Category: Bread

Baking Chronicle No. 29: Pane Bianco!

Baking Chronicle No. 29: Pane Bianco!

“Pan-ay whats-it?” was my first reaction when I read this recipe on King Arthur Flour’s website. (According to Google Translate, it means white bread in Italian.) But after reading it, this recipe (found here) looked too fantastic to pass up.

Basically, the recipe is an enriched bread filled with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, and cheese (I used Parmesan, because I use Parmesan whenever possible). The fun part comes in shaping (I mean, who doesn’t love that infinity shape?!?), but the bread tasted fantastic, too, and I would totally make it again.

First, I made the dough. I combined the flour, yeast, salt, and water with the other ingredients (most notably the egg and the milk, which make the dough enriched). The instructions said the dough should be soft and smooth – which it wasn’t.

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My dough wasn’t really coming together that nicely, so I added a little more liquid to make a softer dough.

So, I decided to trust my instincts and add a little more water. Then I kneaded it some more and let the mix rise for 3 hours (but a substantial amount of that time was spent in the refrigerator, in order to slow the rise while I ran errands). After that, I flattened the dough (which hadn’t really risen much) into a ginormous rectangle and gathered together my filling.

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I flattened my dough into a large and extremely uneven rectangle. (Who really needs rulers or tape measures, right?)

Next came the super-fun part: filling and shaping! I drained the tomatoes (they were packaged in oil), washed and chopped the basil, and spread them across the dough. Then I sprinkled garlic and cheese on top and rolled up the rectangle into a log.

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My filling, spread haphazardly across the dough

Afterwards, I cut the log down the middle and shaped it into a loose “S” before folding the ends underneath the center, pinching the bottom seam, and letting the bread prove for another hour.

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This is probably the most fun I’ve had shaping bread. It’s just such an interesting shape!

After that, all I had to do was bake! I preheated the oven, transferred the dough onto a baking sheet, and popped the Pane Bianco inside. Once it had baked for 45 minutes (it was a little light in color, so I baked it for longer than the recommended time) and cooled for 10, I cut inside:

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My bread had a nice crumb structure and an awesome marbled inside!

It looked beautiful! I really loved the pockets of ingredients and the fun colors. The bread tasted great, too – cheesy, soft, and with a nice flavor from the blend of tomatoes and basil. I really enjoyed this bake!

(It’s the 29th baking post, and I still have no sign-off. Ideas? (In case you couldn’t tell by now, I’m in desperate need of assistance.))

Baking Chronicle No. 27: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Baking Chronicle No. 27: Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

So last night Sophronia and I decided to make soft pretzels using King Arthur Flour’s Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels Recipe! (Here is the link.)

Basically my entire household plus Sophronia ADORES soft pretzels, and on top of that, the recipe only takes two hours to make, so we were sold. (Our other option was to make French bread, and we really didn’t want to wait five hours to eat.)

First we made the dough – we combined our flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and warm water in a bowl and mixed the ingredients by hand. Then we kneaded the dough until smooth and elastic before letting it rest for 30 minutes.

While the dough rested, we prepared the baking soda bath.

(Okay, you may be thinking to yourself: Baking soda bath? What? But the truth is, bathing pretzels in baking soda and water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the water temperature, gives the pretzels their nice, shiny brown color once they’re baked!)

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The fizzy baking soda bath! I’ll look up why it fizzes and get back to you

Boiling some water, we added baking soda and watched it fizz (chemistry!) before turning off the heat and letting the mixture cool. After the dough had proved for long enough, we shaped the dough into pretzel balls (who doesn’t love pretzel bites!) and bathed each bite in the bath for 1 minute and 30 seconds.

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The proved dough, right before it was shaped

Next, we rested the dough for 10 minutes before sprinkling with salt and baking at 475 (475!) degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes. Then we brushed the pretzels with 3 tablespoons of melted butter and popped them into our mouths straight from the oven.

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The finished pretzels, fresh out of the oven! I nearly dropped the pan because it was so hot, even through the oven mitt!

The pretzels were exactly like the article described – ethereal! They tasted AMAZING; they were beautifully soft, salty, buttery, and delicious! I am definitely going to make this recipe again and I highly recommend this recipe!

(I mean, seriously: fast AND scrumptious? It’s begging to be baked!)

 

 

 

Baking Chronicle No. 25: Chocolate-Hazelnut Brioche Buns!

Baking Chronicle No. 25: Chocolate-Hazelnut Brioche Buns!

After my long hiatus, I’m back with an awesome (and tasty) experiment of mine, Chocolate-Hazelnut Brioche Buns!

My basic thought process was that I wanted to try making brioche, and I needed to use the hazelnuts in my pantry. To finish, I just added chocolate (for obvious reasons), and this post’s bake was born!

First, I made the brioche recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Bake Everything. Brioche, an enriched French bread, was pretty easy to make. Basically, I combined all of my ingredients (by hand, since I have a permanent grudge against my food processor) and proved the dough. The one notable difference from other breads I’ve made, though, was the presence of three (three!) eggs and almost one whole stick of butter!

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My brioche dough, dotted with butter!

Next, I chopped and toasted my hazelnuts and mixed them with chocolate chips to create the center of my buns. Then, after my dough proved for about three hours, I shaped the dough into 12 rolls. (In hindsight, I should have made 16, as directed, but I really didn’t want to clean the other muffin pan, so I just made 12 really large buns.) Flattening the dough, I filled the centers with hazelnuts and chocolate, folded the edges over, and pinched the seams closed. Then I let my brioche rise for another hour!

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One of my rolls right before I finished shaping them. My dough was wet, so I had to use a lot of flour to handle it!

The one step I almost forgot was egg-washing the buns. (Egg washes give bread a nice, shiny crust.) I remembered, though (thank goodness for reading the directions!), and separated an egg before mixing the yolk with some milk. Next, I brushed my buns with the mixture before baking for about 25 minutes.

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My buns REALLY rose right before I baked them!

Half-way through the bake, the kitchen already smelled AMAZING (which, as all bakers know, is a really good sign). I couldn’t wait to try one! After ensuring that my brioche was baked by tapping the bottom, I took them out of the muffin pan and let them cool for about 10 minutes before cutting one open.

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My middle held together! I was really happy about it, because I wasn’t really sure it would work!

My brioche had wonderful air holes, a rich taste, and (shockingly) a center that held together! There were no gaps in the crumb structure, and the chocolate tasted magical in the middle of the delicious bread. The hazelnuts added a nice crunch, but probably should have been toasted for longer than two minutes!

Overall, this bake was successful! I will definitely make brioche again in the future (but perhaps not with semi-raw hazelnuts)!

 

Adventures in Baking No. 24: Baguette!

Adventures in Baking No. 24: Baguette!

On Thursday I made another foray into the world of bread-making when I baked the baguette recipe from How to Bake Everything!

Baguette is one of my favorite breads. If I’m honest, I could probably devour an entire baguette by myself – I just love the soft crumb and the crunchy crust. So I really wanted this bake to taste good, because nothing is better than a great loaf of bread.

First, I combined my yeast, salt, flour, and water to make the dough before letting the mixture rise. After a three-hour-long first prove, I shaped the dough into two baguettes, slashed them, and formed a makeshift couche for the baguettes to rest upon.

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My dough as it proved

(Couche is a French word that means “bed”. In baking, it refers to a cloth that’s shaped in such a way that allows baguettes to hold their long, skinny shape as they prove.)

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My shaped and slashed baguettes rising inside my makeshift couche (also known as an apron!)

Forty minutes later, I preheated my oven to 465 (!!!) degrees Fahrenheit. (Why the exclamation points? Because 465 degrees is unusually and extremely hot for an oven!) Then I carefully transferred my baguettes onto a pan and baked them (with steam, of course) for 20 minutes.

When I took the baguettes out, they were a beautiful golden brown color, but the color on the bottom was a bit pale. The thermometer, however, declared them finished when it read their internal temperature as 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and after letting them cool, I tried a piece.

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My baked baguettes, fresh out of the oven. The stick inside the far baguette is my thermometer 🙂

The bread was wonderfully soft inside, with a strong, crunchy crust. There were beautiful air holes and a good crumb structure. The only problem was the taste – for me, it was a bit too bland (I think I didn’t add enough salt). I made an herb butter to go with it, which made the baguette taste sublime, but I really wish I’d added dried rosemary or basil into the bread itself. I will definitely make baguettes again, though, so next time I’ll experiment with flavors!

Baking Chronicle No. 19: Orange and White Chocolate Golden Bread Buns!

Baking Chronicle No. 19: Orange and White Chocolate Golden Bread Buns!

First, that’s way too long of a name for a dressed-up bread roll. I’ll come up with something better if I make it again.

Second, I made these yesterday because…I felt like it! The best reason to bake anything!

Basically, I remembered that people had paired orange and white chocolate together on The Great British Baking Show (specifically, I recalled Ruby’s peacock from Bread Week in Series 2), and I decided that I’d make an orange and white chocolate bread! Then, because I wanted to make smaller portions, I made rolls!

To begin, I made the Rich Golden Bread recipe from How to Bake Everything (with the added orange flavor guesstimated by yours truly) – I combined my flour, yeast, salt, sugar, eggs, orange zest, orange extract, cold butter, and warm milk to make a cohesive dough. Then I kneaded it for about 2 or 3 minutes, until it came together, and let it prove for 3 hours (two of which my dough spent in the refrigerator).

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My dough before the first prove

Next, I divided the dough into twelve roughly equal balls and let rise for another twenty minutes. In the twenty-minute gap, I melted my white chocolate and refrigerated it until it was cold but still in liquid form.

To finish shaping, I rolled my balls out into circles, dolloped some white chocolate in the middle, and folded the edges to the center and pinched the seam to form a roll!

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My shaped rolls

Finally, my bread moved onto its second prove (I let it rise for about 75 minutes, until it held my fingerprint when I poked it) and then I baked it after brushing each roll with an egg-white wash!

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My rolls just before I popped them in the oven!

(I used egg whites because I had leftover egg whites in my refrigerator and I really didn’t feel like making meringues.)

I baked them for approximately 25 minutes, until the crust was golden brown and the internal temperature of the rolls reached 210 degrees Fahrenheit (as specified by the recipe).

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The baked rolls

Then I free-styled an orange glaze using orange extract, milk, powdered sugar, and meringue powder; I spread it onto my rolls after they’d cooled for approximately 10 minutes.

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My orange glaze! Which, miraculously, dried into a hard-crack glaze – thanks, meringue powder!

At long last, I could try a roll! I tore one open and saw a beautiful crumb with flecks of orange and a large space where the white chocolate had melted into the bread. I didn’t mind, though – the white chocolate taste was still apparent, and so was the orange! The two flavors were subtle and mild, but delicious, and I definitely enjoyed eating my rolls!

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I tore open a roll and felt extremely pleased with the bake!
Adventures in Baking No. 18: Rye Rustic French Bread!

Adventures in Baking No. 18: Rye Rustic French Bread!

On Monday I decided to make the Rustic French Bread recipe from How to Bake Everything again, except this time I substituted 1/4 of the flour for dark rye flour, just to see what happened. I also accidentally added too much water and created a really sticky dough.

Basically, I mixed all of my ingredients together – flour, yeast, salt, and water – to form a ball. Then I kneaded it a bit by hand and let it prove for 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Next, I shaped my dough into a boule (can’t even begin to tell you how hard that was – my hands ended up covered in sticky dough scraps) and let it rise for another 40 minutes inside a colander (to keep its shape).

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My poor facsimile of a boule

After its rise, I attempted to slash the dough with a knife. However, that’s way harder than it sounds when the dough is sticking to the knife and preventing it from actually cutting the bread. I managed, though, to create three messy-looking lines in the top of my dough.

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My terrible slashes

Finally, I baked it for 40 minutes – except this time I used 2 cups of hot water to create the steam in my oven, which worked so much better than 1 cup that I’m never going back, regardless of what the recipe directs me to do. Suffice to say, the extra cup of water created a substantial amount of real steam, while using 1 cup created very little steam.

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My final product – the awesome bread!

When my bread emerged, it was beautiful. I mean, the outside wasn’t much of a looker, but the inside was magnificent – light and fluffy and rich and moist, with a pretty crumb and a wonderful color. The best part: it tasted heavenly. I loved it and I think I might make it weekly.

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Look at all the air holes! If only my English muffins could look like this!

I know my family agreed – my sister rated it an eleven out of ten!

Adventures in Baking No.14: English Muffins, Take 4

Adventures in Baking No.14: English Muffins, Take 4

So after reading the extremely helpful article suggested by user Adrienne B (thank you SO, SO MUCH Adrienne!), I decided that I should try proving my muffins over night, as traditionally done by English-muffin-bakers in the early 1900’s. This was done, of course, in the hunt for the perfect English muffin with beautiful nooks and crannies.

Again I combined my flours, salt, yeast, sugar, oil, and milk, kneading the dough a little until it was “smooth”. Then I left it to prove over night, which turned out to be just under 12 hours.

Next, I pulled the dough (literally; it was quite sticky) out of the bowl and shaped it into 15 muffins before letting the mixture prove for another 40 minutes.

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The muffins after being shaped

After the second rise, I pan-cooked the muffins in the same manner I used the last three times I made them – except that I followed the instructions this time (a miracle!) and cooked them on a medium-low heat for about 14 minutes total.

However, when I cut into my muffins, there were STILL no nooks and crannies. (Of course, they still tasted fine, especially when smothered in strawberry jam.)

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My tasty yet nooks-and-crannies-less English muffins

My current hypothesis is that I need to increase the dough’s hydration (add more liquid) and prove for even LONGER to achieve the right air holes. I might also try kneading for 10 minutes in combination with those two factors, in the hope that stronger gluten proteins will hold more air. Fingers crossed that English Muffins, Take 5 will actually work!