Thursday, June 19, 2014

What's Baking?: Summer Produce

What's baking in my kitchen? Muffins that I baked in August and immediately froze (instead of making and freezing meals before baby arrived, I made baked goods. It was too confusing to decide on meals to make!

In the 6 months since I became a mother, I have actually baked a bit. I've made several batches of lactation cookies, many batches of the best brownies ever (which I'll share here, I promise), sugar cut-out cookies (a multi-night endeavor), chocolate chip cookies, and even gingerbread blondies (twice!), another recipe I need to share. But that's it. Forget baking on a schedule! I went to a pot-luck last week and I had to go to Big Y to buy two pounds of edamame salad. ME! I bought something for a pot-luck. It's so out of character.

But I've been sorry to miss out on the What's Baking? themes. Twice I did bake something within the theme, but I just didn't manage to blog about it before the deadline. So now that dear FC is 6 months old and eating his own food (steamed, not baked), it's a bit easier to share the baby duties with my husband.

The June theme is summer produce, chosen by Yudith at Blissfully Delicious. Normally I'd bake with freshly picked strawberries- not this year! I fortunately froze several pounds of freshly picked strawberries last year, so I had some all ready in the freezer.

And serendipitously, Joy the Baker has partnered with King Arthur Flour and together they've introduced a baking bootcamp on instagram. Everyone makes the same recipe and posts photos on instagram with #bakingbootcamp and will be entered to win a year's supply of King Arthur flour! (that's like 120lbs, right?) The baking bootcamp recipe is triple berry braided bread. Which includes strawberries.

Hooray, 2 birds, one stone! Perfect for this new mom.

I haven't baked anything with yeast since.... October, maybe? Whereas I used to bake bread nearly every week. This was pretty exciting. As yeast breads go, this recipe is rather straightforward, but the assembly is interesting. Mine was not perfect, but it was delicious and I plan to try again. Also, another participant instagrammed her 2nd attempt, which was a parmesan rosemary version- I definitely need to try that version!

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
by Joy the Baker

For the bread:
2.25t active dry yeast
1T sugar
3/4 warm milk (around 100-105oC)
1 egg yolk
2T unsalted butter, melted
2.25 cups King Arthur Flour AP flour
1/2t salt

Whisk together the milk, sugar and yeast, and set aside for 5-10 minutes, til it gets frothy. Stir in the egg yolk and melted butter, then place the flour and salt in the bowl of your mixer and add the yeast mixture. Stir/knead. [Joy suggests kneading by hand for 10 minutes, but I had a crying baby so I just let the mixer take care of it] Place in a greased bowl, covered, and let rise for 1-1.5hrs, til it's doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

For the filling:
1/4 cup (half stick) of butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3T cinnamon
2cups of berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries would be nice)

NOTE: don't use frozen strawberries, use fresh. They are very wet and your bread will be in a puddle and very difficult to shape. Or, if you must use frozen strawberries, have a full roll of paper towel on hand. I blame the frozen strawberries for my less-than-perfect bread!

To make the filling, mix together the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Prep the berries (wash, hull, whatever they need), set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To assemble the bread: this is the tricky part!

Knead the dough on a floured board a couple times. Roll out to a 12x18in rectangle,

then spread the butter/cinnamon/sugar filling in an even layer over the top, leaving an inch-thick bare spot along one long edge. Sprinkle/evenly place the berries over the filling.

 Then start to roll up the dough, ending at the filling-less edge.

 Now you have a snake of dough. Cut this snake in half, leaving one end with a couple inches uncut so the two halves are still connected at that end.
 Flip the halves so the cut sides are up. This is where wet, defrosted strawberries cause a problem: my dough would not stick together and kept flopping open.
 Now, cross the halves over each other in a helix- again, this can be tricky and the dough may threaten to fall apart and all the berries will spill out. Just shove them back in at random.

 Then roll the helix into a circle and place into either a greased iron skillet or a greased springform pan. Brush with an egg wash made of one beaten egg, and sprinkle with powdered sugar (which I neglected to do).

Pop in the oven for 40-45 minutes and go clean up the defrosted strawberry puddle.


 I love springform pans.

The bread isn't very sweet, so it takes well to the cinnamon sugar filling. I ended up sprinkling powdered sugar over slices as I ate them. The dough is a good bread dough, the filling is classic cinnamon sugar, and it's a nice way to use up berries if you need something to do with them. This recipe would work well for a variety of fillings (like the IGer with her parm-rosemary version). It was fun to attempt a fancier bread shape than I've ever done before, and while it didn't work great and was a little stressful (don't use frozen strawberries!!), I want to make another and try again. Also, it didn't take all that long to make!

If you have kids, I don't recommend making this when your husband's at work. Wait til Saturday when you have someone else in the house!