Farmhouse White Bread

I learned a lot in my early cooking days from watching the Food Network. Now I try and shy away from featuring recipes by stars on the Food Network. If I am going to borrow someone’s recipe, it should be a fellow blogger. I picked up this book, The New Midwestern Table
, while visiting a friend with no clue that it was a Food Network personality. This book is nothing like what you see on TV, it is eclectic and a truly fabulous read. The stories about each recipe are fascinating and inspirational. I love that the food turns out so well because this collection of recipes is a fabulous tribute to regional American cuisine from the Midwest. We have not had a bread recipe on the blog in some time, despite our anti-storebought-bread persuasion, so I think we are due.

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I do have a confession. My white bread recipe sucks. All the trial and error to perfect that white bread, and I can’t stand it now. I loathe the day that I ate the bread from a Mennonite bakery nearby. My bread does not hold a card to the fluffy, rich, perfect loaves. I actually never bake white bread anymore, I am only baking the honey oat bread. So I am back to the drawing board. I really don’t know how they do it, maybe I could ask the mennonites to take me under their wing and teach me the ways of their bread baking. I found this recipe in the book, The New Midwestern Table. I figured an old family recipe may be just the jumping off point for my new white bread. This bread is incredible!

A note on the potato water… I know it sounds weird. But there is something to this! When you mix the yeast with the sugar and the potato water, it just starts raging with foam. There are a million ways to use the potatoes when you are done. You can easily make mashed potatoes or potato salad, but I recommend starting with finely chopped potatoes and making Chicken Pot Hand Pies (recipe coming soon!). If you have read the Potato and Onion Buns post then you are probably starting to understand my obsession with recipes within recipes and doubling anything and everything. I think it is my day (and night? and all the freaking time) job as an ER doc that encourages this behavior in the kitchen. At work I am looking for any possible shortcut so that I can just save 30 seconds of time. A large amount of my free time is spent in my kitchen. I love cooking and baking and the process is my stress reliever. I work insane hours and so I understand the time crunch that working home chefs face. I try to intertwine these recipes so that you can read 3 blog posts and have inspired meals for an entire week. This bread is worth making and the step of boiling potatoes may seem too time consuming. But these potatoes are a side for dinner tonight or an ingredient in a more complex recipe tomorrow.

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Farmhouse White Bread
Makes two loaves

1 large russet potato, approximately 2 lb, cubed
2 1/2 tsp yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted
2 tsp salt
7 cups bread flour
Canola oil to oil the bowl

Place the potato cubes in a saucepan with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. Drain, reserve 3 cups of the cooking water.
Place 1/4 cup of the potato water, a pinch of sugar, and the yeast in a small bowl. The yeast should foam up (like crazy in my case) in about 5 minutes. Allow the rest of the potato water to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining 2 3/4 cups potato water, the melted shortening, 3 tbsp sugar, the salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Whisk until smooth. Add the proofed yeast mixture and 2 1/2 cups of the flour, and whisk again until smooth. Place the bowl under the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead with dough hook for 8 minutes. Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups flour, cup by cup. The dough will begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough springs back when touched.

Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and allow to rise until doubled for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and leave it to rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Grease two 10x5x3 inch metal pans with shortening. Stretch out and roll up each piece of dough to fit the pans. Coat the top with some melted shortening. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until the loaves are dark golden brown and sound hollow, 45-50 minutes.

Recipe adapted from The New Midwestern Table.

BLT Salad

I have been making so many good things lately that I have 10 blog posts / recipes in progress right now. My brain has been very overwhelmed with the incredible flavors of summer. We are also coming up on one year of blogging at the Bubbly Kitchen which is oh so exciting! I think you guys may be getting tired of complicated multiple step recipes, fancy wedding cakes and cookies, and bread recipes. So lets press the easy button and sooth our aching backs with a simple BLT salad. Remember when you doubled the bacon in your potato and onion volcanoes, the caramelized onion and gruyere pizza, and your french onion soup? Well here is a sort of healthy way to use that extra bacon! I love taking salads to work for lunch because of these amazing GladWare Food Storage Containers. There is a separate little tupperware for the dressing that plugs into the lid, no soggy salad and totally easy transport. This is also a really great salad for summer barbecues. It is an amazing way to include some of those fresh tomatoes from your garden. I like ranch dressing with this salad but you should use whatever sounds good to you. So this maybe should be called a BLT-M because of the cheese. You can definitely use whatever mozzarella cheese you find at the store, I like to buy fresh Belgioiso pre-sliced mozzarella. You can even add in some homemade croutons if you so desire.

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BLT Salad
Serves 2

2 cups romaine lettuce
1 fresh tomato (or 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes), chopped
4 strips of crispy bacon, in pieces
3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Ranch dressing

Start by chopping up the tomatoes, bacon, mozzarella, and eggs. Toss these with the lettuce. Toss with the ranch dressing. Yes it is that easy.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Potato and Onion Volcanoes

To celebrate the one year anniversary of Bubbly Kitchen, I have a very special recipe below. Yes, you may look at all the steps and details below and wonder, wtf is she doing. But this recipe is really quite simple and the results will blow your mind! See here for the details on how they make the volcanoes. I have eaten this in NYC at Momofuku Milk Bar and it is as amazing as it looks. The next best thing to eating these buns for dinner… eating them for lunch at work and seeing the jealousy on everyone’s face. They reheat beautifully in the microwave. This is a great weekend project and will impress any guests you have for lunch or dinner. We will start this recipe like so many here at Bubbly Kitchen… frying bacon! And then we will caramelize our onions in this, our favorite thing! I like to fry plenty of extra bacon and caramelize double the amount of onions, which I encourage you to do as well. Stored in the fridge you will have the makings for an insanely good pizza or delicious burger toppings. Because there are a lot of steps here, making double just makes sense. It seems like all the magazines these days are all about “5 ingredient dinners” and “quick 30 minute meals.” I enjoy a recipe for a quick weeknight meal as much as the next food blogger… but my absolute favorite thing are recipes that I can turn into multiple days of different lunches and dinners. Make all the ingredients one day ahead. The scalloped potatoes are so amazing. So double the potatoes and serve that aside the burgers/steaks/chicken you are having for dinner the night before you make your buns. Store the potatoes or caramelized onions in the fridge for up to 3 days before making your buns.

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The recipe below makes about 6 volcanoes depending on how tall you manage to stack the potatoes in there. The Momofuku Mother Dough recipe will make approximately double the dough you may need. In case you want to be a little bit nuts like myself: make double the bacon, onions, and potatoes then make the buns until you are tired of making them. I was very generous with my dough and used more than half. There is some room for error here so do not fret! The dough itself is super simple and a great basic recipe. The book includes a number of other uses for this dough… bagel bombs (coming to the Bubbly Kitchen in due time) and a cinnamon bun pie that looks insane! If you are looking for another classic cookbook for your shelves, definitely buy Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi. This book is jam packed with incredible recipes for desserts and other treats. I probably only buy 2-3 cookbooks every year. I try so many recipes that I find online and when something is just so fabulous, I will buy the book that it came from. I also prefer cookbooks that contain foul language from real people. The story of Momofuku Milk Bar is a page turner. There are fabulous details about ingredients, kitchen equipment, and technique in this book that cannot be found anywhere else. The cookies, cakes, and pies in here will captivate you.

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Caramelized Onions and Bacon

5 slices bacon, sliced into one inch pieces
2 large spanish onions, halved, sliced thinly
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook until the bacon renders its grease. The bacon will cook more in the potatoes so it should be slightly soft, avoid crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl with a paper towel liner.

Reserve 2 tbsp bacon grease in the pan. (If you are vegetarian or do not have enough bacon grease, use vegetable oil.) Toss the onions into the bacon grease until they are all evenly coated. Cook for 3 minutes and then sprinkle with salt. Decrease the heat to medium-low and allow the onions to caramelize for 35 minutes, tossing with a spatula every 5 minutes or so. (Here is where I start work on the potatoes.) The onions are done when they are a deep golden brown. Remove to a bowl.

Scalloped Potatoes

1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
4 oz heavy cream
3 oz milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
3 oz cooked bacon
2 russet potatoes

Smash the garlic clove with the back of your knife. Place this smashed garlic in a small saucepan with the bay leaf, cream, milk, salt and pepper. Heat over medium until the liquid comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow the spices to steep for 30 minutes.

Peel the potatoes and slice extremely thin, less than 1/8 inch (basically as thin as you as a human home chef can make them.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the sliced potatoes in an 8 inch square baking dish. Layer them in the dish like shingles, scattering pieces of bacon throughout. Remove the spices from your steeped cream with a slotted spoon. Pour the cream over the potatoes.

Bake for 45 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool the potatoes in the fridge with foil covering them and something heavy smashing them down.

Momofuku Mother Dough

550 grams bread flour
12 grams kosher salt
3.5 grams dried yeast
370 grams or 1 3/4 cup water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the flour, yeast, and salt. Mix together with a spoon and add the water until the dough forms a shaggy mass. Mix with the dough hook on low speed for 3 minutes. Scrape the edges of the bowl and mix for 4 more minutes. The dough should spring back when pressed lightly.

Grease a large nonreactive bowl with vegetable oil or butter. Place the dough into the prepared bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, allow to rise for 1 hour.

Potato and Onion Volcano Assembly

1 cup grated cheese (mixture of gruyere and white cheddar)
1 egg
1/2 tsp water
1/2 recipe mother dough
Scalloped potatoes
Caramelized onions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 approximately equal pieces.

Stretch each piece of dough out to an 8 inch circle. Sprinkle some cheese onto the circles of dough, then divide the onions among the dough.

Cut the potatoes into portions of 3-4 inch squares and remove each with a spatula. Place a square of potatoes on each dough round. (See images from Serious Eats in the link above for more details.) Pull the edges of the dough to the center, covering the potatoes and onions, and pinch the dough together, forming a ball. Turn the ball over and roll between your hands to make an even shape. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between the buns.

Make an egg wash with the water, egg, and a whisk. Brush each bun with a generous coating of egg wash. Using a very sharp pairing knife, cut a 1 inch X in the top of each bun. Divide the cheese among the buns, stuffing the cheese into the X.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar.

Macarons

I am sure you are wondering how many egg whites were thrown away last weekend to prepare the massive amount of french buttercream for the wedding cake / cupcakes not to mention the chocolate custard and other such egg yolky components. The answer is none. They were all placed in freezer bags. Sometimes we like to pretend to be healthy and have egg white omelets (bacon, cheese, and egg whites mind you) but mostly I like to use these egg whites for desserts. Meringues, pavlova shells, certain fluffy cupcakes… but today we will consult Thomas Keller for his chapter on Macarons in Bouchon Bakery. I have eaten these iconic macarons in NYC and Napa Valley. They are insanely delicious and can be made in a variety of eye catching colors. I am having thoughts of red, white and blue macarons for the 4th of July. The tricky thing about macarons is the batter consistency. It must be thin enough to smooth out the tops of the cookies but thick enough to hold its shape. If you have questions about beating egg whites and are unsure what soft vs stiff peaks are, here is a nice video. This is the reason why you absolutely need to use a kitchen scale, it is the most accurate way to measure the ingredients for this delicate batter. There are actually two methods to make macarons, there is an amazing diagram here comparing the Italian and French techniques. I encourage you to take a look at this before following the recipe below.

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You will need almond flour for this recipe. It is a bit expensive but I have found it is the most reasonably priced at wal-mart. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill Flour Almond Meal but not all wal-mart locations will carry this, luckily it is available on amazon. You should invest in almond flour for your pantry, it truly changes the quality of tarts and other pastries. And when you decide to take the plunge and start baking from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, you will def need the almond flour. You will not regret it! We are actually learning together today, I have never made macarons. But I just did it and they are fabulous! I filled mine with leftover lemon mascarpone buttercream but I have some seedless raspberry jam as well. There are some great combinations and recipes in Bouchon Bakery for lemon buttercream and lemon curd, also raspberry filling. I am definitely planning on making the raspberry macarons sometime soon but for now, just use whatever you have on hand like I did today! Fill your macarons with some tasty jam or buttercream you have stored in the freezer. If you don’t have egg whites in the freezer and you are wondering what to do with those yolks, please I beg you, make the Robicelli’s Buttercream.

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Macarons

212 grams almond meal
212 grams powdered sugar
82 and 90 grams of egg whites, divided
236 grams of granulated sugar
158 grams water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment and trace two inch circles, leaving one inch of space between. In a large bowl combine the almond meal and confectioner’s sugar, whisking to break up any large clumps. Pour the 82 grams of egg whites into this bowl and mix them in with a spatula.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water, cook over medium-high heat with a candy thermometer in place (or be very careful and use a thermapen, frequently checking the temperature). Place the 90 grams of egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. When the temperature is around 200 degrees, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites in your mixer and whip on medium speed. Whip until they form soft peaks. If you see soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 degrees, turn the mixer down to low and keep them moving. Prepare to move quickly when the syrup reaches the target temperature.

When the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove from the heat and increase the mixer speed to medium. Pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow and steady drizzle until it is all mixed in. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip the meringue until stiff peaks form, it will look very glossy (kind of like when you make buttercream). Add in any coloring at this point, use gel color if at all possible.

Take one third of the meringue and fold it gently into the almond flour mixture with a spatula. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue in small amounts. The batter will be very smooth so that after piping the surface texture with smooth away.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plan half inch tip. Hold the bag perpendicular to the prepared baking sheets and pipe the batter into the traced circles.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and decrease the heat to 325 degrees. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until the tops are smooth and set and the macarons have feet underneath them. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Repeat the last two steps until all the batter is baked. Bring the oven temp back to 350 degrees before you continue baking the rest of the cookies. Store them in an airtight container, they may even taste better tomorrow after sitting overnight. Match the cookies up by size and pipe your filling with a plain tip (or just place the filling in a ziploc and snip off then end).

Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery.

Lemon Pound Cake

We had an extremely successful wedding last Saturday and were delighted to be a part of Allison and Tyler’s beautiful day! The reception was gorgeous, the food by On the Square in Tarboro, NC was absolutely wonderful. And I don’t think these cupcakes could have been any better! This wedding project definitely required some R&D. I have experimented with many cake recipes. I have found the absolute perfect recipe to make a giant cupcake cake topper for weddings or bridal showers.  For cake molds like the Wilton 2105-5038 Giant Cupcake Pan it is best to use a denser cake like pound cake. This lemon pound cake is exquisite and perfect for weddings, bridal showers and summer parties! Using this giant cupcake mold is actually super easy. The key is adequate butter and flour. 20140603-105211.jpg 20140603-105607.jpg
This cake is insanely good on its own (or with a lemon glaze) but I frosted this with the Robicelli’s French Buttercream for the wedding. I honestly had to troubleshoot this buttercream a little bit and there were a few moments of panic. I had the buttercream in the fridge for a few hours which is what started off the trouble, I then added the mascarpone which I think broke the butter cream. Lots of whipping with the kitchenaid and one stick of thinly shaved cold butter later, and we were back in business.  Below you will find a recipe that makes two 1 pound loaf cakes. This recipe easily filled the Wilton giant cupcake pan.

Lemon Pound Cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Zest of 6-8 large lemons
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your two loaf pans or the giant cupcake pan. Be generous and make sure every surface is coated.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 5 minutes. It should be very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time while mixing on medium speed.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt, set aside. In a measuring cup mix together 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup butter milk, and vanilla. With the mixer running on low, add in the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, alternating. Begin and end with the dry mixture.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pans or giant cupcake mold, smooth the tops with a knife. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Use a sharp knife (or your thermapen thermometer if you have one) to make sure the cake is done all the way through. You may need a few extra minutes if using the giant cupcake mold.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.