Tag Archives: griddle

Flat Bread Journal

A year of baking flatbreads – on the griddle. That’s what I want to do this year.

English Muffins are probably the flat-bread that has most recently been on your plate

English Muffins are probably the flat-bread that has most recently been on your plate

Part of my inspiration was the reading this

52 loaves

He bakes every week for a year, trying to perfect one recipe – but I’m looking for range, not just depth

And that inspired me to pick up this….

The Bread Journal

The Bread Journal -A Year of Weekly Baking CHART YOUR PROGRESS toward baking the perfect country loaf in this weekly baking journal. Lists, check boxes and prompts provide a satisfying record of every decision. That’s what it says, I kid you not.

Which begs the questions:

  1. When did bread become perfect?
  2. When did the country loaf become the ideal?

But I digress…

I’ll start with English muffins and move on to oatcakes and farls, to tortas and testa and spend some time with Johnnycakes – these are my jumping off points,  the beginning, so  it’ll be interesting to see where this will go.

I’m starting with English muffins because I’ve made them before, and I have a variety of recipes for them. Some call for more of a batter and muffin rings, which I’ve pretty much left behind, and others call for rolling and cutting with a biscuit cutter, which I can easily live without, and most of the rest are a dough that is cut into pieces that are rolled into individual little loaves that are them cooked up.

And then there’s the griddle issues…..

mine is cast iron

cast iron griddle - 12 " - I bought this either at Charlie in North Plymouth or at the Bradlee's that was in Kingston - it was over 30 years ago, so it all blends together

cast iron griddle – 12 ” – I bought this either at Charlie in North Plymouth or at the Bradlee’s that was in Kingston – it was over 30 years ago, so it all blends together

Even if it weren’t perfectly fine and familiar, the temptation for a soapstone griddle…

Isn't this pretty?

Isn’t this pretty? How much would this weigh? I could lift griddles instead of kettle-balls as a get-fit program…

is tempered by the expense of something new, and expense in time as trying to figure out how it works, and how to make it work better, as well as the cash outlay – and then there’s whatever the shipping would be to move a hunk of stone to my doorstep….all expenses I can well do without for the now, and for a good piece of now to come.

And this is the first English Muffin recipe I”ll be trying. It may be the first English muffin recipe I ever tried.

The Better English Muffin

1 C milk

2 Tbl and then 1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

3 Tbl butter

1 ¼ C warm water

2 packets dry yeast

2 ½ C whole wheat flour

2 ¼ C AP flour

¼ C wheat germ

Cornmeal

  1. Scald the milk and add 2 Tbl of brown sugar, the salt and the butter. Put aside and cool to lukewarm.
  2. Stir the 1 tsp of brown sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir again and wait for it to bubble and froth.(about 5 minutes)
  3. Mix the flours together with the wheat germ in a large bowl.
  4. Gradually mix in the lukewarm milk mixture and then the yeast mixture.
  5. Knead until it forms a soft dough. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.
  6. Put the dough in a covered bowl and let it rise in a warm place 15 minutes.
  7. Punch the dough down and divide into 16 pieces.
  8. Roll each piece into a ball.
  9. Place each little dough ball on a cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet.
  10. Press down on the dough to flatten them, about 3” diameter circles. Cover and let rise for another ½ hour.
  11. Heat a griddle on high and grease lightly with butter.
  12. Place dough circles on hot griddle and cook for 5 minutes each side.
  13. Cool on a wire rack.
  14. Before serving, split each muffin in half with a fork, toast thoroughly and butter.

Ruth Ann Manners and William Manners. The Quick and Easy Vegetarian Cookbook. M. Evans and Co: New York. 1978. Pp.118-9.

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Irish Breads

There’s more than one way to loaf around in Ireland…..

Soda breads

White and Brown

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread in farls - a griddle cake

White Soda Bread in farls – a griddle cake

Oatcakes

Irish Oatcakes (they're not just in Scotland or Wales)

Irish Oatcakes (they’re not just in Scotland or Wales)

Blaa

Waterford Blaa - in the Irish Food Guide

Waterford Blaa – in the Irish Food Guide

and Cakes.

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but really it's tea cake, even if it shows up in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say bread - it's cake

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but it is really not bread, even if it shows up by that name  in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say it’s bread – it’s cake.

Most of what will be passing for Irish bread this week is actually cake – tea cake and seedy cake. If it has sugar, butter, seeds or raisins in it – it’s a cake and not a bread. It’s delicious and delightful, please enjoy,  allowing  me my Marie Antoinette moment by letting you all eat cake, but bread is bread and all that added stuff is cake.

Oatcakes have morphed into a kind of biscuit – or cookie – for the most part and are probably the most traditional bread of Ireland, although not the most famous. Oats and griddle baking go back to the medieval period when Ireland was saving civilization for the world. Don’t believe me? Read Thomas Cahill.    How_the_Irish_Saved_Civilization

Blaa is a sort of yeasted white bread roll, perhaps named from the Norman ‘blanc’ when they stopped in to conquer  Ireland. Recently it was a headline in a New York Time travel article, Dining in Dublin from Boxty to Blaa ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/travel/dining-in-dublin-from-boxty-to-blaa.html?_r=0 ) which includes  In November, I spent a week in Dublin eating my way through some of these restaurants, most of which opened in the last few years. It was my fourth visit to this stately city of Georgian townhouses and lively pubs, and I’ve never eaten better.”  a sentence I hope to make my own some day.

Soda Bread is the kind of bread that screams “Irish Bread” in the month of March around here. It is a bread that is leavened with baking soda and not yeast. Commonly referred to as “quick bread” they go together quickly – no rising time – and are ready as soon as they come out of the oven. Many of them are best warm….and are improved the next day by toasting, because they do stale up almost as quickly as they cook.

Because milk is an important part of the Irish diet – it’s called the Emerald Isle because of all the grass that grows there, which I great fodder for cows, so the butter and beef of the country is not a cliché, but an important part of the culinary landscape for centuries – Soda bread is often made with sour milk or butter milk. The slight acidity level of this liquid actually makes the soda work better.

The classic Soda Bread is a pound of flour and a pint of sour milk, a spoonful of soda and a little salt. Mix together, form into a rough ball, slash a cross into the top to allow the steam to escape the middle so it bakes all the way inside OR to divide it into quarters, or farls, for griddle baking.  The cross  has no religious significance, or if it does I’d like to see a reference from someone who isn’t a detractor about the superstitious Irish. But in typical Irish fashion, we accept the venom of our detractors into as compliments. thus confusing them, and then start to believe our own press. Sigh.

And now for a recipe that isn’t particularly Irish in it’s origins, but turns out a really nice loaf in American kitchens.

Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour (four cups of flour is roughly a pound – measure it by weight if you have a scale…..)

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double acting baking powder

1 ½ -2 cups buttermilk (2 cups is a pint, and a pint’s a pound the world around….)

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. Make sure there are no lumps in the soda, it’ll leave dark patches in the bread. I toss it into a bowl and use a whisk to combine everything.
  2. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough.
  3. Knead it until it comes together, maybe for a minute or two. It should be firm, velvety and able to hold it’s shape.
  4.  Form into a round loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet (or on a silpat on the cookie sheet). IF the dough is a little slack and starts to schlump on the sheet, butter a 8-inch cake pan or casserole dish and bake in that to give the bread it’s form. (How do I know this? You know how I know this)
  5.    OR in a genius move from the current Martha Stewart Living Good Thing: form the dough into 16 equal pieces and place on a lined cookie sheet – YES – Irish Bread in Individual Loaf Form!!!! I’m planning to freeze it at this point, and then making as much bread as I need at any given moment. (Marthastewart.com/soda-bread http://www.marthastewart.com/1055131/pull-apart-soda-bread)Or divide into farls and bake on a griddle and let me know how it works for you.
  6.    Bake in a 375° oven for 35-40 minutes. The loaf will be brown and have a hollow sound when rapped with your knuckles. 
  7.   James Beard let the loaf cool before slicing….let it cool at least a little, it makes it easier to slice. Slather with butter…maybe some marmalade….with bread like this who needs cake?

From James Beard. Beard On Bread. Alfred A. Knopf. 1973. pp.164-5

James Beard

James Beard

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