Saturday, May 31, 2014

Check this out!
I have made myself a little Society6 store.
In it you will find:
Framed Prints
Stretched Canvases
Outdoor and Indoor Throw Pillows
Tote Bags
Stationary Cards
and hopefully soon some Tshirts and Tanktops.

Go Here and Check It Out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Ice Creme Cat Test

Here is the result of my first attempt to re-learn flash animation.
It's pretty rough. I will have to do more research on how to get the background to hold still.
Always learning something new and looking for the next challenge.

Still, how funny is this little cat.
I love her tail and her drippy ice cream cone.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Homemade Printing Press

I took a printmaking class when I was in school and loved it.  My all time favorite are Intaglio prints.  I like drypoint etching on plexiglass (acrylic sheet.)
I have wanted a home press for a long time, but even small tabletop presses run close to $1000.
My genius husband, being the handyman and engineer that he is, took my problem under advisement.
Here is what he came up with.

 You will need:
two pieces of hardwood (we used Red Oak)
these scraps of 11" each were $2.60 a piece
they measure 1"x 4"

two hex bolts 1/2" x 6"

four corresponding washers $0.33 each

two corresponding nuts $0.38 each

two pieces of 1/16" board
(I used Masonite, I cut up a clipboard but you can
buy this board at Home Depot)

5/8" Spade Bit $4.37

Ideally, your boards will be the same size, but I started out with a press made with a clamp (failure)
and these are the pieces I had laying around.

Put it together like so:
washer, board, board, washer

This is a horrible picture of the plates I am working on.  These are made with acrylic and etched with a needle.  Maybe that will be my next tutorial on here.

Make a mat board template for your plate to sit in.
It should be the same size or bigger than the paper you intend to print on so that you don't end up with creases on the print.

See how the plate sits tight in the mat board, so that it doesn't move when you print.

After you ink the plate, put down the soaked paper and top it with your second board.
Then sandwich it in the press, and tighten it down with wrenches.  3/4" works for the bolts I used.

Leave it inside for 15 minutes.
Then release the press and remove the printing "sandwich".

This is what you end up with.

I have the best results from this Akua Intaglio Ink in Carbon Black.

This Domestic Etching Paper from Daniel Smith.

These are the plans for the press if you want to make bigger prints than I did here.
(Probably everyone!)
Use 1" board at 8" x 10"
Four holes, Four Nuts, Eight Washers.
Makes sure you tighten down the press from printing you do it evenly. I use a mini Level placed in the middle of my press to make sure I'm printing evenly.
For the larger press, tighten in an X pattern. (ex. top left, then bottom right, then top right, then bottom left.)  If you don't, you end up with one side printed deeper and one side not printed.

How fun is this! Try it yourself.
All together, under $20. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Prepatory Word About Starters

Meet Pepe Le Pew.  He was aptly named by my husband because he is so fragrant (read stinky).  He has been a part of a few loaves; he has been divided and given away and just this week, he leavened a loaf all by himself.  I am a very proud starter owner. 

Before we make one, let’s debunk a few myths about starters.  The first and foremost being that older starters have more developed, better flavors.  It’s just not true.  There is such a small fraction of your original water and flour mix in the starter after even one week of feeding.  Starters constantly refresh themselves, by design.  This keeps the good bacteria lively and the bad bacteria away.

There is also the myth about needing special water, special additives, or special hand-milled fresh flour to even be able to successfully produce a starter.  Again, not true.  I am sure there are subtle (I mean REALLY subtle) changes in flavor you can achieve.  But these things are not required.  Proof: my starter, Pepe, was made with AP flour from Sam’s Club and our regular tap water.  I had no trouble. 
Granted: I live in a humid and currently 60ish degree (F) climate.  So if you live somewhere cold and dry, you may need to find an extra warm place to keep your starter while it grows.  But after it is flourishing, some people even move them to the fridge.

I have since converted Pepe to whole wheat flour (by just switching the flour) because we tend to make more whole wheat breads.  And then converted a bit of starter for a friend (take what you would normally discard in feeding and put it in another container, begin feeding) back to white AP flour. 

Here’s my recipe to make your own Pepe.

Sourdough Starter (Leaven, Levain if you’re French)
30 g water
30 g flour (white, wheat, rye, fresh, whatever. Use what you have.)

Mix water and flour.  Leave out in a warm place with a tea towel covering the top of your bowl or jar for 3 days.  Add your lid and begin feeding: discard ½ of starter (30 g) and add 15 g fresh flour and 15 g water.  Stir and replace lid.  Do this every day at a consistent time. Your starter will be ready to use in 9-14 days of feeding. Make sure it is rising predictably when fed and smells of yeast or alcohol.  
To use:  remove 30 g of starter into a large bowl.  Add equal parts water and flour to equal the amount of leaven you need.   Let sit 12 hours.  Add to recipe.  Ex: I need 200 g leaven.  I add 85 g of flour and 85 g of water to my 30 g of starter.

Be aware, loaves that only contain starter and no commercial yeast take a bit longer to rise. 

As always, comment below or email with questions or additions to this post.  Do you have a starter? What is its name? How long have you kept it?  Does it have a flour preference?  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Bread Kit

1. Pastry Cloth or Linen
2. Bucket or Bowl
3. Lid for the Bucket, Obviously
4. Knife, Scorer, or Lame
5. Kitchen Scale
6. Bowl Scraper
7. Pullman Loaf Pan + Lid
8. Baking Stone

Today, Let's Talk about Basic Bread Kit.
These are the real objects that I am currently baking with, except the pullman pan, if you really really want a vintage one like I have, look on Ebay for Mirro pans.

1. A Linen is for resting your loaves on while they proof. I use mine to hold my batards and demi-baguettes as they rest. I also use this to line a large bowl for my boules.

2. I bought this commercial grade Cambro bucket and am SO happy with it.  The lid sits on nice, not too tight, not too loose and the markings on the side make it very clear if my dough has doubled.  It comes in many sizes.  The trick is to make sure you get a lid that fits.  I also found something like this, but square at my local Sam's Club.

3. This is that lid.

4. I am a huge fan of folding pocket knifes, have been since I was little.  So in my search for a lame I liked, I found this.  It is so sharp, scoring my loaves used to a chore, and now, it's just excellent.  It is compact and has a nice weight, doesn't feel cheap at all.

5. I got this when I was learning to make french macarons.  I am never going back! My mom asked me for the cups and tsp's of a bread recipe and it was ridiculous.  Like 3 cups, 1 1/2 Tbsp, 2 1/2 tsp flour ridiculous.
Get one that zeros out in between ingredients. (Tare)

6. You just need one of these for bread making, it's so nice.  Otherwise you end up using a rubber scraper or a table knife to try and get your dough out. Doable, but less fun.

7. This is for sandwich loaves.  I like a nice perfectly square loaf.  If you like the little puff tops, get a regular loaf pan, or get a pullman pan and bake with the top off. We are talking consistently crispy crusts all the way around.

8. Baking stone or Pizza stone's are helpful for demi-baguettes, batards, and any other loaf that isn't pan baked.  All your hearth loaves can benefit from a stone.   I baked on two stacked, overturned baking sheets. When I purchased this stone, my bread baked much better. If you only bake sandwich bread, you do NOT need this.

Got Questions? Comment below, I will do my best to answer them. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Honey Oat Pullman Loaf or Bread is Easier than You Think

I love Honey Whole Wheat bread, I like a close crumb for sandwiches, so when I found out we own a vintage pullman loaf pan this was my first loaf to try out.
You do not need a special tin for this.  Use what you have, always.
You will need a scale, as I do not bake in cups and tsp.

A couple of notes first:
  • If you have only one loaf pan, put the other half of this dough, covered into the fridge. It will keep it from over-proofing.
  • Don't have any bread flour? Use all AP flour. I had both, I used both.
  • No Wheat Germ? leave it out.
  • Paul Hollywood has taught me that your water does not need to be any certain temperature. Cold water is fine, it gives your bread more flavor because the yeast takes more time to grow.
  • By oat flour, I mean I put 50g of whole oats into my spice/nut grinder.
You got your loaf pan ready?
Here we go.

Honey Oat Pullman Loaf
Makes 2 loaves (don't panic if you only have one pan, put the other half in the fridge.)

200g Whole Wheat Flour
185g Bread Flour
185g AP Flour
50g Oat Flour
10g Wheat Germ
20g Whole Oats
520g Water
10g Instant Yeast
65g Honey
45g Olive Oil
17g Sea Salt

Mix all the flour, wheat germ, oats, water, honey, and yeast until there are no dry lumps.  Let sit, covered, for 1 hour. Mix in the Oil and the Salt.  Knead the dough on a clean surface for 10 minutes.  Put dough back in the bowl and cover.  Let rise 45 minutes.  Cut the dough into two equal pieces.  Shape the pieces into long loaves  tucking the edges underneath to form a smooth, tight top.  Place into your pans, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until they reach 1/2 inch below the rim of the pan. 
If you are using a pullman pan with a lid, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake 5 minutes to reach the desired crust color.  Internal temp should be 190.
If you are using regular loaf pans, bake at 200 for 10 minutes and then 350 for 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for 15-30 minutes.
To store, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and place in a plastic bread bag, removing the extra air.

We like to freeze one loaf, then thaw at room temp, or in a low oven if you need it quicker.

Monday, February 24, 2014

So, I deleted my Picasa web album...

and apparently all my photos are gone, FOREVER.

Let this be a lesson to you, DO NOT DELETE YOUR PICASA WEB ALBUMS.
I am going to try to redo these last couple of pages of posts, and maybe over time work backwards to fill up my blog again, but none of these blank boxes are labeled and it's going to be rough trying to figure it all back into place.


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