Tips :: Rice Flour

Rosemary rolls. One of my very favorite breads to make. Not only do I love the jaunt out into the garden, where I choose the best few branches to snip, but I inhale deeply over and over the smell of the chopped rosemary, which lingers in my kitchen.

I mix the dough, let it rise, then dump it onto the green granite counter for shaping. One roll at a time I spin them across the surface and shape them into the sweetest little balls. I open the pantry, pull out the mason jar filled with rice flour and douse it all over that giant Finnish bread board my brothers gave me.

What a gift, all of this is! The miracle of the yeast, the simple ingredients mixed and melding.

I use rice flour in much of my baking. It’s the best dusting flour that I’ve found, to provide a barrier for non-sticking. Some people use corn meal, and others wheat flour, but rice flour has virtually no taste and bakes away beautifully.

And I know this is a good tip–because my amazing baker brothers told me so! They’re right about everything when it comes to bread…

So I dust the board with rice flour–and I dust the tops of the rolls, too, to hold in moisture. I cover them with a towel and let them rise until the oven is hot, hot, hot.

And when I’m done, I scrape the extra rice flour back into the mason jar to be used again.

I found another use for rice flour a long while ago. This recipe for Dutch Crunch is amazing. Wonderful winter treats, full of flavor and good cheer.

How do you use rice flour in your kitchen? I’d love to know.

Baby Blessings

Several small loaves of Dutch Crunch given to our hosts (I’ve made this recipe once before and it is delish! Here’s the previous post, which also contains the link to the original recipe.)

Mixed: 1:55 pm

Molded: 3:30

Baked: 4:20

Summer warmth has finally arrived here in Santa Barbara, and even though school is just around the corner, barbecues and outdoor evenings with friends seem to be on everyone’s agendas… Last night was a treat. Good people, yummy food, a fountain, candles burning, and dinner on the patio. But maybe best of all were the babies! My three are getting so big…

I got to goggle at six month old Brigid, both of us laying flat on our tummies; I watched her grin and coo. And… Sebastian brought me a flower! He’s a busy little toddler, who trots from here to there, never walks. A flower! A small purple cluster of pungent lantana picked from the side yard and given with a proud and meaningful gaze straight into my eyes.

He’s the kind of giver…

(one who expects absolutely nothing in return)

worth writing about!

World Cup Bread–Spain vs Netherlands

Six loaves of Tijgerbrood (Tiger Bread) or Dutch Crunch

Mixed: 10:30 am

Molded: 11:50 am

Baked: 12:30 pm

Gave to Mark, Michele and family, two Bodnars and two Shannons

I was definitely a good sharer this day–and if I’d known how good this Dutch bread would be, hmmmm, I might have sided with the stingier me. Horray for innocence!

Okay, there were four teams in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Uruguay, and I posted about that country’s bread choices just yesterday; Germany, and I really did make a German sourdough rye, but it was so awful to look at that I kept my camera hidden until it was eaten; the Netherlands, and you’ll hear more about their bread in a moment; and Spain.

Spain. We raced home from church to catch most of the final today, and in the past days I dedicated quite a bit of time trying to find a Spanish bread to fiddle with. But the more I looked, the more I realized that the Spanish really are much better when it comes to rice (paella!), and red wine, and Valencia oranges. In one bread book it says that the pan cateto looks like a “squashy cottage loaf,” that the pan gallego is a “rather misshapen round,” and that the ensaimadas look like “little Moorish turbans.” I was not inspired. I was not in the mood to bake little Moorish turbans.

On the other hand, I had quite a good time making a Dutch favorite: tiger bread. Just the name made me curious, and the more I hunted down recipes the more I realized what a really large fan base there is of this Dutch Crunch. People will travel miles for a good loaf, and many will eat this bread every week, for their whole lives.

And indeed, it was delicious! I followed this recipe to the letter and the bread came out beautiful and with no snafus. We shared the six small loaves between 14 people and believe me, there wasn’t one tiny crumb to spare.

So, with Spain winning the world cup, I’m wondering what the regional foodstuffs might tell us about their success.

  • 4th place–Uruguay. The faina deserved 32nd place from the 32 teams, but the sweet anise bread was amazing. HOWEVER, it did have a 1/2 cup of butter in it–not an everyday training bread for the troops.
  • 3rd place–Germany. German sourdough rye can fuel you for a long while, and not kill you with an overdose of fatty stuff… But, it’s kinda ugly.
  • 2nd place–Tijgerbrood. The name is inspiring, and the bread is sooo good. But, maybe the Dutch ate just a few too many slices Sunday morn before the match? I would have.
  • 1st place–Spain. They prefer rice.

Okay, you got me. I don’t know what any of it means. But I did enjoy the weeks of play and especially rooting on those teams who played hard, and creatively,  and clean… Now it’s time for us to call the cable company and remove the television from our lives. I’m looking forward to four years of quiet until 2014 when I’ll find myself baking an international line-up once again.

Predictions anyone?