Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Beautiful Bread

Once I read about this month's baking challenge, I have to admit that I got quite giddy. The photos showing what we'd (in theory) make were gorgeous!!

This month, we were challenged to make filled bread with either a cinnamon sugar filling or a Nutella filling. Not being a Nutella fan (or that much of a hazelnut fan, to be honest) made picking between the two recipes quite simple for me! Not only were we challenged to make filled bread, but pretty filled bread (akin to the gorgeous works by Valentina Zurkan, a VERY talented bread sculptor, for lack of better term).

The recipe was easy to follow and the process wasn't at all difficult. I did forget to pinch the outer corners together, which would have made the bread even prettier. The one thing I wish I'd done differently was stick with my gut on the baking time/temp. In the pit of my core, I knew that the temp/time would be an issue, and it was. The bread was WAY overdone (see photo below). That said, when I peeled off the top layer (then quite glad I'd forgotten to pinch the outer corners together), the bread was very tasty! It was basically a non-rolled cinnamon roll... and who can complain about that??? (This also inspired me to make a batch of Peter Reinhart's Sticky Buns a day or two later.. again, who could complain??)

I'll definitely try this recipe and technique again. Great learning opportunity and I got to experiment with a new bread-making method. :)

Cinnamon Sweet Bread
·         1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
·         3/4 cup (180 ml) warm milk
·         1 large egg
·         1/4 cup (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) butter, softened
·         1/4 cup (60 ml) (50 gm) (1-3/4 oz) white sugar
·         1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt
·         3-1/4 cups (780 ml) (450 gm) (16 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, approximately
·         2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) dry yeast
·         1/4 teaspoon (1 gm) cardamom, optional

For topping
·         1/4 cup (60 ml) of milk
·         1 tablespoon (15 gm) (1/2 oz) sugar

Between the layers
·         1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) (1/4 cup) (60 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) butter
·         4 tablespoons (60 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) cinnamon
·         1/2 cup (120 ml) (100 gm) (3-1/2 oz) sugar

For drizzling
·         1 can (400 gm) (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk


1. In a bowl whisk the egg with milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast. Set aside
2. In another bowl sift the flour with the salt and the optional cardamom.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead until you get a smooth dough. 4. Place it in a bowl you have brushed with some oil and cover it with a wet cloth and leave it in a warm place to double .
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
6. Divide the dough into 4 parts
7. Roll each part into a circle at least 20 cm (8 inch) in diameter 
8. Brush the first layer with butter then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
9. Place the second layer on the first layer repeat the brushing and sprinkling and then do the same
with the third layer.
10. Top with the fourth layer, this time only brush it with butter.
11. Using a knife make cuts that divide the dough circles into 8 triangles
12. Make cuts that go 2/3 of the way in the middle of each triangle. The cuts should not reach the base
of the triangle nor the tip as you can see in the picture 
13. Take the tip of each triangle and insert it into the cut you made and pull it from the underside
14. Arrange the triangles on your baking sheet
15. Pinch the two angles at the base of the triangle together 
16. Brush the dough with milk
17. Allow to rest for 15 minutes during which you would heat your oven to very hot
500°F/240°C/gas mark 9 (rack in the middle). (Go for the hottest your oven will do).
18. Bake for 5 minutes on very hot 500°F/240°C/gas mark 9, then lower the temperature to
moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-20 more minutes (ovens do differ greatly, so
the time may differ; what you want is to bake it until the under side is golden brown). If you have a
broiler (grill) in your oven. Turn on the broiler (grill) for a couple of minutes until the bread is golden
brown on top.
19. Take it out of the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rick and drizzle with

sweetened condensed milk while it is still warm.

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled 
breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

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