There’s nothing quite so frustrating as when you have a new toy and you don’t feel flash enough to play with it! This weekend has been a bit like that. I bought myself a new mixer, one that I have been ogling for years and due to the dropping value of our dollar, I decided to bite the bullet and buy, rather than wait until our kitchen was finished and I had somewhere to keep it. (well, that’s my justification!). I have bought an Ankarsrum assistant, made in Sweden and it is built like a workhorse. More about that in a separate post, when I feel a bit better. Even though I felt awful I wanted to run it through a few paces and get the feel for using it, as it is quite a different approach compared to traditional mixers. This is what she looks like.
I’m really looking forward to putting this machine to work over the next few months so I can get to understand it fully. My first play session was to make some hazelnut & date macaroons. I am not a fan of the brightly coloured, perfectly shaped macaroons you see everywhere these days. The ones I have tried don’t seem to have a great depth of flavour and are just a bit too perfectly formed for my liking. This Hazelnut and Date Macaroons recipe makes a chewy macaroon that tastes great. This is the macaroon mix on the ‘toy oven‘ tray. I had to bake in a couple of batches due to size limitations.
There was a bit of trouble communicating with my pizza oven yesterday. I think I just wasn’t up to it and kept taking shortcuts, consequently the chilli and feta baguettes I made (even though they tasted nice and had a good texture) looked like a train wreck and were burnt in spots. This is the best of the 3 I made and also a picture of the finished macaroons cooling.
This weeks “The Italian Baker” test bake.
My bake this week from the highly acclaimed Carol Field book, The Italian Baker, is Panmarino, or Italian Rosemary bread from the Ferrara region of northern Italy. One of the very first breads I made about 30 years ago was a complete failure and its only saving grace was that it was full of rosemary and made excellent toast. I smile and remember that bread every time I smell rosemary! I’m pleased to say that this attempt has been a far greater success. The story of how this bread came to be is that a moustached baker named Luciano Pancalde (meaning hot bread) recreated a bread he read had been served during the times of the d’Este family ruled Ferrara. ” The rosemary bread was served with a crust like sparkling diamonds……” . These diamonds are the result of sea salt being sprinkled over the star cut on the surface of the dough before baking. I baked one loaf in the ‘toy oven’ in a dutch oven, and another loaf in my ‘La Cloche‘ in the gas pizza oven. The pizza oven and I were on much better terms today!
I guess if you imagine hard enough and maybe have a couple of vinos, the salt could resemble diamonds!
None the less, this bread smelled magnificent as it baked and it does look impressive. I’m very happy with the recipes from this book turning out well with no unwanted surprises and quantites have all been spot on apart from some minor tweaking of water, which all bread bakers are used to. I have also found a few sites that assist with converting using dried yeast to using sourdough starter in these recipes. I have really noticed a difference using dried yeast again, nowhere near the depth of flavour as when using natural leavening.