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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pie crusts and Fillings

Hello everyone! Today I just wanted to do a quick post about types of pie crust and fillings. There are two basic pie crusts: mealy vs flaky. Both pie crusts are prepared using the "cut-in" method, or the method in which the fat is cut into the flour using a pastry blender or bench scraper. I wish I would have taken pictures on the day we made our pie doughs at school but unfortunately I didn't so I guess my words will have to do for now.

Alright so, the mealy pie crust is the one you will want to use for your bottom crust because if a flaky one is used then the filling will soak through the layers and create a mess. When cutting the fat into the flour for this pie crust, you want it to reach a grainy consistency, smaller than pea sized, to create the mealy texture. On the other hand, the flaky pie crust which will be used for the top crust, you want to reach a pea sized consistency and no smaller to create the flaky texture.

In the case of fruit fillings, there are also two main types: cooked fruit vs cooked juice. The cooked fruit method is used for fruits like apples that may need be cooked down before baking to achieve a softer texture and rid them of some of their water so that a thicker pie filling is achieved. This also helps to avoid soggy crusts. We made apple pie in class, creating the filling by first cooking down the apples in butter and once the water was mostly cooked out we added the sugar and cooked until it became syrupy. Next we made a slurry of cornstarch and cold water and added that to the pan and continued cooking until thickened before removing from the heat and mixing with spices and more butter. As for the cooked juice method, this is used for fruits that have a softer texture like blueberries, that may not stand up well to being cooked. In this method you cook down a portion of the fruit to create a thickened filling and then gently mix it with the uncooked fruit, being careful not to smash it, before baking in the oven.

-Hannah

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Picking up where we left off





 I haven't posted to any of my blogs in a loooong time. They accidentally became some of the many projects and ideas that I started and soon forgot about. I started school at Le Cordon Bleu in February, majoring in Baking and Pastry, and as I've begun learning and practicing my skills I've started thinking more and more about blogging. I want to start sharing with everyone what I have been learning and really give this blogging thing another try. I have always loved writing and I am really yearning to put myself out there in the world of online food blogging and see just where it takes me. 


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bread and Other Obessions

I awoke today with bread on my brain. Actually, I take that back, I woke up because I heard my dog make a retching noise as she puked on my comforter. *sigh* But after that rude and slightly disgusting awakening I made my morning smoothie of banana, chocolate protein powder, white chocolate peanut butter, and matcha powder. Weird combo, I know, but it is one of my favorite breakfasts and it really gives me energy. Anyways, I wandered around the house wondering what to do with myself and that was when I remembered that I had eaten the last slice of my whole wheat sourdough bread yesterday. Which I have to say, it turned out to be the best sourdough bread I have made ever. So now I had my mission.  Bread is a staple that must constantly be in our house due to that fact that I eat peanut butter on toast religously. Seriously, literally, honestly....I eat it EVERY day. I get this weird craving that comes on where I just have to have what I call healthified peanut butter cup toast. I swear, Dark Chocolate Dreams chocolate peanut butter by Peanut Butter & Co. is a gift from the heavens that makes my mouth water everytime I think of it. I use this AND Jif peanut butter along with a  good sprinkling of milled golden flaxseed and chia seeds and I go to my happy place located in front of the computer stairing at foodgawker.com while I thank the inventor of the pb and chocolate combination while I eat it. Yes, I like to look at food while I eat food. Wow, I got way side tracked. This post was supposed to be about bread. Ok so I threw together another whole wheat sourdough bread with the same starter I used last time except I used rye flour to change things up because I rarely make the same bread twice. That went into my bread machine. Then I got the urge to make bread by hand too, so I began browsing foodgawker.com and I found a good looking yeasted pumpkin bread from meringuedesserts.com. The pumpkin bread is rising as I type this. As I was kneading the gorgeous orange dough, I started thinking and getting inspired (because this is what a good kneading does to me). I wanted to share a poem. I assume that most bloggers share the same love of writing that I do.

Bread
a poem by Hannah Turner

I open my eyes before the morning has dawned
It is early yet I am filled with energy
The urge to create has consumed me
I step dreamily into the heart of my house
The place where my inspiration takes a physical form
The place where love and warmth take over and worry and fear get lost in a sea of flour
I gather my arsenal of ingredients and watch starry-eyed as the yeast foams and mingles with honey
Alone they are mere ingredients, but together they create magic
My hands, which usually cramp with hours of long writing, are strong as they knead the dough with ease
I inhale the yeasty aroma and almost regret not waking earlier
Then I sit back and gather all of my patience to let the yeast take over on its own
you can do it little molecules of life, miniscule bacteria that hold so much power
When my dough has doubled and my oven has heated
In goes my flour child and all in a well-anticipated moment
My beautiful bread emerges

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Easy and Fast Protein Breakfast and the Benifits of Seasonings

After coming to the realization that my usual breakfast of a preservative-laden Pure Protien brand protien bar and half  a banana was not the healthiest thing to begin my day with, I woke one morning and stood in my kitchen pondering what I should eat instead. I needed something with staying power that was low in sugar and not too high on the carb and calorie scale either. I needed something that would hold me through school until I could get the chance to have my mid-morning snack. Which honestly, who knows when that will be, my classes this term are hectic. One of the most important factors though, was that this power breakfast had to be tasty, duh! I know, my standards are high, but I am a very picky person when it comes to the most nutrition for the least yucky-stuff in my food as possible. Enter: Lightning Scrambled Eggs. Why the lightning part? Well, they are prepared in the microwave. Yes, I too think it might be a sin to prepare eggs in the microwave but as a hungry student before school and on the run it is just flat out handy. As for the flavor, it's completely customizable but I really enjoy this combo of seasonings. Salt or no salt, either way it is flavorful. Make as many eggs as you want, make em' scrambled or sunny side up, leave em' plain or add cheese, the possibilities are endless. Below is my creation and the benifits of a few seasonings follow after. Enjoy!


Lightning Eggs
(serves as many as you'd like!)
(add the seasonings to your desired taste)

1 or more eggs
paprika
rosemary
dried minced onion
garlic powder
Nature's Seasonings or Lawry's (optional)
fresh cracked black pepper
sprinkle of your fave shredded cheese (optional)
dash of hot sauce or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper (optional)

1.) Retrieve one ramkin or small bowl for each single serving of eggs.
2.) Crack the desired number of eggs into each bowl.
3.) Sprinkle with seasonings to your heart's desire. Add a dash of hot sauce or crushed red pepper if you're feelin spicy.
4.) Decide if you would like it scrambled or not. To scramble, use a fork or whisk to quickly distribute the yolk. Leave as is if you like it sunny.
5.) Sprinkle with cheese if you're in a cheesy mood.
6.) Microwave on full power for about 30 seconds (note: microwaving times will vary)
7.) Remove carefully, it will be hot. Enjoy along with some fresh fruit and coffee and you have yourself a breakfast with some staying power!

The Benifits of Seasonings

Rosemary~ Traditionally used in Medditeranean Cuisine, rosemary is an extremely fragrant herb that has been shown to reduce mentally degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, improve memory, reduces inflammation, has anti-fungal, anti-allergenic, anti-septic, and anti-cancer properties. It is also one of the herbs with the highest levels of folates and along with that it contains many minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. For more information on the benifits of rosemary: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/rosemary-herb.html

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 4 Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter

Today I am going to make a loaf with my first whole wheat sourdough starter ever. I have to admit, I'm a little nervous because the smell of it is getting very strong and I'm beggining to wonder if it has gone rancid. There is no mold or off-colored liquid, besides the hooch which I will be pouring off and discarding, so I feel that there isn't any harm in baking it. Has anyone out in the blogosphere gotten poisened from a "bad" starter? If so, please do not hesistate to share. Anyways here is the sourdough recipe I am using. Like my starter, it also comes from George Burnett's "The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book" and it is made for use in your bread machine. Although, it could easily be prepared by hand and baked in the oven.


Sourdough Wheat Bread
(from The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book by George Burnett)
(yields one 1 1/2 lb loaf)

1 cup whole wheat sourdough starter (this can be found on my blog also, Feb.23)
2/3 cup (5 1/2 ounces) warm water (100 degrees F)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp liquid lecithin (I used granular and the measurement would come out to 3 tbsp, or a tablespoon for each cup of whole wheat flour)
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons powdered whey
2 tablespoons gluten flour (aka vital wheat gluten)
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used bread machine yeast in the same amount and it rised up nicely)

1.) Put all the ingredients in the inner pan in order listed, or in the reverse order if the manual for your machine specifies dry ingredients first and liquids last.
2.) Select whole wheat cycle and 1 1/2 pound loaf setting and push start. This loaf also came out well for me when I used the "rapid" cycle, or the cycle that only takes about an hour.
3.) When the cycle ends remove your loaf from the machine and allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan. Then remove from pan and allow to cool completely before slicing. Please tell me how yours comes out! Thanks!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter Day 2

Today is the second day of life for my 100% whole wheat sourdough starter. I did not post a picture because there aren't yet any visual transformations yet but we are definitely getting the yeasty smell going. I think the whole wheat flour makes the smell even stronger. I have a little extra blog time today so the following is the recipe for this starter.



Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter
(from The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book by George Burnett)
(makes 2 cups of starter)

2 cups (1 pint) warm water (100 degrees F)
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tablespon honey
2 cups whole wheat flour

1.) Put the water, yeast, and honey in  a medium mixing bowl and stir until the yeast dissolves. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
2.) Stir in the flour and beat until smooth.
3.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature for 2 to 5 days, stirring occasionally. The longer the starter stands, the stronger the flavor. The starter will bubble and a sour smelling liquid may form on top (this is a type of harmless bacteria known as "hooch"). This is normal for a healthy starter, so simply pour the liquid off and discard.
4.) To store the starter, pour it into a sterilized crock or jar. (To sterilize, pour boiling water into the container, let stand 5 minutes, drain, and dry well.) After you have left your starter out for the desired length of time (2-5 days) refridgerate until ready to use.
5.)To use starter, stir and pour off as much as required. To keep your starter going, feed it after each use. To feed, add equal amounts of (the same as what you used in your bread recipe) flour and warm  water. For example, if you used 1 cup of starter then replace it with 1 cup of the same flour and 1 cup of warm water (2 cups of new ingredients added total). Stir and let stand at room temperature until itbubbles again, then cover and refridgerate.

Tips
*VERY IMPORTANT!: Make sure the container you store your starter in is big enough. If there is barely any space between the starter and the head of the jar when you make it, you could find yourself with an overflowing mess the next time you check on it because it is very alive and it will expand. Also it can overflow if you put a tight lid on it, it needs room to breathe.

*To keep the starter from going rancid, use at least 1 cup of the starter every week. The starter may be frozen and thawed in the fridge 24 hours before using. After thawing, pour off as much as require and feed the remainder as described above

*If it begins to look dead and inactive (i.e. no bubbles) don't get discouraged. Be patient and wait another few days. Starters can be intimidating but what I have realized from making them is that you can never really mess it up that badly. The only problem I have ever encountered was that the loaf of bread it produced was not as sour as I would have liked. Just remember that it is your baby and it needs only a little daily attention to be happy. If it goes completely rancid or begins to grow mold then simply discard and start over, no biggy.

*Even though these specific directions do not require a daily feeding, I do it anyways because I have come across others that do, although I don't believe its necessary.  I think you can get away with feeding it once a week just make sure that when you feed it you discard (or use) an equal amount first or you could end up with enough starter for a New York Bakery. I got one of my first starters from someone who claimed they accidently forgot to feed it for 3 weeks and it still survived. I have also heard stories of starters lasting for years and becoming inactive then being revived from the dead and still creating a beautiful loaf.

*Remember to have fun! For me, I almost feel like my starter is a pet....that I eat? Ok thats kind of weird but I really do enjoy caring for it and having the yeasty aroma of baking sourdough wafting through my house.

I will most likely be posting the recipe for the loaf when I make that too, so keep reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Starter Has Been Started

I have always been a huge fan of sourdough bread. I think the best I have ever had came out of the breadbasket at California Pizza Kitchen. Souring dough does not sound appetizing, I know, but for those unconverted to this delicacy that have not tried it- you have to before you can judge the poor smelly stuff. I've actually grown to love the yeasty smell of my starters. This time I wanted to try something a little more wholesome and decided on a starter recipe from "The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book" by George Burnett. He has a simple recipe for a decent looking whole wheat sourdough. I just woke up and had my breakfast smoothie and threw it together in one of my old large ceramic flour jars. I love the recipes in this book because, as the name says, they are all good for you and the sweetener that every recipe uses, including the starter, is honey. Honey happens to be my favorite white sugar alternative because of it's minerals and rich flavor. Another cool bonus of using honey is that if you buy local it can help with allergies. Anyways back to the starter. I will be posting it throughout it's development and hopefully I will get the finished loaf put up here too...that is if I don't forget to take a picture before it ends up reduced to crumbs and in my tummy. No promises...