Chrysanthemums for Comfort and Joy (BBB November 2015)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Chrysanthemum Bread, based on a Georgian (or is it Armenian??) recipe; refusal to make a meat filling and using chiles, nuts and seeds instead; “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance

BBB Chrysanthemum Bread Bread Baking Babes (BBB) November 2015: Chrysanthemum Bread

The chrysanthemum has many meanings for people around the world. Some say that this beautiful flower symbolizes long life, joy, optimism and fidelity. In China, it is believed to bring compassion, cheerfulness, optimism, abundance and wealth. It is the national flower of Japan and every September, it is featured in the annual “Festival of Happiness” there. It is also the “November” birth flower.

In the language of flowers for many, to give a Chrysanthemum to someone says that someone is “a wonderful friend” (red Chrysanthemums are for love; white Chrysanthemums are for truth). Ancient Asian lore says that one Chrysanthemum petal placed at the bottom of a wine glass will encourage a long and healthy life.

Chrysanthemums_(Monet) wp-image-2346 But in Italy, chrysanthemums symbolize sadness and sorrow. Puccini composed the beautiful piece Crisantemi for string quartet in 1890, with the dedication “Alla memoria di Amedeo di Savoia Duca d’Aosta”. I cannot pretend, even for a moment, that this last meaning for chrysanthemums has not been foremost in my mind after what happened in Paris, this past Friday 13th. My heart goes out to all who have been affected. Which means to everyone in the world, doesn’t it?

And yet, when we were bicycling to the market on Saturday, we couldn’t help noticing all the chrysanthemums flowering bravely and profusely in peoples’ gardens, in spite of the chill in the air and threats of frost.

Comme des feux arrachés par un grand coloriste à l’instabilité de l’atmosphère et du soleil, afin qu’ils vinssent orner une demeure humaine, ils m’invitaient, ces chrysanthèmes, et malgré toute ma tristesse, à goûter avidement pendant cette heure du thé les plaisirs si courts de novembre dont ils faisaient flamber près de moi la splendeur intime et mystérieuse.
-Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu [In Search of Lost Time], Vol 1

(continue reading )

Almost-wordless Not-Wednesday: Commenting and Fuhl

no thank you

disqus comment form

Over the past several months, it has been driving me crazy that a.) Facebook has usurped so much of our online discussion time and b.) malicious bots forced me to switch to using Disqus for commenting.

Because I know that not everyone wants to have to sign in to comment.

Disqus guest posting

Please note that you do NOT have to sign in to Disqus to comment here.


Roux the Day with Tangzhong Bread (BBB October 2015)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Tangzhong WholeWheat(ish) Bread; a Bread Baking Babes project; information about World Food Day 2015 (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) October 2015

My reading skills appear to be as brilliant as ever…. :lalala:

tangzhong bread wp-image-2328 Karen K (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) decreed that this month, we would try making bread with the Tangzhong method.

The what?!??

…the internet to the rescue:

Tangzhong bread making was developed by the Chinese for a softer and fluffy bread. TangZhong method was originated from Japan. The most amazing part is, the bread made with this method stays soft and fluffy even after a few days. Simply reheat the slice of bread/bun in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, you’ll have a warm, soft and fluffy bun on hand, just like it’s fresh out of the oven.
– Shoon Yin, “Bread Making Technique: Tangzhong Dough (Water Roux)”, Shoon Yin’s Recipes
A few years ago, an amazing method of making this kind of soft and fluffy bread was introduced by Yvonne Chen 陳郁芬 who wrote a Chinese book, entitled “65°C湯種麵包” (Bread Doctor). In her book, tangzhong “湯種” is described as the “secret ingredient” which is originated from Japan, to make soft and bouncy bread. It’s actually a kind of “flour paste” (aka water roux starter), cooked 1 part of bread flour in 5 parts of water to 65°C. So it’s very natural and handy to make. The Chinese community has been fascinated and crazy about this bread making method ever since.
Why does tangzhong 湯種 (flour paste) work so amazingly that can produce fluffy bread and stay soft for many days? At 65°C, the gluten in the flour and water mixture would absorb the moisture and become leavened. When tangzhonog is added into other ingredients of the bread, the bread dough will be heightened and produces softer bread.
-Christine Ho, Japanese Style Bacon and Cheese Bread (Tangzhong Method 湯種法) | Christine’s Recipes
So what is the tangzhong method?
Anyone who’s ever made a pudding cake has, for all intents and purposes, employed the tangzhong method. It’s the same basic idea: you add a pre-prepared starch gel to your batter/dough and what you get in return is a finished product that’s higher and lighter than it would otherwise be, that retains more moisture and that has a very tight and even crumb. The big difference of course that in a tangzhong (essentially “soup starter” in Chinese) there’s no sugar or flavorings in the mix — just flour and water combined at a ratio of 1-5 and cooked to roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit. […]
[Y]ou get a higher loaf in the bargain. And because all the water in the gel undermines gluten development the individual bubbles never get very big, which means a very fine crumb. Also, the loaf is very tender and again because of all the moisture there is almost no crust.
A very, very neat trick, all from a little hot water and flour. Cool.
– Joe Pastry, “So what is the tangzhong method?”, Baking Techniques, History, & Science

I thought this technique sounded like a great idea! And everyone else raved about the results. But, of course, I have to be different. Don’t I? :lalala: (continue reading )

Whoohooo!! It’s Crabapple Season!

Not Far From the Treesummary: Crabapple Jelly; more recipe ideas for crabapples; information about Not Far From the Tree

Crabapple Jelly 2015

I cannot believe that Not From the Tree organizers have difficulty getting people to pick crabapples! I love crabapple jelly and every time I see that there is a crabapple pick, I want to jump in. Alas, the timing this year wasn’t the best for me and it broke my heart to see crabapple pick after crabapple pick go by, with notices of “Needing More Fruit Pickers”. But finally, I was able to go to pick crabapples. And lucky me, it was only a few blocks away.

crabapples I guess I shouldn’t really have been surprised the other day, when it turned out there were only two of us picking beautiful red crabapples. I couldn’t wait to get home to make jelly!

The tree was quite tall but appeared to be in pretty good shape. And it was covered in apples! We learned from the homeowner that it had been planted in 1967 – as one of the Centennial trees. (continue reading )

Your grapes are lemons?? Make marinade!

grape juice wp-image-2297 summary: making grape juice; how to use it in savoury dishes; information about Not Far From the Tree; (click on images for more photos and larger views)

So you think the grapes have ripened too unevenly, eh? It’s okay, they still make great juice!

vinifera grapes wp-image-2296 I have no idea what kind of grapes these are. They are some sort of Vitis vinifera, maybe “Regent”? The grape arbour we picked a week or so ago had not been pruned in some time so I suspect the grapes are supposed to be larger.

I confess that I was a little disappointed that the grapes were wine grapes rather than Concords (even though concords are awfully sweet). And certainly, the grapes should have been allowed to ripen a little more. (continue reading )