Artisan Bread in 5
Last weekend I lived the ultimate bread bakers’ dream. Thanks to my friends at Red Star Yeast I travelled to the heart of wheat country in Kansas and had the great honor of judging the National Festival of Breads baking contest. The contestants submitted their recipes and were chosen from hundreds of bread bakers from across the country. Eight women came to Manhattan, KS and baked in a theatre-style kitchen in front of about 1500 bread lovers. They deserve a prize for that alone. The breads were all amazing, but one by Lisa Keys of Good Grief Cooks was the one that stood out to all the judges. Her Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread had a combination of flavors, texture and beauty made this the clear winner. You can read all about the contest (you should consider entering for the next one), the contestants and their winning recipes at the National Festival of Breads.
Another absolutely gorgeous loaf that was baked for us was a chocolate swirl bread. I’ve recreated that idea with our Whole Wheat Brioche dough and a swirl of Nutella. It is healthy and decadent all at the same time and it’s baked in a crock pot. I turned to my crock pot when I turned on the AC for the first time yesterday and I really didn’t want to heat up the kitchen by cranking up the oven. The crock pot is ideal for a bread like this, since it fits the shape and we want a soft crust. The result was perfect.
1 1/2 pounds brioche or challah. The doughs from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day or Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day or Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day will work equally well.
2/3 cup nutella
Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick rectangle and spread the nutella over the dough.
Roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam shut.
Cut the dough in half down the length of the log.
Twist the dough into a rope.
Coil the twisted rope to form a tight round loaf.
Tuck the ends under the loaf.
Place the loaf on a piece of parchment paper and set into the Crock-Pot. (No need to let the loaf rest or rise before you put it in the crock pot and start it up. Super FAST and EASY!) Place the COVER on the crock pot and turn to high. Let the bread bake for about 1 hour, but this may take slightly shorter or longer, depending on the machine.
The loaf is done when you touch the top and it feels set and no longer mushy and raw.
Remove from the crock pot. Allow to cool before eating. (I have to say that, but we couldn’t wait and ate it warm).
Enjoy other Twisted Breads and Crock Pot Breads:
Onion Poppy Seed Twist Bread – this could also be made in a crock pot
Cinnamon Brioche Wreath – try this in the crock pot too
Today is National Doughnut Day! Well, actually it appears there are several ‘National Doughnut Days’ in our country. But, it’s completely understandable that many people want to celebrate doughnuts as often as they can. I’ve decided to go all out today, and bring you an amazingly delicious yet slightly ridiculous doughnut: a s’mores doughnut. This beauty is made from brioche dough, glazed in chocolate, coated in graham cracker crumbs, and then smothered in toasted meringue. Each bite will leave you with a marshmallow mustache and sticky hands, but I promise it’s worth it.
To begin: You can use either our brioche dough (page 300 of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), or our whole wheat brioche dough. To make the doughnuts, follow the instructions in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or look at this post as a guide for shaping. A large biscuit cutter works well to cut circles, and the spout of a funnel was a good tool for poking small center holes (or a small biscuit cutter could work, too).
The next step is adding a rich chocolate glaze. After the doughnut is glazed in chocolate, dunk the top half into graham cracker crumbs (I used about 3/4 cup for 12 doughnuts). Let the doughnuts sit on a wire rack while you make the meringue.
To make the meringue:
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
good pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Put the bowl over a double boiler and stir with a rubber spatula until the sugar is completely melted (this will take several minutes). Brush the sides down with the spatula occasionally to make sure all the sugar is melted and no grains are clinging to the sides. Feel the egg mixture between your fingers to check for graininess. Once the mixture is completely smooth (you can check by putting it between your fingers and checking for graininess), put it on your stand mixer and beat with the whip attachment on medium high speed. Beat it until it is light, fluffy, glossy, and the bowl feels just about room temperature. Add the vanilla until combined.
Place about 1/4-1/3 cup meringue on top of each doughnut, swirling each top with a spoon. Use a kitchen torch or a broiler to gently brown the meringue (if using a broiler keep a very close eye on things!)
Best if eaten the same day they are made.
As I am testing recipes, I can find myself with several buckets going at once. I have a family of four and we just can’t always use up all that dough in a timely fashion. I just opened a bucket of dough that had been untouched for several days, well more than several and it was gray, leathery and had some liquid on it (pictures below). It had a strong “sourdough” smell to it, since it had been fermenting for a very long time. For those of us who like that kind of character in our bread, it was very exciting. BUT, there wasn’t that much dough left and if I were to peel back the leathery bits to get to the creamy dough beneath, I wouldn’t even have enough dough for a full loaf. The best thing to do with this older dough is to incorporate it into a new batch. It jump starts the flavor in your new dough, without having to wait days for the fermentation. It is like having a sourdough starter, that you never had to feed. Although in the dough I will show you, I am using the full amount of Red Star Platinum yeast.
If your dough is gray and has liquid on it, don’t fret, it isn’t bad, in fact, it has more character and flavor that should be enjoyed.
If you ever see patches of mold, which is very, very unusual for dough being stored in the refrigerator, you have to throw it out and wash the bucket. In all my years of making this dough I’ve never seen or heard of it happening.
Having an Immersion Hand Blender makes this job much easier, since you want to break up the old dough to mix it smoothly into the new. If you have more than 8 ounces of old dough, you should take some out or you can use this method instead.
Just add the water required for mixing the new dough (here is the recipe for our Master Dough or you can use our Whole Grain Master Recipe)* into the bucket with the old dough. Blend until smooth with the blender.
*you can NOT use this method with any dough that has dairy, eggs or other ingredients that may spoil or go rancid. Only use recipes that use flour, water, yeast and salt.
Stir in the yeast and salt.
Add all the flour.
Stir with a Danish Dough Whisk or wooden spoon.
Cover your Storage Container with Lid, preferably one that you’ve poked a tiny hole in. If your lid doesn’t have a hole, then don’t snap it shut. Allow to rise for 2 hours and then you can use the dough or refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.
To make the bread:
Shape the dough just as you always would.
It is totally normal for our dough to spread out, instead of getting taller. This may be even more profound if you are using older dough.
Dust with flour and slash in any pattern you want.
Bake as directed in the recipe.
Allow to cool completely.
You may also find this post helpful: Gray, Leathery Dough with Liquid on the bottom