p3: Cheesy White Loaf Bread

#23, Cheese-ish White Loaf

Garlic-Cheese-BreadI was requested to do some bread baking this past weekend to go with a Chicken Dumpling Soup family dinner. Didn’t feel like doing anything special, just a simple fresh baked, hot loaf Milk Bread would be AWESOME, so I never even thought I’d do a blog post on it. But then the idea got in my head to make it a bit different, try a little experiment if you will. See what happens if I add some cheese in the bread, both directly and sprinkled in before rolling. Sounds tasty, still fits the occasion, and IF it works out well enough then I have an excuse to do some writing. Clearly it didn’t backfire so immensely, so here I am. Didn’t use any special cheese, just some mass-produced shredded ‘monterey-like’ thing we keep in the fridge on hand, but it worked for now.

Recipe
2 tsp/0.22oz Yeast
1 5/8 cups/13oz Milk, Lukewarm
4¾ cup/21.5oz Bread Flour
1½ tsp/0.38oz Salt
¼ cup/1.33oz Powdered Milk
3¼ Tb/1.66oz Sugar
2 large Eggs
3¼ Tb/1.66oz Butter, room temp or melted
½-1 cup Shredded Cheese

Directions

  1. Bloom Yeast in the Milk at least 5 minutes, until soft a starting to lightly foam/bubble20160124_123020
  2. In a stand mixing bowl, mix together the Flour, Salt, Powdered Milk, and Sugar, followed by the yeasted milk, 1 Egg, and Butter20160124_123141
  3. With a paddle attachment, stir on low speed [may want to pulse initially] until it all comes together in a ball
  4. Switch to dough hook, increasing mixing speed to medium, letting it go for about 4-5 minutes until almost completely kneaded, adding any extra flour to make sure the dough clears the sides while sticking just slightly to the bottom of the bowl20160124_123718
  5. When it ALMOST clears the windowpane test, add in about half or more of your shredded cheese, letting it go until fully incorporated20160124_123947
  6. Transfer to lightly-oiled bowl, covering tight with plastic wrap and leaving to ferment 1½-2 hours, or until doubled in size20160124_141918
  7. Remove and shape into a nice, tight, smooth Boule. Mist lightly with spray oil, loosely cover, and let rest on the counter 20 minutes for glutens to relax and more fermentation20160124_142130
  8. Start to shape this into a loaf by pressing and pushing into a large, rectangular shape, pressing down with fingers to de-gas as one does so. Sprinkle thoroughly with most of the rest of your cheese20160124_144303
  9. Roll up, pressing the edge tightly with each turn to stretch the dough taught. Once rolled completely and tightly sealed, transfer to your loaf pan. Spray with oil, loosely cover, and proof one to one and a half hours or until doubled once more20160124_144502
  10. Preheat oven to 350F
  11. Vigorously beat your other egg with a teaspoon of water to make an Egg Wash. Brush this over the top of your risen dough, sprinkling with some more cheese to top20160124_154916
  12. Transfer to oven, baking about 35-45 minutes, turning halfway through, or until deep golden brown all around and gives a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom20160124_163605
  13. Leave to cool for an hour or more on a rack before slicing and serving as desired
  14. Enjoy

20160124_164145What Have I Learned This Time?

That my prediction of what would happen with the cheese-sprinkled-before-rolling technique was spot on; I figured there was a good chance it would create a little gap, so I’m glad I controlled the final amount like I did. That said, MORE CHEESE needed; it sadly didn’t come out as much as I wanted, so I need to add more INTO the dough. It seems like it could easily take more, as the final result even with the ¼-½  cup I had in there didn’t really affect the texture. Obviously a better, stronger flavored cheese would work better too.

There ARE notable results to forgetting the salt… which yes, I accidentally did here. Structure and quality wise it’s just as good, the same. But I did notice that the dough seemed to be ready with its fermenting/proofing periods earlier than stated. Not to mention the bread TASTED rather plain and ‘underseasoned.’ Still good of course, especially with butter and while warm.

20160124_163540Found a decent way to keep the bread warm for an extended period if needed [such as waiting for dinner]. Loose aluminum foil wrapping and inside the warm oven, actually didn’t negatively affect the product, at least not in any significant way that I noticed.

And finally, there actually IS such as a thing as too much dough in these recipes for my loaf pan; I probably should have cut a bit off for a separate bake like I usually do. Clearly one can see the overextending sides, which still baked up nice and well, but interestingly enough I found issues removing it from the pan for the first time. Some of it stuck to the sides and bottom, thus I didn’t care as much about cutting into it while still hot as the solidity was already ‘compromised,’ though questions still about as to how much this issue had to do with the cheese inside. Either way, good to know that I SHOULD ensure it keeps to the similar limit as I’ve randomly done before.

Any Thoughts?

The crust was awesome. Even after sitting it out for a while it stayed nice and crunchy. And the cheese sprinkled on top! Truthfully it was sort of right at the edge of ‘too much,’ and certainly wasn’t like ‘extra cheese’ and more like ‘cheezit/baked cheese cracker’ flavors, which is fun as a crust.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

Seems to prefer the comfortable ‘safe zone’ in this relationship and isn’t quite ready for kinky experimentation… YET.

p3: Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

img_6469-version-2#21, Cinnamon “Raisin” Walnut Bread

I’ve had the house to myself for a while, need some loaf bread around, and it’s the holiday season so I’ve got to make something at least semi-suitable. Well truthfully I just wanted to make something simple, like a loaf bread, that I could turn into a project article and didn’t feel like doing any of my past recipes. And as I’m flipping through the book, I come across a recipe that I had completely forgot to take under my wing; I planned on making it at an early point but had yet to get around to it. Considering the time of year and need for something a bit simple, it seemed right to make a big loaf of Cinnamon Walnut Raisin Bread for the house; good on its own and interestingly versatile in the sandwich game. Not to mention I DID just recently receive a bag of organically small-farmed walnuts… had to crack the damn things myself, took two days, but they were worth it!

Thoug20151206_114957h of course I don’t actually HAVE any raisins… which is why we improvise, there being quite the simple solution here. It WAS a good way to use up all the leftover dried fruit I had from my yearly fruitcake making. With luck, my mixture of dates, figs, dried apples and walnuts, matched with this homemade recipe, can put the many horrible memories of childhood daycare cinnamon bread ‘snack times’ to proper shame.

 

20151206_115043Recipe
3½ cups/16oz Bread Flour
4 tsp/0.66oz Sugar
1¼ tsp/0.31oz Salt
2 tsp/0.22oz Dry Yeast
1¼ tsp/0.16oz Cinnamon
1 Large Egg
2 Tb/1oz Butter, room temp
½ cup/4oz Buttermilk or Whole Milk, room temp
¾ cup/6oz Water, room temp
1½ cups/9oz Raisins or other Dried Fruit [chopped if large]
1 cup/4oz Toasted, Chopped Walnuts

Directions

  1. Stir Flour, Sugar, Salt, Yeast, and Cinnamon in stand mixer bowl20151206_115658
  2. Add Egg, Butter, Buttermilk, and Water, mixing on low until everything comes together in a moist lump20151206_120803
  3. Switch to a dough hook and mix on medium, adding flour as needed if dough is too sticky, until it starts to get soft and pliable20151206_121036
  4. When it seems close to done, about 6-7 minutes-ish, add in Walnuts and your Dried Fruit of choice, mixing until everything is fully incorporate and fully kneaded, 1-2 minutes20151206_121852
  5. Transfer to oiled bowl, covering with cling wrap and bulk fermenting at room temp up to 2 hours, or until doubled in size20151206_141824
  6. Divide dough in 2 equal pieces or use it all for a bigger loaf, dimpling down to briefly degas before shaping into a loaf as directed Here. Place the shaped dough into a thoroughly oil-misted loaf pan, loosely covering with plastic20151206_142228
  7. Proof 60-90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size and risen above the edge of the pan
  8. Heat oven to 350F, moving the loaf pans on a sheet tray for baking20151206_153341
  9. Cook for 20 minutes, rotate 180 degrees, and continue for a further 20-30 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when bottom is thumped
  10. Remove from oven and pans, placing bread on cooling rack for at least an hour before eating
  11. Slice and enjoy!

20151206_212936

What Have I Learned This Time?

I think I’ve noticed a trend in the fruit+nut-filled breads, mainly in the definite need for one to fold in as much mix-ins and other flavorings as possible. Truly they’re the main performers, for in all cases I’ve found so far the bread ON ITS OWN, if tried fruit-free, has felt very much on the plain/boring, if not even under-seasoned side. In the future, I believe I can improve this by increasing the salt additions for flavor, really felt like it needed it here alongside more cinnamon, but it’s just an interesting pattern of note. Though I’d bet a proper Panettone might be pretty darn good on its own… but there ARE always exceptions to every situation. But the main thing I took from it is that, in these recipes from here on out, I want to try to maximize the workable amount of mix-ins to as high as I possibly can without ruining the composition. If anything, it’ll just be awesome loading them up with goodies.

I’m not sure if this counts in this area, but after looking through pictures, it seems as if many a cinnamon-bread has a distinctive swirl going through it. That wasn’t achieved here, and I’m wondering if that is best done through rolling it even tighter, to create more ‘layering,’ or if I should just try dusting it with cinnamon before shaping a-la Caramel Rolls. Hopefully I’ll get to try.

Any Thoughts?

Not really… though I did REALLY enjoy the distinctly crisp texture on the outside. Not sure if it was natural with the bread or if I ended up over-kneading it, but I liked it! Money’s on the sugar addition helping it out though.

And yes, before those who’ve read these posts before [rare as you may be], I did end up forgetting to take a couple pics after it was baked.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It turned a bit ugly, but I think the fruit made sure the loaf bread is still sweet on me.

p3: Hoagie Buns

#20, Hoagie Bun

Hoagie-RollsSo this particular installment of the ‘bread battling project’ had an interesting inspiration and twist. Had a plan for a Sunday night dinner+shows evening with sis and friend, to which she shared the idea of this ‘philly cheesesteak lasagna’ recipe beforehand with notes saying how we should make this for our night of fun! So, in figuring out what I could make that would go along with it, and while keeping to one of my project needs, I came along what I still think is a rather brilliant idea. Why not make garlic bread… out of Hoagie Buns/Rolls!? Still have the cheesesteak theme, but it’s also a typical side with lasagna, win-win!

But of course the steaky-cheesy-pasta casserole didn’t get made, apparently it was an idea for ‘some potential weekend’ and not THAT one, so I had leftover hoagie buns that needed to be used before all going stale. Which is fine though, because we made sandwiches with them anyways… some pretty damn good quiznos-style griddled ones too.

It’s always nice playing with simpler bread styles every now and then I find, don’t have to think about making sure that I add in a new ingredient properly, worry over degassing too much in some intense shaping process, or all the hassle of trying to hearth bake perfectly in my home oven setup. Just yeasted water, flour, other stuff, knead it right and make sure I shape it to what it should look like and don’t over bake. Lets you get more used to basic techniques and also see where you REALLY may need work, and where you’re doing well so far.

As for the hoagie recipe itself, there’s not much to say. There are various ones which shift in proportions back and forth, as practically all bread recipes tend to do depending on who’s making them. But what stood out to me was the addition of sugar and butter; nowhere near enough as a fully qualifying ‘enriched dough,’ but still more than other bread can be. The sugar itself really seems to play a role here, with enough to kick that yeast into high gear, definitely a one-day bread designed for the quick and easy requirements needed by sandwich makers everywhere. Also, this particular recipe was listed officially as “Soft and Chewy Hoagie,” which I’m not sure if that’s supposed to distinguish it from OTHER hoagie recipes out there or if that’s simply the natural aspect to the bread. What I CAN say is that it’s basically the same as a white dinner roll… in all the best ways.

Recipe
1 Tb Dry Yeast
2 Tb Sugar
1 3/8 cups Warm Water
4 cups Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 Tb Butter, cubed and soft

Directions

  1. Mix Yeast, Sugar, and 3/8 cup Water in stand mixing bowl, leave for about 5-10 minutes to bloom20151018_101206
  2. Once bubbled up noticeably, add in Flour, Salt, and remaining water20151018_101708
  3. Using dough hook, mix on low a few minutes, until everything mostly comes together20151018_102029
  4. Increase speed to medium, whipping and mixing for at least 5 minutes, adding any further butter or water as needed to get a soft, smooth dough, working until it can pass the windowpane test20151018_103649
  5. Add Butter a bit at a time, mixing until it’s fully incorporated and dough comes back together20151018_103938
  6. Transfer to oiled bowl, covering tightly with plastic wrap20151018_104014
  7. Leave to bulk ferment 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size20151018_114303
  8. Remove, kneading or pocking down to de-gas, and divide into 8 pieces, or more/less depending on desired final size20151018_114426
  9. Shape into Batards as described Here20151018_115605
  10. Transfer to sprayed, parchment-lined tray, mist top with spray oil and cover lightly with plastic20151018_145408
  11. Proof for 30-45 minutes, or until about doubled in size
  12. Heat oven to 375F and when ready, uncover buns and move inside, cooking on tray 20-30 minutes, or until browned nicely from end-to-end and sounds hollow when bottom is thumped20151018_160822
  13. Remove, transferring bread to cooling rack, and let sit at least 20 minutes before use [or enjoy like hot rolls from the oven and slice immediately to drown in butter!]
  14. Slice horizontally down the middle and fill with whatever you desire!20151018_193642

What Have I Learned This Time?

Intensive de-gassing after the fermentation period won’t affect how much it proofs, so I should feel more confident in letting myself do this with other future breads in the hope of getting a more ideal structure.

Need to work more on my shaping skills for consistency, wish I knew some proper ‘tricks’ to it… maybe I’ll google it some on my next project. But more realistically, it’s probably going to have to come through repetition and practice. So whenever I start making more than one loaf of bread every week or so.

20151018_193942And finally, that these make the simplest, most satisfying and guilty-pleasure hoagie… spread bread in half, pile with desired meat, veggie, and sauce fillings. Cover it in cheese, making sure BOTH buns get a layer [or at least get butter and garlic on the other bare bread] and broil until… well… you see the picture. Tell me you don’t want to fold that and eat it, I dare you.

Any Thoughts?

Truthfully, I’m rather backed up on blog posts I have to get out, and I’m taking a nine-day-long vacation away from computer-access in a few days, so even if I COULD think of something to say here I’m not sure if I have the time! I swear I’m not trying to brag and sound snotty or anything!!

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It adores my appreciation to ‘what’s inside’ but still thinks I need a better fashion sense… ie it wants me to shape it better in the future.

p1: Baked Camembert

The Dish

enhanced-buzz-18653-1387650694-0When it comes to the dishes in this French list, my decision for when and why I make particular ones are usually just happenstance with how they fit that week/situation. But a few of them actually have plans built around them, fun ideas I got excited about soon after I began studying this collection of classic recipes. Some of it’s based on occasion/time of year, while others are purely on how I’d make it, or something else.

In particular I’ve been looking forward to a good period to go through with an idea I had for the highly simplistic, royally rustic meal that was ‘Baked Camembert.’ Grab a really good wheel that I’ve wanted to have for a while, put together a baking dish of it, then bring it to a wineI know which would bake it for me and enjoy with family, the people at the bar, all accompanied by their personal garnishments and some wine we’d order. So I finally found a good time to do that this weekend… and of course the place was unexpectedly closed with no warning or reason given. Well that’s my luck. But I still had the cheese, so might as well just put it together at home!

The cheese itself is a Normandy or Pays d’Auge creation, supposedly developed by farmer Marie Harel in the town of Camembert during 1791 after following advice from a priest from Brie who she had given refuge, it being the French Revolution and all. Though most of its origins, at least towards what we know of it today, came through the industrialization process of the 1800’s, like the creation of the signature round wooden box in 1890, the container ‘sponsored’ by Napolean III, used to help it ship and travel to different countries and continents like America, where popularity boomed. Though it really centered itself into French culture during WW1, when issued to troops as part of daily rations.

Proper camembert, traditionally and legally speaking, is always made with UNpasteurized milk, which is remarkedly seen to always taste better than the convenient and ‘safer’ (damn US laws, literally making it illegal to obtain any proper, delicious form of fresh milk unless you’re squeezing the cow yourself) pasteurized versions.

Ok, done with the textbook description, let’s get to baking the stuff!

A W20151004_160142ord On…

The Cheese: Well, I’ve already talked about the cheese itself, and finding it shouldn’t be too difficult for any proper artisan cheese section/shop; I’m sure you have a favorite to get the good stuff from. I’ve actually been dreaming about doing this dish for a while though, because there’s a local farm that makes a camembert-style cheese that I’ve had on my mind ever since I saw this on my list of must-makes. So I had to finally get a whole wheel to bake into melted hot cheesy goodness.

Accompaniments: baked rind cheeses are always good with some garlic and onions, that’s how we do our brie, but I want to stick to something more countryside, so garlic and rosemary on top like one of the recipes I glanced at. As for what to eat it WITH, besides bread of course, I’m not sure what all is traditional, if anything. Usually freshly minced shallots, some capers, cornichon pickles, and other similar items are seen on the side for a variety of simple French dishes like tartar, fondue, and that dish of Raclette I made a while ago. I personally had this ripe tomato from my own pot that begged to be used soon, so I just had to use it, cut through the funky-creamy fat of the cheese with some natural umami-assisted acidity. Plus it’s classic; melted cheese, crunchy bread, and tomatoes, sound familiar? But you can always use whatever you fancy and have lying around, if not just eat it plain with bread! That IS the wonder of meals like this.

Recipe
1 Wheel Camembert
1 Garlic Clove, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, very briefly chopped
1-2 Tb Olive Oil
Tsp Sea Salt
French Bread, for service
Ripe Tomato, for service (optional)

Directions

  1. Turn oven to 375F
  2. Lightly score top of the Camembert and place in ovenproof ramekin/casserole/bowl20151004_160916
  3. Cover with Garlic and Rosemary, lightly rubbing in20151004_163134
  4. Pour over Olive Oil, making sure to evenly spread along the top and sides, followed by sprinkles of Sea Salt
  5. Place in oven, cooking until top is crusty and inside is warmed through, 15-25 minutes at most20151005_135730
  6. Move loaf of French bread in oven about 5-8 minutes before service to toast and crisp up20151005_141241
  7. Remove from oven, let cool on counter about 5 minutes while you slice bread and any other additional accompaniments20151005_141357
  8. Place in center of table, and enjoy! Best eaten spooned over warm, crusty bread

20151005_141200The Verdict

Okay, so I just looked at the Buzzfeed recipe to double-check procedures, I’m quite used to simply baking brie ya know so there’s nothing in-depth I should need, and that’s when I saw the directions for scoring the cheese. They also have you remove the top lid for service. Well you know what? That recipe creator can go screw himself, cuz you can see the result. And yes I probably overdid it a little bit, but that was well after it turned into a cheese pool; if my guess is correct and their ‘ideal’ is to bake until just warmed throughout, then that’s just plain stupid. If you’re going to bake cheese, then you need to BAKE it; that means a hot, gooey center, rind that has gotten that crispy golden look to it, something really sinful, and that needs time. It should thus be scored very LIGHTLY on top, probably just in the center (did some research, apparently it is important so as to let the air/steam out while cooking), but that should be it.

20151005_141543Now I simply know that I need to leave the cheese completely untouched so as to ensure it stays in one piece during this process. Not that it really changed the experience in the slightest. Because it was just soooo good… like brie but with more of that fatty cream flavor, and surprisingly enough a little more subtle on the funk and knutty-herb-farmhouse flavors, a ‘fresher’ cheese flavor that had yet to get to that really ‘aged’ feel. It took me and my mom quite some effort to make sure we left even a bit for dad, because once that cheese got on bread, especially with a piece of just-ripened tomato from my pot, that just ended up an almost perfect afternoon treat. Everything I love about baked brie dinners but a little more concentrated.

Primary Pairing – Mead

Camembert and honey are certainly a match made in heaven, though so is honey and most cheeses if you get down to it. The distinctively cloying fat and somewhat salty properties of cheese get balanced beautifully with anything sweet, thus its often inclusion in or close to the last course of a proper French meal. So why not take advantage of this affinity to highlight a nice bottle of classic Honey Wine, letting its usually rather simple flavor, aroma, and body contrast the camembert’s properties while letting its own complexities shine through. But one needs to ensure they get one of the lighter, slightly sweet and refreshing meads; avoid ones 20151005_140917like that which I used for Raclette, which was rather thick and heavy and would be too heavy for any but the rich and more pungent cheese.

My Bottle: Winehaven Stinger Honey Wine

So far, probably my favorite Minnesota winery, Winehaven celebrates the colder Northern US history of fruit wine, made long before we found ways to grow decent wine grapes or developed hybrids for the right areas, with a small selection of bottles like raspberry, rhubarb, and of course Honey Wine. They’ve got a lot of reds and whites made from California and Minnesota-exclusive varietals too, and not done too badly either, but that’s a discussion for another day.

I got this bottle as a Christmas gift from the Sis, not too exciting as I’ve had it before, but have been saving it for the right occasion nonetheless. And here I was, being forced to bake the camembert at home instead of these other plans I had, with no bottle pre-picked out at my disposal… and yet one of the almost perfect combos are right at my feet! Chilled, it was a little lighter, still sort of medium-bodied with the thickness, which was just within the edge of acceptable when eaten alongside a big, hot glob of cheese on bread. And I love the expression it has with that musky, spicy-floral side of honey that comes through, a sign of decent honey and clean, quality attention to the winemaking. Was it the greatest thing ever? No, probably not, but for Mead it was rather good and refreshing, and didn’t clash with the cheese when the two combined on the palate.

Secondary Pairing – Bordeaux Blancbb

What I was HOPING to have this evening by sharing the dish with family at a friend’s restaurant, but alas had to rely on what was in house! But something young, clean, without any particularly ‘distinguishing’ features like chardonnay and Riesling can carry, a pure white wine with enough body to match the cheese and a refreshing nature to cleanse the palate. For me I think a decent Bordeaux Blanc would fill those qualities, along with some little green, white fruit notes from the sauvignon used that would cut nicely through the subtle funk of the rinded cheese to compliment its grassy qualities, without being too strong and overpowering. It may not be a proper regional pairing, but right now it peaks my cravings; though on that note, a nice snifter of Normandy Calvados wouldn’t be too bad either…

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

Directions

  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

Directions

  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

Directions20151004_135405

  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: Focaccia

#19, Focaccia

Ffocacciainally! It’s taken some time to build up the desire to set about making this, since there’s surprisingly more steps and factors with making it than I actually expected, but I’m finally getting to go for what is ultimately my absolute favorite bread: Focaccia. No matter what I can think of, how it’s baked, what it’s flavored or stuffed with, when it comes to eating hot and crispy, as-is, there is no bread that beats that rich and crunchy flavor/texture, fatty personality, and especially that extra addition of garlic/herb personality that is this classic Italian creation.

The book offer two methods to produce this so as to get the ‘perfect honeycombed texture,’ one being to rely on an overnight Poolish dough to use as a starter, while the other starts from scratch but leaves the bulk fermentation to occur in the fridge, stretching it out over a looooong period of time overnight, thus developing more of those flavors and ideal textures we want in our final bread. I’ll be doing the latter, since it seems more rustic and natural to the region… and I feel if I WERE to use a starter for an Italian bread, it should be biga, not poolish… but that’s probably a stupid reason.

Of course it’s not focaccia without oil and toppings! You always want to start off with an herb/garlic/spiced oil which is used to cover and push into the dough during the shaping/fermenting/proofing stages; this mass of Italian fat gets sucked straight in to give that almost buttery flavor and texture we so crave. After that though, one can basically put about anything on it they want; it basically is the Ligurian cousin to the Neapolitan Pizza. But there are rules! As things go, there are three designated times in which one can put toppings on top of their dough, mainly depending on what kind of ingredients they are. Those toppings are as follows:

Pre-Proof toppings: done right after the night of fermentation and a bit of extra oil adding/shaping, these include sturdy items that can stay out for hours as needed, like Nuts, Fresh/Dry Herbs, Sun-Dried Tomatoes [or other dried things], sautéed Mushrooms/Peppers, Roasted Garlic, etc.

Pre-Bake Toppings: as the name suggests, right before popping in the oven. These are mainly your really Moist Cheeses [goat, blue, fea, mozzarella, etc], Fresh Tomatoes/Veggies, Coarse Salt/Sugar and other Spices, etc.

During-Bake Toppings: halfway through cooking, you can add harder, melt-focused cheeses like Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, etc so they don’t burn from a longer, high temperature bake; and also any potential sauce one might want [I assume adding earlier would have it soak in more, which wouldn’t mainly be the goal for most].

I myself went with an Herb Oil that infused garlic and a lotta dried basil I had left over from my herb pots, some really good oil-packed Italian Green Olives I got from work, some Pine Nuts we had in the pantry, and Lemon Sea Salt that I got as a gift from the sister and want to put to more use! Should turn out quite num!

Recipe
2 cups/16oz Water, room temp
2tsp/0.22oz Dry Yeast
5 cups/22.5oz Bread Flour
2tsp/0.5oz Salt
6Tb/3oz Olive Oil + ¼ cup
¼ – ½ cup, or more, Herb Oil

Directions

  1. Mix Water and Yeast, leaving to bloom at least 5 minutes20150927_134626
  2. Mix Flour, Salt, and 6 Tb Oil in stand mixer, adding in yeast and water mixer before turning on low until it all comes together in a big, sticky ball20150927_134808
  3. Switch to dough hook and knead 5-7 minutes, give or take, until it’s smooth; it will still be sticky, and should clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom, may still need to add extra flour20150927_140517
  4. Sprinkle clean counter with a 6×6” square of flour and transfer the dough on top, using a scraper/spatula dipped in water. Generously dust top with more flour and press into a rectangle. Let rest 5 minutes20150927_140603
  5. Pick up by the ends, letting the dough naturally stretch until about doubled in size. Lay back down, fold each end over ‘letter style,’ spray with oil and give another generous flour dusting, let rest for 30 minutes, covering loosely with plastic wrap or a towel20150927_140832
  6. Repeat twice, letting it rest another 30 minutes after the second time and a full hour after the first; the dough should swell and almost double in size after each, and especially the last, time20150927_140938
  7. Line sheet pan with parchment paper, pour remaining ¼ cup olive oil on bottom, spreading it around evenly before placing dough on top.20150927_153426
  8. Pour over half the amount of Herb Oil you’re using [don’t be afraid to go up to if not over ½ cup in total, it will absorb it all easily], and press into focaccia with just the tips of the fingers, using the motion and pressure to spread it as far to the edge as you can, ‘dimpling’ the surface20150927_153541
  9. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and move to refrigerator overnight20150928_114713
  10. Remove, pour remaining herb oil over top and dimple it in, which should fill the pan completely with bread now. Sprinkle with any desired ‘Pre-Proof Toppings,’ making sure to lightly press in any that need it, and leave to proof, covered with plastic, until doubled in size/1 inch thick, up to 3 hours20150928_141145
  11. Preheat oven to 500F
  12. Place any ‘Pre-Bake Toppings’ on your bread and slide pan into the oven, immediately turning down to 450F and leaving for 10 minutes20150928_142312
  13. Spin pan 180 degrees, quick sprinkle on any last-minute ‘During-Bake Toppings,’ and leave an additional 5-10 minutes, or until evenly golden brown20150928_143420
  14. Remove and slide onto a cooling rack, leaving at least 20 minutes to cool before slicing… I personally can’t claim I was able to wait before cutting off a small corner
  15. Enjoy!

Herb Oil
3-4 Fresh Garlic Cloves20150927_135333
½ cup Fresh or ¼ cup Dried Herbs of your choosing
½ Tb Kosher Salt
½ tsp Black pepper
1tsp-2Tb additional Spices, if desired
¼-½ cup Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Chop Garlic and Herbs, toss in sauce pot along with Oil and Seasonings
  2. Heat to 100F, take off heat and let slowly cool. Reserve for use

What Have I Learned This Time?

20150928_143433I don’t care what the book says, Pine Nuts are a big no-no with this kind of focaccia recipe; unless you’re making a small-ish loaf that only takes up to 10 minutes to back, those bastards gonna burn.

Once again, I seriously need to double-check and plan some details out more; not only did I put it in the oven after only 2 hours of proofing instead of 3, which I don’t think actually affected it but is still something I shouldn’t have done, and I didn’t notice that it said 5-10 minutes after baking after turning, thought it was just a full 10; thus the noticeably darker-than-desired top areas. Actually, I just looked over the recipe a third time, and realized I missed the bit where I was supposed to turn the oven down to 450F after starting. God I feel stupid. And why on focaccia!? I love it so much… I don’t want to make it suffer, I swear!

Dimpling technique and what it’s used for; the actual effect of letting the non-compressed parts rise and poof and brown while any of the excess air is pushed out. It’s an interesting effect to see, considering no other bread I’m aware of actually applies this technique; if anything I’d say it’s heavily visual but does make a distinctive eating texture for the final product, not sure if I’d like it so much if it was an even, risen landscape.

It really can soak up a lot of oil, and I think I’m definitely going ¾-1 whole cup of the herb oil next time, just to see how it’d end up! I did at first think there wasn’t enough, when it was hot, but interestingly the rich fattiness of the oil came out more when cooled, another learned item; but I still wanna see how far it can go!

Speaking of which, it tends to soak through the paper bag I keep my bread in for storage; after a few days it sorta looks like a philly cheesesteak to-go bag.

Any Thoughts?

20150928_143943I’m rather sad that I didn’t complete it ideally, it deserves more respect than that… especially since the dough was doing really well all the way to the proofing stage! God, almost nothing in bread-making feels worse than putting all the effort to making a dough that looks really good and almost perfect and then screw up the baking… though at least it wasn’t that big of a screw up. It still tasted awesome, the inside was soft, flavorful, oily in all the right ways… mmmmm. Didn’t go in the toaster all that well, but I wanna find a good way to transform… maybe buttered, insides of course, and griddled, like grilled cheese? That’s an obvious.

Can’t wait to try different toppings too. I really wanna get some slices of tomato and chunks of goat cheese on before-bake, get that roasted tomato-cheese pizza feel… ooooh! Speaking of which, I so have to use this for pizza one day, press it into a pan or something, cuz it totally has that distinctive buttery, crunchy-soft-ish chew type sensation of the typical Dominoes/Pizza Hut crusts, and deep dishes.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It’s recognized my nervousness with sticky doughs and has responded slightly in kind… plus I think it’s perturbed that I didn’t pay enough attention to it while baking.