27.6.16

Whole Wheat Bread

Have I finally done it? I think I have finally done it!

Perfect crumb, perfect rise, great texture and taste. I think I am finally ready to stop with the endless tweaking of the bread recipe, and just stick with this one.

Whole Wheat Bread

3 cups whole wheat bread flour (hard)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS yeast
2 1/2 cups water
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Combine all dry ingredients, including yeast.

Make a well in the centre, and add water and egg. Stir to combine.

Dump out onto counter and knead 15 minutes. Do not add any additional flour, even if it's really sticky.

Return to bowl, cover (I use a butter paper), and let rise one hour.

Preheat oven to 500 F. Butter a 4" x 4" x 16" bread pan.

Dump dough onto counter. Knead lightly and roll out into a large oval about 1/2" thick.

Fold in ends so it is the same length as bread pan, then roll up jelly-roll style. it will be a bit thicker at the ends but that is just fine.

Lift the dough into the pan. Brush the top with a little milk or beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

As soon as you put it into the oven, drop the temperature to 350 F. Bake 25 minutes, turning once.

Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then unmold and let cool on rack.

25.6.16

Sewing day!

Finally getting a chance to do some sewing! It's a good thing too, as I have far too much fabric, and not enough money. This is like getting new clothing for free!

First off, a dress. This fabric had been sitting around for two or perhaps three years. It's just cotton with some machine embroidery - sort of eyelet without the holes - and I love how the slight dressiness of the fabric takes a pretty plain pattern and makes it look much smarter.

This skirt is from fabric I think I got two years ago. It's a woven polka dot, again in all cotton. This was mostly done last summer, but I needed to do hand finishing and then I decided I needed to tweak the fit. You can tell I'm really keen on pencil skirts at the moment! I think I overdid and/or outgrew the fuller 1950s skirts I was enjoying for so long.

This one is actually recent fabric, purchased this spring. I took my favourite shirt pattern, switched a few things around, and voila! A shirt with a very different sort of look, still work-appropriate for summer.

Three down, nine zillion to go. I have so many things cut and pinned already...

24.6.16

Eggs: yolks + whites

I love eggs! The most versatile, irreplaceable ingredient. If I was allergic to them, I would surely weep.

So the other day, when I picked up a couple dozen organic eggs of exceptional egginess, I felt they needed a recipe to really show them off - a classic gold cake, a simple way to showcase a good egg.

Then of course, you have egg whites left over, so you have to make meringues!

Gold Cake
(from The Cake and Cooky Cookbook)

2 cups sifted cake flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, soft
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk

Grease two 8" round pans, line with waxed paper, grease paper.

Measure flour, baking powder, and salt into sifter.

Beat butter, adding sugar gradually, till light and fluffy.

Beat egg yolks till thick and lemon coloured. Blend into butter/sugar along with vanilla.

Sift and add dry ingredients, alternating with milk.

Divide between prepared pans and bake 35 minutes at 350 F. Cool 5 minutes in pan before turning out onto rach.

Chocolate Frosting

1 1/2 cup milk
3 TBS corn starch
1 cup butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together milk and starch, cook over medium heat until thick. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Beat butter, adding sugar gradually, till light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa and vanilla.

Gradually add cooled milk mixture, beating till smooth after each addition.

Meringues

2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar and salt until foamy.

Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition to dissolve sugar completely.

Continue to beat till meringue forms stiff peaks. Stir in vanilla.

Spoon mounds on ungreased cooky sheet, leaving room for spreading.

Bke 60 minutes at 275 F, till crisp.

Cool on racks, then store in airtight container.

21.6.16

Picnic pie!

I have wanted to make one of these ever since the Picnic Pie finale on The Greak British Bake-Off, so when a friend invited me to a potluck picnic it was an obvious choice! The recipe I used is from Jamie Oliver.

I started early in the morning, when the kitchen was still cool (west-facing windows mean it gets hot in the afternoon). And there was a lot of cooking involved in prep. Eggplants got done on the grill:

... as did the zucchinis. Red peppers and squash and garlic were roasted in the oven.

Once the prep was done, the assembly began. Fresh basil and parmesan:

Zucchini:

Red pepper, wilted spinach, and ricotta:

Caramelised red onions and goat cheese:

And finally the top! Ready for the oven. This was when I realised I'd forgotten to include the squash. Whoops.

Here it is, out of the oven! But I had my doubts about whether it was really done - I translated 180 C to 350 F, but I think I should have put it in at 375 and left it in longer.

Here it is after some dithering and eventually deciding on a second bake:

Still had some structural integrity issues though. Lessons learned for next time!

19.6.16

cutting and sewing and more cutting

In an effort to put off cleaning the kitchen, I've gotten a bunch of stuff cut out!

I am going on a pyjama binge, on a roll after finishing the kid's summer pyjamas.

These will be summer pyjamas for me:

And these will be Christmas Eve pyjamas for the kid, with a matching set for me as well (yes that dorky):

I also cut out a white cotton shirt, and a black cotton dress. And possibly something else I am forgetting.

This one is even sewn! A different sort of shirt for me: mandarin collar, blouson, bottom band:

Except the buttons of course. I can never find a needle when I need one. But I am hoping to get that taken care of tonight and wear it tomorrow!

16.6.16

Summer pyjamas

A while since I've updated! Mostly I've been baking baking baking lately, although I have gotten back into the sewing a bit.

My kid "runs hot" so I promised him a pair of summer pyjamas - short pants, short sleeves, lightweight cotton instead of flannelette!

I am pretty pleased with the job I did matching the pattern on the pocket:

Although, with a fabric this busy, it is really hard to notice any details at all! You can barely even see the piped collar (hence my hand for contrast).

The kid loves them, but is (as usual) unwilling to model them. "No papparazzi!" he cries. Ah well!

13.4.16

Movies make things get done

I feel like I have watched a zillion movies lately, and by coincidence, I also feel like I've been getting a lot done. I can only conclude that movies are good for productivity.

My bread-making has been improving - look at the crumb on this loaf of 60% whole wheat!

Hoping to get the next loaf a little higher. And that's home-made strawberry jam in the background too. Had the good fortune to stumble upon the last of the strawberries I froze last summer, just as I ran out of jam.

Have also been knitting - trying again to make socks:

Self-striping yarn to make them look interesting without being difficult. Will have to learn to do an afterthought heel. Also, this scarf, seen here a few days after I started it last week:

is now complete! I left it to soak this morning, and will block tonight. And today I am wearing a shirt...

that I sewed up on the weekend from fabric I cut a zillion years ago, literally. I'm quite pleased.

All this courtesy of a bunch of old films, from Idiot's Delight to Grand Hotel to Of Human Bondage to Some Like It Hot. They don't make 'em like they used to!