Thursday, February 28, 2008

Change is a comin'

I really am working in my market off-time, see Cadillac vs. newbie if you don't belive me:) After some time to think about it & some more baking comparison tests I have decided to try something new.

I am changing the brand of flour I use for all of my baking! This is a pretty big deal, but I have done some research and spent time on the decision. I will be using War Eagle Mill's flour instead of King Arthur's flour. Here are some of my reasons:
  1. I like to bake for your family like I do for my own- for health reasons stone ground flour is superior to modern flour processing.
  2. WEM flour has a fresher flavor
  3. WEM is a local establishment & I like to shop local when possible
King Arthur has good flour, and if I have problems with War Eagle Mill then I would switch back to King Arthur.

So all my bakery products now in addition to being Whole Grain contain Organic Stone-ground flour. I'm excited about being able to offer my customers a healthier, higher quality product.

**Another change I'm making is the incorporation of more spelt flour in my baked goods. I tried spelt last season and liked it so I have continued to experiment with it. Look for it in the ingredient listings of my cakes, cookies, and muffins.

Rosemary Fig

This bread was probably my #1 seller last market season. It is different, but also familiar. I'm sure we all know someone that has a fig tree. I wish I had one, one day in my dream yard with my muscadine vines, wonderful garden, every herb you could want...

Figs are a much loved fruit in Mississippi. So I took a hearty whole wheat bread and added dried fig pieces and fresh rosemary leaves. The resulting bread has been popular. It is one of my favorites. I love this bread with dinner, but I am told that it makes a wonderful peanut butter sandwich. The rosemary is subtle in this bread, there is enough to taste but not to overpower.

Ingredients: organic stone-ground whole wheat flour, water, chopped figs, malted barley syrup, dry milk powder, orange juice, Mississippi honey, butter, rosemary, egg whites, salt, yeast

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cake Time!

I know this cake may not look like a big deal to some people but it is the prettiest cake I've ever made! Unfortunately I baked it a bit too long and it was a little dry. But didn't the icing turn out good? This cake was for my mom's birthday a few weeks ago. I baked a chocolate malt cake & frosted it with a malt milk buttercream icing. Oh and the hearts were part of the cake batter I baked in a mini heart pan.

I'm fairly certain I will not bake this for the market. If these kinds of baked goods were around me on a regular basis I would be in trouble. It was a whole grain batter, but not lowfat and not healthy fats either. It was really fun to make the cake. I'm glad both of my parents birthdays fell on market off-time so I could make their cakes from scratch.

You want the numbers...

I've had several customers request nutritional analyses on my bakery goods. So I analyzed my Toffee biscotti recipe using my nutrition software. If you are interested go to the Toffee biscotti post.

It wasn't as easy as it should have been, but I'm fairly confident that it is a good approximation. I would have analyzed all my recipes already if not for several obstacles:
1. my items are handmade so the portions aren't exact
2. the bread doesn't come pre-sliced
3. my analysis software does not contain all my specialty ingredients in its database
4. I am not required by law to have nutritional information b/c I am a "mom & pop" operation, to have real nutrition info I would need to have my food sent off and physically tested

All that said I'm glad to provide some information. On my biscotti I have listed the information for a serving size of 1 large biscotti (or sometimes 2 small) equal to 1/12 the recipe size. And when I get the bread analyzed I will list the numbers for a portion of the bread- your slices may be bigger or smaller than mine. But hopefully my analysis will be helpful.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cadillac vs. Newbie

Huh? Let me clarify. I'm doing a comparison test between two types of flour.

In one corner we have my old favorite: King Arthur traditional whole wheat flour. I started using this flour b/c another baker told me this was "the cadillac of flour". I have found that this is true. I get very consistent results with my bread using King Arthur. I have never bought any rancid flour, even buying from the grocery store. I usually order directly from them so my flour is fresh, additionally I have been treated very well by their customer service.

In the other corner we have my new discovery: War Eagle Mill organic whole wheat stone-ground flour. So why change a good thing? Well I have long been interested in stone-ground flour because it is supposed to have better nutritional value & flavor than roller milled flour. There is all kinds of information to be found, I never have found any firm comparison on the matter. The National Heart Foundation does briefly discuss the matter. I have used stone ground flour before, but I never had an affordable source for quality flour. That is until I found War Eagle Mill, now I'm willing to give it a try.

So I'm pitting these flours against each other in a run of sourdough bread. This is the easiest bread to test with, because I typically run 2 separate batches simultaneously.

1. Setting up the starter dough:

KA- looks redder
WEM- more golden hue, slightly bigger bran fragments (very slightly), upon tasting is slightly sweet

2. Preparing the bread dough:

KA- typical results for this bread- flour/water proportions perfect
WEM- this flour was wetter, I had to considerately more flour to bring the dough consistency to where I like it to be. Also I had to knead this dough for longer than the KA to get enough gluten development.

3. Bread dough rising:

KA- seemed to have a better rise as you can see from these profile shots
WEM- still rose, just not as much as KA

4. Baking

KA- browned more, perhaps more tannins in bran of flour (gives red color)
WEM- once baked the two loaves seem to be the same size

5. Slice & Taste

KA- seemed to have a more sour taste?
WEM- looks identical to the KA slice, doesn't appear to be a big difference in cell structure (holes in bread)

So at this point from the wetness of the dough and the sweeter taste the WEM flour seems fresher and that is a good thing. But as far as gluten content the KA flour may have a greater amount, and gluten is vital to the bread rising.

Now I'm really not convinced either way. I like supporting a local mill especially if their flour is fresher. But I don't want to sacrifice the quality of my bread. So more tests to come.

Joy of Cooking!

So when Daniel & I got married I disregarded his cook book collection for the most part. I didn't mean to be a snob, but really what did More Swamp Cooking & Manifold Destiny (cooking on your car engine) have that I might want to cook?

I'm not sure why but one day I opened Daniel's The Joy of Cooking. I had never heard of this cookbook, in my parents home the 70's edition Betty Crocker, The Mississippi Cookbook, and Bells Best were the everyday cookbooks. I fell in love with this cookbook. To this day it is one of my favorites. Why? 1) It has great basic recipes for new cooks- oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, etc. 2) It has a recipe for almost every food you can think of- lamb ribs, boston baked beans, asparagus soup. 3) There are great write ups on many culinary subjects, for example a heading about different cuts of roast and how they should be cooked differently.

Well I was thinking of buying a copy for a gift. So I go to Amazon and there is controversy in the Joy of Cooking land. Apparently there is dispute about which edition is best. My beloved cookbook is the 1997 edition. Who cares about trifling editions? Well apparently some people really don't like 97' because ice cream, drink recipes, and short-cuts such as condensed soups were left out. Well those changes suit me fine because I buy ice cream and don't like condensed soups. I'd prefer to make my own sauces, for those that like these things there is the all new 2006 75th Anniversary edition. I decided after much research that this may be a better gift for my occasion.

Any comments? please tell me if you have an opinion on this.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Connection between the environment & baking bread

This post might not make much sense to you if you don't know what Orthodox Christianity is. There is a lot of information out there about Orthodox Christianity. Here's a starting point: Antiochian,

There is a great Orthodox writer by the name of Clark Carlton who also has a podcast available from Ancient Faith Radio. He had a segment about the climate changes the earth is undergoing and how our Orthodox faith shapes our view of the earth: Clark Carlton,

He made some good points. One thing he talked about was how many people live disconnected from nature due to living in a concrete jungle and our busy lifestyles. He recommends planting a vegetable garden and baking prosphora bread to mend this disconnect. Prosphora bread is our communion bread and this recommendation is limited to Orthodox Christians. But he has a great point, those who don't grow their own food and especially those who don't cook are missing out of the full experience of God's gifts to us. This quote was one of my first posts :"All the food of this world is divine love made edible" Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. Mr. Carlton says that just getting all your food from a fast food drive through turns it into a commodity rather than a gift to be thankful for.

This is one thing Daniel and I love about the market, the chance to meet the people who have produced the food we buy. And the opportunity to socialize with our community and celebrate the bounty of our Earth. The market opens the 1st Saturday in April, come & see us.