DIY Carbonator Cap

The worst part of brewing is bottling.  One solution is to keg, but an equally nifty alternative is taking your aged, flat beer and carbonating it.  It can age forever at room temperature.  When you thirst for beer: decant into a PET bottle, place cap on, chill and carbonate (feel free to take on the road, no need to let settle) - beats the shit out of a growler.

A Carbonator cap is pricey, about $15 plus shipping.  I saw this DIY on a YouTube vid but couldn't find the link again and built a few from memory.  They cost about $2.50 each and seem to work swell.  Hunt down a threaded auto tire valve stem.  I got a flashy chrome one for $5 per pair at an auto parts store.  Drill a 3/8" hole in any PET cap and add an air chuck to your CO2 tank.  Boom!  I usually put about 30-40 psi on a chilled liter of beer and it's good to go.  You should be able to get the gist from these images. (click on images to embiggen).


slider buns

I don't hate the 43g Schwebel hamburger bun,  but as a substrate for pork or little burger, it fails on many counts, the worst of which is it almost instantly disintegrates when exposed to a slight excess of moisture.  You'd think making your own buns would be easy, right?  Not really.  It's not just a squat piece of focaccia-ish bread.  That's certainly an option, but it looks terrible.  I wanted something with some lofty volume, soft inside and able to stand up to a moist burger or saucy bbq pork with coleslaw.

After playing with some variations, I came up with some desired specs: 2.5-3" diameter, an enriched dough but not nearly a brioche, say 15% bakers percent of fat - should give nice softness, sesame seeds on top and nearly vertical sides.  The last spec sounds odd, but I hate buns that simply spread out - they look like mini ciabatta, totally unacceptable for a 'merican slider assembly.

Recipe:  A little sweetener and fat as described above (maybe should've incorporated some egg, next time) should do the trick.
Size: I used the 43 g Schwebel and their ilk as a starting point for the size.  I like that size.  I ended up with a 60 gram dough ball which, after baking, turns into a 55 g roll.  This is a nice size for a bun.  One can also scoop out some middle to lighten it up if desired.  The Schwebel is puffier, but that's an industrial enigma, I'll never figure out and it may contribute to its facile disintegration.
Shape: The toughest part was the vertical sides.  I ended up used a packing strategy that enabled the rolls to rise and bake against each other.  This allowed the sides to be straight and  locked in some moisture during cooking and the appearance is cool.
These dimensions dictated 7 x 60 g units in a 9 inch diameter cake pan.

Here it is, Straight Dough: water/milk mix 180 g total (3/4 Cup), vegetable oil 20 g (1.5 tablespoons), butter 20 g (1.5 tablespoons), sugar 10 g (2 teaspoons), salt 5 g (1 teaspoon), yeast Fleischmann's instant active 7 g, unbleached white flour 300 g (2 1/4 Cups).  Mix, knead, let rise (I left mine in the fridge about a day), punch down and portion in 60 g balls, round them, place in parchment-lined cake pan, let rise until shown below (ca. 1 hour), glaze with whole egg, add sesame seeds, bake at 360F convection/about 12 minutes.

 This is BEFORE rising, let them proof until they are about 1/2" from touching each other.

 After coming out of the oven

 Spiffy vertical sides and soft.  Yum.

Another run with 70 g balls of dough (64 g after baking), my preference is the 60 gram rolls (pre baked weight). 


Slider buns

Straight dough: egg 50 g, water 130 g, butter 12 g, veg oil 30 g, salt 5 g, yeast, flour 300 g, 60 g each, yolk glaze w sesame seeds, 2.5" x 2.5", cut in portions prior to baking, baked against each other at 400F, about 15 min.


Big strides in the world of croissants (remember, this is my electronic kitchen notebook of sorts, this is a horrible post if you're looking for something fancy and bloglike)

I found a piece on the KAF blog recently called capturing butter heaven: making baker’s croissants which changed my life.  Some time ago, I took a class at @LaChatColumbus with the infamous Tad.  One particular instruction he provided was NOT to use too much flour between layers while turning (a turn is when the rolled out dough is folded into thirds, a lamination step).

Based on Tad's ethereal croissants, I can't argue with anything he says, but, from my own experience in long multi-step processes where the effect of each step is nearly impossible to isolate, such specific precautions are often derived from critical parameters.  And, in any experimental design, boundary conditions of critical parameters are everything!

The problem with my croissants has been a heavy and dense and my hypothesis was layers may have run together, broken due to something in the lamination process (too many layers, bleeding of butter between layers, etc).  I couldn't help think of Tad's precaution NOT to flour excessively between layers.  Having scrupulously eliminated flour dusting during lamination and seeing my results get worse with each try, I started to search on this phenomena and this KAF piece came up.

In this preparation flour is incorporated into the butter pat that gets folded into the dough to stabilize it, keep it from running out during baking.  The author makes a point of differentiating home baking from a bakery where a sheeter would be used.  Carrying this further, why not butter between layers (makes rolling MUCH easier) and maybe this would help keep layers separated until the final oven blast.  There are other things discussed in this piece, but that's what I latched onto.  Not sure if that's the *trick* but things are going well. Croissants are the result of a zillion steps, but there are so many rests, it's actually a great dough for a busy morning.  It's made the night before, final roll and makeup in the morning, quick bake, boom!  Up at 5:15, out the door by 7(ish).

I'm babbling because I'm excited.  I posted this to validate a great croissant tutorial.  My prep is pretty close to this with a few small things left to work out, if you want to make croissants, read this piece, it's well done.  Here's some action shots of the past couple mornings.

 Baking ham and cheese, nutella and even marshmallow fluff filled (Scoops got the marshmallow one, ick)

 Final ham and cheese, nice blistered surfaces, pretty light.

This morning's 400 gram run, rolled into 8 x 12", cut into 8 x 50 g traditional croissants.  To me, they were an 7-8/10, I only sampled 1 and was so excited, I ran around C'ville and gave the rest away.


Crest (do I have to say it?) Gastropub

My tortured interpretation of the word Gastropub is a portmanteau of something to do with gastric upset and pubic something or other.  I hate the name.  I am offended that a bar with the name Crest, that Craig Dupler tended so proudly, is juxtaposed with it.  /rant

I will miss the open Jazz on Monday nights, a more casual jam session early evenings on Tuesday, the dart teams, Frankie playing pool on their table, my dog being allowed to sit by my stool while I sipped a pint and getting to know some locals; a large portion who grew up within blocks of the bar and I'll miss the bartenders who did more than sell drinks. 

I wanted to hate it. I visited the other night with @FeedMyBeast.  After loosening up and finding a seat at the bar, at approximately the same coordinates I used to sit, I found it easy to accept.  Good food, good drink, happy people.  Crest looks like it will continue to be a communal place to meet friends, eat, drink and be merry in the center of the area I enjoy calling home.  It's different, but it's good.