Monday, September 29, 2014

The breadmaker's rustic loaf

I suppose when you take hiatuses for as long as I do, you kind of lose any existing writer's edge, while veering in and out of funks, even if your aim be not such. Here and there, you nod off at the keyboard, eating whole bags of potato chips (no frets, they're the baked ones) counterproductive to this whole eat and tell show. The monologue that was supposed to have seen light two and half weeks ago, gets deferred in publishing because one completely forgets how to form sentences. Ahh, where is the quality editorial I strive for?

Anyhoo, I needed my prompt, maybe some boosting inspiration. By the way, repetitive watching of Rocky's motivational training circuit will never get old, a must-mention after powering through my ten year old's seven disc La Saga Completa. I was ready to fly.

So, I shall cut to the day's chase. Which involves the following true story and the above visual. Yes, that overbearing easilyfeeds10people loaf sessioning on your technicolor screen was over 80% diminished 2 hours into a particular home-from-school racket. I think I've mentioned a few sequences ago the enticement starch holds over this household, so it should by no means knock your socks off when hearing that my two junior people eat their weight in leavened flour. 

Further, I must make mention a few salient features of making bread. Not only is it the best air freshener ever; there is The Calm, a preciously therapeutic something that  happens on encountering scattered singular elements inputting together to be part of an expanded, delicious smelling whole. In our kitchen it is a recurring theme, featuring more than any other in BFMK chronicles, page after page of elastic gluten being twistedknottedflattenedstuffed, weaved, and fried. Clearly, I do spend more time with thoughts of flour and yeast conclusions. But really, when life gives you a bread maker, what else do you do?

Which brings me to Collosas, my fail-me-knot beast companion. He entertains me endlessly with more than twenty options and several preprogrammed settings, assembling the perfect loaf each and everytime. His no-fail track record for kneading, beating and leavening liquid and dry agents into glorious forms of dough is impressive, all done with zero complaints. Ahem, this is in no way a setup for unfair and biased machine- human comparisons. Though, one can wish.

I learned 4 years and about 60 recipes ago that it is a solid, standard source for good recipe building. With a database of mostly home cooks, there is treasure amidst those no-nonsense pages and pictures that desire possibly more light. It impressed me deeply that this particular contribution ranked beyond all others, numbering one on wikisearch, a solid five stars decorated to its page, complete with a whopping 151 reviewers. 

Novice bakers and those minus a loafcrafting kitchen appliance, the sequence should in no way intimidate you. According to Commenters One, Two and Three, the same blueprint, with very few tweaks can be pulled and formed in regular stand mixers. Identical results may also happen with diligent hands and a bit of elbow grease if you're ambitious.

To classify this as mere bread would be grave injustice. Possessing all the attributes of Spectacular Leavened Glory, moreso as it shines further, having the bakerystyle rugged-encrusting that satisfyingly plays into an airy softerthansclouds midsection. 

So what makes and why is this so fantastic? Possibly the cornmeal dust ensuring a stonehearth texture. Just about here I'll ask you to peek down to last point on our ingredient list. Spritzing water from a bottle over the top entirety of the loaf might be what secures that much envied crisp, a legendary outcome from great bakehouse ovens. The science behind will fascinate, though my Artsmajor head barely muffled over the whole mist to vapor spiel. Summarised, it goes like this; waterspritzing  mid bake will and should delay the cooking process, and its steam allows for a porous, gorgeously beaming and crackly crust. The excellent form, with an impressively light, springychew will be this wonderful loaf's endnote.

Country style. Artisan. Rustic. Italian. So it shall be whatever fits right with you.

Get ready to pat yourself on the back. With floured hands.

(Adapted from
  • 1 c warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 c bread flour
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bread machine yeast
  • handful cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet
  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp oats to sprinkle over loaf
  • clean water in a clean spray bottle
  • Add the water, oil, flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the order suggested by the bread maker manual.
  • Program the machine for dough and  press start.
  • When the cycle is complete, the dough should form a soft ball, not too sticky or stiff. If not hand knead with additional flour or water, as necessary.
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. If you plan to leave it longer than 30, turn dough out into an oiled bowl, keep covered and refrigerate for upto half a day. Warning:it may ferment to more than triple size.
  • After its rest period, deflate dough, form into an elongated loaf or round ball. Place seam side down on cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Cover lightly with the towel and allow to rise for another 25 minutes.
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to 375° F.
  • After the second rise, gently create 2 or 3 crosshatch/slashes over the top of the loaf with a sharp knife or pizza wheel. Might deflate the loaf a bit, but the oven's heat should spring it back to life :-D
  • Brush with the egg white and sprinkle oats over the loaf's top.
  • Bake at 30-35 minutes, opening the oven 2 times midbake to lightly spritz water over loaf's top and oven sides. Don't overdo it with a heavy hand. All you need are a few quick sprays.
  • Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. 
Sidenote~ I'm all for slicing once cooled, but really the luxury of tearing off chunks of just-from-the-oven bread can't be beat.

School's in routine, and this year the two are driven to an actual building instead of being present at our kitchen table. So, with those spare bits of free time, I intend to work at clocking in, with regular intervals of my editorial bits, hopefully my own definition of regular will ride along the same lines as yours;-D Thank you.
"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22
Give it to Jesus. Only He redeems, recharges, restores, renews. I should know. He dazzles me time and again with His amazing grace, healing power and kind compassion. So much so, that as I fretted on how, He abled me to sit through and type the very words that fill this end of September post.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Vanilla Nutella panna cotta

Let me get the obvious out of the way before you wonder if its audacity or just plain memory loss that work into my explanation of near abandoning my already erratic meet ups with you. It could be that I truly was just out. Not of station. Perhaps of mind. Ahem.. let's not delve too deep into that. But believe when I say the gratitude is deep, for you being the Faithful, checking up this page as regularly as I should have done. I know. It's too deep a shame.

Since also, we've experienced my absenteeism in the past, I understand you should not be met with  my often overdramatized life and the the tidal wave of slack I work in its midst. Neither must you hear the difficulties of powering through twenty DVR episodes, racing time so you make it soon enough to catch at least one of the kids from school. Nope. None of that here.

In spite, the one thing I must bring to your attention, is that, though an actual published page has not been effectuated of recent, a thriving yet-to-be known archive is growing to giant beanstalk levels. Yup. Unfinished and resplendent pagestobe; among which wait for One Right Visual, just maybe a  few decents(?), or lack the Ta-Da opener, sometimes even proper ingredient wording. These chronicles, bereft of one or all of the few mentioned features, are still waiting to see the light of blogger day. Thereby, while I thank you for the patience exercised in staying tuned, know that you will be rewarded, with newer uploads pushing through, albeit in slow motion.

So, for the matter at hand, and before another session of procrastination hits, shall we move on?

Today's subject recipe can easily top the list of Aaahhhmazing (linguistic stress totally intentional) Desserts of All Time. Mainly for the ease in its making, but not withholding its extremely accommodating nature as well.
What is it? Well, one that's wonderfully brilliant, in that it demonstrates how luxe taste can be achieved in less than an hour, requiring very few storage staples, sans all the pesky, numerous steps conventionally requisite of Great Desserts. It's when David Lebowitz goes at length on its overall delightful benefits, you forgo everything and pay attention.

I'm explaining cooked cream that's put into a higher than all perspective, something we should thank the Tuscan region of Italy for. This is panna cotta. A blend of one or many kinds of dairy- cream, milk, could be full, varying percents, skim, a pour/splash of half and half- that are elemental choices enabling for panna cotta to reach a destiny of soft, buttery pudding or thickly luxe like custard formation. These being the dependent variables (vocab results of reviewing my 5th grader for his science test) of the type of white liquid used. Silky mouthfeel, firm to touch and room for the slightest wobble are the dessert's uniform attributes, things that should result 100% of the time, despite any panna cotta recipe you try .

The love of creamy vanilla panna cotta cast glorious dreams of the newest yet(!) update charged with mentals of unadulterated, pure white cream. Then I saw this. My hope rose astronomically. Prior cooking experience telling me that dividing flavors and colors can only intensify the whole deal, making appeal to at least three of my twenty-one  senses.

Myexisting half jar of the world's favorite spreadable candy was not enough, especially since gratifying licks on opening are truly mandatory. So, in sheer glee, I utilized my limit four buy-one/get-one coupon. Life is good when you have multiple kitchen shelves lined with 13 oz. Nutella jars. 

In the quickest, most efficient lessthanfifteen I've ever experienced, my first batch of panna cotta was done and refrigerated. On the 45 minute interval for sturdying the white layer and finishing off half a movie that was tying up my malayalam matinee que, I took on same bowl and single saucepan for my chocolate layer. Heated, stirred and poured over the first, that too finished in a second's breath. It was the wait for finished product that was seemingly unbearable. Clocking in at 1 hour 45 minutes, I encountered the greatest and dreamiest cup of dairy, rich and velvety, perfect center jiggle and oh so pretty.

Panna cotta's fantastic flavor truly does belie its absolute simplicity. Sweet, satisfying and swift reinforced in each and every bite of this two-in-one sequence.

I won't crowd your thoughts with furthers of my experience. I'll let it justify itself. Observe and take notes. The Fine One has much to say.

For the love of vanilla. 
Get creative with your gelatined cream. Here, kitchen towels rolled and purposed for troublefree slants.
Nuts add texture, taste and looks.

(Thanks Pretty Little Crumbs for the inspiration
Vanilla layer~
  • ⅓ c milk
  • 1 envelope or 2 ¼ tsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 ½ c heavy cream
  • ½ c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Nutella layer~
  • ½ c milk
  • 1 envelope powdered or 2 ¼ tsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • ⅓ c sugar
  • ½ c nutella
  • In a bowl, pour in the 1/3 c cold milk for the. Sprinkle gelatin over milk. After a few minutes stir to combine.
  • Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Do not to boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
  • Pour the gelatin and milk into the hot cream mixture. Stir to dissolve all the gelatin.
  • Add vanilla and stir.
  • Divide the pudding into oiled or buttered molds, if inverting onto plates; ramekins, or decorative goblets, glass dishes if serving as is.
  • Refrigerate and allow to semi setapproximately 45 minutes to 1 hour before starting on the Nutella layer.
  • Repeat the directions for the vanilla, sprinkling gelatin in 1/2 c milk and heating the cream mixture with sugar. Add in the Nutella to the cream mixture. Once heated and well combined, take off flame.
  • Pour the gelatin/milk into the Nutella cream.
  • Have the Nutella panna cotta cool to the touch before pouring/layering over the now firm vanilla panna cotta.
  • Refrigerate and let set for 2-4 hours before serving.
Makes approximately 8-10 assorted sized servings.

You can use full fat milk here. I use skim milk to cut some of the richness. If you prefer a thicker full-bodied pudding, swap cream/half and half for the milk.
Crumbled cashews and pistachios in my chocolate layer. To me the bite combined with the silk of spooned cream is unbeatable.
If using sheet gelatin, know that 1 packet powdered gelatin renders .25  ounces which would be around 5-6 sheets.

Today's makeshift studio and Rocky, the tireless food watch (albeit lying down and in wait of a reward). What can I say? He loves his job ;-D
"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalms 16:11 (ESV)