Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Projects

This week, I'm experimenting with crackers and seasonal candied treats.

I found a wonderful old recipe for candided apples that called for oil of clove. As soon as I saw the ingredients, I remembered my mother used to keep a small vial of it in our medicine cabinet for toothaches-but that was many years ago.

I went to pharmacy #1, where a nostalgic, somewhat sad pharmacist told me they no longer carried it as there isn't any demand for it. He suddenly remembered that people used to flavour toothpicks with it. (I remember cinnamon toothpicks, but not clove).

Pharmacy # 2-the pharmacist tells me that he can order it, or I can purchase a very large ($8.00!) bottle of it in the organic foods section. I asked if he would order a small vial as I only require a few drops and he was happy to do it. By the time I reached the check-out, he had located a bottle for me and looked about the store to find me. That was really a very nice thing to do, on a weekend, at a busy supermarket pharmacy. I think I'm going to need to bring him some candied apples.

I'm not sure what else I can do with it. I've never tried making hard candies, but I think that clove flavoured lozenges would be pleasant.

I'm also going to make a batch of caramel apples from a 1930's recipe.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find pointed sticks for candied apples? Well, quite difficult. Tomorrow I'm off to try another craft store before I give-in and bunch together a number of bamboo skewers. If you purchase a bag of caramels, they give you a couple dozen in the bag-but who wants to eat mediocre caramels? I'll tell you who-"Mr. Nobody."

I'm also on a cracker kick. I have graham cracker dough chilling overnight and I'll bake them tomorrow. I also have a saltine recipe that involves a very long initial rise (30 hours) and then quite a bit of rolling and folding (think puff pastry). It seems that with a youngster in the house, we go through an awful lot of crackers and I'm sure I can make a better quality snack for less money. We'll see-the soda crackers might be an exercise in futility.

What I'm looking for (if anyone can help) are recipes for Vermont Common Crackers, and something resembling Jacob's Cream Crackers-neither of which are readily available where I live. If I could manage a decent approximation, I'd be happy.

I made two large pizzas for dinner tonight and had an interesting dough to work with. Early this morning, I mixed 5 cups of bread flour with 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 1 tablespoon salt, and enough water to make the dough pliable (slightly over a cup). I worked it for about ten minutes in the mixer and then divided the dough in half, placed them in oiled bags and set them in the icebox until I came home around five. I removed the, let them warm-up for about an hour and forty-five minutes (while I carmelised onion and did other prep work). I made "white pizzas" (without tomato sauce) that I baked at 525 for about seven minutes on the lowest shelf of the oven. They turned out very good-thin, but with some tooth. I've always added oil and sugar to my pizza doughs, but this seemed to be every bit as good.

I'm off to bed-I have a full day of baking ahead tomorrow. Results and film at eleven.

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