KEN FORKISH’S PAIN AU BACON

PainAuBacon2It’s been a while since I baked a loaf of sourdough bread. A quick browse through my archives proves this sad turn of events: October 13th was my last adventure in the Land of the Wild Yeast. But, with so much going on, trips, busy schedule, I was forced to let my starter sleeping in the freezer a lot longer than I expected.  Finally, the second weekend of December shaped up as a perfect opportunity to resume bread baking. The weekend schedule seemed flexible enough – just a cocktail party Saturday night – and the perfect weather to crank the oven up all the way to 450 F.  Sometimes a tropical being is forced to find positive aspects in outside temperatures falling below 60 F.  I sat down next to our fireplace with quite a few of my bread cookbooks, and went through the very elaborate process of choosing which recipe to work on.  Keep in mind that if I have to dress up for a party, my outfit is decided in 5 minutes, accessories included. But choosing a sourdough bread takes me hours. And I mean  hours  in the strict sense of the term, in which 1 hour equals 360 seconds.  After intense mental struggle, I picked a winner from Ken Forkish’s book “Flour Water Salt Yeast“.   It was worth all the pacing back and forth, the many stick-it notes, and the snide remarks of the husband asking if I needed another couch to spread some more cookbooks. Very uncalled for. Obviously, I can only endure this type of treatment because I am an easy-going, serene, and forgiving human being. PainAuBacon1PAIN AU BACON
(recipe reprinted with permission from Ken Forkish)

Makes one loaf.

for the levain:
50 g mature active sourdough starter
200 g unbleached all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat flour
200 g lukewarm water

for the final dough:
432 g unbleached all-purpose flour
8 g whole wheat flour
343 g water (warmed to about 90 degrees F)
10 g fine sea salt
250 g (about 1/2 pound) bacon, fried to crispy, and then crumbled
1 T reserved bacon fat
108 g of the levain
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Mix the levain ingredients in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for about 10 hours, until bubbly. In a large bowl mix the flours and water by hand until just incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes (that is the autolyse step).
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Sprinkle the salt all over the flour mixture, then add the levain.  Using wet hands to prevent the dough from sticking, mix the dough by pinching it to distribute the salt. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
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Spread the bacon fat over the dough and add the crumbled bacon. Using the pincer method alternating with folding, mix all of the ingredients in the bucket. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 30 minutes. In the next 2 hours, stretch and fold the dough 4 times, every 30 minutes. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours, until about tripled in volume.

Gently shape the dough into a loose boule. Flour a banneton,  shape the dough into a medium tight ball and place it seam side down into the proofing banneton. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the loaves proof for about 4 hours, depending on the room temperature.

About 45 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 475 degrees F with an empty covered Dutch oven placed on the middle rack.

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Place a piece of parchment over the banneton with the proofed bread inside, and a flat baking sheet over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and place the shaped boule in the Dutch oven using the parchment to help move it. The paper can stay in during baking.  Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven.  Wet the lid of the Dutch oven, and quickly use it to cover it. Alternatively, you can use your own favorite method to generate steam during baking.

Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown.

Cool on a rack completely before devouring it…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  After such a long time away from my starter, I get a little anxious when baking a loaf like this.  I was particularly worried about leaving the dough to ferment at room temperature for 12 hours, something I had never done before.  But, the dough behaved exactly as Ken mentioned in the book.  Take a look at these couple of shots:

Before…
Before

After…
After

A very nice, soft, bubbly dough, quite easy to work with and shape as a boule.
Proofing

One of the things I love about Ken’s book, is that he offers a sample timeframe for all recipes. Just for fun, I include my notes, prepared the night before. On top you see his suggestion of timing, and as I move along, I jot down my actual timing, adapted to fit my schedule. If you have the book, you may notice I actually halved the recipe to make a single loaf instead of two.

Notes(click to enlarge, if so desired)

The subtle smell of bacon while the bread baked was wonderful!  I made this bread especially to share with my youngest stepson and our great friends from Oklahoma who were coming to visit us the following weekend. So, the bread cooled completely over a rack, rested for a day, and the following morning I sliced it and froze the slices, in small packages.  It is a perfect way to have bread as good as freshly baked at a moment’s notice.

Here is the mandatory crumb shot…
CrumbShot

And the slices on their way to the freezer…

Bagged

This was a superb loaf of bread!  In fact, when we served it – alongside a hearty pasta with Bolognese sauce – it was hard to believe that bacon was the only ingredient added. It tasted very complex, almost as if a mixture of nuts were also incorporated into the dough. Salty, spicy, and smoky at the same time.

Ken, thank you for allowing me to publish the recipe for one of the most flavorful loaves of bread I ever made!I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!

maracujaDad and son enjoying a nice passion fruit “caipirinha”…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carrot and Cumin Hamburger Buns

TWO YEARS AGO: Potato Galettes a l’Alsacienne & Book Review

THREE YEARS AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pain Poilane

 

SOURDOUGH RYE BREAD WITH FLAXSEEDS AND OATS

This is that type of bread that begs for mindful eating. No sitting down in front of the TV grabbing one piece here, another there, or sharing it with friends in the middle of a loud party.  No, this is a bread that deserves attention. It is dense without being overly heavy, and its flavor is quite complex due to the use of assertive flours and flax seeds. The recipe was created by Rosa, from Rosa’s Yummy Yums, a food blog that not too long ago celebrated its 9th anniversary!  Nine years.  No small feat, folks, considering that each of Rosa’s post is a masterpiece: carefully composed text (with recipes in two languages, English and French), matched with her incredibly beautiful photography. Hers is the type of blog that just like this bread, deserves full attention.

Rosa Yum Yum BreadMade July 26th; Blogged October 13th

WHOLE-WHEAT AND RYE SOURDOUGH WITH FLAX SEEDS AND OATS
(from Rosa Mayland’s blog)

(for one round loaf; check her site for full version that makes 2 loaves)

1 heaping tablespoon of flax seeds 1/2 Tbs Flax seeds
150g whole-wheat flour
100g white flour
35g rye flour
35g buckwheat flour
100g active sourdough starter

188-200 g/ml lukewarm water
A pinch of dry yeast
1 heaping tablespoon of olive oil

20g Rolled oats
7g fine sea salt

Put the flax seeds in a small bowl and add 63g/ml of boiling water (this will make them slimy). Stir and leave to cool.

In the bowl of your stand mixer put the flours, sourdough, water, yeast, olive oil, flax seeds (+soaking water).  Mix until all the ingredients are just combined. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 2 hours.

Add the salt as well as the oats and continue mixing for about 5-8 minutes (add a little flour if the dough is too wet), until the dough reaches medium gluten development.  Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment/rise, at room temperature, for about 2h30 (or until doubled in size), folding at 50 and 100 minutes.

Shape it as desired (sandwich loaves, boule, bâtard, banneton, etc…). Sprinkle your loaves with flour and cover them with plastic wrap let proof for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake at 230° C (450° F) using your favorite method to generate steam during the initial 20 minutes of baking. Total baking time will be approximately 40 minutes.  Leave the bread in the oven for 5 minutes with the door ajar once you turn the oven off.  Cool it completely on a rack before slicing it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

crumb
Now, if that crumb doesn’t make you sigh, there is something wrong with you… This was a very nice baking project, perfect for a weekend in which we had nothing planned, no social commitments, no need to go to the lab, just taking each hour as the hour shaped up.   If you stop by Rosa’s original post, you’ll see that she coupled this recipe with a text about the importance of slowing down, a praise for idleness. Food for thought, as usual for her posts. It is nice to be able to take a step back and do nothing. Or, if doing nothing seems like too much of a shock for  you ;-)  grab your flours and make this bread. Then, slowly slice it, and close your eyes when you taste it.   Yes, it is that wonderful!

Rosa, thank you for a great recipe, and above all, for the effort you put into your blog, a pleasure to visit every single time!  See you around the blogosphere ;-)

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

TWO YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

THREE YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

FIVE YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

STAR-SHAPED CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE BREAD

Every once in a while I fall in love with a recipe, and cannot wait to make it. Last week I logged into Facebook, and by pure chance there on the top of the Artisan Bread Bakers page I saw a gorgeous bread, worthy of the cover of a Breads Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – if there was such a thing. Except that, contrary to what seems to be the case for many supermodels, no Photoshop tweaking was involved. The bread was naturally stunning. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it, as it involved a shaping technique I had never seen before. But, it all worked well. It’s bread after all, not cake.  ;-)

Star-Shaped Brioche1

STAR-SHAPED CHOCOLATE BRIOCHE BREAD
(from  Lindarose at Instructables)

for the dough:
500g all-purpose flour
2 eggs
60g sugar
180ml room temperature milk (3/4 cup)
80g room temperature butter
7g active dry yeast
8g salt
peel from one orange

for the chocolate cream:
35g cocoa powder
75g sugar
250g ricotta ( about 1 cup)
30g hazelnuts

Put the flour in the mixer and add the yeast, milk, sugar and eggs. Start mixing on low, as the ingredients start to incorporate, add the butter in small pieces, the salt, and the orange peel.  Keep mixing until very smooth (about 5 minutes on a Kitchen Aid type mixer). Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and finish kneading it by hand, to make sure all butter is uniformly distributed. The dough should be slightly tacky, resist the urge to add more flour. Form a ball, and let it rise in a bowl in a warm spot until double in size, about 2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

While you wait for your dough to rise, prepare the chocolate cream.

In a food processor, mix the sugar and hazelnuts together until you obtain a powder. It’s ok if there are still some big pieces in it. Transfer to a bowl, and sift the cocoa powder on top of it.   Add the ricotta and mix everything together with a hand mixer until your mixture becomes a cream.

Once your dough has risen, divide it in 4 equal pieces and make 4 separate balls. Make a disc with each of the 4 balls using a rolling-pin. The most important thing is that the discs are all the same size.

Place the first disc on a piece of parchment paper and spread some chocolate cream on it, making sure to leave about half an inch of free border all around. Lay the second disc on the first one and press the border with your fingers to join them together. Now spread some other chocolate cream on the second disc (always leaving a free border), add the third disc and close it with your fingers. Do the same on the third disc and close it with the last disc, but don’t spread the chocolate on it this time. The 4th disc is the top of the bread.

Using a knife, divide the dough in 4 with 4 cuts. It’s  crucial for the shaping that you don’t cut the center of the disc (see pictures). Now make other 4 cuts between the others, for a total of 8, always leaving the center free. Finally, make 8 cuts between the ones you already made, just like the others. You will have a total of 16 sections now.

Consider 2 sections that are next to each other: lift one with one hand and the other with the other hand and twist each of them towards the outside. This means that the piece you are holding with your right hand will be twisted to the right and the one you are holding with your left hand will be twisted to the left. Do this for all the sections. Your bread will look like a snowflake. Put it in the baking sheet with the help of the parchment paper (don’t remove it) and let it rest and rise for another hour. As the bread rises, turn your oven to 350 F.

Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 25 to 30 minutes. Let it cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

balls-checker

I woke up very early on Labor Day to bake this bread. Long before sunrise. Mixed the dough and went for a run with Phil, while the streets were still completely dark. Come to think of it, “with Phil” is not a correct statement. Let’s say we start together and within five minutes I am begging for mercy,  slow down my pace and see him move farther and farther ahead.  The sun started to rise midway through our run, in such a magical experience, the subtle change in light, slow and beautiful. By far my favorite kind of run. A day that started so perfectly had  to be a good baking day. And indeed it was.

hazelnutpowder

This dough is wonderful to work with.  As you can see in the instructions, the most important thing to keep in mind is dividing the dough in equal parts – use a scale, don’t just eye-ball it.  Once the dough is divided, it rolls out very nicely, use just a little bit of flour on top of the parchment paper so that you can release it easily. I rolled all four balls of dough, but if you prefer, roll one at a time, spread the chocolate cream, move to the next one. Before you cover the bread with the last disk of dough, wash your hands of any chocolate to keep the surface of the bread clean.

shaped

Slicing the dough in 16 sections and twisting the sections for the final shaping is not as hard as it may seem.  I have a lot of trouble with spacing things regularly, and was a bit nervous handling the knife, but even if my cutting was not perfectly uniform,  the bread turned out ok.  Maybe not worthy of the cover of Breads Illustrated, but not bad for a first time.

This star-shaped bread reminded me of the classic Chocolate Babka, which I’ve never made, but saw Peter Reinhart demonstrate in a lecture in Dallas many years ago. In fact, my friend Marilyn said this bread looked like “Babka’s wealthy cousin”.  I suppose that defines it quite well.

The filling can be anything you like. Some bakers from the Facebook group used pesto and cheese, others used cinnamon cream, or a mixture of different nuts with chocolate. Pretty much anything goes with the exact same dough and shaping.  Be creative and impress your friends and family, it is a show-stopper of a bread.

Sliced

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Blueberry-Banana Bread 

TWO YEARS AGO: Into the Light Again

THREE YEARS AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

LIGHT BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS

This recipe came up in a google search for hamburger buns, together with a gazillion others, but its title  – Possibly the Best Hamburger Bun Ever – made me stop searching, roll my sleeves up, and go to work.  It was the perfect excuse to inaugurate my heavy-duty pan featured recently at “In My Kitchen“.   Brioche, as everyone knows, is a very rich bread made with butter and eggs, but some versions – often called “Poor Man’s Brioche” – cut back a little on those ingredients for a slightly less decadent bread, but still quite buttery and luscious.  Made into a bun shape, these will take any humble hamburger to a whole new level…

BriocheBuns

 

LIGHT BRIOCHE BURGER BUNS
(from Parsley, Sage, and Sweet, originally via Comme Ça restaurant)

Makes 8 4-inch to 5-inch buns

1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, divided (one will be used for glaze)
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds (optional)

In a measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. In the meantime, beat one egg.

In a large bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Add the butter to the flours and salt and rub into the flour using your fingers or a pastry cutter, making crumbs, like you would a pie dough. Stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg until it forms a dough. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter or board. and knead, scooping the dough up, slapping and turning it, until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively you can use a Kitchen Aid type mixer, for 5 minutes in medium-low speed.

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper or sharp knife, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on the lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 400 F. Beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash, then brush on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds pressing them in gently to adhere. Bake, turning the sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

 

Comments: What a nice dough to play with!  Smooth, soft, tender, and very responsive. To get that amazing rise from the first couple of photos it took less than 90 minutes, and only one hour was needed after shaping to stick it in the oven. As you can see, this bread is quite easy to prepare on the spur of the moment. I admit that sometimes it’s nice to resort to commercial yeast. I shaped two buns a little smaller, the baking pan from King Arthur accommodated both sizes without any problem.

 

Sliced

The day I baked them we had pork burgers that turned out very tasty: ground pork, chorizo, green apples, a few spices.  The detailed recipe will be in the Bewitching soon.   Leftover rolls were frozen and absolutely perfect after sitting at room temperature for 15 minutes and spending 5-10 more minutes in our small Breville oven at 300 F.

snapshot444

 

 I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event….

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Blues

TWO  YEARS AGO: Headed to Hawaii

THREE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Hidden Treasure

FIVE YEARS AGO: Avocado Three Ways

WHEAT BERRY CARAWAY BREAD

Time running out to enter the Bewitching giveaway… click HERE to join the fun!

WheatBerryCarawayBreadMom and her kids…

This bread was featured by the bloggers at Bread Baking Babes. I do not participate of this group event, but Ilva – from Lucullian Delights – does and when she blogged about this recipe, I made it on the following weekend, no time wasted.  The original recipe from Peter Reinhart called for wild rice and onions, but she decided to use barley and caraway.  I went with a modified version of her modified recipe, keeping the caraway but replacing the barley with wheat berries.  A soft crumb, permeated with just enough crunch with the wheat berries, and that great flavor given by caraway seeds.  You would almost think about rye bread as you savor this bread, since caraway is so often used in European rye concoctions. But it is definitely different.  A wonderful dough to work with, rose like a balloon…. what a great sight this is for a bread baker, whether or not she is a babe…   ;-)

risen2

WHEAT BERRY AND CARAWAY BREAD
(adapted from Ilva’s recipe)

6 cups (765 g) bread flour
2 + 1/4 teaspoons (17 g) salt
2 tablespoons (19 g) instant yeast
1 cup (170 g) cooked wheat berries
1/4 cup (56.5 g) brown sugar
1+1/2 cups (340 g) lukewarm water
1/2 cup (113 g) lukewarm buttermilk
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
1 egg white, for egg wash (optional)
1 tablespoon water, for egg wash (optional)

The day before baking:
Combine all of the ingredients, except the egg wash, in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute. The dough should be sticky, coarse, and shaggy. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 4 minutes, adjusting with flour or water as needed to keep the dough ball together. The dough should be soft, supple, and slightly sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will still be soft and slightly sticky but will hold together to form a soft, supple ball. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days.

On Baking Day:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Shape the dough into one or more loaves, in any shape you like, free form or in a loaf pan (if using a 5 by 9 inch pan, use 1kg of dough). For sandwich loaves, proof the dough in greased loaf pans. For freestanding loaves and rolls, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat and proof the dough on the pan.

Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours, until increased to about 1.5 times its original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome at least 1 inch above the rim. If you’d like to make the rolls more shiny, whisk the egg white and water together, brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash just before they’re ready to bake.

Heat the oven to 350°F and bake the loaves for 10 to 15 minutes, then rotate the pan. Total baking time is 45 to 55 minutes for loaves, and only 20 to 25 minutes for rolls. The bread is done when it has a rich golden color, the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the internal temperature is above 185°F in the center.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes for rolls or 1 hour for loaves before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Rolls1
Comments:  This recipe makes A LOT of dough…  Peter recommended using only 2 ounces (around 57g) dough per small roll.  My rolls were definitely bigger than that.  Normally I do not weigh dough when shaping. For this recipe I more or less cut the dough in half, shaped one as a large ball, and divided the remaining dough in 6 pieces, eyeballing the process.   For hamburger-type sandwich, they were the perfect size.

shaped
The crumb is super soft, and since I used a reasonably small amount of caraway seeds, the flavor was not overpowering.  I love caraway, but in breads I like it to be a mild presence.  This bread was perfect with our Black Bean Burgers of a recent past…

crumb
FINAL REMARK:  Remember that this bread takes TWO days to prepare.  On the first day you will mix the dough, and place it in the fridge.  Next day you resume shaping and baking.  The fact that the dough can be kept in the fridge for a few days will make it easy to have freshly baked bread on a whim.  Or almost on a whim…

 

I thank Ilva for the inspiration, and Susan for her Yeastspotting venue so I can share this bread with other bread baking “babes’…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

TWO YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

THREE YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

FOUR YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Cinnamon Rolls

 

DAN LEPARD’S SAFFRON BLOOMER

Dan Lepard is by far my favorite bread baker instructor, for many reasons, but perhaps the most important is that he doesn’t try to portray bread baking as a complicated and convoluted issue.  It is flour, water, salt, and yeast, folks.  Some bakers make you believe that you must go out of your way to get flour made from wheat harvested under a full moon when the temperature was 68.5 F. Or else… your bread will suffer horrible consequences.    Others will have you frantically measuring the temperature of the air, the water, the bowl, your hands, the nose of your dog, then manipulate all those variables to find out for how long you must knead your dough to hit the jackpot of 78 F. Or else… your bread will suffer horrible consequences.   Dan has a totally different approach, and you know what? None of his recipes has ever failed me.  Because he turns bread baking into a light, fun experience, you’ll relax, bake more often, and get the real important achievement in the process: familiarity with the dough, a “feel” for when it’s been kneaded enough, proofed enough, baked enough. This is a wonderful example of Dan’s talent, a bread made with saffron and ricotta that smells amazing, and tastes even better!

SaffronLoaf

SAFFRON BLOOMER OVERVIEW\
(recipe from Short and Sweet, available at The Guardian)

This is a very simple recipe, that doesn’t require a sourdough starter, a pre-ferment, or hours of commitment.  All you’ll need is good quality saffron, some ricotta cheese, and flour, mostly all-purpose with a touch of spelt (or whole wheat).

The saffron steeps in a bit of warm water, and that yellow, fragrant liquid is mixed with rapid rise yeast plus all other ingredients.

Minimal kneading involved: three sessions of kneading lasting less than a minute each will produce a super smooth dough with tiny flecks of saffron poking through here and there.

Using rapid rise yeast makes this bread show up at your table in less than 3 hours from the  moment you start gathering your ingredients.

I used an empty Le Creuset to bake this loaf: simply placed the slashed dough still over parchment paper inside the pre-heated Le Creuset (oven at 425F), closed the lid, and baked for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes I removed the lid and allowed the loaf to bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, until dark golden.

 

If you want to see the complete recipe and print it, please click here

 

composite,jpg

Comments:  I’ve made this loaf twice in a month, which tells you how much we enjoyed it. One of the reasons I repeated this loaf so quickly was that we had a special visitor in our home, that dear friend who gave me a huge amount of saffron a couple of years ago.  He came over to give a seminar in our department, and I decided that baking a loaf of saffron bread would be a nice way to thank him for the gift. Side benefit: right after visiting us, he jumped on a plane to Saudi Arabia, and a little bird told me that more saffron will be arriving by mail, just when my reserves are reaching a dangerously low-level. Yes, you do have the right to feel jealous.  ;-)

CrumbSaffron

The bread has a beautiful yellow crumb, and if you freeze it and enjoy it later, slightly toasted, the taste of saffron gets much more pronounced. It also makes superb croutons for a Caesar salad.  Baking in the Le Creuset produced a crust that was not too different from that of a rustic sourdough.  I am definitely going to use this method often for non-sourdough breads, it traps the steam in a very efficient way, and the resulting crust is considerably better (for our taste, at least).

 

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

THREE YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

FOUR YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

CHESTNUT FLOUR SOURDOUGH BREAD

On the last In My Kitchen post, I promised to come back to talk about a bread made with chestnut flour brought all the way from France. The Bread Baking Queen Farine was the one who got me into this bread adventure, and advised me to search for this exotic flour in Paris. When I sent her a photo of the bag I bought she was super excited because it turns out chestnut flour from Corsica is considered the best in the world!  Amazing that it was exactly the type available near our hotel. Pure luck. With the stars so beautifully aligned, I was sure this would turn out as a wonderful baking project!  Was I right?  Well, let’s say that troubles were brewing faster than the wild yeast in my sourdough starter.

chestnutbread12

CHESTNUT SOURDOUGH BREAD
(from Farine’s blog)

(makes 4 small loaves)

For the pre-fermented dough
175 g mature white starter
494 g unbleached all-purpose flour
258 g water
26 g raw wheat germ (I used toasted)
12 g salt

For the final dough
750 g unbleached all-purpose flour
400 g chestnut flour
700 g water
450 g fermented white dough
5 g instant dry yeast
25 g salt
200 g whole, peeled cooked chestnuts, crumbled into chunks

For the fermented dough
Mix flour, water and white starter until the flour is well hydrated, cover with a cloth and let rest 20 minutes. Add salt and mix until you get a gluten window (when you stretch some of the dough really thin, you see strands of gluten and almost-see through spots). Put in an oiled bowl and cover tightly.

Let rise at room temperature for about two hours, then put in the fridge for up to 48 hours

Remove from the fridge at least two hours before using

For the final dough
Combine the flours in the bowl of the mixer, add the water and mix well. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 30 minutes

Add the fermented dough and yeast and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle the salt over it and mix some more.

Very lightly flour your work surface. Place your dough on it, rough-side up, and flatten it out with your fingers. Spread the chestnut pieces over the top and press them well into the dough. Fold a few times so that all the chestnuts are incorporated into the dough. Form the dough into a ball, put it into an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let it rest for 40 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface again, and turn the dough out on it. Fold the dough (on all four sides), then put back into your bowl, cover with baking cloth and let it rest for another 20 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface again, turn out the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces.  Shape as desired.

Place on a semolina dusted parchment paper over a sheet pan. Let rise, covered with baking cloths, for 1 ½ hour or until just doubled in volume.

Meanwhile turn on the oven to 500ºF/250ºC with a baking stone in it and an empty cast iron (or metal) pan on the bottom shelf. When ready to bake, score the breads the way you like, pour 1 cup of water in the cast iron (or metal) pan and slide the breads (still on their parchment paper) onto the baking stone, spray some water into the oven and close the door quickly.

After 5 minutes, turn the oven down to 440ºF/220ºC and bake for another 20 minutes. Check to see if the loaves need to be turned around or if they need to switch places, then bake for another 10 minutes as needed

Let cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: When you buy 500g of chestnut flour several thousand miles away from home, you become very protective of it  A recipe that calls for 400g (in other words, 80% of my treasure) prompted me to launch a quick email to Farine, asking her thoughts on halving the recipe.  She is far more experienced in sourdough baking than me, so when she speaks, I listen. Once she gave me the ok to go for it, I felt empowered, on top of the world. Yes, I will be able to bake this bread and have a lot of chestnut flour leftover to play with. How cool is that?  So, being the super smart person I like to think I am, I made a nice table in which all amounts were cut in half, and went to work.

The catastrophic event was completely neglecting to look back at the table when mixing starter with the other components of the dough. I would have noticed that only HALF of the fermented dough should be added. So, that beautiful photo you see above, with a stretched out dough and the chestnuts waiting to be incorporated, was taken right before the piercing cry, the calling myself names, and the scared dogs running after Phil as he dashed out of the kitchen.  It is shocking and appalling to realize how little sympathy I get from those who live with me.

It is not easy to think rationally under duress, but I figured that the only way out of my self-inflicted misery was to discard half of that dough (ouch, it hurt!)  and add more of all other components to the other half, except (obviously) the starter.  Two problems with this strategy: I would not have time to let the flours go through autolyse before mixing, and I would have to use more of my precious chestnut flour.  With a heavy heart, that’s what I did.

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I was absolutely sure the abused bread would turn out to be a complete failure, but the Gods of Bread are a lot kinder than the Gods of Golf, so all had a miraculous happy ending.  Maybe the crumb turned out a little too tight, but I can tell you this bread tastes amazing!  If you can find chestnut flour where you live, or if you can order it online, try this bread. And, I echo Farine with one piece of advice she gave me: it is ok to scale down the recipe, but do not substitute walnuts or other nuts. Chestnuts are essential…

MC, thanks for the constant inspiration, and sorry I messed up the recipe. There’s always next time, as long as I find a good source for chestnut flour here in the US. Amazon.com to the rescue?  ;-)

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I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

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