So many people asked us about baking our dough inside a closed cast-iron pan that Zoe did a beautifulpost on the subject a few weeks ago. The cast-iron pan method is based on a much older method, where bread is baked inside a closed clay pot (or “cloche,” meaning bell, in French). Both methods depend on trapped steam from the dough to create a perfect crust, but the clay pot has the added benefit of being porous, so moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes. I tested the Sassafras brand “La Cloche” product, and I’m very impressed with the crust I’m getting –take a look at the picture above; this crust is thin and shatters when broken (the burned bits are perfect in artisan loaves; that’s how you know you’ve baked long enough). Keep in mind that these crust results are hard to re-create with loaves very high in whole wheat (because of oils in the wheat’s germ). The bread above is about 15% whole grains– it’s a light version of the Peasant Loaf in the book, and of course our basic recipe works great in this situation. Whole grain breads perform beautifully in “La Cloche,” but the crust tends to be softer and thicker. One other thing to note–any clay product is somewhat fragile, and after some years of owning the Sassafras product, the base did crack (still quite usable with a stone underneath).
For crust aficionados, I think the “La Cloche” results are a little better than what I get inside closed cast-iron.
People often ask us why we only used all-purpose flour (where we called for white flour) in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Why not “bread” flour, which is higher in protein and is often considered traditional in bread? Well, not in all traditions. French baguettes, for example, are typically made with lower-protein flour for a more tender, and less chewy crumb. And we knew most of our potential book users already had all-purpose flour in the house. But sometimes, a stiffer dough is desirable, like when something really needs to hold its shape, like these wreath-shaped, well… bagels. You can always swap bread flour into our recipes that call for all-purpose, just by adding a little extra water (details below).
OK, first the disclaimer, I did not bake the breads above, this is from an old post I did after a trip to France, where these loaves were bought and eaten. I also need to admit that it looks like I bit the perfect tip off the baguette on the right (I did, on my walk back from the boulangerie–bakery). Truth moment, even though you can bake baguettes in your gas grill (and I’ll prove it in a video below), they won’t look quite like these. No matter, they’re still delicious. Read on–click “more” below…
It’s almost Father’s Day (did you remember?) and that might mean pulling out the grill this weekend and serving Dad up some serious burgers. We came up with this soft and delicious Potato Brioche Bun to serve alongside your favorite burger recipe, and it’s easy enough to put together that the kids can jump in and help, too. As with all our no-knead, refrigerated dough recipes, you can bake as little or as much as you want. So if you are social distancing and only need a couple buns (because the grill-out party is small this year), this is a perfect recipe for that.
If cooking and mashing potatoes just seems like too much work (even for a holiday), you can always check out our straight up Brioche Burger Buns, complete with Lamb Burger and Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce.
1 cup mashed Russet potatoes (sent through a food ricer for fine consistency, or mashed by hand)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water)
Seeds, for sprinkling (optional) – plain sesame seeds work fine; I used a bagel seed mix
Mix the water, potato, butter, eggs, sugar, yeast, and salt in a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated.
Cover (not airtight), and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours. Chill the dough for at least two hours, and up to 3 days.
The dough can be used as soon as it is chilled. This dough is way too sticky to use after the initial rise, but once it is chilled it is very easy to handle. That said, because potatoes can vary in their water-content, you may have to adjust the flour–you can add more after everything’s mixed, but give the dough a couple of hours on the counter to re-ferment or the buns will be dense.
Divide the dough into 3 ounce pieces (this dough will make about 14 buns, but you can make less if desired). Gently smooth the pieces into round balls of dough. Grease six English Muffin Rings. Flatten the dough into 1/4-inch disks place them in the molds. If you don’t have rings you can make them free form, but they won’t keep their shape as well.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap (spraying the plastic with a little cooking spray will help it not to stick to the top of the buns) and allow the buns to rest for 30 to 60 minutes (depending on temperature of your kitchen), until the dough is just peeping over the top of the rings, and feels like a marshmallow when gently pressed/jiggled.
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Use a Pastry Brush to paint on the egg wash, and then sprinkle with seeds if desired.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden brown (I baked with steam for an extra soft bun, but you don’t have to do that).
Perfect for loading with a burger and toppings, or just nibbling on with a slice of cheese.
Before we even start, if you’ve already tried this recipe and are having trouble getting your sourdough starter to the “very-active” stage, or if your loaves aren’t rising well, or if they’re too dense, you can skip to the Troubleshooting tips below… scroll waaaay down. If you’re new to this page, start right here with this post about sourdough starter. –Jeff
The recipe that excites us most in our latest book, The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, is the easy Sourdough Starter. We’re admitted baking geeks, so spending hours on a recipe can be exciting to us, but we know this concept sounds like work to some and just terrifies others. That’s why we set out to write these books in the first place, being able to compel busy people to bake bread at home has been our mission. Now you can also create a sourdough starter (in French, levain); easily, without fear and without dedicating your whole day to the project. In fact, it only takes a few minutes a day to get your starter up and running. It really is that easy, but it takes several days to get your starter strong enough to actually use in a batch of bread. Until it is ready to go, you can always bake any of the other yeast filled recipes in our books.
All you need to make your sourdough starter is flour, water and a container to keep it in. Nothing special or fancy. Just make sure the container can hold at least two quarts of starter. You’ll see some Baking Bloopers below of what happens if your container is too small.
Once you have created your starter you can use it to bake beautiful loaves, with or without added yeast. The flavor is incredible and you will still be making a large batch of dough and storing it for up to a week, so you will do the work on one day for many loaves.
Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns! are the words to the children’s song, and they hold true even now. These little buns are traditionally served at Easter time: A sweet dough that is spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing. I made them after many requests and my kids devoured them within minutes; they were nervous about the raisins, but the cream cheese crosses and scent of cinnamon and nutmeg drew them in.
As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are just as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them. Some people slash the dough to make the cross, others use a flour and water paste to create the symbol and others use the sweet icing. Tell me how you make your buns, and if you don’t have a family tradition yet, you can start with these!
As you all know by now, at BreadIn5 we take our sweets very seriously and chocolate is an essential food group. So we wanted to share one of the great pleasures of The New Artisan Bread in Five: Chocolate Bread. It has an intense chocolate flavor without being too sweet. This bread is equally as good with a sweet cherry jam as it is with a sharp cheddar; it all just depends on your mood. There will rarely be leftovers (but just in case there are we’ve also got a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding, page 362 of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, that is out of this world!)
This Holiday Star Bread has been making the rounds all over social media, so I decided to try it with some of our no-knead Challah dough. I’m happy to report that it works quite well, and it is not that difficult to make. Most of the recipes online have the same directions for shaping the star, so I borrowed from those when practicing, but substituted pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon just to change things up a bit. We also have a variation with jam, but Nutella or many other fillings would be fun, so if you are interested in playing around with recipe, there is room for your own interpretation. If you do end up making this bread and post on social media, tag #breadin5 so we can see your creations! You can also find us on Instagram at @breadin5.
This is one of my favorite recipes in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and it isn’t a bread at all. There is really nothing that smells as good as this granola when it is baking. It tastes incredible and makes a fabulous breakfast, snack or gift. It is one of those recipes you will end up baking over and over again.
I developed the recipe for the book to use in the “Aunt Melissa’s Granola Bread” on page 114. My Aunt lived with my father and me on a commune in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. She baked this granola at least once a week in massive batches to feed the many people who lived with us. It was so popular she ended up selling it to the local co-ops and then beyond. Our commune became all about granola production and I still to this day, over 45 years later, remember the smell of it baking.
My aunt passed away many years ago and the actual recipe with her. This one is very close and brings back all of the wonderful memories of that time and of her. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does! (more…)
I have to admit that I watch football once a year. The Super Bowl is my kind of game; more about food and music, than actual football. Although I do regret missing the Vikings big game this weekend. Everyone gets excited about a good ending. Fingers crossed we will not only be hosting the Super Bowl in MN, but our team will also play a starring role. I know some of you will be disappointed in my laissez-faire attitude, but I really do take the food for this game seriously, so it makes me oddly qualified to write this chili bread bowl post. Among other things I’m making chili in my Crock-Pot, baking crusty rolls and creating these super tasty chili bread bowls. (more…)