Dreaming of Orange Blossoms – Fouace Nantaise (BBB January 2017)

go directly to the recipe

BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Fouace Nantaise, based on a recipe by Jamie Schler; orange blossom; yeast in the dead of winter; failure to learn from past mistakes; a Bread Baking Babes (BBB) project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Brrrrrr… it’s coooooold outside!!

Fouace Nantaise Bread Baking Babes’ Fouace Nantaise, January 2017

Adonc Marquet, grand bastonnier de la confrarie des fouaciers, lui dist : « Vraiment tu es bien acresté à ce matin, tu mangeas hersoir trop de mil. Vien ça, un ça, je te donnerai de ma fouace. »
– François Rabelais, Gargantua, 1534
As I learned in the course of my education in the kitchen, “the recipe is never the recipe.” It might look comprehensive and legally binding, but in fact these recipes should be treated as a set of sketches or notes.
– Michael Pollan, Appendix I: Four Recipes, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, p878

For January’s BBB project, I waffled like crazy about what to choose. Without actually considering waffles…

Savoring Italy Cover Initially, it was going to be Carta da Musica, after reading about them in “Savoring Italy” by photographer Robert Freson:

On the island of Sardinia, eligible men used to choose their wives, not for their beauty or their intelligence, but for their ability to bake bread. […] The reason so much importance is given to bread in Sardinian culture probably stems from the fact that […] sheep or goat herding is the principal profession, and bread, which keeps well, can be carried up into high pastures and needs no further preparation, is the perfect shepherd’s food. […] Sardinian women have developed pane carasau, a flatbread so light and thin that it has been nicknamed carta di musica, or sheet music bread.
– Louis Inturrisi, Sicily/Sardinia, Savoring Italy, p229,230

Then, I saw something about the gluten-free Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread), that is made with cassava flour. (We did make these – remind me to report!)

Of all the foods I fell in love with in Brazil, Pao de Queijo (literally translated to ‘bread of cheese’, how can that not be delicious?) is right up there at the top. […] [T]here are several different methods to making these little balls of heaven.
– Sarah Wells, Our Best Bites: Quick Brazilian Cheese Rolls {Pao de Queijo}
[P]ão de queijo is one of my family’s favorites. […] I use [half sweet and half] sour tapioca flour but the real trick is the cheese you use: queijo coalho.
-Danielle L, Brazilian Musician

At exactly the same time as we bought cassava flour, we saw that large bags of reasonably priced oranges were available. And suddenly, I remembered that I wanted to make Jamie’s (Life’s A Feast) Fouace Nantaise again.

So. After asking Jamie and making sure she didn’t mind, Fouace Nantaise is what January’s project is. Considering that oranges are at the height of their season in late December and January (or at least that’s the case in the northern hemisphere), it just seemed fitting to choose a bread made with oranges. Even though not much of the orange is used….

Fouace Nantaise Created in the 19th century by winegrowers in La Haie-Fouassière, a village near Nantes […] This treat in the shape of a six-pointed star consists of a sweet dough made from flour, butter, milk, sugar and sometimes local eau-de-vie. […] It is enjoyed on its own or with jam, for breakfast and tea.
france-voyage.com | Fouace nantaise

(continue reading )

The Season of Giving and Receiving

summary: Giving and receiving; spice of life; nutmeg;

‘Twas the night before Christmas

Over the years, I find that Christmas Eve arrives more and more suddenly. And this year it seems even more sudden. In spite of the early snowfall, making it very clear to us that it was winter.

nutmeg In a massive flurry over that last couple of days, we have congratulated ourselves for having sent off packages in the mail, made various kinds of bread, cookies and goodies galore, decorated the house, and are in the middle of preparing our Christmas feasts, beginning with tonight.

vinarterta ☑
cherry snowballs ☑
orange thyme shortbread ☑
Clarke’s bread ☑
Chicken Liver pate with green peppercorns ☑
Sandwich bread ☑ (ooops, more like slipper bread…)
Pulla ☑
Ginger shortbread ☑
Scottish shortbread ☑
Caramels ☑
Gingersnaps ☑
Cheese Biscuits ☑
Ragu ☑
Fresh Pasta ☑
Caponata ☑

The house is tidied; the kitchen floor is washed; the table is set; the oh-so-attractive-to-furry-black-fiends beads on the stairs have been doused in lemon oil (it really works to keep the little brat from making mincemeat out of them); it’s time to dress for dinner so I WON’T be wearing a housecoat and slippers to greet our guests…. (Christmas cards? You expect me to write Christmas cards BEFORE Christmas?? {cue hysterical laughter})

I cannot imagine how on earth I used to make an Advent calendar, painstakingly drawing a new image for each day! This year, I haven’t even managed to get a moment to take the time to look at “past year’s Advent calendars….

:hohoho: I hope you have, though. :hohoho:

And silly us. In our flurry in the kitchen, we didn’t even think about what to do with this stunningly beautiful nutmeg, complete with its covering of mace. Obviously, the nutmeg will last through many things – a few gratings are always more than enough. But. What to do, what to do? Please feel free to give us some ideas! For the nutmeg AND for the mace.
(continue reading )

Orange Thyme Shortbread

go directly to the recipe

summary: playing with a recipe for Lemon Thyme Shorbread to make Orange Thyme Shortbread; when you don’t have lemons, use oranges; homemade orange extract; Christmas baking;

Christmas Goodies Christmas baking is underway! So far, I’ve made Clarke’s Bread (to go with pate that T is in the process of making), cherry snowballs (the real kind with dried cherries) and a new cookie for me: orange thyme cookies.

When it comes to cookies, for me they have to be buttery and crisp. I have never been a big fan of soft pillowy cookies, or those sweetened with icing. I like spice or nut cookies, but my very favorite cookie is a delicate butter or shortbread cookie.
– Deborah Mele, Italian Food Forever

A couple of days ago, a Christmas package from my sister arrived. I didn’t open it right away. But I knew that there would be a good shot of Mum’s Christmas cake. Yay! We only have a little of last year’s left….

Usually, my sister includes two or three kinds of cookies as well. Little tiny sugar cookies shaped like trees with sparkling coloured sugar. And spice cookies shaped like stars. And my favourites: lemon thyme cookies shaped like Angels. Invariably some of the angels wings have fallen off in the journey. This always makes me very happy. It means that I can safely eat the “damaged” angels. Because it wouldn’t do to serve them to guests, would it?

So imagine my surprise to learn from her that

There. Are. No. Cookies. Included.


(continue reading )

Whoa!! That’s Really Red Bread (BBB December 2016)

go directly to the recipe

Bread Baking Babes December 2016 summary: recipe for Beet Challah; fear of sourdough and scary colours; expectations and realisations; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) December 2016: Beet Bread

beet bread Oh the weather outside is frightful….

It snowed again last night. And I’m not ready for winter. I’m never ready for winter.

I know. It’s December. Whenever I hear the song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”, I think about how foolish the dreamers are. Sure, the ground all covered in glistening white is very pretty. But it’s coooooold.

So it’s the perfect time to hide in the kitchen and bake bread.

Cathy (Bread Experience) chose a brilliantly coloured bread for the BBBabes to bake this month: red beet challah. Then she threw a spanner in the works. She said that it would be a sourdough red beet challah.

Noooooo!! I don’t want to have another pet!

(continue reading )

adding wheat germ to bread dough IS a good idea

summary: 50% whole wheat bread, using Ken Forkish’s 50% whole wheat bread recipe and using Michael Pollan’s method of sifting the wholewheat flour; adding wheat germ;

We are still reading “Cooked” by Michael Pollan (it takes a long time to to read a book when reading it aloud) and just came to the fascinating section on milling. I’ve known for a while that, nowadays, whole wheat flour was simply white flour with the bran and germ added back in. But what I didn’t know was that it might be possible that all of the wheat germ has NOT been put back.

And I got to thinking about the fact that our 10kg bag of 100% whole wheat flour lasts a suspiciously long time without going rancid….

Further grinding of the gears in my brain deduced that if the reason that wheat germ tends to go rancid is because of the fat content in it, and that flavour is often carried by fat, maybe I should try adding wheat germ to boost the flavour of our bread. (continue reading )