Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pain au Levain with Whole Grains, Citrus and Herbs - BBB

I cheated on my low-carb diet with this bread.  Was it worth it?  Yep.  Not sorry.  So good.  Not much beats fresh bread with butter, especially when it has such lovely flavor.  Worth the double workouts.  It's an extended time recipe, which is what gives it such good flavor, but not too much hands on time, which makes it relatively easy.  Everyone in the house loved this bread.  Pain au Levain can be considered a "sandbox bread" I suppose, a basic (perfectly simple, yet flavorful on its own!) structure upon which to build whatever flavor you imagine.  The only rules for this loaf were that it include at least 30% whole grain flour of our choice, and some combination of citrus and herbs and/or seeds.
I chose lemon zest and lime thyme for the main components.  I originally wanted to add in some cooked millet for my seeds but am apparently out right now.  So I looked through my fridge stash and found some pine nuts and pepitas from previous recipes and decided they would do nicely.  A little rosemary to round it out and my flavoring was done.

Next time I will try the millet or just use toasted pepitas.  The pine nuts are good, but I like them even better toasted on the top of bread than within it.  They are so rich that they don't stay crunchy when baked inside the loaf.  Regardless, this was super tasty.  Very moist and chewy crumb, without being too chewy.  I chose Kamut and Spelt for my whole grains and ground them fresh with just a cursory sifting of the largest bran pieces.  I really like the flavor of the Kamut in particular, and the properties it gives to bread dough in combination with spelt.  It really is delicious straight up, but this bread would make excellent sandwiches.  I can see clubs, paninis, egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, all being very happy on this bread!

We would love for you to join in as a buddy baker this month! You don't have to have a blog to participate, a picture will do.  Just send a picture or your post of your finished bread to the host kitchen by the 29th of this month.  You will receive a Bread Baking Buddy graphic to keep or add to your post, and be included in our Buddy round up at the end of the month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th.  Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Citrus Scented Pain au Levain with Herbs and Seeds
Makes 1 Very Large Loaf or 2 Medium Loaves

This bread will take 2-3 days, depending on how long you let it cold ferment, but is flexible as to timing.  Adapted from From the Wood-Fired Oven by Richard Miscovich

Levain: *
227 g | 1½ cups + ½ cup all-purpose flour
227 g | scant 1 cup + 2 Tbsp water
45 g | 3 Tbsp liquid sourdough starter
499 total grams **

* If you don’t have or don’t want to use a sourdough starter, you can make an overnight poolish. In that case, you will need to add a bit of yeast (about 2%) to the final dough.
** The total weight of the levain is 499 g. You are supposed to remove 45 g of sourdough to keep as your starter for future use which would leave 454 g of levain. If you choose to use all of the levain, just adjust the final dough accordingly.  (I added the extra back to my sourdough.)

Final Dough:
400 g all-purpose flour 
290 g whole wheat flour (baker’s choice) (I used 200g sprouted Kamut and 90g Spelt)
375-500 g water + 25-50 grams (to mix with salt) *** (I used 400g and then 30g for my flours)
14-17 g fine sea salt (I used 14 but would use 16 next time as the herb/seed mixture added  sweetness)
1-2 Tbsp Citrus zest, or as desired (I used the zest of one lemon)
20 g chopped herbs, or to taste (I used fresh lime thyme and rosemary from my garden)
150 g seeds, or to taste (I used ½ cup each toasted pepitas and pine nuts)

*** Adjust the hydration according to the type/blend of flour used. The addition of whole wheat flour makes the dough thirsty and the coarser the blend, the more water it soaks up.

Day 1:  In the evening – Mix the Levain or Poolish

Mix water and starter together in a large bowl. Add in flours and mix until fully hydrated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature overnight or for 8-10 hours.

Day 2:  Mix the Final Dough/Shape Loaves:

Add the water to the levain and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or whisk to disperse.  Whisk the flours together and add to the water/levain mixture.  (Reserve the salt until after the autolyse.)  Mix thoroughly using a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon to begin developing the gluten.

Add the citrus zest, seeds and/or herbs. Mix thoroughly using your hands. (I forgot to add them the first 20 minutes, so I folded them in with stretch and folds later.)  Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle the salt over the top and dissolve it with the 25-50 grams of water.  Use your fingers to pinch the dough to incorporate the salt evenly throughout.

Cover and let the dough bulk ferment for 120 minutes.  Stretch twice, every 40 minutes. (I ended up doing three stretches.)

Divide the dough, pre-shape, and then it rest (covered) for 20 minutes before final shaping to allow the gluten to relax.  Heavily dust two lined or un-lined bannetons with rice flour and place an optional sprig or two of thyme or rosemary at the bottom of the basket. (Couldn't find my rice flour, again.  Grain mill to the rescue!)  What I have found works very well for flouring proofing baskets is to spray lightly with a mist of water before flouring with the rice flour.  My dough pops right out with no sticking that way.

Shape the dough into an oval or round shape and place seam-side up in the baskets.  If you don’t have a proofing basket, place the loaf seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet to proof. Cover and proof for about 30 minutes at room temperature.  Place in the refrigerator to cold ferment overnight, 8-10 hours.

Day 3: Bake the Loaves

Place a baking stone or steel on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 450ºF for at least 45 minutes.  If you plan to use steam, place a steam pan on the top shelf.  Alternately, instead of baking the loaves on a baking stone with a steam pan, you could bake them in a preheated bread cloche, Dutch oven or Dutch oven combo baker.  I used steam. 

When the oven is sufficiently preheated, remove the loaves from the refrigerator.  Carefully invert the loaves from the proofing baskets (if used) onto parchment paper or a heavily dusted peel.  Score the loaves as desired.  Slide them onto the preheated baking stone or steel (if using) and bake for 35-45 minutes.  A larger loaf will take longer.

Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes:

Approximate nutrition for one ¾" thick slice of bread as prepared here:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mini Lemon Bar Tarts

I love my mom's lemon bars.  They are the best.  But they're not exactly transport and finger friendly.  You can take them to a potluck fine because there are plates.  But sharing at work or informal get together, church, whatever venue without plates, makes them a bit too messy.  I wanted to make a portable, bite sized, finger friendly version of mom's lemon bars.  I like tassies, specifically pecan tassies, because I like the ratio of crust to filling.  But in this case I did not want a tassie crust, which is a cream cheese pastry crust.  I wanted the shortbread-like crust of the bars.  And I definitely did not want a sugar cookie crust, which is all I found when I went looking for mini lemon bar tarts.  Lots and lots of lemon cookie cups.  Well that's just too sweet.  Lemon bars, in my opinion, should have a rich crust with just a hint of sweetness, and nice a puckery, sweet-tart filling.  I cannot abide a lemon or lime bar with a sweet, bland filling that tries to pass itself off as citrus based.  Blech.  So here is what I came up with, using my favorite-of-all-time lemon curd (10 minutes from blender to done), and a short crust that is just like the bar, but finger food friendly.

The dough should not be crumbly when done, but easy to mold and form into a ball in your hands without sticking to them.  The way I measure, 2¼ cups was perfect, but when my mom tried, it wasn't quite enough flour and we needed just a couple tablespoons more.  She lightens and spoons into the cup and then levels off.  I spoon but do not lighten much.  Next time I make these I will weigh my flour and put weights in for consistency.

I love how these tarts turned out!  Really not much more work than a batch of bars, and so cute!  Not to mention portion controlled.  They were well appreciated by all who tried them and disappeared quickly.  Hubby's work team loved them as well.  I think the comment was made that I could make more any time.  Soon.  Please.  They were the favorite of the four things I sent in and had no leftovers.

The curd recipe makes enough for all the tarts, plus enough for spreading on a couple scones or muffins.  And it really is a brilliant lemon curd.  Definitely my favorite of all time.  You can halve the recipe for the crust.  I haven't tried a half batch of the curd but it should work if careful with the heat.

Mini Lemon Bar Tarts
makes 4 dozen

cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup butter
¼ cup sugar
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 egg yolks

Lemon curd:
makes about 2 cups

6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest (use organic lemons please to avoid pesticides)

Extra powdered sugar for garnish

For the curd:
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and no butter grains show, a few minutes. Pour into a saucepan and cook over low-med until thickened.  If using a thermometer it should be done around 170ºF.  It will thicken noticeably and coat the back of a spoon.  Do not boil.

Transfer to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming.  Chill until ready to use.  Will keep up to a week in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Combine flour, salt, soda, and cream of tartar in a bowl and set aside.  In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, and lemon zest.  Mix in the yolks.  Gradually add the flour until the dough comes together into a loose ball.  It should be firm enough to roll into balls without sticking to the hands. 

Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners.  Using a small cookie scoop, portion into scant tbsp sized balls and press into the liners.  I used the floured end of my marble pestle, it was perfectly sized.  You can use a wooden muddle, large wooden spoon handle, or there are tart tampers made for the purpose of pressing mini tarts.  You can also just press down with your thumb.

Bake crusts for 10 minutes and remove from oven.  They will have puffed up a little.  Refresh the holes in the crust shells with the end of your tamper (don't use your thumb this time, they are hot), and fill with a generous teaspoon of lemon curd.  Return to the oven and bake for another 6-8 minutes.

Remove baking tins from oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the tarts carefully and finish cooling on the wire rack.  I found a seafood pick worked well to get them out, a bamboo skewer would also work well.  They are delicate when warm, so be gentle removing them.

When cool and ready to serve, dust with a little powdered sugar for garnish.  Don't do this too far ahead or the filling may absorb the sugar after a few hours.

Approximate nutrition per tart: