DAN LEPARD’S SAFFRON BLOOMER

Dan Lepard is by far my favorite bread baker instructor, for many reasons, but perhaps the most important is that he doesn’t try to portray bread baking as a complicated and convoluted issue.  It is flour, water, salt, and yeast, folks.  Some bakers make you believe that you must go out of your way to get flour made from wheat harvested under a full moon when the temperature was 68.5 F. Or else… your bread will suffer horrible consequences.    Others will have you frantically measuring the temperature of the air, the water, the bowl, your hands, the nose of your dog, then manipulate all those variables to find out for how long you must knead your dough to hit the jackpot of 78 F. Or else… your bread will suffer horrible consequences.   Dan has a totally different approach, and you know what? None of his recipes has ever failed me.  Because he turns bread baking into a light, fun experience, you’ll relax, bake more often, and get the real important achievement in the process: familiarity with the dough, a “feel” for when it’s been kneaded enough, proofed enough, baked enough. This is a wonderful example of Dan’s talent, a bread made with saffron and ricotta that smells amazing, and tastes even better!

SaffronLoaf

SAFFRON BLOOMER OVERVIEW\
(recipe from Short and Sweet, available at The Guardian)

This is a very simple recipe, that doesn’t require a sourdough starter, a pre-ferment, or hours of commitment.  All you’ll need is good quality saffron, some ricotta cheese, and flour, mostly all-purpose with a touch of spelt (or whole wheat).

The saffron steeps in a bit of warm water, and that yellow, fragrant liquid is mixed with rapid rise yeast plus all other ingredients.

Minimal kneading involved: three sessions of kneading lasting less than a minute each will produce a super smooth dough with tiny flecks of saffron poking through here and there.

Using rapid rise yeast makes this bread show up at your table in less than 3 hours from the  moment you start gathering your ingredients.

I used an empty Le Creuset to bake this loaf: simply placed the slashed dough still over parchment paper inside the pre-heated Le Creuset (oven at 425F), closed the lid, and baked for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes I removed the lid and allowed the loaf to bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, until dark golden.

 

If you want to see the complete recipe and print it, please click here

 

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Comments:  I’ve made this loaf twice in a month, which tells you how much we enjoyed it. One of the reasons I repeated this loaf so quickly was that we had a special visitor in our home, that dear friend who gave me a huge amount of saffron a couple of years ago.  He came over to give a seminar in our department, and I decided that baking a loaf of saffron bread would be a nice way to thank him for the gift. Side benefit: right after visiting us, he jumped on a plane to Saudi Arabia, and a little bird told me that more saffron will be arriving by mail, just when my reserves are reaching a dangerously low-level. Yes, you do have the right to feel jealous.  😉

CrumbSaffron

The bread has a beautiful yellow crumb, and if you freeze it and enjoy it later, slightly toasted, the taste of saffron gets much more pronounced. It also makes superb croutons for a Caesar salad.  Baking in the Le Creuset produced a crust that was not too different from that of a rustic sourdough.  I am definitely going to use this method often for non-sourdough breads, it traps the steam in a very efficient way, and the resulting crust is considerably better (for our taste, at least).

 

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

THREE YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca

FOUR YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

SPELT AND CORNMEAL ROLLS

Rustic, toothsome, flavorful, and if all that wasn’t enough, these rolls are a cinch to make.  In a classic Dan Lepard’s approach, the recipe calls for minimal kneading, and because they are baked as small rolls, shaping is  a breeze.  The rolls also freeze quite well,  individually wrapped, then placed in a low oven to come back to that freshly baked feel.

Per Mr. Lepard’s request,  I won’t post the full recipe.  But you can find it in the database of “The Guardian”  through a quick jump here.

I will, however, give you a quick outline of how this recipe comes together….

The cornmeal needs to be soaked in boiling water for a few minutes, once you do that, all ingredients – soaked cornmeal, spelt flour, water, honey, and yeast – are added to a large bowl, mixed quickly, and left standing for 10 minutes.

A kneading cycle of 30 seconds, a 20-minute rise (yes, that fast…), and you are ready to divide and conquer… rather, divide and shape in 8 rolls.

After shaping, they rest on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour.  Only 45 minutes to go before baking time!

Once they bake, they will more or less join together, let them cool this way, breaking them apart at serving time.

Adorable little rolls, dense, but in a good way… 😉  We enjoyed them in  sandwiches – smoked turkey & provolone,  ham, cheese, tomato & pesto sauce – but also as plain small bites with our dinner of roast chicken. They will certainly be a favorite in your home too!

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia (another Dan Lepard recipe, another winner!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon Curry

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