Photos shot in and around Vancouver in 2010
These baguettes were an exquisite success, all thanks to a wonderful (normally considered quite blundery) oversight on my part during baking.
I had put the oven on 260℃ and put in a pyrex oven tray with water to set up the steam for baguette baking. However, once enough steam had developed I left the tray in the over instead of taking it out, and simply placed the baguettes on the rack directly above the tray.
Of course, at atmospheric pressure, water can only reach 100℃ and so the underside of the bread never got much hotter than that (there was of course some creep-heat because the baking tin conducts heat from the sides, but that's a marginal effect) while the rest of the surface got the full 260℃ blasting.
The result is actually what can be described as "precut baguette" and I love it!
This is the awesomest mistake I think I have made in the kitchen to date... and might just herald in a new age of sub-making =D
However, do bear in mind this only works with high-hydration dough. Firm dough will not do this (and you will end up with failed bread)
This is a carrot and onion focaccia, made after I was wondering what to do with the vegetables that were left over making the soup for a risotto (which didn't work out... we used sushi rice, which normally actually works just fine. This time round, it very much did not).
Anyway, let's move on to the recipe. This is a two-day thing.
1) Making some stock
- a liter of water
- four big carrots
- one fist-sized or slightly larger onion
- thyme, oregano, basil, dragon, sage, whatever other "italian herbs" you want, really.
- some salt and pepper
Heat the water, cut up the carrot into smallish chunks, cut the onion into a couple of rings (I like to do them 1cm thickness but it's a meaningless number =), chuck them in the water, and boil it for a while with the herbs and the salt and the pepper. If you're using freshly ground pepper, realise that the soup will get more peppery than if you just consume the ground pepper on something dry, because the water will draw out all the peppery goodness.
Once the stock is done, drain the water, use for ... something, and set the vegetables aside in a container of some sort. We'll use them tomorrow.
2) Making some focaccia dough
This is the main reason the recipe spans two days, because you need to have a light, fluffy starter dough sitting around. If you don't, you have to make this today, then use it tomorrow. If you do, jump straight to the main event.
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of water
- .5 tbs yeast
- .5 tsp salt
- 2 extra cups of flour
Mix the yeast with a bit of water until it's "dissolved" into a uniform liquid. mix the salt into the flour, and then pour the yeast plus the rest of the water into this, and start mixing. I don't really care how you mix it, I use my hands. Start adding in the additional flour until the dough's clingy, but lets go from things when you pull it off... so... this is technical stuff.
Let this dough sit for a day. It will become stickier because the dough will slowly hydrate throughout, and that's fine. Light fluffy starter is good.
2b) The actual dough
The actual dough will be made with the starter, plus some fresh things.
- starter dough
- the carrot/onion mix
- 2 new cups of flour
- half a cup of nice tasty oil
Let's pause for a moment. This is essential. If you want tasty focaccia, you stick in tasty ingredients. So get some nice olive oil, or some high grade pressed seed oil.
On with the breading: mix the starter dough and the oil, then mix in the flour. once it's nicely homogenised, work in the vegetables. Since the veggies are pretty mushy by now, you don't want to work the dough too much after this.
Place dough in a (lightly oiled) tray for rising, and leave for an hour, or 4, depending on how warm or cold it is (you can't rush dough, unless you have a proofer).
When nicely risen, heat an oven to 260℃/500℉ (if it will go that high, although anything over 220 will technically do the trick... just much slower). Flip the dough onto a baking sheet, dimple it with your finger tips in that typical focaccia dimply pattern, and load it into the oven. At 260℃ it will take between 15 and 25 minutes to bake, depending on how squishy you like it.
I stopped baking after 15, and then cut it up and froze the pieces, because that way you can finish baking them at some later time while retaining the squish. Squish good. Firm nice, squish better.
These are technical terms. Enjoy your focaccia =D
This is a much firmer dough than the previous batch, and don't respond well to the same trick. In fact, they don't respond at all.
Which I discovered by trying to do the same trick and failing. I had to put them back in the oven and finish baking them at 180 for an extra 10 minutes! O_O
An in between 'napolitan' and standard pizza (if you live in Chicago, not your standard pizza. The rest of the world's).
The dough is really easy. Three cups of flour, a liberal splash of oil, 3/4th of half a tablespoon of yeast, a little bit of salt, enough water to turn it into dough, a little bit more flour because you put in too much water, and time to make it all rise.
after initial rise, punch down, cut in three pieces, roll out as pizze, let rerise for about half an hour to an hour, and decorate with your favourite toppings.
We used a tomato base (made the day before because we had loads of tomatos), chopped onion and garlic, some sausagy meat (bologna for me, fake meat for Arty), bell pepper, grated cheddar and crumbled feta.
Bake in about 20~15 minutes at 180~210 (respectively, always fun finding a good temperature) and devour!
Worked well enough?
(to people who are wondering where the cheese is: cheese is a topping, not a sauce. it's sprinkled over the pizza for flavour. Cheese is not a blanket!)
I am very particular about the crumb of my French bread. Too often do bakeries sell "French bread" with crumb as dense as standard white bread. That is simply not right.
This, however, is excellent. A good mix of smaller and bigger pockets, for delicious chomping.
Also notice the crust: crunch on top, but almost nonexistent on the bottom. And the bottom is flat.
This is French bread designed for sandwiching. The bread uses a very high hydration dough (which can basically only be handled right after taking it out of the fridge... it's not so high that the dough runs, but it's pretty close to it - 63%!) which results in a loaf with a flat bottom, with just enough crust to resist a knife spreading hard butter or goat cheese on it.
Ever tried spreading a firm paste on French bread only to tear up the crumb instead of getting the delicious topping evenly spread?
This is International Sandwich Science in progress.
We never did figure out what they meant, but ... primary colours. Can't go wrong with primary colours, right?
A photo of a scene with a photo of that scene.
The other photo of a scene with a photo of that scene, from the other side.
Unintentional funny is a good kind of funny.
(also, hurray for unicode strikethrough!)
I don't think I remember the name of this artwork.
Oddly enough, not next to Mr. Radar
purely compositional shot. I just thought it jumped out and needed a photograph.
Although you will have to spend some time on thinking what the picture means.
how do we kill the batman? And where do we have dinner after?
art outside the Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver Public Library, as seen by another building with backlight.
not quality typesetting. Since 1913.
Best title ever.
Also, how do you qualify your pickpockets? Are there international pickpocketing competitions? Pickpocket exchange clubs?
I need to know.