Category Archives: Bread

Pan de Ramerino

“Rosmarino” is how you say “rosemary” in Italian, but in the Tuscan dialect it’s “ramerino”. The formula has a few extra steps compared to a typical herbed bread as the aim is to infuse the oil with rosemary flavor instead of adding chopped herb to the dough. The results is a very light and elegant flavor. If you like a stronger rosemary flavor, add a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves at the same time you add the raisins to the dough. The bread goes like this:

2 ounces (1/4 cup) olive oil
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3.5 ounces (2/3 cup) raisins
3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ounces (scant 2 tablespoons) sugar
17.5 oz (3 1/4 cups) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
2 eggs
egg wash
apricot glaze

Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat. When it slides easily across the pan, add the rosemary and sauté it for about 30 seconds. Remove and discard the rosemary and add the raisins to the pan. Again sauté for about 30 seconds, then strain the raisins — reserving the oil — and set them aside to cool.

Combine the dry ingredients the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and stir on low to combine. Meanwhile pour the wet ingredients including the cooled oil into a medium bowl and whisk lightly to combine them. Pour the wet ingredients into the mixer and turn it up to medium. Stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough is elastic. Knead in the raisins (and chopped rosemary if desired).

Remove the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel and let rise for about an hour and a half until doubled. Cut the dough into 12 pieces, shape them into balls and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush them lightly with more olive oil and let them proof about 45 minutes until doubled. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the buns have finished proofing, score them in a tic-tac-toe pattern, brush them with egg wash and bake them about 20 minutes until well browned. Let them cool until they’re just warm and apply a light brushing of apricot glaze.

Filed under:  Pan de Ramerino, Pastry | 4 Comments

How to Make Hot Cross Buns

These come together so quickly and easily you’ll want to bake up a batch every Friday (or Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday…). They’re light, slightly sweet with a hint of spice and candied fruit. Delicious but not so much of a Lenten indulgence that you’ll have to go to confession afterward. Use whatever dried fruit is handy. Raisins are very common, currents are very English, citron is very hip, dried apricot is very, um…Louisville. Mix and match them to your heart’s content. Start by assembling your ingredients. Put the dried fruit in a medium microwave-safe bowl and zap until he water starts to boil. Let them sit, plump and cool.

Whisk your liquid ingredients in a medium bowl.

Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle.

Give the dry ingredients a stir to blend them, then add the liquids all at once.

Mix just long enough to moisten them…

…and switch to the dough hook. Knead several minutes until the dough comes together in a soft ball, about like this. If it’s too wet, just add a few tablespoons of extra flour. The dough will be rather sticky and will cling to the bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer back on and add the soft butter.

Once it’s all incorporated, add the dried and/or candied fruit that you’ve thoroughly drained and pressed in a strainer.

Let the dough rise for about an hour and a half or until doubled in volume.

About like this:

Now cut them into pieces between 2 and 2.75 ounces. I did the larger and got 18 buns. 2-ounces dough pieces will give you about 25.

Shape the pieces into rolls according to the directions in the post How to Shape Buns and Rolls. Paint them with egg wash….

…and let them proof 30-45 minutes or so until the balls are again almost doubled, but still spring back when you poke them. Meanwhile, paint them with egg wash again and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake them about 20 minutes until they look like this:

Let them cool and apply the icing crosses. I went a little heavy with the icing but hey, Lent is long. I like rack for this so the icing doesn’t pool up between the buns. Serve them warm.

Did I mention you don’t need to be Catholic or even Christian to enjoy a good hot cross bun? Jump in folks, the water’s fine.

Filed under:  Hot Cross Buns, Pastry | 31 Comments

Hot Cross Bun Recipe

I’m normally a long-fermentation snob where it comes to bread, but frankly with all the spices in these little guys it’s mighty hard to pick up the subtleties that a long rise offers. A full tablespoon of instant yeast blows this dough up in no time — foom — which means from mixing to glazing, you can have these done in about four hours.

1 lb. 9 ounces (5 cups) bread flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups warm milk
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
egg wash
simple icing

Place the raisins in a bowl and add enough water to barely cover them. Microwave them for about a minute until the water boils. Allow them to sit about 15 minutes to plump and cool. Put flour, yeast spices and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater (paddle) attachment. Turn on low to blend. In a medium bowl combine milk, honey, eggs and whisk lightly to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of the mixer as it’s running and continue to stir until the flour mixture is completely moistened. Turn off the mixer and switch to the dough hook. Turn the mixer up to medium and add the butter and raisins. Knead 5-7 minutes until the dough comes together in a soft ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into 18 pieces (they should weigh a little over 3 ounces each). Shape the pieces into buns according to the How to Shape Buns and Rolls instructions under the bread how-to’s on the right. Place the rolls on parchment-lined sheet pans and spray lightly with cooking spray. Cover gently with greased plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about another 30-45 minutes (they should be puffy, but the dough should spring back some when you poke it).

Paint the buns with egg wash and score the tops of them in a criss-cross pattern. Bake for about 20 minutes or until well browned. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. When completely cooled, drizzle on simple icing in a cross shape, or use a pastry bag if you prefer!

Filed under:  Hot Cross Buns, Pastry | 14 Comments

Making Kugelhopf

Eating kugelhopf is a little like traveling in time. You’re reminded of what “cake” was like before it became the ultra-rich, ultra-sweet, ultra-moist sort of device that it is now. I’m not complaining about modern cake, mind you. I’m just saying that “cake” as it was defined a few hundred years ago is a beautiful thing. I served this as the closer for Mrs. Pastry’s birthday party the other night, complete with candles, and it was a hit. A sweet white dessert wine positively makes this, as it blends elegantly with the toasty-sweet crust, tender buttery interior and tangy rum-soaked raisins. Talk about a grownup cake, I want one for my birthday!

The success of your kugehopf will largely depend on how you treat your brioche dough. Give it a little less butter but a whole lot more time. Let the sponge ferment overnight, then let the finished dough ripen in the fridge for two or three days. Brown a little of the butter. The care you take in the preparation of the dough will show later, believe me.

On the day you want to bake start by assembling all your components. Combine the sugar, water and rum (which is optional really) in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil.

Take it off the heat and add the raisins. Let them sit and plump for about an hour.

Seizing the nearest available 9- or 10-cup kugelhopf pan…

…butter the interior generously.

Pour in the sliced almonds and spread them around, sticking them to the sides as best you can.

That done, turn your attention to the dough. Take it out of the fridge, trim the batch down to 14-16 ounces, and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Pat it into a rough rectangle.

Roll it a little in one direction…

…then turn the dough piece and roll it in the other until it’s about 14 inches long.

Drain the raisins (reserve the syrup for another purpose if you like) and scatter them over the dough. Apply some egg wash to the far edge of the dough sheet and gently start rolling it up.

Make the roll fairly tight so it’s easy to roll it back and forth a bit on the board (odds are you’ll need to even it out some).

Brush a little egg wash onto the ends of the roll…

…and lay it into the pan, sticking the ends together.

At this point you’ll want to cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rise for about two hours until the top of the dough is about 75% of the way up to the lip of the pan. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Put the kugelhopf into the oven and set the time for 20 minutes. If it looks as brown as this at the 20 minute point, lay a piece of tin foil over the top for the last ten minutes of baking.

Remove the pan from the oven and turn the kugelhopf out onto a serving platter or plate. Brush the hot kugelhopf liberally with melted butter — to which you’ve added a few teaspoons of orange flower water (thanks reader Gretchen!) or a few drops of an extract of your choice. Orange or almond are preferred.

Let the kugelhopf cool for about half an hour, then serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Filed under:  Kugelhopf, Pastry | 23 Comments

Kugelhopf Recipe

I’ll be starting with Gaston Lenôtres famous Kugelhopf recipe, though I’m not ruling out that I’ll change it a bit, since one or two very interesting ideas came in from reader Regine last week and I intend to explore them. For now here’s the starting point.

1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) rum
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
3.25 ounces (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) water
4.5 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) raisins
3.5 ounces (1 cup) slivered almonds
14-16 ounces brioche dough, chilled and ready
egg wash
powdered sugar for dusting
melted butter for the top of the cake
orange flower water, or a few drops of the extract of your choice

Combine the water, sugar and rum in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, then take it off the heat. Pour in the raisins and soak them for about an hour.

Butter a kugelhopf mold and and sprinkle slivered almonds all over it. Roll the dough into a long rectangle. Drain the raisins and sprinkle them over the top. Roll up the dough, bring the ends in to form a circle and paint them with a little egg wash to stick them together. Place the dough in the mold and let it rise for about 2 hours or until it fills about 75% of the mold.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the kugelhopf for 30 minutes (checking after 20 to make sure it’s not getting too browned…if so place an aluminum foil circle on the top). Check for doneness with a long, sharp knife. Turn out the kugelhopf while it’s still warm, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle it all over with the powdered sugar.

Filed under:  Kugelhopf, Pastry | 10 Comments

Making Black Bread (Pumpernickel)

Here’s how I like to eat a real pumpernickel: with lox, cream cheese and capers. Why? Because this moist, ultra-dense bread calls out for accompaniment. Smoked fish and cheese. A nice slice of pork fat with onions and chili powder on top. Something — and something rich. Oh, and beer.

Not that this bread doesn’t taste great on its own of course. This is an all-rye bread. No white wheat flour, no caraway seeds, nothing to mask it’s pure, peasant the-wheat-crop-failed-this-year-and-we-have-nothing-else-to-eat rye-ness. You’ll get it when you taste it. It ain’t no sandwich bread but it’s great for canapés, toast, or just eating with butter.

Yes there are darker pumpernickels out there, though most of those are dyed with espresso powder or sometimes cocoa to give them a coffee blackness. Others are darker because they have been baked for a dozen hours in a very steamy oven. I might try a longer baking time next time to see if I can get this one any darker. Having mail ordered both dark rye flour and rye meal so that I can make this, I’ve got several pounds left for experiments. Start by gathering your ingredients. On day one, combine your starter with the rye flour and water.

Stir it all up and let it sit about four hours until it’s swelled (about 50% larger than it was). You’ll see a few small bubbles on the top.

While you’re waiting, combine the rye flour, rye meal and boiling water.

This is what’s known in some bread circles as a “soaker”, a method for softening up large chunks of grain so they don’t shatter your teeth later. Trust me, it’s a good idea.

When the soaker is cool and the sponge is puffy, combine the two in a large mixing bowl or in the bowls of a mixer fitted with the paddle (a kneading hook will do you no good here, friends, those pentosan gums are just too gooey).

Knead or stir the mixture on low for a couple of minutes until the sponge is completely incorporated. Remove it to a bowl…

…and let it rise about four more hours until it’s about 50% larger than it was, then put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day combine the dough with the remaining rye flour and the salt. Stir it about three minutes.

Add the yeast and stir about three minutes more.

It will be quite sticky when it’s done, so turn it out onto a board well dusted with rye flour.

And roll it into a loaf of whatever shape you like…as long as it’s oblong.

This one I dropped into my pullman pan because I like straight sides.

I let it proof about another hour until cracks began to show.

Then I brushed it with boiling water and baked it at 475 for about 15 minutes (pouring water into a pan in the oven to generate steam), and then turned the oven down to 275 for another 2 1/2 hours. What does the boiling water paint job accomplish? It helps to gelatinize some of the starch and give it a bit of a sheen. Corn starch in boiling water does an even better job of adding shine and is a standby technique in Old World bakeries, especially those that make rye breads.

Don’t expect much of an oven spring with an all-rye bread. When it’s cooled, turn it out of the pan and let it sit until it’s completely cooled.

Let it sit for a minimum of two days before you slice it since it will be quite gummy on the inside before that. Those pentosan gums need time to dry out. Personally I like a rest of about five days, but experiment and see what you like. This is a great bread to have in your repertoire as it’s not only terrific, it’s a true representative of what peasant breads were actually like once upon a time. Enjoy it!

Filed under:  Black Bread, Pastry | 18 Comments

How to Make Rye Starter

A rye starter is basically the same thing as a white or whole wheat starter: a fermented mass of wet flour, only with rye flour as a base instead of some other type. Rye flours are quick to ferment for reasons that will be discussed later this week, meaning you can make one in a bout half the time of a white wheat starter: about three days. All you need to do is mix maybe an ounce of rye flour with an ounce of water, stir it and let it sit out overnight. The next day add two ounces of rye flour and two ounces of water and again let it sit out overnight. The next day add four ounces of rye flour and four ounces of water…and you should have a ready starter about four hours later. Bingo.

Me, since I always have some white starter around, so I like to start with that and simply change the food. Here I’ve got an ounce of very active and bubbly (just fed about two hours before) white flour starter.

I add an ounce of rye flour…

…and an ounce of water…

…and stir.

Four hours or so later it looks like this. Not much appears to have changed save that it’s puffier and there are a few little black bubble holes in it.

However under the surface you can see that there’s activity. See the bubbles spaces in there?

This can be used right away. For a “truer” rye starter, feed it a second time (doubling its weight with a 50-50 flour-water mixture) and leave it out overnight. Feed it once more in the morning or later that day, let it rise about 3-4 hours and use!

Filed under:  Pastry, Rye Starter | 4 Comments

Black Bread (Pumpernickel) Recipe

This recipe, for a very dark Polish and/or Lithuanian-style rye, diverges from most in that it uses neither espresso powder nor cocoa for color. That’s the upside. The downside is that you have to special order both dark rye flour and rye meal to execute it. Happily both are available on Amazon via Bob’s Red Mill.

Notice that this recipe, while very “Old World” in that it uses starter and is built in several stages, is still “spiked” with commercial yeast at the end to prevent it from becoming a complete brick. God love the modern world and neo-traditionalist bakers! This recipe is adapted from Inside the Jewish Bakery by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg. It makes one large free-form loaf or two smaller 11″ x 4″ sandwich loaves. I may well adapt this to fit a pullman pan at some point in the coming week.

For the Sponge

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) rye starter
3 ounces (scant 1/3 cup) water
2 ounces (1/2 cup) dark rye flour

Combine the ingredients and allow them to sit about 4 hours or until it’s about 50% larger in size and bubbly.

For the Dough

18 ounces (2 1/4 cups) boiling water
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dark rye flour
5 ounces (generous 3/4 cup) rye (pumpernickel) meal
the sponge from above

Next, combine the first three ingredients in a bowl (do NOT add the sponge right away, as the boiling water will kill it) and set aside to cool until just warm. Add the sponge to it and allow it to ferment about 4 hours until it’s about 50% larger and bubbly, then refrigerate it overnight.

For the Finished Dough

cold dough from above
5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dark rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the dough, flour and salt in a bowl or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead for about three minutes, then sprinkle in the yeast and knead about three minutes more.

Shape the dough as you prefer, into an oblong round shape is the classic, and place it on the back of a sheet of sheet pan on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the loaf with a cloth and let it proof about 90 minutes. Meanwhile, place a baking stone in the oven as put a pan on the very bottom (or very top) rack that you’ll use to generate steam, and preheat your oven to about 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the loaf is about 30% larger and a few cracks appear on it, brush it with boiling water and slash the top. Slide it onto the stone, still on the parchment paper. Carefully pour a cup of water into your steam pan and close the door. Add another cup at 3 minutes, then another at 6 minutes. After the steam fest is over (about 10 minutes) turn the oven down to 275 degrees and bake another 2-2 1/2 hours.

Remove the finished loaf from the oven and brush it again with boiling water (this helps give it a shine). Let the finished loaves sit for a full two days before cutting.

Filed under:  Black Bread, Pastry | 12 Comments

Making Sausage in Brioche

This is a sort of high-end French pig-in-a-blanket. It makes a fabulous light dinner or picnic along with a little salad, grilled vegetables and cold beer. Here I made mine in a pullman pan since I sourced a large garlic sausage and I like the way it looks: the large circle with the square. You can use different sausages if you like of course. A large kielbasa works nicely. If you want to forego the form and hard-to-source encased meats you can just use standard 1″ sausages, roll them in thinner pieces of brioche and bake them free form. They taste just as good!

For best results choose French or German-style sausages with garlic. Italians are a little much for this preparation. Whatever you buy make sure they’re fresh or pre-cooked fresh sausages versus cured (salami is too tough for this application). The sausage must be cooked before you assemble your roll.

So, to start, get your ingredients together. I buttered a Pullman pan. Yes you can use cooking spray here, reader Lee, but butter gives a better color.

To prepare the roll I floured a wooden surface…

…then turned the cold brioche dough out onto it and floured that as well.

Roll your dough until it’ss about 18 inches long and 6 inches wide. Roll the sheet as evenly as you can as this will help the sausage stay centered. Paint a stripe of egg wash down the center and flour it.

Next, put on the cooked sausage. I used the better part of two 1-pound, 2-inch-wide French-style garlic sausages and kept the trimmings for sandwiches.

Now paint egg wash on the sausage..

…and flour it. What does all this flour and egg do? It adheres the dough to the sausage so gaps don’t form around it as it bakes. Gaps don’t look very good. Makes sure you get the flour over the whole surface.

Fold the dough over the ends of the sausage, then fold the top half down. Paint some more egg wash on.

Fold the bottom up and you’re done!

Place the roll seam side-down in the pan, put on the lid and let it rise about an hour and a half.

Until it looks about like this. Oh, and you’ll want to be preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as the brioche rises.

Bake it about half an hour until it looks like this.

Turn it out right away to cool a bit.

Slice when it’s still warm and serve. In this fashion is great.

Last night the weather was perfect here. The dinner, garnished with a few fresh tomatoes and greens from the garden, just about matched!

Filed under:  Pastry, Sausage in Brioche | 22 Comments

Sausage in Brioche Recipe

Here’s a bit of bistro — read “simple” — fare that makes a fantastic summer meal. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: cooked sausage baked into a loaf of brioche. It’s rich but not too much so. Just plain nice. You’ll need:

1 1/2 recipes brioche dough, cold
About 1/2 pounds cooked sausage (not cured)
about 2 tablespoons butter
egg wash

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the sausage from the fridge if it’s already cooked and let it warm to room temperature. If it isn’t cooked, cook it by baking or poaching gently and let it cool to room temperature.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle as long as your Pullman pan. Paint a stripe of egg wash down the middle and sprinkle a little flour on it. Place the cooked, cooled sausage on the stripe, then paint it with egg wash and flour it as well. Fold in the dough on one and and apply a little egg wash to the edge, then the other. Fold in one of the sides, apply more wash to the edge, then fold the other side over to completely enclose the sausages.

Place the roll in the pan seam side down and allow the brioche to rise in the covered pan until it’s doubled, then bake the brioche for about 40 minutes until lightly browned. Slice and serve!

Filed under:  Pastry, Sausage in Brioche | 7 Comments