GILDING THE SOURDOUGH LOAF

Two sourdough posts in a row! But this one brings back the subject to its most classic use: a rustic bread made less rustic with a razor blade and a ton of fun. Here is my baby, all dressed up for party!

CLASSIC SOURDOUGH BREAD
(adapted from Anna Gabur)

for the levain:
120g water
40g starter
40g whole-wheat flour
80g all-purpose white flour

for the final dough:
Half of the levain above (about 140g)
375g water
50g spelt flour
150g whole-wheat flour
300g bread flour
10g salt dissolved in 15g water

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, dissolve half the prepared levain in water (375g), then add all flours. Save the remaining levain in the fridge for later.  Mix well with your hands until a shaggy dough forms.  Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add the salt dissolved in the remaining water, and incorporate by folding repeatedly the dough over itself. Now let the dough ferment for a total of 4 hours, folding a few times every 40 minutes. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.

Shape as a round ball and place inside a banetton covered with a cloth and lightly floured. Keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and lightly, very lightly coat it with flour, then rub all over the surface with the palm of your hand. Score the guiding lines according to the desired pattern, use a razor blade to slash the dough with firm, short slashes.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love a rustic sourdough that is left untouched, opens up in the oven according to its own desire, or one that gets a very basic crisscrossed slash at the top to get things started. But I must admit it’s nice to work a little magic on the crust. However, my previous attempts failed to match my expectations. In other words, I had issues to transfer to the razor blade the image I had in my mind for the baked loaf.

A couple of weeks ago I found an online course taught by a gorgeous woman named Anna Gabur on artistic bread slicing. I asked myself, do I really need this? Not sure what happened, but before I could give an honest answer to that question, my paypal account was activated and the online class was playing on my screen. Very odd. Must be a computer virus or something. At any rate, I am very glad this odd phenomenon happened, because I loved the class, learned a lot and was very pleased with the results of my very first attempt. I followed her design very closely, but maybe at some point I’ll feel confident to come up with my own creations (fingers crossed).

Between you and me, I can hardly believe this bread came out of our own oven… I was in total awe when I opened the lid and saw the oven spring, the pattern, the crust starting to get golden. A real baker’s thrill…

I highly recommend that you get Anna’s course if you are passionate about bread baking. You don’t need to make a sourdough, any bread formula will work, as long as it’s not very high in hydration. You need some structure to be able to slash it, so high-hydration formulas won’t work as well. Also, it helps a lot if the bread gets its final fermentation in the fridge, so that its surface is tight and easier to slash. My loaf went straight from fridge to pre-heated oven, it took me less than 10 minutes to finish the slashing, and I bet most people can do it much faster.  You’ll need a regular razor blade that you will hold between two fingers, not using a lame holder. And, according to Anna, one blade should last you for about 5 loaves. It needs to be truly sharp. She makes it seem so easy, it is a pleasure to watch her in real-time making a very elaborate design on the loaf. You can also marvel at all her photos on Instagram.

The bread had excellent taste and crust, the crumb was not super open, but that was expected from a bread with a lower hydration level.

Anna has quite a few articles about bread baking written on her blog, like this one that goes over basics of artistic slashing, and this one that shares her favorite bread formula. If you’d like to sign up for her online tutorial, follow this link.    She lives in Moldova, and often has to adapt her bread baking for the types of flour she can find. I often get a bit upset with “trendy” bread cookbooks that insist you must obtain the flour that was milled 4 days ago under a full moon, otherwise don’t bother making the recipe.   All you truly need is flour, water, a bit of yeast, a touch of salt, and the right amount of passion… Anna’s masterpieces prove this point!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Lolita Joins the Bewitching Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce

THREE YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

FIVE YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

SIX YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

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SOURDOUGH CHOCOLATE TWIST BREAD

Every once in a while, it’s nice to expand the horizons of the sourdough starter. I have yet to try sourdough croissants, a much more involved process, but when I saw a blog post joining bubbly starter with chocolate in a twisted shaping, I could not wait to try it.  It does take a little practice to get the braiding correctly, but I think this attempt turned out a little better than the one of years ago. Practice, practice, practice.

SOURDOUGH CHOCOLATE TWIST BREAD
(slightly modified from My Daily Sourdough Bread)

Starter
100 g water
100 g bread flour
1 tablespoon sourdough starter

Dough
all of the above starter
180 g warm milk (water can be used instead, for a less rich dough)
370 g bread flour
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
6 g salt

Filling
100 g soft butter
60 g brown sugar
50 g grated chocolate (70% cocoa)

In the evening, first prepare your sourdough starter. Mix 100 g of white wheat flour, 100 g of water, and 1 tablespoon or your base starter. Leave it to ferment until risen, puffed, active and bubbly, so you will be able to mix it into the dough next morning.

In the morning, mix the dough. First, dissolve all of your starter in 180 g of milk (or water, if desired). Add egg yolk and melted butter. Next, add all of the flour (370 g), salt and sugar. Mix well, and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. Shape it into ball and place it into a bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and leave to ferment until doubled in volume, about 3 hours.

Prepare the filling mixing softened butter, sugar, and grated chocolate. Line a Dutch oven or another appropriate baking container with a piece of parchment paper.

Roll the dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Drop the filling across the rolled dough and spread it thinly, leaving about 1 inch clean border on all sides.  Roll the dough from the longest side, then tuck the ends underneath. Cut the rolled dough in half length-wise. Flip the cut halves outwards.

Start braiding two strands one over another. Tuck the ends together to form a circle. Place the twisted bread into Dutch oven and let it rise until doubled, about 1.5 hours.

Heat the oven to 375°F. When the dough is ready, put the Dutch oven into oven and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack before slicing. If desired, cover the bread with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was a fun weekend project, for sure. My only issue was that during baking, a lot of butter sipped out of the bread, forming a puddle on the bottom of the baking dish. I was not sure how to deal with it, so I ended up using one of those stainless steel bulb basters (like this one) to remove the butter a couple of times during baking. The bread tasted amazing, no major harm done on the bottom crust, all seemed fine. It was not overly greasy either.

We enjoyed some of it still a bit warm from baking. A deep silence ensued. You know how that goes sometimes.  Leftover wedges were wrapped in plastic and frozen. A few minutes in a low oven restored the bread to top-notch level, so rest assured, you won’t need to consume it all in one sitting. There’s a limit of how much aerobics a person can do…

This bread is a nice alternative for a pain au chocolat craving. Much easier to make and equally delicious.

ONE YEAR AGO: Dan Lepard Times Three

TWO YEARS AGO: Turkey Portobello Burger

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Ricotta Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2014

FIVE YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

SIX YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis

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SUNFLOWER SEED KAMUT SOURDOUGH

Inspired by classic recipes around, this bread is for those who love a little texture with their soft crumb, and a very mild sourdough taste. The kamut flour makes the crumb slightly more “creamy” than a sourdough made exclusively with white flour. You can substitute it with spelt, whole wheat, or semolina flour, all will work well in the formula.

SUNFLOWER SEED KAMUT SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
110 g water, at room temperature
200 g bread flour
50 g kamut flour (or another flour of your choice)
100 g sunflower seeds, toasted
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the flours with the toasted sunflower seeds and the salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the water with the sourdough starter, dissolving it gently. Add the honey and the yeast, mix to combine.

Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the flour mixture, and incorporate it all using your hands. It will be pretty shaggy, once it’s more or less incorporated, allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead briefly on a surface coated with oil (avoid adding more flour), allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead briefly again, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Knead briefly one last time and let the dough rest for 1 hour.

Shape it as a ball, place in a banetton with the seam side up to rise for 2 hours.

Invert it on a piece of parchment paper, slash the surface and bake in a 450 F oven for 40 minutes, with initial steam.

Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here 

Comments: This recipe makes a reasonably small loaf, perfect for the two of us to enjoy and then freeze a few more slices for delayed bread pleasure. The toasted sunflower seeds have almost a popcorn flavor, do not skip the toasting part because it is a game changer in this type of bread.

A perfect match for this sourdough is a slice of Roquefort cheese. Something about the sunflower seeds meeting the salty and sharp nature of the blue cheese makes it all pretty hard to resist.

ONE YEAR AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

TWO YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

THREE YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

FIVE YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

SIX YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

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EMILIE RAFFA’S HIGH HYDRATION SOURDOUGH

As you might imagine, I should stop buying cookbooks because I’d need to live to be 173 years old to go through the ones I already own. However, I am thrilled that I got the latest one from Emilie, pre-ordered the moment I saw it available: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.


I’ve been following Emilie’s blog for a long time, and even reviewed her first cookbook a while ago (click here for a flashback).  The salad I chose to feature in that post is one of those rare recipes that ended up in our regular rotation. You know how it goes in the kitchen of a food blogger. We are always trying new recipes, it’s a bit compulsive sometimes, but when a truly spectacular thing lands on our table, we go back to it. With this new book, Emilie does exactly what the title states: simplifies the making of artisan sourdough bread. She offers a very detailed explanation on how to make your first sourdough starter (that method that collects microorganisms from the environment), how to keep it healthy and use it to make all sorts of wonderful concoctions, going beyond bread baking.  Formulas are simple, the timing is flexible, as exemplified in the recipe I share with you today. I was so fond of it that I made it four times in 5 weeks! Yes, talk about re-visiting something spectacular. I am not the only one smitten with Emilie’s book. Celia, the one and only blogger who lives in beautiful Australia, composed a wonderful review of Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, and I urge you to stop by and take a look… It might just be the push you need to take the book home with you (at least virtually, as I did with my Kindle version…). So, without further ado, my first sourdough bread from Emilie’s book…

HIGH-HYDRATION SOURDOUGH
(printed with permission from Emilie Raffa)

Tips from Emilie: The first step toward bigger holes is to add more water, or to increase the dough’s hydration. The second step is to expand your sourdough technique: Gently dimple the dough after the bulk rise and then shape it twice. Both techniques will help to open up the crumb and can be applied toward other doughs to achieve the same effect.

Suggested baker’s schedule: Thursday and Friday: Feed your starter until bubbly and active. Saturday Evening: Make the dough and let rise overnight. Sunday Morning: Shape the dough, let rise again, score and bake.

Bread formula
50 g (¼ cup) bubbly, active starter (mine was at 100% hydration)
375 g (1 ½ cups plus 1 tbsp) warm water
500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour
9 g (1 ½ tsp) fine sea salt

Making the dough
In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand to form a rough dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 1 hour.  After the dough has rested, work it into a ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.

Bulk fermentation
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature, about 8 to 10 hours at 70 ° F (21 ° C). The dough is ready when it has doubled in size, has a few bubbles on the surface, and jiggles when you move the bowl from side to side.

Shaping the dough
In the morning, coax the dough onto a floured surface. Dimple the dough all over with floured fingertips. Gently shape it into a round and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl or proofing basket with a towel and dust with flour. Using a bench scraper, scoop up the dough and flip it over so that the smooth side is facing down. Shape it again, and then flip it back over. Cup the dough and gently pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Place into your lined bowl, seam side up.

Final fermentation
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour to set its structure. Note: You can chill this dough for up to 6 hours or more. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature while the oven heats up.

Baking the bread
Heat your oven to 500 ° F (260 ° C). Cut a piece of 
parchment to fit the size of your baking pot. Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Dust the surface with flour and rub with your hands to coat. Using the tip of a small knife or a razor blade, score the dough with the pattern of your choice. Use the parchment to transfer the dough into the baking pot.  Place the pot on the center rack, and reduce the heat to 450 ° F (230 ° C). Bake the dough for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Lift the loaf out of the pot, and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: One of the advantages of a simple bread recipe is that you can concentrate on aspects other than the making of the dough, or its shaping, since it’s all so straightforward. This recipe was my gateway to practice different slashing patterns. My conclusion was that bread has a mind of its own. Almost every single time the final product was not exactly what I had in mind. But, isn’t that what life is all about? The more we try to control things, the more frustrated we might get. Until… until we learn to dance to the music and enjoy the unexpected, the stuff that does not go exactly as planned. No, I am not that wise yet, but working on it.

Indeed, for some members of our home, the way the bread looks is totally irrelevant…

Let me now show you my quartet of breads, all made with the same basic Emilie’s recipe, except that for the third loaf I increased the hydration even further (385 g water instead of 370g), and included one series of folds before the dough fermented at room temperature overnight.  I did that after the dough had rested for one hour, then waited 45 minutes more to shape it into a ball and leave it alone at room temperature until next day. The more you push the hydration up, the more you’ll need some type of folding or kneading to make sure you have some structure in it.  All things considered, I think Emilie’s formula as written is spot on,  considerably simplifying the process.

Slashing #1

That is the exact slashing that produced my featured bread.  You probably did not see anything wrong with it, but that’s because I picked the best angle of the bread to take the picture. Full disclosure? Here we go:

The slash at the base of the circle was probably a bit too deep, and the thing lift off like a lid! Looked pretty funny, almost like a Trilobite fossil in search of food. And the crust got a tad too dark in that spot.  Lesson to learn: be more gentle with the slashes at the base of the dough.

Slash #2

I was aiming for a yin-yang kind of thing.  Here’s the result after baking…

Nice, open ears, but definitely not what I expected. Not sure if I had to be more delicate with the depth of the central slashing… but I liked the way the bread looked.

Slash #3

I went with a star-type pattern, and diagonal small slashes all around….  This time I had no particular expectations, just decided to accept whatever the Gods of the Yeasty Things rewarded me with…

Slash #4

and the final, resulting loaf….

Probably my favorite… all plump and was singing out loud as it cooled…

All breads made with the high-hydration sourdough tend to have open crumb,
very creamy texture, with a hard crust.
The kind of bread we really love!

So there you have it, four loaves of bread made with a basic sourdough formula, according to Emilie’s Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.  The same formula produces amazing – let me state that again – produces AMAZING focaccia…

It is really a lovely book, Celia did a great job reviewing it, so let me just tempt you with a very simple list of breads included in one of her chapters. I want to bake every single one of them. Period.

Decadent Chocolate Chip (O.M.G)

Dill and White Cheddar

Olive, Thyme, and Parmesan

Seeded Pumpkin Cranberry (O.M.G. #2)

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Pickled Jalapeno, Cheddar and Chive (O.M.G. #3)

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary

Sticky Date, Walnut and Orange (I rest my case)

Emilie, thanks for giving me permission to share one recipe from your lovely book…  I am looking forward to baking more and more goodies from your tasty collection!

ONE YEAR AGO: Short-Ribs with Chickpeas and Chard & London Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Asian-Style Short Ribs 

THREE YEARS AGO: Herbed Goat Cheese Souffles

FOUR YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FIVE YEARS AGO: Jammin’ Blueberry Sour Milk Pancakes

SIX YEARS AGO: Scallops with Black Pasta in Orange Cream Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Stir-fried Chicken with Creamed Corn

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedo

 

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LA COURONNE BORDELAISE

My first bread bake of 2018!

If you want to impress your guests or family with a bread that is actually surprisingly easy to shape, look no further, gather your ingredients and go to work…

The recipe comes from the Craftsy online class “The Baker’s Guide to Artisan Bread Shaping” taught by Chef Ciril Hitz. You can use any bread dough you like, as long as the hydration level is not too high (65% is a good starting point). For the couronne, you will need almost a full kilogram of dough. Roughly that would be 600g flour (I used 550 g all-purpose white flour and 50g whole-wheat), 390 g water, 12 g of salt, 3 g of  yeast. Once the bread goes through the bulk fermentation, preferably in the fridge, you can proceed with the final shaping.  You can also double this recipe that calls for a pre-ferment instead. Again, the most important here is the hydration level to be kept more or less at 65%.

OVERVIEW OF SHAPING

If you performed the bulk fermentation in the fridge, bring the dough to room temperature and leave it for 30 minutes. Then, divide it in 9 portions of roughly 90g each (you will have a small amount of dough leftover, pita anyone?).  Shape eight of the balls as tight rolls, and reserve a portion of 90g unshaped.

Roll the last portion of 90g of dough as a circle measuring about 10 inches in diameter. It should be quite thin, so work patiently and allow the dough to rest in case it tightens up on you. (It’s the gluten speaking, but it calms down with some time to itself).  Once you get the dough rolled out, brush a little olive oil on the edges, then place the eight balls of dough sitting on the perimeter, making sure the seam is facing up.

Now let the shaped bread rest for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Since it was pretty cold, I left it proof for a full 90 minutes. Once that is completed, make cuts with a very sharp knife on the center of the rolled dough, in a star-shape, so that each ball is facing a little triangular flap of dough.  Carefully lift the edge of the triangle and fold it over each ball of dough, sticking it firmly at the top.  I found it easier to use small scissors to help with this step. Now carefully flip the whole thing over, and dust the surface with flour. You can see the whole process in the composite picture below.

Bake in a 470F oven for 30 minutes, with initial addition of steam. I baked it over a stone, and poured a cup of almost boiling water inside a baking sheet placed at the bottom of the stove. A little more hot water was added after 5 minutes of baking time. Remove the bread and allow it to completely cool over a rack…

This bread was a bit of a singer, which I found quite pleasing…  And I could not stop smiling as I looked at the beautiful crown on top… The brushing with olive oil prevents the flap from sticking, so that with the heat of the oven it floats in the air…

The crumb is not very open, and is expected from a bread with lower hydration, but it tasted great…  It was perfect with our dinner of Chicken Parmigiana on a super cold Saturday evening. If you cannot skip winter, might as well make comfort food and a hearty loaf of bread…

As I mentioned before, I think the Craftsy classes online are worth every penny. Even though I am giving you a general idea of how to make this bread, you can bake it pretty much in real-time with Chef Cyril, getting all the tips from him, including how to shape the balls to get optimal surface tension.  As you know, I only recommend things I love and this class is definitely one of them.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Special Birthday Dinner

TWO YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

THREE YEARS AGO: Tuscan Grilled Chicken and Sausage Skewers

FOUR YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Pork Tenderloin & Apples

FIVE YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

SIX YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

 

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PAIN AU CHOCOLAT

If you expect a diet-nutrition-low-cal-related post because it’s January, I am here to disappoint  you…

😉

While most people were busy “only” with the holiday season, we had an additional reason to celebrate in that final week of December. My beloved’s Birthday. To start the day on the right note, I decided to bake a batch of one of his all time favorite treats: Pain au Chocolat! Whenever we go to Paris and sit down for our first coffee next morning, it never fails,  he always asks for it.  The plain croissant can wait…  but, since they take the exact same dough, I said to myself why not make both? And that’s how a little bit of Paris was brought into a chilly Kansas morning.

PAIN AU CHOCOLAT (& CROISSANTS)
(reprinted with permission from Colette Christian, at Craftsy.com)

for the butter block (beurrage)
1+ ¼ pound unsalted butter (I used Plugra)

for the dough (dètrempe)
2 large eggs, beaten
16 ounces water at about 90 F
12 g instant or osmotolerant yeast
28 g nonfat dry milk powder
957 g unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (39 g) sugar
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter,  softened
2 teaspoons (16 g) salt

Make the butter block: In the mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on speed 2 until it has softened and no longer clings to the paddle. Mix for about 1 minute. The butter should be smooth. Roll it to a 10 inch square, as perfect as you can make it (I rolled it inside a quart size ziplock bag). Put it in the refrigerator as you work on the dough.

Make the dough: Put the eggs, yeast, water and dry milk powder in the mixer bowl. Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix on speed 1 for 30 seconds to combine and dissolve the yeast.

Add the flour, sugar, butter and salt. Mix on speed one for 4 minutes, until the dough reaches “clean-up” stage.  Mix for 1 more minute on speed 1. Remove the dough from the mixer and knead by hand for a couple of minutes. Do not add any additional flour to the dough or to the work surface.  Place the dough in a buttered bowl and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the butter from the refrigerator. Leave it resting for about 20 minutes, as the dough rests. Check to make sure it is the correct temperature. The butter is the perfect temperature is when the butter packet can be rolled on the edge of the counter without cracking.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough out to a 10 inch by 20 inch rectangle. Place the butter block on the left side of the dough. There should be one inch border of clear dough on all three opened sides. Fold the unbuttered side over the buttered side of the dough. Press down on the unbuttered edges to seal them. Dust flour under the dough so that it does not stick. Lightly dust the top. Roll out the dough until it measures 12 by 24 inches.

Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and turn the dough so that the long fold is furthest away from you and the long open side is nearest you. The two open short sides are at your right and left. Each time you make a turn the dough should be positioned in the same way. Mark the turns on the paper, crossing off each turn as you complete them.

Fold the dough in thirds (like a business letter) – always starting with the right side. Then fold the left side over the right. This is your first turn. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and complete another turn. Return the dough to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes and then do one more turn. You have now completed all three turns and the dough can be wrapped and refrigerated overnight, or you can proceed with the final rolling out.

Roll the dough into a 26 by 17 inches rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise and straighten all the edges by trimming about 1/4 inch of the edges.  Cut the dough into triangles (base should be 4 inches, height should be 8 inches), or rectangles for pain au chocolat, as shown in my photo below. If making pain au chocolat, add a chocolate baton or sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips in the lower half of the dough. Brush with egg wash the farthest edge of the rectangle, then roll the dough around, making sure the egg wash part in tucked under.

Proof the croissants and pain au chocolat inside a large baking sheet covered with a plastic bag – include a large mug with very hot water to generate steam and make a nice temperature for proofing.  Check after 45 minutes, they should look a bit more plump. At that point, you can brush the surface of each little croissant and roll with egg wash. 

Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake for 15 minutes more. If they are not fully golden, bake for 7 to 8 minutes longer.

 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Have I praised enough the online classes at Craftsy? My first experience was macarons, also taught by Colette. Love her. Then, I decided to get the Classic Croissants at Home class and I must say I learned so much, it’s not even funny. Worth every penny, particularly because I got the class on a special end of the year sale. Cannot beat that. Croissants and pain au chocolat are all about precision. See that yard stick? She advises getting one and using it at every stage of rolling and folding. It makes life so much easier!  The recipe is detailed, but nothing compares to watching her make the dough and show you exactly what you are looking for. I highly recommend it. And she is very responsive, if you have doubts and asks her a question at the platform on the site, she usually will answer in a few minutes, or at most a couple of hours. Even during the holidays!

It is important to use either the batons sold specifically for pain au chocolat, or chocolate chips, because their formula prevents them from melting during baking. If you use regular chocolate, as you bite into it, you’ll be covered by a liquid lava. Yes, tasty, but not exactly the goal here.


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The proofing using a very large ziplock bag is pure genius. They sell those for storage of very large items and they work wonders to enclose a large baking sheet. The mug with hot water turns it into a home-made proofing device, moist and just warm enough for the dough to rise. I save two large bags for my baking, if any flour or egg wash glues to the inside, you can wash with warm water and dry them over the back of a chair.

There they are!  Cooling and waiting…

This was a very nice cooking project, perfect for a cold day. Of course it is a lot trickier to try and make laminated dough in the summer, so keep that in mind. One of the very few advantages of chilly weather. I would like to thank Colette for yet another superb class. Your attention to detail, and neatness during baking are really inspiring!

The best thing of making a big batch of these goodies is that they freeze very well. So, when the mood strikes, we remove a couple from the bag and place them, still frozen, in a 350F oven. In less than 10 minutes you can have croissants that taste as good as freshly baked…  What’s not to like?

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PANETTONE TIME!

Panettone is a classic bread from Italy, very popular during Christmas festivities. I dare to say that it is almost equally popular in Brazil. Brazilians for the most part need to have the end-of-the-year panettone fix, as if mandatory.  Growing up, I would not touch it, picky eater that I was. Crystallized, dried fruit? Me? No, not happening. At some point I opened my horizons a little and would go for a nibble on a small piece. But I was never a big fan, to me it seemed too dry, with a bit of an unpleasant texture. Toasted, with a decent spread of butter, wast the only way to enjoy it. Phil had never tried any until we found ourselves in São Paulo many Decembers ago. He fell deeply in love with it. Over the years he’s also tried other kinds, like those studded with chocolate chips, called “Chocottone” in Brazil. His favorite? The classic version, from Bauducco. Raisins and dried fruits. Not sure what happened this year, but I got an intense desire to bake the version of his dreams. I went the extra mile and got all the necessary toys and gadgets for it. It paid off, big time!

 

PANETTONE
(adapted from The Fresh Loaf)

Pre-ferment
6 oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
8 oz (1 cup) milk
1/4 t instant yeast (regular yeast is fine)

Fruit Soaker:
1 cups diced dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, apricots, dates)
1/2 cup candied orange peel
2 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup rum + 1/2 cup water

Final Dough:
1 pound (3 cups) all-purpose flour (plus 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup more as necessary)
soaking liquid for fruits
2 eggs
2 oz (1/3 cup) sugar
1/2 t Fiori di Sicilia extract
1 t salt
1 T instant yeast (I used this one which is osmo-tolerant)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened, cut in several pieces
soaked, drained fruits, orange peel
grated zest of one orange

The night before, mix up the preferment with instant yeast. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

The next morning, mix the dried fruits with the rum and water and let soak for 30 minutes.

Make the final dough: drain the fruit, reserving the soaking liquid. Add to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer fitted with the dough hook the pre-ferment, the flour, liquid from the soaked fruits, sugar, eggs, salt and osmo-tolerant yeast.  Mix the dough for 5 minutes, then add the pieces of butter, one by one. Once all the butter is added, continue kneading in the machine for 5 more minutes.

Add the soaked fruits, the candied orange peel and the fresh orange zest and mix gently, adding additional flour as necessary to get it to a proper consistency, so that it is slightly sticky but can be handled by hand.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for two to three hours. If using osmo-tolerant yeast, it might be fully risen by 2 hours.

Split the dough into the necessary number of pieces you need for the loaves you want to make. I used 3/4 of the dough to make a big panettone in the traditional pan (6 in diameter, 6 in high). The rest of the dough I baked in a small springform pan. Shape the dough, place them into the molds, cover lightly and let them rise for two to three hours again. If using osmo-tolerant yeast, they could be ready to bake in 90 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 F.

Bake until nicely browned and the internal temperature registers 185F. My big panettone took 55 minutes to bake, the smaller one, using about 1/4 of the dough, was ready in 25 minutes. A thermometer to check the temperature really helps. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: In case you are wondering, there are countless recipes for panettone out there. Using regular yeast, wild yeast, osmo-tolerant  yeast, pre-ferment, overnight fermentation in the fridge, you think about one particular condition, and someone has already tried – and formed a strong opinion about it. They all involve a rich dough, containing sugar, milk, butter, and eggs – think in the direction of brioche and you’ll be close. They must include raisins, and orange peel. Sometimes other dried fruits, sometimes almonds. They must all be baked in a tall pan, to form a nice domed structure. And if you want the real authentic flavor, skip the vanilla and go for Fiori di Sicilia. That gives it the real characteristic flavor we all associate with panettone. If you don’t have osmo-tolerant yeast, you can use regular instant. You should then expect longer proofing times, like those specified in the recipe. I suspect I could have used less osmo-tolerant yeast, as the dough rose really fast. Live and learn.

My second, small loaf, made with 1/4 of the dough.

I read a ton of recipes before settling on my version, that joins The Fresh Loaf with some technical advice from America’s Test Kitchen.  I enjoyed baking this bread so much and it was so well-received by our colleagues, that I intend to make it again before 2018 says goodbye. Moist, flavorful, sweet but with a sour tang, the smell that lingered in the kitchen after baking was something! Can you tell how happy I am about this bake? I was on top of the world…

I took the panettone all sliced up to the department two days after baking. It was a bit past its prime, but still very tasty. Compliments galore, and by 10am everything was gone. Not even a crumb left. What more could I ask?

Notes to self: if repeating this exact recipe, I will cut the amounts by half. It will make the right amount for the panettone pan I have, which is 6 inches in diameter, 6 inches high.

Two tempting options to try: this version from Paul Hollywood, and this version from my virtual sister Susan. Decisions, decisions…

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