Gas station without pumps

2022 March 4

Strawberry muffins

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I was planning to do my bread-and-tea event in person today, using the bread machine, but the weather forecast is for it to be damp and chilly this afternoon, and we are still requiring masking indoors, so I decided to continue with Zoom bread and tea for one more time.  But I had not started a yeast dough, and there is not a lot of time, so I decided to do a quick bread.  I originally thought of doing biscuits, but my wife requested that I make strawberry muffins instead, as that is what she had been planning to accompany tonight’s meal anyway.  She suggested that I adapt the “basic buttermilk muffins” recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

We don’t have any buttermilk in the house, but we do have milk, and (for this recipe) a little vinegar added to the milk serves as an adequate substitute for buttermilk.

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl:

1½ cups pastry flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl:

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1⅓ cups milk
4 teaspoons champagne (or rice) vinegar
⅓ cup sunflower oil
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease muffin tins (recipe should make about 12 muffins).

Mix wet and dry ingredients with a silicone spatula or spoon, making sure that there aren’t any pockets of flour, but don’t over-mix the batter.  Scoop the batter into the muffin tins, filling nearly to the top.

Bake for about 23 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tins.

Here are the muffins—they came out of the muffin tins very easily, with no sticking.

2022 January 27

Mixer-bowl bread again

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:46
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Once again I’m trying a bread baked in the bowl for our KitchenAid mixer, similar to Mixer-bowl bread.

On Wednesday I made a sponge using

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water

I let it rise for a day, and Thursday morning I took out one cup of the sponge to refrigerate for future sourdough.  I then added

1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (Droste)
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup warm water.

While mixing with the dough hook, I gradually added

3 cups whole-wheat flour

The dough was quite dry this time. I turned the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and kneaded by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured though there really was no danger of it sticking.  This used another

⅛ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a fairly stiff dough.  I put it in a mixing bowl (not the one from the mixer) with a little olive oil and turned it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  I’ll let it rise for about 20 hours with a damp cloth covering the bowl.

Friday morning, I’ll grease the bowl of the KitchenAid mixer with

cocoanut oil

and turn the dough into the mixer bowl.

Let it rise in the new bowl for 6 hours. Bake at 400°F for about an hour Unitli the center of the loaf is about 150°F), then remove from bowl and bake on tiles for another 20 minutes (until the center of the loaf is around 193°F).

Here is the finished loaf (much smaller than previous mixer-bowl loaves, probably because of the stiffer dough):


2022 January 20

Red bean paste buns again

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For this week’s bread-and-tea I want to make bean-paste bao again.  I already posted the recipe I used for making the koshi-an (sweet red-bean paste) and a recipe for the bao dough, so this post will just have an updated recipe for the dough.

I made the koshi-an tonight, and it looks and tastes like it should, though the azuki beans are probably getting dried out, as it took about 8 hours of simmering to get them soft enough to push through the food mill.  I’m always amazed how the bean paste looks so grey and crumbly after the water is squeezed out, and adding the sugar makes it even paler and drier-looking, but heating and stirring makes it shine with the lovely red-bean-paste color.

For the bao, I am still adapting the recipe from Mai Leung’s Dim Sum and Other Chinese Street Food. I don’t have cake flour or pastry flour in the house, but I do have all-purpose flour. I did once try cutting all-purpose flour with sweet rice flour, but the results were terrible, so this time I’ll just try using straight al-purpose flour.

Furthermore, our household has gone vegan for January (veganuary), so I won’t use lard or butter.  I have a choice of a vegetable shortening made from red palm oil and coconut oil or pure coconut oil. Since I think that the palm oil has worse ecological impact than coconut oil, I’ll try the pure coconut oil this time.  It shouldn’t matter if it imparts a bit of coconut flavor to the dough, since I’m using a sweet filling.

Step 1:

1 tsp yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
½ cup sifted all-purpose flour

Mix together and proof for fifteen minutes.

Step 2:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup warm water

Mix with the sponge from step 1 and let rise for 2 hours (until doubled).

Step 3:

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
¼ cup slightly warm water

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and baking powder, then knead with the dough from Step 2, gradually adding the coconut oil and water. The dough was very dry, so I added an extra two teaspoons of water.  The dough was still rather dry, but seemed kneadable. 

Roll the dough into a sausage shape about 1½ inches in diameter, cut into 12 equal pieces and roll each one into a ball. Keep covered with a damp towel. Let rise until more than doubled (about 3.5 hours). I did the rising after the rolling into balls, rather than before, this time.

Cut 12 3-inch squares of waxed paper.  Roll each ball into a circle about 2½ inches in diameter, but no thinner than ¼” thick. (Using my cookie sticks!) Pinch the outer edges to be a little thinner. Wet the outermost ½” of edges of the circle with a wet fingertip, to encourage sealing.

Put about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the circle, then pull up the edges and pinch and twist them to seal. Put the bun flat-side-down on a waxed paper square. Let the buns rise for 30 minutes before steaming.

Keep the buns at least ½ inch apart in the steamer, and steam for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Steamed buns can be frozen and thawed, then re-steamed.

21 Jan 2022: Here are the photos of the bao that I promised yesterday—about 5 of the 12 seem to have sealed ok, so I need to either make the dough wetter or do something to improve my technique. (Colored text above are modifications to the post since yesterday.)


The 12 bao in the bamboo steamer.


The five that did not open up too much on a black platter.

2022 January 14

Pane integrale

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:05
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Last week I baked focaccia (using roughly the recipe in Sourdough focaccia 2), so this week I’ll try a different Italian bread: pane integrale, based on the recipe Marcella Hazan’s More Classic Italian Cooking.  Despite the name, only about ⅓ of the flour is whole-wheat flour. I’m adapting the recipe to work with my sourdough starter.

Day 1: I started with a light sponge to rise and sour overnight. Mix

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon sugar

together in large bowl.  Cover and let rise overnight.

Day 2: Stir down and remove one cup of mixture for new sourdough starter. To the remaining sponge, add

½ cup whole wheat flour

and let rise for another day.

Day 3 (the day of baking): Mix into the sponge

1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt

with bread hook. Knead in an additional

¼ cup bread flour

by hand, to get a smooth dough. Place the ball of dough in a bowl with a little oil (turning to coat the ball with oil), cover, and let rise 3–4 hours until doubled.  The dough seemed a little dry to me—there may have been enough evaporation from the long rising of the sponge that I should have increased the water.

Knead the bread again “for a few seconds”.  Divide the dough into two parts and shape into ovals. Our family refers to this bread as football bread, because the shape is like an American football, but Marcella Hazan calls them “cigar-shaped rolls”. Perhaps because of the dough being a little too dry, I could not get the shaped loaves to cohere—I may need to add a ¼ cup more water next time I try this recipe.

Preheat oven to 450°F (which means setting 500°F on my oven).  While the oven is warming up, let the dough rest on baking parchment.  Just before baking, make a single, 1″ deep lengthwise slash of each loaf.  Brush the loaves with water (oops, I forgot to brush them) and slide onto the baking tiles in the oven.

Bake at 450°F for 12 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350°F (about 400° setting on my oven) and bake for another 35 minutes.  Cool for a couple hours on a rack before serving.

The loaves “exploded” in the oven—the lack of cohesion in the shaping becoming rather obvious.

2021 June 25

Retirement present from my students

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:56
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Several of the students in my applied analog electronics course got together to get me a retirement present, which was very sweet of them.  They gave me two “foodie” books: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and Renaissance Recipes by Gillian Riley.  A dozen of the students wrote notes on the end papers of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It was a very sweet and thoughtful present. Somewhat surprisingly, my wife and I did not own either of these two books in our collection of about 140 cookbooks (which include over a dozen renaissance cookbooks and at least nine books on baking bread).

The students also gave me an apron with silk screening: 

The Man   The Myth




I suppose I should pick one of the recipes (oops—formulæ) from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for the next bread-and-tea event.

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