Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers August 2016

So here is a confession for you….wait for it….the only cinnamon raisin swirl bread I’ve had until now is the mass market stuff you buy at the local grocery store. Here in Southern California the brand is Oroweat. It’s okay, but nothing I would spend one bit of energy thinking or writing about. This past week I made our August recipe for Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers – the Cinnamon Raisin Loaf. julie-e-julia-sonypictures-com-brDespite a couple of minor hiccups that I’ll explain later, it was fantastic. By the way, this is the second month in a row where we’ve made a bread that I haven’t made before so I’m expanding my baking horizons. This is one of the beautiful things about the Bread Bible. With 150 recipes to choose from, many of which offer multiple variations, it will take a bit of time (maybe years unless you do one every day) to get through them all. As I write this, I am thinking of the 2009 movie Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I may have to watch that again soon on Amazon Prime as I haven’t seen it in ages.

Made entirely with white flour, there were three important similarities with the Caramel Sticky Buns we made last month. The two obvious similarities were the use of cinnamon and raisins, as well as the spiral rolling technique. One other note, for both of these recipes, I tried the Vietnamese Cinnamon from King Arthur Flour.  It provides a really nice, vibrant cinnamon flavor, and a large 3 ounce jar is only $5.95.  Be sure to add it to your shopping list next time you order — you won’t regret it.  The third similarity was the use of butter in the dough which created a silky rich dough with great texture and taste. I started work on this recipe on a IMG_0067Saturday morning by preparing the dough starter. I should note that the recipe is enough for two loaves baked in 8.5 x 4.5” loaf pans. I only have one loaf pan, so I decided that since I had such success with the Oxo cake pan I purchased last month that I would pop by Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up a second loaf pan. When I got it home I realized that my old pan was actually 10.5 x 5.5” and I’m not sure how I ended up with a non-standard pan size. Anyway the new pan was $16.99 less the $5 off coupon I remembered to take with me, and I love the square straight sides. Both pans performed well, however the loaf baked in the larger pan was not as tall. I suppose I didn’t split the dough into two pieces of quite the right size, but it wasn’t really a problem.

IMG_0055Now here is where my urgent need for a mani-pedi set me up for one of two minor hiccups. If you use Rose’s recipes and have read Chapter One in “The Bible” about the need to wait and add the salt after the yeast so that the two ingredients don’t come into direct contact then you don’t add the salt with your other dry ingredients. What I normally do is sit the salt container next to the mixer as a reminder to add it when I mix the dough. When I initially prepared the sponge and dry ingredients 4 hours earlier, I forgot to put the salt out and failed to add it as I was rushing to get that mani-pedi.  I realized the salt was missing of course as soon as I tasted the finished bread, although nobody else seemed to notice or care.

Fast forward to post mani-pedi and rolling out the dough. The dough was very smooth and easy to work with after refrigerating it. I brushed the dough with the lightly beaten egg before sprinkling on the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but I forgot about dimpling the dough to prevent gaps from forming. You’ll see that the smaller of the two loaves does have one gap towards the top of the loaf, while the other is gap free. By the way, I do believe that the smaller loaf had risen fully so I don’t believe I had excessive oven spring. That top layer just wasn’t rolled tightly enough.

Despite these minor issues, the results were great and I would certainly bake this recipe again. Rose does provide an herb variation with parsley and green onions instead of the cinnamon and raisins that I’d love to try in the near future. Another idea would be to try a sun-dried tomato or herb and cheese mixture like the Pane Bianco recipe I tried last month. My only bit of advice is to pay attention as you go along and do not rush off to get a mani-pedi!

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Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers July 2016

Our July recipe was for Caramel Sticky Buns which are based on a wonderful brioche dough. The dough was soft and silky smooth, rich with the addition of eggs and butter. I made the dough roughly 36 hours ahead, and while it took a bit more effort than a standard bread dough it was absolutely worth it. Rose provides directions for a modified sticky bun with a maple topping and using walnuts instead of pecans in the filling so I made this variation. Rose’s very detailed directions are truly a blessing as this was my first time making this type of dough, and my first time with spiral rolled buns. While my finished rolls were not perfect in appearance, they tasted heavenly warm from the oven or gently reheated in the microwave.

On the first day I prepared the starter, and after a couple of hours began to mix the dough. I chilled the dough and manipulated it, rolling and performing the business letter turns and refrigerating again as directed.

On the evening of the second day I prepared the raisins, the walnut filling and the maple topping. Rose recommends Lyle’s Golden Syrup which I tried for the first time instead of maple syrup as the maple syrup I had on hand seemed really thin. I recently received a small sample of Boyajian’s Maple Flavor with an order from King Arthur Flour and decided to give it a try. The directions suggested ¼ teaspoon per cup of liquid so I used 1/8 teaspoon and a few drops extra for good measure. When combined, the syrup, maple flavoring, heavy cream and butter created a topping that was absolutely divine.

Rolling the dough into the required rectangle was quick and easy—there were no issues with it sticking to my lightly floured work surface. After the dough was rolled, I applied the egg wash, sprinkled the dough with the nut mixture and the raisins, then rolled it into the tube shape to be cut. Before cutting, I did freeze the dough for about 10 minutes, but I still found it challenging to slice the dough. The buns rose beautifully and I popped them in the oven after about two hours. My one suggestion would be to not use the baking stone as the topping became perhaps a little more brown than I would like although they tasted great.  I will bake these again as they were a hit with visiting relatives and the head baker here.

One final note – I decided to purchase a new 9 X 13 pan as my old pan was really old and not non-stick which I felt would be important for this recipe. I did a bit of online research and decided to try the Oxo Non-stick Pro cake pan as an alternative to the Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch which cost almost twice as much.

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My new pan before baking

The pan performed well in the oven, and cleanup was a breeze. The gooey mess left in the pan worried me, but I filled the pan with hot water and let it sit for a few hours. When I drained the pan, it was almost completely clean — and I hadn’t even used soap. In the interest of full disclosure, I did lightly grease the pan before pouring the topping but nonetheless I was impressed with the ease of cleanup. The retail price at Bed Bath and Beyond was $21.99 and I used a 20% off coupon for a net price of $17.59 versus a retail price of $34.95 for the Williams-Sonoma offering.

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My new pan after baking