Saturday, February 11, 2012

Morning Cuddle Bread with Oats, Plums and Hazelnuts

The anxiety of influence is most certainly a reality for some. After all, a whole book has been written on the subject (although the author probably didn't have the art of baking in mind) but I am happy to report I don't suffer from it. I love leisurely browsing through books and/or exploring online worlds and letting ideas wash over me, leaving behind precious little nuggets of inspiration. Sometimes - and that's the most fun - these nuggets combine to form something completely different.
That's how the morning cuddle bread came to be. A couple of weeks ago a British Columbia food podcast had pointed me towards an oatmeal, walnut and plum bread, which the Man pronounced to be a wonderful breakfast bread...

...and as I was contemplating what to bake for him for Valentine's Day, I remembered another fruit and nut bread I had once bookmarked in Les 20 meilleurs ouvriers de France et médaillés d'argent se dévoilent et vous offrent leurs recettes choisies, a book put together by l'Équipe de France de boulangerie (the French Baking Team) in the early 90's.  What I had liked most about it was its endearing shape (two entertwined pieces of dough) and its name, pain câlin du matin (literally morning cuddle bread).

Oven-roasted hazelnuts
The two recipes got reborn as one: from Chef Bruce (the British Columbia baker), I retained the idea of the plums (the Man is a huge plum fan!) and the nuts (but instead of the walnuts, I used the fragrant hazelnuts my friend Meeghen had brought me from her own orchard). I also stayed with the mix of wheat (whole-grain and all-purpose) and oatmeal (I love the tenderness of an oatmeal crumb). From the French recipe - by Gérald Biremont, "meilleur ouvrier de France" (best artisan baker in France) - I took the shape and the name. After all, what's more appropriate on Valentine's Day morning that a sweet little cuddle?
Interestingly both recipes call for a straight dough but I always prefer using a preferment: the bread keeps better, if nothing else, and I find it tastier too. So I reinterpreted the Canadian recipe to use both a poolish (made with only a speck or two of instant yeast) and some levain. It took its own sweet time to ferment but, hey, Valentine Day comes around only once a year. Besides the dough did all the work, leaving the cuddling to us...

Ingredients: (for 8 morning cuddle breads or 4 cuddle breads and a loaf)
For the poolish
  • 280 g all-purpose flour
  • 280 g water 
  • one tiny pinch of instant yeast (0.06 g)
For the final dough
  • 200 g mature white starter at 100% hydration
  • 320 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 g white whole wheat flour
  • 115 g old-fashioned oat flakes, coarsely ground in a food processor
  • 180 g water  (amount to be adjusted up or down depending on your flours, the humidity in the air, etc.)
  • 100 g oven-roasted hazelnuts, roughly peeled and chopped
  • 110 g dried plums, roughly chopped
  • 19 g salt
Method: (this bread is made over two days since the starter and the poolish both need to be fed the evening before and to ferment overnight)
  1. The night before, mix the poolish and feed the starter. Let both ferment overnight at room temperature (if very warm where you live, fermentation could be faster, which means you may need to adjust your schedule accordingly)
  2. On baking day, mix the flours, the starter, the poolish and the water until all the ingredients are well distributed and all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 20 minutes
  3. Add salt and mix on low speed until a soft pliable dough is formed (don't overmix)
  4. Add the plums and hazelnuts and mix gently (I find it easier to take the dough out of the mixer at this stage and mix in the fruit and nuts by hand)
  5. Set in an oiled container and let rise until at least doubled (it took close to 6 hours at 72°F/22°C)
  6. Divide in two pieces of roughly 850 g each
  7. If you want to make only cuddle breads, then divide each of these pieces in 8 and make 8 baguette-shaped cylinders. Twist them together by pairs. If you want 4 cuddle breads and one loaf, divide and shape accordingly
  8. Proof until doubled in size (in my case, it took one hour and a half at 72°F/22°C). Pre-heat oven to 400°F/204°C
  9. When ready bake for 15 minutes (with steam the first five minutes) then check the color and if necessary turn oven down a bit. Turn the breads 180° and bake another 15 minutes. They will be ready when they have a rich color and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  10. Cool on a rack!
Enjoy!

The morning cuddle bread is going to Susan for Yeastspotting.

28 comments:

  1. As usual, you charm and amaze us with your beautiful breads!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jeremy! This is a very very kind comment and it went straight to my heart!

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  2. love love love the shape of these loaves. lovely pictures and so interesting the description of the creative process.

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    1. Thank you, Barbara! So glad you like the bread. It is really a fun one to make and a nice one to eat!

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  3. That looks so very very good, your words are so evocative and I really do want to make this one. It looks as if you left the skins on the nuts, is that right? it would save all that grief of trying to rub them off in the teatowel. I love the sinewy curves of the twisted breads, beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Zeb! I hate to disappoint you but I did rub the nuts in the tea towel after I took the pictures. Not all the skin came off but more than half of it for sure. But see, it wasn't too bad because I used a microfiber towel. I had read somewhere that it made it way easier to peel hazelnuts to use microfiber and it is true... So maybe you could try it?

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  4. WOW! I am speechless! I hope that one day I can be as confident as you are to come up with new recipes and twists, I am so insecure of coming up with my "own" bread formula

    evidently, you know very well your way around bread!

    gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous!

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  5. Sally, thank you! No mystery to it, you know... For the poolish, you just use part of the flour you were going to use in the straight dough and a tiny bit of the yeast (so that you can use less yeast in the final dough) and for the levain, you just use what you think you need to boost up the polish (which I needed to do because mine had already passed its peak). Just keep track of the amount of flour and water in both, adjust the salt and the hydration accordingly, and voilà... Try it, you'll see! Being an amazing cook and a scientist, you'll soon find your groove, I am sure of it!

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  6. Hello MC, and Happy Valentine's Day -
    Your cuddle breads are absolutely adorable. I bet your husband couldn't help but 'taste the love' :^)
    I am so glad you liked the flavor of the hazelnuts and it made me so happy you included them in your bread!
    The photo of the two breads 'cuddling' is precious!
    :^) Meeghen

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    1. Thank you so much, Meeghen! Your hazelnuts are delicious. What a fragrance they brought to the bread... Truly lovely... Thank you!

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  7. i have baked so many breads, both savory and sweet but have always used the faster version - using yeast. Somehow I'm intimidated by the starter.
    Maybe one day.
    Your cuddle breads look great, love the name :)

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    1. Thank you, Roxana! Go for it, you won't be sorry... Why don't you start with using a poolish? You can always try your hand at a starter later...

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  8. This is one of the most beautiful bread I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers

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    1. Thank you, Mamatkamal! So glad you visited...

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  9. Hi Farine, as usual you came up with something amazing. I like the combination of nuts and fruit, especially these two. And the shape is great!
    I'm still working on 'my own' bread.

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    1. Thank you, Connie! Can't wait to discover what your "own" bread will be...

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  10. These look soooooooooooooooo good
    I don't think I've ever eaten these, but I would definitely love to!

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    1. Hi Winnie! I am so glad you like them. They are fun to make and not too much hassle. Try your hand at them!

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  11. Hope it is OK that the BBBs hope to make a bread in June that started with this recipe. I could send you the recipe so that you can see how it has changed, if you like. These darling roll were such an inspiration! XO Elle

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    1. Hello, Elle, and thank you for letting me know! Yes, i would love to see the recipe if you don't mind (mc.farine@gmail.com) and please make sure there is a link back to my blog at some point. I am so glad the BBB liked these breads!

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  12. Not only do I like it but I love this bread, MC! Thank you for this wonderful recipe. It really is fabulous. I made the twists with currants and sunflower seeds but I can't wait to try again with hazelnuts and prunes (even though my husband thinks he doesn't want prunes in his bread...).

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, I read your post on the twists on your blog and it made me laugh! Yes, you are right, since when do we call prunes dried plums? Well, since the largest manufacturer of prunes in the US discovered it could sell more prunes in several of our fifty States by changing their name! So the exact same dried fruit (the same brand, sometimes carried by the same chain grocery store) is called one way in some places and another way elsewhere. The power of a name! I also loved reading about your early morning bike ride and your wonderful backyard barbecue. What a great and fun blog!

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  13. Hello MC,
    I'm a BBBuddy and I've just taken your twists out of the oven (following Elle's changes).
    I must have messed up something (the rising time - too long or the yeast - too much) as they don't look as nice as I wished...but wooow I'm in heaven: they taste GREAT!
    I thought I just stop by to say thank you for your fabulous recipe!!!!
    I'll write a post in the next days.
    Greetings from Switzerland

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  14. Hello, Sweet and That's it! So glad the twists turned out anyway (looks aren't everything as we all know, right?). I am looking forward to your post!

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  15. Hello Farine, your beautiful morning cuddles are the ones we buddies bake with the Babes this month. Now I've to try and make them as beautiful as yours turned out.

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  16. Hello Connie, I am so honored that the morning cuddles made the Babes' list. Please send pictures!

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  17. Hello Farine,
    As I predicted my version of your Morning Cuddle Breads as nice, but not as beautiful as yours. But, they are delicious! Next time I read the recipe attentive and shape them like yours are. It was fun baking with you.

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    1. So glad they came out nice and tasty! It is indeed a lot of fun to bake together across the world!

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