Le Pain Tordu

Well it’s the Bread Baking Babes again getting me to try a new bread. I attempted their chickpea flour sourdough bread last month to limited success until I added yeast. During discussion on Facebook I was encouraged to try full on sourdough bread again. Results were not great. But, I had a starter going. And I it so happened that late this week I was feeding it daily. So when this month’s bread was posted, I read about few things that made it attractive. First, you could ignore the long fridge rise. Second, it was an easy dough to work with. Third, that it was sourdough, but with a bit of yeast too which helps guarantee a better outcome. For me at least.

Pain Tordu

So I plunged ahead. Tordu means twisted. These loaves are formed and twisted before baking. There was talk of couches too, which means I could use my cheat method of lining my batard pan with parchment. See picture to the right. This works well with soft/wet doughs.

I found that yes, the dough was easy to work with and fairly quick to make for something in the sourdough realm. I couldn’t figure out the twist so I braided the first one. Then I remembered there was a video that Kelly posted. So, the second on, on the right, was twisted.

I’ve taken multiple recipes and techniques and mixed them together. Using a much hotter bake from Kelly than the recipe originally said.

Braided on the left. Twisted on the right. Both pretty, but the braided looks better and frankly was easier.
It has a nice crumb and flavor. However, the crust is a bit chewy. I probably would bake it even darker next time. I’m sure it will crisp up when I warm it up for dinner.














Pain Tordu
500 grams strong white bread flour
300 milliliters water (approximately)
3 grams instant yeast
10 grams salt
125 grams sourdough starter

Mix the flour, water and yeast for 5 minutes on low speed; this helps to obtain the right texture ‘when you need more flour you add a little. This is called contre-frasage, or ‘counter-mixing’.

Knead for 15 minutes: Add the levain and once incorporated knead for another 10 minutes at medium speed, adding the salt 5 minutes before the end. The dough should be at 73°F.

Leave to rise for 45 minutes to an hour: The dough is always left to rise in the mixing bowl. The time varies according to the temperature in the room.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll the pieces of dough into balls. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, you shape it. You take a round ball and fold it over to make it a long shape; you flour it, and with a wooden rolling pin you separate it into tow long rolls. You turn it over, flour it again, and press down with the rolling pin to separate the two rolls well. Then you turn the dough on the diagonal, passing one roll over the other and you make the corkscrew shape by letting the twist by itself. There are tordus with one turn and tordus with two turns. The rolling pin is quite slender, like a broom handle, and 70 cm long. The tordu is 80 cm long.

The two rolls coiled round each other are now put into a parchment lined batard pan or a couche if you’re going that route. Let them rise until properly proofed, about 45 minutes for me. You can go the fridge method and proof there for a more flavorful method, but I’m not sure there’s consensus for how long. The original recipe says 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F, preparing it for steaming. I put an old ¼ sheet pan in the bottom of the oven and pretty much leave it there always. It will get warped and basically unusable for anything else. A sacrifice for bread.  I’ll put a cup or two of ice in it as I put the bread in. It will make steam for the first minutes of the bake giving a crustier crust.

Put the batard pan in the oven & turn the heat down to 450ºF.  Be sure to either create steam via my method or using a spray bottle to spray the sides of the oven ever couple of minutes. Bake for 10 minutes with steam and another 20 minutes without steam.  The crust should be a deep golden brown.



Lucious Lemon Cheesecake

Oh boy this one was good. I’ve made this cheesecake many times before but this one took the cake as they say.

My mom has been making this recipe for many, many years. It’s very, very rich and you only need a thin slice, but you’ll be back for more. It’s great for breakfast cold from the fridge. I’ve never made it with the original zwieback, but I think it’s still available in the baby food section of the store. The recipe appeared in Suburbia Today magazine, November 1964.

24 slices (6oz.) zwieback, finely crushed (about 2 2/3 cups) or graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs (about 1 cup), slightly beaten
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream

Combine the crumbs, confectioners’ sugar and half of the lemon peel in a bowl; blend thoroughly. Using a fork, evenly blend in the butter or margarine.

Dump the crumb mixture into a buttered 9-in, spring-form pan. Press crumbs very firmly into an even layer on bottom and sides of pan to the rim; set aside.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar flour, remaining lemon peel, and extracts in a large bowl. Beat until smooth and fluffy. (Don’t beat for a long time or your cake will crack. It may anyway.)

Add the eggs and egg yolks in thirds, beat-thoroughly after each addition. Blend in the cream. Turn mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake at 250°F for 2 hrs. Turn off oven. Let cake remain in oven about 1 hr. longer. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely in spring-form pan, 4 to 6 hrs. (Note: you may cook it in a water bath, but the crust will not be as crunchy.)

Chill several hours or overnight before serving.


What’s Up?

Dear long neglected readers,

Sorry I’ve been absent for so long.  If you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter you’ll know I’ve been obsessed with making the perfect Cannelés de Bordeaux. I’ve developed a recipe and technique to make very consistent, excellent results in my oven. I won’t be sharing that here though. I’m working on a single subject ebook on Cannelés. It may also be available via print on demand. We’ll see. I’m just in the very beginning stages. If anyone has experience in ebooks or print on demand, I’d love to hear from you.

In the mean time, here’s a picture of some Cannelés de Bordeaux.

Canelé de Bordeaux

As I said in my last post, reading other peoples food blogs inspires me. Gives me ideas. A lot of the time they go on the back burner. Sometimes for months, even years. I don’t have a to-do list of these things, but a new post by someone else may get me off my butt to try something new. My friend, blogger and cookbook author, Cathy Barrow (a.k.a., Mrs. Wheelbarrow) has been a solid source of inspiration since I joined #CharcutePalooza back in 2011.

Cathy and I chat via the internet and exchange ideas. She posted a picture of canelé that came in a jar with armagnac on Instagram that got us talking and plotting to make canelé. She opted to go the traditional route with copper molds. I went with the newer silicone molds, the far less expensive route. Those copper molds are outrageously expensive. We also needed organic food grade beeswax to use in coating the molds. Amazon to the rescue. I ordered everything a few months ago. We planned to wait until the new year, since the end of the year is so crowded with sweets and Cathy was busy promoting her cookbook Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry (go buy it).

Last week, I had brought home from the library Jacques Pepin’s Chez JacquesIt had a simple canelé recipe that only needed to rest 12 hours; most other recipes say 48 hours at a minimum. I chatted with Cathy right away and we set a date to bake on the weekend. I re-read the other recipes I had saved too.

I’ve probably mentioned this a dozen times, but I’ll say it again, Jacques Pepin taught me almost everything I know about cooking. I watched his PBS programs on Saturday mornings for years and years. I trust his recipes implicitly. I know they will work the first time and can take on new ones even when having guests over. So, it’s with his recipe I decided to plunge ahead with. With one exception, I had read about when using silicone for canelé you get better results when you coat the molds with a beeswax/butter combination.IMG_3020

I coated the molds, probably too thickly, and stuck them in the freezer awaiting the resting of the batter. The batter rested in the fridge until the next day, longer than the required 12 hours.

I poured in the batter and started to bake. They puffed. Oh no. I had heard terrible things about them puffed canelepuffing up and spilling over. Mine never spilled and eventually sank back down. Since then I’ve read puffing is normal, runny spilling over is not.

There’s two thoughts on baking temperature, one is to start them at a low temperature and then later raise it. Then there’s the opposite. I choose to follow the first as that’s what Jacques does. My silicone molds are significantly bigger than the ones in the recipe so the canelé took way longer to cook, but in the end turned out pretty good. They were crunchy on the outside and creamy custardy on the inside. Yummy indeed. They’re not without their problems though. Their tops have what is called “white ass”. No disaster, but an imperfection. Analogous to making macarons with no feet.


Custardy centers


Well they were still good. And today I made more with the high then low temperature method. They took forever to bake and I finally took them out of the molds for a final browning. They got a little extra brown, burnt even, but are very crunchy. Their insides however are not as creamy as the ones on Saturday. Another batch is in the oven, going back to the low/high method. And the postman brought me silicone molds to match Jacques size. So, more experimentation is coming. Stay tuned.


Round two canelé
Round two canelé


From my first visit to New York City in 1978 I fell in love with bialys. A cousin to the bagel and they used to be offered in every deli toasted and buttered just like the bagels. Over the years it’s been harder and harder for me to find them when we visit New York. And finding one with both onions and poppy seeds proved impossible the last time I was there in October.

Bialys cooling.

I have been saving Bialy recipes for years, swearing I would make them. Irvin Lin of Eat the Love made them last August and posted a recipe. Reading food blogs gets things bubbling in my brain on the back burner and somehow this week making Bialys finally bubbled to the top. However, Irvin’s recipe requires making a poolish starter the day before. While I’m certainly fine with doing that, I checked out my other recipes. In Baking With Julia there’s a recipe that can be done all in one day. In fact I got mine done in 3 hours or so, due to some warm sunshine in the kitchen yesterday. The first 6 puffed up into rolls rather than the flatter ones you see on the right.

I had two today. First with breakfast: toasted with butter. Then at lunch I had one that I made into a sandwich with cream cheese, lox, capers and sliced shallots. Delish! Bialy craving vanquished.

Bialy Sandwhich

Rosemary Bread

This is the bread recipe that started really got me going baking freeform bread. It’s from the Il Fornaio Baking Book. It was a standard at my dinner parties for at least a few years. Sometimes I’d make it as rolls. I haven’t made it in a while and when I decided to bake some bread today this recipe came to mind. Baked on the Baking Steel, it came out glorious. Very nice oven spring.

Rosemary Bread, slightly adapted from the Il Fornaio Baking Book

3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (I use 1 tsp instant yeast)
1/2 cup warm water (105° degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon regular salt (I use Kosher)
1/2 cup cool water
1/4 cup biga (click for recipe) at room temperature
2 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour (more in humid environments)
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional, Scott’s addition)

2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
coarse sea salt or coarse Kosher salt

In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand until dissolved, about 5 minutes. If using instant, skip this and add the yeast to the flour and use 1 cup of warm water instead of the 1/2 cup of each warm and cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer add flour, and regular salt. Mix for just a few seconds. Add biga, milk, rosemary, yeast mixture and cool water.

Beat with dough hook for 10 minutes or knead by hand for 10 – 20 minutes

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn over to oil top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. (optionally refrigerate dough for the next day, then continue) Punch down and knead briefly on a lightly floured board to expel air. Repeat rising in oiled bowl until doubled again, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Punch down dough and knead briefly.

At least 30 minutes before baking, preferably and hour, place a Baking Steel or baking stone in the oven and heat to 425°F. If you don’t have one of these two, go get one. If you insist on not getting one, place an empty baking sheet in the oven during this pre-heat and when the time comes, slide the dough onto this hot one.

On a floured board, shape dough into a smooth football shape. Or shape into 10 rolls. Place on a baker’s peel with a good dusting of cornmeal on it. You can use the back of a baking sheet as an alternative. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until dough is puffy and holds a faint impression when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. With a razor blade, slash an line about 1/4 inch deep down the top of dough. Sprinkle the slash with coarse salt.

Using a spray bottle, mist oven heavily. Wait 5 minutes. Slide bread onto Baking Steel, re-mist oven. Wait 5 minutes and re-mist oven. Or alternately, put a cast iron pan in the when you preheat the oven and drop 1/2 cup of ice into it at this point. 

Then bake until bread is deep golden, about 35 to 45 minutes for the loaf; 15 to 25 minutes for the rolls.. The bread should have a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.


Scott’s Notes: If you’re going to bother to bake your own bread do invest in the two tools needed here: a baking peel and a baking stone or Baking Steel. It really does make it easier. Don’t be stingy with the cornmeal on the peel either. Make sure the bread is moving easily before you try to put it on the stone. I like more rosemary than the original recipe calls for. This recipe can also be used to make Olive Bread. Leave out the milk and rosemary and knead in 1/2 cup pitted chopped olives at the end of kneading.