On and on we bake! We bake and bake and bake.
So, first of all, english muffins aren’t really worth it. I mean, maybe they could be, but, honestly it’s a lot of work and time and Thomas english muffins taste better. I think sourdough english muffins might be better and worth the effort but I’m not there yet.
Secondly, scones! Holy shit, I’m rocking the scones. I took a scone recipe from The Bread Bible, slapped it around a bit, took out the cream, added sour scream, showed it pictures of naked ladies and went from there. I make them with crystallized ginger, with Heath Bits, with pecans, with candied tangelo peel, with anything really. They are rich and layered and puffy and delicious. So, english muffins are meh, but the scones are in the regular rotation. The real exercise is keeping everything, especially the butter, as cold as possible (this is the same thing with the biscuits, keep it all so cold!). I can see a definite difference in the bake when I pull them out of the oven.
When I pull them out of the oven Mary Berry tells me they are ‘ab-so-lutely lovely’. Paul Hollywood thinks they’re a bit of a mess but I don’t care.
Speaking of candied tangelo peel… all the bread baking reminded me of jam making. It’s been years since I made jam. Made a large batch of strawberry smartass (strawberry with candied ginger). It didn’t set as well as I would have liked but my pectin was a bit old. As I pull a jar from the pantry I’ll cook it down a bit to thicken it up. Next week I’ll thicken some up with ClearJel and fill some doughnuts and live the happy life. And also also! Tangelos were on sale so I made up a few jars of tangelo marmalade. I did cook it a bit too long and it’s caramelized, Tangelo Caramalade!
Brioche. I am doing the brioche. The brioche and I are friends. If I could die drowning in brioche dough I would. If I could, I would. Made a loaf of brioche and then I made some baked french toast (I like this recipe because it’s a bit sparse, not overdone, but also I threw a mix of apples, walnuts, raisins and brown sugar on top before baking). While it was baking I made an apple buerre monte to drizzle on top (2 cups apple juice to 1 stick of butter). EDIT: cook the apple juice down to about half a cup. Should have mentioned that. If you don’t cook it down you’ll just have a pan of buttery garbage.
One of my big issues with baking is timing. Mostly, everything takes longer than I expect it to. There are a couple reasons for this. First and foremost, the temp in my kitchen isn’t consistent, things just take a long time to rise. Except when they don’t. I can remedy this by MacGyvering a proofing box with an old cooler, a lightbulb and a thermostat. Since summer is coming up I’m hoping the problem will alleviate itself for a few months. I get impatient. I know I should wait until it’s risen properly to bake it, but damn, it’s already been like 5 hours longer than I thought!
Timing is also hard because the recipe will say at the beginning that it’s 5 or 6 hours rising time, but that’s the bare minimum. And, this is weird, so you know how I can’t tell time on a digital clock? I have to make a round clock in my head and put the hands on it? Figuring out how long something will take is made ten times more difficult because I can’t just add or subtract minutes. I have to keep making these clocks in my head and moving the hands all over the place and then I have to account for variables! Do you know how hard it is to account for variables when you need a method of time keeping that is pretty damned concrete? I’m working out some sort of worksheet that I can use every time I make bread.
So, timing and brioche? Brioche takes forever. For. Ever.
Speaking of cooking and canning. I canned up 11 quarts of chicken stock. This left me with a goodly pile of chicken meat. Made chicken stew and the butter biscuits from TBB. Later this week I am going to try the Angel Light biscuits for biscuits and gravy. The Angel Light biscuits are yeast leavened, I don’t think I have had yeast leavened biscuits before. I’ll tell you how it goes.
This is my basic hearth bread. I got a pretty good crust on it, crisp but with a definite chew. I found the crumb to be a bit too dense for my taste but David actually liked it a lot. Next time I’m going to try a few things to lighten it up just a bit while still keeping some of that denseness that David likes.
Next to the bread are my sourdough cheese crackers. I make them with the sourdough starter discard and they’re definitely a work in progress. I do them with spicy red pepper flakes or caraway seeds and the sharper the cheese the better.
But what is the big new project? 2018-1020 is all about Big Projects!
Oh yes, we’re stepping into charcuterie. Sausages and hams and bacons. Looking into buying a piglet when Kristen does hers and paying in for the feed and going up to help raise it and ‘harvest’ it. The pigs are slaughtered relatively young and they don’t have a chance to accumulate too much lard, so I’ll probably still be buying fatback separately. I am also eyeing this season’s new lambs, merguez is delicious. As it stands, I’ve got the entire rear leg of a pig, some shoulder cuts and a slab of pork belly all waiting for me to molest them up with some curing salt and bad intentions.
I won’t be able to make cured sausages or salamis in this place. BUT! But, salami curing calls for the same environment as cheese aging. So once we get in the new place I can set up a cheese and salami cave.
Tomorrow I am back to working on my hearth breads. Also, it is goat milk season and I think it is time to make a batch of chevre.