shaping sticky dough

My dinner roll recipe is a very wet dough, so it spends a long time in the fridge.  Once it’s removed from the fridge and I begin working with it, it will become very sticky very quickly.  So, here’s how I shape it:

I prep the work surface and pan before the dough comes out of the fridge.  That means:

  1. The surface is lightly floured, but I have a measuring cup of flour to the side just in case.
  2. I have a pizza cutting wheel next to the surface.
  3. I have the pan next to the surface.

I know I want a dozen-roll dough to be patted out into roughly a 12″ X 9″ rectangle.  So, I use a bench knife to cut a rectangle that size into the center of the floured work surface, as a visual reference.

I don’t fuck around when the dough comes out – I flour my hands, pull the dough out fast and begin stretching/patting the dough into the visual reference area.  There is about a two-minute window before the dough starts sticking to everything, so I don’t focus on exact measurements, just approximating the visual reference.

I use the pizza wheel to slice the dough, and eyeball the cuts to roughly the width and length of my index finger and thumb making an L shape 2″ wide, 4.5″ long.  If you have big hands, measure your L shape before you pull out the dough, and adjust accordingly.

Once the cutting is done, I fold each shape into thirds and place the rolls end-down on the pan.  Even when I work fast, the last pieces shaped will stick more to everything than the first, so I will flour my hands a bit more after shaping half the rolls.

Happy shaping!


flat beer? make bread!

If I die, arrest this loaf for involuntary manslaughter, but let it plead down to a lesser included offense:

The genesis of this loaf can be pinpointed to July, when I went on a kidless mini-break and BackupMom held a BBQ at my house.  A pan of leftovers sits in the fridge commemorating the event (ewww), but that’s not the point.

During the BBQ, the partygoers stored lots of beer in my outdoor mini-fridge and drank it all.  Except one.  Which I found, open but otherwise unmarred, when I got a yen to make Breadtopia’s version of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread featured in the New York Times…but had no beer in the house.

It’s been in a closed environment.  Alcohol is a preservative.  We won’t die when we eat bread made with it, right?


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cheating on Chad is fun

I got very tired of paying too much for too little tasty bread ($5.72/lb!), and I wanted meatloaf with fresh bread crumbs tonight (recipe to come later, and it is the Best Fucking Meatloaf, Ever).  So, after a very long hiatus (and happy to have gotten my cooking groove back), I forged once again into Tartine territory to prep a starter.

But a fresh, anal-retentive starter will not get me bread tonight.  What will get me bread tonight is cheating on Chad, with my Kitchen Aid mixer and commercial yeast.  Next week I will cheat less on him; this week, I am a perfidious little bread whore.

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quick tip: separating egg yolks from whites

I Fark every so often, when I’m not busy watching TheRadBrad kill zombies, tending to the brood, cooking, baking, slacking or occasionally putting in a day at the office. For some reason, I visited the video tab. Typically I don’t; the videos that are submitted to Fark are worth watching about 1% of the time.

Today must have been one of the 3.65 days that the video tab has something worth watching, because HOLY SHIT, THIS IS BRILLIANT. I will never separate my eggs Ye Olde Fashioned Way again. [MomMode] Caveat: I do not advocate cracking an egg on the edge of anything. That’s a great way to introduce bacteria into your food. Flat edges, folks, crack eggs on flat edges. [/MomMode]

brioche: the champion of bread

Wet country loaf and Karmic Cockpunch notwithstanding, I still bow down at the altar (fuck you, AutoCorrect; I spelled it right the first time) of bread built by Chad Robertson. I didn’t understand bread as a fundamental science until I read Tartine Bread. Sure, Alton Brown has an entire chapter devoted to bread in I’m Just Here For More Food, and he gives a good book knowledge of the process. With Chad, though, you are given an awareness of your environment, your ingredients and your cooking appliance that will have far more influence on the edibility of your bread than the recipe you start from. Actual talk about brioche after the jump.

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after action report: maple bacon cronuts

Check-in Weight: 146.8; I had a full-on, carby eat-fest yesterday. On the menu today is hot tea, veggie stir-fry at midday and Beef Wellington and Lawry’s The Prime Rib recipe for creamed spinach for Christmas dinner. (I do this daily check in as one of the recommendations of Dr. Beverly Berkeley’s Refuse to Regain blog.)

I felt compelled to eat one of my maple-bacony creations, because I had zero faith in frying these in oil then offering it to other people to eat without any idea how they would taste. They are a work in progress. When the British Fellows at Sorted Food say leave lots of large lumps of butter, they fucking mean it. I was afraid my batch would be soggy, greasy, tasteless lumps of standard doughnut-shop frosted cake shite.

But, amazingly, they are pretty good. I got separation of layers – not as many as if I’d left more large lumps of butter in the dough. Despite the frying, the interior was light and tasted like a baked croissant. The entire doughnut was light, actually, despite the maple icing (50g powdered sugar, 12g milk, 3g maple syrup since I had no extract – in that case, use 1/4t maple extract) and crumbled bacon on top. I finished the cronut and didn’t feel like I just choked down a lead weight. In fact, I could have easily grabbed another cronut – which is the finest recommendation I could have for a sweet treat of any sort.

chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Check-in Weight: 145.2

I like cookies like I like cake…and most cookies outside of a professional bakery are crap that isn’t worth eating. If you take a bite of a good, homemade cookie from scratch, then a bite of a store-bought cookie immediately after, you would realize how profoundly shitty most store-bought cookies are. So, do yourself, your body and your family a favor – don’t settle for crap. Made a good cookie at home. The Recipe and Baking Notes after the jump.
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