Thursday, 28 October 2010

How to Make Muscadine Jelly using Apple Pectin

Ever since I got my chinois, I’ve had the itch to make more jelly. A chinois is such a handy gadget and makes the process of making jelly so much easier. I was also itching to use some of the Apple Jelly pectin I made a few weeks ago.

So I got some muscadine grapes from the farmer’s market to make this delicious Muscadine Jelly and used homemade apple pectin instead commercial pectin.

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Muscadines are large grapes, with large seeds and a stronger flavor.  They are commonly found in the South.  My mom made jelly from the muscadines growing in her yard, but I got mine from the farmer’s market. 

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How to Make Homemade Muscadine Jelly

I found the recipe and instructions here and adapted it to use with homemade apple pectin.

Makes about Five 8 oz. Jars


5 lbs fresh Muscadine Grapes
1 Pouch Liquid Pectin (I substituted homemade Apple Jelly pectin.)
7 cups of dry granulated sugar


Wash the muscadines in cold water and pick out any stems and leaves.

Then crush them up.  I started out using a potato masher to crush them, but opted for the easy route and used my food processor.

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Then I finished the job with my potato masher.  What ever method you want to use to mash them is fine, you’ll just need about 6 cups of juice.

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Put the crushed muscadines in a big pot on the stove and heat over medium to high heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning. This will help release the juice and break down some of the fruit.

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At this point, you can put the cooked muscadines through a jelly strainer or pour them through a cheese cloth.  I opted to use my favorite new tool, a chinois.

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You just use the handy wooden tool to push the juice through.

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I extracted the jelly using the chinois, then put the jelly through a strainer to ensure it was completely strained.

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You can also use some wet cheesecloth in the strainer to make sure it’s strained.  Since I had already run it through the chinios, I didn’t think this was necessary.

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Next, in a large, deep stainless steel pan, I combined the muscadine juice and sugar and heated it on medium-high heat until it reached a full rolling boil (the kind that cannot be stirred down). 

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Then, I added the pectin.   You can use a pouch of liquid pectin (or boxed pectin) for this part, but I used the homemade apple pectin I made a few weeks ago instead.

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I plopped the apple jelly pectin into the pot and brought the mixture back to a full rolling boil and let it boil hard for 1 minute.

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To ensure the jelly had reached the gel stage, I kept a metal spoon in a glass of ice water.  I took a half spoonful of the mixture and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon to check for thickness.

Note: The instructions on the original recipe suggest that if you don’t get a good gel the first time, you can add more pectin. Or, you can just have a little bit runny jelly if you don’t want to add more pectin. I’ll leave that to your discretion. 

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After the gel had set, I poured the jelly into the prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  I wiped the rim to ensure a good seal and centered the lids on the jars.

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Finally, I added the rings and processed the jars for 10 minutes using the water-bath canning method. If you live in a higher altitude or need more detailed instructions on water-bath canning, please refer to the instructions at the National Center for Home Preservation

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Once the jars had processed for 10 minutes, I removed the canner lid, waited 5 minutes, and removed the jars to the counter.  I let them sit on the counter for a few days to ensure the gel had set.  It didn’t take that long though.  Now, these babies are in a cool, dark place waiting to be enjoyed.

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I had a little bit of jelly that didn’t fit into the jars I processed, so I put it in the refrigerator to enjoy on some homemade bread.  Yummy!


Happy Canning and Baking!

Here are some of the references I use in my canning adventures.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Making Braided Bread: Challah

I’ve been really mellow about the breads I’ve made so far with the Mellow Bakers but when I saw this Challah on the list for October, I knew I had to make it. I just love making braided breads. I also like learning the history of breads made throughout the world, and in particular, the symbolism behind the making of Challah.

"There are two words for bread in Hebrew: lechem and challah. Lechem is the everyday bread...Challah is the special, usually white egg bread reserved for the Sabbath. Challah is also the word that refers to the portion of dough set apart for the high priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. One of the three commandments incumbent upon women, "taking challah," evolved sometime following the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. Following the rising of the dough, women would separate a piece and burn it to remind them of the offerings to the Temple. For nearly two millennia it has symbolically replaced the sacrificial offerings. All challah that is baked today is kosher only if "challah has been taken."...It was the Eastern European immigrants who put challah on the gastronomical map in the country. In biblical times...Sabbath bread was probably more like our present-day pita. Through the ages and as Jews moved to different lands the loaves varied. But only in America could Jews eat challah...every day of the week...Elsewhere a round challan at Rosh Hashanah became a symbol of life. Usually the Rosh Hashanah bread is formed in a circle, to signify the desire for a long life.”

Source: Food Timeline


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I made a 4-strand challah, a 3-strand challah and two 2-stranded rolls.  I made the dough Friday morning before work, but didn’t get a chance to bake it until Sunday afternoon.  So it rested in the refrigerator for two days longer than the recipe recommended.  challah 001

When I was ready to bake the loaves, I divided the dough into four pieces and made a large ball, a medium ball and two small balls.  Since the dough had been resting in the refrigerator, it was pretty stiff.  So I let the balls rest on the counter for a while to soften up.

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I started with the Two-Strand Rolls. 

I took one of the dough balls and divided it into two equal pieces.

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Then I rolled both balls out into strands of equal length. 

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Then I braided them using the two-strand method.

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I probably should have rolled them a little bit longer because they were a little bit too thick for braids.

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Then I took the two strands and curled them up into a roll.

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I did the same with the other small piece of dough and placed them both on a cookie sheet to proof.

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Then I baked them. Here is what the finished Two-Strand Roll looks like.

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Then I moved on to the Four-Strand Braid

I cut 4 equal pieces from the large dough ball and roll each piece into a strand.  I made them longer this time.

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Then I made the braid using the 4-strand technique. 

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I started out using method 1, but about this point, I switched to method 2 which is the way I usually do it.

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So, it ended up being a combination of method 1 and 2.

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The Four-Strand Bread baked up pretty nicely even if the braids weren’t completely even.

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Moving right along…


Last, but not least, the Three–Strand Braid.

I divided the medium dough ball into 3 equal pieces and rolled each piece into a long strand.

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It had been awhile since I had made a braided bread.  I was starting to get the hang of the braiding again by now. 

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Finish the braid by tucking the ends under.  This photo is a bit blurry because it’s hard to hold the camera and tuck the ends at the same time.

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Here is the finished Three-Strand Braid.

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This bread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

I enjoyed making all of these braids.  I thought about making a double braid for a celebration Challah, but I want to use these loaves for something different so I opted to make the regular braids instead.

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I didn’t get a crumb shot because I gave one of the roll-shaped loaves away and I’m keeping the 3-strand and 4-strand braids for some special French Toast.

I did try the other roll. It was a little bit dry probably because of being in the refrigerator too long.  I’ve also heard that the addition of egg whites can make the Challah dry. However, I think it will do well for French Toast. 

Stay tuned for my next post…


Be sure to check out what the other bakers have been up to in the Mellow Bakers group.  There are some awesome braided breads out there.

The Mellow Bakers group was started by Paul at Yumarama. We’re baking breads from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.


Thanks for joining us in the Bread Experience bread-baking blog. 

Happy Baking!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Garlic-Studded Baguettes: HBinFive

I had some Healthy Bread in Five Minutes 100% Whole Wheat Olive Oil dough in the refrigerator that needed to be used so I decided to make one of the breads I missed for the HBinFive October 15th Bread Braid. These Garlic Studded Baguettes were easy and fun to make.

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To make these baguettes, all you do is take 1/2-pound of stored 100% Whole Wheat Olive Oil dough out of the refrigerator.  Then shape the dough into a ball and let it rest. I had 1 1/2 pounds so I decided to make three baguettes.  I made one loaf the night before I made the others ones so these photos just show two baguettes.

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After the dough has rested a bit, gently shape it into an oval.

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Then, fold the dough in thirds, like a letter. Bring one side and gently press it in the center.

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Bring up the other side and pinch the seam closed.  This will help you get an evenly shaped baguette and a tapered end.

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Stretch the dough gently into a log, working the dough until you have a nice thin baguette.  Try  not to deflate the dough while you’re doing this.  The final width of the baguette should be about 1 1/2 inches.

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Shape the other loaf and place both of them on a pizza peel lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat sprinkle it with cornmeal.  You can also use a baguette pan if you prefer.  I find that parchment paper works best for me

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Let the loaves rest loosely covered with plastic for 40 minutes.

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Right before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with egg white wash.

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Use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently make an indentation along the length of the baguette.

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Press about halfway through the dough to create a trench.

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Then, press the garlic (or cherry tomatoes if you prefer) into the trench, evenly spacing them along the baguette.  Press the garlic cloves into the dough really good so that they don’t pop out when baking.

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees about 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the loves.  Slide the loaves onto the hot baking stone with the steam pan underneath.  Pour one cup of hot tap water into the steam pan and close the oven door.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, or until richly browned and firm.   The garlic cloves were starting to pop out halfway through baking so I pushed them back down.

If you used parchment paper, a silicone mat, or a baguette pan under the loaf, carefully remove it and bake the loaf directly on the stone or an oven rack two-thirds of the way through baking.  Sometimes I remove the parchment paper, but this time I didn’t because I forgot. It turned out just fine on the bottom.

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Allow the bread to cool on a rack before slicing and eating. 

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Now it’s time to serve the Garlic-Studded Baguettes.

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You’re supposed to spread the now-roasted garlic on the sliced bread.  However, my garlic wasn’t roasted enough to be spreadable. Instead, I topped it with Roasted Red Pepper Spread and the roasted garlic cloves. 

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It was good, but I think it could’ve used a little more garlic flavor.  I’m going to try it toasted and spread with a garlic spread and the red pepper spread.


Be sure to check out BigBlackDog to see what the other bakers made for the October 15th Bread Braid roundup and the upcoming November 1st Bread Braid roundup.  I’m sure you’ll get some new and creative ideas.


About the HBinFive Baking Group
The HBinFive Baking Group, started by Michelle of Big Black Dogs, is baking through all of the breads in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. For more information on the HBinFive baking group, check out BigBlackDog.