Wednesday, March 3, 2010

HBinFive Bread Braid 5

I have a little "business" to attend to before we get started here with the bread assignment. I just want to say that I plan to work on my photography in due time. It's been enough just getting this blog started, figuring out how to do things, and focusing on the writing.

I also have to admit that I am not sure I enjoy photographing the food I have made. So, I have to ponder all this a bit, work on the skills, and then decide how to make it interesting to me.

I beckoned Husband for help with the Aloo Paratha and focaccia pictures, after the flash was drowning out the images. Those of you who are naturals at the whole photography part of blogging probably find my struggles amusing.

I must have some kind of eye, as I am an art historian by background. I did take photography classes in college, learning with a 35mm film camera that I received as a gift one Christmas. I managed to walk off and leave that camera sitting on a stone wall at a museum in New Mexico. Woops.

What I really enjoyed was taking black and white still-lives.

Now, on to the bread.

I was a follower with this assignment using the the Whole Wheat with Olive Oil dough. I did not stray too far from the recipes for the Aloo Paratha and Southwestern focaccia.

My loaf of Whole Wheat Olive Oil bread turned out just fine, and we enjoyed it as toast with butter and raspberry jam. It is a hearty bread, with a nutty flavor. If I didn't know otherwise, I would have guessed that it had honey in it.

I was worried that my baking stone would forever smell like curry if the filling from my Aloo Paratha burst out, but everything stayed nicely tucked inside. I was surprised by how easily this filled bread came together.

Husband really liked this. He made O. her own basic mashed potato version from some locally made fresh pizza dough that our co-op sells.

I'm not sure why we buy this dough, other than Husband feels more comfortable with "his" dough, and I am more comfortable with mine! He flattens his with his hands, and I roll mine out with a rolling pin. The fact that his dough costs a dollar and change allows us to indulge our comfort zones.

Making this recipe reminded me just how long it has been since we have cooked Indian food. Before O. was born, we cooked it often, and went out to Indian restaurants frequently. Once we no longer had as much time for meal preparation, this cuisine was dropped in favor of less time-consuming cooking.

We ate our Indian bread for two dinners while watching curling during the final weekend of the Olympics.

If any of you tuned in to watch the Games during non-prime time, you may have noticed that there was a lot of curling being shown. We started calling NBC, "Nothing But Curling".

When O.'s PE teacher asked her class if anyone knew what curling was, O. was the only one to raise her hand. She said it was a cleaning sport with a stone!

Back to the bread.

The Southwestern Focaccia reminded me of another cuisine that we use to dabble in. We honeymooned in that region, and I used to grow many varieties of chile peppers. Once O. was no longer eating baby food, the spices were neglected in our kitchen, and I turned to Mediterranean inspired meals, particularly Italian.

I spent a long time in the co-op shopping for the Southwestern Focaccia ingredients. I wasn't sure I wanted to use Summer food. Sometimes, though, I really need to follow a recipe closely the first time and then decide what changes I might make.

In the end, I chose frozen corn, canned tomatoes, and an organic, orange bell pepper from Mexico. I selected New Jersey, hydroponic basil, which looked far fresher than the limp cilantro. The Pequa goat cheese I used is also local.

I rolled my dough to 1/2 inch thick, and proceeded as directed.

When I tasted the focaccia, I tasted two things. The bread and the goat cheese. Everything else was canceled out by these strong flavors.

My feeling is that next time I would make such a focaccia with no more than three toppings, maybe carmelized onions, corn and cilantro. Otherwise, I would roll the dough to the 1/8 inch pizza depth and use more toppings.

My Italian cooking has taught me to let a flavor or two shine, using the freshest, most seasonal ingredients. I think that philosophy may be applied no matter what the cuisine.


  1. Your loaf looks wonderful! I wish I could get as good of a rise on a baking stone but I still need to work on it!

    Looks like you had fun with this dough. All 3 of your recipes came out great. Love how much filling you had in the Aloo Paratha!

    I don't use a flash for food photography. If your camera has a micro setting try using that with no flash and see how that works for you.

  2. I agree with Michelle on the macro setting. I stumbled across that one by accident and finally pulled out the owners manual to read a little. I am planning on getting some lights after the move. With your love for stills the bread should be a great object to click. Your breads look great.

  3. yep...when photographing food....flash is not your friend. but you did good.....your breads look wonderful!

  4. Michelle, Petra and Danielle,

    Thanks for your suggestions and insight. I will give that setting a try.

  5. Your breads look wonderful! I know what you mean about the photography. It's not my strong suit either but you did really well.

  6. Very nice job on your breads!!!

  7. I love taking pictures of people but food has been a constant struggle for me. I think yours looks good. I will have to try not using my flash.

  8. I am so jealous of your loaf of bread! It is positively beautiful. I am having a real struggle getting mine to raise properly. All 3 of your items look delish and I love your philosophy of allowing one or 2 flavors to shine with the freshest ingredients.. gonna try to remember that. Thanks!

  9. My problem with photography is getting dough and flour off the camera. nice job with all your breads.

  10. Great job! I agree with Old Pop--I grab the camera in between steps and end up with flour or dough all over it. In fact, my hubby knows I have been baking when he comes home and finds flour on the fridge handle, on the stove, or on a cabinet....

    Everything looks yummy and I love your stories. NBC, huh!!! :)

  11. What wonderful loaves of bread. Welcom to the group!



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