Biscotti Treats

Head-BiscottiJust as a change of pace, I decided to step out of the BBA Challenge for a bit and do something a little off the beaten track. I ran across a couple of intriguing recipes for Biscotti while perusing and decided to give these Italian coffee-time cookies a whirl. They seemed like a relatively simple thing to make, were definitely a switch up from bread and looked like they’d make a festive treat for the holidays.

Two recipes were offered up by TFL member MiniCT: Cappuccino Biscotti and Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti. Although they require slightly different oven temps (350º vs 325º respectively) and times, I decided to give both a whirl together. “In for a penny, in for a pound” as they say. (OK, I’m not 100% sure that saying applies but it sounds deep, dunnit?)

You’ll find the Cappuccino Biscotti recipe here and the Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti recipe here. Both can be printed for ease of reference.

Let’s begin…

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Do-It-Yourself Butter

If you think butter only comes form the dairy case now-a-days, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Since we’re out of the bread baking loop until our crappy GE “Burn-O-Matic” oven gets replaced, I thought I’d add this little gem of an entry found on the always tasty, beautiful and very educational JoePastry blog: How to make butter

If you can get your hands on some heavy (35% or whipping) cream and spend about two minutes with a food processor then you have all the required ingredients and tools needed to make your own fresh butter. Although he says that just makes it easier, a big mayo jar, a marble and half an hour of shaking will work too, so you can definitely still do it low-tech. Just like great grandma used to do.

Butter, fresh made; from the JoePastry Blog

And if it so happens you’ve never seen his blog, you’re in for a mouth-watering treat. Check it out if you’re into bread, cakes, treats and just cool food factoids.

Updates and Sourdough Bagel Recipe tweak

I’ve made a couple of changes to the recipe for Sourdough Bagels, primarily I’ve added an ingredient list for making an even dozen as well as rephrasing a few of the comments to make some of the steps a little more clear. Hop over to the recipe here if you haven’t seen it yet.

They’re still awesome bagels. If anyone has given them a try or has questions, please don’t hesitate to comment (on that page).

Just so you know, I haven’t been ignoring the blog. I have been baking bread but because I’m really repeating a couple of the recipes I’ve found successful, I haven’t updated the blog in the last while. As well, several of the loaves I’ve made are tester recipes from Peter Reinhart’s upcoming book and of course, I can’t talk about or show pictures of them. The book is expected to come out later this year.  No, I’m not claiming special status, there are some 500 people putting the recipes through their paces to make them as clear and logical as possible, so I’m just one of VERY many. But that is one reason I have not been updating as often as I’d like.

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Sourdough Bagels Recipe

Sourdough Bagels

Now that I’ve made Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels a few times over, (below is my slightly modified version of that recipe) I’m very happy with the results. These sourdough bagels are coming out nice and golden with a dense and slightly chewy crumb, a good crust and terrific flavour.

I’ve done one round of the Bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice as well and although they came out looking great and tasting very nice indeed, I found I was missing the interesting flavour tones that the sourdough gave when using the Mike Avery recipe. It was also good to give a try to a recipe that many people have used and to make a definite comparison.

The hands down winner is (are?) the Sourdough Bagels.

So here then is the (slightly modified) recipe for Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels. I’ve modified the amounts since his recipe, as he states on his web page, was designed for a class and therefore makes only four bagels… hardly enough to make a run at home when that would only last maybe a day, if you are lucky! So I bumped it up in increments to a more useful 12 bagel size. This would then be enough to bake on two normal sized home baking sheet (6 per sheet with a fair bit of elbow room) in a home oven and last you and a friend more than just a day or so. (We normally freeze six, they still taste just fine after thawing.) I also included the Baker’s percentages so those who use these can modify the recipe easily to make any size batch. This also tells us that the formula is 50% hydration so it is indeed a very stiff dough.

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World’s Best Pancakes: starter discard rescue recipe

pancakes1For the home baker who keeps a sourdough starter, every time you feed that starter you have to reduce the quantity or face possibly ending up with an Olympic sized pool’s worth of starter.  When you are baking maybe three loaves a week, and even if you refrigerate the starter for a week or two, excess starter is a reality. So what do you do with this excess? You would rather not just toss it in the garbage and definitely not down the drain (unless you enjoy keeping your plumber’s wallet well padded) so what’s to be done?

Well, PANCAKES are one delicious and easy way to use this extra starter up.

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