Friday, 28 May 2010

Braided Peasant Loaf - A Bread with a Twist!

This month for Bread Baking Day we are doing Breads with a Twist! I have made some very tasty Braided Peasant Loaves to share with you, and so many friends have mailed in their twisted creations already! Deadline is June 1st, round-up is June 4th.
Ready to do the twist with me? You have a couple days left!
Here's a little something to get you in the mood.

Photos of you dancing in your kitchen are optional.

Braided Peasant Loaf
Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads

3 ½ cups AP flour
1 tsp salt
2 pkgs dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ cups hot water (120-130F)
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
1 egg white, beaten, mixed with 1 tsp water

In a mixing or mixer bowl measure 2 cups flour and sprinkle in the salt, dry yeast, and sugar. Pour in the hot water and add the shortening. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon, or with a mixer flat beater for 2 minutes to make a smooth batter. Measure in additional flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring it into the wet batter. When the dough has formed a mass, work it with the hands, with sprinkles of flour to control the stickiness, until it can be lifted from the bowl and placed on a floured work surface.
If in the mixer, the last portion of flour may have to be worked into the dough by hand because it may be too thick for the flat beater and yet not thick enough for the dough hook.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes, either by hand or with the dough hook (or a combination of both). By hand, use a strong push-turn-fold motion, occasionally lifting up the dough and crashing it down, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and feels alive under your hands.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and put aside at room temperature.
Set a timer for 10 minutes. When the bell rings, turn back the plastic wrap and punch down the dough with your fingertips; turn it over. Cover.
Again set the timer for 10 minutes, and proceed as above. Do this 4 more times.
After the last push-down, cover the bowl tightly with the plastic wrap and leave to rise until double in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Punch down the dough and turn onto the floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. With a knife of dough blade cut one half into 3 equal parts, by measurement or weight.
To braid, roll each of the 3 small pieces into a strand about 16” long. Lay them side by side and braid loosely beginning in the middle; turn the dough around and finish the braid. Repeat for the second half.
Place the braided dough on the baking sheet, cover with a piece of foil, plastic wrap, or parchment paper, and allow to double in bulk, about 30 minutes. *I gave mine an extra little twist
Preheat the oven to 400F about 20 minutes before baking.
Brush the braids with the egg white mixture. *I added sesame seeds
Place in the oven to bake until a light golden brown and crisp, about 35-40 minutes. Turn one of the loaves over and tap the bottom with a forefinger. It is done if it sounds hard and hollow and is well browned. If not, return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to complete baking.
(if using a convection oven, reduce heat by 50F)
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before placing on a baking rack to cool. The braided loaf is more fragile than a solid loaf so it must be handled with care. Lift the loaves off the baking sheet with the help of a spatula.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

BreadBakingDay #30 - last day of submission June 1st, 2010