Monday, August 30, 2010

OLD FASHIONED PEACH COBBLER

THE SWEET TASTE OF SUMMER


I posted a fruit cobbler not too long ago and made a promise to my readers that I would make – and post – my own favorite, reliable, best ever Peach Cobbler recipe before the end of peach season. Well, I never break a promise. Mostly. (And if I ever did admit to lying, and what girl would? then rest assured that a larger-than-life evil lie to harm anyone would never pass these lips, only the rare little white lie to protect the innocent…me). But when it comes to food I spit on the palm of my hand and cross my heart and do as I say. I am a nice person when it comes to food.

We arrived home from brilliantly sunny Florida a mere two weeks ago or so to the beginning of autumn here in France. Leaving the blistering heat behind, we were greeted by the hug of fog and the spatter of rain on our faces as we stepped off of the plane. Several days of gray skies and incessant rain pulled us back to the reality of home and we understood that summer was over and it was time to get back to work. Patience, patience and once we were settled in, the sunshine, that delicate fall sunshine lit up the fluffy white clouds floating lazily through the blue skies. Crunchy golden leaves litter the sidewalks and the air smells crisp and clear. Now summer plays tag with the fall, sunshine and rain dash in and out of the trees each trying to outdo the other as the days go from chilly and damp to warm and spectacular as each tries to claim this month of August as her own. September approaches and we try and grasp onto the last lazy days of summer even as we relish the cooling, glittery first days of autumn.


We drove out to the coast our first weekend back home so JP could take another dip in the ocean. He is still dreaming of Florida’s sweltering heat, feet sinking into scorching dunes, having to jump from foot to foot, keep moving to escape the burning sand, dashing down to the water’s edge towards the welcome lapping of the waves, the cool water swirling up around his ankles. He is imagining the Florida sun, squinting up into the piercing light as it burns into his eyes, stabs at his skin. Remembering, yes, but here in France late summer means the beginning of autumn, and it is already cooler as we step out of the car and shoulder our tote bag of towels and books. No straight line of white, sandy beaches going on and on as far as the eye can see. No, the French coast opens up here and there, offering tiny secluded coves of deep golden sand the color of graham crackers, the waves crashing up against jagged heaps of deep charcoal gray slate, tiny pools of water cradled in the craters in the rocks, shimmering in the hazy late morning light. A cool breeze kisses my skin as the sun warms my back and I settle down with my book as JP dons his swimsuit and gleefully wends his way down to the waves. I bury my nose in my book as JP heads off to take his swim. He comes back quickly, astonished at how chilly the water is! No Florida this! He brings me back treasures, an oyster shell, a plump, angry crab who skitters away the moment his body is placed back on the sand. We soon decide that it is time to head into Pornic and enjoy a seafood platter for lunch as we savor the last days of vacation and the fading summer.


The following weekend, the glimmering light and nip in the air pull us out of our beds and in another direction towards something much more seasonal. We don our walking shoes, hook the leash around Marty’s neck and head out for a long meander through the vineyards, now lush and green at this time of year, our favorite Saturday morning haven. Marty dashes in and out of the vines, breathing in all of the smells of the great outdoors, alert to each and every bug, animal and plant sound and movement (although for some reason he completely misses the three stunning deer who we spy grazing on the leaves and grapes up atop the hill). Arms hugging our bodies to ward off the unexpected chill, we turn our faces up towards the sun and walk, deeper and deeper into the lovely landscape. We have always found this the perfect spot for talking, dreaming of our future, making crazy plans, testing each one as it rolls off of our tongue, laughing at the absurdities of life and the foibles of our fellow man. We clear our heads of the weeks’ worries, brush the stress of the daily grind off of our shoulders where the burden is the greatest, weighing us down, and we leave the vineyards, head back to the car just a tad more content, our step just a little lighter and ready to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

And the autumn chill in the air, the bright, crisp sunshine against azure skies has me dreaming of pumpkin. And pears. Mushrooms pepper my thoughts and sweet potatoes dance before my eyes. Yet as much as I adore all things autumn, I revel in the last of the summer fruit. The market stalls breath summer, peaches and nectarines are piled high, red and yellow, soft golden apricots and plums in yellows and greens, reds and purples, tumble from wooden crates across the faux grass decorating each stall. Cherries are long gone as are the sweetest of the strawberries and the occasional tiny cardboard box of raspberries shamelessly calls my name, luring me like a handful of rubies, but my heart truly belongs to the peaches. I love peaches and we are at the height of the season in France. Plump and ripe, juicy and sweet, sweeter than any peaches we’ve eaten in many a long year. When I was a kid, I preferred my peaches hard and crunchy like the best apple only sweeter, fruitier, the satisfying bite into the flesh a pleasure I could enjoy forever, eating one after another all day, all summer long. But now I find the greatest satisfaction in the ripest of the bunch, at the peak of sweetness. I buy them by the bagful, returning day after day for more. One luscious peach is the perfect ending to any meal, whether an elegant dish of lobster or scallops or a humble sandwich, a peach is the only dessert I need. JP places one, the ripest, on the center of his plate and, using our sharpest paring knife peels the skin off of the fruit and cubes the flesh, stabbing each tender chunk one at a time and slipping it onto his tongue. I, on the other hand, American that I am, carefully, gently wash my peach so as not to bruise the delicate fruit, and bite joyfully into the flesh, the juice running down my arm, dribbling over my chin, enjoying the entire childlike experience, savoring the flavor, the sweetness, the texture.


Let autumn come, stunningly bright, marvelously cold, her brilliant sun splashing across the white of the buildings and in through my windows, yet keep these tantalizing beauties for just a while longer, these lovely peaches of red and purple and gold, their velvety softness and sweet perfume luring me, beguiling me with the promise of eternal summer.


PEACH COBBLER
Old fashioned and just about perfect

4 generous cups (6 – 8 depending on the size) peeled, thickly sliced ripe peaches
½ cup* (100 g) + 3 Tbs (45 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (200 g) flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup (75 g) sweet butter, chilled
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ cup (65 ml) milk


Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 2-quart (2-liter) glass or ceramic baking dish.

Arrange the peeled, thickly sliced peaches in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the ½ cup sugar, the lemon zest and juice, the vanilla and toss. Bake for 20 minutes until the peaches are tender, glazed and the juices are bubbling.

Before...

... after

While the peaches are baking, make the cobbler dough by sifting the flour, baking powder and salt together into a large mixing bowl and then tossing with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Feel free to stir in a dash of ground cinnamon if you like. Cube the butter and toss in the flour then rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal or damp sand. Whisk the egg into the milk then pour onto the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until well combined and has become a thick batter.


Remove the cooked peaches from the oven and, working quickly, drop the dough by very large even spoonfuls onto the peaches. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar evenly over the dough and return the dish to the oven to bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the dough is puffed up, firm and golden brown.


Serve warm – not hot hot as fresh-from-the-oven fruit juices may burn! – with freshly whipped, slightly sweetened cream or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.


Now, I must explain why I love this Peach Cobbler so, why it is our favorite. The fruit it perfectly sweetened, perfectly cooked. And don’t be afraid to toss a handful of raspberries or blackberries in with the peaches. Yum! But the cake part of the cobbler is tender, dense and just moist enough that it isn’t dry in the mouth (like other cobblers may be), the perfect texture, barely sweet like a simple drop biscuit or muffin, the ideal foil for the sweet, sweet fruit and perfect to sop up the juices with. Even after one or two days in the refrigerator, the “cobbles” are still tender and delicious, becoming neither hard nor dry in the cold. A fabulously easy, stunningly delicious Peach Cobbler.


Friday, August 27, 2010

PEACH MELBA MY WAY

Brown Butter Pound Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramelized Peaches & Chocolate Almond Ganache


My dad bought us an ice cream maker when I was in grade school. I have only vague memories of us sitting on the driveway in front of the house, churning ice cream. I don’t remember much about the ice cream itself; there may have been vanilla and peach, maybe strawberry. But I do remember the chocolate ice cream that came out of that maker. The flavor haunts me to this day, and, like a Pavlovian reflex, just pulling up the memory makes my mouth water. Maybe it was the rock salt that we had to pack around the central canister, but the chocolate ice cream, light and icy, had a salty undertone that I simply loved! I had always been a kid intrigued by unusual flavors and flavor combinations, eating peanut butter and bologna sandwiches, for example, so the hint of salt in the chocolate ice cream was the best thing that I’ve ever tasted!


JP and I went to Florida for six months after Clem was born and stayed with my mom. A bumpy ride it was; newly marrieds with new baby staying with family is rarely a very pretty sight, but we made some wonderful culinary discoveries – Paul Prudhomme and Cajun cuisine, for one – and brought back some wonderful kitchen tools. We had splurged, as poor as we were, on a small Donvier ice cream maker. We absolutely fell in love with this baby! The small silver canister sits in the freezer until you are ready to make your ice cream. Then pop the canister into the plastic container, screw on the lid and churn. By hand. We loved having dinner guests over, serving them a spicy Shrimp Creole or spicy breaded veal cutlet à la Prudhomme then whipping out our small hand-crank ice cream maker filled with coffee or chocolate cream and watching jaws drop or curiosity splash across astonished faces. We would all take turns gleefully grinding the handle, passing the Donvier around the table until the ice cream was ready to serve. On top of homemade cake, of course, in chocolate or lemon or a good old fashioned quatre-quarts.


Which brings me to this month’s Daring Baker challenge. Now, this month has been more than hectic here in Crazy Junction. After a lazy month in Florida, we have been having a hard time catching up and getting back into the swing of things. I had only posted twice on my blog and once on Huffington Post during those four weeks away so the fingers were itching to clatter across the keyboard, yet the brain seems to still be on vacation or shrunken dramatically from the Florida heat and hours upon hours of mindless TV. I have so many pages open on my computer screen, bits and pieces of stories, thoughts and ideas waiting to be filled in as I root around in the closets and drawers looking high and low for my blogging mojo. And August is a slow month at the office so JP takes just a tad longer with me at lunch and is home earlier in the evening, dashing from room to room, teasing me to follow him, making me laugh with his silly jokes, imitations and antics. “Come away from the computer,” he booms as his expression goes from smirk to iron eye. So his playtime becomes mine and two or five more posts get sidelined again. But August is such a wonderful time; the apartment is comfortable, the peaches and plums are out in abundance at the market, our favorite pizzeria is open for business and the streets are practically empty. Heaven!

For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa of 17 and Baking was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make Brown Butter Pound Cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. The challenge comprised many parts and many options. I made the Brown Butter Pound Cake, a recipe from Gourmet, and Vanilla Ice Cream, a recipe adopted from David’s book. I used my own recipe for Chocolate Ganache using Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate with Grilled Almonds and a splash of Amaretto. Since we are at the height of peach season and since I love them so and because I felt that this dessert needed something fruity to offset the vanilla cake and ice cream and offer a wonderful contrast to the dark chocolate drizzle, I caramelized peaches and raspberries in a dot of butter, a dusting of brown sugar and yet another splash of Amaretto. And I came up with an elegant, layered treat, smooth and creamy, cool and fruity. I also created my take on the Peach Melba: chunks of the Brown Butter Cake topped with a smooth, creamy scoop of perfect vanilla ice cream, topped with the caramelized peaches and raspberries then drizzled with the chocolate ganache and finished off with slivered almonds. Divine! Sweet and creamy, wonderfully fruity and all brought together in the loving embrace of a smooth, warm chocolate sauce.


I will also be sending my Peach Melba to Elissa for Sugar High Fridays, of course!


What does Comfort Food mean to you? My latest article on Huffington Post Food analyzes the whys and the hows. And offers you the recipe of one comfort food that I turn to in times of trouble and woe.

PEACH MELBA MY WAY – or -

BROWN BUTTER CAKE & VANILLA ICE CREAM TOPPED WITH CARAMELIZED PEACHES & RASPBERRIES & CHOCOLATE ALMOND GANACHE


Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165 g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)

Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream. (I did not have an ice bath)

In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 tsp if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Once the mixture was cool enough, I poured it into a large plastic container and placed it in the freezer overnight.

Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 Tbs (275 g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200 g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup (110 g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter, line with parchment and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan or an equivalent round pan.

Place the butter in a 10-inch (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) The butter will sizzle loudly for quite some time and it will begin turning brown when the sizzling stops. Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined and then the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture to the batter, blending on low speed until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 - 30 minutes.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right side up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

2.6 oz (75 g) good quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence semi-sweet with Grilled Almonds)
¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
2 tsps (10 g) unsalted butter
1 Tbs Amaretto

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a small heatproof bowl. Bring the butter and cream just to the boil to scald in a small saucepan. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate and gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is combined and smooth. Continue to give the ganache an occasional, hearty stir with the spatula as it cools to room temperature and thickens a bit. You do not want this too warm or the ice cream will melt to quickly and you want it just thick enough that it stays on top of your dessert and doesn’t simply run off and puddle on the plate, bringing fruit and ice cream with it!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FOUACE NANTAISE - a taste of home

NANTES, Part I


He places his index finger on the map spread out on the table in front of me and traces a careful line from the northern coast just below where land meets Channel south to La Rochelle. He wants to be closer to the ocean in a greener, quieter place than mad Paris and her lonely, dark suburbs. Closer to the ocean so this city boy born and bred can spend weekend mornings with his toes buried in the sand watching the waves crash up onto the beach, something that soothes and calms him. He wants to bring us to a friendlier place, somewhere, anywhere better for the boys yet somewhere modern and innovative where we, too, can have a productive life. We were starting over, leaving it all behind, job, home, friends, schoolmates and heading west. A new start, a new life.

We did our research. It had to be right. We were a couple without a land, homeless stragglers ever wandering the globe, looking for excitement and adventure, living on an island unto ourselves, so we really only had ourselves to please. We looked high and low, studying each and every city along the coast, listening for the one that was calling our name. And then we stumbled upon Nantes. Oh, husband had been there many times, but had never thought of it in terms of a place to rest his head and raise his family. But it had everything we desired: a city small enough to be friendly and green yet large enough, resourceful enough, innovative enough to be our hope for the future.

Mention France to any American and immediately Paris comes to mind: Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa and Romance with a capital R. Or Provence and her luxurious rolling green countryside, fields of lavender, quaint villages, her rich, garlicky, Mediterranean cuisine. Short on time and dollars, few tourists venture outside of these well known, well-trod vacation spots. But then again, maybe one reason we chose Nantes was her lack of tourist crowds. Yet Nantes is a city with a fascinating and rich history full of powerful women, war and upheaval, struggles against foreign invaders, a playground of revolution and commerce, the birthplace of the Edict of Nantes and Jules Verne both. Fascinating, indeed.


Nantes is a city of history, both past and present, reveling in her tumultuous past while carving her own future out of exotic wood, aluminum, glass and daring. Her marketplace and monuments breathe France and her traditions, yet innovation has always been a sure sign of her personality. Henri IV selected Nantes to be the signature city of his famous Edict in 1598, an order of tolerance and religious freedom; former capital of Brittany, Nantes was the home of Anne de Bretagne, Duchess of Brittany, married to two Kings of France yet a woman who managed to keep power and control of her duchy firmly in her own hands while assuring its future unification with France. Like all French cities, the light and dark clash, a never-ending struggle in the history books; her valiant resistance during the French Revolution or the World Wars stands elbow to elbow with her turbulent role in the Commerce Triangulaire, the Slave Trade. Once one of Europe’s richest, most important port cities, she built her fame and fortune on this trade of men for goods, vanilla and spices, tobacco and rum, and her shipping magnates became very wealthy indeed.


Nantes is a city of sadness, a city of hope. Only the shadow of those former dark times whisper to us from her streets, the heartbeats and tears of how many men and women held captive pulsing up through the sidewalks where wealthy merchants sauntered, ghostly water lapping up against the sides of ships where captains once shouted orders and goods were unloaded onto the bustling, crowded quays. The streets we walk over were once this river, now sand and asphalt and tar, filled in and paved over in an effort to forget. The sidewalks still groan under the weight of the majestic white apartment buildings, elegant swirls of dark ironwork against the pure, snowy white stone, homes now buckling under the weight of time, the same once built for those proud merchants in the Glory Years of the 19th Century, apartments still paneled in wood, ceilings graced by rosaces and French windows overlooking what was once their river, luxurious buildings from which, day after day, they would step out of right into the river from which their wealth flowed.


Now these old buildings, still elegant and proud, reminders of her turbulent past, stand side by side new, gorgeous, contemporary buildings, signs of her future, all iron, wood, glass and cement, astonishing in their colors, silver, blue, orange, black & white, buildings that twist and turn and bend at odd angles, buildings that curve gracefully, buildings that incorporate the old and the new, buildings sprinkled higgledy-piggledy all over this modern town that we have grown to love so well. Gardens bloom throughout the city, Japanese gardens on the Ile de Versailles, exotic gardens built under the graceful metal vaults of former smelting works on the Ile de Nante or sprouting from iron, cement and steel of what was once the city’s shipyard. Nantes is an exciting city that lives and breathes her history every single day, this former proud capital of Brittany, home of Kings and Queens, yet equally a city that embraces everything that is new and modern, a city that has successfully and harmoniously wedded the past and the future in more than just her architecture, having given birth to such diverse festivals as La Folle Journée (classical music), Les Rendez-Vous de l'Erdre (Jazz), Utopiales (Science Fiction) and La Festival des 3 Continents (the Cinema of 3 Continents: Asia, Africa & Latin America). Nantes is the home of the outlandish machines of the world famous Royal de Luxe theatre bringing the futuristic stories of Jules Verne to the streets. Nantes was the birthplace of such forward-thinking, socially innovative yet traditional industries as LU, the world famous cookie factory and was the city of the first public transport system in the world with the creation of public omnibuses and the first city in France to have a public tramway system.


I will be offering you a 3-part series, a glance at my adopted city, Nantes. Three peeks at a beautiful city followed by three sweet recipes. You will notice that the one ingredient that ties these three recipes, these three very special, traditional treats together is rum; Nantes built her fortune on trade with the French West Indies, former trade partners, former colonies. Ships based in Nantes would be sent to Africa where their captains would exchange European goods for men and women who would then, in turn, be brought to the Caribbean to work on the sugar, tobacco and spice plantations. The ships would then return to Nantes, bringing back vanilla, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, things tropical and exotic, along with the tobacco and cane sugar, adding, in the 19th Century, rum to their cargo. Rum, that earthy, amber-colored, magical brew, shimmering like gold. Rum, dark, woodsy, exotic, heady with the scent of the West Indies, rich with the flavor of far-off lands did so intrigue the people of Nantes that it became part of their culinary repertoire, enriching the gastronomic pleasures of this part of the world. It is difficult to find a local sweet specialty that isn’t spiked with either rum or Muscadet, her own local wine.


I offer you this first recipe, a specialty of my city of Nantes. La Fouace Nantaise, the Nantes’ fougasse, is a brioche-type bread, gently sweetened, redolent of rum, shaped like a macaron or a 5- or 6-sided star. This butter and egg rich treat was created in the 19th century in the neighboring town of La Haye-Fouassière (“fouassière” comes from the word “fouasse” or “fouace”: “fougasse”), a town nestled in Muscadet country amid the vines and producers. The fouace was traditionally dunked in the local wine and now takes pride of place at the annual fête des vendanges, the yearly grape harvest festival where it is accompanied, of course, by a glass of Muscadet.

In researching this very old recipe, I gathered about 5 different versions of it, including one from my Larousse Gastronomique and a few from sites listing the gastronomic specialties of Nantes. Each one was just too different from the next in either ingredient quantities or procedure that, relying on my intuitive nature and using my bread baking skills finely honed over many years of trial and error, I came up with this recipe and it worked like magic! My fouace nantaise was light yet tender and slightly dense and chewy like the perfect brioche, barely sweet, eggy rich and heady with the aroma and flavor of rum, just a hint of orange blossom. Perfect and moist for the first day or two, use this brioche when slightly stale (or even fresh!) for wonderful pain perdu (French toast, of course) or a decadent bread pudding. Enjoy!


This rum-spiked brioche is perfect for this month’s Bread Baking Day, our favorite monthly bread-baking event created by Zorra of 1x umrûhren bitte. BBD #33 is being hosted by Baking Powders who chose the theme Breads With Booze.

I will also send this fouace nantaise to Susan at Wild Yeast for her weekly yeast-baking event Yeastspotting.


FOUACE NANTAISE

1 lb (500 g) flour, divided, plus more for kneading
2 ¼ tsp (15 g) active dry yeast
½ cup (115 ml) milk, warmed to body temperature
large pinch of salt
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
7 Tbs (100 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 small juice or wine glass of rum, about 3 oz (90 ml)
1 Tbs fleur d’oranger (orange flower water)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 additional egg for egg wash, lightly beaten


Place 1 cup (125 g) of the flour in a medium-sized mixing bowl with the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Add the warm milk and stir briefly just to wet all of the dry ingredients. Allow to proof for 20 – 40 minutes or until doubled in size, puffy and bubbly.


While the yeast mixture is proofing, place the rest of the flour into a large mixing bowl with a large pinch of salt (about ½ teaspoon), the remaining sugar, the softened butter, the glass of rum, the fleur d’oranger and the 4 lightly beaten eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon until all of the dry ingredients have been moistened and the mixture is well blended. Add the proofed yeast mixture and stir the together until well blended. It will be very sticky, too sticky to handle.


Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Knead the dough, adding enough extra flour until the dough is no longer sticky and it is soft, smooth and homogenous. Carefully divide the dough into 5 or 6 equal parts, form into balls and place one in the center of a parchment-lined baking/cookie tray. Place the other balls of dough around the outside of the center ball to form a star shape. Don’t worry if there are gaps between the balls of dough. Cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap then a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the dough with the beaten egg and bake for 40 minutes. The fouace will have risen and be a deep golden brown. The “branches” of the star will have started to pull away from the center ball of brioche.


Now pop the cork on that chilled bottle of Muscadet and enjoy!


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