Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ricotta Loaf

Ricotta Loaf
Photo courtesy of Elle from Pancakecroissants
This month the Bread Bible Alpha Bakers tackled the Ricotta Loaf. A simple and sort of quick bread to make. The ricotta gives the bread a different texture and taste which some of the bakers liked and some didn't. I was one of those who didn't quite care for it but it did smell amazing while it was baking.

Let's start off with Elle who took that awesome picture you see. I don't think it's quite fair that she has such a great little helper in the kitchen. Elle chose to do the free form version of the bread and I think it looks great. She also had a little help from her Mom, Vicki, who suggested making an aluminum boat to hold the ice cubes. Genius! Elle thought the bread was decadent and dipped it in Earl Gray tea with cream & sugar, of course.

Vicki, Elle's Mom described the loaf as not a fluffy yeast bread, not a dense tea bread but somewhere in the middle with a flavor all its own. She tried it with some lemon curd she just happened to have in the freezer. (Don't we all?) The bread was good, it's very good, too good with jam and even better with lemon curd.

The person who had the most help with the loaf had to be Patricia. Her daughter actually made the dough since Patricia had to teach a cooking class. After much struggling with the food processor, her daughter wound up kneading the dough by hand. She forgot the salt but they figured they could just knead it in when it had risen. The poor dough was tossed in and out of the refrigerator for 3 days just waiting to be baked. When it finally came out of the oven, it was beautiful. Also very tasty because it didn't last long.

My favorite post came from Marie. Remember, she's baked all these recipes once before. The second time around for this one was just as good as the first time. Unfortunately her food processor died but as Marie put it, for a good cause. The first time making it, Marie opted to not slather the bread with the melted butter, being health conscious and all. This time, butter! Her new motto - "When you're 70, you can do whatever you want to." The caveat to this is you have to actually be 70.

Our over-achiever of the group, Kim did some experimenting and actually made 2 loaves. Not really on purpose but rather because she started with the wrong flour. I've never done that before :( Anyway, she used both unbleached bread flour and unbleached AP flour. The recipe called for AP flour. I thought her experiment was cool and it seemed that the bread flour loaf rose higher, was heavier but had a more open crumb. Unfortunately, Kim didn't like it enough to make it again but the experiment was awesome!

Nancy decided to add a little extra butter but the food processor wouldn't have any of that. So Nancy had to knead the dough by hand. She thought the loaf had a lovely even crumb and wonderful flavor. I want to go to her house for breakfast because she had the best breakfast. Sliced ricotta loaf with leftover ricotta, arugula and a fried egg. Nom, nom!

Dense and delicious! Handsome? Why yes! That's what Catherine thought of the bread especially after the coat of melted butter. In my mind, butter makes everything handsome!

Kristina had my thoughts exactly. There are not a lot of photo opportunities when all the ingredients are white, more white and brown. Unless there is a pop of color - eggs! She thought the bread had good flavor and served it with butternut squash soup. That sounds mighty tasty.

Finally, Faithy thought the dough had moon craters in it. What a fun description. She thought it was a cross between a scone and bread. It tasted good but Faithy prefers a more fluffy, cottony bread that will last at least 2 days. Precisely!

So another month in the books. Next month it will be the Prosciutto Ring. A "meat loaf", hehe!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Touch of Grace Biscuits

Touch of Grace Biscuits
Photo by Patricia at ButterYum

Is it a biscuit? Is it a scone? Should it be sweet? Is it too tender? These were some of the questions asked by the Alpha Bakers this month concerning the Touch of Grace Biscuits. Rose's biscuits were inspired by Shirley Corriher whom she calls the Queen of Southern Biscuits. Heavy cream or buttermilk? Butter or shortening? More questions. I think it's safe to say that with all the questions about these biscuits that most of the Bakers liked them.

Of course they weren't without their problems though. Vicki liked the light texture and even made them into strawberry shortcakes. A little dark on the top but that adds texture, right?

Nancy wrote an awesome post comparing Shirley Corriher's recipe to Rose's recipe. No problems in Nancy's kitchen and she even made Cherry-Chambord butter to go with them.

This was the second time around making these for Marie. The last time was in 2006. How do I know this? She has a picture of the 10 year old bag of flour that she probably used the first time. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has out dated ingredients in my pantry. For Marie, the biscuits were hard to describe. Were they soft, fluffy, tender, too tender? All in all, she prefers the more traditional biscuits.

Patricia's came out just beautiful. That's why I chose her picture for the post. She described them as a little sweet but she opted for the cream instead of the buttermilk. Her final verdict? Pretty good!

A couple of the Alpha Bakers went a little above and beyond. Kristina made her own self rising flour. Rose gives a variation in the book for doing that. Although Kristina thought the biscuits were weird looking, they were tasty and didn't even need any butter. Catherine was one that was questioning whether it was a scone or a biscuit. She also made her own sour milk. I've always wanted to try that. She also liked them and served them as part of a (loosely) Middle Eastern spread. I want to have dinner at her little house on the prairie!

Faithy decided to cut the recipe in half and thought they were pretty good biscuits. She preferred them when they were cooled calling them "just right".

My favorite post was from Michele. She literally has a lot of grace in her life. Not just biscuits. Her grandmother, her aunt, her cousin, and her good friend are all named Grace. Wow! She described the biscuits like her cousin, Grace - tender, sweet without being sugary, a pleasure, and leave you wanting more. Great description.

I would also like to have dinner at Kim's house. BBQ chicken and biscuits - my mouth is watering right now. Kim appreciated the simplicity of the recipe and was able to use a very old ice cream scoop that was her grandfather's. She thought they were delicious!

If there were an award for baking not matter what, it would go to Elle. She just had a baby in April, an adorable baby girl. Having a baby wasn't going to stop Elle from making the biscuits. She might have had to concentrate a little more but had no problems with the recipe. Although the dough might have rested a bit longer than it needed to since there was an interruption called baby done with nap time. Elle thought the biscuits were scrumptious and her eldest daughter wants them again - tomorrow!

Another month in the books and I think it was a successful bake. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to make them since I was recovering from cataract surgery but they are definitely on my to do list. Next month we will be baking the Ricotta Loaf.