Posts filed under ‘Breads’

Taking courses….Food Science and beyond

Hi!  Needless to say, I’ve been off doing a lot of stuff these last few years.  It’s been hard to find my center after my mother passed but things are getting better.

Anyway, I’ve been taking on-line classes.  The first one I took was last summer on food science from Coursera.  It was interesting, for the most part, but not heavy weight.

On the other hand, the course on graphic novels was fun but intense.  My daughter who does amazing manga drawings was my inspiration.  I loved getting back in touch with classic American comics, updating my knowledge about today’s comics and graphic novels, and learning how to analyze graphic novels as literature, as well as, creating my own little comic.

Peaches Are Life30001wm

The picture to the left is the front page of my final project.

I didn’t expect the course to make me late for starting the Edx Gastronomy course on the Science of Food.  This was quite a step up from the Coursera course – with famous chefs and Harvard profs and Harold McGee.  (He’s a really nice man.  I remember pondering a question about pasta and wine and he took the time to answer me.)  While I wish I had reviewed my chemistry before taking the course, I enjoyed learning so much more.  My project was on the effect of fats on bread doughs and the PDF is here:

effects of fat 2014 v2

Basically, I first examined when the best time to add fat might be and then I performed an experiment where I varied the type of fat used and compared to a control condition with no fat.  I  measured weight, height, volume, and elasticity, using just the tools that I had at home.  The pictures are in the appendices but I’ve included a few here just to give you a flavor of the results:


Left, I’m measuring compression for elasticity calculations.

Below is the result of the compression for Exp2…


Next I’m measuring volume with the displacement of rice…


Left, the overall results.

Generally, I enjoyed learning new techniques and reviewing chemistry.  I have a renewed interest in going back to my food testing… and also taking more courses.  I’m hoping to create a graphic novel cookbook of recipes for my daughter over the next few years… wish me luck!


March 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

Daring Baker’s Challenge – Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Daring Baker’s Challenge – March 2011


The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.


This challenge was interesting because it came on the heels of making many versions of King’s Cake (click here to see the ones I made this year).  A King’s Cake is a yeasted bread ring with filling and icing.  Both the King’s Cake and the Meringue Coffee Cake are yeasted bread doughs and require the same kind of treatment as any other bread dough.




*~Also, a colleague of my sister needed a lemon meringue pie.  For this pie, I made the filling a bit more tart than the recipes I found and the crust was made with a combo of butter and Crisco (non-butter flavored).  Essentially, I had made all the parts for this challenge over the few weeks before.

~In making various versions of King’s Cake, I found that using coconut oil made no difference.  In this version of dough, expeller pressed, safflower oil was substituted to give a healthier dough.  Also, a vanilla bean was steeped in the milk.  (This is a picture of the dough.)

~I wanted to make both fillings, so to keep it all straight, I left them in long lines.  I made the meringue as specified and followed the directions.  There was too much meringue and so it was both difficult to roll and difficult to pinch the edges together.  Searching through my cabinet, I found 2 pans that were about the right size and placed the cut rings into the pans (sprayed with Pam and a parchment circle on the bottom). 





~What happened? I thought they rose beautifully and looked just like coffee cakes (as opposed to a different version of a King’s Cake or bread ring).  Because I grew up with more of a quick bread version of coffee cake (like a NY crumb coffee cake), this shape resembled more of a cake.  It’s also very dramatic.  The flavors were good – both fillings were fun.

What would I do differently? I would make less meringue and more filling. Also, the saturated fat (both butter and coconut oil) produced a more moist cake, as well as a richer mouth feel.  Maybe half/half next time?

Bottom line: Fun challenge…. I loved trying different fillings and will try this cake again using different mixtures.

March 27, 2011 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

King’s Cake (Mardis Gras 2011)

So, I’ve made King’s Cake (gateau des rois) before, at around this time.  One time I made 2 for a class of culinary arts students (during the week I was teaching pastry to them).  It’s a fun cake because it’s so colorful and flavorful but it’s also a good demonstration of a yeasted bread.

~This year I was a bit lazy and didn’t want to make croissants for my daughter’s French class.  Since they happened to be talking about Mardis Gras, I thought I’d make them some King’s cake.  My daughter and I had a discussion about galette des rois versus gateau des rois.  The galette uses puff pastry and frangipane; whereas, the gateau des rois is made with brioche.  In New Orleans, they usually put a little plastic baby (or pecan or something else) into the cake, but because this was going into her class, I didn’t put anything other than filling in –> I wanted to avoid lawsuits.

~Being who I am, I chose 2 different recipes.  One recipe is from the Allrecipes site (you can find it here) and the other is Emeril’s recipe.  Emeril’s recipe resembles a more traditional brioche (with lots of butter and egg yolks); whereas the Allrecipes version is a leaner loaf.  I used the Allrecipes filling for both and for the frosting, I used 5 cups poswered sugar, 3T melted butter,2 T vanilla, and 6T milk for the frosting.

~You can see the difference between the two loaves.  The Allrecipes version is lighter and produced a gigantic loaf.  If I made this recipe again, I would definitely split it into 3 loaves.

~Emeril’s loaf was denser and smaller.  The smell and flavor was just a bit more rich.

~In both cases, I let them rise with a small glass to hold open the hole but removed the glass before baking.  The hole filled in during baking…

~For these first 4 loaves,  my daughter wanted to make the icing.  We let the loaves cool overnight and she frosted and decorated before school.  Notice the beautiful, even job that she did.

~I’ve been interested in coconut oil and products for years now and since last week’s NYTimes article discussed coconut oil.  I re-made Emeril’s loaf:  reducing the 5 yolks to 2 eggs, using non-fat milk, and substituting coconut oil for the butter.  The result = the loaf looked essentially the same.  You could not taste the coconut oil (unlike some other true cake applications that I’ve made with coconut oil).  I placed rolled aluminum foil to keep the hole open during baking and removed them after the loaves were done.

~For these last 2 loaves, she made the frosting and my daughter and nieces decorated.

~Bottom line:  Everyone enjoyed all versions.  Unfortunately, today is Mardis Gras and so that means we can’t try again until next year.

March 8, 2011 at 9:25 pm 3 comments

Daring Bakers Dec 2010 – Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.


The Stollen is a great December choice because many friends and neighbors have a relative who made these as they were growing up.  They are usually made with a lot of alcohol which allows them to stay “fresh” for a longer period of time.  Because they are studded with dried and candied fruits, they also seem like a treat.

~I made Peter Reinihart’s version last year while working through his book <The Bread Baker’s Apprentice>.  This time I used the challenge recipe but did not use the rum, nor did I use the candied fruit.  I used dried cherries soaked in orange juice in place of the raisins.  I divided the dough in half so that I could try something else with the other half.  (To see my full baking adventure with this book, click here.)

~For the first half, I made the ring and forgot to cut the slits.  I tried to overlap the layers in the portion to connect but did not succeed.  The round split and I ended up with a crescent.  I suspect that the slits would have prevented the separating into a crescent form.

~For the second half, I took some almond paste (less sugar than marzipan in the store) and did the traditional method of rolling it into a log and placing it along the fold.  I had leftover almond paste and decided I wanted to stuff it into the front smaller section in order to have more almond.  You can see that the flatter portion ended up like a thin, flat roll on the other side.

~Penny suggests 3 layers of powdered sugar (while Reinhart uses 2).  This does  create a great coat.

~Result:  Two huge loaves….  Very huge.  The main part of the bread tasted good and the almond paste made it even better.  With the great taste and dramatic look, I’ll definitely do this again – with almond paste.

December 27, 2010 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

BBA Last two: Potato-Cheddar-Chive and Roasted onion-Asiago

I finished the last two breads this week from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  It is true that I skipped the rye breads because I actually get ill when I eat rye; however, I made all the other ones and am glad that I completed this much.

37. Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes:  I liked the idea of this bread because there’s a lot of cheese but most of it is on the inside and so therefore will not burn.  Also, using potatoes should keep it more moist for a longer period of time.  I don’t know what happened but the bread loaves were huge.  From the description (to lay the loaves width-wise on the pan), I had the impression that they’d be small.  However, when I rolled them out, they were so large that I put them length-wise on the pan.  The flavors were good.  I’d actually prefer more cheese flavor some how.

38. Roasted onion and asiago miche:  So, the answer to the “not enough cheese flavor” was definitely answered in this bread.  There’s cheese in the dough, as well as on top.  I did have to cover the top in order to get the dough to bake long enough (until it was done). I made half the recipe and the loaf was still huge.  The flavors were amazing – from the roasted onion (which I put under the final cheese on top rather than above it) to the green onion, chives and cheese in the dough to the long hold times for the dough itself.  In some ways, it was a fitting last bread because so many of the breads in this book use a several day method or a form of autolyse – barm, and mixture sitting for 30 min after brief mix, over-nighting in the fridge…  The texture was also very good – although I think that there were a few odd spaces where I pressed the dough in and it rose up around those places.  I loved this bread.  There were so many layers of flavor that it’s hard to describe.  You’ll just have to make it.

What do I think now that I’ve made all of these breads? First, I’m really glad that I went through the book.  It was fun and I feel more confident.  I also think that I want to go back and make some of the earlier breads again now that I feel like I’ve mastered more of the skills.  There were some very stand-out breads that I will make again for fun:  Portuguese bread, Roasted onion from above, the Greek bread and the bagels (which I’ve already re-made many times now).  Thanks to Nicole of Pinch My Salt for starting the challenge and Peter Reinhart for writing his fantastic book.

April 16, 2010 at 10:07 am 2 comments

BBA – white bread & whole wheat bread

~It’s been a long time since I baked and a long story about why. Needless to say, I haven’t been near my own kitchen until this week and have been happily baking away.

~I’m nearing the end for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. There were 2 more breads and 2 Artisan breads left. In the last 2 days, I baked the 2 breads in the regular section. I think I’ve done one or the other of the versions already but it’s been so long that it makes sense to just bake them again.

35. White bread (version 1): This version has so much butter that it’s actively hard to tell whether you’ve gotten the right consistency. The dough just feels way too soft. However, not only did the bread rise to a nice height, it tasted fantastic…. This bread was so good that you definitely don’t need any added butter or jam or anything. I would make this again.  (My daughter has been eating slices of this bread for her lunches.)

36. Whole wheat bread: I bake a lot of whole wheat bread; however, it’s usually a mix of white and whole wheat. Adding white gives it more texture, ability to form gluten and a lighter taste and texture. This bread requires an overnight soaker and poolish – These both add flavor.  (My family did not care for this bread.  I transformed it into a garlic bread loaf and that was very well received.)

April 1, 2010 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

BBA: Stollen, Tuscan Bread, Vienna Bread & Pugliese

I’ve been working and thinking about sweeteners for the last 2 weeks and so have not had time to write up the breads.  I’m managing to make almost all the breads from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.


29.  Pugliese:  So, I made this bread around the holidays and couldn’t find the picture among all the pictures that I took at that time.  This bread is interesting because it has an optional mashed potato ingredient.  The potato added an interesting texture and I think it made the bread last longer on the counter.

*I’m skipping the rye breads.  I’ve never liked rye and the smell makes my daughter and I a little ill.

32.  Stollen:  My friend makes stollen at Xmas.  She makes a different version from her mother and, when she was in Wisconsin over the holidays, she tried another version (that had a lot of alcohol, apparently).  I asked her to try this bread and she liked it.  She also showed me another cookbook where they had a base recipe and many versions.  The one in this book is similar to the Dresden version in her book, without cardamom.  I did not use alcohol and the fruit and bread were very moist.  I also used the shaping method 2 – a little difficult but fun to try.

33.  Tuscan Bread:  The interesting part of this bread is that there is no salt.  While there is a base flour/water mixture that is made the evening ahead and olive oil, the bread still was a little flat.  The family didn’t like it as much as the others.  So, I think we won’t be making this one again.  By the way, I took pictures of the Tuscan bread and was surprised about how similar it looks to the Pugliese.  Of course, this might be expected, since I made boules for both; however, they taste very different.

34.  Vienna Bread:  This bread is like many of the others in this book.  It’s made in 2 days, and uses instant yeast and barley syrup.  It’s enriched – has egg and fat.  What’s different are the instructions for the Dutch crunch topping at the very end of the recipe.  The only different ingredient is the rice flour.  I spread the paste onto the bread before it went into the oven.   The bread was good (moist and delicious) and I really liked the topping.  I would go to the extra effort again.

*Yeah!  I’m almost done.  4 more breads to go.

January 19, 2010 at 11:56 am 3 comments

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