I'm here, I'm here! I promised I would be back, and here I am! I'm hoping that from now on I can find time every weekend to bake something. Anything. This school-but-no-baking thing really bites.
Anyway, last weekend, Anders was away at training camp for cross country, so I had the apartment and the kitchen all to myself. It was glorious. Except that I missed him. But then he came back and ate the food I made, so all was well.
And what did I make? I made Raspberry Butter Braids from this recipe. Except that I didn't make a raspberry one at all. Instead I used triple berry jam and Nutella. Mmm.
Why yes, we do house a greenhouse in our kitchen. That's a ficus, a lemon tree, a clementine tree (both grown from seeds!) and a jade bonsai.
The house our apartment is in is over 100 years old. It originally belonged to the general manager of the train line in Kingston, when the trains used to run along the lake (the window faces the lake). So, being that the house is old and was owned by a fancy person, the windows are gigantic. The two of us have to work together to get them up and down because they're wider than our armspans. They're also heavy.
Is this a cooking blog or is a home blog?!?!
But one more thing! This is my oven/stove:
It was more or less perfectly clean and brand new when we moved in. It was like heaven.
As for the bread, I started out by scalding some milk, and then adding some butter, sugar and salt.
While that was cooling a bit, I put some yeast into a bowl of warm water and let that sit for about 10 minutes:
And while that was sitting, I beat an egg.
At which point, all the above mentioned ingredients that did their things and then sat for x number of minutes were added together.
To that, I added the four, 1/2 cup at a time.
I think I ended up using all 4 cups of flour suggested - it was a very humid day.
Then, I realised I had used my biggest bowl and needed to wash it out so that I could put oil into it and use it to let the dough rise. I'm not always the smartest in the kitchen.
This is the dough sitting in its oiled bowl.
This whole time, I had my oven sitting at the lowest temperature it would heat to (170°F). When I was finished mixing up the dough, I turned the oven off.
I covered the bowl with a clean tea towel and put it into the turned-off but still-warm oven to proof.
About 90 minutes later, it had double in size and was nice and soft.
I kneaded it a bit, then split it into two even portions.
I split each half again into three equal portions and rolled them out into long (18") ropes.
Next, I took my lovely, heavy marble rolling pin to the ropes and flattened them out a bit.
And I spread some jam (triple berry, in case you were wondering) along each one.
Closing these suckers up was the hardest part about this recipe. Especially the jam ones.
You can see that some jam escaped. And then after I took this photo the seams all came apart and the jam went everywherrrre.
But I managed to move the ropes to the greased pan and braid them, nonetheless.
It took some patience though.
The Nutella ropes were much easier to deal with.
And the braid came out much better.
Once I had them both braided and ready to go, I let them proof again in the turned-off oven for about an hour.
As you can see, when I took them out, the braid had disappeared a bit. I put an eggwash on them anyway, and put them in the oven for about 25 minutes.
And when they came out of the even at the end, the braid have almost completely disappeared!
I'm not completely sure why this happened. I think it could have been that I didn't put enough flour into the dough initially and it was unable to hold itself up? Who knows.
Now, we ate the Nutella one like it was going out of style and I only got a photo of the jam one.
Both were good, but the jam one is still sitting out of the cutting board on our kitchen table, all sad and alone.
I really like this recipe. I really didn't need a lot of ingredients that I didn't already have, and the amounts of the ingredients seem very low compared to how much product ou get out! Two loaves of bread! It's great that these are filled, too. It takes one step out of breakfast (which these work very well for), and that is always nice when you're running out the door to stupid 8.30AM classes.
I have two small problems with this recipe... and it's not even the recipe, really, both things are my fault and things that I can fix. The first problem is that the filling to bread ratio was too low. Both Anders and I (but especially Anders) thought these would be better with more filling. The other problem was, of course, that the braid really sucked in the end. And again, that was my fault. It's funny, because when I worked at the bakery I used to do egg braids almost every day. I loved doing them, actually. They were always so pretty and I got pretty good at it. You'd think that I might remember the difference between that experience and this one... but I don't. It's all a learning process though, and I look forward to making these again so that I can figure out where I went wrong!
Filled Butter Braids
1 cup milk
½ cup butter, cut into pieces
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 envelope dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 large egg, beaten to blend, room temperature
4 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup desired filling (I used triple berry jam and Nutella)
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Scald milk in heavy, medium saucepan. Add butter, sugar, and salt. Let stand until butter melts. Pour mixture into large bowl. Cool to 105 to 115 degrees. Sprinkle yeast over ¼ cup warm water in small bowl; stir to dissolve. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature. Add yeast mixture and egg to milk mixture. Stir in enough flour, ½ cup at a time, to form soft, slightly sticky dough. Lightly grease large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat. Cover bowl with kitchen towel and let dough rise in warm draft-free area (like a turned-off, but still-warm oven) until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Grease two heavy large cookie sheets. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 2 minutes. Divide dough in half. Divide each half into thirds. Roll each piece out between hands and floured surface to 18 inch long rope. Using a rolling pin, roll each rope into a flat strip, about 3 inches wide. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling down the length of each strip. Fold dough over filling to seal. You can brush the edges of the dough with a bit of water to help seal the dough. Arrange 3 ropes side by side on 1 prepared sheet. Braid ropes. Pinch ends together and tuck under loaf. Repeat process with remaining 3 ropes on second cookie sheet for second loaf. Cover each loaf with kitchen towel and let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush egg wash over loaves. Bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, about 20 - 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool.
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