To make a bread similar to Craquelin from Joanne Chang's cookbook Flour. Instead of making individual pastries, make a candied orange brioche loaf. Reduced the amount of butter in the brioche to make it a lighter and more airy product. As delicious as the original recipe is, I found it a bit too dense, which I think could be due to the amount of fat in the dough. The candied orange will give the brioche a little something extra.
Hypothesis: I will find the dough tasty in spite of the butter reduction and the texture of the dough will be light. The candied orange will lend the bread a sweet and refreshing citrus flavor.
150 g starter* (flour, water and yeast), see supplementary materials for direction
230 g all-purpose flour plus additional to moderate texture
340 g bread flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1/4 cup warm water (110-120°)
2 T warm water plus 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (let sit a few minutes before adding)
1 cup butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoon size chunks
*could be omitted but increase the water to 1/2 cup and increasing the all-purpose flour by about 1 cup
For Candied Orange:
2 cups water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 navel orange
1. Place starter, all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, salt, warm water, yeast mixture and 5 eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Beat on low until the flour is completely hydrated and incorporated into the dough. This will require occasional stopping to scrape the flour at the edge of the bowl into the mass. Once the dough has come together, beat on low for another 3 to 4 minutes.
2. On low speed, add the butter piece by piece. Continue mixing 10 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
3. Once the butter is incorporated, beat on medium-low speed for another 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and a bit shiny. Pull on the dough to see if it is a firm mass. If it isn't, add more all-purpose flour until when you tug on the dough, it doesn't break off (I added about 3/4 of a cup more flour). Once you get the correct toughness, beat on medium for a few more minutes.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl. Weigh, and separate into 2 even chunks (my dough gave two 800 gram pieces). Knead each chunk into a ball, making sure the dough is smooth and there are no chunky spots.
5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate (6 hours to overnight). This will help the butter firm up and aid in shaping of the dough.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the candied oranges. Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve. Slice off the two ends of the navel orange and slice the orange into small rings (about 1/4" thick). Simmer on low until the oranges are translucent and the liquid forms a thick syrup. On a gas stove, this may take 2-3 hours. On an electric stove, this may take closer to 4. Cover and cool. Can be stored in the fridge prior to use.
7. To prepare the bread, remove a chunk of dough from the fridge (the other can be used for loaf of simple brioche or made into another pastry (check out Joanne Chang's cookbook for delicious ideas). Roll the dough into a rectangle 9 inches by as long as you can make it the other direction!
8. Remove the candied orange from the syrup and chop the oranges. Spread the oranges over the top of the dough. Starting from one of the short ends, roll the dough into a log. place in a greased 9x5 inch pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.
9. Put loaf in a cold oven with a large pot of hot water (or, fill a batter bowl with water and microwave it 5-10 minutes and put that in the oven with the loaf). Sit 4-5 hours or until the dough is beginning to feel softer and looks puffier. Because of the quantity of butter, the dough won't raise much. Gently remove from the oven and set aside.
10. Preheat the oven to 350°.
11. When the oven has preheated, brush the top of the loaf with a beaten egg. Bake 40-55 minutes or until a kitchen thermometer in the middle of the loaves reads 190°. If the bread begins to brown too early, tent the loaf with foil.
12. When the bread is done baking, remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Eat immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
The smell from the oven was quite heavenly. The top of the bread is shiny (I sprinkled it with a little sugar while baking, so the shine isn't so glaring). The crust has a rich color and I did have to tent it with foil about 25 minutes into baking to prevent it from burning. The bread is dense but the candied orange is delicious.
Discussion and Future Directions
To begin, Joanne Chang's cookbook Flour is really fun. From homemade Oreos and Poptarts to brioche and a lemon raspberry cake that would be well suited for a wedding, it is a great cookbook for a beginner who is ready to take their baking to the next level! I have yet to tackle the Oreos or Poptarts (my friend Andrea simply cannot believe it's possible, so I will definitely have to show her that it is), but have enjoyed all of the pastries I've made so far as well as the Red Velvet Cake (it may have been the wine I was drinking while baking or the type of cocoa I used, but whatever it was, mine didn't turn out red. So, I termed it "break-up cake" and used it to cheer myself up. Note: the cake is not to be confused "Drown Your Sorrows in Cake" Cake but the frosting is the same.)
The flavor of this bread is good. It is dense and moist, which reminds me more of a cinnamon swirl toasting bread rather than a brioche. I was going for something with less calories than brioche, so I certainly sacrificed the soft, supple texture. Next time I would probably skip the starter (I only used it because I had it and wanted to use it up). Even with the little rise after 5 hours and the rise in the oven, the bread was still quite dense. The best remedy for this would be to use the Brioche recipe in Joanne Chang's cookbook or another brioche recipe you've had luck with (I've also used and enjoyed King Arthur Flour's Brioche recipe). Definitely don't try to skip on the calories! It's supposed to be luxurious, and in this case, the luxury comes fat calories!!
Beyond my criticism of the bread, the flavor was great. I was nervous that the candied orange might be too tough--particularly the orange peel. That simply wasn't so! It was delicious and really added something special to the bread. Next time I have the time for pastries, I'd love to try it again. The candied orange is time consuming in that you have to tend to the stove and stir every 15 minutes or so for up to 3 or 4 hours. If you're home anyway, don't let that be a deterrent! This would be a great treat for someone you know fighting scurvy (scientist joke--it was a long semester), or anyone who loves citrus!
1 cup all-purpose flour (plus more)
1 1/2 cups water, warm
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Mix together and let sit on the counter for up to 8 hours. It should start to smell yeasty and get bubbly. Stir in enough flour to make the starter a loose dough (half cup to a cup). Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days before using. This starter can be maintained by saving a piece of dough, adding more water and flour and repeating the process.