Craftsy

Panettone – The Sweet, Fruit Studded Christmas Bread!

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This post may look familiar to some of you, but will be exciting and new to others. As you may know Jeff and I just sent in the manuscript for our next book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day. We are now either celebrating or sleeping, not necessarily in that order. We are taking this week off from providing new content to the website, but wanted to give you a taste of the holidays.

Panettone was traditionally a Christmas bread sold all over Italy during the holidays. It finds its origins in Milan around the 15th century, and has been the subject of much romantic lore.  The most often told story of how this bejeweled bread came to be goes something like this…  A young nobleman by the name of Ughetto Atellani fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker named Toni.  In order to impress her, Ughetto disguised himself as a pastry chef’s apprentice in her father’s bakery. He creates a tall fruit studded bread to present to her father, calling it “Pan de Toni.”  The bread, rich with eggs and butter, sweet with honey, scented with vanilla and lemon zest, with the finishing touch of dried and candied fruits was a success in the bakery and wins the admiration of the lady and the father’s respect. The baker blesses the marriage and Ughetto marries the daughter.
The story is rich and fanciful, just like the bread.  Today this sweet loaf is no longer saved just for Christmas, it is eaten at other holidays throughout the year and served sliced and toasted for brunch and as a dessert with a selection of cheeses and sweet wines. The bread, despite its rather lighthearted lore is quite sophisticated. The traditional method for making panettone is done over the course of several days. It included long sessions of kneading and allowed for up to 20 hours of rise time in order to create a flavor that is both sweet, but also has a complexity caused by the fermentation of the dough. Today, we want the same balance of flavor, without having to labor over the process or wait several days to enjoy our bread. Although you can bake the bread after only a few hours of refrigeration we recommend letting it sit for about 24 hours to develop its full flavor and it will be easier to work with.

The winners from last week’s contest for the Red Star Yeast package are announced below.

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Jeff is holding a pizza-throwing clinic (and book-signing) at Borders, Saturday 12/18, Maple Grove MN

I’m going to be at the Borders in Maple Grove, Minnesota, tomorrow (Saturday December 18), at 2:00pm for a book-signing.  I’ll be tossing pizza dough up in the air– come on out if you want an advance look at the throwing instructions that will be in our third book:  Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, scheduled for release in October 2011–we submitted the manuscript yesterday–Halleluyah!!

Jeff

The Ultimate Jelly Doughnuts!

This week is Chanukah and my family revels in the amount of doughnuts (sufganiyot) we can eat. It is tradition during the holiday to eat fried food, lots of it, which is something I easily embrace. We start with lacy potato latkes and end the meal with jelly doughnuts. This year I filled the doughnuts with many types of jam, jelly and preserves, each had a different topping to go with it. Each one became my new favorite. With a bucket of brioche dough from ABin5 and some oil you are ready to make doughnuts that are better than the bakery down the street.

We want to thank Willie Geist for featuring Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day on this weekends broadcast of the TODAY SHOW. What a thrill!

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New video’s coming (on how to get steam into your oven); but we’re two weeks from manuscript deadline, so here’s a Roasted Red Pepper Fougasse…

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… …and I’m having trouble finding time to finish editing the video.  Zoe and I have two more busy weeks of last-minute editing for our pizza and flatbread book (which will be out in October of 2011).  I’ll get the new video up here as soon as possible (on how to get steam into your oven), but meanwhile here’s a re-print of an old post– on roasted red pepper fougasse– a gorgeous stuffed flatbread from France, which looks ahead to next year when we’ll be talking about flatbread all the time. Continue reading

Soft Thanksgiving Pull Apart Buns!

Happy Thanksgiving! We wish you all a wonderful holiday and lots of fresh bread at your table to share with family and friends. I’m making these soft pull apart buns for our dinner tonight. They are perfect for sopping up gravy and making little turkey sandwiches.  You can do this with any of our doughs, but I used the brioche from ABin5 to get a luxurious texture and the soft crust that so many people associate with this style bun.

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Thanksgiving Cranberry Corn Bread – (Contest Closed!)

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It will soon be American Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d re-post our Thanksgiving Cranberry Corn bread.  It’s based on the Portuguese Broa style (page 82 in the book)—it’s our regular Master Recipe, but with 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour taken out and replaced with an equal amount of cornmeal.

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Look for us in this Sunday’s paper

Zoe and I will be in select newspapers all over the United States this Sunday, November 14.  Our flyer will have a Red Star Yeast coupon, and links to their site with video and both our Master recipes (whole grain and white).  If we’re not in your city this Sunday, you can still see the video and recipes (but not get the coupon) at breadin5minutes.com.

We’ve been baking with Red Star for as long as we’ve been baking (40 person-years?), and have been doing events with Red Star for almost a year now– great product, consistent results, and available in many forms (packets, jars, and bulk all over the place).  Check out my post about our neck-tag on the Red Star yeast bottles.

See you Sunday…

Mini Brioche a Tête (Video of Mixing Brioche Dough in a Stand Mixer, Shaping and Baking!)

You can mix our doughs in a big bucket with a Danish dough whisk, which is our standard, or you can mix in a stand mixer. Jeff and I tend to use the bucket, because it is one less thing to wash, but some people find that it is easier to make the doughs in a mixer and then transfer them. Either way produces wonderful dough, so pick your own way.

In the video I share a few tricks for mixing up Brioche that are even faster than what we wrote in the book. I love the taste of this buttery bread and the mini versions are wonderful because they take a fraction of the time to rest and bake. They make perfect soft buns for dinner or you can spread them with preserves for breakfast.

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Use your best bread for the best panini you’ll ever eat

Panini (singular panino) are mouthwatering Italian grilled sandwiches.  They’re closely related to the French “croque monsieur,” but they’re made with olive oil rather than melted butter.  You can put anything you want into them, so long as one of the ingredients is cheese, which ties the whole thing together.

Why not make them with the best bread you can find (your own of course)?  First make some bread from any lean dough (white flour recipe, or a whole grain version), then come back here to fire up the panini press (you’ll see in some of my pictures that I used a mixture of doughs).  One nice thing is that the bread doesn’t have to be absolutely fresh to make a crisp and crunchy panino, so this can be a great way to use up yesterday’s loaf… Continue reading