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!
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.
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. 😉
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…
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