Kulich – Russian Easter Bread

April 6, 2012

I was gearing up to make my usual Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday. However, while prowling around various cooking blogs, I came across a recipe for Kulich on While Chasing Kids. It definitely stopped me in my tracks. It looked fantastic! Kulich is a sweet yeast bread filled with spices, rum drenched raisins and apricots which makes an appearance on many Russian tables for Easter.

Always interested in trying something new, I was completely waylaid from my previous Hot Cross Bun mission and set out to make this enticing Russian Easter treat. The first difficulty I ran into, was finding suitable baking tins. Kulich molds are traditionally very tall cylinders. Apparently many folks who don’t have the actual molds will use an empty 2 lb. coffee tin. Another option is to use Panettone paper molds. I didn’t have either of those on hand. Instead I had a Le Creuset large 2.75 quart stoneware utensil crock and two Le Creuset coffee mugs. I decided that they would have to do in a pinch.

I love spices, so I altered the While Chasing Kids recipe a bit by adding some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom. I also cut it in half since I didn’t think I would need so many Kulichi since my husband and I will not be getting together with the family this Easter and figured we might be hard pressed to consume 6 Kulichi all on our lonesome.

I changed the frosting a bit as well. I decided to use an egg white/confectioner’s sugar frosting. I prefer the taste of this frosting as well as the cloud like, marshmallowy appearance. I know some folks might be a bit leery of this since it does contain raw egg whites and there is a risk of salmonella. I decided to live on the edge a bit and took the risk. However, I have included another frosting option sans raw egg whites for those who are feeling a bit less adventurous.

I may have gotten a bit carried away with my decorations as well, but once on a roll I couldn’t be stopped! I used sliced almonds to try to create a shingled roof appearance for one of my smaller Kulichi. Sanding sugar  and french dragees were featured on the next loaf. And for the big loaf I chose sanding sugar as well as melted chocolate, which I used to pipe on the traditional “XB” which is the Russian abbreviation for “Christ has risen”.

Once we cut into a loaf we were very pleased to find that the bread was absolutely delicious. Sweet, light and fluffy and packed full of moist rum soaked raisins and apricots. Yum! Perhaps we could have actually eaten all 6 Kulichi! I am so happy that Anastasia at While Chasing Kids shared her old family recipe. Even though we’re not Russian, I think this tasty bread will find a place on our Easter table from now on.

Kulich

recipe adapted from: While Chasing Kids

Yield: 1 large Kulich and two smaller Kulichi

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 12 grams dry yeast
  • 3/4 Cup sugar, divided
  • 500 grams all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 eggs, whites separated from yolks
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 7 grams salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 125 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled to barely warm
  • 75 grams raisins, dried apricots, almonds (whichever you like, or all together. I used 25 grams raisins, 25 gram golden raisins, 25 gram dried apricots)
  • 1/2 Cup Rum

Frosting:

Option #1:

  • 2 egg whites, chilled
  • 125 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Option #2:

  • 200 gram confectioner’s sugar
  • Orange juice from 1 orange
  • 50 grams hot water

Decorations:

  • sanding sugar, almonds, decorating icing ( as you wish)

Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl combine milk, 1/2 tablespoon of the sugar, and dry yeast.  Let ferment for about 10 minutes.  Add 100 grams of flour, mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment.  Depending on the temperature around your house, it may take from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours for the poolish mixture to start heavy bubbling.

If using raisins, pour rum over them, and let soak while the dough is being prepared.

Butter your chosen Kulich baking tins and set aside.

Add nutmeg, ginger, cardamon and cinnamon to remaining flour. Stir to combine.

When the poolish is ready, with a hand-mixer beat the egg yolks with remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl whisk egg whites so that they form a peak.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, butter, poolish, egg yolks, and whites.

Cover with a plastic wrap, and let rise.  When the dough doubles in size (50 – 90 minutes), add drained raisins and/or other dried fruit and nuts.

Fill the buttered molds with the dough, about 1/3 full. Cover the filled molds with a kitchen towel, and let rise for another 50-90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, till golden brown.

Remove kulich from the oven, and let chill on a wire rack.

When the kulich is cool, prepare the frosting by whisking all the ingredients together into a smooth mixture.

Apply the frosting on top of your kulich, allowing it to drip.

Decorate your Easter Bread with “XB” and or other patterns, if desired.

Happy Easter!


Scallion Cheddar Scones

March 27, 2012

The other day, I had a craving for a savory scone and these little fellows really hit the spot! They are wonderfully moist and tender. The cheddar, scallion and Dijon mustard are just brilliant together. These scones are great for breakfast but equally as good for lunch when served with a bowl of soup, chili or stew.

You can make these in the traditional triangular scone shape, but I wanted these to be in a mini sized portion. A 2″ biscuit cutter worked quite easily here. Come to think of it, they would be great for appetizers, given their perfect little bite-size as well. Just imagine them topped with a little slice of ham. I must admit, I did make them to go along with a particular spread, which I will be blogging about next time. Like a hint? It involves bacon and is unbelievably tasty! Perhaps even life changing…But until then, make up a batch of these little gems, which are fantastic all on their own, especially when slathered with butter! YUM!

Scallion Cheddar Scones

recipe from: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

yield: 20 mini scones

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick, 3 ounces) cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 Cup (2 3/4 ounces) cream or sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Cup (4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3-5 scallions (1 Cup, 2 ounces) chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Rub in the butter with your fingers.

Mix together the eggs, cream, and mustard. Add this to the dry ingredients. Stir in the grated cheese and the scallions. Mix just until combined. This is the consistency of drop-cookie dough.

Liberally flour the counter and your hands. Pat the dough to 1″ thickness. Cut dough with 2″ biscuit cutter. (You can also shape these into traditional scone triangular shapes. If you wish to do this pat the dough into a 6×9″ rectangle, about 1″ thick. Cut the rectangle into 6 smaller rectangles, and cut each smaller rectangle into two triangles, forming 12 triangular scones.)Place on well-greased or parchment covered cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into a scone comes out dry.

Enjoy!


Boxty in the Pan

March 12, 2012

Boxty on the Griddle,

Boxty in the Pan,

If you can’t make Boxty

Sure you’ll never get a man!

 So goes an old Irish folk rhyme. Boxty or arán bocht tí in Irish-meaning poor house bread, is a traditional potato bread which can be made into pancakes (on the griddle), dumplings or baked into a loaf (in the pan). Last year I made the boxty on the griddle, or the pancake variety. This year I decided to serve up some Boxty in the Pan. For this version, you prepare the batter and then place it in a loaf pan and bake it. Once it has cooled, you slice it and then fry it in butter on the griddle. It can be served with breakfast, slathered with more butter (of course….you know this is going to taste great!) and topped with bacon or honey/preserves if you have a hankerin for something sweet along with your savoury. Boxty is quite versatile so it can also be served with dinner or with various toppings like smoked salmon. Yum, yum, yum!

Boxty is very easy to make. You get to use up any left over mashed potatoes you might have lingering about, like you were able to in my Potato Farls recipe. Grating the raw potato by hand can be a bit tiresome, but luckily I have a food processor and put it to good use. One other thing you want to make sure you do is squeeze all of the excess liquid out of the grated raw potatoes. To do this, I wrap the grated potato in a cotton tea towel and give it a good squeeze. Then you just mix everything together to make the batter and pour it into a loaf tin and pop it into the oven. About one hour later it’s ready! You can keep the Boxty in the fridge for 4-5 days and cut slices off to fry whenever the craving hits you…which could potentially be quite often once you get a taste of this dish. Just a warning…. My husband was quite pleased with the Gaelic Boxty from last year and happily was just as enthusiastic about my Boxty in the Pan. Have a loaf ready for St. Patrick’s Day morning!

Boxty in the Pan

recipe adapted from The Daily Spud & Gallagher’s Boxty House

Ingredients:

  • 250 gram raw grated potato
  • 250 gram mashed potatoes
  • 160 gram All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 ml buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a 4×8″ loaf baking tin.

In medium-sized bowl sift together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Set aside.

Peel and grate raw potato. (I used a food processor to grate mine) Place grated potato in cotton or linen dish towel and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.

In large bowl, place mashed potatoes and raw grated potatoes. Add flour mixture and knead to form dough.

Add buttermilk and stir to combine. Batter will be thick.

Pour batter into prepared baking tin. Drizzle melted butter over the top of the boxty. Bake for 60 minutes until top is golden brown.

Allow boxty to cool.

On the day you wish to serve, slice thick cut of the boxty. Butter slice and place on griddle to fry.

Serve warm with more butter and toppings of your choice.

Enjoy!


Chip Butty on Waterford Blaa

March 11, 2012

I’m sure the title of this post has quite a few folks scratching their heads. What is a “chip butty” and what in the world is “Waterford Blaa”?! So, I’ll start with the first unknown. A chip butty is a sandwich made with a white, buttered bread roll and filled with hot chips or french fries, as they are known in the States and often served with ketchup or brown sauce. Butty is likely a contraction of “bread and butter”. But let me rewind a bit…you got me right, I did indeed describe a French Fry sandwich! French fries are one of my favourite foods, right up there with cupcakes. And when I say french fries, I really mean proper thick-cut chips, not those skinny little shoestring fries. Why didn’t I ever think of making a sandwich out of them before? Yum, yum, YUM! I can’t tell you how happy I was to encounter this creation when I was in college in Ireland. It was definitely a tasty and cheap staple for poor students! Probally not so good for you, but, Oh…let me tell you, Chip Buttys are so awesome I’m willing to accept the bad along with that kind of good. Fantastic comfort food you just have to try. I would cover my chips with salt and lashings of malt vinegar before I stuffed them into my waiting buttered bread roll and then I would add just a wee bit of ketchup.

I just had to share this recipe with you for St. Patrick’s Day. Who wouldn’t love to see a french fry sandwich at any St. Patrick’s Day gathering? But I wanted to be specific about the type of bread you could use. In school, we would just buy “baps” which were soft white flour rolls. However, there is a type of bread which is specific to County Waterford know as “Blaa” (pronounced Blah…you know like blah, blah, blah…) which is just perfect for a Chip Butty. A Blaa is not a Bap. Although both are doughy soft white buns or rolls, Blaa is covered with white flour. Apparently in the 17th Century, Waterford experienced an influx of French Huguenots who taught the local population to bake these rolls. Originally they were called “blaad”, which was later corrupted to “blaa” and were made from leftover pieces of dough. The baking of Blaa, using the traditional recipe, has continued  for generations in Waterford. It is so popular there that about 12,000 Blaas are consumed there daily! They are so proud of this bread in the county that they have recently applied to have Blaa registered in the EU with a Protected Geographical Indication which would designate Blaa as unique to Waterford and would  dictate that only those rolls baked in Waterford can indeed be marketed and sold using the “Blaa” name. Only four other Irish food products have this designation: Clare Island Salmon, Connemara Hill Lamb, Imokilly Regato cheese and Timoleague Brown Pudding.

So, all there you have it. You now know more about Blaa than you probably ever wanted to know. Blaa really is delicious. It is a yeast bread, so you have to allow for some rising times, but it is very easy to make. We gobbled a bunch up with our chip buttys and then used our few remaining Blaas as hamburger buns. I can see why Waterford loves them so much.

A Blaa with two a’s is made with fresh dough

About the size of a saucer, that’s the right size you know:

But where did they come from, did they happen by chance

No, the Huguenots brought them from France

-Eddie Wymberry

Waterford Blaa

Recipe from: I Married an Irish Farmer

Yield: 8 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 10 gram active dry yeast (about 1 tablespoons & 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 10 grams caster (superfine) sugar ( about 2 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 500 grams Bread Flour, plus more for dusting (A little shy of 4 cups)
  • 10 grams sea salt ( about 1 3/4 teaspoons)
  • 10 grams Unsalted butter ( about 3/4 tablespoon)

Directions:

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 275ml lukewarm (98° F) water. Leave for 10 minutes. It should get nice and frothy, indicating that the yeast is alive and well.

Pulse flour and salt a couple of times in food processor to combine. Add the butter, cut into small bits and pulse 2-3 times.

Transfer flour/butter combination to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Change to dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will go from rough to shiny.

Place in a bowl, cover with cling film, and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes. Remove from the bowl and knock back , pushing the air out the dough. Rest for 15 minutes, to give the gluten time to relax; this will make shaping easier.

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Rest for five minutes more, covered.

Dust a baking dish with flour and place the dough balls, side by side. Dust with flour. Leave in a warm place for 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to  410° F (210° C, gas mark 6.5). Liberally dust the blaas with flour from a sifter for a final time and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Proper Chips

Ingredients:

  • 4 Baking Potatoes (I usually use Russett)
  • Oil for Deep Frying ( I like peanut oil, but you could use Canola)
  • Sea Salt

Directions:

Peel potatoes and cut into wedges about 1/2″ thick. Place the wedges into a large bowl and cover with ice water. Leave wedges to soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes well and spread out on kitchen towels to dry.

Heat oil in deep-fryer or heavy saucepan to 340°F. Cover a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.

Add the potato wedges to the hot oil and deep-fry for about 4 minutes. Take care not to over-crowd the fryer. You will likely have to do this in batches. After 4 minutes, remove from deep-fryer. The wedges should have a pale golden hue. Set on paper towel covered baking sheet and allow to cool completely, about 30 minutes or so.

Turn the heat up on your deep-fryer to 375°F. Add the semi-cooked potato wedges to the hot oil and deep-fry until a golden brown colour is reached. It should take only 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Serve while hot. (Though truth be told, I’ve been known to eat chips stone cold right out of the fridge :p )

Assemble your Chip Butty’s on your freshly baked Waterford Blaa.

Directions: (I’m sure you’ve got it from here, but just to be consistent…)

Cut one of the Blaa in half. Butter both halves of the bread.

Fill it with your freshly fried Chips.

Add salt, malt vinegar, ketchup or whatever you desire.

Enjoy!


Peter Reinhart’s Best Biscuits Ever

November 18, 2011

After making all of these wonderful jams (Strawberry Balsamic, Blueberry Lemon & Chilli, Vanilla Bourbon Blackberry and Hard Cider Apple Butter), I decided we needed some sort of delicious biscuit to perch these stellar spreads upon. I’ve mentioned before that I am a huge fan of Peter Reinhart’s. Well, I noticed in his book, Artisan Breads Every Day, that he had a recipe for the “Best Biscuits Ever”. How could I resist the best biscuit ever? So I got busy baking them. These biscuits are a cross between a cream biscuit and a flaky buttermilk style biscuit. Quite tasty, though I’m not sure they win my “best biscuit ever” award. I once made these Bacon & Cheddar Skillet Biscuits that were pretty high up on the “best” scale. But then I guess that is no surprize…I did mention they had bacon in them right? (note to self…blog about those biscuits soon) But these biscuits are certainly close behind those and are great for non-enhanced (ie. full of bacon and cheese) biscuits.

Just look at those flaky layers!

I know I’ve previously mentioned the absolute necessity that you purchase a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, but in case you missed it, here it goes again…you must buy this book! Its full of all sorts of great recipes and information. For example, he gives you the “Keys to a Successful Flaky Biscuit”. I’d say that is pretty valuable information to have. Basically it boils down to cold dough and hot oven. Though he explains things much more interestingly, eloquently and thoroughly. He also mentions that you can also make these biscuits using buttermilk in place on the cream, which I think I will try next time. (So…you can see we really did like them…we’re already thinking about the next time we make them!) If you’re looking for a great home-made biscuit for your thanksgiving table, or a spectacular vehicle for jams and apple butter that can stand all on its own, look no further. You’ve found your biscuit!

Peter Reinhart’s Best Biscuits Ever

recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

yield: 10 Three inch biscuits or 20-24 two inch biscuits

ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ( 1 oz/ 28.5 g) apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 1 cup (8 oz/227 g) cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/113 g) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (4 .5 oz/128 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (3.50z/99 g) pastry flour (if you do not have pastry flour, use all-purpose flour or see tip below for making it yourself)
  • 1 Tablespoon (0.5 ox/14 g) sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (0.5 0z/14 g) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.13 oz/ 3.5 g) salt, or 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Directions:

Stir the vinegar into the cream to acidify it, then refrigerate it to keep it cold. Place the butter in the freezer, for at least 30 minutes, to harden.

Whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a mixing bowl.

Place cheese grater in / over the bowl of dry ingredients. Remove the butter from the freezer, unwrap it and grate it through the large holes into the dry ingredients, tossing the butter threads in the flour mixture as you grate to distribute them. (An alternate method is to use the grater attachment on a food processor, with the dry ingredients in the bowl below).

Use your fingertips to separate and distribute the butter pieces evenly. Add the cream mixture and stir with a large spoon until all of the flour is hydrated and the dough forms a coarse ball. Add a tiny bit more cream if necessary to bring the dough together.

Transfer the dough to a generously floured work surface, then dust the top of the dough with flour. Working with floured hands, use you palms to press the dough into a rectangle or square about 3/4 ” thick. Use a metal pastry scraper to lift the dough and dust more flour underneath. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well, then roll it out into a rectangle or square about 1/2″ thick. Then, using the pastry scraper to help lift the dough, fold it over on itself in three sections as if folding a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then once again lift the dough and dust more flour underneath. Dust the top with flour as well, then once again roll it out into a square or rectangle about 1/2″ thick and fold into thirds. Give the dough another quarter turn and repeat this procedure again. Then, repeat one final time. (four roll outs in all)

After the fourth folding, dust under and on top of the dough one final time, then roll the dough out to just under 1/2″ thick, in either a rectangle (for triangle or diamond-shaped biscuits) or an oval ( for round biscuits).

Cut the biscuits with your preferred cutter. A 2″ biscuit cutter will yield 20-24 small biscuits. The 3″ cutter yielded 10 biscuits.

Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased sheet pan (lined with parchment paper or a silpat) placing them about 1/2″ apart.

Let the biscuits rest for 15 to 30 minutes before baking to relax the gluten; this will create a more even rise (even better, place the pan of biscuits in the refrigerator to chill).

About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).

Transfer the biscuits to the oven and lower the oven temperature to 450°F (232°C). Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 6-10 minutes, until both the tops and bottoms of the biscuits are a rich golden brown.

Place the pan on a wire rack, leaving the biscuits to cool on the hot pan for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

***If you are having a difficult time finding pastry flour, you can make your own by combining all-purpose flour and cake flour. To make two cups, combine 1 1/3 cups (185 grams) all-purpose flour with 2/3 cup (90 grams) cake flour.

To read more about flour take a look here :http://www.joyofbaking.com/flour.html#ixzz1abHvzDfV


Pain a l’Ancienne Focaccia with Herb Oil & Cheese

August 28, 2011

So here is another awesome recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day. If you don’t own this book yet, run…don’t walk…to your nearest bookstore, kitchen supply store or simply go online and  buy it! Now!! I’ve only been the proud owner of said goldmine for a couple of months and it has not let me down. No…what it has done is left me amazed that I can actually make such delicious, mouth-watering artisan breads. I’ve mentioned previously that Jay likes to do a “pizza night” every once in a while. Well, we actually end up doing those once a week now. Which reminds me, I need to update our Napoletana pizza dough recipe. We used to use a Peter Reinhart recipe from a different book, which was great. However, he revised that recipe in Artisan Breads Every Day and that is our new go-to recipe. We like it even better than we did the first one, and that is saying something! Anyway, back to the Focaccia…Just recently, we were doing our weekly pizza night, but not just for ourselves, we were having company as well.  So I decided to give the Pain a l’Ancienne Focaccia with Herb Oil & Cheese recipe a try and serve it as an appetizer. Well Ladies and Gentlemen, it stole the show!

It is a bit time-consuming I must say. I used all fresh herbs for the herb oil which left me picking and chopping for a while. Not to mention, there are quite a few steps to get accomplished before popping that focaccia into the oven. But it is sooooo worth it! Oh. My. Gawwwddd! It was  unbelievably delicious! The first bite left everyone looking at me in awe. I was sitting there in stunned silence, just as amazed with myself. This focaccia is that good!  But don’t take my word for it. Hopefully your book is on the way by now and you can experience it for yourself.

Pain à l’Ancienne Focaccia with Herb Oil & Cheese

Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

yield: 1 Large Focaccia or up to 4 rounds

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups (20 oz/ 567 g) unbleached bread flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (0.4 oz/ 11 g) salt or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (0.14 oz/ 4 g) instant yeast
  • 2 cups (16 ox/454 g) chilled water (55°F or 13°C)
  • 1 Tablespoon (0.5 oz/ 14 g) olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • Herb Oil (recipe to follow)
  • Cheese to sprinkle on top (parmesan, pecorino romano or my favourite – a blend of asiago, romano & parmesan)

Directions:

Do Ahead

Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and water in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 1 minute until well blended. The dough should be coarse and wet. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Drizzle the olive oil over the dough then resume mixing on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment, or by hand using a large wet spoon or wet hands, for 1 minute. The dough should become smoother but will still be very soft, sticky, and wet. Use a wet bowl scraper or spatula to transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface. With wet or oiled hands, reach under the front end of the dough, stretch it our, then fold it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back-end and then from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball. The dough should be significantly firmer, though still very soft and fragile. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this entire process three more times, completing all repetitions within 30-40 minutes.

After the final stretch and fold, return the dough to the oiled bowl and immediately cove the bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days, or pan it immediately ( as described below)

To make 1 large focaccia, line a 12×16 – inch sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Oil it generously, including the sides, with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then transfer the dough to the pan. Drizzle another tablespoon of oil over the top of the dough, then use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it to cover about half of the pan. Make sure the top of the dough is coated with oil, then cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and immediately place the pan in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.

For round focaccia, cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit inside an 8 or 9 – inch round pan. Oil both the parchment and the sides of the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then transfer the dough to the pan, For an 8-inch pan, use 8 ounces (227 g) of dough; for a 9-inch pan use 12 ounces (340 g) dough. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top of the dough, then use your fingertips to dimple the dough and spread it as far as it will allow. Don’t force the dough when it starts to spring back. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and immediately place the pan in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.

On Baking Day

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 1/2 hours before you plan to bake, and if you haven’t already panned it, follow the instructions above to do so, spreading it to cover a portion of the pan.

Warm the over for just a few minutes, the turn it off. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the surface of the dough and beginning in the center and working toward s the sides, dimple the dough with your fingertips to spread it over more of the pan. The dough wills tart resisting and sliding back toward the center after a minute off this; stop dimpling at that point. It should now be cover 70 to 80 percent of the pan Cover the pan with plastic wrap and put it in the warm over (with the heat off!). Leave it in for about 8 minutes. If you have plenty of time, you can simply let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes between dimplings, which will require a total of about 4 hours prior to baking.

After the focaccia has been out of the oven for 10 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, drizzle another small amount of olive oil over the dough, and dimple it again. This time it should cover about 90 percent of the pan. Cover it again and return it to the warm oven for 10-20 minutes. On the third dimpling (if not the second), the dough should evenly fill the entire pan If it creeps in from the corners because of the oil, don’t worry it will fill the corners as it rises. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and proof the dough in the slightly warm oven as before, removing it after 5 to 10 minutes and completing the rise at room temperature. It should be about 1 inch high in 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) Top the focaccia with the herb oil topping (recipe will follow), but wait until the end of baking time to add the cheese.

Place the pan in the oven. For large focaccia, lower the oven temperature to 450°F (232°C) and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the top fo the dough is golden brown. For round focaccia, keep the oven temperature at 500°F (260°C) and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. To test for doneness, use a metal spatula to lift the edge of the focaccia so you can see the underside; it should be a mottled golden brown in spots. Add the cheese when the focaccia appears to be done then bake for another 2 to 4 minutes to melt the cheese.

When you remove the focaccia from the oven, run a pastry blade or metal spatula along the sides of the pan to loosen the focaccia then carefully slide the focaccia, parchment and all onto a wire rack, /cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Herb Oil

I used fresh herbs for this recipe, which calls for dried herbs for the most part. If you would rather use fresh, 1 teaspoon of dried herbs is equal to 1 Tablespoon of fresh herbs, so you can do the math from there.

Yield: About 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups olive oil

2 Tablespoons dried basil

2 Tablespoons dried parsley

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 Tablespoons granulated garlic powder, or 10 cloves fresh garlic, pressed and lightly sautéed in 1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chile flakes

1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika

Directions

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours before using.


Struan – Celtic Harvest Bread

July 18, 2011

Struan, a soft, enriched multigrain loaf, is my all-time favourite bread, hands down! The bread likely originated in Scotland and was a once-a-year harvest bread which contained all of the grains and seeds which were available from the harvest. Don’t get me wrong, I really love Irish Brown Bread and Irish Soda Bread. But Struan is just so versatile. It’s great for sandwiches and unbelievably awesome when toasted. Up until recently, I had never baked it myself. Believe me, I had found a reliable source for the precious loaves. Lucky for us, Atwater’s, which does a fabulous rendition of Struan, has a stand at the Falls Church Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. I would venture down there every 6 weeks or so and buy 4-5 loaves at a time. It freezes fantastically well! Of course this meant that our freezer was largely occupied by stacks of bread, but hey…we loved this bread so much that limited freezer space seemed a small price to pay. Then I got the crazy idea that I would just go ahead and try to bake it myself. I have actually always been a bit apprehensive of baking any kind of yeast bread. Quick breads were no problem, but the whole yeast thing seemed rather mysterious and somewhat scary to me. Peter Reinhart, whose pizza dough recipe is in high rotation in our house, has a recipe for Struan in his Artisan Breads Every Day book. This book is fantastic! It’s chock full of great recipes and explains the technique, in simple language, that you need to master in order to produce these world-class breads. If you are at all interested in bread baking, it really is a must. I have not managed to work my way through the book entirely, but he hasn’t disappointed us yet! So my desire to taste freshly baked Struan bread, right out of the oven, trumped my irrational fear of yeast breads and I gave his Struan recipe a go. Once I actually got into it, I found it really wasn’t very difficult to do at all. It did take a bit of time what with the planning ahead stuff and rising time, but I felt so completely self-satisfied and proud when my gorgeous, home-baked Struan bread came out of the oven.

Not to mention, it was truly delicious! Slightly different from our Atwater’s standard in that it was not as dense, definitely lighter, but still had great texture. I was very pleased with the whole experience and am already planning to bake my next couple loaves. Actually, truth be told, I need to go ahead and bake more as we’ve already managed to devour the first two! 🙂 I think Atwater’s is going to miss me!

Struan

Makes 2 Loaves or many rolls

Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups (22.5 oz/638 g) unbleached bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (1.5 oz/42.5 g) coarse cornmeal (polenta grind)
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz/28 g) rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons (0.75 oz/21 g) wheat bran or oat bran
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz/56.5 g) cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/56.5 g) brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (0.66 oz./19 g) salt, or 3 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (0.66 oz/19 g) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (1 oz/28.5 g) honey or agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz/340 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35° C)
  • 1/2 cup(4 oz/113 g) lukewarm buttermilk, yogurt, or any other milk (about 95°F or 35° C)
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Do Ahead

Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for  2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Once again, mix on the slowest speed with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes more. The dough should be very tacky or slightly sticky. *

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, then dust the top fo the dough with flour. Lightly knead the dough for 2-3 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will still be soft and sticky but should hold together to for a soft, supple ball. With oiled hands, reach under on end of the dough, stretch it out, then fold it back onto itself. Do this from the back-end and then from each side. Flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Repeat this entire process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 minutes.

Place dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight for up to 5 days.

On Baking Day

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Shape the cold dough into one or more sandwich loaves using 28 oz of dough for 4 1/2 x 8 inch loaf pans and 36 oz. for 5×9 loaf pans. (After making this bread many times, I generally take all of the dough from one batch and shape it into one sandwich loaf which I bake in a 5×9″ pan. I used to divide the dough and make two loaves, but I prefer the fuller loaf that I get by just using the one pan.) The dough can also be shaped into any size freestanding loaf you desire; or into rolls using 2 oz of dough per roll.

For sandwich loaves, proof the dough in greased loaf pans.

Brush the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with poppy seeds (if you wish) then mist with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise a room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome at least 1 inch above the rim.

About 15 minutes prior to baking preheat the oven to 350° F (177°C).

Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan. The total baking time is 45-60 minutes for loaves and only 20 – 25 minutes for rolls. The bread is done when it has a rich golden color, the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the internal temperature is able 185°F (85°C)

Cool for at least 20 minutes for rolls and 1 hour for large loaves before slicing or serving.

*Sticky dough means the dough will stick to a dry finger when you poke it. Tacky dough behaves more like a post-it not, sticking to your finger but peeling off easily. With very tacky dough it means a little bit of dough may stick to your finger, but most of it peels off easily.


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