Saturday, June 28, 2008

Creating a Creature From the Blue Lagoon...

Or this month's Daring Baker Challenge!

This month's challenge was a pretty tough one for me, but unlike last month's end results, I was terribly proud and pleased with the end product. Would I make it again? Perhaps, unlike the Opera Cake that I would say no to, this one I would consider - the bread is really rich and would make a wonderful holiday gift. Plus it's a great base for many filling options. This recipe makes a lot of dough! And I still have the other half of the dough in my freezer waiting for when I feel the need to have my apartment smell wonderfully buttery and yeasty. The only drawbacks to this bread are as follows:

1.) It's damn time consuming.

2.) My hand smelled like butter for two solid days in a row. I guess this might not be considered a drawback to some, but it's not a great motivational tool when I'm at the gym and trying to concentrate on the spinning instruction telling me to feel the burn.

3.) I suck at making dough wells! I'll get to this later in this post.

But overall, I was very proud of my work on this challenged and others who sampled it, enjoy it quite a bit as well.

Originally, I thought I'd do a savory braid but after emailing the host blogger (who was so sweet and prompt with her replies) I understood that I needed to stick with the more traditional fruit sort of filling. Hmmm....

Well, it turned out that blueberries were all 2 for 1 at the ghetto Shaws! Wooohoo, so I went ahead and stocked up. I love blueberries and have been known to go thru an entire pint as a snack in one evening. I considered just using the blueberries and glazing them with a bit of apricot jam but then remembered that I had also stocked up on lemons. I thought a nice combination would be lemon curd with fresh blueberries.

I remembered a recipe for lime curd in one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and also remembered that she wrote a sub of lemons was acceptable as well.

Okay, okay, I know I said that I was taking time off from my relationship with Ina but I had also seen her make this on the show and ever since had wanted a reason to make it too. It looked like it had just the right about of tart pucker and sweet.

So I mixed the ingredients all together and it looked like this:

It's hard to see in the picture but it resembled yellow curdled milk. It was lumpy and frothy and just gross. However, I wasn't worried. But I had watched her make it on TV and she notes that it will look like this and as it gets cooked, it will come together and thicken up. Now, if I were to just follow the cookbook, I would have been concerned with the state of my curd. No where in the Barefoot Contessa cookbook say anything about the curdle-y appearance of the curd.

And sure enough it came together after a good 10 mins on low heat. Glossy and heavenly smelling. As I waited for it to cool, I sampled a little bit. And sampled a little bit more. Holy bee-jezus! It was good stuff. Tart and yet just sweet enough. Rich and creamy and completely decadent because 2 sticks of butter went into the curd. It was delicious. So it looks like maybe Ina and I are back together, but it's only a temporary trial period for now. I'm still dating other people ;)

Since I'm not a hardcore baker and rarely make anything that calls for yeast (pizza dough being the only exception in my life), I felt that there were a few gaps in the instructions. It begins by telling me to mix the yeast with cold milk...

Alright, so I knew that I needed to activate the yeast but the only way I'd know that is because I have used yeast before. But had I not, I'd hate to think what my bread would have become with unactivated yeast and cold milk...matzo?

Anywhooo, I mixed the milk and yeast and other ingredients together and made my flour well. I made the mistake of dumping the liquid all into my little well. Um and this happened...
So the liquid broke through the flour barricade and I panicked and trying to add flour to the liquid thinking "well it will thicken up". Yeah, clearly a panic move that only made matters worse. So I cleaned up the mess and started over. But this time, I gradually added the liquid a little at a time. Again, not sure the recipe said anything about doing that but it certainly made the situation less traumatic and kept everything in my well.

The dough was left to rest and when it came time to "turn" it with butter the first time, I spread the butter quite thickly. The instructions never said how thick the butter layer should be and since I've never worked with butter in breads (again, remember what I said about pizza?) I didn't know that it would have been better to spread a much thinner layer down. As a result everytime I turned the dough it oozed butter on my kitchen counter and a LOT of it. It got to the point where I had to cheat and scrap the butter off the counter (don't worry it was clean) and add it back into the dough. It also means I sorta lost track of the way I was turning mid way through. Oh well. I hoped for the best for my oozing butter dough.

I let it sit in the fridge overnight and the next day was greeted by my little butterball. It already smelled divine! Mmm, butter and yeast! I rolled it out and even used a ruler to help me get the measurements perfect. I had a great looking little rectangle. But again, confusion arose over which ends I should be making my cuts. The long way or the short way? I took a gamble and did it the short end of the rectangle.


Although I don't think that was "right", it did allow me to put a lot of my filling down the middle. I piled on my homemade lemon curd and 2for1 blueberries. I folded down my ends and began "braiding". I got to the end and realized my braid looked more like an alien than anything else. This discovery was just reinforced by bread dough eye sockets and blueberries for eyes.


He kinda looked like R2D2. But I instantly loves him!! So after a good long proofing session and a little egg wash, into the oven he went.

I tend to think my oven sucks when it comes to baking but this recipe really allowed my oven to finally shine! Look at how evenly golden my creature got:

I was so pleased. Behold, my final Daring Baker creation:

I was pleasantly surprised that the blueberries and curd didn't all come leaking out. It looked awesome. And the taste? Really, really fantastic. Almost like a homemade breakfast strudel. It was rich and I couldn't eat more than one slice. So I gave it away to friends. They said it was really good too. Given my messy missteps, the bread really exceeded my expectations and then some. So yay!!

Thanks again, Daring Bakers!




12 comments:

Rebecca said...

Wait, you're in a relationship with Ina too? I didn't think I was ready for a threesome...

...regardless, your braid sounds delicious. I love blueberries and lemon together. (And I'll have to try Ina's curd recipe!)

Leah said...

Hahaha! If it makes you feel any better, Rebecca, we are taking time to see other people. I've kinda fallen out of love with Ina lately. A pizza crust incident sealed the deal.

Ally said...

I've had the spillage happen to me when we did the french bread a while back. I've now learned it is much easier for me to do it in a large bowl with shallow sides.

I love the first pic, too cute! And your braid came out great!

madcapcupcake said...

Blueberries look delicious, yum!

Lorrie said...

oh i know all about messy missteps. You recovered really well! it looks delicious!

Leah said...

Ally- I joined the month after the French bread challenge, but now I know. And I'm glad someone else had a bit of trouble with the flour well. I kinda feared it made me less of a legit baker if I put in a bowl but I'll do it next time with no shame b/c I know someone else there is doing it too ;)

Madcapcupcake- Omg, I'm certainly not vegan, but I really adore your blog and am very intrigued and impressed at your ability to modify recipes that look rather delicious!!

Lorrie - You are a very prolific blogger indeed! Did you do the challenge? If so, please point me to the post b/c I'd love to see it :)

Susie Homemaker said...

Blueberries and Lemon? Yum! BTW - you are too funny...I love your sense of humor! Great post!
-Susan of http://doughmesstic.blogspot.com

Leah said...

Susan! Thanks for the compliments :)
And speaking of great sense of humor, I really love the name of your blog! doughmesstic is a fantastic name.

PS... your son is absolutely adorable!

breadchick said...

I love the little blueberry eyes! Well done on your challenge!!ip

Leah said...

Thanks Breadchick!!

Claire said...

How cute! You did a great job.

Troop Leader said...

Yeah, I didn't get to taste that bread, btw... I LOVE the pic of the mess that was created! Did a litany of expletives follow that?