Author Archive

Comestible Orange Goo: Making Purée from Fresh Pumpkins

2012-10-31 by derobert. 11 comments

A pumpkin, wrapped at its base in a towel, with a meat cleaver halfway through.

It is autumn again, and cooks and bakers go crazy about everything pumpkin. Cream of pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream – all of these start out with the same ingredient, a soft mash of pumpkin flesh. And as with so many things, the one you make yourself is much better than the canned version from the store. This raises the question: how do you make a truly concentrated and tasty pumpkin purée?

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Bread Hydration Experiment

2012-05-09 by derobert. 8 comments

Yeast being proofed, well-foamed.When you search out bread recipes—whether in artisan baking books or on the Internet—you quickly notice patterns: the breads with an open, irregular crumb are all made from very wet (high hydration) dough and the recipes commonly feature preferments, slow rises, a particular hand kneading technique, and carefully pouring boiling water into a very hot oven. But only the wet dough seems unique to them.

If you look around Internet (including our own site), you quickly come to the conclusion that the wetness of the dough is what gives rise to the crumb. For example, a random artisan bakery says:

The amount of water in a dough defines the type of bread it will make.

Looking in books seems to support that. For example, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice classifies breads based on their hydration, referring to the wet ones as rustic.

Can it be that easy? To get an irregular, open crumb, just add water? Sure, without all the other steps, it won’t be quite as tasty, but home-made sandwich bread even without those steps is still tastier than the supermarket stuff.

This calls for an experiment!

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