Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rustic Bread

The heart of the Artisan bread movement can not be found sipping infused green tea while nibbling Ciabatta at Panera. Beware of wannabe impostors, many grocery stores and chain bakeries have drawn on the popularity of Artisan bread and now make their own souped up versions with dough enhancers and a medley of other nonessential ingredients. While there are small Artisan bakeries sprinkled throughout our country and have been for decades, the true heart of Artisan baking comes from a rediscovery of traditional recipes and methods tried in our own kitchens.

This is a simple bread that contains no commercial yeast. It has a rich yeasty taste, not quite sour enough to be considered a sourdough.

Rustic Bread
This recipe is done by weight, not volume
Day 1
12 ounces Rye Starter
34 ounces bread flour
18 ounces cool water
1/2 cup wheat bran or wheat germ
2 Tablespoons sea salt

Combine all ingredients, knead 5 minutes, rest 20 minutes

Knead 5 minutes

Turn into an oiled bowl, cover and ferment at room temperature 4 hours

Shape boules, turn into floured basket cover with plastic wrap retard overnight in the refrigerator

Day 2

Remove baskets from the refrigerator and replace the plastic wrap with a proofing cloth to avoid condensation

Proof at room temperature 6 hours of until internal temperature of the dough is 66F

Turn basket onto a cornmeal dusted baking sheet, score the top of the boule

Bake in a 400F oven for 35 minutes until well browned

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Handcrafted Goat Milk Soap Tutorial

Popular techniques in soap making are constantly evolving. When I first started making soap over 20 years ago the goat milk recipes I tried called for dissolving the lye in fresh milk. The result was an awful ammonia smell and brown curdled milk. There had to be a better way, and there was. By adding lye to frozen milk, soapers were able to keep the sugars in the milk from burning and produce a much nicer bar. But frozen milk also has its drawbacks. You have to work so quickly that there can be undissolved lye leftover. Also, there can be problems with uneven saponification as the lye begins to react with the milk fat resulting in speckled soap. Today my 10 year old daughter will demonstrate how to make Artisan Goat Milk Soap with simple, inexpensive ingredients you can find locally.

Easy Soap Recipe

17 ounces Lard
8 ounces Coconut Oil

Melt oils together. Allow to set overnight in a warm place. You don't want them to get too hard to stir.

3.5 ounces Lye
3.5 ounces Distilled Water

Wearing gloves, apron, long sleeves and eye protection pour distilled water into a heat proof non reactive container. Slowly pour lye into the water, stir to dissolve. Set in a safe place out of the reach of pets and children over night.

The next day prepare the soap mold and weigh,
6 ounces of goat milk
1.5 ounces of fragrance
Mica or colorant of choice

Assemble supplies

Pour oils into container

Add goat milk

Add fragrance

Mix well

Add colorant
Add lye/water

Stir until soap reaches 'trace'

Once soap has reached trace pour into mold and cover to insulate overnight

The soap should be ready to cut the next day. We used a soap stamp dusted with mica for a little added charm.

Friday, January 20, 2012

French Neufchtel " Coeur de Bray"


In America Neufchtel is a low fat cream cheese commonly found in the super market. But I want to introduce you to a true cheese of antiquity. Dating back to the 6th century this is one of the oldest cheeses produced in France. Originally from the small farming town of  Neufch√Ętel-en-Bray on the Normandy coast it is similar to  Camembert with a velvety white edible rind. When eaten young it has a crumbly interior which becomes creamier as it ages. This cheese is traditionally made with cow's milk but I use goat milk, of course. The longest I have ever aged it is six weeks. The cheese finished very correct, a beautiful crust with a creamy somewhat liquid interior similar to Brie.

According to legend the heart shaped Coeur de Bray originated during the Hundred Years War when french milk maids made them to show love for the English soldiers stationed in Normandy. If you start soon you can have some ready for Valentines Day!

1 Gallon Fresh Goat Milk
¼ tsp mesophilic culture MM100
Pinch p. candidum
3 drops rennet
½ tsp kosher salt

Sterilize everything with hot bleach water

Warm 1 gallon of goat milk in water bath to 80F
Add MM100 and p. candidum, mix into the milk
Dilute 3 drops rennet in ¼ cup of cool water add incorporate into the milk
Allow curd to set 24hrs

Ladle curd into a cloth draining bag, allow curd to drain for 24hrs

Fold bag over the curd. Set the bag in a plastic draining/ripening box on a cheese mat placed over a rack. Place a plate on the bag and a quart jar filled with water (2lbs) on the plate. Refrigerate 24hrs.

Remove cheese from the bag. Knead in 1/4t kosher salt. Fill  molds. 
Return to refrigerator in a covered clean plastic draining/ripening box.
Allow curds to drain for 24hrs. Pouring off excess whey and drying box with a paper towel frequently.

Carefully remove the cheeses from the molds and set them on a cheese mat in a clean dry ripening box with lid. Flip the cheese every day. After a week you they will be covered with fuzzy white mold. At this point they are ready to eat or they can be wrapped in cheese wrapping paper and aged up to eight weeks or as desired. Enjoy!

I use a clear storage box as a ripening box, needlepoint canvas as a cheese mat and the cheese molds are from a cheese supply company.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Le Croissant

French cooking is wonderfully over involved. They are able create culinary masterpieces that leave us utterly enchanted. The croissant is no exception. Layer upon layer of crispy buttery delicate perfection. So daunting many home bakers never even bother to attempt it. However, if you just take the time to enjoy the process you will find it is not so difficult after all.

This is an old recipe I've been making for about ten years. It has all the elements I look for in a good bread recipe. It uses real, natural ingredients. No dough enhancers, dry milk, margarine etc. It takes a few days to make which means you wont be tied to the kitchen all day. And, it calls for a preferment so I know the flavor will be well developed. The best flour to use for croissants is a low gluten flour. Pastry, All Purpose flour, or a combination of those work well. I always use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast.

Makes 1 dozen

Day 1
Prepare Preferment:
In a small bowl combine,
3 Tbsp lukewarm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons of instant yeast
1/2 cup flour
Set the preferment aside in a warm place for a few hours until it is light and fluffy

Finish the dough:
In a large bowl combine,
2 cups flour
1 tea salt
3/4 cup of room temp whole, fresh milk (I use goat milk)
Mix well then add the preferment and knead lightly for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes

While dough is resting dust two sheets of wax paper with flour. Put two sticks of butter side by side between them and flatten to into a 1/2 inch rectangle. Put it in the refrigerator to chill.

Roll the dough out on a floured board into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Remove the butter rectangle from the refrigerator and cut it in half. Place one half of the butter in the center of the dough (it should be about a third the size of the dough). Fold one end of the dough over the butter. Place the remaining half of the butter on top of the dough then fold the other end of the dough onto the top. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, fold in half and then in half again to make four layers. Roll it out and make four layers again. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

Make the layers,
About an hour and a half before you plan to bake remove the dough from the refrigerator. You will make two turns by rolling it out and folding it into four layers then roll it out again and fold into fourths and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out into two rectangles 4 1/2 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick.

Cut triangles and roll from the wide end with the point up, curve ends to form a crescent shape. Let rise 30 minutes. Combine 1 egg yolk with 2 Tbsp of fresh cream, brush the glaze onto the croissants. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes until golden brown and flaky. Enjoy!