Friday, February 29, 2008

French Bread

This months Daring Baker's Challenge was to make French Bread a la Julia Child. This month's challenge was hosted by Mary from Breadchick and Sara from I like To Cook. The recipe with instructions was 18 pages long, a bit intimidating and it takes all day to make. I wasn't sure if I would have the time this month to do the challenge but got it together last weekend. Of course every time I had to do something with the dough kids were complaining, or fighting or needing my attention in some way. But the bread got made despite all that.
The ingredient list is very simple: yeast, salt, flour and water. I decreased the salt by a little since a number of other bakers had commented that their bread had seemed quite salty. After mixing everything together I turned out on the board and realized the dough seemed very wet. Quick check of the recipe, I was 1/2 cup short on flour. So back into the bowl with an extra cup of flour. The dough still seemed a little wet but I was able to knead it, adding a bit more flour along the way.

Then back into the bowl for a three hour rise. A bit more kneading and then another rise. I ended up splitting the dough into three pieces and then formed them into batards. They actually looked really nice at this point and puffed up nicely. The hard part ended up being transferring the loaves to the cookie sheet for baking. They didn't look quite as nice after being moved but once in the oven, they baked up just fine.

The end result was delicious. I couldn't wait a full two hours for the bread to cool, we cut into it after about 1 hour. The crust was crispy and the inside was soft and still warm.

This was definitely fun to make and a nice challenge working with the dough. If I have a long day with no plans I just might try to make it again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bran Muffins with Blackberries

I recently made some bran muffins from the Farmgirl Fare blog. These muffins are very easy to make and they contain a LOT of bran: two cups of wheat bran and one cup of oat bran with a little bit of wheat flour to round it out. The recipe calls for half molasses and half honey as the sweetener though I used just honey. The bran is then held together with oil and yoghurt (I used low fat Greek yoghurt). I also added two large handfuls of frozen blackberries from Trader Joes.
Despite all the bran, these muffins are very moist and have a good flavor. They held up well over several days, though the second time I made them I think they were gone after two days. The recipe with the added blackberries made 12 large muffins and were great for a quick on the go breakfast.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

The other night I got home from work with the three kids and wasn't quite sure what to have for dinner. V decided to work late. I had printed out this recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes a few days before and I had bought ricotta cheese so it seemed like a great opportunity to make these pancakes. G had fun zesting the lemon and the G and A took turns stirring in the different ingredients.

These pancakes were SO SO good. They were very fluffy and had a subtle lemon flavor. The kids had them with berries on the side and a little maple syrup. I had them just plain which was fine, though I think next time I will try to have them with berries and some plain greek yogurt. I also had added a 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed to give them a little nutrient boost and this didn't change the flavor or texture. All three kids had seconds and thirds.

The recipe made a lot of pancakes; I ended up with about 9 leftover pancakes. They were still good the next day, reheated in the microwave. They were a little more dense the next day but the flavor was still good. I forgot to take pictures this time, but the pictures on Under the Highchair blog are lovely.