Monthly Archives: March 2010

Kaiser Rolls

As soon as I found out that the traditional pattern on a Kaiser roll (or bulkie roll) comes from folding the dough, I knew I had to learn how to do it. That’s harder than it sounds for two reasons: It’s hard to find directions for how to do the folds, and it takes some practice to make the folds properly. These days apparently you form balls and then stamp them with a Kaiser roll stamp. Peter Reinhart, in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, recommends the stamp but shows a folding method that’s not the traditional one. Then I found a discussion on The Fresh Loaf in which one of the commenters, a retired baker named Norm, gave his recipe and tried to describe the process; later he put a video on YouTube. Here’s his recipe; my notes are in parentheses and I’ve paraphrased his directions:

Kaiser Rolls
(27 oz of dough, 3 oz dough per roll, 9 rolls)

salt ¼ oz (4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
water 8 oz (7 oz if using 1 egg)
eggs ¾ oz (or 1 egg [2 oz])
sugar 1 oz
oil ¾ oz
hi gluten flour 1 lb
cake yeast 1 oz (½ oz instant dry yeast [4 tsp])

Mix and knead the dough in a bread machine on the dough cycle or a in stand mixer with the dough hook (knead for 12 min)
Proof for 1 hour (or so) until doubled in bulk
Punch down and let rest for 20-30 min
Dust the bench with rye flour and form the rolls (see video)
Proof the rolls upside down on poppy seeds for 1 hour or until doubled
Bake at 450℉ for 20-25 min

Norm recommends King Arthur’s high-gluten flour, Sir Lancelot, which I get at the Harvest Coop in Central Square, Cambridge. This is a very stiff, dry dough, and to me, when it’s kneaded and ready to rise it feels like Play-Doh. Norm also recommends using steam for a crisper crust, but I don’t use it because we prefer a softer crust.

I’ve been practicing with Norm’s video, and I’m starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of it, except for that last fold where you tuck in the end.

Kaiser rolls, risen and ready for the oven

Kaiser rolls, risen and ready for the oven

They look a little lopsided; obviously I need to work on making my folds a little more symmetrical, too.


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Carrot Cake

We’re out of pie again, so today’s project is carrot cake, partly because it’s in the front of my mind from the Baker’s Banter blog a couple of weeks ago but mainly because I want to try making the little carrot decorations with marzipan. I used the Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake recipe but made it with 8 oz of whole wheat pastry flour. This could be a layer cake or a sheet cake; I went with the sheet cake but omitted the naked mohawk babies.

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Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I have this idea that I need to break out of the bread and pie rut, but we need bread and pie, so that’s what I’m baking today. Here’s my go-to whole wheat sandwich bread.

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

1 cup water (cold or room temperature)
1 large egg
¼ oz salt
1½ oz (2 T) honey or agave nectar
¾ oz (2 T) oil (any kind)
¾ oz (~⅓ cup) powdered milk
1¼ oz (~⅓ cup) Bob’s Red Mill flax seed meal
½ oz (⅓ cup) Bob’s Red Mill wheat bran
1½ oz Bob’s Red Mill wheat germ
1½ oz (~⅓ cup) Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten
8 oz (2 c by the sift-and-sweep method) King Arthur whole wheat flour
2 t instant yeast

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl; mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Salt and sugar count as wet ingredients.
2. Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients.
3. Turn the dough onto your work surface and use wet hands to knead it until it’s smooth and elastic. It’s very wet and sticky at the beginning; don’t add more flour, just keep working the dough. A bowl scraper helps a lot at the beginning. Once the gluten is developed, the dough should still be a little damp and tacky; if it’s too dry, it won’t rise very well.
4. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a towel, and leave it in a draft-free place to rise. The oven makes a good draft-free proof box.
5. When the dough has doubled in volume (about 45 minutes to an hour), punch it down, form it into a loaf, and put it in a 9×5 loaf pan.
6. Let it rise again until it’s about 1 inch above the top of the pan.
7. Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes.
8. Let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and put it on a rack to cool for a couple of hours or overnight.

To use a bread machine, add the ingredients in the order given and set the machine for dough. Then pick up with step 5.

To use a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl. Fit the mixer with the dough hook, add the wet ingredients, and mix on the second speed for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the bowl and knead the dough on the third speed for about 7 minutes. Then pick up with step 4.

Ingredients: Different brands of flour absorb moisture differently, which affects the finished product, so the important thing is to pick a brand and stick to it. I like Bob’s Red Mill, and I use Bob’s products except for wheat flour. I use King Arthur’s wheat flour. These are good products made by good companies. If you prefer another brand, watch your dough and adjust the amounts of water and flour if you need to.
Flour: If you don’t have a scale, measure the flour by spooning it into the dry-measure cup and then leveling the flour with a knife. The bakers at King Arthur want you to use the spoon to sprinkle the flour into the measuring cup; this gives about 4¼ oz of all-purpose flour or 4 oz of whole wheat flour per cup, which is what I’m looking for. The spoon-and-sweep method gives about 4.4 ounces of all-purpose flour per cup and probably 4¼ oz of whole wheat, a little more than I’m looking for in this recipe, but not disastrously so.
Yeast: Instant yeast, also called bread machine yeast, doesn’t have to be proofed. If you use regular dry yeast, add it to the water with a little sugar and flour to proof it, get the dry ingredients together, then add the rest of the wet ingredients to the proofed yeast. If you use instant yeast, add it to the dry ingredients.
Salt: Different kinds of salt have different weights per volume. It’s best to weigh the salt. However, you can use 1 tsp of Morton’s table salt, 1½ tsp of Morton’s kosher salt, or 2 tsp of Diamond Crystal kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal). Other kinds (e.g., sea salt) you have to weigh for yourself. The problem with table salt is the iodine, which some bakers think interferes with the growth of the yeast. You add salt to bread partly for flavor, partly to temper the activity of the yeast, and partly to help the bread brown.
Forming the loaf: I spray cooking spray on one hand and then rub my hands together before I handle the dough.

Whole wheat bread

Whole wheat bread


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Lemon Curd is the Answer

After the macarons had cooled, I used a little apricot jam to make a couple of sandwiches, and Dr. Science and I tried them. Too sweet! And I have a sweet tooth that would make a junkie proud. We tried the plain ones, and they were pretty good. The outside is crunchy and the inside is airy and little chewy, which is like descriptions I’ve read. It’ll be interesting to see how they turn out with properly pulverized almonds. I pulverized a bunch of almonds this morning in the (clean) coffee mill, so that’s ready to go. And now we have a bunch of these admittedly imperfect macrons that could be filled and eaten.

Obviously there’s so much sugar in the macarons that the filling needs to be something less sweet. These are unflavored macarons, too, so the flavored ones might take sweet filling. Anyway, what to fill the remaining ones with? And then I thought of lemon curd, which, in my experience, is so often the answer to a problem.

Meanwhile, we’re out of pie. How does that happen? Someone eats, it, I think. So now we have a win-win situation: We need a little lemon curd for macaron filling and we need pie. Plus I have three egg yolks left over from the eggs whose whites I used for the macarons. Win-win-win! So this afternoon I made the double batch of Julia’s pâte brisée sucrée and a batch of lemon curd.

Pâte Brisée Sucrée
(ingredients copied from Mastering the Art of French Cooking; directions paraphrased)
1 cup (3½ ounces) sifted all-purpose flour
A mixing bowl
1 Tb granulated sugar
¹⁄₈ tsp salt
5½ Tb fat: 4 Tb chilled butter and 1½ Tb chilled vegetable shortening
2½ to 3 Tb cold water

Whisk the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the shortening and butter, then add the cold water until the dough just holds together. Pat the dough into a disk, cover it with plastic, and chill it for at least 30 min.

I made the double batch of this, which is what Julia says you need for a 10-in tart shell, and she’s right.

Roll out the chilled dough, fit it into the tart pan, weight the dough, and bake at 375℉ for 20 min. Remove the weights and bake for another 5 min. Cool on a rack and remove from the pan.

Lemon Curd
1 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
a few grinds of sea salt
¾ cup lemon juice (3 large or 4 medium lemons)
1¼ cups water
3 egg yolks
zest from the lemons

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the lemon juice. Whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the water. Stir the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and boils; let it boil for a few seconds to make sure the cornstarch is cooked. This should take about 10 min. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest.

When the tart shell is cooled, pour in the lemon curd.

lemon tart and lemon curd macarons

Lemon tart and a few amateur's macarons filled with lemon curd

Pâte Brisée Sucrée. In Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961, p 632.

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Jour du Macaron

Today is Macaron Day in France. Who knew? I hadn’t even heard of macarons until recently, although apparently this is the new fad for “serious bakers.” David Lebovitz has a recipe for chocolate macarons with a nice discussion of technique, so I want to give it a try. I have all the ingredients; the chocolate filling strikes me as overkill, though. I’ve also found a plain version, which might be worth trying with the chocolate filling.

In fact, because I don’t even know what these things are (never having seen one in person, let alone tasted one), I’m trying the plain ones first. Right away we have a problem because I’m trying to pulverize sliced almonds in the food processor (with the powdered sugar), and the food processor just isn’t up to it. I have bits of almond, not almond powder, mixed with the sugar. This is supposed to be an acceptable method for pulverizing almonds. When I try this again, I’ll start with powdered almonds and see what happens. However, there’s no point in abandoning the project, so here’s the first tray out of the oven:

first tray of first-ever batch of macarons

First tray of first-ever batch of macarons

Some cracked but most didn’t, and some don’t have feet but some do. You can see the lumps of unpulverized almond. Here’s the second tray; these are also not perfect, but they look a little better:

Second tray of first batch of macarons

Second tray of first-ever batch of macarons

A few of these are cracked, but most aren’t, and the feet look better than they do on the first tray. There’s a school of thought that says you should let them sit out for awhile (the definition of awhile varies from half an hour to 2 hours), but another school of thought says get ’em right in the oven. The first tray went right in, and the second tray sat out for about 10 minutes. So the next time I try this I’ll give it 30 minutes and see if the feet look better.


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Best Concept!

Well, there was voting and I had no idea. My pi(e) (a)r(e) square(d) tied for best concept! The prize is this extremely cool Simple as 3.141592 t-shirt!

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Recipe Reviews

Nobody commented on the Irish soda bread, but it all got eaten. Either they liked it or they just wanted to try it. The real thing is different from what many people think Irish soda bread is: not white flour (usually), no fat or raisins or other add-ins. It’s a quick bread because it’s leavened with a chemical leavener rather than yeast. When we think of quick bread, though, we tend to think of something made with extra flavorings: sugar, spices, fruit, nuts. This is just whole wheat bread.

The second batch of Italian bread apparently was dead on. The Italian colleague who requested it liked it a lot and thought it came from an Italian bakery. The softer crust must be right, then. And it all got eaten, so it looks like making larger loaves was a good decision.

I did get a small slice of the chocolate stout cake. Dr. Science snagged one right after lunch. At that point, about half the cake was gone. Later, when he went into the kitchen, all that was left was the plate. One of his colleagues told him she doesn’t like chocolate cake because it’s bitter, but she really liked this one. Possibly that’s the dutched cocoa in the cake. I was surprised that it wasn’t obviously sweet. The cake (not including the frosting) is about 30% sugar by weight (28 oz of sugar in 95 oz of cake batter). It was dense and moist, definitely not genoise. I kept getting a faint impression of rye bread, which must’ve been the stout.

The blood orange tart is pretty good but not great. The crust is okay, but it’s kind of chewy. That’s the whole wheat pastry flour, of course. I’m just going to have to give up the idea of using whole wheat flour in pie crust. I love whole wheat bread, but white flour appears to be the right thing for pie crust. The curd definitely tastes like blood orange, but it might be too sweet, or at least not tart enough. For the next attempt I’ll try ½ cup of blood orange juice and ¼ cup of lemon juice, and stir in the zest, and see if that brightens it up.

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