Pumpkin Bread recipe

I was going to write a rant about how everywhere you look on social media, the changing of seasons from summer into fall, and even the calendar change from August to September automatically brings the onslaught of [Starbucks] Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Doesn’t even have to be a latte to be honest.

You just breathe the letters PSL and the words pumpkin and spice automatically follow for no good reason.

Anyhow, I’m not going to go on with my whole dislike for PSL obsessions that are plastered everywhere, I’m just going to give you the recipe for a Pumpkin Loaf  I made last night because I was craving a nice slice of pumpkin bread to go with a hot cup of tea. Plus I saw the sad & neglected bag of leftover pureed kabocha squash still sitting in the freezer. Originally the squash was destined to become soft & pillow-y gnudi that I had once made eons ago with acorn squash, but goodness they are a ton of work to make… and my god, they were amazing.

Anyhow, I’m getting distracted again…

The original recipe, “World’s Best Pumpkin Bread” is from the website TheFrugalGirls.com, I found via Pinterest. I made the recipe as stated, but it could use these changes to reflect my own tastes:

  • Could use some more added spice. I used: 1 tsp ground ginger + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg+ 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • I really wish I had used brown sugar like I originally was considering instead of the white sugar stated in the recipe. It really does make a huge difference in flavour. (And sometimes it really pays to go with your instincts!)
  • I would cut back on the oil a bit, I don’t like that it feels so oily when you pick it up to eat with your fingers. Would have to experiment, but I think 2/3 cup would be more than enough fat, possibly even push it 1/2 cup.
  • Definitely does not need any frosting, glaze or icing as this loaf is incredibly moist (see #3) and flavourful (see #1 + #2) as is — but that’s totally personal opinion on my part since I’m never really keen on the stuff anyways ^_^

As a side note: The thing I love most about pumpkin breads in general, is that you can use pretty much any kind of winter squash interchangeably for regular old canned pumpkin. Some people may argue with me, but I think it’s just nice to put that thought out there for people who may not have considered the idea and might be stuck without any canned pumpkin on-hand, which is always a possibility in my kitchen. That’s the nice thing about having a winter squash always hanging around on the counter top because you didn’t know what to do with it, or maybe you got tired of cooking it as a regular old vegetable.

Alrighty, so here’s my version of the recipe, including all the changes I would make from the list above.

 

Pumpkin bread still warm from the oven!
 
Pumpkin Loaf

2 cups pureed pumpkin
3 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
3⅓ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350F
Mix pumpkin, sugar, oil, water & eggs in large mixing bowl until well combined.
In medium mixing bowl, stir to combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & cloves
Gradually pour dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Stir well to combine.
Generously grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Divide mixture evenly into each pan.
Bake @350F for 45 – 55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

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Homemade crumpets

Remember the last time I made crumpets? I was experimenting with all sorts of uses for Charlesford and not only did a recipe for sourdough crumpets miraculously appear, but so did a recipe for english muffins.

I am immensely proud to say that I have found a fantastic recipe for crumpets that I can use with our CSA whole wheat flour!

The April issue of delicious. magazine had a few different kinds of bread recipes created by a Brit chef by the name of Paul Hollywood. The one recipe that immediately caught my eye was, of course, that of the crumpets.

It’s a wonderful recipe that doesn’t take all that much effort, if you use a stand mixer, but it does require a little bit of time where you just hang around waiting for the yeastie beasties to so their wonderful thing.

The original recipe calls for the use of plain, “strong” (a term I’ve noticed that is primarily used in the UK) and all-purpose flours. Since I have only whole wheat & pastry flours on hand, I used that and personally, I think it actually made for a really nice combination, texturally as well as flavour-wise. I’ve written out everything, below, to reflect the changes & substitutions that I made to the original recipe.

I’ve noticed that if you use whole wheat flour in a recipe with a 50/50 ratio to all-purpose flour, the results will ordinarily be a little bit on the drier side. Not terribly unpleasant, but sometimes just not quite what you want in your baked goods.

Surprisingly, using the whole wheat flour in this recipe, maybe because I used cake/pastry flour instead of all-purpose, it resulted in a perfectly textured crumpet! It had the proper sponginess, perfect bubbles throughout the entire cakelet, as well as on the top.

When I made the batter, I let the batter rest the final 20 minutes as written and initially cooked, maybe, half a dozen crumpets. Since it was a Friday lunch that I was making these for, I left the remaining batter on the counter while we ate lunch and then finished making crumpets. There was no harm in leaving the batter for the extra time, if anything it probably gave it time to develop more bubbles!

The only minor issue I had was with the flavour, but I am pretty sure that was from overcooking a few of the crumpets and had absolutely nothing to do with the recipe itself. I think there may have also been a bit of rye flour residue mixed in with my whole wheat because it had that slightly reminiscent rye-bitterness flavour to some of the crumpets, but it was certainly not enough to dissuade me from making them again in the near future.

I am pretty darned pleased with this recipe and will hopefully be making them more often than once in a blue moon.

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Crumpets
Makes 10-12

175g whole wheat flour
175g pastry flour
14g yeast
1 tsp sugar
350ml warm milk
1 tsp sugar

150-200ml warm water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Oil

Put flours, yeast & first measure of sugar in bowl of stand mixer.
Warm the milk & second measure of sugar in microwave safe jug until just comfortable to touch.
Add the milk to the flours and beat mixture until you have a nice smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour or so, until nicely risen.
Mix 150ml warm water with baking soda and salt in a jug & stir til dissolved.
Pour baking soda water into batter and mix until evenly combined.
Add 50ml+ warm water or as much as you need until you have a nice dropping consistency.
Cover the bowl again and let rest another 20 minutes or so until you have bubbles appearing on the surface of the batter.
Heat a flat griddle pan or heavy based frying pan over medium-low heat.
Lightly, but thoroughly grease crumpet rings (I used mini springform pan rings, minus bottoms)
When you think your pan is ready to go, lightly grease and make a test crumpet to begin — because as with pancakes, the first one never turns out properly!
Place your greased ring into the frying pan and ladle in enough batter to fill about halfway. If you’re using proper crumpet/english muffin rings, fill until just below the rim (~3cm deep)
After about 6-8 minutes*, the bottom of the crumpet should be browned and the rest almost cooked through. Carefully remove the ring with tongs & set aside — be careful, it’s hot!!
Flip your crumpet over and let cook 1-2 more minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.
Ideally you should eat the crumpets while they’re still nice and warm & seerved with butter and your choice of sweet toppings — ie: jam, jelly, maple syrup etc… ^_^

*I honestly didn’t time my crumpets. I poured in the batter and when it looked like the top was mostly set & dry looking (the holes didn’t refill themselves with batter as the bubbles popped) then I removed the ring, took a peek underneath to see if was nicely browned then flipped over the crumpet for the last minute of cooking until the second side was also nicely browned.

A loaf of bread can be something absolutely beautiful to behold…

I made my first loaf of sourdough bread with Herbert last night!

Well… more like I started him Saturday, miscalculated my proofing time by a considerable amount due to D&D and Chinese New Year dindin post-game and so ended up giving this first loaf almost a full 24 hours of proofing once the oven was preheated and it was time to bake.

WOW!

Herbert made for an AMAZING loaf of sourdough bread! The raisin & rye starter gave it absolutely fantastic flavour that I honestly didn’t expect.

Some would say that this is not the prettiest looking loaf, but to me, it’s actually my most beautiful loaf of bread to date and really damn tasty! ^_^

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The recipe is the same recipe as I’ve used in the past for Charlesford.

One thing I’ve noticed is that Herbert makes a far wetter dough than I remember Charlesford ever doing. I think it’s because I experimented with Herbert and he started out life as being mainly rye flour (freshly milled from our CSA) and then I added whole wheat flour (also freshly milled from our CSA) later on. The texture that rye gives a sourdough starter is quite a bit different than a straight up wheat flour starter – it doesn’t become nearly as “gluey & goopy”, but more “oatmeal-y” if that makes sense.

When I finally got around to punching down Herbert, about 22 hours after initially mixing together the dough, he was oozing all over the place, almost impossible to keep together as a cohesive mass and sticky as all hell. When I tried to shape it loosely into a loaf, I originally had it sitting on a wooden cutting board, but it was just spreading out all over the place and I was worried it would ooze off during its final rise so I just gave up and dumped the whole thing back into a stainless steel bowl, practically burying it in extra flour in hopes that it wouldn’t get stuck to it or the saran wrap that was covering it for the final rise.

It probably wasn’t the most brilliant move covering it with so much flour, just because flour doesn’t really taste the greatest when it just sits on the surface of bread. Next time I will try to remember to use my silpat instead. I managed to dust some of it off after I pulled it out of the oven, but it’s definitely not photogenic with all the flour, either.

Like I’ve mentioned in the past, my kitchen seems to be cooler than the ideal “room temperature”, so when making a no-knead bread, perhaps the cooler temperature and the longer proofing time gives the sourdough starter extra time to develop flavour through longer fermentation. Given that my normal everyday schedule is kind of wonky and 18 hours seems to be a difficult time frame to achieve, I’m going to see what happens if from now on I just leave future breads to proof for 22 hours like I did this weekend and then bake off at the 24 hour mark.

Needless to say, I’m pretty darned pleased with myself & Herbert ^_^

Introducing, Herbert

I’ve been down and out sick for the last couple of days and spent all of it in bed.

As a result, I’ve been watching a whole bunch of Youtube vids to pass the time and, when I am able to, reading my brand spankin’ new copy of Peter Reinhart’s book Whole Grain Breads.

We’ve been getting 1kg, bi-weekly, deliveries of freshly milled whole grain flours since about October and sharing the bounty with J & Ms.R. It doesn’t really make sense to split one small bag every couple weeks and in the process make a huge mess everywhere, so we’ve chosen to alternate who gets the week’s delivery. This “better” method has each family getting a fresh bag of flour once a month. If we get something new (ie: rye or barley flours) like we did for the Christmas delivery, then I just split the bag in half between our two families.

So far, I’ve not used any of my flours because I had some regular store bought stuff that I had on hand that needed to be used up before I wanted to open my first bag of whole wheat flour. Every delivery we’ve received has since been residing in our deep freeze, as recommended by Country Thyme, to prevent the flours from going rancid.

I wanted to do something really special with these flours, especially with my first loaf, but knowing from past experience how different whole grain flour is versus regular, all purpose, flour can be; I knew that I would need some help and expert guidance. This is where my new bread book comes in. I am extremely keen on working with the Whole Grains cookbook and rather excited at being able to try a few new methods of bread baking which I am hoping will be successful.

I’m not even close to finished reading the book, but in the interim, having watched all sorts of Youtube vids, I am especially wanting to try my hand at making a sourdough starter again — but with a new-to-me method.

The video can be found, here. If you want to read the accompanying blog post, it can be found: here.

There aren’t all that many details to go with, so I’m just winging it as it shows in the video. We’ll see what happens over the next few days. Cross fingers and hope for a substancially bubbly and active yeasty beasty ^_^

Herbert, meet the world!

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In the meantime, since this new experiment will take at least a good solid week or more, given the temperature of our kitchen most days, I’ve been considering whether or not trying the “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” method would be worth attempting at some point as well. The biggest reason I am shying away from trying it is because it would require me to go out and buy one specialized ingredient: vital wheat gluten.

There could be a possibility of needing VWG in any of Reinhart’s whole grain recipes, but since I’ve not read the recipes chapter yet, I really don’t want to buy a bag of it. In my mind, and this could be a very incorrect belief, I think of VWG as a food additive, and I would prefer that my breads have the least number of “growth enhancements” possible and in the meantime, would rather just steer clear of using it.

So where does that leave me?

I guess I have to patiently wait for Herbert’s appearance and read a little bit faster!

Oh my goodness! Custard buns!

Due to a craving for Chinese buns, and my failure to have purchased any while we were out and about this afternoon, I made the most amazing thing this evening: custard buns!!

I can’t believe it, but these are exactly like a custard bun you’d buy at the Chinese bakery! Well, actually, not quite the same, as these taste infinitely better than a bun you’d get from the Chinese bakery because they’re homemade ^_^

They’re not perfectly round or evenly sized, but then again, nothing I make tends to be all that perfect looking, now that I think about it. The texture is wonderfully soft, yet a smidgen bit chewy and the filling is absolutely spot on. I am ridiculously proud of these buns!

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I’m actually really amazed with the stuff I’ve been making lately and it just makes me feel incredibly giddy when something turns out as well as it does!

The recipe is relatively quick to make and can easily be made by hand without the use of any heavy machinery at all, which I admit, added immense amount of pleasure & enjoyment when I made these little guys.

The recipe is from a japanese youtuber named Kumigar. As an interesting side thought: something I really appreciate that I’ve noticed with every japanese youtube cooking channel I watch — the recipes always make small quantities, as does Kumigar’s.

Kumigar has a website where you can find her original cream pan recipe. I prefer to call them custard buns just because that’s just how I grew up calling them when we went to the Chinese bakery every weekend.

Kumigar’s recipe is written in metric, and even though english isn’t her first language, the recipe is very easy to comprehend. The only issue I had troubles with was making the custard filling. I didn’t know how long to cook it to get it to the right consistency. In the end I just let it go until the custard seemed like it no longer had any liquid to boil off, and it wouldn’t thicken any more, before burning. Then I tossed it into the freezer for five minutes to cool down before putting it inside the dough. I suppose I also could use a little bit more practice making my buns more evenly sized, but on the whole, I’m not terribly bothered by their inconsistent sizes or shapes.

I am seriously loving the recipe for just the plain buns and may have found my holy grail to be used for all sorts of wonderful stuffed buns in the future.

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Chinese Custard Buns
160ml milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
20g sugar

250g flour
20g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
20g butter, melted

1 egg yolk
1Tbsp water

Custard Filling
1 egg
20g sugar
20g sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp corn starch
200ml milk
1 tsp vanilla

Heat milk until warm.
Add yeast, first amount of sugar and mix well. Leave for 5-10 mins until the yeast gets foamy.
In a large bowl, mix flour, second amount of sugar & salt.
Add melted butter and milk mixture.
Combine together using a spatula, then gather the dough into a ball with clean hands and start kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Roll dough into a nice ball, place in a bowl covered with a tea towel & put in a warm place to rise for 30mins or until doubled.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together egg, sugar and condensed milk.
Sift in corn starch, mixing well.
Finally, whisk in milk & vanilla.
Transfer the custard mixture into a non-stick frying pan and cook at medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
Cook the custard until it becomes thick enough to scoop into portions to fill buns. Mixture will set up a little bit more firmly once cooled.
Put custard into a bowl, set aside in refridgerator until cooled and ready to fill buns.

When dough has risen, punch down, knead a little bit to degas, then divide evenly into 8 pieces.
Shape each piece into a round ball, press down to flatten & gently stretch large enough to put custard cream in the center. Seal in custard gently.
Place each custard-filled bun on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cover the buns with plastic wrap and tea towel, leave for another 20 mins, somewhere warm, for a second rise.

Preheat oven to 200C.
Mix egg yolk and water together and brush gently over the buns.
Bake 10-12 mins.
Cool on a rack and enjoy while just the tiniest bit still warm.

It’s still snowing like mad!

I think this calls for the big heavy guns: a really nice coffee, followed by a few good cuppas to bolster me for a cozy day of creation.

*pompoms flailing* GO!! GO!! GO!! :D

I am thinking that we need some cinnamon buns in the house and maybe I should do a bread starter… Or just bread.

I am kind of desperately craving Good Bread(tm). Really Good Bread.

In fact, yesterday I was feeling so poorly that it was a struggle to even get out of bed. By the time I finally got myself into something resembling a human form, sustenance was required in a very major way and the only thing I knew that would fit the bill would be a good pot of Chinese rice porridge or what we call, in my family: joak (more commonly known as congee)

One of my absolute favourite additions to my bowl of joak is what can basically be considered a Chinese doughnut called youtiao. I haven’t yet mastered or even attempted making youtiao at home because I absolutely hate the smell of frying oil after cooking. Even strong cooking smells are extremely unpleasant to me when I can smell them at 2am when I get up in the middle of the night.

In the end, I desperately needed the doughnuts for my joak and came up with a more than reasonable compromise: frybread! Yes, it would still require me to deepfry, but I figured for a very tiny batch, I would deal with it.

The flavour of frybread is almost identical to that of youtiao, but the texture of it is certainly not the same. I admit, my skills at making frybread are nominal, at best, and so I could very well have rolled my dough way too thin than what is supposed to be normal for frybread. My frybread was more like nacho chips and not soft and squishy with a bit of outer crispiness like youtiao, but I am sure that is easily remedied by not rolling out the dough until paper thin.

Next time I make a batch of fry bread for joak, or I suppose we could call it “lazy youtiao”, I am going to make it in the traditional youtiao shape and see how it turns out — cuz if it works as beautifully as I am hoping it will in my head, I could be in serious youtiao heaven ^_^

Lazy Youtiao (aka Fry Bread)

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup water
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix together flour, salt, powdered milk, and baking powder into a large bowl.
Pour the water over the flour mixture all at once and stir until it starts to form one big clump.

Flour your hands well & begin to mix the dough, trying to get the mixture to form a ball.

You want to mix this well, but you do NOT want to knead it. The inside of the dough ball should still be sticky after it is formed, while the outside will be well floured. Let rest 10-15 minutes.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces and form each into a disk of about 5-7″inches in diameter.
For a youtiao shape: take one of your pieces of dough & divide it in half, roll each piece into a snake about the length of a chopstick. Place the snakes, lengthwise, on top of each other and use a chopstick to press down on the middle of the snakes to seal them together.

In a deep heavy pot, heat the vegetable oil to about 350 degrees F.
Take the formed dough and gently place it into the oil. If making youtiao shape, stretch the dough slightly before gently dropping into the oil.
Press down on the dough as it fries so the top is submerged into the hot oil.
Fry until golden brown, and then flip to fry the other side.
Place the cooked Fry Bread on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Enjoy warm in your favourite bowl of joak.

Fun food experiment

This little adventure came to being because of a post I stumbled across on Facebook over the weekend.

An acquaintance had posted about their Sunday spent trying to keep their willpower in check by not succumbing to the temptations of the food truck that was located outside Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles that day. As a side note, Crafted is where the bricks & mortar shop, Honey & Ollie, is located. Should you not happen to be local to her little ‘verse, the amazing Rain Hannah also has a Honey & Ollie etsy shop where you can find all her beautifully created lovelies.

The creation she was trying to avoid sounded just as terrifying to me as it did to her: deep fried chicken inside two waffles, dipped in buttermilk batter, deep fried again, and then served with syrup & powdered sugar.

That is one terrifying creation at a glance and I couldn’t imagine being faced with something like that. Rain’s far more acceptable meal compromise was just simple chicken & waffles — one waffle and one drumstick, preferably from Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles. Seeing as we don’t have any restaurants even remotely resembling Roscoe’s in Canada, I chose to make as much as I could myself.

Interestingly enough, there appeared to be a few signs pointing me in the direction of making chicken & waffles from the get-go, not including that post:
1) we had some leftover fried chicken in the fridge from the weekend that was still uneaten, which certainly made for a happy coincidence.
2) we had been given just under a 2L carton of buttermilk to use as I pleased since The Hubbs’ sister had no use for it after her hubby made her a birthday cake.

All that was left for me to do was find a good waffle recipe!

I have to admit, I’ve never really had a taste for waffles for some reason. Maybe it’s because waffles only ever come as a sweet creation on restaurant menus and never with savoury options, unlike french crêpes or dutch pannenkoeks, for example. I guess chicken & waffles are as good a savoury option to start with as any. Though as a side note, I read somewhere that a creamy chicken stew on top of waffles is also tasty option, which means it might also deserve a taste testing sometime in the near future seeing as I have all sorts of waffles leftover.

The recipe I used for the waffles was one I found on allrecipes.com and included yeast. The inclusion of yeast in a waffle recipe intrigued me because most recipes I’ve used in the past have always called for egg whites to be whipped until light & fluffy before being incorporated into the batter as to give the waffles extra airiness. Honestly, though, I am way too lazy to do that. I hate having to wash extra dishes, so I tend to avoid the recipes that require the egg white step, even though it may actually be crucial to having a really good waffle in the end. Yeast, on the other hand, gives your waffles the rise without all the work! Fancy that, huh?

So my verdict on chicken’n’waffles seems to be a win-win meal situation all around. It made excellent use of leftover fried chicken in a way that I never realized, and we get extra waffles to freeze for quick breakfasts at a later date. I think this may be my go-to solution from now on and I am pretty pleased with how it all tasted, which seems pretty silly to say, but I think it deserves to be acknowledged.

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Buttermilk Waffles

1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp oil

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water & let stand until frothy.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
Add yeast mixture, eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil & stir until smooth.
Optional (though highly recommended): Leave batter in a warm place for the yeast to grow!
Preheat waffle iron and grease as needed.
Pour batter into waffle iron and cook until golden brown.
Serve waffles hot with butter and maple syrup or your favourite topping of choice.

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Bread, bread, bread, bread, bread!

I am craving bread something fierce and have absolutely no desire to leave the house to go grocery shopping.

I’ve been thinking about making bread for awhile now, but haven’t really done so since Charlesford went into hibernation back in the summer.

I’ve also been considering the idea of making a new sourdough starter, but they seem to grow exponentially and we really don’t eat that much bread. The idea of bread starter in general is also an attractive thought, but it would take up valuable real estate in our refridgerator, of which we already have issues due to CSA veggies being stored on a continual basis.

Don’t tell The Hubbs, but perhaps I just need a second fridge? I kid. ;)

Anyhow, I do love fresh bread. I can’t imagine there are very many people in the world that don’t love the smell & taste of a warm loaf of bread, fresh from the oven. The problem is finding a really good and really reliable recipe for a loaf of bread. I’m not talking quickbreads here, I’m talking about a loaf of bread, made with yeast… and to be honest, I know it’s a lot to ask: but something that doesn’t take hours to make would also be nice.

With all those criteria in mind, I did manage to find a recipe for what I am hoping will be a decent loaf of bread. It’s from the King Arthur Flour website. I’ve never tried their recipes before and I have my fingers crossed that this first-time loaf will be acceptable. I admit for my first-go, I probably should have let the dough rise a little longer and in a warmer place, before baking it off, but I was seriously impatient for this loaf to go into the oven. Speaking of ovens, I baked the loaf in my little oven and I am still unsure as to its success in the long run — I worry that such a small oven will result in baked goods which will become burnt on top and uncooked in the middle given its close proximity to the heating elements.

So how did the loaf turn out? Well, it’s not my prettiest loaf of bread, I can say that much — as to how it tastes, I don’t know yet as I’m still waiting for the bread to cool before cutting it. I could cut a slice now, but I don’t want the bread to squish and tear because of my impatience. Ideally, you’re supposed to wait at least an hour for the bread to set properly and to get the best flavour, so that is what I am attempting to do… wait… then spread with softened butter… to be honest, I don’t have much faith that I am going to be able to wait that long.

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English Muffin Toasting Bread — from King Arthur Flour website

3 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp olive oil
cornmeal (to sprinkle in pan)

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and instant yeast in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the milk, water, and oil and heat to between 120°F and 130°F.
Pour the hot liquid over the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and beat at high speed for 1 minute. Dough will be very soft.
Lightly grease a loaf pan and sprinkle the bottom & sides with cornmeal.
Scoop the dough into pan, leveling it in the pan as much as possible.
Cover the pan and let dough rise till it’s just barely crowned over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake the bread for 22-27 mins, till it’s golden brown and its interior temperature is 190°F.
Remove the bread from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn out pan onto a rack to cool.
Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Eggs Benedict, Charlesford-style!

I haven’t quite decided, but I think this year’s Father’s Day Brunch was probably my best attempt yet at making eggs benedict.

The day started off a bit frantically because I accidentally slept in and we were supposed to be at Mom & Dad’s for 11am, but otherwise, I think we had a really nice breakky with everyone on Sunday morning.

I have altogether given up any hope of being able to masterfully serve breakfast to six people all piping hot at the same time. I am not capable of pulling those sorts of rabbits out of my hat, as much as I try. It’s never gonna happen and I have no idea as to how one might actually go about doing that sort of thing anyhow. If you think about it, unless you’re a restaurant, it’s an impossible feat. But to be honest, I am okay with that.

In the end, breakfast was actually quite simple: Homemade eggs benedict, Charlesford-style, and some fresh berries.

I realize that not everybody in my family finds this tidbit of information as amazing as I do, but it still makes me incredibly proud: I made everything from scratch!

The English muffins surprised me — the single tablespoon of wildflower honey that I used in the recipe made the muffins so incredibly fragrant and gave them a lovely marbled effect when you fork-split them in half for toasting. It’s a shame that I don’t actually have a picture of the english muffins split & toasted, because it would be lovely to show you how intensely dark the honey swirls were throughout the muffin.

As to the hollandaise sauce, I think I have finally found the recipe that my whole family enjoyed. It wasn’t too lemony and was perfectly seasoned, not to mention an absolutely stunning yellow as the picture above can attest from using my farm fresh eggs for the sauce.

I can’t remember which recipe I’ve used in the past for hollandaise, so what I ended up using was actually the recipe from the Culinary Institute of America(!)’s website. I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to use their recipes in the past, but it certainly did work and it was really nice being able to have their Youtube videos to watch for reference. I think I had stumbled upon the videos originally because I was thinking that one day I might like to try making my own english muffins — not sourdough, just plain, and the CIA videos were suggested.

The original compilation of videos is actually a three part series Mother’s Day brunch where they showed you how to make eggs benedict from scratch, start to finish — english muffins, hollandaise sauce & poaching eggs.

Since I had already found my own english muffin recipe that I am pretty pleased with, though I do think I would like to try making them again, since they didn’t quite have the proper nooks & crannies that I am used to in a store-bought muffin, I only needed the recipe for the hollandaise sauce. Like I said, I’m surprised, but my entire family enjoyed the hollandaise as is, so I guess this will officially be my go-to-recipe.

As a side note, I made the full recipe of sauce and there is a lot of sauce to be had, lemme tell you. Usually what I will do is I will halve a the recipe because my family just doesn’t eat sauce, of any kind, in copious amounts — and especially hollandaise, with its never ending amounts of butter. Since I woke up late, and I had to be at Mom & Dad’s for 11am, I just made the whole recipe as it was and I am glad I did. I really don’t think that the CIA recipe would be easy to halve without some dire consequences. The numbers are just too weird, so just close your eyes and enjoy the taste sensation of homemade hollandaise, knowing that this is not an every weekend occurance.

Culinary Institute of America’s Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce

Makes 2 cups

1/2 teaspoon cracked peppercorns
1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup water, or as needed
4 large fresh egg yolks
1 1/2 cups melted whole butter, unsalted
2 teaspoons lemon juice, or as needed
2 teaspoons salt, or as needed
Pinch ground white pepper
Pinch cayenne (optional)

Combine the peppercorns and vinegar in a small pan and reduce over medium heat until nearly dry, about 5 minutes.
Add the water to the vinegar reduction. Strain this liquid into a stainless steel bowl.
Add the egg yolks to the vinegar reduction and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Whisking constantly, cook the egg yolk/vinegar mixture until the yolks triple in volume and fall in ribbons from the whisk. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and place it on a clean kitchen towel to keep the bowl from slipping.
Gradually ladle the warm butter into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
If the sauce becomes too thick and the butter is not blending in easily, add a little water to thin the egg mixture enough to whisk in the remaining butter.
Season the Hollandaise with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne if desired.
Serve immediately or keep the sauce warm in a bowl over simmering water.

Charlesford English Muffins

This is it!

This is what I’ve been waiting weeks & weeks & weeks to make!

I am officially in the midst of making Charlesford English Muffins, from scratch for Daddy Day Brunch!

It’s rather exciting.

The recipe appears to be relatively easy & straight forward. As per usual, the only thing you need in abundance for this recipe is time. The ingredients themselves are rather few & far between, and that is a-okay with me.

This year’s menu is not all that much different from past incarnations. I’ll be making eggs benedict made with farm fresh eggs, the choice of Ham and/or Smoked Salmon, homemade Hollandaise sauce and whatever else Mom chooses to add to the spread. This year’s newcomer is going to be the eggs as well as the English Muffins!

Tomorrow I will have to post pictures of the muffins themselves once cooked, but in the meantime, if you too would like to have homemade sourdough English muffins for Father’s Day Brunch because you will happen to be the person in charge of making the annual spread for at least six people, you better get a move on because it will take at least 8+ hours for the first round of sitting around doing nothing.

The recipe I’ve fiddled the teeniest tiniest bit, only because I don’t have any milk in the house. Instead, I used water with some skimmed milk powder and then proceeded as instructed from the Frantically Simple blog.

Charlesford English Muffins

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
1/3 cup skim milk powder
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp honey
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
cornmeal

8+ hours before you plan to make your English muffins, mix starter, liquid and flour.
Cover with a clean towel and let it rest, at room temperature.
Whenever you’re ready, sprinkle honey, salt and soda over batter.
Wet your hands and knead dough in the bowl to combine ingredients well. If it starts to stick, wet your hands again.
Scoop up a scant 1/4 cup dough with a wet measuring cup, with as little flour as possible, try to roll the dough into a ball and plop onto a seriously cornmealed surface.
Cover dough with your towel again and allow to rest for one hour.
On an electric griddle, preheat it to about 275° and preheat your oven to 350°F
While you’re waiting, gently flip the naked side of the dough balls over to cover with cornmeal.
When the griddle’s hot enough, GENTLY plop the muffins onto the hot surface and cook for about five minutes. The bottoms will be a nice golden brown.
Carefully flip, using two spatulas if needed, and cook for another five minutes or so.
Finish the muffins for another 10 minutes in a 350° oven.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
When you’re ready to eat your fab creations, split the muffin horizontally using a fork by gently poking all the way through & all the way around with the tines.
Toast, and spread with butter & jam or butter & honey.