Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BBBAbes baking croissants and pretzels all in one recipe

This month the wonderful Heather ("Girlichef") has found us an intriging recipe. It's a croissant, no a pretzels, no a croissant pretzel, no a pretzel croissant, that's what it is. Didn't really know what to expect. Good advice is to read the complete recipe very well and divide the process in several days, this way it's not too much work. 

We made croissants before with the Babes, but these have the pretzel part, which consist of dipping them into a baking soda before baking them in the oven. I was surprised to find that the dipping solution was cold. 

Anyway the recipe worked really well. I used apple cider instead of beer,  because that's what was available. The cooling and rolling the dough worked really good as well. The dough stayed very well intact without spilling the butter inside. I did measure the dough sheet wrong, so the triangles were not perfect when rolled, but I didn't mind that. The croissant took a really long time to rise... and it did just a little after a long wait. When baking there was a puddle of melted butter coming out of the croissants, which had me worried a bit. The final product had a flaky and crisp outside, but the inside was quite fatty and not as flaky. I wonder if they were baked long enough. I didn't love them as much, but the kids liked them. Especially when they were still warm! Thanks for a special challenge Heather!

Love croissants? Become our Bread Baking Buddy and bake along. Tell us all about it by sending your results over to Heather, get a Bread Baking Buddy Badge ánd be part of the round up that Heather will put together. Deadline for sending in your results is the 29th of this month.

Pretzel Croissants
yield: 1 dozen
(PRINT recipe)
Note that the dough takes from 24-48 hours from start to the time you form them. The butter block should be formed sometime while the dough is rising. Baked baking soda is an alternative to using lye; it needs 1 hour in the oven (see notes).

for the dough:
1/2 cup (120 ml) lukewarm milk (~110° F)
7 g (1/4 ounce / 2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (golden or dark)
410 g (3-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour + more for work surface
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temp
1/2 cup (120 ml) cold pilsner-style beer

for the butter block:
340 g (12 ounces / 24 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

to finish:
60 grams (1/4 cup) baked (see notes) baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
coarse salt
sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, optional

making the dough:
Stir the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar into the lukewarm milk and allow to sit  until foamy, 5 minutes or so.

Whisk the flour, remaining brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture, breaking it up into tiny flour-coated pieces the size of breadcrumbs. Stir in the yeast mixture and the beer using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to form a shaggy mass.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead eight to ten times, until all of the flour is just incorporated. You don't want to over work it, because you don't want the butter to melt too much. The dough will not be a smooth mass; you will see some flecks of butter. It should be soft and tacky, but not sticky. Adjust as needed with flour or water.

Lightly oil a large bowl  and set the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours (24 will give you the best flavor).

making the butter block:
Beat the butter and flour together in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment until it forms a smooth mass (or by hand, using a lot of elbow grease). This should take about a minute. You want the butter to be pliable without beating air into it or melting it.

Spread the butter between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap (or parchment or wax paper), and use a rolling pin to shape into a rectangle that is about 8"x9". Use a straight edge to form corners, but work quickly as you want the butter to stay cool. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until you're ready to roll out the dough.

1st turn:
Scatter a little bit of flour on your work surface, then turn the dough out onto it. Roll it out into a rectangle that is 10"x15" and about 1/4" thick. Using your hands, gently pull and stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush excess flour off of the dough. Set the dough with a long edge facing you.

Mentally divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Place the butter block over the right 2/3 of the dough, leaving a 1" border on the outer edges. Fold the empty left portion of the dough over the middle third. Now, lift and fold the right section of dough over that. You should have 3 layers of dough that encase 2 layers of butter. Pinch the outsides and the seams together and lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin. This completes the first turn. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2nd turn:
Remove the dough from the fridge and set it on your lightly floured work surface. Roll dough out into a 10"x20" rectangle, pulling and stretching to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush off any excess flour. Set the dough with a long edge facing you. Fold both of the short ends in to the center, leaving a 1/4" gap where they meet (think of a book jacket). Fold one side of the dough over the other. Lightly press the layers together using a rolling pin, and square and sharpen the edges and corners. This completes the second turn. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3rd (and final) turn: 
Lightly dust your work surface and the top of the dough with flour. Roll dough out into a 10" by 15" rectangle. Do another trifold, as done in the first turn (mentally divide into thirds, then fold one third over the center, followed by the last third). Square the edges and sharpen the sides; wipe off excess flour. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to another 24 hours.

(At this point, you can wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, slide it into a freezer baggie, and freeze for up to 1 week. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding to final shaping.)

final shaping:
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Lightly dust your work surface and top of your dough with flour. Roll out into a 15"x18" rectangle that is ~1/4" thick. Pull and stretch to form straight edges and sharp corners. Patch any holes where butter may have popped through by dusting them with flour.  Brush any excess flour off the dough.

Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, creating two 15"x9" sheets of dough. Using a pizza cutter or bench scraper, cut each piece of dough into three equal strips, the short way. Then cut each strip in half diagonally, so that you left with 6 triangles. Repeat with other piece of dough.

Beginning at the base, roll the triangles up, tugging on the tip to elongate it slightly, then gently pressing it into the dough. Place on the prepared baking sheets with the tips tucked under, and curve the ends to form crescent shapes.

Cover the croissants with damp, clean kitchen towels and allow to rise at cool room temperature until they have almost doubled in size and feel spongy, ~2 hours.

At this point, slide the croissants into the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you prepare the dipping solution. Preheat oven to 425° F, positioning one rack in the upper third of the oven, and one in the lower third.

Prepare the dipping solution:
Add the baked baking soda in 8 cups of cold water and stir until completely dissolved. One by one, dip the croissant dough into the dipping solution, allow the excess to drip off, then set back on the lined trays.

Finish them off (finally):
Brush the tops with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse salt and sesame seeds or poppy seeds, if using.

Slide into preheated oven immediately and bake for 14-18 minutes (rotating pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through), until they are deeply browned, crispy, and flaky. They should feel light and airy if you pick them up.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving. They are best enjoyed the day they are made, ideally warm from the oven. Store any extras in a paper bag for a day. You can reheat them by placing them in a 350° F oven for ~5 minutes.

Baked baking soda is an alternative to working with lye that still lends pretzels their dark, burnished crust. To make the baked baking soda, spread 1/4 cup (~70 grams) of baking soda out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or foil (or in a pie pan). It will decrease in weight, but shouldn't decrease in volume. Slide it into an oven that has been preheated to 250° F/120° C and bake for 1 hour. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. If you see lots of pretzels in your future, make a large batch to store since it keeps indefinitely.

(slightly adapted from Pretzel Making at Home by Andrea Slonecker)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Swirls for ABC

This month there was a bread recipe to be baked for the Avid Baker's Challenge, a sweet bread with cinnamon. Well that sounded just great. We love that sort of bread.
I made some changes, first the White whole wheat flour isn't available here, so I substituted with half whole wheat and half white flour. I reduced the yeast to 2 tsp, left out the dry milk, and used potato flakes and not the potato flour. The rest of the recipe was the same and it all worked very easy. A nice bread to make and to eat.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bread Baking Babes dive in

This month our lovely Babe Elle ("Feeding my enthusiasms") found us a very intriging recipe, that I never heard of. Putting the bread dough under water for its first rise. What?! Yes that's what I thought. But what fun to try this out! And it works, it really does. The end result is a superdelicious bread, like a brioche, fluffy and just how our kids love their bread. So it's a real treat for them.

I made a few changes in the original recipe, that are included in the recipe below. Less yeast, less salt and I kneaded all ingredients together from the start in my stand mixer. Wonderful soft and brioche-like bread. Yesterday we had the last as Pain Perdu (French toast), delicious.

This is a great technic to try out, thanks Elle for introducing this recipe to us. I think it's just a different way to take the dough through its first rise, it would most likely rise in the usual way as well. But so fun to try this out.

Wanna bake along and plunge your dough into water? Bake, post and send your details to Elle and become a Bread Baking Buddy!! Deadline 29th of this month. Have fun!

Don't forget to have a look at the other babes for ideas and inspiration. (links in the side bar)

Water-Proofed Bread
(makes 2 loaves)
(PRINT recipe)
1,5 tsp dry yeast
118 g warm water (± 39ºC)
50 g granulated sugar
118 ml warm milk
115 g butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
± 490 g all-purpose flour
More flour for the tea towel

The eggs from our chickens, that eat a lot of
grass, give this extra bright yellow colour.
Rinse a large mixing bowl with warm water. Dry thoroughly. Put in the yeast, the 1/2 cup warm water, and the teaspoon of sugar, and stir until the yeast dissolves. Allow to proof for 5 minutes. Heat the milk with the butter and 1/4 cup sugar until lukewarm, then add to the yeast mixture. Add the salt and stir to blend well.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and again blend thoroughly. Then stir in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, to make what will probably be a very wet and sticky dough. Stir quite vigorously. Spread out the dough on a working surface - a table, a piece of marble, or a board - sprinkled with the additional 1/2 cup flour. Use a baker's scraper or large spatula to work in this last portion of flour and make the dough firmer. Scrape under the flour and the dough, lifting and folding inward. Repeat until the flour is well incorporated. Add more flour if needed to make a dough that you can handle. When the dough is easy to handle, begin kneading by hand. Continue until the dough can be shaped. (or just knead all the ingredients in your stand mixer with the dough hook, until the dough is smooth and soft)

Lift the dough, pat with flour, and place on a clean kitchen towel also sprinkled with flour. Wrap it and tie it in the towel, just as you would a package, but very loosely.

Submerge this packet in a large bowl  filled with warm water (about 100 - 115 degrees F, approximately). It will sink.

Let sit for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until it rises sufficiently to float on top of the water.

Lift the dough from the water and let the excess water drip off. Un-wrap and turn out on a lightly floured surface. Again it will be quite sticky, so scrape off any dough that adheres to the towel. Knead and shape into tow loaves, using both dough scraper and your hands.

Thoroughly butter two 8 x 4" loaf pans and place one loaf in each pan. Cover, put in a warm, draft-free place, and let the dough rise slightly above the tops of the pans, or until almost doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190ºC. Brush the dough with cold water, and, if you like, make a slash in each loaf with a sharp knife. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped with the knuckles, top and bottom. When done, place the loaves directly on the oven rack, without their pans, to brown the bottom a little more and crisp the crusts. Cool on racks. 

(source: "Beard on Bread" 1973)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bread Baking Buddies bake a fantastic Round-up

Finally here's the round up of the February BBB recipe. Thanks for all your patience, sorry it took so long. Eight wonderful Bread Baking Buddies baked along this time. I guess it was a recipe that took a little tweaking and adjusting and that's just what everybody did. The Buddies have a little advantage, because some things that can or has to be changed, have already popped to the surface by the baking of the Rgaif by the Babes. Like the use of AP-flour, more salt (depending on the filling or meal they accompany), more olive oil when stretching them and given them a last rolling out before baking.

I think all your Ragaïf are an inspiration for us to make them another time, there are so many possibilities in filling, baking and serving them. Thanks so much for baking with us, it's been wonderful!

Paola ("Le mie ricette con e senza") made such amazing folded and baked Rgaíf. Ánd she was the only one who fried a few. And boy those look so delicious, a inspiring photo, which makes me want to make them again..and deep fry them!

Renee ("Kudos Kitchen") filled and folded her Rgaïf with two cheeses and pistachios...that just sounds so good. She wasn't completely satisfied by the way they look, but I think they're great. No danger of that precious cheese escaping!

Gilad ("Gilad Ayalon Vegan") baked these and his kids loved them so much they dissappeared in no time (the Rgaïf that is... not the kids!). He researched as a lot of you did and found the name "Msemmen" being the same thing.

Sandie ("Crumbs of love")  had a breeze stretching the dough very thin (as she practised making sfogliatelle a few weeks back! WOW), and they look the part.  A carrot filling, goatcheese with pistachios ánd one filled with strawberies  and a drizzle of chocolate sauce on top.... all sound equally delicious, well done.

Carola ("Sweet and that's it") made a delicious filling for some of her rgaïf: Sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and coconut oil... that sound just right for my sweet tooth! She also made some plain, but she preferred the filled ones!

Karen ("Karen's kitchen stories") made them without filling, but dipped them into the broth of a spicy mussel soup, now that sounds like a great idea! She had no problem stretching the dough, they look great Karen.

Claartje's  ("Claire's baking") filling also really appeals to me. It's simple, but very tasty: homemade garlic herb butter. Yes that is just  a real treat with a drink (before or after dinner), or with some soup. Delicious!

Dewi ("Elra's baking") has the baking talent running in the family because her sister made the recipe, and wow did she do a good job. They look so thin and lovely layered. Wonderful pictures of the beautiful hands shaping and making these Moroccan flatbreads. Great idea to make a meat filling, add a salad and have a complete meal!

And those are our fantastic Bread Baking Buddies this month. I think I have them all, if not and you've send in your entry but still are missing here, please send me a line and it'll be fixed!
Thank you all for baking with us and giving us ideas and inspiration for new fillings and ways to eat them. Hope to see you next month.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tarts for the Avid Baker's Challenge

This month we're baking Mushroom Cheddar tarts for the Avid Baker's Challenge. They were very good. I made some changes, I used Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I also made another filling with cherry tomatoes, olives and onion, because some of us don't like mushrooms or red pepper.

In the end I made 18 tarts.... and had quite a lot dough left. This because the filling was not enough to fill them all. Even though I had more mushrooms that I used in these tarts as well (that were meant to go on a pizza) ánd filled some of them with another filling as said. So that was not very handy. I also though the bottom wasn't as cooked as I liked it to be. I think I would rather bake the recipe as a large tart than all these little ones, just a bit too fussy for me, I just wasn't patient enough to make them all look cute and equal. But nice and delicious tarts.

Mushroom Cheddar Tarts: Recipe HERE