Please help me troubleshoot my very rich dough
Apologies for a very long post.
I'm elbows deep into my Easter bake (bit late, I know :-S). I'm making kulichi (more info here) using two different recipes and one of them is just not going right. It's the first time I've tried that recipe (the other one is tried and tested) and I've already made a few mistakes... here's the recipe (which I tweaked):
- 5 cups flour (anything between 670 and 800 g)
- 1 1/2 cup single cream (375 ml)
- 1 cup butter (250 g)
- 8 yolks
- 1 cup sugar (250 g)
- 100 g fresh yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup each almond pieces, raisins and candied fruit.
Combine warm cream, yeast and half the flour to make the sponge. Beat yolks and sugar to a pale mass. When the sponge has risen, stir in the yolk mass, softened butter, raisins, almonds and candied fruit. Add salt. Addremaining flour and vanilla. MIX on the counter (hard to tell what that means, kneading or just mixing till well combined?), put into a bowl and place somewhere warm for 60-80 minutes until doubled in bulk. Take out, REPEAT THE KNEADING (this time it does say KNEAD) and return to a warm place for the second proofing.
Take out, shape into a bun and place in a tall tin, lined and greased. The dough should come up to approx. 1/3 of the tin. Final proof in the tin (again, in a warm place) for 60-80 minutes. Bake at 200-220 C for 60-70 min. When the top has browned, cover with wet parchment paper to prevent burning. Avoid shaking/slamming oven door while baking otherwise the kulich may collapse.
Cool, glaze and decorate as desired.
Now here's what I did. I only had 300 ml cream so I topped it up with 60 ml milk and approx 20 ml cherry juice (was using cherries in my other kulich, was a bit of a waste to discard the juice. I added the juice at the dough mixing stage, not the sponge stage). I only used 1/2 teaspoon salt (don't like too much salt and don't want it slowing down the yeast). I used close to 800 g flour (50/50 strong and plain).
I also forgot to buy fresh yeast in advance. So had to do with active dried yeast which had been sitting in my fridge for a good 6 months, maybe more. The sponge doubled beautifully so I figured the yeast must have been ok. Now the BIG mistake I made was that I only used 1 1/2 level teaspoons yeast (as per amount of flour), forgetting that all that fat in the dough will slow the rise and that I'd need more yeast. Another thing I did differently is that I only used 1/4 of the total flour in the sponge - at 200 g it was already too thick! I have no idea how 375 ml cream can incorporate 400 g flour unless you want a sponge that is thicker than the dough...
Oh, and I added 1 1/2 tablespoon brandy.
I didn't put the nuts and raisins into the sponge as the recipe says (I know from experience they are best added at the very end of kneading and that's what I did). I kneaded the dough using the French "slap-and-fold" method. At the end of a 20-min kneading, it was still as soft as clay and sticky (is that normal for rich doughs?).
And then I messed up again BIG time. I decided to retard it overnight. Luckily I got up after 4 hours, took it out and realised what a bad idea it was to retard a dough which is about 70% butter :-) I then bashed it against the counter for 150 times (hoping to develop the gluten a bit more but of course to no avail) and left till the morning.
7 hours later, it had not risen ONE BIT.
So I placed the bowl over a pan with hot water and put the whole thing into the oven with the light on. It's been there for about 5 hours now. The internal temperature is 23-24 C and it's finally showing some signs of rising.
My other kulich which is significantly less rich (500 milk, 7 yolks, 250 g butter, 950-1000 g flour, 2 teaspoons active dry dry yeast, vanilla, brandy, nuts, raisins, sour cherries) is doung beautifully. Despite a very slow first rise (it, too, was "retarded" for 4 hours and went into the oven with light on, but no hot water bowl, in the morning), it's looking healthy and is proofing for the 3rd time as we speak.
SO, finally to my questions:
- Will it ever rise enough to bake? I'm prepared to wait till tomorrow or even Tuesday but I do need to know whether it's all just a waste of time and good food!
- Shall I try and reduce the fat content by making some more sponge (milk-lots of yeast-flour) and kneading in some more flour? Will it even work, given that the nut pieces will cut through any gluten strands during kneading?
- Is my dough too warm? Would it be better to bring it back to room temperature (approx 18C)?
- How big of a mishap was it to use cherry juice and brandy? Does cherry juice interfere with gluten formation? Or, given the high fat content, is that only a drop in the sea? As for brandy, my other recipe calls for brandy but as I said that one is a leaner dough.
- If ever it does rise, how do I shape it? Can I just divide and roll it into a ball? Given how soft it is, I fear it won't survive much more handling than that...
- Can I shape it after just one rise? Given that I've already done the 2nd kneading the recipe calls for, albeit at the wrong time...
Many thanks to all you patient souls and happy Easter!