Monday, January 19, 2009

Bread, Cheese... and whine?

Exciting news here in the house of the newlyweds! We took our Bed, Bath & Beyond gift certificates (wedding gifts), and our 20% off coupon, and we bought the Kitchen Aid Professional 6oo Stand Mixer! Whoohoo! 575 watts of mixing power! The six quart mixing bowl holds enough for 13 dozen cookies, 8 pounds of mashed potatoes, or 8 loaves of bread! Because, after all, it's all about the bread. After one success making honey-wheat bread (by hand), I decided that a mixer would really facilitate the mixing and kneading process. As a bonus, the mixer came with a recipe book with various types of bread (amongst other things).

So, while hubby was brewing up a batch of beef stew in the crock pot (also a wedding gift), I mixed up the ingredients for French Bread. It was pretty exciting, if I do say so myself. As instructed, I added all the ingredients in the pre-warmed mixing bowl, except the last 2 cups of flour. I then added the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough came together. What a thing of beauty is a big hunk of bread dough spinning merrily on a dough hook! (it sounds like I've been drinking). Placed into a greased bowl and allowed to languish in a warm oven for an hour, it rose up beautifully, was punched down, split in two, and rolled into lovely loaves. These loaves were then placed on a greased pan, covered with a damp towel, and allowed to rise again for another hour. There was a slight glitch during this process, where I checked on the loaves, and noticed that the towel was sticking. I gently removed the towel, and replaced it with wax paper. BAD IDEA!!! As I found out a little while later, rising dough sticks to wax paper like nobody's business. By the time I got that paper off, my loaves were looking mighty defeated. But, undaunted, I baked them anyway - good thing. They came out looking beautiful (maybe a little misshapen), chewy, and delicious. Just imagine if I hadn't used the wax paper... next time.

Then on to our next (mis)adventure. Cheese making! This has been in the works for a while, particularly since Christmas, when the hubby bought me the beginner cheese making kit from I had purchased a gallon of organic milk from the food co-op where we get our veggies, and the kit included the citric acid, rennet, and the instructions that we would need to make a pound of mozzarella. Only, it didn't quite happen. I'm not going to do the blow-by-blow here, but suffice to say that while we did achieve separation of curds and whey, it was fleeting at best. What we ended up with was a mooshy mess that was not too appetizing, definitely not mozzarella, and in the garbage. It was sad. And gross.
I'm not totally deterred yet, and I will try to figure out what went wrong. It was one of 3 things: 1) the milk was actually ultra-pasteurized, which does not make good cheese. This is probably unlikely, as it was not labeled as ultra-pasteurized, 2) We didn't add enough rennet to set the curd up properly - we'll add more next time, or 3) we stirred too vigorously, inadvertently breaking up the curd. This is definitely more art than science, folks. The only really sucky thing is that a gallon of milk is not cheap. I feel like asking for my money back! I guess that where the "whine" comes in. We were bummed, but at least we had a nice dinner of homemade beef stew, and fresh crusty bread. Plus those brownies we have stashed in the freezer...

1 comment:

Lo said...

I think tackling things like beer-brewing and cheese-making is a great pastime, so I'm glad to see that you're not giving up on it. Practice makes perfect in this case, I'm sure!

Will definitely be interested in reading more of your adventures.

Thanks for stopping by over at BURP!... and I'm so glad you enjoyed the baked apple pancake!