Monday, February 13, 2012

I love Cardamom

Cardamom (or cardamon) refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds. The word cardamom is derived from the Latin cardamomum. It is the third most expensive spice in the world, outstripped in terms of its market value by only saffron and vanilla. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. Cardamom is best stored in pod form because once the seeds are exposed or ground they quickly lose their flavor.


My dear friend Eliza made this Beetroot Cake with Cardamom Frosting with me. We picked beets from my garden and added more cardamom than the recipe specified. Yay!

Please Eliza, can you post the recipe?

Pain de Campagne

Days to make: 2
Makes 3 loaves of various shapes or numerous rolls.

Interesting facts about this bread:
This is a robust dough for creative shaping. It has a small amount of wholegrain flour (Wholewheat or Rye) and this gives the bread more character, flavour and colour that distinguishes it as a country style crust. This dough has a large percentage of preferment and this adds to the flavour.

1 ¾ cups white unbleached bread flour
½ cup plus 1 tbsp wholewheat or Rye flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup water, lukewarm
Semolina flour or cornmeal (polenta) for dusting

Remove pate fermentee from fridge and cut into 10 pieces.
Leave in a wide bowl to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Combine with the remaining ingredients and knead for 5-10 minutes, either with a dough hook in a mixer or by hand on the bench. Knead only as much as it needs. The ferment has to be incorporated well and the dough should be tacky but not sticky. It should pass the windowpane test (stretch a small golfball sized piece of dough between your fingers to see if you can create a thin, skin-like membrane without it ripping. This is like a window and it means the gluten has developed well.

Set the dough aside, covered, to double in size, approx 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C and prepare the oven (shelves and steam pan in place)

Shape into batards or rolls, brush with milk and scatter seeds on top.
Place on trays dusted with semolina or cornmeal, or on a peel to slide onto the baking stone.

When ready, open the oven and pour boiling water in the steam pan.

Place the bread in and close the door.
After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water.
Do this in 30 second intervals total 3 sprays.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Adjust trays if loaves are browning on one side.
Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes depending on the size* of your shaped loaves.

*For Baguettes or Rolls 10min, for larger loaves like Batards (wider, larger) 15min.

Loaves should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. This is important because the wholewheat flour needs to continue baking and evapourating moisture, otherwise the bread will be doughey. Once they are cool you can warm them up in the oven briefly for 5 minutes if you really like warm crusty bread (the crusts harden this way).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Carrot, Almond and Macadamia Tea Cake

125g grated carrot
3/4 cup almond meal
3 tbsp SR Flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 free range eggs, separated
90g raw caster sugar
1 tbsp honey
zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp juice, reserve extra juice
handful of macadamias (or blanched almonds or other nuts)

*optional extras:
lemon glaze (see below)
vanilla dusting sugar

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
Line a baking loaf tin with paper on bottom and sides
(tip; use a big piece and fold corners in so its like a basket).

Stir carrot, SR flour, zest, lemon juice, salt and almond meal together in a bowl.
In an electric mixer beat egg whites till stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a clean mixer bowl (or wash other one) add egg yolks, honey and sugar and mix till thick and pale.
Fold yolk-sugar mix into carrot mix. Then fold half the eggwhites in, followed by the other half.
Spread batter in the tin and scatter over nuts. Bake for 30-40 minutes till skewer comes out clean.

This cake was overly sweet when I first made it with 125g sugar. I reduced the sugar above and I still thought it needed some tartness. So, I suggest the following glaze:

Lemon glaze:
Add juice of 1-2 lemons, 1 tbsp zest and 1 tbsp honey to a saucepan and reduce to a syrupy consistency.
Pour over warm cake.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pate fermentee

 This is a pre-ferment for making great tasting bread the next day. Mix this up the night before and bake bread the next day for lunch. You can also use on the same day if you wake early. A pre-ferment's purpose is for improving flavour and structure.

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1¼ cup white unbleached bread flour
¾  teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
¾ cup water plus two tablespoons at room temperature

Stir everything together, holding two table spoon of water till last to adjust the dough if it is too dry. It is better to err on the sticky side. Mix with the dough hook on medium speed for 4 minutes or 6 minutes on the bench. Place in an oiled bowl and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour or until it swells to 1.5 times its original size.

Lightly degas the dough, fold over and return to bowl, cover and place in fridge overnight.
Keeps for 3 days.

Use for Pain de Campagne or Pane Siciliano.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pain a l'ancienne

Days to make: 2
Suggestion: start at 6pm, prove overnight, cook in morning for brunch or lunch.

Interesting facts about this bread:
The ice cold water used during mixing and the fermentation in the fridge delay the activation of the yeast until after the amylase enzymes have bengun their work of breaking out sugar from the starch. When the dough it brough out to room temperature the yeast wakes up and starts feeding on the sugars that were not there the day before. Since the yeast cannot convert all of the sugar available to alcohol and carbon dioxide, a reserve of sugar remains in the fermented dough to flavour it and caramelize the crust during baking.
This bread dough is good to make when you have a lot of people coming over because you can pre-make a few batches and leave in fridge until needed as it only takes about an hour to warm up for baking on a summer day.

6 cups white unbleached bread flour
1 ¾  teaspoons instant yeast
2 ¼  teaspoons fine sea salt
2 ½  cups to 3 cups ice-cold water
Semolina or cornmeal (polenta) for dusting.

Place half the water in a large bowl or bowl of your mixer.
Add yeast, flour and then salt. Mix with a spoon to bring it together slowly adding the rest of the water.
You may need to add a little more water depending on the 'thirst' of your flour. Australian flour is such good quality that I find I always need more water (up to 4 tbsp). Before adding more however, start the mixing to hydrate the flour properly. Mix on low with a dough hook for 2 minutes (or on the bench).
Add more water by the tbsp to make it tacky but not too sticky. It needs to be sticking to the bottom of the bowl while mixing but clearing the sides of the bowl in generally a large mass.

Once together, mix on medium speed for 6 minutes, or 10 minutes on the bench.
Immediately cover with plastic or lid and refridgerate overnight.

The next day, remove bowl from fridge and let come to room temperature for at least one hour or until it doubles in size from the previous day (it will have risen slightly overnight).
Next, position two oven shelves, place an empty steam pan in bottom and preheat to maximum temperature.
Lightly dust the bench with flour and place the dough on it, degassing as little as possible.

Decide what loaves you want to make.
This will make 6 nice long pain le ancienne breads.
Or, you can shape the dough into 4 baguettes, 24 small rolls, or 3 large batards. However these will take longer proving again as they must rise after the shaping.
For pain le ancienne form the dough into a rough rectangle and use a knife or bread/pastry cutter to cut the dough in half in the middle of the long edge. You should have two squares.
Cut three rectangles from each square.
Place two pieces of baking paper on two oven trays and dust with semolina or cornmeal.
Pick up each piece of dough gently by the ends and stretch it out lengthways as you place it on the paper.
It should be roughly as long as the tray. Repeat.
In the photo below I made square rolls, plaited and short pain a l'anciennes.
Open the oven and pour boiling water in the steam pan.
Place the two trays in and close the door.
After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water.

Do this in 30 second intervals total 3 sprays.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Adjust trays if loaves are browning on one side.
Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes depending on the size* of your shaped loaves.
*For Baguettes or Rolls 10min, for larger loaves like Batards (wider, larger) 15min.
Loaves should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

IMPORTANT: Allow the loaves to cool for at least 30 minutes to one hour.
They need to continue cooking. If you eat them right away they will be doughey inside.
During the cooling time they continue to evapouate moisture, and this intensifies the flavour. theya re also still gelatinzing (a chemical reaction when starch and liquid are heated and starch thickens, clarifies, becomes translucent or semi-opaque and solidifies to be solid enough to cut. This is why the bread will be doughey if you do not let it rest.

If you want to taste fully the bread itself, with all its subtle nuances, then cool it completely on a rack to prevent condensation on the bottom. This is the perfect bread moment.

Thereafter the bread will soon become stale (the day after).
The best way to store bread is to remove all air (wrap) and freeze.
Remove 2 hours before using and warm briefly in the oven to freshen.

This bread is lovely with an omelet and tomatoes