Friday, December 28, 2007

MErry Xmas

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Years. Holiday is the best LOTS OF FOOD!! weight gaining time awesome!! No more school thank goodness but the vacation is passing by so quickly!!

Spicy gingerbread cookies

Vegan cookies delicious!! I'm sick and tired mild tasting or just sugary tasting gingerbread cookies. Need the spiciness of all the herbs, so here's my recipe of these very spiced up ginger cookies.

Dry Ingredients
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
3 Tbsp Ginger, Grounded
1 Tbsp Cinnamon, Grounded
2 Tsp Allspice, Grounded
1 1/2 Tsp Clove, Grounded
1 1/2 Tsp Baking soda
1/4 Tsp Salt

Wet Ingredients
113g or 1/4 lb 1/2 Cup Butter, Soften
6 Tbsp Sugar, Dark Brown
6 Tbsp Molasses, Regular
1 Egg Replacer

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Sift the dried ingredients and the dried portion of the egg replacer into a bowl.
  • In a larger bowl cream together the butter and the sugar*. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients and combine well.
  • Then gradually add in the dried ingredients into the wet ingredients.
    • If you are making medium size gingerbread houses (around 4x8), bake the cookies for 18 - 20 minutes. It's better to over bake them a bit rather then under bake them like you usually would since you need a sturdy base for the gingerbread house.
    • If you are making small tiny cookies for decoration (around 1 1/2- 2 cm) like the one in the picture bake them no longer than 5 minutes.
    • If you are making regular cookies bake them for 10-12 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.
*Cookie Tip : Never over beat the sugar and the butter because your cookies will raise to much in the oven and deflate, resulting in a thin oily cookie because of all the extra air that is trapped in the butter.

Whole Wheat Cranberry Raisin Bread
The key to make great chewy artisan like bread is by creating a wet dough and letting time do all the work.

    • Bread Tip #1: To get a better tasting bread let the bread rise slowly for a long period of time. So if you plan on eating bread tomorrow, you should make the dough and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator but the longer the dough rises, the yeastier it will taste so reduce the yeast a bit.
    • Bread Tip #2: Normally flour requires a lot of water. They have bread dough with up to 75% hydration and some even higher which will result in a very sticky dough. IMPOSSIBLE TO WORK WITH, but this is where the next several tricks will come in handy!!
    • Bread Tip #3: If you are preparing a wet bread dough mix all the dry and wet ingredients together. Don't knead it cause you wont be able to anyways. Just let it sit for 45 minutes. (Longer if you want but reduce the yeast, same principle as Bread Tip #1). This method is called autolysis. This allows the flour to absorb all the water and it helps develop good fibers between the gluten and starch.
    • Bread Tip #4: Since the wet bread dough is too sticky to knead, just use the stretch and fold method. No need for kneading. After the autolysis or if you are skipping that step, put a bit of flour on your work area, stretch out the dough into a huge rectangle. Just fold the right side towards the middle, the left side towards the middle, the bottom side towards the middle and the top towards the middle. It's kinda like folding a envelope. Turn it over so that the smooth sides face you and fold it two more times. Let your dough rest for another 45 minutes or until double and fold it once more and let it rest before shaping, go through it's final rise and baking it.
    • Bread Tip #5: Getting a hard crust by steaming the bread in addition to preheating the oven at the highest setting. You should steam the bread the first 5-10 minutes of baking since that is when the crust develops. To steam just preheat a metal pan in the rack below where you intend to bake the bread. When the oven finish preheating, put your bread in and pour a cup of water into the metal pan below the bread BUT newer ovens can't handle steam so it might break. If you have a cruddy oven like mine, I don't think you would mind as much but do this at your own risk. You should lower the temperature of the oven after 5-10 minutes.
Sponge Starter
118g 6/7 Cup Bread Flour
118 mL 1/2 Cup Water, Warm
1/4 Tsp Active Dried Yeast

Main Dough
53g 2/5 Cup Bread Flour
163g 1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
180g 3/4 Cup Water
1 1/2 Tsp Sugar, Granulated
1/4 Tsp Salt
2 oz Cranberries, Dried
2 oz Raisins
  • The night before mix the yeast into the water until all the yeast dissolves.
  • Then mix the water with the bread flour until everything is combined.
  • Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rise for 24 hours. My house was 63F if it's warmer let it rise for a shorter period of time.
  • When the 24 hours is up start by soaking the dried fruits in warm water.
  • Then combine the flours, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix in the water into the dried ingredients slowly. Mix with a plastic or wooden spoon.
  • After the main dough is combined mix the sponge starter into the main dough. Make sure everything is well incorporated.
  • Then drain and fold in the raisins and cranberries.
  • Let the dough sit for at least 45 minutes for autolysis.
  • Fold the dough like I have described in bread tip #4.
  • Let it rest again for 45 minutes or until it doubles and passes the finger test.
  • Punch down, fold once more and shape into your loaf.
  • Preheat your oven to the highest setting.
  • After your shaped bread has rised for 45 or until it passes the finger test, put it into the oven and bake it for 8 minutes.
  • Then lower it down to 350 F and bake it for another 45 minutes or until the toothpick slides into the deepest part of the bread easily and comes out clean.