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


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
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:
450-500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
4 oz 113 g unsalted butter, softened but cool
4 egg yolks
2 eggs
150 g sugar
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 in the video above. 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 a sharp New York white cheddar, but you can use Gouda, Edam, or Emmenthal
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 grating, rather than the 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. 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.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

summer dancewear

Some new dancewear for the warmer months -- 

one based on this Ikatbag tutorial for a racerback dress grafted onto the tweaked shortard bottom; 

one based on Jalie 3138, with a high neckline, decorated with a fun rhinestone g-clef; 

one black stretch pleather and cotton lycra (lesson learned: stretch pleather is not as stretchy as other stretch fabrics...but it does look cool and edgy!)

  and one cerulean stretch velvet Jalie 3241, with some rhinestone flowers from Top Trimming (the dance shorts are scraps of brown stretch pleather: I added a Oliver + S Nature Walk waistband on shortened Playtime leggings to get the stretch running in the correct direction.) 

and the last one is a bit of a cheat for colder weather -- does anyone remember the Bitten line Sarah Jessica Parker did for H&M  many years ago? This tuxedo-ruffled top ceased to fit me awhile ago, but it made for an almost instant hack to re-cut the shape as for the snapless shortard, retaining that cute button front.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Orphaned blog!

My poor neglected blog!!! I've all but forsaken you for Instagram and Pinterest. I promise to post all the summer sewing soon.
In the meantime, have some pretty pictures of what's been baking this summer:

Peach pie!

Plum - apricot biscuit cobbler (did you know it's still a cobbler if it's cake batter?)

Using dental floss to cut a log of cinnamon rolls

As luck would have it, I taught a kids' baking camp for a week this summer but didn't take any pictures (anyone reading this from that?). So maybe we'll revisit some of the things in that menu package, with my own non-school spin on them.

Updates soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heirloom sewing and perfect weekends

The time of sewing reckoning had arrived! I had been thinking about this time for over a year, nebulous plans and Pinterest-gazing giving way to actual sketches and ideas on her part, and fairly courageous fabric choices on mine.

I decided on princess seams and a full circle skirt, with long sheer sleeves. The main fabric is silk dupioni, fully lined with soft, soft cotton voile. I used regular serged and sewn seams on the voile on the wrong side, (which I put against the outer silk so it would be nothing but comfy against her skin.) and French seams on the dupioni to ward off fraying. 
I also got some silk organza and had planned to do the embroidery myself, but found some leftover embroidered polyester organza that was enough for both sleeves and veil; I used the actual scallop on the bottom edge, and created a new shallow scallop edge all around the veil piece. 
The final result: comfy, unique, luxurious and special.