Thursday, 27 February 2014

February 2014 Daring bakers challenge: Beautiful breads: Cherry jam and almond paste bread

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?
Well, this challenge was surely challenging for me as I hadn't tried this before. I am pleased with the result even though I know it is not perfect. But, if you saw how it looked before I put it in the oven and the mess around it in the kitchen, you wouldn't believe it would look like that after it was baked. So, no complaints here. The taste of the bread was very nice although it felt a little dense for me, so I think it needs the sweetened condensed milk that is suggested on the original recipe and I did not use. Overall, I would make this again and experiment with more recipes and different fillings and of course try to master the shapes. The recipe I used was the recipe given at the challenge with a different filling and very small adjustments.

Cherry jam and almond paste bread

Recipe adapted from here
Shape inspiration here and here

For the dough:

1/4 cup (60 ml) lukewarm water (about 37°C)

3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm milk (about 37°C)

1 large egg

1/4 cup (60 g) butter, softened

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3-1/4 cups (450 g) plain flour

2 teaspoons (8 g) dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon cardamom, optional

For the filling:

½ cup (100 g) butter softened
200 g grated almond paste
1 teaspoon milk
¼ teaspoon cardamom
5 tablespoons cherry jam
1 slightly beaten egg for brushing

Start by preparing the dough. Place in a bowl the yeast, milk, egg, water, butter and sugar and whisk. In the mixer bowl stir the flour, salt and cardamom, make a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture. With the hook attachment knead your dough for about 5 minutes until you get a smooth dough. If you feel the dough is too soft you can add ¼ cup (35 g) of flour more. I didn't need to. When your dough is ready, grease a bowl slightly with olive oil and place it in. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, put at a warm place and let it rise until it is double in size. It took about an hour and a little more for me. When it has doubled, punch the dough, turn it to a lightly floured surface and divide it in 4 same size pieces. I first took out a little piece of dough to make the rose in the middle.
Roll each quarter of dough into a 20 cm (8 inches) circle.Try to make them about the same in size.

Prepare your filling. In a bowl stir together the milk grated almond paste, cardamom and butter until it is a very soft mixture. ( A very good filling would also e the cinnamon mixture in the original recipe).
Take the first circle and spread some almond mixture and on the top a very thin layer of jam. Try not to put a lot of filling or it will spill everywhere like mine.Top with the second one repeat until you put the last one on the top. The last one should be plain without any filling. Pinch the sides of the dough together. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
With a sharp knife divide the dough in 9 same size pieces. It is very easy with a measuring tape. Cut from the middle towards the edge but don't cut it until the edge. Turn the triangles you have created upside down, so that you create a star-like shape. In the middle of each triangle make a keyhole about 2-3 cm with a knife and a little help from your fingers to open them a little. Take the tip of the corner of each triangle and insert it in the keyhole you made from the upside to down and pull it from the underside. When you have made all the triangles cut 3 of them and pinch the edges of the other together making a smaller circle in the middle. Pinch together the edges of the ones you cut, together and put them on the top of the 5 triangle-circle, placing each triangle between the triangles that are under it.
Roll the dough that you kept for the rose and cut round shapes as many as you can with it. Stick each round's edge to the previous one and roll until you have a rose. Place it in the middle of the three triangle circle. You can see how to make the rose here.
Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 400 °F. Cover your bread with a towel and let it rise for about 30 more minutes. Brush your bread with the egg and bake in the middle of the oven for about 15-20 minutes. If it gets brown very early you can cover with aluminium foil until it is baked. When it is baked remove from the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer on a wire rack until it is completely cool.
A very nice addition, as the original recipe suggests is to drizzle the bread with sweetened condensed milk while it is still warm or even a simple syrup. I didn't do it to reduce the calories.

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