Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bread & Cake

I love to cook, but I am not much of a baker. My goal for the winter is to expand my baking skills.
With that in mind I've been reading and learning about bread making, specifically sourdough bread. Until recently I had never made a yeast based bread in the oven. Or baked a cake.
Both of these facts changed this past weekend, with surprisingly positive results!
Friday Night, after bringing my sourdough starter to life(more on this in a later post) during the week I was ready to take the plunge. For my first attempt I tried a not sour Rustic Sourdough Bread from the good folks at King Arthur Flour. You can see the original recipe 2 loaves, so I cut everything in half and made a slight alteration. I'm incredibly pleased with the results:
The bread was chewy and flavorful with a medium brown crust. The original recipe called just for all-purpose flour, but I wanted something a little heartier so I made a slight alteration. My version of the recipe is below:
Rustic (not so sour) Sourdough Bread:
based on/inspired by King Arthur Flour's recipe.
3/4 cup 'fed' sourdough starter
3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1) Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a ball of smooth dough.

2) Cover and allow the dough to rise in a bowl until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

3) Gently shape the dough into an oval loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

4) Spray the loaf with lukewarm water

5) Make two or three fairly deep horizontal slashes in each

6) Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it's a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack.

As you can see I was going for a heartier loaf then the original recipe called for. Adding the 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour did the trick. Later in the week I'll be attempting a true sourdough (using only my starter, and not any additional yeast).

The baking firsts continued on Saturday. Last week I mentioned the two great cookbooks Gail and I had recently acquired. In that post I mentioned I had been salivating over some of the recipes in the 'Fresh Flavors of Israel Cookbook' one of them being the Apple with Honey Upside Down Cake. In my quest to tweak my baking skills I dove in and tried baking the cake, which yielded fairly positive and quite delicious results.

I say the results of the cake were only fairly positive because of a slight miscalculation. The original recipe called for a 10-inch spring-form pan, we only had a 9-inch pan available. I did not adjust the baking temperature/time to account for a thicker cake, so the center was gooey, but the cake itself was moist, sweet and delectable. A real fall inspired treat!
Upside-down Apple and Honey Cake
from 'Fresh Flavors from Israel' cookbook
Ingredients (for a 10 in/26 cm spring-form pan):
Apple Topping:
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tart baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 in slices.
3 eggs
3/4 cup cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup apple juice, warm. (I used warm apple cider)
2 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves.
1) Preheat oven to 350 F
2) Prepare the topping: Cover the bottom and walls of the pan with the oil. Sprinkle on a uniform coating of the brown sugar. Arrange apples in one dense layer.
3) Prepare the cake: Beat the eggs with the brown sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add oil and honey and beat until smooth. Add the warm apple juice and mix well.
4) In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Add to the eggs and honey batter and mix until just combined. Once mixed pour batter over pan.
5) Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry with a few crumbs sticking. Cook in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan over a large flat serving plate, release the spring and gently lift off the ring. Serve at room temperature.
The cake is perfect for fall. I'll definitely make it again, and when I do I will remember to adjust for a smaller pan!

What are you baking this fall??


Daphne said...

Usually when you are a beginner you are supposed to start with the easy things and follow the recipe. Sourdough bread is probably not the easiest of all the breads to make. It looks like yours turned out well though. You obviously do things like I do. I remember the first time I really made something with my sewing machine. I modified the pattern quite a bit and it wasn't a simple pattern either.

tempusflits said...

Your bread is beautiful!

For nearly two years I've baked every loaf of my own bread, without exception. Now, I can no longer do that. But I admire what you've done! There is nothing better than homemade bread. May you enjoy the fruits of your labors for decades to come.

meemsnyc said...

Oooh, I've been thinking of learning to bake more breads. This is awesome.

mangocheeks said...

The upside down apple and honey cakes looks Dee-licious.

I'm not much of abaker myself and was recently challenged to make a Lavender bread.