July 22, 2012

Raspberry Cream Scones

You might already know this, but summer has finally arrived in Vancouver. We're not baking too much these days; rather we're trying to enjoy the sun, the music, and the hustle and bustle of Vancouver's awesome beaches.

Having said that, every so often we can't resist the urge to mix some flour and water and see what comes out.

The other day we had guests for breakfast. Two very discerning little girls needed to be fed and, if at all possible, impressed. So, we decided to bake some scones. Easy, fast, and quite effective.

We decided to go with Michel Suas' tried-and-true Cream Scones recipe from his Advanced Bread and Pastry book. We just had to make a few little adjustments to his formula:

  • we cut down the amount of sugar(s) to approximately 2/3 of what the original recipe calls for
  • we replaced the heavy cream with whipping cream (33% fat content), mostly because it's almost impossible to find any heavy cream around here
  • we replaced the "nuts, dried fruits, etc." part with fresh raspberries, that are in season right now and are incredibly yummy
  • we realized just before putting the scones in the oven that we had no eggs in the house; so, instead of egg wash, we just sprinkled some sugar on top
This is the end result:

For six scones

340 gr all-purpose flour
75 gr light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
354 gr whipping or heavy cream
170 gr raspberries

Combine flour, sugar and salt  in a bowl and mix well. Then add the cream and stir in gently. Try to keep the mixing part to a minimum, the dough shouldn't be developed. Gently roll out in a 9" (23 cm) round and cut into six triangles. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden.

The results were spectacular. The scones came out very fluffy and just sweet enough, with just a hint of sourness from the fresh raspberries. Needless to say, the girls were very impressed!

July 19, 2012

The Twelve Steps

We have a little hand-out that we ... hand out every time we do one of our bread baking workshops. It outlines the twelve steps of baking, and over the course of three hours we go over and explain every one of the twelve steps. At the end of it all, everyone should have a better understanding of how it's all done.

I didn't come up with this concept; I have seen the "12 steps" treatment done in quite a few really good baking books, most notably "The Pastry Chef's Companion" by Glenn Rinsky and Laura Halpin Rinsky (the original inspiration for this hand-out), "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart, and "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman.

I thought I might add my little list to this blog for all of you out there who might want to look at it. It can be found here. Hope that it all makes sense. Enjoy.

July 8, 2012

Dinner Rolls

In the olden days, when I still used to be a baker, we saved some dough from our baguette batches to turn it into dinner rolls. The results were always amazing. So much so, that my dinner rolls made it onto the 2011 Vancouver Magazine's "101 Things to Eat in Vancouver". Why the rolls, and not the baguettes themselves? It's still a mystery to me; but I'm not going to turn down some well-deserved praise no matter what shape or form it comes in. :)

You can try these rolls using the formula I gave in an earlier post about baguettes, or you can turn this into a strictly white flour affair, just like I did. I don't get to play with strictly white flour too often, so once in a while it can be quite fun. You will be surprised at how much flavour is "trapped" in good, old white flour.

Dinner rolls (for 10-12 rolls):

(prepared 12 hours in advance and left at room temperature)

80 gr water
80 gr all-purpose flour
1 tsp sourdough culture

(prepared 12 hours in advance and left at room temperature)

80 gr water
80 gr all-purpose flour
1 gr yeast

Final Dough

250 gr water
450 gr all-purpose flour
12 gr salt
2 gr yeast
2 gr malt (optional)

Follow the instructions for making baguettes. Bake on a tray at 450 F for about 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Submitted to YeastSpotting.

July 1, 2012

Pistachios and Cranberries

Yes, it's true: these days we are somehow very much into incorporating all sorts of things into our loaves. Even though, in general, we like to think of ourselves as having more of a traditional approach to baking, and despite being the big fans of all these great, established recipes, drawn from a long, deep-rooted baking history, every so often we're all about breaking the rules.

So, in other words, we are always open and eager to try out new things, and to play in our home kitchen with our ingredients and with our dough. And one thing is certain, cheese on top of a slice of fruity and/or nutty bread is (amongst many other things) one of our favourites.

This time around we chose some pistachios and cranberries, and incorporated them into a mostly white sourdough loaf. To make it not strictly 100% white, we made a soaker with some whole kamut flour, and added that to the dough. The loaves turned out to be quite dense (a little denser than we wanted them to be); but the flavour was all there, and we are still enjoying, as we speak, what is left over from the second loaf.

We will share this post also on Susan's weekly YeastSpotting page. 

(prepared 12 hours in advance and left at room temperature)
150 gr all-purpose flour
130 gr water
1 tsp ripe white sourdough culture

(prepared 12 hours in advance and left at room temperature)
200 gr whole kamut flour
200 gr water

Final dough

700 gr all-purpose flour
320 gr water
27 gr salt
150 gr pistachios
150 gr dried cranberries

Mix flour, starter, soaker and water, making sure to hydrate the flour well. Allow about 30 minutes for the autolyse, then add the salt and knead the dough until it is developed. After that, incorporate the pistachios and cranberries. Let the dough ferment at room temperature for about 3 hours and give it a stretch-and-fold after 30 minutes, repeat twice more at 30 minute intervals. After 3 hours of fermentation at room temperature, do a final stretch-and-fold; give it a round shape and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator between 12 and 24 hours.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, divide the bulk in half, degas the dough very gently and pre-shape as rounds. Allow them to rest for about 1 hour, then shape the rounds into b√Ętards or boules. Let the shaped loaves proof for about 45 minutes. Bake at 450 F for about 40 minutes, or until ready.

Oh, and Happy Canada Day!