How did my lunch end up in my bread?!

March 28th, 2011 | Posted by greg in Books | Classes & Demo | Daily life...

Unless you’re preparing a classic rum-raisin ice cream or an apple strudel, you will seldom find raisins in modern dessert menu.

Raisins have become more of a nutritional snack rather than a gastronomical experience like it was once. Gourmet chefs rather try to get creative by using specialty raisins such as muscadet raisins or other sorts of grapes to be different than the maybe too traditional raisins.

There is one area where raisins are still the king and it’s baking. Raisins will always have their place in breads or viennoiseries and beside the classic pain aux raisins or panettone,  there are other ways to get creative.

The baking class held on March 26th at the Institute of Culinary Arts featured raisins in two creative recipes taken from my upcoming baking book (coming soon in July 2011!)

From lunch to bread

We prepared an apple cider bread with bacon, coriander, raisins and dried apple. The inspiration of this bread came from a lunch I cooked at home a few month ago. I had decided to roast a nice piece of pork meat, that I had deglazed with apple cider and roasted in the oven with apple segments, raisins and coriander seeds. The lunch was excellent – served with buttery mashed potatoes and steamed Brussels sprouts.

When I was asked to create a bread with raisins for the class, the ‘idea’ light switched on right away! I thought why not bringing these ingredients into a loaf? Ok… so I wouldn’t put a whole pork chop in a bread and thus, thought about using sauteed bacon, nicely browned to release a good flavor. Then, I had to match the actual bread to the ingredients. For such rustic flavors, I thought that a touch of rye would be a nice supporting earthy flavor – as well, I decided to ferment it on a 24 hours poolish and working with a very low amount of yeast and a long bulk and final fermentation.

During the class, however, which lasted 4 hours, it was not possible to bake a properly fermented bread because of time limit. So we demonstrated the techniques and baked a more direct dough. I guess for the next class, if the organizer allows, we will knead a dough earlier in the morning to bake even better rolls.

A festive classic turned Asian!

Pan d’Oro is an end of year classic bread. A bit less known than his close cousin the panettone, the Pan d’Oro has nothing to be shy about! It is packed with eggs, butter (a lot of it!) and milk, making it rich, yet, with such an high level of liquid, we end up in a super soft dough where most of the home baker would add double the flour thinking something went wrong. The high hydration level brings us a very soft and spongy texture with the richness of the butter and the eggs – a perfect match for its traditional ingredient, the raisins, but also for the extra addition we had on that day: candied ginger. It added an extra kick, spicy, but rounded to a pleasant finish thanks to the candied process it went through. I couldn’t imagine the same bread with fresh ginger!

The dough is fermented over 24 hours at 5 degrees Celsius, period during which the dough gains all its flavor. We baked the Pan d’Oro in metal rings dressed with a small brown baking paper in it, giving us some sort of muffin looking buns.

One of the greatest traditional version of Pan d’Oro I tried, from an artisan Italian baker, was using crumbed amaretti cookies on the top and dusted with icing sugar – amazing experience! For the class we finished it with water, plain sugar and icing sugar. We then baked it in a low temperature and dry oven, no steam to keep our sugar white, and with all exhaust opened.

The result was great and you can be sure that this bread will make many people happy for breakfast or tea time!

The good thing from baking class is that me too, I am learning. I don’t prepare my speech for classes and therefore, while I am talking to the students, I am also talking to myself – and while ideas sparks out of my mind on possible variations such as other ingredients in the Pan d’Oro or the cider bread, I am taking lots of mental notes for later!

That’s the beauty of baking… creativity never ends – and the best part: we get to eat our masterpieces!

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