02 August 2010

Birthday Spoils

Last night I had folks over for a birthday gathering.  I'll be turning 30 this week, so what better way to celebrate by eating carb-loaded and caloric foods!  As always, I baked .  Saturday morning, I started working on half of my project.  My first task was to bake a couple loaves of ciabatta, which turned out to be more work than I had planned.  Searching through The Fresh Loaf, I found a great recipe, which is actually fairly simple and easy to master.  The only thing I was lacking was instant yeast, so I used active dry.  I made 3 batches.  During the first batch, I failed to follow instructions.  I mixed the hell out of the dough too soon without allowing the yeast to sit and create some nice CO2.  The second batch wasn't too bad but was slightly shapeless and slightly overcooked.  The third batch was just right.  The dough was good, the baking time was good and I remedied the shape by baking it in a 9"x13" pan with a foil divider in the middle to create two same sized loaves.  Perfect.

Then, as thought that wasn't enough, I made a baguette starter on Saturday night to be finished on Sunday morning/afternoon.  I ended up with 3 baguettes and they were delicious.  I am going to use some of the leftover bread for fondue!  Yay!

And lastly, as part of my cookbook testing duties, I made Elephant Ears.  They were delicious and a huge success...and also a huge pain in the ass.  Elephant Ears are made from puff pastry, and this recipe included a Blitz Puff Pastry recipe.  Generally, puff pastry creation is long and tedious, but this wasn't too terrible in comparison.  It did take me quite a while and the pastry dough itself was very strange to work with.  I ended up with a triple recipe, so I froze to sheets.  The dough for Elephant Ears is rolled out onto a heavily sugared surface and then rolled up to look like palm fronds or elephant ears!  Lovely.

The birthday gathering was a blast.  Lots of great food and lots of great people!

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