May 6, 2013
Last weekend I had mixed up a batch of 70% hydration french bread type dough with 1000g of flour, and Violet had asked if we could make english muffins. So we used some of the dough to make muffins for breakfast on Sunday, and they were such a hit that instead of making baguettes we turned the rest of the batch info muffins Sunday afternoon. All in we made about 30 muffins, which had disappeared by Wednesday. The kids are really, really into them, and are begging to eat them for every meal. I don't know how long this will last, but we resolved to make even more english muffins this weekend.
Making english muffins is pretty easy, at least the way I do it. Basically you make up rolls, then cook them on both sides in a pan and finish off in the oven if needed. It ends up being more work than turning the same dough into fewer but bigger loaves, but not tremendously so.
To prepare for making a new load of muffins, I initiated a 1500g flour batch of the french bread type dough on Friday night with a starter consisting of 850g water, 850g flour, and 1/8 tsp instant yeast. I've lately been making this dough by putting in the total water dose for 70% hydration in the poolish and matching it with an equal mass of flour. Then the next day, I add the remaining flour, salt and yeast. So what I should have done for a 1500g batch was 1050g water and 1050g flour.
Saturday morning, we added 650g more flour, 4tsp salt, and 1tsp instant yeast, and kneaded in the KitchenAid. It quickly became obvious that I had miscalculated the water, so I put in more until it looked more typical for 70% hydration, probably around 200g. We kneaded for 10 minutes, then left it on the counter to rise. Throughout the day, I poured it out on the counter to do a stretch and fold, total of three times, then refrigerated it until Sunday morning. The multi-day process time with long rises allows a wonderful, slightly sour, flavor to develop.
On Sunday, we took the dough out of the fridge and divided into 48 lumps.
These were formed into rolls and left to proof on the counter for about an hour.
I fired up the griddle and the big cast iron pan to get through the cooking faster. I've been using semolina flour as a release coating for the pan rather than cornmeal, which ends up being rather crunchy when chewing the muffin. Flour would also work, and I think with seasoned cast iron or teflon you don't actually need a release layer, but I think it looks nice so I put it on.
My procedure is to pick up each lump of dough and plop it down on the semolina scattered pan, same side down as it was when proofing, demonstrated here by Violet.
After fully populating the pan, I scatter some more semolina over the tops, and press on each lump to flatten it out a bit.
These cook on medium high heat until one side looks toasted. Probably the need for oven finishing would be obviated by cooking on a lower heat for a longer time, but throughput is enhanced by using higher pan heat. When the muffins are flipped, I press them down again to smoosh the lower uncooked dough out to the same diameter as the toasted top section.
The bottom side gets toasted before the middle is fully cooked, so the next stop is for about 5 minutes in a 230C oven.
Here is the latest muffin batch cooling on a rack on the counter.
The typical way we eat these is to stab with a fork all around to separate into two halves, toast, and slather with high quality salted butter.
One thing that makes them great for the kids is that they travel well. They can run around the park with them in their hand, and they don't get crunched like sandwich bread when bouncing around a lunch case with other stuff. Plus I think the form factor is somehow alluring for the children. We'll see how long they stay enamored with this form of bread.
For an extra treat, this Sunday we fried up a bunch of our second slab of home cured bacon, which we had smoked on Saturday. A fresh muffin, toasted and buttered, with a piece of home made bacon and home grown spouts, washed down with black french roast coffee. Ahh, heaven!
May 2, 2013
April 29, 2013
Much of what you eat in charcuterie is fat, whether it is marbled in to a whole muscle like coppa or ground up in chunks of various size in a cured sausage like sopressata. Since becoming interested in this pursuit I had read about straight up cured fat, or lardo. Like the average american I was a little intimidated by this concept, but Becky is more intrepid than I when it comes to weird meat and fat eating and thought it sounded promising.
April 26, 2013
April 11, 2013
This is the cute little brother of the Enterprise #10 meat grinder which I detailed in a previous post. I actually bought this one first, off ebay, but later developed the opinion that this one was not going to cut it and I'd better go to the next size up. After overhauling the #10 and getting it working well, I wanted to tune up the #5 and sell it off on ebay. But now that I have it working in top form, I'm instead thinking of selling the #10!
April 8, 2013
Now that we are not vegans, we again eat tremendous quantities of butter every week. I began to ask myself "Why in the world are we not eating some of that butter in the form of puff pastry?!"
I've wanted to make puff pastry for some time now, but had not actually undertaken it until a few months ago. Becky has made it before, and is a very dedicated lover of the stuff. Now that I've made two batches of it, I'd say its a worthwhile thing to do at home; not all that much harder than making and preparing a pie crust from scratch.
April 4, 2013
One of the most essential tools for making sewing easier, faster, and better is a good iron. There is a post on this topic over at Male Pattern Boldness right now, and I felt the need to expound robustly on the subject to such an extent that I thought I'd better make a blog post out of it rather than clogging up the comments section on Peter's site with my blather.
I learned to sew ~12 years ago while taking some excellent pattern design classes in night school at Mass. Art, and we had gravity feed irons in class. They are definitely a different animal, with their own set of pros and cons. There must be very good reasons that they are de rigueur for people who do this for a living, and using one in class certainly opened my eyes to the inadequacy of the entirely typical garbage iron I was using at home.
It wasn't long until the dastardly home iron piddled on a sewing project of mine one too many times, and I resolved to get something better.
Labels: sewing projects
March 29, 2013
Occasionally we get big chunks of pork belly with our meat CSA, and as I outlined in the pancetta post, this is one cut of meat which is not that good fresh but unbeatable when cured. I've done two pancettas to date, but I thought it might be fun to cure a piece as bacon.
Bacon and pancetta are of course both cured pork belly, but they differ in the typical spice mix and curing procedure. While pancetta is savory, bacon is often sweet though not necessarily so. After being exposed to a chemical cure in the fridge for about a week, pancetta goes in the curing chamber to dry for around three weeks, whereas bacon gets a one day dry in the fridge and is then smoked.
March 26, 2013
We are pushing further ahead on our mission to make cosmetics and personal products at home. The latest project is making moisturizer, which is frankly quite an interesting product when you get down to the details. Typical lotion is around 70% water, 25% oil, plus some other important ingredients. This mixture would separate and go bad quickly if not for the magic of modern chemistry.
March 20, 2013
A few years ago I made myself a gnome style gray felt hat with a big red flower on it. It is my go to hat for cool to cold weather and I wear it frequently. The kids like to wear my hat too, and for some time have been asking to have tall felt hats of their own.