Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Another Festive Bread
December was a busy month. Trying to fit in all the baking and cooking events plus regular life events was challenging at best, and I suspect a few things fell by the wayside. One item I couldn't pass up, as usual, was bread, especially a holiday-themed bread.
For Christmas breakfast, I made the Yule Wreath from the Bread Baking Babes, with the oversight of my mother and nut-sprinkling help from my daughter. Since I don't know if I can post the same item for two events, I decided to bake one more holiday bread, and send it along to Bread Baking Day #15, hosted this month by Annarasa.
I used a basic recipe from Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb: All-Purpose Holiday Bread. It's a simple recipe that can be customized depending upon the holiday. I loaded the dough with sliced almonds and finely chopped dark chocolate, and because I don't have a panettone pan, I just made boules, which I brushed with a simple syrup while still warm. It's not a particularly sweet bread, but it is good. There is a slightly brown color from the chocolate. You can add dried fruit instead of chocolate, and try spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or allspice. You can shape it into smaller rolls or make one large loaf. It's that versatile.
So, I hope everyone's new year is a good one and includes lots of fresh bread. Thanks also to Zorra @ 1x umrühren bitte for such a great event.
All-Purpose Holiday Bread
(adapted from Crust & Crumb by Peter Reinhart)
3/4 cup (3.5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons (0.25 ounce) instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature
4 1/3 cups ( 19.5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1/3 cup (2.25 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
11.75 ounces sponge (use all from above)
Additional ingredients, such as fruit, nuts, chocolate, spices, vanilla, etc.
1. To make sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and mix until smooth. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, until very bubbly.
2. To make dough, combine all the other dough ingredients and the sponge in a mixing bowl.
3. Mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add any additional ingredients and, using the dough hook, mix until the dough is soft and tacky, and the dough registers about 80 degrees F. Add a little water if the dough is too stiff, or a little flour if the dough is too sticky.
4. Mist the dough with cooking spray, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise until it increases by 1 1/2, about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the room temperature.
5. Form the dough into the desired shape. Cover and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes or until nearly double.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F until deep, golden brown, with an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
7. Cool on rack. Decorate as desired or brush with a simple syrup.