Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Cross Buns Recipe: Classic Easter Bread

Easter is almost here so I thought I'd post a recipe for the traditional easter bun. I don't vary much from tradition, but feel free to add sultanas, or chocolate chips in place of the raisins or to add your favorite nut.

1/2 cup warm milk,1/2 cup warm water (you may use all milk for more richness)
1 whole egg and one yolk
1/4 cup melted butter, and 1/4 cup vegetable oil (you may use all one or the other)
1 package yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix these ingredients together. Then add...

1 1/2 cups raisins
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour (enough to make a soft but not sticky doough)

Knead for 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise 2 hrs. Punch it down. Form dough into a long snake and then cut it into peices- size depending on how big you want your buns. Shape into balls and place on a baking sheet with an inch and a half between them. flatten then slightly. Let them rise an hour (if they touch dont worry). Brush each bun with an egg wash (beaten egg and a tsp of water). Take a knife and press a cross into each bun, then bake until golden brown at 375.

While the buns are baking prepare the frosting by mixing 2 tbsp each of softened butter and cream cheese with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp milk.

When the buns have cooled slightly pipe the frosting onto them in the shape of a cross. Serve warm with butter. Enjoy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Make Bread with an Open Crumb, Big Holes: The "Holey" Grail

10 Tips to get those large irregular holes found in artisan breads:

1) Use high hydration(wet) dough
2) Slow rise- dont put it some place warm to rush the rising. Save that for dinner rolls. A slow rise develops gluten bonds slowly.
3) Fold the dough over itself between rises- this adds stability to wet doughs
4) Use a small amount of yeast- a whole pack will rise it to quickly
5) Use bread flour or a bread flour/all purpose flour mix. If using King Arthur flour then all-purpose alone is fine.
6) Don't work the dough roughly when shaping. You don't want to deflate the bubble (you want them to get bigger)
7) Use a preferment (basically a starter)
8) Make sure you fully rise the dough after it is shaped
9) Have a hot oven
10) Have humidity in the oven

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Italian Bread

Every once in a while I like to have some whole wheat italian bread. Not just for th health benefits but for its depth of flavor also. The following is the recipe I use.

This recipe is not 100% whole wheat.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup dough starter
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp white sugar
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1- 1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together until no dry clumps of flour remain. It should look wet, so add more water if it is to stiff. Do not knead, instead we will be using the rise/fold method. Let the dough rise until doubled, then fold over itself 3 or so times. It till be sticky. Let rise again, then fold again. And repeat rise/fold one last time. By now the dough will have some resiliency. After the final rise turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Divide it into 2 or 3 potions depending on how small you want the loaves to be. Working gently, so as not to deflate too many air boubles, shape each portion into a thick oblong loaf (called a batard). Place on a greased baking sheet dusted with corn meal. Let rise, score the top with a knife, and bake in a 425 degree steamed filled oven for 30-35 min. too make the oven steamy place a cast iron pan of water at the bottom while it is preheating.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Understanding Whole Wheat Flour

Some whole wheat recipes are coming, but first a little info on whole wheat flour. It will be written WWF from now on. WWF is called whole because all parts of the wheat seed are used- the bran (husk), the endosperm (carbohydrates and protein, the bulk of the seed), and the germ (nourishment for the seed. In white flour only the endosperm is used. WWF is used because it adds fiber, nutrients, texture, and flavor to breads.

We all know the health benefits of whole grains, but not everyone like the taste. For those people there is white WWF which come from soft white wheat. It lacks the tannins and phenolic acid of regular WWF (which comes from red wheat), and thus has a taste more like processed white flour. It is hard to make light bread from only WWF so often white flour is added to whole wheat recipes to improve the gluten level. Recipes with whole wheat also require more water since the bran and the germ absorb more water. It is also important to note that WWF has oils in it that make it go bad quicker than white flour. I keep my WWF in the freezer for this reason.