Landscaping 2013 – Back Yard

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The Ciabatta Saga Continues

Ciabatta saga, ciabatta saga, ciabatta saga…..

Trying yet another recipe today. Every recipe I’ve tried or have on deck to try is different enough from the others that I’m surprised to find that they all purport to produce a ciabatta loaf. Silly Italians.

Today’s version comes from Bread Cetera, and this guy is as nerdy as I am about bread. This is very much a good thing. Bread folk tend to be very analytical about why and how bread does what it does and it’s almost comforting to find other people expending as much and more energy as I am to get the thing right.

I took a sec to update before this loaf is fully proofed because of the sound the dough was making as it incorporated the last bit of water. One of the previous recipes had me reserve some water to add in later, but I didn’t think of adding it in a bit at a time. Ultimately it was all incorporated and everything turned out fine, but I like the subtle touch of mentioning to add it a bit at a time. I thought the sound of adding water was interesting as well:

In addition, we have the size of the dough at the beginning of fermentation:

More later as she’s fully proofed and ready to bake.

Ciabatta Seconda

Today’s version of ciabatta comes from Wild Yeast, a fantastically detailed all-things-yeast site. My favorite part of the site is the constant talk about technique with plenty of visual explanation. 95% of bread is timing and technique and this site understands.

So. On to things. The most dramatic part of following this recipe is just how wet it is at all times. Knowing the basics of baking allowed me to add more flour than called for after step 4 but even then the dough would’ve crawled all over the place if it left the container. I’m curious to learn the exact rising properties of different levels of hydration vs amounts of yeast – does ciabatta get those windowpanes from internal steaming? Fascinating. After 4 hours of refrigerated rising, she went from 2 liters to this animal:

After further rising over night, I woke up to rest the dough to room temp, gently stretch and cut/shape for a final rise. And, you know, start my day and all that.


When I nail ciabatta, I will buy myself some proper shaping tools instead of constantly making homeless french artist bread that just lays all over the place looking ridiculously gorgeous.

But that day is not today. The bread is tasty and slightly chewy but the crumb isn’t right. However, I think this is the recipe to try again because it’s the closest I’ve come thus far. Maybe without the flour I thought it needed? And also maybe halved because right now I have 7 medium loaves of ciabatta seconda.

Day of the Bagel

So I may have mentioned a brief thingy the last time I made bagels. I think it went something like this: I made bagels but didn’t take pictures of them so nyah nyah, Ima go eat ’em all up already, NO BAGEL FOR YOU.

Or something like that.

This time I took pictures. The recipe I’m using (I honestly forget where I grabbed it) wants a sponge made the night before: equal parts flour and water and the yeast. This means that when you wake up and stumble downstairs to the yowls of kittens wasting away after an entire evening with no food, you are presented with this monstrosity:

Here’s a tip – don’t remove the plastic and immediately stick your nose into the bowl and inhale deeply. This bowl is RIPE.

Next step is to add the rest of the ingredients – honey (used agave instead because it’s what I had), malt syrup (which is step 1 of 3 to making bagels taste like bagels), more flour, salt, aaand I think that’s all. Beat it up for a nice long while til it’s beautiful and smooth and slightly out of focus.

Oh, did I mention that half the bagels will be scallion? Yeah. So there’s that happening as well.

Next you boil them (step 2) in water with a bit of baking soda (step 3) before baking. As with all bread you should wait for it to cool before eating but, I ask you, how is that possible when they look like this:

You see the one in the very top left corner? The one that looks like an actual bagel? I know what I did to make it look like that. This means that, with 16 fresh bagels in the house still cooling on racks, I’m already planning to make them again.

Adventures in Pig Parts

When I bought the hanger steak for birthday dinner the other night, I also picked up two trotters. Pig feet. “Trotters” just sounds ridiculous. I bought two pigs feet (and a bit of the lower leg as well) and yesterday set them to simmer all day. And all night. I opened the lid this morning to find a deep dark DARK broth that smells like winter weather. I chose to make a pork broth to serve on what will be the hottest day of the year. Ugh.

I completely forgot about taking pictures. The good news is that this means I’ll have to do this all over again.

The plan for tonight is ramen; proper ramen or at least as close as I can get to it. Shockingly, I won’t be making my own noodles but only because I want an excuse to go back to Fubonn. I’m about to boil a couple of eggs and let them marinate all day, and then I’m off to the store. Pics of dinner tonight, and the entire process again once I see what needs to be changed. The best part so far is having started with cold water and 2 frozen pig feet and ending up with a liquid the color of creamy mahogany.

Birthday Dinner

So, we have Steak Frites with a mushroom sauce and roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Snickerdoodle Cake.

By the way, the steak came from Laurelhurst Market, where I was very pleased to discover pig head for less than $2 per pound. Stay tuned for more skullinary adventures.