No pictures, I am just recording this recipe here for my own use, really, but feel free to try it out! This is my first effort at recreating a bread my father made a lot when I was young. It's not wildly far off, but needs some work.
Evening of Day 0
Make a poolish: 1 cup warm water, a pinch of yeast, 1 cup bread flour. Mix, let stand out (covered) overnight.
Morning of Day 1
The poolish should be active, inflated, and bubbly. If not, wait until it is.
- Scald 3/4 cup milk, set aside to cool.
- Crack two eggs, reserve 1 tablespoon of the white of of one them. Beat eggs thoroughly.
- Add 1T sugar and 1.5 tsp ground cardamom (to taste -- 1.5 tsp is a nice starting point) to the now-warm scalded milk.
- 2 tsp salt.
- Proof 1/2 tsp instant yeast (or 1 tsp dry yeast) in 2T warm water.
Add all of the above to the poolish, and mix. Work in sufficient bread flour (about 4 cups) to make a slightly sticky dough, one that can be kneaded on a board without sticking, IF you dust with flour constantly. Knead until smooth, and until it windowpanes pretty well.
Let rise until doubled, or thereabouts. Degas a bit ("punch down" or "stretch and fold") and let rise again. I did not get too aggressive with degassing, and I wasn't really letting it fully rise (impatience, and I wanted two risings before shaping). I handled the dough fairly gently between kneading and shaping.
Divide into 3 equal parts and braid. I formed three baguettes, basically, and braided them. Instructions for braiding are in any challah recipe.
Let rise until doubled, or until poke-test. Pre-heat oven to 425.
Mix your reserved 1T egg white with 1T water, mix thoroughly. Glaze the loaf with this mixture, place in oven, REDUCE HEAT TO 400 degrees. I let it rise on parchment paper on a peel, and slid it off onto my pizza stone. Sprinkling with poppy or sesame seeds after glazing and before baking would be nice, but I hadn't any this time so I didn't.
After 20 minutes, turn the loaf and re-glaze. Bake another 25 minutes.
The result is a fairly robust rich-tasting bread, with a mild cardamom flavor. Toasting it or making french toast brings out more of the cardamom. The crumb has nicely "artisanal" uneven holes throughout. The bread's probably not auitable for sandwiches or really any truly savory use. It makes wonderful toast and french toast, and is great with just butter as well.
Thoughts for a future iteration
Work the dough a little less, and possibly add some oil. The crumb is rich and fairly tender, but isn't fragile at all in the way one expects from a brioche. I think a tablespoon of oil or butter might help, here.