One day I was reading a lovely post from my friend Che Foodzheit and the post was about a yummy linseeds bread he baked for a Bread Baking Day. Now, since I am very distracted and time disoriented I first thought the bread was made with lentils (linser in Swedish), then after realizing it wasn’t I made yet another mistake, thinking the challenge (more proteins in your bread) was for February when it was instead a January theme…
Anyway, from two mistakes I made one good bread. With lentils, cause the idea of a lentil bread had already passed my mind a few times in the past and this linseeds bread reminded me that I still hadn’t tested a sourdough with lentils in it. So I boiled some red lentils with a little water and a lot of garlic (yeah!!) and added them to a well hydrated sourdough dough. To improve the color, which would have been not that appealing otherwise I added a couple of pinches of turmeic (curcuma longa) powder. Man, was this bread good! And it is packed with proteins and minerals as well, cause it has a 40% lentils in it (and how about all the vitamins in the garlic and the curcuma?). To be enjoyed feeling you are feeding yourself with a wholosome food. Which incidentally also looks darn cool.
Oh… one last note. This bread was leavened with a piece of old sourdough dough which staid in the back of my fridge for more than two months. After two feedings at room temperature the old dough was a lively starter, ready to be used. And as you can see it made excellent bread, not sour tasting at all. [Read More...]
Pain au chocolate, chocolate croissant, cornetti al cioccolato. However we may call them at home (mostly me and my daughter), they often pop up in our conversation. Before trying them my child used to like cinnamon rolls. But since finally finding them in a bakery in central Stockholm, chocolate croissant is all she craves. And me with her, only, my craving has last longer than her 5 years of age (read here how I managed to make a super simple brioche version of them a few years back).
In Rome, where I come from, cappuccino and cornetto (Italian croissant) are the locals’ favorite way to start the day. Here in Sweden croissant begin to be seeing around only now, but it is still difficult to find good ones, and fresh ones basically impossible. Our local bakery make our favorite version of them, pain au chocolat, only on Fridays and, honestly, they don’t taste that great. But we buy them anyway cause we love them, we are totally weak for chocolate croissant. Of course, for someone who bakes as much as I do it would be natural to make them at home rather than waiting Fridays for a so so croissant. Alas, up to two nights ago, I have been pushed back by all the stories of insuccess or awful difficulty I have read about making croissant at home. I like baking but I don’t do difficult well. Baking in my opinion should feel natural, easy and maneageable while one does it. So two nights ago I felt it was time to try my hands at croissant and do them my way. I spent no more than a couple of hours reading sources on books and the net and comparing formulas, then I wrote down mine, went to the kitchen, and prepared the ferments: the morning to come I was going to make chocolate croissant! Or pain au chocolat, to be precise.
As I wrote, I read quite a few methods/formulas, among which Jeremy’s from Stir The Pots (he is a croissant genius, check him up), Björn’s from Der BrotDoc (another croissant genius), Karin’s from Brot & Bread (a super-dooper baker as well), Nuccio’s from Blog di Max (possibly the most talented Italian home baker I know), the often cited TxFarmer, Leader’s book.
What I came up is combining a sourdough starter and a biga as ferments, using milk instead of water in the dough, adding a few egg yolks, using a good percentage of sugar and a lot of folding in butter. I wanted the taste to be similar to my homeland cornetti which, I am pretty sure of, include eggs in the dough and are sweeter than their French equivalent. I really liked the dough. It was elastic and was easy to work with. I did have problems with the butter instead. Even if I left it in the fridge for 5 hours it was still too soft when I folded it it. Next time i may place it in the freezer for the last 1/2 hour of so. Also, I did not realize that my kitchen was too hot, especially toward the end of the layering, cause I was cooking dinner (three different ones for each member of the family – oh well) and baking bread for the week to come. Next time I will religiously CHILL THE ROOM, not only the dough and the butter. The butter one can find in Sweden is also quite watery, and I do hope I will find something better for next bake. So… the result is some darn good chocolate croissant. The layering would have been much more precise had the room/butter been colder/less watery, a lesson for next time. Cause there will be a next time, and another one, and another one and another… I want to share this recipe even if it is still a work in progress cause it is, I tell you, easy. Made these babies in one day, kneading in the morning, taking the girl to the shopping mall/playground in the afternoon, playing cooking, baking and still by 9 pm we had some warm and delicious pain au chocolate to enjoy with our family movie. And what a Sunday breakfast… if you still have doubts (do you?) my super picky eater devoured not one but three of these today. And the mother? Well, let’s leave you with the illusion that I am a skinny and all fit kitchen goddess…
How to start talking about all these breads? Am I preparing for the opening of my Italian bakery in Stockholm? Well, unfortunately, not. Still no big project like this on the way. But I did have a lot of ripe starter and I decided to use it all. Actually I liked this solution so much that it is becoming my standard way of baking. Time costraints dictated by a life divided between a family and a job make us squeeze passions in between chores. So when I happen to have some bubbly starter ready to go, better to do the best out of it right away, because I don’t know if I will be able to bake again some time soon.
This dough was made with a 25% of organic sprouted whole spelt and quite a good percentage of sourdough, what I consider a healthy bread. You can of course use regular whole wheat or going 100% white flour, the result would be just as beautiful. The main idea behind this method is to leave your dough in a bowl or container (bulk fermentation) for quite a long while after kneading and then quickly form and bake pieces of dough in a very hot oven. Some of them can be filled, some may be not.
For the filling I used baby sweet peppers and taleggio or green olives and taleggio, always sealing the “package” with a stick of gruyere. I admit I spent a whole, long, half hour thinking about a tasty way to seal the filling of these ciabattas and, well, I am pleased about this invention, so pleased I may have to ask for a patent (wish I could!!). This said, I still had enough dough to make some plain ciabattas, some twisted ciabattas, and why not, a twisted baguette. There is no end to the shapes that bread can (quite effortless I tell you) take. Just try it. [Read More...]
So, as usual since I moved to this cold land, in this period of the year I go through month-long colds. Yesterday night, after finally starting the right therapy, I felt my energy back and, guess what, I HAD TO bake.
For a couple of months I have been thinking of a chocolate-orange fougasse seen around (a Swedish bakery makes a beautiful one) so what better occasion to try making something similar? I always have chocolate and organic lemons at hand, so mine immediately was transformed into a chocolate-lemon fougasse.
And since it was already quite late, I opted for a yeast-based bread rather than a sourdough, which means this bread can be made in quite a short time and without any need to plan ahead. It was the first time I seriously tried to shape a fougasse (ok, tried once before a couple of years ago, but I did not put much thought into it and I was not that happy with the result). It was actually very easy, much easier than you may think… and the result will absolutely impress your family and guests. Effortless and stunning, that’s how we like it, right? [Read More...]