Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka

February 5, 2017

img_5446So I gotta ask….are there any Nutella fans out there? Cause let me tell you I love me some Nutella! I did actually didn’t even know it existed until I was living in Ireland and my friend Theresa had a jar. I watched with amazement as she spread it over her toast. I was like “What! You can eat chocolate on toast!” I had no idea it was a thing. Yup, love at first bite. And I love bread as well, so this Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka recipe was a no brainer for me.

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Now it is not by chance that I’m blogging a recipe which features Nutella today. Today February 5th is World Nutella Day. This celebration of all things Nutella was started in 2007 by Sara at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle at Bleeding Espresso as a day to celebrate, get creative with and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

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Last year, the founders have transferred Nutella Day to Ferrero the company who owns that most beloved spread. Take a peek at their Facebook page and see how folks are celebrating the day! I love Nutella so I usually try to participate with a Nutella laden recipe every year. Last year I celebrated with Nutella Sea Salt Stuffies:

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The year before I made cookies as well,  irresistible Salted Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwich Cookies – sweet salty bliss I tell you!

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I was still all about the cookies and the salty / sweet thing three years ago when I blogged about  Salted & Malted Nutella Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies feature silky, decadent Nutella, creamy caramel, nostalgic malted goodness and rich chocolate chips, all rolled up together in a crunchy chewy salted cookie

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And then there was my  Nutella, Double Chocolate & Banana Tart which was quite stunning if I do say so myself.

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But let me get back to the stunning Nutella treat we have on hand today: Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka. Oh Lawdie…this bread is delicious! Babka, which has a Russian/Polish culinary pedigree (the name is derived from “baba” which is Russian for grandmother)  is made with a rich yeasted dough. You end up with something that is somewhere between cake and bread. Every brioche like morsel is so tender it simply melts in your mouth. And can we just talk about the fillings? Well there are as many variations in the fillings as there are grandmothers! You can have a fruit filled Babka, a chocolate Babka, a cinnamon Babka, a chocolate cinnamon Babka, or a Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka as we have here today. Babkas can be topped with a streusel, soaked in Rum or drizzled with a glaze. They can be shaped many ways as well, baked in a bread tin, free-standing or as I have done here, shaped into the dramatic Israeli version which is known as “kranz cake”. The possibilities are endless!

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Now all that being said, making this luscious filled rolled and twisted bliss is no simple undertaking! You’ve gotta want it…and believe me you will. It is so worth it. The good thing is you can break it up into steps and take up to 3 days to bake the bread if you wish. Or if you’re hardcore, get up early in the morning and blast through the whole thing in one day. Midnight Babka sounds great to me too!

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Laden with butter and lashings of Nutella and chocolate chips this bread not only has mouthwatering good looks but can back it up with to die for taste. Great as a dessert, for breakfast or with a cup of tea or coffee, you just can’t beat this time-tested comfort food treat. So Happy Nutella Day…I’ve gotta go tear into some Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka!

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Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka

  • Servings: 1 large loaf of bread
  • Difficulty: moderate - with a lot of rise time
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

  • 2 Tablespoons (.66 oz / 19 grams) instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz / 170 grams) lukewarm milk (95°F or 35°C)
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz / 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted or at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons ( 3 oz /85 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (.25 oz / 7 grams) vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks (3 oz. / 85 grams)
  • 3 1/3 cups (15 oz / 425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (.25 oz/ 7 grams) salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 1 jar (13 oz.) Nutella
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved and set aside for 5 minutes.

Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment for a stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla to the eggs yoke and whisk together. Then add the yolks to the sugar mixture in four portions, mixing thoroughly until each is incorporated before adding the next. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 2 more minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during the process.

Stop mixing and add the flour and salt, then pour in the milk mixture. Resume mixing at low speed until a soft, supple, tacky dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes adding flour as necessary to make the dough pliable. Form dough into a ball.

Place dough in a clean, highly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 1/2 hours. It will rise, but won’t double. If you are taking my advice and making this Babka over several days, after the rise, place the dough in the refrigerator overnight to be rolled out the next day.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Line a 1/2 sheet pan with parchment paper and mist it with spray oil. Spread the Nutella evenly over the parchment paper. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place into the refrigerator to firm up. Once you have rolled the dough out, you can easily transfer this Nutella chocolate chip square directly on top of the babka dough. Easy peasy!

Once the dough has risen, or on day two, roll it into a 15″ by 11″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface. It should e between 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Lay the refrigerated Nutella Chocolate sheet on top of the Babka dough and peel the parchment away.

Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and place it seam side down on the work surface. With firm but gentle pressure, rock the log back and forth. Using a metal pastry blade, cut the log down the middle lengthwise. Rotate the dough so that the cut edges are facing up. Place one piece over the other and continue to criss-cross the pieces to form a braid. Pinch the ends of the braided pieces together to seal.

Cover the braided loaf loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for 2 -3 hours. At this point, you can proceed directly to baking or refrigerate the loaf overnight. If holding it overnight, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake it.

Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Bake loaf for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan. Bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until the sides of the loaf are a rich golden brown. The internal temperature will reach about 185° F (85° C). I the tope begins to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil

Allow the Babka to cool for at least 90 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Babka brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

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Rustic Ciabatta Bread

September 2, 2014

 

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I think it is about time to bake some bread. Recently I’ve had quite the craving for some good, hearty, home-baked bread. The store-bought variety just won’t do. I simply can’t abide that pillowy squishy white Wonder bread that practically dissolves to mush when you bite into it….I’m talking about some bread you can really sink your teeth into, with a chewy yet crispy crust surrounding a light, airy, springy interior with lots of nooks and crannies to hold all of the dipping oil, butter, jam or jelly I can pile onto it.  Ciabatta Bread is what I want. Ciabatta, which means “slipper”, is the Italian answer to French baguettes. The dough for this yeast bread has high hydration which gives it all of those lovely bubbles, making the finished loaves appear riddled with holes. It also makes the bread very difficult to shape, (take note here, when the recipe below says “wet or floured” hands, you better do it. This dough is sticky beyond all reason!) resulting in broad somewhat flatter loaves which kind of resemble a flat old house slipper. I guess that doesn’t sound very appetizing come to think of it, but take my word for it, this bread is delicious!

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Once I had decided to make this particular bread, I knew just where to turn for the perfect recipe, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day is one of my favourite cookbooks. It is just chock full of wonderful bread recipes. I’ve made quite a few of them is the past, such as Napoletana Pizza Dough, Pain a l’Ancienne Focaccia, Chocolate Cinnamon Babka, Struan and his Best Biscuits Ever and I have always been delighted with the outcome, so I just knew his Rustic Ciabatta Bread would be fantastic as well. Boy oh boy was I right. This bread was everything I hoped. I couldn’t believe it came out of my little old kitchen and not a fancy bakery!

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Now I wouldn’t say this bread is difficult to make, but I will say there are quite a few steps involved and an overnight cold fermentation. So you need to plan ahead. It is not really a spur of the moment, I need a loaf of bread for dinner in a couple of hours kind of thing. And there are some tools of the trade which I definitely recommend. It is not that you can’t make this bread without them, but if you have them, your life will be far easier. So here is a rundown of my bread baking essential tools. This bread requires an instant yeast which is different from active dry yeast. You can substitute in active dry yeast if that is all you have, but you should increase the amount of yeast by 25 percent. I love the SAF Red Instant Yeast and keep a canister of it in my freezer all of the time. I think that a stand mixer is pretty essential for me, though this bread can be made by hand. A good thermometer, like this Thermapen, which takes quick readings, is great. A kitchen scale is very handy as well. You will be able to get a much more accurate measurement if you weigh ingredients, rather than trying to rely on volume measurements, such as cups. Everyone scoops ingredients differently. A cup scooped by me, will likely weigh different from a cup scooped by another person. Dough Rising Buckets are a great thing to have on hand. You can simply let your dough rise in a big bowl, if you don’t have a bucket, but these are great because they are easy to close or cover to prevent drafts, and there are measurements marked on the outside making it easier to tell when your dough has doubled in size. And finally, I recommend having a baking stone to bake your bread upon. A baking stone will absorb and retain heat better than a regular sheet pan. That radiated heat will encourage more oven spring. Oven spring is the final burst of rising that happens just after bread is introduced to the oven, before the crust begins to harden. If you are able to produce a good oven spring your bread will have a light and airy texture. Steam also helps at this moment. Steam will keep the outside of the bread softer for a bit longer so that you can maximize the oven spring of the yeast. It also makes the crust a bit more crackly and chewy. Suggestions for producing a blast of steam in a home oven are included in the directions below. Now don’t let all of those tools overwhelm you. You don’t have to have all of them to make this bread. You can put some of these nifty tools on your baking wish list and in the meantime just go on ahead a make up a batch of this bread. I think you’ll be very pleased with yourself as well as with these Rustic Ciabatta Loaves. Light and airy, soft and springy surrounded by a satisfyingly chewy yet crispy crust.. Yum! There is nothing quite like home-baked bread!

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Rustic Ciabatta Bread

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

recipe from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups (20 oz./567 grams) unbleached bread flour (I used King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (0.4 oz/11 grams) salt, or 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (0.14 oz/4 grams) instant yeast (my favourite yeast is saf-instant yeast)
  • 2 cups (16 oz./454 grams) chilled water (about 55ºF or 13ºC)
  • 1 Tablespoon (0.5 oz/14 grams) olive oil

Directions:

Combine the flour, salt, east and water in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. The dough should be coarse and sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Drizzle the olive oil over the dough. Then mix on medium-low speed using the paddle attachment 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.(I use these plastic dough rising buckets) 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 out, 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 process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 minutes.

After the final stretch and fold, immediately cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate over night or for up to 4 days. The dough will rise, possibly to double its original size, in the refrigerator. If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.

When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator three hours in advance ( or an hour earlier if the dough hasn’t increased to 1 1/2 times its original size in the refrigerator overnight.)

One hour after taking the dough out of the refrigerator, line the back of a sheet pan with parchment paper and generously dust the entire surface with flour. Use a wet or oiled bowl scraper to transfer the dough to the work surface, taking care to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid degassing it.

Dust the top surface of the dough with flour and also flour your hands. Using your hands or a metal pastry scraper, gently coax and pat the dough into a rough square measuring about 9 inches on each side, still taking care to degas it as little as possible.

Cut the dough into 3 even strips about 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. The pieces will each weigh about 12 ounces or 340 grams. With floured hands, gently fold the dough in thirds, like folding a letter but without applying any pressure. Gently roll the folded dough in the dusting flour to coat it and then lift the dough and place it on the parchment paper, again rolling it in the dusting flour on the parchment. Rest the dough seam side down on the parchment and repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Mist the tops of the dough pieces with spray oil and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a clean, lint free towel. After 1 hour, gently roll the pieces over so the seam side is up, lift and cradle each piece with floured hands, and, working from the underside, gently coax it to a length of 5 inches. Lay the pieces back on the parchment seam side up. Straighten the sides of each piece with your hands or a pastry scraper so that they are more rectangular than oblong, mist with spray oil again, the cover loosely and proof for 1 hour more.

About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550ºF (288ºC) or as high as it will go. Place a baking stone, if you are using one, or sheet pan if you prefer, as well as a steam pan in the oven to preheat as well. The steam pan can be either a sheet pan with a 1″ rim or a lasagna pan with taller side, or even a cast-iron frying pan. The steam pan should be placed on the shelf under the baking stone.

When ready to bake, slide the dough, parchment and all, onto the stone or sheet pan. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the preheated steam pan, Always use an oven mitt or a hot pad and wear long sleeves when adding water to the hot steam pan to prevent steam burns. You should also cover oven windows with a dry dish towel or rag to prevent backsplash from hitting the window and cracking it. Do not forget to remove the towel before closing the oven door! Use a watering can with a long spout when pouring water into the steam pan.You can also use a spray bottle such as a plant mister, to spritz the oven walls a few times to create additional steam. Then close the door and lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC).

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the crust is a rich brown (streaked with dusting flour). The bread should puff a little, and the crust should be hard when tapped (it’ll soften as it cools). Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes before slicing

Enjoy!

Rustic Ciabatta Loaves brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

January 20, 2012

I’m at it with Peter Reinhart again! I just love his Artisan Breads Every Day book and am diligently working my way through it. I’ve always wanted to make a Babka. Even since I saw that Seinfeld episode where Elaine is so desperately trying to purchase a chocolate babka for a dinner party she is about to attend. I had never experienced a Babka in person at that point, but just knew I couldn’t wait to try it out. I am happy to report that I have now successfully managed to progress from purchasing Babkas into making my own and I dare say mine was better than the last one I got from an actual bakery! (so proud, patting myself on the back as I type…quite a trick!) As with any yeast bread, there is some preparation involved. You can’t just whip one up on the spur of the moment. There are a couple different rising times of 2-3 hours or more. So you want to plan ahead. Luckily the recipe gives good tips on when you can stop, refrigerate the dough and then continue on the following day. I started early and soldiered through from start to finish. But breaking it up a bit does make sense.

Babka is a yeast bread which heavily leans towards a coffee cake. The name Babka comes from the Russian word baba, which means grandmother. And just like your granny, this bread is sweet and comforting! The bread itself is buttery and rich and then it also has the rich vein of chocolate and cinnamon swirling through it. Oh save us!!! It is completely irresistable!

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

yield: 1 loaf

Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons (0.66 oz/19 g) instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz/170 g) lukewarm milk (95°F or 35°C)
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz/85 g) unsalted butter, melted or at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 oz/85 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz/7 g) vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks (3 oz/ 85 g)
  • 3 1/3 Cups (15 oz/425 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz/7 g) salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 egg, for egg wash (if using streusel topping)
  • 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash (if using streusel topping)

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 Cups (9 oz/255 g) frozen semisweet dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 teaspoon (0.25 oz/7 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/56.5 g) cold unsalted butter

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/4 Cup (2 oz/56.5 g) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup (2.25 oz/64 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup (4 oz/113 g) brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Do Ahead:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved, then set aside for about 5 minutes before mixing it into the dough.

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. If mixing by hand, use a large wooden spoon and beat vigorously for about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk lightly to break up the yolks, then add the yolks to the sugar mixture in four portions, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Increase the mixer speed to medium high or continue mixing by hand for another 2 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during the process.

Stop mixing and add the flour and salt, then pour in the milk mixture. Resume mixing at low-speed, or continue to stir by hand, for 2 to 3 minutes, to make a soft, supple, tacky dough. If using a mixer and the mixer begins to struggle, switch to the dough hook.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes more, adding more flour as needed to make the dough pliable. The dough should be a beautiful golden colour and feel soft and supple. Form the dough into a ball.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours. It will rise somewhat, but won’t double in size. If it rises significantly in less time, you can move to the shaping step or place it in the refrigerator overnight to be rolled out the next day.

Filling and Baking:

Prepare the filling while the dough is rising. Grind the chocolate in a food processor until it’s nearly powdered: if you don’t have  a food processor, chop the chocolate as fine as possible. Add the cinnamon and pulse or stir a time or two to incorporate. Cut the butter into 8-10 pieces, add it to the food processor, and pulse until the butter is evenly dispersed into the chocolate mixture; or cut the butter into the chocolate mixture with a metal pastry scraper to make a streusel-like chocolate crumble.

Once the dough has risen, roll it into a 15 x 15 inch square on a lightly floured surface. It should be between 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. As you roll, frequently lift the dough with a metal pastry scraper or bowl scraper and dust with more flour underneath to prevent sticking. Sprinkle the chocolate mixture over the dough, breaking up any clumps, so the filling covers the surface of the dough evenly, leaving a 1/4 inch border.

Roll up the dough like a jelly roll and place it seam side down on the work surface. With firm but gently pressure, rock the log back and forth to extend its length until it is 18 to 24 inches long.

Grease a 5×9 inch loaf pan. Carefully twist the log from both ends without tearing it, just enough to accentuate the chocolate spiral. Coil the log into a circular snail shape, then stand the coil on its end so it’s perpendicular to the counter rather than lying flat. Press down on the coil to compress it into a loaf shape. Place it in the greased loaf pan.

Cover the loaf pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, until the babka fills the pan or has increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size. At this pint, you can proceed directly to baking or refrigerate the babka overnight. If holding it overnight, remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake it.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the top of the babka to eliminate possible air pockets between the layers of chocolate and dough.

While the oven preheats, make the streusel if you’d like to use it. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine, or cut the butter into small bits, then add the other ingredients and stir or mix with your hands. The texture should resemble cornmeal. If using streusel, brush the top of the babka with egg wash, then scatter the streusel over the top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake until the top is a rich dark brown, the sides are a rich golden brown, the loaf sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the internal temperature is about 185°F (85°C) in the center. The babka will begin to brown quickly because of the sugar but it won’t burn. The total baking time is 50 to 60 minutes. The sides may feel soft because of air pockets in the spirals. The babka will soften as it cools.

Cool for at least 90 minutes before serving. The babka is best served at room temperature after the chocolate has had time to set.

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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