This weekend, the first weekend of spring break was a perfect opportunity to get out of town with my kids and do a little cabin cooking. More specifically – I was baking bread.
The first loaf of bread in the video posted above is a full-on, quick rise, no muss yeast bread. In my mixing bowl I put a cup and a half of warm water, about a tablespoon of honey, and a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of yeast.
I let that sit for about ten minutes before stirring in three cups of flour. Let that sit for 20 minutes and then into the 450 degree oven for 35 minutes.
The other two loaves were both sourdough bread – no yeast. I should have let the final loaf in the video above proof longer, but I was pressed for time so I didn’t.
That loaf had two and half cups of unbleached flour and a half cup of dark rye flour. The rye flour gives it a superb texture when you bite into the bread.
I was doing a lot of “work” on my sourdough starter to get it more active after neglecting it for the last ten days. It had become almost too “sour” so I had been removing and composting portions of the starter this weekend. I would take about half of it out and then feed it with more flour so that it lost a bit of the “too sour” flavour. It is still definitely sour, just not unpleasantly so.
Anyway, it was fun playing in the kitchen and having the kids there with me to test the products. They said the bread I made (all three loaves) was perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches which they declared to be “the best in the world”.
I was back to North Vancouver’s Deep Cove so of course I had to stop and get six doughnuts from Honey Doughnuts – the most incredible doughnuts EVER.
Today I picked up four chocolate glazed and two maple with bacon. The chocolate are excellent but my new favourite is the maple bacon. It hits the right notes of salty (bacon, obviously) and sweet from the maple glaze.
I love doughnuts from Duffin’s on East 41st and Lee’s on Granville Island, but my goodness, Honey Doughnuts make an amazing doughnut. The best. So rich!
At some point I will have to sit down at Honey Doughnuts and Goodies and try some more of their menu – when I feel like braving the crowds that descend on Honey’s during the weekend. For now, I am satisfied with their doughnuts. More than satisfied!
Disclosure – this blog post is about the 5DadsGoWild camping trip to Manning Park that I took with four other dad bloggers. Our trip was supported with products from a group of brands including House of Knives and Casus Grills Canada. As always, editorial control of everything I share on my blog remains with me – all opinions expressed here are my own.
In my most recent blog post about the #5DadsGoWild camping trip to Manning Park I mentioned the discussions and rich conversations that we were taking part in. Well, just like being fashionably dressed, we also had to be well fed and well “coffeed” in order to fully participate in those discussions and conversations.
Of course Stephen Fung likes to get fancy with his French Press and Chemex style coffee making but I need a cup of quality coffee as soon as I get rolling. So I quickly use my old fashioned cone system to make myself, Michael, and Stephen a cup of Ethical Bean coffee provided by Wes and the team at the Blue Moose Coffee Shop in Hope BC. Simple and ready quickly.
My responsibility for keeping the group fed was to make biscuits. And seeing as I did not have an actual stove, never-mind an oven, I was pretty worried about how the biscuits would turn out.
As it turned out, my biscuits were pretty darn good! I prepped them ahead of time (at home) by mixing the dry ingredients in a Ziploc bag (including a 1/2 cup of powdered milk to replace the actual milk). The dry ingredients are simple:
4 cups of flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 cup of powdered milk
Just before cooking the biscuits I added and mixed in about 9 tablespoons of butter and about a cup and half of water. Once the dough was mixed and sticking to itself I formed them into little circles (about 2 dozen biscuits) and cooked them in my cast iron frying pan on the camp grill.
Although the first couple burned on the bottom (too high of heat – I turned the camp stove burner way down for the second batch), I was able to salvage them by using the new House of Knives Fusion Classic 8″ Chef’s knife to slice off the thinnest layer from the bottom of the burned biscuit.
After slicing off the burnt bottom, I then put the biscuit back in the hot pan to sear the bottom of the biscuit.
The House of Knives Fusion Classic Chef’s knife is an incredibly affordable option for the home chef – they retail for less than $100 at the House of Knives.
Later in the day I took part in a discussion about “how to save money on your grocery bill” and one of the easiest things to do to save money is to buy a whole chicken rather than buying chicken parts. However, what do you do with a whole chicken?
Well, I now know how to “break down” a chicken! I used my Fusion Classic Chef’s knife to cut the bird into parts: wings, drumsticks, thighs, and breasts (with the “tenders” separated out). And of course at the end you have the carcass left over to toss in a pot with some chopped up carrots and onions to make a stock.
The good thing about the House of Knives Fusion Classic Chef’s knife is that the blade is made from German steel making it a little softer and therefore more durable than the traditional Japanese steel blade so if you do like me and hit the bone when breaking down a chicken, there is very little chance you will chip your knife blade.
But the Casus Grill – what a crazy cool idea. The grill is made from CARDBOARD!! Yes, cardboard. And the charcoal briquettes – from bamboo! and the grill that you set your food on? Yes, bamboo!
As you probably know, bamboo grows like wild around the world. It doesn’t need fertilizers or irrigation. There is no need for pesticides. And while it is growing, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide than cotton or timber.
To light the grill you simply hold a flame to the briquette in the corner and within minutes the entire grill is “white” hot. Place the bamboo rack over the briquettes and get ready to cook! And what do you do with the Casus Grill after you are done grilling? Either drop it all in the fire pit or let it cool off and it will biodegrade within 6 months.
But the best part of the Casus Grill? It costs $10. That’s it. $10. No more buying those little propane bottles that get tossed into the landfill. For $10 you get a biodegradable grill.
I will talk more about our 5DadsGoWild trip in the coming days – including a chat about our attempt to make gravy from the McSweeney’s beef jerky and of course the wine pairing we did with the Sumac Ridge wines we brought along.
Be sure to follow the other dad bloggers who were on the trip with me:
Those who follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page know that I’ve been working on my baking skills. I’m still working on my biscuit making technique and I’ve returned to bread making.
Typically I do my bread making while at the cabin. However, this spring break I decided to do some bread baking at home. And I had a significant breakthrough!
I made a beautiful loaf of bread with firm, and yet chewy crust. The interior of the loaf had a perfect texture. Dense enough to please me and yet lots of bubbles indicating that the yeast had done its gassy job.
This was my first loaf that I would call a 100% success. So the question is, what did I do differently this time?
Normally, I cook my bread in a cast iron skillet. About 20 minutes before I’m ready to bake, I put the cast iron pan in the oven as the oven is pre-heating to 450°. Once the oven is up to temperature, the pan is also sizzling hot. I take the pan out of the oven, plop the dough into the hot pan and then back into the oven for 30 minutes.
This time, under the advice of my Full Nomad friend Steff, I used a cast iron Dutch oven – with a lid! I did the same routine – pre-heated the oven, pre-heated the Dutch oven, plopped the dough into the Dutch oven – but then – I put a lid on the cast iron pot of dough before putting it back in the oven! Game changer!
After 30 minutes I took the lid off the Dutch oven and let the bread cook, uncovered for another 10 minutes.
The result – my first perfect (to me) loaf of bread.
However, I do need to back up a bit – how do I get to the point where I can plop the dough into the Dutch oven? Let’s look at that.
I actually start the day before I’m ready to bake. I thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water. I stir in the water using a stiff rubber spatula (or as some call it, a rubber scraper) until the dough is a perfect ball of dough that isn’t sticky on the outside. If it is sticky, I add a dusting more flour and mix that into it.
And then I leave the ball of dough, in the stainless steel mixing bowl sitting on top of the fridge overnight. Or until I have time to bake it!
Every few hours I take the rubber spatula and stir the dough. I push it down and “knead” it to make the gluten in the dough work and stretch. In the morning, after sitting all night the dough is often puffed right up the top of the mixing bowl. My kids love that part of the process. I usually leave the dough to “work” for 24 hours.
About half an hour, or 20 minutes before baking time, I stir the dough one last time, fold it over on itself, and then roll it onto a piece of parchment paper.
When the oven is up temperature and the cast iron pan or Dutch oven is up to temperature, I lower the dough, on the parchment paper, into the Dutch oven.
As I said above, I let it cook with the lid on for 30 minutes. Then I took the lid off and let it cook for another 10 minutes. I had an absolutely lovely loaf of bread.
3 cups of flour (I use 2 cups unbleached white, and one cup whole wheat flour)
I’ve been working on making biscuits for quite some time now and today I had my best results yet.
It was like I heard a voice from my past this morning, “Don’t work them so hard! Just gently introduce the ingredients!”
So today, I quickly stirred the dry ingredients together in my mixing bowl and then I added the cooking oil.
Once the oil was in with the dry ingredients I used two knives and “cut” the oil into the dry so that they formed pea sized chunks of biscuit dough.
Then I poured in the milk and used a rubber spatula (or as some call it, a rubber scraper) to mix the milk into the dough. I gently mixed the milk in within about 20-30 seconds and then rolled the ball of dough onto the board.
I flattened it out to about 3/4″ thick and then used a glass to cut the dough into little circles.
Into the preheated to 450° oven for precisely 20 minutes and then bingo, biscuit perfection. Sort of.
2 cups of unbleached flour
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
5 tablespoons of cooking oil
3/4 cup of milk.
I also had about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar I stirred in right after mixing the dry ingredients.
I ended up with 8 small biscuits. Just enough for breakfast for me and the kids.
The best part? The kids ate them and declared them “the best biscuits yet”. A parenting win.