Oct 6
Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread MKII
icon1 Jack E. Ambrose | icon2 Food | icon4 10 6th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

People loved my first batch I did of this bread, and have been bothering me to make more. This weekend, flush with my success making empanadas, I decided to kick out a double batch of this bread. Yes, four loaves of cinnamony, raisiny, wanutty goodness.

OMG a huge blob of dough! over 8″ in diameter. I didn’t have a bulk fermentation vessel large enough to hold this thing, so I had to split it in half and stash some of in the refrigerator to retard the rise. I didn’t want to process all of it at once since I only have two bread pans. I may have to invest in another pair if this becomes habit.


This second attempt was even better than the first. I concentrated on getting the dough right, and kneaded properly. Towards the end, after all the fruits and nuts were added I turned the blob out on the counter and kneaded by hand for a few. Once again, butter and more cinnamon-sugar on top. Yum.

Oh another little secret, I pre-soak the raisins so the absorb some liquid. Not only does it plump them up, it seems to add some moisture to the bread so it remains soft and moist.

There are my little lovelies! All baked and lined up. I ended up giving away three of the loaves, because that is how awesome I am. That’s right, who’s your daddy? I am. I kept one for myself. Hey I’m not totally selfless.

Oct 6
icon1 Jack E. Ambrose | icon2 Food | icon4 10 6th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Taking an almost non-bread side track this time. Empanadas are a little stuffed pastry. In this case the filling consisted of: Chorizo, onions, black olives, egg and cheese. I’ve never done a pastry dough before, so I opted for a simple dough recipe.


Pastry dough formula is courtesy of Alton Brown, which accompanies an excellent episode on Pocket Pies. He demonstrates all different things you can do with the same simple pastry dough. Even toaster pastries if you are so inclined. Excellent stuff.

The filling is based loosely on this one. By loosely, I mean almost not at all. :)

Mine is as follows:

  • 1lb of Chorizo
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • 1 can of olives, sliced, diced, whatever
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 large onion
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Chili powder
  • Grated cheese

You will notice a conspicuous lack of measurements in my ingredients. This is intentional. Chorizo already has a lot of spices in it so I didn’t want to over power the dish with all kinds of spices. I ended up using 1tsp of freshly ground cumin, and coriander with a bit of hot chili powder to add just a bit of kick. I forgot to add the parsley, not that the dish needed the flavor, but it would have benefited from the extra color.


Once you have everything made, it is time to assemble. One trick I’d suggest is stashing the rolled out rounds of dough in the refrigerator to cool them down. This makes them firm and easier to work with when it comes to filling time. Speaking of filling:
The key here is, less is more. Only a small amount of filling is needed. About a tablespoon. Top with a bit of cheese, wet half of the dough’s edge with an egg and water mixture and fold over.
I gently press out all the air. We aren’t trying to seal the pastry at this time, just get it into shape. Finally take a fork and gentry press the tines of the fork into the pastry using a rolling motion, working around the edge of the pastry. This actually takes a bit of time, and can be a bit tedious when you have 20 of these things to make.

Stick on a pan, and bake.

In short order you will have a bunch of small, golden brown and delicious, empanadas. You can stash the baked pastries in the refrigerator for a week, but mine didn’t last that long. With egg, meat, and cheese these are perfect for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. You could also freeze these and deploy them as needed.

I was super pleased with the results. Filling was tasty, even thought I forgot the parsley, and the pastry was decent. I still need to work on my pastry dough, I thought it was a little tough and not flaky enough. However for a first attempt; it wasn’t a disaster so I’m happy. :) As an option you could deep fry these. While that would add some calories, I think deep frying might actually make them more flavorful. Pan frying is also an option.

Oct 6

More BBA madness. I’m somewhat behind on my postings, so playing catch-up today.

Next up, Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Swirl Bread. This bread is awesome. My new favorite.


What can I say. Cinnamon + Raisins + Walnuts = win. This bread is actually pretty easy to make. The only extra step is the rolling of the dough to get the cinnamon swirl. Other than that this is a pretty standard bread formula. I opted for a more cinnamon-sugar mixture as a topping. This added a really nice sweet burst of flavor to each slice.

Biggest problem with this bread is all the stuff in the dough. Kneading took longer, and I still think it was under kneaded by the end. Also the oven spring was a little weak, although this is a really heavy bread with all the nuts and fruit so it will make a smaller, denser loaf.

Awesome bread toasted with a touch of butter. Highly recommended.

Oct 6
icon1 Jack E. Ambrose | icon2 BBA challenge, Food | icon4 10 6th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Another Bread Baker’s Apprentice formula down. This time Ciabatta. A pretty neat little bread that is characterized by crisp crust and distinct big, holes in the crumb.

My bread got the distinct bubbles, but didn’t have the oven spring I had hoped for. Additionally the taste was rather bland. I attribute this to over active yeast. It was fairly hot the day I baked this and its possible they little yeasties just overworked themselves during the bulk fermentation. The dough probably could have been wetter too. Ciabatta is a pretty wet dough; wetter than I’m used to working with.

Tragedy strikes!
Do NOT put your expensive stoneware baking dish in the oven without having some liquid in it first. The idea was to add water to create steam in the oven. Unfortunatly the rapid temperature change caused by pouring hot water into a even hotter pan, lacking a thermal buffer, caused disastrous results.



Aug 16
Challah Bread
icon1 Jack E. Ambrose | icon2 BBA challenge, Food | icon4 08 16th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

The other day my friend Zap asked me if I wanted to do a The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
“challenge” with him. I had just purchased the book myself so I figured this would be excellent motivation to try it out. This challenge has us baking one bread per week (or so), until we’ve baked EVERY SINGLE recipe in the book. Whew. I picked challah bread this week to start things off.

I won’t repeat the recipe since it is in the book, but it is pretty basic. Flour, sugar, yeast, oil, water, eggs. Four eggs to be exact. Well two eggs and two egg yokes. Oh and save the whites for later when you brush the bread down.

The dough after mixing waiting for the first rise:

After the first rise. The dough really took off. Very puffy.

After braiding. This thing is HUGE. I could have made two 3 braid loaves from this.

I cut the final proof time short because of how active the yeast was. Only about 30 minutes instead of the 60-75 minutes recommended.

Out of the oven and on the rack!

Nice color, although you can see the over spring was excessive. The whiter parts are where the egg mixture didn’t get because the loaf wasn’t this big before baking.

Nice bubbles. Crumb could be a little deeper.

This bread came out big, as I expected. The yeast was over active for some reason. Maybe I used too much? Not sure. However the bread smelled and looked great. It was REALLY light and fluffy. Almost too light as it was hard to cut after it cooked. The texture was super fluffy too. Unfortunatly the flavor was a little lacking. It was, quite honestly…boring. I had just purchased some local Food Co-Op challah bread the day before, and other than the texture, it is much tastier. It wasn’t that this bread was bad, far from it. Its just that it was serious lacking in any flavor.

It is possible the over active yeast had something to do with that, I’m sure it contributed to the texture being light and fluffy. I’ve never had a dough puff up like this. All but one of the rise steps were for the full time. Only the final proof step I cut short. This is a new type of yeast that I’ve not used much of before so maybe that was it. It also baked up quickly.

Still this was a fun project. I’ve never braided bread before and it was a nice learning experience to figure out how to bread the bread. I may try this again some day and see if I can get a bread that is a full flavored as the bread I get at the Food Co-Op.

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