Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TWD: Classic French Bread

Man. I was ill prepared for this recipe. I had problems up the ying yang.

First off, I couldn't find compressed yeast. I called a bunch of stores and talked to bakeries, but nobody had it.
Second, I didn't have quarry tiles. At the last minute, I mean, REALLY last minute (I was already on the first rise), I called around looking for some. Nobody had them! Can you believe that?! All three of the big home improvements stores didn't carry them in stock. You had to special order them! Ackk! This is what happens when there aren't any mission style homes around. Sigh..
And third, I only had a 13 inch pizza stone and couldn't fit three 14 inch batards in the oven.

I was totally stressing out. Especially, after the first rise. Ok. Done with rant.

All in all, it was worth it! I had so much fun making the dough. I watched the Baking with Julia episode with Danielle Forestier where she was kneading/pounding the dough on the counter. I thought to myself 850 turns?!! That's crazy! But it wasn't crazy. It was fun! It was awkward at first, but after 100 or so turns, I was a pro. Yeah!

Oh, also, since I didn't have compressed yeast, I used active dry yeast with just enough warm water (100 F) to make a thick paste. Also, I let the paste sit for 15 minutes, which was during the dough's resting period.

My first rise was beautiful. Air temperature, 78 F. Dough temperature, 81.3 F. Total rise time, 1 hour.

After my stress/rant about tiles, I ended up making three 10 inch batards and one boule on my pizza stone and a cast iron skillet (I didn't know what else to use). The boulle ended up taking a little longer on the final rise, so it worked out perfectly during the baking time. Two batards on the pizza stone and one in the cast iron skillet for 20 minutes. Then the boule alone for 20 minutes.

It smelled so good in the house. When I took the batards out, they contracted and made crackling noises while they were cooling.

The batard on the cast iron skillet ended up burnt on the bottom, but still good.

I don't know if it's because I haven't been eating french bread since I've been on the island, but I was VERY happy with the results. Especially, since the Husb got some yummy cheese for us to have it with. MMmMmM...

The bread was good with cheese, good with roasted bell peppers, and good the next day as buttered toast for breakfast.

For the recipe, you can find it here. Also, check out the TWD's blogroll to check out more french bread!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TWD: Oven-Roasted Nectarine Cake

Alright..two in a row!

This week's TWD was to make Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes. In the book, they look super pretty! They are baked in individual soufflé cups. I didn't have those, so instead, I made a cake in an 8 inch square cake pan. Also, the market didn't have any plums! Ackk! So I used two nectarines instead. I was so lucky too. They only had 6 left. Whew.

It didn't come out that pretty. Some of the nectarine halves were being enveloped by the cake. Also, it was kind of hard to eat because the nectarine would just coming flying out. So, I cut the cake into quarters and then cut the quarters into quarters. So much easier.

I had a piece shortly after baking and I have to say, it was awful. The nectarines tasted like steamed chestnuts and the cake was kind of dry with not much flavor. But! I had it the next day and the flavors melded together much better. The nectarine tasted more like sweet nectarine preserves and the cake soaked up all the nectarine/brown sugar syrup. Yum.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. You can also watch the video here. Also, check out the TWD's blogroll for more beautiful cakes!