Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bread Bakers Apprentice: Bagels!

I first purchased Bread Bakers Apprentice in 2006. I was just getting into baking my own bread and it offered a wealth of knowledge. Sourdoughs, poolish, three day breads, I was intrigued and baked so much great bread! Each week the boys would pick out a recipe and we'd bake together. So many great memories. Well, fast forward 14 years and here I am..still baking from this book. I pulled it out last week and baked up the bagels this past weekend. I always wanted to try the bagels but they seemed too fussy. Boiling and baking ? I didn't want to try that. But I changed my mind and am so glad that I did!  They weren't fussy at all and they taste amazing!  OK, I didn't try the sugar and cinnamon as I just don't want to go back to sugar but I did try a plain and a seed one and both were amazing. Just flour, salt, yeast and seeds!

First I mixed the ingredients together and let them sit for a few hours until double in size. It took my kitchen about 4 hours.

I rolled into balls and made into bagel shape.

They had to refrigerate over night.

The next day I practiced the 'float test'. They floated in the water just fine..ready to boil!  I boiled each bagel 30 seconds on each side, then baked for 7 minutes on each side.

I dusted a few with seeds and a few with sugar and cinnamon. Wow. Taste and not too time consuming!  A keeper.

I'm going to bake through the book. Covid 19 has given me plenty of extra time and I always enjoy a new science experiment!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Rye Sourdough

Yeah, it feels like I've gone back 12 years. I baked my last sourdough round about 12 years ago. While I was waiting for yeast to arrive from Amazon I decided to create a starter so that I could bake bread without yeast.

50 grams rye flour
50 grams warm water

Stir, let set for 24  hours, remove half and add back 50 grams of each. Stir, repeat for at least 7 days, perhaps longer.

This boule took a 12 day starter:

I placed the hair tie on the top of the starter before feeding it. Once it doubles then it is probably ready to use. I placed .50 grams of this starter along with 300 grams of water, mixed loosely and added in 500 grams of strong bread flour, 1 teaspoon salt. Mixed lightly and placed onto the counter, covered loosely in a plastic bag.  After 24 hours I had this:

It was alive and bubbly, having tripled in size. I was so excited!  I gently folded the sides of the dough into the middle of the dough and placed into the refrigerator for 24 hours. I formed a ball, placed onto a bake pan scored the top of the boule. Baked at 500 degrees for 50 minutes and this beautiful boule appeared!

I think it is beautiful and the flavor was amazing. A hint of sourness, the heady rye but a nice light crumb. I have my second one proving in the refrigerator now.

My yeast arrived from Amazon,  one of my best friends owns a mill so flour isn't an issue, I am baking baking baking !

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic

This past week I'm wavering between a state of anxiety and denial. It feels like I am in the middle of a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel, but, make no mistake, COVID-19 is very real. 

Our state, our nation, our world is reeling. Too many have died and too many are sick. COVID-19 has branched out to every state and almost every country. 

I feel as though living in Minnesota is a pretty good place to be during this time. I am not getting into politics but do have to say that our  Governor seems to have our best interests in mind and tells us the hard truth, that things are difficult and doesn't white wash anything. He closed down schools and businesses pretty early into this pandemic.  He doesn't want to reopen until we can test and test thoroughly. We have some of the best  medical, manufactures and food companies world with Mayo, University of Minnesota, 3M, Medtronic, General Mills, Land O Lakes, Hormel. We are getting along.  I feel like we as a population follow our Governors' direction. We hunker down, we take social distancing seriously. I feel like we can do this. It won't be done without out grave loss.

Grocery stores near me are still being fully stocked each night. I haven't seen bare shelving. I think that because I live in small rural community our grocers haven't had the mad rush on products that the stores only 30 miles away have had. The only thing I have not been able to find is yeast, so I ordered a two pound brick from Amazon. Yes, I have plenty of toilet paper. My local mill is still grinding whole grain organic flour. 

I am not a social butterfly. I stay at home, I run alone, I enjoy time by myself. This shelter in place has taken away my weekly run with Amy, my yoga teacher training class and numerous races. I know that Amy and I will resume our weekly run, I know that yoga teacher training class will resume and races will come back next year.  I haven't had to change my schedule too much. I've realized again that I don't run to race. I race to force myself out of myself. I dislike packet pick up, the large crowed and chit chat. I dislike the crowds at the start and the finish. People feed my anxiety.  I enjoy the time from crossing the start line to crossing the finish line.  I enjoy the hours in-between. I don't mind the cancellations. I feel for the race directors, for their livelihoods. 

I feel like I have practiced social distancing my whole life. 

My down time is spent running, practicing yoga, baking  breads, reading, watching too much CNN and knitting. Instead of going from one of my hobbies at a time to another I am practicing them all, all of the time. I've been able to keep busy, to run long miles. I'm training as if I were still running a 50M in a few weeks, alas, it is cancelled. That's OK. I enjoy the time running alone. It brings me peace during this not peaceful time.

Hang in there. We can do this. 

I'm going to bake my way through Bread Baking Apprentice. I haven't picked it up in a few years and probably only baked a quarter of the breads. It brings back such good memories. The boys would pick out a bread a week for me to bake. I recall Tyler's favorite was the salami and cheese boule, Troy's favorite-caramel rolls. I looked at my notes throughout the book and the last one I wrote was from 2008.  Gosh, 12 years. Crazy. 

Stay healthy. Stay strong. Stay patient. We will get on the other side of this.