Whole Wheat Loaves {TWD-BWJ}

Many of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes from Baking with Julia have been new to me, either in ingredients, technique, or finished product. Not so these hearty whole wheat loaves. I’ve been baking bread for over 30 years, so there was nothing new here. Classic ingredients, standard techniques, nothing fancy.

But don’t take that to mean this was a ho-hum recipe. Far from it. While everything about this recipe was comfortably familiar to me, the finished loaves were nothing like the dense, crumbly whole wheat loaves so many recipes produce. No, these were light, airy, slightly sweet loaves that rose well over the pan and far beyond my expectations.

The ingredients list for the loaves was simple: water, yeast, honey, bread and whole wheat flours, canola oil, malt extract, and salt. It’s the honey and malt that give these loaves their earthy sweetness. And the combination of flours resulted in a hearty, yet tender, crumb.

The dough was wonderful to work with: firm, tacky but not sticky, and quite supple.

Here it is before bulk fermenting:

And here’s what it looked like 1 1/2 hours later:

I divided the dough (not too evenly, as it turns out), shaped the loaves, and put them in pans to proof.

After an hour of proofing, the loaves were well-risen and ready to bake.

This, boys and girls, is why you should always scale your dough.

I baked the loaves, cooled them, then put one in the freezer and kept the other out to use for toast and sandwiches.

This is a delicious bread, and easy enough to make a bread baker out of anyone!

Our host for this week are Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together. Check out their posts for the recipe and to see what they thought of this bread.

Nick Malgieri’s Old-fashioned Raisin Bread {Recipe}

My friend and baking mentor, Nick Malgieri, has a new book coming out in September. I have had a chance to preview some of the recipes, and I was excited to see yet another one on his blog the other day, this recipe for old-fashioned raisin bread. It’s simple, makes a beautiful dough, and results in the best raisin bread you’ve ever tasted.

I invited my friends, Kayte and Nancy, to make this bread with me, so we all mixed, kneaded, and baked in our kitchens in Indiana, California, and Ohio, at the same time. Actually Kayte finished first, which means her loaves were gone before Nancy’s were even baked.

This bread was a delight to make. The dough was perfectly elastic and easy to work with. It was a bit of a job getting all those currants and golden raisins kneaded in, but it was so worth it.

The finished loaves were beautiful, with a lovely, soft crumb and studded with raisins and currants. And the taste was out of this world. As I always do when I make bread, I tasted it several different ways — plain, buttered, toasted (plain, buttered, and with cinnamon-sugar). And I can honestly say I would gladly eat it any of those ways. My favorite was toasted with a little butter, although the cinnamon-sugar was outstanding, too.

This is definitely a bread to put on your short list to try. But be warned: it will make you want to pick up Nick’s book when it comes out in September.

Old-fashioned Raisin Bread (from Nick Malgieri’s blog and upcoming book, BREAD)

Nothing fancy here but a slightly sweetened and enriched white bread loaded with dark and golden raisins.  The recipe makes two loaves and they’ll be gone before you know it.

1 cup/225 grams room temperature tap water, about 75°F3 teaspoons/10 grams fine granulated active dry or instant yeast

1 cup/225 grams whole milk, scalded and cooled

5 cups/675 grams unbleached bread flour

1/3 cup/70 grams sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons/10 grams fine sea salt

4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces and softened

1/1/2 cups/150 grams dark raisins or currants

1 1/2 cups/150 grams golden raisins

Two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pans brushed with soft butter or coated with vegetable cooking spray

  1. Whisk the water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer; whisk in the cooled milk.
  2. Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt, and add to the mixer bowl.  Use a large rubber spatula to stir the ingredients to a rough dough.  Distribute the pieces of butter all over the top of the dough.
  3. Place on the mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on lowest speed until the butter is absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Increase the speed to low/medium and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Decrease the speed to lowest and add the raisins a little at a time, continuing to mix until they are fairly evenly absorbed by the dough.
  5. Scrape the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly to ensure that the raisins are evenly distributed in the dough.
  6. Drop the dough into a buttered or sprayed bowl and turn it over so that the top is coated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment until it doubles in bulk, about an hour or longer if it’s cool in the kitchen.
  7. Invert the risen dough to a lightly floured work surface and cut it into 2 equal pieces, each about 715 grams.  Gently pat one of the pieces to a rough square and roll it from the top down, jellyroll style, into a tight cylinder.  Pinch the edge in place and drop into one of the pans, seam side down.  Repeat with the other piece of dough.
  8. Cover the loaves with buttered or sprayed plastic wrap and let them proof until the dough comes about an inch above the edge of the pan.
  9. Once the loaves are almost proofed, set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
  10. Place the pans in the oven and decrease the temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake the raisin bread until it is well risen and has an internal temperature of 200 degrees, about 45 to 55 minutes.
  11. Unmold and cool the loaves on rack on their sides.  Let cool several hours before wrapping.

Thanks, Nick, for another great recipe! This is one I will be making again and again.

Fig & Almond Bread {BOM}

This month’s BOM (bread of the month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group is a recipe that Nick Malgieri recently developed for his upcoming book. You can find the recipe here.

The recipe is made with a basic, sweetened bread dough enhanced with:

Figs!

And Almonds!

 I kneaded the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer and added the figs and almonds near the end. In order to get them to mix in better, I first flattened the dough in the bottom of the mixer…

…then spread the figs and almonds on top.

I pressed the fruit and nuts into the dough, then folded the dough over itself several times with a bench scraper.

The dough is minimally kneaded at the beginning and further mixed and developed through several “turns”. After an initial 30 minute rest, I gave the dough its first turn:

First, I flattened the dough on a pastry mat.

 

Next, I folded the sides in toward the center.

 

Finally, I rolled the dough from one of the short ends,

 

...and returned it to the bowl to continue rising.

 I let the dough rise for another 30 minutes, then gave it a second turn. After 30 more minutes, it was ready to be shaped into a boule.

This dough was very nice to work with and easy to shape. And it baked up beautifully. I served the bread for dinner, along with some freshly baked French bread.

This bread was absolutely delicious! The figs and almonds paired well together, making the bread flavorful but not overly sweet. If you like raisins in bread, you’ll like this bread, even if you don’t usually like figs.

This bread really has me looking forward to Nick’s book. I can’t wait to see what else he has up his sleeve!

Grissini: Classic Italian Breadsticks (ModBak)

This week’s entry for the Modern Baker Challenge is Grissini, or Italian Breadsticks. These breadsticks are very simple to make, containing only flour, water, salt, olive oil, and active dry yeast. The recipe calls for both warm and cold water — warm to activate the yeast; cold to cool the dough in the food processor.

Because I was using instant yeast, I didn’t have to dissolve it in water first, so I mixed the yeast with the flour, salt, and olive oil in the food processor, then added all cold water. The recipe makes 24 breadsticks, but I didn’t want that many, so I halved the recipe. After mixing the dough, I put it in an oiled container to ferment.

I let the dough proof for about an hour, until it had doubled in volume.

After the dough had fermented, I put it in the refrigerator to chill. The recipe says to refrigerate the dough from one to 24 hours. I wanted to bake the Grissini with dinner the next day, so I left the dough in the fridge for about 22 hours. The next day, I took the dough out of the fridge, pressed it into a rectangle, and cut it into 12 pieces.

I rolled each piece of dough into a roughly 15-inch cylinder and put them on a baking sheet.

I baked the breadsticks in a 325°F oven for about 25 minutes, until they were golden and crispy. I let the Grissini cool on the pan, then put them in a tall glass for serving.

I served the Grissini with Dorie Greenspan’s Potato Gratin. The breadsticks were crisp and light and paired perfectly with a meal. They could easily be spiced up by adding herbs to the dough or by topping them with sesame seeds or cracked pepper. But I liked them the way the were — crisp, crunchy, and delicious.

Ginger-Scented Panettone {ModBak}

My second assigned blog post for the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of the Modern Baker Challenge is Ginger-Scented Panettone. I’m not sure why I picked this recipe, as I don’t have much experience with panettone. In fact, until I made Peter Reinhart’s Panettone recipe for the BBA Challenge, I had never even tasted panettone. But I really liked PR’s recipe, and since we would be baking from this section during the holiday season, Ginger-Scented Panettone seemed like a festive choice.

In the introduction to this recipe, Nick Malgieri notes that in Italy panettone is generally made with sourdough starter, although his recipe calls for a yeast-based sponge. One advantage to using sourdough is that the bread stays fresh longer and won’t get moldy as quickly. Since I keep two sourdough starters in the refrigerator and it was time to get them out to feed them anyway, I decided to make my panettone with a mixed method, using sourdough starter and some yeast.

Using baker’s math, I calculated the hydration of the sponge and fed my sourdough starter accordingly. I let the sponge ferment for about eight hours, until it was nice and bubbly. Rather than using yeast in the sponge, I added it to the dough. Since I was using instant yeast instead of active dry yeast, I added the yeast along with the flour.

After the sponge was ready, I gathered my ingredients. I was feeling a bit lazy, so I cheated on the minced ginger.

As you might guess from the name, I picked this jar of ginger up at an Indian grocery. I really like this stuff and use it just about anytime a recipe calls for freshly-grated ginger. It comes in a two-pound jar, so it lasts forever, and it stays fresh in the fridge. And speaking of ginger, I found this candied ginger at World Market. It’s fresh and chewy, not all hard and dried out like the stuff you get in the grocery store. And it’s a lot less expensive, too.

I mixed up the dough, which, in addition to the ginger, is flavored with lemon zest and vanilla. Unlike a traditional panettone, this dough isn’t loaded with fruit, containing only golden raisins and no candied fruit or peel. After the dough was mixed up, I put it into a buttered bowl and let it ferment.

The dough rose for about two hours, until it had doubled in volume.

By using a combination of sourdough starter and commercial yeast, I got the advantages of each. The starter enabled me to achieve a longer lasting, more flavorful dough, while the commercial yeast made the dough rise on a more predictable schedule.

After the dough had fermented, I put it in my panettone mold. Based on my previous panettone misadventure, I decided to put the dough into two molds. However, as soon as I had shaped and panned the dough, I could tell that two molds were too many, so I took the dough from one mold and plopped it on top of the dough in the other mold.

I was a bit concerned that the dough might outgrow the paper mold, but I decided to try it anyway, as I didn’t want squat little boules like I had the first time I made panettone. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried, as the dough didn’t quite fill the mold when it proofed, and it baked up perfectly.

Before I baked the loaf, I brushed the top with a little egg wash and sprinkled it with finishing sugar. I liked the way it looked, and it gave the bread just a hint of extra sweetness, along with a nice crunch.

This was a really nice bread. The ginger flavor was definitely in the forefront, but it wasn’t overwhelming. And I liked the fact that it had the golden raisins in it but wasn’t overloaded with candied citrus peel or unnaturally-colored fruit.

Anyone who grew up eating panettone during the holiday season will probably find this a nice diversion from the standard loaf. And if you’ve never been a panettone fan, or perhaps have never even tried it, this would be a nice introduction to this Italian holiday tradition.

Buon Natale!

Cinnamon Breakfast Ring {ModBak}

The third bread in the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of The Modern Baker is Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Ring.

This recipe starts with a batch of quick brioche dough. After turning the dough out of the food processor, I pressed it out to a square, then rolled it into a rectangle.

I spread the dough with a mixture of butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then sprinkled it with pecans. The recipe also called for raisins, but I omitted them so the girls would eat it.

I rolled the dough from the long end, then curled the dough into a ring on the baking sheet.

It didn’t come out as even as I had hoped, and I had a bit of trouble getting the ends to stay together. But in the end, it looked fine.

I cut slits in the ring from the outside about 3/4 of the way to the center.

Then I twisted each section 1/4 turn, so that the filling was visible.

After letting the shaped dough rise for about two hours, I brushed the surface with an egg wash and sprinkled it with more pecans.

I baked the ring in a 350° F oven for about 25 minutes. It looked and smelled terrific when it came out of the oven.

This was an impressive-looking loaf that would be great to serve to company or for a casual brunch. And it was really delicious — soft, gooey with cinnamon, but not overly so. Definitely a dish to make again and again.

Quick Brioche Braid {ModBak}

The first recipe in the third section of The Modern Baker is a bread with which I am quite familiar, having baked three versions from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and one from Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Around My French Table. What differentiates Nick Malgeri‘s brioche recipe from others I’ve made is that it comes together very quickly, is shaped immediately after mixing, and rises only once.

I made this bread twice. The first time I departed from the recipe in two ways. First, I mixed the dough in the stand mixer instead of the food processor.

As you can see, the dough was very wet. After mixing it, I put the dough in bread pans (the second departure from the recipe, which calls for braiding the dough).

Even though it remained slack, the dough baked up nicely, and I was pleased with the look of the resulting brioche.

As far as the taste goes, I would have to say it wasn’t my favorite of the brioches I’ve made. It tasted fine, but wasn’t exceptional. I made Dorie’s brioche at the same time and liked it better.

I made the first batch of brioche before we actually go to this section of the book, and I decided to remake it, this time following the recipe. So, I mixed the dough in the food processor instead of the mixer. I’m still having the issue of liquids leaking out of the food pro when I use it to make dough, but I’m starting to think it’s either something with my Cuisinart or user error, as others don’t seem to have this problem.

After mixing the dough, I shaped the loaf. The dough was much less slack than the first time I made the recipe and was easy to handle. First, I divided the dough into three pieces, rolled each piece into a rope, and then braided the ropes.

I allowed the bread to proof for about two hours, until it doubled in size.

After brushing the loaf with beaten egg, I baked it in a 350° oven for about 40 minutes, until it was well-risen and golden brown.

The bread smelled amazing. And it looked really nice when I sliced it. The big question, of course, was how it would taste.

Although I didn’t have another brioche to compare this one to, this loaf would stack up well against any of the other recipes I have tried. In fact, given how easy this one is to prepare, it may just become my go-to recipe for brioche.

Chocolate Babka Loaf {ModBak}

The first of my two “official” blog posts for the Yeast-Risen Specialties section of the Modern Baker Challenge is a delicious recipe, Chocolate Babka. This bread is Eastern European in origin, most likely Russian. The dough is enriched with milk, butter, egg yolks, and sugar, and filled with bittersweet chocolate and nuts.

I began by heating the milk, then mixing in the yeast, butter, sugar, salt, egg yolks, and vanilla. I stirred in half the flour with a rubber spatula, then mixed in the rest, one-half cup at a time, with the electric mixer. After all the flour had been added, I mixed the dough for two minutes, rested it for 10 minutes, then mixed for another two minutes.

I scraped the dough, which was very slack, into a buttered bowl, then put it in the refrigerator. It was supposed to chill for an hour and a half, but I had some errands to run, so it stayed in the fridge for about three hours. I don’t think the long, cold fermentation hurt the dough, but when I scraped it out onto the bench, it was still very slack.

I sprinkled the board with flour, but should have floured it more heavily. I should also have floured the top of the dough a bit. I patted out the dough, but it was so sticky, it was hard to manage. After pressing it out into a rough rectangle, I sprinkled the dough with the bittersweet chocolate mixture (chocolate, dark cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon) and chopped nuts.

I had quite a time rolling the dough, as it wanted to stick to the mat, my hands, and itself. It wasn’t pretty, but I finally got the dough rolled into a rough loaf shape, which I cut in half, then wrestled into two loaf pans.

The loaves proofed for about two hours, until the dough crested the tops of the pans. I baked the loaves for 45 minutes at 350°.

I took the bread out of the oven, cooled it in the pan for 10 minutes, then removed the loaves and finished cooling them on their sides so the loaves wouldn’t collapse.

What this bread lacked in appearance and manageability, it more than made up for in taste. The bittersweet chocolate was delicious, and the cinnamon gave it an additional depth of flavor.

The next time I make this bread — and there will certainly be a next time — I’ll flour the board and dough more heavily to make it easier to handle. But even with the difficulties I had, this bread was definitely worth the effort.

Brioches — Bubble-Top and Loaves {AMFT}

French Fridays with Dorie, the new cooking group dedicated to making weekly recipes from Dorie Greenspan‘s latest book, Around My French Table, doesn’t officially launch until October. The first months’ recipes, chosen for us by Dorie herself, look really great and should be a nice introduction to the book for most people. I, of course, couldn’t wait for the launch of FFwD, so I set out to make a few recipes from AMFT on my own.

The first recipe I tried, Eggplant Caviar, was a hit and had me ready to try more. For my second recipe, I decided to make something I already know and love, Brioche. Having made all three brioche recipes from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I had an idea what to expect from the dough and resulting bread.

Dorie’s recipe differs from Peter Reinhart’s recipes in that, instead of a sponge, it uses overnight fermentation to develop flavor. As far as butter content, it seems to be somewhere between PR’s Poor Man’s and Middle-Class Brioches.

The dough mixed up fairly quickly in the Kitchen Aid, and after resting for an hour on the counter, it was ready to chill overnight. The next day it looked like this:

There are two shaping options given in the recipe — bubble-top brioches and brioche loaves — and I decided to try them both. The bubble-top brioches are individual brioches made by dropping three small dough balls into brioche molds or cupcake tins.

The loaf is shaped by dividing the dough into four pieces, shaping each into a log, and arranging the logs in the pan.

The loaves proofed for about an hour-and-a-half, until the dough filled the pans.

The bubble-top brioches baked for about 20 minutes; the loaf for about 30, until they were golden brown and well-risen.

The brioches were delicious — buttery and light. They compared quite favorably to PR’s Middle-Class Brioche, my favorite of the three. In fact, I would have to try Dorie’s and PR’s loaves side by side to choose a favorite.

This is definitely a recipe to make again, and another winner from Dorie’s French table.

Cornetti: Olive Oil Rolls from Bologna {ModBak}

The final recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge is Cornetti, a uniquely-shaped dinner roll. When shaped correctly, they look like two croissants criss-crossed over one another. Mine more closely resembled little voodoo dolls.

Other than the shaping, this is a fairly simple recipe, consisting of flour, yeast, water, salt, olive oil, and sugar. I mixed the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid, let them autolyse for a few minutes, and mixed some more. After turning the dough out into an oiled bowl, I covered it and let it ferment for about an hour.

When the dough had risen, I divided into six pieces (I made a half recipe), shaped each piece into a ball, and let the dough balls rest for a few minutes.

After the dough had relaxed a bit, I began rolling it out. I found it required another short rest to relax enough to get the dough balls rolled out to 12″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles.

Nick Malgieri says to roll out all the dough at once, then begin shaping it; but I don’t have that much counter space, so I shaped the rolls one at a time. After rolling the dough into a rectangle, I cut the dough corner to corner with a pizza wheel, then flipped one piece of dough so the points were touching.

I brushed the dough with olive oil, then rolled each side from the wide edge to the center, making two connected croissant-shaped rolls.

I lifted the rolls to the baking pan. As I was setting them on the pan, I crossed one roll over the other.

I rolled and shaped the remaining dough, then allowed the rolls to proof for about 45 minutes. I baked the rolls in a 400° oven for about 25 minutes, until they were puffed, golden, and slightly firm to the touch.

The rolls smelled really good coming out of the oven. My shaping left a bit to be desired, but I think with a little experience, these would be really impressive dinner rolls.

As for taste, they were really good. Because of the crescent shape, I was expecting them to be light and fluffy. They weren’t. The texture was what you would expect from a typical dinner roll. Again, not what I expected, but really tasty, especially with homemade plum jam.

I wonder how it would be to make this shape with croissant dough? I might have to try that when we get to croissants.

For now, I’m ready to move onto the next section of the Challenge, Yeast-Risen Specialties, Sweet and Savory. We will be baking in this section for the rest of the year. There are some great holiday recipes like brioche, babka, and ginger-scented panettone. So if you’ve thought about joining the Modern Baker Challenge, this would be a great time to dive in.

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