Pugliese – Italian Bread

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For my birthday in October I got Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible, and I have made a couple of breads from the book (which I highly recommend), but I don’t think I have blogged about them.

The Pugliese are the breads on the cover, they look gorgeous, so of course I had to try them. It is a very high water content bread, which makes it a bit tricky. Beranbaum’s method uses a stand mixer, but I have made it both with my hands and with dough hooks and a hand mixer.

In general, many of the recipes have very specific instructions that I think you can mess around with a bit if you try. She recommends specific flour brands, for instance, but I made this with generic Safeway Organic all-purpose flour and it worked fine.
I also couldn’t get the durum flour the recipe called for and had to get semolina, which is a coarser grind of durum wheat, and the recipe claims it will not work with that, but it did. If you can get durum flour, by all means use it! (I could not even find some on amazon.com, funny, since in Denmark it was right there in the local supermarket).

This, like many of the breads in the books, is a long process. The raising times are very long, which helps create flavor, but means you will have to use a half day or more – plus make the starter the day before. Also note that this uses a banneton to help with the final raise, I definitely recommend one for wet breads like this. And it makes it look pretty!

Original recipe from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I have multiplied the amount by 1.5, as thought the original bread was very small. Note that most of the pictures is for the smaller size, from first time I made it.

Ingredients, day 1:

  • 113 g all-purpose flour (4 oz)
  • 0.37 g active dry yeast
  • 90 ml water ( 6 tbsp )

Method, day 1:

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water.

2. Add the flour and mix until smooth.

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3. Cover tightly and let proof overnight (12-24 hours). The first 3-6 hours should be a room temperature, then cooler. I found our garage, a little warmer than our refrigerator to be great. The volume of the starter should triple.

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Ingredients, day 2:

  • 107 g all-purpose flour (3.75 oz)
  • 107 g durum flour (3.75 oz)
  • 3 g active dry yeast
  • 177 ml water (3/4 cup)
  • rice flour for dusting

Method, day 2:

1. Try to leave the starter at room temperature for it to become room temperature, though if it is cool it is OK too.

2. Mix the water and yeast in a small bowl.

3. Add the water and yeast mixture to the starter.

4. Add the flours and the salt to you bowl.

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5. Mix, either with your hands/a whisk, dough hooks on a stand mixer or heavy duty hand mixer (be careful using a hand mixer. If it is not powerful enough you may end up burning out the motor).

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6. Keep mixing/kneading for 5 minutes or so, the dough should pull away from the bowl but still be very sticky.

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7. Dust your work surface with durum/semolina flour and have more flour ready. Place your dough on the flour and stretch it with both hands (flour your hands too).

8. Fold the dough over one third, and then the rest of it on top.

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9. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the fold.

10. Sprinkle more durum flour over and cover with oiled film. Let rest for 30 min.

11. Repeat the stretching, folding, turning and folding again. Durst with more flour, cover and rest another 30 min.

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12. Stretch, fold, turn and fold again. Place your dough an oiled bowl and cover tightly with film.

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13. Place the dough somewhere nice and warm to let it rise for 2 hours. I used a trick from Cook’s Illustrated: Place pan of boiling water in the bottom of your cold oven, and place your dough on a rack above. Close the oven (don’t turn it on). This create a moist, warm environment, and your oven is relatively sealed.

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14. Dust an 8 inch / 20 cm banneton with rice flour. (If you do not have one, simply place the bread on a parchment lined sheet. I sometimes see people suggesting a stand-in for the banneton by flouring a tea towel and line a colander – I have not had that work). I have tried with wheat flour too, rice flour gave a much better result.

15. Very gently, shape the risen dough into a round ball, and place seam side up in your banneton (or seam side down on a sheet). Cover with oiled film. Let rise for 1-1.5 hours.

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16. Preheat the oven to 500 F / 260 C, and place an empty sheet or pan on the lowest rack of the oven. Place a pizza stone, if you have one, on a rack just above. If you use a stone, let the oven stand at temperature for a while, so the stone is heated through.

17. Invert the bread out on a parchment lined sheet.

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18. Place the sheet on top of your pizza stone (or directly on the rack). Place about 1/2 cups / 1 dl of ice cubes in the pan below.

19. After 5 min, lower the temperature to 450 F / 230 C.

20. Bake the bread for 15-25 minutes more and take it out to cool on a wire rack.

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The bread is really delicious and moist, and I think it keeps OK too. It is great with soup but also as sandwich bread for lunch or even breakfast.

Walnut Cookies

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These cookies are actually Christmas cookies, but they are good at any time. The recipe is from an old Christmas cookie flyer from a brand of flour in Denmark (Amo), probably from the late 70’s. They are crisp and buttery and very ‘more-ish’.

Ingredients:

  • 400 g flour (14.1 oz)
  • 300 g butter (cold) (10.5 oz)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 50-75 g coarsely chopped walnuts (1.8-2.6 oz)
  • Raw sugar for decoration

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients, except walnuts, to a rough dough. Use your fingers to squeeze the butter into the other ingredients.

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2. Add the walnuts and mix well.

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3. Divide the dough into 6 parts, and roll out to rolls, approximately 20 cm / 8 inches in length. The rolls should be about 2.5 cm / 1 inch in diameter.

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4. Roll each roll in raw sugar – if you don’t have that caster sugar will work too.

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5. Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for about an hour or more. You can also freeze them and make them later.

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6. Preheat the oven to 220 C / 428 F.

7. Once the rolls are set, take one out at a time and slice into fairly thin cookies, about 0.5 cm / 0.2 inches thick each. There should be about 25 cookies per roll. Keep turning the roll as you cut, so they stay round.

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8. Place the cookies on parchment sheets. They don’t expand much, so you can put them fairly close to each other.

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9. Bake for about 8 min until golden brown at the edges.

10. Cool the cookies on a rack and repeat with the remaining sheets.

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Simply and very yummy. The original recipe calls for butter or margarine, but the butter taste is really prominent, I don’t think they would taste as well without it.

Pita Breads

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I love having bread with my food, and pite breads are of course perfect when you have middle eastern food. I have a small Lebanese inspired cookbook, and made some mint and turmeric chicken, tabuleh salad and had some hummus to go with it. I decided to try and make some pita breads, and followed the recipe from the same book. The book is called ‘Det Libanesiske Køkken’  by Anne Wilson (The Lebanese Kitchen – original title: Lebanese Cooking ) and is part of a small series of books with international inspired recipes. I had a bunch of them for years and enjoyed them very much.

Ingredients:

  • 7 g dry yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 375 ml lukewarm water (1.6 cups)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 875 ml all purpose flour (3.7 cups)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

1. Dissolve the yeast in water and add sugar.

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2. Add flour and oil and mix in until a dough forms.

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3. Knead the dough until smooth and supple.

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4. Grease a bowl with oil, place to dough in it and cover with film. Let the dough rest for 20 min, until doubled.

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5. Punch the dough down and split into 12 parts.

6. Form a small ball of each part and roll them out. The breads should be about 5 mm thick.

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7. Place the pita breads on a parchment clad paper, and brush with water. Let them rise for 20 min.

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8. Preheat the oven to 250 C.

9. Bake the breads for 4-5 min, they should be light golden and soft.

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Easy and yummy!

Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate mousse is my favorite dessert. It is rich, decadent and perfect in every way. There are so many different recipes out there, and the main difference is usually whether you use both whipped cream and egg whites to create the fluffy texture, or just whipped cream, as well as the ratio of egg yolks and sugar to chocolate.

This recipe is my favorite, and it has a funny backstory. When we were students, one of my husbands classmates lived in an old dorm in Copenhagen, Kvinderegensen. It was build in 1931, and though today half of the residents are male, originally it was a girls only dorm.

The important part for this story, is though that they used to have great parties, including a spectacular New Years party, with a 4 course dinner and everyone dressing in fancy evening wear. We celebrated New Years there a couple of times, and one of the years the dessert was this amazing Chocolate Mousse with raspberry sauce and almond tuilles. I have a printout of email from 1998 from a guy I don’t know, to a guy I don’t know – but thank you Christoffer for writing down the recipe.

I usually don’t bother making the tuilles, but the raspberry sauce is super easy and really lifts the chocolate dish. (If I do make they tulles one day, I will be sure to post about it, but for now I don’t know if the recipe is even workable or not).

Ingredients, raspberry sauce:

  • 200 g raspberries (fresh or frozen) (7 oz)
  • 80 g sugar (2.8 oz)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

Method:

1. Add the raspberries to a small pot.

2. Spit the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.

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3. Add the vanilla seeds, bean (and empty bean from the chocolate mousse below) and sugar to the pot.

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4. Put the pot on low on your stove, and let it simmer for 20-25 min.

5. Try not to stir with a spoon, but swirl the pot gently, this way the berries retain their shape.

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6. Let stand for 30 min, then remove the vanilla beans.

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7. Serve cold or luke-warm.

Ingredients, mousse:

  • 200 g dark chocolate, minimum 60% chocolate (8 oz)
  • 8 egg yolks*
  • 70 g sugar (2.4 oz)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 500 ml heavy whipping cream (1 pint)

*Note: If you can, use yolks from pasteurized eggs. The yolks do not get heated, and the more yolks, the higher the risk of illnesses. If you are using regular eggs, make sure to keep the mousse refrigerated at all times.

Method:

1. Chop the chocolate finely, and melt it, either in a double boiler or the microwave.

2. Spilt the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Save the empty bean for the raspberries.

3. Whisk the egg yolks with sugar and vanilla seeds.

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4. Add 1/3 of the chocolate to the yolk mixture, and whisk until shiny, homogenous and a little heavy feeling.

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5. Mix in the remaining chocolate.

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6. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until creamy. You don’t want it to be stiff and fluffy as whipped cream you would put on a pie, just until you can form soft peaks.

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7. Mix 1/3 of the lightly whipped cream into the chocolate by carefully turning the mixture. You don’t want to whisk vigorously.

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8. When the first part of the cream is mixed in, add the rest and gently fold it in. You want to be careful to not beat the air out of the cream.

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9. Pour into individual serving glasses or a serving dish and refrigerate.

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When serving, you can use a big spoon to create ‘eggs’ from the mousse if it was refrigerated in a large shallow dish. Simply draw the spoon along the surface to roll up the mousse and create a pretty presentation. I usually just let people serve themselves in chunks, but the other way does look better.

It is decently better once it has set, but you can actually make this and eat it almost right away. If you are having a chocolate mousse craving after dinner, as one might.

You can also add some rum or other spirit to the mousse (add it to the egg yolk/chocolate mixture before the whipped cream) if you want to have some contrast to the sweetness – it should not be boozy, just about a tablespoon or two.