two skinny jenkins

130304 – Challa with Raisin and Date Compote
130305, 8:35 pm
Filed under: BREAD | Tags:



This was so super delicious.  I was searching for a bread that I could make with the 3 cups of all purpose flour we had remaining.  Challah was my favorite sweet bread from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, and I quite enjoyed the process of braiding it.  Then I realized that we had yummy dates and raisins in some trail mix that would go well, and I found this post on Smitten Kitchen and it all came together.

I think I’ve previously failed to mention that our kitchen here in Guate has NO MEASURING TOOLS.  For most of the recipes I’ve made so far I really don’t care, but when it comes to bread, I like to be precise.  It was reassuring to see how well this loaf came out with no measure.  The crumb is nice and buttery tasting and just the right amount of sweet.


  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • 1/6 cup (85 grams) plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 t sea salt
  • 3 C all-purpose flour


  •  3/4 C mix of dried fruit such as dates and raisins, chopped
  • 1/4 t fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 C fresh orange juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • Few grinds black pepper

Egg wash

  • 1 large egg
  • sea salt, for sprinkling


  1. Whisk the yeast and 1 teaspoon honey into 2/3 cup warm water (110 to 116 degrees), and let it stand for a few minutes, until foamy.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients with a whisk, then add the salt and flour.
  3. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Turn the mixture out onto a floured counter, and knead for about 10 minutes, until a smooth and elastic dough is formed. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the dried fruit, zest, 1/3 cup water, juice, salt, and a few grinds of black peper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and tender, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, and let cool to lukewarm. PRocess fig mixture in a food processor until it resembles a fine paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Set aside to cool.
  6. After your dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured counter and divide it in half. Roll the first half of the dough into a wide and totally imperfect rectangle (really, the shape doesn’t matter). Spread half the fig filling evenly over the dough, stopping short of the edge. Roll the dough into a long, tight log, trapping the filling within. Then gently stretch the log as wide as feels comfortable (I take mine to my max counter width, a pathetic three feet), and divide it in half. Repeat with remaining dough and fig filling.
  7. Arrange two ropes in each direction, perpendicular to each other, like a tight tic-tac-toe board. Weave them so that one side is over, and the other is under, where they meet. So, now you’ve got an eight-legged woven-headed octopus. Take the four legs that come from underneath the center and move the leg to their right — i.e., jumping it. Take the legs that were on the right and, again, jump each over the leg before, this time to the left. If you have extra length in your ropes, you can repeat these left-right jumps until you run out of rope. Tuck the corners or odd bumps under the dough with the sides of your hands to form a round.
  8. Transfer the dough to a parchment-cover heavy baking sheet, or, if you’ll be using a bread stone, a baker’s peel. Beat egg until smooth, and brush over challah. Let challah rise for another hour, but 45 minutes into this rise, preheat your oven to 375°F.
  9. Before baking, brush loaf one more time with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes. It should be beautifully bronzed, like the one above.

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120103 – Pain A L’Ancienne
120105, 12:14 pm
Filed under: BREAD | Tags: , ,

I was so happy to have successfully baked this bread in the limited kitchen of our vacation condo.  No standing mixer, hardly any counter-space, and a super cheap oven.  Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe baking isn’t the precise science I initially thought it was.  The bread was delicious.  Burn After Reading fans; my feelings are best summed up by John Malkovich, “I’m better, I’m back…”.  🙂

Recipe Adapted from Peter Reinhart, Bread Baker’s Apprentice ©

Days to Make: 2

I made 6 small baguettes, of which only one whole one is left after two days.  It was good. 

  • 6 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 cups water ice cold (40°F)
  • Semolina or cornmeal for dusting
  1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and water in a large bowl and gently knead for 4-6 minutes (until dough is homogenous).  OR mix with an electric mixer with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes on low speed. Switch to the dough hook and mix for 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl, but it should release from the sides of the bowl. If not, sprinkle in a small amount of flour until this occurs (or dribble in water if the dough seems too stiff and clears the bottom as well as the sides of the bowl). Lightly oil a large bowl and immediately transfer the dough with a spatula or bowl scraper dipped in water into the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover the bowl with a lid (or plastic wrap).
  2. Immediately place the bowl in the refrigerator and retard overnight.
  3. The next day, check the dough to see if it has risen in the refrigerator. It will probably be partially risen but not doubled in size (the amount of rise will depend on how cold the refrigerator is and how often the door was opened). Leave the bowl of dough out at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours (or longer if necessary) to allow the dough to wake up, lose its chill, and continue fermenting.
  4. When the dough has doubled from its original prerefrigerated size, liberally sprinkle the counter with bread flour (about 1/2 cup). Gently transfer the dough to the floured counter with a plastic dough scraper that has been dipped in cold water, dipping your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking to you. Try to degas the dough as little as possible as you transfer it. If the dough is very wet, sprinkle more flour over the top as well as under it. Dry your hands thoroughly and then dip them in flour. Roll the dough gently in the sprinkled flour to coat it thoroughly, simultaneously stretching it into an oblong about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. If it is too sticky to handle, continue sprinkling flour over it. Dip a metal pastry scraper into cool water to keep it from sticking to the dough, and cut the dough in half widthwise with the pastry scraper by pressing it down through the dough until it severs it, then dipping it again in the water and repeating this action until you have cut down the full length of the dough. (Do not use this blade as a saw; use it as a pincer, pinching the dough cleanly with each cut.) Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.
  5. Prepare the oven for hearth baking by making sure to have an empty steam pan in place. Preheat the oven to 500°F.  Cover the back of two 17-by-12-inch sheet pans with semolina flour or cornmeal. Proceed with shaping.
  6. Take one of the dough pieces and repeat the cutting action, but this time cut off 3 equal-sized lengths. Then do the same with the remaining half. This should give you 6 lengths. Flour your hands and carefully lift 1 of the dough strips and transfer it to an inverted parchment-lined pan, gently pulling it to the length of the pan or to the length of your baking stone. If it springs back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then gently pull it out again. Place 3 strips on the pan, and then prepare another pan and repeat with the remaining strips.  I recommend letting the dough rest, covered, for another 30-60 minutes at this point. 
  7. Take 1 pan to the preheated oven and carefully slide the dough, parchment and all, onto the baking stone (depending on the direction of the stone, you may choose to slide the dough and parchment off the side of the sheet pan instead of off the end); or bake directly on the sheet pan. Make sure the pieces aren’t touching (you can reach in and straighten the parchment or the dough strips if need be). Pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan and close the door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. After the final spray, reduce the oven setting to 475°F and continue baking. Meanwhile, dust the other pan of strips with flour, mist with spray oil, and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. If you don’t plan to bake these strips within 1 hour, refrigerate the pan and bake later or the next day. If you’d like to bake them as rustic, ciabatta-style breads, leave them at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours and then bake. As the loaves proof, they will resemble and perform like ciabatta.
  8. The bread should begin to turn golden brown within 8 or 9 minutes. If the loaves are baking unevenly at this point, rotate them 180 degrees. Continue baking 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the bread is a rich golden brown and the internal temperature registers at least 205°F.
  9. Transfer the hot breads to a cooling rack. They should feel very light, almost airy, and will cool in about 20 minutes. While these are cooling, you can bake the remaining loaves, remembering to remove the parchment from the oven and turn the oven up to 500°F or higher before baking the second round.


Pain À l’Ancienne Pizza: Heavily flour the counter and gently transfer the fully fermented dough from the bowl to the counter with a plastic scraper that has been dipped in cold water, dipping your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking to you. Divide the dough by continually dipping the pastry scraper into water and cutting the dough into 6 to 8 equal pieces. Gently round the pieces into balls, being careful not to punch down and expel any more gas than necessary. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and spray lightly with oil. Place the floured dough balls on the parchment. Mist them with spray oil and place the pan into a food-grade plastic bag or loosely cover with plastic wrap, and return the pan to the refrigerator, unless you plan to make the pizzas immediately. These pizza doughs will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. (You may also put them into the freezer in individual zipper bags, and keep them for up to three months.) Remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before shaping and baking your pizza as you always do.

Pain À l’Ancienne Foccacia: Line a 17 by-12-inch sheet pan with baking parchment. With floured hands, take the fully fermented dough from the bowl and proceed with shaping instructions on page 162. Ferment at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough rises and fills the pan, rising to about 1 inch thick. Proceed with the baking instructions for focaccia.

100131 – Poolish Baguettes | BBA #26
100131, 10:53 am
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Bread Bakers Apprentice #26

Woopsies.  I am a wee bit behind on my blog posting.   I blame the lack of inspiration i found in this bread.  To it’s credit, i was juggling this and my first attempt at homemade pasta and first-time guests all at the same time and couldn’t give the bread all the attention it deserves.  Still, as a moderately skilled baker and multi-tasker, I expected more out of it.  The taste was bland.  The texture was so-so.  It didn’t have a nice crunch crust like Pain de Campagne, it wasn’t nice and airy like Pain a L’ancienne, and it wasn’t as tasty as it’s twin, Italian Bread.  I think that the next time i want some baguettes, i will make on of the three former breads or a nice Ciabatta.

100117 – #29 Pugliese
100123, 9:56 am
Filed under: BBA Challenge | Tags: ,

BBA Challenge #29

I totally messed this one up.  Or so I thought.  I was already making an alteration to the recipe by using sweet mashed potato instead of regular potatoes.  Then i got a little over zealous and threw in over a CUP instead of a quarter cup.  That was a mistake.  When i was mixing the dough (via Kitchen Aid) it felt way too liquid-y. I knew I had thrown off the proportions by using too much potato, so I threw in a little extra yeast and some more flour.  I also partly used the wrong type of flour.  I used a combination of a half cup of semolina and some whole wheat pastry flour in place of the durum wheat   I used the bread flour that the recipe called for.  I followed the stretch and fold method per the Bread Bakers Apprentice, but let it cold rise in the fridge for about 4 hours while at the gym.

The end result tasted really good, but i am not sure what kind of bread i really made.

100110 – #28 Potato Rosemary Bread
100117, 11:25 am
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BBA #28

Oh, it tastes so good to be back!  It has been nearly 3 months since my blog post.  We have been eating new things and there have been several occasions when I though ‘this should go on the blog’ (mostly things Joe has made) but I could not find the time to post!  I started my new job last September and had been increasingly busy there until about now.  And I have just submitted my portfolio and application to the GSD.  Now all I am doing is triathlon training for a half ironman called Mooseman, (here are my training schedules if you are interested: International mid week and Iron weekend) and working.  I vow to post a new bread every other weekend (interspersed with other foods).

This is the best bread yet.  I am only sorry that I didn’t get a good crumb shot to share.  The bread had a nice crunchy crust, and super soft crumb.  Something about the mashed potatoes made this bread melt in your mouth.  I enjoyed kneading it so much!  I made the mashed potatoes the night before (along with the Biga) while Joe was cooking dinner.  I left two small potatoes wrapped in foil in the oven for about an hour, then mashed them up with a couple teaspoons worth of butter and a little bit of salt.  While mixing the dough the next day, I found myself adding even more water than PR called for – at least a whole Cup full, in order to get the right elasticity.   Finally, my last divergence from the printed recipe was a bit of sea salt sprinkled on top (see top photo).  It was a very good addition.

091028 – Panettone | BBA #24
091029, 10:15 pm
Filed under: BBA Challenge, BREAKFAST, DESSERT, SNACK | Tags: , , , ,

Baby Panetonne

FINALLY!  I got back in the kitchen and made some bread!  It feels like ages.  I have been away the last two (three?) weekends and just couldn’t wait till this weekend to get back into it.  I have been doing more cooking than the blog suggests, but it takes more than i have these days to post every good thing i eat.  Maybe this weekend i will get around to retro-posting some highlights.

This was not a good recipe to choose to make during the week after work.  Especially not while making dinner, trying to bike on the trainer for an hour, and getting up at 6 to run before work the next morning.  I think the bread came out pretty well, but I sacrificed the run.

My experience of this bread was ruined from the start by the perfectly delicious Panettone that I ate last Christmas.  It was my first ever panettone experience.  One of our consultants shelled out hundreds of dollars to ship us (us = the architecture firm i was working in) – a REAL Milanese Panettone.  Despite it’s massive size, the crumb was as airy like a croissant with a perfect distribution of candied fruits and nuts.

My first panettone probably weighed 20 lbs. and I can only imagine that it had baked for hours.  My petit panettone on the other hand, took roughly 40 minutes.   I checked at 20, 25, and 30 waiting for the tops to be golden brown, and i think 40 minutes was a bit too long and dried them out too much.  The big one (below) took about 1:20 and seems just right (texture-wise, i know it isn’t pretty).  I don’t have a thermometer for it yet, but I know my oven is on the cool side.    I was VERY glad i chose to use my mixer for the whole kneading process on this one.  It was sticky, tacky dough (I may have been heavy handed with the rum) and i would have added too much flour had i kneaded by hand.

Panetonne Grande

This bread in particular has made me appreciate the amount of quality control that goes into professional baking.  To make this bread come out consistently good WHILE making a profit on the effort must be a real challenge.

091013 – Pane Siciliano | BBA #23
091013, 12:37 pm
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Pane Siciliano

BBA #23

This might be my favorite bread yet!  I guess it’s easy to think that when you’re eating a warm slice of it and memories of breads past fade away.  I have always really liked the semolina loaf at Whole Foods, and this recipe produced a very similar (though maybe more attractive) loaf.

I was warned by Paul of Yumarama that the final loaf (as prescribed by the recipe) does not come out looking like the photograph in the book, maybe due to a lack of glazing.  So I decided to experiment.  Of the three loafs produced by this recipe, I glazed one with an egg wash, one with olive oil (photo above), and left the last one plain.  I sprinkled both the egg wash and plain breads with black sesame seeds.  After baking for about 45 minutes (I think  there is something wrong with my oven!)  the difference was clear.  Based on my results, I think the loaf photographed for the book was glazed with olive or some other oil.

Check out more process photos on FLICKR.