Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bread Baking Babes in November

Wow can't believe this month went by so fast it's already time again for the Bread Baking Babes challenge. And what a challenge!! Our 'wild yeast' Susan though we should try and get creative with bread dough. Fitting the season (though we don't have Thanksgiving here in the Netherlands of course) we were challenged to make a Cornucopia, the horn of plenty. It's made with light and dark decorative dough from the Hamelman book. And as I'm baking my way through the book with the Mellow Bakers (and this one is not on the 'official to-do-list') is had Yes written all over it.

There are more ways to make the cornucopia. You can roll strands and wind them around a cone while it's upright and then lay it down to bake. I decided to go a little fancy and used the woven dough that is also in the Hamelman book. (if you're brave and want to do this, use twice the amount of dark dough from the recipe). The weaving itself went alright, even though the strands got thinner and thinner because they got stretched by lifting them up all the time.

Then the dough had to be placed around the cone.... easier said than done! The dough mat was very heavy and gravity takes control when you try to lift it, let alone place it around the cone, which was slippery. You really need to be an octopus to get it neat and tidy and as I only have two hands (sometimes just left ones), it sagged down and wasn't beautifully round. No great curve at the end, which is caracteristic for the horn, either. By working fast and getting it on the baking tray further drama's were prevented and bad parts could be disguised by the filling (made with the left over dough) and the right photo angle.

Light Yeasted Decorative Dough
(Adapted from Bread, A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, by Jeffrey Hamelman.)
Yield: 1500 g (more than enough for one 12-inch and one 6-inch cornucopia)
•875 g flour
•481 g water
•3.5 g (1-1/8 t.) instant yeast
•13 g (2-1/3 t.) salt
•44 g milk powder
•39 g sugar
•44 g butter, softened

1.In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook, or a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
2.Mix on low mixer speed, or by hand, until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
3.Continue mixing on medium speed, or by hand, until the gluten is very well-developed.
4.Use the dough immediately, working with small portions at a time and keeping the remainder of the dough refrigerated.

Dark Yeasted Decorative Dough
Feel free to scale this down, since you'll only need a small amount if using it as an accent. However, small amounts may be difficult to mix effectively in a stand mixer. * If you're making the woven basket, you'll need twice this amount of dark dough.
Yield: 500 g

•276 g flour
•15 g sifted cocoa powder
•162 g water
•1.2 g (generous 1/3 t.) instant yeast
•4 g (2/3 t.) salt
•15 g milk powder
•13 g sugar
•15 g butter, softened

The method is the same as for the light dough above.

Before mixing the dough, prepare your form. Roll a rectangle of poster board or other light but sturdy cardboard into a cone, securing it with tape. Trim it so the mouth is even and it more or less stands up straight (a little off-kilter is fine).

Cover the cone with foil. (The foil is optional, but it helps the form release more easily from the baked dough.) Stuff the form with crumpled foil or paper to help it maintain its shape. Foil is firmer. To keep the stuffing from falling out, I stapled a piece of parchment paper across the mouth.
Spray the form with baking spray or oil. Stand it up on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
(Note: because the woven dough is very heavy, Hamelma advises to brush it with egg white, wait until it's sticky and then place the dough mat around it.)
Now mix the dough(s), refrigerating it immediately, removing small pieces to work with as you need them.

Preheat the oven to 360F (180C).

To form the rim, roll two strands of dough and twist them together like rope. For my 12-inch cornucopia, each strand was 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter.
Wrap the rope around the bottom of the upright form overlapping the ends and pressing them together slightly.
Roll another strand of dough, again 1/2 to 3/4 inch, tapering the ends. Coil it continuously around the form until you run out. Then repeat with more pieces, overlapping the tapered ends slightly. I didn't worry about making all of the joins in the back, as I think the overlaps add to the rustic appeal of the piece. Make sure each tier lies on top of the one underneath it with no gaps (although small gaps are okay; they will fill in as the dough expands a little during baking).
When you get to the top of the cone, continue the coil just a bit further and curve it a little to form the tail.
Carefully lay the cornucopia down on the baking sheet so that the rim seam is on the underside.

Make an egg wash by lightly beating together one whole egg, a splash of water, and a pinch of salt. Brush the cornucopia lightly and evenly with the egg wash, reaching as far to the underside as you can without lifting it up.
Bake initially for 30 – 45 minutes. This should set the dough enough to hold its shape when the form is removed. Removing the form helps the inside dry out much faster. Tongs are helpful if you can't grab it well. At this point, or any further point in the baking, if the cornucopia has reached the color you want it, cover it with foil , leaving the mouth open.

Return it to the oven to bake for another 30 – 45 minutes. Then turn off the oven, leave door slightly ajar, and let the cornucopia stay in there until it is quite dry inside, another hour or two. If your oven cools down very quickly, you may need to leave it turned on at a low temperature instead of turning it off completely. The exact baking/drying time will depend on the size of your piece.

Check out the other babes (links in the side bar) for other results and methods. Wanna be seasonal and bake a wonderful Cornucopia with us??? Send your details to Susan, so she can send you the Buddy Badge and add your entry in the round up. Deadline for sending your Horn of Plenty in: 29th of this month.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Lien you blow my mind! Really fabulous.
I'm now three breads behind and can't tell you how I'm missing baking bread with everybody.
Next month I'll be home and baking again.

Rosemary & Garlic said...

love the wheat. Beautiful.

Baking Soda said...


En wat goed van je met die slide show, ik snapte er al niets van hoe je dat had gedaan... wat een briljant idee om zo te weven.

It's so beautiful Lien, amazing really!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Your weaving skills are remarkable! Such a beautiful cornucopia. Brava!

Anonymous said...

Geweldig mooi Lien. Knap hoor!
Groetjes Wil V

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Your woven dough is just stunning. Sorry it was so unwieldy to work with, but you'd never know it from the photos. Awesome!

Elizabeth said...

I can't get over how beautiful this is, Lien. And what a great slide show to depict how to do the weaving.

And from the photos, it really looks like the basket turned out perfectly. Bravissima!

Elle said...

Love the slide show with the march of the weaving...but am in AWE of the whole cornucopia with that supurb woven dough and lovely marbles inside it. WoW!

katiez said...

I'm in awe! Absolutely gorgeous. Live the dark and light together!

koken in de buurt said...

hm, 't principe is eigenlijk gewoon als bij een "gewoon" weefgetouw, toch?
Erg leuk om te maken. Die van jou is echt heel prachtig geworden - pricewinning material!