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Archive for July, 2012

Semolina Bread

The recipe for this semolina bread is from Baking With Julia. It wasn’t what I was expecting…it’s more like a Ciabatta loaf. Since I baked the bread along with a group of blogging bakers through Tuesdays With Dorie, I was able to see how others turned out. Some were flat airy loaves similar to mine, and some were rounder chubby loaves.

The preparation includes a two-hour rest for the sponge, and two two-hour rising periods, so although the active prep time is minimal, you need to plan ahead and be around. The photos below show the sponge before and after resting, and the dough following the first rise. It’s pretty hot here in Philadelphia in July, so my kitchen was balmy, and this dough was very responsive, probably more than doubling in volume with each rise.

As I mentioned earlier, my loaf remained pretty flat. Even with extra flour added during the mixing, the dough was very wet and sticky, too soft to hold a rounded shape. After shaping, the second rise was more of a broadening than a rising. Slashing it seemed to deflate the loaf (and I used a very sharp tool specifically designed for slashing baguettes.)

Had I been expecting a Ciabatta bread, I would have been thrilled with the results. It was still very good bread, crusty yet airy and moist on the inside. The recipe is included in the blogs of Anna of Keep it Luce and Renee of The Way to My Family’s Heart.

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These biscotti are based on a recipe from Baking With Julia, contributed by Alice Medrich, with a few adaptations, some circumstantial, some deliberate. I had made the recipe a few months ago (for the Chocolate Truffle Tartlet recipe) substituting almonds for the hazelnuts with excellent results. This time I planned to use hazelnuts, but shopping at Trader Joe’s on Monday morning, the shelves were depleted of hazelnuts. Instead I bought a bag of mixed nuts and picked out the hazelnuts, which unfortunately yielded only about half the amount of nuts called for in the recipe. The header notes mentioned adding raisins or chocolate chips, and since I’ve been seriously into Nutella recently, I decided to go with the handful of hazelnuts plus chocolate chips.

The technique for skinning the hazelnuts consists of boiling them in water with baking soda, then draining and rinsing them in cold water. The boiling water really does turn black…hazelnut skins would probably make a good natural dye. And the skins really did slide off easily.

While the hazelnuts were toasting, I mixed up the biscotti dough substituting a half cup of whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour. I also used cane sugar which is a little coarser than white sugar. After toasting for fifteen minutes, the hazelnuts are added to the biscotti dough, along with the chocolate chips. The dough is then shaped into two “logs.” Mine were more flat and skinny than the chunky logs specified in the recipe.

The logs are baked for “exactly 35 minutes,” removed and allowed to cool for ten minutes, then sliced and rebaked on a cooling rack.

And the results? They were a little sweet for me…I think the added sweetness from the chocolate chips could have been offset by reducing the amount of sugar in the dough. I like nutty biscotti, so even with the chocolate chips, the full amount of hazelnuts would have made them even better. The recipe can be found on pages 315-316 of Baking with Julia or on the blogs of Jodi of Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina of Baking and Boys.

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I baked the Oasis Naan about a month ago. In the meantime, my daughter graduated from high school, and we’ve been busy with senior independent project presentations, awards ceremonies, commencement itself, house guests and parties. All wonderful, but preparing the naan is a distant memory. Here’s what I remember: it’s quick and easy to make, the rising time is adaptable to your schedule, it bakes in just a few minutes, and it’s tender and delicious, warm from the oven. The recipe is on pages 149-150 of Baking With Julia. It’s also included in the blogs of Maggie of Always Add More Butter, and Phyl of Of Cabbages and King Cakes.

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