Daring Bakers December Challenge: Sour Dough & French Country Bread

Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

I have made sourgh dough bread before - but mine was made with rye flour (post in German).I liked the idea of making bread myself, especially after I watched a tv documentary about frozen-and-baked at the spot bread and breadrolls wich are used in lots of supermarkets and bakeries nowadays. The big bunch of enzymes used in those goods are not my kind of idea how to achieve good quality bread. So I gladly jumped in back to the roots and just the use of flour, water, salt and time.
There has been a book n my shelv for a while I wanted to bake all the recipes from the beginning to the end - The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhard. I made two ore three recipes but didn't manage to go further. Thanks to this challenge my 'bread sparkle' is back, because the French Country Bread I made was astonishing. I used a ceramic baking plate (last year's christmas present from a friend) which is suppode to produce a really good crust - and it worked!  At first I was a little bit afraid because I had no proofing basket and the dough came out really flat onto that plate, but it got all right in the end.

The second task which came which the challenge was to 'showcase' the baked bread. A lot of ideas came into my mind, recipes I made before. There where French toasts (especially good for leftovers) or 'Arme Ritter' how we call them here. Or 'Strammer Max' which is basically bread covered in ham and fried egg, a popular cheap dish. I remember we eat lots of it during study time, using cheese and ketchup in addition. Old bread is always good for bread & butter pudding - don't throw it away! My favourite dish is 'Schweizer Brotauflauf' - Swiss bread pudding  which is savoury. Here is a similar recipe from epicurious - Savory Bread Pudding with Asparagus, Gruyère, and Fines Herbes.

I wanted something special for my special bread, and I decided for my own version of a famous French dish - Coq au vin. I served the warm dish onto the (dry roasted) bread which made a great christmas meal.

Coq et lapin au vin rouge

What is a graet winter dish especially around christmas time? Something warm with a bunch of spices of course. I had a couple of bottles red wine and some frozen meat into the freezer which were supposed to be put together into a pan. Inspired by dishes like Brunswick Stew (a Daring Cooks Challenge) and a risotto with rabbit and black olives, I decided to create my version of the French classic Coq au vin.

Daring Cooks December Challenge: Char Sui & Char Sui Bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Char Sui is a Cantonese dish and nothing else than barbecued (pork) meat. Char Sui Bao is a bread bun with a Char Sui filling - Char Sui to go if you like ...

I didn't feel like blogging lately. I guess my annual winter depression (especially because of the lack of light) is around the corner, and my other new (excessive) hobby - knitting - are the two main reasons. My work is exhausting me, and even the joy of cooking and baking isn't enough to compensate. I didn't skip the last challenges because I didn't like them but because I couldn't get myself motivated to stand in the kitchen and concentrate for at least an hour or two.

Today, against all odds like bad time, terrible photo conditions because of the artificial light and another tiring round of overtimes, I found my way to my favourite place (besides the couch) in my appartment. I'm glad I did because now it smells ridiciously good. The buns are just ouf of the oven and I haven't had such a good outcome in a while. The marinade is similar to the one for BBQ chicken I discovered into a cooking book years ago and have used in lot of variations since. Well, I think this one wan't invented by the author of that book, wasn't it? There were lot's of variations given for cooking the meat, but I decided for the oven method (simple & easy). The result was incredible, the meat was soft and tasty (I marinated over 10 hours), and some of it dissappeared somewhere during the filling-preparing process. Must have been the occasionally occuring black hole which crossed my kitchen from time to time (although my man isn't present right now). I think the buns with their soft texture and moist & spicy filling won't last any longer ...