Here’s my first attempt at Ciabatta from 2008, featured in our breads class in fall 2009. It’s really a very different dough to work with, compared to our Kelso Sourdough, or other sweet breads. This is a very hydrated dough, and a heavy duty mixer is a must! The photo (lower left) shows the dough after it’s risen. The appearance, as you can see, is soft and rather wet. The dough was then shaped into loaves and carefully placed on on pleated, floured cloths. Be very careful when using a bread peel to place loaves into the oven, as they will easily deflate! You’ll be surpised, as I was, that this soft dough rises so nicely in the oven. Having freshly baked Ciabatta with the Heisserer’s homemade wine and our homemade mozzarella cheese is a wonderful culinary experience!
I love to experiment with new bread recipes and decided to create my own version of Panettone Bread during the Christmas season of 2007. I used dates, white raisins, and lemon zest soaked in Cointreau, with a splash of orange juice. Typically a tall, cylindrical, fruit-filled sweet bread, this version was just shaped into rounds and baked on parchment paper. It came out of the oven right before midnite, but I just had to try it! It was amazing with butter and even better toasted. Here’s the recipe!
12 oz. dried apricots, chopped
8 oz. golden raisins
8 oz. currants
8 oz. dates, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Splash of Cointreau (optional)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup warm water
4 packets yeast
1 tsp. plus 1 cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
3 cups bread flour, divided
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted
2 tsp. salt
4 eggs plus 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
In a shallow dish soak the dates, raisins, currents, and apricots in the zest, juice, flavorings, and liqueur, covering the dish but stirring through occasionally, at least one hour or overnight. Toast the nuts in a frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to color and become fragrant, about 7 minutes. Pour them out of the pan and set aside.
Heat the milk in a saucepan or microwave–just until it is warm (100 to 115 degrees). Pour the warm milk and the 1/2 cup of warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast, then stir in the 1 tsp. of sugar. Wait about 5 minutes, until the yeast is foaming actively, then add 1 cup of the bread flour, stirring until smooth. Cover loosely and let stand 30 minutes.
Stir in the melted butter, the 1 cup of sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolks, orange zest and the remaining 2 cups of bread flour. Stir well. Add the all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until dough gathers and begins to pull away from the bowl.
Knead a few minutes on a floured board or in the bowl, adding flour if needed, until dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Wash and oil the bowl, turn the dough in the bowl to oil all over, cover loosely and set in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured board for a minute or so, then return it to the bowl for a second rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Drain the fruit, reserving the liquid. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, pat it into a large rectangle and sprinkle with half the fruit and half the nuts. Starting from a short side, roll the dough up and tuck the ends under. Pat the roll into a large rectangle again (flour the board again if necessary), sprinkle with the remaining fruit and nuts and roll up again. Knead a few times, turning exposed seams inside the ball of dough, and divide in two. Shape each half into a round-topped loaf a little smaller across than the prepared pans, pulling the top surface of each tight.
Put each ball into a prepared pan–make sure it’s all the way to the bottom–and let rise about 1-1/2 hours.
Lower an oven shelf to make room for the tall loaves and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut an X in the tops if you like, then bake for 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake about 25 minutes more (longer if loaf is wider), until the tops are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Note: You may want to cover the bread with foil during the final 20 minutes of baking, if the bread is browning too quickly for you. Cool the loaves 5 minutes in the pans, then remove and set upright on racks.
Slice thinly and serve–maybe with even more butter! This is wonderful toasted, too!
Makes 4 cylindrical, dome-topped loaves. For Christmas gifts, I also use the King Arthur panettone papers available on-line at http://www.kingarthurflour.com
Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection: Bread
Sharon Shaw’s Poppyseed Bread
This is truly one of my most favorite recipes given to me by my dear friend. The bread freezes very well, and it’s great for gift giving!
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/8 cups oil
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons almond flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavoring
1 1/2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
Bake at 350° for 60 minutes for 2 standard loaves, or 50 minutes for 4 mini loaves. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes in pan. Then spread glaze while in the pan; cool 5 minutes again before removing from pan.
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring
PJ’s French Bread
This recipe treasure is from Patricia Marie Jenkins, my “bestest friend.” PJ got this recipe from Phyllis Simmons’ mother, who baked this bread for a restaurant in Kentucky years ago.
Served as a special “mystery bread” at 2009 Pastabilities Class at SEMO University, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Here’s the recipe for all of you…as promised!
1 cup warm water
1 pkg. yeast (or 2 oz. cake yeast)
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup or 4 oz. shortening
4 lbs. flour or a 5 lb. bag of Gold Medal bread flour, less 4 cups
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart warm water
Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water and sugar. In a large bowl, add the dissolved yeast mixture, shortening, and warm water. Stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Punch down the dough and let it rise again for 30 minutes. Punch down the dough and then knead for 5 minutes.
Shape into loaves, and let rise 15 minutes. Slap down the dough to knock the air out of it. Shape the loaves again, and let rise until doubled.
Slash loaves and brush with egg wash. For the egg wash, beat together 1 egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ cup water.
Bake at 375 – 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.