Filed under: baking, project updates, where the flour went | Tags: biscuits, bread, Chicago, decorative breadmaking, dinner rolls, pie, pizza, seattle, thanksgiving
Hey, so maybe it’s time for me to tell y’all what I did with my flour…
Presented below, in no particular order, are the occasions of how I personally used the flour to nourish others in the spirit of the project. I baked for a number of other events related to the Industrial Harvest itself, but these activities are more personal in nature.
For Thanksgiving 2010, I made two batches of dinner rolls and one pear-honey-walnut pie for two different Thanksgiving dinners in Seattle. The rolls were a recipe my mom sent me, and turned out PERFECTLY for the first dinner, which was held on the official Thanksgiving day at our place with a few friends. We try to do up a proper feast, usually vegetarian or vegan, every year and as the photo shows, we had a lot to be thankful for this year. Rolls are in the “wicker chicken” breadbasket, center top; pie is to the right of the rolls. You may also spy stuffing, two varieties of white potatoes and one of sweet potatoes, succotash with great-grandma’s heirloom red limas, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, a squash-pecan pie and two breastlike tofu turkey mounds in a sea of roasted root veggies:
The dinner rolls were the exception to an otherwise vegan dinner. I made another batch for a larger Thanksgiving celebration a week later but cooked them in the host’s oven and they turned out underdone (still totally edible and appreciated).
The pear honey walnut pie made at least three appearances over the summer and fall, most recently at Thanksgiving. It turned out to be the perfect pie for late summer, as pears are in season and you can always substitute apples or asian pears. Here’s one example (from the illustration on the top crust, this one probably has apples or asian pears in it):
Our Chicago household (myself included) was partial to breakfasting on this pie – there’s barely any sugar in it, and the walnuts add enough protein to get you through the morning.
I made a lot of biscuits. I probably make biscuits more than any other baked good, and in Chicago that meant several batches for the housemates and myself, some vegan, some with lard, some with buttermilk depending on all our various dietary quirks. Back in Seattle, I made biscuits for a couple of different visitors, and a couple of batches for myself and my husband. Sadly, there are no pictures of the biscuits.
And then there was the pizza. I got tons of practice making pizza last summer – grilled, wood-oven fired, stovetop, plain old oven baked, I did it all. My favorite episode involved bringing a bunch of excess dough and homemade pizza sauce (made with fresh midwest tomatoes from my housemate’s garden plot!) home to a little family reunion in Ohio, the first we’ve had in years. Mom was happy to be absolved from some cooking duties, and the huge batch of pizza that resulted fed everyone at the reunion with slices to spare.
Another epic pizza making session took place on another homecoming – the day of I returned from Chicago to Seattle, which also happened to be my birthday. We’d invited a bunch of friends over to make pizza as a welcome home / birthday celebration and I pretty much rolled off the train and started rolling dough. The hilarity in the kitchen that ensued was well worth it…there’s some goofy documentation of the evening here.
I did try bread baking a couple of times, with reasonable success. These loaves were made for our Chicago household on a verrrry hot July day, right after the flour was finished milling. They’re not the prettiest, but they were tasty.
And lastly, there’s this decorative bread medallion. It was inspired by a Bread Bakers’ Guild of America newsletter article on artistic breadbaking, which included a recipe. Compared to the lovely, highly refined decorative breads produced by the pros, my effort was pretty crude. Nor did it technically nourish anyone, but as one of the few actual art pieces produced as part of Industrial Harvest, I was somehow happy with it and felt it deserved a place in this list. It was one of three made for the show at Roots & Culture. You can see the others here (one fell apart shortly after the opening).
Filed under: baking, project updates, where the flour went | Tags: beer, Chicago, industrial harvest, industrial harvest flour, pie, pizza, report-back, wheat
Continuing the report-back from the flour giveaways, here’s three more. There is no real theme for them other than they pleased me: one because it had to do with beer, one because of the connection to my Washington state home, and one because it’s just super sweet. Actually, they are all super sweet and in different ways exemplify the sharing I hoped would come out of this process. Hopefully it’s not too annoying to read these email threads; I like presenting the reports the way they actually came to me (I have made minor edits to correct for typos and such).
The first is from N. who bravely took home several pounds of wheat berries to use to make a wheat beer. She is, so far, the only person who committed to using the wheat in the brewing process, although I haven’t heard a final report from her on how the beer turned out. I recently started brewing up my very first batch of homebrew so finally understand how it all works. The flour N. took ended up feeding the annual Brew Not Bombs fundraiser in Chicago this past September:
From: N –
Date: Thu, September 30, 2010 9:19:26 PM
Subject: Re: industrial harvest update & upcoming events
So….You gave me flour and whole wheat berries. I haven’t yet used the berries but I plan to roast them and then make beer. With the flour, I made a huge batch of caraway almond biscuits for Brew Not Bombs and they were devoured by ravenous anarchists and beer lovers. My friend also used some of the flour to bake loaves of sourdough bread which was also DELICIOUS and served to kids at Brew Not Bombs to allow the beer drinking to continue late into the night.
Thanks so much…I also put little notes out at Brew Not Bombs about how the wheat came from Industrial Harvest. I’ll keep you updated about the beer.
Next up, these notes from a couple who brought the flour on a trip to Washington state and shared it with their host:
Date: Tue, October 5, 2010 9:56:18 AM
Subject: Industrial harvest flour!
Hi, Sarah! This is E. My girlfriend contacted you earlier. We received some of your flour from Edible Alchemy in Chicago and used it to make this handsome apple pie while couch-surfing with T. in Walla Walla, WA.
Thanks so much for the flour and the fun!
Date: Tue, September 28, 2010 10:46:55 AM
Subject: Wheat tracking
I think your wheat project is wonderful. I hope everyone who gets word of your project appreciates the nourishment as much as I do. My lover, E. and I got about 3 lbs of flour from your wheat from ECO and took it with us on our summer vacation which began in mid August and lasted for three weeks. During our trip, we visited Walla Walla, Washington for the first time. Also for the first time, we couch-surfed with a collage student there, T. It was a new experience for us and to show our appreciation to our host, we used a bunch of your flour to make a beautiful apple pie which we all shared. It was delicious. Thanks!
to thine own self be true
And lastly, I talked to this woman at the Hull House and she, her father and her son were all dedicated bakers. She was very excited to have three generations of her family participating in this project, and later forwarded me this sweet email from her father (note the awesome review of the flour’s performance!):
From: R –
Date: Mon, August 30, 2010 7:50:46 AM
Subject: Fwd: Pizza
I saw your talk at the Lill Street Art Center and got some flour from you. I gave it to my dad, who is a retired chef, and has more time to bake than I do. He absolutely loved it. Thanks so much!
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 8:23 PM
I thank you for giving me the experience of working with the best flour I’ve worked in my chef life for the last 12 years.
The natural gluten and the freshness of the flour gave me a perfect dough. I’m sorry you are not here to enjoy this wonderful Marguerite pizza.
Filed under: baking, project updates, where the flour went | Tags: artisan breadbaking, brick oven, Chicago, culinary school, greenfield mills, industrial harvest flour, kendall college, melina kelson, pizza, two boots brooklyn
I was invited by Melina Kelson, who teaches the artisan breadbaking class at Kendall College Culinary Schoool, to spend this morning talking to her class and baking pizza / foccacia in the brick oven she built with 4 students last year. Today was the last class day of an intense session, where students come to class for 10 days straight, 6 am – noon. Finals are tomorrow, so today was sort of a fun day. The dough was made with the Industrial Harvest all-purpose flour, which Melina was quite happy with. She said it is perfectly aged and working beautifully. Greenfield Mills does it again – !
…and it is covered and left to proof. The many gaps between breadbaking tasks leave plenty of time for short lectures, so we’d talk in between. We spent an entire break talking about the specifics of my futures transaction – pretty impressive! The students asked lots of great questions and made it easy and fun to talk about what I was doing.
Here, Melina (center) demonstrates rolling out pizza dough. I’ve seen this done many different ways, and Melina started with a rolling pin and then began to stretch the dough with her knuckles. Her tip: stretch the edges, the middle will take care of itself.
We migrate out into the courtyard, where the oven has been heating up all morning, and Melina loads the pizza in the oven. She cracks an egg on top right before it goes in. The oven needs to be at least 450 degrees, preferably hotter.
We also got to make our own pizzas, and the students shared their dough with me and showed me the ropes. Hannah was on top of it enough to suggest that she take a picture of my pizza going in the oven. Having worked in at least 3 pizza restaurants in my “career” in the restaurant industry, I had collected a number of tips over the years: don’t use too much sauce or cheese, oregano goes in pizza sauce (not basil, that goes in pasta sauce), and brush the crust with olive oil. There were so many toppings that it was tough to decide what to do, but I went with olives, mushroom, mozzarella and parmesan.
The finished pizza – a couple blackened blisters which could have meant a re-do at Two Boots, but overall was great. All in all, a pretty good morning’s work – I took it home and we had lunch, with 2 pieces left for dinner. Thanks so much to Melina and all the students for creating such a sharing, welcoming atmosphere – I really had a blast playing chef for a few hours.
Filed under: baking | Tags: flatbread, mike glodo, pita, pizza, stovetop breads, summer, whole wheat
Yet another thing I did not really think about when I planned this whole adventure was that I’d be taking on a project that involves a great deal of baking in the summertime. We’ve had a few days of 90 degree heat already, and the mere thought of turning on a 450 degree oven on top of that makes me start sweating (well, we’re always sweating these days so nothing’s really different, and not that I’m complaining, but it still doesn’t really make for good cooking weather). Then last week, as if he’d heard my plight through the psychic friends network, Industrial Harvest fan Mike Glodo sent along an email with a few recipes for stovetop breadmaking. Three variations on non-yeasted, fast and easy flatbreads that require no oven time, just a hot griddle – which I pass along to you now, pretty much verbatim:
PIZZA / PITA / NOT PAPADUM BUT GOOD
About 1 cup all-purpose flour
Add 1/2 t kosher/pickling salt (no iodine)
Olive oil 2t to 1T
Water about 1T
Flour close by for your hands (this gets sticky)
Put flour and salt into wide flat bowl. Have big metal spoon handy.
Form a well in the middle.
Pour a little water and oil into the well.
Use spoon to gather in flour from outside well.
It clumps. Good. Mix it around a bit, add more water and oil, continue gathering until the dry ingredients are pretty much gone. Form into a ball, cover with plastic (I use a recycled tortilla wrapper, just rinse it off after use and it’s already food-grade). Stick it in the fridge for 20-30 mins (not essential, but improves texture)
Then: Take about 1T of dough, drop it into some flour (de-stickys it) and roll it into a ball. Roll out thin on a floured surface into ~4-5″ diameter disc.
For stove top pizza – plop into a moderately hot small cast iron (preferred) pan. Make sure all ingredients (garlic/cheese/sausage/whatever) all ready to go before you drop the disc. This moves fast. Flip over and add ingredients (dried basil, diced garlic, olive oil, parm, ricotta, f’r instance). Cover loosely with a pot lid to drive heat to surface (but you don’t want to steam it)
In the oven: Add topping, put the pan in oven and git ‘er done. Takes about 8 mins in oven.
Bake at 500 degrees or so; put disc into a warm cast iron pan (as above) but don’t flip and add ingredients to the surface.
The difference here is that with the same dough, you’re going to roll it out *thicker* and put it onto a much hotter pan. This seals the bottom of the bread, and drives steam (usually!) and starts to bubble up the top. Once you see the top clearly start to separate in a couple of places, flip it.
Use the same dough, thin or thick or even thinner. Once dough is rolled out into the disc, sprinkle on red pepper flakes or garlic or dried basil or caraway seeds or fennel seeds or coarse black pepper. Mix and match is cool. Roll into surface of the dough, flip, roll in some more. These can be dry fried (remember, there’s some olive oil in the bread) or in a little butter or oil.
They are great with anything that looks like raita or tzadziki etc. Drain whole milk yoghurt, add some salt, cumin, lemon juice, mashed garlic, olive oil. Bash it about, let it rest in the fridge to tighten up. Great also for scooping up curried whatevers.
Main thing – the dough preparation takes maybe five minutes. Stick it in the fridge, and the cooking goes pretty fast after rolling them out. You can also iterate proportions of cake (pastry) flour. I jack up that in this same recipe to about 1/3 soft flour to 2/3 bread when I use almost the same recipe to make flour tortillas. Soft flour makes ’em a little more foldable.
I haven’t tried these exact formulas yet, but the same night I received Mike’s missive I was making up some pita dough using this recipe expressly for the purpose of stovetop flatbread, with the whole wheat pastry flour. We topped them with a fava bean / tomato / onion /olive oil mixture, pesto, some arugula and cheese here and there. Once I got the skillet temperature worked out, they were absolutely delicious. The pastry flour did make them deliciously soft and pliable and not too tough / chewy/grainy tasting, despite using 100% whole wheat flour. With Mike’s recipe we could have saved ourselves a bunch of time by not worrying about the yeast or rising the dough, so take his advice if you want to have more time for summer things and less time and fuss in the kitchen. Enjoy!