Wednesday, October 17, 2012



That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty... you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. 
J.D Salinger 

Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. You know what I mean? I am the kind of person who is often discombobulated, missing dates and deadlines, forgetting those teeny tiny obligations I have committed myself to. I am often flustered and flummoxed, running out of time, down to the last second as I attempt to reorganize my day and jump into something that I should have attacked and taken care of ages ago. My life, albeit like so many others’, is cluttered, confusing and complicated, a life spread out between two apartments as it is squashed between demands of family, career and renovation, leaving me unorganized at best, distracted at worst. * sigh *
I used to bake bread once a week, several times a month, bringing pleasure to my family while faithfully keeping up with the various bread baking events in the food blogosphere: Bread Baking Day, Yeastspotting, Bread Baking Babes and Buddies. And then life got in the way. (which I find a truly inexplicable aphorism.) And I allowed myself to be distracted. And I bake bread less often. How easy it is for me, living in France with a boulangerie on every corner filled to the gills with gorgeous bread, baguettes and boules, brioche and miches, seeded and plain, studded with lardons and dusted with cheese, straight, square, twisted or braided, to have a constant flow of bread at my fingertips with no more effort than it takes to slip on a coat and skip around the corner. I simply do not need to bake bread, whether savory or sweet. And how my French family is hooked on bread! A meal just isn’t a meal without that loaf, long and thin or round and plump. Bread and cheese rounds off every meal, often simply taking the place of dessert. Bread and cheese accompanied by a piece of fruit or two is, for every Frenchman, the perfect ending to any meal. Or a meal in itself. So each morning, we dash to our favorite bakery, breathe in the heavenly odor of just-baked bread, the tang of yeast biting into the soft, sweet air. And we make our choice, whichever strikes us, tempts us that particular day. And we break off the end, the bit of rounded crust, as we run home again, popping it into our mouth, fresh and warm, satisfied with a job well done, this ritual of French life.

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; 
and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts. 
James Beard 

But Monday, I popped into the Bread Baking Babes & Buddies Facebook group page to see what the girls were up to, to admire their work, and lo and behold, horror of horrors, I realized that it was World Bread Day. Bread, as I have before stated, is manna from heaven, a daily need, a necessary part of our life. Basic, simple, flour, yeast and water, maybe salt and sugar, and the most wonderful of textures, tastes, smells wraps around us and fills us with joy. From there, create a masterpiece on the tabula rasa that is dough: savory or sweet, filled, rolled or topped; sliced and spread, smeared, piled high with mountains of creamy, gooey, spicy, salty, fruity, smoky whatever you love; sandwich it, bagel or rye, Challah or biscuit, bread as plate, fork, spoon or knife to be enjoyed, marveled at, savored inside or out. Schoolyard treat, picnic mainstay, center of a meal, bread is the be all and end all, the nec plus ultra, both the anchor and the backbone of any meal, any cuisine.

So I brushed off my desk, folded up the laptop, pushed my work to one side and walked right into that kitchen to bake. How could I not pay homage to bread, to share the love and vaunt the importance of this necessary part of our daily lives?

For this special day, for World Bread Day, the BBB Kitchen of the Month, our hostess Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups has chosen the stunning Russian Rose bread, adapted from a recipe found on The Fresh Loaf. The dough is so quick and easy to put together, a one-bowl recipe with only a quick knead necessary. Allow to rise, roll very thin into a large rectangle, fill with almost any filling, savory or sweet, roll jellyroll style, slice into to pieces lengthwise and, with the two cut sides up, twist, roll and voilà a Russian Rose. It is as easy as that.

I chose to fill mine with pesto. I then grated on extra Parmesan cheese and sprinkled on a couple of handfuls of pine nuts before rolling, slicing, twisting and allowing a second rise. Glazed and topped with a bit more grated cheese and pine nuts, the baked bread was not only gorgeous but dense and flavorful with pesto and the light crunch of pine nuts. And the family loved it! A perfect bread to serve with a salad or a bowl of soup and then to nibble on throughout the day. Thank you, Tanna, for a marvelously easy, fast and stunningly delicious bread.

Happy World Bread Day. Enjoy!

Thanks to Zorra of Kochtopf for allowing the Babes and Buddies to participate in World Bread Day as a group.

I would like to share this bread with Susan of Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting.

With the ground flaxseeds and pine nuts, this bread is perfect for October’s Twelve Loaves challenge Sometimes I feel like a nut… a seed or a grain! Twelve Loaves is a monthly baking challenge I run with Barb of Creative Culinary and Lora of Cake Duchess.

A magnificent bread under 4 hours!

For recipe details and extra tips, please visit Tanna’s post here. All changes and additions are my own.

For the dough:
600 g (21 oz) flour (I used 200 g/7 oz bread flour + 400 g/14 oz French all-purpose flour)
2-3 tablespoons ground flax seeds or wheat germ or a combo (I used 3 Tbs Linwood’s finely ground Flaxseed + Gogi Berries)
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast (Fresh Yeast 28g/1oz)
10 g (0.35oz) sugar
10g (0.35oz) salt
50 ml (1.7 fl oz/ ¼ cup) olive oil or vegetable oil considering replacing canola with olive oil & part butter
1 tablespoon white vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
300 ml (10 fl oz/1 ¼ cups) warm water + more as needed

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp cold water)

For the filling:
190 g (6.7 oz) pesto, homemade or good quality jarred
Parmesan cheese
Pine nuts
Smoked paprika, optional

Place a 26cm (10-inch) springform (ring only, no bottom) onto a piece of parchment paper and place on top of a baking sheet. Set aside.

Place all of the dough ingredients except the water in a large mixing bowl. Add the tepid water gradually as you start mixing (I used a wooden spoon). Add as much water as needed until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and pull together into a dough. If in doubt, add a little too much water for a slightly wet dough; a dough too dry is much more difficult to correct once you begin kneading. Scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 or 6 minutes until the dough is supple and not sticky to the touch, kneading in more flour as necessary. When the dough is ready, spray or rub a bowl with oil and gently put the dough in the bowl, turning to coat the dough all over with oil; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for about 80%, for about 40 minutes to an hour.

Lightly flour your work surface. Flatten the dough gently with your hands and turn out onto the work surface. Roll the dough into a large triangle as thin as you can using a floured rolling pin. When rolling out the dough, try not to lift and move it too much. You can try and gently pull the dough to stretch it thin like a Strudel dough.

Apply a thin layer of the filling – here, pesto - evenly all over the dough but leaving a clean filling-free ¼-inch edge all around. Dust lightly with extra Parmesan if desired then sprinkle a handful or two of pine nuts evenly over the filling.

Brush a light coating of egg wash on the bottom edge closest to you for sealing. Slowly, tightly and very gently roll the dough from the top towards you into a roulade as for a jellyroll (watch the video for this). Once rolled, carefully press the seam to seal. You will now have a very long roulade or log. Roll the log back and forth to even out the thickness. Once you have your very long roulade even and well sealed, carefully roll the turn the roulade seam down.

Take a sharp chef's knife (not a serrated knife) and cut (not saw) off the two ends to even and then slice the roulade lengthwise from one end to the other, trying to keep the knife in the middle so you end up with two equal parts.

Turn the cut sides of the two halves face upwards then cross one length over the other in the center, forming an X. Starting from the center where the two lengths cross, gently but tightly twist the two pieces together. Going back to the center and working center out, twist the two loose ends together. You will now have one long twisted two-strand rope. Gently pinch the ends to seal.

Slowly and very gently, roll the braid into a snail, as tight as possible without squeezing or deforming the layers; the open roulade layers should remain facing up. Pinch the end delicately and tuck under. The end result should look like a giant snail shell or a very large cinnamon bun. Very carefully, lift the loaf and place in the center of the springform ring on the parchment paper.

Cover with plastic wrap and the clean kitchen towel. Let the loaf rise until the braid is not quite doubles, about 40 minutes to an hour.

Brush any dough not covered with pesto or filling lightly with egg wash. Dust the top of the loaf lightly with more Parmesan and more pine nuts and then dust lightly with the smoke paprika.

Preheat the oven to 410°F (210°C).

Once risen, bake in the preheated oven at 410°F (210°C) for 10 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 355°F (180°C) and bake for another 25 – 35 minutes. The dough should be slightly risen and golden brown. The crust should sound hollow when tapped and there should be some spring when pressed.

Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack and lift off the ring around the loaf. Allow to cool before slicing and eating.


La Table De Nana said...

Your bread is beautiful! I saw the post yesterday and couldn't wait to see it the title was so enticing..But I can only just now read the post..I must try this..cause it's so pretty:)

Jamie said...

@La Table de Nana: Monique, you will be surprised at how fast and easy it is to make this beautiful loaf. I'll be doing a sweet version soon!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

That is an absolutely gorgeous loaf of bread. I'm sure I would have no self-control in its presence!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Goog grief Jamie!
I know you're all over and discombobulated. I've done that too. But you do make it sound like such fun. LOVE your write-up and your loaf.
I know those French bakeries too but I don't think I've ever seen a Russian braid in one ... and it wouldn't ever taste or look more gorgeous than yours.

Not Quite Nigella said...

Jamie, I saw this on facebook and I was transfixed by the swirls so I had to come by and have a closer look! :D

Cake Duchess said...

Love how you whipped this up in a flash for World Bread Day. Would love it even more if I could try it now. Gorgeous bread:)

Happy Cook / Finla said...

Wowo tha tis just beautiful jamie. I can imagine the aroma in your kitchen when you made this.

Dewi said...

Beautiful! I don't think I've made savory bread before. Perhaps, I should start soon.

Robin O said...

STUNNING! Jaw drops open in awe.

Lora said...

How perfectly gorgeous! I love the rose shape and the flavors - wow!

Kiran @ said...

Oh my! I love the swirls in this bread!! You are amazing! With the remodeling and all :)

Joan Nova said...

Fun post -- and what a delicious looking bread. I love the pesto and pine nuts and I'd probably eat the whole loaf!

Joan Nova said...

dFun post -- and what a delicious looking bread. I love the pesto and pine nuts and I'd probably eat the whole loaf!

Vijitha said...

Absolutely gorgeous bread recipe Jamie. I keep seeing your home updates in facebook. Looking forward the final reveal.

Barbara Bakes said...

Your bread is beautiful! I meant to sprinkle some parm on mine, but forgot. After reading this post I want to come live in France and buy bread every day too.

The KitchenMaid said...

That is so beautiful. I think I understand the rolling and twisting - I guess the only way to find out is to give it a shot, right?

Terra said...

I need to start trying fun, creative bread recipes like this! The flavors sound wonderful, and would be great with a big bowl of creamy soup! It looks gorgeous! Hugs, Terra

Junglefrog said...

That looks just plain simply gorgeous Jamie. And you can say that it's easy but I highly doubt I could pull it of to make it look so pretty as yours!

Lisa said...

Wahh..I had my bread ready for both Twelve Loaves and World Vread Baking Day, but I was just too exhausted ro write the post!! Baseball play-offs are stressing me well as life in general..PMS etc. BUT, BUT, BUT.. what a stunner of a bread! It's not only the flavors..but it's just doubt more gorgeous than you'd find at some French bakeries. All I can say, just wow, really hit a HR with this one!

Amanda said...

I am seriously impressed that - even in the middle of such huge renovations - you manage to find time to bake. And such a gorgeous looking loaf, too!

minnie@thelady8home said...

How do you manage to create such sensationw with everything going around you? It's gorgeous!

Sweet and That's it said...

Jamie, what a lovely post you wrote. Oh yes, this bread deserved it: it's beautiful, elegant and delicious.
A winner!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

Wow Jamie that has to be the most beautiful loaf of bread I have ever seen!

Aparna said...

Your savoury "rose" looks lovely, Jamie. It turned out right in the end. :)

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I love this post. I could have written that bit myself about life getting too busy and getting forgetful. :)

I LOVED your bread and it looks very difficult to make.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

You and me both - I often am discombobulated too and like you try to juggle tasks not trying to put them off till the last second. It never works.

Love love this bread Jamie - full of divine flavors - pesto and pine nuts. I want some!

Andy Steven said...

Looks amazing, It looks pretty fresh and delicious.

Ruth Bishop said...

Mmm so, so yummy! I would love to be there right now.


Elizabeth said...

I know what you mean about falling behind. I also know what you mean about bread being "a daily need, a necessary part of our life". In fact, you could be writing about us. (Except we can't pop out to the best local boulangerie the way you can....)

I'm so glad that you decided to bake with us; your bread looks beautiful! I really like the look of the whole pinenuts.

(Great Salinger quote! I love Holden Caulfield.)

zorra said...

I am so glad you found the time to bake this wonderful loaf. By the way for me it is the same, I am a kind of "last minute" person. ;-)

Thank you for baking for Word Bread Day. Hope you will join us next year again!

lisa is cooking said...

I'm wondering why I haven't been baking much bread lately. I don't have any beautiful boulangeries nearby, so I have no excuse. I need to get baking. This pesto loaf looks delicious! The extra parmesan sounds great.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I wish I could participate to more events, but time passes really fast and I always have so much to do that I always miss the deadlines...

A gorgeous loaf! So pretty and tempting.



Rambling Tart said...

That is absolutely GORGEOUS, Jamie!! :-) I love the additions that you chose. You've made a beautiful bread even more wonderful with such good flavors, colors, and textures. :-)

nancy baggett said...

Yes, indeed, a truly gorgeous loaf. I understand the being distracted, the need to walk away from the computer, to stop the craziness and slow down and JUST MAKE BREAD. Been wanting to--maybe with this inspiration I will actually do it. Thanks!

JNerissa said...

This is just about the most beautiful loaf I have eve seen. Wow.

wendy@chezchloe said...

I'm fully in love with this bread. Beauty, flavor and down right gusto.
Thanks for the description in shaping.
x wendy

Gina said...

gorgeous bread
Recently, I made small breads and really liked this format.
His stuffing must have been wonderful.
I participated for the third time of the day world of bread.
A hug.

gorgeous bread
Recently, I made small breads and really liked this format.
His stuffing must have been wonderful.
I participated for the third time of the day world of bread.
A hug.

Gorgeous bread!
Recently, I made small breads and really liked this format.
His stuffing must have been wonderful.
I participated for the third time of the day world of bread.
A hug.

thelittleloaf said...

So pleased you got your bread baking mojo back - this looks incredible!

I make my own loaves once a week to last us through the following days but if I go on holiday or am distracted by work it's so easy to let it lapse.

I have plans for a milk loaf this weekend but after that I'm giving this a go :-)

lapiubelladitutte said...

I am a sucker for bread baked at home, but that looks way more complicated for me! Can I still have a slice?

Deeba PAB said...

Stunning bread sistah. Gosh I haven't baked bread in AGES! Life is getting busier {and colder}. I love how you put the Jamie touch to the bread...just beautiful! How are you? Shifted yet? How is the beautiful apartment?

Kamča Hrbáčová said...

interesting :)

Kate | Food Babbles said...

How in the world did I miss this gorgeous loaf? Especially since it was part of Twelve Loaves as well as BBB? I love how you make it sound so easy, twist, turn viola! I have a feeling with all my twisting and turning, my loaf would not be as beautiful. I love these flavors and I love the look so I must make this! So sorry I didn't see this sooner. Lovely!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...