Last of the Holiday Bread

The last loaf of holiday bread, resting on a beautiful board made by Michael Laico.

The last loaf of holiday bread, resting on a beautiful board handmade by Michael.

*

It was past time to bake the last batch of Christmas bread still lingering in the refrigerator.

*

This dough has rested in the refrigerator for a little over a week.

This dough has rested in the refrigerator for a little over a week.

*

And there were also two small containers of leftover home made marzipan which couldn’t be left to go to waste.  I’m usually not overly enthusiastic about leftovers, and decided today had to be the day to use these while they are still good.

*

January 11, 2014 bread 004*

My bread recipe is engineered to keep.  In fact, as it sits chilling in the fridge, its flavors deepen and take on the traditional “sourdough twang.”  The dough is generally good for up to 10 days, stored in an air tight container in the coldest part of our refrigerator.

*

The dough is sprinkled with all of the leftover marzipan I could find in the refrigerator.

The dough is sprinkled with all of the leftover marzipan I could find in the refrigerator.

*

This was actually an “After Christmas” formulation;  a riff on the fruit filled breads I made before Christmas, with a bow towards I recipe I read in a new cookbook from my parents.  The new recipe is a mock sourdough, made with a healthy 1/2 c. of sour cream.

And sorry, there is no written recipe to share.  But I can tell you that it is made with coconut milk, butter, cinnamon, cardamon, vanilla, chopped dried apricots and cherries.  I also substituted white whole wheat bread flour, and 1/4 c. o f vital wheat gluten, for 2 cups of the white bread flour I would normally use.  It was an attempt to make a slightly healthier bread, but it may be what threw this recipe a little “over the top.”  The dough is slow to rise.  Great flavor, but a dense texture.

*

January 11, 2014 bread 008

*

Today I turned out what dough was left, smoothed it out with a little kneading and folding, and then rolled it into a large oval.

I smoothed all of the leftover almond mixture over the dough, rolled it into a long log, and then stretched it even a bit longer as I settled it into a round baking pan.  I cut a sunburst of little slits in the top of the dough to allow for expansion.

*

Prepare the baking pan with cooking spray, and a sprinkle of flour or cornmeal across the bottom.  Rising and baking in the pan will keep the loaf perfectly round, and force it to rise rather than spread out.

Prepare the baking pan with cooking spray, and a sprinkle of flour or cornmeal across the bottom. Rising and baking in the pan will keep the loaf perfectly round, and force it to rise rather than spread out.

*

Bread can be slow to rise in winter, so I turn the oven to “warm” for two to three minutes while the bread goes into its pan, and then turn it right back off.  The bread gets covered with waxed paper, sprayed lightly with cooking spray so it won’t stick to the dough, and then popped into the slightly warm oven for its final rise.  The oven prevents drafts and maintains a moist heat for the final proof.

The dough must be removed before preheating the oven for baking.  Even with the extra care, I still let this loaf rise for about an hour before taking it out to preheat the oven.  I also gave it a wash of egg white mixed with an equal portion of water, then brushed over the top crust.  Any extra wash just rolls off and collects, adding extra moisture to the oven during baking.  The final touch is a generous grind of sea salt over the entire crust.

*

January 11, 2014 bread 015*

A bread this dense will brown nicely on top before it is done through.  I could have baked it directly on a pizza stone for a better bottom crust, but I baked it in this Fiestaware dish, and needed to shield the top crust with a piece of foil long before the bread was done.

Bread is one of the oldest foods known to man.  I’m convinced that bread was invented right there along with grilling meat and brewing beer.  There is deep satisfaction in making one’s own bread, chock full of healthy and delicious ingredients.  The fragrance of cooking bread lingers for hours, perfuming home with the aroma of love.  It is good having a loaf of home made bread on the counter, and a bit of cheese to go with it.

*

January 11, 2014 bread 018

Fragrant and ready to eat, our bread rests on the beautiful cutting board  hand made especially for us by Michael over at Michael’s Woodcraft and Blog.

*

Here is our last little taste of the holidays as we settle into our wintery new year.

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Update:  Since writing this post, my baking technique has evolved.  Allowing the bread to remain in the oven during the pre-heating gives an additional opportunity for the bread to rise.  Simply remove the waxed paper covering the dough, brush the crust with the egg wash, and then return the bread to the oven.  Set the oven temperature and count cooking time from the point when the oven reaches full temperature.  WG

Making and Breaking Bread (Forest Garden)

Advertisements

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

2 responses to “Last of the Holiday Bread

  1. oh wow, your bread looks great! I love warm bread 🙂

We always appreciate your comments. Thank you for adding your insight to the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 537 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest

%d bloggers like this: