p3: Challah

#22, Challah

saffron-challah-loavesThere are two classic breads whenever one looks into the ‘enriched varieties;’ you know, the ones that have extra butter, milk, and/or eggs to make a richer and tender-crispy product. Of course Brioche is the first, and I gotta love making and eating them. Then there’s Challah, the braided wonder famous for its importance in Judaith traditions, eaten purely on the Sabbath. I mean, unless you’re like me and just want to eat it whenever you want. For instance, when I need something awesome to make an Almond French Toast for my Mother’s Birthday Brunch. I’ve bought it before from a store [and lucky for me I didn’t realize they only sold it on Friday, which is the day I HAPPENED to make it in and got the last loaf], but now I get the chance to make it myself!

Note that the recipe which follows will be for a simple 3-braided style loaf shape; there are quite a few others, including 4-braid, 5, and even higher which all have their own specific techniques to making the braid. I’ll probably try them out in the future should I ever attempt any other challah or braided loafs [hopefully!], but just letting you know for now.

I’d write more but I’ve been so busy with other things lately I don’t have anything else I really want to say here…

4 cups/18oz Bread Flour
2 Tb/1oz Sugar
1 tsp/0.25oz Salt
1 ½ tsp/0.18oz Yeast
2 Tb/1oz Vegetable Oil
2 whole/3.3oz Eggs
2 whole/3.3oz Eggs, Yolks and Whites separated
7/8 cup/7oz Water, Room Temp
Sesame, Poppy Seeds, or anything else desired for Garnish


  1. Combine Flour, Sugar, Salt, and Yeast in bowl of stand mixer20160102_112732
  2. Separately, mix Oil, the 2 Eggs, 2 Egg Yolks, and Water until consistent, pouring into the dry mixture20160102_112841
  3. Mix on low speed, with paddle attachment, until everything congeals and forms into a ball; add more water if needed20160102_112854
  4. Switch to dough hook and let mixture run on medium speed around 6-8 minutes, adding more flour if sorta sticky, until it forms a smooth, supple mass and passes the windowpane test20160102_113626
  5. Roll into ball and toss in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and bulk ferment 1 hour20160102_113750
  6. At that point, punch or knead the dough down to de-gas, reforming into a ball and returning to covered bowl for another hour or until doubled in size20160102_135231
  7. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces, form into a Boule as shown Here and let rest on counter about 10 minutes20160102_135634
  8. Roll out each ball into as long and thin of a log/strand as desired, simply making sure that it’s somewhat thicker in the middle and thinner on the ends20160102_141810
  9. To shape loaves, lay each strand parallel to each other, and ideally vertical to you to discern a ‘right and left’ side. Take the end of the outer right leg, crossing it over the one to the left so that they’re crossed in the middle and the end is between the other two. Now take the outermost left strand and cross it over the now middle strand. Repeat where the end of the outer right is going over the middle and then with the left, until the ends meet up20160102_142156
  10. Do the same pattern with the OTHER half, only crossing underneath instead of over. Finish by pinching the ends closed20160102_142410
  11. Take egg Whites, beating well until frothy to make an egg Wash
  12. Transfer braid to parchment-lined sheet, brushing with wash and lightly spraying with oil before giving a loose cover of plastic or cloth. Proof 60-75 minutes or until doubled in size20160102_143244
  13. Preheat oven 350F
  14. Brush loaf once more with a coat of egg wash, sprinkling with Seseame/Poppy Seeds [or in my case, crumbled almonds]20160102_154743
  15. Bake for 20 minutes, turn 180 degrees, and then 20-40 minutes more depending, until it’s achieved a rich golden brown color and sounds hollow when thumped20160102_163051
  16. Remove and cool on rack at least an hour before serving. Enjoy

20160102_163120What Have I Learned This Time?

Apparently I need to find instructions on bread braiding that actually goes into proper detail on it. As you can see from my pictures, my loaf didn’t quiiiiiiieeete come out as pretty as a classic braid does… it has a cool shape, mind you, but not a proper braid. Figured out the reason though; the book I based this off has you label the ‘ends’ of each dough log 1, 2, 3. It says cross 3 over 2, then 1 over 2, then repeat. What it DOESN’T say is that when you cross one over the other, it then turns into 2 and the numbers switch so it’s always 1-2-3. So I kept trying to cross things over the main one and it didn’t turn out well for half the loaf.

Also, need to find a better way to make those dough logs/ropes… god it didn’t want to co-operate at all…

Any Thoughts?

20160102_175244I wish I hadn’t forgotten to take pictures of the awesome-as-hell Amaretto French Toast that I made with this… I mean damn it was good. Though, on its own, having a bite with just that bit of toasted almond on top was just nutty goodness. Oh, and I absolutely love this fresh from the oven; the crust is delightfully crunchy and toasty, perfect with that slightly-enriched center. I forgot how much lighter it was compared to brioche, so a bit of butter definitely brings it to awesome heights [I don’t care if it’s kosher or not! And I’m too lazy to find out!]. I sort of want to make it again as a fun all-purpose bread, especially to practice my braiding techniques, and use different oils and things to see how it affects the final outcome.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

The dough? Yes. In fact, I think it loves me like family now. The whole braiding technique thing isn’t impressed though… I’ll have to bring it chocolate and flowers next time.

p2: Tarte Tropezienne

The Sweet

tartSo for this week’s project, I had the mother take a look at my list of things and pick out a few things that sounded good. Which is how I ended up finally doing Baked Camembert, which I’ll be writing about soon, and the one dessert that she made mention of: Tarte Tropezienne. Which, and I’m glad she brought my attention to it considering I forgot, was a perfect sweet project to try considering my recent bread-based interests.

The ‘confection’ itself is basically a large, round Brioche-cake, sliced in half and filled with a particularly unique version of ‘buttercream’ or mousse. As such, with how it looks, Buzzfeed ended up describing it as ‘basically a giant cream puff,’ which is certainly true in one sense but completely off in another, but so can many things be. Either way it seems decadently-simple and sinful in buttery goodness.

Alexandra Micka is the inequitable source for where this pastry comes from. Of Polish origin, this baker move to St. Tropez in Provence during the 1950’s, after which he made the infamous cake in ’55 for the cast of a film production in the area. Obviously they completely adored it, and the name was supposedly suggested by the main actress at the time, Brigitte Bardot, most likely as a nod to the region (though interestingly, the name ends up translating to ‘roof pie’), even though technically it’s not really a tarte even as the French or English may widely define them.

Though that doesn’t make me want to attack it any less, so let’s get to the important parts of this briochy creation!

Chef’s Overdramatic Self-Centered Lecture Corner

It took me a while to whittle down and figure out what bread and ‘cream’ recipes I wanted to use, but there are a few things that helped narrow it down. First and foremost, one of the items I do believe I ran across was a mention that the original brioche recipe used was a ‘milk brioche,’ and despite my complete urge to go for this own really-decadent looking kind from a professional chef, he had absolutely no liquid in it at all besides eggs. So that was out. Afterward, I just had to go for something with a higher proportion of fat, eggs, and sugar, a Middle-Class/Rich-Man’s style, since it’d suit a dessert more and I really want to prove myself after my not-so-great Rich Man’s version that came out a couple months back. Found one that seemed good, was relatable to the one I originally enjoyed, and I even added an extra tablespoon of butter for good measure!

20151004_155203The second and more important part, in my opinion, is the filling… now, this isn’t just some simple frosting, or pastry cream, or anything like that. A few recipes will basically say, or make it look, like a pastry cream that is simply folded with whipped cream like a mousse; similar to what I once made for a Crepe Cake. But if one looks further, or at particular discussions of recipe and history, you might see the mention that the filling is truly a mixture of Pastry Cream, Buttercream, and sometimes also Whipped Cream. The French Wikipedia called for pastry cream + a term that LINKED to crème Chantilly, but translated to cream butter.

My first thought at this was that ‘Oh great, now I have to make pastry cream AND buttercream AND whipped cream and fold them all together.’ Ah, but then I found one article that featured what the actual technique was, calling it ‘German Buttercream,’ or something like that [of course I can’t find the recipe again NOW], or ‘Mousseline.’ Basically after making the pastry cream, instead of just immediately adding 1-2 pats of butter to melt in, one waits until it cools… and then beats in the equivalent of a whole stick, MINIMUM, until incorporated. Basically, it’s a Pastry Butter-Cream? And then of course one folds with whipped cream… you know, to make it ‘lighter.’ I just wanted to attack this head-on, so I found the one recipe that basically called for 3 whole sticks of butter to REALLY get this crossed effect, and it just so happened to be a rather egg-yolk rich cream, because that’s the kind of pastry cream I usually enjoy and felt like making this time.

20151004_134410As you look through other recipes, you’ll see the consistent habit of sprinkling the top of the dough with an even layer of Pearl Sugar, those ubiquitous large crystals so famed in Eastern Europe for those waffles we love so much. As always though, they’re a pain to get a hold of; but luckily for us, it’s highly likely they aren’t REALLY all that classic and traditional, even if the chef was from Poland. It would be more likely that he used large-flake sugar or crushed up some compressed, so simply taking sugar cubes and crushing them up lightly would work just fine. At least that’s what I read in another article, I could be wrong here… it WAS only 60 years ago.

Finally, Orange Blossom Water! It’s the one oddly classic ingredient here, and some recipes won’t make mention and try to substitute it with ‘rum or kirsch,’ despite the fact that kirsch has been stated to not be traditional, especially in the much-further-southern region of origin. Though think of this now, it might not be too impossible… Polish baker, I could see him using Cherry Brandy… but orange blossom water is a DEFINITIE must-do, and you don’t want that delicate flavor to try crossing with other alcohols, especially when it’s so pricey why not just have it shine? As for WHAT it goes in, I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be solely in the bread, custard, or both… recipes differ, so I just went BOTH to really make sure you could taste it! Plus, I’ll admit, I did do ONE thing I’m almost 100% sure isn’t too classic, in that I made a simple orange syrup and then flavored it with more of the orange water, to which I soaked the cut bread with. But I haven’t made any bread/spongecake soaked with syrup yet, I thought it’d be fun… and again, make sure I didn’t screw up with too-light orange flavors. Hopefully it turns out.

Tarte Tropezienne
2½ tsp Dry Yeast
1/3 cup Milk, Warm
2 cups/275g, ish, AP Flour
3 Tb Sugar
2 Eggs + 1 for eggwash
½ tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Vanilla
8 Tb/1 Stick Butter, softened
1-3 Tb Crushed Sugar Cubes/Pearl Sugar
‘Mousseline,’ Recipe Follows
Orange Water Syrup, Recipe Follows


  1. Pour Warm Milk over Yeast, leaving for at least 5 minutes to dissolve and bloom20151004_002208
  2. Once done, combine with Flour, Sugar, Salt, 2 Eggs, Orange Water, Vanilla, and the 2 Eggs in a stand mixer, mixing on Low speed with the paddle attachment until everything is combined into a single ball/mass20151004_002731
  3. Turn up to medium speed, slowly adding in small pats of butter one piece at a time, until fully incorporated and dough stretches from the sides20151004_003136
  4. Switch to a dough hook, start beating at medium-high speed for 5-10 minutes, adding more flour if too sticky, until the dough is smooth and, ideally, pulls away from the sides. It should pass the windowpane test if a small piece is very carefully stretched between fingers20151004_015627
  5. Transfer to an oiled bowl, carefully turning to coat, and cover tightly with plastic
  6. Leave to bulk ferment at room temp for 1 hour, until about doubled in size, then move to fridge for overnight20151004_121711
  7. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface the next day, dusting some more on top. Push down with your fingers to press out any excess gas, folding over if need be
  8. Swiftly but gently roll dough out into a circle-ish form at least 10” diameter20151004_122128
  9. Move onto a parchment-paper lined sheet tray and brush with a light layer of egg wash (the one egg, beaten with a bit of water). Leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour, until soft and hopefully risen a little bit20151004_134925
  10. Preheat oven to 400F
  11. When ready, brush another layer of egg wash over the top, sprinkling with Pearl Sugar or crushed Cube Sugar to create an ideally even coating20151004_140343
  12. Move into oven, immediately reducing the temperature to 350F. Let back 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through, until it’s developed a nice, thorough golden brown color on top and feels cooked when tapped20151004_141644
  13. Remove and let cool on the counter, 20 minutes minimum20151004_202850
  14. Carefully slice, using a bread knife, in half, sawing horizontally along the edge to create a level cut from one side to the other20151004_203112
  15. Remove top, turning over, and brush the Orange Water Syrup over each side, soaking it evenly over the bread
  16. Take the reserved Mousseline and spread in an even, thick layer over the bottom piece, using as much as desired. Conversely, one can also pipe in, starting at the center to practice your motions and leaving the edge for some more attractive work (if the annoying makeshift piping bag will let you of course)20151004_204423-1
  17. Slice in wedges and serve

“Mousseline”/”Pastry Butter-cream Mousse” Filling
2 cups Milk20151004_131532
6 Egg Yolks
¾ cup Sugar
1/3 cup Cornstarch, Sifted
Tsp Salt
1 ½ cups/3 Sticks Butter, softened
1 Tb Orange Blossom Water
1 tsp Vanilla
¾ – 1 cup Heavy Cream


  1. Place Milk in pot over medium heat, leaving to scald/come to a simmer20151004_131616
  2. On the side, combine the Yolks, Sugar, Corn Starch, and Salt, whisking until thoroughly mixed and pale yellow in color20151004_132023
  3. When the milk is ready, remove from the stove and slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking all the while to temper everything together carefully. Pour back into the pot and move back over heat20151004_132442
  4. Keep, whisking slowly at first while picking up the pace the longer and hotter it gets, making sure to keep it moving so none of it stays on the bottom or sides to scald or overcook, which will happen faster the thicker it gets20151004_133121
  5. As it starts to notably thicken, whisk fast and thorough, removing from the heat when it feels like it’s oneor two steps away from being a heavy cream [it will get to that point from continual cooking and when it cools]20151004_133430
  6. Quickly transfer to a bowl, straining if desired and/or worried about overcooking, and leave to cool on the counter20151004_141913
  7. When it’s down to room temperature, add in the Butter, Orange Water, and Vanilla, whipping it all thoroughly together with a whisk, or even an electric beater, until it’s all combined, ‘fluffy,’ and somewhat resembling buttercream20151004_142047
  8. Now start beating your Heavy Cream, ideally with a hand mixer to have it go faster, until it turns into Whipped Cream, drawing stiff peaks when moved; you’ll need about 1 ½ cups of it total20151004_135951
  9. Fold whipped cream in, 1/3 at a time, to make an aerated and fluffy ‘mousse’ of sorts20151004_155025
  10. Transfer to piping bag for use, storing in fridge if needed20151004_155754

Orange Water Syrup
½ cup Water
¼ cup Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange
1 Tb Orange Blossom Water


  1. Combine everything but the Orange Blossom Water in a pan, heat until it comes to a boil and the sugar is dissolved. Remove off to the side
  2. Once cooled, strain and add in the orange blossom water

My Thoughts

Well where to start… obviously it’s not as pretty as the other ones you see online; part of that being the sugar, pearl may not be ‘traditional’ but it gives the best effect. I really should get some soon, if anything to make those amazing Belgian waffles…

That and it’s too wide and thin… well, that was my thought, even after baking. But once it got cut, filled, and sliced into wedges, the inside actually looked a lot thicker than from outside, so on an everyday note I’m rather satisfied, but it’s still not as pretty as preferred. To fix, I should have probably fermented it in a smaller bowl, or folded it over20151004_204532 before rolling, or maybe just cut out the perfect circle from the rolled out dough; it was already at 10” just from the de-gassing stage. Though what I would have really liked to do was a little trick I read from a professional chef’s recipe where the dough is shaped inside of a tart mold rim; that way it stays a perfect circle, at the desired size, even when baking, and rises straight up like a cake! And I have springform pans, rather similar… but much taller circles than the tart pan rim, I was worried it wouldn’t bake right.

Speaking of which, it didn’t really rise while proofing… not much of an issue since it rose in the bake, but something doesn’t feel right, especially since it was still QUITE sticky; I’m positive I should have followed the technique in other recipes where you actually knead the dough to smooth, window-pane consistency first BEFORE adding the butter. That said, it turned out a lot better than the Rich Man’s Brioche I did earlier, was actually bread-like, though truthfully it could still be more Middle-Class level… if anything, I’m considering that I may have cooked it a little longer than I should have, and that’s the only real flaw I’ve found in final texture/flavor, proof-rise or no.

God-damn though was this thing rich!! Choosing the really eggy pastry cream recipe woulda been great if it was on its own, it tasted fantastic btw, but I probably should have gone a lighter version… and it was really cool trying out the buttercream-like technique, and that also was really good, but I think next time I’m gonna lean more towards the lower-butter recipes! Even after folding with the whipped cream, fatty enough as THAT was, put that between brioche bread and all you get is a mass of heavy fat and sugar; really good tasting, delicious mass, but believe me when I say a single slice will do you well for the night! I’m sure the tartes that are more well-done than mine are probably not so overwhelming, but I understand why I’ve seen quite a few that add strawberries and pistachios, to help cut through and then add texture (even with crunchy sugar, overwhelmingly one-note soft) in a tasty fashion.

There’s probably more to say, and done in a better and concise fashion, but I’m drawling out now… that frosting bread be weighing me down!

Possible Pairings

iD2fkPrWith how rich and heavy this turned out, I don’t even think I want to think about dessert wine, or anything thick and sweet to drink with it. That said, one of the ‘classic’ pairings often mentioned to enjoy with it is a little dessert wine called Monbazillac, a smaller sub region very close to the oh-so-famous Sauternes in Bordeaux, the latter known for its rich, honeyed, and devilishly complex dessert wines based off Semillon and Sauvignon. Though, THAT is rather expensive, and even the really aged ones stay thick. Dessert wines from nearby regions however, such as Monbazillac, come in at some rather great price deals for the consumer, and usually end up a lighter-bodied and definitely reduced in sweetness, usually a nice simple sweet drink to enjoy chilled without much thought. So it really would fit this particular purpose quite well, especially if you made a better and more ideal tarte than I did!

Though really, at the end of the day: we need liquor. Non-sweet, cuttingly dry and high in spirit to help cut through all of that fatty, creamy texture and flavor. If Kirsch was actually used, as so many recipes keep saying even though, again, it’s not really regionally sound, it’d be the perfect pairing. Otherwise, a young Cognac, that hasn’t developed all that really deep and thick texture and ‘sweetness’ that the older ones have, would be great; though Armagnac would probably be better regionally, and the simpleness of the tarte would let the complexities of it shine, though its extra roughness in texture could overshadow that as well.

Or you could just make a Sidecar with Lemon Juice, Cognac, and Grand Marnier to bring out the orange notes in the dessert and still have that brandy flavor and aspect; and shaking these with ice will help lighten all the heaviness while still cutting through the custard some.

p3: Brioche Mini-Loaves, 2 Types

#13, Rich & Poor Brioche Loaves

No bread recipe, or any kind of recipe for that matter, is ever completely consistent; even the most stringently-traditional and stuck-to formulae can and have been made with slight differences throughout the years. Well, except for maybe poundcake… I mean come on it’s all the same weight and measure, so simple!

But anyways, by now no one can really expect there to be ONE recipe for any style of bread; plenty of cooks have made their own adjustments in preferred amounts of flour, water, yeast, butter, etc. That’s not taking into account the different KINDS and strains of these ingredients used, using water vs milk vs buttermilk, butter vs margarine vs oil, and all different changes that can be made and yet yield a final product that holds the same proper name and category. So by now, when you see two different recipes for one thing, you don’t bat much of an eyelash.

briocheThus led to my intrigue months back when I first looked at the Brioche section, only to find that it has been categorized into 3 different ‘types,’ based purely on the amount of certain ingredients used (obviously this isn’t counting the many breads in the same style or derived from brioche, often mixed with dried fruit, nuts, meat+cheese, or other tasty goodies). These different ‘styles,’ so named historically for the type of people who could actually afford to make, or have it made, for them, are logically called thus: Poor Man’s Brioche, Middle-Class Brioche, and Rich Man’s Brioche. The moment I flipped through these sections of the book, I knew that one of the weeks I just HAD to make two of these and document the actual results and differences. And here I am, coming up to a weekend without any set culinary plans, still not in the mood for a hearth bread or something fancy, I’d say it’s about time to put these recipes to use.

To do this, I simply plan to make a couple mini-loaves of each recipe to preserve similar baking conditions. And because they look so adorable!!! Plus, despite the tradition to make ‘brioche a tete’ which I so want to follow, basically a specially high-angled and large-fluted cupcake molded bread with a cute extra ball of bread on top like a cherry, it’s a shape often reserved just for the Rich and sometimes Middle Class varieties. You know, since it’s so fancy and all that.

But I love sliced cuts of brioche, especially for French Toast or just awesome sandwiches, so loaves it is!

Poor and Rich Man’s Brioche

Rich Ingredients
2 cups/ 9.15oz Bread Flour
½ Tb/0.17oz Dry Yeast
¼ cup/2oz Whole Milk, Lukewarm
2 ½ Large/4.15oz Eggs, beaten
1¼ Tb/0.65oz Sugar
¾ tsp/0.19oz Salt
1 cup/8oz Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Egg, whisked frothy, for Wash

Poor Ingredients
2 cups/ 9.15oz Bread Flour
1 tsp/0.11oz Dry Yeast
¼ cup/2oz Whole Milk, Lukewarm
2 Large/3.3oz Eggs, beaten
1 Tb/0.5oz Sugar
5/8 tsp/0.16oz Salt
¼ cup/2oz Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Egg, whisked frothy, for Wash


  1. Combine ¼ cup of Flour, the Dry Yeast, and the Milk in mixer bowl; cover w/ plastic and let the sponge sit about 20 minutes (30-45 for Poor Man’s) until it’s bubbly and risen20150801_223724
  2. Move to stand mixer with paddle attachment and add in the Eggs, beating on low until smooth20150801_224201
  3. Mix together and add in the remaining flour, Sugar, and Salt, mixing on medium until everthing is fully incorporated and moistened20150801_224550
  4. Let sit 5 minutes to let gluten rest20150801_225431
  5. Add in ¼ of the Butter, beating on medium speed until evenly distributed. Continue adding remaining butter, ¼ at a time, until all has been fully incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed20150801_230106
  6. For Rich Man’s: continue mixing on medium speed 2-6 minutes, until ‘smooth and soft,’ scraping down as needed20150801_231127
  7. Cover baking sheet w/ parchment paper, misting w/ spray oil, and dump dough in middle. Spread out in a small rectangle, spray w/ more oil, cover plastic wrap, and transfer to refrigerator to sit overnight or a minimum of 4 hours20150802_135715
  8. For Poor Man’s: transfer dough to counter or switch to dough hook, kneading about 10 minutes until ‘smooth and soft’ while not too sticky to work with, or clears from the side and bottom of the pan20150802_140213
  9. Transfer to lightly oiled bowl, cover w/ plastic and bulk ferment up to 90 minutes or until double in size20150802_153022
  10. When either dough is ready, remove onto counter, cutting in half or whatever sizes desired for loaf pans20150802_143511
  11. Working on a lightly floured surface while it’s still cold (for Rich Man’s, Poor can just be turned as-is onto clean work surface), roll into a Loaf shape as discussed Here.20150802_144105
  12. Lightly spray oil your mini-loaf pans and move dough inside, misting the top w/ more oil before cover w/ plastic wrap20150802_153405
  13. Proof 1 ½ – 2 hours for Rich dough and 1 hour for Poor, until the dough fills the pans (well, as much as you can get them to)20150802_161553
  14. 15-30 minutes before baking, thoroughly brush the exposed tops and sides of each dough w/ egg wash. Turn oven to 375F while you’re at it
  15. Place in oven and bake 20-45 minutes, depending, until golden brown and hollow sounding when thumped20150802_171839
  16. Remove onto cooling rack for up to a couple hours, or slice when hot to enjoy with extra butter or whatever form one desires

What Have I Learned This Time?

Not from the book or the process of making brioche, but just out of curiosity for this one aspect of bread making I had been wondering about for quite a while. Why is it that ALL the recipes advocate solely cooling, I mean the bread tastes SO good hot right out of the oven? Is there a reason for it?

20150802_173711Well, there is. Apart from the POSSIBILITY of needing the time for the carry-over heat to cook it fully, thus if one cut in immediately part of the bread would still be gummy (though I call bull, since if it’s baked properly this shouldn’t be an issue at all), the main consideration is a process called Starch Retrogradation. These deals both with the water content moving back evenly from the center of the loaf and towards the crust (sort of like why one rests meats on the counter 5+ minutes before slicing), along with the starch’s texture/properties and proteins setting up, developing its ideal crumb after that 1-2 hour cooling period. Cutting this early allows a lot of the steam to escape and can potentially interrupt this whole process.

Thus so many bakers heavily stress and push you to walk away from the bread once out of the oven, hit family members’ hands with spoon, etc, as they advocate how much better the bread will be. But I call bulls#^*! on that, because I don’t care what anyone says, there is no time that bread will ever taste that good hot compared to right out of the oven. Tell me how you can reproduce that flavor and experience, because it’s good toasted or warmed up in an oven but it’s not THAT good. That said, I’ll never eat all of the bread while it’s warm, so from now on I plan on making sure I take some proper steps so that I can enjoy the best of both worlds. Besides just making sure I can make at least two different loaves/boules/whatever for my adventures, I’ll likely just always have one smaller, mini version of the bread that I myself can enjoy hot out of the oven while the bulk of the rest cools slowly over the hours. Not only does this mean I get to experience the majority of my bread in the ‘ideal’ state for proper judgment, but also that I don’t gorge myself on half of it right after it comes out of the oven… cuz you know I do that, and if you were a real person you would too.


Any Thoughts?

Holy! No wonder it’s a ‘Rich Man’s’ dough, trying to shape that bastard after it chilled overnight felt like I was working with pure butter! Though I’m not sure it should have… truthfully I think I may have under ‘kneaded’ it, but I blame the recipe for that. Seriously, the rich man recipe never directs one to change between paddle and dough hook, likely because it’s so soft after the butter, but next time I think I’m going to. I really could NOT tell if it was truly the ‘soft and smooth’ texture the recipe desired, unlike the Poor Man where it’s very easy to see after kneading, and I think having that dough-hook-element will really help me to identify. But despite the soft bready interior, I’m sure it was under-beaten, cuz the crust just felt TOO flaky, like when you try eating a pie dough right after it’s been baked. Needed some more dough-like gluten development to help it smooth out. Also, think a little lower temperature would have been better, seems to need a longer, slower bake for that highly fat-slathered gluten to get cooked and set.

That said, clear difference between the two, but not necessarily better vs worse! First off, I can’t believe this is a ‘poor man’s’ bread, it’s so rich and good… but I guess it’d be more a special occasion thing anyway. Once cooled, I could confirm that this really is THE style most often seen sold in stores.And I see what the author means as to its strength in using for wrapping things and multiple other dough applications; it’s a very soft and easy-to-shape, handle-able dough, yet not sticky at all. I can’t wait to use this or the Middle Class dough in the future for a fun tart or something.

But damn that super soft, buttery texture of the rich version. It may need a more delicate hand to cut, maybe it’ll be easier to handle when done perfectly and cooled (it was, and in fact it became a little more difficult to tell the difference between the two, besides that not-so-satisfying too-flaky crust), but I can’t even think of things I wanna do with it besides shove it in my mouth. I’m sure there’s stuff, but the brain is rather tunnel-visioned at the moment. Either way, two great enriched breads that I will thoroughly enjoy over the next day or two, if it lasts that long.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

Apparently I’m a man of the people, as the high-class snobs have briefly turned their nose up at me. Still led to a pretty hot, buttery three-way at the end of the day!

p3: Casatiello

#20150425_2354093, Casatiello

So my second choice from last week is up, and it’s introducing a couple interesting aspects to the breadmaking stuff for me. A savory Italian variation of the Panettone (French brioche dessert with dried fruits and stuff inside), Casatiello blends in chunks of cheese and cured (usually) meat such as salami. A good melting cheese is preferred, provolone often being the standard, but I ran across an Italian Fontina which I just thought was perfect. As for the meat, I had to go based on price at Whole Foods, but found something at a decent price and quality; a log of decent looking ‘artisan’ Pepperoni. A section in the book mentioned it as a possibility; well, along with bacon, sausage, other salami, think even bologna… but I like my decision best, at least for now. I do ache to try some other fun combos in the future.

20150426_110605Well that’s the FIRST ‘interesting aspect,’ the second is the fact that it’s often baked inside a bag of some sort; furthermore, for stability purposes, that bag is then place inside a can. It can also be made in a loaf pan, but why do something so boring when we can explore new stuff! It took a bit of work to actually get the right things for me to set it up though; since I was doing this in one BIG loaf as directed, had to go and buy one of those big-ass tomato cans from Sam’s Club (so we now have a bunch of crushed tomato that has to be used in sauce and stew within the next couple of weeks). I also had to figure out a proper bag to use… it mentions those white or brown sandwich bags, but they’re usually quite small, couldn’t quite find the right store for one that was big and ‘flexible’ enough to take it in and fold the collar down.

20150426_145609Then I had an epiphany… of course! Why try finding another bag, or use a big paper shopping bag (which I’d probably have to cut to fit), when I have a perfectly sized bag right at my disposal, and already coated in a bread-friendly layer. That’s right, I emptied out and used my Bread Flour Bag. All I had to do was spray the inside thoroughly with olive oil and cut the top off to just above the dough after proofing (it didn’t really “collar” like I wanted it to, which you’ll see in the directions later), and there we go.

casaOn some research, it does look like it’s sometimes made in a bundt-type pan too with… eggs on top? I think I’ve found a good and fun reason to explore it again in the future.

4 cups/18.25 oz Bread Flour
1 Tb/0.33 oz Dry Yeast
1 cup/8 oz Milk, Lukewarm
4 oz Salame, Pepperoni, Bacon, or other suitable Meat
6 oz Provolone or other tasty melty Cheese
1 tsp/0.25 oz Salt
1 Tb/0.5 oz Sugar
2 Large/3.3 oz Eggs, beaten
¾ cup/6 oz Butter, room temp


  1. Stir together ½ cup(2.25oz) of Flour and Yeast in bowl, mix in Milk to make a batter, cover with plastic and let ferment at room temp 1 hour.20150426_000033
  2. While this goes on, dice Meat and Cheese.20150426_001939
  3. Heat up sauté pan to medium heat, throwing in the meat to cook and render until slightly crispy. Move off heat, making sure NOT to throw any of the rendered fat.20150426_143643
  4. Stir together remaining flour with Salt and Sugar.20150426_144256
  5. Combine Eggs, Sponge, and Flour mix in stand mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment on low speed until it all combines into a coarse mass, adding a small amount of Milk if any loose flour to help gather together.20150426_144622
  6. Let rest 10 minutes for gluten to develop20150426_150510
  7. Divide butter into 4 sections, adding into the dough while mixer is set on medium, scraping side of the bowl down with spatula as needed.20150426_151957
  8. After about 4 minutes, and/or once the butter seems fully incorporated, switch to the dough hook and continue on medium speed, adding any additional flour as needed, until the dough is a smooth and no longer sticky ball (should pass the windowpane test).20150426_152043
  9. Add meat pieces and rendered fat, mixing/kneading until evenly distributed.20150426_152140
  10. Add cheese and mix in until the same, working quick but thoroughly. The dough should still be soft, stretchy, and not sticky; if it does stick somewhat, add more flour.20150426_152420
  11. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with plastic and bulk ferment at room temp 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.20150426_173002
  12. Remove onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a Boule, as such:20150426_173147
  13. Determining a ‘bottom,’ grab and squeeze the dough on one end into the center, starting to stretch the other side.20150426_173224
  14. After this, fold one ‘edge’ of the ball into the center. Turn the dough a quarter of the way and repeat, until all four ‘sides’ have been folded in (separately, one can stretch and fold/squeeze two sides, so it turns into an oblong, before turning and doing once more).20150426_173251
  15. Set fold-side down on counter, using the edge of your hand to seal and press the bottom edges further down, stretching the top even more into a smooth, round shape (pieces of meat and cheese may stick and fall out, that’s fine).20150426_173406
  16. Carefully transfer into a prepared (spray oiled) bag and then into a properly sized can for holding, rolling or cutting the top of the bag down to 2 inches above the dough.20150426_173640
  17. Cover with plastic or a towel, proof for 60-90 minutes until it reaches the top of the bags.20150426_190157
  18. Preheat oven to 350F, setting rack to lower third of space.
  19. Place can in oven, bake 20 minutes before turning down to 325F and baking an additional 40 minutes or until 185-190F. Dough will be golden brown on top, and bread will have risen just above the bags.20150426_200205
  20. Remove and transfer to a cooling rack for a bit. Carefully remove the bags from cans (may need to run knife along edge) and cut slits or remove bag to allow steam to escape.20150426_201552
  21. Slice and serve when desired, no butter needed (though it does bump it up to 11).

What Have I Learned This Time?

When dealing with unique baking vessels, such as big cans and/or (most importantly) bags, let it cool at LEAST a few minutes before trying to overturn on a cooling rack/cutting board.


I can’t re-use bags after uses like this…

Either my cooking thermometer is losing its touch and being rather shitty, or I just can’t rely on inside dough temperatures. Which sucks.

If I ever make another cheese-filled bread again in the future, I either need to A: really make sure it’s THOROUGHLY and evenly distributed, or B: (and much more likely I think) mix in a notable amount LESS than the recipe calls for. I think 4oz will be an acceptable amount on my next turn at this guy (and I think I’ll certainly make it again at some point in the future).

Actually, now re-looking over the recipe, I was supposed to Grate it instead of cutting into cubes… think that had something to do with it? (oops)

Any Thoughts?

Fatty pepperoni, a big glob of ooey gooey melty cheese oozing from the middle, and a crusty yet soft, buttery dough surrounding it all… you wanna know what I REALLY made today? Pizza Bread. Hell, tastes just like a certain appetizer from Old Chicago.

Oh, and I’m very happy with how the dough actually turned out while working with it; I can’t claim whether it was truly perfect or not, but it came out feeling nice and smooth, soft, not sticky, completely ideal in what one would expect a dough to turn out. Not to mention that, eaten the next day after cooling down, was actually able to taste a bit of that nice little yeasty flavor in the bread itself. I’m getting there!

I20150426_200618t went quite good with Tomato Soup.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

Currently playful, letting me have some fun with it but giving a big fat raspberry when I think all is right. Like a woman shutting a door after a whole day of fun and ‘teasing’…