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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where's Val?

Okay, okay before y'all (learning from the south pretty well now) beat me up and tell me I suck as a member of the Daring Bakers because I always post days after the "reveal," and that I just suck at updating my blog because it's been more than a month, I have a REALLY good excuse. Trust me. Before you panic, no I was not abducted by aliens and held hostage to bake them pastries and breads. Though if I were, I sure hope they pay well, better than what they do here.

Anyways, just so you know I did make the Daring Bakers challenge before the reveal date. 2 weeks before to be exact. It just happens that every reveal date happens to be on a day I have school or work or on a sunday when I am so tired from school and work that all I do is lay on my couch like a sac-o-potatoes. Lovely sight mind you. Well, it will not happen again (for another month and a half at least). Please hold your enthusiam while I tell you why.

I am now unemployeed (which is a good thing) because we are about to move to Corpus Christi, Texas. My husband Brandon selected P-3s about a month ago and since then life has been a rollercoaster. When I found out, I freaked out crying all over campus cause I still have 6 months of school left and that meant that I would be living with my husband for 6 months in this thing they call a town. That was not going to happen, so I did research and will be attending Del Mar College in Corpus and transferring the credits I still need back here to get my degree. Long story short, I would have to take 25% of Del Mars classes in order to get a degree from them and that would just be a waste of time and money. I only have 2 labs left, the rest of the classes I'm taking through Faulkner via distance Ed. Unfortunately for me Del Mar is only offering one of the labs I need in the Fall, so I won't be done completely till the Spring and I don't know the chances of them having the lab I need open in the Spring. So it's kinda still up in the air. Brandon was suppose to leave to report in Corpus early June and we are just so thankful for all the prayers because he was able to extend his leavage until the day after my finals.

So without further ado, I give to you Julys Daring Bakers challenge from Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What's Cooking?:
Above I made a chocoalte cream cheese filling and below a pear and brown sugar streusel filling.
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast
½ cup whole milk (I used Plain Soy Milk)
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (I opted out this cause Brandon does not like Orange zest)
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom (I used nutmeg)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped (I can't find this here)
2 large eggs, chilled
¼ cup fresh orange juice (I omitted this)
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter ( I used Earth Balance)
¼ cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. (In school I learnt that if you are fast with turns, you can make 2 turns before refrigerating so it decreases the waiting time). Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Proofing and Baking
Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch
Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Last week in my 'Essentials of Breads' class we had our midterm practical. It was a restless night prior because we had always worked in groups to produce our breads so who is to say that one person had more of an effect on the outcome of the bread than someone else? I was doubting my abilities and the fact that there we had to share equipment made me THAT much more nervous. I am a very time-oriented person and to have to wait for equipment when I am ready for the next step would stress me out completely. So, I grabbed my own measuring Cups and digital scale. I got there early enough to put tabs on a mixing bowl and a good working oven. The race started and I was coming in in the middle time wise while we prepared the dough. I had a sponge so that took a little longer. We had to be prestine in our santitation, appearance, technique, mis en place, taste, uniformity and be able to answer questions about our bread. We were allowed to make any bread we had done in the class and I chose Challah. Mainly because I knew everyone would take the Italian breads route thinking that it would be the easiest but alas it is not. Plus I wanted to be able to consume my bread since it doesn't have butter or milk it was the choice to go with. I was third to scale and mould my dough. Each piece of dough had to be 1 # - 1# 4oz after baking and it usually loses 2 oz moisture in the oven. I was skeptical when I scaled my dough. Each only weight 1# 2 oz. If it lost more than 2 oz, I would down graded. I was first in the proof box and first in the oven. Thank goodness because after the 1st 3 people got out of the ovens, the ovens turned out us. We have deck ovens and the majority of the breads we made needed ice to be thrown in as we baked for a crispier crust. Well, one giant mistake, too much ice went in and leaked out of the oven, shutting down the pilots for the oven one by one all the way down and so most peoples breads did not bake right. My breads came out perfect. 1# 1 oz each. Chef loved it and said it was very well made and tasted great. Phew!
For our catering class we were divided into different catering groups and we had to have a theme. I came up with a cheese theme and my plate I presented was the dessert. It's a sweetened cream cheese filling wrapped in phyllo dough, baked and topped off with a blueberry sauce. I was REALLY surprised when several culinary students asked me "What's phyllo dough." I looked at them. They looked back. I thought 'are you serious?' The draining moment was when I realised that they were serious.
I also have a culinary sculpture class and we worked with chocolate sculpting and made this chocolate bunny. I tried to bring it home in 1 piece but after the 1 hour 30 minute drive, her ear had melted and she was humped over in her half chocolate egg shell.

I hope to update more regulary since I am happily unemployeed for a month. :-)