Posts Tagged ‘make as a variation’

FFwD: Chocolate Eclairs

These were so good! I really enjoyed having Dorie hold my hand through this whole recipe. I just love how her descriptions gave me a great sense of how my various ingredients were coming together! Here are a few pictures of the process.

For the chocolate filling: whole milk, egg yolks, cornstarch, bittersweet chocolate, sugar, salt and butter.

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BBA #13 You Say Fococcia, I Say Focaccia

Well hi there folks! We’re on to the next bread in the baking backlog. Recipe number thirteen is Fococcia – one of the best breads ever to grace my plate if you want my opinion on the matter. I remember the first time I had fococcia bread on my sandwich, it was at a  little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop near Red Rocks, Colorado and it left a major impression on my 15-year-old self, I was in love! I have ordered it many times since, so I was particularly intrigued by Peter Reinhart’s recipe in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Without further ado let me show you how easy this was to make!

 Our cast of characters for this bread are pictured above: olive oil, unbleached bread flour, water, salt and yeast. Not pictured are my fresh herbs which missed out on the photo op.

 My mise en place.

Using the usual procedure, add the ingredients to a mixing bowl and then knead for about 7-8 minutes until you have a smooth, soft and sticky dough. Next flour your counter well and plop the dough on the counter and pat the dough into a shape approximating a rectangle. It helps to have floured hands for this.  Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax and recover from the trama.

Next, take the dough and stretch the dough till it is twice its size and fold it over letter style, mist the top with oil and cover with plastic and wait for 30 minutes. Repeat this step, only fold the dough in the opposite direction and recover. Wait 30 minutes. Repeat folding a third time but let rest on the counter for an hour.

During this two-hour fold and wait process. Grab some fresh herbs, I used thyme, rosemary, and chives. Dice the herbs fairly fine, about 1/2 cup worth and then add about a cup of olive oil and some coarse grain salt and fresh ground pepper. Give it a stir or two over the two hours. Finally, your dough is ready, it will be a little larger than before your folding.

Find a piece of parchment paper and place it in a rimmed baking sheet and spread with a generous amount of oil. Place your dough on the parchment paper.

Using the tips of your fingers press the dough into the corners of the pan. Spread half the oil over the surface.  Your fingers will have left dozens of  little dimples on the surface of the dough which will allow the herbed oil to soak into the dough. Cover the dough and place the pan in the fridge overnight.

The next evening pull the dough out of the fridge, it should have expanded to fill the sheet pan. Dimple the dough down again and pour the rest of the herbed oil mixture over the top. Cover and let rest on the counter for 3 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a rack on the middle shelf. If you want add any additional toppings you want on the dough. Once in the oven, lower the temp down to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the fococcia is a light golden brown and your kitchen is filled with the most amazing aroma. Test the dough with a thermometer and remove from the oven when the internal temp reads 200 degrees.

As quick as you can, remove the fococcia from the pan and place on a cooling rack, then try and convince yourself to wait the recommended 20 minutes for the bread to cool before you slice yourself a piece and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It was just perfect. I will make this one again for sure – maybe with cheese on top, or a desert style with melted chocolate and cinnamon sugar. The possiblites are endless…..

Next up: French Bread

BBA #10 Cornbread

This week for the Bread Baker’s Challenge  we tackle Cornbread. The vast majority of the breads in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice are yeasted breads except for this recipe which is more of a “quick” bread. Quick breads use chemical levening agents (i.e.,  baking powder and baking soda)  instead of yeast. While this may be a departure from the rest of the book, Peter Reinhard explains his reasoning  for including this recipe because “it is the best cornbread ever.” Sounds like a good enough reason to me! For sure this was a very different type of cornbread than I had ever tried, but since I’m a fan in general I was happy to give PR’s a shot. Was I ever glad that I did!

Funnily enough, for a “quick” bread this recipe was one of the more labor intensive that I have made to date, with most of the time going for preparation of the ingredients. However, once everything was prepped, I just mixed everything together and popped it in the oven to bake. 

The night before I planned to bake this bread I started the soaker:


Buttermilk and polenta

I took the buttermilk and the polenta and combined them in a bowl. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it on the counter for the night. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, life got in the way and it was almost 36 hours later that I was able to start baking. I was a little concerned about the soaker, it was supposed to sit on the counter for only about 12 hours but once I gave it a stir it looked fine so I went ahead and used it.

The line up

The line up

The recipe called for the following ingredients: Fresh corn, the polenta-buttermilk soaker, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, all-purpose unbleached flour (I only had bleached on hand), butter, eggs, brown sugar and bacon.


And honey…which somehow got left out of the photo.

Once I had every thing assembled, I started prepping the bacon so it could cook while I set up my mise-en-place.

I measured out about 10 oz of bacon, placed the slices on a rack and put them in the oven on 350 degrees.



Once I got the bacon in the oven, I shucked the corn and removed the kernels from the cob. I was very excited about the fresh corn in this recipe and was so happy that the “baking order” fell into corn season! Wahoo! I took a knife and ran it down the cobs- sawing as needed.



In the end it took almost 4 ears of corn to get to 16oz, and boy was it messy! I had corn juice splattered all over the kitchen, but it was so worth it. The corn was fresh and sweet and I knew it was going to be great baked into the bread.

I quickly gave the kitchen a once-over with a sponge and checked the bacon in the oven. A little while to go still so I turned the temp to 400 degrees.


Here is my mise-en-place

Following the directions in the recipe, I started combining ingredients together in several bowls. The Kitchen Aid got to take a rest this week.

The dry ingredients (flour, salt,  baking soda, and baking powder) were mixed together first.


Next I added the brown sugar and white sugar and mixed with my whisk until the brown sugar was incorporated evenly.


 About this time the bacon was finally ready so I laid the strips out on a few paper towels to cool.


 I drained the leftover bacon grease and used it to grease the cups of my cup cake pan since I wanted to make easy to serve portions of this bread.


 Next I melted the butter in the microwave and then added the honey. Honey butter anyone? Heaven on earth if you want my opinion.


 Next, I added the buttermilk-polenta soaker and the honey butter to the dry ingredients and whisked to blend.


 Lastly, I added the 16oz of fresh corn and mixed just enough to make sure every kernel was coated in batter.


 I roughly chopped the bacon to top the corn muffins.


 As evenly as possible I filled the muffin tins…I wasn’t sure how much they were going to rise once they went in the oven so I gave each a little room just to be safe.


 Into the oven they went at 350 degrees, for almost 30 minutes, the house sure smelled amazing!


I let them cool for a few minutes and then tried to turn them out onto cooling racks – but the bacon grease didn’t help all that much and I had to loosen the sides with a knife. Some the muffins didn’t make it wholly intact, but eh’, next time I’d use butter and flour to grease the pan.


I wrapped these little guys up and took them into work, they were very tasty – loved the corn bits inside. Next time I’ll tone down the sugar a little but they were quite addicting and it was very difficult to stop eating them.


The texture inside was intersting. I am used to a “johnnycake” style of cornbread so I found this to be much more moist. These were rich, flavorful and hearty bites!


 You can be certain that the next time I make a big bowl of chili these will definitely be served along side!

Next up in the Bread Baker’s Challenge: Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread!

BBA #4 BRIOCHE: Middle Class Version

On to week four of our Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge and this week we have the choice of doing one (or more) of three variations that PR included in his book. Rich Man’s, Middle Class and Poor Man’s. The “class” of dough is mostly determined by the amount of butter each recipe calls for other than that, they follow the same general preparation instructions. I decided to go with the Middle Class recipe, mostly because I had never tried brioche before and the pioneer bakers in the group reported that working with the Rich Man’s dough was a little more difficult. Lastly, and least fun of all, I planned on eating some of this bread and decided that at some point I need to cut back since my overall carb intake has skyrocketed in the past month or so… yes, no fun at all. I know. Well enough from me let’s get the bread baking underway.

The Cast of Characters:

Unbleached bread flour, whole milk, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, yeast and water (not pictured)

Unbleached bread flour, whole milk, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, yeast and water (not pictured)

Day 1 – In order to give the yeast a head start in breaking down the wheat, I started by making a sponge. I combined part of the flour, all the milk, and all of the yeast and left it on the counter for about 20 minutes. Looked like this:



 After 20 minutes – yikes – almost had an overflow situation. Note to self: keep a closer eye on these things, its alive!


Doubled, and then some!

 Next, I grabbed my mixer bowl, and added the sponge and 5 eggs and let my handy-dandy paddle scrapper go to town. While that was mixing, in another bowl, a mixed the rest of the flour, sugar, and salt. I slowly added the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl, about a cup at a time. A quick check back at the recipe – I need to wait 5 minutes to give the gluten a chance to develop before adding the 8oz of butter.

In the meantime, I cleaned off my counter and placed parchment paper in a baking sheet, which I sprayed with oil.

Five minutes is up- I slowly add the butter into the dough with the mixer on speed 2, adding it about 2-3 tablespoons at a time. When it looked as mixed in as possible, I lowered the bowl, gave everything a quick scrape down and moved over to the counter.

Mixer with scraper paddle attachment

Mixer with scraper paddle attachment

 I poured the contents from the mixer onto my prepared parchment and spread it out as much as possible. This was a little tricky because the dough was so sticky!

Spread out for cool down

Spread out for cool down

I sprayed some plastic wrap and covered the dough and into the fridge it went for it’s overnight stay. Actually, it ended up spending two nights in the fridge before I could get a chance to form and bake it. Although the recipe says the dough can be refrigerated up to three days, I was a little worried that it would become dried out. After two days I noticed that the edges were starting to discolor a little bit.

Slight discloration - dehydrated in the fridge

Slight discloration - dehydrated in the fridge

Since it was still soft, I moved forward with the shaping. I used two different molds. One brioche a tete mould (which I found at a thrift store for $1.99-score!) and a small loaf pan. I sprayed them very liberally with pan spray to avoid any stickage.

Liberally sprayed pans

Liberally sprayed pans

 I had no idea how much dough should go into the a tete mould, so I started creating the loaf first. My kitchen is on the warm side to say the least and it did not take long for the dough to start melting and sticking to everything! I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t try the Rich Man’s version and forged ahead with creating 4oz balls to set in the loaf pan.


My benchscaper was a huge help in portioning the dough.


4oz pieces of dough

4oz pieces of dough - or as close as possible



Into the pan in a staggered fashion

The dough was starting to really stick, to me, to the counter, to the parchment, to the scale etc… so I stopped for a few minutes and put the remainder of the dough in the freezer for about 5 minutes, then continued attempting to follow along the picture tutorial in the book to create the traditional Brioche a tete shape. There, pretty close.
Dough ready for it's final proof

Dough ready for it's final proof

 I quickly broke and whipped up an egg and brushed the tops of the loaves with the egg wash. The egg wash should give the tops of the loaves a nice golden brown, shiny surface and then let the dough rise out on the counter for about 3 hours.

After about 3 hours, its ready for the oven

After about 3 hours, its ready for the oven

 Into a 350 degree oven they went and as soon as I shut the door they started to grow, and grow, and grow. I was starting to think that the oven spring was going to overwhelm my pans and was wondering what I should do – jeepers!

From the minute it went into the oven the kitchen smelled like crossiants. So amazing!

After about 35 minutes I pulled it out and took its temp. 190 degrees. I did my best to get them out of their pans and on to racks to cool.

Nice n' brown and smells so amazing!

Nice n' brown and smells so amazing!


They had doubled in size and the crust was very flakey

They had doubled in size and the crust was very flaky

I waited until morning and then sliced up the brioche a tete to send with A for breakfast and wrapped up the loaf to take into work. I was taking no chances by leaving it at home where I was sure I would eat the whole thing on my own.

Crumb shot

Crumb shot

Seriously yummy bread

Seriously yummy bread

 Overall, it was a great experience making this bread and I think next time I will try to make danish with the dough. That would be amazing. When I was asked what it tastes like, the closest I could come to describe it is that it tastes like a cake version of a croissant and smells identical.

Next up in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge: Casatiello