Post # 232 The Best of Specialty Breads

March 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 232 The Best of Specialty Breads

OOOOOPPPSS!!!!   I don’t know what happened to me yesterday, apart from being busy.  I completely forgot it was Wednesday, a blog post day.  So here it is today, with the last one coming in tomorrow.

Specialty breads are those that fall just outside the realm of regular breads.  Shaped breads, enriched breads, flat breads are all good examples of these.

shaped bread 1

Shaped breads are just like they sound.  You take an ordinary batch of dough and shape it into something.  In the picture above there are two rings of different types, a pebbled round loaf, and a wheat stalk.  Some of the shapes are basic, like a braided challah, or artistic like a sheaf of wheat.

shaped bread 3

Sometimes the shapes are useful, life this pull apart french epi bread, also called a sheaf of wheat:

shaped bread 4

Other times they’re just decorative, like this example of what I refer to as a “leaf” loaf:

shaped bread 5

Probably the best known shaped loaf is the french baguette:

shaped bread 6

Long and sturdy, it’s not made to last.  Buy it fresh and eat the whole thing immediately.  It will very quickly dry out and turn to a brick.  Of course, the french never waste anything so if a loaf has reached that point, it becomes croutons for salad or placed in a bowl of french onion soup.

Enriched breads are those that start with the basic dough, but things are added to it.  The dough is enriched with added ingredients.  These ingredients are typically added just before the final rise.  In the U.S., the best known example is cinnamon raisin bread.  Another good example is the Hawaiian loaf, one that is sweetened slightly with the addition of pineapple juice.  Worldwide, the best known example of an enriched bread is challah.  Honey and eggs are added to the dough to give it its signature sweet richness.  Many times various seeds are added as a topping.

shaped bread 2

It once was a feast day bread only, but its popularity moved it into the realm of a special everyday bread.  It’s shaped in a simple braid, baked, and is wonderful stuff.

Every culture has their own version of a flat bread.  Flat breads use no leavening, or rising, agent at all, relying on heat to create steam to give the dough its lift.  Because of this, the bread stays flatter than normal.  Corn and flour tortillas are excellent examples of flat bread.  And excellent tasting, too!  Don’t get me started on those.

Pita bread, or pocket bread, is another well known example.  The dough is shaped into discs about five or six inches round and placed in an extremely hot oven, over 500 degrees.  They’re cooked quickly, and in the process, the steam in the dough causes them to balloon into a sphere.  As they cool, they flatten, but the pocket remains.  When cut in half, the bread is easily separated so filling it with anything becomes a matter of just spooning it in.

flat_bread 3

Another well known example of a flat bread is focaccia, an Italian flat bread that’s as versatile as it is delicious.  It can be eaten by itself or made into sandwiches and is one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made.  I’ll share the recipe soon.  It’s surface has a signature dimpled look place purposefully by the baker to help hold any oil or sauce spread on the bread.

flat_bread 2

Another famous Italian flat bread needs no more mention than this:

flat_bread 4

Don’t get me started.  Love the stuff!

Another flat bread that’s less well known is called Naan.  It’s Indian, so if you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant, you’ve probably had it.  My favorite way to have it is to spread it lightly with olive oil and grill it until it’s toasted.  Then I just cram it into my mouth as fast as I can.

Flat_Bread 1

I’m going to leave you with a recipe and history of one of my favorite enriched breads.  It was one of the first breads I learned to make.  It’s called Sally Lunn bread.

Sally Lunn bread and buns got its start in Bath, England in the late 1600’s when a young refugee from France started making the enriched bread.  It uses warm milk, eggs, butter, and sugar to make a wonderful rich bread that is now highly prized throughout the world. From Bath, it traveled to colonial America and was sought after, particularly in Williamsburg, VA, where it’s still a feature on the menu at several historic restaurants.

It’s remarkably easy to make.  Use a bundt pan or an angel food cake pan.

WILLIAMSBURG SALLY LUNN
Printed from COOKS.COM

1 pkg. dry yeast
1 c. warm milk
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
3 eggs
4 c. flour
Put yeast in warm milk (not over 108 degrees). Cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1/3 cup sugar. Add 3 eggs and beat well.Sift in 4 cups flour alternately with milk and yeast mixture, beating well. Let rise in a warm place, then beat well. Pour into well greased Sally Lunn pan (can use bundt pan) or muffin pans. Let rise again before baking in a moderate oven.

Enjoy!

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