Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Baking

is a stupid thing to do, but when you bake in the late hours, because you've mostly adapted to the owl-like schedule of your live in blokey (like a good, accommodating Azian grrrrl), it's maybe not so crazy.

I baked a pound cake and a some whole wheat bread for a bake sale at the CSA and my own toast-gratification in the past few weeks. The pound cake was mostly Betty Crocker, with a quick soymilk substitution because that's what Bloke likes in his fair trade directly from the African Farmer coffee. I think I tend to just slightly overbake my goods, but no one has complained thus far to me.

3 c King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter (1 c.) softened
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. soy milk


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan (I picked my up in Chinatown for a song), 10-inch angel food (tube) cake, or 2 loaf pans.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside

Beat sugar, butter, almond extract and eggs in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 5 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk on low speed. Pour into pan.

Bake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (50 minutes for cake pans). Cool 20 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Bake sale was today, in support of the low income grants for the Crown Heights Community Supported Agriculture organization.


The bread is a varaiation of "Volkorenbrood", a really dense, hearty whole wheat Dutch bread (which I believe translates into Whole grain or Wholemeal bread). I have been experimenting with Jim Lahey's No Knead Bread and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (although the second one has been a challenge since I lack sufficient refridgerator space in the shared apartment). Lately, I've been desiring a good, non High Fructose Corn Syrup filled toast bread, and found this recipe on about.com (which can really be a good resource). I was also impatient and did not want to "no knead" and wait forever for the bread.

It was pretty good. I don't know if I kneaded it long enough (you're supposed to be able to stretch it out into a window without the dough breading as indication that you've kneaded enough, but it's hard to tell with whole wheat dough). The bread was dense like that hard core German stuff you see in the deli. It made excellent toast and went well with eggs, jam, and butter. Highly recommend (if you have aggression and would like to work the deltoids in a food-related way).
Vollkorenbrood (adapted from recipe on dutchfood.about.com)

4 cups whole wheat flour

2/3 tbsp salt

1 1/5 cups water

1 1/2 tbsp live yeast

Additional 1/2 cup lukewarm water

olive oil

Proof the yeast (in a glass container, you "wake" it up), in the 1/2 cup of water. Wait until it bubbles. Next, mix the yeast/water mixture with flour, salt, and 1 cup of the water in a large mixing bowl. It should be kind of tacky and wet. Knead for 15 minutes (or use a dough hook on a Kitchen Maid mixer). I hand knead by pushing the ball of my hand into the ball of dough, and the fold it back, rotate it 90 degrees, and push down again. You can add up to 1/2 c more of water (I used about 1/4 cup). Knead until you can make a window (which means that when you hold up a small amount of dough, you can stretch it out like a window between your fingers that you can see through, without the dough breaking). The kneading process activates the gluten, something that would get activated during a longer rising period.

Next, form the dough into a ball with the dough and wrap it with a warm, damp non-terry cloth towel (I used a cloth napkin). Let the dough rise for 30-45 minutes (it should about 1/3 larger). Remove the towel, punch down the dough with your fist, and then form it back into a ball, wrap in the tea towel and again allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.

Grease a loaf pan with olive oil. Take the dough out from the towel and shape it into a the for form the pan. Place the dough in the pan and cover the it with the warm moist tea towel and allow the bread to rise for another 30 minutes until it has increased by 1/3 in volume. I like to cut the bread with a cross pattern on top and dust with more flour (not necessary with sandwich bread).

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When you're about to bake the bread, place the pan in the oven, and throw in a cup of water (this will create steam). Reduce temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds "hollow" when you knock it. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.

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