» October 2011 «


October Daring Baker’s Challenge: Povitica


The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Of course, this being my first attempt, I think it was better to taste than to look at but maybe that’s just me. My first try (see image below) didn’t set up as well as it should have, I think partially because I didn’t grind the walnuts small enough, so this should look more solid than gooey. However, it still tasted great!

If any of you were brave enough to try last month’s croissant challenge, I have good news for you…this is 100 times easier and takes much less time. Really.

I loved this challenge. Povitica dough is extremely easy to roll out, none of that rebound curling that we had with the croissant dough. And, to make it even better, I thought this entire process was fun. It is a different way of making bread that is intriguing throughout the entire process.

I made one loaf the normal way, with walnuts and what not, two with a pumpkin filling and one with feta, cheddar cheese, and herbs. All of them tasted great. So, although this is meant to be a dessert bread, feel free to substitute the filling with whatever warms the cockles of your heart.

A few tips:

1.) When the directions say to roll out the dough super thin, DO IT! It really isn’t difficult and it makes the inside look fantastic. You can see in my pumpkin bread especially, I didn’t roll it out as much and the filling wasn’t as thick, making the design harder to appreciate.

2.) Make sure you grind up the walnuts well. I simply crushed them haphazardly and the edges of the large chunks made rolling a tedious process as I attempted not to poke a hole in my dough.

3.) When you roll the dough, don’t try to pick it up as you go, simply push little bits at a time, separating it from your workspace by gently rolling it over the filling mixture.

4.) This bread really is beautiful when done right, thicker less liquidy filling works best. Wrap a 3-in. wide piece of burlap around the middle of the bread with a thinner piece of ribbon, and give away as Christmas gifts.

Recipe: Courtesy of Jenni
Ingredients

To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
½ Cup (120ml) Warm Water
2 Tablespoons (30ml/14 gm/½ oz/2 sachets) Dry Yeast

Dough:
2 Cups (480ml) Whole Milk
¾ Cup (180 ml/170gm/6 oz) Sugar
3 Teaspoons (15 ml/18 gm/2/3 oz) Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup (120ml/115 gm/one stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups (1.92 l/1.12 kg/39½ oz/2½ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Walnut Filling:
7 Cups (1.68 l/1.12 kg/2.5 lbs) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (240ml) Whole Milk
1 Cup (240ml/225 gm/2 sticks/8 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (5ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (480ml/450 gm/16 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon

Topping:
½ Cup (120 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
2 Tablespoons (30 ml/28 gm/1 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Directions:

To Activate Yeast:

In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
2. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
3. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
4. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
5. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: You may not use all 8 c. of flour
6. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
7. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To Make the Filling:

1. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
2. Heat the milk and butter to boiling. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:

1. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered. (I didn’t use a sheet or cloth) Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly).
2. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter
3. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
4. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.

Tip: As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.

5. When you think the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet or counter underneath.
6. Spoon filling evenly over dough until covered. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
7. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
8. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.

Finishing Touches:

1. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
3. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
4. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
5. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
6. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.

Tip: It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.


Fall Break + Woolly Worms


Fall break is over and what a break it was. One of my dearest friends flew out from Oregon with her 1-year-old son and husband. We were able to visit with one another for 5 whole days. It has been 2 years since we have seen friends from home so I cannot express to you just how wonderful it was to be with them again. Jack and I are truly blessed with the friends we have both back home and here in Tennessee. Here’s a family picture from our day out at the farm.

What else did we do on our Fall break? Well, we held a little pumpkin carving party, took a drive up to Roan Mountain, and best of all…attended the Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, North Carolina! Yep, you read it right, the Woolly Worm Festival.

According to their website, last year’s festival had over 20,000 visitors from all over the East coast and 1,000 participants racing their woolly worms.

I bet you are wondering, “how exactly do you race a woolly worm…?” Up a string of course. The Woolly Worm trainers, race their worms up a 3 ft. string in small heats throughout the day until the final heat in the afternoon, where the finalists compete for $1000. This year’s winner, was YoYoMa from NC.

I took some pictures of the festival, they are nothing special but I wanted to give you an idea of how big of a deal this really is…

Now, don’t mistake this festival for just a hokey Southern gathering. No, there is a point to the worm racing, are you ready for this? Apparently, the woolly worm winner predicts what type of winter we are going to have, week by week, by the width of his stripes.

This year’s weather, week 1-13: Lt Snow & Cold, Cold & Snowy, Cold & Snowy, Cold & Snowy, Lt Snow & Cold, Normal Cold, Cold & Snowy, Cold & Snowy

So there you have it, looks like lots of cold and snowy weather coming our way!


Photography + Love


This post is extremely random but I just had to share it with you all. Kira, of Kira Noble Photography, is one fantastic photographer. I get extremely giddy every time I see that she has posted new photos because I just can’t wait to see what else she has come up with.

Yesterday she posted this quote which I love! (photo: the kitchen curtains)

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― G.K. Chesterton

And on Monday she posted these self-portraits on her blog with lots and lots of glitter. She is beautiful all the time as you can see here, and these pictures are exquisite.

Head on over to her blog to check out more of her photos.


Orange Fall Wreath


If I haven’t emphasized it enough over the past few weeks, I really love Fall. I love when the weather starts changing and you can finally wear your favorite sweater. I love how much better a morning cup of coffee tastes when gazing out the window at the drizzling rain. I love little kids running through the pumpkin patch trying to find the perfect pumpkin. I love cinnamon-scented candles and pumpkin pie. I love everything about Fall!

To add to my list of Fall-centered celebrations, I decided to throw together a wreath for our pumpkin carving party this weekend. This wreath cost me less than $5 and can be adapted for any holiday.

Tools:

1 tube of pipe insulation, 3 ft. ($.89)
1 yard of fabric (mine was $2)
2 feet of ribbon ($.99)
1 box of straight pins (I had these but they cost about $2)

Instructions:

Cut fabric into 2x4in strips. Pinch the center and fold the edges up. Stick a straight pin through the point to keep fabric folded together and stick into the wreath, overlapping previous layers.

Once the pipe is covered, tie or glue your ribbon in place. That’s it–a super easy Fall wreath for your door. Mine took about 30 minutes to complete.

Well folks, that’s all I have for you. I hope you are enjoying your Fall as much as I am! I’ll be sure to post some pumpkin carving party pictures soon. Happy Fall!


Fall Garden


I have never been a person who claims to like mums. In fact, in the past I have downright hated mums. Why? To be honest, I don’t really know. I think they remind me of marigolds and the orange/gold color of marigolds is just not a color I enjoy seeing outside. However, this year we have a little flower/vegetable shop one minute down the road from us. I pass it every single day on my way to and from class and they have the most beautiful mums.

Maybe it’s the shear amount of mums in one place, maybe its the variety of colors that they carry, or maybe it’s that their prices are stinkin’ cheap–I had to buy some. Jack and I went to the shop after work yesterday and purchased 6 beautiful mums to add a little color to our deck before winter robs us of these beautiful colors.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and I just couldn’t resist popping outdoors for a few minutes to take a few pictures of our Fall porch. I am still working on a wreath (post to come) and perhaps putting our little farmer scarecrow outside but here is what we have so far. Perhaps these pretty buds will inspire you to not give up on your garden just yet–there are still plenty of beautiful fall days to enjoy your flowers.

Don’t forget to throw in some pumpkins as well. The orange looks beautiful with the red and purple mums. I also took a picture of the beautiful purple cabbage Kristin brought me last week. She’s too sweet.

I have one pharmacology test left before Fall break next week. I plan to compile a host of posts for you all over the break so be on the lookout. Last week we had 2 record breaking days for visits on the site. Thank you for your continued support.

Happy Fall!


Guest Post: No-knead bread


_I have one more test before Fall break so I apologize, once again, for the “few and far between” posts. However, today you are in luck… Meredith has written another guest post for you all! Today she is sharing a fabulous recipe for no-knead bread.
_
My husband is the bread-baker in our family. When I met him, I’d been baking my own bread for about a year, because I’m a good baker. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do bread. But I’d messed it up differently every time. Forgot the salt. Didn’t knead long enough. Under-baked. Burned. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Then I met Jon, who worked at a bakery in our neighborhood. A wonderful bakery, with fabulous artisan breads, baked in an amazing multi-deck stone hearth oven. At the time, he worked mixing and benching, and eventually he started baking. He brought home more bread than we could eat. Then he started practicing at home. He never forgets the salt.

So I quit messing with bread. We moved to Northeast Tennessee, and our artisan bread options are limited. Jon bakes some, but he’s working full-time and going to school full-time, and time is precious. So we’ve been making do with the grocery store stuff, the sliced kind for my son’s pb & j’s, and an occasional “artisan-style” loaf for my morning toast.

Then Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread, no stone hearth required, started drifting in and out of my attention. I vaguely remember hearing about this on NPR some years ago, and not really paying attention because I’m not the bread-baker.  But a little over a year ago, a friend served no-knead bread at a dinner party. And it was delicious. Then, for Christmas, we received Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century, which reprints favorites from the past 150 years or so of Times food writing. And it includes this recipe. Several months later, I’ve finally gotten around to trying it. (It was the first esting time that got me. Figuring out when to start this so that 12-18 hours later I could work with it, and then have 3 more hours or so before it was finished required waaay too much math.)

Yesterday, after really wanting toast for breakfast and having Corn Flakes instead, I decided to try it.  While the kids ate dinner, I put together the dough.

  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
     Mix together in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 12-18 hours.
This morning, the dough had risen considerably, and was speckled with bubbles about to break through. I let it go until 10:15 or so, about 16 hours after I’d mixed it up (less because of its readiness – Hesser says 18 hours is preferable, but that it’s ready when covered with little bubbles – and more because that timing worked out well for my chances of working without the kids’ “help.”)
     Here the directions say to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, and fold over itself once or twice. I chose twice, and the dough smoothed into a neat little roundish packet. After covering it loosely with plastic wrap and letting it rest 15 minutes, I floured my hands, shaped it into a ball (sort of – it’s a really loose dough), and set it on a towel (not terrycloth) covered with cornmeal. A little more cornmeal on top, cover with another towel, and let rise 2-2 1/2 hours. When it’s ready to bake, it won’t spring back readily when pressed with fingertips.
     While it rose (just before taking my kids upstairs for naptime), I turned on the oven to preheat my pot. I’m saving my money and watching clearance racks for [dream pot](http://www.csnstores.com/popups/media_viewer_images.php?sku=SAB1087), so this time I just used my regular All Clad stainless 8 quart soup pot. A heavier pot with a tighter-fitting lid probably would’ve worked better, but this one did just fine. I heated it at 450 while I put the kids down, and by the time they were asleep the bread was ready to go. Out came the pot, in went the bread, down went the lid, and into the oven. After half an hour, I took the lid off, and left it for another 20 minutes or so to brown up.
     And I have to say, it’s decent bread. Not quite as tall as I might like, perhaps, but for the effort expended . . . it’s fantastic! And it’ll hold up admirably to butter & jam in the morning. I’m a happy girl.