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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Culinary School - Session 43: Danish, Harvest Grain Bread and Banana-Crumb Bread

Culinary School: Session 43 (11.24.14)

Danish, Harvest Grain Bread and Banana-Crumb Bread

Just what everyone needs the week of Thanksgiving...

The freezer is once again loaded with vast quantities of breads and muffins as even my voracious appetite for anything with a gluten structure cannot keep pace with the volume being produced in culinary school.

It highlights two things. First, after several month of working together, the class is really humming as a unit. Recipes that previously would have taken an entire evening are quickly measured, mixed, baked and wrapped. That's progress.

The second take-away? Everything is so good, I can't bear to throw any of it away!

Banana Crumb Muffins

Sharing means caring...

... so I guess that means I don't care, because I did not share any of these picture-perfect bagels. Yes, I'm hoarding the bagels, previous comments about a full freezer notwithstanding.
Formed and frozen one class prior, we boiled, baked and buttered (or cream-cheese and lox'd) our bagels this session. 
The downside to this new-found culinary knowledge? Well, the bagels were extremely easy to make, which means they may very well enter the growing list of snacks to "whip up" at 1am while watching reruns on Hulu.


- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (11.24.14):

  • Flour: 19,125g
  • Eggs: 10,250g (205x)
  • Sugar: 10,670g
  • Butter: 12,140g
  • Milk/Cream: 11,275g

- The Recipes -



A pastry so nice, we're doing it twice! That's right, although we covered Danish back in Session 28 with a Cinnamon Nut incarnation, something I referred to at the time as a "nearly perfect pastry", the confection that dreams are made of (and subsequent not-so-balanced breakfasts), returns!

We're not being redundant... we're being thorough (as you can see in all of these final photos from the next session). As any baked good enthusiast has at least casually observed, Danish are produced in a variety of forms with a host of different fillings. Why stop with just a single batch of the Cinnamon Nut variety? There's cheese, fruit, pastry cream, cheese, almond cream... cheese... did I mention cheese?

Today was just the warm-up, so to speak. The yeast-leavened dough was formed and laminated, similar to a croissant, and then placed in the refrigerator where it will stay until next class when it is time to shape and fill the dough.

Focus Techniques:
- Preparing a laminated dough that is also organically leavened. The dough must be kept cold to minimize fermentation (i.e. keep the yeast as inactive as possible) throughout the lamination process.
- Forming an organically leavened dough for refrigeration to quickly slow the fermentation process. By shaping a paton of dough in a thin (<1") sheet, the fermentation process can be more quickly and more uniformly slowed in the refrigerator. If the block of dough were too thick, the interior would continue to proof until all of the heat escaped.

Laminating Danish Dough

Laminating Danish Dough


Harvest Grain Bread

Good for what ails you, or so you'd expect. With whole-grains galore, this bread is surprisingly moist and perfect for toast (with a little butter and honey... and a lot of coffee... and a Danish... )

"Whole Grain" refers to products that uses all three parts of a grain: the bran, endosperm and germ. Accounting for 15% of a grain, the bran is the fiber-loaded outer layer. The endosperm makes up the bulk of the grain, at 83%, and is carbohydrate dense. The remaining 2% is the germ, which is nutrient rich and even contains trace amounts of fat. Processed flours strip out the bran and germ, using only the remaining endosperm in the milling process.

Focus Techniques:
- Using a soaker. Like the Musli from last week, this Harvest Grain Bread is loaded with whole grains and seeds: poppy, pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower. And once again, the hydration requirement of these ingredients calls for an overnight soak in an equal portion of water by weight. The grains fully absorb the water during the soaking period ensuring that they will not pull water from the dough when incorporated, resulting in a dry and dense bread.
- Using a Poolish as a preferment. Like all preferments, a Poolish (traditionally mixed as equal parts water and flour with a pinch of yeast) adds a depth of flavor to the bread dough. The slow fermentation process brings an acidity and nutty flavor to the dough (although it is not as acidic as a sourdough). Poolish is often the preferment of choice for elastic doughs.

Harvest Grain Bread Soaker - Hydrating Seeds

Harvest Grain Bread Soaker - Hydrating Seeds

Harvest Grain Bread Poolish

Harvest Grain Bread Poolish

Formed Harvest Grain Bread Loaf

Baked Harvest Grain Bread

Baked Harvest Grain Bread


Banana-Crumb Bread

Every session lately seems to be rounded out with a muffin, typically to highlight a creaming or liquid-fat method dough. I'm not going to complained. They've all been delicious, and the Banana-Crumb Bread is no exception.

As a creaming-method dough, the butter and sugar is whipped until light and fluffy and then emulsified with egg. The process traps air, which creates mechanical leavening. However, baking soda, as the chemical leavener in this recipe, does most of the heavy lifting.

The muffins are topped with a crumb made from butter cut into flour and sugar. The cut-in method creates a crumbly texture.

Focus Techniques:
- Using the creaming method for the bread dough.
- Using the cut-in method for the crumb topping.

Empty Muffin Tins

Unbaked Banana Crumb Muffins

Banana Crumb Muffins

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