Tag Archives: All Purpose Flour

Raivas: Easy Cookies Because I’m Training

I’ll be honest with all of you, this week I’m finishing up training for the AthHalf race so my posts are going to be short and sweet. Today we’re making raivas, a Portugese cookie that, yes, is supposed to be kind of cakey. It isn’t what we in The States are used to, but they’re great for dunking in tea, coffee or a mulled wine. And they look really cool! Every recipe I’ve found for this recipe is exactly the same (with the exception that some called for 4 Tablespoons of butter as opposed to 5), so I’m going to give credit to the book that I first found it in: Nick Malgieri‘s A Baker’s Tour.

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Raivas

-2 cups all purpose flour

-1 teaspoon cinnamon

-5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

-1/2 cup sugar

-3 eggs

First, pre-heat the oven to 350F.

This is a pretty standard technique for mixing cookie dough: mix together the dry ingredients (in this case flour and cinnamon) and set aside. Next, whip the butter and sugar together until it’s nice and fluffy. You can do this by hand or with and electric mixer. Now add the eggs to the butter mixture and mix until they are fully incorporated (you’re better off adding them one at a time, trust me). Add the flour mixture and mix that just until it’s all in there. You don’t want to make too much gluten.

Now comes the fun part: Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. An easy way to do this if you don’t have a scale is to divide the dough in half, then divide each of those into thirds, then divide each of those into quarters. And there you go: 2x3x4=24. Roll each one of these bad-boys into a snake 20 inches long. I find you’re better off just using your fingers, when I tried to use my palms they got all smooshed. Now join the ends together and gently scrunch them up into a scrunched-up shape. Elegant, me. You can also make most letters pretty well, while you’re scrunching. Play around with it. When you’ve got one done, place it on a buttered or papered baking sheet and move on to the next. These only puff a little bit during cooking, so you can place them pretty close togeter. Leave about 1 inche between each cookie. Bake the sheets, one at a time for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating once mid-way. Remove to a cooling rack and serve with a nice, hot beverage. Check out the links to some other cool cookie recipes I found.

 

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Everybody Does a No-Knead…

No-Knead bread made the rounds online back in ’06 when Bittman made it famous writing for the New York Times. It wasn’t the first such recipe, but it definitely popularized the technique. Since then, there have been myriad variations and of course I have my own. I’ve also  experimented with combining this technique with a similar one I learned about in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, called pain a l’ancienne, which I’ll talk more about later.

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No-Knead Boule

-14 oz. or 2 1/2 c. all purpose flour (you know I love my King Arthur)

-2 oz or 1/2 c. Whole Wheat flour

-1/4 teaspoon dry yeast

-1 teaspoon table salt

-1 1/2 c. water

The mass appeal to this recipe lies in the high fiddliness to tastiness ratio. By which I mean, it’s really tasty and really easy. The only problem with this recipe is that you need a cast iron or enamal Dutch oven. A steel stock pot will not work.

Step one is just mix all this together, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 12 but not more than 16 hours. For some reason leaving it longer than 16 hours has a slightly detrimental effect on the flavor. UNLESS you want to let it go a solid 24 hours, in which case you can also employ the pain a l’ancienne technique by making the dough with iced water, and leaving it in the refrigerator for 12 hours then moving it to room temperature for another 12 hours. The advantage here is a more complex flavor due to enzymes and stuff. Try it out, it’s fun.

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12 to 24 hours later, you’re going to have a big, wet, bubbly mass of dough. It looks pretty thin, that’s alright. Using a rubber spatula, maneuver the dough onto a well-floured surface into a round-ish shape. I like to use the whole wheat flour for this, and I’m serious about the well-floured part, you’re better off using an extra couple of Tablespoons of flour than having the dough stick to the counter. Let is sit for 15 minutes, it’s not going to look any different afterwards, but the glutens will relax and the dough will be much easier to work with.

Run your fingertips under the edge of the dough to make sure it’s not sticking, then fold the dough into thirds like a letter. ‘Cause you know, that’s still a relevant turn-of-phrase. Now fold it in thirds the other way, so you have a nice looking ball. Do your best to brush off any major lumps of flour.

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Flour up a piece of fabric (butter muslin, a linen napkin or even a tee shirt, but not terry-cloth) which you can transfer the dough, seam side down, onto. Fold the corners up to loosely cover the dough and let sit 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Whatever you do, don’t let it get wider than the base of your Dutch oven. Speaking of which, put the Dutch oven in your oven now and pre-heat to at least 500F, or higher if your oven goes higher.

No comes the fun part. When the oven is heated and the bread is risen do these in this order:

-Unwrap the bread, make sure the edges aren’t stuck to the fabric.

-Take the super-hot Dutch oven out of the oven, take the lid off, leave the oven door open.

-Pick up the dough, with your hand under the fabric.

-Flop the dough, seam side is now up, into the pot. Shimmy the pot a little to center the dough. It’s fine.

-Lid on the pot, pot in the oven, shut the door, set timer for 20 minutes.

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After the first 20 minutes, take the lid off the pot and set your timer for another 20. Depending on your oven you may need 25 minutes, the bread is done when the crust is brown and crunchy.

Remove from Dutch oven, let cool to room temp, enjoy. Feel free to knock off any excess flour.

This bread makes a particularly excellent grilled cheese sandwich, by the way.

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Marbleized Shortbread

Shortbread was one of the original posts I wanted to do for this site, but it seemed a little too simple. I don’t want this to be one of those blogs that posts a recipe for scrambled eggs or a cheese sandwich. I’d considered perhaps posting two or three different recipes, e.g. Scotch, brown sugar, and chocolate to make up for the utter simplicity of them, but that still didn’t seem right. Yesterday it hit me all at once, marbleize the Scotch shortbread and brown sugar shortbread. It took a little tinkering to make sure the consistency would be the same for both, but I worked it out and am pretty pleased with the results. Right after I put it in the pan I realized that next time I make this I should make an Earth, or if The Missus has her way, Westeros. Break out a little food coloring and the possibilities are nearly endless.

Marbleized Shortbread

makes an 8″ round (12 pieces)

For Scotch shortbread:

-1/3 cup white sugar

-1 stick butter, room temp.

-1 cup all purpose flour

-1/8 teaspoon salt

For Brown Sugar Shortbread

-1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

-1 stick butter

-1 cup all purpose flour

-1/8 teaspoon salt

-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

I would suggest making the Scotch shortbread dough first so you won’t have to wash the bowl between batches. The technique for making each is the same, so I’ll just go over it once. Preheat the oven to 350F.

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Place the butter in a mixing bowl and whisk it good for at least one full minute, then add the sugar and continue whisking for another minute and a half. When the butter climbs the sides of the bowl, just scrape it down and continue whisking. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and salt just until it becomes a solid mass. Place the dough on a plate and start over with the brown sugar, don’t forget to add the cinnamon with the flour this time. For an even more dramatic color difference, you can substitute 1 or 1.5 Tablespoons of cocoa powder for the flour with no  ill effects.

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I baked mine in the 8″ cast iron, but if you don’t have a cast iron skillet you’re comfortable baking in you can use a glass baking dish of the same size. Shockingly, there is no need to grease the pan for this recipe. Take little hunks of both doughs and randomly distribute them around the pan.

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When you’ve got a pretty even distributiton, use your fingertips and gently press it down to make sure the height and density are even. Now use the back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass to smooth out the surface. Good. Now score it with a knife to make 12 pettiecoats (as they are called) and poke it all over with a fork. No one knows why.

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Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, turning about halfway through. When done, the edges will be browned, although the center may feel a little soft. Re-cut the score marks and let cool in the pan 15-20 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. The color will darken as it cools, serve at room temperature.

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Another Perfect Baguette

Never has there been a food with so many wildly different recipes, each of which is Perfect, as the baguette. A quick search online will yield recipes ranging from three to twenty-four hours, with two to twenty minutes of kneading and proportions of ingredients varying just as drastically. In French bakeries this is less the case as there are laws regulating the contents of the dough, but not the size or specific shape, of the baguette.

Of course, as home-bakers we are bound by no such legal standards and since the word baguette simply refers to the shape why not try a dozen different recipes and figure out which works best for your taste in your part of the world? That’s what I did, I learned a lot and had tons of fun. The recipe I’m sharing today most closely resembles Martin Ginsburg’s in Chef Supreme, a delightful cookbook assembled by the spouses of the Supreme Court Justices in memoriam of Mr. Ginsburg. I usually make this on a baguette pan, sometimes I’ll use one section of the dough to make a batard or boule which you can make on a regular baking sheet lined with parchment paper or dusted with cornmeal. Or a cast iron griddle if you’ve got one.

 

-1 lb. AP flour (I like King Arthur)

-1 teaspoon yeast

-1/2 Tablespoon fine grain sea salt

-1 ¼ c. warm water

 

Mix flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. This will prevent the yeast from clumping up, a common problem when you add the water to the yeast first. Drizzle the water all over the top of the flour mixture and stir until their is no dry flour, but it isn’t a proper ball yet. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.


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Stir the dough a little more until it starts to come together as a ball and knead for just 2 minutes. If you’re not familiar with the kneading process, here’s an episode of FOODLANDia, a public access cooking show I was on back in Iowa. I’m using a different recipe so the dough is more dense, but the technique is the same. The bit where I’m kneading is at 10:12. Also, don’t miss what may be the only hip-hop song about tea at 20:06.

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Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly and let rise on the counter for 2 hours. Afterward, flop the dough onto your counter, shape into a rough rectangle and cut into three equal pieces (each should weigh 8 1/2 to 9 ounces.) Shape these into balls, cover with a damp towel or oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

 

To shape each loaf, gently form a rectangle about 6” wide and 4” long. Fold it like a letter, the bottom third up, then the top third down. Create a trough with the edge of your hand, like I show in the video, then pinch it shut. Do this with each dough ball, replacing them under the towel when done. After the last ball is shaped, go back to the first and roll it out about 13”-14”. Start in the middle, moving your hands toward the ends of the loaf. For a batard, just keep it a bit shorter. After each loaf is formed place it on your pan or baking sheet, cover again and let rise about 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 475 now, so it has plenty of time to warm up.

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10 minutes before the final rise is finished, heat up a cast iron skillet on the stove until it’s very hot, then place it in the bottom of the oven.

 Use a razor blade or bread knife to slash each loaf on a sharp bias 3 or 4 times, about ⅛” deep. Then immediately put them in the oven and turn the oven down to 450. Wait 2 minutes, get out 2 or 3 ice cubes, open the oven, drop them in the cast iron and then quickly close the oven again. Set the timer for 22 minutes and don’t open the door until the timer goes off. When done, move the loaves to a cooling rack and let rest for 1 hour before slicing. If three are too many baguettes, wrap one in plastic and freeze. It will be fine. Serving suggestion: Cheddar and Branston Pickle sandwich.

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