Friday, March 21, 2008

Celebration Breads

In the last week we have made two Celebration Breads, one for St. Patrick's Day and one for Easter. Amy used her Irish Soda Bread recipe from her mother for us to eat Monday. I made my first attempt in over 10 years at a braided Easter Bread. The braid tasted great, and looked pretty good after I figured out the right technique about a third of the way into braiding the loaf. Here's the recipe for the Soda Bread...
Irish Bread from Father Brian’s Mother

4 cups unbleached flour
3 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
6 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 stick of butter NOT oleo, softened
2-3 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins
1 tbsp caraway seeds

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in soft butter. Add seeds and raisins. Mix well. Add 2 cups buttermilk. Mix gently – if dry, add more buttermilk 1 tbsp at a time to make nice soft dough. It will be sticky.

Turn onto lightly floured board. Shape into round with floured hands. Cut a deep cross in top. Place in buttered 8 or 9 inch black fry pan or 8 or 9 inch layer cake tin – Not Glass. Bake at 350 degrees 45 min or until it tests done.

Some folks sift dry ingredients- my mom did – I never do.
Some folks use baking soda – I don’t, unless the buttermilk is fresh. I usually use buttermilk when it is thick and glops out of the container – about 3-4 weeks old. You can tell if it is going to be good, it actually “talks” to you when you are shaping it on board. You can “hear” it rising – truly.

Good Luck. Have the kettle up for tea, with plenty of butter and jam at the ready. Enjoy.
P.S. Try it toasted (not a conventional toaster) in toaster oven. It’s super, can also be frozen.

And a Picture...

...and some poorly composed, yet accurate shots of my braid.

I'm still trying to figure out not only how to make my blog posts look nice, but my bread photos. Anyway, the breads themselves look good. I chose to do the braid for my first entry in the Bread Baking Day #8 challenge, brought to us this month by Susan. The recipe I used is adapted from Daniel Leader's "Local Breads".

Czech Easter (or Christmas) Braid

Warm Whole Milk 213 g
Egg Yolks 2
Instant Yeast 5 g
AP Flour 304 g
Butter, Unsalted 50 g
Granulated Sugar 50 g
Sea Salt 6 g
Raisins 95 g

Egg Wash
Whole Egg 1
Granulated Sugar 50 g

1. Combine Egg Yolks and Milk in mixing bowl and stir to blend. Add yeast, flour, butter, sugar and salt and mix on Kitchenaid #2 to combine into a rough dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on Kitchenaid # 4 10-12 minutes (I did 12) until smooth and elastic. Scrape down the bowl and add raisins & knead until evenly distributed (took me 1 minute).
2. Ferment in a lightly oiled bowl for 1.5 to 2 hours until nearly doubled. It took 2 hours here in chilly Northern NY.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a rectangle.
4. Using a bench knife or chefs knife, cut into 3 even pieces.
5. Working from the center, roll into 12 inch dowels with your hands.
6. On a lightly oiled baking sheet, arrange the 3 dowels parallel to each other and press bottom ends together.
7. Braid them. I hope you know how to do this, because I am not good enough at it that I can visualize the process well enough to explain it coherently.
8. Proof in a warm place for about another 1.5 hours until they look light and pillowy.
9. Combine egg wash ingredients, mix well and brush the loaf with egg wash.
10. In a preheated 350 F oven, bake for about 40 minutes rotating at 15 minutes and checking at 30. The crust will be a deep, dark, golden brown and very shiny.

I sliced into it about 50 minutes after it came out of the oven and it was very nice. It definitely staled very quickly though so I'd eat it or freeze within less than 24 hours.

In other news, I made these Bavarian Pretzel Rolls

this morning for the restaurant where I am Chef and got paid for them and everything!
It's nice to do something you enjoy and get paid for it.

Darnit, I just looked at the post and I need to re-organize the photos. Can't do it right now; time to get ready for work.


Susan said...

Everything looks great! I imagine the braid, even if staled quickly, would make a lovely French toast. Thank you for participating in BreadBakingDay. Can you tell us the name of your restaurant -- in case anyone wants to come and try the pretzel rolls?

saffry said...

The restaurant is Maxfields in Potsdam, NY. Unfortunately there's no website where I can post the menu...besides this one I suppose. The rolls worked very nicely as a vehicle for Corned Beef and Red Cabbage Slaw with Swiss and T.I. Dressing. Thanks for the comment.


Dave said...

mmmmmmm, bread, you can just smell it through this monitor!