To get an excellent idea of what Bread Baking Day is all about, how good it can be, hop over to Cinzia’s blog Cindystar and take a long look at all the bread, both savory and sweet yet all so seasonally festive, that was baked for BBD #25, hosted by Cinzia with the wonderful theme “Baking Under the Tree". Now how to follow something so perfect as this holiday BBD theme?
YOU’RE INVITED TO A BIRTHDAY PARTY – AND BREAD BAKING DAY #26!
I’m a little girl at heart when it comes to birthdays. Visions of confetti and balloons, streamers and brightly colored plastic forks, slices of cake on paper plates too heavy for their flimsy hosts, threatening to tumble to the floor if not giddily gobbled down right away. Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs and Blind Man’s Bluff, piles of gaily-wrapped gifts just begging to be opened, it all calls my name and, like the little girl that I am still, it ever thrills me with arm-waving, hand-clapping, bunny-hopping thrills.
The excitement of the end of the year holidays, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, all their glitter and dazzling brightness, the lights and the sounds and the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg, gingerbread and fir trees, tumble quickly head over heels into the month of January, pushing me from behind right smack into my birthday. It’s as if all the festivities of the month of December were merely a prelude to my grand day. And everyone has one month to prepare for the celebration.
This excitement, the expectations may seem strange considering that my birthday, as far back as I can remember, has never been feted in pomp and style: not one party has been thrown for me, nary a confection has been specially baked and decorated for me, nor a single sheet cake ordered from the bakery with the request for it to be studded with pink frosting roses and tiny sugar figurines, Happy Birthday Jamie spelled out elaborately in icing swirls and swags. No excited, expectant children hiding behind sofas and in closets, ready to jump out and yell surprise, no elegantly dressed adults, champagne glasses in hand waiting to be lifted and clinked together in my honor, gathered in anticipation. No pool parties or barbecues, no disco-themed dances or sophisticated soirées ever awaited my entrance, no balloons blown up, Twister mats spread out or piñatas strung up in the yard, no parties for me.
So I throw my own. Party hat affixed firmly on top of my head, elastic band snapped in place under my chin, I start thinking of my birthday as the first of January hits and planning the attack. Hints are dropped, heavy as bocce balls thudding onto the ground, eyes open wide, giving the most meaningful of stares at my men each time the magic word is mentioned. As the date approaches the hints turn to outright proclamations and I get a shot in every chance I get, just to make sure no one has forgotten the magic date or doubts that the fact that a biggie is approaching I have any thought of sitting one out. Never one to make high and hard demands, never an arm twister, I will never tell them to do this or that, plan one thing or another. No, although I take it upon myself to make sure that not one of them has forgotten the date, I still want someone else to do the heavy thinking, make the decisions, and plan the special event.
I love surprises, big or small and I never want to take away the opportunity from someone to surprise me. I’ll remind them of the day (a little too often) but they must do the rest and never utter one word that will spoil the surprise. And don’t think that they don’t! I am always treated like royalty, always taken out somewhere luxurious or somewhere fun, showered with gifts and allowed to snuggle down under the covers as late as I want in the morning, forgiven if I choose not to lift a finger in the house or in the kitchen, I’m pampered and coddled, amused and entertained. Yet the one thing I do every year is bake for my birthday. I bake whatever I like, a birthday cake top and foremost yet I also love to bake special things, fun food I’d like to eat that, in this household, I am the only one to know how to bake. And this year is no different.
So I have decided that for this month’s Bread Baking Day I am throwing a pot luck dinner birthday party and I am asking each and every one of you to bake bread, bake something special, something fun, something that we can put out on a birthday buffet table. Savory or sweet, first course, main or dessert, or even something to bring out on silver platters and pass around to the guests with that first glass of champagne, but just make sure that it’s bread. Let’s do this party and Bread Baking Day #26 right! Bake something special for my special BBD theme of “Baking Bread for a Birthday Party!”
And just think: I’m hosting Bread Baking Day #26 and that is just my age this year! Again. Who’da thunk?
To be a part of Bread Baking Day #26, Bread For a Birthday Party, you just need to do the following:
2. Post about it on your blog with a link back to this post.
3. I will accept not more than 2 recipes from each blog.
4. Your recipe should be written in English, French or Italian.
5. Email me at jamieannschler(at)gmail(dot)com and include:
• Your blog’s name and URL
• The name of your bread and the URL (permalink)
• Your location
• A 350-pixel-wide photo
*Please write BBD #26 in the object of your e-mail!
• Whether you’d like me to notify you by email when the roundup is posted.
Final round up will be posted on my blog on February 5, 2010.
Please feel free to promote the Bread Baking Day event by adding the logo to your blog post.
I’ve already started baking for my own party and I’m bringing:
FOCACCIA FARCITA or STUFFED FOCACCIA
The focaccia dough is straight out of my fabulous new cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Zoë François & Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. The rest is mine.
Makes enough dough for four 1-pound loaves. Perfect for pizza, focaccia or olive bread. I used the entire dough to make one 15 x 10-inch (38 x 25-cm) jelly roll pan thick double focaccia.
2 ¾ cup (650 ml) lukewarm water
¼ cup (50 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ Tbs (15 g) active dry yeast
1 ½ Tbs salt
1 Tbs sugar
6 ½ cups (975 g) flour (I used read flour type 55, you can use all-purpose)
Combine the yeast, salt and sugar in a very large mixing bowl or a lidded (not air-tight) food container. Add the olive oil and the lukewarm water.
Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon (although you can use a food processor with a dough attachment or a heavy-duty standing mixer with a dough hook) until completely blended. If you have trouble getting the last bit of flour to blend in you can use your wet hands.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (not air tight) and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours, until the dough has risen and then collapses or flattens on top.
The dough can now be used immediately or stored in the bowl covered with plastic wrap or a lidded (not air tight) container for up to 2 weeks. It is easier to work with when chilled.
For the FOCACCIA FARCITA
Olive oil dough
Mozzarella (I happened to have a block of mozzarella for pizza on hand)
2 lbs (about 1 kg) cherry tomatoes or half cherry, half ripe salad or cooking tomatoes
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Thin-sliced pepperoni or chorizo
Olive Oil and either coarse kosher salt or grated Parmesan cheese to top *
* You can fill this focaccia with any combination of ingredients you like! Try cheese only: add gorgonzola to the mozzarella and add fresh basil leaves. Or add artichoke hearts or grilled zucchini and roasted red pepper, grilled or sautéed mushrooms. Or try adding cooked seafood, shrimp and scallops and even smoked salmon. Or any of your favorite cured, spiced or smoked meats and hams. You can replace the grilled tomatoes with your favorite tomato sauce – just be warned not to add anything too runny or containing too much liquid – this is what happened to me.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Wash the tomatoes and pat dry. If using any large tomatoes, cut them all into cherry-tomato-sized chunks. Spread the tomatoes out on a baking sheet, drizzle the 2 tablespoons of olive oil all over the tomatoes and toss lightly, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
Slice or cube the mozzarella. Wash and pat dry your rocket if necessary.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Grease the bottom of your jelly roll pan with olive oil and sprinkle with flour. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll out one piece to fit the size of the baking pan. Line the pan, pressing the dough well into the corners, making sure – and stretching if necessary, that it fills the pan.
Spread the cooked tomatoes evenly over the dough in the pan leaving about an inch (2 cm) all around (you’ll be sealing the dough closed once you cover the filling with the top layer of dough), trying to drain the tomatoes as much as possible by scooping them up with a slotted spoon and allowing the juice to drip off.
Layer the mozzarella evenly over the tomatoes. Then spread out the rocket – I spread rocket on half of the focaccia and thinly sliced chorizo on the other half for the boys.
Now roll out the second half of the dough to the size of the baking pan. Lift and place on top of the stuffing then stretch the dough until you can press it onto the bottom dough, pressing to seal all around. Brush the entire top surface of the focaccia with olive oil then sprinkle with either Parmesan or coarse salt.
Bake for 30 – 45 until puffed up and the top is golden brown and done.
Slice into sections and dig in! And make sure everyone at the table is wearing a party!