Portuguese Sweet Bread

The following recipe is the November BOM (Bread of the Month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers Group — http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/event.php?eid=166811805757&index=1

Portuguese Sweet Bread (based on Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

Makes 2 1-pound loaves

Ingredients

Sponge:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup water, at room temperature

Dough:

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • About 6 tablespoons water, at room temperature

Directions

To make the sponge, stir together the flour, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are hydrated and make a smooth batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the sponge gets foamy and seems on the verge of collapse.

To make the dough, combine the sugar, salt, powdered milk, butter, and shortening in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer). Cream together with a sturdy spoon (or the paddle attachment) until smooth, then mix in the eggs and the extracts. Knead by hand (or switch to the dough hook attachment) and mix in the sponge and the flour. Add the water, as needed, to make a very soft dough. The finished dough should be very supple and soft, easy to knead, and not wet or sticky. It will take 10 to 12 minutes with the electric mixer and close to 15 minutes by hand to achieve this consistency. (Dough with high amounts of fat and sugar usually take longer to knead because the gluten requires more time to set up.) The finished dough should pass the windowpane test (see NOTE below) and register 77 to 88 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two equal pieces. Form each of the pieces into a boule (ball shape – stretch opposite sides, tuck them under, turn the dough 180 degrees, and repeat). Lightly oil two 9-inch pie pans and place 1 boule, seam side down, in each pan. Mist the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the pans with plastic wrap.

Proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough fills the pans fully, doubling in size and overlapping the edges slightly. (If you only want to bake one loaf, you may retard the second in the fridge for 1 day, although it will take 4 to 5 hours to proof after it comes out of the refrigerator.)

Very gently brush the loaves with egg wash. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Bake the loaves for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they register 190 F in the center. After 30 minutes, check the loaves and rotate 180 degrees, if necessary, for even baking. Because of the high amount of sugar, the dough will brown very quickly, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is done. It will get darker as the center gradually catches up with the outside, but it will not burn. The final color will be a rich mahogany brown.

Remove the bread from the pie pans and place on a rack to cool. The bread will soften as it cools, resulting in a very soft, squishy loaf. Allow the bread to cool for at least 90 minutes before slicing or serving.

Weekend Warrior, BBA Style

 

A number of people have noted that, now that we are about halfway through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, they have hit a wall. It’s not that they want to quit the Challenge; they just don’t want to bake for a while. Just the opposite happened to me this week. I got my baking and canning mojo on big time. I had a long weekend, and from Saturday to Monday, I managed to make and can apple cider jelly, apple butter and 4-citrus marmalade, and to bake pumpkin gingerbread, pain a l’ancienne, pain de compagne and struan.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This was not a typical weekend for me. In fact, I have never even come close to being this productive in the kitchen before. I don’t know what came over me: I just felt like baking and cooking.

On Saturday morning, I made pumpkin gingerbread, which was the October BOM (bread of the month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group. And it was, indeed, the bomb. Check out the recipe if you want to try it for yourself.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Crumb

In the afternoon on Saturday, we went to a local farm market and came home with lots of goodies, including apple cider. I made apple cider jelly in the evening. I think it will be really good as a glaze for tarts or grilled chicken.

While the jelly was cooking, I also baked a half recipe of BBA pain a l’ancienne. This is a rustic bread, crusty, full of holes and definitely homemade looking. I especially enjoy what I consider to be real artisan breads (sourdoughs and those breads containing flour, water, salt, yeast, and little else), so I was looking forward to this recipe. It was a very slack dough, due to the high hydration.

Pain a l'Ancienne shaped

This made it somewhat challenging to work with. But the loaves came out looking really nice.

Pain a l'Ancienne

And the crumb was beautiful.

Pain a l'Ancienne Crumb

And the taste? That’s where the letdown came for me. I didn’t exactly dislike it. But I wasn’t crazy about it, either. It was sort of bland and lifeless. Ah, well. Maybe next time (which wouldn’t be a very long wait for me this weekend).

Sunday morning saw the continuation of the canning craze, as I made my first-ever batch of apple butter. Here are a few pictures: before cooking, after cooking, and after straining.

Apples for Apple Butter

Apple Butter Cooked

Apple Butter - Strained

I went kind of light on the cinnamon and nutmeg, and was really pleased with the results. Several people at work said they don’t normally like apple butter, but they liked this.

While the apples were cooking down, I started on my next BBA bread: pain de compagne. This was a fun bread to make, as it lends itself to all kinds of creative shaping. I opted to try my hand at an auvergnat (cap), couronne (crown), and epi (wheat sheaf). As you can see, I had somewhat mixed results. I liked the couronne and epi. But the auvergnat looked a bit like a stick figure head wearing a graduation cap.

Pain de Compagne shaped

Pain de Compagne proofed

Pain de Compagne

These were really flavorful loaves. My 5-year-old and I kept tearing the nubbins off the epi and eating them. And the auvergnat tasted much better than it looked.

On Sunday evening, I started the 4-citrus marmalade. I began with my citrus marmalade recipe, which I altered by reducing the lemon to 1 and adding 2 limes and about 3/4 of a grapefruit. The citrus marmalade has a great flavor — tangy and sweet — and I thought the addition of lime and grapefruit would enhance the flavor and add a lot to the visual appeal as well.

4 Citruses

After boiling the citrus, I added the sugar, covered the pan and let it sit overnight. By Monday morning, there was a lot more liquid.

4 Citrus Marmalade in the Morning

I cooked it down for several hours, then canned it.

4 Citrus Marmalade Boiled

I will have to write up this recipe, as it was all I had hoped it would be. I can’t wait to give it away for Christmas.

For those of you keeping score, I had one more bread to go. The end of my baking adventure was struan. I used Peter Reinhart’s multigrain bread extraordinaire recipe in BBA, but I doubled it since one loaf just wasn’t enough the last time.

After I had baked my first batch of straun for the BBA Challenge, I realized I had King Arthur 12-grain flour in the freezer, which seemed like a natural addition for this bread. So this time, I replaced about 1/3 of the bread flour in the recipe with the multigrain flour.

And I added more (and different) rice. I had to go to the store to buy rice, so I picked up three bags — brown, red and forbidden (black). I cooked them all together using Nicole’s foolproof method. It is, of course, impossible to cook a few ounces of rice, and I didn’t even try. Instead, I used 1/3 cup (dry) of each rice to make a nice-sized batch. After I measured out the rice for my struan, I wrapped the remaining rice mixture in 2-ounce packages (about 8 in all) and froze them for later use.

And I will use them. I love this bread. In fact, it may be my favorite BBA Challenge bread so far. It has incredible depth of flavor. With polenta, bran, oats, rice, etc., how could it not? And it’s great plain, as toast or for sandwiches. I think the next time I make struan, I will try baking it in my pain de mie pan for a true sandwich loaf.

Thus ended my crazy canning and baking weekend. Even though I had a lot of fun making so many things, I was kind of glad when Tuesday came and I had to go back to work: after all, I needed to catch up on my rest.

Pumpkin Gingerbread {Recipe} {BOM}

Here is an easy, festive pumpkin bread recipe, made special by the addition of lots of ginger. For a real treat, use freshly grated ginger instead of powdered.
 
Pumpkin Gingerbread Crumb
 
INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons ground ginger or 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice and cinnamon.
3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Still Life with Pumpkin Gingerbread

Struan Upon the Waters — Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Here we are, rapidly approaching the halfway mark in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, and I’m still enjoying the ride. Even though I have been baking bread for more years than I care to admit, I continue to learn as I work my way through the recipes in Peter Reinhart‘s excellent book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

I was really excited about this week’s bread, Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, as it is one of Peter’s signature breads, a version of which has appeared in several of his books. I’m not exactly sure why he renamed it — it was always called Struan before — but it’s basically the same bread, which I have wanted to make since reading Bread Upon the Waters. As the new name implies, this bread is chock full of grains, some of which aren’t generally used in bread baking. Having experimented with my own multigrain bread, Five Grain Seeded Sourdough, I was anxious to try Peter’s recipe.

As with many multigrain breads, including mine, this recipe begins with a soaker. The night before I made the bread, I put the cornmeal, wheat germ and oatmeal in a small bowl, added a little bit of water and covered the bowl with plastic wrap. The recipe called for wheat bran, but all I had on hand was wheat germ. I did an online search to try to determine how different the two really were. I learned that germ is the center of the wheat kernel, whereas bran is the outer husk. Beyond that, the information was confusing and conflicting. Some sites said that the two could be interchanged, while others stated that the difference between them was like that of an egg yolk to the eggshell. Armed with this lack of agreement, I went ahead and used the wheat germ for the recipe.

The next morning, I prepared my rice. Here, again, I had a slight departure from the recipe. I didn’t have any brown rice and didn’t feel like running out for it. So I called a friend of mine who was coming over and asked him to bring me some brown rice. As it turns out, he didn’t have any either. Instead, he brought me red rice. Never having eaten, let alone cooked with red rice, I went back to the ‘net, this time finding that red rice is cooked in the same manner as brown rice.

Now, that created a problem for me, as I have never had any luck cooking brown rice. It either comes out crunchy or as 1 big pasty lump. I did a search for how to correctly cook brown rice and found that our own Nicole, of Pinch My Salt fame, had a blog entry with directions for perfectly cooked brown rice. I knew I needed look no further. If Nicole said it worked, that was good enough for me. I followed her directions, and 40 minutes later, had perfectly cooked red rice.

Red Rice Boiling

Red, Red Rice

After the rice cooled, I mixed the dough. I began by putting the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. Then I added the soaker and rice.

Mixing Straun

I began mixing the dough, which was quite sticky. It did not clear the bowl at all, and I knew it would need more flour. I added a few small scoops of flour. As they mixed in, I liked the look of the red rice in the dough but felt like it could use more. I had another ounce or so of rice left (about what I had put in to begin with), and I went ahead and added it all. Then I continued to add more flour until the bread had the right feel — tacky but not sticky. After about 10 minutes of mixing in the Kitchen Aid, I took the dough out of the bowl and kneaded it for a few minutes on the counter.

Straun Dough

I put the dough in a bowl to ferment, and about 75 minutes later, it had doubled and was ready for shaping.

Straun Doubled

I patted the dough out into an oval.

Patting out Straun

Then rolled it into a loaf and panned it.

Rolled Straun    Panned Straun

I then misted the dough with water and sprinkled it with poppy seeds.

Sprinkling on Poppy Seeds

I let the loaf proof for about 90 minutes, then baked it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until it registered 185 degrees on my instant read thermometer. I took the loaf out of the pan to cool on a rack.

It smelled amazing — warm, yeasty, and a bit like molasses. In fact, I would say the smell reminded me quite a lot of Anadama Bread, the first BBA Challenge bread. Even though the Struan loaf had honey and brown sugar in it, I hadn’t really anticipated that it might have a sweet taste to it. Smelling it, I couldn’t imagine what the flavor would be like.

 Straun

One interminable hour later, I sliced the loaf. The crumb was beautiful – soft and light. And the taste really did remind me of Anadama bread. A bit milder, but really delicious. This would make an excellent sandwich bread and would also be great for morning toast and tea.

Straun Crumb

This is certainly a bread to make again. The only changes I might make next time would be to omit the poppy seeds on the top of the loaf — there’s nothing wrong with them, they just don’t seem to add anything to the bread. And I would make a double batch next time. This bread is just too good to only have one loaf at a time.