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Nov 20, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘bread’

Knead Bakehouse & Provisions will offer fresh bread in Southampton

Monday, September 11th, 2017

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There’s a bun in South City’s oven, and it’s due this October. Knead Bakehouse & Provisions will open at 3467 Hampton Ave., the former home of Salume Beddu.

Owners AJ and Kirsten Brown said Knead will offer fresh bread and baked goods to the area. “Our goal is bringing that old world style of bread with a modern American flair,” AJ Brown said.

The Browns started small, selling their bread at farmers markets in St. Charles County. After launching a Kickstarter campaign three years ago and “a lot of different headaches,” they found a space to scale up their production and seat 25 in a breakfast and lunch cafe.

Brown learned his craft after college when he traveled to France for culinary school. His breads use the same sourdough starter, carefully tended for five years.

“I’ve always had a passion for food,” he said. “My family is full of men, and we weren’t into sports but during the holidays, we would be in the kitchen and be engaged in that way.”

Brown said he and his wife embrace “traditional bread roots,” sourcing the ingredients from Eat Here St. Louis, Missouri Grain Project and Heartland Mill. Knead’s loaves will include a rich brioche-like loaf and a staple sourdough, Brown’s favorite. “It cuts back to the bare minimum, but it has so much character,” he said.

Guests can expect breakfast and lunch menus featuring doughnuts and sandwiches, respectively, alongside coffee and tea. Loaves and flour mixes for home baking will also be available for purchase.

“Bread is the centerpiece of what we do,” Brown said. “Everything we make is centered around how well it pairs with the bread.”

Photo courtesy of Knead

Caitlin Lally is an intern at Sauce Magazine. 

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5 Loaves We Love

By the Book: Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

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To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled for the blogger book series. I’m into a number of food blogs, but some of the book options felt like a bunch of boring filler recipes. I flipped through Seven Spoons with a bad attitude: roasted chicken – boring; roasted chicken with couscous – boring; baked salmon – come on. There were a couple Indian recipes that sounded more interesting, but they were sides and soups. I almost picked up a different book, but then I saw the mushrooms and greens with toast recipe under the lunch section.

This is what food blogs are for. This recipe isn’t life changing. It’s not complicated. It’s just something I wouldn’t have thought to make that also tasted great. Mushrooms, bread, greens and cheese assembled in a new way. It’s like a custardless savory bread pudding or a knife-and-fork-able fondue situation. The recipe was simple, infinitely adaptable and clearly written (though it did tell me to tear mushrooms and chop greens, which I reversed).

I used a loaf of Light and Mild from Union Loafers in Botanical Heights (Bread matters with so few ingredients.), Gruyere, kale, shiitake, baby portobellos and crimini mushrooms. I couldn’t find a fresh red chile, so I subbed a teaspoon of red pepper flakes plus another pinch to finish, which was just right. As a meal, it feels like it’s lacking something (an egg on top?), but it would be a great brunch side or classy Super Bowl snack. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is cook the mushrooms in batches so they caramelize better. Otherwise, see you soon, bread-cheese skillet.

Skill level: Beginner – easy
This book is for: Those in need of simple, reliable recipes with the occasional Indian flare.
Other recipes to try: Pakora (Indian vegetable fritters), rhubarb-raspberry rye crumble
The verdict: Winner! This is a make-again recipe.

 

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Mushrooms and Greens with Toast
4 servings

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1½ lbs. (680 g.) mixed mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
2 thick slices from a large, crusty boule
2 cloves garlic or 1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 fresh red chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
Medium-grain kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. (170 g.) chopped greens such as kale, chard, spinach, or nettles
9 oz. (225 g.) good melting cheese, thickly sliced*

• Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Tear the mushrooms into bite-size pieces and add to the pan. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mushrooms have given off their water and started to turn golden brown, 8 minutes or so.
• Meanwhile, grill or toast the bread.
• Once the mushrooms look nice, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Still stirring, drip the vinegar around the pan. Add most of the chile and season with salt and pepper. If using hearty greens that need some cooking, dump them in now. Move them around until wilted. After around 5 minutes, rip the bread into irregular croutons and push them into the vegetables. Lay pieces of cheese atop everything. Turn the heat down to medium-low, pop on a lid, and let the cheese melt, maybe 5 minutes, depending on the cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the chile, hand out forks, then bring the pan to the table.

*The cheese doesn’t have to be one kind in particular. The point of this is using what’s around — anything from a young chèvre to a robust, oozy blue. As long as it melts well, it’s fair game. Fresh mozzarella or burrata, Taleggio and Fontina are specifically good.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

Eat This: The Breadbasket at Juniper

Friday, April 1st, 2016

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The breadbasket at Juniper always puts us in a quandary. Do we start with the airy popover or the crumbly, buttery wedge of cornbread? In a battle of biscuits, do the delicate layers of the buttermilk variety deserve more attention than the sturdier angel biscuits? And let us not forget the thick slices of slightly sweet, brioche-like Sally Lunn. Only one thing is certain: When faced with such delicious dilemmas, we won’t leave a single crumb behind.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Baked: Italian Bread

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

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This is one of my favorite recipes. I’ve always been a little fearful of yeast recipes, as yeast can be so fickle, but I’ve made this Italian bread countless times, and it’s turned out wonderfully.

Use caution when working with yeast. It’s easy to kill with hot water, but if it’s not warm enough, it won’t dissolve properly. The water should be warm but not scalding, around 110 degrees is ideal. Follow the instructions carefully and you can start in the morning and have an amazing warm and crusty loaf with your dinner.

The bread can be adapted many ways; we have made grilled cheese sandwiches, folded olives into the dough, dipped it in olive oil and vinegar, or eaten it with fondue. It’s wonderfully crusty with a soft texture inside, and it’s easy to sub in whole-wheat flour alternatives if you want to make it denser and healthier. Enjoy and happy baking!

 

Italian Bread
Adapted from a recipe at Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal
1 loaf

1½ cups warm (not scalding) water
¾ tsp. instant yeast
¾ Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
5½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1½ cups bread flour
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing, divided
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried parsley
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced

• Pour the water into a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and ½ teaspoon salt until combined. Add the all-purpose flower and bread flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
•Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. (If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead on medium speed about 5 minutes.)
• Lightly grease a large, clean mixing bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to lightly coat it in oil. Cover with oiled plastic wrap, then place a paper towel or kitchen towel on top and let rise 1 to 1½ hours in a cool dark place, until doubled in size.
• Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and knead 2 to 3 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, recover and let rise again 1 hour, until doubled in size.
• Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
• Oil a standard loaf pan. Place the dough into the pan, cover with the plastic warp and let rise 30 minutes.
• Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic and remaining ¼ salt in a small bowl.
• Uncover the loaf and brush 1 tablespoon olive oil mixture on top of the dough. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 slashes evenly across the top of the bread.
• Place the loaf pan in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let cool.
• Slice and serve with the remaining olive oil mixture for dipping.

 

Sneak Peek: Companion in Maryland Heights

Monday, February 1st, 2016

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Companion is inviting the public into its baking process starting tomorrow, Feb. 2. As The Scoop reported in January 2015, Companion moved its headquarters, along with a baking school and cafe, to 2331 Schuetz Road in Maryland Heights. The 5,000-square-foot cafe seats 66 and will serve the same menu as the Ladue and Clayton locations with a few additions to the bakery offerings like bread pudding and doughnuts.

The airy, industrial cafe has two full walls of windows overlooking into the production bakery. “You weren’t in the middle of the process in the other locations,” said co-owner Josh Allen. “With the exception of dish washing, you see everything that happens.”

In addition to the visible bakery, Companion welcomes community involvement through a teaching kitchen at the new location. Chef Cassie Vires recently joined the Companion team to lead the array of public culinary and baking classes Allen hopes to offer in April. Chef Josh Galliano, who joined Companion as production manager in June 2015, will also teach.

The new Maryland Heights location will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect at Companion’s new home:

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

The Scoop: Black Bear Bakery to suspend storefront operations

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

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Cherokee Street staple Black Bear Bakery announced yesterday, Oct. 27, that it will suspend its storefront operation, effective Nov. 1. The cooperative bakery has leased its current space at 2639 Cherokee Street for about 10 years. Loaf lovers need not fret; the bakery will continue production in a kitchen incubator space in the same neighborhood until another storefront can be located.

“We’ll be looking for something that will serve the purpose of a cafe space, bakery, reading room and grocery,” said co-op member Bryan Dennert. “You’re already here getting your bread. You might as well get other things cheaper, too.”

The vision for the new grocery includes selling local, natural foods, as well as ingredients used in Black Bear’s current recipes.

Black Bear Bakery bread will still be available at farmers markets and restaurants while the co-op members look for a new space. For a full list of availability, see the cooperative’s Facebook page.

 

 

The Scoop: Bridge Bread to open a storefront on Cherokee Street

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

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After three years as a delivery-only bakery on South Grand, Bridge Bread has secured a storefront location at 2604 Cherokee St., according to founder Fred Domke. The bakeshop is slated to open doors between mid-May and mid-June, as reported by the Riverfront Times.

Bridge Bread is a nonprofit that provides employment to residents who are struggling with or who are at risk for homelessness in the St. Louis area. The bakers churn out pre-ordered artisanal loaves of sourdough, brioche, cinnamon rolls and other pastries during the week, and volunteers deliver the orders to participating churches from Edwardsville to Wentzville to Belleville on weekends.

Domke said the Cherokee Street storefront will allow customers to get their feel-good carb fix during the week, too. He plans to continue baking operations on South Grand and offer pre-packaged loaves of bread and rolls for purchase at the Cherokee Street shop. While the bake shop won’t have seating, Domke said neighbor Foam has informally agreed to welcome Bridge Bread customers to enjoy a cup of coffee with their roll. The storefront will also serve as a space to test out experimental offerings like the Chocolate Covered Cherry Roll, a cherry pie roll with a chocolate filling.

To start, the retail location will be staffed with volunteers, including Domke, but if the sales volume is high enough, he plants to hire additional staff though the Bridge Bread program. “The mission of Bridge Bread is to provide employment,” he said. “But we’re also dedicated to encouraging conversations about homelessness in our area. This new location will give us more opportunities to engage the community in those conversations and build relationship between people who otherwise may not have met.”

By the Book: Erin McKenna’s Carrot Bread

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

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As fellow gluten-free and dairy-free diners can attest, eating with dietary restrictions is easier said than done. At restaurants, we must ignore our friends’ barely-concealed cringes as we deconstruct an entree to conform to our needs. At home, we spend hours scouring niche food blogs for our next meal. Perhaps the biggest test of my willpower, though, is when an unknowing waiter places an overflowing bread basket in front of me. After years of coveting that basket of forbidden gluten, I was thrilled when my editor Catherine Klene dropped a copy of Bread & Butter: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes to Fill Your Bread Basket by my desk.

Sauce interns get to try a lot of food on the job, and my editors always search for something I can eat among the loot, usually only to be foiled — a slice of cake might be gluten-free, but not dairy-free, or vice versa. That’s why McKenna’s book, featuring indulgent recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, seemed the perfect end to a semester-long quest for “something Tori can eat.”

McKenna, who also passed on the bread basket for two decades due to a gluten sensitivity, now runs BabyCakes, a gluten-free vegan bakery with locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando. Based on recipes pioneered in her bakery, her new cookbook begins with a break down of basic ingredients and baking tips invaluable to those new to specialty baking. From there, her book is broken up into chapters by category: morning treats, breads (of course), sandwiches, pizza and focaccia, kids’ recipes, international cuisine, puff pastries and tarts, snacks, dips and dressings (including vegan butter!), and desserts. While the pain au chocolate looked tempting, I chose the carrot bread because it looked both doable and delicious.

 

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McKenna’s recipes are straightforward and concise throughout, usually taking no more than a page of text punctuated with beautiful photos and colorful design. Her carrot bread calls for walnut oil or coconut oil, vegan sugar, gluten-free baking flour (we used Cup 4 Cup), arrowroot, xanthan gum, shredded carrots and optional chopped walnuts. Gluten-free home cooks already have most of these items in our kitchen pantries.

As an amateur baker, I found McKenna’s instructions easy to follow. The only painstaking part of the baking process was shredding all those carrots. Next time, I’ll do this the night before or use the shredder attachment on a food processor. Also be aware that this recipe takes some time – as a yeast bread, the dough needs an hour to rise, and then requires another 35 minutes in the oven. Keep a good book on hand or start trolling the Internet for more niche foodie blogs.

Despite these few bumps, I found the finished product to be well worth the wait. For someone who hasn’t eaten bread, much less homemade bread, in quite some time, McKenna’s carrot bread truly was a treat. I found the bread to be spongy and light, with a slight texture and crunch from the walnuts. Though the book claims that even non gluten-free and vegan people will love this recipe, my Sauce coworkers claim they could tell the difference. Still, for those gluten-free and vegan among us, this carrot bread is a real indulgence.

 

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Carrot Bread
Makes 1 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf

3 Tbsp. walnut oil or melted unscented coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1½ cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
4 Tbsp. vegan sugar
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1½ tsp. salt
2 cups firmly packed shredded carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

• Lightly grease a 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan with oil.
• In a small bowl, combine the oil, warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir once and set aside to proof until it bubbles, about 10 minutes.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it is the consistency of cake batter. If the dough is too thick, add additional warm water one splash at a time. Fold in the carrots and the walnuts (if using). Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with a dish towel, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Bake the bread for 20 minutes, and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
• Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour before slicing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter

What’s the most creative recipe you’ve used to accommodate someone’s dietary restrictions? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Erin McKenna’s Bread & Butter.

The Weekend Project: Bread & Butter

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

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A new year always heralds hope of new beginnings and personal improvement. We vow that this year, we’ll cook better: healthier and more often, tackling more projects and challenging ourselves in the kitchen.

Yet three weeks into January, we find ourselves losing resolve. Who has time to embark on ambitious cooking resolutions while juggling work, laundry, bills and the trials of everyday life?

Thankfully, the most impressive and satisfying kitchen creations are usually the most flexible. This month’s Weekend Project is simpler than it seems. Baking your own bread and even whipping your own butter requires just a few minutes of actual activity on your part. If you can stir ingredients together and exercise patience, you’ll have warm loaves of ciabatta and Kugelhopf (an eggy European loaf studded with bacon and onion) smeared with freshly whipped butter on the table by Sunday dinner.

Bread making, that ancient practice of bringing flour and salt to life with yeast and water, is such a basic task, but it is one that can produce great works of beauty and endless variations. Bread is also extremely forgiving. Don’t have the right type of flour? Use a different one. Don’t have exactly an hour to wait around for it to rise? No worries, just toss it in the refrigerator to rise slowly and return to it the next day.

Bottom line: No excuses, people! Here, four simple rules to ensure success with any yeast bread:

 

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Proof your yeast to determine if it’s alive. To do so, take a small amount of the liquid used in the bread recipe (usually water or milk) and warm it to 95 to 115 degrees. You want the liquid warm enough to activate the dormant yeast but not so hot that you kill it. Stir in the yeast granules, and if desired, add a tablespoon of flour, honey or sugar to feed further. Then, simply let the yeast wake up and get the bubbly party started!

After five to 10 minutes, the yeast should be foamy with bubbles and soft brown lumps on its surface. It may even produce a sweet fermented aroma. If nothing has happened after 10 minutes, throw the jar or packets out and buy a new jar, which will keep at least a year in the refrigerator or freezer.

(A quick note on yeast: For the following recipes, be sure to purchase yeast labeled “active dry yeast,” not the “rapid rise” or “bread machine type.”)

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Don’t panic if you can’t babysit your dough all afternoon. A longer rise simply allows the bread to take on a richer more complex set of flavors as the colonies of yeast continue to grow. If you decide to extend your rise, cover the dough with a greased piece of plastic wrap instead of a towel to prevent the top from drying out.

Dough can even be prepared the night before baking. Simply cover it with greased plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This slows the yeast’s metabolism so it will rise more slowly. The next morning, let the dough return to room temperature about 30 minutes before you work with it.

Want to speed things up? Find a nice warm spot to let the dough rest, and it will double in size in just 30 to 45 minutes. And if you’re really rushed, yes, you can just bake the bread. You’ll be amazed at how much it rises simply from a trip to the oven.

 

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Salt is critical to great flavor; in fact, the dough should taste a bit salty before you bake it. Just be sure you don’t add the salt until the last addition of flour, as it will slow the yeast growth. You can even add salt while kneading the dough to give the yeast a headstart.

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Consider the recipe a guide to ingredient amounts, not dogma. After proofing the yeast and adding other enriching ingredients (eggs, flour, butter, etc.), add the flour one cup at a time, mixing continuously until you achieve lightly sticky consistence you can knead. Flour is sensitive to humidity, so the amount may change each time you bake. Use less flour for lighter, airier loaves; use generous amounts of heavier flours for denser, Eastern European-style bread.

 

The Game Plan
Day 1:
Make the compound butters. Make the starter (biga) for the ciabatta.
Day 2: Make the ciabatta. Make the Kugelhopf.

The Shopping List*
1 quart heavy cream
3 anchovies
3 cloves roasted garlic (DIY here)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme)
½ tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 scant Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. active dry yeast
7 to 9 cups bread flour
8 slices bacon
1 onion
5 eggs

*This list assumes you have kosher salt, all-purpose flour, vegetable oil, olive oil, milk, butter and freshly ground black pepper. If not, you will need to purchase those items, too.

 

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Anchovy Garlic Butter
Makes 1 cup

2 cups heavy cream
1-2 cups ice water (with ice cubes)
1 Tbsp. plus ½ tsp. kosher salt
3 anchovies, finely minced
3 cloves roasted garlic, finely minced

Day 1: Pour the cream into a blender and whip on high speed until the fat solidifies into yellow butter and separates from the white liquid, 20 to 40 minutes, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.
● Place a fine mesh sieve over a mixing bowl and line with cheesecloth or a clean linen towel. Pour the separated mixture through the sieve, collecting the buttermilk into the mixing bowl below. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze the butter to remove any additional liquid. Reserve the buttermilk for another use.
● Return the butter to the blender with the ice water. Wash the butter by blending 3 minutes, then pour the mixture through the strainer again, squeezing to remove any excess liquid. Discard the liquid.
● Place the butter into a mixing bowl and add the salt, anchovies and roasted garlic. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Store the butter, refrigerated, in an airtight jar up to 6 weeks or frozen 3 to 6 months.

 

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Herbed Butter
Makes 1 cup

2 cups heavy cream
1-2 cups ice water (with ice cubes)
1 Tbsp. plus ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme)
½ tsp. finely minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. lemon zest

Day 1: Pour the cream into a blender and whip on high speed until the fat solidifies into yellow butter and separates from the white liquid, 20 to 40 minutes, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.
● Place a fine mesh sieve over a mixing bowl and line with cheesecloth or a clean linen towel. Pour the separated mixture through the sieve, collecting the buttermilk into the mixing bowl below. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze the butter to remove any additional liquid. Reserve the buttermilk for another use.
● Return the butter to the blender with the ice water. Wash the butter by blending 3 minutes, then pour the mixture through the strainer again, squeezing to remove any excess liquid. Discard the liquid.
● Place the butter into a mixing bowl and add the salt, herbs and garlic. Mix together until thoroughly combined. Store the butter, refrigerated, in an airtight jar up to 6 weeks or frozen 3 to 6 months.

 

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Ciabatta
Makes 2 loaves

1 tsp. dry active yeast, divided
1¼ cup warm water (95 to 115 degrees), divided
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 cups bread flour
1½ tsp. kosher salt

Day 1: To make the biga, or starter, stir together ½ cup warm water and ½ teaspoon yeast in a small bowl and let sit 5 to 10 minutes until foamy. Add the all-purpose flour and mix thoroughly to create a small ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours or overnight.
Day 2: Remove the biga from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
● Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, pour the remaining ¾ cup warm water and ½ teaspoon yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir together and let sit 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
● Add the biga, 1 cup bread flour and the olive oil and mix thoroughly with a large wooden spoon. Add the remaining 1 cup bread flour and the salt and mix again for 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will appear soupy. Cover with a clean towel or oiled plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 1½ hours.
● Wipe down a clean surface with a damp towel and cover with piece of plastic wrap so it sticks to the wet surface. Dust the plastic wrap with all-purpose flour and scrape the dough onto the floured surface. Use floured hands to divide the dough into 2 halves. Form the dough into 2 10-by-4-inch rectangles.
● Lightly grease a sheet tray with olive oil. Pick up the sides of the plastic wrap and flip the loaves over onto the tray. Sprinkle the dough with more flour, then cover with a clean, floured kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place 1½ hours.
● Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the loaves 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust nut brown and the loaves sound hollow when knocked. Let cool on a breadboard or cooling rack.
● Serve with Herbed Butter or Anchovy Garlic Butter. Bread will keep, wrapped in plastic, 3 to 4 days or wrapped in paper, up to 1 week.

 

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Kugelhopf (Bacon and Onion Bread)
Makes 1 loaf

2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 scant Tbsp. dry active yeast
1¼ cups warm milk (95 to 115 degrees)
8 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch lardons
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 cups bread flour
2/3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
5 eggs
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper, ground

Day 2: Generously coat a large mixing bowl and a bundt pan with 1 teaspoon each vegetable oil and set aside.
● In a large bowl, stir the yeast into the warm milk and let rest until bubble and foaming, 5 to 10 minutes.
● In a large steel or cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan while sauteing. Remove from heat and scrape the bacon, onions and rendered fat into a bowl to cool. Set aside.
● Add 1 cup flour to the proofed yeast and milk and mix thoroughly using a large wooden spoon about 1 minute. Add another 2 cups flour 1 cup at a time, stirring thoroughly between each addition.
● In small bowl, beat the eggs, then add them and the butter to the dough. Mix thoroughly, then add the salt and pepper and mix again. Add the remaining 3 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring thoroughly between each addition. Stir in the cooled bacon, onions and grease into the dough until incorporated.
● Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead 3 to 5 minutes until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the dough has a smooth, elastic surface. Place the dough in the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 45 to 60 minutes.
● Punch down the dough and move it to the bundt pan. Cover with the plastic wrap and let rise again until dough reaches the top of the pan, 45 to 60 minutes.
● Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bread 40 to 45 minutes until the loaf is brown on the bottom and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes, then turn the bread out onto a breadboard or cooling rack to continue cooling.
● Serve with Herbed Butter or Anchovy Garlic Butter. Bread will keep, wrapped in plastic, 3 to 4 days or wrapped in paper, up to 1 week.

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Extra Sauce: Companion’s Josh Allen enters bread battle to compete in World Cup of Baking

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Every four years, the world goes wild for international competition. Participants train endlessly, all vying for the chance to represent their countries on the grandest of stages. No, we’re not talking about the Olympics or the World Cup. We’re talking about a more delicious and mouthwatering sport: the World Cup of Baking, or the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie.

The top three bakers from each country’s team will gather in Paris in March 2016 to be judged on bread, Viennese pastries, a savory sandwich presentation and an artistic piece. But before they go head-to-head in international competition, they have to make their national team. St. Louis’ own Josh Allen, owner of Companion, is one of 15 bakers fighting for a coveted spot tomorrow and Friday, Oct. 23 and 24, at the next round of competition in Providence, Rhode Island. If selected, Allen will be the first St. Louis baker to compete in the World Cup.

Since August, Allen has spent nearly every Friday at the Ladue Companion Cafe from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., elbow-deep in dough, testing new recipes and learning along the way. We popped by one of his final practice sessions to get the inside look at how a baker prepares for the tryout of a lifetime.

Allen is required to present five types of bread: a traditional and decorative baguette, a sourdough-based option, a nutritional loaf, and two freestyle breads of his creation. All five must be completed in eight hours and match precise weight and shape requirements.

 

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Since the judges will taste the bread straight from the oven, Allen has changed his usual methods, which focus on preparing bread consumed 12 hours later. “(I) found that the amount of thyme or rosemary has to be cut way back because it’s so floral initially,” Allen said.

Allen wanted to create breads that stand alone, almost as a meal. Each bite should be a sensory overload, he explained.

 

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The nutritional bread (pictured below), which contains more than 50 percent whole-grain flour, has the comforting aroma of chamomile dust. Mixed throughout the dough are quinoa and wild rice, as well as sweet-tart, crunchy pomegranate seeds.

 

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The classic baguette (below) is Allen’s favorite.

 

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Allen elevated the average sourdough (below) by using semolina flour studded with fennel and sesame seeds and brown butter to gild the lily.

 

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The first freestyle bread (below, left) is an ode to fall: chunks of apple and toasted walnut are folded into a thyme- and apple cider-infused rye dough topped with barley for crunch. He kicks up the heat with his second freestyle bread (below, right): an airy polenta bread with briny green olives, aromatic rosemary, bright orange zest, and a zip of red pepper.

 

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Allen expects to hear the results of this round in two weeks or so. If he succeeds, he will move to the final round of competition in March 2015, when the top three compete again to earn the coveted bread baker slot on the three-person team. “I’m as ready to go as I can be,” Allen said the day before competition. “There’s no telling what will resonate with the judges … I’m very excited about it. It’s been a great experience, but it’s been enough work that you want to do well.”

Spencer Pernikoff blogs at Whiskey and Soba

-story and photos by Spencer Pernikoff

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