Bread Basics – Class Outline page is now active. The page started in 2016 and is still a work in progress.
Our patio “Container Garden” consists of twelve EarthBoxes and three City Pickers. This year we’re going to leave a few idle, or fill them with a rotation of short-season veggies and greens. I don’t feel like this is the right summer to be committing to wrangling a jungle of big plants.
Here’s a picture of the almost-complete garden. you’re looking basically East. The first sun hits the grassy edge of the patio at around 10am and by 11am-1pm (summer day-length dependent) the rear trellises will be in full sunlight:
In the front there are (L-R) – two empty boxes, a box of Taxi and Oregon Spring tomatoes, a box of two San Marzano Romas, and a box of two Oregon Spring. They’re all determinate and should play well together.
In the mid-left back there are two indeterminate Black Krim tomatoes sharing a box. Behind that under the trellis are Fortex (pole) beans in a City Picker box — 20 plants in a 4 x 5 layout.
Three years in, we can now begin to harvest asparagus. For reference, the Space Invader cutting board is 12″ high:
The asparagus we started in 2016 ultimately didn’t work out due to poor planning and a bad location, so we tried again in 2018. This time around we have a much sunnier spot and raised beds to help the drainage and soil temperature.
A picture of the raised bed from this Container Garden Update post — June 9, 2019.:
Dinner will be asparagus with salmon and small potatoes.
Asian Chicken Soup From Things We Have In The House:
From the Freezer:
Chicken Stock, about 4 cups
Chicken Breasts (2)
Chopped Red Peppers from last year’s garden
From the Pantry:
Soba Noodles, about 4 oz
Dried Porcini mushrooms
From the Refrigerator:
Shiro (White) Miso, about 2-3 TBP
Sesame Oil, about 1 tsp
Hondashi, about 20 granules (optional, but good)
Teriyaki Sauce (optional)
From the Garden:
The green parts of Green Onions, cut into 1/4″ lengths
Garlic Chives, cut into 1/4″ lengths
- Sprinkle teriyaki sauce over the frozen chicken breasts, bake at 325F for around 20-40 minutes, until the interior is 165F. Set aside to cool. Slice thinly when cool.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the Soba noodles per the package directions, about 12 minutes. When the noodles are cooked, drain, remove to a bowl and toss with the Sesame Oil, set aside.
- Place the dried Porcini mushrooms in hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate.
- The frozen chicken stock and Red Peppers go into a pot over low heat. Fish the Porcini mushrooms out of their water and add to the pot. Maintain a low simmer.
- When you’re 15 minutes from ready to eat, add the Hondashi and Green Onions to the pot, reduce the heat to low.
- 5 minutes before serving set the heat to very low/off. Add the Chicken, Noodles, and Miso to heat through.
- Serve warm, garnish with the Garlic Chives.
I really enjoyed this one, and we literally had everything on hand. It was also an excuse to get out of the house and go to the back yard for the alliums.
The whole recipe is a guideline really. Add/subtract almost anything and it’ll still be tasty.
My preference lately has been for cracker-style pizzas. From a technique and ingredients standpoint that generally means:
AP Flour – To limit gluten strength
Limited Kneading – To limit gluten formation
Low Hydration – This is what works for me. It’s possible to make crackers and crackery flatbreads with a wide range of water input. I’ve had the most success with smaller amounts of water.
The Addition of Fat/Shortening – Limiting gluten by interfering with the chains.
Docking The Dough – May be optional. I mostly use it when there are few or no toppings. It helps prevent the dough from poofing up like a pita.
Baking Longer At Lower Temperatures – To drive out moisture without over-browning.
Two of the menus were personalized, which was a nice touch. (Whited Out in the pictures below.) The “25” in the background of the menu commemorates Thomas Keller’s 25 year association with The French Laundry. The other shape in the background is a traditional clothes pin. We received a clothes pin as a souvenir that had “THE FRENCH LAUNDRY” logo printed on one side and “IT’S ALL ABOUT FINESSE” on the reverse.
The Vegetable-based Menu that we chose not to do:
The menu we selected, signed by sous chef Sean O’Hara. If there was an “Option” on the menu – one of the two of us selected it so that we could try everything:
For Thanksgiving I thought I’d give Peter Reinhart’s recipe another try. (2015 post here. 2016 post here. Ruhlman original post here. The skeleton of the post below is copied and pasted from the 2015 post.)
From the Bread Baker’s Apprentice — Peter Reinhart’s Double Celebration Challah. The “Double Celebration” indicates a double-decker of braided dough — a smaller braid sits on a larger braid. I increased the recipe by 1.5x because we were feeding a crowd:
|Bread Flour||27 oz||100|
|Instant Yeast||2 tsp||0.85|
|Softened Unsalted Butter||3 TBP||5.5|
|Eggs, beaten||3 large||18|
|Egg Whites, whisked until frothy||3||7|
and Sesame Seeds for garnish.
1. One day ahead of time, combine 10.5 oz of water and bread flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. (It’s a simple Poolish without yeast. This would also be fine up to three days in the refrigerator, if so, remove from the refrigerator at least 2 hours before continuing.)
2. Stir together 15 oz flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a separate (mixing) bowl combine butter, eggs, and yolks. Turn the mixer on low speed. Add the wet ingredients to the mixer, then slowly add the dry mixture until the ingredients gather and form a ball.
2. Mix on medium low speed for 6 minutes, adding more flour if needed to make a dough that is not sticky.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, coat with oil, and let rest one hour, covered.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead 2 minutes to degas. Return the dough to the bowl and let rest 1 hour.
5. 2/3rds of the dough becomes the big braid, and 1/3rd becomes the small braid. Each of those portions are divided into 3rds again, and rolled out into ropes which are smaller at the ends and larger in the center. The ropes are then braided, tucking the ends underneath. Watch this for help on how to braid. Transfer the big braided portion to a parchment lined baking sheet, top with the smaller braided portion.
6. Brush the loaf with an egg whites wash, spray with oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 60-75 minutes until the the dough has grown to 1.5x its original size.
7. Preheat the oven to 325F. Brush the loaf again with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake on the center rack for 20 minutes, then turn and bake another 20-45 minutes. The bread is done when golden brown and an instant thermometer reads 190F. (The pictured loaf saw 25 minutes after turning, which I think was too long. More on that below.)
8. Transfer to a cooling rack and wait at least an hour to eat.
I think every time I’ve made this I’ve come away thinking it could be better. 20 minutes + 25 minutes brings the internal temperature closer to 205F than 190F. In the future I’ll likely check the temperature at about the 20 + 15 minute mark. I also think the challah would benefit from a little more salt than the recipe calls out, perhaps even just an extra 1/2 tsp to take the total to 2 tsp (not including the salt in the eggs.)
We had a little bit of extra dough at the end of one of the braids. We were going to visit a 6-year old on Thanksgiving, so:
In reality the “body” is about 4 inches across. It has an “eye” of sesame seeds and a piece of black sea salt. The “turkey” went into the oven with the challah and was pulled at the 25 minute mark.
The kid seemed to dig it.
It never really got hot in 2019. The garden responded by not providing much.
The totals above are for 11 containers, so 20-25 pounds of produce per box is pretty normal. (“Normal” is around 30 pounds of tomatoes per box, 10 pounds of peppers, and 25 pounds of tomatillos.)
We don’t count the basil, which is good because this is the first year that it failed. As a guess it was either nematodes or something else in the soil, but the cool summer didn’t do it any favors either.
(Plant list here.)
Marketmore 76 Cucumber (1 box, 4 plants): 17.8 pounds
Carmen Pepper (2 boxes, 12 plants): 14.1 pounds
Jimmy Nardello Pepper (1/2 box, 3 plants): 1.0 pounds
Anaheim Pepper (1/2 box, 3 plants): 1.1 pounds
Tomatillo (1 box, 2 plants): 8.2 pounds
Sun Gold Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant): 9.7 pounds
Old German Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant): 0.5 pounds
Oregon Cherry Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant): 6.9 pounds
Taxi Tomato (1/2 box, 1 plant): 23.0 pounds
Black Krim Tomato (1 box, 2 plants): 13.8 pounds
Oregon Spring Tomato (1 box, 2 plants): 18.4 pounds
Roma Tomato (1 box, 2 plants): 13.4 pounds
Tromboncino Zucchini (1 box, 2 plants): 6.0 pounds
The yield was low but the few fruits on the tomatoes were larger than usual. Just a very strange year all around.
On the bright side, the Fortex beans did great. Two boxes on one trellis produced way more than we could consume as the summer went along, so quite a bit wound up in the freezer. One of the bean boxes might be better served housing garlic or another allium.
Maybe next year we’ll grow cucumbers, determinate tomatoes like Oregon Spring and Roma, and the indeterminate Black Krim tomatoes. And lots of onions and garlic.
Setting the site record for longest post title by far..
The tomato and tomatillo plants are heavy with fruit right now so it’s time for Rick Bayless’ Tomato Carpaccio Salad:
We last posted the salad recipe in 2014. The 2019 version featured Black Krim and Taxi tomatoes as the base. The pictured tomatillo salad topping included Oregon Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes as well as avacado and red onion.
The salad was fairly filling for three adults, but we had some frozen pulled pork to use up as well as some “empty” jars of mustard. I really dislike that bit of waste, so I rinsed out the mustard jars in a little bit of water and used that as a base to reheat the pulled pork. We then moved the thawed pork to a mixing bowl and added shredded cheese and mustard-pickle relish.
The pork mixture was originally intended to become Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork Pigs In A Blanket, but there was too much filling for that so it became a Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork Stromboli:
Served with more of the mustard-pickle relish on the side. Super tasty.
The dough was basically a simple pizza dough — 400g AP flour, 240g water (60%), 10g salt (2.5%), 1 tsp yeast. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 10″ x 8″. Arrange the filling in a row down the center of the long axis and fold the dough over the filling, overlapping slightly. Press to seal the seam. Place the stromboli on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet tray seam side down. Slice a few cuts into the top so that steam can escape — I placed cuts about every 2 inches which then became the portion sizes after it came out of the oven. Bake at 425F for 30 minutes.
If there’s extra dough it can become bread sticks.
Next time I’ll cut the salt back to 2%, I think the extra salt may have toughened the finished product a little bit. The extra bite would have been fine with pigs in a blanket but the stromboli form was already enough work to get through without the added salt.
Still, a very nice dinner all around. Thanks to SeattleAuthor for his help in the kitchen.
The few days that we had in the 80’s didn’t last. Here in the north Seattle area it’s back to 70’s, overcast, and spotted showers.
(Clockwise from top left — Roma tomatoes, Taxi, Oregon Cherry, Tromboncino zucchini, Carmen peppers, Oregon Spring tomatoes, Sun Gold.)
We harvested the Tromboncino at a relatively small size because there are two other fruits on the plant in the same place — the harvested fruit was directly between the two pictured here:
We’ve found that three fruits that close together rarely ends well, so we pulled the one that was in the center.
On the other sheet tray is 2.5 pounds of Marketmore 76 cucumbers and 2.5 pounds of Fortex beans:
We found three of those cucumbers after we thought we’d already found them all.