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Welcome to our January Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this striking braided Classic Challah Bread, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

Classic challah is a soft loaf made with all-purpose flour (or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours) and enhanced with both eggs and a sweetener (either sugar or honey). It is similar in taste and texture to Greek tsoureki or Swiss zopf, but unlike those breads it’s dairy-free. Traditionally served at the Jewish Sabbath and on most holidays (save Passover), challah and its many incarnations are a part of Jewish cuisine and culture in much of the world.

What distinguishes challah from other soft white breads is its striking appearance; the loaf is a shiny, deep-mahogany brown, thanks to a coating of egg glaze before going into the oven. The dough for this loaf is wonderfully smooth and supple, making it an ideal candidate for braiding. The simplest way to go is a three-strand braid; but feel free to try the slightly more complex four-strand braid, or even a six-strand braid, which makes a stunning presentation.

CLASSIC CHALLAH

Ingredients:

For the Dough

1/2 cup lukewarm water

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey or golden syrup

2 eggs, room temperature

4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kitchen salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

For the Glaze

1 egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon cold water

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients and knead, by hand or bread machine, until it forms a soft, smooth dough.

  • Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until puffy. It will not necessarily double in bulk.

  • Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide the dough into pieces.

  • The number of pieces will depend on the type of braid. The traditional challah is a three-stranded braid.

  • For a fancier presentation, make a six-strand braid. Roll each piece of dough into a rope about 20″ long.

  • If the dough starts to shrink back as you roll, cover it and rest for about 10 minutes, then resume rolling.

  • The short rest gives the gluten a chance to relax. Gently pick up loaf and place it on a lined baking sheet.

  • Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until it’s very puffy, for 90 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature.

  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 375°F. To make glaze, whisk together egg and water.

  • Brush glaze over  en loaf. Place the baking sheet atop another baking sheet to insulate the bottom crust.

  • Put the challah in the lower third of the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Tent loosely with aluminum foil.

  • Once you have tented the challah, bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes till the loaf looks and feels set.

  • Remove bread from oven, and place it on a rack to cool. Store any leftover bread well wrapped in plastic.

  • Challah tends to dry out after a day or so, but it can always be toasted or made into grilled sandwiches.

KAF Challenge: Classic Challah

Welcome to our Holiday Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake one of our favorite holiday recipes, this stunning Cinnamon Star Bread, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy!

Picture1

You want to bake something extra-special for the holidays. A real show-stopper, as delicious as it is gorgeous. Not only is this loaf gorgeous; it’s your best cinnamon bun dream come true. Multiple layers of cinnamon-sugar encased in tender bread beg you to pull apart, slice, or nibble. Each warm and aromatic bite is better than the last.

CINNAMON STAR BREAD

For the Dough

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup instant potato flakes

1/4 cup nonfat milk powder

3/4 cup+ 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kitchen salt

For the Cinnamon Filling

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Method:

  • Sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer to prevent any lumps.

  • Combine all dough ingredients and knead by hand to make a soft, smooth dough.

  • Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rise for 60 minutes, until doubled.

  • Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and rest for 15 minutes.

  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of dough into a 10-inch circle.

  • Place circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on surface.

  • Sprinkle with 1/3 of cinnamon-sugar, leave 1/4″ of bare dough around perimeter.

  • Roll out a second circle the same size as the first and place it on top of first circle.

  • Repeat layering process with egg, cinnamon sugar, dough, leaving top circle bare.

  • Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cookie cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide.

  • Cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layer.

  • Using two hands, pick up 2 adjacent strips. Twist them away from each other twice.

  • Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with 8 pairs of strips.

  • Pinch pairs of strips together to create star shape with eight points. Remove cutter.

  • Transfer star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush with egg and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.

  • Remove bread from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

  • Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 10.

KAF November Bakealong Challenge

 

 

Welcome to our August Bakealong Challenge. Each month, we announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Golden Focaccia, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. We recently wrapped up the first year of our Bakealong challenge, and decided to kick off our second year of Bakealong with this classic Italian country recipe. It is a casual bread, enjoyed warm from the oven with family and friends, a dish made for sharing.

Maybe you’ve tasted the American version of this flatbread, typically thick and tender with a soft crust but we’d like you to learn about true focaccia, the kind made in Italian towns from Genoa to Catania. Our Golden Focaccia Bakealong will show you how to create the real thing: Italian focaccia, usually a bit thinner than American-style, crusty and chewy and topped with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a scattering of herbs. Fancy versions of focaccia will have chopped olives or onions, plus maybe a few curls of shaved Parmesan. But one trait common to all native Italian focaccia is this: there’s no iconic recipe, and it’s never made exactly the same way twice.

GOLDEN FOCACCIA

Ingredients:

For the Overnight Starter

1/2 cup cool water

1/16 teaspoon instant yeast

1 cup all purpose flour

For the Focaccia Dough

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm water

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

  • Make the overnight starter by mixing water and 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast, then slowly add the flour.
  • Stir until the flour is incorporated. The starter will be paste-like; it won’t form a ball. Cover and let rest.

  • Keep at room temperature for about 14 hours and starter will be bubbly and be ready by next morning.
  • Combine the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and knead to make a smooth, elastic dough.

  • Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. Dough will become noticeably puffy.
  • A large baking sheet (e.g., an 18″ x 13″ half-sheet pan) will comfortably hold the entire batch of dough.

  • For a smaller focaccia, pat the dough into four 6″ to 8″ rounds, either freeform or in round cake pans.
  • Use non-stick vegetable oil spray to lightly grease the pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top of it.

  • Gently pull and shape dough into a rough rectangle and pat it into the pan but not all the way to edges.
  • Leave an inch or so free around the perimeter. Cover pan, and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes.

  • Use fingers to make irregularly spaced dimples, pressing down firmly to reach the bottom of the pan.
  • Cover dough, and let rise until it is noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. The dough should have expanded.

  • Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Set baking stone on lower-middle rack.
  • Spritz heavily with warm water. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, enough to collect in the dimples.

  • Sprinkle with rosemary, any herb of your choice, black pepper, and some flaked sea salt or kosher salt.
  • Place the pan of focaccia onto the baking stone. Bake until light golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

KAF August 2017 Bakealong Challenge: Golden Focaccia

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