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