October 15, 2009

World Bread Day 2009 - Yes we BAKE!

When World Bread Day came around last year, this blog didn't even exist. It is the product of my obsession with baking bread...I think of it as an adjunct to my original blog, Feeding My Enthusiasms. I was just at the beginning of my sourdough starter journey last October. Although I had baked yeasted breads in the past, I didn't think of myself, at all, as a bread baker. Poor Xam wasn't yet the Bread Baker's Dog. He is sure glad that I'm now a regular bread baker :)

The ROUNDUP can be found at 1x umruhren bitte.You can go there to learn more about World Bread Day and Bread Baking Days, too.

A constant source of inspiration is the Yeastspotting event, mostly hosted by Susan at Wild Yeast blog. Every week there are wonderful yeasted breads, rolls, flatbreads, sweet breads and more.

Now that my sourdough starter from last October has gone bad, I'm making a new one, but that means that I'm using packaged yeast for recipes this month. With the holidays coming up, I've been spending time looking at The Festive Bread Book by Kathy Cutler. That is where I saw the illustration for making this bread, although I chose to use a different bread dough. This is a fun one ladies and gents...like playing with clay, only it's softer.

A third of the dough was used in a bodacious chocolate and vanillia swirled snail loaf. That recipe can be found here on Feeding My Enthusiasms blog.

See that line of white milk bread? It sure helps temper the richness of all that chocolate!

The other two thirds were used for this lovely, soft and sweet milk bread for World Bread Day!

Harvest Sheaf

This bread is shaped like a sheaf of wheat. It would make a great addition to a fall buffet table or for Thanksgiving breakfast or dinner.

With quince jelly and a little butter, it is amazing!

I used 2/3 of the Milk Bread recipe from The Italian Baker by Carol Field to make the Harvest Sheaf. You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post and also, along with one for a yummy Chocolate Bread, HERE.

Shaping the Harvest Braid (diagram and recipe at the bottom of this post):

Make the Milk Bread dough as it is given in the recipe.

After the first rising, punch the dough down. You have to approximate the amount of dough needed for each of the following, but the Milk Dough is so easy to work with that you can pinch off some if you have too much or add a bit from another ball of dough if you don’t have enough.

Roll dough into ropes, each about ½ inch thick: four 5-inch ropes, eight 13-inch ropes, eight 16-inch ropes. You may need to make the longer ropes 10 inches and 13 inches respectively … by the time I was making this bread I wasn’t into measuring…I just made eight long ones and eight shorter ones, plus the four very short ones became three very short ones.

Start by putting a silicone mat or parchment paper on a large baking sheet.
The first layer has the ropes touching, starting from the center and moving left and right, with a bend about a third of the way down, four bending one way and four the other.

The next layer has six of the shorter ropes, touching, placed on top of the first set of ropes, half of the ropes bending one way and half the other, about a third of the way down from the top.

The final two ropes are placed on top of that with one bending one way and the other bending the opposite way. I think I actually put one of the long ones almost upright to fill in the sheaf top. I think I spread mine out too much, so the top was pretty, but seemed too flat in comparison to the stacked bottom part.

Take the four (or three) short ropes and twist them together (two twists if you have four ropes, one twist of three strands if you have three like I did). Place the twisted rope across the ‘sheaf’ about half way down. As if it were securing the sheaf together. Tuck the ends under.

Take sharp scissors and snip along the bent portion of the stalks to simulate wheat grains.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until double – about 30 minutes. Make glaze of one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush over the whole loaf.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

This bread is slightly sweet and milky and very mild in flavor. It is great with butter and jam.

Milk Bread

1 ¾ teaspoons dry yeast or 2/3 small cake (12 grams) fresh yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup warm milk
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (130-135 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
Stir the yeast and sugar into the milk in a large mixing bowl or mixer bowl; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and whisk vigorously to make a thick batter. Cover and let stand until doubled, less than 1 hour.

1 egg 1 tablespoon rum
1 cup milk, room temperature
½ stick (55 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¾ cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 grams) salt

Add the egg, rum, milk, and butter to the sponge and mix with the paddle for about 1 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt and mix on low speed. Change to the dough hook and add the rest of the flour and knead until soft, silky and elastic, 3 – 4 minutes once the flour is incorporated. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a lightly flour surface.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. The dough should be very soft but slightly tacky, and if you pinch the surface, the little peaks of dough should hold their shape.

Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and use it for the Chocolate-Vanilla Swirled Snail Loaf, found HERE, or make a round loaf with it, pulling the dough under to form a 'skin', then cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Bake it along with the Sheaf, on a separate baking sheet.

Form the Harvest Sheaf with the 2/3 left, using this diagram and the instructions above.

October 03, 2009

Friendly Fun Fougasse

Bread Baking has been low on the list of priorities of late. The last post here was in August and it is already October 5. I've been reading a lot of bread recipes but not baking. Time to change that. Some days the words just don't flow, so if this post seems to need something, believe me I feel that way, too...maybe some salt?

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be in Seattle at the same time that Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups was visiting. She kindly asked me to join her when she met with Lynn of Cookie Baker Lynn. Lynn lives in the Seattle area so she knew of great chocolate places as well at a wonderful bread store/cafe'.

One of the fun things to do with bloggers is to exchange goodie boxes. Cookbooks are a fun thing to send and receive. Recently a cookbook found it's way to me from Lynn and I had a great time looking at all the recipes. Today I finally had time to make one of the breads in the book. The book is called Basic Baking: Flavored Breads by Linda Collister. There are dozens of delightful breads. I decided to start with the Bacon and Walnut Fougasses in the Mediterranean Flavors section. Thank you Lynn!

I've never made fougasse before but have long been intrigued by the way that you slash the bread in a sort of herringbone or ladder shape. It is a kind of flatbread, similar to foccacia. I liked that the crust was not too thick or firm and that some crust formed in the slashed areas.

This is the time of year when the walnuts are falling fromt he tree and making a loud thunk when they hit our deck. Walnuts are a great fall ingredient and since the gougasses are flat, the walnuts get toasted while baking. The walnut flavor was just strong enough, but the bacon flavor was faint in the four I made with bacon. It's possible that it would be better with a different kind of bacon than the one I found in the fridge.

Walnut Fougasses (some with Bacon)
Makes 8 pieces

“These attractive, oval, individual loves come from Provence where, these days, they are made plain or flavored with olives, herbs, charcuterie, or even candied fruit. Use top-quality bacon…”

I changed the recipe a bit by using whole wheat flour for some of the flour and by using dry yeast instead of cake yeast. If you wish to you cake yeast, e-mail me and I’ll send you the recipe for using compressed cake yeast.

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
5 oz. rindless bacon, finely diced
2/3 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
3 cups unbleached white bread flour
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 package active dry yeast – I used quick rising yeast
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water, divided
1 egg beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
extra flour, for dusting
extra oil, for brushing
several baking trays, greased or lined with silicon baking mats or parchment paper

Heat the oil in a skillet, add the bacon, and saute’ until golden and crisp, but not hard. Drain on paper towels, then combine well with the walnuts. (If your bacon is very fatty, you can probably skip the extra oil in the pan…I did)

Put the flours in a large bowl, mix well. Remove one cup and set aside. Mix the salt into the larger bowl of flour, then set that aside, too.

Sprinkle the dry yeast over ¼ cup of the lukewarm water in a small bowl. Let sit 10 minutes to hydrate and proof.

Make a well in the center of the flour/salt mixture. Into the well pour the yeast mixture, the rest of the lukewarm water (1 cup), the beaten egg and the olive oil. Gradually work in the flour to make a soft but not sticky dough. Use additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, from the reserved one cup to make the dough the right consistency to knead.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes, adding additional flour from the reserved flour if needed. When finished dough will feel fairly smooth, very elastic, and silky.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn it over so the entire surface is lightly coated with oil.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size – about 1 ½ hours. Punch down the dough, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in the bacon and nuts until evenly distributed.

Weigh the dough and divide into 8 equal parts.

Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into an oval about 8 ½ by 5 by ½ inch. With a sharp knife, cut about 8 slits in a herringbone pattern in each oval. Arrange them, spaced apart, on the baking trays.

Lightly cover the baking trays with a damp cloth and let rise at cool to normal room temperature until doubled in size – about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the fougasses and lightly brush with oil. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

I made half of these with only the walnuts because I thought we were out of bacon, but later discovered that we had some bacon, so the second batch of 4 were made with the bacon. Although they were fine with just walnuts, the bacon added an extra dimension. Next time I would use a different kind of bacon...something drier and more intensely flavored. If you want to omit the bacon, I would add some herbs to add additional flavor…perhaps some minced fresh rosemary or parsley.

These are nice because each fougasse is a good size for one person and the slashed make they interesting visually, too. I didn’t pull at the rolls once the slashes were made to open up the holes for the first batch without the bacon, so they closed up a bit during the second rise. Sweetie liked them that way, but I like crust so I made the spaced larger for the bacon ones which gave a better crustiness around the slashes in those loaves. You can make them either way depending on how much crust you like. You can also omit the whole wheat flour and use only white flour as the original recipe suggests. I like the additional grain flavor that the whole wheat flour adds, but all white flour would be more refined.

These are fun loaves to make due to the visual interest, the nice crust and chewiness. They make a nice addition to the bread basket and are especially nice warm, with some good butter. They taste lovely toasted, too.
I've been missing the weekly wonderful event that is Yeastspotting at Susan's Wild Yeast...no time to even go there and drool over the bread being baked by the fantastic bakers featured there...so it's nice to have an entry again...and time to bake bread. Here is the URL for Susan's blog :http://www.wildyeastblog.com/