Bread #30 rustic potato loaf

Oh, how I thought my days would be filled with time for baking during my visit north.  How very wrong I was.  Bikes, walks, swims, kayaks, runs, and well… ice cream have been the constants in our days for the last few weeks.  So now, truth be told, I am a few breads behind schedule.  Why do I care? you might ask.  I have no idea other than I want to finish my new years resolution.

I did manage to knead up one winner a few days ago though.  It was so moist, with a soft crust after the first day (which was really nice) with an extraordinary potato flavor.  The addition of keeping the somewhat bitter skins of a russet intact, makes for a distinct taste when fermented and bubbly than baked to a golden loaf.  This one is a bread and butter kind of bread.  And sadly, I did not seal it quite enough so it was not an ideal shape for toasting (but I can imagine that would be another tasty way to enjoy this weeks choice).

I happened on the recipe in Baking with Julia, and I do hope anyone who has been reading these bread posts (so many of them come from this charismatic culinary genius) has made the time to go out and get this one.  So, in haste I choose not to post the recipe.  I almost forgot to take a picture as well!  So this is all that was left by the time I got around to it.  And what a picture it is.  Geesh.  I could have taken the time to at least focus!  Ah well.  Better luck next time.

bread #15 &#16 hardtack and wheat crackers

Delving into the world of flatbread this week I experimented with two different crackers.  The first thing I realized is while the ingredients are sparse this does not mean it is easy.  And you must be in concentration mode.

Both Recipes are from Baking with Julia

Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack- (easy one and somehow I forgot to take a picture!)

1/4 cup shortening

2 tbs. butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup oats

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk

cream shortening, butter and sugar until smooth and creamy with a rubber spatula.  Sift together the dry ingredients (onto a piece of parchment is fine).  Add buttermilk and dry to the butter mix all at once then chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Divide the dough into thirds and place one chunk onto a greased sheet pan.  roll it out with a well floured rolling-pin into a large rectangle as thing as possible.  Prick the dough with a fork all over and slice into rectangles.  Don’t worry about separating them it will occur naturally in the oven.

Bake for 12 minutes or so until just brown.  Let them cool and they will snap into shape just fine.  They should keep for at least a week.

Savory Wheat Crackers (these are the ones you are going to want to take your time on… but its worth it!)

Topping suggestions (salt, cheese, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, anise seeds, or whatever you can think of)

Mix 3 cups whole wheat flour with a teaspoon of salt in the food processor.  Slowly add 1.5 cups of water in a steady stream until your dough just comes together.  Please watch your machinery carefully on this step.  I burned my motor out doing this!  So devastating.  I wrote kitchen aid a letter to let them know of my woes.  Let’s see how good their customer service is…  Anyways, once you have  a nice consistency knead it for 30 seconds, cover it and let it rest at room temperature for thirty minutes.  Preheat the oven to a scorching 500 degrees with two racks in the middle.  Cut your dough into 8 even chunks and cover 7 of them up while you work with the first.  Get your surface good and floury as well as your rolling-pin.  Roll your dough as thin as humanly possible.  Trust me, your product will be quite under par unless you roll thin thin thin.  Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife and cut the dough into rectangles.  Sprinkle with your topping of choice (my favorites were grated pecorino and a salt/poppy-seed mix) then spray with a spray bottle of water.  Bake for about 3 minutes and repeat the process.

I debated on if this was indeed a bread when I realized Julia has it listed under the flat bread section.  And if Julia says it must be true right?  Besides who would argue.  I also must admit, while now I am finally caught up on my bread to weeks of the year ratio, it is becoming slightly challenging to stay motivated!  Sigh.  Of course I still love the results (eating).  I love the process and I love watching my family eat something so fresh and delicious.  But oh I long to find some time to knit or sew or bake a pie or well… do anything!  But alas, this is my resolution and I am determined.  I am sure I will not regret it either.  I mean come on.  It’s bread!



bread #11 Finnish Pulla

Not many loaves I have made as of yet can hold a candle to the beauty and sweetness of this loaf.  Surprisingly simple and quick (in the world of yeast breads) I was pleasantly surprised.  I chose this beauty for just that.  The look.  I wanted something to put on the table that would have some presence.

From Baking with Julia… the best book in the world. 

1 cup milk scalded

1 tbs. yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. cardamom

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs beaten

5 cups flour

1 stick butter melted

egg wash (egg and milk beaten)

sliced almonds and pearl sugar for topping (although I crushed mine and used regular sugar and it was still successful)

Proof your years in the warm water.  whisk in the scalded milk (make sure its cooled a little first or you will cook your eggs), sugar, salt, eggs, and crushed cardamom.  Julia recommends using your coffee grinder and enjoying this spicy addition in your next pot.  Or you can use a mortar and pestle.  Or, like me just chop.

Using a wooden spoon stir in 2 cups of flour.  Beat in the butter.  Add 1/2 cup of flour at a  time until it is stiff but not dry.  This part was confusing for me, but when the time comes you will know what I mean.  Let it rest for fifteen minutes.  Turn onto floured surface and knead for ten minutes, until its satiny and not sticky.  Let it rise in a greased covered bowl for about one hour until its doubled in bulk.  Divide the dough into three equal slices and roll each one out into a 36 inch log.  This is where I rushed and you should note it is best to take time here and make the logs as even as possible, hence my uneven wreath.  You see I had a helper….

Braid them and turn them into a neat circle.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (preferably without edges).  You can add a bow if your wreath needs a little help where you connect the ends.  Let it rise once more for about 45 minutes with just a kitchen towel tossed over the top.  This should be about forty-five minutes.  After, brush on your egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and almonds.

Finally, bake it at 375 in the center rack for 25 minutes until toasty brown.  Place on your table for an eminently delicious dessert or a perfect partner to tea or coffee.