|Biscuits fer Breakfast!|
I must have used up my slim tolerance for exactitude in boatbuilding. I sure don't seem to have any left for cooking.
I was thinking of sharing a medley recipes for various doughs and uses thereof, but realize I don't really have numbers... it's about yea, here and a dash of that, there and to taste throughout. But I'll do my best to come up with some.
Lacking an oven on SLACKTIDE, we cook solely on the stove-top in a Dutch Oven whose lid can serve as a shallow frypan. We heap kitchen towels loosely on the lid to keep heat in. For baking, an oven can be made by throwing some canning rings in the bottom of the Dutch Oven to raise a smaller pan clear of contact.
All amounts are approximate. If it doesn't look right, mull it over and add a bit more of the ingredient whose function will fix it. Li'l bit at a time....
The doughs I make involve four basic ingredients in order of importance:
- Flour - Ground whole wheat flour.
- Water - Fresh, mostly, but sometimes a dash of seawater to add salt.
- Oil - Liquid oil, though if we're around butter, it may make a guest appearance.
- Baking Powder (non-aluminum) - This is a quick leavening agent that replaces yeast.
I always start by combining dry stuff, then oil and water last.
Water is the easiest to overdo, so I try to err on the side of caution. But if I overshoot, a bit more dry ingredients make it right... extra dough never goes to waste. As soon as I notice that it's on the dry side, I stop stirring and add a bit more water. Tell you the truth, I never measure, but keep a clear target look and feel in mind.
Water and stirring set up gluten from the flour, a binding protein that holds things together. Stir less for lighter results (biscuits, scones, etc.); longer for more cohesive results (flatbread, chapitas, etc). Liquid batters can be left lumpy. Generally, the less the better unless you want a structurally cohesive result.
Oil moistens doughs, affects their texture (tends toward flakier) and adds flavor. The more used in the dough, the less you need in the pan.
We love substitution and ersatz cooking. Half the fun is working out a way to satisfy some culinary craving that might descend out of nowhere far, far from the nearest store. As in sailing, play and experimentation are not only fun, but they soon confer mastery.
The following is just a taste...
Mom's EZ Crust
This can be adapted for pies, quiches, spanakopita, pasties, etc.. More oil makes flakier and less prone to burn. If you come up a little short, just wing it to make a bit more. Very forgiving stuff.
In a pie pan or equivalent, stir together about 2 cup Flour, 2/3 cup oil, and about 1/4 cup water. Stir just until saturated... less makes a flakier crust. Remove about half, roll into a ball and set aside. Press remainder out to edges of pan.
The other half can be the bottom of a second pie, or a cover for this one. To cover, pinch out thin 'leaves' of dough and patch over filled pie. Gaps are fine, as they vent steam. Sprinkle with topping spices and/or sugar and bake as usual.
This is a simple, tough bread used for scooping up pasty goodies, such as hummus.
In a bowl, combine 3 cups flour with about 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cup warm water. Knead until firm and elastic. Let rest 4 hours (you can tell this is one of Anke's). Roll into balls and form flat and thin as possible. Fry hot in liberal oil, turning to get both sides.
These can be made in a number of styles, and perked up with all manner of ingredients. We especially like to top with jam and melt cheddar cheese over.
In a bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, milk powder (optional) and a pinch of baking powder. Make a depression, and add an egg or two (optional)... beat with a fork (on top of but without mixing into flour, yet). Add about 2 cups of water and stir all together. Add water as necessary until thick side of easy flowing batter, less for crepes. Add nuts, seeds, fruit, etc. now if you want them cooked in the pancake.
Heat liberally oiled frypan until a flick of water hops and sizzles on contact. Pour in batter. When bubbles pop but do not close, flip and cook until golden. Top as desired.
[NOTE: Eggs tend to make a dough cakier, and add protein and flavor. Optional, but use more liquid if omitting. Anke skips baking powder for German style pancakes.]
This is just one variation among a number of ways you could take it.
Start with pancake batter, but increase baking powder, oil and add sugar to taste. Pour into greased baking pan (looking for about 1 1/2 inches deep... about 8x8 inches).
In a second bowl, mix 1/3 cup solid oil (e.g., butter or peanut butter) with sugar and cinammon to taste. Should clump, but be a bit crumbly. Strew large chunks as streusel over surface. Bake like cinnamon rolls (see below), about 25 minutes.
Baking Powder Biscuit Dough (BPBD)
Most baking powder cans come with a recipe... any will do as a basis for all of the following. You can add milk powder, cornmeal or other flours. More or less water will thicken or soften dough for various uses. Here's the mix for biscuits:
In a bowl, combine 2 cups of flours with around 1 heaping tsp Baking Powder. If adding milk powder, add to 1/4 cup and increase water slightly. Add 1/3 cup oil, and about 1/2 cup water. Stir until just combined, with light, turning motions (I use a fork). Small lumps okay.
Fork in clumps onto medium hot, ungreased skillet, cover and insulate. Check on them when you smell them and turn if doughy on top. Generally takes about 12 minutes.
[Diagnostic Tip: If things are burning on the bottom but doughy elsewhere, the heat is too hot... it doesn't have time to cook through before burning. If things are taking forever, and seem cooked but are pale on the bottom, heat is too low... plenty of time to cook, but can't close the deal.]
For Flatbread, start with BPBD, but use a bit less water (thicker dough), stir longer, and press dough lumps flat in the frypan. Add oil to the pan, if you like, and cook a bit hotter for a crusty piece, aka frybread.
Eggs McSLACKTIDE - Top flatbread with a fried egg and cheese, cover and heat over low-medium heat until cheese is melted. Top with your favorite sauce.
Faux Ruben - Saute thin slices of meat (venison or summer sausage work great). Smear flatbread with special sauce, top with meat and cover with saurkraut.
This one is a little tricky... small differences seem to have big consequences. I'm getting it down, but there've been several batches that ranged from chewy to a weird pancake. Always tasty, though, and looks aren't everything, they tell me!
Start with BPBD, then add flour until dough can be handled. Roll flat into a rectangle about 3/8 inch thick. Spread butter liberally and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, chopped nuts, etc.. Roll from one long side to form a roll. Slice into about 1 1/2 inch segments, and transfer to a lightly greased pan. Bake at medium-high heat for about 25 minutes. Dribble frosting, if desired.
These are thick, so err on the cooler side so as to not scorch the bottom. The more insulation, the merrier, as these can't be easily turned.
This is a quick meal, which is unfortunate. That means self control is the only thing standing between ourselves and a steady diet of this over-rich food. 8)
Start with thickish BPBD. Sprinkle cornmeal on a frypan and press out dough. Cover, and cook medium-high until first whiff. Put a low trivet under the frypan. Spread sauce, top with choice goodies, cheese last. Cover and cook until smell drives you nuts.
Once in a while, we'll have some bready something or other left over.
In a frypan, saute up some garlic, onions, and whatever's going. Crumble in breadstuff and beat in an egg or two. Deal cheese slices over the top. Cover, place on a low trivet and bake over medium heat. Mmm-MMM!
One last word; things don't always turn out as envisioned. But there's very little that can't be salvaged and redeemed, in whole or in part. Burnt dishes can be transferred to another pot, taking care to leave the burn stratum undisturbed. Spice and sauces cover a multitude of cooking gaffes. Often, just a creative name change will make all the difference; crackers, flat bread and biscuits are all points along a spectrum!
Well, I'm getting hungry... bye!