Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mr. Pumpernickel

Even for someone who has eaten a lot of pumpernickel bread, this recipe has eluded me, hopefully only till now.  The problem has always been the color more than the flavor.  Even using dark rye flour, it seemed beyond me to replicate deli pumpernickel.  I would see on the back of packages that commercial bakeries used "caramel coloring", which I assumed was food coloring.

And so I tried molasses to color the pumpernickel.  I would not use coffee or cocoa powder to color (as prescribed by some internet recipes), as those tastes would do damage to the flavor of the final product.

Finally, I googled "caramel color" to find that caramel color was originally (prior to becoming a toxic industrial process) burnt sugar syrup.  To make your own, here is a recipe to get you going.  I hope the use of it in my test batch this weekend will result in the right color, along with a hint of the nutty sweet taste characteristic of good pumpernickel.

Bonus Question: What is the etymology of the word pumpernickel?

[As an addendum, I was reading Jeffrey Hammelman's Bread, wherein he states that true pumpernickel is traditionally bread that is left to bake in covered loaf pans overnight in a cooling hearth oven.  In this manner, the bread sugars actually break down and caramelize to the point that the whole loaf is black but not burnt when it comes out in the morning.  He states that the bread was fed to babies and the infirm for this reason because these sugars are easy to digest.  That may also help explain the etymology of the bread's name -- "Devil's Fart".]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Deconstructing Chad

So while the American food economy continues to move in hyperdrive, some might have missed what I would consider nothing short of a Kuhnian Revolution in bread baking.  That event would be Chad Robertson's Tartine Country Bread Recipe, published in Tartine Bread.

Here, for the first time, Robertson replicates the process used by French bakers prior to the widespread use of commercial fast-rising cake yeasts in the 1930's.  Bread baked without commercial yeast has deeper and more complex flavors, yielding a superior loaf.  Until now, breads baked with only natural yeasts suffered because the starter was typically refrigerated prior to use, yielding more lactic acid (sour) than acetic acid (sweet, tangy).  In Robertson's recipe, the starter and leaven are never refrigerated.

I will say in advance that this recipe is nearly impossible for the home baker to replicate, and for those who could replicate it, it is way too onerous to produce regularly.  But for someone that is interested in a challenge, here are my notes below.  I would add that adding a tiny pinch of instant yeast in Step 4 will double the speed things take for steps 5-14 without degrading the final flavor significantly.  The most helpful thing to me in this recipe was to discover that I could maintain a starter outside the fridge with only one daily feeding.  Previously, I had not used a kitchen scale and as such the starter would typically ferment too fast and die back too much before I could get to the next feeding.  In my most recent tests with this recipe, the starter maintained its strength well with daily feedings.  If anyone would like to inherit a bit of starter to get going, I would be happy to share so you can skip the first five days or so of the recipe.

Here I walk you through through the recipe.  Download the images to view the text cleanly.
Recipe reproduced via:

Week 79

The product: This week we had Sweet Apple Caramel Vegan Hand Pies (1st time!); Jamaican Jerk Tofu Hand Pies; Ginger Cookies (we sold out quickly due to many pre-orders); Vegan Walnut Spread; Brown Sugar Granola.  Many thanks to Chef Matt for coming up with a great recipe for the vegan apple pie filling.

Our awesome customers: Ilya & Dara, Marybeth and Allen, HM; Adam R., Ian et al.; Beth; Harriet; Claire +1; Bonnie & Marv.

FFFFound on Club Blvd during my bike route, Wildstyle Jack O' Lantern: 

Da Crew:
Big up big ups to Ali R., SZ, Chef Matt, and Andy.

Cafe Update: In case you missed the FB post, we now have our savory hand pies stocked at three UNC campus cafes: Daily Grind; Global Cup Cafe; and Friends Cafe.  Thanks so much to our man Rick B. for making those deliveries happen and for owner Jane B. for taking us on!

Pour Overs: Fad or no, we have decided to start pouring pour-over coffee at the South Durham market.  SZ found a 1972 camp stove that boils the kettle, so check it out next time you're there.  We use Jessee's Costa Rican Coffee (Carrboro).  Many thanks to SZ for making this fun venture happen.

Track of the Week (Selected by Chef Matt), complete with freaky Woman Without a Face Halloween masks:

Lomo on the Outs?

Quick report on LoMo.  Excitedly, we supplied LoMo with product the first month or so of its existence.  Then they stopped ordering.  Then their payment was 2 months late.  And then, another vendor friend of ours had trouble collecting payments.  And then, a friend of ours applied for a job there, was told that there would be a job driving the truck, and then after a lengthy interview process was offered a job washing the truck for $8.00/hr.  When he asked about driving the truck/selling, they told him that they might be buying a second truck in the future, at which point his wage would be $10.00/hr, but after his run he would need to clock back in at $8.00/hr to wash the truck, which seems demeaning.  Has anyone else, vendor or customer, had an experience like this with LoMo?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Week 78

The Product: Here is a little background on Chef Matt's Mediterranean Walnut Salad that we did this week.  From the Chef himself:

As a vegan a food lover I'm kind of at odds with all the super-processed, faux meat stuff.  I'm not inherently opposed, but do try and avoid it for the most part. Replicating the flavors is more important to me than the texture so that's kind of the inspiration for the Walnut Spread aka the Vegan "Tuna" Salad.  Walnuts and sunflower seeds soaked in salt water and nori seaweed overnight (and then pulsed in the food processor) make the base. Add some silken tofu, lemon, celery, onion and a few spices and the flavor is remarkably similar to the tuna salad a lot of us grew up on. My non-vegan girlfriend is my test audience - before it gets to the public it has to pass her test run - and this one passed with rave reviews. I've learned that the key to successful vegan food is hitting on all the flavors our palates love (fatty, sweet, salty)...and in that way appealing to vegans and non vegans alike.

Our awesome customers:  Leah, Scott, AS, the Scott family, EC & SMG et al., Dan, Sarah&Fam, Stacy R.

Da Crew: As always, many thanks to our steadfast crew: Sara, Jeff, SZ, Chef Matt, Ali R., Jamie, and Andy.  Many thanks to Ali R. for digging a great pumpkin pie recipe.

Words of the Day: Self-employment; pumpkin pie.

Fashion Statement of the Market: Fall Boots are officially here.

Track of the Week (selected by Chef Matt):

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 77

The Product: This week, we did Sweet Poppyseed Babka, Thai Peanut Savory Vegan Hand Pies, French Coconut Tartlets (best yet - word of mouth spread quickly throughout the market and we had people coming up saying, "I had to find out where that coconut custard pie came from"), and Thai Peanut Rice Noodle Salad.

Our Awesome Customers: Josh and Morgan. Otis+1, Gina&Allen et al., Beth F.,  Melissa T., EC&SMG&Joanna&MC, Aaron, Susan, Steve, Nate&Amanda&Elizabeth, Adam S.,  Frank S., Ian et al., RML, Annie&Andy&Miriam.

Da Crew: Many many thanks to Chef Matt, Andy, Ali R., Jamie, and SZ.  We had a beaut of a day to share together Saturday.  The market was lively with the feeling of Fall.  Also, thanks to Chef Matt, we now have our own tunes at the stand; check out the opening song.

Adieu, Adieu: We have received many comments from customers that miss RML's aka Rufus' presence at the market.  Rufus has served with the stand since the Spring of 2011.  At first, Rufus would just come to support us as a friend and hang out and buy a dozen donuts for his peoples, but soon he began to grab the tongs and wax paper and start serving our customers in our times of overwhelmedness.  Then, Rufus came through every week until it became a thing and he rarely missed a weekend.  A year-and-a-half later, Rufus is moving on to other Saturday morning rituals that hopefully don't require him to wake up at 6AM.  Take care, Rufus, there will always be a red velvet donut here in our hearts especially for you.

A very Kanye RML

Track of the Week (selected by Chef Matt):

Coming up: Bialys are back!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Roasted Acorn Squash Soup.  Halve squash and place in center of each half generous olive oil and brown sugar.  Roast at 425-450 until squash is very tender and surface is caramelized, 1-1.5 hours.  Allow to cool, scoop out the squash, and add to stockpot along with vegetable stock and spices.  Puree to desired consistency and serve.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Knives Out

I had new edges put on my knives by Kitchenworks.

Corned Beef

I'm brining a brisket for corned beef.  The first time I did it, I didn't salt the brine water enough. If you do it at  home, you are going to salt the water way way beyond what you think is necessary.  The water to salt ratio should stand at 6 to 1 by volume.  An egg will suspend in the water, as will the brisket (kind of like swimming in the Dead Sea).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week 76

The Product: Our friend and co-worker Val made it happen this week by contributing an awesome Pecan Pie recipe....choice ingredients (brown butter (nutty and rich), honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar) made for a tartlet to remember.  Also, Chef Matt developed two new products this week: 1) A new pie filling -- Jamaican Jerk Tofu == the dopeness and 2) Hummus -- garlicky and thick -- the best homemade hummus I've ever had.

Our awesome customers: Shouts to Annie&Andy&Miriam, Scott, Frank S., Belinda, Chris.

Da Crew: Mad shouts and thanks to Chef Matt, Val, Andy, SZ, Jamie, Sara, and Jeff.

South Durham Market: Our South Durham Market has been kind of slow, with less foot traffic since the "Grand Opening".  Anyone have any connections to Woodcroft or other surrounding communities that might like to frequent this market?

Track of the week (selected by Chef Matt):

You know you're a foodie when... finally break down and buy an immersion thermometer.  It makes roasting things about 100 times easier, and you can do cool things like sous vide and David Chang's soft-cooked eggs.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 75

The Product:  Ali had had a hankering for Hoosier Pie aka Indiana Sugar Cream Pie so we made that happen this week (big up for testing the recipe!).  Also, we brought back the Chocolate Babka after weeks of special requests.  Lastly, Chef Matt experimented with a Cold Peanut Noodle Salad which I thought came out well and am looking forward to more experimentations. 

Our awesome customers: Karen, Emily&R&SMG, Annie&Andy&Miriam, HM, Adam&Lindsey, Josh, Amos&Nathan, Natalie&Harris&Madeline.

Giveaway winner Andy S. with his babka

Da Crew: Many thanks to JW, Chef Matt, Andy, Ali R., and SZ.  Extra big ups to 1) Chef Matt for developing the Cold Peanut Noodle Salad 2) The whole standworking crew for toughing it out in the rain.

Track of the week (selected by Chef Matt):