Sunday, July 17, 2022

the leav(en)ing of the known... sourdoughnuts!

 Sourdough has a rep for being the no-nonsense, savory, earth-attuned kind of bake-craft. Doughnuts are the opposite of that -- fried, usually pretty sweet from being sugar-tossed or glazed and/or filled, with endless permutations of dress-up. There is the cronut, a hybrid of the flaky layers and oil-cooking, but even that  has the frippery of lamination.

Given that I put starter in everything, is it any wonder that Sacchi would eventually find her way into doughnut dough? I consider this my last goodbye to a workplace that has seen me through some pretty cool, and some pretty rough, times, including many a doughnut station.

Why has it taken me this long to put up a post about these doughnuts I've been making for years? I really don't know. 


Raised doughnuts are fried yeast dough; in theory, one can toss any kind of bread dough into boiling oil and out will come some semblance of satisfactory vehicle for glaze and filling. But good doughnuts are sweet dough, not too tough and lean like baguette dough, and not too high in fat, eggs or sugar that they disintegrate into the hot oil or sponge it up into soggy greasy sadness.

So what you need is a dough with enough structure to hold its shape as it rises, but soft enough so that the hot oil can cook the mass through in the time that it takes to brown the outside. Tender, flavorful but not too overwhelmingly bready, and with good handling so you can shape, rise and cook without panic.

(Cake doughnuts are another thing entirely. More thoughts on those another time, since of course. That other staple, fried choux/ French crullers, is again a different situation to talk about.)

Sure, you can fry brioche... but one doesn't need to go through the process of a sponge and careful gradual incorporation of butter if you're going to fry it, really. And brioche lacks the wherewithal to stand the manipulation that doughnuts must undergo. Best to leave brioche as little rolls or loaves that never see the fryer, and instead make a simpler dough which uses well-aged natural leavening to boost lightness and dexterity as well as flavor.

It's good to have all the ingredients on the cool side of room temp, as the mixing of the hook warms them up to the ideal fermenting zone.

Sourdoughnuts -- makes approximately 30, depending on size

225 g active starter
3 eggs
45 g sugar
7 g dry yeast, mixed with 15 g water
300 g bread flour
7 g sea salt
95 g butter, cubed 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter, eggs, sugar and dissolved yeast. Mix with a hook until the yolks are evenly dispersed.
Add the flour and salt and mix for 6 minutes on low speed. Look for the dough to be dry at first, then get sticky as the flour hydrates. 
Add the butter cubes and mix another 2 minutes, then 5 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be smooth and elastic, and stick to itself more than the bowl. If it doesn't, add a bit more flour and mix until it does.

Turn the dough into a greased square or rectangular container that can contain double its volume. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge 30 minutes; it should be puffy and cold all the way through.
Pick up the top two corners of the dough and press them to the middle; turn the container around and repeat for the other two corners. Deflate the whole mass and fold it in half, still in the container. Cover, refrigerate again and let rise another 20-30 minutes, until it has doubled.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. 
Roll about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick to cut with doughnut cutters -- 2.5 inch (6 cm) diameter outside, 3/4 inch (2 cm) inside. 
Alternatively, divide into 25-30 g pieces and round into seamless balls for filled doughnuts. 
As they are cut/shaped, space the doughnuts with enough room to rise on a nonstick mat- or greased paper-lined pan.
They can either rise at room temperature (depending on the dough temperature, it should take 15 -20 minutes), or refrigerated up to two days. For longer storage, freeze immediately (up to 2 weeks) then let rise and defrost at room temp.

Heat 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) of oil to 350F (180C) in a wide deep pot. Once the doughnuts are light to the touch, carefully place them 3 or 4 at a time in the pot, turning immediately so the whole surface of each has contact with the oil. This helps to keep the doughnuts round by stopping the surface from drying and causing uneven rising. Push them under the surface of the oil occasionally to cook the insides and prevent a white ring around the middle.
As they turn golden, drain the doughnuts on paper towels and keep them warm in a turned-off oven as you fry the rest.
While they are warm, roll the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar or granulated sugar. To fill them, poke a hole in the worse-looking side with a 1/4 inch (6 mm) plain piping tip while they are warm and the insides are not yet set. Let them cool before filling with jam or pastry cream.
For icing or glazing, let the doughnuts cool completely.

Chocolate doughnut glaze:
300 g confectioner's sugar
50 g unsweetened cocoa
40 g milk
2.5 g salt
200 g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and warm
Stir all together until smooth. Add boiling water to get a coating texture; if too thin, let cool. Dip doughnuts after filling.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The New Normal, I guess?

The Year that Was blew massive holes in my logic that I just needed more downtime so that I'd have a blog that was full of content! With thoughtful pictures and videos! and insights into topics that I had up my sleeve!

But I felt weird and small posting about baking and sewing and crafting when people were out there fighting for their own lives and those of others. Then fighting for their rights and others'. Then celebrating the wins and toughing out the losses in both of those fights and the other ones, big and little, that we never seem to really win -- or lose -- with finality.

So it wasn't just downtime that I needed, but perspective on what I could do with this blog, because in that year so many other blogs mushroomed up and suddenly everyone was an expert clothing and bag sewist, sourdough parent, intrepid kitchen gardener, etc., etc., etc.

After a time, I went back to work -- here and there, building skills, opening up new knowledge and generally being out of the house after a frenzy of unblogged -- but still documented-on-social-media -- mask-making, bread-baking, gluten-free/allergy-friendly learning, windowsill herb-growing, drafting and sewing clothes and bags, PVC-pipe creations and other crafting rabbit-holes. 

Which brings us to today, the 10th month of the year after The Year. Poor neglected blog, to which my last post was late 2019. We're not going back to what we were before, because before is what got us into the mess. Instead, the mission is not so much "back" to normal as "forward" to a new one. 

So what do I have for you? So much and yet so little. 

Have some pictures!!!
Asian desserts
gluten-free Asian desserts spread
s'more mini doughnuts
steampunk mini hat
gluten-free sugar cookies
gluten-free quinoa loaves
beet bread
Rosti poutine
mini bites -- hazelnut brownie, raspberry pate de fruit, lemon madeleine, mini plum cheesecake, fruit tart, oatmeal cookie
kawaii macaron
cheddar bacon biscuits
6- vegetable braid -- carrot, tomato, beet, spinach, purple potato, potato

AC bucket hat
vertical messenger bag

Drop me a line on what you want to see, hmm? Don't know what to post so just going to throw these pix up and see what sticks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Back to basics: Revel (Oatmeal Fudge) Bars

Revel Bars and I go way back. The original was on a recipe card from Toll House i think, and ever since i was 10 or 12 i have been making them; there was a time that pans of these were flying out the door by the dozen as holiday orders. High school and college friends made these one of my signatures, and the aroma of them baking gives me flashbacks to the 80's and 90's. (Scrunchies are back with a vengeance, so there! May we never see the high teased bangs again though.)

This recipe has survived the food-snobbery of side-eyeing anything using canned milk, and has been improved by using good chocolate and a judicious amount of salt. Quick-cooking oats create the best texture; old-fashioned or steel-cut hydrate differently and don't make a satisfying layer.
For this post I decided to go full flashback and make them as I first did, with a hand mixer and countertop toaster/oven. Obviously a "serious" mixer makes quicker, handier work of the oatmeal base, but they taste the same regardless.

Revel Bars -- 1 10x15 pan
1 stick/8 oz/228 g butter or   margarine (one case where there's   no marked difference), divided       into 7 oz (200 g) and 1 oz (28 g)
2 cups/14 oz/400 g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups/11 oz/ 325 g all-purpose flour
3 cups/9 oz/260 g. quick-cooking oats (oatmeal)
1/2 tsp/2.5 g salt
1/2 tsp/2.5 g baking soda
1 14 ounce/400 g can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces/340 g good-quality bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 10x15 rectangular pan with foil or parchment. Preheat the oven to 350F/170C.
For the oatmeal base: Put the 7 oz/200g butter in a mixer bowl. Add the brown sugar to the mixer bowl and cream together until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed to a thick batter.
For the fudge: Put the 1 oz/28g butter, condensed milk and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on full power in 30-second bursts, stirring each time, until just melted. Add the vanilla and stir smooth.
Using your hands and an offset spatula, press 2/3 of the oatmeal base into your prepped pan. Spread the fudge on the oatmeal base, covering it completely. Dot the remaining oatmeal base by the spoonful on top of the fudge layer, spacing evenly.
Bake about 25-30 minutes until the oatmeal part is lightly browned and doesn't hold a dent when you press a fingertip in. Cool on a rack, then carefully lift the slab out of the pan using the parchment or foil onto a cutting board. Cut into 24-30 bars with a serrated knife. 
These taste best warm but not hot, an hour or two out of the oven. To get that texture after, microwave a bar approximately 8 seconds on high power.

Half the batch fits in a 9x9 square pan; check after 15 minutes. Cut in 12-16 bars.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sewing up: Part 2 of the pull-on/peasant jumpsuit tutorial, with a special split-sleeves bonus mini-tutorial

AAAnd we are back, ready to put the cut-out pieces together. Go HERE for Part 1, the pattern draft and cutting. (Note that I used a print here, so it's easier to see right and wrong sides.)

To recap, you will have EITHER a front and back top, sleeves, and left and right pants and pockets, for a jumpsuit with a waist seam; OR a full body front and back, sleeves, and pockets, for a jumpsuit with a vertical center seam.

First, the pockets. 

Serge or finish all the edges of the pocket pieces. Press 1/2 inch (12 mm) on each straight side to the wrong side, then clip the corners to reduce bulk. Press the curved edge as well, clipping into the curve as necessary. Stitch down that curved edge, which is your pocket opening.

Pin the pockets into place on the pants pieces on the right side, then topstitch the straight edges, backstitching or lockstitching at the edges of the curved pocket opening where there will most likely be stress.
I think I may have matched the pattern too well? Hard to see the pocket on the upper left.

For a jumpsuit with a waist seam: 
Pin each pants piece right sides together and sew the inner leg seams front to back.

 Turn one leg right side out and put it inside the other leg to pin, then sew, the center seam from front to back.
Slide the right-side-out leg into the wrong-side-out one, lining up the raw edges. 

I sewed this seam with blue thread, hoping it would make it more visible...

 Finish that seam, then pull the one leg out of the other to finish the pants inner leg seam as one continuous serge. Press the serged seams flat to one side. 

Serge the neck edge of the front and back top pieces each sleeve piece if making regular sleeves. (If you are making split sleeves, don't do this. see note On split sleeves below, between the 🔵🔴🔵) Pin the front edge of each sleeve to the front top piece, right sides together. Sew, starting at the bottom of the arm and ending at the finished neck edge, and finish those seams. Do the same for the back edge of each sleeve and the back top. You will now have a cross shape with a hole in the middle. Press the finished edges of the neckline to the wrong side, first 1/4 inch (6mm) then again 1/2 inch (12mm). Edgestitch starting from a sleeve seam, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Fold in half
Fold the cross shape in half right sides together so the edges of the sleeves meet, and the back and front meet. Sew up the sides, starting at the lower edge and ending at the sleeve ends. Serge or finish those seams, then press them flat toward the back. Press the hem of the sleeves to the wrong side by 1/4 inch (6mm), then by 1/2 inch (12mm). Edgestitch the hem, leaving an opening to insert elastic if you are using it.

Join the top and pants: Have the top inside out and the pants right side out. Line up the center seams of the pants with the center marks of the top front and back edge so that the pants are upside down inside the top, right sides together. 
Pin and sew. Pull the top up so the whole thing is wrong side out. Trim the seam allowances to 1/4 inch (5-6 mm), then press them open.

continue to the waistband below.

For a jumpsuit with a vertical center seam: 
Prepare the pockets as above, and sew them onto the body pieces where you marked -- 1 1/2 inch (3.5 cm) down from the waistband for a child, more for adults. 

Once you have attached the pockets, place the full body pieces right sides together and pin the front center seam. Sew and finish that seam. Do the same for the center back seam. Press them to one side. 

For regular sleeves, pin and sew the sleeve edges together, and finish those seams. (See note on split sleeves between the 🔵🔴🔵) Turn one sleeve right side out and align its edges with the armhole edge of the body piece. Pin, paying attention that the front edges and back edges match up. Start at the bottom of the armhole and sew toward the neckline on the front, then start again from the bottom sleeve seam to the back neckline. Do the same for the other sleeve, then finish both armhole seams. Press the seams toward the back, then press the hem edge of each sleeve first 1/4 inch (6mm), then 1/2 inch (12mm) to the wrong side. Edgestitch, leaving an opening to insert the elastic if you want to gather that edge. 
Serge all the way around the neckline to stabilize it, then press 1/4 inch, then 1/2 inch to the wrong side as well. Edgestitch the neckline, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Pin the inseam of each leg, then sew from the center down each to the bottom. Finish as one continuous serge, then press the seam toward the back. 


*On split sleevesMark the joins, 
I marked 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths separating 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) "splits"... do as few or many as you see fit, making sure top and bottom are sewn together at least 1 1/4 inch (3.25 cm).
pin and sew. Press the edges to the wrong side 1/4 inch (6mm), 

then carefully edgestitch all along the edge. You'll have to bunch it up somewhat under the presser foot to get to the center, like this: 

For jumpsuit with a waist seam, sew the sides of the top together before attaching the completed split sleeves; for one with a center seam, attach the sleeves as given, starting at the bottom of the armhole. 


 For both ways:
Prepare and attach the internal waistband: Press 1/2 inch (12mm) of each long edge of the waistband strip to the wrong side. Pin carefully to the marks on the wrong side of the jumpsuit, following the angle or curve of the waist markings.

Edgestitch the top edge, then the bottom edge, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Insert all the elastics with a bodkin or safety pin. I do the neckline, then the waist, then the sleeves. Check for fit before cutting and securing the elastics by overlapping the ends and sewing an X (If your machine has a crosshatch stitch, it works well to make a secure join). Close the openings stitc hand or machine.
Lastly, hem the pant legs: fold over 1/2 inch (12 mm), then as much as necessary to get the right length. Edgestitch or blind hem.

That's it, you're done! Test it out, (trampoline or a grassy hill optional) jump!

Monday, July 15, 2019

peasant jumpsuit/romper pattern hack/tutorial -- any size!

The jumpsuit has a fun name, and it's like a dress in that it's an outfit in one piece with no becoming un-tucked, coordinating or agonizing over what goes with what, but the bonus of no worries about being cold or the wind coming up that you have with a skirt. Remember this cutie? 

Try this  or this if you want a onesie that zips and has a hood if you want the coverage of that, but moving on... 
Even better than a jumpsuit is one that literally just pulls on, with no buttons to sew on or fall off and no zipper to get stuck. 

Et voila, the peasant-top jumpsuit. 

You can make it in short-sleeved/shorts for a romper in cotton, challis or a tropical gauze,
 or long-sleeved/full-length in baby corduroy or french terry or velour for a three-season no-brainer (this one features a split sleeve), 
or any combo therein. Note that you can use either a woven or a knit for the jumpsuit, but it should have a good drape (not too crisp or clingy) and be stable enough to not roll when it's cut. Bear in mind that knits are stretchy, which means you might want to size down to get a not-too-baggy but still loungey look if you plan to use a knit.

Now there are quite a few video tutorials out there that use commercial patterns and that's great, but we're not going to do that! if you find a peasant top and pants patterns in the clearance bin, then by all means use those, but for your convenience (ha, really mine) here are some that are free. (with thanks to their respective bloggers/originators:)

Free peasant top/dress patterns:
child sizes:
from rectangles, sizes 3, 4 & 5
the original I made years ago in sizes 3 and 5 years; 
this one is good, sizes 1-14 years with sleeve options

adult sizes:
draft-your-own actually you could use this for a child too, based on measurements
S,M, L  -- use the bodice only, the sleeve is a needlessly odd shape. You'll need to draft a sleeve that looks like the bodice but in your sleeve circumference across. Match the armscye curve to front and back. Bear in mind that the front will dip lower than the back, so the sleeve will look like this:

Pants patterns:

from babies to 6-7 
sizes from 2 to adult XL one piece
XXS (20" [51cm] waist/29" [74cm] hip) to 5XL (60" [150cm] waist/65" [162cm]hip) front and back pieces but can be joined
how to copy an existing pair of pants with contrast cuff and waistband

These are all pajama/lounge pants fit -- these are not going to be trim, close-to-the body pants because of the way they are sewn. If you have a pair of pants in a fabric similar to the one you are making your jumpsuit from that fit the way you like, use the last tutorial above to copy them.

The best way to figure out which pants pattern size to use is by hip measurement -- outseam length is not a dealbreaker because you can always hem them up, and unless your waist measurement is much larger than the hips you don't have to worry about that.

Pockets:  It's simpler to make a jumpsuit with the one-piece pants (no side seam) -- if you want to have in-seam pockets though, you'll have to keep the side seam. I prefer a cut-in patch pocket, which is a basic shape: (this is for an adult size; for kids, measure their hand and make it comfortable -- the one above is approximately 8 in[20cm] by 5 in[13cm]):
10 in[2.5 cm] x 7.5 in [19 cm] with opening 3 in [7.5 cm] x 4 in [10 mm]

(side note for nerds: this basic shape, which i think of as a cracker with a corner bitten off, is the basis for the half-drafts of a peasant top, its sleeve, and pants legs! How fun is that?) 

In addition to the two patterns, you'll need a tape measure, pencil, eraser, tape (not too sticky, like washi tape or scrapbooking paper tape) and a ruler, and a few important measurements. GIRTH is measured from the top of the shoulder, down through between the legs, and up the back, on a slight diagonal and a bit of ease for walking. Like so:

 TORSO Length is a straight line perpendicular to the floor from the back neck to the waist.

Fabric requirements will vary widely -- finish your pattern hack first, then figure out the yardage/meters based on the length of the pattern pieces and how wide the fabric is. Pockets will need more, but just a tiny bit. (For reference, our daughter's size 8-10 took a meter/yard of 52" wide fabric, and my adult petite size 16 (roughly) took 2 meters/yd of 60" wide fabric.)
You'll also need elastic -- 3/4 inch should be good for adults for the waist, but go with 3/8 or 1/4 for the neckline, and for kids.
Also matching thread and the appropriate needle for your fabric, plus pins or clips.

The pattern hack:
First, the peasant top. You'll use your torso length to figure out where to shorten the pattern where it joins the pants -- most tops have enough to tuck in, but you don't need that -- just enough to blouse out above the waist. Measure from the center back and draw a line across. Mark the corresponding point on the front, taking into account that the front neck is lower.

 Measure the new length of the top pattern front and back and add that to your center seam length on the pants (where the pieces are sewn together below the waist) -- it should be about the same as your Girth measurement, minus the distance over your shoulder. Since all these patterns are in half, the center front and center back will be on the edge that would be unfolded as sewn. Check also that the bottom edge of the top and the top edge of the pants are about the same.

Jumpsuit with a waist seam: If you want to use a fabric with a prominent print that won't look good with a center seam, go ahead and cut the top front and back, and sleeves, out of the folded fabric as-is, like you were just making the top. 
To join the pants part, you'll need to subtract any waistbands first. If you already have your top, cut out the pants left and right, making a mark which are the front and back seams. Mark where to place the pockets on the right side -- usually an inch or so down from the waist, and closer to the sides than the center seam.
You'll also need a strip 3 inches wide (2 to 21/2 inches for kids) and the length of the top of the pants to carry the elastic on the inside -- an internal waistband. Cut this along the grain.

Combined pattern piece (seam in the vertical center): I wanted to make one pattern piece with a center seam, so i went a step further and combined the top and pants in the pattern. Remove the waistband and seam allowances from the top edge of the pants pattern, and align that with the waist points you just marked. Cut the top pattern down the center, front and back. You'll move the seam allowances from the sides to the middle.

Tape the front pants to the front top, and the back pants to the back top pattern, lining up the waist seams and grainlines as closely as you can. Now measure up from the inseam to the neckline on both front and back, and add them together. This should be about the same as your GIRTH, minus how low you want the neckline to fall below the junction of your neck and shoulder.

See where this is going? Instead of having the seams go up the sides, we have the center seam that you usually see on pants go on the top as well. The straight edge of each pattern is the folded side. Now all you have to do is trace around the taped-together patterns to make the single pattern piece.

This is a great pattern to use for coveralls like mechanics wear -- that are meant to go over regular clothes and be pretty much the same front to back. Also great for small kids who don't have much shape, just straight up and down.

Note that if you have a good-sized booty (or need room for a diaper), your back and front on the pants will differ a lot. The blue line is the front, drawn onto the back for comparison.

In this case, it is better to make your pattern piece flat and not on a fold, marking front and back. The one-piece pants pattern is already like that, so join the half-front of the top to the front of the pants, and the back to the back, and blend the lines. It will look like this. This is for a romper/shorts, but you can see the difference between front (on the left in the pic) and back (on the right).

Mark your waist points and draw a line across -- for all but the most pole-built of us, it will be slightly higher in the back than in the front, just like the original pants pattern. Don't worry if it looks much larger than your actual waist. 

You'll still need the sleeves, and a waist strip the length of that line (3 inches wide for adults, 2 to 2-1/2 inches for kids) as above. Cut all the pieces (2 body pieces, 2 sleeves, 2 pockets) from the fabric in mirror, and one strip. Make sure to transfer the markings for the waistline, and pocket placement.

NOTE: On split sleeves: Cut the sleeve pattern piece apart down the middle. Tape the edges of the sleeve together (seam allowances should remain the same) so the seam will run along the top of the arm instead of the underarm, like so:  

Mark 1 inch (2.5cm) joins separating the open sections, spacing evenly so the sleeve will be seamed at the top and bottom edges (makes inserting the elastic so much easier.)  

Wow! We got all that done, and next post is the sewing!