13 April 2010

Baking Spree: A Carb Story

If I ever failed to acknowledge my shameless addiction to carbohydrates, I'll take care of that right here and now: I love carbs.  Based upon the proportion of bread-related material I've posted here so far, this news shouldn't be surprising to anyone, but somehow it just felt right to state the obvious.  Of course, my carbohydrate fixation doesn't end with bread; rice, potatoes, pasta, and other starchy foods are fine with me, too.  As it happens, however, today's entry focuses on bread.

When it comes to bread, I prefer yeast-risen types.  Before I finally acquired the skills necessary for basic bread-making technique, when (or if) I baked bread, it was always some sort of sweet quick bread.  Now, I hardly ever bake quick breads, preferring the scent of fresh, homemade bread wafting about the house--the type one only achieves with the inclusion of yeast--not to mention the flavor and texture.  I have only recently begun a more in-depth exploration of bread-making, inspired largely by other bloggers' beautiful creations and Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

This week, I consulted Reinhart's book to bake up batches of his Kaiser Rolls and Pain de Campagne.  I have been curious about the kaiser rolls in particular, because the dough-knotting technique, used in absence of a special cutter, appeared a bit daunting.  However, Vegan Dad's recent post chronicling the ease of his Kaiser Roll-making experience encouraged me to finally give the recipe a whirl.  Like Vegan Dad, I replaced the egg using an equal weight of unsweetened soy yogurt and opted for smaller rolls.  The method for forming the rolls without a cutter really was not difficult at all, and although some of the rolls don't look as uniform as they would had I used a cutter, the taste and texture are very much like that of the kaiser rolls I had so often during my summer abroad in Vienna a few years ago; in both cases, they were crusty on the outside, tender inside, and light as a feather.  It's wonderful to be able to recreate those tasty memories, and in vegan form, too!
The other Reinhart recipe I used this week was for Pain de Campagne.  It is seen as an ideal dough for forming uniquely shaped loaves, but my primary reasons for going with pain de campagne was due to the amount of remaining pȃte fermentée--which was necessary to make in order to proceed with baking a single batch of the kaiser rolls--and the presence of whole wheat flour in the pain de campagne dough.  I did also figure that I would have gotten to the recipe at some point anyway, and that further experimentation with dough-shaping couldn't hurt.  Having made just enough dough for a single loaf, I went ahead with shaping it into a couronne (crown).  Unfortunately, I faced some difficulty moving the dough onto the peel, and then with transferring it from peel to baking stone, so the finished loaf was slightly misshapen, and the indentations hardly visible.  The hearth-style baking technique also didn't suit me well, as the smoke alarms in the house are apparently sensitive to burning cornmeal bits on the oven floor (a common occurence when making pizza), and their sirens threaten (and do) screech every time the oven door is opened if any of the burnt matter still remains.  The loaf was still crusty, with good flavor due to the long pre-ferment, but the next time I try that recipe, I think I'll shape the dough into something that doesn't look like a giant, imperfect doughnut.

Speaking of doughnuts, I have been wanting to make some for quite awhile now, but had not gotten around to it until last night and this morning.  While I prefer the taste and texture of more traditional fried doughnuts, I am always hesitant to fry, because I hate dealing with the amount of oil needed to deep fry and am too aware of all of those empty calories I'd be ingesting, even with my consumption of fried food being a rare occurence.  I have made decent baked doughnuts before using this recipe, but I wanted to see if I could change it up a bit by incorporating okara.  I have often been curious about the use of okara for baking yeast breads, specifically with regard to the use of fresh okara by several doughnut makers in Japan.  From what I've read, it seems that like any standard doughnut purveyor, Japanese doughnut shops serve up their okara (or hara) doughnuts deep fried.  So from the start of my okara doughnut experiment, consulting that aforementioned baked doughnut recipe as my foundation, I knew that despite having never had the opportunity to try a hara doughnut (or even to travel to Japan, for that matter), my vegan, baked version would be very different.  My hope was that it would at least be somewhat doughnut-like, as well as delicious.
I made several adjustments, replacing the sugar and agave with an adjusted amount of maple syrup, incorporating whole wheat flour, omitting the applesauce, adding okara (of course), and adjusting the amounts of yeast, salt, and vanilla extract.  My technique was also differed from that specified by the recipe, but perhaps I'll post something about the process in more detail later.  As for the result: deliciousness, indeed!  I made 16 three- to four-inch diameter doughnuts (cut using a biscuit cutter and a smaller, circular kitchen object whose purpose is not quite clear) out of a little more than half of the dough.  They turned out incredibly soft and mildly sweet, admittedly more like sweeter, very soft dinner rolls with holes in the middle than actual doughnuts, but addictive nonetheless.  To make them more doughnut-like, I whipped up a few glazes: vanilla, maple, and cocoa.  The vanilla was the thickest of the three, ending up as an icing that I didn't bother to thin it out.  The cocoa, on the other hand, was very runny and messy, and never hardened.  And in classic, Goldilocks fashion, the maple glaze turned out "just right," just thin enough to run all over the top and sides of the donuts while still being able to set properly.  And the flavor was the best out of the three, too.  I do still have dough leftover, so assuming the dough hasn't fermented for too long already, I'll get another shot at perfecting the glaze tomorrow.  I may even end up frying the doughnuts if I'm feeling a little more adventurous and not too guilty about all of the (non-greasy) bread I've lately been enjoying too much.
I will try to restrain myself from too much bread-baking, particularly if it leans toward the sugary side of things, and focus my efforts in the kitchen to cooking up savory meals...after that final batch of doughnuts, of course.

10 comments:

  1. I too love carbs and those rolls look amazing!

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  2. What amazing looking bread! And the donuts, yum!

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  3. Both the donuts and the Kaiser rolls look stellar! In germany Kaiser rolls are never made with eggs. They are just regular wheat rolls, so absolutely not hard to adapt. I think next time I'll try this recipe for a change.

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  4. Who doesn't love carbs?! What an inspiration you are!!! Your rolls and doughnuts look amazing! Once you perfect the recipe, please share :)

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  5. Thanks, Jill--what a nice thing to say! And yes, I will definitely be tweaking that doughnut recipe to share with everyone. :)

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  6. Who doesn't love carbs?! What an inspiration you are!!! Your rolls and doughnuts look amazing! Once you perfect the recipe, please share :)

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  7. What amazing looking bread! And the donuts, yum!

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  8. I too love carbs and those rolls look amazing!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)