Losing My Marbles for Marbled Rye

For the first time since the beginning of the BBA Challenge, I am not ahead on my bread baking. I attribute this to two things:  first, my recent jam and jelly obsession, which has occupied most of the last few weeks; and second, the fact that I was a little unsure about making marbled rye. It’s not that I don’t like it, because I do. It’s just that I was only slightly less nervous about marbling the rye than I had been about braiding challah.

But the Challenge is all about breaking our bread barriers, so I finally decided to try my hand at marbled rye. Besides, I needed something to go under my citrus marmalade.

The first thing that concerned me was making sure the two doughs would work together. That is, that they would rise, ferment, proof and bake on roughly the same schedule. In order to ensure this, I made the doughs one after the other. I began by doing my mise en place for both recipes, so I could move right from one to the next.  

I started with the light rye. While it was kneading in the Kitchen Aid, I began mixing the dark rye. It was ready to go into the mixer as soon as the light rye came out, so the doughs were only about 5 minutes apart by the time they began bulk fermenting.

The recipes are exactly the same, except that the dark rye has caramel coloring in it. The recipe calls for liquid caramel coloring, but what I had was powdered (from King Arthur). I used 5 teaspoons of coloring, and it seemed to work out just right. I also added about a teaspoon and a half of rye sour (also from KAF) to each dough.

At the end of the bulk ferment, I divided each dough into 4 pieces of equal size (yes, I am OCD enough to weigh them). Starting with the light rye and alternating, I rolled 2 pieces of each dough into an oval roughly 8 by 5 inches, stacking them as I went.

Rolling Marbled Rye

I rolled each stack into a batard and put them into loaf pans. Shaping the loaves was easier than I thought. It was really just a matter of rolling the dough and sealing it as I went along; kind of like rolling up a really thick dough into a loaf.

Marbled Rye Batards

The loaf on the left is upside down to show how it looked when I sealed it.

Marbled Rye Panned

After 90 minutes of proofing in the pans, the bread went into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. I took it out of the pans and let it cool for an hour or so before slicing it.

Marbled Rye

Oh, yeah. And eating it with citrus marmalade.

Marbled Rye and Marmalade

Recipe: Citrus Marmalade

A friend of mine asked if I could make some orange marmalade for him. I recalled a recipe from Ina Garten that I had been wanting to try, and this seemed like a good excuse. I looked up Ina’s recipe on the Food Network and read it and the comments section. The general consensus seemed to be that it was a great recipe but called for too much sugar. Now, I’m not afraid of sugar (as my triglycerides can attest). But I wanted to make sure it was edible and not overly sweet. So I cut back the sugar just a bit. And, as my experience in jam-making has taught me, I added a bit of butter to keep the marmalade from foaming up when it is boiled.

The ingredients, with my alterations, are as follows:

  • 4 large navel oranges (or 6 to 8 blood oranges)
  • 2 lemons
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter

I wanted to make blood orange marmalade, because I thought the color would be stunning. Unfortunately, the grocery didn’t have blood oranges. So I used navel oranges. I washed the lemons and oranges, cut the ends off them, and cut them in half crosswise. Starting with the lemons, I cut the fruit into half-moons with the thinnest blade on my mandoline slicer. I began with the lemons, so I could pick out the seeds as I went. I put the slicer over the top of my pot, so the slices went right into the pan. That way, I avoided the mess of juice all over the counter, and I didn’t lose any juice.

Oranges and Lemons

Once the oranges and lemons were all sliced into the pot, I added the water.

Adding Water to Marmalade

I brought the water and citrus to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.

Cooking Oranges and Lemons

Once the mixture reached a full rolling boil,

Marmalade - First Boil

I added the sugar and stirred until the sugar all dissolved.

Sugar is Good for You

Marmalade with Sugar - After Frist Boil

Then I covered the mixture and let it sit on the counter overnight. By morning, the fruit had given up a lot of juice; there was a good inch or two of liquid floating on the top of the pot.

Marmalade in the Morning

I added the butter to the pot,

Little Pat of Butter

and brought the mixture to a boil. I lowered the heat to a simmer, and simmered the marmalade for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Simmering Marmalade

Then I turned the heat up to medium, and brought the mixture to a boil.

Boiling Down

I boiled the marmalade until it reached 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, I got my canning jars and lids ready, and put the pot on for the water bath.

Boiling to 220 dF

I canned the marmalade in 8 ounce jars and processed it in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Marmalade Water Bath

Then I set the jars on a kitchen towel to cool. I heard the pinging sound of the lids sealing, and within a few hours, the marmalade was set.

Citrus Marmalade

While the marmalade was simmering, I started making marbled rye bread. So by the time the marmalade was cool, I had fresh bread to sample it with.

Marbled Rye and Marmalade

Both the bread and the marmalade are delicious! I can see why Ina used 8 cups of sugar in her recipe; mine is a bit tart. But to me that’s how marmalade is supposed to taste. Some might want it sweeter. But it’s perfect as far as I’m concerned.

Baking and Cooking Glossary

One of the things I like about blogging is sharing some of the things I’ve learned about cooking and baking, including terms that can sometimes be confusing. I decided to start this glossary to collect some of these words and terms. I’ll add things here as I mention them in my blog and include links to this glossary from the blog entries, and vice versa.

There are a lot of food glossaries out there, and I have no intention of trying to make this one a complete compendium of cooking or baking terms. Rather, I want to use it to collect terms that come up in my blog posts. That said, if there are cooking terms that confuse you, drop me a line. I’ll try to add a definition.

baker’s percentages (or baker’s math) — in professional and artisan bread baking, recipes are conceived in ratios whereby the total flour in the recipe, by weight, is always 100%, and the rest of the ingredients are presented in relation to the flour weight. So, for example, if you are using 1000 grams of flour, and the yeast is given as 3%, then the recipe would require 30 grams of yeast.

fiori di sicilia — literally, “flower of Sicily”, is a flavoring extract with essences of citrus and vanilla. It can be used in place of vanilla and adds a wonderfully subtle flavor to sweet doughs.

full rolling boil — often use in jam and jelly making, the term “full rolling boil” means a boil that doesn’t subside when you stir the mixture.

herringbone cut — a method for cutting a boule that results in even-sized slices. (Click on link to see a pictoral demonstration.)

hooch — the greyish, brownish liquid that forms on the top of sourdough starter when the starter needs to be fed. Hooch is a result of alcohol production in the starter fermentation process. It can be poured off or stirred back into the starter. If it is poured off, the starter may require slightly more liquid when fed.

mise en placemise en place (pronounced MEES ahn plahs), literally “put in place” but more commonly translated “everything in place”, is a French cooking term, which simply refers to assembling all of your ingredients and equipment before you begin cooking. You read through your recipe, get out all your ingredients, measure, wash, chop, toast, bring to room temperature, etc., and get all of your pots, pans, bowls, utensils, and other equipment ready.

100% hydration — this term, used with sourdough starters, refers to the amount of water in a starter in relation to the amount of flour, both measured by weight. In baker’s percentages (see entry above), the flour is always 100%, and all other ingredients are measured in reference to the flour. So 100% hydration means that the weight of the water in the starter is equal to the weight of the flour. So, for example, if you feed your starter 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water, the starter would be 100% hydration.

pain de mie — is a fancy-sounding name for an everyday sandwich bread. Literally, it translates to “bread of crumb”; but most online French-to-English translators will return “sandwich bread” or simply “bread”. Pain de mie can be made with whole grain, but it is usually just a simple, white sandwich bread, often enriched with milk, butter, and sugar. It can be baked in a loaf pan or a Pullman pan (see below).

proofing box — a proofing box (sometimes also called a “proof box”) is sealed space where a baker can control the temperature and humidity in order to proof dough under controlled conditions. Generally, the temperature of a proofing box is kept around 100 degrees F, and the humidity at about 85%. (See how I simulate a proofing box in my microwave oven.)

Pullman pan — so named because it resembles the shape of a Pullman train car, this lidded, rectangular pan bakes a perfect pain de mie loaf (see above). Pullman pans come in many sizes, but a “standard” pan is about 13x4x4 inches and holds about 3 1/2 pounds (42 ounces) of dough.

soaker— in making a soaker, course-ground grains (e.g., cracked wheat, course-ground cornmeal, oats, etc.) are soaked in a small amount of water or milk overnight. This serves to soften and activate the enzymes in the grains, which improves the flavor of bread dramatically.

tacky vs. sticky (dough) — in bread baking, the recipe will often say that the dough should be either tacky or sticky. The easiest way to test this is to press your hand onto the dough and then lift it up. If the dough pulls up with your hand and then releases (so your hand comes away clean), the dough is tacky. If you end up with dough stuck to your hand, it’s sticky.

Sauvignon Wine, So Little Time

After my first successful forray into jelly/jam making, I was itching to try another batch or two. I picked up a copy of Linda Amendt’s book, which has tons of great jam and jelly recipes, and decided to try some “drunken” spreads: Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Jelly and Blackberry Cabernet Sauvignon Jam (recipe to follow). 

After reading the author’s admonitions about not doubling or otherwise changing the amounts in the recipes, I figured I’d make a half batch of the cab jelly. That way I could make the jam and jelly with one 750-ml bottle of Cabernet with just a little wine left over. But what to do with the rest…?

An open bottle is an empty bottle

An open bottle is an empty bottle

 I had planned on preparing both recipes on the same day, but I ended up making the cab jelly a day or so before I got around to the blackberry cab jam. The jam recipe called for the following ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups (about 1 1/2 lbs) crushed blackberries — I used frozen
  • 1 pkg powdered fruit pectin
  • 6 1/3 cups (yikes!) sugar
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine
  • 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter (optional)

I crushed the thawed blackberries one layer at a time in a flat container.

Mashing Berries

Then I put the berries, juice and all, into a pot with the pectin, which I had mixed with 1/4 cup sugar, and the butter. The butter is optional, but I like to use it, as it helps keep the jam from foaming as it cooks.


I brought this mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Then I gradually stirred in the remaining sugar, brought the mixture back to a rolling boil, and stirred and boiled it for 1 minute. I then took it off the heat, stirred in the wine, and let it rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, while I got the jars and lids ready.

Cooked Jam

I filled the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top, wiped the rims and threads, placed the lids on the jars, and screwed on the bands. The recipe said it would make 7 or 8 eight-ounce jars; I ended up with 7 eight-ounce and 4 four-ounce jars. I put the jars in the water bath, brought it to a gentle, steady boil, and processed the jars for 10 minutes.

Processing Jam

I took the jars out of the water bath, put them on a dish towel on the counter, and waited for the thocking sound of the lids sealing. All of the lids sealed, and I kept checking the jam throughout the rest of the evening to see if the jam was setting up. It stayed liquidy until bedtime, but by morning it was set and beautiful.

Blackberry Cabernet Jam

I had a little bit of jam left over when I filled the jars, which I put in a custard cup in the fridge. I ate it on toast for breakfast. And a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Then more toast. And another sandwich. It is absolutely delicious. The berries are so fresh and bold tasting, and the wine gives it an added bit of richness.

When I was ladeling the jam into the jars and realized how much I was going to end up with, I started wondering what I would do with all of it. Now I’m wondering how soon I will have to make more.

BBA Challenge Light Wheat Bread

I decided that before I start baking the next Bread Baker’s Apprentice recipe for the BBA Challenge, I would catch up on my BBA Challenge blog. My most recent BBA bread was Light Wheat Bread, a delicious sandwich loaf which was also great for toast.

This is a light wheat bread by virtue of the fact that the whole wheat flour makes up only about 38% of the total flour in the recipe. Mine was also made even lighter (at least in appearance) by using white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat is simply whole wheat flour made from white hard wheat, as opposed to red hard or winter wheat. It has the same taste and nutrition as other whole wheat flours; it’s just lighter in color.

I began by assembling my ingredients.

Mise en Place

Mise en Place

 You’ll note that I used shortening rather than butter. I also sprayed the prep bowl for the honey so the honey would pour out without sticking.

I mixed the dry ingredients in my KA mixer bowl, then added the honey, shortening and water. After mixing with the paddle for a minute, I switched to the dough hook and kneaded the dough for about 6 minutes.

Mixing Light Wheat

I allowed the dough to ferment in an oiled bowl for 2 hours, then formed my loaf and proofed the dough in the pan for 90 minutes.

Proofing Light Wheat

When the dough just started to crest the top of the pan, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. This is an important step that a lot of people cut short. It may surprise you to know that your oven is most likely not up to temperature when the beeper goes off to tell you it is done preheating. If you don’t believe me, get an oven thermometer (which you should have anyway). Check the actual temperature when the oven beeps; I can almost guarantee that it will not be up to the correct temperature yet. As a rule, I give my oven about half an hour to preheat — longer if I am heating my baking stone.

I put the loaf in the oven, baked it for 30 minutes, then rotated the pan and baked an additional 15 minutes.

Light Wheat Out of Oven

I cooled the loaf on a rack for a few hours, then cut into it to see the crumb.

Light Wheat Crumb

As you can see, the crumb is tight and soft, just what you want in a sandwich bread. And the taste is wonderful.

If you are accustomed to making white bread, try substituting just a little wheat or rye for some of the flour the next time you bake. You’ll be amazed at how much flavor just a little bit of whole grain flour can add.

In a Jam, or Is It Jelly?

Last weekend, my friend Kevin and I went to a mutual friend’s house to pick grapes. She is out of town and said we could come harvest the grapes when they were ripe. We were planning to bring the grapes back to my house to make and can jelly. Although I have made freezer jelly, this was to be my first time canning. I went to the store the day before we were going to pick the grapes and bought canning jars, lids and pectin.

It may surprise you that someone who cooks as much as I do has never canned before. It surprises me, too. I’ll have to talk to my mom about that the next time I see her. Yet another deficieny in my culinary education (I had to teach myself to make injera bread, too, if you can believe it).

After buying the supplies, I went home and read the inserts in the pectin containers, the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook section on canning, and of  course a bunch of (often conflicting) information about canning online. Armed with that knowledge (and the knowledge that Kevin would be here and had experience in these matters), I was ready to make grape jelly.

Or so I thought. We got to our friend’s house only to discover that, while we were ready for the grapes, they weren’t ready for us.


They were close to being ripe, but not quite there yet. Maybe in a week or so. Our friend is out of town for a few months, so we decided to see what else she had growing in her garden. We picked a bunch of jalapeno and Anaheim peppers and decided to make hot pepper jelly that afternoon. One thing led to another, including lunch with Kevin, my wife and daughters at Outback Steakhouse, and we never got as far as making the jelly before Kevin had to leave.

Undaunted, but with more than a little trepidation, I decided to make and can the jelly myself. I knew that the jelly would be fairly easy; it was the canning that had me worried. But armed with my recently-acquired knowledge, I decided to have a go at it anyway.

In addition to the peppers we had harvested that day, I had a number of peppers that I had received in my CSA boxes the past few weeks. So I decided to make one batch of jalapeno jelly and, if it wasn’t a total disaster, a batch of mixed pepper jelly.

My canning jars and lids had already been washed in the dishwasher. I put the jars on their sides in my makeshift canner (a large stockpot with a round rack set in the bottom), added enough hot water to cover the jars, then covered the pot and put it on the stove over medium-high heat. I put the lids in a small saucepan of water and brought it to a simmer. I let both of these continue to simmer while I made the jelly.

I stemmed and seeded about 12 jalapenos, then whirred them in the food processor with a cup of cider vinegar to a nice mush, which I put into a saucepan with another cup of vinegar and 6 cups of sugar. I boiled the mixture for 10 minutes (note for future reference: don’t inhale the steam from 12 jalapenos), then added liquid pectin and boiled another minute.

Showtime. Time to fill the jars and process them in the hot water bath. Once I worked out a system of where to put the jars, how to fill them, etc., it really was a rather simple process. I ended up with 5 pints of jelly, which I processed in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Then I turned off the heat, removed the lid, and let them rest in the water an additional 5 minutes.

Processing Pepper Jelly

Within a minute or so of taking the jars out of the water, I started to hear these popping, plonking noises, which I was sure meant I had done something terribly wrong and ruined the whole thing. As it turns out, it was just the lids sealing themselves. The jelly was thick, but still a bit goopy-looking, but I figured (hoped) it would firm up as it cooled.

Interstingly, making the jelly was by far the hardest part of the whole operation. Flush with that success, how could I but try again? For my next trick, I would make 6-pepper jelly, featuring about 1/4 jalepenos and the rest a mix of green and yellow bell peppers, Anaheims, poblanos, and another pepper I got in my CSA but wasn’t sure what it was.

This time, I decided to chop the peppers up in the food pro but stop short of pureeing them, as I wanted chunks of peppers visible in the jam.

Grinding Peppers

Pepper Puree for Jelly

I put the not-quite-puree into the pot, added a cup of cider vinegar, and an envelope of powdered pectin. Then I went to measure out the sugar, and found out I had a problem. The recipe I was sort of following called for 5 cups of sugar, but I only had 3 1/2 cups. Ah, no matter. I remembered Kevin saying that he automatically cut the sugar in most jam and jelly recipes by half, so I didn’t worry. Turns out maybe I should have.

I cooked the jelly, then filled and processed the jars. The jelly was beautiful.

Six Pepper Jelly

Eleven Pints o' Jelly

The jalapeno jelly had already started to set up. And I was so pleased with the look of the second batch, I didn’t notice that the pepper pieces were floating to the top of the jar. As the 6-pepper jelly cooled, I kept checking it, but it never set. It was about the consistency of runny syrup.

Back to the ‘net to try to diagnose my problem. It didn’t take long to figure out that cutting back on the sugar was the most likely culprit. It seems that sugar has almost as much to do with making the jam set as the pectin. As I was out of sugar (hence the problem in the first place), and it was too late to go out and get more, I let the jam sit for the night. There was always the hope that it might have set by morning.

Morning came, like it does, but the jam was as soupy as it had been the night before. So, off to the store for sugar and home to attempt a rescue. I made a pectin syrup by boiling a packet of gelatin in 3/4 cup of water. I added 1 tablespoon of this syrup for each pint of jam, along with the remaining sugar, then boiled this mixture for a minute or so. I put the jam into clean jars and reprocessed it in the hot water bath.

It still took a while for the jam to set up, but it did, as you can see by the fact that the peppers are evenly spread throughout the jam in this picture.

6-Pepper Jelly

The jars all sealed, and both batches look and taste wonderful. With 2 successes, and 1 small setback, I feel ready to tackle more canning. 

Come on grapes!!