CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, Drink and Love
Like there's no tomorrow.
Because, hey, You never know!.

Nice buns - sourdough style. · 20 October 2020 by colin newell

Pull-apart rolls have always been part of our childhoods, whether they were dinner table accessories during Thanksgiving, market bought for summer BBQs, or served at school alongside baked beans and mac ‘n cheese. These sourdough rolls take the classic soft roll and improve on the texture and, most importantly, the flavor.

Working with sourdough has opened quite a few doors for me. Yes, it is the current bragging right du jour – but they are nutritious in a way that they come by honestly. This particular recipe has a slightly sweet, buttery, and curiously tangy profile that keeps you coming back for more.

Great buns - no accident

This is a simple recipe. Take your sourdough starter. Create a functional levain. Away you go!
Note: This is not a masterclass on starters and levain. The assumption is: you know the difference.

Levain –
24 grams ripe sourdough starter
60 grams all-purpose flour
60 grams water
12 grams white granulated sugar

Roll ingredients

440 grams all-purpose flour
180 grams warm water
115 grams whole milk, cold
75 grams butter (softened)
23 grams granulated sugar
10 grams fine sea salt

Instructions

Add 24 grams of your ripe starter to a bowl. Add 60 grams all purpose flour and 60 grams warm (but not hot) water. Stir to combine. Add 12 grams (or less if you are inclined) granulated sugar to this mix. Combine. You can leave this on a counter for 2-4 hours until it starts to rise up in the bowl. Depending on your timing, you can put it in the fridge overnight. It will still need 2 – 4 hours to “come to life…”

When you are happy that your levain is perky and ready, get your main roll ingredients out and a suitably large mixing bowl.
Here is the order in which I add things – it may vary from the standard but the end result is the same.

Add 180 grams of warm water to your mixing bowl (My bowl I have on a digital scale to make sure everything is exact.)
Add your levain. Gently mix these two together.
Add your milk.
Add your sugar.
Add your salt.
Add your 440 grams of all-purpose flour to this mix.

For this recipe I use a kitchen-aid mixer but you can do the following by hand if you want.
Mix for three to five minutes until the dough starts to unify and hang onto the mixing hook.
Add the butter in “tabs” or “portions” – just not all at once. Keep mixing until the butter is incorporated into the dough.

At this point you can leave the dough in the mixing bowl or transfer it into another vessel.

This will begin a 4 hour “bulk ferment”. If you have started all of this early in the day, the bulk ferment can take place in the bowl on a countertop in a reasonably warm kitchen – 71 degrees (F) or 21C. Things develop faster in a warmer space and slower in a cooler space. If you started this process in the early evening, you can bulk ferment overnight in a fridge for 8 hours or more.
Whichever way you choose, you need to do some stretch and folds on this dough to develop the gluten. If I am making bread during the daytime, I observe the following schedule: I do “pull and folds” or “Slap and folds” every 20 minutes for an hour. That is three “pull and folds” in one hour. And then two pull and folds over the next hour. And then one pull and fold in the third hour.

Obviously this is impractical if you are doing a refrigerated overnight bulk ferment. If you do an “overnight” then in the morning you should do a sequence of pull and folds. YouTube is a great resource for various pull, fold and slapping techniques for dough.

However you decide to do the bulk ferment and pull/fold combinations, you will still end up with a bowl of dough that has “risen” or increased 60 to 80% in volume. This is when you ready the dough for “segmentation” into 16 suitably sized balls (60g give or take) of dough for a greased (buttered) 9 × 9 or 9 × 11 glass casserole dish (2” deep generally).

I used a bench scraper for cutting off pieces of dough – but anything reasonably sharp will work.

Organize these balls of dough into the buttered casserole dish and don’t worry about they avoiding social distancing as they are going to expand anyway – and when they are done, they’ll pull apart easily.

The Proof

For some, this is the hardest part of prepping dough for baking. How much time should pass during proofing before the dough is ready for the oven? You are going to need a minimum of 2 to 3 hours in a moderately warm kitchen (21C) and maybe longer. I did 4 hours of proofing and my buns were fine. The question remains: How do you know when the dough is suitably proofed?
My method is the poke test. The dough should raise by 60 – 80% by volume and pressing your finger into the dough should yield a 75% spring back. If it springs back 100% it needs MORE proofing. If there is no spring back, then it is over proofed!

Baking

Great Buns - always a treat - Sourdough

Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) with a baking rack in the middle of the oven.

In a small bowl, whisk together one egg and a tablespoon of whole milk until frothy. Using a pastry brush, gently paint the egg wash onto the proofed dough in a thin, uniform layer.

Slide the pan with dough into the oven and bake for 25 minutes at 425°F (220°C). After this time, rotate the pan 180°, turn the oven down to 375°F (190°C), and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the rolls are golden brown. The internal temperature should be above 200°F (93°C).

When baked, remove the pan from the oven, let rest 5 minutes, then turn the rolls out to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Comment

Sea to Sky series Chapter 1 - with Bush pilot Ryan from Papua New Guinea · 6 September 2020 by colin newell

I’ve often thought that God has to have a sense of humour. Moments after creation, the supreme being paused for a moment, and during a millisecond of pique, created Papua New Guinea as an exercise in extremes.

For Papua New Guinea is a land of unapologetic beauty, impossibly isolated mountain ranges, with waterfalls emptying into valleys of inexhaustible fertility.

Bush Pilot Ryan with happy passengers

Ryan Farran was fascinated by aviation while growing up in Papua New Guinea. The child of missionaries, it was during adolescence he decided that a life of service to the people of PNG, from sea to sky, would be his career choice.
His work for Ethnos360 Aviation, a non-profit organization, assists tribal church planning missionaries, running MedEvac missions and supplying safe water projects, to name a few.

We asked Ryan where his interest began, “I have had the itch to be a pilot since probably first grade. It’s always been an interest, but it wasn’t until about 11th grade that I made the decision that being a pilot is what I wanted to do. More specifically, a missionary pilot. Flying with the airlines looks too monotonous and boring. I like the fast pace, single pilot aspect of my job.”

We reflected, how “a kid from the United States…” would adapt to a cultural mosaic that could not be more diverse and separate from his own.

The actual answer is likely more complex. Papua New Guinea is, on geography alone, a place so exquisitely secluded, that a 25 minute flight between villages is a 4 day trip through impenetrable jungle. This is where the benefit of bush flying comes in. However dangerous this job might be, and not without a myriad of challenges, a skilled pilot makes the difference between getting supplies to an isolated community a reliable option versus, well, not at all.

Ryan continued, “I was born in Missouri, but grew up everywhere. My parents went into missions when I was 5, so we moved around a lot for that. We lived in Papua New Guinea in the late 80’s and early 90’s for 4 years. That is where I got my first introduction to bush pilots. From 6th grade on, we lived in the States, mainly in Michigan where I finished off high school and started my flight training at age 19.”

Ryan discovered, early on, that the people of Papua New Guinea are easy going and friendly. Guests in this country must be mindful that this is a paradise where time and distance are not measured in quite the way we are familiar with.

Today, tomorrow or next week all can mean the very same thing. On some primordial level, this is simply the way things get done.

For Ryan, this sense of time suits him just fine. His greatest joy is planning out his day, making all of the important decisions and completing his mission safely, “on time” in a World where time is often meaningless.

Ryan again, “We live, on a missionary center, and it’s kind of like raising your kids back in the 1950’s in a small town where everyone knows one everyone else. We live on a 35 acre village with about 250 other missionaries.
There are a ton of kids for our kids to play with, and a school that has K-12. It really is great when one finds his purpose in life doing what he loves, and having eternal value while doing it. It’s definitely a rewarding and fulfilling life.”

Bush Pilot Kodiak Cockpit - 2020

Ryan’s company aircraft is the Kodiak. Purpose built in Sandpoint, Idaho, the Kodiak is considered one of the more robust STOL (Short take-off and landing) aircraft seemingly destined for the most efficient humanitarian workloads. With a cargo capacity approaching 1000 kg, it’s a lifeline to communities that are separated by the most rugged of countryside.

For those seeking a career in bush pilot flying, be advised, the training is a long haul, 10 years or so according to Ryan. If our readers think there is anything routine about this line of work, Ryan offers…

“Yes, my most memorable flight days have been usually linked around bad weather.
Coming to the field with Very little IFR (instrument ) experience, it has made me learn it very well and fast.
PNG’s weather can change in a blink of an eye, keeping you on your toes at all times.
That aspect of the ever changing weather can be challenging at times, and fun other times.

Even though we fly a lot of the same routes to different bush locations, no two flights are ever the same. Cloudy or rainy weather can make the area look completely foreign.

I wind down with my hobbies. I love riding my dirtbike through the local mountains. I’ve probably put on 8000 miles over the past 4 years. I’ve always had a passion for photography, and it’s only been in the past 6 years that I’ve started getting into videography, and actually enjoy it even more.”

Ryan’s Missionary Bush Pilot YouTube channel is a delight to watch if you are interested in aviation and rugged terrain.

Comment [1]

Rethinking the social bubble before schools re-open - with Dr. Iris Gorfinkel · 14 August 2020 by colin newell

Of the many things that are forefront in our minds, especially the minds of parents, at the very top of the list is the concept of back-to-school, the ever shifting shadow that is COVID19, and the possible efficacy of any future vaccines.

We live in a unique time – a time that requires the best minds that we can find. And, as a lay person listening to all the reports with an ear glued to the Canadian media, one voice that stands out is the voice of Dr. Iris Gorfinkel.

We spoke with Dr. Iris Gorfinkel from our sunny patio in Saanich this afternoon. One thing became clear immediately: The good doctor has an inexhaustible focus for the crisis at hand but also a delightful self-deprecating humour on the subject of her long time love affair with music and the piano. We spoke of the mindful life savers in our personal realm and, as it turned out, music itself was one of those meditative exercises that keep us on course. But for now, the challenges at hand remain front and center in the doctor’s world.

This is her essay on the subject of Rethinking the social bubble before schools re-open:

When kids return to school in just a few weeks it will greatly impact social bubbles that contain both children and seniors. Children and adolescents will be exposed to other students in groups in which physical distancing may not be possible. This carries serious potential risk to those older than 60 years and those with chronic conditions who have school-aged children in their social circle.

Just last week the Toronto District School Board released an impressive 50+ page document describing well thought-out plans to bring children back to school. Bringing kids back isn’t just about the didactic teaching of core subjects. It’s critically important for children’s social skills, lends stability to at-risk children’s lives, provides reduced-priced daily meals and supports both physical and mental health. It also allows parents and guardians to re-enter the work force. The document describes the stringent control measures that are to be put in place including not only masks and hand sanitizer use, but also recommendations on restricting class sizes to 15 students with physical distancing in place along with some at-home learning.

These measures are critical but like all proposals intended to control the pandemic, it is far from perfect with plenty of unknowns. There is the question of adherence on the part of students, teachers, custodians and bus drivers with the suggested measures. Will everyone wear a mask? Wash their hands? Practice physical distancing? What will happen with the oncoming colder weather? What about aggressive contact tracing? Will kids or staff come to school when they have the sniffles?

When we look at the experience of other countries, school re-openings have been sobering. Israel was one of the first countries to re-open its schools and serves as an illustration of caution when moving too precipitously. Within days of reopening in May, COVID-19 infections mushroomed in Jerusalem forcing a widespread shutdown of schools.

We continue our grapple with the unpredictable in Canada. Schools have complex social structures with variable physical layouts, unique student and staff bodies, and a myriad of social dynamics. These factors make accurately predicting the impact that school reopening will have on the number of cases of COVID-19.

It is for this reason that returning students should be considered high risk to vulnerable populations. It follows that, when possible, kids should avoid contact with those over 60 and those with chronic conditions when schools reopen. Instead they should communicate by phone or electronically. When possible, this precautionary measure should be left in place for a minimum of one month following schools’ re-openings. After this, we will have a much better idea of the impact that returning to school has had on the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

Should the number remain low, easing back on complete physical distancing can then be reconsidered. At that point, it still would be prudent for students to continue to wear masks, adhere to hand washing and maintain physical distancing.

Canada has recently exceeded 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. We’ve seen close to 3,000 deaths in Ontario alone. Ontario also boasts the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest hospital bed ratios in the western world during a pandemic for which there remains no known cure and for which no safe and effective vaccine is yet available. It is sobering to contemplate that these numbers may well represent only the beginning of what’s to come.

Rethinking the social circle of vulnerable populations when schools reopen is a consideration that for many may not be an option. But not rethinking seniors’ social bubble in advance may cost far more in terms of human suffering, hospitalization and death. A bit of advanced planning may well help to mitigate infections in our most vulnerable populations.

Dr. Iris Gorfinkel

Dr. Gorfinkel graduated from McGill University and completed her post graduate training at the University of Toronto where she was named Intern of the Year. Following this she became a Clinical Instructor in Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia, maintained a family practice, and served assessing women in the emergency room on the Sexual Assault Service at Shaughnessy Hospital (now the BC Women’s Hospital).

She moved to Toronto where she maintains a full time general practice and participates in clinical research.

Care to read some more on the good doctor’s latest initiatives? A National Vaccine Registry Blueprint Check over here


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and author of the coffeecrew website… his meandering on the subject of specialty coffee goes back decades…

Comment

American Falernum and the continuing rise of artisanal spirits · 29 May 2020 by colin newell

California Falernum

A long, long time ago (before COVID19) Andrea and I sat at Don the Beachcomber, the legendary Kona, Hawaii bar at The Royal Kona Resort off of Alii Drive.

Between sips of Mai Tai and savoury nibbles out of a bucket of shrimp, we were regaled by a passionate and knowledgeable bartender on the subject of Tiki drinks.

I quickly learned about the finer points of what makes a great Orgeat syrup (the simple roasted almond syrup that gives the Mai Tai its nutty and warming bite) and a Falernum – the sweet, spicy and mysterious building block for the classic cocktail called the “Corn n’ Oil.”

This discovery of warming spice, citrus and roast nut infusions of simple syrups started me on a journey that has led me to a home bar that has dozens of bottles of aromatic bitters and exotic syrups.

Martin Geijer (pronounced “yay-er”) of San Francisco, California’s Geijer Spirits, walked me through a master-class of 21st Century artisanal spirits. “I have a family history of Swedish spirit making that goes back four generations,” and continues, “My grandmother had a still in her backyard for making moonshine!”

Martin’s Swedish Gran also created a beloved seasonal liqueur known as Glögg that was popular around Christmas for its “warming properties.” Glögg has found its way into numerous cocktails in the west. But first, some backstory!

​Glögg liqueur is based on a 19th Century Swedish family recipe. Spice notes include cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, while hints of almond and bitter orange harmonize to create a flavour profile recognizable from the beach bars of Trinidad, Tobago and Jamaica. These profiles form the foundation of many “Tiki” drinks.
Martin Geijer reminds us of the importance of family history, the integrity and purity of recipes handed lovingly through time and the importance of being mindful of their origins while being playful or, dare I say, whimsical about re-interpretation.

Martin could have rested on the initial success of his Glögg, but he listened to his friends and industry insiders and challenged the boundaries that exist between simple bar syrups and classic aperitif and digestif liqueurs.

California Falernum is a superb example of this re-thinking process. Take a classic warm-spice infused syrup and supercharge it with a finely crafted California-interpretation of a proprietary Jamaican rum. So finessed are the warming notes of allspice with hints of lime, so delicate a bouquet, that the California Falernum stands alone and proudly in a brandy glass or snifter. Don’t be afraid to mix it into your favorite Tiki recipes or cook up your own signature drinks.

Lesson learned: Liqueur, aromatic bitters and syrup selections have a long and colourful history that warrant study.

Our recipe: The classic Southern cocktail, the “Corn n’ oil”.

2 ounces Blackstrap rum (preferably Cruzan)
1/2 ounce California Falernum
1/2 ounce lime juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shaken or stirred, it’s best served in your best vintage rocks glass on a single large ice cube.

Garnish with a lime wedge.

We declared after the first sip: “Well hello Stranger!”

Don’t take my word for it – you can track down some of this good stuff at Vision Wine and Spirits

Have a listen to our interview –

Download – California-FALERNUM-final-cut-2020.mp3


Colin Newell is a resident of Victoria B.C. Canada and has been writing about food, coffee and cocktail culture for over 25 years.

Comment

Fresh Fig and Blueberry Bars in the Springtime · 18 April 2020 by colin newell

Fresh Fig Dessert Squares - with Blueberries!

We had some fresh figs gifted to us a Christmas time – they were fresh frozen and in the freezer. It was time.
These are, arguably, amongst the tastiest fruit squares that we have ever made. By themselves, with just the fresh figs, they are mighty tasty – by adding the antioxidant rich blueberries, they get a bit of balance and unlike date squares, they are less “instantly filling…” and you can eat more than one at a time!

Ingredients

For the crust
1/2 cup butter softened
1/4 sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cup fresh figs chopped
1 cup dried blueberries

For the topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray 9-inch square pan with cooking spray.

In small bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla with electric mixer until well blended.
On low speed, beat in 1 cup flour until soft dough forms.
Press dough in bottom of pan and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until center is set.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, cook filling ingredients over medium-high heat 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until figs are tender and most of liquid is absorbed. Blueberries will get rehydrated.

Spread over crust.

In small bowl, mix 1/4 cup flour, the brown sugar and 3 tablespoons butter, using pastry blender or fork, until crumbly.
Stir in oats and pecans.

Sprinkle over filling.

Bake 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and topping is light golden brown. Cool completely, about 1 hour. For bars, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and talker on the subject of coffee, cocktail and food culture. He created the CoffeeCrew.com website some 25 years ago and still loves that hot frisky beverage.

Comment

Previous