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

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.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

TWO YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

SIX YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

NINE YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

 

SHIBARI BREAD

I love a simple loaf of bread, mostly white flour, a touch of whole-wheat, good crust and crumb, nothing necessarily fancy. But I am always fascinated by what I call exotic bakes. Things that demand a little more attention, a little more work, and often a lot more patience. One site that never fails to amaze me is BakeStreet. Not only they show unusual, unique recipes, but they might include videos of the entire process, particularly when shaping is more elaborate. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on their blog post on  Pan Shibari. They designed a bread recipe inspired by a classic Japanese knot (shibari is Japanese for knot).  The knot is quite an important symbol in Japan, and it’s easy to see why. It joins things, it carries a sort of sensual connotation, and it can be very artistic. I confess I was so mesmerized by that bread, I could not wait to try it myself. It was not easy. But, I’m happy with the way it turned out. My very first Shibari Bread!

SHIBARI BREAD
(slightly modified from BakeStreet)

600 g of all-purpose flour
300 g of whole milk at room temperature
36 g of cocoa powder + 45 g of whole milk
5 g of instant yeast
1 egg L (55 g)
75 g of unsalted butter at room temperature
40 g of honey
3/4 teaspoon of natural chocolate extract
10 g of salt
olive oil for brushing bread
1 egg yolk
2 tsp milk
pinch of salt

Make the dough.  In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mix the flour along with the milk, the egg and the dry yeast. Mix with the kneading hook for 5 minutes on low-speed, until it is homogeneous.

Add the honey and salt, continue mixing for at least 5 more minutes, until very smooth and silky.  Add the butter little by little, in small pieces, waiting for each piece to be incorporated before you add more. Continue kneading the dough until gluten development is complete (it will not tear when you stretch a small portion of the dough, instead it will form a thin membrane).

Divide the dough in two pieces, a small one with 200g, and a second one with the remaining portion, around 870g. Shape the small portion as a ball and place inside an oiled container. Cover and reserve. To the second portion, add the cocoa powder with the milk and chocolate extract. Knead to incorporate them well, and make a dough with homogeneous color. I find it easier to place back in the Kitchen Aid and let the machine do some of the work, then finish it by hand.  Form as a ball and place in a second oiled container.  Proof the two balls of dough for about 3 hours at room temperature. It should double in size.

Now is the perfect moment to swallow that Prozac.

Shape the bigger ball of dough as a batard, after de-gassing it lightly. Reserve, covered with plastic film as you work on the other ball of dough.  Roll the smaller ball as a rectangle of approximately 14 by 10 inches. Cut parallel strips with a thickness of 0.4 inches (1 cm).   You will need 15 strips, but you will have more than that, which is good, in case you get in trouble.

Place 3 strips laying horizontally on the center of the bread, as shown in the composite picture. Place 6 strips laying on top, forming a C shape facing one side of the bread. Use other 6 strips to form a bundle held in the center by the C-shaped group of strips you just placed. Braid according to the video. Start all over if necessary. Who am I kidding? It will be necessary. Several times. Keep calm (HA!), and braid on. Once the braiding is done…

stop sobbing, regain your composure…

and brush the surface of the bread with olive oil. Cover with plastic film and let it proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.  It will almost double in size.  Meanwhile set the oven to 350 F.

When ready to bake, brush the surface with egg yolk whisked with milk and salt. Make sure to cover all the parts of the bread.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until internal temperature is about 195 F.

Cool yourself completely and also the bread before slicing (slicing applies to the bread only).

Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done it!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe (without jokes), click here

Comments: Having recently made panettone, I can tell you that the dough for shibari bread has some similarities: inclusion of egg, milk and honey, and the butter being added at the end, after the dough is almost fully developed. The main bread takes quite a bit of cocoa powder, which gives it almost the feeling of a German rye bread. Quite interesting, when you consider that the formula involves exclusively white flour.

The braiding. Not. For. Sissies. Keep in mind, there were no written instructions or diagrams. Just a video. The woman knows what she’s doing, and she moves fast. One piece of advice, keep track of the time it takes you to braid, and take that as part of the  proofing. It took us 45 minutes to wrap this baby up in strands. Don’t judge us. Thank you.

I don’t know how many times I watched the video (it is mesmerizing), made drawings trying to number the strands and figure out which one is moved when and how. At some point I thought I “got” it, and said to myself, this will be totally doable. Famous. Last. Words. When I had the actual strands of dough and the shaped bread in front of me, things got very nasty very quickly.  Luckily, I made it on a holiday in which we were home, snowed-in. Hubby to the rescue. He had the video going, stopping at every step and guiding me. Still we had to start over four times, if you can believe it. All that as the shaped bread was rising right in front of my scared eyes. Strangely enough, we managed to do it, and what is even more amazing, we are still married. I recall the phrase “You are just impossible!” being used more than once. I tell you, if your marriage can take the The Elusive Shibari Test, you are tied for eternity. I am counting on it.

I think this basic method has a ton of potential. The double-color dough is very elegant, but one could just use a single dough and make the same braid on top. Or switch things around and make the braid with the cocoa-tinted dough, and keep the main loaf underneath as a white bread.  I also envision a savory type of bread, with sun-dried tomatoes and basil, for instance. The thing to keep in mind is that the bread must have a gentle rise in the oven, and the dough used for the braid must have a similar formula so that both components rise at compatible speeds. That all points in the direction of enriched breads, since they tend to have a more gentle oven rise. But I am speaking from intuition and could be totally mistaken. Worth a few experiments, I think…

To make the dough strands I used my set of rolling cutters closed down to the tightest level. In that configuration they generate strands with almost exactly 1cm wide, and they end up quite uniform. In the video, the Bread Goddess does all the cutting free-hand, but if I tried to do that, I am not sure our marriage would survive. It would be a 50:50 thing, maybe. Perhaps 25:75. Hard to tell.

So there you have, the mandatory crumb shot. It is a moist and delicate crumb, but with a very assertive flavor coming from the cocoa powder. It pairs well with jams, but also with a nice slice of ham or a Roquefort type cheese.  I hope you enjoyed the post, and please take a look at that video. The real “fun” part starts at 3 minutes and 50 seconds, in case you are interested in the braiding process.  I had that song as an ear worm for a while…  Maybe I still do!  🙂

ONE YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four – January 2018 

TWO YEARS AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

THREE YEARS AGO: When Three is Better than Two

FOUR YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

SIX YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

NINE YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

PUMPKIN SOURDOUGH

I admit, I caved into the recent trend of shaping bread as a pumpkin. Thanksgiving is right at the corner, and this bread would be perfect to celebrate the occasion. You can use any bread dough you like, but to keep with the seasonal atmosphere, some canned pumpkin puree found its way into my recipe. I kept hydration a bit lower, as I did not want the bread to expand too much. It was a wild experiment (got it? wild yeast involved), and I am a bit surprised that it worked so well on my first attempt. Beginner’s luck?

PUMPKIN SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by photos everywhere)

400 g bread flour
100 g spelt flour
300 g water
120 g canned pumpkin puree
120 g active sourdough starter
12 g  fine sea salt 

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, no need to make it very smooth at this point. Just form a shaggy mixture and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Ferment the dough for 4 hours at room temperature, folding a few times during this period. I did 4 cycles of folding, at about 45 min intervals, allowing the dough to rest untouched after the 4th folding cycle. Shape it as a ball, place in a well-floured banetton and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Next day, place pieces of kitchen twine as shown in the composed picture over parchment paper. Grease the kitchen twine slightly so it won’t glue to the bread. Place the bread on top, seam side down, and cover it slightly with flour, rubbing it with your hands to form a nice coating. Tie the twine around it to form the wedges of a pumpkin. If desired, add a pattern with a very sharp razor blade, held in your fingers (be careful).

Immediately place the shaped bread in a Dutch oven, cover it, and place into a 450 F oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden brown. Let it cool completely, remove the twine, and slice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  This bread was a complete impulse bake. I need to tell you a little secret, though. I was contacted by our newspaper in town to be part of their Monday feature called “Our Neighbors.”  They feature someone in town that does something cool, or special, or fun. And for some reason they thought that a scientist who works with bacteria at KSU during the day and blogs on the side, could be featured. They stopped at home to take pictures and I quickly assembled this dough, having refreshed my Star starter in the morning. You know, the ultra-active starter I got from my friend Elaine. They took a ton of pictures of me kneading the dough, I was hoping they would include one in the article, but they picked a different one, in which my pumpkin bread dough is already covered for its final fermentation.

If you like to read the article, click here. If the link is blocked where you live, click page 1 and page 2 for PDF versions.

But back to bread. This was so easy to shape, main thing is to make sure the strings stay put where you want them as you move the bread to the Dutch oven. Since I use a cold pot, it’s easier to go back inside and tweak the twine (I was really hoping to use this phrase). The pumpkin flavor is not evident, you won’t say it’s pumpkin, but it gives the sourdough a softer texture (crumb included) and a sweeter taste, a lot of the sourdough character will be toned down. We really liked it.

I hope you give this bread a try. Evidently, no need to use a sourdough, any formula will work, just adapt the fermentation time and go for it. You can also use roasted pumpkin made from scratch. Honestly, I don’t know how that will compare with canned pumpkin in terms of hydration. I prefer to use canned because it’s pretty reproducible, but I am sure the bread tolerates a certain range of hydration values without too many issues. Worth experimenting with. It’s just a little flour, water, and yeast, after all…

ONE YEAR AGO: First Monday Favorite

TWO YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Paalak Paneer, a Farewell Post

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, November 2015

FOUR YEARS AGO: Helen Fletcher’s Oatmeal Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Thai-Style Pesto with Brown Rice Pasta

SIX YEARS AGO: Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Simple Appetizer (Baked Ricotta)

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: Pasta with Zucchini Strands and Shrimp

THE CHIGNON

No, my blog is not turning into a hairdressing site. Not that I don’t appreciate a well-made chignon, but I’ve never had the skill to do anything remotely fancy to my hair. Now, if we’re talking flour and yeast, I’m game.

THE CHIGNON
(adapted from Craftsy.com)

makes one loaf

270 g bread flour
30 g spelt flour
195 g water at room temperature
1.5 g instant yeast
6 g fine sea salt

Mix all the ingredients on low-speed in a mixer fitted with a dough hook for 4 minutes. Make sure no big clumps of flour are sticking on the sides, scrape the bowl if needed. 

Increase speed to medium and mix for about 6 more minutes. Dough should be very smooth and elastic at this point.  Take the dough from the mixer and place in a bowl lightly sprayed with oil.  Leave the dough at ambient temperature for 20 minutes, then refrigerate the dough overnight.  After two hours, punch the dough slightly down, cover it and let it stay in the fridge until next morning.

Remove the dough and allow it to sit at ambient temperature for 20 minutes. 

Shape as desired. If doing the chignon, right after shaping coat the surface with flour, then allow it to proof for 90 minutes, covered with a cloth.

 Bake at 470 F (245 C) in an oven with initial steam for 35 to 45 minutes, until golden brown. 

Cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This bread shaping was part of the Craftsy class taught by Mr. Ciril Hitz , which I recommended in the past. His instructions are very clear and easy to follow, so don’t hesitate to get the lesson online for all the details and advice.  The only tricky part of this shaping is rolling the little ropes without breaking their connection to the main dough. The dough has a natural tendency to resist shaping, so work slowly, do a little stretching one rope at a time, going around the bread. Once they get long enough to roll as a chignon, you are good to go.  Immediately dust the whole shaped bread with flour, so that as the dough rises for the final 90 minutes, it exposes regions without the flour coating. That will ensure a nice double tone to the baked bread.

When I made this bread, I made the full batch as included in Craftsy class. Then I realized that Ciril shaped two loaves instead of one. So I divided the dough in two and did a simpler shaping with the second half. The recipe I included here, is for ONE chignon only.

Whenever I make one of the breads from Ciril’s class, I tell myself to try a higher hydration formula next time. And of course, I keep forgetting to do so. This recipe is at 65% hydration, I would like to go to 68-70% and see what effect it does on shaping and crumb. Note to self: try that. For real, not just in your imagination… (sigh).

ONE YEAR AGO: Rack of Lamb Sous-Vide with Couscous Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

THREE YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip over Cucumber Slices

FOUR YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

SIX YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey

NINE YEARS AGO:
 
Shrimp Moqueca

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FUJISAN BREAD

One day a handsome croissant was minding his own business when he spotted this gorgeous brioche in a French boulangerie. It was love at first sight. Marriage was a natural move, and being a very adventurous couple, they chose Japan for their honeymoon. Their first baby was named Fujisan Bread. Little Fujisan turned out as a real showstopper. Layers and layers of buttery sweetness, perfect mixture of Mr. Croissant and Ms. Brioche. Depending on how you shape it, it will indeed remind you of Mount Fuji…

FUJISAN BREAD
(from BakeStreet)

400 g strong/bread flour
100 g cake flour
220-250 g water (you will use 220 to begin with, hold the rest)
75 g sugar
50 g tangzhong (recipe below)
1 egg
20 g milk powder
30 g condensed milk
40 g unsalted butter at room temperature
5 g dry yeast
7 g salt
250 g cold unsalted butter (to laminate)

for tangzhong (water roux):
9 g plain flour
44 g water

DAY ONE:
Make tangzhong. In a small saucepan pour the water together with the flour, place on low heat and stir with the help of a whisk. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and pour into an airtight container. Cover and let cool completely. Once the tangzhong is completely cold, make the dough. Tangzhong is a Japanese method of adding cooked flour to bread dough. It provides a creamy texture and allows the bread to stay fresh longer.

Set aside a tablespoon of water to dissolve the yeast. In the bowl of the stand sift both types of flour, along with 220 g of water, egg , milk powder, prepared (cold) tangzhong, condensed milk, sugar and salt. Knead with the dough hook at low-speed until the dough is well-developed, about 15 minutes.

Add half of the butter and knead again until completely integrated. Add the remaining butter and the yeast dissolved in the tablespoon of water, and again knead until fully incorporated.  At this point, if you think the dough can absorb more water, add a bit more up to a maximum of 30g. My dough was good without it. The dough should feel very soft but slightly sticky to the touch.

Remove the dough from the bowl, make a ball and place it in an airtight container, previously greased, until it grows by one-third of the volume, about 2 hours.  Retard it in the fridge overnight.

DAY TWO:
Make the butter sheet.
Prepare a sheet of parchment and draw a square of 9 inches in the center. Flip the parchment around so that the drawing is at the bottom. Place the butter cut in flat pieces in the center of the square as shown in the composite photo. Add a sheet of parchment on top, and beat the butter with a rolling-pin. Your goal is to stretch it a little, but don’t worry yet about filling the space of the square. As the butter stretches a bit, fold the parchment sheets together using the dimensions of the square you drew. Now roll the butter with the rolling-pin until it covers that exact area, as uniformly in thickness as possible.  Freeze if while you roll the dough out.

Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it over a lightly floured surface to a rectangle of 18 by a little over 9 inches (you want to enclose the dough in it, so make it a bit wider than 9 inches. Remove the butter from the freezer. If it is too hard, wait a few minutes until it is a bit flexible (if you roll it around the edge of your table, it should not break, but bend nicely).

Place the butter in the center of the dough, so that the width of the butter and the width of the dough is about the same, with just a bit of dough hanging at the edge. Fold the ends of the dough on the butter, bringing them to meet in the center (you should have about 4.5 inches on each side of the butter block. Pinch the dough to enclose the butter, in the center and all around the upper and lower edges. Roll the dough again to 18 by a little over 9 inches.  Fold in thirds, like an envelope, with the long edge facing you. This is the first fold. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Roll the dough again to 18 by 9 inches. Use flour on the surface, but not too much. Move the dough around to make sure it does not stick.

Do two more folds exactly the same way, refrigerating after each one.  After the third and last fold, refrigerate the dough for 30 to 40 minutes, then roll out to a rectangle of 14 by 8 inches. Use a pizza roller to cut the edges so that you expose the lamination, and correct any problems with the dimensions.

To make the smaller rolls, cut strips that are about 1.2 inches thick, then use two strips to make a braid. As you form the braid, keep the laminated part facing always up (see the photo).  Roll the braid keeping the ends underneath, and place inside any baking container that will fit them snuggly. I used 4 inch springform pans lined with parchment.

To make the loaves, roll the dough tightly, jelly-roll style, then cut slices. Add them to any container that will seem a bit tight to hold them. This will force the dough to expand up during baking, giving the bread its characteristic look.

Let the shaped breads proof for 3 hours at room temperature, then bake in 400 F oven for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375 F, and bake for 20 more minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the baking pans, and cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Laminated dough can be a bit scary to tackle, but as long as you pay attention to a few details, all should go reasonably smoothly. First, keep in mind the dimensions. I find it helpful to keep a big wooden ruler laying right on the surface I’m working on, so that even before I take precise measurements, I can judge if I am almost there. Second, make sure to lock the butter inside the dough by checking that every single bit of the two layers of dough are properly sealed. Third, do not rush any part of the process. Allow the dough to cool down after each folding cycle, that is what ultimately will give you the nice layers you are hoping for. Melted butter will work against you. And speaking of butter, I highly recommend the trick of rolling it inside the folded package of parchment. Make the fold tight, and you will end up with a perfect square of butter, with uniform thickness. You can make a rectangle if it fits your method of lamination better. 

You can shape the dough in many ways, I tried two different methods. In the first, the braided dough is rolled and lodged inside a round baking dish. When you form the braid, make sure the laminated side of the dough is kept exposed. Obviously, as you roll it in a coiled structure, some of it will be hidden, but try to allow some bits out there on the surface of the shaped bread.

The Mount-Fuji-shape was my favorite, by far. Since the lamination is fully exposed, the dough explodes up in a very impressive way. Such a pleasure to see it in the oven. Yeah, I was kneeling in front of it for a while, which left the pups quite amused.

This amount of dough made enough for four breads. It could be fun to bake the full amount in a single, large round pan, perhaps shaped in four separate regions, each exploding up according to their mood…  So many possibilities!

As far as taste, this is really a very rich croissant-type bread, the high sugar content (given by the condensed milk and sugar) makes it reach a golden brown tone quite quickly. Be prepared to reduce the temperature of the oven and/or protect the surface with a bit of foil, if needed.

The crumb is moist and flavorful enough for Fujisan to be enjoyed without any adornments, but a nice smear of your favorite jam could be a winning combination.

This bread is a perfect project for a weekend. I think that the final proofing (of the shaped loaves) could conceivably be retarded in the fridge overnight, so that you could have Fujisan for a special breakfast or brunch. I have not tried that, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with.

ONE YEAR AGO: Air-Fried Tomatoes with Hazelnut Pesto and Halloumi Cheese

TWO YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

THREE YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

SIX YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

NINE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

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THE DAISY: A BREAD WITH BRIOCHE ALTER EGO

This bread is made with a very simple dough. No wild yeast, no extensive cycles of kneading, just your trusty commercial yeast, a few minutes in the Kitchen Aid, and a nice sleep in the fridge. It’s all about the shaping, that results in a flower-shaped bread. Think daisy. But both times I’ve baked it, the oven-spring was so spectacular that I thought I had made a brioche instead.

THE DAISY BREAD
(adapted from Craftsy online class by Ciril Hitz)

430 g bread flour
50 g spelt flour
320 g water
2.5 g instant yeast
10 g salt

Mix all the ingredients on low-speed in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start at low-speed for a couple of minutes, increase to medium-speed and mix for 6 minutes more.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Place the bowl in the fridge overnight, but after two hours, punch the dough down, and cover again.

Next morning, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove a small portion of about 35 g of dough and roll as a ball.  Shape the rest of the dough as a large ball.

Use a wooden dowel to press down the sections of a daisy flower. Add the small ball to the center.  Sprinkle a nice coating of flour, and let the dough proof for 60 to 90 minutes.

Bake at 470 F  in an oven with initial steam for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is another nice shaping I learned taking the online class offered by Craftsy with Ciril Hitz (link under the recipe title, in case you missed it). I still have one more bread from that class to tackle, but that one is a bit more involved. The Daisy shaping is simple and fun. However, his bread was happy to be a flower, had no hidden intentions of imitating a brioche. He told me that perhaps a longer proofing after shaping would take care of that. I haven’t re-visited the issue. There are so many breads out there waiting for me…. But if you try it, keep that in mind.

I love Ciril’s class, he has a very serene personality, which goes well with bread baking. Come to think of it, it’s a bit of a stretch to apply serene to my own self, but that might explain why you don’t see me making videos of what happens as I bake. If you are over the fence about getting Craftsy classes, give them a try.  I think they are fantastic. Just make sure you read the reviews about each one. Also, they often have specials with huge discounts. I wait for those before  indulging.

The crumb is on the tight side, as expected for a lower hydration dough. It is a delicate balance to achieve when you want to focus on shaping. Higher hydration bread gives you a lighter texture, but it will be tricky to make them hold the shape.  I think both kinds of bread have their spot in the kitchen. And, between you and me, a tighter crumb is perfect to grab the last bit of a lusciously flowing egg yolk…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pork Tenderloin, Braciole Style

TWO YEARS AGO: Raspberry Buckle

THREE YEARS AGO: Seafood Gratin for a Special Dinner

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

EIGHT YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

 

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