Monday, June 29, 2009

Bread #5 - Casatiello

Casatiello: An Exotic Name for a Dramatic Loaf

When I tasted this bread, I could not believe how good it was. It was such a strange loaf, I thought, when I first read the ingredients. In fact, I thought it was just a variation of the brioche, and so I skipped right over it, and went directly to the challah. Once I realized my faux pas, however, I quickly started to mix the dough for the casatiello. This bread was so foreign to me. In all my years of bread baking, I'd never heard of this exotic loaf, which appears to be the first cousin of the French brioche.

The dough was absolutely fabulous to work with, forming an elastic dough without much effort. This bread had a dramatic rise; quite stunning, actually, both in the bowl and in the oven. But the taste! Ah, the taste! That's what it's all about, isn't it?

Since I don't eat red meat, I substituted turkey bacon for the salami, and used feta cheese. The crumb was tender without being cakey; it was salty, but did not taste like "salt bread," and when spread with peach apricot jam, had that incredible sweet/salty flavor that so many of us crave.

I'll be making this one often!

Ready for the Last Rise.

A Well-Risen Loaf

In the Oven - High Drama!

Right Out of the Oven

What a Beauty!

Can't You Just Taste the Crumb?

Flecks of Turkey Bacon and Feta

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bread #4 - Brioche

I finally have time to update this blog! I've kept up with all the baking, but with the end of the school year, and our annual 7th Grade Renaissance Faire, this is my first chance to write about it. Not quite on summer vacation yet, but soon, very soon ...

Queen Diane at the Renaissance Faire with One of Her Loyal Subjects.

I had made brioche once before, years ago, and was not impressed. All I can remember was that it was too greasy. As a result, I was a little hesitant when I saw this one on the challenge list. I had made a commitment, however, and so I bravely forged ahead.

I chose to make the Poor Man's Brioche. I chose this version because I just didn't feel like I needed all that butter. I was right. The bread was spectacular! It had a fine crumb and a superb taste. I didn't miss the butter at all.

I also splurged on new brioche baking molds, and I'm glad I did. I bought one large one and four small ones. While the large loaf was impressive in appearance, the smaller ones were far superior in taste. And who doesn't like to have his or her own individual bread? It was sheer perfection with a cup of tea, but next time I'll try it in the true French style with a cafe au lait, complete with the authentic au lait bowl.

Here is the kneaded dough. What a delight to work with this pliable dough!

The risen dough in the larger brioche mold. Impressive!

The risen dough in the smaller molds; very cute.

Behold the finished product! Can't you just see yourself sitting in a Parisian cafe right now?

The larger version.

What an amazing texture! Let them eat cake indeed!

I am again delighted that I have joined this challenge. I may never have attempted brioche again, and think of what I would have been missing! And while my waistline can't afford this extravagant bread as a dietary staple, as an occasional treat, "Let them eat brioche!"