The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Braid

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Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Being a home baker, one of the most amazing things for me to achieve in my baking is consistency. As a home baker one gets rarely the opportunity to bake big batches, and the natural limits are oven capacity and proving space.

During the last four weeks I have been asked twice to bake for larger occasions, and I managed to churn out about 70 braided rolls on each occasion. Great fun, and also quite a learning curve in managing resources and dough handling.

The first occasion was my mother-in-law's 80th birthday; I used the Rich Sourdough Barches recipe from “Inside The Jewish Bakery”, a great recipe. I made 70 rolls (60g each) in different shapes and with different toppings, and a 12 strand braid of 1200g, in 6 batches over 2 days (working fulltime on my job during the day). After the first two batches the oven window blew (while my wife made supper, I was still on the train), and a commuter friend offered spontaneously his kitchen, which I gladly occupied until 1.30 am that night and got all my baking done.

Here a photo of the rolls made that night:

 

The arrangement on one of the tables looked like this:

 

The second occasion was the winter fair at my son's school. The theme was “Fire And Ice”, and I have been gently volunteered to create “Fire n'Iced Buns”.

A couple of days before Bo Friberg's “The Professional Pastry Chef” had arrived, and I was keen to try out some recipes from this huge book.

I chose to base the buns on the Rich Cardamom Sweet Dough – various tests and tastings showed this to be an easy to handle and very tasty formula.

Curiously, although it is a yeasted dough, it omits a bulk ferment – it is meant to be rested for just 10 minutes after kneading (to relax the gluten).
I tested this, and made two more small batches, one proofed as I would (poking test), and one overnight in the fridge.
The original method and the chilled version were quite similar, but the “properly“ fermented version yielded buns that were quite dry.

I will give the percentages of the Cardamom Dough as I adapted them below.

I made the final buns with Cardamom Dough, my Chocolate Chilli Dough (adapted from the Cardamom Dough), and peppermint Icing. Half the Chocolate dough was without chilli.

Because I managed to scale shape 12 buns in about 10 minutes I baked 65 buns (40g each) in 6 batches, starting at 5.30am and finishing with the decoration at 9.00am.

Here some photos of the "Fire n'Iced Buns":

 

 

The buns above have been glazed with hot apricot jam, but haven't been iced yet. Unfortunately I haven't got any good pictures of the final product.

And here the formula:

IngredientChocolate Chilli DoughCardamom Dough
 %Weight%Weight
Bread flour100733.0100772.5
Cocoa Powder536.600.0
Cardamom1.057.717.7
Chilli Powder0.64.400.0
Ground Ginger0.181.300.0
Ground Cloves0.0930.700.0
Chocolate Chips (small)1073.300.0
Sugar14.92109.414.23109.9
Salt1.319.61.269.7
Yeast (instant)1.60911.81.5311.8
Butter7.5655.416.74129.3
Milk42.13308.840.17310.3
Egg20.19148.019.25148.7
Yield204.6421,500.0194.181,500.0

Method:

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool a bit.

Mix milk, yeast, egg and sugar.  Let it stand for about 15 minutes.

Add this mix to the solid ingredients and mix to incorporate.

Add the butter and knead until you have a smooth, soft dough that easily comes off the bowl or worktop.

The chocolate dough will be stiffer, but in the end both doughs will perform similarly.

Rest for 10 minutes to relax gluten, and then shape.

You can also put the dough into the fridge right away and use it later. (I kept it in the fridge overnight) 

 Excellent videos about shaping and braiding can be found on Youtube, e.g.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmxDKuGLWuE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUZEz4elX8E

Let the shaped buns rest until just not doubled in size. ( Try the "poke test" on the white dough, it should still be elastic)

Bake at 190C for about 10 minutes.

Happy Baking,

Juergen

 

Cintounas's picture

Tsoureki - Challah

October 10, 2012 - 8:03pm -- Cintounas
Forums: 

I recently made the Greek Easter bread, tsoureki. It's similar to a challah.  A rich and sweet  egg bread that is braided with 3 strands. I made 6 loaves and all of them have a section in the braid where the dough looks pulled and torn. How can I prevent this from happening again?  I'm not sure if it means it was over or under proofed or something I did in the baking part?  Thanks for any feedback in advance.  

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Last weekend had me going.  My work schedule gives me every other Friday off and last weekend was one of my 3-day weekends.  First up, repairing some of the heat and drought damage that my yard suffered.  Lots of weeding and raking and seeding and watering, followed by loudly protesting muscles and joints.  But it's done.  In another week or so I should be seeing new grass growing in areas that were entirely killed.

Saturday was pretty low key, given the ongoing protests mentioned earlier.  Still, I did manage to get in a batch of the NY Deli Rye from the BBA for this week's sandwiches.  Love that stuff!

Sunday afternoon, protests or no, was given over to some further test bakes in preparation for the classes that I will be teaching in a few weeks.  First I mixed up a batch of Bavarian Christmas Braid.  It's a beautiful dough, slightly sweet and redolent of mace and lemon zest.  The almonds and brandy-soaked raisins don't hurt anything, either.  The bread is made up as a small braid stacked on top of a larger braid, which makes for a very pretty loaf.  In the hands of a competent braider, it would be downright beautiful.  After coming out of the oven and cooling slightly, it is drizzled with a light glaze flavored with almond extract.  

Here is how it looked just out of the oven:

And after glazing:

Not being particularly fond of candied cherries, I elected not to garnish the loaves.

While the braid dough was fermenting, I got to work on candying some orange peel that would be needed for some stollen (currently fermenting as I write this).  I'd never done it before and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it is.  A bit tedious, yes, but not difficult.  Since the Web is rife with instructions, I'll not duplicate them here.  However, I will share some pictures of how they turned out.

Just out of the syrup:

Starting to dredge in sugar:

And all done:

Last but not least, some savory muffins rounded out the day's baking:

Paul

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

On our last visit to my parents in Germany I chatted with my sister-in-law who lives in Switzerland - about bread.


She tried to make the Zopf many families enjoy in Switzerland on Sundays, but she couldn't reproduce the flaky texture which is so typical.


After a bit of research I found a recipe on www.schweizerbrot.ch which worked very well for me, and this Zopf has become quite popular with friends and family.


It is essentially like a Challah without sugar and goes well with all sorts of sweet toppings, as well as cheeses.


As flour you can get a special Zopfmehl in Switzerland, which usually is a blend of white spelt (10% to 30%) with plain white flour.


I used 20% spelt.


Here the formula:


Ingredient Weight Percent
white plain flour 800g 80%
white spelt flour 200g 20%
milk 300g 30%
water 300g 30%
egg 60g (1 large) 6%
butter 120g 12%
fresh yeast 30g 3%
salt 20g 2%
yield 1830g 183%

Mix ingredients without butter first, and work until gluten is somewhat developed.

Add butter and work the dough until it is elastic, smooth and makes a nice windowpane test.

Let double in size (this took about 1 hour at 23C), fold and let rest for another 30 minutes.

Divide and shape into a braid (I usually make 2 braids from this amount of dough, the recipe source suggests one big 2-strand braid)

Put ther braid(s) onto baking perchament, apply eggwash, let rest for another 15-30 minutes, egg-wash again.

Bake on lower shelf in pre-heated oven at 200C for about 50 minutes (depending on size, my half-size braids need about 45 min).

Part of the bread got eaten before I could take a photo, here is part of the remains (Iwill post a better picture when available):

Butterzopf 1

The crumb is flaky as it should be when you tear the bread:

Enjoy,

Juergen

 

Finn's picture

Grandma Venni's Nisu

December 16, 2010 - 11:41pm -- Finn

Oh do I have fond memories of nisu. My Grandmother ALWAYS had some at her place. When I was young I would have it with maito(milk) and now with coffee. You can dry slices of it in the oven sprinkled with cinnamon sugar which we call korppu. You can eat the korrpu either dipped in coffee or soaked in a bowl of hot milk as a delicious breakfast or night-time snack.

Terrell's picture
Terrell

Greetings, bakers!


It's been a pretty good week in Portland. After months of being out of work, I have two jobs, seem to be on track for a third and I'm pretty sure at least one of those will continue post-Christmas. I know it's just seasonal work, but I'm really feeling like this Portland experiment has just taken a decided turn for the better. To celebrate, I decided to do a sweet bread this week. Thumbing through the Point of Departure, the bread book I've been baking my way through, I came across a recipe for a Cardamom Braid. That fit the sweet bread criteria and seemed appropriate for the seasonal nature of the new job. My brother married a woman who is half Swedish and cardamom braid is mandatory at their Christmas morning celebrations. She won't open a present until the braid is sliced and ready to eat. It's always delicious so I decided to see how close this recipe would be to theirs. Turns out, it's not quite the same. Lydia's version is flatter and sweeter, probably uses a softer dough and more sugar. I also seem to remember a bright yellow color, possibly saffron, that this one doesn't have. And my crust was way browner, partly my fault from letting it bake a few minutes too long, but also inherent in the recipe. Hers is barely golden and very soft, definitely not the crispy crust I got. On the other hand, the taste of my loaf was excellent, slightly sweet with a spicy cardamom flavor. I also liked the moist, chewy texture. I'm thinking next time a lower oven temperature, a slightly softer dough and brushing with something other than milk might get me exactly what I want.


Cardamom Braid from The Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 package active dry yeast

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 3/4 cup milk

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups all purpose flour (I substituted white whole wheat flour here with excellent results)

  • small amounts of milk and sugar for brushing and sprinkling


In a large bowl combine one cup of all-purpose flour, the yeast and the cardamom. In a small saucepan heat the milk, sugar, butter and salt until warm, stirring frequently to melt the butter. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the egg. Beat the mixture well for several minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. (I used almost all of the two cups but I think I will back that off slightly next time.) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead till smooth, about 5 or 6 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat and let rise, covered, until double, about an hour and a half.


Braided    Risen


When double, punch down and divide in thirds. Let rest while you prepare a pan. I use two nested jelly roll pans lined with parchment paper but you can grease if you prefer. Roll each third into a 16-inch rope and place about one inch apart on prepared pan. Braid loosely, pinching the ends together and tucking them under. Cover and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375. (Next time, I'll try it at 325, I think.) Brush with milk and sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar. (I plan to look for some decorative sugar for this step.) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (I got distracted and let it go almost 30 which was too long.) Remove from baking sheet and cool on wire rack.


Baked


I'm looking forward to making this for Christmas morning with the great-nephews. I think it will be a hit. Any of you Scandahoovians out there want to give me tips for making this perfect?


 Sliced

guro's picture
guro

Love this blog and just wanted to share one of my latest creations.

This beautiful braided bread is made with a rich straight dough, layers of pesto and a generous sprinkle of Sumac. 

I made this bread a couple of months ago.  This bread is tender, rich, nutty, salty (evoo, toasted pine nuts and parmesan) and a little sour (Sumac).  This bread requires moderate braiding skills, time and attention.

I have been baking for quite some time now.  I love bread making.  I will gladly post the recipe if someone will show any interest.  I need to translate the recipe into English.

*******************************************************************************

I hope I did a good job translating.  I will be making this bread again in about two weeks.  I will take notes and improve on my writing if needed.

1 loaf

Set oven to 210c (410F)

Prep:

Baking Pan - 26cm (10") springform (no bottom), take a piece of parchment paper and crimp tightly around the bottom of the springform, oil the sides.  Place on top of a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Pesto - I use evoo, basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan (consistency should be not too thin and not too thick). Keep refrigerated until needed.

Sumac - for sprinkling

 

Dough ingredients:

AP Flour 600g (21oz)

Fresh Yeast 28g (1oz)

Sugar 10g (0.35oz)

Salt 10g (0.35oz)

Canola Oil 50cc (1.7 fl oz)

White Vinegar 1 tbls

Water 300cc (10 fl oz) this is approximate

 

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, add the water carefully as you start mixing.  Use the

dough hook 2-3 mins. on low speed and 2-3 mins. on medium speed.  Dough should be

supple and not sticky to the touch.  Add water or flour if dough is too stiff or too loose

(respectively).

When dough is ready, spray a bowl with oil and gently put the dough in the bowl.  Spray a

little more oil on top and cover.  Let rise (80%).  My kitchen was at about 22c (72F), 35-45%

humidity and proofing was about 40 minutes.

Lightly flour a work bench or a large table.  Put the dough on top and flatten gently with

your hands.  Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to a very thin circle, as thin as you

can.  When rolling out the dough, try not to lift and move it too much.  You can try and

gently pull the dough to stretch it thin (like bakers do with Strudel dough), this requires some skill.

Apply a thin layer of pesto on top of the dough (leave the edge clear 1/4").  Sprinkle Sumac

generously on top of the layer of pesto.

Slowly, tightly and very gently roll the dough into a roulade (pinwheel ).  You will now have a

very long roulade .  Take a sharp chef's knife (not a serrated knife) and cut (not saw) the

roulade lengthwise trying to keep the knife in the middle so you end up with two equal parts

(you can cut down from the seam but it is not make or break).

Place the two halves crossing each other (open roulade layers facing up) to create and X

shape.  Gently pick up the two ends of the bottom half, cross them over the top half, and

place them back down.  Continue this process, taking the two bottom ends and crossing

them over the top until all the roulade has been used.  You now have a two strand rope

shape.  If for some reason some of the open roulade layers are pointing down or sideways,

carefully turn them so they are facing up.  Gently pinch the ends to seal.

Look at the braid.  If one end looks a little thinner make that your starting point.  If not, just

start from either end.  Slowly and very gently, roll the braid sideways (horizontally) without

lifting your hands from the table.  You should keep those open roulade layers facing up.

Pinch the end delicately.  The end result should look like a giant snail shell or a very large

cinnamon bun.

Lightly sprinkle Sumac on top of the braided loaf.

Carefully pick up the braid and place in the prepared springform.  Keep it flat on the parchment.  The

 bottom of the braid should set nicely.  Cover.

Let rise until the braid hits three quarters the way up the springform.  In my kitchen conditions it

proofed for a little over 30 mins.

 

Bake at 210c (410F) for 5-10 mins., lower oven to 180c (355F) and bake for another 20-30 mins.

Their should be a decent amount of oven spring.  The bread should rise above the springform edge.

When the bread is out of the oven lightly brush evoo on top and sides.  Let cool on a rack.

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