Fresh Strawberry Mousse

June 8, 2014

With strawberries at such a luscious peak, I was finally able to try out this recipe that I’ve been eying for a few months. By reducing some of the juices on the stove-top to concentrate the strawberry flavor, it definitely packs a strong strawberry punch. While I did not get the mousse like texture that I was expecting; my son said it was more like a smoothie; it was undeniably delicious. 4-stars as mousse, but 5-stars as an un-named dessert.

Beautiful strawberries for just $2/lb

Beautiful strawberries for just $2/lb

Comments:

  1. The only mistake I made in the recipe was that I added the softened gelatin to the main bowl instead of to the saucepan in Step 5. There is some chance that the lack of heat meant that the gelatin didn’t evenly distribute to the mousse, causing my textural problem. I will definitely make it again, and update this post (and rating) if that was truly the cause.
  2. There were no solids left in the strainer in Step 6; only seeds.
  3. The dessert takes about 1h15m to make, but more than half of that time is waiting. I use that time as an excuse to relax.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $5.50.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 12:30 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

Here is the original Cook’s Illustrated link to for this recipe. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

2 pounds strawberries
1/2-cup sugar
Pinch salt
1-3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Cut cream cheese into 8 pieces and allow to soften on the counter-top.
  2. Wash and hull all the strawberries replacing back in plastic containers. For garnishing, dice enough strawberries into 1/4″ dice to yield 1 cup (5-1/4 ounces). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. In two batches (three batches if your food processor is on the smaller side), pulse remaining strawberries 6 to 8 times until 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces; some pieces will be larger than others. Empty strawberries into a medium bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Cover bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for 45 minutes; stir occasionally. Do NOT clean food processor.
  4. Strain the strawberries through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, within 1 minute you should have rendered 2/3 cup of juice. Measure out 3 tablespoons juice into a separate small bowl and sprinkle with 1-3/4 teaspoons gelatin. Allow gelatin to soften for 5 minutes.
  5. Put remaining juice into a small saucepan and reduce over medium-higher burner for 10 minutes, until it measures just 3 tablespoons. Remove from heat and add the softened gelatin mixture, stirring until dissolved. Add softened cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Empty into large bowl.
  6. Meanwhile while the juice is reducing, process fruit in food processor for 15 to 20 seconds until smooth. Again, strain the puree though your fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing down on the solids with a spatula. You should have 1-2/3 cup of puree. Add the puree to the juice/gelatin mixture and whisk together until combined. Discard the solids from the strainer.
  7. Use a standing mixer to whisk cream for 1 minute on medium/low until foamy. Increase to high and whip until soft peaks (2 to 3 minutes), then gradually ass 1/4 sugar and whip until stiff peaks (about 1 to 2 more minutes).
  8. Whisk cream into strawberry mixture until there are no more white steaks. Portion into individual serving bowls and chill for at least 4 hours (up to 48 hours).
  9. Garnish with diced strawberries and serve.

Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lime and Coriander

May 28, 2014

I enjoy fish (but more importantly my girlfriend absolutely loves it), so was happy when this recipe yielded a complete success. The recipe was a refreshingly new way to cook salmon, and didn’t simply rely on sauce to make it interesting. Chris Kimball’s gives a quick 15-minute brine to season the fish and ensure that it doesn’t dry out during cooking. But the recipe succeeds because the ginger, lime and coriander make the flavors much brighter, complimenting the subtle flavors of the sesame seeds and salmon. The tahini is used as “glue” to attached the sesame seeds to the fish. 4-1/2 stars.

Salmon was flavorful and perfectly cooked

Salmon was flavorful and perfectly cooked

Comments:

  1. I made my own homemade Tahini with the leftover sesame seeds. I toasted 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a dry skilled, the ground them in a spice grinder with a little olive oil.
  2. Chris Kimball has two other variations; Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Lemon and Ginger and an Orange and Chili Powder version.

Rating: 4-1/2 star.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5 PM. Dinner time 6 PM.

Here is the original Cook’s Illustrated link to for this recipe. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Table Salt
3/4 cup sesame seeds (3-1/2 oz)
4 skinless salmon fillets  (2-lbs total)
2 scallions
4 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 2 teaspoons juice (2 limes)
4 teaspoons tahini
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  1. Set an rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325-degrees.
  2. Fill a bowl with 2 quarts of water and dissolve 5 tablespoons of salt. Remove 1 cup of the brine and add sesame seeds; allow to sit for 5 minutes at room temperature. Put fillets into brine and allow to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the green parts thin and set aside. Mince white parts of scallion and zest two limes using a Use a micoplaner. Put scallion whites and lime zest on cutting board and chop until finely minced and completely combined.  Add teaspoons lime juice, 4 teaspoons tahini, and 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir to form a paste and set aside until step 6.
  4. Drain the sesame seeds and put into a 12″ non-stick skillet. Toast seeds over medium burner for 2 to 4 minutes; until the become golden brown. Empty toasted seeds onto a pie plate, and use paper towels to wipe out skillet.
  5. Remove fish from brine and pat dry using paper towels. If your fish has a thin belly flap, gently fold the flap over which will create an even thickness. Evenly spread half the paste over the skinned-side of the salmon. Gently press the pasted-side into the sesame seeds and move to a place with the seeded-side-down. Evenly spread half the rest of the paste over the top of the salmon. Coat with the remaining sesame seeds.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in the same non-stick skillet. Preheat until the oil is shimmering. Put fillets into skillet (with skilled-side up). Turn down burner to medium-low. Cook for 2 minutes until the seeds begin to brown. Remove the skillet from the burner.
  7. Use two spatulas to carefully flip the fish and move skillet to oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the center registers 125-degrees. Move to serving platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with sliced scallion greens and serve.

 

Enjoying seafood (not this recipe) with my girlfriend

Enjoying seafood (not this recipe) with my girlfriend


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

May 16, 2014

I’ve made most of Chris Kimball’s Pulled Pork recipes (see here, here, here and here). But today I was faced with a unique set of circumstances, so I took bits and pieces of his various recipes. First, I only had a 3-lb boneless butt roast. Ideally I should have had a 5-to-7-lb bone in roast. Second, I didn’t want a lot of leftovers. Primary this was just going to be a meal for me and my two sons; but just food for today. Lastly, I had to make if from start to finish in 7 hours. Most recipes require a long brine or require the dry rub to soak overnight. The results were good, 4-stars, but fell short of a full-sized, bone-in roast. The sauce was a kid-friendly BBQ style, rather than a more vinegary sauce.

Delicious, but takes a lot of time

Delicious, but takes a lot of time

Taking advantage of a weekday in which I was working from home, I had 7 hours

Comments:

  1. I am fortunate to have infinite free hardwood chunks. Today I used wood from my Oak tree, but I also have lots of Maple wood.
  2. In the past I’ve cut the roast horizontally to speed the cooking, but I had enough time to do a slow roast today.

Rating: 4 star.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 12 Noon. Dinner time 7 PM.

Here is the original Cook’s Illustrated link to for this recipe. The recipe for the sauce is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Spicy Chili Rub Ingredients:
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
4 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground white pepper

Pork:
1 boneless pork butt roast, 3-1/2 pounds

  1. Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Trim away any large chunks of fat, then evenly spread the spice rub into the roast. Use two layers of plastic wrap to tightly wrap, put on a plate. Today I only allowed 1 hour, until the dry rub becomes wet from the pork juices. but longer is betters. But if you have the time refrigerating overnight is better.
  2. Remove roast from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Soak four 3″ wood chunks in tap water, using a plate to ensure that the wood stays below the surface of the water.
  3. About 15 minutes before cooking, light a chimney starter half-filled with briquettes
  4. When the charcoal is ready, spread 15 unlit briquettes on one side of the grill. Even spread the lit charcoal ontop of the unlit coals, leaving half the grill completely empty. Put the soaked wood chunks ontop of charcoal, and replace the cooking grate. Open the bottom vents completely and the top vents half-way.
  5. Put the roast in a disposable aluminum pan, and put it on the cool side of the grill. Cover so that the vents are over the meat, which will draw the smoke to better flavor the meat. After two hours, the grill will fall below 275-degrees, so it’s time to move it indoors.
  6. About 15 minutes before the meat is ready to come off the grill, set a rack to the middle of your oven. Preheat to 335-degrees.
  7. Cover the disposable pan tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 2 more hours; until the meat is “fork-tender”.
  8. Put the entire pan in a brown paper bag and fold it shut. Let the roast rest for an hour inside the bag, but after 15 minutes begin making the sauce below.
  9. Empty the meat onto a cutting board and use your hands to separate into large sections along the lines of the fat. Scrape away any excess fat. Use your fingers (or forks) to thinly shred and put meat into a large bowl. Add 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce and stir to combine. Serve of buns or bread as sandwiches.

Western South Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce Recipe:
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup ketchup

  1. After 15 minutes of the pork resting in the paper bag (step 8 above), slightly peel back one corner of the foil and empty drippings in a fat separator. Re-close foil and return pork to paper bag to continue resting.
  2. Allow juices to separate for 5 minutes, then empty the juices into a 2-qt saucepan.  Bring to boil. Simmer pot with the lid ajar to reduce for 30 minutes. Pour reduced sauce into large bowl (bowl will also be used in step 9 above).
  3. Mince the onion and peel the garlic. Put saucepan over a medium burner and pre-heat oil  until shimmering. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Press garlic directly into the pan and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the reduced drippings and all the remaining ingredients (except for the ketchup). Stir to combine, bring up to a boil.
  5. Reduce burner to low and add ketchup. Cook for 15 more minutes until the sauce has thickened.
2-1/4 pounds of pulled pork

2-1/4 pounds of pulled pork


Chinese Braised Beef

May 4, 2014

I was really in the mood for some great Chinese food, and was excited to try cooking with a new cut of meat; beef shanks. The beef shanks take between 4 to 5 hours to become tender, but have great flavor and texture. If you’d rather use other cuts of beef, Chris Kimball describes how to preparing the recipe boneless ribs, and even a chuck roast (see comments below). One advantage of using the beef shanks is that you don’t need as much gelatin to obtain the correct consistency for the sauce. Overall, the beef tasted good, and the texture was amazingly tender. But the end results lacked a strong Chinese flavor; more hints of Chinese spices. 4-stars.

Tender meat, but lacks Chinese flavor

Tender meat, but lacks Chinese flavor

Because I ran out of heavy-duty aluminum foil in Step 3, I substituted regular aluminum foil. Unfortunately, the regular foil made a big difference in the evaporation (perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue with the 4 hours ribs/chuck). Because I was left with just about 1 cup of broth after defatting, I did not have to reduce for 20 minutes in Step 4. I did run a little low on sauce so leftovers were a little dry.

The recipe allows for variations using many types of beef, but require a few changes in the amount of gelatin used, and cooking time.

  1. I used cross-cut beef shanks, which have less connective tissue than long-cut beef shanks. Use 2-1/4 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin in Step 1. They cook in 4 hours.
  2. If you can find whole beef shanks, omit the gelatin altogether and allow them to cook for 5 hours.
  3. The base recipe calls for 3-lbs of boneless beef short ribs. Which you should trim and cut into 4″ lengths. Ribs require using 1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  4. You can also use a 4-lb chuck roast. Trim away any fat and sinew, then cut across the grain into 1″-thick slabs. Finally cut slabs into final 4″x2″ pieces.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $17.
How much work? Medium
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 1:00pm. Dinner time 6:00pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1-1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
3 scallions
2″ piece ginger
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 pounds beef short ribs
1 teaspoon cornstarch

  1. Add 2-1/2 cups water to Dutch oven. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow gelatin to soften for 5 minutes. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat oven to 300-degrees. Prepare the scallions by separating the white and green parts. Slice the green parts thinly on a bias, and smash the white part. Peeled the ginger, cut in half lengthwise, and crushed. Peel the garlic and smash.
  2. Set Dutch oven over medium-high burner and heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the gelatin has melted. Add sherry, soy sauce, hoisin, molasses, scallion whites, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper flakes. Then add beef, stir, and bring up to simmer.
  3. Remove Dutch oven from heat. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then top with the lid. Put in pre-heated oven and cook until beef becomes tender; between 2 and 5 hours (see note depending upon cut of beef). Stir halfway through cooking time.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove beef to a cutting board. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Use paper towels to wipe out Dutch oven. Allow liquid to settle for 5 minutes, then return defatted juices to now-empty pot. Reduce liquid over medium-high burner, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 cup; 20 to 25 minutes; stirring constantly.
  5. Meanwhile while the sauce reduces, break beef into 1 1/2-inch pieces using two forks. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water and whisk until combined.
  6. Turn down burner to medium-low, re-whisk cornstarch, add into pot and cook for 1 minutes. Add beef back to pot, stir to cover beef. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is hot. Serve sprinkled with scallion greens.

Chicken Saltimbocca

April 26, 2014

This was the second recipe that I ever made on this blog, over 4 years ago. It continues to be one of my favorite Chris Kimball recipe of all time. The recipe as I’ve listed below is portioned slightly different from Chris Kimball’s original recipe; this version yields 6 cutlets rather than 8. I make it every few weeks, because it is so easy and perfect for a mid-week meal; it is ready in about 45 minutes with minimal effort. My kids love it and the pay off is immense. The only thing that can go wrong with the recipe is you don’t reduce the wine sufficiently in Step 11. Otherwise a fool-proof 5-stars.

Delicious and takes about 15 minutes of work

Delicious and takes about 15 minutes of work

Comments:

  1. I sometimes make Saltimboca when visiting friends and relatives, and noticed that many supermarkets only sell pre-packaged prosciutto. The pre-packaged stuff is always domestic, and I prefer Prosciutto de Parma available only at deli counter. Ask them to cut it thick enough for the slices to hold together.   It they are cut too thinly sliced, or shaved, you risk losing the prosciutto when you flip the chicken. On the other extreme, thick slices won’t stick to the chicken.
  2. If you get the thin end of the prosciutto, then you’ll need 6 slices.
  3. The only thing that can go wrong with this recipe is that you don’t reduce the sauce properly in step 11. If you don’t concentrate the wine sufficiently, the sauce will not be intense. Also be careful not to burn the sauce, it goes quickly from 1/4-cup down to burned goo.

Rating: 5-star.
Cost: $8.
How much work? Low
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 5:30pm. Dinner time 6:30pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1/3-cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
3 slices prosciutto (1/4-pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cups dry vermouth or white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper

  1. Trim away any ragged edges as necessary, and cut away the pointy tips trimming back 1 inch to form a rounded cutlet. Lay chicken flat on cutting board and put in freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put flour in a shallow dish or plate.
  3. Lay your hand flat on top of chicken, and with knife flat (parallel to cutting board) slice each breast to form two thinner cutlets. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cut each slice of prosciutto in half to form 6 pieces. I like to cut it at a bit of an angle to approximate the shape of the chicken cutlets.
  4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200°.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in 12″ skillet (regular, not non-stick) over medium-high burner until begins to shimmer; about 4 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, work in batches of 3, pat cutlets dry with paper towels. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off any excess and lay cutlets flat with the flattest side upward. Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each cutlet, pressing lightly to try to get it to adhere. (mine never adheres, but it’s okay)
  7. Add 3 cutlets to skillet with the prosciutto-side down. Cook for 4 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Flip and cook on other side until golden brown, about 6 minutes more. Ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken
  9. Transfer to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven.
  10. Repeat with another 1 tablespoons olive oil and remaining 3 cutlets, then put in oven to keep warm while preparing sauce.
  11. Pour off any excess fat from skillet. Turn up heat to high and add vermouth/wine. Use metal spatula to scrape up any browned bits, and allow to reduced for 7 minutes to about 1/4 cup. Add lemon juice and whisk in butter, a tablespoon at a time.
  12. Off heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken from oven and place on platter. Spoon sauce over cutlets before serving.

Italian-Style Charcoal-Grilled Chicken

April 13, 2014

Yesterday was the best grilling day so far in 2014, so I took advantage by making a simple, grilled, herb chicken.  The recipe uses common bricks, wrapped in foil, to ensure that the skin will brown evenly and completely rendered. The skin was delicious, but tore away in spots because I didn’t loosen it using a metal spatula in step 11. I originally made this recipe about 4 years ago, but again somewhat under-estimated the time required to make the recipe. Because I used a 5-lb chicken (the recipe is timed for a 4-lb chicken), I added 5-minutes to each of the grilling times given in the instructions. The chicken was perfectly cooked and flavorful. Just be sure that you start early enough in the afternoon, allocating 4 hours for a 5-pound chicken. 4-stars.

Beautifully grilled chicken; but takes 4 hours

Beautifully grilled chicken; but takes 4 hours

Comments:

  1. Chris Kimball says that you can use a cast iron skillet in lieu of bricks, but I recommend bricks for each of clean-up.
  2. Be sure to use a thermometer to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked. The timings were off by more than 20 minutes, based upon the size of my chicken.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $7.00
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Start time 2:30 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 medium garlic cloves
1 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons juice
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
4-pound whole chicken
Vegetable oil for cooking grate

  1. In a small saucepan, add olive oil, lemon zest, and pepper flakes. Peel garlic and press the 8 cloves directly into oil. Place saucepan over medium-low burner and bring up to a simmer; about 3 minutes. Meanwhile chop thyme and rosemary, and when oil begins to simmer add 3 teaspoons thyme and 2 teaspoons rosemary and cook for 30 seconds more (reserving 1 teaspoon of each herb for sauce in step 13). Set a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl and strain oil, pressing on solids to extract as much oil as possible (for use in sauce in step 13). Empty solids into another small bowl (to apply onto chicken in step 5), and set aside both bowls.
  2. Butterfly the chicken by cutting through bones on both sides of backbone (with kitchen shears); either discard backbone or save for making homemade chicken stock.
  3. Flip chicken over and use the heel of your hand to flatten the breasts; tuck the wings behind the back. Use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breasts, thighs and drumsticks. Trim away any excess fat to prevent flareups.
  4. In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon kosher salt ( or 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt) and 1 teaspoon pepper. Mix 1 tablespoon salt/pepper mixture (or or 1-1/2 teaspoons if using table salt) with cooled garlic solids.
  5. Use your fingers to evenly spread the salt/garlic mixture under skin on the breast, thighs, drumsticks.
  6. Flip chicken and sprinkle remaining salt/pepper on the meat on the boney side of the chicken.
  7. Set a wire rack in foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Put chicken skin-side up and refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 to 2 hours.
  8. With about 20 minutes remaining, light a 3/4-filled chimney starter filled with charcoal and allow 20-minutes to ignite. Meanwhile wrap 2 bricks with aluminum foil.
  9. After coals become mostly covered in fine grey ash, evenly spread all coals over half the grill, leaving the other half empty. Set the cooking grate and position the wrapped bricks directly over coals. Cover and pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean the cooking grate (using dish towels to handle the hot bricks); scrape grill and wipe with a wad of vegetable-oil dipped paper towels. You should only be able to hold your hand 5″ above grill grate for 3 to 4 seconds.
  10. Set chicken with skin-side down over the cool side of the grill with the legs facing towards the fire. Using dish towels to handle the hot bricks put them lengthwise over each breast. Cover and cook for 25 minutes; until you see faint grill marks.
  11. Use a metal spatula to carefully ensure that the chicken hasn’t stuck to the grill. Use tongs and a kitchen towel, gripping legs, a flip chicken. Position with skin-side up directly over the coals with the breasts towards the center of the grill. Replace bricks over breasts, cover grill, and continue cooking for 12 to 15 minutes until the chicken becomes well-browned.
  12. Remove bricks (you won’t use them anymore) and flip chicken skin-side down to crisp the skin over the hot coals.  Continue cooking for at least 5 to 10 minutes, moving chicken around to cook evenly and to prevent flare-ups. When the internal temperature of the chicken reaches the proper temperature (165-degrees for chicken breasts and 175-degrees for thighs and drumstick), move to a cutting board and allow to rest, uncovered for 10 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, add lemon juice into oil reserved from step 1. Add remaining thyme and rosemary, and adjust salt and pepper according to your taste. Carve chicken and serve, passing the sauce separately.

Adult Sandwich Bread in 2-Hours

April 5, 2014

I love to bake bread. It warms up my kitchen and the fills my house with delicious aromas, improving everyone’s mood. While my kids prefer a spoonful of sugar in their sandwich bread, I often want an adult-friendly loaf. While the best way to achieve my desired results is to make a biga or starter the night before; the fermentation gives great depth and complexity of flavor; today’s recipe is for those instances when I just need to make a quick loaf of sandwich bread. It’s fool-proof and ready in about 2 hours with a total of about 15 minutes of work. I use 6-ounces of beer to make up for the flavor lost by skipping the 12 hours required to make the biga. 4-1/2 stars.

Nearly perfect crumb without any additives

Nearly perfect crumb without any additives

When I make this loaf for my kids, I use 4-ounces of water instead of beer, 10-ounces of milk instead of 8-ounces. I also add 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar or honey (added to wet ingredients while hydrating yeast). Overall I’ve been making my kids homemade sandwich bread for a about 4 years and perfected this large 12-hour sandwich loaf. I also make a small 12-hour version here.

Comments:

  1. Of course, bread made without any preservatives goes stale relatively fast. I make this bread sans preservatives and is still good after 3 days. If you want it to last all week; e.g. to bake this bread on Sunday and have it stay fresh through Friday’s lunch. I found a list of natural preservatives that can use in sandwich bread. I sometimes use granulated lecithin (which I bought online).
  2. The keys to making bread without preservatives are: (1) Do not overcook. Bake only until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 200-to-205-degrees. (2) Allow loaf to fully cool prior to slicing, or you will allow moisture to escape and give your loaf a head-start on becoming stale. (3) Use some olive oil to keep the loaf from being too dry.
  3. Do not cut your loaf before it has cooled to room temperature. In the past I had tried slicing my bread after 1 hour, placed the slices in large plastic bread bag and immediately saw condensation. 2 hours are minimum, but I recommend 3 hours of cooling time.
  4. Starting to bake the loaf at higher temperatures during the first 7 minutes (in Step 8) gives great “oven spring” so you don’t get a dense loaf.  But reducing the temperature will also ensure that the crust doesn’t get too dark by the time the loaf reached an internal temperature of 200-to-205-degrees.
  5. The use of milk in this recipe keeps the final crumb relatively tight.
  6. Use 1 tablespoon in step 2, then cut down rising time to 1 hour.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $1
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Finish time 6:00 PM. (But don’t slice for another 3 hours)

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared and baked the bread are given below:

Wet Ingredients:
1-1/8 cup milk (8 ounces)
3/4 cup beer or water (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil

Dry Ingredients:
4 cups bread flour (19-oz ounces)
2 teaspoons table salt

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200-degrees, and immediately turn off once it reaches the desired temperature. You will use the residual heat to cut the rising time down to 45 minutes.
  2. Add milk and beer/water to a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity); heat in microwave for 1m15s mixture until it reaches about 105-degrees. Whisk in yeast; allowing it to hydrate for 5 minutes. Add in olive oil and stir to combine.
  3. Whisk together flour and salt in large bowl. Add yeast mixtures from step 1. Use a rubber spatula to fold until shaggy ball forms, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl. Kneed dough for 2 minutes. Spray bowl with non-spick cooking spray, put dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in warm, but turned off, oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The dough should double in size.
  4. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Gently turn the dough out onto a very lightly-floured work surface. Gently press the dough into a rectangle so that it corresponds to the length of your loaf pan. Spray dough with water and roll up into a tight log. Move dough into pan and softly press so that it touches all four sides of the pan. Spray top with dough with non-stick cooking spray to prevent the dough from deflating in Step 8.
  6. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (realizing that the loaf will grow above the top of the pan). Place it in a warm spot in your kitchen for about 45 minutes; until the dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when you poke it with your finger.
  7. About 20 minutes prior to baking, begin pre-heating your oven to 425-degrees. Adjust an oven rack to middle position; any lower and your bottom crust will be too hard.
  8. Carefully remove plastic wrap, spray the loaf three times with water from a spray bottle, (optionally sprinkle top with a little bit of flour). Carefully place loaf pan in 425-degree oven. Set kitchen timer for 28 minutes corresponding to the total cooking time. After 7 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375-degrees and turn loaf 180-degrees. Bake uncovered for 8 additional minutes. Tent with aluminum foil to keep the loaf top soft; baking for remaining 13 to 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf will reads 200-degrees when the loaf is done. Carefully remove bread from pan, and let cool on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hour before slicing.
Hearty bread; not too fluffy

Hearty bread; not overly fluffy


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