PAIN AU CHOCOLAT

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

ūüėČ

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+ ¬ľ 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 ‚Äúclean-up‚ÄĚ 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) ‚Äď 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 Рinclude 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 S√£o 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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THE TABATIERE


Lately I’ve been playing with different, fun ways to slash sourdough boules. One thing led to another, I found myself buying a Craftsy online lesson by Ciril Hitz called The Baker’s Guide to Artisan Bread Shaping. ¬†One of the breads that caught my eye was The ¬†Tabati√®re, ¬†a classic French style bread (from the region of Jura), shaped to resemble a purse used to hold cigarettes. Talk about traditional bread baking, this is it. ¬†I got so excited about this recipe that I pushed all other blog posts to the side to share it with you right away.

The formula of the bread is actually quite simple, you can use any dough you like, as long as it’s more on the firm side to stand the shaping. For instance, for two small loaves, mix about 1kg dough at 65% hydration. ¬†Roughly that would be 600g flour (you can use a mixture of white with a touch of whole wheat or spelt), 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 divide it in two, pre-shape them as a ball, then proceed with the final shaping. ¬†You can also follow this recipe that calls for a pre-ferment instead, making a single Tabatiere with it instead of two. Again, the most important here is the hydration level to be kept more or less at 65%.¬†

IT ALL STARTS WITH THE DOUGH….

Each ball more or less 500g of dough at 65% hydration. Any combination of flours you like.

Now place your rolling-pin on the top third of the dough, and roll it to form a flap. You want it to be large enough to cover the whole extension of the other 2/3 of the dough. That’s getting there, but not quite…

Yes, that’s more like it!

Once it’s the correct size, brush a little olive oil right on the edge, so that the flap will not glue to the ball of dough, and once in the oven, it will be more open.

This composite photo hopefully shows you how the whole process is done.

Once the little “purse” is shaped, let the bread rise for 90 minutes at room temperature. Next, give it a nice sprinkle of flour, rubbing it gently on the surface. And with a decisive frame of mind, but keeping in mind that you do not want to cut all the way through the flap you covered the bread with, slash it. ¬†You can use any pattern you like, but this one is considered the most authentic. Slash from the bottom to the top.

There, the beauty is ready for the oven!

You can bake it in a covered Dutch oven with a moistened lid to generate steam, or use any other method you like.  I baked the two loaves at the same time, one using the Dutch oven, the other using a clay cloche from Emile Henry.  The outcome was quite different, as you can see below

The top one was baked in the clay cloche so the dusting of flour stayed nicely on the surface. The second loaf, under additional steam, had the flour pretty much baked into it, generating a darker crust.They are different, I have a hard time deciding which one I liked the most. It was good to know, though, that baking in the clay cloche worked quite well.

The “lip” of the purse could have lifted a little more, I suppose I should have stretched it thinner and maybe added a bit more olive oil, but overall I’m happy with the way it turned out.

The crumb is more on the tight side of the spectrum, as expected from a bread with low hydration level.  I am quite curious about the possibility of using a sourdough formula for the Tabatière; I might experiment with it in the near future.

I cannot recommend Craftsy classes highly enough.  This particular lesson from Ciril Hitz is simply outstanding!  From baguettes to very sophisticated bread shapes (Sun Dial is unreal), you will learn to bake them all. Clear instructions, pretty much in real-time. Brilliant!

If you are into bread baking, consider getting this online class. Worth every second. And no, I do not make a single penny from your purchase. As with everything else on my blog, I only recommend it if I absolutely love it.

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ELAINE’S SOURDOUGH BOULE


The recipe for this bread, also known as 500 g overnight sourdough,  is beyond tried and true. My dear friend Elaine has been baking this very recipe for years, probably at least twice every week, if not more often. Her very detailed blog post about it can be found here. You can also marvel at her slashing skills, which inspired me to become more adventurous. Remember?

When you bake bread on a regular basis, it is nice to have a formula that is not overly complicated, one you can do it almost without effort. This is it. Of all sourdough breads I’ve baked, this is the one that I will go back to when I want a great loaf of bread, pure with regular bread flour, just that delicious sourdough tang, and a crumb that has the type of texture I enjoy. Some holes, but not a bread sieve. And add to that great crust too. All bases are covered.

Here is a simplified overview of the recipe. First, you need a bubbly sourdough starter, at 100% hydration, that is 50:50 flour to water ratio.

You’ll use 150 g of your bubbly sourdough and mix it with 285 g water, 500 g bread flour, and 9 g of salt. Incorporate it all with your hands, no need to work very hard. ¬†Leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature, then knead it by folding a few times. ¬†Let the dough proof at room temperature overnight. Mine was ready to walk outside and greet the world…

Pour the dough gently out on a floured surface, shape it.
Let it sit for 30 minutes, while you heat the oven to 450 F.
Slash it with enthusiasm…

Bake for 45 minutes, leaving the bread covered for the first 30 minutes, generating steam whichever way you like.
I use the moistened lid of a Dutch oven.

To view the detailed recipe, visit Elaine’s site.

I loved this recipe so much, that I baked it twice in the same week, so that we had enough bread for a bunch of golfing buddies that visited us. ¬†On my second time around, I went for a wheat-stalk design, but the bread had a mind of its own…
Still, it’s fun to try different patterns.

The goal… a few wheat stalks decorating the bread….

The outcome… ¬†not exactly a wheat stalk, but it’s always nice to see a strong oven spring in action!

I can hardly wait to bake again, and try new slashing patterns on the bread. ¬†For the wheat stalk, I think the key is to either omit the central slash of the stalk, or make it very delicate and shallow. Must practice…

Elaine, thanks for bringing sourdough baking back to my routine,
you are a constant source of inspiration!

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SALZBURG SOURDOUGH

So many months without baking a single sourdough bread! The problem is we don’t eat a lot of bread. One bake lasts us for a long time, as after enjoying a couple of slices, the rest goes straight to the freezer. But I am still quite passionate about bread baking, and have a list of recipes I intend to try. They just sit and wait, poor things. Like this one, from Discovering Sourdough Part II, by Teresa Greenway. In theory, you need a specific sourdough strain from Austria, but I used my good American sourdough, born 9 years ago in Oklahoma, and headed to his teenage years in Kansas. I am sure Teresa will forgive me. But, did you know you can actually buy many sourdough starters from all over the world? Pretty amazing. Take a look at this site. Of course, over a long period of time a sourdough might change and incorporate yeast and bacteria from the new environment, but it’s fun to start from a pure culture born in some exotic, distant place. In the site, they actually dispute the claim that cultures change, but until I see solid scientific evidence it’s all a bit in the air (pun intended).

 

SALZBURG SOURDOUGH
(printed with permission from Teresa Greenway)
(I modified slightly to make a single loaf and use my preferred method of baking)

1 cup Austrian sourdough starter at 166% hydration  (9 oz)
3/4 cups water  (6 oz)
3 oz  evaporated milk
0.6 oz  rye flour
14 oz bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients, except salt, just until incorporated and then allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes (autolysis).

After autolysis, add salt and mix dough on low-speed for about 2 minutes. Then let the dough bulk ferment (first rise) for 6 hours or until doubled. Fold it once each hour during the six-hour bulk fermentation. After bulk fermentation, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead enough to gather into a ball. ¬†Shape it into the general shape you wish and then allow the dough to rest for 5 ‚Äď 10 minutes (bench rest). After benching shape loaves into their final shapes and put them into the proofing baskets, pans, or couche. Cover the dough with plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, allow¬†the dough to final proof for 2 ‚Äď 3 hours (whenever the dough looks about 1 ¬Ĺ times its size and is spongy) then turn dough out on peel and slash, cover with roasting lid moistened with water, and bake in a 425F degree oven for 30 minutes. Alternatively, use your favorite method to generate initial steam. After 30 minutes, remove roasting lid, turn down the oven to 400F degrees and continue baking for about 10-15 more minutes, turning halfway for even browning. Bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200-205F.

Take out loaf and cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: Inspired by my friend Elaine,  I decided to be a bit more daring and creative with the slashing. Elaine always comes up with amazing patterns on her bread. So I took a deep breath and went at it with a razor blade. I love the way the bread turned out, and intend to keep practicing, as the slashes on top were not exactly the way I wanted.

My sourdough ended up quite assertive this time – it was hibernating in the fridge for a very long time, so I refreshed it and fed it daily for a full week before making the bread. Not sure if that affected the level of acidity, but it was really good. Teresa’s recipes all call for 166% hydration, which is easily translated into equal volumes of flour and water. It is easy because you won’t even need a scale to keep the starter going, simply pick your desired volume, and mix half and half. ¬†I refreshed it using 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. It ends up close enough to 166% hydration. For the final starter, I just made a bit more than needed for the bread, so I could keep it for the next baking adventure.

And once again, we have great bread stored in our freezer, although some members of our home hoped that one or two slices would fall to the floor instead… Or at least a few crumbs…

Teresa, thanks for giving me permission to publish this great recipe!

 

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COTTAGE LOAF, MY VERY OWN TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

Many years ago, I baked a bread called “Cottage Loaf” for a wonderful friend of ours, who was born and raised in England. I had never heard about it, never seen or tasted this special bread that elicited fond memories in our friend. Come to think of it, pretty naive of me to try and bake a special loaf having zero knowledge about it. I was so nervous about the shaping – it involves dividing the dough in two unequal portions, balancing the smaller one on top of the bigger one, so I completely forgot to slash it before baking, as you can see with a jump to my old post. ¬†Seven and a half years went by (!!!), I never attempted it again. To my surprise, last week’s episode of The Great British Bake Off featured that very bread of my past as the technical challenge. ¬†I simply had to go for it, particularly after witnessing so many talented bakers having all sorts of issues with the challenge. Not because they lack skills, mind you. But because the instructions given in the show for every technical challenge are pretty minimal. One of the contestants had his top loaf collapse into the lower one, and in despair he said “my dough ate itself!” I could feel his pain… ¬†Anyway, without any more tangential talk, here is my Cottage Loaf. Too bad we now live 312 miles away from our friend Glenn. I suspect he would enjoy a slice or two…

COTTAGE LOAF
(adapted from Celia’s blog) 

(recipe in metrics at the end of the post)

Pre-ferment:
140g all-purpose flour
140g bread flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
170g water

Mix the two kinds of flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. Add the water, mix briefly and let it rest for 10 minutes. Knead the dough briefly, allow it to rise for 1 hour at room temperature, then stick it in the fridge overnight.

Final dough:
All the preferment
225g bread flour
45g rye flour
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp instant yeast
170g water, at room temperature

Remove the pre-ferment from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough, cutting it into pieces to speed up warming up to room temperature. Place in a large bowl. Cut it into pieces with a knife or pastry cutter, and place them in a large mixing bowl.

Add the water and yeast, and stir together, then add the flours and salt. Combine everything into a shaggy mass, allow it to sit for 20 minutes undisturbed. Let the dough rise for 90 minutes, folding the dough at 20 and 45 minutes. Dough should rise not more than double its original size.

Weigh the dough (it should be around 900g), divide in two pieces (600g and 300g each), form each piece into a tight round. Allow them to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature, then coat the large ball with a little olive oil, cut a cross on top. Cut a cross on the bottom part of the smaller ball, and place it on top of the large one.

Now insert your finger or chopsticks in the center of the round, going almost all the way to the bottom, opening the whole outwards slightly to join both loaves. Allow them to rise for 10-15 minutes more before baking.

Slash the dough all around cutting through both levels. Place the bread in a the oven (430F), cover it with an inverted roasting pan moist with hot water, bake it for 30 minutes, uncover and allow it to bake for another 15 minutes (if top layer is browning too much, protect it with aluminum foil). If you don’t have a roasting pan large enough to cover the dough, follow the baking method explained here.

Allow to completely cool on a rack before slicing through.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I was so happy with this baking adventure! I haven’t baked a loaf of bread in many months, my poor sourdough starter is totally neglected. This bread – that takes a simple pre-ferment made the day before – was a nice way to warm me up for more baking ahead. All things considered, it is not a difficult recipe. The bulk rise of 90 minutes is followed by simple shaping, less than 30 minutes more and into the oven it goes. ¬†Once again I used a 600 g to 300 g ratio of lower ball to upper ball, but I think that 650:250 could work even better, more stability for the upper component. Keep that in mind if you try it. Cutting a cross on top and bottom before joining the two balls is very important to ensure they will stay glued during baking, probably a step that was not included in the instructions for GBBO contestants.

I think my technical challenge went very well. At least our judge Paula Hollywood seemed pleased with it… If you are ready for some serious silliness, click on the video. At your own risk…

Please note Bogey circling around from the get go, and Buck getting up the moment he hears the knife in action… Oscar? He rather not have anything to do with so much non-sense going on in the kitchen. What a fun killer!

ūüėČ

Pinning is caring, go ahead and pin away!

NOTE ADDED AFTER PUBLICATION:  

Measurements in cups:
For the pre-ferment, mix 1 cup all-purpose flour to
1 + 1/3 cup bread flour. To that add 3/4 cup water

For the final dough: 1 + 1/2 cups of regular flour, 3/8 cup rye flour, and 3/4 cup water

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale

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KOUIGN-AMANN, FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE

When life shakes you down hard, cooking becomes iffy, at least for me. Being sick with the worst cold in¬†25 years didn’t¬†make it any easier. From Brazil, apart from a very heavy heart, I brought a virus, one that clearly was a brand new acquaintance.¬†I had to fight it from scratch from an immunological point of view. And my beloved was hit¬†¬†too. We were in horrible shape for a week. ¬†Anything you set yourself to do¬†seems to demand a lot more energy. Simple tasks drain you. And a lot will go¬†wrong. Like a tomatillo sauce, poured down the garbage disposal, much to my despair. Still puzzled by that one, as it was a recipe from a very reputable source. Only possible explanation, I grabbed¬†a mutant jalapeno pepper with off-the-chart capsaicin levels. Trust me on that one. I love pepper, being the Daughter of my Dad. That thing could scare all three dragons from the Game of Thrones into hiding. Liquid lava. ¬†But, after that fiasco, I decided to grab the bull by the horn and go for the kill. I would make something more involved than dumping things in a blender. I would make a concoction that has been sitting on my list of culinary goals for a long time. I would tackle Kouign-Amann.

OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE
(from Sugar Rush, a great cookbook!)

First you make a simple dough from flour, a little yeast, salt, and a little butter. That goes into the fridge to rest from a couple of hours to overnight.  You will also make a slab of butter with a precise dimension and cool it until firm.

Then, the dough is rolled out, the cold layer of butter placed on one side, and the dough folded in the usual puff pastry making technique. A few differences, though: only four folds are needed. Sugar gets sprinkled over the dough before each fold. No lengthy refrigeration between folds, because you do not want the sugar to melt into the dough. That’s about it. After four folds the dough is refrigerated for only 10 minutes, then rolled out and 4 inch squares are cut to form the individual pastries. They sit for 45 minutes before baking so that the yeast has a chance to work its magic.

They are best baked in rings, although muffin tins can be used. They are baked for longer than you would expect, so that the sugar gets really dark. And utterly delicious.

I did not ask permission to publish the recipe, but my friend Karen has made a beautiful batch in the past, and the recipe is available on her site. She also talks about the origin of this interesting pastry from Brittany.

recipe available here

Comments: This one goes to the OMG files. With honors, with a red carpet rolled out for its entrance. My gosh, this is good. This is so good it should probably be illegal. Think of a croissant, but with sugary caramelized bites in between the layers. A croissant that married a muffin and had a beautiful baby. It won’t crumble into buttery pieces in your mouth. It is actually a lot more sturdy, with the butter tamed by sugar. Oh, yeah. Butter tamed by sugar. Perverse, isn’t it? If you low-carb, if you keto, if you Paleo, this is not for you. But let me tell you one thing. Life is short. The pleasure you’ll have by biting into one of these babies is worth a little restraint for a few days. A few more push-ups, one more mile on the treadmill. There. I hope I made my case.

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ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, Yin and Yang

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

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FOUR YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FIVE¬†YEARS AGO:¬†Baked Coconut and ‚ÄúThe Brazilian Kitchen‚ÄĚ

SIX YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SEVEN YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

 

 

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