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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AWARD-WINNING SOURDOUGH BAGUETTES

It was bound to happen.   Once I felt comfortable shaping baguettes, I went on the pursue of a recipe for a sourdough version. My number one source of inspiration for all things related to bread is Susan’s Wild Yeast, and this recipe charmed me right away.  Award-winning sourdough baguette version?  I am sold!   First thing I did was to drop an email to Samuel Fromartz, the writer-turned-baker behind the recipe,  asking for permission to publish his very detailed method.  To my delight, he replied within a few minutes, and we exchanged a few messages, in which I got great tips to improve steaming during baking  (I will test his method this weekend).   Sam Fromartz is currently working on a book about grains, bakers and bread for Viking/Penguin. So, if you are like me, and cannot have enough info on the subject, check his website for the development of his project.  I know I will…  ;-)

FROMARTZ BAGUETTE TRADITIONAL
(recipe published with permission from Samuel Fromartz)
(read original article at Chewswise blog)

Makes four baguettes

90 grams sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
420 grams water
590 grams flour (I used King Arthur Organic All Purpose Flour)
10 grams whole wheat flour
13 grams sea salt
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast (I used  SAF Instant Yeast)
Olive oil to grease bowl
cornmeal to dust cutting board

FIRST DAY
Pour starter and yeast into bowl and add water, mixing until the starter breaks up a bit.  Add flours and salt and mix for a couple of minutes. The dough will be heavy and shaggy. Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes, covered with plastic.

Rub the surface where you will knead the dough with a tiny amount of olive oil to prevent the dough from sticking (great tip originally from Dan Lepard).  Use a scraper to move dough onto the counter and begin to knead by stretching and folding dough, trying to use your finger tips.

After kneading for 5 minutes, scrape mass into a clean bowl or plastic bin. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Oil the counter again if necessary and remove dough to counter. Stretch it until 1-inch thick then fold top and bottom in thirds like a letter. Do the same type of folding, coming from left to right. Put dough back in the bowl, cover, let it  rest for 20 minutes.

Remove from bin, fold again, and put back in a covered bowl for 20 minutes.

Remove from bin, fold again for the third and final time. Clean the bowl, oil lightly (with 2 tsp olive oil), and put dough back inside. Cover and place in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

SECOND DAY
Place baking stone or quarry tiles in middle of oven. Place a thick rimmed cookie sheet or cast iron pan on oven floor or lower shelf. Heat oven to 470F (245 C).

Put a little olive oil in your palm and oil a 20-by-20 inch (50 x 50 cm) section of the counter. Remove dough from container. Cut dough in half. Put half back in container and into refrigerator. Cut dough into two rectangular pieces (about 250 grams each) and gently stretch into rectangles 5-by-7 inches (13-by-18 cm) with the long edge facing you.  Cover with light towel and let rest for 5 minutes.

While dough is resting, cut parchment paper large enough to fit your baking stone. Dust paper with flour. Dust  a couche (or kitchen towels) lightly with flour.

Shape dough into a log by folding top and bottom of rectangle toward middle and gently sealing the seam with thumb. Then fold top to meet the bottom and seal seam. You should have a log about 1.5 to 2 inches thick (4 to 5 cm). Gently roll and stretch into a 14-inch loaf (36 cm) or just under the size of your baking stone.

Place each loaf on parchment paper about six inches apart, seam side down. Place one rolled up towel underneath the paper between the loaves and one under each other edge, supporting their shape.  Cover with light kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Put 2/3 cup water in measuring cup and bring to a boil in the microwave.

Carefully move the paper with the loaves onto a flour-dusted overturned cookie sheet or cutting board. Dust top of loaves very lightly with flour. Use a bench scraper to gently adjust the loaves and straighten them out.

Make four cuts on the top of the loaf with a razor blade, 1/4-inch deep, running lengthwise on the dough. A swift slash at a sharp 20-degree angle works best. Take cutting board and slide parchment paper with baguettes onto hot baking stone. Shut oven door. Open door, and carefully pour 2/3 cup water onto cookie sheet or cast iron pan. Be very careful if using boiling water. Shut door. Do not open the oven again while baking.

Check baguettes after 18 to 20 minutes. They should be dark brown and crusty. If pale, continue baking for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes on rack before eating. They are best eaten within 6 hours.

While baguettes are baking, form the remaining dough into loaves or leave for up to 24 hours and make fresh loaves the following day.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

for a streamlined version, click here

Comments:  To read the fascinating story behind perfecting  this recipe, check Sam’s write up about it here.

If you are a novice in baking bread, baguettes can be tricky, but you can find very detailed discussions about this particular recipe in his blog about it.  Don’t forget to read the comments, because they contain a lot of useful, additional information.  Sometimes little details we read  en passant  might mean the difference between failure and success.

I absolutely loved this recipe!   Handling a dough from the fridge is quite a bit easier than at room temperature (about 78 F), I had no problems shaping the loaves and going for their final stretch.   I will be playing with this recipe for a while,  using it to practice my slashing technique (just got a new blade, per my friend Gary’s recommendation), and baking with steam.  The baguettes had a complex “feel”,  with very delicate sourdough flavor, open crumb, and a hearty crust.  I know that when I overcome the steaming problem they will be even better… stay tuned, friends… stay tuned…

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

ONE YEAR AGO: Meet our Lab (Lab = laboratory, not Labrador Dog… ;-))

TWO YEARS AGO: My New Favorite Tomato Sauce

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VOILA’ LES BAGUETTES!

Second chapter on Cooking Projects 2012!

Five weekends. One hundred and twenty six ounces of flour. Blood. Sweat. A few tears. But, I am not afraid of shaping baguettes any longer. Is there room for improvement? No doubt, but the goal now shifts from shaping to baking: I must find a way to optimize the generation of steam.  Apart from that, I am pretty happy with my babies…
UN-KNEADED, SIX-FOLD FRENCH BREAD
(from Jeffrey Hamelman, Bread)

2 pounds + 4.5 oz  bread flour (8 + 1/4 cups)
1 pound + 10.6 oz water (3 + 3/8 cups)
3 + 1/2 tsp salt
1 + 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, and using your hands or a plastic scraper, bring them together forming a very shaggy mass.  The best way to do it is working the scraper down the sides of the bowl, and then rotating the bowl as you bring it up, and fold that part of the mixture on top. Do this movement about 20 times, which should mix everything together reasonably well at this stage.  Do not worry about how smooth the dough is, it will feel and look very “rough”.

Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. You will fold the dough every thirty minutes, for a total of six times (at that point you will be 3 from the start).  At each cycle, fold the dough on itself using a scraper, for a total of 20 times,  either removing the dough to a surface, or folding it inside the bowl.  After the sixth folding cycle, leave the dough undisturbed for 30 minutes, then divide it in 12 ounce pieces (from the start,  you will be at the 3 hour and 30 minutes mark).  One full recipe makes 5 long baguettes.

Gently form each piece into a cylinder shape, and let it rest for 15 minutes (very important to relax the gluten, don’t skip this step).  Shape as a baguette, then roll the baguettes to stretch them to their final size (make sure they will fit over your baking stone or the surface you intend to bake them on).

Let the baguettes rise (preferably using a couche well coated with flour) for 1 to 1 and a half hours at room temperature (ideally at 76 F).  Score the baguettes and bake in a 460 F oven, with initial steam, for a total of 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments:   I like to do the first four of the six kneading cycles using a different technique:  I coat the granite counter top with a very light amount of olive oil,  and slam the dough on it 15 to 20 times.  You can see the technique demonstrated in this video.  The last two cycles I omit the “slamming”,  and simply fold it, so that the airy structure is not disturbed.   Phil insists that I should let him make a video of my “slamming technique”, but so far I resisted the idea.  Maybe one day… ;-)

As to the shaping, I will be forever grateful to Gary, my friend and baker extraordinaire, who went through the trouble of mailing me a DVD of Chef Jeffrey Gabriel CMC, from Schoolcraft College. Gary made the video during his class on French baguettes, and I watched it over and over… and over!   The main difference between Chef Gabriel’s technique and this one, is that he is not too concerned with where the seam of the baguette ends up.   On my initial attempts, I was so worried about keeping the seam up for the final rise, that I ended up manipulating the baguettes too much and messed up their final shape.   Gary’s method is much more user-friendly, and once you score the baguettes and bake them, the seam position seems to have no influence on the final look of the bread.

A few important pointers for success:

1.  Coat the surface where the baguettes will rise (after the final shaping) with flour.   They WILL stick if you forget this step, leading to intense grievance.

2. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes before shaping.  You need that or the gluten will keep fighting back like an elastic band.

3. The better you get at shaping the baguettes, the longer they will be.  If you want to bake them covered to create steam, this could be a problem.  Consider making shorter baguettes – not authentic, but easier to bake in a home oven.

4. Baguettes are scored  with an odd number of slashes. Usually 5 or 7.   Some advise you to wet the blade to do it, I prefer to use a dry blade, as I like the “spiky” look of the slashes.

5.  The baker’s blade is sharp.  Make sure you cover it with the protective plastic cap when you are done, or, if using a blade with no cap, put it away. Leaving it sitting on the counter top is a recipe for disaster.   (sigh)

After practicing several weekends in a row, I now settled on making half this recipe, and shaping either 3 long baguettes or 4 medium-sized.   The tricky part is baking them: I can bake two at a time, so the last one must go through a longer rise.  Sometimes it seems to be slightly over-proofed, and the resulting baguette is a bit flat.  However, the taste is spectacular, this recipe produces a very creamy crumb, with a flavor that transported us to the 7eme arrondissement in Paris.  Not a bad virtual trip to take!   ;-)

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Cornmeal English Muffins

TWO YEARS AGO: Cornish Hens for a Sunday Dinner

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SPELT AND CORNMEAL ROLLS

Rustic, toothsome, flavorful, and if all that wasn’t enough, these rolls are a cinch to make.  In a classic Dan Lepard’s approach, the recipe calls for minimal kneading, and because they are baked as small rolls, shaping is  a breeze.  The rolls also freeze quite well,  individually wrapped, then placed in a low oven to come back to that freshly baked feel.

Per Mr. Lepard’s request,  I won’t post the full recipe.  But you can find it in the database of “The Guardian”  through a quick jump here.

I will, however, give you a quick outline of how this recipe comes together….

The cornmeal needs to be soaked in boiling water for a few minutes, once you do that, all ingredients – soaked cornmeal, spelt flour, water, honey, and yeast – are added to a large bowl, mixed quickly, and left standing for 10 minutes.

A kneading cycle of 30 seconds, a 20-minute rise (yes, that fast…), and you are ready to divide and conquer… rather, divide and shape in 8 rolls.

After shaping, they rest on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour.  Only 45 minutes to go before baking time!

Once they bake, they will more or less join together, let them cool this way, breaking them apart at serving time.

Adorable little rolls, dense, but in a good way… ;-)  We enjoyed them in  sandwiches – smoked turkey & provolone,  ham, cheese, tomato & pesto sauce – but also as plain small bites with our dinner of roast chicken. They will certainly be a favorite in your home too!

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

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia (another Dan Lepard recipe, another winner!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon Curry

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WHEAT GERM & SAGE SOURDOUGH BREAD

Another example of a recipe that blew the doors of the competition once I spotted it at The Fresh Loaf forum. They highlighted this bread on their front page, since it is so unique and gorgeous. My starter was eagerly waiting for a chance to shine, I had wheat germ in the freezer, the only departure from the original recipe was the use of sage instead of rosemary.   Not for gastronomic preference, but because a “certain dog” – who used to wander the streets of Hollywood – destroyed our rosemary plant. The dog has a good lawyer, and is presently free on bail.


TOASTED WHEAT-GERM AND SAGE SOURDOUGH
(adapted from Ross’ recipe at The Fresh Loaf Forum)

150 g starter (white, 80% hydration)
335 g  water
490 g bread flour
20 g toasted wheatgerm
2 Tbs  fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
9 g  salt
Mix all ingredients, except the salt, until they form a shaggy mass, no need to worry with kneading yet.   Let it rest undisturbed for 40 minutes at room temperature.

Place the dough on a lightly oiled surface,  open flatten it out slightly, sprinkle the salt all over, and knead a few times to distribute the salt.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, let it sit for 1 hour.    Knead by stretching and folding a few times –  it will feel very smooth and easy to fold – put back in the bowl and let it rise 1 hour.   Repeat the stretch and fold one more time, cover the dough and let it rise for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball, place it in a floured banetton type container, cover it and place in the fridge overnight.

Remove from the fridge 1 hour and 30 minutes before baking.  Bake in a 450F oven, using your favorite method to generate steam.  After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 425F, and bake for a total of 40-45 minutes. If you baked the bread covering with a roasting pan, remove the cover after 30 minutes.

Let it cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

What a delicious loaf of bread this one turned out to be!  I used very little sage because it is such a strong-tasting herb, so its flavor was barely noticeable.  This bread would be great at a Thanksgiving dinner.  The wheat germ lends a bit of moisture to the crumb, allowing it to last longer than your regular sourdough.

The crust, hearty and crunchy, was covered with those tiny blisters that make the baker very happy.  Inside, the crumb was open, airy, and light. Cannot ask for much more than that…  ;-)

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting, please make sure to stop by and marvel at her weekly display of breads. I know my Friday is not complete without it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Polenta-Crust Tomato Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Watermelon Granita

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CRACKED-WHEAT SANDWICH BREAD

My original idea was to do a sourdough cracked-wheat bread, I had the recipe printed out, and my starter going. Woke up on Saturday bright and early, in great spirits to attack the preparation. Surprise number 1: recipe called for a whole-wheat starter. Mine wasn’t. Surprise number 2: recipe suggested an overnight fermentation in the fridge before baking, but I absolutely had to start and finish the bread on the same day.   Not sure how many times in my life I’ve made the mistake of NOT reading a recipe carefully enough before baking day, and/or before shopping for ingredients  (sigh). Plan B had to be set in place, and quickly.  I found a recipe for cracked-wheat bread with a very interesting technique: spreading a dry mixture of flour, sugar and yeast over a fermenting “sponge”, forming a sort of a protective blanket over it.  All of a sudden my Saturday was bright again, and the best was that the bread turned out fantastic!


CRACKED-WHEAT SANDWICH BREAD
(adapted from The Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

To make the sponge:
1/2 cup bread flour (78 g)
1/2 cup  whole wheat flour (72 g)
3/4 tsp instant yeast (2.4 g)
1/2 tbsp sugar (6.2 g)
1 tbsp nonfat dry milk (8 g)
1 tbsp agave nectar (20 g)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp  water at around 80F (266 g)

Flour mixture for topping the sponge:
2 cups bread flour (312 g)
1/2 tbsp sugar (6.2 g)
1/4 tsp instant yeast (0.8 g)

For the final dough:
1/2 cup cracked-wheat
1/2 cup  boiling water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 + 3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter

In a medium bowl combine the sponge ingredients and whisk until very smooth, about 2 minutes, trying to incorporate as much air as possible as you stir.

 In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour mixture ingredients. Sprinkle on top of the sponge to cover it completely. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 1-4 hours at room temperature. The longer you allow it to ferment, the better. I fermented mine for 2 hours.

Place the cracked-wheat in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in the water until all the water is absorbed, about 1 hour.

With your stand mixer, add the bulghur  and the oil  to the bowl and then add the dough and starter. Mix with the dough hook on low speed for a couple of minutes, until no dry bits remain, but do not overmix.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough on medium speed for 12  minutes. The dough should be very elastic  but still slightly moist.

Scrape the dough into a  greased container. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours (mine took 90 minutes).  Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and press down very gently to form a rectangle, don’t try to get all the air out of it. Give it a business letter fold, turn it 90 degrees and do another business letter type fold. Smooth the edges and return the folded dough to the bowl.  Cover, and rise until doubled, 1 to 1.5 hours (mine took only 45 minutes).

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it as a loaf.  Place into oiled loaf pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until the center is about 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for 30 minutes before baking. Place oven rack at the lowest shelf and place baking stone on top. Place a sheet pan on the floor of the oven and  have some ice cubes handy.

Once the dough has risen, brush the top with the melted butter, then cut a 1/2″ deep slash down the middle of the dough. Quickly set the load pan on the baking stone. Take a 1/2 cup of ice cubes and quickly throw them onto the sheet pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and the internal temperature is 200 F.  Remove pan from oven, remove bread from pan and set on wire rack. Brush with remaining melted butter. Let it cool completely (yeah, right… ;-) before eating.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cracked-wheat (an ingredient similar, but not exactly the same as bulghur, for a nice explanation click here), gives this bread a perfect texture, and just the right amount of ‘grain-feel’.  You can substitute bulghur if you have trouble finding cracked wheat.

It is a very easy dough to handle, as most of the kneading is done with a mixer. It would be possible to knead by hand, but it would take a lot longer and you must develop the gluten fully to get the right texture – go for the Kitchen Aid, is my advice.   It is fun to make, the photos below show the sipping of the fermenting sponge after 1.5 hours, the addition of cracked-wheat, and the amazing first rise, probably due to the temperature in our home these days.

If you make this bread during warm weather, as soon as you shape the dough  start heating your oven, because mine took only 35 minutes to fully rise. You don’t want to risk overproofing, so that the bread will still rise during baking. Catch it around this stage, brush it with butter, slash the top and place it in the oven.

Sandwiches with cheese, ham, lettuce, a light touch of mustard were absolute heavenly!

I’m submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…  Nice to be able to join that party after what seemed like too long a break!  ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO:  Au Revoir, My Bewitching Kitchen (hard to  believe it’s been one year already!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

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HOEGAARDEN BEER BREAD

I don’t regret that many things in my life, but if I could go back to the period  that I lived in Paris, I’d take some time to travel to Belgium.   I was so close to that beautiful country, but never saw it in person… it’s a shame and it’s sad. Plus, I’ve never met a person from Belgium who wasn’t super-nice!  All my Belgium friends have a great sense of humor, a great appreciation for the fun side of life, and many positive things to say about their home country, that excels in so many things.  Two of their special delicacies are chocolates and beer!  The very best of both are produced in small quantities and not exported,  but some excellent Belgium beer makes it all the way to the US, examples being Chimay, Leffe,  and Hoegaarden, the latter of which is a beer that brings fond memories of my days as a single woman in Paris…   ;-)

I don’t drink beer anymore, but I still like to cook with it, or include it in  breads- for a quick flash back, click here.  So, when I saw this post not too long ago, I changed all my baking plans for the weekend, to accommodate a little Hoegaarden sourdough, and take the Bewitching Kitchen on a virtual trip to Belgique!

HOEGAARDEN BEER BREAD
(adapted from Fab Food Blog)

For the sponge:
120 g 100% hydration sourdough starter
60 g bread flour
45 ml Hoegaarden white beer

For the final dough:
235 g bread flour
65 ml Hoegaarden white beer
40 ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Mix all the ingredients for the sponge in a small bowl, mix well and leave it overnight at room temperature.  It should be very bubbly and more than double in size.  If it rises too much and collapses, it’s fine.

Next morning, place the sponge, flour, beer and water in a large bowl. Mix for a few minutes until barely combined, then let it sit for 20 minutes undisturbed. Add the salt, fennel seeds, and rosemary, and mix by gentle kneading.  Let the dough rise for 30 minutes,  knead again (20 seconds cycle),  let the dough rise for about 40 minutes.  Do one more cycle of quick kneading  and let the dough rise for another 40 minutes.  Knead one final time and let the dough rise undisturbed for 1.5 to 2 hours, until almost doubled in size.  Shape as a ball, and place with the seam side  up inside a well floured banetton type container.

Let it rise undisturbed for 2 hours.  Heat the oven to 450 F with baking stones or tiles inside. Invert the dough on the tiles, quickly score the surface, and bake with initial steam. If covering the dough, remove the cover after 30  minutes, reduce the temperature of the oven to 425 F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until golden brown.    Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: 
This recipe makes a  small boule, so if you want to serve it in a dinner party for several people, consider doubling the recipe and baking two loaves.  The bread smells wonderful during baking, and fennel is the dominant flavor.   As to the beer, it would be interesting to bake two loaves side by side, substituting water for beer in one of them – I imagine that there will be a slight difference in sourness and complexity of flavor, but it’s hard to know for sure with the competing taste of fennel and rosemary (which, by the way, I increased a bit from the original posted recipe).   In my experience, fresh rosemary has a tendency to lose its punch once it’s incorporated in bread dough, so I now use it with more abandon.

Fennel lovers:  pair this delicious bread with some hearty Italian type sausage, for a double-fennel kick…   Don’t like fennel?  Simply omit it, the bread will still be delicious with a nice crust and moderately open crumb.

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event… stop by and visit her weekly showcase of breads.

ONE YEAR AGO: Ancho-Chile Marinade: Pleased to meat you!

TWO YEARS AGO:  The Handmade Loaf (the book that got me into sourdough baking!)

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