Thursday, 16 October 2008

World Bread Day - Seeing Stars

The lovely and talented Zorra from 1x umrühren bitte has put together a celebration of the loaf!

The challenge is to bake a bread especially for this most hallowed of days. I chose to bake the Poppy Seed Stars from Dough, Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet. Why the stars? Well this is a day of celebration and stars seemed so.... happy!

I am greatly enjoying working from this book lately as each loaf packs a visual wow factor as well as tasting great. These stars taste a lot like bagels, although they are not boiled, and are very good with cream cheese.

A batch of brown dough is made first, rested and then transformed into stars. Yum.

Brown Dough
10 1/2 ounces whole-wheat bread flour (about 2 1/3 cups)
7 ounces white bread flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 ounce fresh yeast or 1/4 ounce envelope dry active yeast (1 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons fine grain salt
12 1/2 ounces water (13 fl. oz.)

Combine flours and yeast. If using fresh yeast - crumble in with fingertips.
Add salt and water. Mix and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and leathery. Try not to add much more flour, dough will be sticky, especially in the beginning.
Let rest one hour.

Preheat oven to 475 f. (250 c.)

Poppy Seed Stars
makes 12 stars

Need - 1 batch brown dough that has rested one hour, 2 ounces poppy seeds (about 5 tablespoons), shallow bowl of water.

Turn out the dough and divide into 12 pieces (about 12 1/2 ounces each) and roll them into balls. Cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Scatter poppy seeds on a plate and fill a shallow bowl with water. Flatten one of the rolls with the palm of your hand, dip the top into the water, then immediately into the seeds and press them in with your hand. Place on a lightly floured counter, seed side up, and flatten a little with your hand.
Using the short end of a clean credit card, make a diagonal cut across the center of the dough - the cut shouldn't reach the edges of the roll but should go all the way through it to the work surface. Then make two other diagonal cuts that intersect the first one equally, so that the three cuts form a star shape.
Carefully push the roll from underneath with your fingertips, and turn it inside out, so that the points of the star push upwards and outwards, resulting in the points being on the outside.

Place the stars on a baking tray, seed-side up, cover with a lint-free dishtowel and let rise for about 45 minutes until the stars have nearly doubled in volume.

Put them in the preheated oven, mist the inside with a water spray (avoid the light bulb) and bake them for 10-12 minutes. (I had to bake them a little longer)

Let cool and string them from your backyard trees and pray your neighbours aren't watching.

Haven't discovered the joy of baking bread yet? Give it a try. There is something so spiritual and satisfying to create bread in your own home. I promise, it is not as scary as it seems.