Saturday, 25 January 2014

Chocolate prune bread - BBB January 2014

Bread Baking Babe of the month Jamie from Life's a feast choose the Babes and us Buddies a chocolate prune bread to bake along. I wasn't too sure about the combination of bread and chocolate. Oh yes, we do love pain au chocolat, but would this be sweet enough? Would it taste like cake? (Hope so, hope so, hope so.) IT DOES!!
Jamie is very enthusiastic about the book this recipe is from: The new artisan bread in five minutes a day by Jeff Herzberg and Zoë François and the bakers' website is definitely worth a visit ( Their idea is to make a basic dough without kneading -within 5 minutes-, store it in the fridge and use chunks of it whenever you feel like baking. Ideal!!

I decided to make half the dough recipe and use it all for one big chocolate prune bread. Well, it turned out fantastic! Far better than expected, what a nice surprise and what an easy way of baking. I'm afraid my baking book collection desperately needs a new acquisition!

Chocolate prune bread recipe (makes 1 big loaf)
Day 1 - make the basic chocolate dough
283 ml lukewarm water
85 ml vegetable oil
5 gr instant yeast
9 gr sea salt
100 gr caster sugar
390 gr flour (a mix of equal parts plain flour and strong white bread flour)
43 gr dark unsweetened cocoa powder
85 gr chocolate (in small chunks) - a mix of 43% and 72% cocoa content

Mix and store the dough
Mix the oil, yeast, salt and sugar with the water in a lidded bowl. Add flour and cocoa powder and quickly mix with a danish dough whisk, or wooden spoon. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Cover the bowl and allow to rest at room temperature for approximately two hours. The dough might rise and collapse in this time. Then store the (airtight) covered bowl in the fridge and use the dough within the next 5 days. (The dough can even be frozen at this stage. When using frozen dough, thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rest and rise times.)

The next day, baking day (or within 5 days)
the chilled dough, mine was approx. 970 gr
75 gr chocolate chunks, same mix as above
200 gr halved pitted prunes
1 beaten egg for egg wash
50 gr caster sugar for sprinkling
baking paper and butter for lining and greasing the bread tin

Prepare a large bread tin (31 x 13 cm) with baking paper and grease it with butter, sprinkle some sugar evenly over the butter. Use the dough straight from the fridge. It's easier to handle when it's cold. Flatten the dough on a floured work surface until 1 cm thick.

Use just enough flour not to let it stick too much. Divide the chocolate chunks and prunes evenly over the dough and roll up the dough jelly-roll style to enclose them. Fold the dough over itself several times, turning and pressing it down with the heel of your hands after each turn, to divide the chocolate and prunes. Don't worry, some pieces will poke through.

Shape the dough to fit your prepared bread tin, cover the tin and leave to rise for 90 mins. Preheat the oven to 165C (fan). Just before baking, score the loaf, give it a coating of egg wash and sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Bake the loaf for 60 mins. Turn off the oven and leave the loaf in the closed oven for another 10 mins. Take out, then leave to rest in the tin for 5 mins. before carefully taking it out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

'Saint Hildegards' spelt loaf - BTTFB January 2014

For the first month of the New Year Carola from Sweet and That's It
choose us Back To The Future Buddies to bake Saint Hildegard's spelt loaf, originally posted to the Bread Baking Bakes group in January 2011 by Paulchen's FoodBlog.

"Saint Hildegard von Bingen, O.S.B., also known as Saint Hildegard and Sybil of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary and polymath." (wikipedia). She lived from 1098 - 1179 and had strong ideas about healthy eating. This spelt loaf is one of her recipes.

Carola changed the recipe a bit and so did I. The combination of brown bread and raisins didn't appeal to me, so I decided to substitute the raisins by sunflower seeds. A lot of them! And since I couldn't find spelt flakes I replaced them by porridge oats.

You'll end up with a deliciously tasty, moist, seedy loaf, that stays fresh for days and makes the best toast. I love it with cheese .....

Here's my version of the recipe (makes 1 medium sized loaf):
250 ml water
100 ml milk
200 gr oat flakes (porridge oats)
9 gr salt
150 gr whole spelt flour
150 gr white spelt flour
7 gr instant dry yeast
200 ml lukewarm milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
0,5 tbsp grapeseed oil
0,5 tbsp sugar
75 gr toasted sunflower seeds
extra sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and poppy seeds for topping the loaf

Mix 250 ml water and 100 ml milk, add oat flakes and salt and let soak for a while. Add flours and yeast. You'll have a very dry brick-like consistency now (not very sponge-like). Cover and let rest for 30 mins. Add 200 ml milk, lemon juice and sugar and mix for at least 15 mins. The dough is very wet now and I used my good old hand mixer with dough hooks for mixing. Don't be tempted to add extra flour! Finally mix in the oil and fold in the toasted sunflower seeds. Cover the bowl and let proof for 30 mins. with two or three folds every 10 mins. My dough hardly grew in size and was still very wet, more like a thick batter. Poor the dough in a bread pan covered with baking paper and sprinkle the extra seeds on top. Cover the bread pan and let rise again for about 40 mins. Again my loaf hardly rose .... In the meantime preheat the oven to 185C (fan) and bake the loaf for 15 mins. Then reduce the oven temperature to 175C (fan) and bake another 30 mins. Leave in the tin for another five mins, take out of the bread pan and let completely cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

December baking: BTTFB Soft Pretzels

I know it's January, but December is busy. Especially in my oven.

For December 2013 Carola from Sweet and That's it challenged us (Back To The Future, Buddies) to bake Soft Pretzels.
As "Back to The Future Buddies" we are trying to catch up with the Bread Baking Babes by making the recipes us Buddies missed over the years. Either because we weren't buddies yet, hadn't found out about this fantastic baking group, didn't have the time, or weren't into baking ....
This recipe was originally posted in september 2011 by Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms.

Boiled pretzels
Topped pretzels
These pretzels are real fun to make. The shaping and boiling are a bit different from your normal bread baking and were a first to me! (As you can see by the end result.) My baked pretzels look more like kaiser rolls, but they taste very good.

Baked pretzels

Recipe (10 pretzels)

420 gr finest strong bread flour (left over from New Years Eve's fried doughnuts)
7 gr instant active yeast
1,5 tsp sugar
1,5 tsp salt
240 ml warm water

1,5 L water
2 tbsp baking soda

Glaze and topping
1 large egg
1 tsp water
course sea salt
sesame and nigella seeds

Mixing the dough by hand
Mix all ingredients together and knead 15 mins. by hand. The dough feels fairly tough, but gets a bit softer while kneading. After 15 mins. kneading it feels a little more supple. Put it back in the bowl, cover it and leave to rise for about 50 mins. at room temperature. To check if the dough is ready, press it with a floured finger. If the indentation stays, it is ready. If it springs back, leave it another 10 mins. and check again.
When it's ready, punch down the dough and leave to rest for another 5 mins. covered.

Preheat the oven to 215C/fan 195C.
Divide the dough into 10 equal portions (about 65 gr. each) and cover. Roll out one portion at the time into a 45 cm rope with tapered ends. Now comes the interesting bit ... Cross one end of the rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 10 cm at both ends of the ropes sides. Twist the rope at the base of the circle and fold the ends over the circle into the traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. place the pretzels on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and cover. Let them rise for 10 mins.

I borrowed this drawing from Nightbaking. You can also check out Carola's pictures. I had to check them again and again!

Bring 1,5 L of water to the boil with 2 tbsp of baking soda in a non-aluminium pan (cast-iron is fine). Reduce the heat to simmer. Gently lower one or two pretzels into the pan and boil for 15 seconds each side. They flip over easily. Transfer to a (greased) wire rack and repeat with the remaining pretzels.

Glaze, top, bake
Beat the egg with 1 tsp water and brush over the pretzels. Sprinkle them with a topping to your liking: I used course sea salt, sesame seeds and nigella seeds.
Place the pretzels on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for 12 mins. in the preheated oven or until a deep golden brown. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy them the same day or freeze!!

Friday, 3 January 2014

December baking: BBB Modern Lardy Cake

Bread Baking Babe Lien from Notitie van Lien chose "Modern Lardy Cake" for us Buddies to bake along this December. A festive recipe for a sweet bread (cake?) with sweet/buttery/spicy/dried fruit layers. Luckily there's no lard to be used at all, because that part in particular didn't appeal to me. The recipe is by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra from her book "Warm Bread and Honey cake". Since I love one of her other books "Het Nederlands Bakboek" (The Dutch Baking Book) I had to try this Lardy Cake.
The dough was really easy to handle, that is to say, to start with ... Once the filling was in, the rolling, folding and turning became a little (lot) more tricky.
As Lien suggested I used a little more salt and spices and a rectangular baking pan to bake the cake in.

Rolled out dough before the filling was spread on
(Ken Forkish' loafs next to it, another post another day)
So far so good, albeit a bit flat ....

The inside of the cake/bread turned out to be beautifully layered and the taste reminded me of stollen.
A proper festive bread, perfectly fit for December.

RECIPE (from "Warm Bread and Honey Cake" by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra)*
Visit Lien's post for helpful pictures of the filling, folding and rolling-out process.

375 gr strong white flour
1,5 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
35 gr butter, melted and cooled
200 ml milk, warmed

130 gr butter, softened
75 gr soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
0,5 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75 gr currants or raisins (I used mixed dried fruit)
beaten egg, to glaze

24 cm (9 in) round cake tin (I used a rectangular one)

Put all the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead (preferably with a dough hook in a heavy duty mixer) until smooth and supple. Bring the dough together in a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. (Or use the dough program on your bread maker, which I did.)

To make the filling mix butter, sugar and spices together until creamy.

Knock the risen dough back and re-knead it briefly. Roll it out to a rectangle about 50 x 25 cm (20 x 10 in). Spread the filling evenly over two-thirds of the dough sheet, leaving one outer third empty and about 4 cm (1,5 in) on all sides. Sprinkle the dried fruit over this and press down to embed. Fold the empty third over the middle third and the remaining third over this. Pinch all edges well to seal in the filling. Cover with a sheet of cling film and leave to rest for about 5 minutes to relax.

Give the parcel a quarter turn and roll it into a rectangle about 30 x 15 cm (12 x 6 in). Fold into thirds again and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Repeat this procedure three more times, turning the dough by a quarter and rolling and folding. If you find you're loosing too much filling omit the final turn. This is a delicate, difficult and messy job as the filing oozes out in weak spots. Patch them up as good as you can and continue to work. All the oozing bits will caramelise nicely as the cake bakes. You don't want to lose too much filling as this creates the laminating effect.

Grease the tin and put the dough packet in, flattening it with your hand to fit. Cover with cling film and leave to rise until almost doubled. (Mine hardly rose at this stage.)

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180C (350F/165C fan).
Brush the dough with the beaten egg. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until brown (mine took 35 minutes). Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin for about 5 minutes. Carefully release the cake from the tin and leave to cool further.
Enjoy lukewarm or cold, buttered. Of course.

*For Dutch-reading bakers: get this book ('Zelfgebakken') NOW from for a fantastic price.