Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BBB Auberge Walnut Bread

I'll admit this beautiful loaf caused me some frustration.  Not because it was difficult to make, but because it had a streak of lemming in it.  But sometimes you just have to suck it up and realize that everyone has had a baked good take a swan dive at least once.  Oh and if you haven't, don't be smug, it will happen eventually!  Some very unladylike words made it out of my mouth when that thing did a back flip off the peel.  I guess I was loud enough in my proclamations of calamity that hubby came running down the stairs to find out if I was okay.  Yes.  No.  Damn it, now I'm going to have to make another one.  There is no way I am putting a broken loaf on my post.  Well, at least not for the main picture.  I have to include it at least because misery loves company right?  Maybe at the very end of the post.

The next one came out beautifully, though I did take a few liberties with the second batch.  I decided to add some chopped deglet noor dates to the filling, and I used muscovado sugar instead of honey because I am almost out of honey.  I also stuck with the water and powdered milk instead of scalding milk as I did for the first batch.  I did use the powdered whole goat milk at least.  Feel free to use scalded milk in place of the water and milk powder in this bread.  Oh, and I think I added a big spoonful of sourdough starter just for the heck of it, while reducing the water.

It really turned out pretty!  The whole milk made a nice subtle glaze.  This recipe makes 2 large loaves and I reduced the recipe by half to make only one.  I loved hearing about the memories in the perfume infused cookbook from which it came.  Our host kitchen this month, Elizabeth of blog from OUR kitchen, remembered that her father in law used to have an orchard of walnuts up until recently.  If you have a love of walnuts, please bake along with us!  I think you could even get away with pecans, that would be fabulous.  If you do bake it, take a picture, post about it and email your results to our host kitchen before the 29th and you will be included in the Buddy round up.

Walnut Wholewheat Bread
based on recipes for Le Pain de Noix in Auberge of the Flowering Hearth by Roy Andries de Groot and Pane di Noci in The Italian Baker by Carol Field
makes 2 loaves

2 cups walnut halves, toasted
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted, grated or finely chopped
1¾ cups very hot water (or use same amount scalded milk and omit milk powder)
½ cup skim milk powder (I used whole goat's milk powder, second batch)
2½ Tbsp butter
2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp powdered ginger
4 Tbsp dark honey
~5 c flour (the original recipe called for 3c white bread and 3 c whole wheat but that seemed like too much. We switched to the equivalent of 2c white and 3c whole wheat.)  (I used 33% each sprouted spelt, white spelt and all purpose flour)
¼ cup water at ~98ºF2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp milk or cream for brushing during baking

Whisk together the milk powder and hot water.  Add in the butter, honey, salt and powdered ginger and whisk until the butter has melted and the honey is incorporated.  Add flours and chopped walnuts.  Rehydrate the yeast in the ¼ cup lukewarm water.  Make sure that the milk mixture has cooled to no more than body temperature and mix in the dissolved yeast.  Stir it all together with a wooden spoon to make a rough dough.

Knead by hand or with a stand mixer until the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky.  (I left mine just slightly sticky.)

Cover the bowl and allow to proof in a draft-free area until the dough has doubled.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in two. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes. After resting, flatten each ball into a rectangular disc and evenly divide the walnut halves on top, pressing the nuts in slightly.  Roll each piece of dough to form a log. Join the ends to make a ring and place each log seam side down on the parchment paper. Cover and allow to rise in a draft-free area until the rings have almost doubled.  (First batch I followed these directions, second batch, I made a round disk and poked a wooden spoon through the middle to make a hole, then gently widened the hole.  Then I realized I couldn't exactly roll up the walnuts like a log.  So I flattened it again, keeping the hole in the middle, sprinkled on the walnuts and chopped dates this time and folded up the outside edges into the middle and sealed.  I ended up with a prettier ring, but less evenly dispersed filling.)  One suggestion is to place the loaf in a ring mold with walnuts along the bottom.  I pressed raw walnut halves firmly into the top of my ring before it rose and that worked beautifully.  They toast in the oven.

Just before putting the bread in the oven, spray the tops liberally with water. Put the bread into the oven and immediately turn the temp down to 350ºF. After 30 minutes, brush the tops of the loaves with milk or cream, then continue baking for about 10 more minutes until the loaves are nicely browned and have reached an internal temperature of 200-210ºF (the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom). Remove the bread from the oven.
Allow the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into it.

This bread is dying for a spread of soft cheese and maybe a small slice of quince jam.

Oh, and do be careful when taking the bread out to glaze it because I swear it wants to try out for the Olympic diving team...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Strawberry Lemon Trifle with Homemade White Cake


This is the second time I've made this white cake and I love it!  A very simple recipe, standard creaming method, and you get a nice tender, yet firm cake.  It reminds me of typical wedding cake base.  We used it for hubby's birthday cake and everyone loved it.  This time I needed it for a luncheon for which I was donating a trifle.  I wanted something lighter, with fresh, not cooked fruit like you would find in an English trifle.  I debated making a custard, but decided to stick with whipped cream.  Strawberries were the easiest fruit for me since they hold up well and have great color.  And since I started making my lemon curd in the blender, it is even easier than before and guaranteed no straining necessary, so I flavored part of the cream with that.  Trifles are infinitely customizable, so you could choose whatever fruit and cream combination you desired.  Lemon curd is optional but delicious!  I made the cake and curd ahead and froze the cake for a couple days.  Thawed the cake the night before and dessert assembly was easy the next morning.  Just whip, fold, cut and layer.  I ended up with enough ingredients to fill my 8-inch trifle bowl and two mini trifles, so this recipe would probably work for a punch bowl sized trifle.

Go To White Cake
makes 1 9x13" cake (or about 2 dozen cupcakes)

1¾ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
¼ cup un-hydrogenated shortening
 1½ cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
5 large egg whites
¾ cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a 9x13" baking dish with parchment and grease the bare ends with butter.  

Whisk together the flour, starch, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.  

In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the butter and shortening until combined.  

Add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  

Scrape down edges, add extracts and mix again.  

Add the egg whites, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Scrape the sides if needed.  

On low speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the milk.  Start and end with the flour.

Scrape batter into pan and smooth top with an offset spatula.  Rap the pan on counter a few times to minimize bubbles in the batter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until lightly golden and a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Loosen the edges with a knife and turn cake out onto wire rack.  Remove parchment and allow to cool completely.

Decorate as desired.  (Cakes are easier to frost when they have chilled or settled for a few hours or overnight.  Wrap or cover when cool, to prevent drying out.)  Cupcakes will bake in 18-20 minutes and may be frosted when cool.

To Assemble a Trifle
makes one large trifle or 1 medium and two mini
1 recipe white cake (or pound cake or angel food cake)
1 batch or jar lemon curd (7-8oz or more to taste)
2 pints heavy whipping cream
3 16oz pkg fresh strawberries  (Save a few for garnish)
1-2 cups powdered sugar (depends on how sweet the strawberries are)

Wash and hull the strawberries and allow to dry.  Set aside a few for garnish.  Take 1 cup of strawberries and mash or blend with ¼ cup sugar or as needed.  Whip one pint of the cream with ¼-½ cup powdered sugar and stir a dollop into the lemon curd in a medium bowl to lighten.  Then fold in the remaining cream and set aside.  Whip the next pint of cream and sweeten with ½-1 cup powdered sugar.  Fold in the mashed strawberries and set aside.  Cut the cake into small cubes.  The smaller the trifle bowl, the smaller the cubes.

Slice the remaining strawberries and toss with up to ½ cup sugar as needed.  Let sit for a few minutes.
Now layer the cream, cake, and berries, in repeating layers as desired, until you reach the top of the bowl.  I did lemon cream, cake, berries, strawberry cream, cake, berries and then garnished with strawberry cream in the middle and sliced, fanned berries, with the lemon cream piped around the edge.

Refrigerate until serving, up to two hours.  If longer, cover with plastic wrap or a lid, to keep the cream from gathering off flavors in the fridge.

Serve with a large serving spoon or scoop. 

Wow, looks like they liked it!  Just a scoop or two left and that was a full dessert buffet along with a full BBQ buffet!  That always makes me happy, I love feeding people.