Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Early Christmas

Yes, Jim gave me an early Christmas present. He even called me from the store to see if he was getting a good deal on it (20% off plus a $10 rebate for a total of $69). I had been looking at food processors the other night and he asked me if I wanted one. I sure could use such a time saver when making pastries and chopping large quantities of fruits and veggies, something I do on a regular basis. The clincher was two nights ago when I was trying desperately to make a pumpkin/cream cheese filling for a cheesecake for Christmas. My old Osterizer blender about gave up the ghost as it tried to churn the thick filling! I could smell the motor smokin'!

So now I am the proud owner of a KitchenAid® 7-Cup Food Processor. It's just the right size for the amount of food I work with on a daily basis. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet though. I set aside today to bake two loaves of honey wheat bread. The first thing I want to make with it is a pie crust. Even though I don't have plans to bake any pies soon, I can always keep the pastry in the fridge for future use. I just want to see what a food processor can do with cold butter and flour! I'm going to make au gratin potatoes with ham in a day or two to see how the slicing disc works with potatoes. Feel free to give any pointers/handy advice for food processing. I'm new at it and have always relied on my awesome Wusthof knives to do my chopping and slicing.

Those of you who use their KitchenAid stand mixers to knead bread dough, please give me some pointers on kneading a large batch of dough (7 cups of flour) without it climbing up the bread hook. How frustrating to have to stop the mixer every few seconds to shove the dough back down! Should I have made a smaller batch? I doubled the recipe in order to make two loaves (which came out very nice) but ended up making more work for myself during the kneading process.

I finished up my Christmas shopping this afternoon and while I was looking for a book for my little niece, I stumbled upon the cookbook section (oh joy!) and saw this one with my name written all over it. Can you see it too? Right there by that basket of eggs it says "Amy". See?

Would you believe there is also a companion book to it dedicated entirely to baking? While I didn't indulge in the baking manifesto, I did treat myself to this culinary treasure. I'm perusing the "Yeast Breads" section tonight, trying to improve my baking technique. I haven't yet figured out my timing when it comes to rising. I'm still not waiting long enough for the yeast to work its magic which is resulting in too much oven rise and some of my loaves split along one side--not tolerable for the "breadies" out there, but for this amateur it's OK. It still tastes the same, right? I suspect room temperature might be playing a part in the split sides too. I keep the house at 70 and bread bakers know that yeast like 80-85 degrees. Advice anyone? I've been covering my loaves with damp towels and putting them in the unheated oven to rise. The pilot light keeps the oven just a bit warmer than the kitchen. I've also risen bread on the top of the dryer when it's running. Perhaps I should combine laundry and bread baking?

Tomorrow Derek and I are going to tackle the "Velvety Butter Cookie" dough that is waiting patiently in the fridge. I made the dough last week and stored it until I was ready to roll and cut out all the cookies and get them decorated. I hope it's a fun and pleasant activity for us.

It's warmed up and the ducks are once again in the pond. They came up to the chicken coop this morning and waited for someone to let them inside to warm up. Jim let them in and when I got up I put them back out. I walked them down to the pond and as I headed back inside I turned to see them all waddling back up to the chicken coop. So I let them back in for the day. The temps warmed up considerably this evening and I had Derek let them out again. They all were content to stay in the water this time, so it looks like they'll spend the night out there. Ducks sure are clever!

The light in the chicken coop might be beginning to work. I got 5 eggs today! Woot!


  1. oooh, sure would like the KA food processor, never had one. I've got a tiny chopper thing but not the hoss.

    Sounds like you have trained Jim well, checking prices with you.

    Amy, have you got the INSTRUCTIONS RECIPE little book that came with the mixer? I know you don't throw anything like that away. I've always used the BASIC WHITE BREAD recipe although mix all-purpose and whole wheat flour together. I've never had the knead problem that you describe. This recipe calls for 5-6 cups of flour. I recommend trying this recipe with your own variations. Our loaves come out real pretty and tasty.

    and ya got 5 eggs today? wow.

  2. Joanna, I have the instruction manual for the bread maker but unfortunately the recipes don't go into kneading with a stand mixer. I have to say though that the recipes are all very good except for one. The manual for the food processor only had about 4 recipes in it.

    My blender came with a mini-chopper which I have used with good results. But it is too small for all the kitchen jobs I have. I can't wait to try out the food processor!

  3. Wow, you sure have been busy since I last visited! What a lot of new things you are trying! I put my bread dough in the microwave to rise. The closed compartment keeps the temperature constant with no drafts, plus I turn on the nightlight beneath and that provides additional heat. Works like a charm. (I have one of those microwaves that hangs over the stove and serves as a rangehood as well). Merry Christmas to you and your family. I pray it is Merry and Blessed!

  4. Great minds think alike, I guess. I'm baking a ham and au gratin potatoes, too. And the food processor is wonderful for slicing the potatoes! I have a Cuisinart that is about 12 years old and it still works as well as it did the day I bought it. I think I need to get a new chopping blade for it though.

    When I had a Kitchenaid mixer, I did four loaves worth of dough in it. It won't hurt it to climb the dough hook, just scrape it off when you're done. I'm assuming that your problem with rising is with the second rising in the pan. I turn my oven on for just a minute until it gets a little warm and then turn it back off with the light on. Or you can put a bowl or pan with hot water on the lower shelf.

    For the cracking on one side, I'm going to quote from The Complete Book of Bread and Bread Machines by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter:

    This is caused either by the dough drying out during rising, or by the oven temperature being too low and the dough expanding unevenly. Next time, loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap--that has been sprayed with cooking spray so it won't stick--to prevent any moisture loss while rising, and ensure that the oven is preheated to the correct temperature, so that heat penetrates uniformly.

    I love your new cookbook! I've looked at that one, too. The picture of the eggs looks just like your avatar on BYC.

  5. I put my rising loaves in the overhead microwave too.

    I was talking about the RECIPE INSTRUCTION book from the KA mixer not the breadmaker. Sounds like you need to add some more warm milk to the kneading process if it's climbing the dough hook, my dough hook is fairly clean once it's kneaded the bread.

  6. Another inspiring post. I love my food processor, like my leaf blower I went for years thinking it was silly to have one. Now I think anyone who eats should have one!

  7. Kathie, yes it seems I'm always doing something new lately. Winter is keeping me house bound and I refuse to sit still. So I'll just cook and bake until spring comes and then I can get back outside! I have a microwave like yours so I will have to try using the microwave to let the dough rise. It's all about experimenting and finding what works for you.

    Susan, They don't make 'em like they used to right? I just hope my KA is a durable one that lasts a long time.

    Thanks for looking that up for me in your bread book. I am re-baking the same recipe today, halved. I got two normal sized amounts for an average loaf and just now put them in the oven. I hope they come out right. I cover the pans with plastic wrap when I bake loaves. Buns is another story and in that case I use damp kitchen towels.

    Derek and I baked cookies today so while we had the oven going I had the bread dough rising on the range top. It worked well and I got a nice even rise. Keeping my figners crossed...

    I like the cookbook. Browsing through it last night I found very few recipes that didn't sound good. I also like it that I agree with their methods. It's a very thorough cookbook and would be good for advanced cooks as well as beginners. Would make a great gift!

    Joanna, the next time I knead dough in the stand mixer I'm going to use less dough and see what happens. I do know that KA came out with an improved bread hook that doesn't allow the dough to climb up it and damage the attachment spring. I may have to get one if this continues to be a problem.

    Lanny, I agree with you--a food processor is such a time saver that it's worth the expense of buying one.

  8. You are in business now to start your own resaurant. Just think of all the cooking you'll be doing and with help from the food processor. TOH is my favorite magazine (I get the annual book)and a food processor, I use mine all the time. My hubby is often reminded that my all time best presents have been the KA mixer, processor, and a bread machine... Enjoy!

    Merry Christmas,

  9. Just stopped by to day hi.
    And send a big hug.
    Merry Christmas.

  10. On your bread, you are right the house is too cool. One thing you can do is run the dryer until it is very hot and turn it off and set your pans in there. I also placed my bowl in the dishwasher that had gotten to the drying stage so it is very warm and moist..that worked really well but i can't do that all the time. I always cover my bowl with a wet rung out towel. But what works best is sitting them in front of the fire place....they rise very fast,

  11. Man! You're cooking now! Congrats on the new fancy food processor. I hope it brings you much success in the kitchen. I hope you'll post more about it's usage, too. I have a fod processor that I've only used a couple times because I usually just end up slicing or mixing the items by hand due to the extra clean-up (I'm lazy that way).

    I love my KA mixer, though, especially my Ice Cream attachment. Yummy!
    I've not had any problems with the dough climbing, but haven't used more than 5 cups of flour.
    I hope you can get that problem figured out.

    Your ducks are really smart. My silly horse would rather stand out in the blowing snow then go into her shelter. Your ducks have got the best of both worlds. You're a good duck mama :)

    New Mexico

  12. I love practical gifts. You are a lucky woman.
    Years ago I bought a cheepie food processor at a garage sale, cheap. The slicer thingy broke but the blade is still good.
    I bought 2 cookbooks at the library book sale, BH&G food processor cookbook and Food Processor Bread Book, the pizza dough is fast and easy.
    I may need to splurge on a new one someday. Let me know how yours works out for you.

  13. Mel, thank you! I don't have any aspirations of starting my own restaurant though. I do enjoy cooking and I find feeding others very satisfying somehow. I love the food processor and I am putting it to work every day.

    Grammy, thank you and Merry Christmas (and best wishes in the New Year) to you too!

    Sweetheart's Mom, thanks for the tip. I've experimented a bit since I posted this and found that turning the oven on for a minute then shutting it off is working great for me. The dryer is also a really good location for rising bread. Wouldn't it be funny to have unexpected company and have them see some rising bread dough on top of the dryer???

    Lisa, regarding the clean up, I hear ya. I don't use it for the small jobs, that's for sure. It excels at saving time on the big jobs though and can't be beat for shredding/slicing vegetables in a very short period of time. I'm going to try a Tyler Florence skillet hashbrowns recipe very soon. I found out that I had unnecessarily doubled that bread recipe which lead to having too much dough in the mixing bowl, which then climbed up the hook. Lesson learned! The ice cream attachment sounds intriguing. I wonder if the sausage grinder attachment works good. Do you make your own sausage too? You sound like quite the cook. Too bad we're not neighbors. I'd have to come over and spoil you with some home cooked meals while you recuperate from your injury!

    Michelle, practical gifts are the best. We did a mostly homemade Christmas this year and I really, REALLY enjoyed making gifts for each person on my list. It's so much more fulfilling! Your food processor cookbook suggestion was very helpful. I am now scouring the interwebs for the perfect one for me! So far, my KA and I are getting along just fine. It's also becoming good friends with my KA stand mixer.

  14. I cover my dough with a damp towel, that I moistened with hot water. Our house is usually 67 and my bread rises fine, just takes a little longer. I'm going to try doing it on the microwave next time.

  15. Amy, now don't taunt me with that option. wah! I sure do wish you lived closer. I'd love some of your tasty food right about now.

    Those crock pot meal-in-a-bag thingies are getting old around here. But that's about all my family knows how to cook...oh that..and maybe hot dogs....



Thanks for your comment! I may or may not be able to reply to comments depending on how busy I am.