Saturday, June 19, 2010

Enter Cuisinart

I keep debating whether the soundtrack for this post is the Imperial March or the theme from Jaws. I think I'm going to go with The Ride of the Valkyries, as that implies a fiery horde of goddess women setting out from Valhalla to kick ass.

Our mission: to break in the Cuisinart, fabulous glorious thing that it is. It is the 2 year anniversary of my moms' group (aptly named the Milkwalkies or the Milfwalkies, depending on who's husband you're talking to). In our honor, I made an enormous challah, using a double batch of my Sephardi challah recipe, to be served with Honey Thyme Butter.

With my assistant and fellow fiery goddess, Nomi, we were set to go. We heated our bowl and set our yeast to proof. We added in our liquid ingredients, including our eggs from the CSA, laid for us this week by Tammi, Jaci, Leah and Lynsi. There's something both reassuring and slightly creepy about eating eggs laid by chickens who have names, but we love getting the weekly notes:

Following the adding of liquid ingredients, half of the flour was measured in. On went the Cuisinart to beat the ingredients until smooth.

Oh my. There is more power behind this thing than I know what to do with. I turned it up to 12, and much like the Spinal Tap amps going up to 11, there was just no need. It blended beautifully, but I was not whipping egg white, so I would probably have been good with a 5. I then looked at the directions for the first time, and saw that I was supposed to knead dough at a speed 3. I then had an enormous urge to whip egg whites, just to watch the whole thing go.

We added the remainder of our flour, and after a brief blending on 3, I allowed the dough to sit for the required 10 minutes. This break is essential for a soft bread, as it allows the moisture to permeate the new flour, without the build up of excess gluten. After the first 10 minutes, I set the timer for a second 10 minutes, set the dough hook speed 3, and I walked away.

I walked away. I cleaned dishes. I parented. I straighted up the living room, and collected recycling to bring outside to the curb. When the 10 minutes were up, I heard a beep and the machine stopped by itself. IT STOPPED BY ITSELF. I returned to my kitchen to find this waiting for me:

Perfect, beautifully textured, soft dough. With barely any mess beyond the Cuisinart itself. This is cheating. I am so in love.

Following two rises, a 6 strand braiding and a 4 strand braiding, a third rise and a baking, I had a beautiful challah to serve with Honey Thyme Butter. Dave made a second batch of butter while I was upstairs with Dina, not knowing I'd already made a first. He found the need to use three sticks, which has left us with nearly a full pound of honey butter. I shall make muffins or cake with it, though I haven't decided which. So if you would, dear readers, submit your votes for what the honey butter should be re-purposed for, it would be much appreciated. It may be the perfect time for Beinenstich, or it may be the perfect time to admit that this glorious machine has given me a bloated head and I'd better slow down before we have another bread pudding incident.

Honey Thyme Butter

1 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 tsp or so of ground sea salt
splash of balsamic vinegar
The leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs of thyme

Whip the butter until light and airy. This can be done with a fork, but if you have a Cuisinart mixer with a 12 setting, go for it. Add the other ingredients. Blend. Adjust seasoning to taste. Know it took you 3 minutes to make, but will take whichever bread you made up 12 notches in class. Share and enjoy!

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