Bread of the Month: Swedish Rye

With most of my bread making experiments so far I have stayed safely close to the normal flours and grains so I decided this month it was finally time to branch out to the more hearty and interesting grains starting with rye flour.

Rye flour on it’s own can be extremely dense and so it is often used in combination with wheat flour so the dough is easier to work with and rise. It also tends to require longer rising times and more liquid for the dough to rise; sounded like a fun challenge to me.

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I decided to make Swedish Rye loafs; this round-loaf rye bread has a hard exterior but a soft almost buttery texture inside. Although it uses molasses and brown sugar it has no milk and very little butter in it. Even though it is a little denser/heartier of a bread for summer-time; we had no problem working our way through a loaf in no time. As per usual the original recipe comes from the Bread Bible; with some of my variations.

To make the dough I started as usual by proofing the yeast; but because the rye flour is more dense it takes more liquid for it to rise properly so 3/4 C of liquid was used to proof the 1 packed of yeast instead of the usual 1/4th C.

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The trader joe’s coffee container is holding my rye flour

While this yeast proofed I combined in one of my large kitchen aid metal bowls 1 C warm water (see even more liquid), 1/4C unsulfured molasses (I chose dark), 1/4 C light brown sugar, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (original recipe only called for 2 but I wanted a more buttery texture), 1 tbls salt, 2 teaspoons (or more) caraway seeds, 1 large orange worth of orange zest (you can use lemon but I think the orange works better with the molasses and brown sugar), and 2 1/2 C rye flour.

After all of this was I mixed together until creamy (well as creamy as rye flour will get). Then I stirred in the yeast mixture after it had proofed for 10 minutes.

Next slowly I added about 1 C at a time of the 2 1/2 C  regular flour while the kitchen aid continuously mixed the dough. I then switched my mixing handle for the dough hook and let it knead the dough for 2-3 minutes.

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As with many other recipes from this book, I then placed the dough in a deep container that was greased with butter on both sides then covered it in plastic wrap. Then comes the hardest part of this recipe . . . waiting: it took 2 hours to let the dough rise to double in bulk! Rye flour takes a longer rising time and all the while I was uneasy weather the dough was getting dry or if it over-fermented.

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After the long wait, I took the dough out of the deep dish container and divided it into two. Using a little flour I shaped two loafs. I brushed both loaf-tops with butter than again covered it loosely in plastic wrap to rise again at room temp for another 2 hours.

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Finally, I turned the oven to 375, covered the top of the the loafs with flour and  used a serrated knife to create 1/4 inch cuts into the tops of the dough. For our loaf I did a basic three slash cut with a bread knife. For the other loaf I marked an H for Halvorson (my maiden name) since I was giving that loaf away to my grandparents. The loafs went in the oven for 25 minutes. I knew they were done when they were golden brown on the outside and sounded hollow when I tapped on them.

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Although they took long rising the bread was worth the wait. It was sweet enough to eat on it’s own or with a little butter but not too sweet that we couldn’t use it for sandwiches. You could definitely make it into a sweeter bread by adding more butter, orange zest,  and brown sugar and possible adding some cranberries. Maybe for a end of summer/ fall treat?

 

Bread of the Month: Pan Dulce

Last Monday was Cinco de Mayo which isn’t a huge holiday here in New York but is pretty well celebrated in my home state of California. I usually do not celebrate it myself other than choosing to eat Mexican food for dinner that night. So I was somewhat surprised we were invited to a Cinco de Mayo party here in Corning. I say somewhat because the couple hosting the party moved here from San Diego (yes there are fellow native Californians here but not many). They decided they were craving some carne and pollo asada and had bags of it marinating flown in to our East Coast town to cook-up and serve with tortillas and fresh guacamole.

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I thought through what I could contribute to this rare East Coast/West Coast clash event and since avocados aren’t cheap I thought I’d try making Pan Dulce (aka in Spanish sweet bread) also called Mexican Morning/Breakfast Bread or Conchas. I grew up seeing these little bread rolls being sold in the windows of many of the taquerias in my hometown. Round and yellowish on the inside the top of each roll is colorfully decorated with a flour/sugar coating in a decorative shape such as a seashell or corn. These come in different flavors: chocolate, cinnamon, strawberry, or vanilla each easily distinguished by the color of the sweet sugar on top.

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I found a recipe for Pan Dulce in my trusty Bread Bible and made a few adjustments based on making this a dessert bread and not a morning breakfast bread (although some were eaten for breakfasts). I ended up making a double batch from what I’m listing below which made about 32 buns/rolls. We took at least 25 of those 32 to the park with us for the party and all of them were gone by the time we left.

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I started by combining 2/3 C milk, 5 eggs, vanilla, 1 C sugar, salt, and 2 C of flour mixing them in my wonderful blue Kitchen Aid mixer. Then I added the yeast when proofed. Once the mixture was smooth I added in the cut up butter pieces about 3/4ths of a stick.

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Next I slowly added in the remaining flour about 4 more cups give or take a cup or so at a time while mixing it all together on a low speed on my mixer.

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Once it formed into dough it had a slightly yellow color (from all the eggs) and was a little soft but springy. I took the dough out of the mixing bowl and hand kneaded it a little on a floured surface.

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Then I placed the dough in two greased deep containers ( I split my double batch in half)  then covered it with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour and a half  at room temp..

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While waiting on the dough I made the sugar topping. Of the whole process this was what I found most difficult. The recipe called for making the  powdered sugar, flour, butter, vanilla, and egg into  a crumbly mixture. It found it to be a little tougher than they probably wanted and decided to add more butter to make a more malleable texture. I split the mixture in two and added 2 TBS of cocoa powder to one and 1 TBS cinnamon to the other.

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Once the dough rose I formed half of it into 3 inch balls/rolls then taking egg white I had beaten and put aside I glazed the top of the roll with the egg yolk then using a tablespoon I scooped out 1TBS of the cocoa sugar topping onto the roll and pressed it on and in. I did the same with the other half of the dough using the cinnamon sugar. Then I left the rolls to rise for 20 minutes once again covered with plastic wrap.

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After this I cut (as much as I could) a design into the top sugar coating using a sharp knife then re-brushed each roll with egg yolk again before sticking the rolls in the oven. The rolls expanded quite a bit in the oven so the small cracks I made in the sugar topping created deep cracks in the coating once baked.

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They turned out tasting great, even if the top sugar coating designs did not seem as appealing as the ones I grew up with. No matter what they tasted great and were well received as the only “authentic” dessert option. And the few that we kept at home were gone in less than a week.

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

If so what is your favorite holiday food/treat?

 

Bread of the Month: Italian Triple Chocolate

You read that right triple chocolate!!! I figured this is the month of and for chocolate lovers right? (see February is synonymous with chocolate). This moist bread is a cross-breed between a dark/molasses bread and a dessert bread. Most dessert bread ingredients form a sweet cake batter rather than a dough and use baking powder and/or soda to help them rise . This bread instead uses yeast, has two rises, and forms a very silk and springy dough.

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The base recipe I got once again from The Bread Bible but I did make some key variations. After proofing the yeast I added the dry ingredients of: flour, salt, cocoa powder (the first of the three chocolates), expresso, and sugar together. Then the wet ingredients of: warm milk, melted butter, egg, yeast, and warm water were added to create the dough.

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Once the dough was formed the ever so important chocolate was added. The original recipe called for some finer/fancier chocolates. I decided to used good-old fashion Hershey unsweetened cocoa powder (instead of a fancy dutch processed variety), 3 ounces of a nicer Lindt milk chocolate bar, and 5 ounces of a  semi-sweet baking bar that was suggested in the original recipe: Scharffen Berger. Once the chocolate was chopped it was added with a spoon to the dough. Here also I added vanilla and a little more white sugar making the dough sweeter than the recipe called for.

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Then the rest of the flour was added 1/2 C at a time to the mixer. After switching over to a dough hook for awhile, I turned it over by hand  to check it’s consistency. I used butter to grease the pan the dough would rise in instead of the olive oil base I would normally use for a non-dessert bread.

The dough sat and rose for an hour and half. During this time I decided to create a glaze, also not in the original recipe.  I used a tablespoon of my coffee creamer (see Coffee Creamer Simplified ), 1/8 tsp of expresso, a tablespoon of melted bittersweet chocolate, and one egg whisked together.

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Once the dough finished it’s first rising I kneaded it to let out air and formed it into loafs. The original  design is to make the dough into two round loafs. Instead I formed the dough to fit two regular bread loafs pans, greased again with butter, for it’s second rising; about another half hour. After the second rising I glazed the tops of the loafs and stuck the bread in the oven at 375 F.

Let me tell you combine the smell of brownies and fresh bread baking and you’ve got close to what our house smelled like while this bread cooked. It went in the oven for about 45-50 minutes . I chose to take it out around 30 minutes to re-glaze the top; then did that again after 45 minutes and turned the oven down to 200 until the glaze was absorbed. At 50 minutes I had three layers of sweet glaze on top of the bread and the center was done. The end result? Not necessarily the prettiest bread I have ever made but one of the most delicious.

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With a crunchy sweet top layer and a moist yet dense semi-sweet chocolate flavor it is wonderful. Once the loafs cooled I placed them covered in the fridge. The next morning Luke andI had a slice without butter with homemade vanilla lattes for breakfast. Talk about a piece of heaven!! I think it honestly tastes better the next day!

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So there you have it!  A very February tribute to bread. If you are thinking of finding this recipe or something similar there are definitely ways to add variety to the recipe. If you want the bread sweeter I would suggest adding more white sugar to the dough along with more milk chocolate and/or add chocolate chips.

You can also of course add a sweeter glaze and or icing to the top. The more the glaze the quicker the top will brown so you have to be cautious. You can always cover the top with foil while the rest bakes if necessary. For an icing I would suggest melting semi-sweet chocolate and combining it with a little milk/cream and powdered sugar to put on once the loafs have cooled.

Happy chocolate month everyone!!

Bread of the Month: English Muffins

This year I decided I am picking one new bread item per month to home-bake. If you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that I love to bake but my baking had been mostly limited to desserts. It’s only within this past year I began to feel comfortable making dough items such as buns, rolls, pastries and our everyday lunch bread at home.

But Luke borrowed The Bread Bible from a co-worker and I was inspired. Although there are  many wonderful baked goodies out there many of them I cannot eat because of an allergy to barley for more see: Why I am barley free Part One . Much of the time I do not mind eating gluten-free even though I am not allergic to gluten. Still availability of gluten-free breads and baked goods is limited here in upstate NY and even if it is available I never know when/how I can get them.

This Bread Bible provides great fun new dessert to try but also includes easy recipes for basics I have not eaten in over a year like bagels, hamburger buns, sourdough bread, and english muffins.

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I have always loved english muffins they are so crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. That is why they are great for toasting served with a little butter and jam or peanut butter and bananas. I  also think they make for great PB and J’s, breakfast sandwiches with fried eggs, or for eggs benedict. So for as you may have guess for January’s bread of the month I chose to make homemade English Muffins!

I was surprised at how easy the process was. Very similar in steps to our homemade bread recipe, all ingredients are combined after yeast has time to proof then the dough rises in a deep dished oiled pan for an hour.

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After the dough has had time to rise, it is rolled out to about a 1/2 in thick. To cut the muffin rounds I used one of our glasses.

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Once all the dough was cut into rounds I got out the large electric skillet and cooked/fried them on the oiled surface for about 10 minutes on each side then let them cool on a wire rack. I was surprised at how quickly the dough rose as it baked.

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So there you have it: homemade english muffins. They are crispy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside. If I was to make them again I may try to work the dough less to add more fluff or rise. I would also probably add 1/2 C cornmeal to the dough recipe.

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I made a double batch and put most of them in the freezer; the rest went in the fridge. They serve as a great breakfast option along side our Greene’s gluten-free granola bars.

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So what is your favorite carb? Do you have a love for baking?