“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

James Beard (1903-1985)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BBB - Broa

Broa is a nice, rustic corn bread from Portugal. I should probably say "bread with corn", as it's not really anything close to corn bread as we know it, a yellow square of cakey, squishy, moist bread made with honey and corn and highly enhanced when consumed with butter. Although, having said that, this bread is kind of squishy and made with corn and honey and also benefits from a good lick of butter....Heck, maybe it's corn bread after all!

This month's Bread Baking Babe's recipe comes from Elizabeth, who chose the Portuguese bread Broa, a traditional bread made with corn. The bread itself is a dense loaf, rustic on the outside and a moist crumb on the inside. I favor it best a couple of days old and toasted.

Here are Elizabeth's recipe and instructions:

Broa – Portuguese Corn Bread

based on Jane’s (Little Compton Mornings) Pao de Milho
makes one large round loaf or two smaller ones

300gm (~1¼ US c) boiling water
7 gm (~1 tsp) honey
145 gm (~1¼ US c) white cornmeal, finely ground (I used Harina P.A.N)
4 gm (1 tsp) active dry yeast
120gm (~½ US c) lukewarm water
60 gm (~½ c) whole wheat flour
300 gm (~2½ c) unbleached all-purpose flour, not necessarily all of it
15 gm (~ 2 Tbsp) white corn flour (I used yellow corn flour)
10 gm (~1¾ tsp) sea salt

corn flour, for dusting

About an hour before mixing the dough, put the cornmeal (finely ground meal from dried corn, aka maize) and honey into a large mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir well. Set aside to cool until just warm (do the baby bottle test on your wrist to test).

When the cornmeal has cooled, pour lukewarm water into a small bowl; add yeast and whisk well. Set aside.

Add the corn flour, wholewheat flour, 275 gm (~1¾ c) all-purpose flour and salt to the cornmeal mixture (you’ll use some or all of the remaining flour for kneading). Stir well. Check the temperature again to make sure it isn’t hot. Stir in the yeast mixture. The dough should be pulling away from the side of the bowl. Don’t worry if it’s somewhat sticky. Don’t be surprised if it’s down right sloppy.

Kneading: Sprinkle a little of the extra all-purpose flour onto the board. Plop the dough out.

Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Yes, this step is important. It prepares the rising bowl, gets your hands nice and clean AND allows the dough to rest a little.)

Knead the dough until smooth and shiny by hand about 10 minutes. Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean . Add a tiny bit more flour if the dough seems sticky but try not to add too much – the dough should be soft (you don’t have to use up all the extra half cup of all-purpose flour).

Proofing: As best you can, form the dough into a ball and plop it into the clean bowl (there is NO need to oil the bowl!!) and cover the bowl with a plate. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t seem to be all that smooth. Cover the bowl and leave in a non-drafty area of the kitchen for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes has passed, very lightly sprinkle the work surface with flour. Carefully turn the dough out. If necessary, gently spread the dough out (try not to disturb any bubbles). Using the dough scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the sloppy left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more. Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up. Cover the bowl. Let it ferment at room temperature for 20 minutes again. Repeat this step two more times. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) It may not be until the third time that the dough will look like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in those three maneuvres is not more than a couple of tablespoons in all and probably much less (I have never actually measured). It’s the merest dusting.

After the final folding maneuver, cover the bowl again and let rise in a no-draft place on the counter (or in the cold oven with only the light turned on), until it has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, this can take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours – if your kitchen is around 21C (72F) it will take about an hour. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to dip your finger in cold water and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasn’t risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.

Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Press the dough into a rectangle. Fold the left side into the center, then the top, then the right side then the bottom. Turn it over. Continue to fold it underneath itself to form an even tight ball without actually deflating the dough. Place it seam side down on parchment papered peel or cookie tray. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by any old large plastic bag and allow to the bread to rise in the same no-drafty area of the counter until is has about doubled. To test, flour your finger and press gently on the edge – it should very slowly spring back. For comparison, try pressing early on to see how it quickly springs back when the dough has not risen enough. (1 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature of the kitchen). 

Preparing the oven: About fifteen minutes before baking the bread, make sure there is a rack on the second to the top shelf. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Baking: Spray the loaf liberally with water then sprinkle with cornflour. Slide the bread onto the stone if using (the parchment paper can go onto the stone) and bake the bread at 400F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 375F and turn the bread around at the same time to allow for uneven heat in the oven (remove the parchment paper if the bread is on a stone). Bake a further 15 minutes until the bottom sounds hollow when knocked or the internal temperature is between 200F and 210F.

When the bread is done, remove to cool on a footed rack. Wait until the bread is completely cool before cutting it (it’s still not finished baking inside when it’s hot out of the oven).

It's not ugly, it's rustic......

Ofcourse, I don't have half the patience Elizabeth has so I added the boiling water to the corn flour, added in the honey and the salt and let it sit for a good ten minutes until the temperature had dropped to about 110F. Then I mixed the rest of the ingredients together, threw in the now warm corn meal mush, mixed it all and let it sit, covered, for twenty minutes. It is indeed a goopy mess, so I added a handful of flour, kneaded the dough as well as could be expected and let it sit for another forty. Turned on the oven, heated the baking tiles to 450F. Kneaded the dough a bit more, then turned it out onto the floured counter, shaped it into a ball and put it on parchment paper. When the oven was up to 450F I turned it down to 400, put the parchment paper with the dough on the tiles, threw in a couple of ice cubes in the tray on the bottom and closed the door. After fifteen minutes, I lowered the temp to 375F, baked the bread for another fifteen minutes and checked internal temp. 199F and rising, so out it came and rested on the metal grid to cool off. Judging from the fact that more than half of it is gone this morning (toasted last night for dinner and this morning for breakfast), I'd say it's worth the hassle!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scandinavian Apple Bread

It started with Emile wondering on FB if it was too late to make an apple pie."Never!" I replied. And then Raffa brought up the Danish movie "Adam's Aebler" or "Adam's Apples" in English (which I have yet to google, no clue what it's about. I'm guessing a guy named Adam and a basket of apples. Or at least, that's what I hope). Well, the word "aebler" made me think of "aebleskiver", those Danish puffy pancake balls that have nothing to do with apple slices, even though that is their name.

Anywayyyyy......so I'm sitting at the compu watching my dear friends going into this thing about apple pie, aebleskivers and whatnot, and my mind is running wild in the meantime. Something like this:
"Mmmm....apple pie sounds good. Ann just gave me a big bag of apples, I should make some. But I really would like to make aebleskiver instead, but I don't have the pan I need. Maybe I should make something Danishy with the apples. Like eh...apple bread. With cardamom because that's really Scandinavish. Sort of like anything with feta is Greek. Is that a word, Scandinavish? Probably not. I should look that up on google. Oh, it's supposed to be Scandivanian. That doesn't sound right, like it has something to do with birds. I wonder what birds they have in Scandinavia?" Anyway, you get the idea.

So while the whole world, give or take a few, was glued to the TV watching the BSU game, I was in the kitchen kneading a gorgeous dough for an apple bread. For once, I chose to stay away from the everpresent apple/raisin combination and decided to stick with apples alone, but you can do whatever you like best. It's all good. I usually try to use 1/3 of dehydrated apples, the apple flavor intensifies and some of the moisture from the fresh apples goes towards moistening the dried ones. This also keeps your bread or crust from getting too soggy.

Three hours later the bread was cooling, I had done some laundry, emptied the dish washer, ate dinner and learnt that BSU had won the game (duh!). With a cup of tea and a still warm slice of my apple bread, I was in hog heaven.

Scandinavian Apple Bread
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (300 grams)
1/3 cup of sugar (75 grams)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (7 grams)
3 tablespoons of butter (35 grams)
1 1/2 cup of warm milk (175 ml)

For the filling:
3 medium apples, preferably three different varieties
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 egg
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

Add the flour, sugar, cardamom and yeast together. Pour in the warm milk and knead for a couple of minutes, then add the salt. Knead until the dough comes together, let it rest for a good four to five minutes, then add the melted butter in, little by little, until the dough is soft and supple. Shape it into a ball, and rest it in an well oiled bowl, covered. Let rise for about 45 minutes.

Peel and dice the apples, toss with the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest and lemon juice. Roll the dough out into a square, add the apples and roll it, jelly-roll style, into a tight sausage. Place the bread roll, seam side down, onto a greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for another thirty minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 375F (200C).

Beat the egg. Brush the bread roll with the egg, sprinkle demarara sugar on top. Now cut three or four horizontal slices in the bread, about halfway down. You can leave it like this, or push each side out as in the picture. Either way is fine.

Bake in the middle of the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until done. Slice and eat warm.

My post is going to Susan's Weekly Yeast Spotting event at Wild Yeast. Check out her blog for some amazing breads!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wild Yeast Sourdough

Several weeks ago, I visited the Annual Fruit Field Day at the University of Idaho's Extension Research Center in Parma. After hearing the presentations, we were invited to taste the different varieties of fruit that are researched and grown at the Center, and even encouraged to take some home. Now...I had just put up twenty pounds of peaches so I wasn't entirely interested in taking anything home that needed to be canned, dried or otherwise dealt with, but when looking over the table grapes with my friend Naomi, I decided to take home some Alborz and a few bunches of a grape called NY65. (There is a section of numbers that follows the period in NY's name, but I don't recall.). Especially this last grape, a dark, small fruit, densely clustered, had a beautiful dusty sheen on its skin. Wild yeast.

I just finished making the sourdough starter for this month's BBB's bread, the Brunkan's långa, when I had a brilliant idea. Well, brilliant.....I had heard that wild yeast could be used for sourdough starters. It seemed at the time a great idea, especially if commercial yeast was ever to disappear from the market, or if I found myself lost in the wilderness with a strong hankering for bread. No telling what my imagination can come up with, but the fact that wild yeast could be found in, well, the wilderness, was a very comforting thought to me.

So I made two batches. One with yeast for the Brunkan's langa, and one without yeast for the grape sourdough. Once mixed, I dumped a short bunch of grapes, unwashed and unrinsed, into the batter, covered the jar and let it sit on the counter.

Two days later, I had the most beautiful, bubbly and slightly sour smelling starter!

Feed your starter every other day with the same amount of unbleached flour and water. Best is to use spring water from a bottle, as tap water is often chlorinated or too salty because of the water softener. Organic grapes are going to be your best bet, and do not rinse, wash or otherwise handle the grapes too much. You want to make sure there's plenty of natural yeast on those grapes.

For the sourdough:

Day 1, morning:
Mix 1 1/2 cup (150g) graham flour with 1 1/2 cup (180 ml) water. Crush a grape or two on the cluster and dump the whole thing in the dough. About ten or twelve grapes are more than enough. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature.

Day 1, evening:
Add 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water. Stir carefully and make sure the sourdough does not coat large parts of the glass. It will dry up and possibly mold, affecting your sourdough, so pour the batter into a new, clean container if it's covered with batter. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature.

Day 2, morning:
Add 1 heaping tablespoon (15g) graham flour and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of water. Mix carefully. By now, the sourdough should be active (bubbly). Leave at room temperature.

Day 2, evening:
Feed the sourdough with another tablespoon of flour and water each, mix carefully and see if the bubbles remain. The starter should have started to develop a network of gluten, visible when you pull up a spoonful of the batter, and the smell should be slightly sour. Cover with film and place in the fridge.

Day 3
Your starter is ready to use. Scoop out one cup of starter. Feed the remaining sourdough with two tablespoons of flour and water, mix, pour into a clean container, cover and leave at room temperature.

For the bread:
1 cup of sourdough starter
2.5 cups of flour
1.5 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of active yeast
1 teaspoon of salt

Mix all the ingredients together, salt last. Depending on the wetness of the starter, you may have to add a little bit more water or flour, but you are looking for a fairly slack dough. Knead for a good five minutes, then shape into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes, then place in the refridgerator overnight.

Day 4:
Take the dough out, about three three hours before you are ready to bake. Punch down carefully, shape into a ball and place back in the bowl. Cover and let sit on the counter at room temperature. One hour before baking, heat the oven up to 450F and place a Dutch oven in the oven.

Punch the bread down again and shape. Let it rest in a well-floured towel until the dough has proofed. Place the dough in the Dutch oven, replace the lid and return to the oven for up to 25 minutes. Remove when golden brown. Cool on wire.

Ofcourse I sent my blog post to Susan at Wild Yeast for this week's Yeast Spotting!