|French Quarter, New Orleans|
Back from a mother-daughter trip to New Orleans, it's time for our monthly ABC baking again. Our April project could be right out of the French Quarter: cute little cheese stuffed loaves that look like mini volcanoes, overflowing with crispy bits of Gruyère.
And, like every bread we saw in New Orleans, they are all-white, without even a trace of whole grain.
This recipe, GRUYÈRE-STUFFED CRUSTY LOAVES, from King Arthur Flour website, was developed by the French Pastry School in Chicago (Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer also created the tasty Alsatian Beer Bread.)
Starting the evening before, you have to mix a starter from bread flour, water and yeast, and let it rise at room temperature overnight, so that it is puffy and spongy when you scrape it into the mixer bowl the next morning.
|A well fermented starter shows a spongy structure|
All ingredients are then mixed into a "smooth dough", no further specifications. After all flour was hydrated I gave it a 5 minutes rest for autolyse, and then kneaded the dough for 6 minutes, with a little more water added than the lower amount given in the recipe. The dough should feel a bit sticky first, but only tacky when fully kneaded.
I gave it one stretch & fold, placed it in an oiled container, set the kitchen timer for one hour, and walked the dog. When we came back, the dough had almost managed to escaped from its hold. Though my kitchen was not overly warm, it already had more than doubled!
|"Almost" doubled? Slight understatement!|
Patting and stretching the risen dough into a square is easy. It is then sprayed or brushed with water, and sprinkled with grated cheese.
Our supermarket had smoked Gruyère as this week's special offer, so I chose that for my filling. I had no garlic oil (optional ingredient), I sprinkled some garlic powder over the grated cheese. Instead of the (optional) pizza seasoning, I used my usual pizza enhancer, a teaspoon of Herbes de Provence.
|Smoked Gruyère filling|
You roll the square into a long log - no big problem - pinch the seam to seal, place it seam side down, and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It should have grown, but not doubled. Always use the finger poke test to gauge whether it's time to put it in the oven, never go just by looks or time.
You don't know what this is? Poke the dough gently, the dimple should not spring back, only fill a little bit, but remain visible. If it fills completely, the bread has not proofed enough, if the dimple stays just as deep as you poked it, it might be overproofed already (unless it is a very stiff dough with grains and seeds.)
Cut the log in 2 or 4 even slices, for larger or smaller loaves (I chose smaller ones.) Place the pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side up and spread open to expose the cheese. From the looks of it, I don't really know how you want to do that with the larger loaves (making chimneys?)
|The mini loaves are placed on the sheet, cut side up, to show the filling|
I had some egg wash leftovers, so I brushed the sides with egg. After 20 minutes the cheese bits on top started to get dark, so I removed the breads from the oven. The crust could have been a bit crispier (and, also, softened rather quickly), I should have probably covered the loaves with tin foil and baked them a bit longer.
These savory breads are great as a snack, and, with their attractive looks, would grace any party buffet. Since they tend to fall apart along the cheese filling, when sliced, I would make even smaller pieces, like pin wheels, cutting the log into 6 to 8 (instead of 4) slices.
The next time I would try to cut a bit down on the instant yeast (the dough rose very fast), from 2.5 grams to 2 grams.
I substituted 10% of the bread flour with white whole wheat (you could easily do 25%), used Herbes de Provence instead of the (optional) pizza dough seasoning, and sprinkled some dried garlic powder instead of the (optional) garlic oil over the filling.
|Next time I would make them smaller, like pin wheels|
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