...but bread is alright.
I wanted to experiment a little this week, so I decided to bake two new loaves. I think both turned out rather well, and I'll probably add them to the list of loaves I'm baking quite frequently. The first one is a loaf that goes remarkably well with most kinds of fruit, preserves, a wide range of cheeses and besides your dinner plate: A sourdough rye with toasted hazelnuts and raisins.
This loaf is based on my favourite 40% rye recipe, with a healthy filling of toasted hazelnuts and raisins. For this loaf, I used 15% each of nuts and raisins, based on the overall flour weight.
Above is the crumb; the significant amount of nuts and raisins makes sure you get a healthy bite of nutty sweetness in each slice :) And as I said, this loaf is spectacular with most kinds of cheese (trust me when I recommend goat cheese and/or strong blue cheese), and they're a great treat on hiking trips if you shape them into rolls:
The next loaf on the list, is a pain de campagne-style loaf with roasted tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes:
I had some tomatoes lying around that I wanted to put to good use, and figured I could put them in some loaves. I cut them into cubes, tossed them in olive oil, salt, pepper and basil, and roasted them good and long... to add more punch to the loaves, I also added a bit sun-dried tomatoes. I wanted a "rustic" look on these, so I didn't shape them into anything particular after their bench rest; I simply patted them into two rectangles on top of parchment paper on my peel. Still, they sprung up quite significantly in the oven:
A very tender and moist crumb, with a crunchy crust. I really like how tomatoes colour the crust and infuses it with dark spots... A great loaf for salads or pasta dishes!
If you're eating at my house, there's a good chance there's dessert waiting... It's been a gruelling long winter around these parts, and, in a desperate attempt to force spring upon these shores, I opted for a "fresh fruit" charlotte. "Fresh fruit" in that I had to resort to frozen berries to make the charlotte... Hopefully there's real fresh fruit around for my next attempt at this one ;) The recipe is taken from Suas' ABAP, and below is a photo of the mise en place for the charlotte:
Here's a 15cm cake form lined with a ladyfinger bottom and ladyfingers along the sides (trimmings and unused, wrinkled ladyfingers on the right). That was a time consuming task - getting all those fingers standing upright at the same time... I'll admit that my piping skills are not all that, so most of the ladyfingers had some "blisters" or wrinkles to them. Still - they lined up! Over the form are the two frozen discs that go into the charlotte: A berry compote on the left and a frozen disc of lemon crèmeux on the right. Not shown is the diplomat cream that is used for filling (I had to stash the bowl with diplomat cream in the fridge while lining up these guys). The filled charlotte (after the diplomat cream is set) is topped with berries (again, I had to resort to frozen berries... still tasted good though):
And another one:
English accent: "I got blisters on my fingers!" Seriously, this charlotte tasted great. The berry compote insert and the diplomat cream go extremely well together, and the lemon crèmeux adds a lot of fruity summer vibes to each spoonful. Yum.
The final bake, was some Paris-Brest pastries. I've never tasted the real thing (I'll do on my next trip to France), but I was immediatelly intrigued when I read about them in my pastry book. In short, this pastry was created in 1891 by a pastry chef called Pierre Gateau (no kidding!), who piped pâte à choux in the shape of bicycle wheels, and filled them with the most rich cream you can imagine (a comination of pastry cream, butter and praline paste). As monsieur Gateau owned a patisserie along the route of the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race, he made this pastry to honor the riders of the race.
Praline paste, which goes into the Crème Paris-Brest, is something I've never seen in stores around here. Luckily, I found a recipe for the paste in Friberg's pastry book (I love that his book contains a recipe for basically any pastry component you'll ever need):
Above on the left is the butter/praline paste mix (it's a bit spotty in places, because I had a hard time grinding the hazelnuts fine enough in my processor), and on the right is my pastry cream. So, left + right (folded together) = Crème Paris-Brest:
Now, if you've ever banged your head in the wall in utter frustration of never getting large holes in your crumb, I would prescribe making some choux pastry. That'll get your spirits up and help you regain your confidence:
No sourdough in these ones however... it's all about capturing the steam. Now, piping the cream in the middle of the choux "wheels" resulted in something amazingly decadent and rich:
As I haven't had these before, I can't say if I nailed the design or the look of a genuine Paris-Brest, but the taste was incredible. If anyone here has tried them, or made them, I'd love to hear from you! There are some things I'd like to discuss about this choux business. Anyways...the Paris-Brest: Light choux pastry with that rich praline cream sandwiched in between... ohlala. Tres bien! Bon appétit!