Yeast connection part 2

The Yeast Connection part 2

Sept. 18-19

This blog is a continuation of the previous one exploring various aspects of yeast in its manifestations in beer and bread.

  • That beer bread where I used the last dregs of the recently bottled beer rose. It took a full 24 hours at room temperature to get itself sorted out. Its now been in the fridge for about 15 hours. I took off a little pinch to taste (heat a frying pan, a little oil, flatten the bread sample, cook, observe if it rises, eat) It also passed the stretch test 20170918_063800.jpg
  • I thought I’d like it as a boule – but realize I need a suitable rising container, so here it is in some parchment paper ready for its long fridge rise. 20170918_065555.jpg
  • The beer is now bubbling away, and the reconstituted yeast brew (right) is much more active than the basic yeast version. 20170918_094347.jpg
  • Meanwhile my apple and pear ferments are bubbling away nicely. I’m going to try a few experiments with them:
    • Cider: propagate a yeast slurry using organic apple juice in the same way I do a beer yeast refresh: (per gallon) 200g juice (hopefully at 1.035) and 20g of the yeast in the jar. Same for the pear.
    • Beer (why not?) same thing – but use my beer wort mix
    • Bread: 2 starters – Elaine at foodbod https://foodbod.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/fruit-yeast-water-bread/ suggests equal parts water and flour (which would yield a 100% hydration starter). Now this will definitely be interesting to compare with my ‘old faithful’ SD starter. Will I get hints of apple and pear? 20170919_112835.jpg

September 20

I had to bake that beer bread today. It was just going too long in the fridge. I didn’t need to do it for bread – there’s already lots – but it really had fermented enough at nearly 48 hours. It rose, and did its yeasty breadish thing, but had I done it earlier it would more have resembled a bowler hat and not a volcano. The taste however was excellent. I’m glad I added the maple syrup. There was no bitterness as I tasted in the pre rise taste, but the taste was wonderfully rich and malty. In retrospect I should have made about 1.5 x the recipe using water as additional liquid. Or indeed not. This is a bread that is no shrinking background bread. Its the star of the show. I imagine it with roast squash, your thanksgiving turkey, a rich thick soup. And of course it will ideally suit the beer you brewed from it. That said it will be a month before you drink that and the bread will be long gone. It will NOT however a light summer salad. Here is what it looks like:

20170920_085436.jpg.

It is definitely worth doing this again next time I brew. Of course one can also use this last not full bottle for other things too – like marinating your meat, maybe cooking beans. Now there’s an idea!

Sooo…. In summary… if you are a brewer who has not made bread before:

  • Weigh the beer/trub mix.
  • Divide the weight by .6 to give the amount of flour to use. You can use whatever flour you like, just understand this will really affect the taste.
  • Multiply the weight of the flour by 2%. This is the amount of salt to add.
  • Mix and knead the flour and the beer until it is all well mixed. Place in a bowl and leave for 20 minutes
  • Add the salt and knead until it is well integrated. Taste it – the hoppiness could make it too bitter. This can be countered with a sweetener of your choice (which will also aid the fermentation going forward.)
  • let rise at room temperature for about about 24 hours.
  • Stretch and fold – a kind of kneading – look it up on Youtube – and then shape to the shape you wish it to be. At this point you can add stuff – seeds, nuts, other grains, oil….. Taste it again using that ‘fry a little bit of dough’ method described above.
  • Leave it at room temperature for a few hours or stick it in the fridge for about 24 or more hours.
  • For baking – oven to 450F. Depending on how much you have, it will be anything from 30-60 minutes. But if you are a brewer you should have a digital thermometer on a long probe. Stick that in after about 25 minutes and wait until its over 190F but not over 205.
  • Let it cool for about 20 minutes.

September 22:

Check out the apple ferment! Its in its glory now!

20170922_092653[1].jpg

September 26

  • Lots has happened, including my courses, which is why I have not been great about keeping this journal up to date.
  • The brews noted above were bottled. The ‘control sample’ with regulare old Safale 04 yeast came in at 1.020, while the reconstituted yeast came in at 1.010!! Its clear to me now. I will be using active trub, strengthened with some 1.035 wort from now on.
  • On September 24, I participated in Jan and Jim’s cider making process. My first time for this. Jim and jan are wonderful people who live off grid up in the Bruce Peninsula. Ultimate DIYers, one of their annual projects is processing their apples into all sorts of things, but mainly cider. I spent the morning with some of their city millennial friends, chopping and got to see the cider press in action. Here are a couple of photos of their set up:
  • The apple chunks are first mashed in the masher, then placed in the press. A hand screw presses down the press plate squeezing the juice out. Jim notes that since none of the trees are cultivated and grafted, they are all their own individual species. I felt very honoured to take away a gallon, which I innoculated with my apple yeast, and placed in the crawl space to ferment for goodness knows how long. For the first time I made a connection between what Sandor Katz has said about apple cider – i.e. give it oxygen and time and things will happen vs. what I have found to be succesful: dropping some champaign yeast into it. I did wonder that perhaps I did not need to add my yeast – but we will see what happens. Naturally sweet, it came in at 1.043 OG. If it fermnents all the way it should produce a 4.5% hard cider.
  • On the brewing front, I finally got to try the exbeeriment I made using sourdough starter. It was excellent and I did not expect that. What I have read notes that for sour brews one needs to think of lighter brews, pilsner and wheat malts, and light hopping. In this one I made a straight up ale with 2 row malt, and northdown hops. I was truly expecting sour, but did not get it. I’ve heard that the hops tend to kill off the lactic acid bacteria so if that happened it would definitely account for the lack of sour where it was present at the point I bottled it. Between the result noted above and this, I feel that I am much more in control and comfortable with my yeast situation and beer.
  • I’ve pureed and added fresh apple juice to my apple yeast sample, and have taken some of it to make a bread starter. Haven’t tried it yet – family is not eating enough bread.
  • I also was able to get a decent DIY stirplate going. Its super basic, and needs a lot more refinement, but I was able to use it to get a yeast happening for a 2 gallon brew. Since yeast needs oxygen in order to work well, stirring it is a good way to do this. In a stir plate, a magnet is on a motor spinning around. There’s another smaller magnet in your jar of yeast. The spinning magnet causes the other magnet to spin also. The trick is that you need to start things slowly and get it at an optimum speed for a whirlpool to happen. 20170923_110355[1].jpg
  • And to finish this blogging sequence off, my 2 gallon brew (I am trying to make a Kolsh but I have substituted so much that its likely turned out to be just another pilsner.) and its buddy, the apple cider. I can hardly wait until next week to see how they turned out. If I see any fermenting action I will just leave them there. You can see that the beer is already developing a nice Kreusen. The cider may take longer.

All of this goes to show how flexible, variable, and also powerful this microscopic fungi called yeast is. Its key to a significant number of foods and drinks we not just consume, but really enjoy. If anything, I hope these 2 blogs inspires people to experiment, to ask “what if….?” set up and experiment, and have fun with it!

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Backwoods sourdough

Sept 10

This blog is going to be a process blog where I don’t know quite where it will end up.  I’m also going to try to do this entirely on my phone.

Here’s the story. On the last weekend in September,  I will be going on a backwoods canoe trip facilitated by my very experienced son. It’s the first time for me and likely the last as my various commitments sadly tie me down.  Needless to say I’m really looking forward to it.

Yesterday at breakfast I had run out of bread and had only a sourdough bulk rise ready to be made into a loaf.  About 4 hours away. (Proofing baking& cooling). I tore a couple of small chunks from the bulk rise, flattened them out, put a little oil in a frying pan and a couple of minutes later, fresh delicious sourdough hotcake.  My son had one too and wondered about the potential for doing this for our trip. I said ‘sure, easy’ and showed him my lump of dough. He said “Too heavy like this. Can you do it so we only bring the flour? ” I said I would work on it.

I posed the question on a couple of Facebook forums. While there was interest, no one  (so far) had tried what I am trying to do though a couple noted that this is what Klondike miners must have done so many years ago.

My vision is to get a low hydration starter going – something that can stay in a ball. At supper I would take half of it mix it with just enough flour water and salt for an overnight bulk rise; add a little flour and water to keep the starter going. Next morning flatten out the dough into buns and fry on the stove.  If there are large flat rocks I could use them.

I’m about to try it all at home first – beginning with the starter. So for 100g of starter at 166% I need 104g  of flour to make it 65%. (try my hydration change calculator) This should yield 200g of 65% starter.

Best internet discussion I’ve found so far… https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/87645/

And I’ll keep adding to the blog as this experiment develops.

Sept 11

Last night I prepared my initial stiff starter. (I am of course in my house experimenting with nothing on the line.) This morning I peeled off half of it, (100g)  added a pinch of salt, flattened it with my hands only and put it on a hot skillet. The remainder of the starter is back in its jar, room temperature,  to be refreshed tonight.

Hotcake in dry skillet

The dough barely rose and felt stiff. Clearly a lot of work to do.

 

Little rise. Sadly its not like the result from my big bag of dough in the fridge. Taste is ok but then again its hot. That’s the idea though- to eat it right away. I have to double check my formula as the dough felt a lot stiffer than 65%.

The crumb shot as such.

So…. a little later in the morning I decided that if I liked the dough I had in the fridge then I should use it as a starter base. So: 50g dough  (1g salt) 100g flour and 65g water. This is how it starts:

The new starter dough

Experiments like this lead to strange places. This is a “french toast fritter pancake”. Instead of soaking a bread slice in egg, egg is kneaded into raw bread dough then fried in a really light coating of oil. Next time I should let it settle / rise for a bit. I’d definitely try it again.

September 12

All is working as it should. Last evening I mixed more flour and water into my starter  (66%) and this morning tore off a chunk of it, added a pinch of salt and cooked it dry on the stove top.  My son’s analysis: “it does the job”.

Next task: scale it up so it can feed 3, but keeping the same amount of starter. What I like so far is that it’s flexible and quite predictable.  The caution: get your heat right.  Less better.

.Sept 13

First a shout out to Bud who seems to be the only FB reader to truly get what I’m doing. Thanks for all your advice!

On my jog yesterday I figured out my weight proportions: there are 3 of us which at 100g per person suggests a dough of 300g plus 100g starter. 200g flour + 130g water gives a 65% hydration dough and a little more than enough per person.  This dough is set up the night before and in the morning split 4 ways. 1 put back in the bag and 3 get a pinch of salt added and are cooked. How much easier could this truly be? Next task: figure these quantities as volumes and not weights. Also give it a final test run.

Sept 15

I tried my first effort with the volume needed for our trip.  I made 3 different sizes/thicknesses. Essentially if one is doing a thick bun it needs to proof just like a loaf of bread. Thin buns are a lot more forgiving.

The 3 bun shapes tried.

The thickest one definitely needed proofing!

Sept 29

We leave tomorrow.  I’ve been given interesting challenges here: pancakes and naan. Both feature oil or butter in the mix.

Here’s how the pancakes could work: a zip lock big  bag with the following little bags within: 100g dough and 9g skim milk powder; a second with 100g flour; a third with 1g flour, 7g sugar,  2g salt,  7g baking powder.

Night before: mix dough and flour with almost a cup of water and gently mix until everything is evenly hydrated. Next morning add the third bag,  and some oil. mix gently leave for 30 minutes. Batter should be ready.

Camping notes

September 29

The starter dough

I put up one of my big 2.8kg basic doughs.  Some of  this went into a loaf for the wonderful person taking care of things while we are away. From this dough I took off 2 pieces of  hundred grams and put them in 2  large ziplock bags.  I also made up of three other Ziploc bags each with 200 grams of whole wheat flour in 4 grams of salt. These would  be the hot cakes to be made on the trip.

Panini sandwiches

Panini sandwiches for the first day lunch had been prepared the day before and day of our trip.  I took the remaining eight to nine hundred grams of my older bulk dough from the fridge,  rolled it out and laid on slices of butter as one would do for a croissant: It was folded and rolled out several times to make a laminated dough. The final roll was approximately one quarter to three eighths inch thick. It was then cut into rectangles about 4”  wide and left them to proof for about an hour. While they were proofing,  I prepared the Panini fillings: BBQ vegetables, cold meats, pickles, brie and cheddar slices. These all went into a couple of bags for assembly early the next morning.

I BBQ’d them on a medium heat about 1-2 minutes per side until they browned and expanded.

September 30th –  we depart

Paninis

These were made for lunch on the first day.   

Before we left I did the final prep. The paninis were thick enough that they could hold together well enough to be slit open easily and filled without breaking up and without breaking the hinge at the back of side of the bread. The butter laminate and grilling method ensured that the outside would stay together and so be fully functional as a sandwich. The completed sandwiches were wrapped liberally in wax paper and labeled. (This is important for later on).

We arrived at our departure point about 12:00PM. We wanted to get going and weren’t hungry. We left the outfitters in a rented  3 person canoe around 1 o’clock and by 3 o’clock we had reached our first portage. Out came the greatly appreciated paninis. The wax paper was carefully folded and returned to the pack.

Hot Cakes number 1

I realized when we were eating the Panini’s that I had not set up the dough for the hotcakes that evening.  Standing beside the biggest beaver dam I have ever seen I mixed the hundred grams of starter dough, 200 grams of flour and salt and  then eyeballed approximately 120 grams of water from my drinking bottle. I set about massaging the dough through the plastic bag, and  realized it would be about 4 hours before I was to cook them for dinner – and they had just begun their bulk rise.  I needed to get them along quickly with their fermentation so in the bag went, under my shirt and next to my tummy for what was to be a fast rise. There they stayed  for a further three hours of travelling and a difficult portage. Once we got once we got to the campsite and began our dinner prep the first thing to do was to extract  the dough  now happily bubbling away.  This dough was divided into 4 equal pieces: 1 was put back in the ziplock bag with the next batch of flour and salt, and again the water was eyeballed. Massaged sufficiently, it was stuck it back in the food pack for consumption the next day.

I retrieved the wax paper from the paninis and use them to flatten out the dough without getting my cutting board dirty.  I put another layer of used wax paper over them to protect them from fire embers and dust. They then proofed while the  rest of our dinner –  guacamole, whitefish, roasted vegetables  and chantarelle mushrooms was being prepared. Once the fish was cooked, in went the hotcakes, soaking up the remaining lovely  oil and butter deliciousness still in the pan from the fish, chanterelles and barbecued vegetables. The result was excellent. They were hot nicely risen nicely browned and delightfully flavored with the pan drippings.  

October 1  – Hang out at the campsite day

Pancakes

it was determined on our first morning we would have pancakes with homemade jam and summer sausage for breakfast. When you think about it, pancakes are really like a super hydration bread with some oil,  sugar, and baking soda.

For the pancakes I decided to approach these separately from the sourdough hotcakes and it’s a good thing I did because I needed to get them started at the same time as the hot cake dough the night before. I calculated that enough pancake mix for the three of us with mean 100 grams of starter dough at 66% (this was the second bag of dough I had prepared)  Here is how I thought it through: 100 grams.of dough @ 66% + 67 grams of water would give me 166% hydration. 100 g  flour + 4 g salt + 166 grams of water would likewise also give me a 166% hydration dough. I’d need to add  230 grams of water to the dry flour and starter  to make it happen. But that is not all.  This pancake mix (according to my pancake calculator based on Theresa Greenaway’s sourdough pancake recipe)  would also needs 7g sugar 2g  salt, 7g baking powder, and 9 g of skim milk powder.  Putting all of this together I had 3 separate zip lock bags

  1. 100g of 66% starter in a large zip lock bag
  2. 100g whole wheat flour in a small zip lock bag
  3. 15 g flour, 7 g sugar 3g of salt, 7g baking powder and 9g skim milk powder in  small zip lock bag.
  4. At our fish dinner, bags 1 and 2 were mixed together along with 230g of water – about a cup – eyeballed!  

I wanted this to proof overnight but I did not  want to add in the baking soda, milk  powder sugar mix  and oil until shortly before cooking. My son was a little concerned about  leaving this freezer bag of yukky liquid, sincerely hoping  it would not explode in the night  while in the food bag slung up in a tree to prevent bears or other creatures getting to it. The next morning after a night of 10-degree temperatures the bag was looking the way it should:  a nicely bubbling ferment. In went the bag of remaining flour and other stuff and also added a shot of sunflower oil – pancakes do  need oil for taste, texture and to  avoid sticking.  I have to say I was apprehensive about this mix, based as it was on quite theoretical assumptions  but they turned out amazingly.

Hotcakes 2

The second batch of hotcakes was for  lunch on the second day as an accompaniment to tomato soup. Again the first thing was to extract them from the bag, divide into 4, and put one back in the bag for the next batch. This batch I felt was a little dry so I added more water before turning it out. All went well  – as it did the night before.

One problem though – after a thorough check I could not find our final bag of flour/salt! Yikes! This was going to be for breakfast the next and final morning. Was it left behind? Must have been! There are  worse things in life.

Our  starter’s final hurrah

Going into our final campfire dinner, I still had the starter. We had planned to have mac and cheese, with rehydrated dried vegetables. What I had forgotten about in making mac and cheese was that you need a roux. The only flour I had left was in that little ball of starter dough. Necessity is the mother of invention and thus I made a valiant effort to convince a little piece of my remaining starter dough that it would have to serve up its life as flour for a roux.  It worked, barely  – with deft and quick stirring, lifting it off the flame, making it as roux like as I could, working the added cheese so it did not become a gloopy stiff chunk.

October 2  – heading back

The next morning I cooked what was left of the starter dough, and it all worked out well in the end. After sausage and trail mix, our food bag nearly exhausted, and we were fuelled for the 5 hour portage and canoe back.

Some conclusions are in order

  • Having hot fresh bread on your camping trip is a wonderful thing.
  • Sourdough camping can be done fairly easily.   70 grams of flour per person per serving is required, along with the 2% salt mixed in. A  100g ball of 66% starter is all that is needed to keep it going.
  • Camp sourdough it does not take a long time but it does need planning
  • It really does need one person committed  to doing  it.
  • Keep the starter in a large sturdy freezer bag and have a couple of other bags at the ready too.  
  • The cooler the temperature  the longer you have to proof it, and   vice versa.  If you need it quickly then you need to find a warm body.
  • There are lots of variations possible from pancakes to fritters to hotcakes. They can be fried or grilled or cooked on a hot flat rock. Cook it dry or in  butter, oil or  bacon grease.
  • One objection from my son was that the extra cooking uses up more heat. In our case it wasn’t on account of the hot cakes that we consumed a lot of fuel –  I was making  cedar tea in large quantities for one of our party who was feeling a little under the weather.
  • Next time (I hope there is a next time) I probably prefer to bring a whole bag of flour and dip into it as needed. That would have saved my bacon on this trip  There is also merit to having each meal laid out with its own bag of flour with the salt pre measured.

Perfect homemade pasta every time

This is going to be my shortest blog ever.

But it will show how you can make perfect homemade pasta each and every time.

Here is the trick. I’ll assume you have a pasta maker already.

Start by weighing your eggs (not your flour). 1 egg per person eating your wonderful ooh! and aahhh! homemade pasta.

Next divide the weight of the eggs by .6. This will be the weight of flour to use.

So if you are making pasta for 4 and your eggs weigh out to 215g, then 215/.6 = 358 which would be how much flour to add. The more precise you can be, the better will be your result.

This quite precise ratio will give you the precise amount of hydration to your dough so that when you put it through your pasta roller, it will be perfect. No extra flour needed, no extra water, no stickiness, no dryness either.

I’d like to add one note of warning, however. Even though your flour will appear to be completely dry grains, there is still some water content in it. I’ve found that different brands of semolinas require slightly different ratios in order to compensate. Its possible that the flour you have needs a 57% ratio – or in the case above, 215/.57 = 377g. You will know this if when using the 60% ratio it is too wet.

If you want to make something like spinach pasta, weigh the spinach or whatever it is, and add it to the weight of the eggs, because vegetables are 90% water so something like spinach would go on the wet side of the equation.

Something that has become apparent to me is that different brands of flours have quite different hydration points. The bulk semolina  my food coop used to sell was dry and worked great at 60% . Bob’s  semolina as well as Italian semolina locally available has a greater moisture content and needs a 50% hydration  (egg weight÷.5). 

Finally this post assumes you know how to cook said pasta in a great big pot of quite salty water…..

Homemade pizza in 30 minutes

True stuff! Make a homemade pizza in 30 minutes start to finish.
– oven to 450 pizzafeb2 (1)
– cornmeal on pizza stone & stick it in.pizzafeb2 (2)
– mix 300 g flour, 9g yeast, 6g saltpizzafeb2 (4)
– add 180g tepid water and knead until its thoroughly kneaded – about 3-4 minutes.pizzafeb2 (5)pizzafeb2 (6)
– roll out & put on a pizza peelpizzafeb2 (7)
– cut your toppings, grate your cheesepizzafeb2 (8)
– check oven temp. Add toppings when its at 400 degrees, not before.
– once it hits 450 slide her in for 10 minutes or so.pizzafeb2 (9)

Remove, pizzafeb2 (10)slice,pizza! bon appetite!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Of Flour and Water part 1: Make your own crackers!

In the last few days I’ve been playing with flour and water & feeling like a kid in a muddy slop.

More specifically, I have been wondering about Injera, the Ethiopean flatbread, (and how it can be used in other applications) and crackers. Yes –  crackers.

I’ve also been expanding my pasta horizons as well.

So lets start with the crackers!

For quite some time now I have been wondering about how to make these, thinking it couldn’t be too difficult – but that there was something missing. That something missing fell into place about a month ago when I was discussing this issue with Evelyn’s Crackers who do an amazing job on their core product. I was given one piece of advice, and that was all I needed: “lasagne roller”. It all fell into place after that.

I did some other reasoning as well. Like that the flour/liquid ratio was the same as a bread ratio – 5:3; like that salt was variable but would be at least 3% of the flour and go up from there, as saltiness is a key element of a successful cracker; that there is oil  – How much? I’ve settled on 10% of the flour weight – mainly the result of a measuring error. That appears to be the basics. You mix the dough, you knead it, you run it through your pasta maker until it is the desired thickness, you bake it in a really hot oven. These predictions turned out to be true – I did not need to deviate on my ratios – it was all quite straightforward.

But  – the key to any great cracker is its flavour – and here the possibilities are quite literally endless bounded only by your imagination and what is in your pantry or fridge.  I don’t really have guidelines around this beyond a process: start with a little, taste as you go, until it feels right. Do this before you put it through the pasta machine.

So … putting it all together is something of a recipe:

  1. Turn oven on to 375
  2. prepare dough: 200g flour, 100g water (or some other flavoring liquid), 10g salt, 20g oil. The water plus oil must give a 60% hydration. Here the 120g of oil and water are 60% of the flour weight.
  3. Knead dough briefly to thoroughly combine base ingredients
  4. Add flavours as desired: if you use additional liquid based flavours, you will need to correspondingly add more flour to maintain the hydration. You must weigh these out, and add a little more salt if you go down this road. Some of the dry flavour combinations I’ve used are taken from commercial and atrisinal products: flax/sesame, cumin/fennel, mediterranean herb and pepper, mustard/garlic. Use about 2 tbs dry mix in a 300g batch of dough. Taste to get a sense of how strong it is. You may need to crush any whole seeds as they may tear the dough as it goes through the rollers.
  5. Once you are pleased with the taste, run it through your pasta maker. The thickness depends on you. I tend to like the rollers set about mid way (#3 position) for the final run through.
  6. Oil a baking sheet, gently place your sheets on it, brush oil on top. cut them as you desire – or not at all.
  7. Bake for approximately 12 minutes – assuming you rolled them as thinly as you can get away with. Thicker, and you will need more time. Check them after 12 minutes.They should be browned and crunchy.

And here’s the end result: 

Make great energy bars!

I first got onto this a little over a year ago. If I’m not mistaken, my son had made an expedition to Costco to buy a case of Cliff bars, and I thought, “What is really in these things? Can I not do better?”

My next thought went to the granola I was making. I figured that an energy – or granola bar (there really is not a lot of difference) would have the same base of stuff in it – carbs in the form of grains, protein in the form of nuts, sweetener to provide some quick sugar in the form of honey and/or dried fruit.

So…. I wanted it to be nutritious, really tasty, organic if possible, give a good solid kick to a flagging athlete, and just as importantly, to not crumble apart.

On this last item, I  had to do a little searching and talking. To begin with, my friend Chuck suggested that I grind the nuts  – or at least some of them to a fine paste  – like a nut butter.Image

Next, an energy bar rep giving free samples whispered, “the secret ingredient is dates”. This made a lot of sense. They are very sticky, intensely sweet, and give some pretty fast energy. There was one other item I figured out on my own – egg whites. With the various eggs benedict and mayo that gets made around here, there are usually egg whites begging to be used. What a great additional source of both binding and protein!

The final piece of keeping them stuck together was the temperature. I cook granola at 300  – and this is too low for effective caramelization. I felt putting it up near 400 would be too much – the sides would get burned, possibly the top too. So I tried – and settled on 375. If your oven has a convection setting, use that.This provides sufficient heat it seems for it all to get nicely cooked, and not fall apart.

I also wanted a certain logic and simplicity to the recipe. Perhaps that is code for a ratio or proportion.

My granola has equal parts grains and nuts. I decided for these guys to double the nuts, but still overall the proportion of oil, cinnamon and vanilla to dry mix had to be about the same as the granola. This meant adding to the nuts, and reducing the grains.

In the realm of sweetener, I increased the honey – not quite double – about 80% more. In part this was to make it all a tidy ratio-based recipe.

Finally, almost as an afterthought – a “why not add some more protein” kind of afterthought, I threw in some skim milk powder.

Here then, is the complete recipe. The numbers in brackets are the ratios. This will make exactly one 11×17 tray.

B’s High Protein Energy Bars

Ingredients
Dry ingredient mix
240 g mixed grains – mainly oats (4)
480g mixed nuts (8). Fine grind half the nut mix; course chop the other half
120 g dates, in a paste (2)
7 g cinamon
60 g skim milk powder (1)
Wet ingredient mix
60g oil (1)
240g honey (4)
5 ml vanilla extract
2 egg whites, whipped and added to liquid mix (~1)

Additional flavorings  

Its up to you! A cup or so  of each of whatever you want to make them special – chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, currants, mango……..

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly
  • Press down into a cookie tray about 1/4″ thick. The back of a  metal serving spoon coated with cooking oil works well for this.
  • Add in any extras – currants, mango, coconut, chocolate
  • Cut into squares with pizza cutter
  • Bake in preheated oven @375, for 23 minutes on the middle rack.
  • Remove & let cool.

There’s one other piece to note in this. Food processing dates can be nasty  – they are so sticky! I have broken at least one food processor blade doing this. A few months ago I took a huge pile of dates, removed the pits and put them through my meat grinder, yielding what I can only call date paste. I now spoon this out into the bars. It could also be used for date bars.

I tried a few new things in today’s recipe:

  • I thoroughly combined the date paste with the fine ground nut mix.
  • I slightly heated the honey and olive oil, whipped them to achieve a temporary emulsion, into which I added the egg whites and vanilla, and whipped them again.
  • I kneaded the whole mixture by hand until it was well combined Image
  • I then pressed it into the pan and added my toppings after it was spread evenly. The toppings were nudged and encouraged to combine with the mix by a rather persuasive oiled spoon shown below. This is different than previous practice when I would mix the toppings in a series of separate bowls, then add them all separately. I don’t think it matters much – It was faster this way.
  • Another option would be to add only half the mix and spread it evenly in your pan. Then add the ‘extra’ ingredients on top. Then add on the other half of the grain/nut/honey/date mix.
  • A further option is to lay a sheet of waxed paper over the sheet and gently roll it flat. Once its even, peel back the waxed paper, cut into desired squares and of course bake.

And here is the final result! Image

Granola

Today is Granola day. Its also Sourdough bread day, and Energy bar day.

Its also quite wet outside, so a great excuse to stay inside and cook up some of these totally comfort staples.

I started making my own granola almost 2 years ago. Like everything else I develop a recipe for, start by looking what is already out there, analysing the common elements in the recipe, and experimenting, usually wanting to boil it all down to a basic memorable ratio that is the base product.

So for granola, the keys are grains, nuts, cereal, oil and sweetner. I also knew I wanted it to be as healthy as it could be, and so there was a commitment to using only organic ingredients and to use honey as the sweetner.

Here’s what my mise en place looks like: 

How I got to my current ratio is now lost in the mists of time, but here is the final recipe. The ratios are at the bottom of the recipe. I guess I did not quite succeed in the area of simplicity.   This will fill a 2 litre jar – about 1 kilo.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Ingredients
365 g mixed grains – mainly oats
365 mixed nuts, dried fruit
60g oil
150g honey
5 ml vanilla extract
7 g cinamon
Preparation

  1. Weigh and chop nuts in food processor
  2. Weigh and mix dry ingredients including cinnamon.
  3. Weigh and thoroughly mix wet ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients in container you will cook them in.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven, for 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Return to oven and continue baking until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir and cook for 10 minutes more.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing. Stir every 5 minutes as it is cooling to prevent sticking

This is what it should look like …… alongside a tray of energy bars.


Ratios:
Grains:nuts = 1:1
grains: liquid= 7:2
oil:honey = 2:5
5ml vanilla: 900g mix
7g cinnamon: 900g mix

Enjoy!