(The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!)

I was wary of another yeast bread challenge.  The last one didn’t turn out particularly well, but I figured I’d give this a shot. 

Povitica is a yeast bread with a nut filling.  It gets rolled out very thin, the topping goes on top, then it’s rolled up like a jelly roll and folder into a pan for baking.  This recipe makes 4 loves – that’s a lot of nut bread.

The dough gets mixed up and kneaded:

Povitca

Then split into 4 portions to rise. 

Povitca

After an hour and a half of rising, it gets rolled out.  The instructions said "thin enough to read through".  I got pretty close to that.  Having the marble rolling pin really helps – without it, my back would have been killing me by the second loaf.

 Povitca

The filling goes on top:

 Povitca

Then it gets rolled up and goes into pans.  I don’t own four bread pans, so I made do with my clay cooker and some CorningWare:

 Povitca Povitca Povitca Povitca

Then 45 minutes of baking.  I should have been a bit more gentle – in some of the pans, the bread split open.

 Povitca Povitca Povitca

After half an hour of cooling, I had bread:

Povitca

It was really good.  I did three loaves with walnuts, and one with pecans and chocolate.  I haven’t cut into that one yet, but the walnut loaves were great.  We took two loaves to work, and they pretty much disappeared. I’d make it again – only next time, not 4 loaves at a time!

( see the recipe )

(The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!)

Croissants have been on my list of things to try for a long time, ever since I saw Willow Bird Baking’s tutorial.  But I never found the time, until I saw this month’s Daring Baker Challenge. 

Then I found the time.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the process, and I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures.  It can be best summed up as: 

  • Roll
  • Fold
  • Rest
  • Repeat

There’s some mixing at the beginning.  There’s some smashing of butter, too, but mostly, it was rolling and resting.  The whole recipe should have taken 12 hours, but I spread it over three days.  Most of the resting steps could be done either one or two hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge. 

After three days of rolling and resting, I had croissants!  They were all supposed to come out as neat triangles, but each half ended up with one oddly-shaped leftover piece.  So I grabbed a few chocolate-chips from the pantry, and stuffed the odd ones with chocolate.

Croissants! Then, 15 minutes of baking and they were done!

Croissants!

They came out really quite good.  They were more dense then they should have been – the first few risings went fine, but I noticed by the end they really weren’t rising much. I  blame the yeast – mine is getting a bit old. I had plenty of layers, and they were nice and buttery – just not very fluffy. 

A few other notes – the marble rolling pin was a great help, and it made the rolling go a lot faster then my old wooden one.  The silicone rolling mat kept the flour mostly-contained for 3 days, and really made the cleanup faster.

I’ll probably give them another shot with fresher yeast.  They really weren’t a whole lot of trouble, and they were quite good.  Now, I just have to find a bread pudding recipe to use up the stale ones…

Challah

I figured since the potato bread had come out so well, I’d try my luck with more bread this weekend.

I saw a recipe online for a Leek Bread Pudding, so the logical first step was to make a loaf of challah.

My challah recipe comes from an old friend, and it’s about as simple as bread gets.  I was careful this time to bloom the yeast for the full 10 minutes, and it looked fizzy and healthy before I started adding everything else.  I took that as a good sign.

I added the rest of the ingredients – oil (I use olive), more water, more sugar, and two eggs, kneaded it in the stand mixer, then let it rise.  I put it in the oven with the door closed and the light on, and that seemed to work perfectly.  It was doubled in 2 hours, and I punched it down and let it rise another 45 minutes.

The braiding is easy – just split the dough into thirds (I never get them quite even), lay them out on parchment paper, and braid them.  I usually only get a few twists in.  Tuck the ends underneath to make it look neater.

Challah

Challah

Then let it rise one more time, and add sesame seeds and egg wash to the top, and bake.  I didn’t want the sesame seeds in the bread pudding, so I left them out this time – the picture above is from an earlier loaf.  I was sloppy with the egg wash – my egg-wash-applying-brush was in the dishwasher, so I tried to use a spoon, and it got messy:

Challah

But it was still good. And it made amazing bread pudding…but that’s the next post.

( see the recipe )

Potato Chive Bread

I’ve admired the Bread Baking Babes from afar for a while, but I just don’t have good yeast luck. The last two or three things I’ve baked with yeast just haven’t worked.

I don’t know why that is – I used to be able to bake bread just fine. I thought buying new yeast would help, but the yeast-based cake I tried with the new yeast also didn’t rise.

But I saw Cookie Baker Lynn’s post about her potato chive bread earlier this month, and I figured I’d give bread another try.

The recipe is originally from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. I didn’t have soy milk, so my version wasn’t vegan – I just used the 2% milk that I happened to have in the fridge. And I didn’t knead mine by hand – I used my stand mixer.

Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written. I made the potatoes the night before and put them in the fridge overnight. I should have mashed them more finely, but when I realized there were chunks, I just turned up the speed on the mixer a bit until they were pulverized out.

When it came time to let it rise, I stole an idea from a more-competent friend, who suggested preheating the oven to 200F, then turning it off, and letting the bread rise on the now-warm stovetop.

It seemed to do the trick – mine was slow to rise, but it did eventually. I suspect there may be a draft in my kitchen. Someone else suggested letting it rise in a cold oven with just the oven light on for warmth – I’ll try that next time.

It’s really great bread. We had half the first loaf with dinner, the second half of the first loaf with soup for lunch today, and the other loaf is going to turn into French Toast (yes, even with the chives – we’ll see how it turns out!) and bread pudding.

And I got this picture, which is terrible, yet amusing:

Chive Bread rising in the sun...or a rock from the next Star Trek movie?

Doesn’t that look like something you’d see on the set of a low-budget science fiction movie?

Anyway, I’m glad that my yeast problems seem to be over. At least for now.

( see the recipe )

Lemon Rolls

Once a month or so, I have friends over to play Wii games and eat junk food.  It’s perfect – I can spend the day baking, and I get plenty of feedback on what worked and didn’t work.

And these worked.

The recipe is from The Kitchen – Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze.

They took a while to make – 2 hours, at least, of rest time, plus half an  hour or so of hands-on time – but were otherwise not complicated.  And I’d never made cinnamon rolls before!

The dough goes in a stand mixer, or you can knead it by hand.  I added half a teaspoon of lemon oil to the dough just to give it a bit more lemon-ness.  Let it rise for an hour (it was cold yesterday, so I gave it a bit longer), then roll it out.

I have one of those silicone pastry mats, and it makes projects like this much less painful – instead of cleaning flour off the counter (which always results in flour all over the floor) – you just roll out your dough, then pick up the mat and dump it over the trash can.

This dough gets rolled out into a big rectangle, then covered with butter and the sugar filling.  I cheated, and I melted and then cooled the butter instead of just softening it.  That way I could just pour it over the dough, and spread it around with a pastry brush to get perfect coverage.

Then you roll it up, slice it, and put them in a 13×9 to raise for another hour, until they look like this:

Lemon Rolls

Then bake.  While they’re baking, make the frosting.  I tried to mix it by hand with a whisk, but I ended up with small lumps of cream cheese, even though it was very soft to start with.  I’d recommend doing it in a mixer or with a food processor.

The only change I’m going to make when I do them again (and I will do them again!) is to double the cream cheese in the glaze.  It came out too much like a glaze and not enough like cream cheese frosting.  Letting them cool a bit longer before I put the glaze on would have helped, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are a few left over in the fridge, and they’ll make a great breakfast….

( see the recipe )