Posts Tagged With: yeast

Du pain et plus de pain et seulement le pain

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Mon amie et moi avons visité l’Italie l’été dernier, et nous l’avons adorée! Alors, nous avons décidé que nous aimons le pain! Tout le pain! Nous faisons le pain tout le temps, et maintenant, nous avons un magasin de pain. Beaucoup de gens l’aime et notre pain est toujours très réussi. Notre magasin s’appelle “Du pain et plus de pain et seulement le pain”. Nous sommes très connus pour nos baguettes. C’est notre pain préféré. C’est très amusant de cuisiner!  Une classique!

Les ingrédients:

4 tasses de farine
3 tsp (c.à.c) de levure boulangère
2 tsp (c.à.c) de sel
1 1/4 tasses d’eau chaude
Un peu d’huile d’olive

Les étapes:

1. Mettez la farine, la levure boulangère et le sel dans un grand bol. Mélangez rapidement avec une cuillère.

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2. Dans une tasse, ajoutez l’eau chaude (1 minute dans le micro-onde devrait marcher).

3. Ajoutez l’eau chaude au mélange de farine et travaillez le tout avec vos mains. Quand la pâte commence à faire une forme (comme un cercle), versez le tout sur la table.

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4. Travaillant avec les mains, pétrissez la pâte pour 10 minutes. Mettes la pâte dans un saladier pendant 1 heure pour reposer.

5. La pâte devrait être gonflée; frappez-la pour faire échapper le gaz de la levure. Diviser la pâte en quelques morceaux afin de modeler de petites cercle.

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6. Faites un baguettes avec la pâte. Pliez les deux “coins” de ce cercle pour faire un triangle. Roulez le bas du triangle pour faire la forme d’une baguette, comme un cylindre.

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7. Mettez les baguettes sur une plaque à four. Laissez reposer la pâte pendant 30 minutes, puis mettes-les dans un four chaud (475F) pendant 30 minutes (à peu près).

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Bon appétit ! 🙂

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Onion Oregano Bread

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While at school, I think I earned the reputation of being the breadmaker.  For various events, I was always bringing (or offering to bring) homemade bread, simply because it’s something that 1) I miss a lot when at school and 2) I truly enjoy making.  Yes, it takes a long time.  I am aware of no-knead recipes and shortcuts, but I think the best part about bread is the process itself: MANUAL LABOR.  ELBOW GREASE.  Those are just whiny words for KINESTHETIC THERAPY.  (See, when I put it like that, the ordeal adopts a medical sound.  I could probably open a bakery an employ anyone who needs to vent frustrations and just have them knead my bread all.day.long.  Brilliant business model, no ?)

In any case, while home for winter break, I noted this recipe for Onion Oregano bread (from Bon Appétit, 2005) thinking it sounded tasty and would use two ingredients rarely lacking in my pantry: oregano and onions.  The original calls for fresh oregano but I used dried to great effect.  However, as summer is upon us, those with access to an herb garden should go pick a nice handful of oregano to use with this recipe – the flavor will be fresher, more intense, and a nice compliment to a grilled meal.

I left mine in a hot oven for a smidge too long, as the color is very dark.  Ideally, you want to lower the temperature of the oven just as the outside begins to brown so that you don’t have a charred crust and a doughy interior.  Lucky for me, the inside was perfectly cooked – just the outside was a little too dark for my liking.

Ingredients :

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp sugar or honey
4 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp sa;t
1/4 cup chopped, fresh oregano
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp H2O
Directions :

Heat the olive oil in a heavy, small skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, sautéing until translucent.  This will only take about 5 minutes, but you are welcome to cook them longer.  I love caramelized onions, and I think this bread would be great if it called for an entire cup of onion, caramelized.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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In another bowl, pour 1 1/2 cups warm water.  In order to warm the liquid properly, I measure it then microwave it for about 45 seconds.  Then, I stick my index finger in the water.  If I burn myself, it’s too hot and must cool.  If the temperature is pleasantly warm – it’s go time.  If it’s still just lukewarm, microwave it again (in smaller increments).  Of course, if you possess a kitchen thermometer, then just use that.  🙂  The water has to be a comfortable temperature for a few reasons, the most important of whihc being that yeast will die if the water is too hot.  You will become a yeast killer if you throw these little dormant bacteria into water above a certain temperature.  If you murder the yeast, their revenge will be sweet – your bread will not rise.  However, if you find a good temperature, the little yeasties wake up and, like any organism, begin to feed.  This is why to the water mixture, you add 2 1/2 tsp of sugar or honey – that is the nourishment we, the baker, provide for the yeast, the workhorse of the breadmaking operation.  Once you’ve combined the water and sugar, and stirred until dissolved, add your yeast and stir a bit.  Then, let the mixture sit and watch what happens:  the yeast begin to eat and release waste.  That waste ?  It’s what makes bread rise.  Might be a little strange to think about, but breadmaking relies on yeast farts.  If you smell the measuring cup while it’s proofing – a word the might as well be missing the “r” as poofing is a more accurate term – you’ll notice a distinct odor.  That’s the combination of air and alcohol made by the yeast as they devour the sugar we gave them.

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But this is just the beginning.  While that yeast is enjoying itself, mix together 4 cups of flour and the 2 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the onions and any oil remaining in the pan – there should be a little and if there isn’t, I’d add a slug of oil to the dough.  Grab your poofy yeast, give it a quick stir, and pour it into the flour mixture.  Add oregano and mix well.

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Knead briefly in bowl, just until everything comes together, then turn out onto a well floured surface (this is what the remaining 1/2 cup flour is for).  Knead until dough it smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls as necessary to keep dough from sticking – about 10 minutes of kneading.  Kneading is essential to bread because it allows for the creation of gluten networks.  Gluten, found in flour, is responsible for creating the structure of bread.  Kneading rearranges the proteins in gluten (glutenin and gliaden – fancy little things), creating a setup that traps the gas released by the yeast, allowing bread to rise and contributing to its fluffy texture when baking.  There used to be a hysterical youtube video about this but I can’t find it anymore…it actually animated gluten.

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In any case, once you’ve kneaded the bread to a silky consistency, shape it into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl.  Let rise, covered for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.  (I usually went to class while bread was rising.  Made the time go by faster.)

Once risen, punch it down.  Ka-pow !  Turn out onto work surface (again) and divide into two even lumps.  Working with these, first stretch them into a circle.  Fold the top two corners down, making a triangle shape.  Roll the tip of the triangle towards you until the bread resembles a baguette shape. Roll to finish the seam.  Place both loaves on a well oiled cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rise again until just about doubled in size – it should take about 45 minutes.  During this time, preheat the oven to 450F and add a bainmarie if you feel like it (essentially fill a brownie pan with a low level of water and place in the oven while it preheats.  It will create steam and crisp the outside of the bread).

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Brush the tops of the loaves with the egg and water mixture. Using a serrated knife, make three or four quick cuts in the  top of the loaves – this will help when the bread expands.

Bake the bread for 10 minutes at this high temperature before reducing to 350F.  Bake until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.

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Cut and serve with dinner (or butter) and enjoy !  Bon appétit 🙂

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Homemade Pretzels (with rosemary and sea salt)

A few nights ago, we decided to continue our trend of hosting little fetes with a theme.  This time, we decided to head to Germany and embrace Oktoberfest (deemed “Oktobeerfest” by my oh so clever roommate) by dedicating an evening to drinking songs, pretzels, and various types of beer. (…joyeux enfants de la Bourgogne…)

The premise was simple : come prepared with EITHER food, beer, or a drinking song and you are welcome to our home.  My contribution, as I don’t know much about beer, was to make soft pretzels…

I will admit, I’d never made these before.  I didn’t really know how to fold a pretzel or the process by which pretzels are created.  Bread – I can do.  Pretzels ?  The seemed so…beyond my reach.  But that has never stopped me in the past, so I said I’d make pretzels and pretzels I made (à la “so it is written, so it shall be.”  I’m currently writing a theology paper.  Can you tell ?)

In any case, I decided to try two different types : one with rosemary and the other plain with sea salt – just like at the fair.  Both were remarkably simple to concoct and the only slightly intimidating portion was the baking soda bath – I’ve never boiled bread dough before, but it was surprisingly simple and stress-free.   Needless to say, my trepidation about making a new food was unfounded, as everyone devoured these pretzels like it was their job – literally, there were NONE left at the end of the night.  I served mine with mustard (and beer…), but for those who don’t enjoy mustard as much as this little dijonnaise (ben, fausse dijonnaise mais c’est pas important), cheese sauce is also welcome.

Guten Appetit !

For the plain dough :

1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm milk (about 50 seconds in the microwave)

For the rosemary dough :

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 cups flour (potentially more)
2 tbsp rosemary

The procedure is the same for both of the dough varieties – I’ll probably intermix the photos but I promise, the process is the same.  Start by mixing the dry ingredients together.  Depending on the kind of yeast (ex active dry or rapid rise) you use, you can just mix it right in with the flour.  If you are unsure, you can mix the sugar, warm liquid, salt and yeast together in another container and let it proof for about 10 minutes or until nice and foamy.  I did NOT do this because I’m lazy and everything worked out just fine.

Make a nice little crater in the flour mixture and pour the milk in and oil in to the moat.

Stir together – I jumped right in and used my hands but if you have an electric mixer, that’s fine too.  If using an electric mixer, add flour until the dough naturally forms into a ball.  If using your hands and good ole fashioned elbow grease, add flour until you feel you can knead it on a countertop.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is nice and smooth and feel like (I kid you not) a baby’s bottom.

 

Place in a large, well-oiled bowl and let rise (covered) for 1 hour.

When doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a little bit to deflate. Shape into a log and divide into 7 (sea salt) or 8 (rosemary) even pieces.  I just used a sharp knife and eyeballed the sizes.  Cut with conviction !

Rolling the smaller pieces into dough can be a little challenging.  I made a video (!) but it’s sideways…and I don’t know how to turn it.  Basically, take the piece of dough and roll it between your hands until it starts to form a cylindrical shape.  Then, grasping both ends, spin it like a jumprope, pulling to lengthen.  Before you know it, you’ll have a nicely shaped cylinder.

You can even out the shape on the countertop, as you want them to be about the same thickness and to measure just overa foot – these will make a nicely sized pretzel.

 

Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes in this shape before reworking into pretzel form.

Roll slightly on the counter before turning up the two ends to make a U-shape.  Cross these two ends over one another, twisting once.

Secure at the bottom of the U-bend, pressing gently but not too hard – we want to keep as much air in the dough as possible.  Let sit on the counter and prepare a large cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper OR well-oiled) for baking.

Then comes the chemistry lesson.  Pretzels gain their unique flavor due to a special ritual completed before baking : a lye bath.  Lye is a VERY strong base than can cause burning of the skin, so I balked a little when I discovered this fact.  However, lucky for us, a common ingredient on bakers’ shelves is ALSO a fairly strong base…BAKING SODA !  Instead of using lye, I made a solution of baking soda and water.  I used a ratio of 4 tablespoons soda to 2 cups of water and the flavor of the pretzel crust wasn’t sharp, yet still retained enough bite to be called a pretzel.

Mix together the water and the soda in a pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil.  Using a spatula, scoop up the soft pretzel and immerse in the soda bath for about 10 seconds. Remove promptly, shake a little, and place on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt/rosemary.  Repeat for all the pretzels.

 

Place in a 425F oven for about 15 minutes or until the pretzels are a bronze color – these will be soft pretzels, so you won’t be able to tap them and know that they are done.  I found the best way to be sure was to sample them… 😉

Serve with some Dijon mustard (nice and grainy) or cheese sauce and a stein of cold beer – I recommend Grimbergen amber ale.  Delicious.

Happy fall !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumpkin and Rosemary Braided Bread

Autumn has finally descended upon my neck of the woods (so to speak) and with it, the arrival of “all things pumpkin” as the Internet (and Starbucks…and Trader Joe’s) tends to tout.  I will freely admit that I have a sweet spot for pumpkin – its flavors hint at nostalgia without the tears.  My roommate, after a Trader Joe’s run, returned home with pumpkin soup, pumpkin chai tea, pumpkin rooibus tea…and then there was me with my gigantic can of pumpkin purée.

The question is, however, what can you do with pumpkin puree that is new and exciting ?  I’ve made the muffins, I’m made the quickbread, and the pie has a place on a Thanksgiving table.

So began the hunt for a new way to use pumpkin.  I knew I wanted something more on the savory side…like…a dinner roll !  A yeast bread !  Hm !

I found a great recipe from the King Arthur Flour webpage- a simple google search will bring you there (I may have misplaced the link…).  I modified it slightly – the recipe here is halved but makes LOTS of bread (I snuck two medium loaves from these quantities) and I added honey, rosemary, and salt to the mix.  An experiment, the work paid off (nibble nibble nibble) because it tastes just sweet enough to be paired with honey butter or even a marmalade OR a savory dish with chicken or a sauce.  Oo.  Asiago cheese would probably pair well with this concoction as well.  The possibilities are endless !

A wonderfully soft texture and a rich color to boot, this recipe is worth the time and will certainly have a spot on my Thanksgiving table…or my kitchen table.  🙂

For the dough :

1/4 cup warm water
1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large eggs, beaten
1 cups puréed pumpkin, either fresh or canned
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
A few shakes of ground ginger
3 pinches rosemary

For the glaze :

1 egg yolk,
Some water
Some honey
Some rosemary
Some salt

In a large bowl, combine the 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, yeast, ginger and rosemary.

Stir to combine well.  Add the warm water and begin to stir.  In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and milk.

Be sure to allow the pumpkin and eggs to reach room temperature before combining with the other wet ingredients.  Also, the milk should be warmed – yeast likes a warm environment because it stimulates their life cycle/reactions.  And we want those little yeasties to have a party in our bread dough !

Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 cups more of flour (or more) until the dough is tough enough to knead.  Mine looked like this and it worked out well.


Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  This took me about 10 minutes for me, but knead until you can mold it into a ball without difficulty OR extremely messy fingers.

When you are kneading bread, you are creating gluten networks between the starch molecules.  This changes the texture and facilitates the trapping of the gas released by the little yeasties.  Food.  It’s snazzy.

Place dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a towel (or a plastic bag), letting it rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  If it rises for longer, it won’t be an issue.  But an hour is certainly enough time to get a fantastic reaction out of the dough.

When ready, turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Divide dough in half – I did not because I didn’t think I would have such a huge loaf of bread so I have two uneven loaves SO do yourself a favor and split it up). This bread can easily be shaped into loaves or dinner roles…but I thought a braid would be more elegant given the rich color of the dough.

Braiding is actually simple (though it looks tough).  Start by spreading the dough out into a large rectangular shape (photos to follow).  Using a sharp knife, make 4 long cuts in the dough – you are essentially creating a giant jellyfish, with the bit you are cutting turning into tentacles.  (Please excuse the metaphor.  I’m an English minor).  When you make the cuts, LEAVE THE TOP CONNECTED.  You’ll see what I mean in the photos.  Reshape the tentacles so that they are even and then braid them !  Braiding with five is easy – just pull the outside layer from the left to the inside, then the outermost RIGHT side layer to the inside, then left to the inside and right to the inside blablabla until BAM !  You have a giant braid on your hands.  For the last part, just twist them and tuck them under the end of the braid. (The photos are with four strands because I didn’t have an assistant when I did five…)  Pow.  Like magic, you have a snazzy looking loaf of bread.

Lay the bread on a well-oiled baking sheet.  Mix together the egg and water and brush over the top of the bread.  Drizzle honey over the top of the braid, followed by a sprinkling of rosemary and some sea salt crystals.

Let rise for about 45 minutes or until nice and puffy.  Place in the oven and let cook for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  The bread will NOT sound hollow when cooked, as it is very soft, but I just used my nose.  You can also use a thermometer to test the “doneness” of the bread (I believe it’s 190F….might want to check on that as I possess not such a thermometer.)

Serve nice and hot with melted butter…or place on your table (with a TARDIS !) and let your roommates devour it.  🙂

Bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Homemade dinner rolls

I’ll just preface this with a simple statement : I. LOVE. BREAD.  No need to say much more…however…

These rolls come from “The River Cottage Bread Handbook” (merci mille fois, mon cher Matthieu !) and are delightful.  I’ve had a lot of good luck with the recipes detailed by Mr. Daniel Stevens, as he gives excellent instructions and tried to take the fear out of breadmaking.  I grew up kneading dough and enjoying my dad’s homemade bread.  As a result, I’ve never felt bested by bread recipes…and YOU SHOULDN’T EITHER !  Not only does the bread taste infinitely better when made by hand, but it also is a fantastic stress-reliever.

If you can’t eat all the bread you make, you can easily freeze the rolls OR make half a batch.  If you’re like me, however, I doubt you’ll have that problem…

White bread recipe (makes 12 rolls)

2 cups flour (I used all-purpose but if you want to be fancy, use white bread flour)
1 tbsp instant yeast
4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups plain yogurt (or milk)
1 1/4 cups warm water (between 105 and 115F)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 handfuls of flour (for coating)

In a large bowl, combine yeast and flour.  Mix well to distribute the yeast throughout the flour.

In a separate bowl, mix the warm water with the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. After making sure the water isn’t too hot, add the yeast.

SCIENCE TIDBIT : Yeast is actually ALIVE – I know it looks like a lot of nothing, sitting there in those packets (or the jar) on the shelves of your fridge.  However, every little particle is actually an organism – a sensitive one, too.  Between certain temperatures, the yeast organisms wake up, so to speak, from a dormant state (think brine shrimp) and begin to eat food (the sugar and salt we put in the water).  Like a creature that is eating, the yeast also will need to “answer the call of nature” and pass gas – CO2, that is.  This is what causes the bread to rise (I hope I didn’t ruin the magic for you…).

However, if the temperature of the water is too hot, the reaction will stop – killing the yeast. (This is what we do when we put bread in an oven !  KILL THE YEAST !)  Hence the importance of water temperature….usually, if you can put your finger in the water without feeling uncomfortable, the temperature is safe.

Pour the water into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Then add the yogurt and the oil.  Stir until the dough comes together, then turn out onto a well-floured surface.

Knead for about 10 minutes or until the texture of the dough is smooth and silky – you will notice a big difference from what you start with and what you end with. While kneading, you are creating GLUTEN NETWORKS !  The mechanical process of kneading dough causes the proteins present in the flour to be rearranged into long strands.  In between these long strands, you have the gas from the yeast.  These two factors combine to affect the texture of the bread.  This is why it’s very important to knead bread enough (otherwise the bread will be tough).

Form the bread into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl with high sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size – about an hour.

When ready, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Use your fingers and punch the air (well, CO2) out of the dough.

Give it a few turns before forming it into a ball again.  You can either let the dough rise again OR form the dough into rolls right now.

To form the rolls, slice (yes, with a knife) the dough into evenly shaped rounds.  Flatten then with your hands, as if you were making pizza crust.  Fold the top two corners down, pinching to seal.  Then, roll the dough up until you’ve made a nice little…roll !

 

 

 

 

Slit the top and cover in flour.

 

Let sit on a greased baking sheet, covered with a towel, for about 45 minutes or until (yet again) doubled in size.

 

Spray with water and place into a SUPER HOT OVEN – a temperature of 500F !  This hot oven will kill the yeast, but not before the yeast released a final spring – lifting the bread in a final burst of energy.  POOF !  This is why it’s important to slit the tops – it gives the bread a little more wiggle room for its final takeoff.

Bake for about 10 minutes at this high temperature and then reduce the oven temp to 350.  If your bread is already brown, feel free to cover it with foil.  Also, I like to put a tray of water in the lower section of the over (bottom pan) to create steam.  The bread will have a lovely crust that way…but it is not mandatory.  This pan of water has a fancy name (and it’s French, of course) : a bainmarie – quite snazzy, non ?

The bread is done when it sounds hollow upon tapping.  It’s going to smell fantastic.   Just warning you.

Bon appétit !

 

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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