Saturday, October 31, 2009

bread baking challenge # 4: BRIOCHE.

 Manet's painting a perfect brioche with flower and fruits:


Since I was a child this is, was, the most desirable desert. My mother would make brioche on Easter, for the Easter morning.... So light, puffy, sweet, and buttery in the same time. We always would have with home made preserve (mostly apricot) and warm milk..... what memories!!!!

Later I try to make, never, ever, is the same as my childhood, or from the ones you can get from very much expensive small little French Cafee, downtown Boston. I taste the perfect made brioche in Paris, and in London (Harrod's) with tea and preserve.... perfect...

I was looking forward for this challenge, I even postpone and postpone this challenge #, until i found a  day, that  I can dedicate only to baking.... brioche day.....
I can tell you from the beginning  when I was making the dough, step by step following very strictly Peter Reinhart recipe, that I thought it is going to be a FAILURE. I even imagine how I am going to title this blog as " TOTAL FAILURE!!"
When I realized that I have to mix together 4 cups of flour and 4 sticks of butter (16 oz) and make a bread from it.... I can't believe it is going to raise, or to bake all way.... But it did magnificent and I got a wander full
brioche out of oven. Tall, brown, delicious!!!

This was the recipe for "rich man brioche" and there are few variant with fewer and fewer butter, for the same amount of flour (4 cups). My friends who tried this "Rich" brioche would never imagine it is so much butter....

I found a recipe with brioche dough and fruits, so the rest of the brioche I made a desert with green and black grapes, it happen to have in my house. It would be perfect with half apricots, or plums (I love Italian prunes, to bake with) but I just have some grapes. I add some walnuts, too.

Monday, October 26, 2009

bread baking challenge #14 FRENCH BREAD=BAGUETTE



"French bread abroad. Sold with an American accent," The Economist, September 27, 1997, U.S. Edition:
 The baguette is unmistakably French.  The baguette was invented during Napoleon's campaign in Russia.   Traditional round loaves  “boules”  took up space needed for extra clothes. Napoleon therefore ordered a new shape of bread to be designed that could be carried down the soldiers' trouser-legs.      The French word for baker is Boulanger, he who makes boules, or round loaves, not a "baguettier" who makes sticks.  In fact changing baking technology was partly responsible for the baguette's introduction. By the 1920s most French bakeries were equipped with the steam ovens needed to caramelize the starch on the surface of the loaf to give it a golden, slightly translucent crust.  In October 1920 a new law came into force that prevented bakers from working before 4am, which meant that they did not have time to bake a fresh boule for the breakfast table. They thus turned to the rapidly prepared baguette.

Baguette is the bread that I grew up with, it was and it is my normal everyday bread. Few years ago when we went to visit some friends in Paris, she used to buy for every meal few baguette: breakfast, lunch and diner...
This is why I enjoy so much to bake this bread...
I started a night before, to make patee fermentee , flour, yeast and scolded water. I kept it overnight in refrigerator, and take it out about one hour before I start  making my french bread.

Start with patee fermentee from refrigerator, cut in about 10 pieces, to be warm up at room temp.

Add to these 10 pieces, flour, yeast, warm water, to make a dough
Add the paddle, to mix all the ingredient,

Add the hook attachment to kneed, and make a silky, smooth dough, after 10 minutes, medium speed.

The dough will rise double, after 2h, room temp.

Divide the dough in 3 equal portions, to make 3 loafs.

There are few shapes for french dough, most common is baguette, you press and pull the dough; then fold as a letter, and then you shape in a long form.The standard diameter of a baguette is approximately 2 inches but the bread itself  usually about 23 inches, in length.

For the remnants we shape in the same way, but because is smaller,
 it is called "battard".

There is another rise, one hour, in between plies of cloth, or parchment paper.

Raised, shaped, cut, egg washed (or not) and ready to bake:
375F, 30-40 minutes, depend how crusty you like the bread.

Baked to perfection, crusty and with butter is a real dream.... at least for me!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

HERB CHEESE BUBBLY BREAD, not my going on "bread baking challenge"


What a pleasure to see, to taste, to smell. Perfect for today, a rainy, cold ,fall day...
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I was thinking to start a soup, and this bread came to my thoughts, would go so well with a  hearty soup and a dark red wine...


It is not so difficult to make, it takes a little longer to set up , piece by piece in a buttery pan, but the result is very rewarded!


Ingredients, for dough:
Slightly changed from Better Homes and Gardens Recipe:

For making a bread dough:

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F.) /milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil / or butter 
 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack* cheese (4 oz)
* Parmesan, cheddar or similar cheese can be substituted

I started with a bread dough, mixed well with the dough hook,

When the dough   is well mix, silky and elastic, I put in a bowl, covered, to rise for an hour, to double the ball.

Flat the dough to stretch  as 8by6 inches,

and start  dividing  in 48 squares, cutting to every inches.(see my note)

Grease 1 1/2 quart casserole dish or 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan; set aside.

For dipping the bubbles,  mix these ingredients:

4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp. dried leaves, crushed

Combine butter, parsley, and thyme in small bowl.
  Deep each square in a mixer of melted butter with few herbs (fresh, or dry)

and arrange the balls in a buttered baking pan prepared before.

The pan, covered wit plastic wrap, will go  through another rise, for 30-40 minutes, room temp, until the dough will rise all over the pan.

Bake at 375F, 40 minutes, until is nice, brown, crusty and sound hollow when touch. 

Remove from pan and cool on wire rack 30 minutes.

Serve warm. Store leftover bread in the refrigerator.

Herb and  bubbles cheese bread, 
  Bone appetite!

 Few things to remember, next baking:

1.    I am using the bread machine, to kneed and rise the dough. I put all   ingredients in the machine pan, add warm milk, melted butter, salt and cheese.

2.    Proceed to make bubble after  dough cycle, rise again and bake.

3.    I prefer to make bigger bubbles, 30, instead of 49, because they are too small and too time consuming.  The dough should have 10 by 12 inches rectangular shape, to cut 30 pieces, every 2 inches.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

bread baking challenge # 10 CORN BREAD-


Corn bread is a vivid memory of my childhood mornings when my grandmother used to bake before we wake up. and used to bring to the breakfast table. It was a little sweet, very good soft and tasty. we would have with fresh cow milk, feta or plain yogurt. I still remember the taste of corn meal bread,  little sweet, soft and crunchy in the same time.....I came in this country, long, long after my childhood, my parents, my grandmother, my brother, his family..... are all here. I bought one day a nice looking, well baked corn bread. I bring it to my grandmother ( she was almost 100 years old).... and she was so happy to see that wonderful, baked corn bread. But, it was the right consistency, the right color..... TOO SWEET,.... by far too sweet.

I am going to follow Mr. Reinhart challenge recipe, but I am going to cut the sugar a little, and I am going to cut the frayed bacon, a  taste that I never liked.
Reading in his book, I noticed he is saying to make muffin or corn bread, so I decided to make MUFFINS, we can have for breakfast.

I soaked corn meal with buttermilk and I start adding the rest of ingredients:

First the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, to the mixing bowl.

I add all the liquid ingredients: eggs, melted butter, honey and soaked corn meal, to the bowl.

 I used a paddle and medium speed to mix well all ingredients, and I start to brush the hot, melted butter into the muffin form.

I fill up the muffin holes,

and bake at 375F for 45 minutes. The book is asking for 35 minutes, but everybody else is saying 45 minutes is needed.


The muffins become brown and very nice baked. They are very good taste, crunchy, my husband and I had a wonderful lunch, warm  muffins, yogurt, milk and butter.

Crunchy outside, nice and soft, airy inside.


Edible Education Experience operating the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden, Orlando, FL.  O ne...