For the family Christmas this year we decided on a French food theme. The dessert was a Buche de Noel that my wife made. It looked so good that I thought I would post a few pictures of it here. Maybe she will be gracious enough to write down her recipe.
I enjoy using biga, poolish, and pate fermentee whenever possible. These easy methods give bread a great flavor without having to use up fridge space with a long overnight/two day proofing. You can do a long proof or ferment and get even better results, but most people won't notice much of a difference. Below is a poolish bread recipe that I have made a few times with great results. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I will when I get a chance to bake. Maybe this weekend?
Start with a poolish. (Poolish is a very wet pre-ferment)
100% flour 178% water 0.5-1% yeast (the amount of yeast you use will depend on how much time you ferment)
I generally allow a poolish to ferment on the counter for 4-8 hours. It works to put your poolish in the fridge over night so that you can use it the following day. Retarding in the fridge allows you to relax and not worry that your yeast is eating too quickly.
Total dough percentages
100% flour 54% water 20% poolish 1% yeast 2% salt
This dough recipe will produce a dough with a hydration level of 66-68%
For a 900 gram dough:
508 g Flour 274 g Water 102 g Poolish 5 g Yeast 10 g Salt
Exactly 102 grams of poolish, I would suggest making more because you always lose some when transferring:
36 g Flour 66 g Water 0.5 g Yeast
Mix all of your ingredients and allow for autolyse. This will make sure that your flour is fully hydrated and you won't ruin too much of the work that your poolish has already done.
In a stand mixer mix for 3-5 minutes. Your dough should be around 80 degrees and it should pass the windowpane test.
Place dough in a lightly oiled container and allow to double in volume. This should take an hour or so. At this point you have a choice. You can either shape into a boule and allow to proof for an hour and then bake or you can do a second ferment and allow your dough to retard in the refridgerator overnight. Allowing bread a second ferment will produce rich buttery flavors. However, skipping a second ferment will still produce a great bread.
After your bread has been shaped into a boule allow it to proof for an hour or until a thumbprint on the side won't bounce back. Cut the top of your bread, traditionally in an X shape.
Allow an hour for your oven to heat to 475.
Put your boule into the oven, directly onto a baking stone if you have one, and steam for 2 minutes at 475. (You can create steam by heating an iron skillet in your oven and then throwing ice onto it right before you are going to shut the door. You can also mist water onto the walls of your oven. Be careful not to get cold water on your hot baking stone. I use both methods.) Spray water onto your boule and walls and bake for 2 more minutes. Steam one last time and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. After 30 minutes check the internal temperature of your bread. It should read 190-205 degrees. (The thump test works but it isn't that accurate.)
Yield 1 large boule or 2 smaller boules/3 medium batards
Ahhh. My favorite smelling bread. I should preface my recipes by saying that I scale everything and I rarely use imperial measurements. If you do not use a scale for baking I strongly suggest it. It makes baking more consistent and much more pleasant. Also, with bread recipes I will try to include baker's percentages. If you are unfamiliar with baker's percents I suggest checking out http://www.wildyeastblog.com/. They have a great explanation of percentages. Why be redundant?
Mix all of the dough ingredients except for the pate fermentee. Mix until the dough comes together. Add in pate fermentee in small pieces. At this point the dough should become easily workable. (I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for this whole process.) Knead for 5-7 minutes or until dough passes the windowpane test.
Place dough ball into a lightly oiled container and let double. This will take around an hour.
In a food processor mix filling ingredients until well blended. (Apple sauce could be substituted for apples in filling recipe.) Once dough has doubled, lightly flatten. Lightly press raisins into dough. Spread a thin layer of filling onto dough, leaving a quarter of an inch untouched around the edges.
Gently roll dough and tuck in the ends. Place in oiled bread loaf pan. Let dough proof in a loaf pan for 30-45 min. Your loaf should start to have a nice crown on it.
Slash top from end to end using a sharp knife, razor blade, or lame. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
Yield: 1 loaf
100% Pate Fermentee 100% flour 62% water 2% yeast 2% salt 15% butter 5% dry milk 4% agave or honey
Well. Here I am. The official beginning of my blog. What do I hope to achieve with this blog? Glory. Fame. Understanding. A new me. Naw. I love to cook and I know there are other people out there that are just as interesting in mastering the art of cooking too. I am by no means a chef or master or anything great, but when I set out to learn something I really set out to live it. This is where I am with cooking and baking. Addicted. Obsessed. I have always enjoyed making food and in the last few years my passion has grown. I dove into a world of baker's percentages, scaling, pate fermentee, Peter Reinhart and Julia Child, and the hateful quest to find barley malt. I hope that through this blog I will be able to foster friendships with others in the vegetarian community and hopefully learn as much as I can teach. I want to share my cooking and baking experiences with others so that I too may grow.
I am a high school English teacher in Milwaukee, WI. I teach 9th grade World Literature and 10th grade Writing. I have been a vegetarian for 7 glorious years now.
I love talking about cooking. Sometimes I get a bit obsessive about it. My friend Eric is one of the few people who can tolerate my foody conversations since he is also obsessed with mastering the art of cooking. My wife loves to experience my cooking adverntures but she gets tired of hearing about the differences between DAY and DIY, soakers and mash, and seitan seitan seitan. So, this blog will be my outlet.