six light-rye boules for Susie

when life hands you lemons…

you take the zest of the lemon and a bit of its juice and incorporate it into a white cake batter.  

you take another one of those life-lemons and zest it into some mascarpone cheese, whip with three tablespoons of powdered sugar and then fold into a big pile of whipped cream.

then you make a two layer cake with sliced strawberries in the middle and throw the leftover strawberries on top. 

you also have your three year old daughter do the frosting so that you have a good excuse for baking a cake… it’s educating your daughter, after all.  Yes, our children increasingly in need for us parents to step up to the plate and give them a better appreciation for food (lettuce?  it’s that shredded stuff in my daddy’s big mac, right?).  However I also firmly believe that all children should one day get to frost a cake with sugar aerated within dairy fat molecule chains.  It really is important.

then you come to terms with the reality that the real education is that there are some foods that just should be made at home and eaten.  that there are some days when you need to give your elliptical machine the finger and consume lovely angel-food-esque white cake covered in early-spring strawberries.  With a mug of peppermint tea afterwards. 

and you must, must, must, lick your fingers after folding the mascarpone into the whipped cream.  and after frosting the cake.

and, while this is optional (actually it really isn’t), you may save some of the mascarpone topping for pancakes the next morning.  

these sort of days come every now and then and are not to be confused with the difficult days when things just don’t go your way.  The days when you could have sworn God decided that was the day the world shall test thy patience.  Those days are not the same as these days.  These days are for celebrating with cake because cake is delicious.  That’s it.  That’s where it ends. You eat cake on these days because the fruit is pretty and the day is pleasant.

I think sometimes I miss out on these days because so much of my days go to purpose.  The food I cook is carefully thought out to balance carbohydrates with mono-saturated fats to minimize our fat and cholesterol levels while optimizing flavor and salt levels.  To minimize the driving distance to the store to save gas so we can hit green on this month’s food budget.  Everything gets obsessed with purpose.  

not today.  I chose not to miss out today.

White Cake with fresh strawberries and mascarpone-whipped cream topping

Cake recipe adapted from p.193 of “The Perfect Finish” by Bill Yosses

1 cup cake flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temp

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

finely grated zest of one lemon (juice of half)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 small container mascarpone cheese

scant 1/4 cup powdered sugar

finely grated zest of one lemon + 3 tablespoons juice

1 box good tasting strawberries

sift flour with baking powder and salt.

break eggs into bowl and whip on medium until foamy.  Add sugar and whip until soft peaks form.

mix oil with lemon stuff and vanilla extract and 1/4 cup water.

fold flour mixture into whipped eggs in three parts, incorporating the flour completely before adding the next amount.

fold oil mixture into batter until incorporated.

be gentle, we want the whipped egg structure to keep the cake light and bouncy.

Pour batter into a buttered, floured 9-inch springform pan, bake at 350 deg F for about 30-40 minutes until center is clean to a tester.

cool on a rack for at least one hour.

meanwhile, whip the whipping cream to medium peaks (glossy but still silky… high peaks are when the cream just begins to look sturdy and almost partially chunky… the heat from friction can begin to cook the egg whites).  scrape into a clean, dry bowl then whip mascarpone cheese with powdered sugar and lemon stuff until fluffy soft.  Fold mascarpone into whipping cream until incorporated for the most part.  I wouldn’t bother trying for full mix because we don’t want to deflate the whipping cream.  

slice half your strawberries and then halve the rest.

slice cake in half, frost with a thin layer of whipped topping, add sliced strawberries, frost with another thin layer of whipped topping.  Add top layer of cake, frost with remaining frosting to your preferences then finish with remaining strawberries.

oh and, finally, chloe decided it was her mom’s birthday cake so we followed suit.  

why not?

cia-baguettes

Made a variation on a recipe found here:

http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discover/?p=1870

I added 4 g rye flour and replaced the last 4 oz. of bread flour with whole wheat flour for a more country/rustic feel.  

The final dough had a fairly high hydration level so the dough didn’t really hold the baguette shape.  If i kept working the dough to get a baguette shape I probably would have crushed a lot of the hole structure.  Instead I started to form baguette loaves and then stretched them out ciabatta style to make a cross between (hence the slightly corny cia-baguette name).  

If I lived in san francisco and could grow san francisco sourdough bacteria this would have that nice sf sourdough tang that would make them oh so incredible.

alas, i don’t so oh well.

did you know that boudin ships portions of their san francisco sourdough mother starter to their chain restaurants every day?  SF starters lose their SF-unique bacteria within only a handful of feedings of the starter so in order for their chains outside of the SF area to maintain daily SF sourdough bread they need a fresh starter from their plant.  

nice thing about the high hydration level in this bread is that it helped facilitate the large, irregular holes that are expected in good ciabatta (and even sourdough) breads.  water keeps the gluten strands within the dough “moist”, partially preventing the gluten strands from sticking together when baking.  Additionally the extra water allows the bread to expand without restrictions from the hardened crust.  Since the oven is a dry environment, the outer surface of the bread hardens before the interior can fully expand and thus becomes a “shell” that determines the final shape of the bread and how many holes you can have in your interior.  Stiffer bread doughs will form this crust earlier while looser/wetter doughs form the crust later b/c the extra moisture keeps the crust loose and stretch-able longer.

http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/03/14/pwn2own-2011-results/

What?  Apple computers are just as vulnerable to virus and hacker attacks as those “Windows” things for uncool people?  

*gasp*

no…

no…..

SIRI SAY IT AIN’T SO

(robotic female voice) “From now on, I’ll call you Say-It-Ain’t-So, is that ok?”

this makes every nerd gene in my body quiver with “that-is-so-freaking-awesome”-ness

So i moved this blog because blogger is owned by google and since facebook hates google they would not let me send my blog posts automatically to facebook.  This would require me to post a facebook link for every blog post i make.  Not acceptable.  And yet oh how i did like the dynamic css themes that Google made available on blogspot. 

Tumblr requires me to program more of the neato gadgets I’d see from blogspot so I’ll have to do some research and program as I find time.  

Last weekend I created this recipe for a dinner we did for our church small group.  I made a spaghetti dinner and so the natural thought was a white italian bread like a ciabatta (not actually “like” for that is what i made).  As great as that stuff is with a red sauce (woots from the pizzas in the crowd), I’m not always lookin’ to use a piece of bread to sop up the lake of tomatoes my three spaghetti noodles are treading water in.  Sometimes I like having bread as an actual accompaniment to my meal, not as the janitor to my messy plate.

You don’t always see noodles deafened past taste in a cacophony of flavorful sauce in Chinese food.  A lot of the time, the cook worked pretty hard to make those noodles.  Have you seen the traditional way chinese chefs handmake egg noodles?  Black magic I tell ya.  Anyways I was raised eating noodles in a light chicken broth or stir fried with just a few things like sliced carrots (always on the diagonal if you want to even call it a stir-fry without offending your wok).

What the heck!  Enough chit-chat.  Here’s the formula for my Re-dedication bread.

Re-dedication Bread ->  Hereof re-dedicated to the name “Dedication Bread” because it sounds better.
This bread uses one pre-ferment, one grain soaker, and one night of refrigeration.  It’s a planned bread.  This is an adapted recipe from page 126 of Jeffery Hamelman’s “Bread:  A Baker’s Book of Recipes and Techniques” and the photos were originally posted on facebook along with a random rant that many people found long yet i found quite appropriate. 


Summary:  Mix grain soaker and pre-ferment three nights before baking.  Ferment both at room temp overnight and through the day.  After dinner, mix the final dough, ferment at room temp for 2 hours, refrigerate overnight and through the day.  After yet another dinner, shape the loaves and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.  On bake day, preheat oven and bake loaves directly from fridge as you have room in your oven.  You do not need to allow the dough to warm up from the fridge before baking.  As long as the bread is risen correctly in the fridge, it will bake fine.

Makes three 8-10 inch diameter boules

Grain Soaker
1 generous handful of each of the following:
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Traditional rolled oats
Quinoa (uncooked)
Bulgur wheat

Place all grains in a medium bowl, add water until about one index fingernail above the grains, stir and let sit until you’re ready to mix dough (see pre-ferment timing)
Pre-ferment dough
11.2 oz (2.5 c) AP flour plus 1/2 T wheat gluten (cheap option to Bread flour)
7.3 oz (7/8 c) water
.2 oz (1 tsp) Salt
1/8 tsp. dry fleischmanns yeast

Mix in a medium bowl large enough to fit roughly double this mixture, cover and let sit at room temp for 12-18 hours.

Final Dough
Grain Soaker
Pre-ferment dough
1 lb. (3 5/8 c) whole wheat flour
4.8 oz (1 c) AP flour plus pinch of wheat gluten
9.7 oz (1 1/4 c) water
.6 oz (1 T) salt
.13 oz (1 1/4 t) instant dry yeast
1.6 oz (2 T) honey
1 T olive oil

Mix all ingredients, proof at room temp for 2-3 hours, stretching and folding bread once an hour.  Refrigerate at least overnight.  Shape loaves (I proofed mine in floured bannetons) and refrigerate for 12-18 hours. Pre-heat oven and bake loaves directly from fridge.  I bake this bread in a large dutch oven.  Just place your dutch oven on the middle rack when you start pre-heating the oven.  It’ll take one or two tries to get the hang of it but if you keep your loaves small enough, you can easily plop your loaf into the dutch oven, place the lid, and stick it back in the oven.  The lid seals the steam escaping the bread as it oven-springs and helps maximize your rise.  Combine that with the cast-iron’s ability to hold heat and you’ve got a great hearth imitator. 

This bread makes wonderful morning toast in particular.


ahh you thought i would flake out after the first re-dedication post, eh? 

Not so!

neener neener

we have all seen many blogs go for extended dry periods only to resurface with one post remarking about how the author has decided to make a renewed effort to maintain consistent posts; only to have that re-dedication be the only new post in the following two years.

at first glance this may be such a post of such a blog.

but wait!