Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Letting Nature Do The Work

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

I was a little disappointed when I first saw this months challenge.  I think I was expecting something a little more in tune with the holidays like last years Christmas Stollen.  Well I shouldn't have been disappointed since I have really had enough Christmas snacks to last me a year and this challenge was a lot of fun.

I probably first got into making sour dough when I was in high school.  Probably mostly just because it was fun and interesting - kind of half cooking and half science project.  I don't think I have made it sense then.  I don't really ever really remember making a sour dough bread I liked but I do like good sourdough that others make. Well this was my chance to give it another shot.

I decided to follow Jessica's recipe for the French Country Bread using the wheat starter.  I didn't have a good warm spot for the starter - not easy to find anywhere warm in Minnesota in December.  Because of that I took a little extra time letting the starter grow but in the end it looked and smelled just as it should - lots of bubbles and yeasty smell.  For flour I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour.  Everything seemed to be going great with the bread until I needed to turn it out on the pan.  At this point it seemed to flatten out a lot - not sure if I did anything wrong but it wasn't as high as I wanted it.  I was worried that it was going to be a rock but it actually turned out great.  It was not nearly as dense as I was worried and it tasted fantastic.  It is definitely the best sour dough I have made.  I could have eaten the whole load but I needed some of the loaf for the second part of the challenge.  

Yes - this was a two part challenge.  Not only did we have to make a sourdough starter and bread - we also had to feature the bread in another recipe.  I had some different ideas for what to do but these were dashed when the loaf came out so flat.  I decided to try another of Jessica's provided recipes - Welsh Rarebit.  I have made this before but not well.  This time it was made with the excellent sourdough bread and I picked up some decent Tillamook Sharp Cheddar.  The cheese sauce was delicious.  All we needed for supper was the cheese sauce on toast and a small salad.  It was surprisingly satisfying.

Thanks to Jessica for allowing me to try out sourdough again - it was a lot of fun.  If you would like to try the sourdough or the Welsh Rarebit please check out the Daring Bakers recipe archive - you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Char Sui and Char Sui Bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Another chance at some Chinese cooking this month.  This is a two part challenge.  First we had to cook the Char Sui (a barbequed pork) and then we use the leftovers to create Char Sui Bao ( a filled bun ).  I love both of these so it sounded like a fun challenge.

The first part of the recipe was making the Char Sui.  It was a very simple recipe.  You simply marinate some pork tenderloin and cook in the oven or on the grill.  Since I am still pretending it is not winter here in Minnesota I decided to grill the pork.  The recipe does tell you to allow the pork to marinate from 4 hours to overnight.  I was only able to do 4 hours.  The pork tasted very good but I do see how it could have benefited from a longer marination time.  I made a bunch of this pork and loved using some of the leftovers for sandwiches.

A few days later I decided to tackle the Char Sui Bao with the leftovers.  The challenge provided recipes for baked or steamed.  I love these little buns but have never had them baked.  Not really sure how authentic a baked bao is but since I didn't really have the equipment to easily steam a bunch I decided to try them baked.  The dough is a yeast dough but only takes a few hours rising time.  They are real simple to put together - just roll out a small circle of dough and use it to wrap a small amount of pork filling.  I loved these - I won't say I liked them better than steamed but they were different - much more like actual bread than a steam bun.  Both good - just in different ways.

This was a great challenge - my only problem is how to get the red color out of my towels and off my cutting boards :)  If you would like to try out these recipes on your own check out the Daring Cooks recipe archive.