TWD BWJ Rewind: Challah

December 31, 2013 at 11:06 am | Posted in groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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challah bread

Happy New Year!  Have you made any resolutions for 2014?  Normally I wouldn’t, but I have a couple of “situations” that I should get under control STAT.  Resolving to use up my current kitchen cupboard and my bathroom beauty products before buying more is something that has to happen.  I do not need four eye creams or six bottles of hot sauce open at once.  I don’t have the storage space for that, and the clutter on my counters is driving me bananas!

What does Lauren Groveman’s Challah have to do with this?  It’s going to help jam population control (five jars open in the fridge, with four more in the cupboard…sheesh).  The group made this bread in early December, but I didn’t have my act together that week.  I’m glad I got it together, though, because it’s delish.  I just made one loaf, which was a half-recipe, and it’s a huge beauty!  A three-strand braid is so simple to do and it really looks great, but maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try my hand at five or six.  Maybe.  Even though I’m notoriously stingy with egg wash (I never want to use  up a whole egg for it, and unless I have a bit of extra egg left over from something else, I usually pilfer a tiny bit from the eggs in the recipe),  it still came out with a gorgeous crust.   And the insides are perfectly soft and slightly sweet.  I’m looking forward to challah French toast in a couple of days…topped with jam sauce, of course.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Note that this challah recipe uses melted butter, if that’s a concern for you (although I suspect it could be replaced with oil).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from challah week at the beginning of December!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Danish Braid (& Pinwheel)

October 15, 2013 at 9:32 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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danish braid

I’ve just started working out with a trainer to get my sorry self in shape.  Let’s celebrate that with a big slice of Beatrice Ojakangas’s Danish!  This may not go so well…

I made a Danish braid here once before.  That recipe used what I think is a more traditional method for making Danish dough…there was a separate butter block and lots of chilling between folds (like when we made our croissants).  This one uses a “quick” method, employing the food processor to break down the butter into chunks in the flour.  The rough dough does need to rest in the fridge overnight, but after that, all of the lamination work is done at once, without any waiting in between the turns and folds.  Pretty easy.  I was surprised at how good the results were– crisp and flaky.  If you are wondering how the dough becomes a braid, this video explains all very clearly.

I don’t like to ask too much of myself on a weekend morning, so I cheated a little on the fillings.  Rather than fiddle with homemade pastry cream and fruit spreads, I just whizzed up a quickie sweetened cream cheese filling and combined it with some store-bought apricot jam.  I was pretty jazzed to have a use for the pearl sugar I found at an IKEA ages ago.

When we do a recipe that has several variations, I’m never quite sure if we’ll revisit it later to try out those variations, so I took this opportunity to make my favorite Danish shape with some extra dough–the pinwheel!  This one had the same cream cheese filling as the braid, but with blueberry jam instead of apricot.

danish pinwheel

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s also here, and there’s even a video of Beatrice and Julia making Danish together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Croissants (& Pains au Chocolat)

March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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croissants (& pains au chocolat)

TWD’s crossing a biggie off the list this week– Esther McManus’s Croissants.  This probably qualifies as the most technically complicated recipe we’ve made so far.  Like puff pastry and Danish, croissants are made from a butter-laminated, or layered, dough.  This means a block of butter is encased in dough and repeatedly rolled and folded to create layers that puff in the oven (and flake in your mouth!).  Once you get over butter-shock, it’s really fun to make this kind of dough, and if you give someone a homemade croissant they will be seriously impressed by your talents.  Cool weather helps when making the dough, and so does leaving yourself plenty of time to let it rest in between rolls and folds.

I could not resist turning half my dough into pains-au-chocolat.  Dangerously good–now I remember why I don’t allow myself to buy them!  Next time I make croissant dough (that’ll be awhile since I still have like fifteen p-au-c formed in the freezer), I’ll definitely prep almond-filled ones.  Would have done it this time, but as usual I procrastinated and didn’t get it together to make the filling.  Also, I’ll cut my croissant triangles a bit bigger.  I wound up with ones that were only slightly larger than minis and I associate mini croissants with conference room party platters.  Although these were much better (and flakier) than any office-croissants I’ve ever had, and here’s proof…

croissants (& pains au chocolat)

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Amanda’s Girl+Food=Love. There’s even a video of Esther and Julia making the tart together).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Breakfast for Dinner.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Finnish Pulla

December 18, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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Finnish pulla

Oh my gosh–isn’t this loaf the cutest?!?  I’m not in the know with most Scandinavian baked goods, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with Beatrice Ojakangas’s Finnish Pulla bread.  Never heard of it, but I was pretty pleased to discover this baby when it came out of the oven.  It’s a little bit buttery, a little bit sweet, a little bit eggy and scented with cardamom, one of my favorite spices.  Pulla is often shaped into a glorious braided wreath, but I made half a recipe, so I did a loaf instead.

The recipe didn’t suggest making the dough ahead of time, but I wanted to take care of it on Saturday night so I could have fresh-baked bread with jam for breakfast on Sunday morning.  I made the dough all the way through the shaping stage (it was a dream to work with in the cooler temps), then put my braided loaf on a parchment lined sheet tray, loosely covered it in plastic and stuck it in the fridge before I went to bed.  Early Sunday morning, I took it out and left it on the counter to come to room temperature for a little over an hour before I baked it.  Seemed like a good strategy.

Finnish pulla

Pulla reminds me of challah, but with cardamom and pearl sugar (which I bought at an IKEA in Jersey about a year ago and until Sunday had still never used).  I’m glad to have this recipe on my radar now, and I bet leftovers will make good French toast (or will that be Finnish toast??).  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read  Erin’s The Daily Morsel.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Pecan Sticky Buns

May 15, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 31 Comments
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pecan sticky buns

I’ve been getting a lot of practice making breakfast pastries lately.  A couple of months ago, the owners of the shop I work for decided that we should open three hours earlier and have a menu of morning baked stuff.  I now have to wake up basically in the middle of the night to walk to work and make this happen.  I’m thinking about quitting soon….but you didn’t hear me say that, and you certainly didn’t come here for banal griping.  You came for Nancy Silverton’s Pecan Sticky Buns!

It’s pretty much a given that sticky buns have a lot of butter in them, but this recipe uses a sh*t-ton of butter.  There’s brioche dough..no, make that laminated brioche dough (unlike the other sticky buns we did about–yikes– four years ago)…and then there’s the sticky top part.  The only component without butter is the pecan-cinnamon swirl inside.  When everything’s tallied up, it comes to five sticks for a whole recipe!!  My mind immediately went to work wondering where I could shave off a few tablespoons.  First off, a whole recipe makes two 9-inch pans, or 14 buns, and I certainly didn’t need that many for the two of us.  A quarter of a recipe would be fine…I knew I could squeeze four slightly smaller buns out of that and bake them in a 6-inch pan.  I ultimately decided on making a half recipe of brioche dough, and only taking half of that to make buns with (I’m saving the other half for another project).  I kept the full amount of butter in the dough itself.  Best not to mess around with that.  I used about two-thirds the butter called for in the laminating step and half for the topping.  I don’t think I missed out too much…my buns were sweet and soft and flaky.  I plan to experiment more with this laminated brioche thing later on…it’s a cool technique.

By the way brioche is a lovely dough to work with…if you can keep it cool enough while you shape it, that is.  It’s so soft and nice to touch.  And it rises beautifully.

pecan sticky buns

It took me like an hour to figure out how to put two pics side-by-side in Photoshop, btw…wow.

I made my base dough on day one, parked it in the fridge overnight after its first rise, and finished off the laminating and rolling the next day.  I did my dough in my stand mixer.  Since I just made a half a batch, my KA had no problem cranking it out.  It was really such a small about of dough, though, that I think even the whole recipe would have been just fine.  Despite my earlier talk about breakfast pastries, my husband and I actually ate two of these sticky buns for dessert.  After getting up so early for work now everyday, I can’t manage to get up early enough on the weekends to have buns proofed, baked and cooled before brekkie.  The other two baked buns were wrapped up tight and stuck the freezer, to be defrosted and enjoyed properly one weekend morning with a cup of coffee.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynn’s Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole’s Cookies on Friday.  There’s also a video of Nancy and Julia making the buns together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Hot Cross Buns

April 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Posted in sweet things, sweet yeast breads | 6 Comments
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hot cross buns

Every year I think about making Hot Cross Buns for Easter (or Good Friday, I guess), but I never get to it.  Well, finally, this is my year!  And let me tell you that eating one of these sweet, spiced buns freshly homemade is a real treat.  I made these with currants and candied orange peel, although you could use raisins or craisins or whatever dried fruit and zest you choose. If you are British or Australian, you may not like what I’ve done on top here.  A “traditional” English hot cross bun has a cross made not of icing (like mine), but of a flour and water paste that is baked on.  But what can I say– I’m American and I like my icing!!

You’ll see that this recipe begins with preparing a sponge starter.  It is really easy…there’s nothing to it but a little added resting time.  The sponge lets the yeast get some extra fermentation, which is better for flavor and makes for nice soft buns. The rest of the dough is a snap to put together in a stand mixer.  These aren’t so complicated to make, even if, like me, you don’t do a whole lot of bread baking at home…the hardest part is waiting for them to cool completely.  You bet I devoured this guy with a little salty butter  just as soon as he was cool enough to “cross”!

hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns- makes 12
adapted (quite a bit) from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

Steph’s Note:  There’s no real need to soak your currants or orange peel unless they are very dry.  If that’s the case, I’d put them in a small bowl with a couple teaspoons of orange juice or Grand Mariner and microwave for ten seconds (cool before using).

for the sponge
38 g AP flour
190 g milk, about 85°F
9 g sugar
7.4 g (2-1/4 t) instant yeast

for the final dough
340 g AP flour
60 g butter, softened
57 g sugar
1 egg
3 g salt
2 g ground allspice
2 g ground cinnamon
110 g dried currants
40 g candied orange peel, finely chopped

for the icing (amounts are approximate)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
4 teaspoons milk

-For the sponge, combine the milk and yeast in a medium bowl. Whisk in the flour and sugar. The mixture will be very loose. Cover and let rest until it is about 3 times its original volume,  30-40 minutes.

-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix final dough flour and softened butter until the butter is evenly distributed through the flour.

-Add egg, sugar, spices, and salt. Continue to mix until combined. The mixture will be quite dry at this point.

-Switch to the mixer’s dough hook. Add the sponge and mix on low speed. Mix until well combined, about 3 minutes.

-Up the mixer to medium speed, and mix about 8 minutes.  You can occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed. The dough will start to leave the sides and come together around the dough hook, and the gluten should have reached a medium level of development.

-Add the currants and orange peel and mix on low speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.

-Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, covered container. Ferment in a warm place for one hour, giving it a fold (kind of like a letter) after 30 minutes.

-Turn the dough onto an unfloured counter and divide it into 12 pieces (about 70-75 g each).

-Form each piece into a ball. To tighten the ball, place it on the counter with your cupped hand loosely around it, and move your hand in a tight circle several times.

-Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a 1/4 sheet tray…they did not touch when I arranged them on the tray, but as they proofed, they expanded to gently touch.)

-Cover and proof in a warm place for about an hour.

-Preheat the oven to 400°F . Bake the buns on the parchment-lined sheet at 400°F until the tops are browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking until browned all over, about another 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.

-When the buns are completely cool, whisk together the icing ingredients.  You can add extra confectioners’ sugar or milk as needed to make a thick, but pipeable paste.  Put it in a piping bag with a medium-small round tip and pipe it in a cross over the buns.  They are best when eaten fresh (although I did freeze a few for the weekend).

TWD Rewind: Raisin Swirl Bread

January 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Posted in breakfast things, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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raisin swirl bread

Bread is definitely my favorite food group.  I’m not sure why, then, I skipped Raisin Swirl Bread when Susan picked it for TWD over the summer.  Maybe I was away…maybe it was too hot out for bread baking…I can’t remember.  Anyway, now is prefect bread baking weather, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Also, I wanted to brush up on my yeast skills before we get going on the white loaves from Baking with Julia in a couple of weeks.

This is just a straight-forward dough technique (no sponge or starter) with a couple of proofs.  I used my mixer for it, so I didn’t even break a sweat.  Scented with a little orange zest and of course a cinnamon-raisin swirl, it smelled really good baking.  I was so proud of myself for waiting until the bread had cooled completely before cutting into it.  I was even more proud of its perfect texture and beautifully hypnotic swirl.  There was a time when I would have skipped the raisins altogether and this would just have been a cinnamon swirl bread, but raisins and I have gradually made peace over the last couple of years.  We’re good now…I’m glad I gave them a second chance.

This makes fabulous toast (with a little salty butter, of course)!  I could probably have downed the whole loaf that way, but I tried it out as French toast, too.  Good stuff.  Really, I can’t wait to make this again.  For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Food Baby, as it was Susan’s pick from back in June.

P.S.:  If you don’t already have it, don’t forget to enter my Baking with Julia BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Golden Brioche Loaves

August 23, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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golden brioche loaf
When I first saw that we’d be making Golden Brioche Loaves this week, I thought, “Haven’t we made this one already?”  Well, yes and no.  We’ve made brioche on a few occasions, but always for an end result other than a simple loaf.  Jules pointed out that last week, King Arthur wrote a post on brioche made in a 9″x4″ pullman pan.  Go figure, I have that same pan at home!  Doing a little back-of-the-envelope math, I geusstimated that 2/3 of Dorie’s full recipe would make enough dough to fill one 9″x4″ pullman to the lid.  I had to add about 10-15 minutes to Dorie’s baking time, but I had a gorgeous (and golden) square-cornered loaf.

I bet some people find brioche to be intimidating, but to me it’s one of the easier yeast breads to make.  The dough is soft and supple, and comes together easily by machine.  Also, great brioche bakes up nicely in a home oven, unlike, say, a great baguette, whose perfectly shattering crust seems to elude me at home.  And the dough freezes well, so you can have fresh brioche buns in a snap.

This recipe really does produce a delightful loaf.  I can’t lie, though…the fact that I made a single loaf of bread that contains two entire sticks of butter is somewhat horrifying to me!  Nevertheless, I enjoyed a fat slice with homemade apricot jam (made identically to this plum jam), and, you guessed it, more butter (I have a weakness for fancy French salted butters on my toast and bread).

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Tea and Scones, as it was Margie’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.:  I got a new camera…what do you think?

Tuesdays with Dorie: Brioche Plum Tart

July 14, 2009 at 1:35 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 37 Comments

brioche plum tart

I’ve been itching to make a tart with the gorgeous summer fruits that are popping up at the Greenmarket.  Thanks to TWD and Denise of Chez Us, I got the push I needed this week…albeit in a slightly different direction.  Rather than a pastry dough, the tart shell here is made from brioche.  It’s pressed into a ring and topped with jam, fruit and nuts.  Juice from the jam and fruit seeps into the brioche while it bakes.  The end result is a really classy tart that temporarily turned my teensy-weensy Manhattan kitchen into a European bakery!  By the way, this particular brioche recipe is the easiest I’ve ever made.  The butter is melted, and all the ingredients are basically chucked into a bowl at once and mixed.  (I’m thinking cinnamon rolls may need to start making more frequent appearances at my breakfast table!)

Although Dorie intends this tart to be a breakfast or tea-time treat, due to my work schedule this week, we enjoyed ours for dessert.  As you can see from the picture, I made a couple of indiviual tarts so I wouldn’t have soggy leftovers.  One night I used some little purple plums, hardly bigger than golf balls.  They softened up quickly in the oven, which is good because the brioche browned awfully fast!  The next night, I pressed out a couple more shells and used sweet cherries instead.  With a little vanilla whipped cream, both were good, but I think I liked the cherry tarts better…next time, I should give it a go with apricots and a bit of my homemade jam!

The recipe, of course, is in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, and is also on Chez Us.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll and Denise’s post over at Chez Us!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Kugelhopf (or Kugel-loaf??)

November 11, 2008 at 2:59 am | Posted in groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 47 Comments

kugelhopf

Yolanda, The All-Purpose Girl, chose Kugelhopf for TWD this week.  Kugelhopf is made from a yeast dough, and I don’t have my KitchenAid– ack!  In the absence of a dough hook, I knew I’d have to make a wooden spoon do the trick…something I was not looking forward to, trust me.  Turns out, it was pretty easily do-able by hand, especially since I made half a recipe.  Barely even broke a sweat.  The kitchen in this place is pretty warm, so the dough rose nicley without me having to stress too much about what was (or wasn’t) going on inside the bowl.

Kugelhopf is traditionally baked in a special turban-shaped tube pan.  I actually looked in several shops for a kugelhopf pan that would hold a half recipe, but I couldn’t find the right size…everything was too big.  I decided that the half-sized loaf pan I already own would make a fine substitute.  

kugelhopf

Dorie says that kugelhopf is “part bread, part cake.”  That may be true, but I definitely think that bread is the dominant gene here.  Soft, sweet bread, with a beautiful golden sugary crust.  I used dried cherries instead of raisins in mine.  A little pat of butter, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and yum-yum.

The recipe, of course, is in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  You can also find it here and in Yolanda’s post.  Check out the TWD Blogroll to see what the rest of the group had to say!

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