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bread

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon, sugar and butter between slices of dough and baked to a warm hue. How can you resist?

It looks all fancy schmancy, but it’s really simply to make. It’s the basic plain white bread dough. You just do a little bit of rolling, spreading and slicing. Shove it into a loaf pan, and then let time and the oven do its job. I’m one of those that believe that there is no such thing as too much cinnamon; so I’m not shy at all about how much I use.

And you know, this bread is pretty genius. You don’t have to bother slicing it – you just peel it apart slice by slice. It’s rather fascinating doing so – watching the slices come apart, as you get hit by a whiff of cinnamon. It’s joyful. It’s comforting. And then you bite into soft, pillowy, flavourful bread.

The cinnamon pull-apart bread is best had minutes after you’ve baked it. I baked two large loaf pans and didn’t have any leftovers. But if you do, then there is no better use of the bread than making yourself some French toast. Heaven on a plate.

Inspired from Joy the Baker, I made the cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread using my go-to soft white bread recipe (Don’t be fooled by its use in the pesto bread roll – that’s just how versatile this bread recipe is.)

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Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

February 9, 2011

Rosemary and Grape Focaccia

I recently rediscovering the joys of truly amazing extra virgin olive oil. Over the past week, there has been nothing I’d rather snack on late at night than slightly toasted bread, sprinkled with crunchy sea salt and doused in extra virgin olive oil.  After trying out the multi grain bread from Yazdani for a few days, I decided I’d make something fragrant, something slightly experimental.

I leafed through my current favourite bread book and stopped at focaccia (perfect, considering the Italy theme – Italian Bread, Italian Olive Oil, cooking in Italy). I thought I’d play a bit with the topping and decided on using grape and rosemary because the flavour pairing has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. This is surprising, because I’m not usually the type to experiment with fresh fruits in bread. I’d happily use dried berries and nuts, but fresh fruits? Not really. I suppose it was the thought of having bread mottled with purple juices from the grape that got me excited. I felt utterly proud of myself for having thought this up. But my moment lasted all of 30 seconds – for I found the grape-rosemary pair already mentioned in my beloved Flavour Thesaurus. (I hope to discover a flavour pairing not mentioned in the book, and then proudly email the author. One day.)

I call this a wannabe focaccia because although I had every intention of making a focaccia, I underestimated the dough’s rising capacity. I filled my pan with more dough than required,  thus resulting in a not-so-very-flat flatbread.

Rosemary and Grape Focaccia

I used the recipe from Artisan Breads Every Day (US | UK | India), and I suggest you get yourself a copy if you’d like to make your own bread – it’s a book with stunning recipes that don’t end up intimidating you. I’ve used this book several times (remember the chocolate and cinnamon babka, or the pesto bread rolls?) and I keep going back to it. I stuck to the focaccia recipe, except that I added a load of fresh black grapes, a sprinkling of dried rosemary, and a dusting of brown sugar (for a little browning) on top of the dough a few minutes before I popped the dish into the oven for baking. The instructions for the focaccia are a little more detailed to be replicated on the blog, but if you’d like, here is another recipe for focaccia.

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Pesto Bread Rolls

June 19, 2010

Pesto Bread Rolls

I’m thrilled with my second success of bread in a row, and that too with a new bread recipe instead of my go-to focaccia recipe. And I think I’d like to attribute the success to two things: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday and instant yeast. You’ve heard me sing praises of this book when I made the chocolate cinnamon babka, so I won’t go down that road. But instant yeast? It’s magical.

So, what are the properties of yeast and which yeast should you use? When compared with fresh cake yeast and active dry yeast, instant yeast wins by far. Here’s how:

  • You only need to use a small quantity of instant yeast to get the job done(usually 1/3rd of the commonly used cake yeast).
  • Instant yeast has much longer a shelf life, about a year, compared to about two weeks in the refrigerator for fresh yeast. I’ve bought a block of fresh cake yeast several times only to throw away most of it after a few weeks, so the long shelf life really helps. This makes it one of the most important advantages of instant yeast.
  • Instant yeast is also very easy to use. You don’t have to wait with baited bread breath for the yeast to dissolve in water and froth up.
  • It isn’t as pungent (read: less stinky) as active dry.
  • It results in a bread with an amazing texture.

Pesto Bread Rolls

To make the pesto rolls, I first started out with a white bread recipe, using extra virgin olive oil instead of regular. I made the whole recipe and divided it into two batches – one for today’s pesto rolls and the other for another day (the dough can be refrigerated for upto 4 days). And boy, even half the batch made many rolls – 24 to be precise. I made them in 3 pans (a 9 inch square pan, an 8 inch circular pan and a 4 inch springform pan) just to see how they would look in each of them. You can make it in a 9 x 13 inch pan to have it all in one place.

The problem with photographs is that they don’t really bring out the softness within this moist bread. You can rip this dinner roll into two so easily, yet it still retains some stickiness and substance. And the smell. Mmmm, the smell. You can sense the beautifully sweet smell of freshly made bread throughout the house. I would go so far as to say that this is the perfect dinner roll. You must make this bread as soon as can – you’re going to love it!

Pesto Bread Rolls

Pesto Bread Roll Recipe

Yield: 48 rolls
Adapted from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday (USAUK | India)

Bread:
1 tbsp /9g instant yeast
1 3/4th cup / 425g lukewarm milk (any kind)
6 1/4th cup / 794g unbleached bread flour (I used all-purpose)
2 tsp salt
5  1/2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp / 85g extra virgin olive oil
1 egg for the dough
1 egg for the eggwash

Pesto sauce recipe

  1. To make the dough, dissolve the yeast into the milk and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, add all the other ingredients and mix it up as you pour in the milk. Once the ingredients are evenly distributed, start kneading for 4-5 minutes until the dough is soft and supple.
  3. If you’re kneading using a KitchenAid, knead by hand after you’ve turned the dough out for 2 minutes. Divide into two, make into balls and place it into two bowls greased with oil and covered with cling film. You can refrigerate one bowl for later use and let the other batch rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
  4. Now roll out the dough into a 1/4th inch thick sheet and spread generously with pesto, making sure to stay away from the sides.
  5. Form a roll and cut with a sharp knife or a bench scraper and place the individual rolls into the baking tin. Make sure to leave some space between rolls, because they’re going to spread!
  6. Cover with a cloth or cling film so the bread doesn’t form a dry skin.
  7. Let the bread rise again for about an hour.
  8. A little before baking, brush the top of the bread with eggwash  (1 egg + 2 tbsp water or milk) to get a gorgeous golden hue.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 15-20 minutes.

I was hoping to have these dinner rolls for, well, dinner, along with some nice soup or pasta. But *somebody* polished off the entire 9 inch pan of the bread by mid-day. Lesson learnt: Do not ever keep pesto dinner rolls out in the open for anyone to see, smell, or touch before time; they won’t last.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

Rejoice yeast-o-phobes! I have found the perfect recipe to convert you.

I am one anxious person when I’ve to make bread. I’m never sure if a new recipe I try will work out. Will it rise? Will it get a nice brown crust? Will it smell too yeasty (answer to this: I used to think mixing instant yeast with warm water to start the fermenting would be a good idea, turns out, it does the same job when added to the flour, just a lot less stinky dough).

Babkas originated in Eastern Europe and in several Jewish settlements, though in my mind they were popularised on Seinfeld (The Dinner Party). Jerry and Elaine miss out on the last wonderful chocolate babka, and have to settle for a cinnamon babka. Chocolate vs cinnamon – that’s a tough spot to be in, isn’t it? To eliminate this predicament once and for all, and in honour of this wonderful Seinfeld episode, I decided to make “Jerry and Elaine’s Chocolate Cinnamon Babka”.

The chocolate cinnamon babka recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday looked too good to be true, so just as a precaution, I halved the recipe. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t because this was so soft and chocolatey and delicious. (I’ve given the full recipe here).

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

So why is this recipe so good?  Glad you asked. This chocolate cinnamon babka starts with all the familiar things of making a cake that puts you at ease instantly… cream the butter and the sugar together, add the egg yolks one at a time and then the flour… See? And before you know it, you’ve added the yeast mixed into milk and the dough has beautifully come together! A golden yellow dough (read rich dough full of butter, eggs and sugar!) results and you’re half way through making your bread.

Now you just have to let it rest for about 2 hours (or you can refrigerate it overnight, just make sure to pull it out 2 hours before you want to bake it).  Next, roll it out and spread it with dark chocolate and cinnamon. Roll it. Twist it. Bake it!

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

And of course, the flavour possibilities with this bread are endless: cinnamon sugar, white chocolate vanilla and (I’m thinking we might get some of the caramelised white chocolate goodness that David Lebovitz raves about), Nutella (!), chocolate with sliced almonds, pistachios, etc. and maybe even some fruits – fresh as well as dried?

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

Chocolate Cinnamon Babka Recipe

Adapted from: Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday (OMG, I love this book!) (USA | UK | India)

Makes 1 really large loaf or two medium sized loaves.

Bread:
2 tbsp / 19g instant yeast
3/4th cup / 170g lukewarm milk
6 tbsp / 85 butter
6 tbsp / 85g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3 ½ cup / 425g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Filling:
1 ½ cups / 225g dark chocolate, coarsely grated
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4th cup / 55g butter
  1. Whisk the yeast into lukewarm milk and set aside for about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a KitchenAid, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth.
  3. Add the yolks to the bowl, one at a time, mixing constantly for 30 seconds between each addition.  Add the vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour and salt and continue to mix until it all comes together.
  5. Now mix in the milk + yeast mixture and let it mix until it forms a soft dough.
  6. Knead by hand for another 2-3 minutes. You will have a soft, supple and golden dough.
  7. Let this rise for about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight, making sure to remove it from the fridge two hours before baking.
  8. For the filling: mix the chocolate, butter and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  9. Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a sheet with a thickness of 1/8th to 1/4th inch. Make sure to keep it dusted well with flour at all times, else it might stick.
  10. Spread the chocolate mixture over it.
  11. Roll the sheet of dough and then pinch the seams to seal it. Roll it to a length of about 24 inches. Either you can keep it this big if you’d like a big loaf, or cut it into half for two medium loaves.
  12. For the gorgeous twisty shape, cut the log down the middle lengthwise, making sure to keep the top end attached. Twist over each other to get the braided look.
  13. Now you need to let if prove for another 2 hours, but I skipped this step because I overlooked it. Turns out, you too can totally skip it, if you’re short on time.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and bake for 15-20 minutes for medium sized and 20-25 minutes for the large loaf.
  15. The babka tends to brown quickly because of the high(er) sugar content, but you shouldn’t worry. It tastes fab!
  16. Cool for an hour (painful) or eat it right away (delightful!)
  17. The bread stays good for 2-3 days in an airtight box.

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