Posts tagged bread

stollen (candied fruit + marzipan)

I’ve become sort of a resident snack-bringer for the community choir I sing in.  As those who know me already know, and those who find my blog soon find out, baking is a bit of an obsession for me.  I never tire of the fascination of turning endless combinations of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs into delicious things.  I never tire of the amazement of having something turn out just like things I’ve bought, and I usually attribute it to a good recipe rather to any indefinable magic coming from my fingertips.

So as you can imagine, new baking projects are constantly filling up my imagination, and I’ve been known to bake several different batches of items, when it’s just my husband and I in the house, and most people I know are on a diet.  On an impulse last year, I brought cookies to choir rehearsal, and they were snatched up pretty quickly, and it’s become kind of a tradition.  I don’t bring them every week, but it definitely gives me an outlet.

The first semester of our season ends tomorrow evening, and for the past few rehearsals, I’ve been getting increasingly seasonal.  Having an abundance of hand-candied citrus peel and hand-glaceed cherries, I sought out a recipe I could use them in, and settled on stollen, a German Christmastime bread with a center of marzipan.  I made some tweaks to the recipe I based it on, and it came out redolent of spices and rum.  I definitely recommend it!

stollen (makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. glaceed cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c. candied citrus peel, chopped
  • 1/2 c. currants
  • 1/4 c. spiced rum
  • 1 c. + 3 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. wheat gluten (aka gluten flour)
  • rounded 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. each cardamom, cloves, and allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 9 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 egg + 2 egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 8 oz. marzipan, rolled into a cylinder
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix glaceed cherries, candied citrus peel, and currants in a bowl.  Pour spiced rum over and mix.  Let macerate for about 20-30 minutes before and during preparation of the bread dough, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour some of the milk into a small bowl and heat until warm in the microwave.  Add yeast, with a pinch of sugar, and let stand a minute to be sure it foams.
  3. Combine 1 c. of the whole-wheat flour, the all-purpose flour, wheat gluten, sugar, salt, and spices.  Whisk briefly to combine.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 3 tbsp. whole-wheat flour and remaining milk.  Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, only about a minute or so.  Let cool for a moment, and then add melted butter, eggs, lemon zest, and macerated fruit, along with all of the spiced rum.
  5. Add the yeast, and wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.
  6. Rest 15 minutes.
  7. Knead until the dough is smooth.
  8. Rest until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  9. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick.   Place the marzipan slightly off-center, and roll the dough over it, pinching the ends to seal.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 and rest the dough until doubled in size, about an hour.
  11. Bake for 35 minutes or until a deep golden brown.
  12. When cool, brush with melted butter and dust generously with confectioners’ sugar.
  13. Wrap tightly and keep for several days to age the bread before slicing and serving.

candied citrus peel

Ingredients:

  • assorted citrus fruits (lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, buddha’s hand, etc.)
  • sugar
  • water

Directions:

  1. With a paring knife or vegetable peeler, slice off long strips of citrus peel.  Be sure there is as little pith as possible.  Slice into thinner strips.
  2. Bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil, and add citrus peel strips.  Boil about 10-15 minutes, or until a piece of peel when removed is soft, chewy, and sweet.
  3. Drain syrup and keep for things like cocktails.  Spread peel strips in a single layer on racks to dry.
  4. Toss in granulated sugar, and store in an airtight container.

 

glaceed cherries

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. water

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Boil.
  2. Seriously, that’s it.
  3. Really.
  4. Okay, it might take about a half hour.  You want the cherries to be soft, cooked, and the syrup to be thicker and sticky, like syrup.  It will thicken up a lot once it has been refrigerated.  Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

marzipan (makes about 2 lbs.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. blanched almonds
  • 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Grind almonds to a fine powder in a food processor.  Pour out into a bowl and add confectioners’ sugar.  Whisk briefly to combine.
  2. Add egg whites and stir until it is evenly combined.  Knead once or twice to be sure it comes together.
  3. Roll or shape, or just eat it plain!
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banana-date bread

Before this year, I have had relatively few experiences with food so delicious that my vision blurs and I simply bliss out for a few minutes, heedless of what others at the table might be saying.  This year, I already feel I’ve had more than my share, what with beef wellington at a local French restaurant so good I think I actually teared up; guacamole with mango, papaya, and pomegranate seeds at a Mexican-style grill in Baltimore; and a pork belly bun at another local, farm-to-table restaurant.  These are the experiences I live for, that make me wonder endlessly why I didn’t pursue food writing as a profession (reason: I don’t like exercising enough to eat that many calories).

Before anyone gets too excited, this bread does not fall into the category of one of “those” experiences.  But, Medjool dates, for me, do.  I don’t recall ever really having a date as a kid, with the exception of one or two of those dry, cubed things you found in dried-fruit mixes.  When I bit into a Medjool date around this time last year, I was bowled over by the intensely sweet, brown-sugary, caramel-like flavors.  Fast-forward to this year, and I purchased a type of date that was a bit cheaper than the Medjools, which can be quite pricey.  Turns out those other dates are nothing like the ethereal experience of a Medjool, but not wanting to waste food, I wanted to find a way to use up the less-delicious dates in a way that might make them more worthwhile to me.

I wasn’t too sure about this bread from the batter, which tasted a bit, well, bready, to me.  But, the end product was very tasty – good, slightly chewy texture.  Obviously, I recommend it.

Banana-Date Bread (makes 1 loaf)

When I was making this bread, I accidentally left the batter on the counter while I set the oven timer.  So, I don’t know that letting it sit for an extra half hour did any good, but feel free to try it!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. dates
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Pour boiling water over dates and let sit about half an hour, or until water has cooled to room temperature.  Pulse mixture in a food processor briefly until dates have been chopped up but not completely smooth.
  3. Add sugar and olive oil to date mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add eggs and beat in one at a time.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients alternately with mashed banana.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes.  Watch for over-browning and place a sheet of foil over the top if need be to bake fully without burning.

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bacon panzanella

There’s just something special about toasted bread in any form, much less toasted in bacon grease and dressed with red wine vinaigrette.

Bacon Panzanella (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 loaf rosemary focaccia bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1-2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. frozen cut green beans, thawed
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried herbs of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat in an oven-proof saute pan until crispy.  Remove bacon to paper towels to drain.  Add bread cubes to saute pan and toss until covered with bacon fat.
  3. Place saute pan in the oven and bake 15 minutes, tossing several times, until evenly golden brown.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss bread cubes, bacon, tomatoes, onion, green beans, and dressing in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

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roasted pheasant and wild mushroom bread pudding

Okay, so, I didn’t make this tonight (or even this week), and I forgot to take shots of it.  But, in the interest of pheasant starting with “p” (yes, dear readers, there is a theme to this week, albeit accidental) and clearing out my draft posts pile, here is a rich, delicious post to add to your occasional repertoire.

I think I made this for a special occasion, but at the moment, I don’t remember what.  Perhaps it was to celebrate moving into our new house, or perhaps it was to celebrate the fact that I could still buy pheasant at the market.  Who knows?  The important thing is that I apparently love pheasant.  Pheasant is what chicken should taste like.  It’s chicken-like, but with this extra-rich, sort of gamey flavor to it that just elevates it to poultry heaven.  The bread pudding is good, too – I had leftovers for breakfast with a poached egg on top.

Roasted Pheasant and Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding (4 servings.. at least)

Ingredients:

For the Pheasant:

  • 8 c. water
  • 1/2 c. salt
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. whole allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. white peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 pheasant
  • 2 c. chicken broth

For the Bread Pudding:

  • 4 c. rosemary-garlic bread, or french/italian-style loaf (about 7.5 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 c. wild mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. rice milk
  • 1/2 c. half-and-half
  • 4 eggs

Directions:

  1. Heat water and all ingredients except pheasant and chicken broth in a saucepan until brown sugar has dissolved.  Cool to room temperature, and submerge the pheasant in the brine.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Cook onion and garlic several minutes, or until softened.  Add mushrooms, and cook until they have exuded their juices.  Increase heat and boil until mixture is nearly dry.  Let cool until room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together rice milk, half-and-half, and eggs.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine bread, mushroom mixture, and rice milk mixture.  Spread in a medium roasting pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 425.  Place a roasting rack on top of the bread pudding mixture.  Dry the pheasant, place on roasting rack, and apply butter or olive oil to the entire bird.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  If desired, stuff the cavity with onion, apple or lemon, and fresh herbs.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes, and then reduce oven to 325.  Roast another 30-45 minutes, or until internal temperature of the bird reaches 155.  Occasionally baste with chicken broth.
  7. Remove from oven and cover the pheasant loosely with foil.  Rest for 15 minutes before slicing.  Serve with bread pudding.

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chocolate-orange bread pudding with sticky cherries

I was really excited to try this chocolate-orange bread recipe I found here, but when I pulled it out of the oven I found that it wasn’t what I had hoped for.  I doubled the recipe, and am notorious for forgetting to double all of the ingredients in a recipe, so I may try this again at some point in a single loaf form.  Still, the loaf tasted very little like chocolate, and even less like orange, so I admit to some disappointment.

Having almost two entire loaves of the stuff sitting around with no discernible purpose, and having just bought the most delicious liquid on the planet (dark chocolate almond milk – yum!), I opted to try out a bread pudding, something I haven’t been too enthused about in the past.  It was well worth the experiment, though it was pretty thick and maybe not as puddingy as a traditional bread pudding?  Not sure, as it’s not really my thing.

I topped it off with a few of the sticky cherries – really, almost candied – I had made last week, and I highly recommend.

Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding (makes 1 9-inch square pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-3/4 standard 9″x4″-size loaf of bread, cut into 1″ cubes – a light, eggy bread is the usual, but heavier breads can be used for a denser pudding; also, I used 3/4 of a loaf, but it was very crumbly, so it may have yielded only about a 1/2 loaf
  • 1/3 c. currants
  • 5 eggs (up to 3 may be egg white only)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. orange extract
  • 2 1/4 c. chocolate almond milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spread bread cubes out on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until bread has dried out a little bit.  Place in a 9-inch square pan; the cubes should mostly fill the pan.  Sprinkle currants over the bread cubes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, orange extract, and almond milk until smooth.  Pour over bread cubes.  Press bread down with the back of a spoon.  If cubes are not totally covered by milk, you can add a little more.
  3. Let rest at least 15 minutes, and as long as overnight, occasionally pressing down with a spoon.
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes until firm and slightly puffed.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with custard sauce or slightly thickened whipping cream if you like.

 

Sticky Cherries (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag sweet red cherries
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c. vanilla sugar

Directions:

  1. Pit the cherries.  One easy way I recently learned about was to use a metal star tip for a frosting bag.  Insert into the cherry where the stem is until it contacts the pit.  Twist the star tip around to dislodge the cherry pit, and then pull out.  The cherry put should be detached and can be discarded.
  2. Place the cherries in a saucepan with the water and sugar.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until liquid has turned very syrupy.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.  Syrup should become very thick.

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Herb-‘Nilla Brown Butter Brioche

Before I say anything else on the topic of brioche, I want to say that, although I did in fact make this batch with my new stand mixer, YOU CAN make this by hand!  When I wanted to do it long ago before I had a stand mixer, I looked all over the web and didn’t really see directions for doing it this way.  I saw everyone saying you HAD to have a stand mixer, or else it was impossible.  It’s not.  I guarantee it.  It’s not easy – boy, is it not easy.  But it’s possible, I’ve done it.  You can use a hand mixer until it starts to stress the motor – you don’t want to break it.  After you turn your hand mixer off, go ahead and use a wooden spoon (or your hands) until you reach the desired consistency of the dough.

Here’s what I discovered after I made this, my third batch of brioche: I don’t really like brioche all that much.  I realize that’s going to sound sacrilegious to all of my fellow bread-and-butter lovers, but it’s true.  I actually find brioche too rich for me to eat anything but thin slices.  I guess I just like my butter ON my bread more than IN my bread.

During my “can I make puff pastry from scratch” experiment awhile back, I wondered whether it would be possible to make a puff pastry with brown butter.  It occurred to me that perhaps if I melted the butter, browned it, and then allowed it to reharden, I might be able to use it just the same as fresh butter.  Since I was planning to make brioche, I considered that the same thing might be possible.  And, as I was going to be melting butter, why not infuse it with some herbs?  And heck, I have a few vanilla beans around here, let’s throw one of those in for aromatics and sweetness.

So… was it amazing, toothsome, delicious?  Was browning the butter worth it?  Honestly… I would have to say, probably not really.  It made the entire process take longer, about a half hour longer, and there are other ways of flavoring your brioche besides infusing the butter – say, adding fresh chopped herbs or vanilla seeds.  I suppose if you’re committed to a pure, pale yellow dough, it would be worth it.  But, I didn’t taste much of a browned-butter flavor.  Then again, I have kind of felt that brown butter was overrated and overly rich, so perhaps I’m not the right person to ask.

Otherwise, I apologize profusely that I didn’t take photos, and plan to take some during the entire process next time I make brioche so newbies can see how it’s supposed to look.  The recipe is a totally serviceable (read: awesome), easy, and tasty version of brioche, so I recommend, if not the brown butter part.

Herb-‘Nilla Brown Butter Brioche (makes 2 loaves)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. unsalted butter (preferably European, organic)
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise down the middle
  • 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 c. warm milk, 100-110 degrees
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (I used Baker’s Choice from the bulk bins at Whole Foods)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg, beaten, or cream, for glaze
  • flaky or coarse sea salt for sprinkling, your choice

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a small saucepan, and add thyme, rosemary, and vanilla bean.  Heat over medium, and cook until butter boils.  Continue cooking until milk solids and butter are brown and the mixture is fragrant.  From solid to browned, this took me approximately 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain into a bowl, and freeze for about 15-20 minutes (or refrigerate until firm).
  2. Rinse the inside of your stand mixer bowl with hot water so that your milk will stay warm to prime the yeast.  Add warm milk and yeast to the mixer bowl, and stir gently.  Add a pinch of sugar and wait 5-10 minutes, or until foamy.
  3. Add sugar, flour, salt, and eggs to mixer bowl.  Mix on low speed until it comes together.  Rest dough for a few minutes, while you prepare the butter.
  4. If you chose to freeze your butter, around this time, it should be getting firm, so you can remove it and let it set at room temperature until you are ready to use it.  Mine was solid on the top and sides and still melted in the middle, but by stirring it, it became soft throughout and I left it out at room temperature.
  5. Turn your mixer to medium-high, and beat for 15 minutes, stopping the mixer to rest the motor and the dough, and to scrape the sides of the bowl, every 5 minutes.  The motor of my stand mixer got pretty warm, and I just rested it briefly to be on the safe side.  My mixer also bounced about a little bit, as this is pretty thick dough.  Just keep an eye on it and you should be fine.  By the end of the second 5 minutes, the dough should be wrapped around the dough hook and slapping the sides of the bowl, which should be relatively clean.  If your dough still seems too loose and sticky, add a little bit of flour.
  6. Be sure your butter has softened, and give it a quick stir.  Turn your mixer to medium speed, and while it beats your dough, add butter a tablespoon or so at a time, waiting until dough has somewhat incorporated before adding the next tablespoon.  My dough split into two sections, one wrapped around the mixer and one near the bottom of the bowl, and much of the butter was slicked in the gap between the two until I was finished adding butter.
  7. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed by a notch and beat about 5 minutes, or until sides of bowl are relatively clean and the dough is all one ball wrapped around the dough hook again.  You are looking for smooth, shiny, slightly sticky dough.
  8. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warmish place until it has doubled in size.  I let mine rise for 3 full hours.  Deflate by lifting up the edges of the dough.  Recover, and place in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.
  9. Separate into two loaves, or individual rolls.  Place in their appropriate pans, cover, and allow to rise another 2 or 3 hours, until they have doubled in size once more.  Brush with egg or cream, and sprinkle salt over the top.
  10. Preheat oven to 375, and bake for 15-45 minutes, depending on the size of your bread, and your individual oven’s variations.  When loaves/rolls are done, they should be a medium-dark golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

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Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is one of the first quickbreads I ever made, and remains my very favorite.  The deep base squash flavor combined with autumnal spices is just delicious.  As with the zucchini bread I made earlier in the year, this recipe made an entirely too moist bread, I think from a combination of using applesauce for oil, honey for sugar, and spelt flour for all-purpose, all of which increase the total moisture content.

More specifically, using applesauce and honey increased the moisture content.  When baking with spelt flour, I’ve heard that you are supposed to use 25% less liquid in those recipes, but I have been making recipes that have no liquids in them.  So, I increase the spelt flour until the texture seems correct for what I’m making, and perhaps add a pinch more leavener.

Spelt Pumpkin Bread (makes 1 or 2 loaves – I don’t remember)

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all ingredients in the same bowl, careful not to overmix.
  3. Pour into a loaf pan (or two?  I forgot how many loaves this makes)
  4. Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.

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