26 January 2011

Fundamentals

Regardless of my level of desire to cook on any given day, certain items remain staples in my diet and are never too difficult or time-consuming to warrant at least a haphazard attempt at procuring them. Food fatigue continues to foster a steady intake of easily-accessible foods, which in my current situation involves frequently defaulting to bread or rice, soup, and beans (with nuts, blanched greens, and fruit scattered amongst the day's eating). The most labor-intensive part of those items occurs during the initial cooking process, after which leftovers are stored and easily stretched over a few days in the refrigerator, if not longer in the freezer. As long as the food tastes good, the lazy cook in me doesn't mind a somewhat rigid menu borne of minimal effort. Accordingly, on the carbohydrate side of things, the last few weeks have involved only the following from-scratch creations (a small amount, given my bread baking fixation, but a sign of life nonetheless).

English muffins. I adapted the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, making the necessary vegan substitutions and incorporating some whole wheat flour. These were quite as holey as store-bought muffins--I let the dough over-rise while I spent a couple of hours running errands--but these homemade muffins weren't particularly dense and like most homemade bread, they tasted better than their mass-produced, chemical-laden counterparts.
Zinfandel walnut bread. This project was the result of a serendipitous encounter with a bread recipe that requires approximately the amount of wine I happened to have leftover from the previous night. Again, some substitutions were in order. Vegan adjustments included flax and water for egg and coconut oil for butter; zinfandel and walnuts (what I had on hand) replaced chianti and pinenuts, respectively. I also incorporated more whole wheat flour--it's a bit of a habit--and increased the hydration with a few additional tablespoons water, which likely account for the relatively faint purple hue. Referring back to The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I employed the "hearth-style" baking method, using a steam tray, baking stone, and increased oven temperature (450 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than 375) in order to achieve a rustic, crusty exterior on the loaf. The heavenly aroma of wine and warm bread filled the house as it baked. The finished bread was indeed crisp on the outside, tender inside, as well as flavorful (only faintly of wine) and nutty--delightful for either sweet or savory applications.
As mentioned, soup and beans also figured into my January menu. Perhaps I'll post a rundown of related dishes soon...

14 comments:

  1. Your baked goods always look so professional:-)

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  2. I am pretty impressed that you make your own english muffins! hell yeah!

    http://haymarket8.blogspot.com

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  3. You're quite the baker, everything looks delicious! :-)

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  4. I love homemade English mufffins too...your bread looks awesome!

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  5. What gorgeous loaves of bread! You really have a skill for vegan baking

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  6. English muffins! I am never disappointed popping over to your blog.

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  7. Wow those English muffins look great, they've even got that characteristic English-muffin-looking bottom. Impressive!

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  8. wow yum! that bread looks delicious! kudos to you for baking your own baked goods :)

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  9. I love bread...and something as simple as an English Muffin, are so easily violated with terrible ingredients by the mainstream makers. I still can't believe how much corn syrup is still in bread products.

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  10. The Bread Baker's Apprentice is my favorite bread book, and the one from which I learned the most about how to bake good bread. Your bread looks like it fell right from the book's pages! It's just beautiful, and must have tasted great! You're making me want to bake bread today.

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  11. I am pretty impressed that you make your own english muffins! hell yeah!

    http://haymarket8.blogspot.com

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  12. English muffins! I am never disappointed popping over to your blog.

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  13. What gorgeous loaves of bread! You really have a skill for vegan baking

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  14. You're quite the baker, everything looks delicious! :-)

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