Sunday, June 13, 2010

My No-knead (+No-Shape) Olive Loaf

I'm guilty of ugly baking!

Olives have been my latest thing. I’ve been tossing it in salads, consuming them on their own and I’ve been trying to make a good olive loaf.

I haven’t had too much success with the olive loaf. My first yoghurt olive bread was a total disaster and it ended up in the bin. The second loaf wasn’t too fantastic either and I’d like to forget about it. So I’ve abandoned the yoghurt olive bread recipe that have embraced a relatively more time consuming and more effortless approach to this. The new approach – the no knead approach. With the help of Jim Lahey’s wisdom and his recipe, I’ve tried this new method and have had moderate success. I baked an ugly shapeless loaf but it tasted much better. Work in progress but one step closer!

3 cups bread flour
About 1 ½ cups roughly chopped pitted olives
¾ teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1½ cups cool water
Wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting

1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature.

2. Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

3. Preheat oven to 250°C. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

On one particular Saturday, I was enlisted as baking help. Truth be told, I don’t think I’m a good baker. I love the idea of baking bread and how it smells when it is baking in the oven, and I even bake my own sometimes but I’m pretty far off from baker extraordinaire. Nonetheless I agreed. Part of it was because I like hanging out with people in the kitchen and I haven’t seen D in a long time and I thought I would be encouraging towards her baking experiments.

So armed with our can-do spirit and a Martha Stewart recipe, we spent an afternoon measuring, stirring, scooping batter and chit chatting. Our not-so-sweet (I demanded that the sugar be reduced by half because I have found most baking recipes to be overly sweet) no wheat germ oatmeal cookies came out hot and crisp and cooled to a chewy and very healthy feeling cookie.

Martha Stewart’s Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

(without our modifications)
Makes about 60 cookies

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together oats, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add oat mixture; mix until just combined. Mix in raisins.
2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly.
3. Bake until golden and just set, about 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.