Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bright Week Chocolate Filled Brioche

Christ IS Risen!  Indeed, He is Risen!

I made these chocolate filled brioche rolls.  We always put up a typical Russyn Pascha Basket and this year, I made sure to put in plenty of butter for our Bright Week use.  It's my favorite thing, a little reminder that we're celebrating Jesus's Resurrection after three days in the tomb.  So for example that's not just buttered toast, now it's the Toast of the Feast of the Resurrection!

There is a slightly more complicated way and an easy way to make these rolls, I will leave it up to you to decide how you want to proceed.  I like to go slow when I bake.  So the steps take five minutes or so at a time across a couple or three days.  If you make kefir, this is a great way to use it, especially if it over-ferments.  If you don't make kefir use buttermilk, sour milk, yogurt (not low fat), whey, or even the store bought kefir.  Use what you have and don't worry about it.  If you don't have sourdough starter banging around on your counter, the simplest thing to for this recipe would be to fake it with some yeast, flour, and water (¼ tsp. yeast, ⅔ cup flour, ⅓ cup water) and to leave on the counter overnight or all day before you mix the dough.

Another think I like is accuracy, so I use my scale a lot when I bake, but you don't have to.  I have included volumetric measurements for your convenience.  Last tip:  bread raising is best when you can keep it loosely covered.  Shower caps are awesome for that.

buns in the oven

For the Sponge:

7 ounces (1 cup) active (i.e. revived and ready) sourdough starter 
(or fake it with ¼ tsp. yeast, ⅔ cup flour, ⅓ cup water left overnight or 8 hours)
8 ounces (1 cup) kefir or sour milk, room temperature
4.5 ounces (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour

(if you fake it add a ½ teaspoon instant yeast)
For the Dough

13.5 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 ounces (3/4 cup) soft butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:

7 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

For the Shining Crust:

One egg blended with 
2 tablespoons of water

Mix the sponge and set it aside for 2-4 hours until doubled.

To the sponge add the remainder of the ingredients for the dough and mix on low in the bowl of your mixer. once all the ingredients are incorporated let the mixer knead the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed (or mix by hand and knead the dough for 15 minutes).  The dough should be soft, a little sticky, but should all stay together.  Roll into a large ball and put in a clean bowl.  Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

The next day:  take the dough out of the fridge and let it stand on the counter for 2 hours or so (not more than 4 hours).  Roll out ½ inch thick in a rectangle.  leaving a 1 inch margin all the way around, sprinkle the rectangle with the chocolate.  From the long side roll the dough into a long log. 

For buns:  Butter a  regular muffin pan every other hole (so six per pan).  Take 1 inch slices of rolled dough and put them in the muffin pan.  Cover loosely and let rise 1 hour or until doubled.  Using a pastry brush, brush egg yolk all over the tops of the dough.  Bake at 375ºF for 25-30 minutes.  Check with an instant read thermometer to make sure they are done (with an internal temperature of 200ºF).  Mine were done after 25 minutes.

intant read thermometers are your friend when you bake.

For a loaf:  This recipe will make 2 loaves.  Butter a loaf pan. Place the roll in the pan and cover.  Let rise for 2 hours or until doubled.  Brush with the egg wash.  Bake at 350ºF for 35-45 minutes.  Check with an instant read thermometer to make sure they are done (with an internal temperature of 200ºF).  Mine was done after 42 minutes.

Remove to a cooling rack.  Share. Eat. Enjoy.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

So we found some frog eggs in a big puddle that some ducks splash in.  Ducks are good foragers and scavengers and will eat just about anything they find.  Frogs, tadpoles, and most certainly frog caviar are on the most choice of duck menus.   So the next day we returned with a container and a net to scoop them up and we brought them home.

We have been monitoring their growth daily and surprisingly they have been very easy to raise.  They hatched after just a couple of day, slipping free of their slimy bonds, looking like dormant little black rectangles.  Day-by-day they have grown, their various stages and structures surprisingly evident to the naked eye.  We transferred them to an aquarium and as of today they have a distinct head, external gill, and tail.  They hold onto vegetation with a sucker.

Training the little children to keep their fingers and other objects out of the tank is a slight challenge, but they are handling it well so far.