ONE GIFT, THREE BREADS!

As I recently mentioned, Celia sent me a perfect birthday gift last month. I shared with you my first homework under the guidance of Josey Baker, a loaf of his Olive Bread. It was a super simple no-knead recipe. So simple that a 5-year old under the influence of too much candy and a cup of coffee stolen from Mom would be able to make without any problem.  The following weekend I baked a variation of that loaf with sesame seeds in the dough.  But, that time I decided to incorporate one cycle of folding at the end of proofing.  Just that single cycle of folding gave quite a bit more structure to the bread, so consider doing that if you like to experiment with his recipes. And, here it is…

BREAD NUMBER ONE:  SESAME LOAF

Josey suggests coating the bread in sesame seeds before baking, but I did not do that because I find that many seeds go to waste as they fall off during baking. Also, I prefer the texture of the crust without them. The little seeds you see here and there are just saying hello from inside the dough. Be polite and say hello back to them, ok?

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You can find the recipe, published with permission from Josey Baker, by following this link.

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BREAD NUMBER TWO: BLACK PEPPER ASIAGO CHEESE SOURDOUGH

It was time for me to go the whole nine yards putting my sourdough starter to work after a long hiatus in the freezer. What could be better than a very unusual formula using black pepper and chunks of Parmigiano in the dough? I modified it slightly, using Asiago cheese instead, and adding almost twice the amount of cheese called for in his formula.  Part of it shredded, most of it in small chunks.  Take a look at my baby, as it cooled over the rack:

ASIAGOSourdough
and the crumb…. did you notice the chunks of cheese in all their glory? how about the tiny pepper specks?

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This was a pretty spectacular loaf of bread. I had never thought of adding black pepper to bread dough, but it provided a very mysterious taste, not clearly associated with pepper. That flavor intensified in the following days, by the way.  A winner. Definitely a winner. This bread baking adventure got me soooo excited that I baked another loaf next day, can you imagine that?  So, without further ado…

BREAD NUMBER THREE: HEARTH SOURDOUGH

gift

This was a special loaf because I baked it for a colleague from the Department of Biology. She is originally from Germany and often complains that it’s impossible to find great bread in our town. Ok, we do have a Panera, but I imagine she shares the same views we do on their breads. Barely ok.  Nothing to compare with those incredibly delicious, hearty breads from bakeries in Europe.  So, Phil thought we should surprise her by baking a special sourdough loaf as a gift.  Once my Black Pepper Asiago bread turned out so well, I immediately mixed another batch of dough, but kept it simple just to be safe. On a Monday morning, 5am, there I was baking this loaf, which stayed overnight in the fridge after shaping. As I said before, Josey provides all types of alternative schedules to allow you to bake bread.  You can find a slightly modified version of the recipe with a jump here.

I can tell you that nothing beats the smile of a person who is at the receiving end of a loaf of bread, still warm from the oven!  Especially when she had no idea it was coming. A great way to start our week…

I hope you enjoyed this triple bread series. Of course, I should thank Celia once again for her gift that ended up introducing me to Josey Baker’s world.

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Life is good!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

FIVE YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

FOCACCIA WITH CHILE AND COTIJA CHEESE

A while ago – June 2013, to be precise – I made a type of Italy-meets-Mexico-focaccia using a sauce with tomatillos. It turned out so tasty that I wanted to re-visit the same type of fusion cuisine again. It took me a while, but here is my second take on the subject.  I used my default recipe for the dough, topped with a mixture of olive oil, avocado oil, New Mexico chiles, and Cotija cheese. Some sun-dried tomatoes for a bit of concentrated sweetness, and voilà…

IMG_6521FOCACCIA WITH CHILE AND COTIJA CHEESE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe of focaccia dough
Green New Mexico chiles, thinly sliced
Cotija cheese, crumbled (you can use feta, or even Mozzarella)
sun-dried tomatoes
olive oil
avocado oil
salt & pepper

Open the dough on a well-oiled baking dish, stretching with your hands, and making plenty of dimples all over its surface.

Add a good coating of olive and avocado oil, mixed about 50:50. Distribute the slices of chile, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes all over the dough.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bake as directed in the original foccacia post.

Cut in slices and serve.

ENJOY!

I am not offering a printable version, since the main recipe for the dough is from a previous post. The toppings don’t really need any type of precise measurement, so add as much or as little of each component you feel like. Black olives could be wonderful too, by the way…

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For the chiles, I used the brand featured in this post, a gift from our friends V & K. They have amazing flavor, and of course go very well with Cotija cheese, one of those matches made in heaven.  Like V & K.

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The focaccia squares freeze well, I like to wrap 3 to 4 squares in small packages and enjoy them for weeks. Simply remove from the freezer 30 minutes before your meal, and heat them in a low oven until warm and fragrant.

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

ONE YEAR AGO: Crispy Chickpea and Caper Spaghetti 

TWO YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane

THREE YEARS AGO: Crispy Herb-Crusted Halibut

FOUR YEARS AGO: Almond Butter Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bonjour!

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…   ;-)

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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

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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.

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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…

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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

 

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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

LIGHT RYE SOURDOUGH WITH CUMIN AND ORANGE

Where are the virtual fireworks when I need them? After months of neglect, my sourdough starter was brought back to the kitchen! I actually tried baking bread once a few weeks ago, but when I attempted to revive the sourdough “chips” I had prepared, the resulting starter refused to cooperate: it was sluggish, slow, not at all vibrant. This time I went back to my frozen little balls of starter and they jumped right back into action. For my first bread made in the Supernova, I chose a recipe from TxFarmer, who runs two blogs, one in Chinese and another at The Fresh Loaf Forum. She is very creative and always pushes the boundaries of sourdough baking. Without further ado, this is the first bread born in the confines of our new oven…

Orange Cumin Sourdough

LIGHT RYE SOURDOUGH WITH CUMIN AND ORANGE
(slightly adapted from TxFarmer’s recipe)

*Makes 1 X 700g loaf

Levain
68 g  dark rye flour
54 g water
4 g rye starter at 100% hydration

Mix and rise at room temp for 12 to 16 hours.

Final Dough
386 g bread flour
9 g salt
grated orange peel from 1 large orange
fresh orange juice from 1 orange plus water to 245 g
1/2 Tbsp cumin powder
122 g levain mixture

Mix everything except for salt, autolyse for 40 min.  Add salt and knead in a KitchenAid type mixer at medium speed for 4 minutes.

Bulk rise at room temp (~78F) for about 2.5hrs, with stretch and fold  at 30, 60, and 90 minutes.

Pre-shape into a ball, let the dough rest for 10  minutes, then shape and place in a floured banneton for the final rise.

Proof until the dough springs back slowly when pressed. It took me 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Bake at 450F for 40 to 45 minutes, the first 25 minutes with steam. Let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is a bread that screams for a bowl of chili, and that is exactly what I made on a Sunday afternoon.  I used our favorite recipe that simmers on the stove top for hours, but we did not touch it until next day.  That chili is good on the day it is made, but it turns into spectacular the day after.  Plus, what can be better than arriving home from work on a chilly Monday, and have dinner basically ready and waiting for you?

withChili

TxFarmer description of this baby was spot on, by the way.  The orange gives it a slight hint of sweetness, but the sourdough character of this bread is there.  The cumin is the touch of genius that makes this loaf superb with a bowl of chili or any type of spicy stew.  I could not have chosen a better loaf to inaugurate our Supernova!

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

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ONE YEAR AGO: Homemade Calziones

TWO YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

THREE YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

FOUR YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye

TAKING A BREAK FROM THE WILD

I’ve always been fascinated by bread baking. For years I would read books and blogs, but get discouraged because the breads I fell in love with were all made with a sourdough starter. You know, that wild yeast thing.  I would close the book, click away from the site, telling myself “why can’t they bake bread with regular yeast, like normal people?”  It was so frustrating!  Of course, if you follow my blog, you’ll know that now I love to walk on the wild side…  ;-)   Like many bread bakers, using commercial yeast almost feels like cheating. But, a bread leavened just with instant yeast can be amazing too. In this recipe, 80% of the formula comprises flour fermented overnight with a small amount of yeast.  It comes from Flour Water Salt Yeast, by Ken Forkish.
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WHAAAT? NO RECIPE?

Here’s the deal: I sent a couple of messages to Mr. Forkish asking his permission to publish the recipe, but got no answer. Of course, it’s quite possible he never checks his Facebook account.  I know many people who don’t even remember having one!  ;-)   Without his permission, I don’t feel it is right to include the recipe. You can read more about this subject at the end of my post.

If you want to try his method, you can click here for a great variation on his recipe that includes barley flour in the formula. The technique is exactly the same, though. I intend to make it myself soon, as I am quite fond of barley flour.

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Comments: Of all breads I’ve made, this one was by far the loudest singer.  The noises it made while it sat on the counter, cooling, were unreal!  Interestingly, Jane, the blogger behind The Wayward Oven, had this to say about her version of Forkish’s White Bread with 80% BIGA:

“It had a wonderful aroma and the crackling as it cooled was so loud I could – no exaggeration! –  hear it across the room.”

Yeah, that was exactly the case!   I also loved Forkish’s approach of letting the bread rise with the seam side down, and then invert it for baking, without scoring the crust. The bread opens in a natural,  more rustic-looking way.  This bread has a double personality:  the taste and crust of a regular sourdough, and a crumb with the softer texture usually found in breads made with commercial yeast.  Quite an interesting combination!

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I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

And now, for something completely different…

When I started blogging, I did not give too much thought about publishing recipes from cookbooks. I changed the wording around, gave credit, and felt it was good enough.  As time passed, my views on the issue started to change, in part because I learned that some cookbook authors are completely against having their recipes out in the blogosphere, even if proper credit is given.  Then, my virtual friend Joanna published a thoughtful article on her blog, and that pretty much did it for me.  Ever since I read her post, I decided not to transcribe a recipe from any cookbook here, unless I get permission from the author, which unfortunately is not always that easy.  

If I adapt a recipe, I will publish it and link to the “inspirational source”. In fact, that is a practice considered ok by copyright laws. A very good article on the whole subject was written by David Lebowitz and is available here.  As to recipes published in food magazines,  Fine Cooking editors told me they do not mind their recipes being published as long as a link is provided to the source.  And other magazines –  such as Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Cooking Light – have their content online for public access, so it is not a problem to blog on them.

ONE YEAR AGO: Zucchini-Spinach Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Pollo en Mole en Cacahuate

THREE YEARS AGO: Thom Leonard’s Country French Bread

CINNAMON WREATH

What if I told you that this bread is one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made, and that it is ready in less than 2 hours from the time you grab your bag of flour?  Hard to believe, but true.   I first marveled at the recipe over at Baker Street, a blog I got to know earlier this year and now follow very closely, since it’s full of tempting recipes…

CINNAMON WREATH
(from Baker Street)

for the dough:
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup lukewarm milk
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 + 1/4 tsp)
⅛ cup melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp sugar
for the filing:
¼ cup melted butter
4-5 tbsp sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
Mix the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm milk and let it sit a few minutes while the yeast bubbles and foams up.
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Add the egg yolk, the melted butter, the flour and the salt, then knead the dough and shape into a ball. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, then cover and place in a warm space and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
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Heat the oven to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm (1/4 inch).  Spread the melted butter across all of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Reserve a small amount of melted butter for the top of the bread.
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Roll up the dough, and using a knife, cut the log in half length-wise. Twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed (see photos on Baker Street site). Give a round shape, then transfer to a lightly buttered baking tray.
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Brush a little butter on top and sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit after 5-10 minutes to stop it burning.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments: This bread would be outstanding for a brunch. It’s almost like a cinnamon roll, but with a different texture.  Your whole house will smell like cinnamon while it bakes and later sits on the counter, cooling.   I don’t have photos of the bread after slicing, because I made it for a departmental potluck and in this type of event it’s better not to turn into a typical food blogger: the person who would snatch a slice of bread from the lips of a guest just because it shows the perfect crumb structure, and run away with it, camera in hand.  ;-)
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Phil loved this bread, and already requested that I make it again on a Sunday morning, as it will be even better still warm from the oven.  I had to bake it in the evening and we only tried the bread at lunchtime next day.   Not the ideal situation, but when you must be  in the lab by 8am, some accommodations are in order.
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Next time I will make sure to roll out the dough a bit thinner, and form the cylinder a little tighter, to have more layers.  I confess that I forgot the final step of adding butter, sugar and cinnamon on top.  In other words: I must make it again to perfect it!
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Please stop by Baker Street to see her masterpiece, as well as a tutorial on rolling and slicing the dough.  By the way, this bread is also known as Estonian Kringel.  Whatever its name, it is worth having it in your bread repertoire.
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I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting.
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ONE YEAR AGO:  Yeastspotting 11.11.11
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TWO YEARS AGO: Oven-baked Risotto
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