29 June 2011

Name This Bread

Every couple of weeks a new bread is conceived.  Imagine how difficult it would be to pick names for your children if there was one born 25 times a year.  Some are easier than others....a baguette is a baguette.  The loaf pictured above has been particularly difficult for us to moniker.  This is our newest creation...hot out of the oven.  I would love to know what you can come up with because I am at a total loss.

Here are the specifics:

Major Ingredients: Wheat Flour, White Flour, Water, Honey  

Minor Ingredients: Cracked Grains: Red & White Wheats, Spelt, Rye, Corn, Barley; Salt, Yeast, Sourdough Culture

Attributes: Sweet and nutty; soft, slightly open crumb; crisp, caramel-y crust.  Made with a biga.   Retarded for 3-4 hours before baking.  It weighs 14-16oz, is 7-8" in diameter and stands about 4" tall.

Names in the Running: Farmhouse Honey Grain, Country Honey Wheat

I will let you know which name is selected by the end of the week.  I'm sure this is the first of many "Name This Bread," posts to come.

27 June 2011

Polka Dots

My daughter has been talking about her birthday non-stop for quite some time.  She'd wake up every morning and exclaim "today's my birthday," to which I'd reply "no yet."

Then she started asking me when I was going to make her a polka dot cake.  I'm not really sure where the idea of a polka dot cake came from but sure enough the subject came up every single day for the last three months.  It actually made me a little nervous...can I deliver on my soon-to-be-three year old's expectations?  What if I make the polka dots the wrong size or the wrong color?

Finally, June 26th came and Josie's polka dot cake was unveiled.  She was ecstatic to say the least.

After the festivities were over and the atmosphere calmed, I asked "what was your favorite part of the day, Jos?"

"My polka-dot cake, Mommy!"

It's the best feeling in the world to know that all the presents and hullabaloo didn't live up to a little flour, butter, eggs and polka dots!

15 June 2011

Artisan Sliders

Angus Burger with Caramelized Onions and Cheddar

Working overnight leaves few options for food.  Working overnight in a bakery means that you either bring food from home, eat lots of bread, or if you're baking in Chelsea Market, send the new guy to Pop Burger with the bakers' orders.  Pop Burger packages two mini burgers in a little cardboard box.  Their burgers are quite a few notches above what one would purchase at White Castle.  This was my first experience with the slider craze.  Prior to Pop Burger and overnights at Amy's Bread, I never knew sliders existed.

Mini-Tuna Melt

According to Food Channel , mini menu items have increased by 400% from   2007-2010.  American consumers continue to look for smaller, more affordable portion sizes.  Practically speaking,  I enjoy sliders because I can offer my guests several sandwich options.  They are a portion of the commitment an entire burger represents.  My kids love the little guys, too.  I can make them with a whole sandwich they will be able to finish rather than cutting a burger in quarters or, more often, wasting 1/2 a meal.  Finally, they are as cute as can be...affordable and adorable!

Tribeca Oven recently released packaged Artisan Sliders.  I've always been told that adding a pre-fermented dough such as sourdough, poolish, or levain, to the final dough helps to extend shelf life.  During the course of the slider development, this theory was proven to be true.  Adding a "biga" to the challah dough extended the shelf life from two to three days.  Tribeca Oven's slider buns are made using all natural ingredients...flour, water, yeast, salt, egg and oil...the cleanest label around.  These buns are currently for sale at Kroger, nationwide...$2.99 for an 8-pack!

13 June 2011

Conchas Americanas

Normally, I stick to French and English but given 90% of the people I work with speak only Spanish, I figured I should learn sooner rather than later.  My Spanish is broken at best, totally incomprehensible, at worst.  I make an effort to get my point across.  When in doubt, I just replace English words with French words in hopes that the Spanish equivalent is close enough that someone will understand me.  There's definitely a lot of pointing and miming throughout my days.

Food can instantly break down language barriers.  Everyone understands the smiling face of someone who has just eaten a yummy dish.  Bakers the world over, strive to put this grin on the faces of everyone who tastes their breads.  This baker is no different.

My Mexican friends often bring me amazing tamales for lunch.  They watch in awe as I savor every last spicy bite of pollo, masa y chiles.  I guess they figure a girl as white as me can't handle picante!  I thought it would be nice to thank mi amigos the best way I know how...bake them bread.

Conchas are traditional Mexican sweet buns.  They are made with a buttery, milky dough and topped with sugary crusts.  The crust is cut to resemble a sea shell.  "concha" is the Spanish word for shell.  Typically, the shell-shaped crust is brightly colored and it may be flavored with cinnamon.  My version of the Mexican favorite was made with a brioche dough (of course) and a chocolate crust.  I ordered a concha topping cutter but it did not arrive in time for me to use it for my treats.  I cut scallop-edged rings of chocolate sugar dough to top the brioche.  The dough is topped right after the rolls are shaped.  As the buns rise, the crust seals to them.  As you can see in the photo, the crust cracks during the baking process, giving each concha a unique appearance.  Though they may not have been the most traditional buns, my Conchas Americanas were a big hit with the staff.