Monday, July 28, 2008

Dutch Oven Apple Pie

This last weekend was a pretty crazy one. Since we live in a new subdivision, and everyone on the street has been here just under two years, we’re all gradually working on our houses and yards. So, Thursday, on our day off (a Utah Holiday), our neighbors came over and asked if we wanted some free sod. Turns out that her daughter and son-in-law had ordered too much, and would we like some. We got almost a full palette.

We spent that day putting it in place. We wanted to make sure that we got a sprinkler system in place so that it didn’t all die on us from lack of water (we live, basically, in a desert). So, I’ve spent the rest of the weekend trying to makeshift that together. I think I’ve got it now, pretty much.

But I wanted to do something nice for them. They’re an older couple, no kids left at home, and they’ve sort of adopted all the neighborhood kids as grandkids. They’re really nice, and it was wonderful of them to share the sod with us. And last summer, when I made my first successful apple pie, she offered me some good advice.

So, I decided to make them an apple pie, and invite them over. And, in spite of all my efforts on the sprinkler system, it rained most of the afternoon and evening. That wasn't a problem, though. I just put the dutch oven out on the front porch.

I used my basic recipe, and it ended up tasting great. But the crust was a bit dry and hard to work with. I also went with brown sugar on top instead of white, and that tasted really good, too.

It turned out that it was the wife’s birthday, so that was a serendipitous surprise, too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rye Bread, Revisited

So, last night I did the rye bread thing again. This time, it worked pretty well, and it tasted great. No dogs! So, now I know it's a great recipe!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dutch Oven Rye Bread


My Dog Ate My Homework

Like I said before, I’ve been trying a lot of different breads, trying to find the “dark side” to blend with a white bread in a marbled bread (which I’ll probably do sometime next week.

This week, found a cool recipe for a rye bread. I’ve always liked rye, ever since I was a kid. I’ve got some fun and fond memories of making sandwiches out of mom’s rye bread. I’d make a killer braunschweiger and swiss cheese sandwich that I love. My wife, however hates it. I understand, it does some nasty things to my breath. Still, it tastes great!

My mom also used to make these rye bread sticks and dad would slice them up at an angle and spread them out on this cookie sheet. He’s set them aside for a couple of days and they’d get rock hard. He’d slap some cheese on them and we could hear him crunching them all through the house.

Anyway, I found some rye flour, and a good recipe, and I tried it. I got it all baked up and it was smellin’ great. And I set it aside to go to church. When I got home, we found that the dog had gotten up on the kitchen counter and eaten the entire loaf.

So, next week, I’ll be writing about how to roast dog.

It’s a good thing he’s so dang cute… That’s pretty much all that saved him.

Anyway, here’s the recipe. We’ll see how well it goes next time I try it.

Dutch Oven Rye Bread

12” Dutch Oven
8-9 Coals below, 18-19 coals above

  • 2 cups hot/warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 cups rye flour
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 envelopes dry yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed

  • 3 tablespoons corn oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 cups flour

This one is interesting in that there are three risings/fermentations. First of all, I started by making a “sponge”. This is a nasty gloppy goo that sometimes people use to start breads, especially sourdoughs. I mixed all of the first set of ingredients in a big bowl. That was set aside for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Then, I mixed the second set of ingredients into the first, and it made a dough. I started with only 3 cups of flour, though, and then added about a half cup at a time. As I began kneading it, it was very sticky, so I had to keep adding lots of flour to the tabletop. It kneaded out really nicely, once it wasn’t so sticky. You never know exactly how much flour you’ll need to make it all feel nice and smooth, so don’t just dump in the flour measure. It’s better to “sneak up on it”.

Once it was kneaded, I spray-oiled the mixing bowl, and set it in to rise, also spraying oil over the dough. It rose pretty well, though I don’t really remember if it was an hour or an hour and a half.
Once it had “doubled in bulk” (whatever that means), I dumped it out of the bowl, punched it down and formed it into a ball. I put that in the oiled dutch oven (I used a 12” deep dutch oven for this one), That set to rise for about another hour.

Finally, I set it on the coals to cook. It cooked for about 45 minutes to an hour. It was truly magnificent when I took it out to cool. I didn’t eat any right away, since we were going to some friends in the ward for dinner, and I had planned on taking it along. No such luck. As a result, I didn’t even taste a slice.

Well, my dog ate pretty well that day. I guess “a dog’s life” isn’t always so bad, eh?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Father and Son and Pizza

What’s better than cooking?

Cooking in the dutch oven!

What’s better than cooking in your dutch oven?

Cooking in the dutch oven side by side with your son!

Tomorrow, I’m doing a demo for the ladies of my church, for a Relief Society Enrichment Night (or whatever it’s called now). I’m going to do pizza, because it’s simple and very impressive. And if they try it, their families will love it.

So, tonight, to work out the timing (It’s really tight between when I get home from work and when I have to get started), I did it here at our house. Brendon decided he wanted to help, so he and I did it together. As always, it turned out great. And it was extra fun, because he and I got to do it together.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dutch Oven Cheater Bread

It's kinda funny how I got to this point today. In my ongoing quest to get good at breadmaking, I thought it would be fun to make some marbled bread. I've got the white bread recipe, now all I need is the dark bread (And if anyone starts singing fluffy songs like, "Ebony and Ivory", I will personally reach through the internet and slap them silly).

So, I found this recipe for the dark bread that they serve at the Outback Steak House. As I was working it this weekend, I noticed that there were a number of "work-arounds" and "cheats". Hence, the name. First of all, this recipe is, of course, a knockoff. That means it's probably pretty good, but it's also not going to end up exactly like the restaurant. It's been reverse-engineered somehow, which, for an old tech guy like me, is a pretty big-time cheat. But the fact that it's been reverse-engineered probably means that it's been tested and came up pretty well.

A second cheat was the color. In the restaurant, it's got this deep, rich, brown color, like a rye bread, but it doesn't have the edge to the taste like rye bread does. This recipe is not a rye recipe, but rather a whole wheat/white flour recipe. How does it get so brown then? Well, the molasses helps, and the cocoa as well, but mostly it's the food coloring!

The third cheat was the coffee. The ingredient list called for coffee. Well, it turns out that since I'm a good little Mormon boy, I don't have any! Not that I'm adverse to using a little bit of it in my cooking. Last week we marinaded some steaks we were grilling in beer. I made sure it was done so that the alcohol would burn off, etc...

But nonetheless, I don't have any coffee. So, I did what most good Mormons do. I used Postum. It's a wheat-based coffee substitute. Tastes great, by the way.

Anyway, this morning, I made the bread. Here's the story:

Dutch Oven Cheater Bread

12" Dutch Oven
8-9 coals below, 16-18 coals above

  • 1 1/4 Cups warm water (about 100 to 110 degrees f)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) yeast

  • 2 cups Bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp Postum (or coffee, if ya got it)
  • 1 Tsp salt

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 2 Tbsp Molasses

  • 1 1/4 tsp red food coloring
  • 1 tsp yellow food coloring
  • 1 tsp blue food coloring

I started with activating the yeast. I added the sugar and the water together, and then the yeast. By the way, as I was in the store shopping, and buying yeast the other day, I noticed that on some of the packages they recommend that the water you use to activate the yeast be at about 110 degrees. I was more than kinda surprised. So, this time I got out my thermometer and measured just how warm that is, and I was really surprised. It's not scalding, by any means, but it's at the temperature where it's just starting to get a little uncomfortable. Based on that, I'd bet my shower temp is probably around 95 or so.

Well, it might have been uncomfortable for me, but certainly not for the yeast. I've never seen yeast bubble up like that. Previously, I'll bet I was doing it at around 80 or so. That made a BIG difference.

You experienced bakers are probably saying, "Well, du-uh!" OK, some of us are slow. But we still get there. So, note to self: make the the water a lot warmer, borderline "hot".

Then I mixed all the other dry ingredients. I cut in the butter with a pastry knife/blender. Then I added the honey, the molasses, and the yeast mix. Finally, before stirring, I added the food coloring.

A note: I didn't exactly have the right blend of food colorings. I had some green, which I thought I could substitute straight across for the blue and the yellow. Not so. The dough turned out this dark, hideous green-brown. In my mind, I knew it was simply coloring, and wouldn't effect the taste at all, but visually, it did end up less appealing. Notice there are no pictures of the final result? That's why! Here's a hint: Mix the colorings and then dip a paper towel into the mix. What you'll see in the paper towel will be more accurate to what you see in the bread than the more intense colors of the dyes.

I mixed it, kneaded it for 10 minutes, and let it rise. It rose pretty well, in about an hour and a half. I knocked it down and cut it into small pieces (about 6), and shaped them into long rolls, about hoagie bun size. Next time, I'll probably just leave it as a round loaf. That was all put in a 12" dutch oven. I also basted on some whipped egg, since I tend to like the shiny glaze on top.

Actually, next time I'll be doing the swirly thing, probably...

While it was rising a second time, I lit up the coals. I put the dutch oven on the coals and baked it for about 35-40 minutes. It really tasted great, and filled the house with some wonderful smells. It didn't look as good, even though it browned up quite a bit as it baked, but that really was due to the coloring mix.

It was a good, hearty bread, and it tasted great with butter at dinner with chicken and rice.


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