to all foodbloggers – Martha Stewart is having a contest over at her blog! Check it out and enter to get featured on her site! and now, here’s martha with general patraeus and colin powell:
even though we ate it a lot growing up, at some point i stopped buying white bread and moved completely to whole wheat. today, white bread is frowned upon by many because of its perceived lack of health benefits, but for me, the change to whole wheat was for taste alone. whole wheat has a more rounded and nutty flavor, and it’s come to replace and enhance things like grilled cheeses and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. this was my first experience using whole wheat flour, and i was pleasantly surprised at how easily this bread came together.
this bread has both a soaker and a poolish. a soaker is a pre-ferment, which means it helps the bread taste like the dough fermented for much longer than it actually did. the soaker does not have yeast in it; the purpose is to help soften the coarse whole wheat grain and also activate the enzymes in the grains to break out some of the trapped sugars from the starches.
the poolish is another type of pre-ferment that is made up of flour, water and yeast. there is yeast in a poolish (very little), but it goes a long way in a very wet flour/water mixture (it’s easier for the yeast to work it’s magic in this state). when the poolish is added to the dough before baking, it not only helps fermentation but also adds incredible flavor.
the trick with whole wheat breads is making sure the flavor is hearty and delicious and not bitter and grassy. increasing the fermentation time helps balance the flavors, and for this reason, you’ll often find pre-ferments in these types of recipes. and while the amount of steps in a recipe like this can look intimidating, it’s really much simpler than it seems. at it’s core, bread has always been just flour, yeast, water and (often) salt.
i decided to test out my bread on an overstuffed grilled cheese with bacon, tomatoes and red onion. needless to say, it passed with flying colors.
if you take a look at all of the recipes i’ve made for this blog so far, i don’t think there’s one that you can’t eat for breakfast. apple cake is certainly no exception. in fact, it may be the perfect breakfast cake – it’s got apples and orange juice in it, so there are two servings of fruit right there. it’s also a great opportunity to use in-season apples, which just become all the more irresistible during the fall. and although the apples i bought were all about 2/3 the size of a normal apple (weird!) they didn’t stop this cake from tasting amazing.
the first time i tried to make this cake, i failed horribly. it came out undercooked and bubbly. and despite putting it back in the oven for another 45 minutes, it still would not bake all the way through. i refused to blame it on the recipe and instead chalked it up to my wacky tiny oven (as seen in this post). undeterred, i took another crack at it and lo and behold: what came out of the oven was a thing of beauty. perfectly golden brown and infusing my apartment with apple.
although i thought i had triumphed in the face of defeat, i quickly learned that it’s never too late for baking tragedy to strike. making a rookie mistake, i tried to remove the cake from the tube pan before it had completely cooled. to my horror, the following happened. any sensitive readers or children may want to turn away from the screen.
thankfully, the cake still tastes unbelievable. enjoy, but don’t make the same mistake i did!