Friday, April 16, 2021

Olive Oil Wreath #BBB

Welcome to the April Bread Baking Babes bake!  This month, Karen's Kitchen Stories has chosen a beautiful olive oil wreath that is cut in the style of a French Pain D’Epi wheat stalk bread.  I took a cue from a youtube epi shaping video and pressed nigella seeds (charnushka) into the cut edges for some contrast and I love how it turned out.  Plus I really like the flavor from the nigella.  This toothsome loaf is just begging to be dipped into soup or stew, spread with butter, or dipped into an herbed olive oil with a splash of balsamic vinegar!  It tears into hearty rolls with a really nice chew to them.

Karen suggests using a hearty and fruity extra virgin olive oil in the dough.  I used my favorite fresh and fruity arbequina olive oil.  Naturally I didn't read through the recipe well and made the full biga which makes more than is needed for one loaf, so I adjusted the final dough amounts to incorporate the whole thing.  (I don't like leftover starter aside from my sourdough if I don't have specific baking plans.)  Of course I ended up calculating for the whole biga and adjusting too much out and then having to add back in for the 100g.  No biggie, it all works out in the dough!  I did work my dough enough to window pane the gluten because I wanted to be sure the wheat stalks had good definition.  At least that's what I was hoping for!

We would love for you to try this beautifully shaped bread and bake along with us this month!  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished flatbread to our host by the 29th of this month.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.


 Olive Oil Wreath
makes 1 wreath

(makes enough for two loaves)
125g (¾ cup plus 2½ tbsp) AP flour
1.5g (½ tsp) instant yeast
83g (¼ cup plus 1½ tbsp) water, 75 to 80º F

Mix the biga ingredients in a stand mixer at the lowest speed for one minute or by hand until evenly combined.  It will be sticky.  Cover and let sit for 10 to 18 hours.

(Leftover biga can be refrigerated for up to 3 days to make more loaves.)

Final dough:
100g (¼ cup plus 3½ tbsp) of the biga
285g (1 cup plus 3½ tbsp) 75 to 80º F water
60g (¼ cup plus 2 tsp) extra virgin olive oil (I only used 50g)
10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
500g (3½ cups plus 1 tbsp) all purpose flour
15g (2½ tsp) salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the 100g biga, water, olive oil, and yeast and mix on low for about 30 seconds, until the biga is broken up.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add it to the yeast mixture and and stir with a spoon or dough whisk until the flour is fully moistened. Then, mix with the dough hook for about 8-10 minutes.  (I worked mine longer to develop the gluten and did no hand kneading.)

Curious boy being curious.
It really is a delightful dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and briefly knead by hand.  Place back in the bowl and cover with a damp towel or oiled wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for 1 to 2 hours until more than doubled and quite puffy.


Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and fully deflate the dough.  Fold in the edges on all sides and shape the dough into a ball.  Place it seam side down on the work surface and gently push the dough against the work surface in a circular motion to tighten the top.  Pull the dough toward you to stretch the dough into an oval and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a 1½ x 42 inch long piece. To do this turn the dough over, seam side up and pull the dough into a rectangle shape. Fold the longer sides over each other like an envelope. Gently roll the dough with your hands to lengthen the rope. Let it rest for about 10 minutes if the dough resists.

Prepare a 14 inch cast iron pan, pizza pan, or large cookie sheet with spray oil or baking parchment. Gently place the dough on the pan or parchment and form it into a circle, overlapping the ends and pinching to seal well.  Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap or a damp cloth and set the dough in a warm spot and let rise for 1 to 1½ hours, until it passes the finger dent test.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450º F.  Set up a steam pan on the lowest rack on the lowest and a baking stone if using on the middle.

Using scissors, cut partially through the dough at a 45º angle from the top and move the cut dough to one side. Cut almost but not all of the way through. Continue to make more cuts, every 3 inches, and move the cut dough pieces to alternating sides until you go around the wreath.  Don't cut from the sides, cut from the top.  (Cutting at the 45ºangle gives a nice, medium wheat ear with a point.  Cutting more shallow and longer slices will give a longer and narrower ear with a strong point.  Cutting closer to perpendicular would only yield a round leaf.)

Place the pan or parchment (using a peel or baking sheet) with the shaped dough onto the stone and add 1 cup of ice cubes to the steamer pan. Immediately close the oven door and reduce the heat to 400º F.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.

Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and let cool slightly before serving. 

 The rest of the Bread Baking Babes


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Sweet wheat braid #BreadBakers

This month our Bread Bakers host, A Day in the Life on the Farm, has chosen whole grain breads as our theme.  This was just perfect for me as I have been meaning to make this recipe again for some time.  Did you ever find a recipe, pin it, make it, like it, and then go back to find out the original post is gone?  It has happened to me more than once.  Most of the time I have been able to find either an archived copy, or someone else that made it and actually included the recipe and not just a link back.  I have started just making word files of the recipes I am not willing to lose if the original blog disappears!  Anyway, this was one of those recipes.  It makes such a gorgeous braid!  In fact, the original recipe makes three large braids.  One large braid is more than sufficient for us, though I have included the original batch quantities at the bottom of this post.  It also originally called for agave, but that is super bad for me with its exceptionally high ratio of fructose, so I go with honey.  Feel free to use either.

This is originally written to use white whole wheat, (that is whole wheat flour ground from hard white wheat), but it also works with kamut or regular red whole wheat.  I love flax in my bread for a little nutty flavor, but feel free to omit that if you don't have any.  Oh, don't be misled by the name of the bread, this is not an overtly "sweet" loaf, definitely not what you would think of as a typical sweet dough.  It turns out perfect for a wide variety of uses from sweet to savory.

Sweet Wheat Braid
makes one large braid 
112 tsp active dry or instant yeast
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (38g) lukewarm water
14 tsp sugar (omit for instant yeast)
23 cup (151g) milk
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp 38g (38g) butter
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (30g) non hydrogenated shortening
1 tsp (5.5g) salt
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (56g) honey
23 cup (80g) all purpose flour or bread flour
213- 212 cups (264-282.5g) white whole wheat flour, divided
1 tbsp golden flax seed, ground (optional)
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 egg + 1 tbsp water for egg wash

For the dough:

If using active dry yeast, dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar in mixing bowl.  Let stand 10 minutes until foamy.  If using instant yeast, mix yeast directly into flour.

In a small pot, heat up milk to just under a boil to scald.  Add butter, shortening, salt, and honey, and stir until butter and shortening are melted. Cool to lukewarm.

Mix together the bread or all purpose flour, flax seed (if using), half of the white whole wheat flour, yeast, milk mixture and egg + yolk.  Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed with paddle attachment.

Using the dough hook, gradually knead in enough of remaining white whole wheat flour to make soft dough. Knead dough 8 to 10 minutes by hand or with dough hook, until the dough is well developed, smooth and elastic.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 to 1½ hours).

Turn out the dough and divide into three equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a 16-17" rope. Place the 3 ropes parallel to each other, pinch together at the top and loosely braid the lengths.  Pinch and turn the ends under the loaf to seal.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water.  Carefully brush on loaves to cover entire surface.

Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 30 to 35 minutes, covering loosely with foil for the last 10-15 minutes to prevent over-browning. 
This is a versatile dough that can be used for dinner rolls, cinnamon bread, and even shaped breads.

A tip from the original post: to keep the bottom from over-browning, add a second baking sheet under the first one about 20 minutes into the bake.  (I use air-bake sheets so it is almost never an issue for me.)

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.


 And don’t forget to check out all the amazing breads baked by our talented bakers. 

(For a TRIPLE batch:)

  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packages Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup honey or agave
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 7 to 7-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg plus 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Must try this with honey...

Oh yes, turned out fab, did no-knead method overnight in big bucket in fridge.  Gorgeous braids.
This is the original picture from the community forum post that
disappeared years ago.  So glad I found an archived copy!


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Instant Pot Tomato Soup

I have a confession to make.  I like condensed tomato soup.  Campbell's Tomato soup was a childhood staple but I haven't had it in years because of the high fructose corn syrup and our corn sensitivities.  Who else had grilled cheese and tomato soup as a standard school lunch or just comfort food lunch?  I have tried many tomato soup recipes over the years and just not been happy with them.  Well I finally found a recipe that makes me happy, my hubby happy, the kids happy, and I don't need to ever worry about canned tomato soup again.  It's mostly a pantry recipe too, so that's a bonus!  It does call for cream but I expect in a pinch you could substitute evaporated milk for similar results.  I never made the creamy version of canned tomato soup with milk, instead using just water to reconstitute, but the cream in this recipe adds a nice, round balance and temper to the acidity of the tomatoes.  Probably similar to what the wheat flour does in the canned version.  This soup makes me happy because it works for my childhood sensibilities as well as my adult palate and ingredient radar.  Hubby gave it a two thumbs up, give me crackers, why are you taking it all to the game night, please make more next time rating.  (Actually I did throw together another batch in about 45 minutes so there would be enough for everyone!)
Of course this soup can be made in a regular pressure cooker, or just cooked without pressure on the stove top as well.  You may want to add a little water if cooking on the stove top to thin to desired consistency.

Instant Pot Tomato Soup
6 servings
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
2 (28oz.) cans whole tomatoes with their juice (about 6 cups)
1½ tbsp sugar
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp white pepper
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Set your pressure cooker to saute, or heat a pot to medium heat on stove.  Melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, crushed red pepper, celery seed, oregano, and bay leaf, and season with the salt and black pepper. Using the "soup" or "manual" pressure function, cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.  Release pressure.  (If cooking without a pressure cooker, bring the soup to a boil over high heat.  Break up the tomatoes with a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.)  Remove the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to desired texture.  Or, working in batches, transfer the tomato soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the cream and white pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.  
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a highly recommended accompaniment.