12 January 2014

Update

Hi, all. Before officially returning from an epic blogging absence, let me just say a couple of things: 1) I've had a mess of a time trying to access blog-related email, so if you've emailed me at all in the last few months, I apologize for not getting back to you; and 2) you can in the meantime find food-related happenings (if you're still interested) on my Instagram account, @xo_tiffc. Thanks!

09 May 2013

Obsession

I should probably start growing, harvesting, and milling my own wheat. It's probably safe to assume that the amount of whole wheat flour I go through to satisfy that urge to bake--bread, namely, but also a plethora of sweets--is substantial for the average kitchen lurker.

So I've been keeping at it: firing up the oven, dusting my hands (and everything in a three-foot radius of them)  with flour, and turning out the usual range of yeast-risen goodies. Having managed to keep the sourdough starter alive, I generally opt to put the "discard" to use whenever I do actually refresh the starter. But for the sake of doing something a little different, I used active dry yeast in my most recent batch of bread: whole wheat bagels.
These beauties were made from 100% whole wheat flour--something I really look for in anything that claims to be "whole wheat" or "whole grain"--and boasted wonderful flavor and texture, thanks to the use of a biga and soaker. Although something made entirely with whole wheat flour will never quite have that same, comforting flavor and softness of bread made with refined flour, these bagels do have that hearty, wheaty bite I love in a whole grain bread, while still retaining that must-have, characteristic bagel chewiness.
Note: I adapted the recipe to vegan by using agave nectar instead of honey. I also boiled the dough rings in water with a touch of barley malt syrup, rather than baking soda, because using the latter is more of a pretzel thing (not that I don't love pretzels, of course). The use of white whole wheat flour made these bagels lighter in color and subsequently, deceptively reminiscent of a regular bagel. The photos show the results of a double-batch. Sure, they could look a little better, but they tasted just fine.

20 March 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Changes

It's officially spring. Here's to something a little different.
Same ol' pretzels, alternatively shaped.
Fruit tree blossoms.
Engaged!
Life is moving and changing in many ways--accordingly so, it seems.

08 February 2013

Wild, wild yeast

Even during a slow week in the kitchen, I usually manage to turn out at least one batch of homemade bread. It's a routine sort of thing that brings me a unique sense of calm and joy. Sourdough has been the bread of choice lately, usually manifesting as pretzels, my go-to use for would-be "discard" starter, albeit a somewhat involved and unusual route. (I've made the same version so many times, I don't even consult the recipe anymore. My freezer always has pretzels in it. I am not complaining.)

This week, my oven has not seen the likes of a single pretzel. In truly unusual fashion, I deviated from what has become my bread norm--pretzel-making, obviously--in favor of something different, which is, in fact, probably quite normal in terms of at-home bread baking: I made actual sourdough loaves.
Wanting to find a recipe for a hearty, whole wheat, sandwich-style loaf, I found that this recipe for Sourdough Honey-Whole Wheat Bread (over at Heartland Renaissance) quite fit the bill. I adapted it ever-so-easily to suit my vegan needs, using almond milk for dairy milk, milled flax seed and water for eggs, vegan margarine for butter, and agave nectar and molasses for honey. Although my resulting loaves were not nearly as perfect as Sarah's--I let my unbaked loaves over-rise, which yielded rather flat tops--the bread's tender crumb was more than acceptable. I had expected the density that so often results from bread made without refined flour (such as this one), but instead discovered a measure of lightness that made up for the disappointing unevenness of my misshapen top crusts.
The actual flavor also surprised me. Having expected the amount of sweetness from the agave and molasses to mask any trace of sourdough, I was pleasantly surprised by the noticeable tangy bite the bread retained; it makes me oddly happy to be reminded of my ability to keep my sourdough not only alive, but appropriately sour. There was a slight sweetness to offset the sourness, the interplay amounting to flavorful bread. I couldn't ask for a more satisfying conclusion to another bread baking session.