Category Archives: Flour Bakery

Herbed Brioche Dinner Rolls

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There is nothing better than the aroma of fresh baked bread wafting through the house.  I don’t bake bread often but when I do the smell alone will be my family running as they wait for the bread to be cool enough to eat.  And I have to admit, fresh warm bread turns homemade soup or stew into a real meal.  If I’m going to bake bread, a yeasted dough is the only way to go.  Yeast breads aren’t difficult to make; in fact, I find them easier than most non-yeasted varieties.  Yeasted breads aren’t quick but most of the time it entails to make them is actually hands off.

I have long been a fan of Boston’s Flour Bakery and their buttery brioche recipe is my favorite for both simple loaves of bread and sweet treats.  When I was looking for a recipe for savory dinner rolls I found myself coming back to their original brioche recipe.  I figured that if their buttery dough was good for sweet breakfast treats it would also serve as the perfect base for savory rolls to accompany soup.  And I was right.  I added a combination of fresh minced thyme and rosemary to my dough but you could substitute an equal amount.  These rolls are best when served warm from the oven but if you must hold them to serve later, briefly reheat them in a hot oven before bringing them to the table.

HERBED BRIOCHE DINNER ROLLS

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cups bread flour

3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons fresh minced thyme

1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary

1/2 cup cold water

6 eggs

1 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 10-12 pieces

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook, combine the all purpose flour, the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, herbs, water, and 5 of the eggs.
  • Beat on low-speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until all of the ingredients have come together.  Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low-speed for 3 to 4 minutes.  The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
  • On low-speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough.  Then continue mixing on low-speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough.  If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
  • Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny.  It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at first and then it will eventually turn smooth and silky.  At this point turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute.  You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the side of the bowl.
  • Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough.  Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake:

Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper lines or lightly grease and flour the tins.  Set aside.

Divide the dough in half.  On a floured work surface, press half of the dough into a rectangle that is about 10 by 5 inches.  The dough will be cold and feel like damp play-dough but it will be easily pliable.

Using a sharp knife or a bench scraper, slice the dough into 10 equal strips, each about 1 by 5 inches.  Cut each strip into five 1-inch squares.  You should have a total 50 squares.  Using your hands, turn each square into a small compact ball.  Drop four balls into each of the prepared muffin cups (you will have squares left over).  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cover the muffin pan and place in a warm, draft-free space for 1 1/2-2 hours.  The dough should have almost doubled in size and be puffy.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl and beat lightly.  Using a pastry brush, brush the egg mixture over the top of each roll.

Bake the rolls, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes until they are golden brown on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing them from the pan.

Yields: 24 rolls

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Flour’s Midnight Chocolate Birthday Cake (Cupcakes)

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In the midst of my recent flurry of Thanksgiving preparations came my son’s birthday.  As a rising four-year old he had some very clear requests about his birthday menu.  Unfortunately it ran in direction of a four-year old’s palate —  bacon, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese, the orange kind out of the box and not mom’s homemade version.  And of course there is cake.   I love to bake but am not a cake decorator so I braced myself for what his might request.  Many people may opt to buy an ornately decorated cake but I believe in making something homemade with lots of love.  This year Sidney specifically requested a small chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Cupcakes I can do!

This recipe is courtesy of Boston’s Flour Bakery.  Two types of chocolate plus brown sugar instead of the usual white makes this cake moist and decadent with a level of complexity not normally found in a chocolate cake.  The milk chocolate butter cream is an added bonus which makes this cake both satisfying for the birthday boy and his parents.

The recipe makes one 8-inch 3 layer cake or 12 good-sized cupcakes.  I made the cupcake version by filling cupcake liners placed inside of a muffin tin and reducing the baking time to 30 minutes.  I made a half batch of the butter cream which was more than enough for generously frosting a dozen cupcakes with plenty left over for the birthday boy to eat right from the spoon.

FLOUR’S MIDNIGHT CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE (or cupcakes)

1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup boiling water

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

1/4 cup creme fraiche

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

For the milk chocolate butter cream

12 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 egg whites

3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the cake:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan (Or line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers) and set aside.
  • In a small heat proof bowl, combine the cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate.  Pour the boiling water over the chocolates and whisk until the mixture is completely combined and smooth.  Let cool to room temperature.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar on low-speed for 10 seconds or until mixed.
  • On low-speed, add the butter and continue to beat for 30 to 40 seconds, or until the butter is thoroughly combined and the mixture resembles dough.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and creme fraiche.
  • With the mixer on low-speed pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix to combine.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Reduce the speed to low and add in the chocolate mixture.  Mix to combine.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes (for the cake) or 30 minutes for the cupcakes.

To make the butter cream:

  • Place the milk chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, scald the cream over medium-high heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.  The cream should be hot but not boiling.
  • Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 1 minute before slowly whisking the chocolate and cream together.  Continue to whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  • In a small heat-proof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites to make a thick slurry.
  • Place the bowl over simmering water in a saucepan and heat, whisking occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is hot to the touch.
  • Remove from the heat and scrape the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment.  Whip at medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture is a light, white meringue and is cool to the touch.
  • Turn down the speed to low and add the butter, a few chunks at a time.  The mixture will look chunky and curdled at first.  Increase the speed to medium and whip until the mixture becomes silky and smooth, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Change to the paddle attachment and add the cooled chocolate, vanilla, and salt.  Beat on medium speed for 1 minute or until the entire mixture comes together in a smooth butter cream.
  • Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for 1 day.

Yields:  5 cups

To frost the cake:

  • When the cake is cool, remove it from the pan and use a serrated knife to trim the top of the cake to smooth it.  Split the cake into three even layers and place the bottom layer in the center of a cake plate.
  • Using an offset spatula spread 1 1/2 cups of butter cream evenly over the top of the layer.
  • Repeat this process three times until you have three layers of cake with frosting spread between each layer.
  • Evenly distribute butter cream over the top and sides of the cake.  You can use a pastry bag and a fine tip to pipe a decorative design over the top of the cake.
  • If you are making cupcakes, evenly spread the butter cream over the top of each cupcake using a pasty bag and fine tip to decorate if desired.
  • The frosted cake can keep for up to two days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yields:  8-12 slices of cake or 12 cupcakes

Apricot – Cherry Muffins

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Muffins are one of my favorite breakfast treats.  They are so versatile as they can be sweet or savory, filled with fruits, nuts, vegetables, or even chocolate.  I will bake up a batch with whatever ingredients I have on hand and the sweet smell of them baking with wake the rest of the house.  Any leftover muffins make for afternoon snacks (perfect with a cup of tea) or week day breakfasts on the go.

This recipe is adapted from Boston’s Flour Bakery.   I’ve substituted Greek yogurt for the creme fresh the original recipe calls for since I can easily find it in just about every market and grocery store here in Albania.  The add-ins represent the best of our seasonal fruits and the I’ve added almonds for crunch (and because I have a five-pound page that I need to use up before we move!).  I brought these muffins along when we were weekend house guests and they proved to be a hit.  Enjoy!

APRICOT-CHERRY MUFFINS

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup milk, at room temperature

1 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature

2 teaspoons almond extract

3/4 cup fresh apricots, pitted and diced

3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted and diced

1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Ground nutmeg (optional)

  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and melted butter.  Gradually stir in the milk, Greek yogurt, and almond extract.
  • Carefully pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Fold in the apricots, cherries, and almonds (if using).  Be careful as to not crush the fruit.  The batter will be thick and lumpy.
  • Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.  The cups should be very full.  Sprinkle the muffin tops with the nutmeg.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

The muffins taste best when they are eaten immediately or they can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.  Refresh them in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Yields:  12 large muffins

Double Corn and Thyme Cornbread

The only cornbread my family
will eat

I love to serve a good cornbread as an accompaniment to a bowl of chili but have never been able to find one that is moist enough to satisfy my finicky boys (yes, both of them).  This one, from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook, turned out to be a winner.  (In fact, every recipe I have made from this book has been a success.  As an added bonus, ingredients are listed in both standard American measurements as well as by weight which saves those of us in Europe from having to do those painful conversions).

The recipe called for creme fraiche but lacking both the creme fraiche and my usual substitute of sour cream, I made my own substitute of 7/8 cup of buttermilk (re-hydrated buttermilk powder from King Arthur Flour since we also don’t have fresh buttermilk in Albania) and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.  This substitute seemed to do the trick but I am looking forward to making this again using creme fraiche.  I think that will take the bread from very good to outstanding.   The recipe also called for baking the bread in a 9-by-13 inch loaf pan. Preferring to serve the bread in wedges, I used a 10-inch round cake pan instead and this worked out well.

DOUBLE-CORN AND THYME CORN BREAD

1 cup (200 grams) coarse yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup (50 grams) canola oil
1/4 cup (55 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (240 grams) milk
3/4 cup (180 grams) creme fraiche
1 cup (160 grams) fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1)  Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C.  Butter
a cake pan.

2)  In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until
combined.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oil, and brown sugar until a thick
slurry forms.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and then whisk in the milk and creme fraiche.

Dry ingredients

3)  Pour the egg-sugar mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and then, using a rubber spatula, fold together
until all of the cornmeal is completely incorporated.

Egg mixture

4)   Fold in the corn kernels and the thyme until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.  The batter will be thick and pasty.  Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Corn and thyme
Ready for the oven

4)  Bake for 40-50 minutes (mine baked for 45 minutes in the round pan), or until the top is a light
golden brown and the center springs back when you poke it in the middle with a fingertip.  Let cool
completely in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into 12 wedges.

5)  The corn bread can be stored, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 2 days
or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.  If frozen, thaw at room temperature for 3 or 4 hours and refresh
in a 300 degree F /150 degree C oven for 8 minutes.

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