no knead

Everyone's got a version of no knead.  This is mine.  I'll annotate the images later.
(@tokatefromkate @twixlen @feedmybeast - next class?)

In a plastic container add water (400 g), unbleached white flour (500 g), salt (10 g), active dry yeast (I prefer Fleischman's, may not make a difference for this, 1 teaspoon), olive oil (or some kind of fat,  10 g).  Mix with spoon,  should be like a tough batter.  Place container in fridge for up to a week.

Remove from fridge and let warm a couple hours while still in container and then plop it out onto counter.  It will be a lot tighter than it went into the fridge.  Dust liberally with flour.

Pound out all the accumulated gas and fold into a loaf.  Plop into a pan that is lined with parchment paper (my paper should've been bigger and up the sides).  This pan should have a matching lid.  I used this pan from Amazon, it's perfect for this 2 lb loaf.  This pan is being used instead of the more pricey Baparoma steam pan and will work better.

Let rise an hour or two.

Cover pan, place in oven, turn on oven to 425F and remove after 40 minutes.  Boom! On cooling the exterior will crackle.  The microenvironment of the closed pan is what makes the rise / oven spring and subsequent cooling with crackling.

The crumb is lovely and the crust will vary depending on lots of things.  Just try it and keep trying it.  It's a great bread.  It might be one of the most fun loaves I've ever made.

So why is this different than anything else out there?

1. Ruhlman commented somewhere the beauty of Lahey's kneadless method wasn't the no knead, it was the cooking method.  A bread encapsulated in a pan using the moisture released from the bread itself as a self regulating bit of steam to get the surface gelatinized and browned.  I'm not sure where I read this, but the pan need not be preheated nor must it be cast iron.  A preheated cast iron pan is not the safest system either.  So, this method is a hybrid of all things convenient: no knead, no preheating, no cast iron.

2. The number of large loaves I'm going to make is next.  A small fraction of the grain bill, ca. 10%, of whole wheat tightens up the dough immensely.  It's really interesting.  I can't wait to try other additions: more shortening, herbs, cheese, crazy stuff.  I'm really letting my hair down on this.


Columbus Brew Adventures: Downtown Tour

I stopped brewing beer some time ago.  It was like baking bread while living in France.  Columbus is home to many excellent breweries leaving the enthusiastic beer drinker with a desire to explore.  Columbus Brew Adventures is in business to help.  I decided to try their Downtown Tour to start my education.

Our flight at Seventh Son

The tour was a blast!  We had about 14 in our party including a couple from Cleveland, a business traveler from Chicago and a bunch of locals.  This tour was on Saturday afternoon from 2 - 5:30 pm and comprised 4 stops:

1. Columbus Brewing Co. We started with a tasty flight of their popular ales including Bodhi, which  has been crazy popular since its debut.  Bodhi is going to break some kind of record in Columbus for popularity, very hoppy with a not too bitter finish.  That's all I'm saying, go try it.  We also got to enjoy a liberal selection of tasty treats from the kitchen, it was a fantastic brewery to get started with.

2. Barley's Brewing Co.  A personal favorite of mine for years.  I was excited to learn a lot more during the tour than I had visiting and sampling beers on my own.  We showed up and were shuttled to the basement (itself a rare destination) to see their shiny fermenters and receive our tasting from Angelo Signorino.  Angelo is a dynamic guy who is passionate about his beer.  His discussion of yeast and beer styles was worth the price of the tour.  His combination of organoleptic and analytical evaluation of yeast over more than 20 years in the business is impressive.

3. Seventh Son Brewing Co.  Next, our most capable tour guide gently herded his (more relaxed) flock to Seventh Son.  I've sampled their  American Strong Ale at Crest a couple times and couldn't wait for this stop.  It is a raw facility with the fermenters and cooker shimmeringly clean and juxtaposed to a wide open space where happy people enjoyed their ale.  Colin, their master brewer, walked  us through the brewing process (including giving us a nibble of some malts) and providing a representative flight of their brews.

4. North High Brewing.  They currently brew on a smaller scale than the other breweries we toured, but the equipment is located in the center of the bar!  In my experience, that's unique.  They also allow individuals to visit and brew their own under their tutelage and using their equipment.  A few more samples and some history of the building in Short North made this stop quite special.

I hope I haven't said too much; these tours are new.  I had such a good time and wanted to share some of the experience.  Our tour guide was informed, the duration of the tour very good and the pace was perfect, plenty of samples and snacks, I loved it all and look forward to learning about and sampling more of the brew scene in Columbus via the other available tours.


Extracting sugar from corn, to malt or not

Let's say one wanted to extract fermentable sugar from corn.  Is it worth it to malt it first?

I took 300 g organic feed corn and covered it in water for two days, drained it, kept it moist by rinsing it a couple times a day and allowed it to sprout (see image below).  Then, I spread the sprouted corn on the concrete floor of my basement for a couple days until the kernels lost most of their moisture and looked like they did when started (only with sprouts hanging out of them, I couldn't determine residual moisture).  I did not pull off the rootlets and ground up each batch using a corona mill.  I then ground up some unmalted feed corn from the same bag and infused each of them in 1000 g of 170F water.  I stirred both suspensions several times during the hour and filtered off the solids via mesh paint strainer bag with no rinsing of the grain bed.

malted corn prior to drying

Sugar determined by refractometer.
Malted: obtained 806 g of solution with 7.5% w/w dissolved sugar, 60 g sugar.
Unmalted: obtained 730 g of solution with 4.0% w/w dissolved sugar, 30 g sugar.

For some reason the unmalted absorbed more water resulting in a smaller filtrate volume.

Pretty big difference.  The malting takes a lot of time, but almost no effort.  If you need this kind of sugar for a project, I'd do the malting.  With unmalted corn, it could be cooked for a long time to get more starch out, but then it gets gummy and difficult to filter.  I simple infusion is operationally easier.


Carried through the streets with my soap on a rope medallion bathed in a ticker tape shower of CheezIts

Before the weight of the world came crushing down squarely on my shoulders, there was a time when I was fun and carefree.  High school in Summer,  I used to hang out at the beach from morning until 3ish - I worked 2nd shift at a greyhound racetrack.  All day long, a friend of mine, Rick Sanchez, and I would bask at the beach and bronze ourselves for the ladies.

Our precious stash of money was reserved for a Kelly's roast beef sandwich and if the opportunity was available, we'd steal more cash to get fries with that.  Mostly poor, our entertainment came from our own idle minds.  We'd crafted images of ourselves high atop the beach wall as sun gods wearing shiny gold medallions like kings.  In lieu of a gold medallion and perhaps fueled by a beverage we managed to find, or get someone to find, we believed soap on a rope would suffice.

Next to a Kelly's roast beef sandwich, CheezIts were our next favorite food on earth; we created scenarios in which the salty savory treat was society's currency.  We envisioned many poker games in Vegas and how we'd play our tasty chips.

Donned with soap on a rope, standing in the sun, elevated on the beach wall with a big  handful of CheezIts was an image we yearned for and reserved for only our most supreme accomplishments (getting into a bar under aged, conversing with the bikini-clad, etc.) and it's a vision I carry with me now that symbolizes a less burdensome time and a symbol of accomplishment.

Yesterday I baked, with intention, some crackly-surfaced breads: crisp, caramel colored, tasty, a work still very much in progress, but the result was worthy of celebration.



Having recently been a chaperone for a fifth grade field trip, I was able to learn more about the complexities of the lunch period.  In kindergarten and 1st grade the kids still comply with the no sharing/trading of food from their lunch.  As they mature they discover their lunch has value greater than they realized; e.g., lunch items can be used to "buy" M&Ms (or as Frankie called them enimens)!!

Knowing the difference between absolute and relative value of your child's lunch items is they key to your success when preparing these meals.

General Guidelines for the Kid Lunch
1.  Small items are good.  If the item is good, they get to eat some and trade some.  Smaller items are even better.

2. The food better look good.  One speck of fat shows up on a piece of chicken and it'll be as popular as anthrax.

3. Lots of items in a lunch is good, it's a kid's version of tapas and it goes for appetizers, main part of the meal and dessert (see tradeability above).

4. I use portion containers a lot, 2 oz *capped* are convenient and about 9 cents each.

5. Plain old savory snack bags:  chips,  CheezIts, etc. are like gold on the trading table. Never know, they may trade for something healthier. 

Suggestions (in progress)
1. Celery sticks and individual peanut butter dipping cups.  Kids will eat the celery and share dips, so this is where colds come from.

2. Little slider buns are great for any kind of sandwich, again, the tradeability factor is high, fill with:

  •  peanut butter and nutella (jelly will sog, so opt for a homemade uncrustable).
  •  Oscar Mayer has a really good real roasted, not extruded turkey, been a big hit this year
  •  FAT FREE ham, little bits of exposed fat are NOT good on kid ham

3. Biscuits with a honey to dip on the side. Biscuits have been a big hit this year.  I make them in the morning.  One for b'fast, two for lunch.

4. Chicken skewers.  This is easier than it sounds.  A few chunks of chicken breast (marinated/brined) on a short bamboo skewer, peanut sauce is available already made in an Asian market.  I make them the night before and fry them on the skewer in the morning.

5. Candy.  I often buy a couple boxes of theater sized candy at the supermarket and divide into portion cups (and hide them) for a small dessert.

6. Raw veggies and ranch is a great lunch.  Carrots, sugar snap peas, sliced jicama, celery, no cooking!

7. Beef / Pork / Turkey jerky!  My girl went through a big phase of this, but it didn't last long.  I think it inevitably became out of favor when the first kid said it looked like poo.

8. Rice rolls, or grocery store fish-free sushi.  These are a big deal with the more sophisticated kids.

9. Cheese!  A piece of cheese, some bread sticks, ham pieces and a raw veggie, not bad and easy to prepare.

10. Fried chicken drumsticks from the grocery store hot food section has been an intermittent success this year.  They get to room temp by the time they're eaten, yum!

11. I use cupcake papers to line a small container, and place cut meats, cheese and crackers in them to make a lunchable.

12. Nutella minis! These go with everything or they can eat them neat.

actual scene of an actual lunch in progress - it's crazy