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)

 


Holiday Leftover Pies!

November 28, 2016

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Who out there has leftovers? I bet one or two of you do if your Thanksgiving feasts looked anything like ours did. Well boy oh boy do I have an awesome recipe for you today… Holiday Leftover Pies! Now I will admit, this might be a bit of a replay on my part, but I got the idea from those delicious Pirozhki’s that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Pirozhkis are little Russian yeast buns which have been stuffed with ground beef, leeks and cheddar. Quite yummy as you can imagine. So I was thinking about them. Well, them and the fact that the Husband loves the day-after Thanksgiving sandwich. You know – the Thanksgiving dinner -turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy – squished between two slices of bread. Yeah, well he loves it…quite possibly more than he likes the original Thanksgiving Day feast. So, combining the two thoughts, I stuffed these little Thanksgiving Pirozhkis with leftover turkey and all the trimmings, baked ’em up and let me tell you…They were Awesome! Dare I say even better than the sandwich version.

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And the fact that you are working with a filling that has spent at least one day in the fridge is a big benefit as well. I mean cutting off a slice of gravy to add to the filling rather than working with a hot liquid version when stuffing dough is a far superior experience. Just take a few moments to dice up any meat into bite sized cubes and the rest is easy-peasy. The total amount of filling, whatever leftovers you might have on hand, should be about 2 – 2 1/2 Tablespoons per bun. And I will say that when you pinch the folded over dough together to seal the bun, don’t hold back! Give it quite a pinch or use a fork like you would in making a pie crust to ensure that the bun edges stick together and don’t pop open in the oven. But if they do, no worries. I assure you, it won’t effect the taste one little bit!

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These Day-After Leftover Pies will be a tradition after every holiday feast from this day forward, I can assure you. We’re already thinking ahead to Christmas when we’ll have leftover prime rib, mushrooms, mashed potatoes and gravy. Drool, drool, drool! So I just had to share this with everyone. If you’ve already gobbled down all your Thanksgiving leftovers, keep these in mind for Christmas. You, and whomever you decide to share with, will be delighted!

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Holiday Leftover Pies

  • Servings: 16 pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Holiday Leftover Pie dough recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 4 cups (17 oz /482 grams) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./28 grams) Vermont Cheese Powder (don’t have cheese powder? you can substitute grated parmesan or leave it out altogether.)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./113grams) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 oz./57grams) soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./113grams) warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 oz./25grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the filling:

  • Whatever leftovers you have, such as: diced turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy & cranberry sauce

Directions:

To make the dough: Combine all the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rest for about 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces; if you have a scale they’ll weigh about 2 ounces each. 

Shape the pieces into balls, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. 

Cover the dough balls, and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes.

Ready your leftovers. Don’t reheat them, leave them cold. They will be much easier to work with.Chop any large pieces of meat into a smaller dice.

Shape each ball into a flattened round about 5″ in diameter, brush the surface with some of the egg/water wash, and place 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each round. 

Pull the dough over the filling, pinching two opposite edges together tightly, to seal in the filling; it should look like a dumpling. 

Place the buns on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover the buns, and allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until puffy.

Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the buns with the remaining egg wash. Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. It’s OK if some of the seams have come undone and the filling is visible; they can be prettier that way!

Remove the buns from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Store any leftover buns in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Holiday Leftover Pies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful Links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Holiday Leftover Pies:

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Norpro 2 Tablespoon Cookie Scoop

SAF Instant Yeast

Vermont Cheese Powder

 


Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread & Rolls

November 18, 2016

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Now here is one lovely recipe to add to your Fall baking repertoire – Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread and/or Cinnamon Apple Rolls. You will love how scrumptious your house smells when it is filled with the cozy, comforting aroma of cinnamon and apples. But you know what you’ll really love? How delicious this soft, tender and sweet bread tastes. I’ll consider you pretty dang accomplished if you can keep from eating it all in one sitting!

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I know you might be thinking that this bread looks a bit complicated. But don’t fear. It is actually pretty easy to make. I used to be awfully intimidated by any recipe that called for yeast. Now I don’t even give it a second thought. It really isn’t that hard and the results for your efforts are so worth it. So to make this bread have such a lovely swirled appearance, you simply roll your filled dough up as though you were making a jelly roll or cinnamon buns.

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Then rather than cutting the individual rolls, you cut the roll in half lengthwise and twist the two pieces together. Now I will admit, the filling does leak out a bit, but don’t freak out, there is still plenty of filling left inside. The day is not lost. I will say that the original recipe called for a King Arthur Flour product called Clear Jel (link provided below). Apparently this powder thickens fillings and sauces without giving them a starchy taste. I didn’t have any on hand, though will be getting some in my next King Arthur Flour shipment, so I used flour as the thickener for this batch. Since I already know I will be making this amazing bread again, I’ll try that Clear Jel out next time.

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This recipe is pretty versatile too in that you can make either two loaves of twisted bread, two pans of apple cinnamon rolls or one loaf of twisted bread and one pan of rolls. So if you are really anxious about trying the twisty bread, make the rolls. They are pretty easy-peasy.

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Your family will be thrilled with this delicious Fall treat! And don’t forget, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. How amazing would it be to wake up with that turkey hang-over the day after and have a batch of this Cinnamon Apple Bread waiting for you? Just saying…

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Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread & Rolls

  • Servings: 2 loaves of twist bread or 16 to 18 rolls or 1 loaf and 8 - 9 rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 3 1/4 cups Pastry Flour Blend or All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour OR 1/2 cup dried potato flakes
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup room-temperature or lukewarm milk

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup peeled, grated apple (1 to 2 large apples)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon boiled cider (if you don’t have boiled cider, just use 2 tablespoons heavy cream. The boiled cider just bumps up the apple flavor. There is a link below to where you can buy it.)

Directions:

To make the dough: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients , then add the butter, flavor, egg, and milk, mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the liquid fully, making it easier to knead.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes; it should feel slightly sticky and soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the dough feels firm or dry. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it’s almost doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The amount of time this takes will depend on the temperature of your kitchen; yeast works the fastest at about 85°F, but we prefer the flavor the bread gets from a longer, cooler (about 70°F) rise.

To make the filling: While the dough is rising, make the filling. Whisk together the sugar, ClearJel, and cinnamon. (If you substitute flour for the ClearJel, the filling will be runny at first, but will firm up when baked.)

Toss the grated apple with the lemon juice, then add that to the ClearJel and sugar mixture. Mix well, and set aside.

To assemble the loaf: Gently deflate the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Fold it over once or twice to remove the excess gas. Divide the dough in half. Roll the first half into a 10″ x 12″ rectangle. Spread half the filling over the rolled-out dough, leaving a 1/2″ margin clear of filling along all sides.

Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a log, taking care to pinch the edges closed as you are rolling. This will help keep the filling from leaking out. Finish your roll with the seam on top, rather than underneath of the roll and then seal that edge. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise. Place the half-logs, filled side up, side by side on a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Keeping the filling side up, twist or “braid” the two logs together, working from the center to each end. Pinch the ends together. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cover the twists lightly, and set them aside to rise for 1 to 2 hours.

To make rolls: Follow the directions above to the point where you’ve rolled the dough into a log. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, then cut each log into 1″ slices. Some folks recommend a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut the rolls. I prefer using a strand of unflavored dental floss. Place the slices cut side up in well-greased or parchment-lined pans, placing them close together (though not touching) for soft-sided rolls, or about 2 inches apart for crustier rolls. Allow the rolls to rise until they’re puffy. 

To bake the bread: Bake the loaves in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes (or the rolls for 18 to 20 minutes), until they’re lightly browned. Check the loaves after 20 minutes and tent with aluminum foil if they’re browning too quickly around the edges. Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool for about 1 hour before glazing and serving.

To make the glaze: Mix together all of the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over the loaves or rolls once they’re cool.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread and Rolls brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread & Rolls:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Clear-Jel

Boiled Cider


Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting

March 10, 2016

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So…here we are…The Sixth Day of my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon. And today, not only am I sharing a mouthwateringly amazing recipe for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting, but things are really getting ready to heat up here in my kitchen. That’s right, a veritable Irish-y recipe blitz is now underway. Up until today I had posting every other day, but from now until St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, you’ll hear from me every day. Seven more delicious recipes coming to you in rapid fire succession! I hope you’ll be checking back in. But let’s not lose sight of the deliciousness before us today in these Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. What we’ve got here is a lovely sweet Guinness infused yeasted dough which has been filled with buttery brown sugar and pistachios and frosted with a Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. They’re soft, fluffy, sticky, boozy perfection I tell you.

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I first saw this recipe over at the Blahnik Baker site and just knew I had to make it. I use a slightly different recipe and technique for making the dough than she does. I rely on yeast for all the rise whereas she uses a bit of baking soda and powder as well. Looks interesting, but I was pretty comfortable with the way I knew to do yeast dough, so you know that saying about old dogs and new tricks…I went with what I knew and was very happy with the results.

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As was the Husband. He calls these little gems “Guinness Sticky Buns” rather than their rather long-winded name. In fact, I considered changing the recipe title to that, but found out that Sticky Buns are actually different from what we have here. A true sticky bun is made by lining the baking tin with syrup, honey and nuts before the dough is placed on top. Once it has baked it is inverted so that the lining becomes a sticky topping. Sounds delicious as well, but that isn’t what we have here, so Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls it remains (except in this house where Guinness Sticky Buns stubbornly persists).

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It really doesn’t matter what you call them, just make sure you bake up a batch for an extra special St. Patrick’s Day breakfast treat. After all, there’s nothing like a little Guinness & Baileys to get your busy day of celebrations off to a great start!

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Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Servings: 16 rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe inspired by: Blahnik Baker

Ingredients:

For the Rolls:

  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup Guinness draft beer
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (+ a bit more as needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup shelled pistachios, chopped

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoon Baileys Irish Cream, or more to taste
  • ½ to 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

For the Rolls:

In a large saucepan, heat the milk, Guinness, oil and granulated sugar over medium heat to just below a boil.

Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to cool to warm (98° – 105° F). Once the milk/Guinness mixture has cooled, sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 5 minutes. It should look foamy once time is up.

With the mixer running on its lowest speed, start to add the flour 1 cup at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl.

Scrape the dough down and allow it to rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 6 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Shape it into a ball and place it into a lightly oiled dough rising bucket (or large bowl). Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise until it is doubled, approximately 1 hour (could be more or less depending on how warm your kitchen is.) At this point you can proceed with baking or place the dough in the refrigerator over night.

Once you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly oil two 9″ pie plates, or cake pans. I had 3 buns which did not fit into my pie pans, so I also used a small 6″ cast iron skillet. You could actually also bake 1/2 of the rolls in a large 9 -10″ cast iron skillet if you prefer.

Assembly:

Remove the dough from bucket and gently deflate. Weigh the dough and divide it in half.

Place the first half dough ball on a silicone pastry mat or lightly floured kitchen counter. Roll it out to a rectangle, measuring about 12 x 8 inches. Paint the melted butter over the dough using a pastry brush. Leave a 1/2″ margin on all sides unbuttered. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar and then half of the pistachios over the melted butter. To roll, start at the end farthest away from you and roll the rectangle towards you. Use both hands and roll tightly. Finish with the seam side down, pinching together any loose ends and rolling back and forth several times on the counter.

Using a sharp knife (or long strand of unflavored dental floss) gently cut the dough into 1 1/4 – 1 1/2″ slices and arrange them in the prepared baking tins.

Repeat this process for the second half of the dough.

Cover the baking tins with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise until they look puffy – approximately 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and place the buns in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Remove from oven to cooling rack and let cool for 10 -15 minutes.

For the frosting:

Prepare the Baileys frosting while the rolls are baking. Place the room temperature cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the milk and the Baileys and mixing until smooth. Slowly (like 1 tablespoon at a time) add the confectioner’s sugar. Wait until the first tablespoon has thoroughly mixed in before adding the second. Continue to add confectioner’s sugar until the frosting reaches the desired consistency.

Load frosting into a pastry bag fitted with round tip. Pipe over warm rolls. (You can also just use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of all of the rolls, as you wish.)

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls:

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Sauce Pan

Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen Cooking Thermometer

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

SAF Instant Yeast

Le Creuset 9″ Stoneware Pie Dish

Le Creuset 6 1/3″ Cast Iron Frying Pan

 


Two loaves of Barmbrack (Báirín Breac) Bread – A Yeasted Barmbrack & A Tea Loaf with Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

March 9, 2016

 

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Here we are, March 9th and I’ve already shared 4 Irish-y recipes here in this lead up to St. Patrick’s Day. Today I’ve got a twofer for you. I’m actually going to remind you of two recipes I posted back in October for Barmbrack. Barmbrack is a traditional Halloween treat in Ireland, so I told you all about it back then. But it would certainly be very welcome on any St. Patrick’s Day table as well. Not to mention, I needed a bit of a breather before my blog-a-thon starts to pick up speed. Yup….starting tomorrow I am going to share one new recipe a day all the way to March 17th! A veritable blitz of dishes I tell you. But for now, back to that Barmbrack I just mentioned.

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Barmbrack is also known as Báirín Breac in Irish. Breac means “speckled” which this bread definitely is, being shot through with a variety of fruit. Báirín can either be the word for “loaf” which would make sense since that would make its name be “speckled loaf” in English. However, I’ve also come across the theory that Barm is derived from the word “beorma”, which refers to a fermented liquor which would have been used back in the day to rise the cake. Barmbrack loaves were traditionally baked up on Halloween as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. Yup. Several different trinkets or charms (perhaps the origin of that “lucky charm” bit…) were wrapped in parchment paper and baked  into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. Back in October, when I first set out to make Barmbrack, I quickly discovered that there were two different types of the bread to be found, a yeasted version and a non-yeasted version which was more like a tea bread. I couldn’t decide which one to make, so I did a loaf of each. I found the yeasted version to be light, airy, slightly sweet and spicy (in a nutmeg/cinnamon/clove kind of way – not my usual set your tongue alight kind of way.) It was chock full of whiskey & tea soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries. Lovely still warm from the oven, it was even better I think when toasted and slathered in butter!

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The second Brack I made was a Tea Barmbrack, which is a rich, dense loaf similar to a fruitcake. But not one of those yucky things some great Aunt sends you at Christmas. No sir-ee, this crave worthy loaf will completely erase all of your pre-conceived fruitcake notions with just one delectable bite. This Tea Barmbrack is full of boozy soaked raisins, sultanas, currants and dates. And it has that Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze. Pure ambrosia I tell you! One taste and you will be hooked!

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So which one should you choose? That’s a hard one. I thought they both were pretty scrumptious. The yeasted one takes a little longer to make when you factor in all of the rise times, but if you love yeast bread, that might be your winner. The Tea Barmbrack is a one bowl wonder and doesn’t require any rise times. Hmmm…decisions, decisions. Rest assured there is no wrong choice. They are both winners and will be a great complement to your St. Patrick’s Day table.

Get the Recipe for Barmbrack Bread (Yeasted Version)

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Get the Recipe for Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Honey Butter Glaze

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Enjoy!

Stay tuned tomorrow for a brand spanking new recipe for Guinness Pistachio Sweet Rolls with Baileys Cream Cheese Frosting. Bet that’s got you drooling!


The Model Bakery’s English Muffins

February 1, 2016

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Here it is…February already. It seems the Husband and I made it through the recent blizzard event, lovingly dubbed “Snowzilla” relatively unscathed. And tomorrow, my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is on the way. Groundhog Day is nigh!

One extraordinary rodent!

One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only folks celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 5th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Five years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I’ve posted some tasty “Anniversary Edition” recipes since then as well like Banana Rum Muffins:

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And last year I was able to successfully bake up a genuine Crack Pie!

IMG_0897So the pressure was on to pick a great dish to share on this my 5th Year blogging and I definitely have a winner for you: The Model Bakery’s English Muffins!

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I mean who doesn’t love an English Muffin? With all of those delightful nooks and crannies, it’s just the perfect vehicle for lashings of salty butter and sweet fruity jam. Seems I’m not alone in my adoration of the muffin. Folks have been enjoying these for a long, long while. Certainly you’ve heard the traditional English nursery rhyme “The Muffin Man”

Oh Do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

In Victorian England folks were able to have fresh “muffins” delivered right to their door by a fellow known as….you guessed it, The Muffin Man. In 1874, Samuel Bath Thomas moved from Plymouth England to New York City. Once there he set up a bakery and began selling what he called “toaster crumpets”. They were similar to English crumpets but were thinner and pre-sliced. He was the founder of Thomas’s English Muffins which are still sold in many groceries today.41g0DUQLjuL

And whilst I’m thankful to Mr. Thomas, having enjoyed the convenience of easily buying a packet of English Muffins, whenever the mood struck me, I’ve got tell you…those store-bought muffins don’t really hold a candle to these homemade gems! Oh Good Lawd above! Once you taste these big honking, tender, moist & fluffy Homemade Muffins, you’ll be hooked. Sooooo worth the effort. You’ll never be found in the Muffin aisle of your local grocery again. (Sorry Mr. Thomas!)

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Now there are many recipes out there for homemade English Muffins, but this one from the Model Bakery reigns supreme! There is a reason their muffins were featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate. The Model Bakery has been open in Napa for over 80 years. Dedicated to authentic artisan baking traditions, they specialize in Artisan Breads but also will tempt you with a complete range of pastry products. And if you’re not planning on visiting Napa anytime soon, they not only mail order some of their delicious baked goods, but have also published a great cookbook: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery , so that you can bake them at home. I’m telling you these muffins are just heavenly. Larger than your usual English Muffin, they bake up wonderfully fluffy and light as a cloud, yet are substantial enough to hold up to any breakfast sandwich you might send their way.

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And with this dough, you don’t have to fiddle around with any old-fashioned muffin rings. You cook them up on a griddle, completely free form.  If you can resist eating the whole dozen in one sitting, a feat of self-restraint that would definitely be worthy of admiration, I’m glad to say these little darlings freeze well, allowing you to have these awesome muffins on hand at the drop of a hat! So what are you waiting for…

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The Model Bakery's English Muffins

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
  • Difficulty: easy, but several steps and dough rising times to be factored in
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From: The Model Bakery Cookbook

Special thanks to Steven & Julie, fellow baking enthusiasts, for sharing this killer recipe with me!

Ingredients:

For the Biga:

  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml water
  • 1/2 cup/ 75g bread flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant (also called quick-rising or bread machine) yeast

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups / 315 ml water
  • 3/4 tsp instant (also called quick-rising or bread machine) yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups/ 510g unbleached all-purpose flour, as needed

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup/ 35g yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 6 tablespoons melted Clarified Butter (recipe follows) as needed

Directions:

To make the biga: At least 1 day before cooking the muffins, combine the flour, water, and yeast in a small bowl to make a sticky dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. The biga will rise slightly.

To make the dough: Combine the biga, water, yeast, olive oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Affix the bowl to the mixer and fi t with the paddle attachment. Mix on low-speed until the mixture looks creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in 3 cups/435 g of the flour to make a soft, sticky dough. Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand for 20 minutes. (To make by hand, combine the water, biga, yeast, oil, and salt in a large bowl and break up the biga with a wooden spoon. Stir until the biga dissolves. Mix in enough flour to make a cohesive but tacky dough. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.)

Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely cleans the mixer bowl. Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed (if the dough climbs up the hook, just pull it down) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface to check its texture. It should feel tacky but not stick to the work surface. (To make by hand, knead on a floured work surface, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and feels tacky, about 10 minutes.)

Shape the dough into a ball. Oil a medium bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil, leaving the dough smooth-side up. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (The dough can also be refrigerated for 8 to 12 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding to the next step.)

Using a bowl scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut into twelve equal pieces. Shape each into a 4-in/10-cm round. Sprinkle an even layer of cornmeal over a half-sheet pan. Place the rounds on the cornmeal about 1 in/2.5 cm apart. Turn the rounds to coat both sides with cornmeal. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until the rounds have increased in volume by half and a finger pressed into a round leaves an impression for a few seconds before filling up, about 1 hour.

Melt 2 Tbsp of the clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat until melted and hot, but not smoking. In batches, add the dough rounds to the skillet. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed so the muffins brown without scorching, adding more clarified butter as needed. The undersides should be nicely browned, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook until the other sides are browned and the muffins are puffed, about 6 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel–lined half-sheet pan and let cool. (It will be tempting to eat these hot off the griddle, but let them stand for at least 20 minutes to complete the cooking with carry-over heat.) Repeat with the remaining muffins, wiping the cornmeal out of the skillet with paper towels and adding more clarified butter as needed.

Split each muffin in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Toast in a broiler or toaster oven (they may be too thick for a standard toaster) until lightly browned. Serve hot. (The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

To make the clarified butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely melted and boiling. Cook until the butter stops sputtering, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the surface of the butter.

Line a wire sieve with dampened, wrung-out cheesecloth and place over a medium bowl. Carefully pour the clear, yellow melted butter through the sieve, leaving the milky residue behind in the saucepan. (Discard the residue.) Pour into a small container and cover. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Psssst: If you can’t be bothered making your own clarified butter, you can just go buy some Ghee off the supermarket shelf or order on Amazon!)

Enjoy!

The Model Bakery’s English Muffins brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Helpful Links to Kitchen Tools & Ingredients I used in making these English Muffins:

So this is a new feature I’m adding to my blog. Below you will find a list of Amazon Links to some of the Kitchen Tools and Ingredients which may not be found in your local grocery store, that I used in making the above recipe. You certainly don’t have to order them from Amazon if you’d prefer not to, but you can at least take a look at them there and then proceed as you wish. You also might be able to make the recipe perfectly well without any of these tools, but I use them and feel they make things much easier for me.

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Kitchen Aid Artisan Series 5 Qt. Stand Mixer

SAF Instant Yeast

Le Creuset 11 3/4″ Cast Iron Frying Pan

Ghee (Clarified Butter)

 


Irish Barmbrack Bread (Yeasted version) – Part I of the Battle of the Bracks!

October 27, 2015

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I can’t believe it! Halloween is nearly upon us!!! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween and am happy to see it here. It is pretty much my favourite holiday. I mean what’s there not to like…dressing up in funny clothes, partaking in a few tricks and treats, eating tons of candy and washing it down with even more booze. Woohoo! Bring me more holidays like that! It just kind of crept up on me….which is exactly what you’d expect from Halloween I guess. Today I thought I’d share a recipe for a Halloween treat that is traditionally eaten in Ireland – Barmbrack or as it is also known Báirín Breac. Breac means “speckled” which this bread definitely is, being shot through with whiskey and tea soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries. Báirín can either be the word for “loaf” which would make sense since that would make its name be “speckled loaf” in English. However, I’ve also come across the theory that Barm is derived from the word “beorma”, which refers to a fermented liquor which would have been used back in the day to rise the cake.

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Barmbrack is a bit sweeter than your average sandwich bread but it is not as rich as a cake. It was traditionally baked up on Halloween as part of an ancient fortune-telling ritual. Yup. Several different trinkets or charms (perhaps the origin of that “lucky charm” bit…) were wrapped in parchment paper and baked  into the bread. When the bread was sliced and handed out, your future was foretold by whatever bit you found in your portion. A wedding ring meant you’d be married within the year, a pea meant that you would not, a coin signified wealth, whereas a piece of rag meant a lean year, a thimble predicted a spinster and button meant bachelorhood was in your future. I chose not to include any trinkets in my bread. I’m a bit wary of any divination. Even a fortune cookie gives me pause. But feel free to partake as you will! Many Bracks sold commercially today still include a ring, though none of the other lucky charms.

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When I set out to make Barmbrack, I quickly discovered that there were two different types of the bread to be found, a yeasted version and a non-yeasted version which was more like a tea bread. I couldn’t decide which one I should do, so I chose to do both and hold a sort of “Battle of the Bracks” to see which one we preferred. Today I’m going to give you the yeasted version and make sure you check back tomorrow, because I’ll be telling you all about the tea bread version. I found the yeasted Barmbrack to be delicious – light, airy, slightly sweet and spicy (in a nutmeg/cinnamon/clove kind of way – not my usual set your tongue alight kind of way.) It was lovely still warm from the oven, but even better I think when toasted and slathered in butter! Now the downside to this bread is that being a yeast bread, there is a bit of a time commitment here. Both Bracks require that the fruit be soaked in a whiskey/tea mixture overnight. But this loaf also requires 2 rising times as well as all of the kneading that is necessary to incorporate the fruit. Now I would say it was totally worth all the effort. But you should keep in mind that pretty much every yeast bread out there makes me swoon and upon the first bite I forget how much work went into making it. And although this bread is usually served as a Halloween treat, I’m sure no one would be sorry to see it turn up on the table any time of the year. And with its Irish pedigree, it might even make a lovely addition to your St. Patrick’s Day table. Make sure you check back in tomorrow to hear all about the challenger in this Battle of the Bracks – Irish Tea Barmbrack with a Whiskey Butter Honey Glaze!

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Irish Barmbrack Bread

  • Servings: 1 large loaf
  • Difficulty: fairly easy - but keep in mind there is an overnight soak for the fruit as well as two rising times for the dough
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Seasons and Suppers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 2 cups strong brewed black tea
  • 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry active or instant yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • milk and Demerara sugar for brushing over the top

Directions:

Brew 2 cups of hot tea and allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey. Place the fruit in a medium glass bowl and pour tea/whiskey mixture over it. Stir and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to soak on the counter overnight.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine 4 cups of the flour, spices, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. With a pastry cutter or your fingers (or with the paddle attachment on your mixer), work in the butter in to the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. (If you are using dry active yeast, rather than instant yeast, add it to the lukewarm milk – which will be detailed in the following step – and allow it to  proof for 5 minutes before adding it to the dough.)

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat warm the milk to 110° F – 115°F. Beat the egg into the milk and then stir into the dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon or switch to the kneading hook on a stand mixer. Knead by hand or with the kneading hook until dough starts to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl (adding more flour in small increments, as necessary).

Drain the raisins and add to the dough. I know this sounds pretty easy, but this is likely the most difficult bit of this recipe! Don’t lose heart though, all of that fruit will eventually get mixed in. Sprinkling a bit of flour over the well drained fruit does make it a bit easier to incorporate it.  Work the fruit in, adding a bit more flour as necessary, until you have a smooth dough that is not sticky.

Remove dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size.

Grease an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan and pre-heat oven to 400° F.

Turn risen dough out on to a floured surface. Press lightly to de-gas, then form in to a round by pinching the dough underneath. Place dough round in to prepared pan. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise until puffy, about 30 minutes more.

Brush top of bread with milk or cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, then check the bread. If it is nicely browned, cover top loosely with a piece of tinfoil, then continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes or so, or until an internal temperature of about 195°F about 40 – 50 minutes total. Let cool completely before cutting into slices.

Enjoy!

Irish Barmbrack Bread Brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


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