PAIN DE MIE DRESSED UP TO PARTY

The idea for this bread came from a cookbook called “Le Grand Livre de la Boulangerie” which I recently impulse-bought.  I fell in love with one of the recipes and in less than 24 hours was trying it in our kitchen. It is a simple pain de mie (I modified a King Arthur recipe for it), but with bread dough decorations placed on top right before baking. Imagine the possibilities!

PAIN DE MIE WITH DECORATIONS
(inspired by Le Grand Livre de la Boulangerie)
basic Pain de Mie formula from King Arthur Flour)

175 g milk
260 g water
97 g butter
2 + 1/2 tsp salt
32 g dry milk
40 g potato flour
40 g sugar
650 g all-purpose flour
2 + 1/8 tsp instant yeast
fine charcoal powder (about 1/2 tablespoon)

Combine all of the ingredients, except the charcoal powder into the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and knead until fully smooth and with good gluten development (about 8  minutes).  Adjust with flour if the dough seems too loose.  The dough will be soft and pliable.

FOR THE BLACK DECORATIONS:  Remove 180 g of the dough and transfer to a small bowl. Knead by hand into it the charcoal powder (gloves are a very good idea!).  When the dough it nice and black, roll it out to about the dimension of a 9 x 13 pan (no need to be exact, the dough will be about 2mm in thickness). Place between two sheets of parchment paper or Silpat, and bake in a 450F oven for a couple of minutes, you just want to set it a bit.  Immediately remove from the oven and place in the fridge while you continue proofing the main dough.

Bulk proofing: transfer the main, white dough to a lightly greased bowl  and allow the dough to rise until puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 + 1/2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Lightly grease a 13″ pain de mie pan. Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, shape it into a 13″ log, and fit it into the pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until it’s just below the lip of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F, and work on the decorations. Take the sheet of black dough out of the fridge, cut it in any shapes you want, keeping in mind the dimensions of the top of the loaf.

When the dough is ready to bake, carefully place the decorations on top, close the lid and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, open the lid, and bake for 20 minutes more, until internal temperature is at least 190F (mine reached 200F).

Remove from the oven, take the bread out of the pan and allow it to cool over a rack before attempting to slice it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: First of all, let me tell you about the book. It is in French and in the words of one of the authors, Chef Jean-Marie Lanio, it is geared towards professionals and “home bakers with skills.” Don’t expect detailed instructions, it is basically a series of formulas with one word (yes, one word) to describe expected dough texture, one word to describe shaping, and a general expected timing for proofing. Truth is, you need to be very comfortable with baking in general (the book is not only on bread) to put it to use. But the recipes are stunning,  always some little twist to make each production unique and special. Come to think of it, baking from this book is like setting yourself up for a technical challenge. But with a huge advantage: no cameras around! Pretty much a win-win situation…


In their recipe, they use a pâte fermentée viennoise as one component and I did not have that around. Being the impatient being I am, I wanted to try the recipe right away. I also don’t have the Pullman loaf pan with the exact dimensions they recommend. So I went to King Arthur site, and from their basic recipe adjusted amounts, hoping for the best.  I am thrilled that it worked so well on  my first attempt. Trust me, that almost never happens in the Bewitching Kitchen.

Making the recipe exactly as described, and using the same pan I did (PADERNO 41750), you will be a bit unsure if it will work, because the dough will be pretty low in the pan as you shape it and place it inside. Don’t worry, in a little over one hour it will rise substantially and in fact I had to push down a little bit the top to make sure I could add the decorations and have some space between the top of the dough and the lid.  It worked perfectly well. The crumb is exactly what you expect from this type of bread, soft, a tad on the sweet side, and a bit buttery.

In the book, they gilded the lily a step further, by adding a line of white flour on top of the black decorations. I just could not make that work, no matter how I tried to deal with the flour (piping bags, piping tips, straws), my lines were never smooth and beautiful, so I skipped that part. I now wonder if rice flour would have worked, as it has a different texture. Anyway, I am super happy with the way it turned out, it’s a nice technique to play with. Imagine how many designs and even colors you can come up with…

As I hit publish and look at the date on my calendar, I realize that exactly one year ago I was being eliminated from a certain show in a certain tent. It is hard not to feel that sadness trying to hit me again, but this too shall pass… and a good bake definitely helps exorcize certain demons….

ONE YEAR AGO: Five-Stranded Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Olive Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Coffee Macarons Dressed up to Party

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

SIX YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!   

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

EIGHT  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

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

TEN YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

LADY BUG MACARONS

The other day I was minding my own business when a friend tagged me on Facebook. Quite nonchalantly – Caroline, I am looking at you! – she shared a video… “Sally, your next addiction, I mean… project?  ;-)”   The video was all about meringues and macarons, with amazing piping techniques made by a professional baker from Los Angeles. Truth is, this was not the first time a “friend” suggested baking projects for me. Usually they involve either macarons or mirror glazes, all with levels of complexity that make me tempted to ask “do you hate me that much?” or “what have I done to you?”  But, pandemic times do strange things to humans. Somehow, I decided to tackle one of the simpler projects from the video, macarons shaped as Lady Bugs. Having recently enraged Cheetahs, I figured I would be safer upsetting a small insect. I had a total blast with this adventure, and find them adorable… I hope you do too…

LADY BUG MACARONS WITH CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FILLING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g Icing/powdered sugar
115 g almond flour
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla paste or extract
red and black food color

for the filling:
Chocolate Russian Buttercream Recipe
113g unsalted butter, room temperature  (1 stick)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1/8 tsp of salt
50g  unsweetened cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
200 g condensed milk (about 1/2 can)

to decorate:
Royal Icing (black) or Candy melts (black)
Black sanding sugar
food pen (black)

Make the shells:
Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar, and ground almonds in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla and the food color. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. When the mixture is starting to get homogeneous, remove a small amount and dye black. Remove a small amount and leave it white. Dye the rest red.  Continue with the three portions of batter until you get proper mixing (macaronage).  Put the mixtures in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (large, 8mm for red, 4mm for black, white can be left without a piping tip, just make a cut in the bag with scissors. To make the lady bugs, pipe a regular round red shell, then a small black round where the head will be. To make the flowers, use the white batter right after piping the red shell, and do the decorations you want, as if working with Royal Icing, “wet on wet” technique.

Slam each sheet  four times on the counter/worktop. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F. Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched. Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. The macarons should release without sticking. When the shells are cold, made the black decorations with a food pen, for the lady bug’s body and the outline of the flowers and hearts. If desired, paint the lady bug’s head  with Royal Icing or Candy melts dyed black. Before it sets, sprinkle black sanding sugar.

Make the Russian buttercream. Whip the room temperature unsalted butter on a medium-high speed with a whisk attachment for 5 minutes. The butter should lighten in color as you incorporate air into it. Add in the vanilla extract, salt, and sifted cocoa powder mix on the lowest speed until incorporated.  Pour very slowly the sweetened condensed milk as you whisk at medium-speed. Scrape the  bowl to make sure it is all very well incorporated. Refrigerate until needed to fill the shells.

Assemble the macarons: match two shells similar in size and add buttercream to the bottom of one of them. Place another shell on top and gently squeeze to take the filling all the way to the edge. Store in the fridge overnight before consuming.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: In the video, the decorations for the lady bugs were made with piped Royal Icing, but I decided that a food pen was simpler. Also, you can make antennas with candy melts piping them on parchment or acetate, allowing them to fully set, and then stick them in between the two shells, held by the filling. Some bakers use licorice strands cut in small pieces. Since my macs are donated and each must be wrapped individually, I skipped the antennas. My Lady Bugs are mutants, and I hope they don’t hate me for that.

The filling… My first time using Russian buttercream. I decided to try it because many people claim it to be less sweet than American and very easy to prepare. I will say that the texture is really nice, but it is still quite sweet. Of course, it is made with condensed milk, so what was I expecting?  I had a few problems with the texture too, I believe you need to get the butter temperature just right, not too cold, not too warm. My buttercream ended up a tad too soft. When opting for a chocolate filling for macs, I think I’ll stick with a ganache-base.

For the flowers and hearts decorations, the secret is to work fast. Pipe two or three red shells and immediately start to work on the details, because you want to make sure the design will set and dry homogeneously with the background.  It is exactly the same technique I used before, except that I used the food pen to outline the drawings. It does not have to be perfect, in fact I think that being a bit more lax with the outline makes them more interesting. That’s my story…  😉

I hope you enjoyed my little Lady Bug Macarons. Just want to make something abundantly clear: Unicorns are simply never ever happening.  There. I feel better.

ONE YEAR AGO: Five-Stranded Braided Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Green Olive Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Coffee Macarons Dressed up to Party

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

SIX YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!   

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

EIGHT  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

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

TEN YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH HARISSA-YOGURT DRESSING

Simplicity hit again the Bewitching Kitchen. I used rose harissa because it is one of those ingredients I fell in love with a couple of years ago and now I cannot live without. If you don’t have it, use regular harissa and it will be wonderful too, it’s all about the delicate heat coupled with the soothing yogurt.  Perfect side dish for those hot days of Kansas summer. Have I ever mentioned I cannot get enough of summer?

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH HARISSA-YOGURT DRESSING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

¼ cup full-fat yogurt
1 to 2 tsp rose harissa paste
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Persian cucumbers, cut in rounds, then quarters
yellow or red grape tomatoes, cut in half
black sesame seeds

Mix the yogurt, oil, salt and pepper, add the harissa paste and mix gently. Add the cucumbers and tomatoes to a bowl, mix with the yogurt dressing. Let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes (if you have the extra time), sprinkle with sesame seeds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve shared quite a few recipes with rose harissa, one of my favorites involved chicken thighs. If you like to see the recipe, go back in time with a click here. I had never tried it in a salad dressing or any preparation in which it goes uncooked, so I am glad to report that it works well. You can adjust the amount according to your tolerance to heat. I find harissa quite pleasant, but you should play with it and see how it works best for you.

Surprisingly, leftovers were still quite good next day, I refreshed it with some additional black sesame seeds, and the flavors seemed to be even better. Cucumbers tend to release a bit of liquid, but not to the point of ruining the salad.   I hope you’ll give this recipe a try, it pairs well with salmon, chicken, pork, and if you have a nice bread, it can even stand alone as a light lunch.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sundried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte 

TWO YEARS AGO: Hickory-Smoked Beef Tenderloin

THREE YEAR AGO: Spaghetti Squash, Revisited

FOUR YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken and Cabbage in Spicy Almond Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Fifteen Years!

SIX YEARS AGO: Light Brioche Burger Buns

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sourdough Blues

EIGHT  YEARS AGO: Headed to Hawaii

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

TEN YEARS AGO:  Hidden Treasure

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Avocado Three Ways

 

 

 

 

 

MARBLED CHARCOAL SOURDOUGH

Lately a dramatic, marbled sourdough keeps popping everywhere in the blogosphere and Instagram world. I find marbling pretty cool in cakes, cookies, icings. So, why not take it into bread territory?  Most bakers opt for laminating the two doughs together. I have tried the lamination process and found it a bit too convoluted. To make matters worse,  I never get as much structure and gluten development as I like, so I just took my normal default recipe and used it as a starting point. Read the comments after the recipe, if you are interested in the details. Without further ado, here is my first bi-color sourdough.

MARBLED CHARCOAL SOURDOUGH
(from The Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

475g bread flour
25 g whole-wheat flour
100 g sourdough starter at 100%
10 g salt
2 g activated charcoal
375 g water

Mix everything (except the charcoal)  with a KitchenAid in low speed with dough hook for about 3 minutes. Adjust consistency with additional bread flour if the mixture seems too loose. Divide the two in two parts, add the charcoal to half of it, knead until fully incorporated (you can do it by hand or place it back in the KitchenAid for a minute or so).

Transfer the two doughs to individual oiled bowls and bulk ferment for 4 to 4.5 hours at room temperature, folding the dough at every 45 minutes to 1 hour. On folding cycle number 3, incorporate the two doughs together, and continue with the bulk proofing. Fold one last time, shape the bread as a round ball, place in a banetton heavily floured, sticking it in the fridge overnight.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the bread straight from the fridge on parchment paper, dust the surface with a small amount of flour, and slash it with a brand new razor  blade.

Bake inside a covered Dutch oven for 30 minutes, remove the lid, leave it in the oven for additional 15 to 20 minutes, if necessary lower the temp a bit in the final 5 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As I mentioned, bakers often use a lamination process to marble different colors of dough, or even to add components such as herbs or nuts. One of my issues with the lamination is that the process tends to be quite a bit longer. When I do my initial mixing in the KitchenAid for 3 to 4 minutes, the dough starts with a solid kneading that not only advances the process of gluten formation, but makes the whole thing quite a bit “cleaner.” The dough, once out of the KitchenAid, already handles quite smoothly for the subsequent folding by hand. And I can tell right away if I need any adjustment, just by the way it behaves during this initial step of mixing.

Most recipes that use lamination rely on a long (3 hours or more) autolyse step,  in which you just mix water and flour, then another pretty long proofing after the starter is incorporated. The hydration level of the dough is often higher (you need to add more water to be able to stretch the dough nicely and laminate it), and that forces you to go through more cycles of folding. I sometimes had to do 5 cycles and still felt the dough a bit weak at the end, but by then it was getting so late I had to call it a day and shape it. If you like to try, search youtube, there are countless videos showing the process.

To achieve this level of mixing between the two types of dough, I joined them at cycle 3 out of 4 total foldings. If you prefer both colors to be more uniformly mixed, join them at folding cycle number 2 instead of 3, and be more aggressive with the way you handle it. I can see a Halloween version with pumpkin and charcoal on my horizon…

ONE YEAR AGO: Sundried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte

TWO YEARS AGO: Blueberry and Mango Curd Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: First Monday Favorite

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2016

FIVE YEAR AGO: Ka’Kat, a Middle Easter Snack Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Spinach and Chickpea Curry

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

NINE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

TEN YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

 

 

 

CASHEW SHRIMP CURRY

If you need a super quick recipe for dinner, look no further. The preparation is a bit unusual in the sense that you mix white vinegar (which has pretty high acidity) with some ground cashews and spices, use that to marinate the shrimp for a short while, cook it and you are basically done. The shrimp turns out fresh, bright, and with perfect texture. This goes to our regular rotation for sure. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

CASHEW SHRIMP CURRY
(adapted from 660 Curries)

¼ cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup raw cashew nuts, ground to a powder
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
water
finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine the vinegar, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt, turmeric, and cashews in a small bowl, and stir to make a smooth paste. Pour this over the shrimp, toss well to coat the shellfish with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, arranging them in a single layer and reserving the residual marinade in the bowl. Sear the shrimp on each side, not more than 1 minute per side, so it does not get over-cooked. Pour in the residual marinade and stir once or twice. Lower the heat to medium add a bit of water, the lemon juice, and simmer until the sauce is reduced, about 5 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am usually not too fond of books that showcase hundreds of recipes, but 660 Curries is a beautiful exception. My friend Courtnie recommended and I can see why. It has no photos for the recipes, so it could be a drawback to many people, but the recipes are so varied, creative, that I truly don’t mind using my imagination.

You can definitely use peanuts or other nuts in place of cashews, and when I make it again (because I definitely will and very soon), I will add a few toasted cashews, whole, when serving.

We enjoyed it with sauteed broccoli and a simple rice with chickpeas.  A very simple but super delicious meal…

ONE YEAR AGO: Sundried Tomato and Feta Cheese Torte

TWO YEARS AGO: Blueberry and Mango Curd Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Michigan and Mackinac Island

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2016

FIVE  YEARS AGO: Ka’kat, a Middle Eastern Snack Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Spinach and Chickpea Curry

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

NINE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

TEN YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Love me tender…