Ahhhh. Experiments. Sometimes they go right. Right = Happy Paddy. Prancing about the lounge, lovingly gazing at my creations, and hopelessly covetous; I regret eating the beautiful food I have created! Even though it tastes sooooooo good! Bad experiment. Sigh. Bad = Sad, Angry Paddy. A divot in my brow like a hole in a golf course. Not even Survivor is enough to make me smile. Today was a success. Four baked goods, three experiments, and potentially three successes - two guaranteed.
1. Cinnamon Scrolls
From my lovely friend Sarah. I have been meaning to make these for a while. Sarah said they were easy, and hot damn she was right! I'll be making this babies over and over. Delicious, and surprisingly low on the butter and sugar. Yeasty though. Lord are they yeasty!
2. Danishes From the inimitable Wild Yeast. I confess - I had grave doubts and concerns about this one. The recipe is really (ultimately a little needlessly, in my opinion) complex - there are dozens of steps, with hours rest in between. Puff Pastry traditional works through a kind of lamination process - where you roll it out flat, and butter it - over and over and over. Keeping the dough cold is crucial. It's not a fun process, and in my opinion the gains over store bought puff are marginal at best. This is a different process, it involves rolling out a barely incorporated dough with _huge_ chunks of butter in it. I admit I was skeptical, but wouldn't you be? Look at this! Look at the butter! Ye gods! THE BUTTTTTTTEERRRR!
So you have to roll it out:
*Hands belong to Awesome BakeFriend Pat. Unbelievably, it started to incorporate. The dough - partly because it's so cold - is very stiff. Stiff and yellow. It reminded me of nothing so much as pasta dough in its qualities. After appropriate chill-out times, you have to shape it. Because I need to change my middle name to: "Let's Make A Double Batch!", Pat and I had quite a few danishes ready to go: way too many for my meagre kitchen.... 38 or so...
After, smear on the cream cheese mix, peach halves, morello cherries and boysenberries, then you're good to go!
I couldn't believe it: they tasted as good as the looked!!!
Key learnings from this: Breaking up this recipe as Wild Yeast implies can be done is probably a good idea. Individually, the steps are not too time consuming. All together they are pretty damn time consuming. The biggest step is combining the butter and the flour. That's a lotta rolling!
This said, I think that this recipe could do with some work: all those refrigeration times are definitely not required. They are only there to keep the dough cold. If the weather is cold, or you're able to contain yourself and keep your groping hands off the dough, they won't be necessary.
Also: I would be reluctant to refrigerate the dough to the outside of those time limits. 4 days, etc. is a really long time in the fridge. Too long, in my opinion. Sure it would work, just maybe not well. Finally: don't use too much cream cheese; it will inhibit the rise a bit if you do.
3. Jeffrey Hamelman's 66% Rye Sourdough from Bread. Still getting the hang of Hamelman, I think. His book is a tremendous wealth of knowledge, but the two recipes I have tried so far, whilst not bad, haven't been up there with my favourite recipes.
I am finding his doughs in general have a higher hydration than I would expect, and the dough then has a kind of satiny, silky feel. Also, I'm not getting the proofing rises that I general ly expect from these doughs.
Both recipes I have made so far have stayed very flat in the proofing process, far less than my trusted recipes. I've waited over his leavening times, and still, not much action. I get an oven rise, to be sure. but it's - hmmmm - it's just not quite right.
Despite slashing, I get rise lifting up the bottom of the loaf (hexagon loaves! No fun!). Also I find on cutting the bread that I get a slightly dense, almost rubbery texture - not the soft or chewy texture I generally prefer. This all said, I haven't cut the loaf yet, so the jury's out. Has anyone else tried out this loaf or the Vermont sourdough? The loaves are the front two in the first pic.
4. My Trusty, Delicious Wholemeal Loaf. From Boas, formerly of Folding Pain, now of Grain Power. I have to say; this is the my favourite bread that I have ever cooked, and that's saying something. The flavour is brilliant. The texture: both soft and chewy. It keeps well, and makes great toast. And most importantly, it's practically indestructible - you can screw around with it endlessly and it still holds up. This recipe is fantastic.
What a blissful day of baking! I wish every day was like this!