Monday, April 27, 2015

BBB Buddy: Romanian Easter Braid

Let it be known that this is one seriously delicious bread.  One of those breads where you can't consume just one piece.  One whole loaf, maybe.  But not just one piece.  

Pat, of Feeding My Enthusiasms, was the BBB kitchen of the month, and she adapted the recipe from Kathy Cutler's The Festive Bread Book.  

For the basic dough, I made two changes:  I used organic coconut sugar in place of the sugar, and I let the dough have two rises before shaping.  I've moved to high-altitude country, so an extra proofing was in order. 

 For my version of the filling, which I doubled, I used Trader Joe's Almond Meal, more organic coconut sugar, and the zest of a lemon and an orange along with the cinnamon.  I could have eaten the filling right on the spot, it was that good. 

The loaf lasted for several days and didn't even dry out in this climate.  I also gave away/shared part of it, and tried very hard to make it last, but, alas, it disappeared way too quickly.

You can find the recipe on any of the Babes' blogs.  Each baker made a slightly different variation, and all sound delicious.    .

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BBD #72: Nutty Breads

This is going to be a very short post.  The bread is baked, but I've run out of time to do a decent write-up due to my recent move (working, unpacking, working, trying to find kitchen tools, etc.)

This month's challenge was hosted by Greenway 36, and breads with nuts was the theme.  I chose to bake a sourdough fruit and nut bread.

The recipe can be found on King Arthur's website, and I only did minor changes, using whole wheat pastry flour for pumpernickel flour, and candied lemon peel for the dried fruit.

Nutty-Fruity Sourdough

This dense, moist, gently tangy bread makes wonderful breakfast toast. Or slice it very thin, and spread it with cream cheese or butter—what a treat!

1 cup (about 8 ounces) fed sourdough starter
1 cup water
3/4 cup pumpernickel flour
2 1/2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups Fruitcake Blend or the dried fruits of your choice
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, or almonds)
Mix all of the ingredients (except the fruit and nuts) by hand, mixer, or bread machine till you've created a smooth, elastic dough. Because the consistency of sourdough starters vary, you may need to add a bit of extra flour or water; the dough should be medium-soft but not sticky. Add the dried fruit and nuts, kneading until they're evenly incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Turn the dough onto a lightly greased or floured surface, and form it into a fat log. Place the log into an Italian stoneware baker that's been greased on the bottom, or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the loaf, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it springs back very slowly when lightly pressed.

If you're baking in a covered stoneware baker, place the bread into a cold oven, set the oven to 400°F, and bake for 40 minutes. Check the bread, and bake for a bit longer, if necessary; the internal temperature should be about 190°F when measured on an instant-read thermometer. If you're baking on a sheet pan, preheat the oven to 375°F, and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until the bread is brown. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Yield: 1 loaf.


BBBuddies: Granary-Style Bread

A christening of sorts -- my first official bread in the new house turned out to be Granary-style bread from the Bread Baking Babes Tanna chose quite a challenge.  Because this bread requires a very special kind of flour, only found in England, all the bakers had to rely on their creativity to replicate this loaf. 

In the interest of speed and brevity (I need to post this immediately), I will just say that I auditioned two recipes, both requiring malted wheat flakes, which I ordered from King Arthur Flour.  It arrived in time, and I proceeded to bake my breads.

The first recipe is from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  The dough is made a day in advance, then you can bake a loaf to order.

The second recipe is from King Arthur Flour's website.  I still haven't found my bread pans, so I improvised with foil.  Let me just say that a make-shift foil pan may be a good idea, but it's no match for the power of rising bread.  The result was only ok.  It lacked flavor.

My preference was the Artisan bread.  Definitely flavorful and easy to make. 

Now that I have the malted wheat flakes, I'll give this bread a try again.

English Granary Style Bread
Makes 4 loaves, slightly less than one pound pound each. Can easily be doubled or halved (store and use extra dough in the fridge for up to 10 days)

3 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon granulated yeast (or one packet)
1 tablespoon coarse salt (recipes tested with Morton’s Kosher)
1/4 cup malt powder
1 cup malted wheat flakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
cornmeal or parchment for the pizza peel

Cornstarch wash (blend 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch with a small amount of water using a fork; add 1/2 cup water and microwave or simmer till mixture appears glassy)
1 tablespoon cracked wheat, for sprinkling [optional]

Mix, store, and shape the dough according to the Master Recipe Instructions, but include the malt powder with the water, yeast and salt, then add all the flours and malted wheat flakes.  If you want a more open hole structure, consider the longer rest after shaping.

Place a metal broiler tray (no glass) near the bottom of the oven, and a baking stone near the center– and preheat to 400 degrees (about 20 to 30 minutes). Just before the loaf goes into the oven, brush with cornstarch wash and sprinkle with the cracked wheat if you’re using it. Slash a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone, pour 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray, and bake for about 35 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking times

Saturday, February 28, 2015

BBB Buddy Bake: Kouign Amann

At the moment, my kitchen is packed in boxes. This past week I moved from California to New Mexico.  Back home, at last.  My welcome greeting?  Nearly a foot of snow!   Too bad the kitchen is in boxes for it is a wonderful time to bake!

However, moving aside, I managed one more baking experience in my beloved California kitchen -- the February Bread Baking Babe challenge, Kouign Amann.

I can't tell you how long I've been wanting to try these, scouring my cookbooks and websites for the 'right' recipe.  I was watching the Great British Bake-Off recently, and when they announced a surprise challenge, I somehow knew what it was going to be.  Yep, Kouign Amann.  I watched intently.

Then, the BBB announcement was made.  Kouign Amann.  It was a sign.

So, I knew I had to make this before I left.  And, I did, not once, but twice.

The first time, I followed the recipe.  I'm no stranger to laminated doughs, so it was not intimidating, but I thought the process could be improved.

The second time, I did it my way, which meant that I spread on the Irish butter in pinches and dabs and gave the dough an extra turn to make sure it was well chilled.  I also couldn't resist adding a small piece of chocolate to the center.  

Although I'm aware that these pastries are best eaten fresh and warm, I have to say that even at 2 days, they were still delicious.  In fact, you can really see the flaky layers when they have matured.

When my new kitchen is finally in place, you can bet that I will be making Kouign Amann again and sharing them with a whole new set of friends.

Thanks to Lien, the Kitchen of the Month, for the perfect challenge.  If you want to see what the Babes and Buddies did and get the recipe, check out her website. .

Sunday, February 1, 2015

BBB Buddy: Chapati

Do you ever have those moments where, if you don't do something creative, you'll just explode?   For me, that situation has been building up for weeks.  My work requires brain-power, but if I don't complement it with cooking or even quilting, my thought processes are compromised.

So, Saturday, I just had to try the latest challenge from the Bread Baking Babes:  chapati.

How hard could these be?  I've been making my own flour tortillas for years, and, since chapati seem very similar, I decided to make up a batch.

I used 100% white whole wheat flour entirely, 1 1/2 cups worth, along with some Kosher salt, and enough just-boiled water to create a pliable dough.  It was very satisfying to spend nearly 10 minutes kneading it into a satiny ball of goodness.

After an hour's rest, I heated up my comal, placed a rack on top of the neighboring burner, then got to work rolling out thin rounds of dough.  

Such a nice feeling to watch the rounds start to bubble and puff.  And, when I moved the first one from the comal to the heated rack, it ballooned up completely.   Nice.

The remaining seven pieces of dough cooked without incident, and I ended up with 8 lovely chapati and a sense of mental restoration.   Definitely something to remember for future crises.

The hostess this month was Elizabeth, but you can visit any of the Babes to see how they fared.

Until next time, happy baking!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BBB Buddy: Nutella Brioche Flower

I'm in the midst of some down time.  This might sound like a good deal, except I haven't had this much free time in years, and, while I dreamed about free time, once it actually happened, I'm a bit lost.  Plus, it means no income, which puts a damper on things.

However, it does mean that I can still bake bread and take my time with an intricate recipe like the Nutella Brioche Flower.

This month's challenge from the Bread Baking Babes was hosted by Cathy Warner, who chose this delicious and beautiful bread for us.  Her recipe called for a filling of Nutella, which I love, but shouldn't keep in the house for fear of wantonly consuming it.  I substituted Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter instead.  On second thought, it is equally dangerous, so I will have to hide it away.

The before-powdered sugar photo shows the lovely layering.  Somehow, the powdered-sugar-applier got overly energetic while sprinkling, leaving clumps of sugar on the bread.  Boo.  It didn't, however, affect the taste.

Try as I might, I couldn't get the flappy ends to adhere to themselves.  I pinched, and squeezed, and glued quite a few times, but to no avail. So, I just reframed the design in my mind -- yes, they are supposed to look like that.

In any case, the bread was easy to prepare and super delicious.  I did share some with my neighbor so I wouldn't be tempted.  I kept telling myself to freeze some it for later, but you know how that goes.  Me 1, freezer 0.  I know I can always make it again, and, hey, I still have cookie butter hidden somewhere in the pantry!

This was a great choice for the holidays, definitely worth repeating.

Check Cathy's website after Christmas to see all the Buddy entries.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

World Bread Day 2014

Today is World Bread Day!

Once again, Zorra is our hostess for this year's event.  The roundup will be posted on her website in a few days.

We were allowed to bake any bread that caught our interest, and this year I chose Pumpkin Swirl Bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, using the Oatmeal Pumpkin Dough.  It was fun to make and delicious to eat.  With the bit of leftover dough, I also made a dozen little swirl rolls.  Nice to have in the freezer when the large loaf is gone.