Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cheese Rolls

If you have not yet experienced the pleasure of taking a gloopy dough and slapping the hell out of it, let me tell you- you are missing out! The other day I came across a video of Richard Bertinet making sweet dough. There is nothing that I don't love about this video. I love how Richard Bertinet says that you have to see the dough "chenhje" (change, in a French accent,) until you see that the dough is "full of life". I love how he describes the way you are supposed to mix the dough in your bowl- "let your left arm be your motor, and your right, your dough hook!" I loved it so much I decided to make the dough, and fill it with a cheese, egg and sugar mixture- a la cheese danishes.

The dough turned out to be more of a yeast dough than a danish dough, something which I probably should have figured out from the recipe's title- sweet YEAST DOUGH. Oh well. They were still delish, and well appreciated. My cheese danish craving though has still not been satisfied, and I'll probably try again sometime soon. In the meantime, I will definitely be using this smack-down technique for future yeast doughs. It developed the sticky dough beautifully with absolutely no additional flour, it was an amazing, learning experience. Thank you Richard Bertinet!

I'm submitting these rolls to this weeks showcase of all things yeasted- yeastspotting!

(Plus I hope to try out this dough with other fillings... if you have any suggestions, let me know! Thanks!)

Sweet Dough:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 oz fresh (cake) yeast or 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (preferably Red Star or Saf; not rapid-rise)
1 lb 2 oz bread flour (about 3 3/4 cups)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs

a flexible plastic bowl scraper

If using fresh yeast, heat milk until just warm. If using dry yeast, heat milk to 120 to 130°F.
Rub yeast into flour in a large bowl, then rub in butter. Stir in sugar and salt. Fold in milk and eggs with bowl scraper, rotating bowl, until liquid is absorbed and a wet, sticky dough forms. (Dough will be wetter than most you’ve encountered.) Scrape dough out onto an unfloured surface. (Dough will be a sticky mess. Don’t be tempted to add more flour. By working the dough through a process of repeatedly stretching and folding it over onto itself, trapping air, dough will become cohesive and supple.).

Slide your fingers underneath both sides of dough with your thumbs on top. Lift dough up (to about chest level) with your thumbs toward you, letting dough hang slightly. In a continuous motion, swing dough down, slapping bottom of dough onto surface, then stretch dough up and back over itself in an arc to trap in air. Repeat lifting, slapping, and stretching, scraping surface with flat side of bowl scraper as needed, until dough is supple, cohesive, and starts to bounce slightly off of surface without sticking, about 8 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured clean surface. Form into a ball by folding each edge, in turn, into center of dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating ball as you go. Turn ball over and transfer to a lightly floured bowl and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We're winning! Pitas

I often study at home, with my computer on beside me, blasting music. Sometimes I just happen to have my gmail account open at the same time. Incidentally, gchat is also often open (now how does that happen?).

Recently my afternoons go something like this: I'll be sitting at the table, my tax code to my left, computer to the right, big cup of glorious coffee in front of me. Brow furrowed, I try to decipher a legal text in a foreign language, as I hear a plinking noice coming from my computer. I look at my inbox and see that my sister E has sent me an instant message that reads : GOOOOOOO!!!! CALL NOW!!!!! WE'RE WINNING WE'RE WINNING! GOOOOO!

Now let me explain- E works in an office with the radio playing all day long. She has started to listen to 104.5 Chum FM, a Toronto station, while working. Now about a month ago Chum FM decided to give away free tickets to an upcoming Beyonce concert. They announce the giveaway suddenly, and the twentieth or so caller wins. Both E and I are complete suckers for contests, so I always call in, and have yet to win. I still get suckered in- I stop my studying, grab the phone, and make the phone call from Tel Aviv to Chum FM.

Needless to say, after such excitement it is always very difficult to get back to the tax code; my mind inevitabely starts to wander to other topics, such as bread baking. Yesterday my bread of choice was pitas, or pitot, as they call them here. I decided to switch it up a bit, thanks to the suggestions I found on The Fresh Loaf. I added some rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and whole wheat flour to make them interesting. Here's a copy of the recipe plus my additions. Do try the recipe out- they are easy to make and altogether delicious. I just hope I have more success with my tax exam than I do with free concert tickets!
I'm sending this one in to Yeastspotting.

Pita Bread

Makes 8 pitas

  • 3 cups flour (I used two cups regular, one cup whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 packet yeast (or, if from bulk, 2 teaspoons yeast)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, roughly at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, or shortening
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • handful of rolled oats

Mix the yeast in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the sunflower seeds and oats. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water and stir together with a wooden spoon. All of the ingredients should form a ball. If some of the flour will not stick to the ball, add more water.

Once all of the ingredients form a ball, place the ball on a work surface, such as a cutting board, and knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes.

When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil. Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the bowl, rolling the ball of dough around in the bowl so that it has a light coat of oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the trapped gases and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover the balls with a damp kitchen towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so that it'll be easier to shape.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to preheat as well. If you do not have a baking stone, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven. This will be the surface on which you bake your pitas.

After the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, spread a light coating of flour on a work surface and place one of the balls of dough there. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on top of the dough and use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch and flatten the dough. You should be able to roll it out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. If the dough does not stretch sufficiently you can cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Open the oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3 minutes.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The best blondies I've ever had were made by my cousin Achsah. Achsah's an amazing baker, and often makes a few different types of squares for dessert. She cuts them up into very little squares and serves them out of the freezer.... yummm.... I never thought I had an affinity towards defrosting desserts, but let me tell you, these are good. Chewy, vanilla-y goodness.

I decided to make them for dessert this shabbat, accompanied by brownies cut into little squares. (I'm telling you- there's just something about little squares, they get to you!) I then proceeded to consume way more than my daily sugar intake could handle- you know, just so I could have something sweet with my coffee.

Every time I make this recipe they turn out great. But a little warning, FOLLOW THE BAKING DIRECTIONS. Put them in the right sized pan at the right temperature, and dont overbake them. Otherwise they just won't turn out as good as they should.


  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • 100 gr (1/2 c) margarine, melted
  • 3/4 c brown sugar*
  • 3/4 c sugar *
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 200 grams chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Combine marg and sugars. Add vanilla, eggs, the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix in the chocolate chips. Press into a 9*13 parchment-lined pan. Flatten out with wet hands. Bake for 15-25 minutes. Cut into small squares. Enjoy!

*the original recipe calls for one cup of each, but I cut it down a bit because I found it to be perfect with less.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

One Trick Pony: Rye Bread

My good friend Chavi, whose blog I follow religiously, asked me recently what I was baking. When I told her that I was working on my technique and so would be repeating recipes she told me to watch out or I would become a one trick pony. I suppose there are worse things to be when your one trick is rye bread! I made this rye a few weeks ago and it was a big hit. Big flavour, good texture, and I love rye breads, so I decided to try it again.

Its amazing how much technique really improves the bread- just goes to show that practise makes perfect! I think the main differences from last time are
a) I used an eggwash so I could put more seeds on top- made it nice and shiny
b) stretched and folded throughout the main rise a few times
c) I formed the loaf properly at the end instead of just dividing the dough into two. That really made a difference! I still have a lot to improve as the seams opened on one of them.

Anyways, hope everyone has a fabulous day! I know I will, I'm going off to eat some rye bread. ta ta for now!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weirdest Looking Bread I've Ever Made: Dark Wheat Honey Bread

It's been about a week since I last made a loaf of bread, and besides running out of things to toast (which is basically all I eat, all the time), my hands were itching to bake. My brother-in-law (hereafter known as beloved BIL #2) recently told me that he is interested in adding whole grains and healthier bread to his diet. We came to an agreement pretty quickly- if he brought me a bag of rye flour, i would make him a loaf of bread.

BIL #2 came back a week later with a bag of dark wheat flour. well, not exactly what we had discussed, but have flour will make bread! So off I went trailing the net for recipes. I found a recipe for honey whole wheat bread courtesy of Floyd from The Fresh Loaf that looked great, and decided to try and adapt the recipe to the flour I have and use recently learnt techniques.

Notes on the method: I decided to let the dough rest for a while before kneading it, so I let it "autolyse" for a bit under an hour before kneading it for about ten minutes. Then I put the dough in the fridge while I went out. When I got home later that evening I stretched the dough and folded it, and put it back in the fridge. When I woke up the next morning I took it out of the fridge, stretched and folded, and let it rise a bit more.

After about an hour I divided the dough in two, let it rest for ten, and shaped the dough into loaves. I put them in the oven with a bowl of just-boiled water and let them rise for another hour. I left the house at this point- which goes to show you that bread baking is all about good planning! Note to self: If you know you are going out, put your dough in the fridge! Dont plan on baking it! Anyways, I left the bread in my Mom's care with instructions to turn the oven up all the way after about an hour of proofing (after taking out the bowl of water out of the oven and drying off the glass door), and then after about ten minutes turn the oven down. Bake until internal temp reaches 190.

I think the dough might have overproofed a bit at the end- so the loaves kind of flopped over the edges of the pan. Also, I should have known that when you let any dough rise slowly, you can use way less yeast. I used three teaspoons and found that the dough had tons of air bubbles, which made it slightly hard to form at the end. There wasn't enough flour at the beginning- the dough was really sticky. I should have just added more flour, instead of adding more later- which, combined with not such good forming skills made for this GAPING HOLE in the middle of my loaf.

I'm definitely going to make this again (gonna try for one without a giant hole :) ) . It was delicious! Hope you enjoy your loaf BIL#2! And thank you Floyd for the recipe!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
makes two loaves
1 lb whole wheat flour
12 oz hot water
8 ounces bread or all-purpose flour
1 5 oz can evaporated milk (or milk, or more water or soy if you are vegan)
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons instant yeast
an additional 1/2-1 cup flour, as necessary, to achieve the desired consistency

Mix the hot water and whole wheat flour together in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and set aside until around room temperature, at least 1 hour.

Add the milk, honey, salt, yeast, and bread flour to the original mixture and mix until well combined. Add additional flour and knead by hand or in a stand mixer until a tacky but not completely sticky dough is formed. Place the ball of dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Divide the dough in two and shape the loaves. Place the loaves in greased bread pans, cover the pans loosely with plastic (I put them in a plastic bag), and set aside to rise again for 90 minutes.

During the final 30 minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the pans into the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, rotating the pans once so that they brown evenly, until the internal temperature of the loaves is around 190 degrees and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Ok I know that this is slightly, ok VERY off topic (I tried, but I can't connect this to baking!) Summer exams are tough. They take up a lot of energy. Needless to say, they are NOT fun.

I'm part of a great group of friends who meet up once a week for dinner. This week my friend M, who just made the move to Israel, joined us. She told us that she had joined this website called "top secret dance off". The point of the site is to have MORE FUN. Well, that sounds good to me! I'm all for fun. And besides, I love dancing- any kind of dancing really, although I'm not such a great dancer. I took up salsa at the beginning of the year and have learnt how to spin somewhat gracefully- although I often step on my partners shoes, and try to smile it off :)

As a member of the sight you are given dance tasks- you have to take a thirty second video of yourself dancing, in disguise. The first task is to dance without moving your feet. So, we got some friends and started coordinating! Took as a while to agree on a song, but we had SO MUCH FUN!

And so, without further ado, and for no other reason than to make you laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the dance, and therefore cause you to have a little more FUN, I give you the first video! (ps can you tell which one is me? I know, we have awesome disguises)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jim's Sourdough- Part One

I have an exam in four hours and another one in 24 hours. So clearly it's time to update my blog! I think that I've become a bit of a bread fanatic. The other day a good friend asked me what kind of bread I was baking. I responded that it's a sourdough loaf with a slow retardation, with a bit of rye which adds complex flavour... I could practically see his eyes glazing over with boredom.

If there is anything that I've learnt from all my bread baking research it's that you should learn to make one thing and make it well. Take a good basic recipe, and just try it again and again until you get it perfect. By then you will have developed your technique so that you can make just about anything. I made a decision the other day that I would take a recipe that I found and do just that. So, this week was my first attempt. wow, there's lots to learn! I can think of at least five different things that I need to do better for next time... but its a learning process (everything's a learning process- i say as i teach myself a whole course that I skipped that I'm being tested in tomorrow...! )

well- heres the recipe, plus my notes, for "Jim's Basic Bread" (Thank you Jim!):

Jim's Basic Bread

Makes two large loaves.

65% Hydration. (I couldn't tell whether or not this was the hydration of the final dough or the starter. I used my starter which is at %100 hydration (fed with equal parts water and flour))

Take 15 - 30 grams of active starter. (It should be fresh and active.) Use filtered or chlorine free water and ordinary bread flour ±11% protein. (i used the only bread flour i could find here, and regular water)

To this add:

  • 1090 g of flour (I used about a kilo of bread flour, and the rest rye flour)
  • 705 g of water and
  • 20 g of salt.
  • (Temperature ± 70°F / 21°C for ±24 hours)
Put the starter into a bowl and add the water. Whisk to mix all the starter into the water then add the flour and salt, stir till all the flour is wet, then cover and set the dough aside covered with film.

I mixed all the ingredients until just combined- but I should have kneaded it for an extra minute or two, and smushed out all the flour clumps.

After an hour or so tip the dough out onto a clean work top and work the dough as shown in the video.

the video shows a technique where you take the dough and smack it down, grab the middle and fold it over, turn it a quarter turn and do it again. Lots of fun. Got to try this again.

Now allow the dough to double in volume. This will take around 16 - 20 hours.

i put in in the fridge overnight.

Once the dough has doubled it's time to shape. Prepare what you are going to proof you dough in for the final rise. Now tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and decide how you are going to portion the dough. For two large loaves cut the dough in two. If you are going to put the dough in a tin fold the dough into a rectangle and repeat until the dough is about the size of the bottom of the tin. Alternatively roll the dough adding a little tension. Now seal the seams and place in the oiled or non-stick tin. If you want a boule shape is a similar way to above but make the dough round. How you shape the dough isn't so important as long as you have a little tension and seal the seams.

here things got funny- i started making the loaves into rounds, and let them sit for a bit.... when i came back to check on them, they had spread out into PANCAKES... and this was only after half an hour! so I took them, reshaped them, and stuck them in loaf pans.

Now place the loaves in the oven with a bowl of warm water and let them double in volume. Once the loaves have risen remove the water bowl and switch on the oven to 425F GMark 6, 215 C.

should have slashed the tops... there was a "blowout" on both of the loaves, though funnily enough, I noticed a big difference in the loaf that I had "worked" a little bit more- it rose more in the oven. Guess its true that you the more you knead your dough, the more it will rise! (should be a no brainer for someone whos baked a few loaves, and yet here I am.... :) )

Bake until dark brown and the internal temp is between 93-97C 200-207F or tap the loaf to see if it sounds hollow. Allow to cool completely on a rack. Don't be tempted to cut the loaves until completely cool.

I need to work on getting my oven temperature right... convection? no convection?

Well, my Mom said that its a keeper. Good flavour, good texture, and Im going to make it again soon... stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Better Simple Pizza Dough (studying has turned me into a crazy person)

If you've been noticing my statuses (stati?) on facebook, blog posts, twitter (wow we are all so connected), or really just listening to me at all for the past few weeks you will have noticed that the only thing that's going on is EXAMS EXAMS EXAMS. And so, I have been faithfully studying. Now- a thought on food during exam time. Its usually fast. Its not always healthy. It tends to be boring (ie- cheese and crackers repeatedly. a million cups of tea. a lot of coffee.) Thus, the following recipe is about pizza, not salad, and is the second recipe that I present to you about pizza in two weeks.

This recipe, in my opinion, is better than the last recipe that I posted for pizza dough. It's easy and tasty- can be rolled out thin for those thin crust lovers and thick for those who prefer it. Lastly, it has my stamp of approval- I've had pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then lunch again.

note: i was reading through my fridge manual- a samsung- this week and discovered that samsung really needs to get some new technical writers:

"In case the door is slightly open by mischiefs of children or mistakes of housewives, the door is automatically closed and prevents any loss of cool air, and a melody for warning housewives sounds." HAHAHAHA

Pizza Dough-

1 package dry regular yeast
1/4 c warm water
1 tsp sugar

Dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Let sit for about ten minutes, then add to---

2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c lukewarm water
1 T oil

mix together and knead until a smooth dough is formed.
roll out into 2 pizzas, top with sauce and cheese and bake at 425 for around twenty minutes (or until the cheese looks melted and bubbly).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rye Bread

It's been a busy week.

I have a rather daunting exam coming up in family law- and I had two weddings this week (ironic, eh? but both totally beautiful. Congratulations!) Unfortunately, instead of spending most of my waking moments baking, blogging, and thinking about what to bake and blog next, I've been thinking about marriage, divorce, civil unions and alimony- blech. Altogether much less pleasant.

Man cannot survive on studying alone, and all the depressing divorce cases were getting me down. I needed to bake something- not too time consuming, and satistfying enough to lift me out of this studying rut. I decided to try out this rye bread.

Boy did it turn out! I made sure not to let it over-rise as I've done a few times in the past, so it didn't pancake in the oven. Flavour was delish, and it took less around twenty minutes of hands on time. I'm looking forward to adding this recipe to my repetoire!

I started the process by taking my sourdough starter out of the fridge where its been in storage. I split the starter into two and fed one with all purpose flour, and the second with rye flour. I fed it twice a day for about three days, and then used it in the following recipe, called Eric's Fave Rye courtesy of a thread from The Fresh Loaf (note- pics are my own- the pics on the thread are gorgeous- maybe one day I'll make rye like that :) NOTE: I couldn't find any first clear flour here in Israel, so I bought some dark wheat flour- called "Village Flour" here- or Kemach Kafri. For more information about first clear flour, check out this link.

Also, I'm submitting this to this week's yeastspotting!

Now, for the recipe!


  • 100g Active Rye starter
  • 275g Rye (Whole or White Rye)
  • 275g water

Mix and set at room temp overnight. (If this stage will be longer than 8 hours I suggest refrigerating after 3 hours and warming to room temp before proceeding)

Final Dough:

  • All the sponge
  • 484g water
  • 788g First Clear flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 22g Sea Salt
  • 20g Caraway seeds

Mix, rest for 20-30 minutes, knead by machine or by hand for 8-10 minutes or stretch and fold several times. It is important to have well developed gluten. Do enough stretches to feel the gluten chains forming. Otherwise you may have trouble getting a good rise. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and ferment till double, about 1 hour or so at warm (80 F) temp. Be sure you get double.

Divide and shape into 2-2lb loaves, final proof for 45 minutes.

Bake @370 for 30-40 Minutes. (I steam for the first 10 minutes)I’m looking for 190+ F internal temperature. When the bread comes out of the oven I brush with a glaze made from whisking 1T cornstarch into 1 Cup of boiling water and sprinkle with kosher salt lightly."