Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lazy Sunday baking...

I suppose I should be doing exciting things on the weekend, having excellent adventures north of the border, perhaps, especially as the exchange rate is FINALLY back in our favor! But work has been kicking my butt lately. Teaching seven classes is hard enough, but we're getting to that latter part of the semester when all the big projects are due, plus every "free" minute over the last couple of weeks has been spent advising students for spring semester. Whew! At the end of a long, exhausting week, I can usually muster up enough energy to go out on Friday night, whether it's to a concert or play or at least out to dinner with my friends. But once I get home, I have been putting myself on lockdown--under house arrest, if you will--until work starts again on Monday morning. I manage to do some necessary chores around the house, of course, but mostly, I just spend quality time with the critters, watch some flicks or read, catch up on email and blogging, and SLEEP! Part of it has to do with the weather. We had a cold snap for a few days, but lately, it's been warmer, yet blustery and rainy--perfect weather to just stay in bed under your cozy covers! But on Sunday, I start to get that itch to bake something. So after I get up and let the dogs out and get them fed, I try to get a baking project going before I become comatose again in the afternoon. ;-)

Last weekend, I decided to make some bread from King Arthur's website that looked really yummy. They called it a whole-grain ciabatta, but it's really not like a traditional ciabatta. It doesn't have that crackly-crisp, chewy crust, nor the characteristic open structure with large holes. But it does make two slipper-shaped loaves of grainy goodness. And I know it's a yeast bread--and an overnight recipe to boot--but it's really so easy, just lots of passive fermenting and rise time. These would be perfect loaves for your Thanksgiving table, and you would really wow your friends and family with delicious, homemade bread! I swapped out a half cup of my sourdough starter that I refreshed the night before for their starter, and I used all bread flour which necessitated an extra quarter cup of water to hydrate the dough properly, but I was rewarded with an excellent sourdough harvest grains faux ciabatta! (But I will cite the original recipe below, just in case you don't have any sourdough starter bubbling away in your fridge--then again, why don't you??)

Harvest Grains Ciabatta
(Source: King Arthur Flour)

Overnight starter:
1 cup white whole wheat flour (when I make this again, I will use regular whole wheat here)
1/2 cup cool water
pinch of instant yeast

all of the starter (above)
2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour, if you prefer)
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk
3/4 cup lukewarm water (up to one cup if using bread flour)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup King Arthur Harvest Grains Blend (or any whole-grained porridge would substitute)

1) Combine the starter ingredients and stir until cohesive. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to about 15 hours. The mixture will be bubbly.
2) Combine the starter with all of the dough ingredients except the Harvest Grains Blend, and mix and knead to make a very smooth, soft, very sticky dough. Using a stand mixer equipped with the flat beater paddle (I used the dough hook to no ill effect), knead for 7 minutes; the dough may or may not clear the sides of the bowl. Or prepare dough in the bread machine set on the dough cycle.
3) Once the dough is kneaded, add the Harvest Grains Blend, mixing just until it's well distributed. If you're using a bread machine, add the grains blend at the beep. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, add and knead for about 30 seconds, just to combine.
4) Place the dough in a lightly greased rising container (or leave it in your bread machine), and allow it to rise for 90 minutes, until it's doubled in size. If it's in the bread machine, remove the dough at the end of the dough cycle.
5) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half.
6) Shape each half into a 10" log.
7) Place the logs on a large, lightly greased (or parchment or Silpat-lined) baking sheet, leaving about 5" between them.
8) Cover and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until very puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
9) Spray the loaves with lukewarm water, and place them in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
10) Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Ok, if you just can't be put upon to make yeast bread, I have another great Thanksgiving idea for you, and this one couldn't get much easier, and everyone will love it! Years ago, I clipped a recipe off the back of a Duncan Hines cake mix and fell in love with it. But I haven't made it in a long, long time, until I saw the Neely's resurrect it on the Food Network recently, and I was reminded of what a great recipe it is. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the Sock-It-To-Me Cake! It's basically a pound cake with a pecan-cinnamon streusel filling that you fashion from a Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden Cake mix. If you can make a boxed cake mix, you can make this. And if you make it in a bundt pan and glaze it decoratively, your Thanksgiving guests will be duly impressed.

Mama Neely's Sock-It-to-Me Cake
Food Network)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

(I toasted the pecans and added a pinch of salt)

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (I cut this to one cup)
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice (if you don't like the idea of lemon, just use milk and a splash of vanilla)

1 package golden cake mix (not just yellow cake mix!)
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For streusel filling, combine all ingredients and set aside. Blend glaze ingredients and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, water, sugar and flour in a large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes with electric mixer. Pour 1/2 of batter into a greased 13 by 9-inch pan (I used a bundt pan to make it look fancier!). Sprinkle streusel filling on top and swirl the filling (careful not to over-swirl like I always do!). Spoon remaining batter evenly over filling. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (this took 45-50 minutes in the bundt pan). Cool in pan 25 minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Cool completely.

Combine sugar, milk and lemon juice in bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cake.


Unknown said...

I just made this whole-wheat ciabatta this weekend. Mine turned out just like yours: not quite the same amount of very large holes one expects from a white ciabatta, but that didn't hold us back. In fact, the loaf we took to a dinner party on Saturday night was devoured within 2 minutes, with even the picky eaters in the crowd looking for more. Thus, I can heartily endorse this recipe.

Randi said...

Give me some sugar Daddy( thats me channeling Mama Neely).

She so annoys me.