OK, maybe not Florida warmth...after all we were only talking 45 degrees, but for us that was warmth.  Oh and the sunshine!  Glorious blue skies, narry a cloud in sight! 

So we loaded Scupper in the car and off we went to our old stomping grounds, Herrington Harbor North in Deale, MD.  We kept our boat Cadenza there for a couple of years and still know folks down there.  It's a picturesque setting with slips for about 500 boats, huge haul out yard, plenty of storage area for boats for the winter, and lovely expanses of green grass, a pool and clubroom. 

Ken checking out the utilities in Herrington Harbor North. 

In the summertime they show outdoor movies on Saturday nights, and even have fresh popcorn.  What a great way to see Master and Commander, with the smell of the ocean, the sound of the boats creaking as they moved up and down in the water, then suddenly the cannons exploding "BOOM!"  What fun that evening was!  We loved it!

Ken took these from the top of our 60 ft mast on Cadenza

Sadly we sold our boat at the beginning of 2009.  We're hoping to get a catamaran one of these days soon.  Cadenza was my husband's boat, custom built for him 24 years ago.  We were already planning on getting a catamaran, and put it up for sale.  In this economy we were lucky to sell her.  But it was gut wrenching for both of us, but especially him. 

While we wait for our ship to come in, literally in so many ways, we kayak and bicycle ride during the good months.  But I am digressing.  I was talking about the marina. 

It was bittersweet walking around the marina.  We miss living on or at least having a boat to go to on the weekends so much.  It's a different lifestyle and one that is difficult to explain to landlubbers.  There's a comraderie amongst sailors that you don't find in many areas of the country, especially where we live these days. 

When living on a boat you have to be very independent, self-sufficient, and yet able to accept the help of your boating "neighbors" if you need it, and willing to help them if they need it.  You often meet people for one or two days and never see them again but may keep in touch for years after via email and facebook. 

Living onboard is very compact and complex.  Your galley may only be 3 feet long by 1 foot deep.  In some cases you count yourself lucky if you have any kind of rerigerator.  Ours was this long narrow hole in the counter, but belive me we were delighted to have it.  The "living room" (we call it a salon) was a warapround couch area with a big table in the center.  That was it.  But we could get 8 people cozy in the area and had many great dinners.  Our cabin included tiny little closets, and a double bed with storage under it.  The cockpit was our main party area.  We often had 10 people sitting around laughing, enjoying a meal as we got to know each other. 

Because there is such limited space on a boat you have to really plan out what groceries you will carry onboard, what dishes you have, what clothes you can keep, and what books will fit.  You have to make sure to leave you room for the spare parts you may or may not need, the life jackets, the foul weather gear, etc. 

YOU may be sitting there thinking to yourself that it doesn't sound like fun or a good life to you.  But we love it.  When we want to go somewhere, we pull in the lines or hoist the anchor, secure anything that could be knocked off, and away we go.  Can you do that with your house?   OK, if you live in a motor home yes, but you are still restricted to the roads.  We got to sail away.

Watching another boat get ready to anchor in a small cove in chesapeake Bay.

We both love the water, the smell of the sea, the sounds of the sea birds, watching the sea life of all kinds.  Sitting inland, driving by cow pastures and corn pretty as it can all be at times...just doesn't do it for me.  There is no water with salt in our present neighborhood!   OK time to quit whining...time to get back to baking!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cran-raisin orange zest Challah with wholewheat II

We had a potluck today at work.  I made another batch of Cran-Raisin Orange Zest challah that the HBin5 group did last week as our second project.  But this time I took a couple of ideas from some of the other members! 

First I made a traditional three braid challah with the small braid on top like I did before.  This was the one I took to the potluck. 

I also made two other small three braid challahs and shaped them into wreaths.  I gave them as gifts at work. 

Finally I took the last 1 pound portion of dough and rolled it out into a rectangle. 

I slathered it with Smuckers Sugar Free Orange Marmalade, and sprinkled more cran-raisins and walnuts.  After rolling it up into a log, I sliced it in 3" slices and placed them into an 8x8 baking pan. 

By the time I was done baking this weekend, my floor was slippery with flour.  I swept it and then released George, our Irobot Scooba.  I love it!  When I first bought it, 3 years ago, I tested the floors after it cleaned them.  My test?  I walked and scooted all over the floors in my white sox.  They were still clean!

Bliss by triple chocolate

Friday evening, September 18th. The storm was on the way…predictions of up to 18 inches of snow had everyone scrambling for toilet paper, cookie recipe ingredients and presents on the lists. We had to fight traffic to get to Sam's Club; zigzag around the party atmosphere in the aisles as people discussed their preparations for the impending blizzard, and finally a mad dash into Wal-Mart for … lasagna noodles?? Yes and another 5 pound bag of King Arthur all purpose flour.

Blizzards to me equal “Baking Day Heaven”. And this time it would be heaven in the form of chocolate bread…which I renamed Bliss by Triple Chocolate.

I first time I saw a true chocolate bread a few years ago here in York, at bakery stand at the Eastern York market (held every Friday for 50+ years). At the cost of $10 for a loaf, I buy any, not even one. I so wanted to find out what it tasted like and whether it was worth recreating the recipe. The bread looked as though the crumb held together but wasn’t too sticky. So the search began for the perfect chocolate bread recipe. My next stop was Wegman’s grocery store in Hunt Valley, MD, just 30 minutes away.

Wegman’s is one of my favorite stores…food porn, eye candy, whatever you want to call it…the store has some of the best pastry and bread displays I have seen outside of very fancy bakeries. They had chocolate bread also, and at less than $5.00, I had to buy a loaf of theirs to taste. It was better looking than the first loaf I saw but still not what I was seeking in taste. I searched the internet, looked scrutinized the cookbooks I could find and then concentrated on other things…beer…but not just any beer…chocolate stout!
After trying a few more chocolate bread recipes I couldn’t quite get it just right, even when sacrificing a bottle of my chocolate stout as one of the ingredients! Then along came Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and the search was over!

So before I go further I’d like to say a very big THANK YOU to Zoe and Jeff, authors of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, and Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (and page 211 of ABin5), ! I’m not going to list the recipe or show the step by step pictures because you can go to their website for that.

But even their recipe was missing a key ingredient, and I let them know about it. The chocolate bread recipe on the ABin5 website lists two kinds of chocolate, but I deepened it a bit with three types of chocolate plus dried cherries and call it “Bliss by triple chocolate.” One of the chocolates was Chocolate Stout. BUT I decided not to sacrifice one of the last precious bottles of my homemade 3 year old chocolate stout; instead I used a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout. A very fine beer to sacrifice on the altar of my favorite breads!

The night before I was to mix the dough, I opened the 12 ounce bottle of beer and poured it into a 4 cup measuring cup and covered it with plastic wrap to allow it to go flat. When I was ready to make the dough I added water to take it to the required liquid. I also measured out one cup of dried cherries. As to the other two chocolate additions called for in the recipe, I used Trader Joes 70 % chocolate bar for the ganache, and the chopped chocolate, and Penzey’s Spices Dutch-process cocoa. Zoe is so right about what the dough is like! It doesn’t rise much…but it does rise. Check out her great pictures!

While the snow came down like flour being sifted outside, I started working with the dough. Again Zoe is right, it’s a big lump! LOL. I made two balls and placed them in a bread pan. I loved the idea of using butter to coat the inside of the pan and then dusting with table sugar, but I also found that dusting the counter with sugar helped to spread the dough out to make the various shapes I wanted.
I pressed out a circle of dough and smeared it with mascarpone, then used my pizza cutter to cut the slices and rolled them from the wide end to make crescents. I did the same with a slather of cream cheese, and another with sugar free raspberry jam. I made a variety of sizes of crescent rolls just for experiments.

Next I took about a ½ pound section of dough and again placed it on the sugar coated counter and pressed it into a rectangle about 1/3” thick. I then sprinkled cinnamon on it, but not just a little sprinkle…I practically poured it on! Next I sprinkled Splenda (cup for cup granulated).  It seemed that any chocolate we had during our 9 months in Mexico had cinnamon in it. We loved it! So this was my way of saluting Mexico’s great chocolate that they use for making hot chocolate, and eating.

I will say that I would not make the chocolate crescents again.  But the other shapes I will!

I've been passing it out at work as Holiday gifts.  I don't even need to wrap it in pretty wrapping paper.  The aroma is so chocolatey that the scent of chocolate fills the recipient's cubicle!

Try Zoe and Jeff’s recipe now, then you’ll be ready for Valentine’s Day! You will love it and it truly is Blissful chocolate!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cranberry-Orange Challah with wholewheat

Another successful bread recipe from "Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzbert, M.D. and Zoe Francois!  Actually this recipe was provided by Jeff to our HBin5 google group for our December bread recipe.  So let me jump right in with the details!

First I have to confess, my husband is NOT a fan of whole the point where if he KNOWS whole wheat is in the recipe he doesn't even want to try it.  But I coax him to try it, and occassionally he is delighted with the results of my efforts. 

For this reason I switched the all purpose and whole wheat flours around.  Instead of 5 cups of whole wheat and 3 cups of all purpose flour, I used 3 cups of whole wheat and 5 cups of all purpose flour.  The other substitution I made was flax seed meal for the wheat germ.  This was one of the substitutions that Michelle posted and it worked fine.  I just hadn't had time and the memory to get wheat germ, but had the flax seed meal. 

The texture of the dough was spot on.  I've been making challot (plural of challah) for about 20 years now.  I love Jeff and Zoe's recipe for it in the original book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and had switched to it last year.  Previous to that I was doing the "old fashioned" type of recipe that was time consuming, albeit a good bread. 

My kitchen is very cold this time of year.  Matter of fact I am sitting here with an undershirt on under my Chanukah tee shirt, and a sweatshirt with a hood on it typing this!  I could turn up the heat, but let's face it, since I pay the utilities I am too cheap to do that!  LOL. 

The point of that paragraph is that it takes longer for my dough to do the first rise.  So I just let it sit there for about 3-4 hrs.  When I came into the kitchen to check the dough just before retiring for the evening I found that my dough was pushing the lid off!  It's a very active dough!  I jiggled and then pushed the dough down a bit to where it was about 3 inches below the top of my container and put it in the frig.  Checked it again in the morning and lo and behold had to jiggle it down again!  Hm.  Didn't know what I was going to come home to at this point! 

When I took it out of the frig to start working with it, it was once again up to the top of the container, but hadn't pushed the lid up.  Working with the dough was very easy.  Some of the ABin5, and the HBin5 doughs are very soft and loose but this challah dough was just right. 

First thing I decided to make was "sufganiots" or jelly donuts.  I don't make donuts usually, and only buy donut holes every once in a blue moon.  But one of our HBin5 group members had suggested using the dough for the jelly donuts and I decided to try it.  After looking up several sites on the web about how to get the jelly in the donuts I chose to attempt the "wrapping the dough around the jelly" method and then frying them.  It was NOT successful.  All the jelly leaked out in the frying! 

Although I had bought two different kitchen gadgets to try stuffing the donuts, I decided not to attempt it until later.  Just running out of time, and energy since I was also cooking latkes for the first night of Chanukah for my hubby, Ken, and I, after a full day of work! 

When frying the donuts, which looked more like small cannon balls, I found it very difficult to tell when they were cooked through inside. I don't make donuts, remember?  Eventually I took them out before they burned.  Then rolled them in sugar and set them aside. 

We ate the donuts as part of our Chanukah meal last night for dessert.  Whle they were good, and the texture was quite acceptable, Ken just didn't care for the dough done that way.  He also made a comment about the whole wheat! 

This morning I made the rest of the dough into two challot, putting both into the standard 3 braid.  After reviewing all the different braiding techniques I decided to stick with my traditional 3 strand braid.  But one thing I did different was roll the ends of the three stands together instead of tucking them underneath.  On the larger loaf I made an indent, moistened the dough, then placed a very small challah on it. 

Just before baking I put the orange zest and sugar on the top of the smaller loaf.  But I had put the sugar and orange zest together in a bowl thinking that that would help the orange zest dry out.  Think again!  It just made a gunky mess.  I couldn't really sprinkle it on top, instead I kind of dropped it on top and then used my egg wash brush to schmear it around on the top of the braided dough.  I just did a regular egg wash on the other one.  Both baked up beautiful! 

On Saturday mornings I go to Wayne and Wanetta's house, my neighbor's, for breakfast.  Wayne makes great poached eggs for me and we all have a great time talking and laughing.  This morning their daughter Denise was there also and it's always fun to see her!  I took down a stack of latkes, the cran-raisin, orange zested challah, and some great Dundee orange marmalade that Denise had picked up at Trader Joe's for me.  I had already sent down some of my homemade Rosh Hashanah apple sauce for the latkes the night before.  So we had a feast for breakfast! 

The challah had just the right balance of orange zest and cranraisins in it.  The texture of the bread was  between cake and bread.  The crumb was excellent.  It all held together extremely well when applying butter, no tearing or having to be ever so gentle with the spreading knife. 

Wanetta, my neighbor cutting the challah.  I always take down a loaf of any of my breads to her and her husband, Wayne.  Denise checking the crumb of the bread.  By the time I left, we'd devoured half the loaf!  Oh bother, now I have to make Wanetta another one!  LOL.  BTW Denise loved the donuts!

Ken enjoying the Cran-raisin and orange zest challah! 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brioche, Part III

As posted before, the HBin5 google group did a pumpkin brioche for a special project this month.  I loved the addition of whole wheat, and felt the bread was a really good alternative to traditional quick bread style pumpkin bread.  I decided to try the same thing with banana pulp.  I am always looking for ways to use bananas that are turning but still too good to throw out. 

I do alot of dehydrating and have often made low cal banana chips.  I simply slice the bananas and place them on the the dehydrator trays (lined with screening).  It takes less than a day and they are a great addition to my trail mix.  I've also pureed them and made them into fruit leather.  Really good for you and no added sugar. 

And while my quick bread style banana bread is great (just ask the Costa Rican Navy!), I wanted to try a banana brioche. 

So I substituted the banana puree for the pumpkin puree.  I made two other changes.  Instead of canola oil I put in sweet unsalted butter, and I added walnuts.

I couldn't believe how tender the crumb was.  Pure heaven. 

I made the entire four pound recipe of dough into rolls, a pastry, and even a "babka style" loaf.  I love chocolate babka, but the recipes I have read are very work intensive.  However, recently in my readings I had come across a recipe that called for making a babka style loaf by rolling the dough jelly roll fashion, then "stuffing" the long roll into a bread pan.  What they were talking about was making a roll that was longer than the bread pan, more or less just pushing it together. 

Once again the flavor of the puree was subtle, and the crumb was light.  It was perfect for breakfast toast.  I also added Nutella to some of them for some variation.  Next time I add Nutella to a dough however, I will heat it up to melting stage.  It's difficult to spread otherwise. 

Of course we didn't eat this all ourselves!  Neighbors and friends, as well as co-workers love when I experiment! 

Below are my results.

Brioche rolls with banana puree.  In the back row the rolls are filled with Nutella.

Breakfast pastry on upper left.  Babka style loaf in lower right corner.  Both are filled with Nutella.

Babka style loaf sliced showing Nutella and walnuts.  The Nutella didn't distribute as well as I wanted.  Next time I will warm it up to melting to spread it more easily and entirely over the dough before rolling.

My next brioche batch will be a regular brioche (using the recipe in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day) in my new brioche pan.  So the story isn't over yet! 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ken's Haddock Dinner

It's difficult to not love fish ... at least for me.  But I have to admit that my husband and I don't agree on how to cook fish.  After spending 23 years in Alaska, I know what real salmon should taste and look like.  I don't bring Atlantic "color added" salmon into our house except to make gravlox.  But wild caught salmon from Alaska is expensive and frankly except for once a year, non-existent in York, PA.  Halibut is available at times, but very expensive.  So we eat more cod, haddock and flounder on this side of the continent than I am used to. 

Ken was born and raised in Boston, and is more used to New England cooking when it comes to fish. 

We don't usually fry fish up me that would be sacrilege with such good fish as I am used to. I am used to broiling the salmon or halibut, making sure to not overcook it.  Or better yet throw it on the campfire!

But with eating more cod and haddock, I've had to learn how from Ken how to do it properly.  One of his favorite recipes is to fry the fish and serve it with a good tartar sauce.  Again, I am used used to serving my salmon with a hint of dill and lemon juice and a dash of white wine.  I gave up tartar sauce the first time I drove through British Columbia and had malt vinegar with my fish and chips! 

One night I was getting ready to cook cod and Ken complained about how I was cooking the fish.  "Fine!" I said as I handed him the fish.  Show me how YOU cook cod.   And boy howdie, did he!  I love his fried fish and the sauce he whips up to go with it!

A few weeks ago I thawed out some haddock, and let him know he was cooking detail.  He cooked up a wonderful dinner for me! 

He starts with egg in one plate, all purpose flour in another.  After he gently rinses the fish and pats it dry he coats it with egg, dredges it in the flour mixture (flour, salt, pepper, and dried dill), then coats it with egg again, and dredges in flour one last time. 

He places the fish in a skillet that has already been heated with oil and butter. 

I couldn't believe he was able to flip all three of these pieces of haddock in one fell swoop  a 9" skille) without losing anything!  But as you can see from the picture below he did a great job! 

His haddock came out so delicious.  Flaky and tender, cooked just right! 

Then he made a sauce with mayonnaise, and a few secret ingredients that I don't even have the keys to! 

Ken loves his own cooking as seen by the look on his face after he tasted the fish with some of the sauce. 

But wait!  There's more!  While he was cooking this great meal we were also watching the final episodes of the Next Iron Chef America.  Ken felt extra inspired and had to put the dinner on as a presentation for me.  He carefully placed the fish on top of wild rice, dribbled some sauce on the fish and then decorated the plate with more of the sauce. It tasted as good as it looks!   

Vino Vallero, 6 years ago and today

A few months ago I was at one of our Southern PA Homebrewers meeting. While talking to a young engaging couple, they started lamenting the lack of success with their homemade wine. I’ve been making wine for about 6 years now so started querying them about their ingredients and process.

As I was listening a lightbulb went off and I looked at them and smiled. “You’re making boat wine! Well, that’s what I called it. Learned from this crazy English vet!” I said with a big smile, because just thinking about boat wine reminds me of good times sailing and some of the great and nutty people we met on the high seas.  (

At the club beer exchange last week, the same couple and I got to laughing again as we discussed boat wine. They asked for the recipe that I used on the boat. I told them I would gladly provide it on my blog, as well as the story of how I first met Alan, the man who taught me how to make it.

Ken and I had been sailing from San Diego to Panama in 2005 when we stopped in El Salvador at Barillas marina. It was an adventure just getting to this marina…we had to be guided in through the breakwater by a man in a panga (see picture). Waves were breaking on both sides, and the entrance was always shifting.

Once we were through the breakwater we had to travel 5 miles or so up a river, still following the panga.
The marina itself was all mooring balls with no dock access to land. Although the cruising books said they would send a panga out to get you when you needed to go ashore we found that was not the case. But customs, and immigration came right out to the boat to review our papers and passports to get us signed in.

The marina was specifically designed for safety and protection because it was a favorite place of the big politicians during the hot summers. The guards carried weapons, but were friendly with cruisers.  We didn’t see any known politicians while there however.

Remote from stores and grocery shopping, the marina did provide a van for us to go into a fairly large town to stock up on provisions. It had been a long passage so we were running low on canned goods as well as being out of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Sitting in the cockpit of the boat in the early mornings and sipping on a cup of our good coffee, watching the locals go about their routine was my favorite way to start my day when we were at a marina or anchored in a cove.

Zebedee on mooring ball in Barillas, El Salvador

The first morning there I noticed a nice looking fairly new sailboat made in the junk-rigged style. No one was around that first morning but the owner did show up in the next few days. I saw him paddling his strange looking square dinghy one day and waved to him as he headed to the marina bath house. Later that day we met up with him and started chatting.

Alan (left) makes Doogal, his dinghy, with one sheet of plywood. 
One of the things I love about cruising is the friendliness of just about all cruisers. It reminds me a lot of Alaska. In both scenarios you have to make your community or “family” from those around you. We don’t have generations of family members at sea, unless you are on the same boat. Your neighbor, the boat 5 miles away or over in the next cove, or anchored next to you may be your only contact and support during emergency situations. So you meet, and interact quickly.

Such was the situation with Alan, the owner of the junk-rig moored near us. After our brief chat on land, we invited him over for dinner on Cadenza, our boat. An hour or so before sundown he rowed his strange dinghy over to our boarding ladder and hailed us. The first thing I saw was a 1 litre pop bottle being handed up. The liquid inside was almost clear but not quite.

Once he had climbed the ladder, and settled down on the cushions in the cockpit I asked him what was in the bottle. “That’s my homemade wine. Thought you would like some with dinner,” he said with a smile. I was shocked to learn he made it on his boat! He had been gone for about two months, and had just returned to the boat from England. During the evening he regaled us with many funny stories of his large animal veterinary practice in England, his adventures in the military, and his woes from his divorce and business partner.

But back to the story of the wine. My nature is to learn to do things that help me be more self-sufficient. Cruising was adding to many skills I had learned in Alaska. While it wasn’t great stuff, it was passable and the fact that he had made it on the boat was a continuing discussion for me. But why would he go to the trouble of making it in the first place? Wine was cheap in a lot of places. In California for instance we could get “two-buck chuck” at any Trader Joe’s! Sure you only had a choice of white or red, but at $2 a bottle, it was decent stuff! What could be cheaper than that? Alan explained that due to the high taxes on wine in Canada, England, and many other countries previously run by Britain, lots of people made wine. Hmmm.

OK. So I queried him more and deeper we went into the process and recipe. We had many fun conversations with Alan over the next couple of weeks, and all seemed to be accompanied and enhanced by Alan’s boat wine.

The next time Ken flew back to the states for a business meeting in York, PA, he picked up the yeast and other chemicals from Mr. Steve’s. (

As soon as I had the key winemaking ingredients Ken brought back, I bought the needed apple and grape juices, and made sure I had ample sugar on board. Then I got busy.

When talking with Alan originally, he had told me just to use a 5 gallon water jug and never even mentioned the word carboy, or wine bucket. Looking back on that and thinking about all the equipment I have now, I really have to laugh at the crude beginnings of one of my favorite hobbies!

Since I didn’t have a carboy with an airlock (and didn’t know I even needed them, or what they were), I just popped the pour spout on the water jug every day. The water jug sat under the table in the salon. That had the boat smelling like a winery in no time as the yeast went to work on the sugar and the juices! From the beginning I went with 4 litres of white grape juice and 1 litre of apple juice, making it less like Boone’s Farm Apple wine than Alan did.

Our first taste of the finished product was hilarious. Yes, it still tasted like cheap wine, and it was high in alcohol content…but we had made it ourselves on our boat! Vino Vallero was born. Every three or four weeks I would make a new batch. Once it was done fermenting, and clearing I bottled it in 2 litre pop bottles. Then “aged” it in the spare cabin for as long we could…at least 2 weeks! LOL.

We quickly learned to serve our vino vallero instead of our good liquor to our sailing friends. We met so many heavy drinkers while sailing, and found they would quickly drink up everything on the boat. So we would pull out the vino vallero and they were happy. I did have to cut people off many a night though.

One night we had a great party in a wonderful, picturesque cove in Bahia Panama. But I told everyone that I had run out of wine after about two hours. The next morning one of the gals told me she couldn’t remember how she got home…keep in mind we were all on boats! Going home meant getting in a dinghy and rowing or motoring back in the dark to a rocking boat. Now you know why I cut every one off!

So here is the recipe just as Alan told it to me.

Homemade wine

4 litrs apple juice
1 litre grape juice
(or use all grape juice or any combo)
1 pkg wine yeast
5 tsp yeast enhancer
3 litres sugar

In 5 gallon jug pour all ingredients. Put cap on and let sit for 2-3 weeks until you like the taste. Pop the water jug valve every day or so to release the gas during this time. The action of the boat rocking in water at anchor, or even heeling in a good strong wind will not hurt the wine. In fact it keeps everything stirred up and helps the yeast!
2/3 tsp potasium metabisulphite
2 tsp wine finings
2 1/2 tsp potassium sorbate

Let sit for another week to 2 wks, then bottle in 2 litre pop bottles. Let sit again for another week to two weeks.
One note. One of the other cruising boats also took up the habit of making boat wine thanks to Alan. They went fancy though by bottling it in glass wine bottles and even etched their bottles with their boat name! Class all the way! LOL.

From this humble beginning I began making wine. Now I use kits or go out and pick my own grapes. But every once in awhile I have to make a batch of vino vallero just to remind us how far we have come, and how much fun we had while cruising!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mistakes, and retakes

My friend Barb was over tonight to order brioche pans with me.  We found the best selection and prices on of course.  But while we were reviewing the pans and planning our orders, I was playing with the master whole wheat recipe in Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois, chef extroidinaire.  You can find the master recipe on page 54 of the book or go online to one of their several videos to see them in action and get the recipe.

I had made this bread a few weeks ago, hoping my husband would like it and start to eat whole wheat bread.  Well, that didn't work!  He has a real thing against whole wheat bread...where I find it chewy and delicious, he finds it tough and like sandpaper.  Sigh. 

I've made the light whole wheat in their original book, Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day, and he will eat that.  While he loves the Deli style rye bread in their book, he just can't get into whole wheat, even the light one. 

So I decided to try again.  This time I took the master recipe and lightened it up a bit.  Instead of 5 1/2 cups of whole wheat, I used 4 cups and increased the all purpose flour from 2 cups to 3 1/2.  I also added 1/4 cup honey to the recipe.  The rest I did as the recipe calls for. 

Since I made the bread this morning before I left for work, I had Ken put the dough in the frig for me when he came downstairs for breakfast and coffee.  That's turned out to be a good routine.  It literally takes just 5 minutes to mix the dough, so it's easy to do before I head to work.  Ken is very good about putting it in the frig.  Course I put the dough and a note right in front of the coffee pot and make sure there is space in the frig for it.  :-)  So where's the work for him I ask you!  LOL. 

When Barb came over tonight I was just flattening out a grapefruit sized portion of the dough.  I slathered on softened "I can't believe it's not butter" and then sprinkled on the streusel topping I had made a few days ago for the pumpkin pie brioche that the HBin5 google group did as a group project.  Next I dropped cran-raisins and walnut pieces onto the dough.  Then I rolled it up lengthwise, and placed it on the parchment paper with the seam side down.  After covering it with plastic wrap that I had sprayed with Pam, I went on to order the brioche pans. 

About 15 minutes after Barb left my timer went off indicating it was time to put the bread in the oven.  So I brushed an egg wash on, and sprinkled more streusel topping on, then made my slashes with my serrated knife.  Turned around to put the bread in the oven and discovered I had NOT turned the oven on!  Argh! 

Great, I've already got my dough slashed and now it's going to have to set for another 20 minutes!  What to do?!  The only logical conclusion I could come up with was covering it back up and putting it in the frig.  So I took out the rest of the dough on the frig shelf and then put the dough in the frig. 

When the 20 minutes was up, the dough still looked great.  It was slightly more raised, but if anything it looked even better, lighter and while a tiny bit "jiggly" it still had form and shape.  Whew!  So into the oven it went.  The slashes still looked perfect by the way. 

I baked the loaf for 30 minutes at 450 as the instructions say.  In this particular case though, the streusel topping burned.  But the loaf inside is perfect.  The crumb is light, and very airy with the big holes that my neighbor Wanetta likes.  The swirl of streusel, cran-raisins and walnuts shows up and is delicious!  Even my husband likes it!  Woohoo. 

The extra time rising in the frig I think helped it overall.  The texture is very soft and would definitely not be used as sandpaper!  Delicious results!  I should have waited at least 30 minutes for the loaf to cool.  But let's face it...who can do that with fresh baked bread?  I mean don't you just have a very hard time resisting cutting into warm bread and laying a film of creamery butter on it?  Come on, you know you can't resist! 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Brioche results

I am very thankful to Michelle, our intrepid leader at HBin5  Otherwise I would have never tried this bread.  While it didn't come out as pretty as some others in the group...I am happy with it.  Next time however, I will make the regular brioche recipe in Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day.  :-) 

My neighbors and co-workers, the recipients of today's efforts will be delighted.  Why not keep it all to my husband and I?  I decided to put the cream cheese frosting on the muffins and the bundt husband is diabetic and we don't usually eat sweet stuff like this, except in small amounts.  I did leave one loaf for us with just an eggwash on it.  :-) 

Onto the process!  The recipe is located on page 284 of the Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day and is extremely easy.  The dough is very loose even after 18 hrs in the frig. 

I was trying to braid it first and quickly gave up on that!  And considering how many braided loaves of challah I have done over the past 20 years, that is saying something!  So I look one "lump" of dough that I was trying to braid and smushed it flat, spread soft butter on it and sprinkled more allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon on it.  Then I folded it over, pinched it and put it in a bundt pan. 

Next I took out the rest of the dough, made 12 cupcake size muffins, 2 large muffins, and one small loaf of bread.  I washed all of them with an egg wash to give them a shine, but as suggested by Michelle I put streusel topping on the small muffins right before I baked them. 

All of them go into the oven at 350.

Ready to take the muffins out of the oven.  I let the loaf and the bundt pan stay in a few more minutes.  But I should have taken the muffins out about 5 minutes earlier.  I made that note in the cookbook. 

I immediately tore one of the small muffins open and checked the crumb...still piping hot and steaming!  The scent of pumpkin pie drifted gently up to my nose, and I took a bite.  What a delight!  Still bready, but light, and not as sweet as a regular pumpkin muffin would have been! 

Five minutes later I took the loaf out, as it was perfect! 

Five more minutes and I took out the (LOL!) misshapen bundt.  I had tried to level it out after putting the dough in the pan but it still came out lopsided.  Oh well! 

As you can see from the picture above, my decorating is rudimentary.  I do not have the steady hands needed for pretty decorating.  But that's ok.  The recipients will love it anyway! 

Great fun! 

ONE FINAL COMMENT:  Results are in.  Those tasters that like or love or prefer the quick style pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie said "it doesn't have enough pumpkin flavor!"  Some added "it's not sweet enough".  But those that don't care for pumpkin bread (quick bread version) or don't really eat pumpkin pie loved the brioche for the mild pumpkin flavor and lack of overly sweet.  :-)  Thanks all for the comments!