Continuing on my pastry-fueled odyssey into the untamed world of baking, I tackled two new recipes to make my taste buds and tummy happy. First, for breakfast, I wanted to make a sweet pastry to enjoy over coffee. So after somehow waking up at 7am on a Sunday morning, I set about making some Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Muffins. The recipe, as with most pastry, is pretty basic: Eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. Just remember kids, when combining ingredients, please make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature. Melted butter and cold milk straight out of the fridge don't mix together very well. Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients seperately before combining, and always add the star of the show, in this case the chocolate chips, at the very end.
Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 cups flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar - no lumps
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. melted butter
2 whole eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet choc chips
Mix all liquid ingredients together. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, except for chocolate chips. Mix.
Add chocolate chips last and put into muffin tins.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
For the main event, I tried something that has always intimidated me as a cook, even though it is such a basic staple in all of our diets. Bread. French bread, to be exact. Please don't be fooled by its unassuming appearance: bread takes a long time to make. At least a lot longer than those muffins we made earlier. After scouring the internet for a good french bread recipe, I decided to combine a few of the better ones I found, and ended up making some pretty damn good bread. I enjoyed my first loaf of french bread with a HUGE heirloom tomato chopped up and seasoned, along with fresh cheese and butter all purchased at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups flour
2 tablespoons dry yeast (2packs)
cornmeal (for dusting baking sheet)
1 egg, beaten lightly
Pour warm water into a large bowl and add the salt, sugar and yeast. Mix until dissolved, and let sit for about 10 minutes as the yeast activates. Wisk in oil. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until combined. Mix in the last 3 cups of flour until all of the dry flour is combined in the dough mass. It should look something like this:
Cover the bowl with a towel, and set in a warm, humid place. For this, I heated a pot of water to just below boiling, put the pot of water on the bottom rack of the oven and the bowl of dough on the top. Leave the dough for about 2 hours as it rises, to about double its original size. About like this:
Knead the dough on a flour-covered surface for about 5 - 10 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal sized balls, set each dough ball in its own bowl, lightly greased with vegetable oil. Put the two bowls back into the oven with the warm pot of water. (You will probably need to reheat it.) Let the dough rise for another 2 hours. After the dough has risen for the second time, you can wrap one ball in plastic wrap and freeze. Put the second dough ball on a flour dusted surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Stretch and roll out into a rectangle, about 9x12(ish). Starting from the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up like a jelly roll, and pinch the ends closed. Pat the dough into a loaf shape, like so:
Cover the loaf with a towel and let it sit for about 1/2 hour to an hour. It will rise more, but not substantially. Sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal. With a sharp knife, cut 3 diagonal slits across the dough, and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Put loaf in a 400 degree preheated oven. Remember that bowl of hot water? Keep it in there. The moisture will help the bread develop a crisper crust. Cook for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Voila:
I would once again like to thank my friends at Bakespace.com for the delicious muffin recipe.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Posted by Joel at 10:13 PM