Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Babes Bake an Anniversary Onion Bread

When I first read the recipe for this caramelized onion bread, I didn't have high expectations for success.   First, I've never had any luck with using floured cloths for proofing.  The bread would always stick and thus deflate.  Second, the oven temperature is sketchy at best.  Third, while I had the primary recipe, no where could I find details on all the auxiliary steps, so I just had to wing it.  That said, with only a few minor ingredient changes, the bread did turn out fairly well, although clearly not as nice as those from all the other Babes.  (Babe failure?)   

For the ingredients, I used medium rye flour in place of the light rye.   I didn't have buckwheat flour, so I substituted white whole wheat.  And, with only a tablespoon of honey in the container, I turned to Lyle's Golden Syrup instead.  Note, too, that this bread requires three days of preparation, so it's wise to plan accordingly.

(Improvised setup)

I interpreted all the instructions as best I could, and it seemed that the dough cooperated.  Only one loaf would fit on the baking stone, so, I fired up the second oven, which only had one shelf, and took a calculated guess for setting the temperature (all the markings having been erased over time).  The top oven, with two shelves, got the pan with ice cubes, while the bottom one did not, although I did spray that loaf with water several times at the beginning.  Can't really tell which loaf is which.  The top loaf was baked for twice the amount of specified time, hoping for a darker crust, which never happened.  The bottom loaf came out on time.  Again, you can't really tell which is which.

It is a delicious bread, and a good keeper, so it's worth making at least once.  The recipe comes from the book, Bien Cuit.  For details on the origins, the recipe, and a list of Babes, go to Tanna's website, My Kitchen in Half Cups.  If you want to play along this month, send your post to Tanna by the 29th (and remember the 3 days!).



Recipe By: Bien Cuit by Zachary Golper, Peter Kaminsky & Thomas Schauer
Yield: 2 medium loaves
Total Time: about 3 days (but most of that is dough resting)


125 grams (3/4 c + 21/2 tbsp) white rye flour
0.3 gram (generous pinch) instant yeast
125 grams (1/2 c + 1 tsp) water at about 60°F (15°C)
425 grams (3 c + 21/2 tsp) white flour, plus additional as needed for working with the dough
75 grams (1/2 c + 11/2 tsp) buckwheat flour

35 grams ground flax seed
15 grams (21/2 tsp) fine sea salt
1 gram (generous 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
350 grams (11/4 c + 31/2 tbsp) water at about 60°F (15°C)
50 grams (21/2 tbsp) honey
25 grams (13/4 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
50 grams (1/4 c) Caramelized Onions (you know how to caramelize onions, yes?)
DUSTING MIXTURE for the linen liner and shaped loaves
1 part fine semolina flour
5 parts white flour


Whisk flour and yeast together.  Pour water over.  Using wooden spoon or your hand mix carefully to insure all the flour is wet.  Cover the container and allow to sit on the counter at room temperature for 10 to 14 hours.  The starter will be at peak around 12 hours.

Whisk together white and buckwheat flours, salt and yeast.
Use approximately a third of the water to pour around the starter edges to release it from the sides of the bowel. 
Mix remaining water and honey in large bowl and add the starter; mix starter into water with wooden spoon.
Because you may not need all of the flour, reserve a small amount (arbitary, maybe 1/2 cup).  Mix the dry ingredients into the starter to combine then switch to a plastic bowl scraper.
The dough will now be sticky to the touch.
Note: At no point in this process of resting did my dough double in size.

Some Babes, like some Buddies, are sticklers for following directions and amounts.  Perhaps, over the years I've become jaded by too many crazy mis-reads and just down right mistakes and breads that are just good.  When I read this recipe roll and tuck just morphed into stretch and fold for me which is what I did.  You'll find several Babes who were very particular and followed the technique.
*** TUCK in my experience has always been cupping hands around a dough and tucking/pulling the dough under.  The result you're looking for is a strong smooth finish.

"Push the dough to one side of the bowl. Roll and tuck the dough (see Rolling and Tucking), adding the reserved flour mixture and a small amount of additional flour to the bowl and your hands as needed. Continue rolling and tucking until the dough feels stronger and begins to resist any further rolling, about 10 times. Then, with cupped hands, tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough, seam-side down, in a clean bowl, cover the top of the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes."

Dust the counter and your hands lightly with flour.  Release the dough from the bowl and place it seam-side down on the counter.  Stretch into a rough rectangular shape then, as you would fold a letter to place into an envelope, fold the rectangular into thirds.  Using cupped hands again tuck the sides under toward the center of the dough ball.  Give the ball a slight turn with each tuck and work your way around the ball at least once.  Return the dough ball seam-side down back to the bowl and cover again with the towel.  
Allow to rest again for another 45 minutes.

Repeat the step 4 and return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.


Third stretch and fold encorporates butter and onions.  Stretch the dough into a rectangle.  Drop small pieces of butter across the top the rectangle.  Spread the butter across the top then top the smeared butter with the onions.  
Roll the dough tightly and press to flatten slightly.  Turn seam side down.  Fold into thirds and roll again; roll and fold until the butter and onions are completly incorporated into the dough.  Mine took about 7 times.
Turn the dough seam side down and tuck around the ball.
Cover with the towel and let rest another 45 minutes.

Fourth and final stretch, repeat step 4, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Lightly dust the work area and hands with the dusting mix.
Divide the dough in half.  I divided mine unequally as I wanted one loaf larger than the other.   Roll into two loose tubes.
Let rest 5 minutes.  Press each again and shape how you choose.

Quote from Bien Cuit:  "Transfer to the lined pan, seam-side up, positioning the loaves lengthwise. Dust the top and sides of the loaves with flour. Fold the linen to create support walls on both sides of each loaf, then fold any extra length of the linen liner over the top or cover with a kitchen towel.
Transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for 12 to 18 hours."

I placed my shaped loaves onto parchment paper and covered.  Let them rest for 15 hours in the refrigerator.

Pre-heat oven with baking stone and cast-iron inside to 500°F (260°C).
Cast-iron skillet is for creating steam with ice cubes.

Because my loaves were on parchment I simply lifted the parchment onto the baking peel. If you followed Bien Cuit directions above you'll need to turn the loaves seam side down at this point.
Score the top of each loaf.  The cover of this book pictures a gloriously scored loaf that I hope to one day truely capture, until then this is a good try.
Transfer the loaves to the baking stone.
Add 3 cups ice cubes to the hot cast iron skillet.  
Immediately lower the oven temperature to 460°F (240°C).
Bake, rotate the loaves 3/4 way through the baking time, until the surface is a deep, rich brown, with some spots along the scores being very dark (bien cuit), about 25 minutes.  My loaves registered 205° at that time.

11. Using the baking peel, transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. When the bottoms of the loaves are tapped, they should sound hollow. If not, return to the stone and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 24 hours.



hobby baker said...

Are you kidding, those are beautiful loaves! I understand having a real linen cloth makes a difference for sticking, I always had to flour the bejeebers out of my cotton tea towels before I got a linen couche. (Though I have had slack dough stick to even well floured linen.) I don't wash it anymore, I leave it in the freezer so it will stay seasoned! Wow, guessing on an old oven dial, that is a hoot. :) Mine didn't get as dark as I expected for that high temp either. But it sure was tasty wasn't it?

Elizabeth said...

Failure? I think not. Your loaves look beautiful and lofty.

Reading your report, I am confused.... We were supposed to use floured cloths for proofing? I sort of remember reading that but then ignoring it entirely because I didn't want to have to wash the cloths.

And I agree about the oven temperature!! 500F? I DON'T think so. The bread would get pitch black on the outside before the inner crumb came even close to being done.

Too bad that you didn't have any buckwheat on hand. I highly recommend that you get hold of some. While it makes the dough smell just a tiny bit funky, the finished bread smells fabulous and tastes equally fabulous. I'm thinking that I may add a little buckwheat to all our bread.

Katie Zeller said...

Well, given all the negatives ;-) you ended up with 2 beautiful loaves - and that's what counts, right? It's always about the eating....

Cathy W. said...

Judy, I think you did a fabulous job interpreting the instructions. Your loaves look beautiful! Lovely dark color. Well done!

Lien said...

Your loaves are great! I share your fear for proving in a cloth, they really can ruin your bread when the dough gets stuck (which has often happened here) Glad it went well this time.. and believe me this is no failure of any sort. Happy anniversary!