Posts tagged “honey

Adventures in brewing… Part 1

From time to time I decide I need a challenge.  Sometimes this comes in the form of trying to learn a language for which I have no reasonable expectation of ever speaking conversationally with another human being.  That is not entirely true, I know one person who speaks Irish.  That isn’t really the point.  The challenge I have been rolling around in my head is brewing mead.  It is possibly the oldest fermented beverage.  It is very simple.  It has three ingredients.  Water, honey, and yeast.  That is all.

Your biggest task in this whole endeavor is sanitizing everything that will come in contact with the must. Must is the term for the unfermented honey and water.  There are a number of ways to sanitize.  Bleach and water is probably the least expensive.  At a concentration of 1 TBSP per gallon of water it doesn’t need to be rinsed. It needs to soak for 20 minutes. If you decide to rinse, you should use boiled water to make sure that you’re not adding new life forms to your sanitized items.  I didn’t rinse, but  I did give it plenty of time to dry.  Hopefully it won’t cause any problems.  Once you have sanitized do not touch the surfaces that will be in contact with your mead.

Once you have everything clean, and sanitized you can begin.  The recipe I am trying is pretty straightforward.  Boil 1 quart of honey, and 3 quarts of water for 5 minutes.  Cool to about body temperature, and add the yeast.  Stir.  Pour into a container to ferment.  In seven days refrigerate, until the sediment settles in about 2 days.  Strain, and bottle.  It should be drinkable, but it is supposed to be better when aged for several months.

I’ve been thinking about how to do this, and I’ve decided that I am going to do the fermentation phase of this recipe a little differently.  Rather than refrigerate after a week I am going to let the yeast do what it does.  I’ve done a bit of reading about this, and as the yeasts die, the air lock will stop  bubbling and then the sediment will settle out.  Once it is settled I will bottle it, and allow it to age.  I’m not sure how long this will take.  I started Tuesday night, and I’ve still got bubbles every few seconds on Saturday.  I’m keeping it in a box, and have a second box that is on top of it to keep it in the dark.  Mead ferments best at room temperatures.  Depending on the style beer does better in cooler temperatures.

Obviously at this point I have a ways to go before I have anything I can drink, but it is interesting to think that it is possible to make our own beverage. Is it something we all need to do?  Of course not, but it is kind of interesting to try once.  Besides if it turns out to be something you enjoy drinking and enjoy doing, why not?

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Gluten-free Madeleines

This story starts a ways back when I first started working in a kitchen.  I was able to try things that I had only heard of, or in some cases had never heard of.  I had heard of madeleines.  I think they were in one of the Transporter movies.  I had no idea what they were.  Then one day I was setting up a dessert platter, and the chef handed me a couple of boxes.  Madeleines, one orange, and one chocolate.  I got the tray set up, and once I finished I took a bite of one of the orange ones.  Tender, and cakey, but with a little more chewiness, almost like a cookie.  I wanted to make them, almost instantly.  Once I went gluten-free my quest to make them went into high-gear. Sort of.  I have had a bit of adversity as far as baking goes.  I destroyed my mixer trying to make focaccia, and that kind of killed my baking ambitions.    Then for Christmas I got a new mixer, and it is a damn good one.   image
I decided that I should do something that I have been wanting to make for a while.  The other day I ran across the Gluten-free Girl’s post about honey spice madeleines, and they looked and sounded so good I had to try them!  First, I needed a madeleine pan, of course.

I decided that I wanted to make more than 12 so I doubled the recipe from her post.  I made a few other slight modifications based on what I had at hand.

The dry ingredients should be mixed together in a bowl, and set aside.

210 grams  gluten-free all purpose flour (1 and 1/3 cup, I did the math so you don’t have to!)

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp kosher salt

a few grinds of fresh black pepper

The wet ingredients go in your mixing bowl.

2/3 cup sugar

finely grated zest of one orange

4 large eggs at room temperature

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla extract

12 T butter, melted and cooled

Put the sugar and orange zest in the bowl of your stand mixer, and mix together until the sugar is scented with the orange zest.  The add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running on medium high, until the eggs have lightened in color and are nice and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and the honey while mixing on low.  Then fold the dry ingredients into the wet very gently using a rubber spatula.  Resist the urge to use your mixer for this part, you’ll overbeat the eggs, and just have a mess.  Once the dry ingredients are folded in, mix in the butter.

Now, cover the batter and put it in the fridge, and leave it there for a couple of hours.

Once that is done pre-heat your oven to 400F and, prepare your pan.  Mine was non-stick so I didn’t really need to do a lot.  I sprayed a paper towel with Pam, and wiped the molds.  Then I spooned the batter into each mold.  I had a bit of a hard time judging how much needed to go into the molds, but I did my best.  Remember, they will puff up quite a bit, so don’t go crazy.  Pop them in the oven, and eight minutes or so later they will be golden brown.  My first ones went a little longer, and a couple got too done.  They still taste good though.  Pop them out of the pan, and onto a cooling rack.  While they are still a bit warm dust them with a little powdered sugar.  They are so good!

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I hope you all have a Happy and safe New Years, and with a little luck 2011 will be an even better year than 2010!