Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pumpernickel Bread

Imitation Pumpernickel Bread
Makes four 1-pound loaves.

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, or instant coffee. (Or substitute brewed coffee for 2 cups of the water, keeping the total volume at 3 cups.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons caramel colour. (I skipped this.)
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • Cornmeal for the baking stone/tray
  • Whole caraway seeds for sprinkling on top.
Mixing and storing the dough:
  1. Mix the yeast, salt, cocoa, espresso powder, and caramel colour with the molasses and water in a 5 quart bowl.
  2. Mix in flours without kneading, using a spoon, or a dough hook on a mixer.
  3. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses or flattens on top, approximately 2 hours.
  4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a covered container (not airtight) and use over the next 8 days.
    On Baking Day:
  5. Cut off a one pound (grapefruit size) piece of dough. Using wet hands, quickly shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Then form an oval shaped loaf. Allow to rise on a cornmeal covered pizza stone for 40+ minutes. 
  6. 20 minuted before baking time, preheat the oven to 400*F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
  7. Using a pastry brush. paint the top crust with egg/milk wash and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Slash the loaf with deep parallel cuts using a serrated bread knife.
  8. Slide the bread into the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water onto the boiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 35-40 minutes until firm. Adjust baking times for smaller or larger loaves.
  9. Allow to cool before slicing and eating.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

7 Small Gifts

 I'm sure you've all read the lists of nice things you can do to surprise your husband. Most relationship books have ideas on how to show your love in small ways.
A lot of them start with ideas like, "Fill up his car with gas. So he doesn't have to." Those are the kind of things I'm talking about. I'd love to fill up my husbands truck for him, but it's a standard and I can barely drive an automatic. That's one of the great shameful secrets of my life. I can't drive.
Anyway the point of all this is that I'm going to do something special, something extra for my husband for 7 days. And I'm going to tell you how it goes.

#1, Tuesday. It's cold here, still winter, snowing outside. We keep our house cool.
Our room is freezing. For the extra special thing I warmed up his spot in bed so he wouldn't have freezing cold blankets. He saw me and thought it was sabotage. He was sure I did something to it. Maybe thumb tacks under the sheets? Or some thing slimy like cold spaghetti? I don't know what he was thinking. I'm his wife after all. Plus I do the laundry.

#2, Wednesday. I wore contact lenses instead of glasses. And did my hair and makeup.  He noticed and said I looked pretty. :):):):):):)

 Do you have any good ideas for small surprises? I'd love to hear them, maybe get some new ideas.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Potlucks Hit or Miss?

 It was ethnic food potluck day at church. I admit *sorry ladies* that I was sceptical of the whole idea. We're a bunch of Caucasian Canadians that live in a rural area where the most ethnic food around is the box of beef Taquitos in the freezer section of our local grocery store.
 I was wrong, so wrong. The food was simply amazing. Someone made a Curried Chicken dish, Spaetzle, Curried Eggs, Pumpernickel Bread, a Mexican pie that was all cheesy and delicious, scalloped potatoes with sauerkraut in them. There were these little beef rolls with asparagus in them. I forget what they were called.
And then there were the desserts! A huge German Chocolate Cake, Kolaches, a delicious German Chocolate Pie. Baklava, I even got to take some home! And my very favorite a delicious flan.

  Now what I made.
Pride goes before a flop. Yes, it does. I thought we couldn't do it. They could. I couldn't. I will be quiet from now on...Well for the next two minutes.
I decided to make a Black Forest Cake. I love making cakes and never have an excuse to make them.  I tried to make it as authentic as possible, using simple syrup and authentic thin cake layers.
I made the cake, bought the cream and cherries. I was going to assemble it early Sunday morning so the cherries wouldn't discolour the cream.
 I made the simple syrup, and got everything out to whip the cream. I poured three quarters of the cream into a chilled bowl and started whipping.  My cream simply wouldn't whip. It would NOT whip. I tried and tried. I switched the beaters on the mixer. I tried again with the remaining cream. No luck. What was I going to do? All this cake and no cream. I checked to see if I had any eggs. I had one, single, solitary egg and lots of milk. I made a little custard and cooled it right away. Then I mixed the custard with, dare I say it Dream Whip. I layered the cake with the mixture and the cherries.  
And for the top, the beautiful top, supposed to be covered in whipped cream rosettes. I glopped the rest of the cherries on it. 
The End!

 Have you ever had any really disappointing food flops? 
 An occasion where you had to eat your words? (Couldn't resist)