This post is an ongoing editorial of angst. I drool enviously over the breads made by artisan bread makers, lusting after the dark chewy textures. Recently I realized my bread making is stuck in a rut. Sure these look good and taste good, made with the right ingredients but I want to trap my own yeast and culture a starter that isn't made with store bought yeast.
The School of Artisan Food based in the heart of the Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, is set to take it's first students in September 2010 for the Foundation Degree in Artisan Food, a 2 year diploma program. The emphasis is on foods that ferment; bread, cheese, beer, diary and charcuterie. While that would be an marvelous experience I'll need to take another route.
I begin with the very talented Susan at yeastspotting who has mentored a league of her own, sharing her knowledge so kindly. I started my quest with; water + flour = yeast, a very detailed set of instructions, thank you very much Susan.
It all went well for awhile but something went wrong so I had to resort back to my tried and true method, for now. Here is my recipe for sweet dough. I use our local Anita's organic stone ground wholewheat and organic unbleached white flour.
1 c warm water
2T regular yeast
In a small bowl add the warm water, dissolve the sugar and stir in the yeast. Let set until foamy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
3 c milk or water and milk combination, scald
1/3 c to 1/2 c butter or coconut oil
1/4 c to 1/2 c pure cane sugar
2 large eggs, organic free run
1 1/2 t sea salt
4 c wholewheat flour
4 c unbleached white flour, approximately
In a large bowl whisk hot milk, butter, sugar, and salt together to melt butter and cool to warm before adding eggs. Whisk in yeast mixture and add the wholewheat flour changing to a large wooden spoon. Work in enough unbleached flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Wash the bowl and butter or oil the bowl well and roll the dough to cover with oil or butter. Cover with cloth and let stand in warm spot. When it has doubled punch down to let air out and butter top. Let rise again to double.
1/2 c butter
1 c packed organic dark brown sugar
2 - 3 T ground cinnamon
1/2 c dried cranberries, soaked and drained well
1/2 c raisins or currents
1/2 c chopped raw walnuts
glaze for pans
1/4 c butter
1 c dark organic brown sugar
12 raw walnut halves, optional
Preheat oven to 375 F
Butter 2 large heavy baking pans or 2 glass cake pans, this is a large batch. Sprinkle brown sugar on bottom of pan and distribute the walnut halves if using.
On a large floured surface roll out the dough making sure to keep the surface underneath well floured. Roll a large rectangle to 1/4 thick. Spread soft butter, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon, then cranberries, raisins and walnuts. Roll the long side in tightly. Cut into 1 inch slices and place cut side down 1/4 inch apart. Cover with tea towel until double in size. Bake in oven on middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and firm.
Have a large cooling rack ready and another baking pan to turn the buns out onto right away. Flip out onto rack with sticky side up until cool.