Friday, September 17, 2010

Next Week

Next week will be Ciabatta. That is my hubby's favorite bread. This book has a few recipes for ciabatta so I will be making at least 3 of them over the next few weeks. Sorry this post is so late in the week, hopefully I can get it posted on Monday next week. :)


Challah is a Jewish celebration and Sabbath bread. To form the dough you use a three strand braid. you can stack two braids on top of each other, serve it as one braid, or curl the large braid into a round loaf. The three strands represent truth, peace and beauty. When curled into a round loaf the round shape symbolizes that the world has no beginning and no end. The spiral coil indicates the ascension to God. It is served on the sabbath usually with a garnish of seeds to symbolize the falling of manna from heaven. When served at the table it is covered with a cloth to represent the heavenly dew that protects the manna.
It was a beautiful loaf and easy to braid. It was significantly larger then I thought it would be. I looked up some ideas for using it and several people said it makes great french toast. Several people also mentioned that Challah bread is the bread of choice for delis. It is a hearty bread and holds up well, but after the last two weeks of rich bread it seemed a little lacking. It does make a great grilled cheese sandwich though!

Oh, and as a note. I purchased unbleached bread flour last week to see how it would affect the bread. What a difference. The gluten actually developed in the time listed in the recipe. It is at least twice the cost of unbleached all-purpose flour, about $0.60 per pound whereas all-purpose flour is about $0.25 per pound. But it makes such a difference.

makes 1 large braided loaf, 2 smaller loaves, or 1 large double braided celebration loaf

4 C Unbleached Bread Flour
2 T Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 1/3 tsp Instant Yeast
2 T Vegetable Oil
2 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Yolks
3/4 C plus 2 T Water, room temperature

2 egg whites, whisked until frothy for egg wash
Sesame or Poppy seeds for garnish

1. Stir together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a spoon or on low speed with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients gather and form a ball. If needed, you can add an additional 1-2 T of water.

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and knead for about 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes with the dough hook on medium-low speed). Sprinkle in more flour as needed to make a soft but not sticky dough. It should pass the windowpane test.

3. Lightly oil a large bowl and form the dough into a tight ball. Roll the dough in the oil to coat, cover with plastic wrap and ferment for an hour at room temperature. Remove the dough and knead for 2 minutes. Re-form it into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for an additional hour. The dough should increase by about 1 1/2 times.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide the dough into three equal pieces (look at the end of the recipe for instructions for the celebration loaf). Regardless of the size of loaf form each ball into a tight ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Uncover the balls and roll each into a long thin rope, about 14 inches or so. Make sure they are all the same length with each roll larger in the center and tapered at the end. Place all three lengths on the counter perpendicular to your body and about an inch from each other. You have a left, middle and right strand (starting from your left). Starting in the middle of the loaf place the right strand over the middle strand, then the left strand over the middle strand. Follow that pattern to the end and pinch the end together. Gently pick up your loaf and rotate 180 degrees so that the unbraided strands are facing you. Starting in the middle again wrap the right strand UNDER the middle, then the left strand UNDER the middle. Follow that pattern until the end and then pinch to seal. Carefully place on parchment covered cookie sheet and brush with egg wash. Spray lightly with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temperature for about an hour until the dough has grown to 1 1/2 times it's original size.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 (325 for the celebration bread) with the rack on the middle shelf. Brush the loaves with egg wash again and then sprinkle with seeds if using. Bake for 20 minutes then rotate the pan and continue baking for 20-45 minutes until it is rich golden brown and registers 190 in the center. Cool for an hour before cutting and serving.

Note: Celebration Bread, divide it into three equal pieces and then combine two pieces (so you will have a 1/3 of the dough in one ball and 2/3 of the dough in another ball). Divide the two balls into three equal pieces respectively, so you will have 3 small balls and three larger balls. Roll each set of three into matching lengths with the smaller ropes at least 2 inches smaller then the large ropes. Braid each set as explained in step 5. Lay the smaller braid on top of the larger braid and then proceed with the egg wash and rising. Bake this loaf at 325, it will need to bake for nearly an hour because of how large it is.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Casatiello is an Italian version of Brioche that has been kicked up a notch. It has sauteed hard dry salami and provolone cheese in the bread. The crust is dotted with browned cheese, it's surprisingly good. We ate it tonight with mushroom bisque and salad. It is some of the best bread I've had for dipping in soup in a while. It can be made, start to finish in one day which is nice. Good luck :)

1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

1/2 C Unbleached Bread Flour
1 T Instant Yeast
1 C Whole Milk or Buttermilk, lukewarm (90-100)

4 oz Italian Salami, dry cured, sliced at least 1/4" thick
3 1/2 C Unbleached Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 T Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3/4 C Unsalted Butter
3/4 C Coarsely Shredded or grated Provolone

1. Make the sponge by whisking together the flour, yeast and milk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for about 1 hour.

2. While the sponge is fermenting, dice the salami and saute lightly in a frying pan to crisp it slightly. Shred or coarse grate the cheese and set aside. (Note: I shredded it with the largest attachment I have and it was too small. There were no pockets of melted cheese as I was hoping for. Next time I would dice it as well into about 1/4" cubes.

3. In the bowl with the sponge, add the flour, salt, sugar, and eggs.Mix until all of the ingredients form a rough ball. If all the flour is not hydrated, add a little bit of warm water or milk. Stir for about 1 minute and then let it rest for 10 minutes. This will allow the gluten to develop. Divide the butter into 4 pieces and add one piece at a time and mix with the dough hook until the butter is fully incorporated before you add another piece. Start the timer for 12 minutes when you start kneading in the butter and continue to knead until the timer runs out. At this point, take it out of the mixer and knead in the meat by hand until it is evenly incorporated. Once the meat is evenly distributed, gently knead in the cheese. (Note: I had to do this in steps because there was a lot of cheese). Lightly oil a bowl and lightly roll the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. and ferment for 90 minutes.

4. You can bake the dough as two loaves (in loaf pans) or in one 10 inch cake pan. Be sure to grease the pan(s) with Crisco. (There are other baking options outlined in the book for this bread, but you'll have to get the book to read about them). Proof the dough in the pans for at least an hour or until the dough reaches the tops of the pans. About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.

5. Place the bread in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Rotate 180 degrees and then bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 185-190 and the bread is a rich golden brown. Remove it directly from the oven and pans and let it cool on a rack for at least an hour before serving.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This bread is amazing (photos to come). Traditionally this bread is what is used to make French Toast. It is sliced and dipped in 1 C of Heavy Cream and 6 eggs that have been whipped. Then cooked in a frying pan that has about 2 T of browned butter. OH MY GOODNESS. These were heavenly. It needs a little bit of sweet, but it was so good. After have Brioche French Toast, I'm not sure I can go back to the soggy unflavored sandwich bread French Toast.

This bread is very rich. The traditional recipe is not for those with high cholesterol. It was very good, baked beautifully bu t it will definitely take some practice. But so far, it has been one of the easiest breads with the best results. Peter Reinhart lists 3 different recipes for Brioche with 3 differing amounts of butter and eggs. This was the highest of both. Also traditionally shaped brioche requires a special fluted pan. I didn't have one and don't want to buy one just yet so I made loaves. I will not include the shaping instructions for the brioche a tete. If you'd like to learn, look it up or grab the book :)

Rich Man's Brioche
Makes 16-24 Petites Brioches a tete, 2-4 large Brioche a Tete, or three 1 LB loaves

1/2 C unbleached bread flour
1 T Instant Yeast
1/2 C Whole Milk, Lukewarm (90-100)

5 Large Eggs
3 1/2 C Unbleached Bread Flour
2 1/2 T Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Salt
2 C Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked until frothy for the egg wash

1. Stir together the sponge ingredients until all the flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 20 minutes or until the sponge rises and then falls when you tap the bowl.

2. Add the eggs to the sponge and whisk (or beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment) until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add thsi mixture to the sponge and eggs and stir (or continue to mix with the paddle on low speed for 2minutes) until all the ingredients are hydrated and evenly distributed. Let tis mixture rest for 5 minutes so that the gluten can begin to develop. Then, while mixing with a large spoon (or on medium speed with the paddle), gradually work in the butter, about one-quarter at a time, waiting until each addition of butter assimilates before adding more. This will take a few minutes. Continue mixing for about 6 more minutes, or until the dough is very well mixed. You will have to scrape down the bowl from time to time. The dough will be very smooth and soft.

3. Line a sheet pan with parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Transfer the dough to the sheet pan, spreading it to form a large thick rectangle about 6x8. Mist the top of the dough and spray with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place it int he fridge and chill over night or for at least 4 hours.

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and shape it while still cold. Grease three 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pans. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and shape the dough into loaves (this was a little difficult and it did not feel like regular bread dough, do the best you can).

5. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Proof the dough until it nearly fills the loaf pans. It took about 2 1/2 hours for one loaf pan and 3 hours for the other two. Gently brush the tops with eggs was. Cover the dough with plastic wrap that has been lightly misted with oil. Continue proofing until the dough fills the molds or pans. It took at least another hour.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Bake for about 35-50 minutes for larger shapes. It should register 190 int he center. Remove the brioche from the pans as soon as they come out of the oven and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before serving.