Monday, February 4, 2019

A Banananana loaf/muffin to make basically anytime.

I hoard bananas in my freezer. Gone now are the days when I needed them as an egg substitute, but I still feel wasteful if they get to that perfect mottled ripeness and don't get eaten, so in the freezer they go. While in the summer they make a great smoothie, in the winter you need something less chilly. Before I know it I have a stash enough to make several loaves of banana bread, which is delicious and always consumed quickly. Yes, I always end up making more than one loaf because I feel wasteful (again) of the oven space. Or less often I make muffins. Either form is quick and very easily adapted-- add nuts, chocolate, coconut, even sub gluten-free flour. Everything else is probably already in your pantry -- which is part of why this recipe comes together so easily; there are no eggs or dairy to worry about picking up from the store.

Easiest Banana Loaves or Muffins
Makes 2 8 1/2 x 4 loaves or about 20 regular-sized muffins -- coat pans lightly with cooking spray or line with paper.

Dry ingredients: Whisk until combined:
I usually do 1 1/2 cups (180 g) whole wheat flour and 2 cups (240 g) regular all-purpose flour because I like the taste, and the fiber/nutrition boost. 
1 1/3 cups (235 g) sugar -- again, you can do part brown sugar or all muscovado or coconut sugar.
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Wet ingredients: 2/3 cup (160 ml) oil -- coconut, corn, etc.
2 1/2 cups bananas (if previously frozen, they pretty much peel themselves thawed)
 Vanilla extract, lemon/lime/orange zest or extract, nuts, chips, etc. can go in too.

If you use a mixer, put the wet ingredients in first and mix on low until the bananas are smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. If the bananas were very ripe, you should have a batter that holds a trail when a spatula is run through:

If it is too stiff, adjust the thickness with coconut or regular milk, or water.
 Divide evenly between the pans. It will come about halfway up or a little more.

Bake loaves at 350 about 40 minutes, turning halfway through time. They are done when a skewer or toothpick comes out clean from the middle, or with a few moist crumbs. Muffins will take about 12-15 minutes, depending on size.

Store covered at room temperature -- the loaves go quickly if you leave a table knife handy. Muffins freeze well in a zip-close bag, to be thawed individually for a portable breakfast. (spread with Nutella, they are gone even faster. But not at our [still nut-allergic] house.)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sourdough brioche is a thing that happened.

Sourdough brioche. Why? Because I can.
It's fall and not stiflingly hot anymore, and we could use some good bread in the house.

Cinnamon sourdough brioche loaf -- look at that spongy light crumb!

My sourdough mother has been underemployed all summer because of... well, life. But I took it out and fed it Friday night in anticipation of baking Saturday, and the poor creature rallied. (I have a liquid sourdough, fed equal parts flour and water by weight. If you have a biga or firm starter, you'll pull back on the flour in the dough to compensate.)

Brioche, of course, is an enriched yeast dough bursting with egg and butter. It's a natural for pre-ferments, but it's one dough that many pastry people make with commercial yeast and the straight method... because all that butter and egg make brioche the dough to turn to for breakfast rolls, burger buns, and various other "plain but not plain old" uses, often on the fly. It combines nicely without too much attention in a standing mixer, then you just let the mixer do its thing to develop the structure before rising and shaping.

It's nice to be able to take the time to make a brioche of value as its own self and not just a hapless vehicle. I do like the bright color that a lot of yolks gives the dough -- this uses a lot of egg and comparatively little butter. The yolks also give these great keeping qualities -- I've had a loaf on the counter for more than a week and it's still tender.

As you can see, this will make three household-sized loaves -- I like to make multiples... more on this on the next post. If you don't have freezer space or receptive co-workers/neighbors/etc, you can divide the quantities for one loaf easily.

35 g milk or water
300 g sourdough starter, fed 6-8 hours before
256 g Egg yolks
7 g Granulated yeast

516 g bread flour
56 g sugar
11 g salt

113 g unsalted butter, cool but not cold

The way I usually mix brioche is to put the liquids in the bowl with the yeast first and mix that together with the paddle to distribute the granules evenly. Add the bread flour, salt and sugar and mix for 5 or 6 minutes on low speed with the hook until the dough comes together... scrape down into the divot to get any moisture encapsulated there. It will look stiff and undermixed -- that's fine.
Add the butter in chunks and mix that in, then change to medium speed and let the dough hook do its job to get the (formerly scraggly) dough into a smooth, elastic and supple dough that hangs together off the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't, add a handful more flour, but it will take a good 7-10 minutes to get to this anyway -- yay for stand mixers!

When I make bread at home I just cover the bowl with plastic and let it rise in the mixer bowl, but if you have another use for your mixer bowl, turn the dough out into a buttered container that will accommodate it while it doubles its size.

Have some loaf pans ready -- for plain loaves, just buttered or sprayed. For cinnamon/sugar, parchment or foil will ensure that they come out with all the yummy nuggets intact.

Knock the (by now puffy and wobbly) dough out onto a floured counter and nudge it into a rectangle to divide easily into 3 pieces. Try not to handle the sticky dough too much or the butter will start leaking out and it will get even softer and stickier.

For a plain loaf, fold  one piece like a letter -- two edges onto the center. Ease it into the prepared pan, trying to aim the seam into the middle.

For a cinnamon loaf, you can sprinkle cinnamon sugar (200 g sugar/25 g cinnamon) on the rectangle, fold it and place it in the pan that way, or the more fun, less pristine way which is the "monkey bread method": have the cinnamon sugar in a wide bowl; cut off chunks of the risen dough about the size of golf balls or prune plums -- 1 1/4" or so? -- and toss them in the cinnamon sugar. Pile them in the loaf pan, still handling lightly.

Cover the loaf (loaves) with a towel and let the dough rise until it comes up to the top of the pan -- depending on how lively the starter is, it will take about an hour.

Bake in a 350 oven until the brioche is well-browned and the crust is springy/firm to the touch. The cinnamon loaf will color much faster because of the sugar on the outside, but it should take about 30 minutes.

the plain loaf -- nicely golden.
Let the brioche cool in the pans until you can comfortably hold a pan, then turn the loaves out to cool completely. Brioche cuts well with a serrated knife, but you can also just pull chunks off the cinnamon loaf willy-nilly...

Quick note: apologies for the lack of pix in this post... I'm still trying to figure out good lighting in this new kitchen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Rainbow Chromatic/CMYK Croissants! Or, Ally baking.

I actually started these last Sunday after my croissant and brioche class (hi everyone who came from that!), the day of the New York Pride parade. But I didn't actually have time to finish them until this Saturday, the very last day of Pride Month -- skating in just under the wire to support the LGBTQIA+ community, and finally get an idea out of my head and into the world.

UPDATED with more pictures -- scroll down!

You've probably seen this London hotel's rainbow croissants, but I've never seen a recipe or technique that goes with it. And I wanted to make the colors run parallel to the croissant's sections, rather than perpendicular, so each one would be more likely to display all the colors side by side.

I started with a batch of croissant dough, made the usual way with 3 single folds. 
While that rested, I made a small batch (approximately 300 g of flour) of "dead dough" -- the detrempe without the yeast. I used all milk for extensibility, and all-purpose flour because I knew I'd be handling it a lot just to mix the colors in. I divided this dough into three pieces and colored one with egg yellow, one with sky blue, and one with rose pink/red red. (Gel colors rather then liquid, so the dough didn't get too soft.) I then took about a third from each and mixed them with each other to create green, orange and purple/violet doughs. Wrapped and chilled to relax the considerable gluten developed.

Cut to Saturday! Little 2 helped me -- actually she bugged me to make them even though I said it was too hot. I'm glad she did though, I would not have persevered if not for her!

 I figured out that my best bet for making the color strips very even was using a pasta machine. So each color was run through with a bit of flour to make a piece with consistent thickness.

I handcut strips and stacked them, slightly overlapping, to make the rainbow. (You'll see I tried a few different sequences of colors) 

Going through the pasta roller a few times to make the whole piece thinner. I stopped on setting 4. 

These went into the fridge.

Rolled out half of the plain dough, dabbed it with water to make the color panels stick.

Rolled over a few times to make sure they adhered well, then chilled a good while. I had to cut this piece in half to fit it in the fridge...

Rolled out again, to about 10 inches wide, then cut in triangles. Notice the different sequences...

 rolled into the familiar croissant shape, and set onto silpat-lined pans to proof.

I use a half sheet plastic cover to prevent them from drying out but also so nothing sticks to the soft dough and chances ripping the surface. 


I decided not to eggwash them so they retained more of their color instead of being yellow-tinged, but of course if it matters to you to be authentic you can eggwash them.. or brush them with glaze after baking.

Et voila -- Croissants arc en ciel! Happy Pride everyone... We are chuffed that these worked as well as they did. Next time I will try to make the orange truer in tone, make the color dough sheets thinner if I can, and pick a cooler/less humid day to do them!

UPDATE: We made them again ! 

This time I didn't use a pasta machine and just laid the colors out in wide panels striped parallel to the long sides of the rectangle -- i got a few that were each color, and a few i cut perpendicular to get as many colors on there as I could. It was much easier but each croissant was not as rainbow-y. I also used a much better-toned blue coloring so it came out brighter in the baked finish.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

sourdough potato bread color experiments...

Fun with spuds! This idea had been playing around in my head for awhile, and when there were some beautiful purple fingerlings in a mixed bag I knew it was a sign that this 3-color potato bread needed making, in time to tweak a bit before Easter.
I started with the same potato/sweet potato bread used to make the hotdog buns -- by now a mere cousin of RLB's Bread Bible and blog version. I doubled the potato and used high-gluten flour in the main dough to compensate, and added some liquid starter for flavor and ease of shaping. (I don't use the milk powder or butter for allergy reasons.)

This makes one showy loaf  about 14 inches long but relatively flat, as braids go. (If you want a deeper/taller slice, you could rise and bake this in a pan, or make the ropes shorter and fatter.)
First the potatoes: boiled a regular (white) potato and the purple Vilotte (i think, they weren't labelled) fingerlings until tender, then drained and mashed. The sweet potato i cooked like i normally do: in the microwave, then mashed. I ended up with about 70-80 g of each.
Cooked and mashed potato varieties. They are in matchy bowls because i can. :D
 The sponge is mixed as normal and risen, using the potato cooking water. I then completed the dough as one, then divided it in three parts to knead in the colors of potatoes, but you might find it easier to divide the sponge into three bowls and add the other ingredients to form separate colored doughs.
The completed doughs -- kneading in the potato and oil or vegan butter. It's unintentionally a big smiley.
Shape each into a ball  then let rise covered until doubled. I put them right on a nonstick mat.
Before the first rise, and after the second.
Punch down and envelope fold, then rise another time; it should take about 45 minutes each time.
To shape, press one round into an oval, then roll up and pinch the seam so you have a tube with pointed ends, like a football... press out any big gas bubbles as you roll. Elongate the rope slightly, but keep the middle a bit thicker and the ends pointed. Do the same with the other two colors, lay them side by side, and start braiding from the middle.
Press the ends together and tuck them in. Flip the pan and braid the other end the opposite way, keeping the tension even... this keeps the shape consistent.
Cover (I use another pan to make sure there won't be sticking) and let the braid rise until it about doubles, about another 40 minutes. It should feel puffy, almost wobbly, when pressed with a fingertip.
Bake at 375 about 30 minutes. (I don't like eggwashing savory breads that don't have egg in them, especially ones that color well on their own, but you do you!)  It's done if you hear a hollow sound when tapping lightly underneath. 
Nicely colored! As you can see the white and purple strands broke a little as they rose and oven-sprang... 
The braid will have a crunchy crust when it comes out, but that will soften as it cools and the moisture distributes evenly.
My braid looked fine when it went into the oven, but as it rose and baked, the regular and purple ropes kind of fell out compared to the orange. It might be because of extra moisture from boiling, so next time I'll cook all the potato types by the same method and give up having cooking liquid in favor of ropes that keep their shape. (Of course, there will be an update when I accomplish that!)

Let the braid cool to the touch before you slice... even with the potato, it's a delicate crumb that will crush and gum up if it's too hot. But look how pretty! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mini Minty Moto!

Munting Moto? Actually not that small, it is a constant surprise how big they are getting, every day before my eyes. And not really mint, more like a seafoam green. Upholstery suede from Mood Home.

Froo designed it from a few Pinterest pictures. I suggested the lavender/lilac zipper tapes (sz 5 and 3 brass from Wawak) and lining (poly broadcloth from stash, I think Joann ca 2014?). I also wanted to do the princess seams -- are they still called that if the garment is the polar opposite of princessy? I have yet to get a good photo of the yoked back. Originally based on the Oliver + s Schooldays coat, with later input from Burda 183... but not really any of those because I shaped the pieces to really take advantage of those seams. Completely redrafted the sleeves after the first fitting. All in all, a very good fall-weight jacket that I might make again in grey ultraseuede with zips on the sleeves and inside pockets for the other kid. 

Monday, January 30, 2017


UPDATED with videos and freezing tip! Sorry it took awhile.
I tried to come up with a catchy title, but not that hard .. because the fluffy, buttery delight that is ensaymada lends itself to pictures rather than descriptives.

The sweet, pillowy ensaymada of the Philippines is rather far removed from its Spanish ancestor, which is more like a Latin pan de queso -- as like adobo, where we kept the name but completely co-opted the elements :D.

I come at this from the POV of someone who has a good relationship with yeast's two sides -- the primadonna with exacting parameters, and the loosey- goosey flowerchild that does what it wants, when it wants. Given that, ensaymada falls into the family of bready yeast-risen pastries that includes brioche, challah, pannetone, malasadas, and other sugar-, butter-, and/or egg-enriched tender doughs.

Making the dough is relatively straightforward with a standing mixer, a little less so by hand... developing the gluten takes a good while with all that richness! I favor making a sponge, beefed up with a little sourdough mother for extensibility and ease of shaping.


Make the sponge:
1 tbsp./ 16 g active dry yeast
4 oz/ 112 g water, room temperature
1 tbsp/ 15 g sugar
12 oz/ 354 g evaporated milk or half-and- half, room temperature
6.3 oz/180 g liquid starter
14 oz/ 400 g unbleached all purpose flour
Whisk the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to form a thin batter. Cover and let rise 30 minutes; it will look (surprise!) like a sea sponge, bubbly/foamy with a bit of shine.
Complete the dough:
16-18 oz/ 450-500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
4 oz/ 113 g unsalted butter, softened but cool
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
5.3 oz/150 g sugar
1 tbsp/15 g salt

Add the remaining ingredients and combine with the hook attachment on medium-low speed. It will look like a mess for a little bit, but will come together eventually! Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula to get the flour and eggs to absorb completely, and to ensure that the butter doesn't just gather around the hook.  Knead on medium speed until it is smooth and uniform, and does the climbing-up-the-hook you see here.


This should take a good 5-7 minutes after there are no more streaks of egg or flour. Test it by taking a little of the dough and stretching it open between your fingers -- you need to be able to get a 1-inch window that you can see light through but doesn't tear.
Cover and let rise in the bowl until doubled; it should take about 45 minutes at room temperature, but the butter will leak out if you make it warmer. Patience -- remember, loosey-goosey flowerchild has its own timeline. If you want, let the dough rise in the fridge overnight. (I tend not to do this since it makes it harder to shape consistently, but if you want, shape only half and save the other half in the freezer for another time.)

To test whether the dough has doubled in size, poke it with a floured fingertip or two, about an inch deep. If the depressions fill in quickly, try again in 10 minutes; if they fill in slowly or not at all, you can deflate and divide.
Push down and pull the outsides of the dough to the middle; this evens out both the yeast activity and the temperature. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and use a knife or scraper to divide it into even pieces -- I divided into quarters, then each quarter into 6, so each ensaymada starts with about 3 oz/ 85 g.
Tuck the corners of each piece under so they are more-or-less rounded and line them up as you do them; keeping track of the order in which you tucked helps give the gluten time to  rest for shaping. Cover the pieces (with a kitchen towel, upside-down pan, or plastic wrap) to prevent them from drying out as you shape the others.
Shape and fill:
approx. 3 oz/ 85 g unsalted butter, softened to spreadable
about 3 oz/ 85 g grated cheese -- I use sharp white and yellow cheddar, but you can use Gouda, Edam, or Emmenthal or a combination.

approx 5 oz/ 140 g sugar
(optional fillings: chopped ham, ube spread, crumbled chorizo, salted egg, macapuno or coco jam, etc)
Buttered pans of your choice: I use deeply fluted flared-out aluminum molds that hold about 5 oz/ 140 g., but 4 oz muffin pans, deep tart pans, custard cups or silicone molds work as well.

The shaping is where it gets easier with pictures. With a small rolling pin or smooth glass, roll each dough piece into an oval about 3 in/8 cm wide by 10 in/25 cm long. Spread with butter, then layer on cheese and sugar (and any other toppings; you might find that less sugar is better with wet fillings.)

Start to twist and roll by flipping the bottom left over, then push to make the oval wrap around itself on an angle so you get all the fillings on the inside.

you want to end up with a rope that is fairly even in diameter. Hold on to the end in your left hand and use your right hand to coil the rope around that.

 Place in the prepared pans, tucking the outside end underneath enough so it doesn't stick out, but not enough so it makes the coil tilt. 
As you shape them, place the pans under another towel, pan or plastic wrap so they don't dry out. Repeat! Let them rise until they feel puffy and light; note that if you use a filling that is very salty, they will rise more slowly. It will take a good 30-40 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350F/ 175C. When the ensaymada have risen, quickly spritz the oven with some water -- I just use a squeeze bottle, but if you have a spray bottle, aim for the walls and not the floor. While the oven is still steamy, load in the ensaymada and close the door. 
They will rise quickly in the first 15 minutes (this is called oven spring -- something unique to yeasted doughs that is pure satisfaction after you've tried so hard to coddle the diva! ;D), then start to brown because of all the butter, egg and sugar. If they are getting too dark for your liking, cover them with foil so they will continue to cook on the bottom but not the top. Depending on size, this will take 15-25 minutes.


Let the ensaymada cool in the pans until they are just warm, then carefully loosen with your fingertips and a butter knife or small spatula -- the bits of cheese and cooked sugar will make them stick a bit, so don't wait until they are completely cool, but if they are too hot the ensaymada will deflate as you try to get them out of the pans.  Let them cool on a rack while you make the topping.

Traditionally, a slather of butter, sugar and cheese is the finish for these; in the last 30 or so years though, most ensaymada you see have used some form of buttercream. It makes sense to combine the butter and sugar into an emulsified, stays-where-you-put-it frosting, and it adds an element of smooth lightness. I use a Swiss meringue buttercream, because it fluffs up nicely and isn't too sweet.

 2 egg whites
4.25 oz/120 g sugar
pinch salt
6 oz/180 g unsalted butter, in small cubes
Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer. Have the eggwhites, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl, and set it in the simmering water.
Heat the mixture, whisking all the while, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot.

 Take it off the water and whip on the mixer on high speed until the meringue is cooled off, tripled in volume and very white.

When you touch it, it should feel room temperature at the most. Add the butter and beat in until completely incorporated and very fluffy.

Spread the buttercream on the completely cooled ensaymada, then add more sugar and cheese.

 I like to mix a bit of the cheese in the buttercream, then finish with a light sprinkling, rather than the thick cheese helmet that often garnishes the ones in packages. If you have other fillings, it's helpful to garnish with some of those too -- like a dot or stripe of ube or coco jam, or some bits of chorizo, so people know what they're getting. 
Then eat away!
Really these are best the day of baking, but they can also be frozen the day of baking, then defrosted without much loss of quality... If you can plan ahead, freeze the ensaymada without topping. Defrost, then refresh them for about 10 minutes in a 300F/150C oven, cool then add the buttercream and garnish. Some people like them cold, but I just can't -- you miss out on so much of the flavor of the actual bread part.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Regular clothes are the best costumes.

Meet Sans from Undertale and DC's Catwoman. Yes, those are a hoodie, shirt and leggings made from cotton interlock. Yes, i did think about their costumes ahead of time, and so did they.
A catsuit? Totally makeable but not not very comfortable to spend a whole day at school in.
Big hard helmet-type mask? Again, makeable but not practical either. So instead, regular, can-wear-them-all-the-time clothes with just a bit of detail, and some iconic accessories.
A zip-up hoodie with pockets and fuzzy edging (it's the same stuff from Abomasnow two Halloweens ago), is by far the most recognizable thing about Sans' getup. I realize now that it could be longer -- must get longer zipper and replace it for another two or three years' wear!
The hat/mask is a tube of white cotton knit, closed at the top. I had him put it on to mark the placement of eyes and nose. Very thin nylon/cotton knit patches were basted in place, then i cut out the holes with tiny snips before hand-stitching around the edges -- voila, a comfortable, lightweight mask that he can breathe and see out of (in good light!) That's him putting on the rest of the details (Sans' smile especially) with a permanent marker.
She gets a mock-neck t-shirt with some cats'-eye gems, and some leggings, in French terry. Cat ears, made from paper hot-glued to a headband, are all she needs. She decided she needed a glittery lariat.