SOURDOUGH FOUR-PLAY

October 16th is World Bread Day!

Sourdough four-play… I should stop giggling now.  A sombrero, a butterfly, a flower and a flaming red loaf were recent playful adventures in our kitchen. The butterfly is still a work in progress, haven’t managed to do it like I imagined, but I have fun trying and a few less than ideal bakes here and there won’t stop me.  All breads were made with the same general technique, but slightly different flour composition.

BASIC SOURDOUGH LOAF METHOD
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 3.5 to 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes or so. Ideally try to have 4 cycles of folding, if the dough seems a bit too “weak”, incorporate one more cycle of folding.

Let the dough relax for about 30 minutes, and proceed to shaping as a round loaf.

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and 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 slash it or use a stencil.

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

Below I give you the composition of each of the loaves.

SOMBRERO BREAD

This is a loaf that goes in the direction of a hearty Poilane type bread, but considerably simplified.

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
200g bread flour
50g rye flour
10g salt

After overnight in the fridge, the dough was slashed in a simple pattern.

 

BUTTERFLY BREAD

 

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
250g bread flour
10g salt

After overnight in the fridge, dough was slashed to form a butterfly design. Apologies to all beautiful Lepidoptera.

 

HIBISCUS FLOWER BREAD

150 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
585g water
675g bread flour
75g spelt flour
15g salt
cocoa powder and water to form a paste

After overnight in the fridge, loaf was brushed with cocoa paste, then a flower stencil placed on top, and a light dusting of white flour made the design.

FLAMING RED SOURDOUGH

150 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
475 g bread flour
25g rye flour
10g salt
powder red food dye + all-purpose flour

After overnight in the fridge, the top of the loaf was dusted with a mixture of flour and red food dye.  A simple scoring (similar to sombrero bread) was applied before baking.  The dough had a very impressive oven spring, probably because I fed the starter with rye flour a couple of times and also increased the amount of starter in the dough.

I loved all these loaves, but I guess my favorite is the Flaming Red Sourdough because it looked so impressive as the bread exploded through the scoring. The small amount of rye gave the bread enough complexity without making it heavy. The only issue is the food dye rubbing off in the fingers a bit.  I might consider other ways to dye the surface, but it’s hard to beat the intense red tone given by the powder.

This method of preparing the dough the day before is hard to beat. If you are spending your Saturday afternoon at home, it’s really no big deal to make it. No need to be precise with the timing for folding the dough, just make sure you give it a minimum of 3 and a half hours of bulk fermentation. Next morning, turn the oven on, plan your design, and don’t forget, no need to heat the pan you’ll use to bake the bread in.  Free yourself from those nasty oven burns… Into a cold pot the dough goes, and I promise you it will all be fine!

ONE YEAR AGO: World Bread Day 2018

TWO YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

THREE YEARS AGO: Spicy Cotija and Black Olive Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cake

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Rye Bread with Flaxseeds and Oats

SIX YEARS AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

SEVEN YEARS AGO: October 16: World Bread Day

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The US Listeria Outbreak 2011

NINE YEARS AGO: 36 Hour Sourdough Baguettes

TEN YEARS AGO: October 16 is World Bread Day

 

BRITISH BAPS, A TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

Baps. Very popular in the UK, these are what on this side of the pond we know as rolls or buns. When I was in London, I realized that breakfast baps are all the rage, you slice one of these babies, and add the usual suspects: bacon & eggs, sausage, ham & cheese, or whatever you crave early in the morning. I don’t eat breakfast, but had to try one of these classics at lunch during my visit. Soft, delicate, quite delicious. And as you can see from this post, pretty simple to make.  I modified a bit a recipe from Paul Hollywood to add a touch of whole wheat. Just because. These were the technical challenge last week in the Great British Bake Off. Some of the contestants committed the shameful sins of underbaking or underproofing, but most did pretty good. They also had to make a veggie burger pattie to go with the buns, so the challenge also involved sizing baps and filling appropriately. That is not as easy as one might think, as the patties had to be made while the dough was proofing. Great fun was had by all. Or almost all…

BRITISH BAPS
(adapted from Easy Online Baking Lessons)

350 g bread flour
25 g whole-wheat flour
7 g salt
7 g fast-acting yeast
30 g sugar
30 g butter
250 mL water (I used a little less)

Add all ingredients (but hold back a bit of the water, maybe 25 mL or so) to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid type mixer and knead on low-speed for about 8 minutes. If needed, add the rest of the water.

Place in a large oiled bowl and ferment at room temperature for about 90 minutes.

Punch the dough down (delicately) and divide it in 8 equal portions (about 85 g each). Roll each as a tight little bun. Place each roll on a mat lightly coated with flour and flatten it in one direction with a rolling pin, making it into an oval shape. Turn it 90 degrees and do the same. You will end up with a round, more flat type of roll.  Do the same for all other buns, then place at room temperature covered with a cloth for 30 to 45 minutes, while you heat the oven to 425 F.

Coat the buns lightly with flour, bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Even if you are not comfortable baking bread, I think this would be a very nice recipe to try. Yes, it was a technical in the GBBO, but a lot of the complexity in the show has to do with timing (pretty tight) and the preparation of the veggie burger component plus toppings as the dough rises. If you just tackle the bread and don’ worry about a timed deadline, it’s quite doable.

The bread has a tight but moist crumb, if made with white flour only will be even softer, but I like the more assertive taste that the whole-wheat offers. They freeze well, and defrost quickly, so it’s the perfect type of bread to have around.

ONE YEAR AGO: Japanese-Style Cupcakes with Cherry Blossom Icing

TWO YEARS AGO: Quick Weeknight Soups

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough Loaf with Cranberries and Walnuts

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sichuan Pork Stir-Fry in Garlic Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Our Green Trip to Colorado

SIX YEARS AGO: Ditalini Pasta Salad

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Thai Seafood Curry

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Post-workout Breakfast

NINE YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

TEN YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers

 

 

FIVE STRANDED BRAIDED BREAD & A COOKBOOK REVIEW

Braids, twists and elaborate knots fascinate me. I suppose it’s the repetitive pattern leading to elegance and serenity. Tying things together in harmony. When it comes to bread, going past the three-strand braid can be intimidating, but trust me, once you get the pattern going it is quite simple. A few months ago I was searching for videos on youtube to help me understand the process and found a gem of a cookbook: The Art of Braiding Bread, by Roberto von Krammer. His instructions are crystal clear and easy to follow.  I share with you my first attempt at a five-stranded braided bread.

FIVE-STRANDE BRAIDED BREAD
(adapted from The Art of Braiding Bread)

345 g bread flour
30 g sugar
26 g egg yolks
48 g whole eggs
26 g mild vegetable oil
110 g water
7 g salt
10 g instant yeast

Place all the ingredients in a Kitchen Aid type  bowl. Knead on first speed for 3 minutes until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, then on second for approximately 5 minutes.

Ferment for 2 hours. The dough can also ferment overnight in the fridge. If you prefer to do that, allow it to sit at room temperature for one hour, then degas it gently by pressing it down, and place in the fridge. Press it down gently again two more times over a period of two hours.  A colder dough temperature makes it easier to form strands. The dough can be divided and shaped straight from refrigeration.

Pre-shape 5 round of dough and rest on an unfloured work surface, covered with plastic. When relaxed enough to be elongated without tearing, usually 10 to 15 minutes, roll out the strands and form the braids (process in the comments). Once braided, proof the loaves covered with baker’s linen and a sheet of plastic to prevent the formation of a skin.

Final fermentation after braiding: ½ to 2 hours at about 25 C.

Heat oven to 375 F. Before baking, thoroughly egg wash the surface of the loaves. If desired, sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds on top. Bake until golden brown and internal temperature is about 200 F, about 30 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  With Mr. Krammer’s permission, here is the process to form a 5-stranded beta braid. First thing is to number the strands from left to right, then keep in mind that as the strand moves around, then new formation also gets numbered the same way, first strand to the left will be number 1, last one to the right will be number 5. If strand #5 jumps in between strand #1 and #2, it will become strand #2 in the new formation.

 Place #5 between #1 and #2

Move #1 between #3 and #4

Place #2 over #3 and #3 under #2 (twist)

End of cycle, repeat all over again until you reach the end of the bread.

By going through the process, you’ll end up with a beautiful 5-strand braid, that is then allowed to ferment until almost doubled in size.

I also made a Four-Braided Alpha loaf, and you can see that it generates a totally different look.

Now for the book. I could not believe how many different styles of braiding bread exist. From the number of strands used to the actual braiding, it is mind-blowing! You can use the basic dough for all of them, dividing the dough in the appropriate number of strands, and then deciding which method to follow. For each one Roberto provides pictures of EACH movement of the strand, plus the numeric pattern that you can memorize and repeat as you become more comfortable and experienced.

You will find several methods of braiding for 3, 4, 5, and 6 stranded loaves that go way beyond what you might imagine. Some braiding methods are challenging, but his instructions are so clear and the pictures of each step make it all doable.  I will definitely be challenging myself to the more complex styles, including braided round loaves, and breads that stack braids together.

This composite photo shows a few examples of the many found in his book, which I highly recommend! Click on his name below the recipe title for buying info.

A braided bread never fails to impress because it is so festive, and of course you can use other types of dough, with chocolate, or even going into a savory territory. Don’t be intimidated, and have fun with it!

ONE YEAR AGO: Green Olive Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Coffee Macarons Dressed up to Party

THREE YEARS AGO: Blogging Hiatus

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato Tatin

FIVE YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado!   

SIX YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

SEVEN  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

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

NINE YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

TEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

CURRY TURMERIC SOURDOUGH

A beautiful, golden loaf, with great flavor!

Bewitching Kitchen

Bewitching Kitchen is a food blog and I like to keep it focused on the subject with only small detours into two passions of mine: science and fitness. I must say, though that a couple of recent posts by bloggers I follow echoed deeply inside me, so I share them with you. First, I invite you to read A Texan New Yorker’s take on chili. I must make that recipe in honor of a family I admire and already miss immensely. Then, please stop by Cecilia’s site, who just published a post called “I am an immigrant.”  While you are reading it, keep in mind that I am one, one who got her green card and naturalization through long, complex processes several years ago. Her article is a very well-written piece describing the pleasure and pain associated with leaving your home country and starting all over somewhere else. I firmly believe that we are stronger…

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SUNDRIED TOMATO TWIST BREAD

Since they say confession is good for the soul, here is mine: I’ve been cheating. Big time. Not only I’ve been baking bread with commercial yeast, but I went one step further down the path of debauchery and grabbed a bottle of “rapid rise” to play with. Just for the fun of it. This bread was ready in less than 3 hours. It had a wonderful texture and tasted amazing too. Sourdough will never leave my world, but I see some other “quickies” in my future.

SUNDRIED TOMATO TWIST BREAD
(adapted from several sources)

3 + 1/2  (420 g)  cups all purpose flour, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) fast acting yeast (about 7g)
2 teaspoons sugar
1  teaspoons salt
1 + 1/4 cup (280 g) water
1/4 cup (53 g) canola oil
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4–1/2 cup sundried tomato pesto (store-bought or homemade)
1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (eye-balling is ok)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 + 1/2 cups (300 g) flour, yeast, sugar, and salt with a whisk.

Heat water and canola oil until warm (100 F). Add to flour mixture. Add vinegar. Mix roughly with a wooden spoon, then switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour in small amounts until you get a dough that is smooth and barely sticks to the sides of the bowl.  You might not need the full amount of flour, I had just a little bit left.

Knead for about 5 minutes in low-speed. Place in a bowl lightly coated with oil, and let it rise until almost doubled.  If using fast-acting yeast, it will take less than one hour.

Grease a 9-inch springform pan, and line bottom with parchment; grease paper. Place on top of a baking sheet. Set aside. Punch down the dough. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a thin rectangle, as thin as you can without tearing it. Spread a thin layer of pesto on top of the dough, leaving a small border without any pesto. Spread the Gruyere cheese all over the pesto.  Starting at the long edge, roll it tightly and gently into a log.

Use a bench scraper to cut the dough in half lengthwise. Cross the two halves (layers facing up) to create an X shape; braid top and bottom of dough by laying the left piece over the right keeping the cut side up, until pieces of dough are tightly twisted. Pinch ends together.

Start at the thinner edge and slowly and very gently, roll the braid into a giant snail shell or a very large cinnamon bun. Be careful to keep all the layers facing up.  Carefully pick up the shaped bread and place in the prepared springform. Cover; let rise in warm place until almost double.  If using fast-acting yeast, it will again be ready in about 40 minutes, or even less, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Heat the oven to 400 F as the bread is in its final proofing stage.  Bake at 400º for 10 minutes, lower oven temperature to 350º and bake for an additional 30 minutes. When the bread is out of the oven lightly brush olive oil on top and sides. Let cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Amazing how fast that yeast works. Being used to working with sourdough it almost scared me when after what it felt like the blink of an eye I caught the dough almost an inch above the rim. Unreal. A really nice dough to work with thanks to the addition of oil, handles very smoothly, not threatening to tear while rolling out and shaping.

I used store-bought sundried tomato pesto, because I made this bread in a weekend of intense baking and taking a little shortcut was my only real option, but of course making the pesto from scratch would be even better. So many other fillings will be great also. Black olives, pieces of ham or crispy bacon, you can take this bread in many directions. Just try to roll tightly and thinly, so that you get as many little layers as possible.

If you are a novice at bread baking, don’t let the shaping scare you, this is the type of dough that is very forgiving and even if you mess up the shaping a bit, it will look great. You don’t even have to do the twisted shape, you could braid the two halves of the dough, join the ends and call it a day.

Leftovers are superb toasted!

ONE YEAR AGO: And now for something completely different….

TWO YEARS AGO: Parsnip, Coconut, and Lemongrass Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

FOUR YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

NINE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

A SOURDOUGH QUARTET

Today I share four different ways to play with sourdough… Different amounts of whole-wheat flour, different ways to slash and decorate it, and a version studded with a mixture of Kalamata and green olives that was probably the winner with the resident bread taster.

First, a loaf that pushes the level of whole-wheat a bit higher than I normally go for. I am calling it 50:50 sourdough, for obvious reasons

50:50 SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
390g water
250g whole-wheat flour
250g bread flour
10g salt

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.  You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and 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 pattern of your choice.

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: The amount of whole-wheat flour in this bread makes it hearty and quite filling. I kept the hydration level of the final dough at 78%, because it makes it easier to slash the surface. If the hydration is too high, it’s a lot harder to get a pattern going.  I started from the center and drew a little spiral, not too deep but deep enough to coach the bread into opening a bit. Then I use a brand new razor blade to form the design inside the spiral.  I really liked the way it turned out, and the crumb was more open than I expected.

Next, a very similar formula, but lowering the level of whole-wheat a little bit.

70:30 SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
400g water
350g bread flour
150g whole-wheat flour
10g salt

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.  You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a batard (or a round, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and 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 brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design. You need to cut one or more reasonably deep slashes to coach the bread to open in those spots.

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: The overall technique remained the same, but the reduction in the proportion of whole-wheat makes the bread considerably lighter not only in color but also in taste. Since the slashing was going to be a lot simpler and the main decoration would come from the stencil, I increased the hydration a little bit to 80%.

Next, comes a loaf with even less whole-wheat in the formula, but made more special thanks to the inclusion of a good amount of olives, both Kalamata and green. I had never mixed two kinds of olives in the same loaf, and I can tell you this will be happening again soon. Phil decided this might very well be his favorite bread of 2019. It turned out divine, even if I say so myself.

MIXED OLIVES SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter
380 g  water
470 g  bread flour
30 g whole-wheat flour
9 g fine sea salt
150 g pitted green and kalamata olives, chopped
1 tsp Herbes de Provence

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. On your first folding cycle, add the mixture of olives. You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and 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 brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design.

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: A light crumb due to the smallest proportion of whole-wheat (only 6%), and a hydration of 76% bumped a little bit due to the water content of the olives. The presence of the olives also made me reduce slightly the amount of salt.

Hard not to use superlatives to describe this bread. Green olives are definitely under-appreciated and I admit to this sin. Of course the Kalamatas bring a lot of flavor and moisture, but there is definitely a lot more happening through the slightly sharper nature of the humble green creatures. I did not pay close attention to the ratio of the olives in the mix, but I think it was pretty close to 50:50.  The crumb turned out pretty open and very moist, difficult to eat only one slice, and it went well with pretty much anything we paired it with, including a nice lentil soup made by the husband.

To get the best effect of a stencil design made with white flour, start with the bread inverted from the banetton and delicately but thoroughly brush off any residual flour that might have stayed glued to the surface. Then sprinkle the white flour over the stencil of your choice. If the bread has any flour on the surface, the design won’t be as evident after baking. The other thing to keep in mind is that you need to try and avoid the bread from opening right in the middle of your design. The best way to avoid that is to make a deep slash coaching the dough to open where you want it to. You can never be 100% sure it will work, but that’s your best bet. You can see how I dealt with it on the composite picture above.

Finally, I share a bread that used the exact same formula of the previous one, but no olives. In this case, my main goal was to do a white-on-black stencil design. Some bakers use charcoal powder, I decided to go with black cocoa powder, the kind that is used to bake Oreo type cookies.

BLACK COCOA SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 g active starter
380 g  water
470 g  bread flour
30 g whole-wheat flour
10 g fine sea salt

water and black cocoa powder to form a thin paste

Dissolve the starter in the water in a large bowl, mixing well until it is well-dispersed. Add the flours and salt, mix with your hands or with a wooden spoon until it forms a shaggy mass.

After 20 minutes, do a minimal kneading, about 10 times or so until the dough becomes smooth. You will now allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough every 40 minutes, and keeping it covered with plastic. You can do foldings at 40 min, 1h 20 min, 2 hs, 2 hs 40 min, 3 hours 20 min. After that final kneading, leave the dough undisturbed for 40 minutes more, then proceed to shape as a round (or a batard, if you prefer).

Place inside a banetton well dusted with flour and 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 brush off all the flour stuck from the banetton to keep it as clean as possible. Make a paste with cocoa powder (preferably dark) and water. Brush the surface of the bread with it, then immediately place the stencil of your choice on top of the bread, shake some all-purpose flour, lift the stencil carefully. Slash the bread in a way that will be compatible with the design.

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: The goal for this bake was to play with a new stenciling technique. After the shaped dough is inverted out of the banetton, simply make a little paste of cocoa powder and water, liquid enough to brush with a silicone brush, but not too soupy.  Then, add the stencil on top and dust with all-purpose flour.  I imagine other colors could be used. Beet powder, sweet potato powder, butterfly pea powder…  I am not sure the red color of beet powder would be preserved during baking, I tried using it in the dough once, and the result was a brownish color with very little to do with my expectations. Worth giving it a try, I am sure. Even if it turns brown, could be still a nice contrast with the white pattern of the stencil. I should mention that there is absolutely no taste of cocoa in the baked bread.

The bread had absolutely amazing oven spring, which in a way messed up the design a little, but a baker should never complain of too much oven spring, since that can upset the Gods of the Sourdough and result in failure after failure for months to come. Yeah, I am a scientist. Very pragmatic. But I try to keep a sense of humor.

Final remarks: these loaves use a very simplified method.  I did not do autolyse, and did not bother adding the salt later, it all went into the dough at the same time. As you can see from the photos, I got enough oven spring and a nice crumb using these shortcuts. Also, I never bother waiting for the shaped bread to sit at room temperature before baking, or keeping the oven at 450F for an hour before baking. Some bakers insist those steps are important for a good bake. They are not. Once the oven reaches temperature, my cold, shaped bread goes in. It amazes me that people would waste so much energy heating up an oven to very high temperature for a long time before baking their loaves. Trust me, it is not at all necessary.

ONE YEAR AGO: When bad things happen to good people

TWO YEARS AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

THREE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

FOUR YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

SIX YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

NINE YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

 

 

 

PINK PRALINE BRIOCHE

Sometimes I wonder what makes me try a new recipe. Of course, reading tons of cookbooks and food blogs, new things show up on my radar often. I might make a mental note to try it at some point, labeling them as intriguing or interesting, but for the most part I move on. Then, there’s Pink Praliné Brioche. And no easy way to get it out of my mind. Having lived in Paris for a few years, it was hard to accept I’d never even seen one. Pink praliné. The stuff dreams are made of.

PINK PRALINÉ BRIOCHE
(adapted from Murielle Valette’s Patisserie)

3.5g fresh yeast (I used osmo-tolerant yeast)
25ml milk, at room temperature
250g bread flour
5g salt
15g sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature (about 150g)
125g soft butter
120g pink praliné, crushed lightly in a food processor (recipe follows)
egg wash

Whisk the yeast in a small bowl with the milk.  Put the flour, salt, sugar and eggs into the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer. Add the milk and yeast, and knead it for about 10 minutes at low-speed.

Little by little add the butter and continue kneading in low to medium speed until the gluten is well-developed.  Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated with oil, cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The following day, turn over the dough on a work surface and gently press it as a rectangle of around 8 by 12 inches, then cut it lengthwise in three strips. Roll each piece to flatten it slightly, sprinkle a line of crushed pink praliné in the center, and enclose it with the dough, rolling it well to seal. Do the same with the other two strips, then braid them together, keeping the seam side down at all times.

Sprinkle more pink praliné over the shaped bread, letting them fall in the folds of the braid.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it at room temperature for a final rise until it almost doubles in size. Mine took 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 F, and right before baking, brush the surface of the braid with the egg wash.  Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Brioche dough contains not only flour and yeast, but additional fat in the form of eggs, milk and butter. This type of enriched dough does well with a slow fermentation, so I prefer to mix it the day before. It also makes the actual baking day a lot easier, as you can shape the bread straight from its overnight proofing time in the fridge. It warms up quickly and it’s not hard to work with at all. You could ferment the dough at room temperature for 4 hours or so, but it will be a long baking day. Your kitchen, your call.

If you prefer to buy the pink praliné, amazon sells it, but be prepared to wait, no free 2-day shipping for this one. To make your own, follow the recipe below. 

PINK PRALINÉ
(from Cooking with Bernard)

450 g sugar, divided in 150g amounts
A few drops of red food coloring
125g whole hazelnuts, peeled (about 3/4 cup)
125g whole almonds (about 3/4 cup)

Place one-third of the sugar (3/4 cup / 150 g) in a large frying pan with just enough water to moisten it. Add a few drops of red coloring.  Stir well and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil. When large bubbles start forming, add the hazelnuts and almonds, stirring non-stop. Control the heat, so that the nuts don’t burn. The syrup will begin to crystallize, and look very grainy. Don’t despair, keep stirring so that the nuts are well coated in sugar. Keep simmering, the sugar that does not coat the nuts will slowly start to melt and turn into a thick liquid. Transfer the contents of the pan to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. You should have nuts and some “free” caramel-sugar. Reserve the nuts and place the sugar in a clean saucepan.

Add another third of the sugar (150g). Add a little more red coloring and water – just enough to moisten the sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Continue until all the pieces of sugar are completely melted. Switch off the burner, add the reserved nuts to the frying pan, but don’t switch turn the heat on yet. Wait until the syrup in the saucepan reaches 255°F. When the syrup is almost at the desired temperature, switch on the burner below the frying pan. It should be at medium heat. Pour the syrup over the nuts, stirring as you pour. You will need to wash this pan to use it again, so make sure to take it right away to the sink and fill with water.

Coat the nuts. The syrup will once again become grainy. Allow the sugar that does not coat the nuts to melt. Transfer the contents of the pan to a sheet of parchment paper and set the coated nuts to one side and the remaining sugar to the other. Place the remaining pink sugar in the saucepan and add the last third of the sugar (150 g) with more food coloring and enough water to moisten it. Allow to melt and bring to 255°F / 124°C. Return the nuts to the frying pan and pour in the syrup when it reaches the right temperature, stirring constantly. At this third stage, the syrup should coat the pink nuts quite well. Stir and wait for the syrup to become grainy and any sugar that does not coat the nuts should melt again.  Pour all the contents of the frying pan onto a sheet of  parchment paper. By now, there should be almost no sugar left unstuck to the nuts.

Final step: Heat the oven to 160°F and bake the candied nuts for at least 45 minutes to dry them out completely. Mine took almost double time to dry.  Let them cool and store in an air-tight container. They are ready to nibble on or use in recipes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Making pink praliné is a labor of love. You can buy it ready, but  the whole process of making it seemed fascinating enough to make me go for it. Essentially, you are slowly covering hazelnuts and almonds with a red-dyed caramel syrup. The coating happens in three stages. It is a bit time-consuming and also potentially dangerous. I got a burn with one tiny microscopic drop of super heated caramel and trust me, it hurt like hell. Then, it left a tiny scar, perfectly round and brown. Kind of cute, actually. But I don’t recommend it.

Pink praliné is a wonderful snack, and the pups tried some, yes they did. There was intense wagging of three tails. In São Paulo, when I was growing up, they sold a type of peanut made by Japanese immigrants that comes close to pink praliné but not nearly as good. It is called “amendoim doce” (translates as sweet peanut) and you can see it in the link that it also has a pinkish sugary coating, just a bit lighter. Anyway, if you are fond of nuts and feel crazy enough to be around boiling caramel for an extended period of time, try making these babies. They keep for a long time, which is a bonus.

So here it is, the Pink Praliné Brioche! It is absolutely delicious and yes, it was worth the trouble. If you google for photos, you’ll see it in many different sizes, shapes, and variations on how to incorporate the praline in the dough. Some just sprinkle a huge amount on top of a roundish loaf. I like this method better, because some of it gets truly deep inside the bread. The sugar that glues to the nuts melts slightly during baking, and when you bite into it, you get this concentrated sweet taste, truly delicious.  It is not sweet like a spoonful of sugar, of course not. The caramelization process gives the sugar a slightly bitter edge. Perfect, according to my taste buds.

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