Saturday projects

It’s gray and damp and chilly, as October can be in Minneapolis, which is OK in our book, as it’s a great day to be in the kitchen.

Today’s to-do list includes:

  • Potato-Leek soup
  • Pain de mie
  • Brewing

With my primary fermentation (rise) going on the bread and soup simmering away, I thought I’d share both recipes — as they are both simple and lovely.

Pain De Mie

(from King Arthur Flour)

2/3 cup (5 3/8 ounces) milk (we use whole milk for this loaf)
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter (I recommend Hope butter, if you are local)
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/8 ounces) nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) potato flour (also called potato starch flour; you can also sub in corn or arrowroot starch if necessary)
4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast (if you’re going to get serious about bread, it’s worth finding and using instant yeast.  I know Holy Land Deli in town carries it; I have had great luck ordering mine from King Arthur flour.)
Using a stand mixer, combine the ingredients above, using a flat beater paddle or beaters, then switch to the dough hook(s) and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow the dough to rise till doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 13 x 4-inch pain de mie pan. Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a 13-inch log, and fit it into the pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it’s just below the lip of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen (it may rise even more slowly in a cool kitchen which is totally OK – a long rise gives bread better flavor).

Remove the plastic, and carefully place the cover on the pan, let it rest an additional 10 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the lid, and return the bread to the oven to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until it tests done; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

You’ll get one loaf which will be gone in less than 5 days, guaranteed.

Potato Leek Soup

(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

½ pound bacon, fried crisp, fat reserved (you can also go with a ¼ cup butter if you are bacon-averse)
4 – 5 pounds leeks
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried herbs de Provence
2 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 cup whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

sharp cheddar, shredded, for garnish

Cut off roots and tough dark green portion of leeks, leaving white portion and about 3 inches of light green. Slice thin.
Heat bacon grease or butter in Dutch oven over medium-low heat until crackling; stir in leeks, increase heat to medium, cover and sweat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes (you don’t want them brown!) Sprinkle flour over leeks and stir to coat evenly.  Cook until flour dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high; whisking constantly, gradually add stock. Add bay leaf and potatoes; cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand until potatoes are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes.

Discard bay leaf.  Finish with 1/2 cup cream or milk.  Once warmed through, season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crumbled bacon and a few shreds of sharp cheese.  Devour.

I’ll see if I can twist David’s arm to document his brewing event this afternoon.  But lunch is smelling too good to sit here much longer…


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