Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baker's scales

Scales are an essential tool in the bakery. The baker uses the balance or beam scale, pictured at right, to measure ingredients by weight, not volume. The Navy baker gets consistent results every time by measuring by weight.

All Navy training manuals have said the same thing since the 1950s and before:

"The set of scales is one of the most important pieces of equipment you have. For best results weight everything use. If the recipe calls for 165 pounds of meat, weight out 165 pounds. Don't guess"  (Commissaryman 3 and 2 rate training manual, 1952).

GULF OF ADEN (April 16, 2013) -- Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo Valentin and Culinary Specialist Seaman Nicholas Stratton prepare desserts for the crew aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Corbin J. Shea.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fort Crook Dutch oven cookoff

Hello All Dutch Oven Cooks:

Hope you can make it to this great Dutch Oven Cook-off at Fort Crook “Pioneer Day” in Fall River Mills, California on June 1, 2013.


Don Mason

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cookbooks for camp

My summer library
I've accepted a summer job as the chef for a family camp. The camp is located about three and one-half hours north of my Diamond Springs, California, home, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Mt. Lassen. The job begins at the beginning of May.

Since driving home on my one day off each week will be impractical, I find myself carefully considering the cookbooks, tools and other resources to pack for the summer. I plan to pack up to 20 cookbooks in a plastic storage tub.

In addition to professional cooking resources (The Professional Chef, The Professional Baker, Charcuterie, Understanding Baking and The Flavor Bible), an eclectic mix of cookbooks should help liven the menu. I've browsed the cookbook stacks at The Bookery twice in the past week. With hundreds of cookbooks to choose from, I should be able to locate most cookbooks written in the last 10 to 20 years.

I will probably visit The Bookery one more time before we leave home. What cookbooks would you add to the library? This question is for my professional colleagues as well as home cooks. Any new purchase will fill in gaps in the library. Please note that I'm not considering Dutch oven books at this point as I have plenty.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Whole wheat no-knead bread

My original plan was to bake one loaf of whole wheat no-knead bread on Saturday, but the events of the day interfered. Railroad work in the morning, study for Bible class and a visit with Debbie's parents precluded any bread baking. It was late in the day by the time I would've baked the loaf.

Saturday demonstrated the flexibility of any bread that's fermented under refrigeration. The dough tolerates interruptions. It accepts adjustments to your schedule and lets you bake the bread when you're ready.

I baked a 20-ounce boule of the bread Sunday evening. While it tasted like a good loaf of whole wheat bread, the loaf didn't have the complete flavor I was looking for. I'm looking for the characteristic crust and crumb of artisan bread.

I began with a 50-50 mixture of whole wheat and bread flours. Next time I plan to adjust the formula to 70 percent (by weight) of bread flour and 30 percent whole wheat flour. I may add honey to sweeten the loaf a bit. At some point walnuts or wheat berries may be a good addition to the formula.

My next step will be to try my cousin's sourdough starter. He sells it at My Sourdough Starters. You can purchase the starter or just read his insight. (Yes, this is a shameless plug for a relative!)

I baked the remaining two loaves of whole wheat no-knead bread yesterday. Each time the bread shows improvement. Patience is required when proofing refrigerator-proofed loaves. Since the dough comes out of the refrigerator at around 40 degrees, it currently requires about  2-1/2 to 3 hours to proof in my house, which is hovering around 65 to 70 degrees right now. Leave the loaves in the oven a few extra minutes so the crust has time to completely brown and develop its crusty, chewy texture.
I baked a loaf of whole wheat no-knead on Sunday. After a three-day ferment in the refrigerator, I gently shaped a 20-ounce piece of dough into a boule, or ball-shaped loaf. The load proofed on a piece of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal for a little over two hours. Following my recipe for no-knead bread, I baked it inside a cast iron Dutch oven in a 450-degree oven, lid on for the first 20 minutes. It took an additional 15 minutes to develop the nice crust on the boule. The parchment paper lets me gently lower the loaf into the Dutch oven without deflating.
Last Thursday, I combined two flours, water, kosher salt and instant yeast in a six-quart lidded plastic tub. Pillsbury's Better for Bread made up 50 percent of the flour by weight. The remaining 50 percent was King Aurthur organic whole wheat flour. After a thorough mix by hand, I left the dough to ferment on the counter for about three hours. I then set it inside the refrigerator. The slow ferment at cool temperatures favors alcohol and acid production in the dough. These are the elements that give artisan bread its great flavor.

Monday, April 01, 2013

120 years of service to the fleet

The U.S. Navy rate of chief petty officer was established on April 1, 1893.

U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (April 1, 2013) -- Command Master Chief Raymond Charest and Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Ryan Albrecht, both assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66), decorate a cake for a cake cutting ceremony in honor of the 120th anniversary of the chief petty officer rank. Hue City is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility promoting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Luis Fiallos.